Minnesota State College Southeast President Marsha Danielson reprimanded, pays $5K in restitution

The punishment comes after Danielson was accused of using sexist and racist language, inappropriate use of college resources.

Dr. Marsha Danielson
Dr. Marsha Danielson.

WINONA — Minnesota State College Southeast President Marsha Danielson has been reprimanded by Minnesota State Chancellor Devinder Malhotra for violating the system’s employee code of conduct and procedures for creating a respectful work environment, the system’s spokesperson said.

As part of the punishment, Danielson also paid $5,146 in restitution for inappropriate use of a state-owned vehicle and improperly accepting a Minnesota Wild ticket package as part of a chamber-related event.

The disciplinary action comes after a pair of investigations looked into allegations that Danielson used racist and sexist language in the workplace, disparaged the work of colleagues and subordinates, indulged in rhetorical stereotypes and misused college resources.

Minnesota State spokesperson Doug Anderson said that the second-year president is required to further her leadership skills at creating an inclusive and respectful workplace, and further develop and improve her interpersonal communication skills for building an inclusive and respectful workplace culture.

Danielson is also required to conduct a 360 assessment — a process for gathering feedback from employees from various points of view — in fall 2023 and share its results with the chancellor and vice chancellor.


“Actions and plans developed to improve her performance and overall effectiveness in ensuring and demonstrating mutual trust, respect, care and appreciation for employees will be discussed during her next performance evaluation,” Anderson said in a statement.

Danielson did not respond to a request seeking comment. Danielson was hired as president of Minnesota State College Southeast on July 1, 2021. The technical and community college has campuses in both Winona and Red Wing.

One report concluded “from the weight of the evidence” that Danielson made negative comments stereotyping the chancellor, who grew up in India, and the Riverland College president, who is from Nigeria, based on race and national origin, as well as Asian people.

Danielson denied making these comments but did admit to calling people “hon” and using “pow wow” on occasion to describe a meeting.

An internal investigation found that Danielson had used college-owned cars for trips between campuses and her home. Danielson didn’t qualify for that perk, the system concluded, because she received an $833 per month transportation and communication allowance as part of her contract.

Danielson has paid back the nearly $5,000, based on an estimated 86 round trips at 97.4 miles each. Danielson also reimbursed $225 for the chamber event that included ticket, food and beverage.

In the midst of these allegations, Minnesota State College Southeast has been in the news for more positive reasons. Last month, Danielson and area businesses announced the beginning of a three-year pilot program providing every high school graduate within the Winona Area Public Schools a tuition-free college education at Minnesota State College Southeast.

The program was made possible by a group of investors, including individuals Bob Kierlin and Mary Burrichter and companies including Fastenal Company, which was founded by Kierlin, Gundersen Health, Miller Ingenuity, RTP Company, The Watkins Company and Winona Health.

Matthew Stolle has been a Post Bulletin reporter since 2000 and covered many of the beats that make up a newsroom. In his first several years, he covered K-12 education and higher education in Rochester before shifting to politics. He has also been a features writer. Today, Matt jumps from beat to beat, depending on what his editor and the Rochester area are producing in terms of news. Readers can reach Matthew at 507-281-7415 or
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