An update from the president to alumni and parents
Final exams are over and papers are handed in, and our students have returned home for rest and rejuvenation and to spend the joyous Christmas season with family. I want to show you some of the wonderful things our students have achieved recently, and give you a sense of the positive impact they make on campus life and on the larger community. Here are just a few snapshots from the fall semester.
— Brother William (Fall/Winter, 2017)
At the end of the fall semester, students had a chance to relax before final exams and get in the Christmas spirit. The beautiful “Lessons and Carols” presentation in the majestic Chapel of Saint Mary of the Angels was a reflection on the Christmas story through readings, hymns, and Christmas carols sung by our choirs and the audience. The Jazz Ensemble and Concert Band held their Christmas concerts, and — the night before finals began — Campus Ministry held a Christmas Light Service and faculty and staff served up the popular late-night Pre-Finals Breakfast.
The 18 students in the Accounting Information Systems class traveled to Fastenal’s Product Service Center to present their process documentation projects to Fastenal’s accounting management. The month-long project had the students work directly with management and accounting personnel to understand, document, dissect, and flow-chart six processes in key areas of this international business headquartered in Winona. Students completed the project by presenting their findings to Fastenal accounting managers and additional staff, and delivering the process documentation to their Fastenal contacts.
After a successful professional soccer career, Tony Sanneh parlayed his passion, resources, and name recognition into creating a Twin Cities-based foundation that offers youth in-school and after-school support, provides programs that strengthen physical health and social and emotional development, and unites communities by advancing diversity, equity, and community well-being.
Sanneh visited the Winona Campus to meet with education and First Generation Initiative students about using education to make a difference in individuals and communities. Later, as part of the Leadership Interchange Series sponsored by the Hendrickson Institute for Ethical Leadership, he spoke to students about servant leadership, how to leverage “what you have” to help others, and how to start and run a foundation.
In a few short years, the Sanneh Foundation has grown to sponsor a variety of community youth programs in Minnesota and Haiti. One program, Dreamline Corps, combines education support with after-school soccer and other enrichment programs. Dreamline coaches work with youth in junior and senior high schools in the Twin Cities, St. Cloud, and Rochester. Our Graduate School of Education is partnering with the Sanneh Foundation to provide licensure pathways for Dreamline coaches in the areas of special education and English as a Second Language.
On a Saturday in November, a new late-fall tradition was successfully launched with the first Cardinal Fest. A true all-community event, Cardinal Fest attracted over 500 students, faculty, staff, and their families to high-spirited fun, games, and lunch in the Gostomski Fieldhouse. It was planned as a time to bring people together and unwind before the sprint to final exams after Thanksgiving. The event was a campuswide collaboration involving Student Activities, Development and Alumni Relations, Student Activities Committee, Future Alumni Committee, Student-Athlete Advisory Council, Cardinal Athletics, and Chartwells.
In October, six Saint Mary’s students connected with close to 300 fellow Lasallian undergraduate and graduate students and teachers at the second Latin American Lasallian Education Congress at De La Salle University in Bajío, Mexico. With the theme “The education we need for the world we want,” the conference aimed to promote knowledge, awareness and actions in the Lasallian educational service as an answer to the challenges of contemporary Latin American society. Talks and exhibits focused on Lasallian pedagogical thought; educational attention to vulnerable groups; education for sustainability; frameworks of coexistence in schools for tolerance and peace-building; and conscientious use of technologies in education.
The Biology Club — including 14 Saint Mary’s students, along with Dr. Jeanne Minnerath, her son and friends — hiked and camped at Perrot State Park across the river in Trempealeau, Wis. Although it was a hot excursion, the group had fun and was thankful for the opportunity to cool off in the Mississippi. For several students, it was their first experience camping.
Tracy Adams, the chief executive officer of “yourtown” in Australia, spoke to Saint Mary’s students and joined psychology majors for a breakfast meeting while she was on campus visiting Saint Mary’s Press. The afternoon talk was standing room only. Adams was also one of the keynote speakers at the International Symposium on Lasallian Research at our Twin Cities Campus. Her organization reaches all corners of Australia with prevention and intervention for children, youth, and families. All of their work is evidence-based. Saint Mary’s is exploring the possibility of psychology student internships at “yourtown.”
The university continues to develop and encourage community engagement and service opportunities that benefit our host city of Winona and offer service learning and cocurricular activities to enrich the overall residential campus experience.
Saint Mary’s is now a partner of the Winona Community Warming Center. The Campus Ministry Volunteer Mentors are coordinating student, faculty, and staff volunteers for two nights per month at the center, a program of Catholic Charities housed in the Community Bible Church. Operating November through March, the center provides safe and warm overnight emergency shelter for the adult homeless population of Winona County.
The Campus Community Garden — planned and started with the aid of an AmeriCorps VISTA grant and staff person — has been sited near the former Old Village apartments. It’s fenced, cultivated and ready for planting next spring. The goal is to create a large, long-term sustainable garden on the Winona Campus that will help stock the local food shelf and provide valuable learning and service opportunities for students. Faculty and staff are being encouraged to suggest ideas for integrating the garden into a variety of class topics and out-of-class activities.
