An update from the president to alumni and parents
As coordinator of the revitalized Outdoor Leadership program, Colin Norris ’13 aims to create a robust program of educational outdoor recreation activities utilizing the vast natural surroundings with which Saint Mary’s University is blessed. A snowy stargazing hike was among the first of many planned events this spring, which include camping at Devil’s Lake, Wis.; a visit to the International Crane Foundation; kayaking on the river; climbing Sugar Loaf bluff; and a campus cleanup and restoration of fire pits. Next school year could include ambitious treks to the Boundary Waters or to a western national park, and winter camping.
Outdoor Leadership adds to the vibrant campus and residential life experience, and helps Saint Mary’s realize its mission to develop students for ethical lives of service and leadership. Students will be trained to help plan and lead outdoor activities and educational programming. Through these activities, students will gain knowledge and grow in identity, leadership, fellowship, and stewardship of nature—and also have some fun.
Students have many opportunities available on our beautiful Winona Campus, including the 18K trails for walking, jogging, and skiing; a high and low ropes course; and a disc golf course. Additionally, the campus is located near the Mississippi River, with easy access via our Prairie Island field station. The university has available for checkout a fleet of canoes and kayaks, cross country skis, and camping equipment.
Beyond campus, Winona (recently named “prettiest” town in Minnesota by Expedia) is quickly gaining a reputation as “heaven” for outdoor recreation facilities and winter resources such as fat tire biking, a public ice skating rink, ice fishing, and even an ice climbing wall. In warmer months, the possibilities are endless.
The Winona Campus recently celebrated Multicultural Week. Coordinated by the Office of Student Activities, the spirit and events of Multicultural Week were part of our work to create a vibrant campus and transformational residential experience at the College. Activities promoted awareness and understanding of diversity and inclusivity in all its forms, providing opportunities for students, faculty and staff members to learn more about each other and expand worldviews. Events included several guest speakers, topical movies, “safe zone” training, and an international food festival.
A student-coordinated fundraising run held last April has been honored with a national award. Student-athlete Jase Pater ’16 organized “Jogging for Jack Superhero 5K”—a community event to benefit Jack Cassidy, the two-year-old son of our women’s soccer coach, Neil Cassidy. Jack has been diagnosed with a rare type of cancer. Since he was a huge fan of super heroes—especially Superman—public relations major and distance runner Pater and the Saint Mary’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee came up with the Superhero 5K theme.
Representatives from each of our 21 varsity athletic teams were among the 50-plus student-athletes involved in the logistics of the event. And more than 100 student-athletes were among the 300 people from the Saint Mary’s and Winona communities, along with friends of the Cassidy family, who turned out to show their support.
The event raised more than $9,500 to assist the Cassidy family with Jack’s medical expenses. The efforts of everyone involved were recognized for honorable mention by the NADIIIAA/Jostens Community Service Awards program, which highlights the many contributions Division III student-athletes regularly make to their campuses and local communities.
Student research continues to be a hallmark of Saint Mary’s vision for excellence in the sciences. Our students’ work was on display at the Minnesota Private College Scholars Showcase at the state capitol, demonstrating the wide range of student learning that happens in Minnesota’s liberal arts colleges. Students from 16 institutions presented their research and lessons learned to legislators and visitors in the Capitol Rotunda. A strong commitment to undergraduate research is one of the reasons why more than half of Minnesota college students who attain a doctoral degree have earned their bachelor’s degree at one of the member institutions of the Minnesota Private College Council.
Representing Saint Mary’s were Acacia Wimmer, Sarah Laska, Jeremy Heinle, Raelynn Speltz, and Jordyn Messling, who completed their research with faculty advisers Dr. Debra Martin and Dr. Jeanne Minnerath. The students were accompanied by Dr. Minnerath and Dr. Mark Barber, associate vice president of academic affairs and academic dean.
Saint Mary’s Concert Band members Mitchel Modic, Daniel Nolte, and Maura Michener were selected to this year’s Minnesota Intercollegiate Honor Band. In February, they rehearsed with other collegiate musicians from around the state and performed at the Minneapolis Convention Center for the annual Minnesota Music Educators Association conference. The performance included compositions by Maslanka, Reed, Marquez, and a world premiere of a piece titled “Temperance,” by Aaron Petrine. The ensemble was directed by Dr. Stephen Bolstad from James Madison University. Modic is a freshman music industry major. Nolte and Michener are sophomores, with Nolte majoring in mathematics and Michener majoring in biology.
The university’s leadership initiative continues to bear fruit as shown by a community outreach effort planned and hosted by the student Leadership Club in collaboration with the Athletic Department. The Saturday event brought local children in grades one through six to campus where they enjoyed a meal, played floor hockey and other activities, attended a men’s hockey game, and hung out with friendly and encouraging College students.
One highlight was a tour of our athletic facilities and the chance to meet—and even skate—with members of the Cardinal hockey team. The Leadership Club’s goal was to give back to the community, which was clearly met based on the the feedback received and the desire to make the event an annual one.
Nine students interested in theatre technology discovered the “state of the art” at the nation’s largest full-production trade show, hosted by the Association for Performing Arts and Entertainment Professionals (USITT) in St. Louis. USITT’s annual conference and stage expo draws together theatre and live entertainment production technicians, designers, managers, and consultants from all corners of entertainment and performing arts—and with all levels of experience—to network and learn about the latest technologies and methods.
