Recent News from Campuses

Two Gustavus Students Receive Gilman Scholarships to Study Abroad

Gustavus Campus News - Sun, 11/23/2014 - 2:44pm

Alexa Giebink ’16

Gustavus Adolphus College students Alexa Giebink ’16 and Samantha Vang ’16 are two of the 800 American undergraduate students from 356 colleges and universities across the U.S. selected to receive the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to study or intern abroad during the spring 2015 academic term.

Gilman scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply toward their study abroad or internship program costs. The program aims to diversify the students who study and intern abroad and the countries and regions where they go.

Giebink is a junior history major who will be studying abroad this spring through Gustavus’s Semester in Sweden program. Giebink and other program participants will have an opportunity to experience Sweden through a variety of excursions, activities, lectures and tours with an emphasis on discussion, reflections, and writing. Participants will begin the semester in January in northern Sweden and travel progressively south, spending time in Mora and Stockholm, among other places, before ending in Skåne, a province in southern Sweden.

“I want to study abroad to experience other cultures and bring what I learn back home to better inform my actions,” Giebink said. “I chose the Gustavus-led Semester in Sweden because it allows me to see the entire country throughout the semester and explore Gustavus’s roots of Swedish heritage. I am particularly interested in meeting and learning about the Sami indigenous people.”

Samantha Vang ’16

Vang is a junior majoring in communication studies, political science, and Japanese studies who is spending the entire 2014-15 academic year studying in Japan at Kansai Gaidai University. Vang is immersed in the Asian Studies Program at Kansai Gaidai which involves rigorous Japanese language studies as well as courses in the social sciences, humanities, and business/economics pertinent to Japan and Asia.

“I wanted to study abroad simply because I wanted to see the world beyond the United States. Through encouragement of my friends and my teachers and the excitement of it motivated me to study abroad. I chose Japan because I’ve been studying the language for a few years now and I want it to become my third language,” Vang said. “Kansai Gaidai University seemed like a perfect fit because it has a well established relationship with Gustavus, so they are experienced in working with international students. The university is also between two major cities–Osaka and Kyoto–so traveling to two distinct cities is a plus and the food varieties are even better. I also hope to learn more about Japan’s food culture, and food issues because I hope to participate in food advocacy work later in my career.”

The Gilman Scholarship is named for Benjamin A. Gilman, a former Congressman from the state of New York who served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 30 years from 1973-2003. Gilman chaired the House Foreign Relations Committee, served as a Congressional delegate to the United Nations, was a member of the Ukraine Famine Commission, a member of the U.S., European, Canadian, and Mexican Interparliamentary conferences, and a Congressional Advisor to the U.N. Law of the Sea Conference.

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Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Matt Thomas
mthomas@gustavus.edu
507-933-7510

Saint Mary’s ‘Lessons and Carols’ Christmas service is Dec. 6

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 1:04pm
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. 6. 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 [&hellip

Saint Mary’s basketball team invites community to bring toys for Gifts for Winona program

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 12:58pm
WINONA, Minn. — The Saint Mary’s University’s women’s basketball team is partnering with the Saint Mary’s University Gifts for Winona program to collect toys on Saturday, Dec. 6. On Dec. 6, the women’s team will play Augsburg at 1 p.m. in the Saint Mary’s gymnasium. Attendees are encouraged to bring along a variety of new toys [&hellip

Grant to Allow Psychology Students to Work in Living Lab

Gustavus Campus News - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 10:14am

Students in Professor Kyle Chambers’ Advanced Research Methods class had a chance to pilot the Living Lab model last year.

The Center for Developmental Science (CDS) at Gustavus Adolphus College and the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota (CMSM) in Mankato have been awarded a $3,000 stipend from the National Living Laboratory Initiative in Boston that will create unique opportunities for Gustavus psychology students.

The stipend will allow the CDS and the CMSM to create a permanent Living Laboratory in the new location of the Children’s Museum, which is scheduled to open in early 2015. Living Laboratories aim to educate the public about child development by immersing museum visitors in the process of scientific discovery.

According to the National Living Laboratory Initiative’s website, in the Living Laboratory’s educational model, scientists recruit participants and conduct their studies within dynamic exhibits at their local museum, rather than behind closed doors. Families visiting the museum are invited to participate in on-going research projects and to engage in one-on-one conversations with the scientists. Collaborating scientists work closely with informal science educators to communicate the questions and methods of their work to parents and other caregivers via informal conversations and hands-on activities that illustrate recent child development research.

“To our knowledge, this will be the first Living Lab partnership established in Minnesota,” said Kyle Chambers, Associate Professor of Psychological Science and Co-Director of the College’s Center for Developmental Science. “It’s also noteworthy that most Living Lab collaborations involve children’s museums and research universities with graduate programs, not liberal arts colleges, so this is a very special opportunity for our undergraduates.”

Associate Professor Kyle Chambers is the Co-director of the College’s Center for Developmental Science.

Chambers says that being involved in a Living Lab partnership has several advantages for developmental psychology students and researchers including access to a larger and more diverse subject pool and the opportunity for students to hone their communication skills with various audiences at the CMSM.

Junior Janey Ross is one Gustavus student who will be taking advantage of the Living Lab collaboration. Last spring, Ross took Chambers’ Advanced Research Methods in Developmental Science course which used the Living Lab model to conduct replications of previous experiments conducted at museums. That class laid the groundwork for the stipend application and recent award.

