In Memoriam: S. Verna Fowler, Menominee Education Leader

KESHENA, WI – The Menominee Tribe recently announced the passing of the founder and former President of the College of Menominee Nation, S. Verna Fowler, Ph.D.

Fowler had a strong passion for education throughout her life. She brought that passion to the Menominee Indian Tribe in 1991 when the Menominee Tribal Legislature charged her with producing a feasibility study for a community college. In 1993, that passion and an allocation of $45,000 by the Menominee Tribe led to the establishment of what is now called “Old Main,” the first College of Menominee Nation classroom. Through her tenure, that one classroom transformed into what College of Menominee Nation is today, an accredited tribal Land Grant college with its main campus located in Keshena and with a second campus located in Green Bay.  

After founding and leading the College of Menominee Nation for 24 years, Fowler retired in 2016. The Menominee Tribal Legislature issued a proclamation to Fowler for taking the initiative and the innovation in founding the College of Menominee Nation with her unceasing and tireless years of service, dedication and devotion by bringing about long lasting benefits to the Menominee Indian Tribe with the College of Menominee Nation.  

This year, the College of Menominee Nation celebrates its 30th anniversary and, as part of its spring commencement, Fowler was honored. During that honor, Chairwoman Gena Kakkak stated that Fowler is the single driving force behind what is now the College of Menominee Nation. “[She] has reshaped our system of education here on the Menominee reservation,” said Kakkak. “Verna’s nationally renowned vision of nation building certainly has resonated here at home. She helped our tribe to grow prosper and improve our quality of life for all our members. We are grateful and honor her for all her accomplishments.”