;

Saint Mary's Newsroom / Campus Notes

Winona Campus Newsletter
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Chemistry Department Receives Approval from the American Chemical Society

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Chemistry Department Receives Approval from the American Chemical Society

The Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Chemistry Department is proud to announce that it has been granted approval by the American Chemical Society (ACS), recognizing the department’s commitment to excellence in chemical education.

The approval from ACS, the world’s largest scientific society dedicated to advancing chemistry, affirms the department’s strong curriculum; faculty expertise; laboratory and teaching facilities; and student opportunities.

The approval process involved a comprehensive review of the Chemistry Department’s curriculum, faculty qualifications, research programs, and facilities. By meeting the ACS’s rigorous standards, the department has demonstrated its ability to prepare students for successful careers in chemistry, biochemistry, and related fields while contributing to advancements in scientific knowledge.

Students will now have an option to complete additional coursework in their Chemistry or Biochemistry major to earn an ACS-approved degree. Completing an ACS-approved Chemistry or Biochemistry major provides students with a nationally-recognized certification of their skills and knowledge, giving them a competitive edge for pursuing future career or graduate and professional school opportunities.

The Chemistry Department looks forward to building upon this achievement and continuing to offer exceptional education along with opportunities for students to participate in research and community engagement.

For more information about the Chemistry Department at Saint Mary’s University, please visit www.smumn.edu.

When justice is served

When justice is served

Every case has significance

Within his long and celebrated law career, Merle Wilberding B’66, J.D., represented clients in two prominent cases involving abuse within the U.S. military — both of which earned national attention as the public learned of the tragic details.

Unspeakable tragedy garners headlines.

It must have been difficult to not let the trauma of these cases replay hauntingly in his mind. Instead, Wilberding did what he’s done throughout his more than 50-year career; he focused on justice and his role in making sure the guilty were held accountable.

Early in his career, on March 16, 1968, U.S. Army personnel mass murdered and mutilated unarmed civilians including men, women, and children in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Some of the women, and children as young as 12, were raped during the horrendous incident that would become known as the My Lai Massacre.

Then in his 20s, Wilberding was commissioned as a Captain in the Army JAG Corps and was assigned to the Government Appellate Division where he briefed and argued the My Lai Massacre (Lt. William L. Calley) case. He spent more than a year working to uphold the court-martial conviction of Lt. William Calley, the only person ever charged and convicted in the crimes that shocked the world and forever changed American military culture. (Captain Ernest Medina was charged but never convicted.)

“I had certainly read about the case,” he remembers. “One of the ironies is I took the oath of office on Sept. 5, 1969, the same day that William Calley’s records were flagged for investigation and further indictment.”

Wilberding said he focused on maintaining professionalism. “I didn’t dwell on personal shock or sympathy, even though it would have been appropriate,” he said. “I have had those thoughts later in life and even now. At the time I just tried to do the best job I could.”

He recalls how part of the nation supported Calley throughout his trials.

“A huge part of the country was very pro-Calley, mostly in the far west and the south,” Wilberding said. “They were in very strong defense of him: ‘War is hell. People get killed in war.’ No one really ever looked at the critical facts. He had them tied up, contained, and guarded for hours before they were executed. President (Richard) Nixon saw all those as potential votes. He was going to be running for reelection. He was the one who ordered Calley be held in house arrest, instead of prison, while the appeal went forward. Calley was convicted of the murder of over 100 people, but when the case got to the court of military review, they affirmed a conviction of 20 people, but at all times, there was such a political effort supporting him, he spent less than a year in confinement at the military prison in Ft. Leavenworth, Kan.”

He furthers that the others in Calley’s platoon, some of whom did the shooting, could not be tried as all were privates who were released from the Army before the case came to light.

“Stories and rumors (of the event) percolated around Vietnam for a year or so before it was reported and the Army was urged to investigate it. And it didn’t go public until a national article came out,” Wilberding said.

Justice isn’t always served, but Wilberding continues to give every case 100 percent, earning multiple awards for ethical conduct.

“I’ve always had that competitive edge,” Wilberding said. “I never like losing. I want to succeed.”

And sometimes the wins continue well beyond the final judgment. The murder of Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach in 2007 led to legislation that has gone on to help countless other abused servicewomen.

On Dec. 14, 2007, Maria Lauterbach went missing from Marine Corps Base Camp in Lejeune, N.C., where she was stationed.

When her mother, Mary, began inquiring about her whereabouts, she was told her daughter had run away and that she’d likely be home by Christmas.