“It was a small class of 10 students so we got split into three groups and each assigned an experiment,” Ross said. “We re-created the experiment by building the materials ourselves and then we brought the experiment to the Living Lab and did research on our own. It’s a unique and challenging experience. We gained a lot of experience working with the public because we had to approach parents who had no idea what a Living Lab was and explain our research to them.”

Ross has been busy this Fall Semester preparing for the CMSM’s eventual opening by working with Museum staff to iron out the logistics of the relationship and also using the stipend to buy supplies and have professional signage made. She is looking forward to the Spring Semester when she and other Gustavus students can start collecting more data through experiments.

“I’ve always wanted to work with kids, but I didn’t want to be a teacher, so that’s why I decided to study developmental psychology,” Ross said. “Working in a museum has exposed me to another potential career path within the field of developmental psychology.”

Other Gustavus students who are involved with the Center for Developmental Science include Kate Belschner ’16, Allison Birnschein ’17, Alli Conrad ’15, Caroline David ’16, Andrea Garcia ’16, Nick Herzog ’16, Sarah Leavens ’16, Maren Kind ’15, Alyssa Maxson ’16, Gretchan Menze ’15, Neo Mpunga ’15, Emma Nystadius ’15, Allie Renneke ’15, Lili Rothschild ’17, Taylor Sommers ’15, and Callie Van Cleve ’17.

For more information about the Living Lab model or the Center for Developmental Science at Gustavus, contact Chambers at kchamber@gustavus.edu or visit the CDS website at gustavus.edu/developmentalscience.

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Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Matt Thomas
mthomas@gustavus.edu
507-933-7510

Up-and-Coming Entrepreneurs: Mother Necessity

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 9:22am

If necessity is the mother of invention, as the English proverb attests, then it makes sense that a mother imbued with passion, a biology background and an M.B.A. would invent a new line of products to help keep children healthier.

Jane Kramer ’14 M.B.A. launched LouLou Ingredients in 2012, a blog dedicated to educating people about the ingredients found in food and other products commonly found in the home, and how those ingredients could affect one’s health. Her comments and recommendations often came as a result of her own frustrations in attempting to locate healthy and tasty snacks for her own family, including a young son allergic to corn syrup and some other preservatives.

Posting recipes and tips, as well as sharing her homemade snacks with other families, she soon developed a loyal following. At the same time, Kramer was enrolled in the Evening UST MBA program with an emphasis on entrepreneurship. A requirement of her class with Alec Johnson, Ph.D., associate professor of entrepreneurship, was entering a business plan into the Fowler Business Concept Challenge.

It was a perfect recipe. “I had been working on a business concept, thinking that perhaps there was a way to turn LouLou Ingredients into a real venture. Then I took Alec’s class and that really kickstarted everything.” Kramer won the graduate-level division at the 2013 competition, earning the top prize of $10,000 and some valuable supporters from among the panel of judges. One judge offered to act as her mentor while another had connections to an allergy-free kitchen in which to test her recipes and develop the final products.

The result is Escape 8, a reference to the top eight ingredients that make up 90 percent of children’s allergies. After winning the Fowler prize, Kramer spent months refining her business, locating an allergy-free packing facility and fine-tuning her recipes and meal plans. She hopes to develop Escape 8’s reputation as a trusted source of information (and snacks) and, eventually, open her own café-style shop. In the meantime, Kramer sells her goods through fairs and special events, and includes recipes and meal plans on her blog: loulouingredients.com.

Read more from B. Magazine.

Eighteen Seniors Nominated for Tommie Award

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 7:32am

Eighteen seniors have been nominated by students, faculty and staff for the 2015 Tommie Award. The nominees are:

Harrison Aslesen
Chad Berg
Joshua Corbin
Kara Gamelin
Michael Hughbanks
Brittanie Hundt
Kody Kantor
Mariann Kukielka
Megan Lauzon
Joseph Lewis
Heather Meeks
Jennifer Murtha
Christine Robbins
Caroline Rode
Peter Scheerer
Jade Schleif
Lisa Thao
Tanesha Williams

To view profiles of the 18 seniors nominated for the 2014 Tommie Award, please visit the Tommie Award website. Profiles include a picture of each nominee along with a resume and testimonials.

Preliminary voting for three Tommie Award finalists will take place Dec. 8-10. Undergraduate students, faculty and staff will receive an email containing voting instructions.

For more information, please contact the Tommie Award coordinator, Vern Klobassa, by phone, (651) 962-6464, or email, or visit the Tommie Award website.

The Division of Student Affairs is the proud sponsor of the Tommie Award.

Hamline Alumnus Recognized by Secretary of State

Hamline University Campus News - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 12:00am
The U.S. Secretary of State's Office has bestowed a prestigious honor on Hamline alumnus Robert P. Mikulak ’64 for his work as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

The Hunger Games Examined

Hamline University Campus News - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 12:00am
Professor & English Department Chair Kristina Deffenbacher and Associate Provost Mike Reynolds explain why they think The Hunger Games has become such a cultural phenomenon.

New Hillstrom Museum Exhibition to Feature Works by Patrick Blaine

Gustavus Campus News - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 12:18pm

Fluid Chromatic #53, 2003, epoxy on wood, 36 x 24 inches

The Hillstrom Museum of Art at Gustavus Adolphus College will present Fluid Chromatics: Epoxy Paintings by Patrick Blaine, from November 24, 2014 through January 30, 2015, and FOCUS IN/ON: Everett Shinn’s Magician with Shears, from December 5, 2014 through January 30, 2015 and February 16 through April 19, 2015.

There will be an opening reception for Fluid Chromatics: Epoxy Paintings by Patrick Blaine from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 24, with comments from the artist at 7:30 p.m.

