Recent News from Campuses

Annual Candlelight Christmas Concert December 5

St. Kate's Campus News - Tue, 11/24/2015 - 5:31pm
The St. Catherine Women’s Choir continues their holiday tradition with this year’s “The Gift of Love” concert. More »

Saint Mary’s Concert Band to perform Kaplan Commission world premiere

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Tue, 11/24/2015 - 11:53am


WINONA, Minn. — The Saint Mary’s University Concert Band will unveil a new composition for concert band and baritone voice on Sunday, Dec. 6, at 3 p.m. in the Page Theatre.

“Ayshet Chayil” (A Woman of Valor), composed this year by Steven Rosenhaus, was inspired by the text from Proverbs 31. It will be the centerpiece of the concert, complemented by seasonal music from around the world.

The work—expressive and lyrical, sung in Hebrew—is composed for baritone voice and concert band; the featured vocal soloist is Alan Dunbar. The composer wrote in his preface to the composition: “Proverb 31 praises ‘the good wife’—the ‘ideal woman’—in Judaism. Many Jewish (and Christian) scholars believe that Proverb 31 was written by King Solomon. Unlike the ‘Song of Songs,’ the focus is on a woman’s intelligence, wisdom, work ethic, and more; it is these attributes, not those of grace or beauty that last and are deserving of praise. In many Jewish homes husbands recite this proverb to their wives before the Sabbath dinner, in acknowledgement and praise of all their spouses do.”

Rosenhaus will be in residency at Saint Mary’s beginning Dec. 2, and he will conduct the premiere performance.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors and are available by calling the box office, 457-1715, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, or online at Tickets at the door are available by cash or check only.

About the Kaplan Commission Project:

This marks the eighth Kaplan Commission presented by the Saint Mary’s Concert Band, directed by Dr. Janet Heukeshoven. Previous commissions were awarded to Steve Barnett, Lee Kesselman, Philip Rothman, Judith Zaimont, Marc Bernstein, Paul Richards, and Larry Bitensky. In 1998, the Helen and Sam Kaplan Foundation provided Saint Mary’s University with a gift to create an ongoing Jewish cultural exchange. Since then, approximately every two years since 2000, the Saint Mary’s Concert Band has commissioned a work by a Jewish composer based on Jewish thematic materials. The selected composer spends four to six days in residency working with the ensemble, presenting in classes, and meeting individually with students interested in music composition during the week of the premiere.

Applications will begin in early 2016 for the next commission; details will be posted on the Saint Mary’s Music Department website, the American Composer’s Forum website, and related Jewish cultural/musical websites.

About the Composer:

Steven L. Rosenhaus is a composer, lyricist, arranger, conductor, author, educator, and performer. Dr. Rosenhaus holds a Ph.D. from New York University-Steinhardt where he serves as adjunct assistant professor of composition. He currently teaches music composition, writing for musical theatre, and popular songwriting. He has also taught music theory and an Introduction to Music Publishing and Printing course for the NYU Music Business program.

He has more than 150 original works and arrangements in print with LudwigMasters Music Publications, Theodore Presser, Music-Print Productions, Hal Leonard, and others. Recordings of his music can be found on the Musical Tapestries, Richardson, Capstone, and MPP labels. His concert music has been called “clever, deftly constructed and likable” by The New York Times. More information can be found on his website:

Going beyond Narnia

St. Olaf Campus News - Tue, 11/24/2015 - 10:06am

St. Olaf College Professor of Religion and Philosophy Edmund Santurri (right) talks to students in his “Beyond Narnia: The Theology of C.S. Lewis” course.

In a still, sunny classroom in Old Main Hall, Edmund is talking about Narnia.

But this Edmund isn’t the hero of the beloved children’s series The Chronicles of Narnia — he’s St. Olaf College Professor of Religion and Philosophy Edmund Santurri, and the class he teaches goes beyond Narnia, delving deep into the varied and fascinating writings of esteemed author and theologian C.S. Lewis.

According to the course description, the religion class Beyond Narnia: The Theology of C.S. Lewis “introduces students to Christian theology through examination of selected works of C.S. Lewis. It considers both Lewis’s explicitly theological writings and his fictional works as resources for theological reflection.” Students begin by reading Lewis’s works of straight theology and philosophical theology, such as Miracles and The Problem of Pain, and then move on to more literary works like The Screwtape Letters, finally ending with novels such as the science fiction Perelandra.

