Jim Swanson at HTC Groundbreaking

Jim and Elizabeth Swanson Family Fund to benefit HTC

Talk to Jim Swanson for five minutes and you can tell he cares about helping people. Talk a little longer and you’ll hear about his deep-seated belief in the importance of helping people have an opportunity for education.  For this longtime educator and Minnesota legislator, who retired from Hennepin Technical College in 1993, education is still a top interest.    

Now he and his wife, Elizabeth, have established the Jim and Elizabeth Swanson Family Fund through the Minnesota Community Foundation, which will benefit Hennepin Technical College.

“We can’t give enough money to put up a building, but we can provide support,” Swanson says in describing how the couple decided on an estate gift.  Each year, funds will be distributed to Hennepin Technical College, as well as four other organizations the Swansons have been affiliated with over the years:  Augsburg College, Dunwoody Institute, Minnehaha Academy, and the Bethlehem Covenant Church in Minneapolis.  Swanson’s history with HTC goes back to its earliest days, before the college was established in 1972.

Always active in the community, Swanson was elected to the Richfield School Board in 1965, at a time when suburban school superintendents recognized there was a need for hands-on technical training to be more available in the Twin Cities. Drawing on the resources of 18 school districts, the plan for technical training began to take shape. With Swanson’s experience as an instructor at Dunwoody Institute, he joined the new venture, District 287, and one of his responsibilities was recruiting instructors for the new technical school.  “Many people in the trades were highly skilled in their field, but had no teaching certification,” Swanson explains. “It became vital to help develop their skills as educators so they could share their knowledge.” That lesson on the importance of instructor training stayed with him, which is why the Swansons have designated their funds be utilized for staff development at HTC. “It’s tough to get money for staff training and it’s always the first thing to get cut,” says Swanson, “so we wanted to provide long-term support that will benefit the staff and their students.”

Swanson served on the Richfield School Board for three years and then was elected to the Minnesota House, serving 16 years. He’s proud that while he served in the Minnesota Legislature he carried the bill that created Metropolitan State University. “The idea was to create ‘a college without walls’ that allowed working professionals to earn credit for their knowledge,” says Swanson, noting that a number of HTC’s earliest instructors were able to benefit from Metropolitan State.  He counts that as a highlight of his legislative career.

“We’ve been fortunate,” says Swanson. “We’ve had the opportunity to work hard and be able to save.” The Swansons lived in Richfield for 40 years and now reside in Minneapolis, with winter months spent in Naples, Florida. They celebrated 57 years of marriage in 2013.  

“Jim and Elizabeth Swanson are making a real difference with their estate gift to the college,” says Annette Roth, executive director of institutional advancement at HTC. “Their generosity will have a long-lasting impact and we are very grateful for their financial support.”

Through effective estate planning, Jim and Elizabeth Swanson are capping a lifetime of work and interest in education by providing a fund to carry on that legacy.

Last updated by jhanson : 2015-02-22 12:59:08