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. Already, they are busy with academic excellence, service activities, and life on a vibrant residential campus. I want to show you a sampling of what happened over the summer, and what our students are doing now.
— Brother William (Fall, 2017)
We greeted enthusiastic first-year and transfer students during Welcome Week, and provided a special program of activities to help them 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.
We continue to strive for a vibrant campus and transformational residential experience at the College. As fall semester gets underway, the Office of Student Life is promoting student engagement through an innovative mobile application called Cardinals Connect, the “virtual campus center” for Saint Mary’s University.
Intended primarily for students but also useful for teachers, staff, parents, and alumni, the convenient mobile app is the go-to place to learn about involvement opportunities and manage links to interests, activities, and news in the Cardinal community. Users can receive notifications on upcoming events and connect with classmates and friends.
First Generation Initiative Scholar Frydha Cordova-Fragozo was one of only 80 students nationwide accepted into the prestigious JPMorgan Chase Sophomore Development Fellowship program. The “early insight” fellowship offers second-year university students who self-identify as Black, Hispanic or Native American a path to a successful career in financial services.
This intensive program develops technical and professional business skills, builds a network within JPMorgan Chase, and offers the firm’s colleagues and leaders as mentors. Over three months, students participated in virtual trainings and two live sessions in Chicago and New York City offices, with travel and accommodations paid by JPMorgan Chase. Successful Fellows will have the opportunity to apply for a summer internship at the end of the program.
Alumna Kristine Beck ’85, owner and operator of Kinstone Megalithic Gardens, hosted students, staff, and biology professors to conduct the first ever “bioblitz” on the unique property outside Fountain City, Wis. Kinstone is described as a one-of-a-kind megalithic garden and sacred space for contemplation, land restoration and human rejuvenation. The June 2 bioblitz was an initial attempt to begin documenting the native diversity of plants, animals, and fungi at Kinstone by engaging community members in the observation and collection of the data.
More than 100 species were observed and documented in an effort to establish continued monitoring of biodiversity in the area. Participants included students Abigail Propsom, Katherine Ethen, Severin Seifert and Mark Leonard, T.J. Oberle (Residence Life), Kathy Kilkus Allen (GeoSpatial Services), and Dr. Josh Lallaman and Dr. Moni Berg-Binder (Biology Department).
In another summer biology project, students joined with Dr. Lallaman and a Winona State University class to plant native vegetation along 320 feet of Lake Winona shoreline to reduce erosion, restore fish and wildlife habitat, and enhance the beauty of the lake. Read more about this collaborative activity and a larger effort between the City of Winona and Healthy Lake Winona to monitor and improve our local lake.
During Cardinal ‘M’ Club Weekend Sept. 8-10, current and former student-athletes came together to discuss their shared experiences, to reminisce about those game-winning plays, and to hear the accomplishments of today’s Cardinals.
During the banquet and awards ceremony, Saint Mary’s 2016-17 postseason award-winners were honored, including Outstanding Male and Female Athletes Bob Kinne ’17 (St. Paul, Minn.) and Brandi Blattner ’19 (Eyota, Minn.), and Outstanding Scholar-Athletes Emily Loof ’18 (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Brett Giesen ’18 (Cato, Wis.). Read more about their accomplishments and see photos and video from the ceremony.
In addition, three outstanding former student-athletes were inducted into the Saint Mary’s Sports Hall of Fame: Mark Zaremba ’78 (baseball), Amanda Weinmann ’07 (track and field), and Ashley Luehmann ’07 (women’s basketball/track and field). Read more about their accomplishments online.
The university offers a variety of both semester-long and short-term study abroad programs. The short-term options offer an opportunity to travel for a week or two on a professor-led study tour following focused classroom work. This year’s AR260 Italy: Art and Culture study abroad group toured Rome, Florence, and the Veneto region for 16 days this past summer, focusing on art, cuisine, and fashion design. The tour was guided by Art and Design Department faculty Rob McCall and Lisa Truax.
As part of the semester-opening College Convocation activities, we hosted a presentation by Bao Phi, an acclaimed Vietnamese American poet, writer, and community activist from Minneapolis. Phi’s message closely resonates with Saint Mary’s mission and our Unity in Diversity initiative. After his emotional, sometimes humorous and thought-provoking presentation and reading, the author signed copies of his books in the Fitzgerald Library.
A performance poet since 1991, Phi uses his art to touch on subjects like race, class, love, and violence in his own life and in Asian-American communities. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he grew up in the Phillips neighborhood of South Minneapolis. Currently program director at the Loft Literary Center, Phi is a two-time Minnesota Grand Slam champion and a National Poetry Slam finalist.
