An update from the president to alumni and parents
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.
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.