An update from the president to alumni and parents
Undergraduate science majors had valuable out-of-class career-shaping and academic experiences this fall. Thirty-five students (freshmen through seniors) attended the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences Educational Open House accompanied by Dr. Jeanne Minnerath, director of the Allied Health program in our Biology Department. Students learned about educational programs available following completion of their bachelor’s degree, as well as programs they can enter prior to completing the degree. Saint Mary’s has affiliations with Mayo in several health-related programs, and more are being developed.
Thirteen biology and psychology students participated in the Seven Rivers Undergraduate Research Symposium, along with faculty from the Psychology and Biology departments. Our students were among the 25 researchers giving oral presentations and 63 displaying poster sessions. Christina Weldai was honored for the three-state conference’s best oral presentation in the behavioral sciences for her work on “The exercise duration needed to gain cognitive and emotional benefits.”
Two biology majors learned about cutting-edge scientific research and were invited to participate at the autumn Immunology Conference hosted by the American Association of Immunologists in Chicago. Jordyn Messling and Sarah Laska presented a poster session on “The Impact of the Dietary Supplement HEMOHim on Humoral and Cell Mediated Immunity.” Dr. Jeanne Minnerath and visiting scholar Dr. Xianfeng Sun (Xi’an Polytechnic University in Xi’an China) attended with the students.
Jovan Newsum capped a stellar cross country career this fall by taking 66th at the NCAA Division III national championship in Louisville, Ky. This was the Glendale Heights, Ill. runner’s second appearance at nationals and he finished in school-record time for the 8-kilometer course (24:14). Leading up to the national competition, Newsum finished third at the MIAC conference championship, and sixth at the NCAA Central Regional. Newsum now holds the top four fastest times in program history as well as the highest finish at the conference meet, earning First-Team All-MIAC honors.
The Blue Angel music variety show is one of the longest-running traditions at the university. For a weekend in November, over 200 Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia alumni, family members, and guests returned to campus to celebrate Blue Angel’s 50th anniversary. Along with other festivities, the alumni joined with current students to put on a rousing Saturday night performance—which included founding members of the Oldie Moldie All-Stars, a band of music fraternity brothers famous for its old-time tunes. The good music and good vibes continued with student shows Friday and Saturday.
Our International Center hosted several events marking International Education Week in November. The De La Salle Language Institute staff and students held a goodbye ceremony for 25 Mexican students who were returning to their country after a month-long language and cultural immersion.
The celebration continued with an open house, as classrooms in The Heights building were transformed with cultural exhibitions and demonstrations representing Mexico, Saudi Arabia, China, Vietnam, Togo, and India. Saint Mary’s international students and the visiting Mexican group led members of the campus community in learning dances, games, and songs, all while enjoying homemade foods from their countries.
Visitors to campus during Family Weekend came to see their students, of course, but along the way they were also treated to a wide variety of events showcasing student out-of-class activities. The weekend included concerts, sporting events, the ropes course, games and inflatables, and even a visit from legendary Cody the Buffalo. As in past years, a highlight was Saturday morning’s 29th Fall Frolic 5K fun run/walk, a trip for all ages through the bluffs and valleys of the scenic Winona Campus.
More than 120 students and alumni took advantage of the annual Winona Campus Career Fair featuring 47 vendors (including 11 alumni representatives) and nine graduate and professional schools. New this year was a networking night for students and alumni professionals which allowed the two groups to mingle and share experiences in the new Merle Wilberding Alumni Room.
As a part of our Student Success Center, the Career Services and Internships Office encourages student achievement during their four years on campus … and success in whatever they pursue after graduation. The office offers programs, activities, and resources to assist students in preparing for life after college, including help with choosing a major, exploring careers, securing internships, applying to graduate school, preparing résumés, and interviewing skills.
The new school year is well-underway on our beautiful Winona Campus. Just a few weeks ago we welcomed with enthusiasm 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, 2016)
The whole family is welcome to come to campus and visit their students during the annual Family Weekend, Sept. 30-Oct. 2. There is a full slate of activities for students, their families, and the Saint Mary’s community. In previous years, as many as 1,000 visitors have come onto campus for music events, sporting events, the Fall Frolic run and walk, and other games and activities. A complete weekend schedule and registration for the Fall Frolic are available online.
We continue to strive for new and innovative ways to offer excellent educational opportunities for our students. One example is the “4+1 B.A./M.B.A.” program beginning this semester. The new program will help students save tuition costs, fast-track their careers, and increase their employment options. It’s designed for all students, regardless of major. They will take up to nine credits of graduate courses in the senior year of their bachelor’s degree program with no additional cost, and complete their Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) in one additional year. Accounting majors will graduate with the 150 credits needed to sit for the C.P.A. exam. The first two eight-week M.B.A. courses, offered in a blended on-campus and online delivery mode, are available starting Oct. 24. Learn more about the new program.