Fluid Chromatics: Epoxy Paintings by Patrick Blaine features fifty paintings by St. Paul artist Patrick Blaine, created in an epoxy medium that he developed through long and dangerous experimentation. The effect of these works, which feature imagery that is related to natural forms such as shells, leaves, pools of water, or clusters of frog eggs, is of rich, deep colors that seem to glow from within and that have a visually intense effect similar to that of paintings on copper. The primacy of color in his works is evident in the uniform title, Fluid Chromatic, Blaine has given to all the paintings in the exhibit.

Recently the artist has begun to combine his interest in nature photography, including that made during regular outings on bodies of water such as the Mississippi River, with his concern for color and for the epoxy medium. This exhibition includes his video titled Memories on the River Lethe, in which Blaine introduced hundreds of small, colorful epoxy globules, or resin stones as he calls them, into flowing water and recorded the effect.  These globules were made by an accidentally discovered free-form molding process to create colorful, jewel-like cabochons of epoxy.

Blaine studied in doctoral programs in history and the history of science but left those pursuits to concentrate on art, having been a casual painter for many years.  To date, Blaine has had few exhibitions, which include showings at the Marziart Internationale Galerie in Hamburg, Germany, and at the Blue Moon Café and the Frank Stone Gallery in Minneapolis.

FOCUS IN/ON: Everett Shinn’s Magician with Shears is another of the Museum’s FOCUS IN/ON projects, in which a single work from the Hillstrom Collection is analyzed in depth, in collaboration with a colleague from across the Gustavus Adolphus College curriculum.  An oil painting titled Magician with Shears by American Ashcan painter Everett Shinn (1876-1953) is the subject of an exhibition and essay co-written by Micah J. Maatman, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, and Hillstrom Museum of Art Director Donald Myers, which considers the artist, his career, and his strong interest in theatre, in particular vaudeville, through the painting, and will also reconsider the painting’s likely date and suggest the identity of the particular magician depicted by Shinn.

Admission to the Hillstrom Museum of Art, including all receptions and special events, is free and open to the public. Regular Museum hours 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, and 1 to 5 p.m. on weekends.  Please visit the Museum’s website at gustavus.edu/finearts/hillstrom for further information.

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Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Matt Thomas
mthomas@gustavus.edu
507-933-7510

‘Abilities First’ Turns the Lens Away from ‘Dis-’

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 11:00am

Subtitles accompany Ashley Bailey as she speaks on screen, so your eyes take in the message as well as your ears. Really, though, it’s your heart the words are meant for.

“Our disabilities are on the surface,” Bailey says, “But as people get to know me they’ll realize the abilities I do have. And I think it’s worth it to take the time to meet a person and know the many abilities that people with disabilities have.”

Bailey is one of several subjects of “Abilities First,” a documentary by St. Thomas seniors Austin Riordan and Caroline Rode that recently won the Special Jury Award in the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities Student Film Festival. The movie features the stories of people with disabilities and weaves together a message that society’s focus shouldn’t be on what people are not capable of, but what they are.

“The people in the documentary are what made it. It was just putting their stories out there,” Riordan said. “It was a huge learning experience.”

Caroline Rode (left) and Austin Riordan (right) stand with retired St. Thomas Communications and Journalism professor Tim Scully after receiving awards at the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities Student Film Festival. (Photo courtesy of Austin Riordan)

“I don’t think I’ve ever learned more”

Encompassing several months, dozens of interviews, and countless filming and editing hours, the film gave Riordan and Rode the chance to take ownership of a massive project from start to finish. At its initial conception the idea was simply to “do something that supports the common good in the Twin Cities,” and, at first, focused on “The Amazing Jeffo,” a blind magician. From there other stories came to their attention: an effort in Faribault, Minnesota, to put names on the graves of people who died at mental institutions and were buried with just numbers engraved on headstones; a couple who both have physical disabilities and are raising their 2-year-old daughter together; a two-time Paralympics medal winner; and several others that, together, form this narrative of people with abilities just living their lives.

“When we consulted people in this community about the language and how to get this right, they said to focus on the people and their abilities, not about the disability, the wheelchair or the crutches,” Riordan said. “It’s focusing on the people; that’s really what hit home.”

Crafting such a message through film is no small task and speaks not only to Riordan’s and Rode’s skills, but what they were asked and educated to do in class. Film studies professor James Snapko said there is more and more emphasis at St. Thomas on providing students opportunities for hands-on work, such as this project in a communications and journalism course.

“We want to encourage and inspire these students more to work with their craft, so when they graduate it’s just taking that next step,” he said. “With the passion some of these students show (with these projects), that’s a good sign.”

That educational path isn’t lost on Riordan and Rode.

“I don’t think I’ve ever learned more in such a short period of time,” Riordan said. “That I was able to go outside and apply the things I’ve learned from my classes, and to learn so many new things I never thought of, was fantastic.”

“We learned so much more than we thought we would,” Rode added. “Being able to do something that had impact outside of the classroom was more valuable than doing something in the classroom that you’ll apply later in life. We were applying this stuff as we were in the learning process. I’m very thankful we got to do something like this that most students don’t.”

‘No more valuable experience’

Another aspect of outside-the-classroom impact is the students getting to show their work to an audience, which is “the most important thing,” Snapko said. “That’s the best feeling for a filmmaker … to get some kind of response and connect with people. That’s when it gets rewarding. When it resonates with them in some way. If that happens … there is no more valuable experience.”

For Riordan and Rode that experience came well before the film festival: In May they screened their movie at St. Thomas in the OEC auditorium, drawing nearly 200 people between the film’s cast, family, friends and visitors.