By Christmas, the Lauterbach family still had no answers. “It was so illogical,” Wilberding said. “Her daughter had just purchased a new car. The two talked regularly. So Mary decided to drive down personally. And this time she got a detective.“Mary had on record that her daughter’s superior had sexually assaulted her and that she was pregnant and concerned about it,” Wilberding recalls. “The first officer (at her base) ignored it all, and the second said, ‘This is an issue.’ When they arranged to meet with Corporal Cesar Armando Laurean (the man accused of her daughter’s assault), he went missing.”

The detective went out to Laurean’s home, which he shared with his wife and child. “When he looked around the house, (the detective) picked up on details that something had been dragged through the backyard and saw what looked like a recently constructed fire pit. Then he saw what looked like part of a body and that’s what really triggered the investigation,” Wilberding said.

“Supposedly there was a note that Laurean had left saying she got into a fight with him and she committed suicide and he buried her,” he added.

Mary Lauterbach had contacted Wilberding’s law firm, which instantly knew Merle — with his military history — was the right person for the case.

Wilberding recalls Maria Lauterbach (and her unborn baby) were discovered on Friday, Jan. 11, 2008. By that Tuesday, Wilberding was on a conference call with the commanding general at Camp Lejeune. Simultaneously, he recalls pushing the Marines to find Laurean, working with the FBI, waiting for autopsy results (which ruled out suicide), and attending the funeral, held north of his home and practice in Dayton, Ohio.

“I remember going to the funeral for Maria. From the church to the Catholic cemetery is probably 10 miles, and there were people lined all the way. It was amazing,” he said. “I recall talking to people at the cemetery, all pushing for safeguards for those who are sexually assaulted in the military. Several had been victims themselves.”

Laurean wasn’t found in Mexico until three months later, and it took another year to get him extradited. “Mexico wouldn’t extradite him if he was charged with a capital crime, so the U.S. had to agree to that,” Wilberding said.

Wilberding brought charges against the military for failure to diligently investigate and prosecute her original sexual assault claim, as well as for failing to investigate her disappearance. Throughout the ordeal, Mary Lauterbach remained vocal and hands on.

“Mary said she wanted to be the voice of Maria to testify about what was needed and to put a personal voice to it, and she did an incredible job,” Wilberding said. She and Wilberding traveled to Washington, D.C., six to eight times to meet with members of Congress and to testify before committees of the U.S. House of Representatives to pursue national legislative changes that would improve the protection and rehabilitation of victims of sexual assault, as well as improve the procedures for prosecuting the perpetrators. They also were featured on the Today Show four times.

As a direct result of their efforts, the National Defense Authorization Act in four consecutive years included provisions that addressed sexual assault in the military, including the following changes in the Uniform Code of Military Justice:
• A right of counsel to victims of sexual assault in the military.
• “Privileged communication” protection for victim advocates.
• An accelerated base transfer request procedure for victims.
• Increased training and education for sexual assault prevention.
• An automatic extension of Military Protective Orders (“MPO”).

“It’s particularly rewarding to see the impact that these efforts have had,” Wilberding said, adding that his firm did 95 percent of the work (several hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of work) pro bono.

“It was very rewarding professionally, and personally, it was really important to do that,” he said.

He and Mary Lauterbach still keep in close contact.

Wilberding’s next case, involving zoning, may be less glamorous, but it’s an important case nonetheless, so he’s giving it his all.

Throughout his life and career, he says, he’s had a lot of good moments.

“In my youth, during the younger part of my career, I wanted to change the world,” he said. “As I’ve aged and matured, I decided that it was important to make a difference, sometimes that’s with one person, sometimes 10, sometimes more than that. Every step is a step forward. That’s how I look at trying to change the world.”

FAST progress update

Dear Faculty and Staff,

As we move through the summer months, I want to provide another update regarding the Financial Accountability and Strategic Thinking (FAST) Task Force. As indicated in our last update, we have now completed proposal reviews for Focal Area #3 (Strategic alignment, prioritization, and investment), and several proposals have been funded thanks to the generous support of our benefactors. While we have made the decision to move forward on several of those proposals, others have been reserved for future consideration.

A few of the funded FAST initiatives have new positions associated with the innovation efforts, and those positions will soon be posted on our website. The positions include account manager positions to support the work of our Trusted Partnerships team, presently led by Mr. Kevin Ebben and Dr. Bruce Locklear. Additionally, a project manager supporting the execution of recruitment and marketing plans will also be posted. Please consider whether you or someone you know might be a good fit for these roles as we invest for growth.

