Saint Mary's NewsroomCampus Connection
An update from the president to alumni and parents
Final exams are over, papers have been handed in, our students have returned home for rest and rejuvenation, and many of us will spend the joyous Christmas season with family and loved ones. I take this opportunity, in a season of giving and receiving, to offer you, as a gift, some of the wonderful moments and memories created by our students who have achieved so much. I hope from these moments you will receive keenly a sense of the positive impact they make to our campus life and in the larger community. I also want to share some of the exciting events that have happened at the university. Here are just a few snapshots from the semester.
— Father James P. Burns, IVD (winter 2018)
On Oct. 5, Father James P. Burns, IVD, Ph.D. was inaugurated as the 14th president of Saint Mary’s University. A crowd of approximately 1,500 gathered on the Winona Campus to congratulate Father Burns on a day that was filled with pomp and circumstance. Saint Mary’s showcased its strong educational reputation and welcoming atmosphere.
During the inauguration ceremony, Father Burns spoke about what sets an education at Saint Mary’s apart from the competition: “If we are open and unafraid about forming our students and ourselves, not only in intellect, but in heart and soul as well, we will be living into that which truly sets our schools apart.
“In fact, we could even say that just helping our students is not enough, just educating their minds is not enough, and even just forming them generally is not enough. All of these are only part of our educational effort. Rather more deeply it is about forming them in a particular way, helping them to perceive, to know, to act, and to do the good in the right way at the right time for the right reason.”
With great anticipation, Saint Mary’s launched a new 3+2 Physician Assistant (PA) Program. It is a collaborative effort between Saint Mary’s and Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences. Beginning in fall 2019, students chosen for this highly competitive program will spend three years studying on the Winona Campus followed by two years with Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences, with most graduate courses being held at Saint Mary’s Cascade Meadow facility in Rochester. Those two years will include substantial clinical experiences at Mayo Clinic in Rochester and throughout Mayo Clinic Health System.
At the completion of this program, students will receive a bachelor’s degree from Saint Mary’s and a Master of Health Sciences degree in PA Studies from Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences. The ultimate goal of the program is to create a pipeline of talented PAs who will work for Mayo Clinic at locations throughout the Midwest, responding to a national need for quality healthcare. It is particularly prestigious since these new PA students will train at the No. 1 ranked hospital in the nation. Mayo is also ranked No. 1 in more specialties than any other hospital. For more information about the program, visit smumn.edu/PAprogram.
With help from skilled members of the business community, both regionally and among alumni, Saint Mary’s has formed a Business Advisory Council (BAC). The council will support and help the university’s School of Business on its Winona Campus. The BAC’s goal is to advance the learning experience of Saint Mary’s students and contribute to the quality of teaching and research of its faculty through their support. Innovative programs, recruitment and placement, and the competitive undergraduate business environment are among the topics for which the council will provide insight. The council is further subdivided into three committees with specific goals: Winona Business Community Committee; Internships, Co-op, and Mentoring Committee; and Development Committee.
Members of the Saint Mary’s BAC, a volunteer group of dedicated professionals, include:
- Jerome A. Colletti, managing partner, Colletti-Fiss, LLC, Scottsdale, Ariz.
- Terri L. Evans, VP/correspondent mortgage account manager, Merchants Bank, Winona
- Roger Haydock, law professor, William Mitchell College of Law, Spearfish, S.D.
- Sheryl Lisowski, controller, CAO, and treasurer, Fastenal Company, Winona
- Todd Paulson, chief financial officer, RTP Company, Winona
- Dick Pope, chairman, WinCraft, Inc., Winona
- DJ Prideaux, program manager, Sensata Technologies, Saint Paul, Minn.
- Randy Skarlupka, vice president of operations, Miller Ingenuity, Winona
- Maggie Sonnek, marketing professional and business owner, Mill City Creative, Wabasha, Minn.
- Angela Steger, retired financial representative, Northfield, Ill.
- Cathy Walsh, broker associate, Jameson Sotheby’s International Real Estate, Hinsdale, Ill.
Members of the Public Relations/Business (PR/B) Club visited two international companies with headquarters in Winona. In September, about 20 members of the club visited WinCraft, a nationwide leader in the manufacturing of licensed and promotional products that specializes in sports-related merchandise. The students learned about WinCraft’s communication, marketing, and sales strategies and then toured WinCraft’s state-of-the-art manufacturing and distribution facilities. In November, PR/B Club students enjoyed a tour and “meet the managers” session at Fastenal headquarters. Students met with eight senior and middle managers to learn more about the Fastenal business operations and to explore internship and co-op education opportunities.
Photo caption: From left, Amber Collins, team sales manager at WinCraft, Liz Sagar, inside sales/collegiate sales at WinCraft, and Robert Gas ’12, Saint Mary’s alumnus and national account manager at WinCraft, address the Saint Mary’s Public Relations/Business Club during its visit to WinCraft.