“It felt like just another big project until the premier. Getting to see the people we had spent so much time with on our own, and having them all together,” Rode said. “The cast, a few of their moms came up and said, ‘Thank you for what you did. You spotlighted the good in my son or daughter.’ That was like, ‘Whoa, these are real people. This has a real impact.’”

“I started tearing up in the theater; it was the first time I had seen it not in different segments and editing it,” Riordan said. “Being in there and looking up to see it, hear everyone’s reaction and see how engaged they were in the film, was probably the most rewarding time I’ve ever had. Sitting there and realizing that this is a really good message people were engaged with … it was just awesome to be there in the theater.”

Looking ahead, Riordan plans to continue work with his own production company, and Rode hopes to pursue behind-the-camera work in journalism. Finishing this project together also has given them a glimpse of what their backup plan could be.

“We’ve been joking that in a few years if we don’t have solid work that we’ll travel the world and do a documentary together,” Rode said.

With one award-winning effort under their belt already there’s reason to expect Riordan and Rode would be ready for such a project. Expanding their lens beyond the common good of the Twin Cities, there’s a whole lot of stories just waiting to be told.

Students pitch businesses in 90-second contest

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 8:52am
Aspiring young entrepreneurs walked to the front of the room and excitedly acknowledged a small roomful of faculty members, pens poised on score sheets. With a quick head nod and a deep breath, they were given 90 seconds to “sell” the room their business, non-profit, or event ideas—making sure to include their contact information, as [&hellip

Study Abroad Leader

Hamline University Campus News - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 12:00am
Hamline University ranked first in Minnesota and 16th in the nation in its category for study abroad opportunities by the Institute of International Education.

Dance Repertory Company presents ‘The Nutcracker’

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 3:10pm
WINONA, Minn. — The Saint Mary’s University Department of Theatre and Dance and the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts (MCA) will present the Dance Repertory Company in “The Nutcracker” Wednesday through Sunday, Dec. 3-7, at the Saint Mary’s Page Theatre. Heralding the message of peace on earth, “The Nutcracker” is performed around the globe during [&hellip

74th Annual Festival of St. Lucia is Dec. 11

Gustavus Campus News - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 2:52pm

The 2014 St. Lucia Court. Front row: Sarah Barnes, Janet Jennings, and Laura Swenson. Back row: Rachel Hain, Kendyl Landeck and Sharon Singh.

Gustavus Adolphus College will celebrate its 74th annual Festival of St. Lucia at 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 11 in Christ Chapel. As part of this seasonal tradition, six sophomore women have been chosen to serve on the Lucia Court.

This year’s court consists of Sarah Barnes from Prior Lake, Minn., Rachel Hain from Roseville, Minn., Janet Jennings from Inglewood, Calif., Kendyl Landeck from Moscow, Idaho, Sharon Singh from Rochester, Minn., and Laura Swenson from Eagan, Minn. The women are chosen based on courageous leadership, strength of character, service to others, and compassion.

The Festival of St. Lucia is one of many Swedish traditions during the Christmas season and is traditionally held on December 13. On this day in Sweden, the eldest daughter plays the role of St. Lucia by rising early in the morning to prepare and serve baked goods and coffee to her family. Wearing a crown of lighted candles, Lucia represents the return of light that will end the long winter nights and serves as a symbol of hope and peace for the Christmas season.

At Gustavus, the St. Lucia Court traditionally sings carols in the College’s residence halls during the early morning hours on the day of the crowning. Lucia is chosen through a campus community vote, which will take place online Dec. 2-5.

A traditional Scandinavian smorgasbord luncheon will take place in Alumni Hall at 11 a.m. following the Festival of St. Lucia in Christ Chapel. The festival service is open to the public and a limited number of luncheon tickets are available for purchase through gustavustickets.com at $25 apiece. For more information about the Festival of St. Lucia, contact the Office of Marketing and Communication at 507-933-7520.

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Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Matt Thomas
mthomas@gustavus.edu
507-933-7510

Education professor receives $2,500 CEE Research Initiative Grant

College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University education professor Terri Rodriguez has been chosen as one of four recipients of the 2014-15 Conference on English Education (CEE) Research Initiative Grant for $2,500.

13th Annual St. Thomas Survey Finds Twin Cities Holiday Shoppers in Their Best Mood Yet

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 9:00am

The spirit of holiday giving is alive and well in the Twin Cities, according to research conducted by marketing professors at the University of St. Thomas.

Metro region shoppers are planning to spend $868 per household this holiday season. That’s the highest amount since the St. Thomas Holiday Sentiment Survey began 13 years ago. It’s up $31 or 3.7 percent from 2013 and up $231 or 36 percent from the survey’s recession-era low point in 2009.

When it comes to gift giving, Twin Cities shoppers are significantly more optimistic this year than they were five years ago. When asked if they’d spend more or less on holiday spending, 24 percent said they’d spend less and 17 percent said they’d spend more. That compares to 2009, when 54 percent said they’d spend less and 8 percent said more. Fifty-nine percent this year said they’d spend about the same, while in 2009 39 percent said they’d spend the same.

The annual survey is conducted in late October and early November and provides data on Twin Cities holiday shopping trends. The survey measures the intent of Twin Cities shoppers: how much they think they will spend for holiday gifts, what they will spend it on, and where they will spend it.

The research is conducted by Dr. Dave Brennan, Dr. Lorman Lundsten, Dr. Sandra Rathod and Jonathan Seltzer at St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business.

