Saint Mary's NewsroomCampus Connection
An update from the president to alumni and parents
Higher education is a field that is constantly changing. With this roundup, we hope to keep you informed about what is going on at universities and colleges around the country.
Saint Mary’s is pleased to announce that John (Jack) McClure, Ph.D., has been named dean of the School of Education. McClure has served as interim dean since March, following the departure of Michael Lovorn.
Before coming to Saint Mary’s in 2006, McClure worked as counselor and manager in the healthcare industry for sixteen years. At Saint Mary’s, he began as an assistant professor in the Ed.D. program, then was named to associate professor and core faculty in 2011, and in 2013 became professor and program director for the Ed.D. program. During this time, McClure has published many works in the field of education, served on numerous committees and administrative appointments, and received many awards and recognitions for his contributions to Lasallian education, including Distinguished Lasallian Educator for Midwest Region in 2018.
McClure has a BFA from Drake University, an MS from the University of Wisconsin, and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.
“I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. McClure as our permanent dean of the School of Education. After a nation-wide search in which we reviewed highly qualified candidates with impressive backgrounds, it became clear to us that Jack was the best fit, not only for his strong support of the Lasallian Catholic mission at Saint Mary’s, but because of his experience with the educational landscape in Minnesota, as well as his leadership qualities. I am grateful to Jack for stepping up to take on the interim role, but more so for stepping forward to lead the School of Education as our new dean,” said Dr. Max Bonilla, provost and dean of faculties.
With McClure being named dean of the School of Education, Sue Hines has been appointed program director for the Ed.D. program. Hines has been a part of the Saint Mary’s community for 18 years, serving as director of CELT, an Ed.D. faculty member, and interim director of curriculum and instruction.
On Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023, Saint Mary’s will welcome Dr. Liz Gulliford for a Cardinal Virtue lecture on “How Gratitude and Related Virtues Help Students and Teachers to Flourish.” This lecture presents gratitude as central to the other virtues and human flourishing. The Cardinal Virtue lecture will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 19 in Aquinas 200 and is open to the entire Saint Mary’s community.
Earlier in the day, Dr. Gulliford will facilitate a conversation with faculty on the virtues of servant leadership. The faculty conversation will be at 4:15 p.m. in the President’s Room in the Toner Center.
On Wednesday, Sept. 20, Dr. Gulliford will facilitate another conversation on the virtues of servant leadership on the Minneapolis campus. This conversation will be at 3:30 p.m. in Brother Louis Hall room 105, and is open to all faculty, staff, and students.
Dr. Gulliford is an associate professor in psychology at the University of Northampton (UK). She is also an honorary research fellow at the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at the University of Birmingham as well as a senior psychology advisor with the Oxford Character Project.
As the financial books closed this summer, it’s time for the Saint Mary’s community to celebrate a number of record-breaking donations in FY ’23 that were acquired through the work of the Office of Advancement.
In FY ’23, the university saw a historic $47.2 million raised – the most money ever committed to the university in a fiscal year – donated through gifts, pledges, in-kind donations, and estate commitments. The previous record for gift commitments was set in 2014, with $19 million committed.
“With a historic philanthropic year for the university, one thing has been made clear: our alumni and benefactors believe in Saint Mary’s and our mission and vision,” said Gary Klein, vice president of advancement. “With these transformational gifts, many generations of students will benefit from a Saint Mary’s education — and, in turn, society will benefit from graduates who are both skilled and demonstrate strong moral and ethical character.”
As a part of this historic year, Saint Mary’s received its largest gift commitment to date of $25 million. While the benefactors wish to remain anonymous, they shared they felt compelled to invest in Saint Mary’s, stating how much they appreciate the hard work of the president and administration to boldly address the future course of Saint Mary’s. They see the university as one of the few that have a clear plan to steer through the turbulent waters facing all in higher education today.
As a stipulation of the gift agreement, in order to inspire others to step forward to provide support, the family challenged the university to raise an additional $100 million beginning June 1, 2022. This also marks the largest philanthropic challenge in university history, surpassing the $5 million challenge for Aquinas Hall on the Winona Campus.
