Ron Batchelder donates $200,000 for scholarships at Bemidji State

The Bemidji State University Foundation recently accepted a $200,000 donation from life-long Bemidji resident Ron Batchelder to establish the Ron Batchelder Scholarship Endowment Fund. This gift will provide ongoing scholarships to junior or senior students majoring in economics, nursing or business who demonstrate financial need.

Batchelder said he created this scholarship to assist young people in achieving their educational goals, to help them succeed and make their own contributions.

“I wanted to give back to the community that gave so much to me,” Batchelder said. “This is the right time and the right place.”

Batchelder attended BSU for one year before serving four years in the Air Force during the Korean War. When he returned to Bemidji, he and his brother, Ira “Sonny” Batchelder, joined their father working in the family business, The Bemidji Woolen Mills, which they built over the next 40 years.

During his tenure, Bemidji Woolen Mills moved its retail operation from a small, downtown storefront to the larger retail space used today. They were the first to market hunter-orange coats in warm wool, and they continually sought ways to increase the market for their unique Bemidji-made goods.

“Ron is a wonderful example of the many generous donors who recognize Bemidji State’s significance to our community and our region,” BSU President Dr. Richard A. Hanson said, “Leadership like this is very important.”

Batchelder credits his daughter, Karen, who is a banker, for encouraging him to donate to BSU. She also advised him on how he might structure the gift. He worked closely with BSU Foundation staff to achieve his charitable goals.

The Foundation will hold the principal from this gift in perpetuity. The scholarships awarded will be awarded from the income earned on the principal. The criteria and application process is being developed now.

For more information on BSU Alumni & Foundation, or to learn about giving opportunities at Bemidji State University, visit

Maryhelen Chadwick, communications and marketing specialist, BSU Alumni & Foundation; (218) 755-2122

BSU Alumni & Foundation