Saint Mary's NewsroomCampus Connection
An update from the president to alumni and parents
The new school year is well underway on our beautiful Winona Campus. Just a few weeks ago we welcomed both new and returning students. They are already immersed in academic excellence, service activities, and life on a vibrant residential campus. It has been such a great experience meeting faculty, staff, students, and alumni, and I greatly look forward to spending more time getting to know the wonderful people in our Saint Mary’s communities. For now, here is a sampling of what happened over the summer and what our students are doing now.
— The Rev. James P. Burns, IVD, Ph.D. (fall 2018)
It’s been nearly three months since our new President, the Rev. James P. Burns, has joined Saint Mary’s. Several internal and external community welcome receptions have since taken place in Winona, Minneapolis, and Rochester to help him get acquainted with the university. Check out the links below to see news coverage associate with these events and Father Burns:
- Father Burns’ new calling: Grow Saint Mary’s, Post Bulletin
- Father Burns radio interview with Greg Taylor, Leighton Broadcasting
- Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota welcomes new president, Fox 47
- ‘Hopefully, I’ll lead by example’: Q&A with the Rev. James P. Burns, Saint Mary’s new president, Winona Daily News
- Burns vows to maintain Saint Mary’s momentum in first visit as president, Winona Daily News
- Guest view: What we’ve learned about Winona, Winona Daily News
- New leader at the helm of St. Mary’s, Winona Post
- Guest Opinion: What we have learned about Winona, Winona Post
Photo caption: Father Burns, left, talks with community members at the Rochester Community Welcome July 27.
We greeted enthusiastic first-year and transfer students during Welcome Week and provided a special program of activities to help them to connect to each other and the university; to engage with their new home and the broader community; to understand and prepare for the expectations of learning and living at college; and to know the resources available to help them succeed. Popular special sessions were led by faculty and staff who volunteered to share their interests or favorite local spots. The engagement continued during the first week of classes with the student activities and clubs fair and fun community-building events each night.
This summer, nine Saint Mary’s University students worked on site at the X Games Minneapolis 2018 gaining knowledge in fan experience, business operations, sports marketing, and more. Through the X Games Student Work Program sophomores Isabel Bettag, Hannah Crowe, Courtney Moser, Grace Mulcahy; juniors Blair Sanders and Spencer Smec; seniors Caroline Hoffman, and Alyssa Thiel; and 2018 alumna Sarah Egbert received valuable first-hand experience to put on their résumés. Taking place this year July 19-22 at the U.S. Bank Stadium, the X Games brings top athletes in sports such as skateboarding, BMX, Moto X, and more from around the world to compete. Saint Mary’s was one of only four schools chosen to participate in the Summer X Games Student Work Program. All Saint Mary’s students were assigned to work at X Fest, the outdoor action sports festival experience that showcases vendors and fun activities. Read the full story.
Photo caption: Saint Mary’s junior Blair Sanders works with youth at the X Fest through the Summer X Games Student Work Program.
Saint Mary’s University students Fabian Alvarez ’19 and Emma Mockler ’20 attended a two-week student conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in collaboration with students from other Lasallian colleges and universities worldwide. Focusing on leadership and global understanding, this annual program is sponsored by the International Association for Lasallian Universities. This year’s program followed the 2017-18 theme of “Lasallians without Limits,” emphasizing the increasing globalization and skills needed by leaders to understand how actions, decisions, and policies go beyond the borders of communities, states, and nations. With the goal of continuing to build a strong international global Lasallian community, students worked in groups to understand life, politics, and cultures in other countries. Students also engaged in service learning activities, intercultural and cultural understanding, community leadership, and pedagogy that encouraged students to take responsibility for their own learning.
The annual Cardinal ‘M’ Club Weekend has proven to be a great way to look at the past, present, and future of Cardinal athletics. Earlier this month, the university honored student-athletes and alumni for their accomplishments in competition and in the classroom during the ‘M’ Club Awards Ceremony. Receiving Outstanding Male and Female Athlete awards were Griffin Rades (men’s swimming and diving) and Becca Dup (soccer, track and field). Jay Heinle (men’s hockey) and Emily Loof (women’s soccer) were honored as Outstanding Male and Female Scholar Athletes. In addition, two new members were inducted into the Saint Mary’s Sports Hall of Fame. The Cardinal ‘M’ Club, in association with the Saint Mary’s Alumni Office, welcomed Roger Pytlewski ’66 (men’s basketball) and Angie Wright ’00 (fastpitch softball). The weekend also featured a golf outing, alumni games, and varsity athletic contents. Check out the photo gallery from the ‘M’ Club ceremony.