“I’ve always been very interested in Lewis. And I thought that since a good number of students would have heard of C.S. Lewis, mainly through the Narnia series, this might be a way to incite a certain kind of interest in theology,” Santurri says. “And the course has incited such interest. To be honest, I’m actually stunned by the kind of demand there has been for the course.”

Santurri estimates he could teach another three or four sections of the course with the number of students who are interested.

Professor of Religion and Philosophy Edmund Santurri notes that C.S. Lewis is both a rigorous intellectual and a devout Christian, and it’s useful for students to see that these two characteristics can co-exist.

A theologian for the masses
Like many of these students, Becky Bowman Saunders ’16 grew up hearing C.S. Lewis’s name. She took this class last year, and a paper she wrote for it, “Myth Becomes Fact,” was published in Avodah, the St. Olaf Journal of Christian Thought. She took the course partly to put the books she loved as a child into context, and found studying Lewis’s theology beyond the Narnia series very rewarding.

“Students learn about Lewis’s theology, and are able to synthesize it in a way that is applicable to their own lives,” she says. “Concepts of eternity, pain, and glory become relevant to everyday life through Lewis’s theology.”

A wide variety of students are drawn to the class, from religion majors to students searching for an interesting way to fulfill St. Olaf’s theology requirement. All types of people are at home in exploring Lewis’s writings.

“Even if you don’t agree with everything he has to say, there is something there for everyone — compelling ethical arguments, astute observations of the human psyche, as well as a witty sense of humor that is sure to keep you in a good mood,” says Harrison VanDolah ’16, who is currently taking the course.

Paul Escher ’16, who took the class last year, agrees that the accessibility of Lewis’s work is very important. “Lewis is a theologian for the masses, explaining difficult doctrines in understandable terms without oversimplifying them, and I think his great success points to that.”

Escher adds that the way the professor teaches is just as much of a draw as the content. “Professor Santurri is a phenomenal lecturer, which really added to the interesting subject matter,” he says.

Cultivating theological literacy
Santurri notes that Lewis is both a rigorous intellectual and a devout Christian, and he says it is useful for students to see that these two characteristics can co-exist.

“St. Olaf College is committed in the mission statement to what it calls cultivating Christian ‘theological literacy’ — and what it means is not trying to convert people, but making it clear what Christianity is about and showing it at its intellectual best. And I think you get that with Lewis,” he says. Santurri particularly enjoys the way that Lewis’s critique of naturalism, or the idea that there are no moral or spiritual realities beyond the material world, challenges many students’ presuppositions.

“There’s a kind of excitement that revolves around that argument in Lewis that I just love… to see the looks on students’ faces when they’re encountering the argument for the first time,” Santurri says. “Initially they’re ready to dismiss it: ‘Oh, of course naturalism is true, and this spiritual stuff is a bunch of nonsense.’ But they see the arguments and they try to come to terms with the arguments, even as they’re fighting with Lewis; I just find that to be an incredibly exciting thing.”

VanDolah chose this class for its tight focus on one specific author.

“I would highly recommend this class to anyone looking for experience in close textual reading,” he says. “Or if you are just interested in learning more about how your favorite childhood author really thought the world worked.”

Alumnus takes new approach to Marriage & Family Therapy

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Mon, 11/23/2015 - 3:41pm

Lucas Volini ’10, M’12 knows his priorities. When penning acknowledgements for his new book, “The National Licensing Exam for Marriage & Family Therapy: An Independent Study Guide,” he first credited his wife, Lauren (Mazzuca) ’10.

Then, he credited the Psychology Department at Saint Mary’s University.

Smart move for a marriage and family therapist—as well as dedicated husband and father.

When Volini first came to Saint Mary’s, he had a strong desire to play soccer and a broad curiosity about people and the world. But, coming from a large public high school in Chicago, he struggled at adapting to college life and developing good study habits; suddenly good grades didn’t come as easily as they had in high school.

The Marriage & Family Therapy doctoral-candidate, soon-to-be graduate school Marriage & Family Therapy instructor, and successful practicing therapist tells people he got a C- in general psychology. “People really get a kick out of that,” he said.