For the second year, the campus organization Black Students and Allies invited the Saint Mary’s community to take part in celebrating African Night. The well-attended celebration allowed students from all parts of Africa to share their culture, customs, food, music, dancing, and diversity with the university community.
Saint Mary’s faculty, staff, and students shared their expertise and insights with Lasallians from other institutions at the Huether Lasallian Conference in Denver. This event provided an opportunity for educators in the Lasallian Region of North America to explore educational and spiritual issues surrounding the theme, “One Call, Many Voices: Dialogue, Inspire, Transform.” Keynote speakers and breakout sessions helped participants explore the critical role that Lasallians play in helping students “understand one another, and discern the one call of God.”
Among the presenters from Saint Mary’s were two undergraduate students, Anna Washburn and Amanda Kintzi, who discussed the issues surrounding culturally responsive teaching and diversity in the college curriculum.
Winona community leaders shared tough ethical choices they have faced in their jobs during a “Community Ethical Dilemma Workshop” presented as an Ethical Communication and Leadership class project. After a presentation on the textbook method of working through ethical scenarios, the six community members brought a real-world, human side to the academic aspect. The leaders described their sometimes complicated, always challenging situations, and led small groups of students to discuss possible options and consequences — as well as what really happened in each case. The class is part of the Strategic Communication major and Leadership minor curriculum. The event was co-sponsored by the Leadership Club.
Community participants included: Lyn Sweazy, general manager of Riverport Inn and Express Suites; Sandra Burke ‘81, executive director of Winona Volunteer Services; Lezlea Dahlke, director of Winona Public Library; Doug Nopar, policy program organizer for Land Stewardship Project; Marie Kovecsi, Winona County commissioner; and Steve Baumgart, Goodview mayor and former paramedic. Students directing the group project were Jenni Babolik, Dawn Gilyard, Danielle Miller, Maria Missurelli, Christine Neuman, and Emily Vlahos.
Business and education leaders and the public — including Saint Mary’s students, administrators, and Brother William — had the opportunity to interact with Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, during a “listening visit” to Winona. Kashkari is familiarizing himself with the areas under his jurisdiction including Minnesota, the Dakotas, Montana, 26 counties in Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula in Michigan.
Kashkari met with a small group of students and career services staff from Winona’s three institutions of higher education to hear students’ concerns about entering the workforce, student loans and tuition, and other financial issues. He also held a private session with Brother William, Winona State President Scott Olson, and Devinder Malhotra, chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, before hosting a town hall meeting with the public.
On these visits, Kashkari gets a sense of how local economies are faring. He asks students about job searches and business leaders about local struggles with a dwindling workforce. He also fields questions from citizens about monetary policy and the inner workings of the Federal Reserve.
The annual Winona Campus Career and Internships Fair showed students some of the many options available to them after graduation, and gave them an opportunity to make real connections in applying for jobs, internships, and graduate schools. The event was co-sponsored and staffed by the Office of Career Services and Internships along with the School of Business.
More than 200 students took advantage of the gathering of 46 vendors (including seven alumni representatives) and eight graduate and professional schools. The student attendance was more than double the previous year. Fair vendors reported they were impressed with how professional, prepared, and pleasant our students were. The night before, a networking event in the Wilberding Alumni Room (co-sponsored by the Alumni Affairs Office) offered students a chance to informally mingle with alumni professionals and share experiences.
In early fall, a group of 12 students attended ‘Fun is Good!,’ a day-long seminar at the St. Paul Saints’ baseball field. This event followed the university convocation presentation by Mike Veeck and Fran Zeuli, co-founders of Fun is Good, a consulting company that brings marketing and leadership lessons to organizations of all sizes. Students said they had an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Several made valuable connections for their careers and internships, including meeting Joan Steffend, who has received the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame Award for her work.
This event was sponsored by the Saint Teresa’s and Saint Peter’s Leadership Clubs. Participants included officers and club members.
The seminar was a day-long set of workshops that covered workplace generational diversity; joy and passion in the workplace and career; creativity and gratitude; learning from failure; goal-setting; and team/project management. Saint Mary’s students were the only undergraduates in attendance; most attendees were business entrepreneurs, business workers, or graduate students.
The Winona Campus will benefit from the generosity of two families who recently donated a total of $7.5 million to the university. These two anonymous gifts will complete strategic priorities in the current Winona Campus master plan, while continuing to advance our competitiveness in the recruitment of students to the university.
The gifts will fund the design and construction of a new residence hall to serve first-year students, improve the aesthetics of the campus entrance, and erect a facility to greet guests to the university. As per the intention of the benefactors, the residence hall will be named in honor of Brother William. Plans are being finalized, with the goal to begin construction in early 2018 and open the residence hall by fall 2019.