Ridgewater College photo instructor named outstanding educator by Minnesota State system

Ridgewater College photography instructor Wade McDonald has been chosen as the college's 2023 Outstanding Educator. All nominees from the Minnesota State system will be honored this week.

Ridgewater College campus in Wilmar is shown in a file photo.
Ridgewater College campus is shown in a file photo.
West Central Tribune file photo

WILLMAR — Wade McDonald, a Ridgewater College photography and design instructor, has been named an Outstanding Educator for 2023 by Minnesota State.

Minnesota State recognized all 2023 Outstanding Educators at an April 19 celebration banquet in St. Paul.

Read more about the honorees at .

McDonald has been an educator at Ridgewater since 2015. He began at the Willmar campus and worked with colleague Amy Pawelk to convert the program to an online format.

Wade McDonald, Ridgewater College photo instructor, 2023 Outstanding Educator
Wade McDonald, Ridgewater College photo instructor, 2023 Outstanding Educator

The online program offers in-person studio and lab time available on the college’s Willmar and Hutchinson campuses. Students who take the online courses receive necessary photography equipment to complete all the hands-on projects.


McDonald is one of two curriculum and instruction specialists at Ridgewater and helps the faculty to modernize their curriculum through technology.

McDonald and colleague Mary Gruis lead a professional growth podcast and a book club addressing themes related to instruction.

McDonald has a master’s degree in educational technology from Minnesota State University, Mankato; a bachelor’s degree in graphic design; and a bachelor’s degree from Minnesota State University, Moorhead.

More than 20 Ridgewater faculty were nominated for the award.

The Outstanding Educator nomination praises McDonald for creating engaging and comfortable learning environments, helping students manage course deadlines and being available to encourage a climate of connection and support.

“With this recognition, Wade joins an elite group of outstanding educators at Ridgewater College,” said Ridgewater College President Craig Johnson.

“In addition to his strong commitment to students, Wade excels in his contributions to collaboration, innovation and service. We are very fortunate to have Wade on our faculty at Ridgewater.”

“This award means a lot to me,” McDonald said. “I’ve been in the visual communications industry since I graduated from college about 20 years ago. Working at Ridgewater College has been a great opportunity to bring together my experiences doing portrait photography, graphic design, and commercial photography to enrich students’ education.”


For information about Ridgewater, go to .

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