None of these initiatives would be possible without the support of generous benefactors providing innovation funds. As I conclude this update, let us remember those benefactors in gratitude, as well as the work of our president, Father James P. Burns, IVD, Ph.D., and Gary Klein and his team in the office of advancement.

Live Jesus in our hearts, forever!
Michael McMahon

Higher education in the headlines

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:

Faculty spotlight: Raj Beekie

Meet Raj Beekie, Ed.D., a core professor in Saint Mary’s Doctor of Business Administration program. In this interview, Beekie discusses the Saint Mary’s DBA program, beekeeping and its connection to the business world, and his favorite books and hobbies.

Question: Could you introduce yourself Raj and talk about your educational and professional background?

Beekie: I started working in manufacturing and worked in the beverage industry, eventually making my way to the head office. After that, I left to get my undergraduate degree in education. After that, I worked for the Dubuque Community School District in Dubuque, Iowa. After that, I went to corporate America and spent 20 years there, working primarily in the education arm of various corporations, educating people on leadership, management, strategic planning, diversity, and effective communication. Eventually, I made my way here to Saint Mary’s.

Question: What do you enjoy most about working in Saint Mary’s DBA program?

Beekie: It’s so fun to engage with students and work with them on developing an idea that they are later going to turn into their dissertation. It’s always an interesting journey because some students have no clue what they’re going to do, and some students have a very clear about what they want to do. For the students who don’t know what they want to do, you can see them change from topic to topic and then they’ll suddenly read about something and it ignites a passion in them and they become immersed in the topic and become experts. It’s so fun to see that transformation happen.

Question: Do you have a favorite course you teach?

Beekie: You know, it’s like having six children, you can’t pick a favorite. I don’t teach emotional intelligence as a separate course anymore but I think it’s the key to success in life. I think a lot of people who don’t feel they’re successful are unable to manage themselves and are unaware of their own emotions. Emotional intelligence is about self-awareness and self-management. And people who can do both are successful because they don’t make emotional decisions. For me, teaching that class, or aspects of that class in other courses, is a highlight.

Question: What’s your proudest professional accomplishment?

Beekie: Here at Saint Mary’s, we all want to make a difference in someone’s life. When a student who graduated two years ago says to me, “I think about you quite often, thank you for being a professor,” I’m proud to know I made a difference.

Question: I understand you’re interested in pollinators and keep bees. Can you tell me more about that? Also, do you see any overlaps between keeping bees and what you teach?

Beekie: The legend is that my grandfather used to keep bees, and that’s why my name is Beekie. And my uncle kept bees. So, it’s a generational thing. I tell my kids they have to keep bees to keep this generational thing going.

Every student knows I keep bees because I talk about it often. I haven’t incorporated it into my class fully but there is a whole field of study about beekeeping and organizational life, and how organizations working effectively could mirror how bees work in their hives. In business, we look at the allocation of resources, hierarchy, and the elimination of non-productive units. All of these things happen in a beehive. For example, if bees think their queen is not performing her job, they replace her. Or when a colony is getting too strong, bees will break off and start a new colony. Kind of like a company branching off and building a new brand somewhere else. So there are a lot of examples I use in my class that are related to beekeeping.

Question: Aside from beekeeping, what are your other hobbies?

Beekie: I do a lot of community gardening. I donate about 90 percent of the food I grow to food shelves.

Question: What’s your favorite book?

Beekie: I’m very interested in Stoic philosophy because it is about self-awareness and self-management. So, I really like “The Daily Stoic” by Ryan Holiday. I’d recommend that book to anyone. You can read Epicurus, Seneca, or Marcus Aurelius, but they’re dense. Ryan Holiday has studied them and written a book for the everyday reader.

Question: As you continue here at Saint Mary’s, what are your hopes for the institution’s future?

Beekie: I came in during the early development of the DBA program. I hope to continue to build upon what we have and continue to produce good students and build the brand of the DBA program at Saint Mary’s.

Faculty spotlight: Raj Beekie

Faculty spotlight: Raj Beekie

Question: Could you introduce yourself Raj and talk about your educational and professional background?

Beekie: I started working in manufacturing and worked in the beverage industry, eventually making my way to the head office. After that, I left to get my undergraduate degree in education. After that, I worked for the Dubuque Community School District in Dubuque, Iowa. After that, I went to corporate America and spent 20 years there, working primarily in the education arm of various corporations, educating people on leadership, management, strategic planning, diversity, and effective communication. Eventually, I made my way here to Saint Mary’s.

