Thursday, December 18, 2014


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. In this communication 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.

Images from the Christmas season

Enjoy the sights and sounds of the Christmas season at Saint Mary’s, including the faculty pre-finals breakfast for students, the chapel candlelight service, the traditional Lessons and Carols concert, and other student and alumni gatherings. The choir concert—a Winona favorite—is performed each year at Chapel of Saint Mary of the Angels on the Saint Teresa Campus.

Campus solar power project
energizes student organizers

Developing ethical leaders is at the core of our mission and strategic plan. A group of Winona Campus students spent more than a year researching, presenting, and fundraising for a solar panel initiative, and on Nov. 25 a 3.8 kilowatt system was installed on the roof of Fitzgerald Library. The idea for installing solar panels began with Conner Ellinghuysen and a core group of student organizers including Reikel Beichler, Peter Hegland, Katie O’Leary, and Matt Faucett (shown above).

The students say the new system will immediately begin reducing the university’s carbon footprint, save money, and provide operating data and educational experiences for students in many academic areas. The system is expected to produce over 5,000 kilowatt-hours per year on average, or about 50 percent of the average household usage. It will also save four tons of carbon emissions each year.

Science students doing research
and presenting results

Science students and advisers at the 7 Rivers Undergraduate Research Symposium.
Our undergraduate science students continue to demonstrate the university's excellence in science education. Seven biology and chemistry students presented their research projects at the 7 Rivers Undergraduate Research Symposium held in November at Viterbo University. Student presenters included Samantha Amatuzio, Jaci Bongard, Daniel Carroll, Cody Gill, Kelsey Haugh, Brandon Larsen, and Amy Zawacki. Sami Amatuzio received an award for best poster. Later in November, Amy Zawacki, Jaci Bongard, and Brandon Larsen presented research while attending the Autumn Immunology Conference in Chicago with Dr. Jeanne Minnerath.

Looking ahead on the research front, four biology students were recently awarded national biology honor society Beta Beta Beta Research Foundation scholarships. Students submitted a proposal for their senior research project outlining the objectives of the research and a budget. Receiving scholarships were Katie Stolz, Aleah Bingham, Jaci Bongard, and Madelyn Stiehl.

Ideas for new businesses
pitched in 90-second contest

Aspiring young entrepreneurs were given a minute and a half to sell new business ventures to faculty judges during the annual Elevator Pitch Competition, sponsored by the Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at Saint Mary’s. Eleven enthusiastic competitors proposed a wide array of business concepts from gourmet hog dogs to support services for women suffering from infertility. The contest, which awarded cash prizes, was open to all students on campus, regardless of major. Students were allowed to submit a video of their pitch or make it live.

Three students tied for first place. Daniel Murphy, a marketing major from Woodbury, Minn., and Jakub Koziuk, a marketing and entrepreneurship major from Cary, Ill., pitched an emergency response app called “QuikClik.” Melissa Radermacher, a global studies major from Plymouth, Minn., pitched a nonprofit fitness club called “Fit For Life.”

Unique theatre program marks
20th anniversary in London

Our Stefannié Valéncia Kierlin Theatre Program in London is believed to be only one of its kind in nation. This fall, the study abroad program celebrated its 20th anniversary. Under the guidance of Saint Mary’s and British faculty, theatre majors take acting courses and attend performances at London’s West End, Off-West End and Fringe theatres.

What truly sets the Saint Mary’s program apart is the fact that participating students stage a full production in a London theatre each year — believed to be something no other U.S. college or university can boast. This year, theatre students presented the American comedy “How I Learned to Drive” at The New Wimbledon Studio. Dr. Gary Diomandes directs the play and leads the program.

Our London experience is also available to students from all majors, and courses are offered in global issues, art and culture, British politics, literature, theatre, and business. Read more about the program on the student blog,

Entrepreneur Week activities celebrate
the spirit of innovation

The Envision Club challenged students to test their knowledge of entrepreneurism.
Global Entrepreneur Week at the Winona Campus celebrated the spirit of innovation and strategic risk-taking, and added to the many opportunities students have for learning outside of the classroom. The week is a cross-campus collaborative effort involving the Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, the Business and Biology departments, and the Envision Club for entrepreneurial business students. The Envision Club sponsored games and activities designed to test the entrepreneurial knowledge of other students. The week also featured talks by Mike Cichanowski, founder and owner of We-no-nah Canoe, and by David Kingland, founder of Kingland Systems, a services provider to financial companies.