The Saint Mary’s Fund also saw the most money committed in a single year in FY ‘23, with more than $1.8 million committed. In addition, the Office of Advancement secured the final $4.5 million to complete the fundraising for Aquinas Hall.
Ayers departs from Saint Mary’s for dean position at Edgewood College
Carolyn Ayers has accepted an appointment for a new position as dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Edgewood College in Madison, WI. While she will be greatly missed at Saint Mary’s, we wish her heartfelt congratulations and blessings as she takes on this new and more expansive leadership role.
Dalle to join Saint Mary’s as professional advisor for bachelor completion programs
The Saint Mary’s community is pleased to welcome Jullie Dalle as the professional advisor for bachelor completion students within the School of Graduate and Professional Programs.
Dalle comes to Saint Mary’s with extensive expertise in the areas of student support and success. Her previous experience includes teaching for Groves Academy, where she instructed and mentored students with diverse learning challenges. At Saint Mary’s, Dalle will replicate this student-focused support approach by providing advising services to our online adult learners, including course selection, program completion, academic resources, and individual coaching.
Faculty members from B.S. in Criminal Justice Leadership receive promotion within MPD
Two faculty members from the B.S. in Criminal Justice Leadership program received promotions to assistant chief of police with the Minneapolis Police Department. Christopher Gaiters was promoted to assistant chief of community trust, while Katie Blackwell was promoted to assistant chief of operations.
Mastin publishes book
Justine Mastin, M.A., a course-contracted professor in the M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy, recently had a book she co-authored with Larisa Garski released by Penguin Random House. In The Grieving Therapist, Mastin and Garski explore what it means to be a therapist during tenuous times that may feel like the end of the world.
With an eye on stability and proven leadership skills, the Very Rev. James P. Burns, IVD, Ph.D., Saint Mary’s president, announced James (Jim) Bedtke will assume an interim senior vice president role October 16. On August 23, Benjamin (Ben) Murray’96 announced he had accepted the role as CFO of the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) and has since worked closely with key leadership to prepare for his October departure. The office of the president will launch a national search for a permanent chief financial officer by the end of the month.
Murray currently leads the finance, human resources, IT, institutional effectiveness, facilities planning, and campus operations teams. Upon his departure, departments will be divided into three tracks. Bedtke will oversee the departments of finance, IT, facilities
planning, campus operations, and geospatial services, while the departments of human resources and strategic planning will report directly to the president’s office. Institutional effectiveness will report to the provost’s office.
“It is a bittersweet time for us as we show appreciation for all that Ben has done and been about. As he begins this exciting next chapter in his vocational journey, we know he will be greatly missed at Saint Mary’s. That is why, when determining the next best steps about this time of transition, we turned to Jim Bedtke. Jim has provided us with interim leadership through various transitions in the past and will provide stability for our university today. He knows what needs to be done and is devoted to the success of Saint Mary’s and our faculty, staff and students.” said Father Burns. “Jim is a loyal and trusted leader, who has consistently demonstrated his love for Saint Mary’s and our mission. I am personally grateful to him for stepping into this role while we embark upon a formal search for a chief financial officer at Saint Mary’s.”
“I am honored to serve the president and the university with the accumulation of experience that I have gained during my 40 years at Saint Mary’s. I actually started as a faculty member in the Business Department, where I taught marketing and international business. Brother Louis DeThomasis, the president, promoted me to be dean of the School of Business, Computer Science, and Social and Behavioral Sciences. Later, I served as vice president for Winona-based graduate programs, associate vice president for academic affairs of the College, associate provost, and vice president for SGPP,” said Bedtke. “For decades, the alumni of our university have demonstrated the value and impact of the Lasallian Catholic education they receive at Saint Mary’s. That remains at the core of what makes Saint Mary’s special to all of us.”
Larkin Clem came to Saint Mary’s University for volleyball but she’s leaving with a fulfilling career path.
The Elk River, Minn., native came to campus knowing she was a future Cardinal athlete and also that she was interested in biology. Now retired faculty member Randy Krainock told her about all the research opportunities she would have, and his enthusiasm both rubbed off on her and sealed her academic future.