Question: What do you enjoy most about working in Saint Mary’s DBA program?

Beekie: It’s so fun to engage with students and work with them on developing an idea that they are later going to turn into their dissertation. It’s always an interesting journey because some students have no clue what they’re going to do, and some students have a very clear about what they want to do. For the students who don’t know what they want to do, you can see them change from topic to topic and then they’ll suddenly read about something and it ignites a passion in them and they become immersed in the topic and become experts. It’s so fun to see that transformation happen.

Question: Do you have a favorite course you teach?

Beekie: You know, it’s like having six children, you can’t pick a favorite. I don’t teach emotional intelligence as a separate course anymore but I think it’s the key to success in life. I think a lot of people who don’t feel they’re successful are unable to manage themselves and are unaware of their own emotions. Emotional intelligence is about self-awareness and self-management. And people who can do both are successful because they don’t make emotional decisions. For me, teaching that class, or aspects of that class in other courses, is a highlight.

Question: What’s your proudest professional accomplishment?

Beekie: Here at Saint Mary’s, we all want to make a difference in someone’s life. When a student who graduated two years ago says to me, “I think about you quite often, thank you for being a professor,” I’m proud to know I made a difference.

Question: I understand you’re interested in pollinators and keep bees. Can you tell me more about that? Also, do you see any overlaps between keeping bees and what you teach?

Beekie: The legend is that my grandfather used to keep bees, and that’s why my name is Beekie. And my uncle kept bees. So, it’s a generational thing. I tell my kids they have to keep bees to keep this generational thing going.

Every student knows I keep bees because I talk about it often. I haven’t incorporated it into my class fully but there is a whole field of study about beekeeping and organizational life, and how organizations working effectively could mirror how bees work in their hives. In business we look at allocation of resources, hierarchy, the emilmination of non-productive units. All of these things happen in a beehive. For example, if a bees think their queen is not performing her job, they replace here. Or when a colony is getting too strong, bees will break off and start a new colony. Kind of like a company branching off and building a new brand somewhere else. So there are a lot of examples I use in my class that are related to beekeeping.

Beekie: Aside from beekeeping, what are your other hobbies?

Beekie: I do a lot of community gardening. I donate about 90 percent of the food I grow to food shelves.

Question: What’s your favorite book?

Beekie: I’m very interested in Stoic philosophy because it is about self-awareness and self-management. So, I really like “The Daily Stoic” by Ryan Holiday. I’d recommend that book to anyone. You can read Epicurus, Seneca, or Marcus Aurelius, but they’re dense. Ryan Holiday has studied them and written a book for the everyday reader.

Question: As you continue here at Saint Mary’s, what are your hopes for the institution’s future?

Beekie: I came in during the early development of the DBA program. I hope to continue to build upon what we have and continue to produce good students and build the brand of the DBA program at Saint Mary’s.

Father Nathan LaLiberte to serve as part-time chaplain on Minneapolis Campus

Father Nathan LaLiberte to serve as part-time chaplain on Minneapolis Campus

The university is pleased to announce Father Nathan (Nate) LaLiberte will be joining the Saint Mary’s community on Aug. 1 as the part-time university chaplain for the Minneapolis Campus.

In his role, Father Nate will be available to students, staff, and faculty for sacramental services and pastoral care. He will also be celebrating Mass regularly in the La Salle Chapel.

Father Nate was ordained in 2011, and most recently served as the pastor at Nativity of Mary in Bloomington, Minnesota. Prior to his role at Nativity of Mary, he served as the pastor at Saint Maximilian Klobe in Delano, Minnesota, and as an associate pastor at parishes in Saint Michael and Anoka, Minnesota.

“I am excited to work at a university with a long-established Lasallian Catholic tradition, and to be able to, on a regular basis, offer the sacraments to the Saint Mary’s community,” Father Nate said. “While I have been a priest for over 13 years, I have never ministered in a university setting, and I am looking forward to learning more about how to best serve the community. I hope I am able to share what I have gained in my own walk with the Lord and look forward to receiving much from many of you.”

“It is a tremendous blessing to have Father Nate appointed as our university chaplain in Minneapolis. His warm and caring disposition brings joy and peace to all those he encounters,” said Marisa Naryka, vice president for mission and ministry. “Father Nate’s attentiveness to the unique spiritual and pastoral needs in Minneapolis will support and advance our mission in new ways. I am grateful for Father Nate’s yes and look forward to working closely with him.”