Students majoring in biology, environmental biology, and psychology presented their undergraduate research at the Seven Rivers Undergraduate Research Symposium, sponsored by Viterbo University on Nov. 9. Ben Borash, Cole Van Houten, Erin Hettinger, Abbigail Propsom, and Austin Kleman gave oral presentations on the results of their summer internship experiences or their senior research projects. Joshua Balsiger, Michele Remer, and Mark Leonard presented posters of their work resulting from summer internships and an independent study. Kleman won an award for best oral presentation in the social sciences. Balsiger and Remer won a “People’s Choice” best poster award.
Photo caption: Environmental biology majors Cole Van Houten and Erin Hettinger presented their summer research on invasive wild parsnip at Saint Mary’s Cascade Meadow facility in Rochester.
Seven Saint Mary’s students and staff attended the Kente Summit at Macalester College in St. Paul on Nov. 2-3. Freshman Byron King, sophomores Shamauri Brown-Young and Raekwon Livingston, junior Aaron Kibirige, and senior Aldontae Guess attended the event, accompanied by staff members Octavia Brown, Countdown to College coordinator, and Naz Zerka, Wellness Center counselor. The event brings together male, undergraduate students of African descent from colleges and universities in Minnesota for keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and community building. Discussions focused on issues and experiences related to identity, intersectionality, inclusion, and intentionality. Many presenters were featured at the Kente Summit, including Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, host of BET News and a political contributor for CNN.
Photo caption: Pictured are (back row, from left), Shamauri Brown-Young, student; Octavia Brown, Countdown to College coordinator; Aaron Kibirige, student; Naz Zerka, Wellness Center counselor; (front row, from left) students Byron King, Raekwon Livingston, and Aldontae Guess.
Students of all majors gathered late September to attend a Business Mixer event, followed by a presentation on the Saint Mary’s data analytics program. The event was co-hosted by the Business Department and the Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at Saint Mary’s University and co-sponsored by Miller Ingenuity, WinCraft, and RTP Company. More than 50 people attended the event which was designed to connect students with local business leaders and increase their awareness of local career opportunities. Other local businesses in attendance were Fastenal, Watlow, and Benchmark.
Members of the S.O.U.L. Council (Serving Others United in Love) traveled to Chicago for a fall break immersion trip to practice leadership skills. The group of seven students and two campus ministry team members experienced outreach at various sites around Chicago including San Miguel Back of the Yards, the Maria Kaupas Center, Amate House, Su Casa Catholic Worker House, and the Greater Chicago Food Depository. At each of these sites, students learned how each ministry approaches outreach, works toward systemic change to poverty and injustice, and supports members of the community.
Focusing on the pillars of faith, service, community, and transformation, these seven students will lead spring break trips to Flint, Mich.; Rochester, N.Y.; El Paso, Texas; Tulsa, Okla.; and Browning, Mont.; and will travel to New Orleans, La., in May.
Photo caption: Students participating in the S.O.U.L. trip to Chicago were, from left: back, Aldontae Guess, Theresa Cheever, Emma Mockler, and Oliver Perry; front, Jordan Malikowski, Aimee Boggs, and Yohanan Urbina.
Angela Soto, a junior Environmental Biology student, presented with Dr. Moni Berg-Binder and Dr. Ben Pauli, Environmental Biology faculty, at the Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference / North American Invasive Species Management Association joint conference in Rochester, Minn., on Oct. 17. Their talk was titled “Combining education and research in an undergraduate invasion ecology class.” The course, taught during spring 2017, explored invasion ecology theory through class readings and discussions. One major element of the course required students to design and conduct original research that applied spatial analysis to a local invasive species. In addition to presenting, the conference gave participants, which included Alyssa Haram, a sophomore Environmental Biology student, opportunities to network with professionals and learn about the ecology and management of invasive species.
Photo caption: Angela Soto and Alyssa Haram, both Environmental Biology majors, attended the Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference / North American Invasive Species Management Association Joint Conference in Rochester, Minn.
On Nov. 3, four Saint Mary’s University students competed in MinneAnalytics’ third annual analytics event, which is designed to allow students to explore real-world data while enhancing and showcasing their skills. This year’s competition focused on predicting voter turnout for the midterm elections in Minnesota. Students had multiple weeks to analyze data before presenting their findings to judges from the analytics community at the main event.
The four students on the Saint Mary’s team presented a model in which they asked a voter a series of 20 questions relating to topics like healthcare. From their responses, the students predicted the likelihood that the respondent would vote in the most recent election. Although they did not win the competition, the Saint Mary’s team scored highest in creativity of their model and earned prize money. About 30 schools in total participated in the event.
Photo caption: Michael Ratajczyk, assistant professor of business, joined business intelligence and analytics majors Nicholas Marshall, Jacob Petraitis, and Emily Seykora, and physics major Toan Tran.