It was faculty at Saint Mary’s who changed his academic path, instilling in him a correlation between his goals, his passion, and his need for improving his GPA. “Saint Mary’s is where I fell in love with learning,” he said. “The Psychology Department helped me to get excited about my studies. They have such enthusiasm, and enthusiasm is so contagious. It was really a great experience.”

Volini went on to get his master’s degree from Saint Mary’s in 2012 and is currently in the early stages of his dissertation process to obtain his Doctor of Marriage & Family Therapy degree from Argosy University.

His dissertation, about taking an existential approach to therapy, is based on Terror-Management Theory and the concept that our fear of death is the primary anxiety that drives our behavior and motivations.

He calls it “Global Family Therapy” and said the practice is not only beneficial within the field but also lends itself to examining conflicts between cultures, particularly important considering recent world events.

More than a year ago, through Carver County Social Services, Volini was able to co-develop an adolescent day treatment program in Chanhassen, and results have been positive.

Volini works with youth in grades 7-12 with significant trauma, major depression, and severe anxiety. He integrates principles from interpersonal neurobiology, Buddhist and existential philosophy, developmental theories, and general systems theory and calls it “The Anicca Program.” He’s taken immense satisfaction in watching his clients engage in the therapeutic process and improve during their stay.

Volini is now in a position to pass along that enthusiasm for psychology with new learners. He established a master’s-level practicum experience at the day treatment program, through which he only takes graduate student interns from Saint Mary’s. “We do co-therapy in the groups, and family therapy with our clients’ families, and I provide individual supervision while overseeing their professional development,” he said.

This summer, he will also begin inviting bachelor’s-level students from Saint Mary’s to intern with him as well.

Volini interned at Family & Children’s Center in Winona while he was an undergraduate and he appreciated that real-life learning opportunity. It’s his goal to share those kinds of experiences with Saint Mary’s undergraduates.

It was his desire to help others taking the National Licensing Exam for Marriage & Family Therapy that ignited his desire to write a how-to book, published in September. “When I was taking the exam, I was frustrated that there weren’t accessible and affordable options to prepare,” he said. “The National Licensing Exam for Marriage & Family Therapy: An Independent Study Guide,” has already sold to marriage and family therapy students in 26 different states with growing demand.

This January, he will begin teaching in Saint Mary’s Marriage & Family Therapy master’s program. “I had opportunities to teach at other universities, but when an opportunity arose at Saint Mary’s, I was quick to jump on that,” he said.

Volini also enjoys his part-time private practice. It’s a lot to juggle, but Volini is passionate about his profession.

“None of it has really felt like work. That makes it easy,” he said.

Saint Mary’s Chamber Orchestra performance is Dec. 6

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Mon, 11/23/2015 - 2:29pm

The Saint Mary’s Chamber Orchestra will be performing a concert titled “Northern Lights: Happy 150th birthday to Jean Sibelius” Sunday, Dec. 6, at 7:30 p.m.

Under the direction of Dr. David Leung, the orchestra will perform in Figliulo Recital Hall, located in the Saint Mary’s Performance Center. The concert features beautiful music for strings and percussion celebrating the life of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, who was born 150 years ago. The orchestra will perform some of his less known folk-based pieces: “Romance in C,” “Rakastava” (The Lover), “Valse Triste,” along with familiar tunes from Peer Gynt by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg.

The concert will also feature the last concerto of the Four Seasons saga, the “Spring Concerto” by Antonio Vivaldi. It will feature Dr. David Leung as the soloist and Dr. Kyle Black from Saint Mary’s Department of Modern Languages narrating Italian sonnets. Special guest Dr. Jimmy Bickerstaff from Saint Mary’s Department of Theatre and Dance will be narrating Scandinavian poems for Sibelius’ “Rakastava.”

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors and are available by calling the Saint Mary’s Box Office, 507-457-1715, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, or online at Tickets at the door are available by cash or check only.

St. Thomas Honors Alumni Entrepreneurs

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Mon, 11/23/2015 - 9:24am

Pedro “Sonny” Ada, president of Ada’s Trust and Investment, receives the Family Business Award.

St. Thomas alumni have been honored for achievements as entrepreneurs by the John M. Morrison Center for Entrepreneurship in the Opus College of Business.

Luigi Bernardi ’85, ’89 M.B.A.; Ada’s Trust and Investment Inc., owned and operated by a family of St. Thomas alumni; and Lynn Casey ’85 M.B.A. received awards Nov. 19 in the 26th annual entrepreneur awards ceremony held in Schulze Grand Atrium at the School of Law.