Generally tracking the path of the recession, the survey’s decline in predicted spending first appeared in 2008 and was especially pronounced from 2008 to 2010. There have been steady, incremental gains in predicted holiday spending per household since the 2009 lowpoint of $637.

From 2002 to 2009, the St. Thomas study mirrored or painted a slightly more pessimistic holiday shopping picture than national surveys. From 2010 to 2013, St. Thomas’ data was more optimistic. This year, the university’s predicted increase in household spending of 3.7 percent is slightly lower than national predictions: Deloitte & Touche is predicting a 4 to 4.5 percent increase, the National Retail Federation is predicting 4.1 percent, and the International Council of Shopping Centers is predicting 4 percent.

Based on survey responses and the population of the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, the researchers predict that metro-region shoppers will cumulatively spend $1.15 billion this year, up 4.6 percent from last year’s predicted $1.09 billion. Like the per-household survey prediction, this year’s metrowide prediction is the highest in the 13 years of the survey. And it is up 42 percent, or $340 million, from the cumulative spend predicted back in the gloomy days of 2009.

It might have something to do with the nice weather Twin Citians enjoyed this fall, but respondents said they had completed 18.5 percent of their holiday shopping by Nov. 1. That’s down from 21.4 percent last year.

The St. Thomas professors who conducted the study emphasize that actual spending might be different because shoppers could spend more or less than they planned once they get into the stores or online.

A peek under the tree

What will Twin Cities shoppers buy with their $868? The professors created an index to analyze the relative popularity of 14 gift categories. It sheds light on the “what’s hot” question and allows year-to-year comparisons.

The list did not change significantly this year, with shoppers again picking perennial frontrunners: gift certificates, clothing and cash. Categories that moved up the most were computers, cell phones and travel; categories that moved down the most were video games, books and jewelry.

The categories, listed with most popular at the top:

1. Gift certificates (last year 1)

2. Clothing/accessories (last year 2)

3. Cash (last year 3)

4. Travel (last year 6)

5. Toys/hobbies (last year 5)

6. Computers/related items (last year 9)

7. Books (last year 4)

8. Entertainment (last year 7)

9. Sporting goods (last year 10)

10. Cell phones, related items (last year 13)

11. Consumer electronics (last year 11)

12. Video games (last year 8)

13. Furniture/furnishings (last year 14)

14. Jewelry (last year 12)

Where they spend

For the past 13 years the survey has asked shoppers where they plan to spend their money. This year’s results show that shopping malls remain popular but over the years have lost some ground to free-standing stores and especially the Internet.

Respondents plan to spend 43 percent of their holiday budget at the region’s malls and downtown areas. That’s down from 45 percent last year. Shoppers will spend 19 percent at free-standing stores this year, up from last year’s 17 percent.

After 12 years of steady increases, the Internet showed a very small decline this year. Last year 34 percent of the household holiday budget was spent on the Internet and this year it’s 33 percent.

Catalogs, meanwhile, will account for 5 percent of this year’s shopping dollar. That’s up a percent from last year.

To find out what kind of Internet sites are most popular with shoppers, researchers asked respondents to indicate what portion of their Internet spending would be done on four kinds of online sites:

  • “Bricks and clicks” sites, operated by stores such as Target, received 36 percent.
  • “Internet only” sites, such as Amazon, received 33 percent.
  • “Deals” sites, such as Groupon, received 5 percent.
  • “Broker-facilitator” sites, such as eBay, received 4 percent.

Again this year, respondents were asked to list two stores and two websites where they planned to shop.

In the store category the five most popular, in order, were Target, Macy’s, Kohl’s, JC Penney and Best Buy.

In the online category, for the second year Amazon was mentioned nearly six times more often than second-place Target. Rounding out the top five were eBay, Groupon and Best Buy.

Most-popular malls and shopping areas

Which of the 16 enclosed malls, outdoor shopping centers and downtowns are going to attract the most shoppers?

The researchers approached that question from two perspectives: first, which mall in the region are consumers planning to visit at least once for holiday shopping; second, which mall are they planning to shop at most for the holidays. The results are not the same.

When asked which malls or downtowns they planned to visit at least once for their holiday shopping, survey respondents listed, from most-popular to least-popular (note that there were some ties last year):

1. Mall of America (last year 1)

2. Rosedale (last year 2)

3. Southdale (last year 3)

4. Eden Prairie (last year 6)

5. Ridgedale (last year tie for 7)

6. Burnsville (last year 4)

7. Premium Outlets of Eagan (last year not listed)

8. Woodbury Lakes area (last year tie for 7)

9. Arbor Lakes area (last year tie for 8)

10. Maplewood (last year 5)

11. Northtown (last year 9)

12. Downtown Minneapolis (last year tie for 10)

13. Galleria (last year not listed)

14. Albertville Outlet Center (last year 10)

15. Riverdale Area (last year tie for 8)

16. Downtown St. Paul (last year 11)

The Mall of America, Rosedale and Southdale have held these one-two-three rankings for the past five years, as well as 13 years ago when the survey began. The Mall of America has been the top, shop-at-least-once-for-the-holidays mall for all 13 years with the exception of 2004-2006 when Rosedale was No. 1.

