Friday, September 19, 2014

Dear Alumni and Parents,

A new school year is well-underway on our beautiful Winona campus. The warm sense of community is one of the first things students experience when they come to Saint Mary's. A few weeks ago we welcomed back returning students and helped the first-years move into their residence halls, with athletic teams, faculty and staff, and alumni all greeting families and pitching in.

The new academic year is only a few weeks old, and already our students are busy with service projects, academic challenges, and fun. Let me tell you about a few of these activities and other developments on campus.

— Brother William

Summer interns help their professor survey fish communities

Tessa Oberle and Sarah Fanning hold carp sampled in Spring Lake.
Summer biology interns helped Dr. Josh Lallaman, Biology Department, with two contracts to survey Minneapolis/greater metro area lakes. The students assisted with surveying the fish communities in Sand and Long Lakes (Washington County). More biology student volunteers will be assisting with surveying common carp populations in Spring, Arctic, and Cedar Lakes (Scott County) in September. These contracts are a result of collaboration with Saint Mary’s biology alum Mike Majeski ’02, who works for the environmental consulting firm Emmons & Olivier Resources, Inc.

Saint Mary’s does well in the rankings

In an affirmation of the high-quality, impactful teaching and learning that occurs here, two recent national university ranking publications have placed Saint Mary's University in their upper tiers. Saint Mary’s is consistently recognized for the quality of its educational experience. We meet the needs and exceed the expectations of our students at every level, from undergraduate to master’s to doctoral.

Once again we are ranked in the top tier of best colleges and universities by U.S. News & World Report. Saint Mary’s is ranked No. 181 in the National Universities category of the U.S. News Best Colleges 2015 guidebook. We are one of only three public or private schools in Minnesota listed in this elite category. And, Saint Mary’s has again been named one of the “Best in Midwest” by The Princeton Review, a national college guide and ranking program. The guide profiles colleges and universities that stand out as academically excellent institutions of higher learning as rated by their own students.

Students gain international perspective in London study abroad program

This fall semester 15 undergraduate students will gain international experience and perspective as they attend our study abroad program in London, England. Dr. Gary Diomandes, professor of theatre and dance, serves as the director of the London program. As part of the Stefannié Valéncia Kierlin Theatre Program, theatre students will present “How I Learned to Drive” at The New Wimbledon Studio from Oct. 15-18. The London program is available to students from all majors and offers courses in theatre, business, global issues, art and culture, British politics, and literature.

Read more about student experiences in London on their blog, or follow our Study Abroad Office on Facebook and its blog for updates on all of our international study programs.

Internship with Disney an illuminating experience for theatre major

As Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Arielle Ems ’15 never dreamed she’d spend her summer interning at the happiest place on earth. The theatre major from Portland, Oregon, was hired as an entertainment tech intern, working in lighting at the four Walt Disney Florida theme parks. She returns to Saint Mary’s this fall with a whole new skill set to bring to the college stage.

Ems was hired by Disney while she attended the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) conference in Fort Worth, Texas, this past spring. Businesses from throughout the U.S. conducted interviews at the conference.

Psychology students present study at APA national conference

Maija Rannikko, Lauren Salonek, Ashley Walz, Christine Meeds, and Ellie Niedbala.
Dr. Elizabeth Seebach’s collaborative psychology lab presented a research poster at the American Psychological Association (APA) annual conference in early August in Washington, D.C. The study, “The Body as a Temple: Attachment to God and Health Behaviors” by Elizabeth Niedbala, Maija Rannikko, Ashley Walz, Christine Meeds, Lauren Salonek, and Elizabeth E. Seebach, was well received.

Miller chosen for cancer research fellowship at Gundersen

Katie Miller ’15 had never heard of hairy cell leukemia before this summer. But after several weeks working at Gundersen Medical Foundation’s Kabara Cancer Research Institute in La Crosse, Wis., Miller is not only familiar with the rare form of cancer, she is hoping her research will help to create a new therapeutic target for the disease.

The biology major from Rochester, Minn., is the second Saint Mary’s University Fellow at Gundersen. The academic collaboration was brought about through 1958 alumnus Dr. Jon Kabara and his wife Betty, founders of the Kabara Cancer Research Institute. Katie is continuing a project started in the early 2000s by noted Gundersen cancer researcher Dr. Carl Simon Shelley that involves hairy cell leukemia (HCL), a rare, slow-growing cancer of the blood.

Biology students present research posters at national conference

Four biology students and Dr. Debra Martin attended the National Beta Beta Beta convention hosted by Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania in June. The students were district winners for their research projects.

Amy Spitzmueller ’14 presented a poster on “Heavy Metal Analysis of Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) from East Lake Winona”; Kristen Thelen ’14 presented a paper on “The effects of in utero atrazine exposure on the hematopoietic system and body mass in Mus musculus”; Katie Smith ’13 presented a poster on “The effects of in utero exposure to atrazine on the hematopoietic system in Mus musculus”; and Bridget Richardson ’13 presented a paper on “The antibacterial effect of the Goggle Sanitizer.”

A whirlwind literary tour of England

In a whirlwind tour of England over the summer, 11 Saint Mary’s students were able to walk in the footsteps of authors whose works they’ve read in class. Their tour guides were Dr. Carolyn Ayers and Dr. Brooke Lenz of the English Department. Highlights from the trip included going to Lyme-Regis to visit the home of John Fowles; the Jane Austen Center in Bath; the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London; a Shakespeare play in Stratford-upon-Avon; and poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s cottage in Nether Stowey. On a free day, several students also visited Highclere Castle (shown above), where Downton Abbey is filmed.

