Saint Mary's Newsroom

Campus Connection

An update from the president to alumni and parents

Spring brings new energy and activity

The hope of spring and longer days bring a freshness and energy to campus. The remaining weeks of the school year are filled with activities and events as we head toward commencement in May on our Winona Campus. Looking back on the winter months, our students have excelled in many ways and made a positive impact on campus and in the broader community. Let me tell you about just a few of the interesting occurrences.

— Brother William (Spring 2018)

Ground broken on new residence hall

Ground broken on new residence hall

As part of our annual Founders’ Day celebration March 13, Saint Mary’s broke ground on Brother William Hall, a 112-bed, three-story residence hall for first-year students, to be completed in 2019. Brother William Hall will be located on the northeast corner of the Winona Campus; the building will be attached to Pines Hall, which was renamed Bishops Hall on Founders’ Day in commemoration of the Diocese of Winona and most particularly its bishops, who are and have always been great supporters of Saint Mary’s. The new residence hall is made possible by anonymous donors in honor of Brother William’s legacy as president of Saint Mary’s. It will help provide a transformational residential life experience on campus and help attract new students.

Caption: Breaking ground on Brother William Hall are, from left: Owen Warneke, lead architect, OWA Architects; Heidi Ledermann ’19, vice president for student life, Saint Mary’s Student Senate; Mary Ann (Wera) Remick CST’64, chair, Saint Mary’s Board of Trustees; Brother William Mann, president, Saint Mary’s University; Mary Burrichter, trustee, Saint Mary’s University; Oscar Castro ’18, president, Saint Mary’s Student Senate; and Willy Dickenson, vice president, Schwab LLC Construction Services.

Founders’ Day honors four

Founders’ Day honors four

At our signature Founders’ Day convocation March 13 on the Winona Campus, we honored four outstanding individuals who represent the ideals and philosophies of our founders and our Lasallian Catholic heritage. Saint Mary’s recognized the dedication and outstanding service of two faculty and staff members who have advanced our mission consistently over time with the Bishop Heffron Service Award (Dr. Susan Hines) and the Distinguished Lasallian Educator Award (Dr. Jack McClure).

Each year, we also recognize outstanding undergraduate male and female seniors who have demonstrated the ideals of scholarship, character, leadership, and service. The Outstanding Male and Female Senior awards were presented to Daniel Olajonlu — son of John Oluwafemi, Roseline Olajonlu, and Sandra Ajugba — who was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, and currently resides in Rogers, Minn.; and Regina Bettag — daughter of Drs. Mark and Teresa Bettag of Sheboygan, Wis. Congratulations to these students and the other finalists: Brittney Birkhauser, Meagan Campbell, Ruba Kenyi, Tara Longseth, Chris Lackey, Jacob Mencacci, Vianney Nguyen, and Abram Whitebird.

Caption: Daniel Olajonlu and Regina Bettag were named Outstanding Seniors at Founders’ Day.

Alternative spring break trips provide growth experiences

Alternative spring break trips provide growth experiences

Students and faculty participated in numerous alternative spring break trips this year. The trips — designed to provide students with opportunities to travel, connect with outside communities, and serve others — support Saint Mary’s goal to create a transformational experience for our students. Here are a few of the trips that took place:

  • Thirteen students, including seven First Generation Initiative (FGI) scholars, traveled to Washington, D.C., to learn about our nation’s history and government.
  • Fifteen students traveled on an Outdoor Leadership adventure to Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
  • Thirty-six students participated in S.O.U.L. (Serving Others United in Love) mission trips to Browning, Mont.; Tulsa, Okla.; Rochester, N.Y.; Flint, Mich.; and New Orleans, La., where they helped in under-resourced schools, worked in soup kitchens and homeless shelters, and assisted with construction work.
  • Three students gathered with other Eddie Phillips Scholars at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, for the Big XII Conference on Black Student Government, where they participated in leadership development opportunities.
Leaders who break barriers in athletics

Leaders who break barriers in athletics

As part of the ongoing Leadership Series events, the Winona Campus welcomed a female groundbreaker in baseball, Ila Borders, to speak on March 8. The event celebrated those who are breaking barriers in women’s athletics, including Dr. Nikki Fennern, Saint Mary’s athletic director, who received the Breaking Barriers Award from the Minnesota Coalition of Women in Athletic Leadership in February.

Legendary for breaking barriers in baseball, Borders shared highlights from her career including numerous baseball milestones at the college and professional levels. She was the first female pitcher to start a men’s professional baseball game, the first woman to receive a baseball scholarship to play men’s collegiate baseball, and the first woman to earn a win in men’s collegiate baseball. She played for the Saint Paul Saints in 1997 and several other minor league professional teams.

Her message to students was to be prepared for opportunities at all times and strive for excellence in everything they do. Borders also emphasized how important it is to stay focused on your goals, even if you struggle with adversity.