Photo caption: From left, Father James Burns, Saint Mary’s president; Jay Heinle, Outstanding Male Scholar Athlete; Griffin Rades, Outstanding Male Athlete; and Becca Dup, Outstanding Female Athlete. Not pictured: Emily Loof, Outstanding Female Scholar Athlete.
As senior chemistry majors at Saint Mary’s, David Kemper and Allison Miller spend quite a bit of time working in a lab. But now, with a new ThermoFischer Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer, they will spend less valuable time waiting to analyze compounds. Answers are literally at their fingertips within a minute or two. By using this new gas chromatograph (GC), coupled to a mass spectrometer (MS), Saint Mary’s students are now able to separate, identify, and quantify complex mixtures of chemicals at a whole new level. Far more advanced than the university’s previous GC-MS Capability, this new equipment will be highly utilized by students in the teaching labs for organic chemistry, quantitative chemical analysis, environmental toxicology, and instrumental analysis. It is also the main instrument of analysis for senior chemistry and biology research projects. Read the full story.
Photo caption: Chemistry majors Allison Miller ’19 and David Kemper ’19 use the new Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer.
Students Brianna Jacobson ’21 and Jordan Malikowski ’21 along with Colleen Dunne, director of Campus Ministry, attended the national Catholic Relief Services (CRS) SALT Summit in Baltimore July 16-18. Working with CRS University Engagement and joining 60 other colleges and universities from across the country, students spent time learning about what CRS does, advocacy, fair trade, systematic solutions to poverty, and global disaster relief. In addition to a day of workshops on the campus of Loyola University in Baltimore, they also spent a day at the CRS national offices in Baltimore and in arranged meetings with their state representatives in Washington, D.C. Saint Mary’s participants were joined by students and staff members from four other Lasallian colleges and universities, including Lewis University, La Salle University, Christian Brothers University, and Manhattan College. Saint Mary’s University has an active chapter of CRS Student Ambassadors working to bring awareness to issues of global injustice and disaster relief.
As a way to create a vibrant campus and transformational residential life experience, a series of monthly classes called Teaching Kitchen are being held with Chartwells Chef Jim Esser and Saint Mary’s Dietitian Sarah Nicklay. Teaching Kitchen offers education in basic cooking techniques in addition to enhanced nutrition. The initial classes, held during Welcome Weekend, involved 25 student participants. These students learned how to properly use a knife and used these skills to make pico de gallo and pineapple mango salsa. At the end of the class, the students ate their creations with chicken fajitas and took their salsas and recipes home with them. The first class was free to participants, and the upcoming classes will cost one meal swipe. The next Teaching Kitchen class will be held in October with a theme of eating local. The class will begin with a trip to the Winona Farmer’s Market to purchase ingredients.
In June, several Saint Mary’s representatives attended the annual program celebration for the Eddie Phillips Scholarship, a dinner hosted by the Minnesota Private College Council. Saint Mary’s students Desmond Steward, Bradley Hill, and Stanley Wright are currently participating in the Eddie Phillips Scholarship program. Created and coordinated by the Minnesota Private College Fund, the Eddie Phillips Scholarship for African-American Men is funded by The Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota. Students are named in the spring of their sophomore year and participate in their junior and senior years. Program participants receive significant scholarships along with valuable experiences, including advising, mentoring, and leadership development opportunities. They participate in internships, attend a national conference, and network with local African-American leaders. Saint Mary’s is proud of the work these young men have done in the program.
Photo caption: Saint Mary’s representatives attended the annual Eddie Phillips Scholarship celebration, from left: Octavia Brown, Countdown to College coordinator and Eddie Phillips Scholarship site coordinator; Ann Merchlewitz, then interim president; Desmond Steward, Bradley Hill, and Stanley Wright, students and Eddie Phillips Scholarship recipients; Alisa Macksey, First Generation Initiative executive director; and Anne Conway, First Generation Initiative literacy specialist.
The Study Abroad Office collaborated with the Business and English departments to facilitate two short-term study abroad trips in May, helping prepare students to be global citizens and immersing them in dynamic and transformational learning experiences.