Bernardi, president of Aurora Investments LLC, a real estate development firm based in Edina, received the John F. Cade Award for outstanding achievement as an entrepreneur. The award is named for Cade, a 1970 alumnus who founded Cade Industries and provided engineering, manufacturing and design services to aerospace industries. He died in an airplane accident in 1986.

Bernardi worked for Benetton, an Italian retail clothier, before joining the family business to work with his father, Tony. The firm specializes in retail, medical and multi-family developments; its latest project is Aurora on France, a 195-unit senior assisted living facility in Edina.

The Bernardi family has long been involved with St. Thomas. Under the leadership of the late Tony Bernardi, the family made a 1999 gift that became the university’s Bernardi Campus in Rome. Nicole Bernardi, Luigi’s wife, is a member of the Center for Catholic Studies board at St. Thomas and their two daughters, Francesca and Antonella, are St. Thomas students.

Ada’s Trust and Investment, a firm that has operated in the U.S. territory of Guam for more than 50 years, received the Family Business Award.

Pedro “Sonny” Ada, president of the firm and a 1983 St. Thomas alumnus, accepted the award on behalf of his family. His father, Pedro “Pete” Ada, founded the firm, which has been a major developer of properties in Guam, after graduating from St. Thomas in 1953.

A daughter, Maria, is a 1986 M.B.A. alumna of St. Thomas and serves on the Ada board. A grandson, Nathan, is a freshman at St. Thomas.

Casey, president of PadillaCRT, a Minneapolis-based communications company, received the Entrepreneur Alumna of the Year Award.

She joined Padilla Speer Beardsley, then a public relations agency, in 1983 and became its chief executive officer in 2003. She led its transformation into a full-service communications company, PadillaCRT, which is one of the nation’s top 10 independent agencies in size, as measured by the industry. PadillaCRT is fully owned by employees in offices in six cities.

Casey has been active in the civic and philanthropic communities. She is board chair of the Greater Twin Cities United Way and is on the board of the University of Minnesota Foundation. She is a former chair of the Minneapolis Foundation and the Meet Minneapolis boards.

“What an inspiring group of award winners,” Angela Selden ’87, a member of the Opus College of Business Strategic Board of Governors and master of ceremonies for the awards dinner, told the audience. “Their passion to make a difference, their perseverance to embrace the unknown and the deep sense of purpose their bring to their work and life is extraordinary.”

Lynn Casey ’85 M.B.A. receives the Entrepreneur Alumna of the Year Award.

Hamline Named to National Community Service Honor Roll

Hamline University Campus News - Mon, 11/23/2015 - 12:00am
Hamline is again the only institution in Minnesota to be named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in all four categories, including General Community Service, Interfaith Community Service, Economic Opportunity and Education. The Honor Roll’s Presidential Award is the highest federal recognition an institution can receive for its commitment to community, service-learning, and civic engagement.engagement.

Update: Power Of One Day Donations Total Over $190,000

Hamline University Campus News - Mon, 11/23/2015 - 12:00am
An incredible outpouring of support made Power of One Day, on November 11, 2015 a historic day for Hamline with more donations in a 24-hour period than ever before and many individual challenges met.

Love of the Land

Concordia College Campus News - Sun, 11/22/2015 - 11:00pm
For Bryan Boll '96, farming was his dream. Today, Boll's farm has over 800 acres, and he approaches farming with sustainability and entrepreneurship in mind.

Study Abroad Leader

Hamline University Campus News - Sun, 11/22/2015 - 12:00am
Hamline was ranked first in Minnesota and 14th in the nation in its category for study abroad opportunities by the Institute of International Education.   

New York Times features professor’s work on affordable housing

St. Olaf Campus News - Fri, 11/20/2015 - 3:57pm

Assistant Professor of Sociology David Schalliol says developments like Co-op City in the Bronx, pictured here, helped give New York a reputation for finding innovative ways to provide decent housing to middle- and working-class families. Photo by David Schalliol.

“The general narrative of affordable sky-rise housing is it’s failing,” St. Olaf College Assistant Professor of Sociology David Schalliol tells the New York Times.

But, Schalliol says, he found that there was much more to the story in New York.

He sets out to tell that story in the new anthology Affordable Housing in New York: The People, Places and Policies That Transformed a City.