Caption: Dr. Nikki Fennern and Ila Borders at the Breaking Barriers event.

Kabara Institute engages with Rochester entrepreneurial initiatives

Kabara Institute engages with Rochester entrepreneurial initiatives

Our Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies has been actively engaging with both Winona and Rochester civic, business, and educational efforts to promote entrepreneurship. Along with its programming at the Winona Campus, the Kabara Institute has been involved with many key Rochester entrepreneurial activities.

For example, Christine Beech, director of the Kabara Institute — having seen the value of Rochester’s “1 Million Cups” monthly entrepreneurial support forum — helped bring 1MC to Winona, where it launched in November with great success. She is also working with Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc. on ways to increase Saint Mary’s visibility in the area. The institute collaborated with Rochester’s Startup Weekend and sent three Saint Mary’s students to attend, and it partnered with Rochester Rising to host a Global Entrepreneurship Week Student Showcase at our Cascade Meadow center. The Kabara Institute also continues to partner with Rochester Rising and Collider Coworking on several initiatives, and recently coordinated a visit to the Collider facility for Winona city and business representatives as a co-work space is being developed in Winona.

Caption: Saint Mary’s students were among those attending Rochester’s Startup Weekend last fall.

Students represent at 2018 Scholars at the Capitol

Students represent at 2018 Scholars at the Capitol

Student researchers Chelsea Hiltner ’18, Mark Leonard ’19, and Analiese Schadler ’18 represented Saint Mary’s at the 2018 Scholars at the Capitol in February. The event brought undergraduate students from 16 private colleges to the Capitol to highlight their research projects ranging from philosophy to mechanical engineering.

Hiltner, a biology pre-physical therapy major with a criminal justice minor, and Leonard, a biology major, jointly presented a project they worked on the previous summer as interns. Their project looked at regions in southeast Minnesota with and without the invasive Japanese barberry shrub and sought to analyze the difference in deer tick populations relative to the presence of the invasive species by using drag cloths and trapping small mammals.

Schadler, a biochemistry major, presented a separate poster on her thesis project she worked on for three semesters, which analyzed the impact that the herbicide atrazine has on a specific enzyme in the livers of mice and how it is detoxified in mice.

Hiltner and Schadler will both present their projects at this year’s Celebration of Scholarship on April 27. Schadler will also present her findings at the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Annual Meeting in San Diego this April.

Caption: Mark Leonard ’19 and Chelsea Hiltner ’18 speak with Dr. Todd Reinhart.

Power in Diversity leadership conference

Power in Diversity leadership conference

Winona Campus undergraduate students and their advisers attended the Power in Diversity conference at Saint Cloud State as an opportunity for personal growth and leadership development in the community and classroom. Under the theme of “Raising Voices, Lifting Leaders,” the regional gathering celebrated and embraced the power of diversity in all its forms. College students of diverse backgrounds experienced workshops, keynote addresses, and programs to build leadership and communication skills, promote academic excellence, and reinforce education and cultural development — all in the spirit of social change. The conference also helped student leaders make connections to others from across the region.

Caption: Some of the students and staff who attended the Power in Diversity conference.

Students present at interdisciplinary research symposium

Students present at interdisciplinary research symposium

Saint Mary’s students Alex Cyphert, Leanna Haag, and Michael O’Brien-Britton presented at the fifth annual Interdisciplinary Student Research Symposium at The Museum of Russian Art (TMORA) in Minneapolis in February.

Cyphert’s paper was titled “’No Gods or Kings, Only Man’: Ayn Rand’s Experiences in the Soviet Union as Inspiration for Anthem.” Haag presented “What a Piece of Work is Man: Mikhail Bulgakov’s Articulation of Human Nature from the NEP to the Stalinist Regime.” O’Brien-Britton spoke on “Theatre and Theatricality in The Master and Margarita.”

The students were mentored on their projects and accompanied to the symposium by Saint Mary’s faculty Dr. Erich Lippman, history, and Dr. Carolyn Ayers, English.

Caption: From left, Dr. Erich Lippman, Michael O-Brien-Britton, Alex Cyphert, Leanna Haag, and Dr. Carolyn Ayers.

Unity in Diversity events continue through spring

Unity in Diversity events continue through spring

A variety of Winona Campus events celebrating diversity and promoting inclusivity are happening in connection with the national celebration of March as Black History Month and the university’s ongoing initiative for Unity in Diversity.

A coalition of student organizations hosted Multicultural Week in February. The Step Afrika! dance troupe, speaker Matt Glowacki, and comedian Dan Kulp appeared on campus, along with with the Twin Cities Gospel Choir and musical act 1st Klass. The week culminated with the International Food Fest. A Unity in Diversity movie and discussion also took place, as well as an appearance by slam poet Kyla Lacey. The events continue with the play “They Call Me Q,” scheduled for April 25.