Recently, 38 students participated in the LIFT Retreat (Lasallians in Faith Together), formerly known as TEC (Together Encountering Christ). Students spent the weekend building community, reflecting on the Paschal mystery, and participating in faith-centered activities and discussion. This retreat takes place each semester as an opportunity to further engage students in our Lasallian Catholic identity and give the space needed for reflection and growth. Among talks from several students, the retreat also started with a presentation by Brother Guillaume Yame, FSC, on Lasallian pillars and the work of Saint John Baptist de La Salle. At the core of La Salle’s work in catechesis is the spirit of evangelization through an authentic lived faith and as a free and welcoming spirit of community. Next semester’s retreat will take place the weekend of March 29-31.
On Nov. 13, students in the Accounting Information Systems class traveled to Fastenal headquarters to present their process documentation projects to Fastenal’s accounting management at corporate headquarters. The month-long project had the students working directly with management and accounting personnel at Fastenal to understand, document, dissect, and flowchart three disparate processes in key areas of the Fastenal business. Students completed the project by presenting their findings to Fastenal accounting management and additional staff.
Photo caption: Taliya Harris presents at Fastenal headquarters.
Earlier this fall, 26 students enrolled in Plant Communities and Taxonomy or Introduction to Mammalian Ecology and Diversity got a chance to visit, learn about, and experience an entire new ecosystem far from campus. This multi-day field experience took students to North-Central Minnesota to experience Itasca State Park and the headwaters of the Mississippi River, as well as to the Deep Portage Learning Center near Hackensack. As the experience combined both mammalogy and plant ecology, Dr. Moni Berg-Binder and Dr. Ben Pauli were able to teach lessons about bat ecology, lead hikes in which students did plant and mammal identification, cross the headwaters of the Mississippi River, experience old-growth forests in Itasca State Park, and visit two different bogs. Students majoring in environmental biology who are exploring both the terrestrial and aquatic ecology of the Mississippi River watershed were able to see their classroom learning come alive.
Sophomores Anna Dale and Sarah Hardy share more than a passion for music. They also share a residence hall room at Saint Mary’s University and now the title of Elevator Pitch Competition winners. As part of one of their classes, Dale and Hardy went through the steps of forming a nonprofit, including creating a mission statement, writing a grant letter of inquiry, and even creating a board of directors. This is where they came up with the idea of “Ensemble,” a nonprofit organization which would provide children and young adults with a venue to learn and enjoy music.
Dale and Hardy pitched their Ensemble idea in the largest Saint Mary’s Elevator Pitch Competition ever, beating out 26 other elevator pitches. Hosted by the Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, the semi-annual Elevator Pitch Competition gives students an opportunity to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges in less than 90 seconds and win cash prizes.
Photo caption: Sarah Hardy presents during the Elevator Pitch Competition.
James Perreault, a junior finance major at Saint Mary’s, had an opportunity to pitch his idea for a sanitizing system for wheelchairs and other hospital equipment, called UVCanopy, to medical professionals at Mayo Clinic as part of the Mayo Walleye Tank competition. To qualify for the competition, he first had to pass a Student Entrepreneurial Showcase, a collaboration between Saint Mary’s Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, Collider Coworking, and the Mayo Clinic Office of Entrepreneurship. Perreault not only passed and qualified for the junior angler division of Walleye Tank, he also won the Audience Favorite Award and was the only undergraduate student to qualify for the competition. Other competitors included medical professionals and graduate students from Ivy League Schools.
UVCanopy uses germicidal Ultraviolet-C light to kill bacteria in a tunnel-shaped device. Perreault explains that medical equipment or wheelchairs would be pushed through the tunnel via a conveyor belt, eliminating human error, saving time, and reducing dependency on hazardous sterilization chemicals. Target users would be nursing homes and rehabilitation centers. Although he didn’t win, Perreault said several angel investors contacted him to tell him they’d like to hear more.
Pope Francis has recognized the martyrdom of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota alumnus Brother James Miller, FSC. The Vatican announced Nov. 8 that Pope Francis approved a decree recognizing Brother James died as a martyr on Feb. 13, 1982, in Huehuetenango, Guatemala. While repairing a wall at the school where he worked, Brother James (also known as Brother Santiago) was approached by three men, who shot and killed him. It is suspected that Brother James was killed because he and the other Brothers fought to keep their young students from being forced into the military.
Brother James will be the first De La Salle Christian Brother from the United States to be beatified. The cause of beatification was undertaken by the Diocese of Huehuetenango, Guatemala, and received the Decree of Validity in Rome in 2010 when Brother James was designated a Servant of God and a martyr for the faith. The recognition of the martyrdom of Brother James clears the way for his beatification; the date and location of the beatification ceremony were not immediately announced. As a martyr, Brother James must have one miracle attributed to him posthumously to reach the next and final step toward official sainthood, which is canonization.