When asked where they planned to do most of their holiday shopping this year, respondents listed, in order (note that there is one tie this year):

1. Rosedale (last year 2)

2. Mall of America (last year 1)

3. Ridgedale (last year 7)

4. Eden Prairie (last year 8)

5. Maplewood (last year 4)

6. Riverdale area (last year 9)

7. Southdale (tie for 7) (last year 6)

7. Burnsville (tie for 7) (last year 5)

8. Woodbury Lakes area (last year 3)

9. Arbor Lakes area (last year 10)

10. Northtown (last year 12)

11. Downtown Minneapolis (last year 12)

12. Albertville Outlet Center (last year 13)

13. Galleria (not listed last year)

14. Premium Outlets of Eagan (not listed last year)

15. Downtown St. Paul (last year 13)

This is the 10th time in the 13 years of the survey that Rosedale finished No. 1 in the most-shopped list. The Mall of America has held it three times, including last year.

What the research tells us

“Our data tell us that consumers are ready to buy,” Brennan said. “The unemployment rate in the Twin Cities is a relatively low 3.6 percent, and while wages have not rebounded from the recession the way the job market has, I think people are adjusting and they feel the economy is stable. The percentage of respondents who told us they planned to spend more this year, at 17 percent, is the second highest in the 13 years we’ve conducted the survey. At the same time, the percent who said they are going to spend less, at 24 percent, is the second lowest we’ve seen.

“Coming out of the recession we saw larger annual percentage increases in household holiday spending … 8 percent last year compared to 4 percent this year … but it is harder to maintain those large increases when you already are doing well,” he added.

“I think we’ll see a heavy promotional year for holiday sales,” Lundsten said. “But the retailers are being more careful than in the past when it comes to inventories. The great bargain year was 2007 when they expected a boom year but it went bust. That was the year you could get 40 and 50 percent discounts.”

He predicted that sales will be on selected items before Thanksgiving, but after turkey day expect to see broader, more storewide discounting.

The professors note that the retailers are creating more shopping events, and taking advantage of them. They include Thanksgiving on Nov. 27, Black Friday on Nov. 28, Small Business Saturday on Nov. 29 and Cyber Monday on Dec. 1.

“Many of the stores had their holiday displays up before Halloween,” Seltzer said, “but they didn’t advertise holiday-related products until the weekend after Halloween, and then the Sunday papers and television were bursting Christmas advertising.”

The professors are watching the growing phenomenon of stores opening at ever-earlier times on Thanksgiving. “What we sometimes call ‘Christmas Creep’ began when stores started opening earlier and earlier on Black Friday, until they opened at midnight,” Seltzer said. “Then they started opening Thanksgiving evening. This year several will be opening at 5 p.m. We are also seeing ‘Black Friday Creep’ with some Black Friday promotions available the Wednesday and weekend before Thanksgiving.

“I don’t think you’ll see store openings move up to noon on Thanksgiving,” he predicted. “Most families have their big meals around midday, so noon would be too early to open a store. However, once the meal is over, they say, ‘What should we do now?’ And of course many want to go shopping; for some it’s becoming a family tradition.”

At least three large stores in the metro area are just saying no to Thanksgiving sales; they are Nordstrom, Costco and Home Depot.

Will the data-breach problems affect credit-card use this shopping season? “We don’t think so,” Lundsten said. “We hear on the news more and more often about the theft of credit-card data, so we are getting used to it. Also, not many of us have been directly affected, or know someone who has had problems with their cards or lost any money. We don’t see what you might call a ‘cash Christmas’ in the stores, and consumers will continue to use their cards on the Internet.’”

The professors also are keeping tabs on the progress of outdoor shopping areas that sometimes are called lifestyle shopping centers. While not all identical, they don’t have large department stores as anchors, like most regional malls, and recreate the look and feel of an old-fashioned main street. Pedestrian-friendly, they can be located in a smaller space and in areas that might not support a regional mall.

This year the professors added to their survey list a recently opened shopping center, the Premium Outlets of Eagan, as well as the Galleria, an Edina shopping area that first opened in the 1970s.

“In our survey, the Premium Outlets of Eagan was ranked seventh of 17 shopping areas when we asked where shoppers planned to visit at least once for the holidays, while the Galleria placed 13th,” Rathod said. “However, when we asked where shoppers planned to do most of their holiday shopping, Premium Outlets joined the Galleria near the bottom of the list. I think part of the reason is the newness of Premium Outlets and people will want to see it, and it also is seen as being more upscale than many of the shopping areas in the Twin Cities.”

“The importance of the dales, or the big malls, is diminishing,” Brennan said. “When we began our survey in 2002, they attracted 51 percent of the holiday spending dollar. Little by little, that percentage dropped to 36 percent by 2008. There was a rebound to 53 percent in 2011, but they have again dropped to 43 percent.

“There are so many more places to shop now,” he said. “There are the smaller lifestyle shopping centers, and of course the Internet, which now attracts a third of all the shopping dollars spent by Twin Cities residents.

“Still, it always is interesting to watch the battle for the top spot between the two giants of Twin Cities shopping, Rosedale and the Mall of America,” Brennan added. “They always come in at number one or number two, depending on whether shoppers will visit there at least once, or if they plan to do most of their shopping there.”

That kind of head-to-head competition doesn’t exist on the Internet, with Amazon leading the pack by a huge margin.

“Amazon is a wild card that we’re watching closely,” Seltzer said. “They lost almost half a billion dollars in the third quarter and the company has indicated the losses may increase in the fourth quarter. They have been buying sales at the expense of profit and it will be interesting to see how aggressive they will be this holiday season.”

While the days of the “must-have” Christmas toy seem to be behind us, Seltzer says possible candidates this year are two dolls, Anna and Elsa, who are characters in the popular Disney movie “Frozen.”

The St. Thomas professors agree that holiday shoppers in the Twin Cities, like the rest of the nation, will get a boost from gasoline prices that have fallen below $3 per gallon for the first time since 2010.