The England trip is one of a series of faculty-led short-term study abroad programs that pair academic areas of study with memorable international experiences for undergraduate students. Students study a specific disciplinary focus and country/region during spring semester within a three-credit course, and then travel with faculty members for roughly two weeks shortly after commencement.

Urban Scholars internship inspires career goal as civil rights attorney

Manire Vaughn, center, with Minnesota State Senator Bobby Joe Champion and Tina Smith, Governor Mark Dayton's chief of staff.

As an African-American student, Manire Vaughn ’15 has worked hard to make other students of color feel more comfortable in their academic surroundings, and as a volunteer through Campus Ministry, he worked to serve underprivileged communities. His experiences—coupled with an internship with the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department—have strengthened his desire to eventually become a civil rights attorney.

The Human Services and Criminal Justice major from Chicago worked this summer as a community outreach engagement intern through the Minneapolis Urban Scholars Program, which provides students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds with a distinctive professional experience, focused on gaining essential leadership skills and creating career pathways to positions of influence.

LaSalle Summer Program 2014, Barcelona

This summer sophomore Ena Moats from Roland, Iowa, along with 25 other students from six different countries, gathered in Barcelona, Spain to renew the Lasallian spirit and discover new ways to bring that spirit back to their universities. Their experiences in Spain included workshops that discussed ethics and values as it relates to everyday life. Students also had the opportunity to enjoy Barcelona together, visiting places like Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia; world-renowned production company, Mediapro; and even Camp Nou, Barcelona’s fútbol stadium.

Campus solar panels are on their way

The student-organized solar panel initiative was successful in raising approximately $14,000, enough to order a 3.8 kilowatt system for campus. In order to take advantage of a Made in Minnesota Solar Panel Rebate, the scale of the project was downsized, but student organizers are excited for the project to begin. The solar panels will be installed in October. A location is yet to be determined.

“I think it’s a good start to decreasing our carbon footprint, and classes will be able to understand the value of solar panels and other green initiatives,” says senior Conner Ellinghuysen, one of the initiative’s organizers. “One of the great things about this project is that it has the potential to connect many disciplines of the university, from business to science classes."

College career starts with volunteering

One group of volunteers helped fix up a local playground.
Nearly 100 new undergraduate students received early exposure to the Winona Campus culture of community and service only a week after the start of classes. Our students spent an afternoon working at numerous sites throughout the Winona area as part of New Student Volunteer Day. Organizations served included Winona County, the Catholic Worker House, the Winona Area Humane Society, and Kinstone Academy of Applied Permaculture.

New Student Volunteer Day—organized by Campus Ministry and Volunteer Mentors—gives students a chance to engage with the Winona community, and to be inspired by the Lasallian spirit of service early in their college careers.

Twins internship a home run

Tyler Grabau ’14 scored big last spring, landing an internship with the Minnesota Twins that had him traveling to Target Field in the Twin Cities two, sometimes three days per week during the spring semester. His internship will continue throughout the season, until the end of September.

As a ticket office intern, the accounting and sports management major from Wabasha, Minnesota says he learned a lot about the operations of a major league baseball organization and “the amount of work that takes place months before the team takes the field in early April.” He’s helped people over the phone, as well as face to face. He says every ticket sale is like sharing a piece of the excitement. Besides the many aspects of ticket sales and distribution, Tyler assisted with the All-Star Game, Home Run Derby, TwinsFest and other events at Target Field.

Student-athlete leaders gather in Winona

Student-athletes from around the state showed sportsmanship and teamwork on the campus low-ropes course.
Our Athletic Department hosted 112 undergraduates from around the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference for the semi-annual Student-Athlete Leadership Conference. This is the second time Saint Mary's has hosted the conference event. Several of our athletics alums were involved in the presentations, and Athletic Department staff helped coordinate the weekend's activities.

These exceptional student-athletes 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, with workshops stressing topics such as sportsmanship, team chemistry and team building, goal setting, life after athletics, and wise use of social media. 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.

Athletes honored for top performances and academic excellence

Katie Stolz, Aaron Haley, Courtney Euerle and Ben Buerkle.
Last year, senior Courtney Euerle (Litchfield, Minn.) capped an illustrious career by leading the women's basketball team to an MIAC regular-season title and NCAA tournament berth, while freshman Ben Buerkle (Roseville, Minn.) took the college baseball world by storm in helping guide the Cardinal baseball team to its third straight MIAC tournament berth. The two were named our Outstanding Female and Male Athletes during the recent Cardinal ‘M’ Club Sports Hall of Fame and Awards Ceremony.

Cross country and track runners Aaron Haley (Plainview, Minn.) and Katie Stolz (Forest Lake, Minn.), meanwhile, were named SMU's Outstanding Male and Female Scholar Athletes. Aaron is an accounting and finance major, while Katie is a biology major.

The ‘M’ Club festivities also included the induction of three new members into the Sports Hall of Fame, welcoming Kelly (King '97) Stinson (fastpitch softball), Jennifer (Meyer '01) Fisher (fastpitch softball), and Chris Gogolewski '94 (baseball).