Gainey Conference Center Announces Policy for Planning Off-site Retreats, Residential Meetings and Programs

Based on guidance from the University of St. Thomas Board of Trustees, Dr. Mark Dienhart and Dr. Susan Huber recently announced the requirement to schedule residential retreats at the Gainey Conference Center in Owatonna rather than other conference or retreat centers. (See Bulletin Today stories on May 21 and July 12.) 

The reservation process outlined below applies to all university full-length residential-based retreats (e.g., overnight retreat), but does not apply to brief day meetings or half-day programs.

The Gainey Conference Center is owned and operated by the University of St. Thomas. The center provides meeting space, lodging, personal service and meals. The center provides Midwest hospitality and guest services to internal St. Thomas groups, faculty and staff, external corporations and nonprofit clients. 

The Gainey Center will work closely with departments to match a comparable meeting package to their objectives and budget. The university has operated the Gainey Center for more than 25 years and is committed to its educational purpose in serving all groups from within the university. Gainey offers the following meeting packages:

  • Student Club Package comparable to retreat camps around Minnesota. An advantage for students is the availability of private bathrooms in each guestroom, air conditioning and great-tasting food. The center offers outdoor recreation, bonfire circles and challenge-activity games for student clubs of 12 students to 100. Service projects are available on-site.
  • Essential Meeting Package for departments hosting nonprofit external program registrations and other smaller groups.
  • Complete Meeting Package for faculty, staff, student programs and external clients with added refreshments, daily housekeeping services and a fuller food and beverage package. Basic audio visual equipment, flip charts and breakout spaces are included. The center has a full liquor license and provides bartenders for social hours.

Groups return year after year to the center to enjoy the spacious grounds, meals and private retreat atmosphere.

Initial inquiry to the Gainey Center

All departments planning off-site residential retreat programs are required to make an initial inquiry to the Gainey Center for their needs. Only in rare exceptions, approved by the appropriate executive vice president, could the department use any facility other than Gainey. If the center is not available on the requested dates, and if the dates of the conference cannot be moved to space-available dates, the department should contact the Office of Purchasing and Procurement Services for assistance in soliciting competitive bids from other similar properties to meet the unique needs of the department’s program. A memorandum from the Gainey Center noting the reason why a reservation was not possible there is required.

To schedule a program, conference or retreat at the Gainey Center, contact Gina Yetzer, (507) 446-4461.