“One of the aims of this book, this project, is not only to demonstrate the wide variety of these developments, but also the common experience within them,” he tells the New York Times.

“It’s where people make their homes, where they meet their friends. They don’t just come home, they’re actively producing community.”

Assistant Professor of Sociology David Schalliol

Schalliol’s research focuses on urban problems and how neighborhood community members address them, often without outside support. He uses photography and film in many of his projects, including for his in-process documentary film, The Area.

Schalliol teaches Urban Sociology, Visual Sociology, Race and Class, and Introduction to Sociology at St. Olaf.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Kenyon College and his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Chicago.

Carls enjoy "Late Night Breakfast" before exams

Carleton College Campus News - Fri, 11/20/2015 - 10:11am

Newer, but one of most popular, traditions at Carleton served by dean of students office this fall.

Students Shave Verdugo's Head

Hamline University Campus News - Fri, 11/20/2015 - 12:00am
Hamline Athletics Director Jason Verdugo had his head shaved by student athletes after the community exceeded the goal of raising $30,000 for Athletics on Power of One Day. Watch the video!

WACS student art on display at Valéncia Arts Center

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 6:10pm


WINONA, Minn. — Galleria Valéncia at the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts, 10th and Vila streets, is filled with 50 unique pieces of artwork created by Jody Berhow’s art students from Winona Area Catholic Schools (WACS).

The exhibit features a selection of children’s artwork in grades 1-5. The art on display shows how these young artists express their ideas by trying new things and experimenting with changing materials each year in the art room. As they draw, paint, and make collages, they are learning about the world (color, shape and size of objects).

This gallery exhibit is free and open to the public through Dec. 15 during office hours and while classes are in session. Visitors are encouraged to sign the guestbook, so that the young artists know who attended the show.

The next exhibit in Galleria Valéncia will feature artwork of the Winona Area Homeschoolers.

Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts hosts two Winter Dance Showcases

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 5:54pm

WINONA, Minn. — Experience the talents of emerging Dance Repertory Company II (DRC II) members as they perform in the dance genres of ballet, jazz, tap, ballet, modern, and hip hop Friday, Dec. 4, and Saturday, Dec. 5.

DRC II is the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts’ junior performance company, featuring beginning and intermediate students ages 6-13. Audience members will enjoy a trip down memory lane as tap dancers place money in a jukebox and experience the passion power of dance to express a message through the modern piece “Fight Song” by popular artist Rachel Platten. This showcase will also feature original choreographic works of advanced students who are learning the fundamentals through a choreography class.

The concert will feature: Kathleen Bowey, Carter Briggs, Lilia Civettini, Megan Costello, Lilianna Herber, Jolie Hill, Zoe Hill, Elizbeth Hinz, Mattie Kreisel, Heidi Langowski, Ryann Leibfried, Rachel Lepper, Isabell Livingston, Nolan Livingston, Isaac Meinke, Preston Meinke, Carmelle Meyer, Keeli Meyer, Carol Miller, Olivia Nelson, Makarah Olcott, Amy Remoticado, Elina Skranka, Ella Skranka, Isa Uribe, and Max Uribe.

The Dec. 4 performance will be held at 6 p.m. and the Dec. 5 performance is at 3 p.m. in the Academy Theatre of the Valéncia Arts Center, 1164 W. 10th St.

Tickets are $3 for students and $5 for adults (cash or check only) and will be available at the door one hour prior to the performance.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

The Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts, an affiliate program of Saint Mary’s University, a nonprofit organization, offers programming in dance, music, visual art, and theatre. Classes, lessons, workshops, and camps are offered for youth ages 18 months and older through adults at the Valéncia Arts Center. For more information, go online to, email, or call 507-453-5500.


Dancer Ella Skranka  is featured.

Saint Mary’s ‘Lessons and Carols’ Christmas service is Dec. 5

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 5:37pm

WINONA, Minn. — The joyous and uplifting Christmas service of “Lessons and Carols” will be presented by the Saint Mary’s University Department of Music at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5.

The beautiful service, held in the majestic Chapel of Saint Mary of the Angels, features the Saint Mary’s Concert Choir and Chamber Singers, directed by Dr. Patrick O’Shea.