While serving as part-time chaplain, Father Nate will be pursuing a master’s in counseling at Saint Mary’s.

End of the road: After 29 years, Nadeau stepping down as Saint Mary’s SID

End of the road: After 29 years, Nadeau stepping down as Saint Mary’s SID

For the past 29 years, Donny Nadeau B’85 — as Saint Mary’s sports information director — has been in the dugout or on the sidelines, carefully recording the action during every Cardinal game or competition.

On a low estimate, he’s written more than 11,600 stories throughout his career, capturing every detail as student-athletes vied against their opponents.

Only those closest to him know that for most of his life he’s also been fighting his own battle against a degenerative eye disease called Choroideremia. 

This inning, Choroideremia got the upper hand, and Nadeau will step down from his lifelong dream role officially in September because of the disease’s progression. Though he admits that he’s lost this battle, he is far from giving up the fight.

“This is a bump in the road,” he said. “I’m still here, and I’m still going to enjoy life. It’s just going to be a little different.

“(Leaving my role) was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” added Nadeau, who is on leave until September, when he transitions out of his role. “It’s bittersweet. I still love what I do, and I love Saint Mary’s.” 

He’s known this day would eventually come since he was first diagnosed at the age of 12. One of the first symptoms of Choroideremia included night blindness, and the loss of peripheral vision continued to progress through his college and early years at Saint Mary’s. Eventually, he had to stop coaching high school hockey, which he loved.

That was the first anyone outside of his close family knew of his disease, which has also eliminated virtually all his peripheral vision.

“I never wanted to be pitied. I never wanted people to feel sorry for me,” he said. “Don’t be sorry. This is the hand I was dealt. It was my cross to bear. The hardest part is asking for help. I’m a stubborn person. I would rather try and fail than to not try.

“With the progression of the disease and the continued loss of my peripheral vision, I haven’t actually seen a baseball hit in years. I haven’t seen a puck go into the net. Heck, I haven’t driven a car in 15 years,” he added. “(My wife) Deedee is my savior. She drove me to every game and home again. She’s my support system and my rock.”

The past couple of years have been particularly difficult. Even with support, Nadeau found it difficult to navigate around campus. After deep soul searching, he decided transitioning into disability was best for him, the role, and his family. 

Nadeau has had Cardinal red running through his veins for most of his life — first as a student, graduating with a degree in journalism in 1985 (and meeting the love of his life, Deedee B’85); then as an employee, beginning in a dual role as an alumni magazine editor and sports information director (SID), then transitioning into the SID role full time; and then as a parent, with sons Andy B’07 and Joey B’12, M’14 graduating from Saint Mary’s. Altogether, he says 11 extended family members are Saint Mary’s alumni.

Following his own college graduation, Nadeau worked for the Austin Daily Herald, Winona Daily News, and La Crosse Tribune, but he anxiously waited and watched for a job opening at Saint Mary’s. “Ever since day one, I wanted to be the SID,” he said.

The easiest way to describe his role, according to Nadeau, is to say he’s the PR person for the Athletics Department. “I could say I’m the webmaster, writer, and person in charge of photography, live streaming, and social media … but it’s easier to say that all the things that promote athletics fall under my purview. All athletics communication, externally or internally, is my responsibility.”

And let’s not forget the stories — with 200 events a year and at least two stories per event, Nadeau was always writing.

In the early years, Nadeau said there was no such thing as X (formerly Twitter), or any social media for that matter. Before live streaming capabilities, they did radio play-by-play, and he remembers calling in game results or faxing information to newspapers. “The Internet was a brand-new thing,” he said. “I had to learn how to write code for HTML. We were all doing this without a game plan; we just did it, figuring things out as we went along. The job is me. It’s my legacy. It’s in a great place, and I can take pride in where I’ve brought it.

“I was fortunate (my bosses through the years) trusted that what I did was going to be successful and top notch. I got to mold this position the way I felt it should be,” he said. 

The biggest perk of the job? “I got paid to watch sports, so you can’t go wrong there — including getting to watch both Andy and Joey wear the Cardinal red as members of the men’s hockey team,” he said, adding, “My favorite part was interacting with the students. I meet student-athletes as freshmen when we take their headshots. By the time they are seniors, they will come into my office, and we’ll just talk. You see them grow up. By the time they are seniors, you see that maturity, and you look at them more as a young adult than a student. To see that is pretty cool. And to see my interns and student workers move onto their careers is also pretty gratifying. 