He wasn’t mistaken about research opportunities.
Her sophomore year, Clem worked with her adviser Dr. Matthew Rowley on optimizing the university’s flow cytometry protocol. The flow cytometry equipment, which is used in large and smaller scale labs to identify certain characteristics of cancer cells and normal cells, had sometimes been yielding unexpected data, so Clem did cell growth and death rate tests to optimize how the machine is used and to make it easier for all students in the future.
She’s also been working on various research projects including analyzing the expression of epiregulin in response to TBX2 transfection.
It’s when she can talk about things like epiregulin and TBX2, without having to explain what that means, that she excels.
“Research matches my personality,” she said. “It’s a lot of independent benchwork, but it’s also about being part of an intellectual community. I’ve always thrived where advisers have viewed me as an equal and talked about science at the highest level.”
Clem said she’s been grateful for all the hands-on research she’s been able to do as an undergraduate. “It prepared me to do my research at a high-capacity research institution,” she said.
This past summer, for a 10-week internship, she did full-time research at the University of Minnesota in their life sciences summer undergraduate program in the cancer research wing. Working alongside a second-year Ph.D. student, Clem studied how estrogen affects breast cancer growth – a topic she is using for her senior thesis.
“In general, if you have invasive lobular carcinoma and treat it with estrogen, certain genes are more highly expressed as a result, which correlates with higher growth rates, tumor burden, and more aggressive phenotype,” she said. “If you treat mice with estrogen, they grow tumors faster, bigger, and more resistant to drug therapy.”
Next year, she will be enrolled in the cancer biology Ph.D. program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For the next five to seven years, she’ll be doing research, and publishing papers on her way to obtaining her doctorate. Eventually, she would love to run her own cancer research lab.
She’s had quite a few family members and friends battle the invasive disease. “Everyone sadly has known someone who has gone through cancer or lost the battle with cancer,” she said. “I’m glad I can enter a program that is aiming to make a difference.”
Although Clem won’t be going into patient care, she is excited to know that the work she does in the lab will affect patient outcomes. “Finding the cure to cancer is a large, massive task that no one person, lab, or university will do. It’s about translational research, making sure it has applications to patients and to actual people. Making biomarkers and having translational research will be driving my career in the future.”
Clem says she genuinely feels prepared for the next step of her academic journey. “Going into the internship last summer, I was really nervous; I was working with doctoral students,” she said. “But I think Dr. Rowley’s mentorship style has really helped me. He’s hands off. He provides guidance but also gives you freedom. I’ve been able to succeed without him being over my shoulder which has really been beneficial. Everyone in biology has been great. It’s a close knit community of advisers who are all looking out for you and trying to help you get to where you want to go next.”
Ephrem Eshete B’23 is excited about his future.
First, he has enlisted in the Army Reserve and is headed to basic training, excited to serve the country he has called home since 2017 when he moved here from Ethiopia.
When he returns, he has a dream job waiting for him with a Big 6 accounting firm — a pinnacle career aspiration.
He credits double majoring in Accounting and Business Administration in Saint Mary’s bachelor’s completion programs for helping him get where he is today. “Because of my degree, I have had so many changes in my life, including my language,” he said. “My grammar has improved, my writing has improved. I now have an understanding of business communication skills and how useful that is, and because of my degree, I got the best offer from the best accounting firm, a Big 6 firm that has the best culture and good diversity. This is a huge opportunity for me.
“I wouldn’t see myself in this position unless I got this degree,” he adds, explaining that he has worked with the accounting firm as an intern since last fall.
He believes internship experiences, coupled with his education, have prepared him for his career. “I’m ready,” he said. “I already tested myself with two internship opportunities, and they believe in me; that’s why they gave me the position.”
Eshete also says the educational knowledge he acquired helped him pass the required exams in order to qualify for military service.
In Ethiopia, he had also earned a degree in business management, and accounting was his minor. He found he especially enjoyed his accounting courses, but unlike the U.S., he says, it’s difficult to change majors once you’ve made progress in a program.