“Lessons and Carols” reflects on the Christmas story through several short readings, hymns and Christmas carols sung by the choirs and audience. Music includes familiar carols and selections by composers from the Renaissance to the present.

The Chapel of Saint Mary of the Angels is located at Wabasha and Vila streets in Winona.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors and are available by calling the Saint Mary’s Box Office, (507) 457-1715, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, or online at Tickets at the door are available by cash or check only.

Saint Mary’s University to host interactive sound experience Laatikko/Box Dec. 1

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 5:16pm


WINONA, Minn. — History, storytelling, and music meaningfully combine in the next Saint Mary’s University “Off the Page” series event. Laatikko/Box will be presented 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1, at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum. The free event features Minnesota-based musician Sara Pajunen, who explores cultural identity and the immigrant experience in a one-hour multimedia piece.

Laatikko/Box incorporates the reading of archival material, recorded audio interviews with recent immigrants, live violin, voice, and electronic technology to create a poignant interactive sound piece. Laatikko/Box is a search for commonalities: between distant immigrant stories, and between the immigrant journey and our own journeys of change.

Inspired by Pajunen’s research in the Finnish-American archives, Laatikko/Box is a work in stages that follows the personal and musical migration of the artist. Rather than an expected response to the archival material, Pajunen found the immigrant stories mimicked her personal journey of leaving a place of familiarity. Immigration became a metaphor of transition into an unknown world—a quest for a new home. The work was commissioned in 2014 by the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis. Learn more at

Pajunen will also lead a conversation on community during a Page in History event at the Winona County History Center at noon on Dec. 1. This free conversation will focus on cultural identity and the power of history to influence the future.

Both events are free to attend, but space for the 7:30 p.m. concert is limited. To reserve your seat, RSVP to or call 507-457-1715 from noon to 6 p.m. weekdays.

Pajunen is a Fiscal Year 2015 recipient of an Artists Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to legislative appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature; and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Saint Mary’s asks for support to buy groceries for those less fortunate

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 5:10pm


WINONA, Minn. — Saint Mary’s University is continuing its tradition of supplying groceries to our neighbors in need this holiday season.

Partnering with the Toys for Kids program—and with your generosity—Saint Mary’s hopes to provide families attending the annual toy store distribution with grocery gift cards so they are also able to purchase food for their holiday tables. Additionally, Saint Mary’s partners with the Winona Senior Center to provide gifts for seniors, many of whom only request groceries.

Donations of money or grocery gift cards can be made to Saint Mary’s University, designated for Groceries for Winona, and sent to Saint Mary’s University, 700 Terrace Heights #8, Winona, MN 55987.

Grocery gift cards can also be purchased by Dec. 9 at HyVee or Midtown Foods and then left there for university volunteers. Any donation amount is appreciated. Trees will go up before Thanksgiving.

Evan La Ruffa ’05 Is Making Art Accessible to Everyone

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 4:22pm

Evan La Ruffa ’05 walked away from St. Thomas’ Justice and Peace Studies program with an important message: It’s not just enough to criticize; it’s important to come up with viable solutions for those critiques.

La Ruffa has put that message into play with IPaintMyMind, a Chicago-based nonprofit he founded with the goal of making art accessible to everyone.

“(Justice and Peace Studies) really got me thinking about passion and wanting to do good in the world, and build a model that hadn’t been thought about,” La Ruffa said.

‘Putting art where we live, work, play’

Evan La Ruffa ’05 (Photo provided)

“I’ve always been the guy telling his friends about a new record or artist I had found,” La Ruffa said. That passion for art and music led to the first iteration of IPaintMyMind in 2009, mostly in blog form. By 2012 La Ruffa had laid the groundwork for it to grow into something more.

As part of his justice and peace studies major La Ruffa worked with nonprofits. He said he noticed a common problem: how nonprofits fund their work. He said it was frustrating to be looking for donors and grants so often it hurt the work.

“It was clear that funding nonprofits was a key pain point,” La Ruffa said. Instead of “trudging the same path of donors, grants and foundations,” La Ruffa focused on a model that earns revenue, satisfies partners and clients, and funds charitable work.

What he came up with is the basis for the company’s Shared Walls service. Private companies contract with IPaintMyMind to bring a temporary exhibit into their space, which IPaintMyMind curates from their growing collection. That revenue helps fund a free exhibit (also curated by IPaintMyMind) in a public space, such as community centers, parks or libraries. For example, since fall 2012, they’ve curated an exhibit for Darwin Elementary School.