“And I got to work with a lot of great people.” 

Watching women’s softball bring home the national championship in 2000 was also a memorable highlight for Nadeau, and he’s loved watching recent teams advance.

He’s left some big shoes to fill as the search for his replacement is underway. Nadeau’s advice for his successor? “Don’t take the job,” he exclaimed with a laugh and a big grin. Clearly a sense of humor is a necessity.

In all seriousness, he advised, “You have to be flexible, have good time management and be able to juggle more than one thing at a time. There are no less than five events in the same season, many games or meets on the same day, and you have to be able to put in long hours, often on nights, weekends, and holidays. 

“On vacations, you take your computer with you. That’s the job,” he said, admitting, “I may have taken that to the extreme. I did two soccer recaps between my son’s wedding ceremony and reception.” He added with a laugh: “Because I’m an idiot.”

But Nadeau said he knew every story was important to student-athletes and their families.

Brian Sisson, Saint Mary’s athletic director, says Nadeau represents all that is good at Saint Mary’s. “He has tirelessly worked as a true professional from day one, always doing more to provide the best experience for our student-athletes, our staff, our university, and our community. Donny is a friend, and we are all blessed to have worked with such a true professional and nice guy. Saint Mary’s and our conference have benefitted from his service, as has everyone who has had the privilege to work with him.”

Jim Cella, director of Sports Information at Concordia University, has known Nadeau for 25 years. “Donny is truly one-of-a-kind. His unwavering commitment and loyalty to the community of student-athletes and coaches at Saint Mary’s is unique in this day of college athletics,” he said. “You would be hard-pressed to find someone who has given so much to the university in the last 30 years. In addition to his work ethic in his job, Donny is a giving and kind person who has helped me on numerous occasions when I was in a tough spot with my job and career. I am fortunate to have Donny as a colleague and even more honored to call him a friend.”

In 29 years, Nadeau’s proudest moment, hands down, was being named to the Hall of Fame in 2021. “To be only the second person inducted who was not an athlete was pretty special,” he said. He’s also received the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC)’s Distinguished Service Award and the Mike Augustin Award (an acknowledgement from his peers). At Saint Mary’s, he also received the distinguished Bishop Patrick Heffron Award.

“I’ve always prided myself on doing things to the best of my ability,” he said. “Every day I gave it everything I had. I’m appreciative of all of these honors but that’s not why I did it. I love Saint Mary’s. That’s the hardest part of all of this; if it were up to me, I wouldn’t be leaving.”

However, the man who had a hard time ever saying no to his colleagues now looks forward to never having to say no to his family. “I’ve missed many of (my grandkids’) Avery’s and Henry’s hockey games the past couple of years. In fact, Henry (age 6) commented upon learning of my leaving Saint Mary’s: ‘Now you can make it to all my (hockey) jamborees.’ I’m looking forward to not having any reason to say no to my grandkids,” he said. 

One more thing. Nadeau’s looking forward to watching Cardinal athletics with Deedee at his side … and actually watching the game without a computer in front of him. 

“I love Saint Mary’s, and I have loved my time there,” he said. “How do you not hold that special to your heart? It’s a great place. It always has been.”

Article also available via saintmaryssports.com

Jackson discusses fraud prevalence and mitigation on Saint Mary’s Currents

Jackson discusses fraud prevalence and mitigation on Saint Mary’s Currents

In 2022, 47 former employees of Feeding our Future were indicted by Department of Justice, alleging that the nonprofit had defrauded a USDA food nutrition program during the COVID-19 pandemic. Being called the “largest case of pandemic fraud in United States history,” Derek Jackson, associate professor of Business and Communication at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, says the Feeding our Future saga is not as uncommon as people think.

So, what drives people to commit financial fraud, why was it so prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic, and what sort of steps can be taken to combat it?

Listen here:

 

About the Expert:
Derek Jackson is an Associate Professor of Business and Communication at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). He began his career completing audits for the Medicare program, and also worked in industry management positions with Fortune 500 and non-profit companies prior to teaching.  With over 13 years of experience teaching in person and online, he is a seasoned educator with a passion for teaching, learning, and empowering the next generation of business leaders.

Degree opens doors to counseling career

Degree opens doors to counseling career

BreAnna Hanson B’24 knows how to keep herself busy. 