As part of BU460: Business and Culture in Europe, 18 students traveled to Austria, Czech Republic, and Germany with their Business professors. Students developed their knowledge of international business concepts and culture through traditional classroom studies and a 17-day tour to various European sites. Tour highlights included visits to the U.S. Embassy in Prague, Czech Republic; the BMW plant in Munich, Germany; the Watlow plant near Salzburg, Austria; and the Fastenal plant near Brno, Czech Republic.
As part of E360: Literature on Location, 13 students traveled to England with their English professors. Students explored English culture and history through an examination of literature and a subsequent 18-day literary tour of England focusing on sites related to course readings. During their travels, students stayed at St. Cassian’s Centre, a Lasallian retreat facility on beautiful grounds near Kintbury, England. Visit highlights included trips to Shakespeare’s home and Anne Hathaway’s cottage and attending a Royal Shakespeare Theatre production in Stratford-upon-Avon, England.
Photo caption: Saint Mary’s students and professors from BU460: Business and Culture in Europe pose with workers at the Fastenal plant near Brno, Czech Republic.
To Saint Mary’s University women’s soccer coach Neil Cassidy, the student-athletes in his program are more than just collegiate soccer players — they are family. A family whose roots span from coast-to-coast and beyond. From Chula Vista, Calif., to New York City, N.Y., to Copenhagen, Denmark, Cassidy has brought together players from 14 different states and one foreign country to form this year’s “family” — a group that has kicked off the season with wins in four of its first six games. Experiences like those of a student-athlete are an important part of a Saint Mary’s education that help us create a vibrant campus and transformational life at the College.
Now in its ninth year, the Countdown to College (C2C) program was created as a way to make higher education accessible. C2C held its summer session in July to provide promising students from Catholic, Lasallian, and Jesuit partner schools in under-resourced communities with the skills they need to be successful. C2C provides high school students with four consecutive summers of intensive two-week academic and social preparation for college. Students sharpen academic skills, learn what it’s like to be a college student, live in residence halls, eat in the cafeteria, schedule their homework, and more. Out-of-class activities introduce students to many campus and area resources.
A program of our First Generation Initiative (FGI) and funded by multiple benefactors, C2C has demonstrated success: 103 students have completed the C2C program; 100 percent have graduated from high school; 80 percent are enrolled in college; and 43 have become FGI Scholars at Saint Mary’s, while many others have received full scholarships to other universities. And this year, the very first group of C2C students graduated from Saint Mary’s as FGI Scholars.
Photo caption: Countdown to College students work together during a summer session last year.
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota was once again ranked in the annual U.S. News & World Report ratings of best colleges and universities in the nation. Saint Mary’s was ranked 50th in the Best Regional Universities of the Midwest category of the U.S. News Best Colleges 2019 guidebook, among a list of 165 schools ranked in this category. Saint Mary’s was also ranked 49th in the U.S. News category of Best Value Schools Regional Universities of the Midwest, among a list of 75 schools ranked in this category. The annual rankings are available at usnews.com/best-colleges.
“We appreciate these rankings because we know that U.S. News & World Report is a source that many students and families look to when comparing higher education institutions,” said Father James P. Burns, president of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. “The report includes such areas as retention and graduation rates, strength of faculty, and employment outcomes, all of which are topics important to students, their families, and all of us at Saint Mary’s. It’s imperative for us to be constantly improving in order to provide the best possible formative and educational experience.”
Though she doesn’t yet have the credentials M.D. behind her name, Saint Mary’s senior Kynzie Smedsrud is already collaborating on potential lifesaving research — research that could one day help women fighting breast cancer. Smedsrud’s summer internship at Gundersen Medical Foundation’s Kabara Cancer Research Institute gave her a hands-on experience that far exceeded her expectations. A biochemistry major from Luverne, Minn., Smedsrud was a Saint Mary’s University Fellow at Gundersen, an academic collaboration brought about through 1958 alumnus Dr. Jon Kabara (now deceased) and his wife Betty, founders of the Kabara Cancer Research Institute in La Crosse, Wis. The experience at Gundersen gave Smedsrud an opportunity to see what choices she has as she looks toward her future. Smedsrud intends to apply to medical school this fall, a dream she set her sights on in the ninth grade, and will hopefully start continuing her education the following year. Read the full story.
Photo courtesy of Gundersen Health.