“We’re really focused on spreading the love, putting the art where people, live, work, play,” La Ruffa said.

While IPaintMyMind is based heavily in Chicago, La Ruffa said they hope to focus on New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Taking the art out of a gallery context is important, he added, because it makes it easier to relate to.

“We’re rebelling against the snotty art-world, red-rope thing,” La Ruffa said. “That’s hugely important to me … changing the way people interact with art and showing that art is something that is, and should continue to be, part of everyone’s daily experience. Not just something set aside for the affluent.”

The program supports artists in two ways: First, IPaintMyMind physically buys works of art from the artists, which are placed in IPaintMyMind’s collection. Second, the artists then gets exposure in various places around the city, where more communities can interact with it.

IPaintMyMind also continues to feature artists and musicians on their website, and has their own gallery with monthly exhibits in the Green Exchange building in Chicago.

Most of the artwork IPaintMyMind buys are pieces that can be easily placed on a wall, such as screen prints, digital collages or photography. Although a lot of the work is made locally, La Ruffa said they’ve also had from artists all over the world, including California, Europe and Japan. La Ruffa said about half the time the artists contact IPaintMyMind, and about half the time IPaintMyMind reaches out to the artists.

La Ruffa said they try to curate content broadly to pull a lot of people in and have them find something to be excited about.

“They relate to something they’ve seen, and are also discovering brand-new stuff,” La Ruffa said.

Another key aspect: price.

“If it costs $1,000, I’m not buying it either,” La Ruffa said. “A lot of times the reason people keep art at arm’s length is it doesn’t feel like it’s for them. It costs a lot, and only a few people can afford it.”

Continuing to expand

IPaintMyMind continues to grow and while La Ruffa is still the only full-time staffer, the company includes an editor, event director, half a dozen writers and four interns.

La Ruffa’s goal is to continue growing by developing new partnerships and getting more art into communities: He wants to have an exhibit in each of Chicago’s 50 wards by the end of 2016.

“We thought there was no better way to exemplify our mission than to make our goal about putting art in every Chicago community,” La Ruffa said.

While art can be intangible, La Ruffa has numbers on his mind for measuring the impact and success of IPaintMyMind.

“Aside from money, how many people are coming to the shows? How many artists are reaching out? How many companies for partnerships? Are the grant makers moved by what we’re doing? Have they written a check?” La Ruffa said.

La Ruffa referred to IPaintMyMind as his “colorful and chaotic baby” but said there was nothing he’d rather be doing.

“Definitely offer encouragement to anyone who has a great idea or positive solution,” La Ruffa said. “For me, it was melding my passion, art, with my desire to make the world a better place.”

St. Olaf launches ‘On the Road’ program with New York event

St. Olaf Campus News - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 2:35pm

President David R. Anderson ’74 (left) and economist Dean Maki ’87 answer questions from the audience during the St. Olaf On the Road event in New York.

St. Olaf College is hitting the road this year, and at the first stop — New York City — more than 150 people joined President David R. Anderson ’74 for a discussion with economist Dean Maki ’87.

Maki, a managing director and chief economist for Point72 Asset Management, spoke about a variety of issues facing the global economy and the value of a liberal arts education.

The October 10 gathering in New York marked the first St. Olaf On the Road event of the academic year. The program — which brings alumni, parents, and friends of the college together with prospective students for conversation and networking — will also hold events this year in Minneapolis, Seattle, and Denver.

The event in New York included 34 current students participating in the St. Olaf Connections Program. The Connections Program, organized by the St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career, brings students to cities around the country to meet with alumni and see firsthand how Oles are succeeding in all sorts of endeavors.

In his role with Point72 Asset Management, Maki is responsible for analyzing and forecasting the U.S., Asian, and European economies and monetary and fiscal policies. From 2005 to 2014, he was a managing director and the chief U.S. economist at Barclays. Bloomberg News named him “the most accurate forecaster” of U.S. Gross Domestic Product in 2009 and the Consumer Price Index and Producer Price Index from 2008 to 2010. He was also awarded the 2013 Lawrence R. Klein Award for Blue Chip Forecast Accuracy for being the most accurate overall forecaster of the U.S. economy from 2009 to 2012.

Listen to his discussion with President Anderson in the video below.

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