Students and alumni make a difference
in their communities

The women’s hockey team helped distribute smoke detectors in Winona.
Our students and alumni were out in their communities in late October, volunteering their helping hands for an annual day of service. Almost 110 Winona students spent the afternoon assisting 47 area residents and organizations with fall tasks during the Campus Ministry-sponsored Make a Difference Day. One of those efforts included the women’s hockey team working with the American Red Cross and Winona Fire Department to replace smoke detectors in local residences. Meanwhile, alumni in Winona, Twin Cities, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Denver got together to pitch in at a variety of non-profit service organizations during for our sixth Lasallian Day of Service.

Halloween Fun Night provides
safe fun for local kids

Hundreds of elementary and preschool children from the Winona area attended our 14th Halloween Fun Night, a tradition that is greatly appreciated by the community and enjoyed by our students. Pint-sized ghosts and goblins were treated to tattoos and stickers, a coloring station, other fun games, and visit by the Cardinal mascot. Of course the highlight was when Saint Mary’s students led groups of trick-or-treaters through the residence halls, where they could safely go door to door for candy and impress residents with their costumes.

Solidarity symposium examines
social challenges and change

The university is committed to preparing students for success in today’s complex and multicultural world. The campus Solidarity Council sponsored a fall symposium on diverse social issues, titled “Moving Forward: Resistance and Agents of Change for the Future.” Faculty, staff, and students were invited to this opportunity to unlock ideas and thoughts that empower students to think in new ways, and to move forward in solidarity with open minds regarding topics of inclusion and diversity. The day featured faculty and staff panel discussions, workshops, and breakout sessions.

Biology Club helps with fall harvest

Members of the Biology Club joined Brother Arnold McMullen for the fall harvest of produce from his prosperous garden on campus. Brother Arnold and the students picked gourds from his garden as well as Brother John Grover’s garden. Brother Arnold appreciated the garden help, and the students enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with one of our favorite Christian Brother residents.

Community leaders exposed to our arts

Jazz singers Darvell Jones and Kelsey Thurston performed at the President's Roundtable.
The President’s Roundtable raises our visibility with Winona-area business and community leaders and allows us to present current topics and discuss issues that affect our communities, our economy and our workplaces. At the November Roundtable, the group was provided with an update on all things artistic, including the Page performance series, London theatre semester, student productions, the Valéncia Arts Center and Conservatory, student band, choir, orchestra, and jazz groups, the Lillian Davis Hogan Galleries and more.

Brother William and Michael Charron, dean for the arts, demonstrated to the gathering how the variety and quality of these offerings enriches our students’ academic experience, enlivens the campus environment, and provides entertainment and economic benefit for our host city.

Class mug project helps
connect students to alumni

More than 600 Winona Campus students made a connection to each other and to their school that just might last a lifetime. At the first “Mugsgiving” celebration, students raised their newly acquired mugs filled with hot cocoa in a warm toast to each other and to Saint Mary’s University. The Future Alumni Committee and Office of Alumni Relations invited all undergrad students to receive special commemorative mugs, as well as enjoy an evening of games, music, and giveaways.

Organizers hope the popular event will become an annual tradition, with alumni returning to campus with their mugs each year to socialize with students. The event also serves as a unique way to welcome the freshman class to the Saint Mary’s community. Thanks go to 1967 alum Roger Haydock, who generously donated mugs for every student.

PR/Business Club visits Twin Cities
alums and companies

Lindsay Dickson ’08 gave students a tour of Minnesota Public Radio.
Saint Mary’s Twin Cities alumni hosted members of the Public Relations/Business Club in September at ShopHQ and Minnesota Public Radio. Katelyn Branstrom ’09, Erin Donnelly ’05, and Adam Beck ’07 gave a tour of ShopHQ’s studios and offices, and offered students insights to their jobs and career advice. Lindsay Dickson ’08 and Matt Perkins ’06 gave students a tour of MPR’s studios, newsroom, recording studio and other facilities, while sharing MPR’s philosophies and offering students additional career advice.

Job search experience and real
connections made at career fair

Part of our mission is to prepare students for success in the workplace. To that end, we hosted this fall our first on-campus Career Fair in Winona, sponsored by the Career Services and Internships Office. About 175 students explored 40 local and regional businesses and organizations, networked with potential employers, and found out what they are looking for in potential interns and employees. To help students prepare for the event, Career Services and Internships offered workshops on résumés, communicating strengths and interests to employers, and interview techniques and strategies.

This was a great opportunity for students to practice job interview skills and potentially land a job or internship that could launch their careers. Attendees included some entire classes brought by their professors. Several employers sent positive feedback about the quality, preparedness, and professionalism of the students. And several students have already reported back about getting interviews for jobs and internships as a direct result of business connections they made at the career fair, including RTP, Mutual of Omaha, Enterprise, and IBM.