As part of our efforts to extend our Lasallian Catholic heritage and identity, as well as to develop future ethical leaders, Heidi Ledermann and Javier Madrid were selected to attend the sixth La Salle Summer Program on Leadership and Global Understanding in Rome July 9-22. Sponsored by the International Association of Lasallian Universities, the event brought together 44 students from seven countries and 18 institutions to build an extended community and network of student leaders. Students gained enhanced global perspective, built leadership skills in a Lasallian context, tackled issues of social justice, and returned to campus as sparks to ignite and sustain the community.
Senior Music Industry major Chad Cagle was the winner of the 2017 Carillon Composition Competition. His work, “Tango for Carillon,” was selected by an international panel of judges and premiered on Sept. 15, 2017 on the Iowa State University campus in Ames.
The premiere of Cagle’s award-winning composition was performed by Dr. Luc Rombouts, a city carillonneur of Tienen and university carillonneur of Leuven, Belgium. Dr. Rombout commented that Cagle’s writing for this unusual instrument set him apart from other entries. A performance of the work will also take place in Belgium in the future.
The concert on the Iowa State University carillon could be heard throughout the campus and was also live-streamed via the university’s website. In addition to the premiere performance, Cagle was awarded $500 for his composition.
More than 90 students at the Winona Campus participated in “Boxes and Walls,” an interactive experience to demonstrate common stereotypes. Sponsored by the Wellness Center and Residence Life, the Unity in Diversity exercise featured tours of four rooms, where participants were faced with various issues concerning diversity and oppression.
Activities and discussions were designed to help students think outside of the box and start tearing down walls that might be built by preconceptions and life perspectives. The hope is that students will better understand the challenges others deal with on a daily basis, and learn how to approach differences with respect.
It is the mission of the university and a goal of our strategic plan to develop leaders and integrate leadership into academic and co-curricular activities. In late summer our Athletic Department hosted 90 undergraduates from the 13-member Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference for the Student-Athlete Leadership Conference. This is the third consecutive time Saint Mary’s has hosted the event, which is held every three years.
These exceptional student-athletes (including 12 from Saint Mary’s) were nominated by their institutions as leaders—or potential leaders—on their campuses. Activities made the most of our Winona Campus facilities and natural setting, including the ropes course, soccer field, Gostomski Fieldhouse, and the surrounding bluffs and trails. Workshops and guest speakers stressed professional development, leadership, and team-building, and the student-athletes completed the NCAA DiSC leadership and communication style exercise. Participants gained leadership and communication skills, and each formed a plan on how they can be effective leaders and work with others at their home institutions.
On Aug. 15 we broke ground for the expansion of our Cascade Meadow Wetlands and Environmental Science Center in Rochester. Part of our mission is to meet the evolving needs of our students, as well as the community. Once approved by state and regional accrediting bodies, the expansion would house the graduate portion of a proposed 3+2 Physician Assistant Program—a collaboration between Saint Mary’s and Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences—and accommodate our growing Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs. Saint Mary’s has had an educational presence in Rochester since 1985 and currently offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from the Rochester location.
The Cascade Meadow expansion and support for programming is made possible by a $5 million gift from Jack and Mary Ann (Wera CST’64) Remick of Rochester. Construction on the nearly 10,000-square-foot, two-story addition of classrooms and meeting spaces began immediately after the groundbreaking, with estimated completion by summer 2018. View more photographs of the event online; select Cascade Meadow, and click on View Album.
Next weekend, Sept. 29-Oct. 1, families are invited to campus to visit their students and enjoy a bevy of special events. In previous years, as many as 1,000 visitors have come onto campus for music events, sporting events, the Fall Frolic, and other games and activities. New this year are guided tours of the spectacular Science and Learning Center. A complete weekend schedule is online.
One popular public event is the annual Fall Frolic 5K fun run/walk on Saturday, Sept. 30. Participants will enjoy the beautiful bluff trails and the friendly, low-key tour through campus. Registration will run from 8 to 9:45 a.m. in the Toner Student Center with the race beginning at 10 a.m. The $8 cost includes a T-shirt. Register online.
This past weekend I turned 70 years old. While I am in good health, it seems appropriate that I prepare to change the intensity and the pace of activities and take the opportunity to spend a bit more time with my family. My religious superiors in the Lasallian District of Eastern North America and I came to this decision after spending the summer months in reflection, prayer, and discernment.
While I may be in my final year as president, the university is still enjoying the new spring and positive developments of its second century. I am thankful to our wonderful faculty and staff for their good and hard work in collaborating, “together and by association,” over these 10 years. Our work together, however, is not finished. There is much yet to be done for the good of our students and the university, and I pledge my wholehearted focus and commitment during the year ahead.
The leadership of the Board of Trustees will communicate with the community regarding future plans for the identification of the 14th president of Saint Mary’s University.