Caption: Step Afrika! troupe members held a community workshop before their performance.

Alumni panel talks with students about life after Saint Mary’s

Alumni panel talks with students about life after Saint Mary’s

Four Saint Mary’s alumni spoke on the Winona Campus March 9 about their experience in the business world and how Saint Mary’s helped launch them on their career paths.

Alumni panel members include: Bobbi Kochevar M’08, Matthew Bilski ’07, Kate Kortsch ’95, and Julie Bartosz ’13. This event was sponsored by the Alumni Association, the Business Department, and the PR/Business Club. We are grateful to our talented alumni for sharing their time and knowledge with our students.

Public Relations/Business Club students attend conference

Public Relations/Business Club students attend conference

Members of the Public Relations/Business Club and their faculty adviser Dean Beckman, chair of the Department of Communication, recently attended the PR North conference, hosted by the Minnesota Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

The conference included panel discussions and breakout sessions from professionals in the corporate, agency, and non-profit sectors of communications. The keynote presentation was from Dr. Cindra Kamphoff, performance management expert and author of the book “Beyond Grit,” who provided tips and advice on the power of positive thinking and a winning mindset. The students also met Saint Mary’s alumna Karina (Rajtar) Wiatros ’10, a senior account executive at Maccabee Public Relations in Minneapolis.

Caption: Attending the conference were, from left: Karina Wiatros, Dean Beckman, McKayla Collins, Olivia Osterbauer, Jerardine Mukamurakoze, Meghan Updike, and Danielle Miller.

Chamber Singers toured San Francisco area

Chamber Singers toured San Francisco area

As part of their 2018 tour, the Saint Mary’s Chamber Singers performed in the San Francisco, Calif., area. The 26-voice select ensemble is directed by Dr. Patrick O’Shea of the Music Department. Tour performances throughout February and March included concerts at the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis, Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, Calif., Chapel of Saint Mary of the Angels in Winona, and more.

The repertoire included a cappella works by Tomas Luis de Victoria, Stephen Chatman, Knut Nystedt, Mark Growden, David Conte, and Moses Hogan. The concerts featured the West Coast premiere performances of “Queen of Queens,” an English setting of a John Donne sonnet by Dr. O’Shea.

Caption: Chamber Singers performed at Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, Calif., as part of their 2018 tour.

Alumni step up for baseball clubhouse

Alumni step up for baseball clubhouse

Saint Mary’s will break ground this April on a new baseball clubhouse on the Winona Campus, made possible by a generous lead gift from alumnus Marc Weisenburger ’75 of Plymouth, Minn. Weisenburger made the gift in honor of his experiences at Saint Mary’s, both in school and on the field‚ particularly under the guidance of Hall of Fame Coach Max Molock. The $704,000, 2,500-square-foot facility will be located on the south side of the Gostomski Fieldhouse. The clubhouse will include a players’ locker room and a lounge where the student-athletes can gather, a coaches’ locker room, bathrooms and showers, laundry, and storage.

This is the latest in a series of recent and ongoing upgrades to our athletic facilities that enhance Saint Mary’s recruiting success, ensure that our student-athletes can train and compete well, and assure that our athletic programs are competitive. The clubhouse and the many other athletic program enhancements (e.g., the enhanced cardio facilities) are being funded through the generosity of alumni benefactors who cherish their experiences and want to help future student-athletes have the same great opportunities.

Caption: Baseball alumni including lead donor Marc Weisenburger ’75 (front row, center left) are funding a new clubhouse on campus.

Advancing operational priorities in Rochester

Advancing operational priorities in Rochester

Construction continues on the Saint Mary’s Cascade Meadow addition with the project on track for a summer 2018 completion. This 10,000-square-foot addition will allow the Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs to deliver at Cascade Meadow a number of classes formerly housed at the Rochester Community and Technical College. The ribbon-cutting and celebration marking the opening is May 24.

In addition, the Cascade Meadow expansion will house the collaborative Saint Mary’s/Mayo Clinic physician assistant studies program (PA). The PA space includes faculty offices, classrooms, clinical labs, and simulation spaces to prepare students prior to their clinical rotations at Mayo Clinic. Recently, Mayo Clinic named Dr. Michael J. Huckabee to lead the physician assistant studies program. Dr. Huckabee will work with Saint Mary’s faculty and academic administration to finalize the curriculum and prepare for a 2019 program launch.

An initial exploration was recently completed regarding the opportunities and potential to develop and deliver a traditional nursing program. This review was favorable, and we’ve engaged an external consultant to help us further understand the faculty, accreditation, clinical, and facilities requirements to offer a nursing program.

Brother William Mann, FSC
President
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota

Comments?

Email: chahn@smumn.edu