Supporting the University for the Long Run

Jim Lund has never been content with making do. He’s always been drawn to making better. 

As student in the 1980s, he was elected president of the student senate, which led to serving on the board overseeing all of Minnesota’s state universities as the student representative. And though his student leadership was decades ago, he had a hand in a couple of things that last to this day: the Ostrander-Student Bell Tower and the Alumni Arch, two icons of the campus.

Today Lund is at the helm of a Twin Cities financial advising firm and continues to stay connected with the University in two key ways: He’s a new member of the Foundation board, and he has listed the University as a benefactor in a life insurance policy.

It’s his experiences as a student that drive his ongoing engagement with Minnesota State Mankato, where he entered student government as a sophomore. The following year, he was vice president and in 1984 he successfully ran for student association president.

An 1984 campaign flyer from Jim Lund's college days.
A 1984 Campaign flyer for the CAP Party.

He and VP Candidate Sandy Schoonover formed the College Action Party to address the issues of the day: tuition, fees and parking.

“I ran on a platform of ‘I don’t really want this job, but I know that it’s important,’” Lund said. “And if you’re going to have a voice, you gotta work with the system that’s available. I ran on that platform and obviously that resonated with the students at that time.”  

His appointment that same year by Gov. Rudy Perpich to serve on the state university board of trustees, he said, was far from a token seat with the grown-ups. He was taken seriously, thoughtfully and he appreciate the role and responsibility.

Jim's photo as a student
Jim Lund, 1984

“You’ve got seven different presidents from seven different state universities. I’m the only student,” Lund said. “I’m working with the end-user. I’m talking with students and working with students. I had the unique opportunity of sharing with the team what the end-user needs.”

“They were very genuine and interested in knowing what I thought,” he said.

It was around this time he was approached by the DFL party to run for state representative.

Jim Lund today
Jim Lund today.

“I said no,” he said, “I wanted to go out and get my street smarts and actually experience the world and have more knowledge and experience… Book smarts is one piece, but having actual practical experience is another, and I actually put more emphasis on the latter.“

He remained at Minnesota State Mankato to get his MBA, and while doing so worked with Facilities Services Director David Cowan to secure funding to bring the brick arch from Old Main to campus and to build the Ostrander-Student Memorial Bell Tower that stands in the campus arboretum.

“[Cowan] was the one who made the comment that we should create this icon…for generations to come,” Lund remembers.

Cowan asked Lund to accompany him in making the case to Lloyd and Mildred Ostrander, who agreed to fund it along with the Student Association.

“By having the student body be behind this project, it was an easier sell to the Ostranders,” Lund said.

After more than 30 years in the financial planning industry, Lund today heads NorthRock Partners, a multi-faceted financial planning agency in Minneapolis.

“All those experiences helped me to get where I am,” he said of his time in Mankato. “I got into a business that I love today. We manage more than $1.7 billion, we have 40 people on the team. We’ve got a really nice business that helps hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people. I’m glad I did what I did.”

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in Maverick Nation, our electronic magazine for and about young alumni. To have Maverick Nation delivered to your inbox, sign up here.