Undergraduate psychology students took advantage of a high-level out-of-class opportunity in early August, when they presented research at the American Psychological Association (APA) annual convention in Denver. The presentation was a product of the body image collaborative research lab coordinated by Dr. Elizabeth Seebach, where students at all levels work together on a study, each learning the skills in research and leadership that match their semester level.
The collaborative lab’s paper on “Healthy Eating? Psychosocial Eating Patterns, Relationship Status, and Body-Image Distortion” was presented by Elizabeth Leif, Kortney Wobbe, Katharine Nicoson, Brian Mockler, and Reed Evers. Recent graduates Kelsi Watters and Christine Meeds also contributed to the research.
The five-day conference was intended for academic and applied psychologists to share research and best-practice information. Attendees were primarily doctoral-level researchers, teachers, and applied psychologists. Many graduate students also attended, and only a small portion of the attendees were undergraduate students. All of the presentations were peer-reviewed and selected by doctoral-level psychologists in specific divisions of psychology.
The Residence Life staff and administrators for the Winona Campus attended the national conference of the Association for Student Affairs at Catholic Colleges and Universities (ASACCU) at St. Norbert College. ASACCU promotes understanding of the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and its relevance for student affairs professionals at Catholic institutions. The three-day conference was themed, “The way I see it: Catholic higher education through the eyes of our students.”
Saint Mary’s attendees included Dr. Tim Gossen, vice president for mission; Charissa Jakusz, dean of students; Nathan Wagar, director of residence life; and the six graduate assistant hall directors. Their participation helps further our goals to perpetuate Lasallian Catholic heritage and identity, and to create a vibrant campus and transformational residential life experience.
Joe Malinao and Alejandra Pina attended the La Salle Summer Program for students on Leadership and Global Understanding in Cuernavaca and Mexico City, Mexico. Sponsored by the International Association of Lasallian Universities, the event brought students together to build an extended Lasallian community and network of student leaders. They 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. Participants included 29 students from Lasallian schools in the U.S., Brazil, Colombia, France, Mexico, and the Philippines.
The campus was humming and clanging with the sound of summer construction projects as we strive to keep our facilities safe, attractive to new students, and effective for learning and teaching. The new Science and Learning Center is on schedule to open June 1, 2017. Other notable summer projects included transformation of Saint Yon’s Hall and the former Brothers’ residence into a variety of desirable apartments and rooms; replacement of steps to Saint Yon’s; renovation of the ice arena boards and glass; refinishing of the gym floor; installation of emergency callboxes and campus lighting; and more.
Collecting ticks might not sound like a great summer job. But two students had the opportunity to perform real-world field research alongside one of their professors, and to contribute data that will be analyzed by the state in its effort to control the disease-carrying insect. Helping Dr. Jeanne Minnerath of the Biology Department last summer were two Biology Pre-Physical Therapy majors, Brandi Blattner and Jordyn Messling.
The work involved the invasive Japanese barberry plant, a prickly species that creates a habitat that the Minnesota Department of Health and Department of Agriculture suspects is desirable for ticks. Dr. Minnerath and her students conducted a pilot study in barberry-infested sites in Wabasha and Houston Counties. Additional sites without barberry infestations were also surveyed for comparison.
Dr. Minnerath considers this kind of research a win-win situation. She depends on student help—and students make good contacts, gain valuable experience, and build their résumés.
Winona has been awarded the No. 1 spot on SafeWise’s ranking of “30 Safest College Towns in America.” Winona is home to three higher-education institutions including Saint Mary’s. Winona was also named No. 18 on SafeWise’s list of “100 Safest Cities in America.” SafeWise security experts based their rankings on the most recent FBI crime statistics and also identified safety-related programs and initiatives in college cities across the country.
Winona was noted for its low crime rates and community involvement in crime prevention and awareness. The town was also recognized for its commitment to the health and wellness of its community members through various programming, and its colleges were noted for their proactive efforts to keep students safe.
Biology students Sarah Sieracki and Angela Soto spent their summer internships at our Cascade Meadow Wetlands and Environmental Learning Center in Rochester, controlling invasive plant species in the wetland and prairie restorations, establishing and sampling vegetation plots in the restored prairie area, collecting data from the site’s lake, and even assisting with educational programs. The interns were challenged by mosquitoes, thorny plants, and the weather, but they enjoyed regular encounters with wildlife.
The pair helped to design and implement a vegetation monitoring protocol and documented 130 plant species at the site. They’re preparing a poster with the initial sampling data for a conference later this fall. The work was guided by Dr. Moni Berg-Binder and Dr. Josh Lallaman of the Biology Department; GeoSpatial Services staff member Kathy Allen; and Cascade Meadow staff.