“If you get in, either you like it or not; you have to finish,” he said. “So I didn’t get the chance to switch from business management to accounting. So when I came here, I liked accounting and saw it as a great opportunity for me. In 2020, I needed another course for my CPA exam, so when my credit was short, I had a discussion with my adviser. She gave me three options: continue on toward my master’s, take electives, or double major. It thought double majoring was the best solution at the time. Double majoring in Business Administration paired well with Accounting.”
Eshete chose to apply to Saint Mary’s because one of his wife’s best friends had obtained her master’s degree from the university and had recommended it. Although Eshete had applied at multiple schools in the U.S., they chose to move from Tampa, Fl., to Minnesota, to be closer to family.
When questioned what Eshete liked the most about his experience, his answer was simple. “I think … everything.” He elaborated: “I enjoyed my professors. I enjoyed the course. The curriculum is good, especially for working people like me. I have to work 40 hours to support my family, but I was working while I was studying. I liked the flexibility. Professors understand when you are in a time crunch and will be flexible as long as you communicate with them. They understand that we are adults with family responsibilities and work. They are also very knowledgeable. Their feedback is timely and constructive.”
Eshete, who also has a nearly 2-year-old daughter, says obtaining a degree — despite being a busy adult — is doable, you just can’t procrastinate.
“You can do it,” he said. “We all have 24 hours. It’s all about how you use your time. I spent my whole time on family, career, and school, that’s all. I didn’t waste time on social media or things like that. Stop telling your mind you don’t have the time. It’s all about prioritizing. My wife was also helpful and supportive.”
He recommends Saint Mary’s because of the quality of the education and professors who understand their students. “They understand our situation, and the curriculum is designed for busy adults. The price is good too. Whether you want your master’s or to complete your degree, they will provide all the support you need.”
Equipped with a juris doctorate, Dinyar Mehta had spent years climbing the ladder at a major Twin Cities-based corporation when he felt he needed to make a career change.
Rather than going to a competitor for a new job title and a little more money, he decided to look beyond the corporate world.
“After I decided to change, I simply asked friends, family, and colleagues one question: How does my presence make your life better?” Mehta said. “When they would respond, it always came back to three things: You motivate me, you inspire me, and you help me heal. So I knew that’s what I needed to do.”
Those answers helped Mehta make the decision to go back to graduate school and enroll in Saint Mary’s M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy program. With his degree, Mehta became a staff clinician at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, where he works in the STOP Violence Program, which provides services to members of the LGBT community who are experiencing intimate partner violence.
At the time Mehta was looking at graduate schools, he said he lived extremely close to Saint Mary’s Minneapolis Campus; however, proximity did not play a role in his decision.
“Saint Mary’s afforded me a top-notch, accredited program for significantly less than what I would have paid for if I had returned to California to receive my degree,” he said. “And I really resonated with the Lasallian commitment to a high-quality education that I absolutely received from start to finish.”
He also says he felt the community at Saint Mary’s was invested in his education even before he applied. At the time, Metha was torn between obtaining an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy or a Doctorate of Psychology in Counseling. Knowing this, the admissions office had him meet one-on-one with Samantha Zaid, the program director for the Marriage and Family Therapy program.
“Samantha sat down to meet with me to help me understand the difference between the two and whether they aligned with my way of thinking about the world of psychology and therapy,” he said. “She really helped me make the right choice for me, between the two programs. And this was before I even formally applied, so that really spoke to me because that lets me know they were invested in my education, regardless of where I applied.”
And that investment in his education, and every other student’s education, is something that Mehta says makes Saint Mary’s Marriage and Family Therapy program stand out.
“At Saint Mary’s, there is a commitment to intellectual rigor and inquiry,” Mehta said. “And there was a caring community that believed in us, and that believed in me so that I could be the best student and have the potential to have the best career I could have.”
Thriving at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, Mehta has goals to expand his practice in California, and he expresses great gratitude to Saint Mary’s for preparing him to do so.
“When I got out to California, I was eminently prepared for my licensure exam. And now, I’m looking to open my own practice as well,” he said. “And I could not have done it without Saint Mary’s. My education made me feel so confident. I chose Saint Mary’s and I made the best decision.”