A mom to two active, rambunctious children and a proud wife to a dedicated Rochester Police Officer, she still manages to squeeze in time here and there for interests like gardening, CrossFit, traveling, water activities … and continuing her education.

When she decided to return to school and complete her degree, she explored several online program offerings and found that Saint Mary’s Applied Psychology program best suited her hectic schedule. 

“The admissions staff was terrific because I had no idea what I was doing,” Hanson shared. “The last time I set foot in a college-based setting was in 2004, and the processes have changed significantly.”

Before resuming her educational journey, Hanson had an extensive eighteen-year career in law enforcement. She is proud of her work, and her time in the profession has provided valuable experience and insights into the challenges and rewards of serving and protecting her community. 

Throughout her academic experience at Saint Mary’s, Hanson had the opportunity to learn from exceptional professors. She found two courses — Positive Psychology with Dr. Robin Wisniewski and Writing and Communication with Dr. Martha Kudak — particularly transformative, providing valuable insights that contributed significantly to her personal and professional growth. “From understanding the complexities of human relationships to applying psychological principles in decision-making, the program has profoundly impacted how I navigate everyday situations,” Hanson states.

After graduating this spring, she believes she came out of the program with a far more profound understanding of psychology and its real-world applications, enhancing the foundational knowledge previously established by her lengthy career. “The Applied Psychology program at Saint Mary’s University has shaped my understanding of human behavior and mental processes,” Hanson comments. “The comprehensive curriculum and hands-on experiences have equipped me with the knowledge and skills I apply to various aspects of my personal and professional life.”

Now, Hanson is ready for more.

She is currently pursuing a graduate certificate at Saint Mary’s for the Licensed Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services (LADC) Counseling program and is excited to begin obtaining her M.A. in the Counseling and Psychological Services program this fall. She is looking forward to delving deeper into the field and gaining more expertise that will help her positively impact people’s lives. Her background and experience in law enforcement will continue to be invaluable assets as she works towards a professional career in counseling. 

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue pursuing my academic journey at Saint Mary’s University! I am confident that this next chapter in my educational career will be challenging and rewarding, and I am eager to make the most of it.”

$3 million estate gift commitment made to help secure Saint Mary’s University’s future

With a recent $3 million estate gift commitment, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota continues to build toward its ongoing $100 million challenge, made in 2023.

The most recent gift commitment, from a graduate who wishes to remain anonymous, brings the total raised to $40 million, with substantial additional funds pending or in planning.

This benefactor, a longtime university supporter, said the reasons behind this commitment are multifold: “I believe in education, and education was always very important to my family. Saint Mary’s has always been a special place, and I’d like to see the endowment grow so it will survive long into the future and be as helpful to future students as it was to me. It prepared me well for a career in the financial industry, and I built lifelong friendships there.”

The benefactor added the estate gift commitment was made because of dedication and belief in Saint Mary’s and its Lasallian mission, sharing, “Saint Mary’s cultivates bright, conscientious graduates who have character and virtue. The courses and curriculum provide students with the tools they need to enter the current workforce and create successful careers.” And, in today’s work climate, the benefactor believes the caliber of students earning degrees at Saint Mary’s is particularly needed.

The benefactor particularly credited the forward-thinking of the Very Rev. James P. Burns, IVD, Ph.D., Saint Mary’s president. As higher education continues to face challenges in both funding and enrollment, this graduate appreciates Father Burns’ ability to look at future industry needs and think outside the box, changing course as needed for the university’s sustainability and the betterment of society.

“We continue to be extremely thankful for the generosity of our benefactors,” said Father Burns. “These commitments reaffirm that we are making sound decisions not only from a business standpoint but most especially in fulfilling our responsibilities as a Lasallian Catholic university with an understanding of a well-rounded, liberal arts related education for our students. Estate commitments are an impactful way to leave a legacy for generations of learners. Our benefactors, including the families behind this gift and the $25 million gift, along with so many others, have found tremendous success in their lives, and we are grateful they continue to give back, believing Saint Mary’s was and remains instrumental to their success while continuing to build on the gifts they have received.”

Knowing this estate gift’s impact will multiply — because of the $100 million challenge — was especially meaningful in this most recent gift. “It was important to me to be part of that challenge,” the benefactor said. “There are many ways we can help Saint Mary’s, and one of the ways we can help them reach their goal faster is by including them in our estate plans.”

The original $100 million challenge benefactor and his family recently confirmed their ongoing support and commitment to Saint Mary’s, defining their role as long-term partners for the university’s success and sustainability.