The researchers

Brennan, Lundsten, Rathold and Seltzer are members of the Opus College of Business faculty.

Brennan, who holds his Ph.D. from Kent State University, is a professor of marketing and co-director of the university’s Institute for Retailing Excellence.

Lundsten is a professor emeritus of marketing who taught retailing and marketing research. He holds a doctorate from the University of Michigan.

Rathod, whose Ph.D. is from Purdue University, is the Opus College of Business Distinguished Service Professor. She teaches marketing strategy, consumer behavior, communication research and applied business research.

Seltzer teaches international marketing and distribution channels. A former vice president of industry and government relations at Supervalu Inc., he holds an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago.

The Institute for Retailing Excellence, part of the Opus College of Business, conducts research and offers educational programs for those who work in retailing.

Survey method

This year’s holiday spending survey included 306 online responses from households in the 13-county Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes two counties in western Wisconsin. The respondents reflect the demographics of the area as well as those who responded to previous holiday spending surveys.

Tommies Share Photos From Experiences Abroad

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 9:00am

The International Education Center at St. Thomas congratulates this year’s winners of its annual Study Abroad Photo Contest.

The winning photos will be on display in O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library in Coffee Bene, the Anderson Student Center, and on the university’s Study Abroad Facebook page.

The photos were judged by members of the International Education Center, University Relations, the Career Development Center and a study abroad returnee.

First-place winners received $100, second place received $50 and third place received $25. Tommies who have studied, worked or volunteered abroad in fall 2014, or who will study abroad in J-Term or spring 2015, are eligible for the annual Study Abroad Photo Contest in October 2015.

In addition to “Sense of Place,” the contest also included two other categories: “Intercultural Experience” and “Tommies Abroad”:

  • “Intercultural Experience” – this is about interactions between people; the meeting
    and mixing of cultures (students and the cultures they visit)
  • “Sense of Place” – this is about places and scenery; capturing the unique atmosphere
    of the country in which a student is a guest
  • “Tommies Abroad” – this is about UST students; group or individual student imagery that
    encapsulates the study abroad experience

St. Thomas Breaks Into Top 10 Schools for Study Abroad Participation

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 8:30am

The Institute of International Education’s Open Doors Report 2014 recently released its annual report on international enrollment and U.S. students who study abroad during college.

Study abroad breaks the top 10

The Open Doors 2014 report showed that St. Thomas’ undergraduate study abroad participation is on the rise, ranking eighth this year, and remains among the leading American institutions for undergraduate students who study abroad.

Open Doors analyzes study abroad data from the previous academic year (2012-2013). In 2012-2013, St. Thomas’ participation rate, 56.9 percent, was lower than 57.4 percent in 2011-2012, but its rank increased from 11th nationally to eighth among doctoral institutions. The rate is based on the number of undergraduate students who participated in study abroad programs (713 in this year vs. 690 in last year) and the number of undergraduate degrees conferred (1,254 vs. 1,202).

“Fire Ceremony” | Photo taken by Sara Backlund ’14 Vrindavan, India

These rankings mark the 11th year of statistics in which St. Thomas has been ranked as a “doctoral/research” institution, a category that typically includes much larger schools. The top five schools in the category were, in order: University of Denver, University of San Diego, Wake Forest University, New York University and American University.

Sarah E. Spencer, director of the Office of Study Abroad, International Education Center, said, “We are delighted to move into the top 10 for our ranking. This demonstrates that more St. Thomas students value global experience, preparing them for future careers and participation in the intercultural community.”

St. Thomas proved again that it is a strong competitor in study abroad, outranking prestigious institutions such as Dartmouth, Duke, Yale, Georgetown, Notre Dame and Boston University, which, respectively, trailed St. Thomas. The University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, with total student enrollment of nearly 52,000 and a No. 3 ranking nationwide for total undergraduate study abroad (2,508), is St. Thomas’ main competition for study abroad.

The state of Minnesota also saw a slight decline in study abroad participation, sending 9,022 outside the United States in 2012-2013. In 2011-2012, the United States sent 9,249 students abroad. Nationally, study abroad participation was up 2 percent with 289,408 American students studying internationally in 2012-2013.

Top destinations

Open Doors Report 2014 listed the top five most popular destinations for study abroad: United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France and China, which was unchanged from the previous year’s report. St. Thomas students’ choices were similar to students nationwide with Italy, Spain, United Kingdom and, for the first time, India. The top two slots owe much to two long-standing programs at St. Thomas: the London Business Semester and the Catholic Studies in Rome program.

Learn more about the Open Doors Report 2014 and its data here.

***

International student enrollment continues to see modest increase

Open Doors Report 2014 reports recent (2013-14) results for rankings of international students studying in the United States. With 13,765 international students studying in Minnesota in the 2013-2014 academic year, Minnesota again ranked 19th in the nation for its total number of foreign students. This indicates a 4 percent increase over the previous academic year. The international student rate also increased, 8.1 percent nationally, with 886,052 foreign students studying in the United States.

St. Thomas again ranked fifth in Minnesota

Although St. Thomas does not rank on Open Doors’ national lists for international student enrollment, it ranks fifth in Minnesota and was the top private institution, based on the number of international students, with 486 students in 2013-2014. The University of Minnesota ranked first in the state (6,621) – and notably, third nationwide – followed by St. Cloud State University (1,272), Minnesota State University – Mankato (1,044) and Minnesota State University – Moorhead (506).