Saint Mary’s students started a student chapter of USITT in 2014. At this year’s conference, they met with and interviewed with national companies such as Cirque du Soleil, Disney, regional theatres, and technology and design companies, and talked with representatives of graduate schools for design and stage management. The group was accompanied by adviser Jason Underferth, Performance Center technical director.
The Chamber Singers performed in England as part of its 2017 concert tour in late February and early March. The 25-voice select ensemble, directed by Dr. Patrick O’Shea, professor of music, gave performances at liturgies and schools, and took advantage of the wonderful opportunity to tour the London area and attend English theatre events.
The concerts were open to the public, and guests were welcome at the various liturgies. Repertoire included a cappella works by Palestrina, Tavener, Debussy, Woollen, Lauridsen, and Nystedt. The concerts also featured the English premiere performances of “A Prayer of St. Anselm,” an English setting of a prayer of St. Anselm of Canterbury by Dr. O’Shea. Upon their return, the Chamber Singers presented a homecoming concert at the Chapel of Saint Mary of the Angels.
Dr. Gary Diomandes, director of our London Study Abroad program, accompanied the group and posted many blog notes and photos.
During the recent spring break, College students involved in the S.O.U.L. (Serving Others United in Love) program chose to participate in service projects and trips, traveling to Rochester, N.Y.; Browning, Mont.; Narragansett, R.I.; Tulsa, Okla.; and East Los Angeles, Calif. In each of these places participants learned about systemic poverty and injustice, as well as the creative solutions each community has in improving lives through education and community programming. Service was done in schools, soup kitchens, community centers, and among homeless populations.
Now in its 30th year of sponsoring trips, S.O.U.L. is an outreach of Campus Ministry. The goal of this program is to provide alternative break opportunities for students to learn about injustice and create relationships through service. Together with the partnership and support of our alumni and friends, these trips help Saint Mary’s accomplish our mission of awakening, nurturing, and empowering learners to ethical lives of service and leadership.
Read more about their experiences through student blogs.
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, 2016)
Several events at the end of the fall semester gave students 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 night before finals began, Campus Ministry held a Christmas Light Service, and the Office of Academic Affairs hosted the popular late-night Pre-Finals Breakfast served by faculty and staff.
See photos of the events on Facebook.
A reception for all seniors, with special recognition for mid-year graduates, was hosted in the Toner Student Center by Brother William and the Office of Academic Affairs. Students had a chance to mingle socially with each other and with faculty and staff, and then each of the graduates received diplomas from Brother William. A few weeks later, Campus Ministry held special Masses blessing graduating seniors and students studying abroad next semester.
A common, capstone-class experience for all senior business majors is the Strategic Management Case Competition, held twice a year since 1995. Eight groups of four students of mixed interest and majors are given 10 days to research, analyze, and make a recommendation about a real-world business situation. Then they get to defend their findings in front of highly inquisitive business professors and alumni. (This fall’s case involved Corning Corporation, which faced a management decision in 1988 to focus on fiber optics, lab testing materials, or making glass for high-definition TVs.)
Students benefit from the stimulating experience that integrates all of their classroom theory to handle a big project on a short deadline, demanding teamwork, critical analysis, professional presentation skills, and thinking on their feet. The day ends over a friendly dinner, with students and faculty debriefing about the competition and alums sharing stories about their time in front of the judging panel.
Sixteen students had a front-row seat to news being made—literally. As part of an ongoing university leadership series, Saint Mary’s alum and news anchor Bill Lunn ’87 provided the unique opportunity to tour KSTP-TV Channel 5 in St. Paul and view a portion of the evening broadcast. Lunn guided the group through the station’s newsroom, highlighting the news, video, web and social media departments, and more.
Students were able to observe staff working on stories and video for upcoming broadcasts and even setting up a live shot in the newsroom. Lunn also provided valuable insight into life in the abbreviated TV news world—as well as the need to report accurately and fairly to help heal the political division occurring in the U.S.
Undergraduate and graduate student interns are working with professional staff on the largest task undertaken by our GeoSpatial Services (GSS) natural resources management project center. Saint Mary’s has an $880,000 agreement with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to survey wetlands in the state’s Northwest region, part of a larger updating of the National Wetland Inventory (NWI). This information can be used for wetland regulation and management decisions, land use and conservation planning, environmental impact assessments, and natural resource inventories.
GeoSpatial Services integrates professional services and academic apprenticeships in the areas of natural resource assessment, geographic analysis, and digital mapping. The two-year NWI project, which began in October, involves professional GSS staff working with up to 15 paid undergraduate and graduate interns interested in geographic information science and environmental science. Students will gain hands-on learning outside of the classroom, benefit from the wetland ecology expertise of our environmental scientists, and utilize state of the art geographic information system (GIS) technology.
Over 125 students, faculty, staff, and community members came together in November to embrace cultural differences in African Night, hosted by the Black Students and Allies club. The program was filled with performances including dancing, singing, spoken word, poetry and more. Festivities also highlighted food from regions across Africa, and the evening culminated in a celebration with cake and dancing until midnight. African Night was sponsored by Student Senate, the Office of Student Life, the International Center, and the Study Abroad Office.