Compensation update

Dear Saint Mary’s Community,

Following the remarkable celebrations of our undergraduates and graduates at commencement at the end of the academic year, I want to take this opportunity to express my ongoing appreciation for the invaluable contributions you make to our students’ lives. As I prepared for commencement, I was deeply moved by the remarkable community that has supported and lifted each student. Your unwavering dedication, a cornerstone of every student’s journey, is a testament to your commitment and I join with our Board of Trustees in thanking you.

With the valuable leadership from the Board of Trustees, the administration has been evaluating a potential salary increase during the past few months. I am grateful to the Board for authorizing a substantial investment in our community, reflected through an increase in wages and benefits for the following year. This comes at a time when we acknowledge the financial challenges that our industry faces while also recognizing that we are more resilient due to the talents that you have provided to Saint Mary’s.

To be clear, not everyone will receive an increase, and increases will vary significantly based on market assessments and other specific details. We have aimed to recognize each employee’s essential contributions, striving for equity and fairness in our decisions. Colleges and Universities Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) data was used to quantitatively compare positions based on full-time equivalent enrollments, endowments, geographic region, and type of university (public and private). When reflecting on potential increases, the following factors were considered in determining individual salary increases:

  • How the employee’s pay compares to market benchmark data from the Colleges and Universities Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR)
  • The employee’s tenure, performance, and overall contribution to the organization
  • How the employee’s role compares to similar positions across the university and to those above and below it in a hierarchy
  • Whether the employee was recently hired or promoted at market value in the past 18 months
  • Internal equity and performance as vetted by VPs and Deans

I greatly appreciate the extensive and diligent research done to develop market salary comparisons. After initial reviews, finance and human resource representatives consulted with vice presidents, deans, and unit leaders to understand individual roles and responsibilities, striving for internal equity and fairness. I also want to express my gratitude for your patience and understanding during this process. While salary adjustments typically occur in January, we believe our urgency and commitment to you should reflect our enrollment focus for the new academic year, with all adjustments in July 19 paychecks. 

Fernando Rosas, assistant vice president for human resources, has extended a Zoom meeting invitation for vice presidents and unit-level leaders at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Friday (6/28) and Monday (7/1) to communicate the following steps and process for conversations regarding salary adjustments. Salary overviews will be distributed to vice presidents and deans on July 2. Supervisors will have the opportunity to meet with their reports during the weeks of July 1 and July 8. Human Resources will distribute MN wage notices July 15.

Please be assured that I deeply value your dedication and commitment to Saint Mary’s University. I hope this increase is one small step in acknowledging that you are an esteemed member of our university community. May God bless you this upcoming academic year.

Live Jesus in our Hearts Forever!

Father Burns



Amy Heinz to depart as dean of the School of Health and Human Services; Susan Jarosak, assistant dean, will serve in the interim role

Dear Faculty and Staff,

It is with a mixture of emotions that I convey Dr. Amy Heinz’s decision to depart from Saint Mary’s University and enter the corporate sector at OPTUM Health, a UnitedHealth Group division. Dr. Heinz will leave Saint Mary’s effective July 18. We wish to express gratitude for her unwavering commitment to students and faculty, as well as her compassionate leadership.

We are pleased to announce that Susan Jarosak, M.Ed., the current assistant dean of the School of Health and Human Services, will serve as the interim dean. Jarosak is a highly qualified and experienced leader who has demonstrated a strong administrative background. She is deeply committed to providing comprehensive support to all students.

In discussing this transition with Father Burns, he shared his thoughts on Dr. Heinz’s contributions, stating, “I have so appreciated Amy’s hard work and leadership over these past five years in what have been, at times, some very challenging circumstances. She handled the deanship with aplomb and grace, and I thank her for her dedication and devotion to students, staff, and faculty, as well as her deep love for Saint Mary’s University.”

Thank you, Dr. Heinz, for your service and dedication to Saint Mary’s. I also extend my heartfelt appreciation to the faculty and staff for their tireless efforts in maintaining this caring and dynamic community that we share at Saint Mary’s.

Best Always,

Sue Hines, Ed.D.
Vice President of Academic Affairs

About Campus Notes

Campus Notes is published for the Saint Mary’s Winona Campus faculty, staff, and students during the academic year.

Story Submission

Deadline for Friday publication is Wednesday at noon.

Submit a story

Other Saint Mary’s Links

Share This
1