The total number of international students at St. Thomas has been increasing steadily (353 in fall 2010; 383 in fall 2011; 448 in fall 2012; 486 in fall 2013; and 544 in fall 2014 − this figure factors an additional 55 students who are participating in the Optional Practical Training program, which allows students to stay in the United States for employment after graduation). International Student Services at St. Thomas reports a significant increase in the graduate international student population over the past four academic years: In fall 2011, 209 students enrolled; in fall 2012, 219 students enrolled; in fall 2013, the figure jumped to 243; and now in fall 2014, the figure again increased to 284. Important to note is that the undergraduate freshman to sophomore retention rate is at 89 percent of the students returning, which is higher than the St. Thomas average.

Undergraduate Bryan Steinsapir Yazigi (Chile), exchange student Yuya Murai (Japan), undergraduate Ngoc Dang (Vietnam) and graduate student Yiran Chen (China)

Lori Friedman, director of International Student Services at St. Thomas, said, “St. Thomas has also seen an increase in Saudi Arabia and India similar to the trends that are occurring nationally.” The top countries of origin for all international students at St. Thomas in the fall 2014 are, in order: Saudi Arabia (120), China (81), India (60), Uganda (27), and Norway and Nepal (13).

Nationally, China saw another surge this year in student enrollment in the United States – 16.5 percent, with 274,439 students total. (It also remains the top country of origin in Minnesota, with 29.2 percent of foreign students calling China their homeland.) India remained in the No. 2 spot with 102,673 students, which is up 6.1 percent from last year’s report. South Korea was again ranked third, with 68,047 students, down 3.7 percent.

No. 21-ranked Kuwait showed the highest rise – 42.5 percent − with 7,288 students studying in the United States. This year four undergraduate students from Kuwait are enrolled at St. Thomas.

The top three sending countries in 2013-2014 are, once again, China, India and South Korea. Saudi Arabia continues to show efforts in seeking Western study for their students. The country showed 21 percent growth and maintained the fourth highest population of international students in the United States.

Since 1949 the Institute of International Education has conducted this annual statistical survey of international students in the United States, with the support of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs since the early 1970s.

For more information about the St. Thomas international student population, view the fall 2014 international enrollment report.

 

 

Tommie Traditions: Last Chance Mass

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 8:29am

At the University of St. Thomas, students’ Sunday evening mass march to O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library is countered by another Mass march to St. John Vianney Seminary, nestled on north campus between Ireland and Flynn halls. As the bell tolls 9 o’clock, hundreds of students and alumni gather in the St. John Vianney Chapel to celebrate Last Chance Mass, a weekly service hosted by the seminarian community.

Father William Baer, rector of St. John Vianney until spring 2010, began Last Chance Mass for the Tommie football team, because busy Saturday game days made attending Mass difficult. News of the Sunday evening service spread, and, well, attendance “exploded,” said Jack Dingbaum ’16, one of the two seminarians who coordinate the service. Father Michael Becker, the seminary’s current rector, now leads Last Chance Mass, which “is open to all students and always jampacked,” Dingbaum said.

What about the service attracts so many Tommies? For some, the evening start time and shorter service are convenient. For others, the contemporary music is more appealing than the traditional hymns sung in many Roman Catholic churches. While the draw of Last Chance Mass varies among students, the gathering fosters a palpable sense of community. Voices ring loud in prayer and song; signs of peace are hearty and genuine; and jokes mingle with messages of love and service in Becker’s student-focused homilies.

Crafty logistical work is the foundation for Last Chance Mass’ ubiquitous fellowship. Dingbaum and his fellow seminarian Christian Rodakowski ’16, who stepped into their leadership roles last spring, recruit their fellow brothers to pull all the pieces together.

Following the seminarian services at 8:15 p.m., eight seminarians quickly prepare the St. John Vianney Chapel. Another eight seminarians serve as greeters, welcoming students into the chapel. Two seminarians rotate with other students to lead the community in song. Another two serve as altar servers. Six seminarians organize and serve the famed post-service snacks, such as Oreos and milk, croissants and punch, or pie and hot cider. Two more seminarians from Vianney Media, the seminary’s communication organization, assist with the acoustics and record Becker’s homily. As the students return to their studies following the 45-minute Mass, another eight seminarians reorganize the chapel.

If you’re counting, that’s 38 seminarians assisting with Last Chance Mass. Add Father John Bauer, a spiritual director at St. John Vianney Seminary, who hears confessions before Mass, and Becker, who also hears confessions and leads the service. Along with seminarians, student volunteers serve as lectors, musicians and Eucharistic ministers.

Amidst these logistical details, communally celebrating Christ remains the focus. Most important is that “we’re there for (the students), or with them really,” Rodakowski said.

“With them” is the heart of this Tommie Tradition. Last Chance Mass brings together students from different majors, different years and different journeys of faith to “grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ, wherever we may be at,” Dingbaum said.

2014 Fine & Performing Arts Christmas Concert, "The Word Became Flesh"

Concordia University Campus News - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 6:27am

Celebrate the Christmas season in Word and song with Concordia University, St. Paul at its annual Fine and Performing Arts Christmas Concert, December 5-7, 2014, at the Buetow Music Center Auditorium. This year’s concert, “The Word Became Flesh”, features performances by Concordia’s Christus Chorus, Jubilate choir and Handbell Ensemble.

Concert times:

  • Friday, December 5, 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 6, 4:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 7, 3 p.m.

Tickets:

  • Adults $12
  • Students/Seniors $10

Concordia University Faculty & Staff: To order your special Christmas Concert tickets with your University ID number, please call the Concordia University Ticket Hotline at 612-326-1813 (9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Mon – Fri)

Call Ticketworks at 612-343-3390 or on the web at ticketworks.com.

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