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College foundation honors Nyberg and Gislason

WILLMAR -- The Ridgewater College Foundation presented its distinguished service and distinguished alumni awards at its annual awards banquet Monday evening.

The distinguished alumni award was presented to Dr. Scott Nyberg.

The distinguished service award was presented to Walt Gislason of Willmar.

The alumni award was established by the foundation and Alumni Association to recognize and honor a former Ridgewater student for exceptional accomplishments in his or her profession or for outstanding service in the community.

Nyberg is a transplant surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and a professor of surgery in Mayo's medical school. He attended Willmar Community College in 1977 as a senior in high school and for a year after high school in the pre-engineering program.

He went on to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated in three years with a double major in chemical engineering and economics. He studied medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and then earned a doctorate in biomedical and chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota.

He completed his surgical re-sidence at the University of Minnesota.

In 1989, he began work on developing an artificial liver. His research continues today at Mayo. Nyberg is chairman of surgical research and director of the Mayo Liver Support Laboratory. The laboratory, founded by Nyberg in 1996, develops support devices for patients with liver failure and sepsis.

The service award was established by the foundation to recognize and honor a friend of the college for exceptional accomplishments in his or her profession and for outstanding service to Ridgewater College and the community.

Gislason is the owner of Walt's Car Wash in Willmar. He is a former teacher who joined his brother in the car wash and gasoline business in Willmar in the early 1970s.

He built a business selling and installing car washes in a six-state area. He also designed and built a special system for washing pre-paint vehicles for Ford Motor Co.

Gislason is known in the community for the fundraisers he hosts and the money he donates for local schools. Walt's Scholarships has provided more than $35,000 in scholarships in the past few years. He and his wife, Raeanna, have received a number of awards for their support of the community and its schools.