Recent News from Campuses
Eric Olmscheid M’07, Arts and Cultural Management, brought his passion of the performing arts to Des Moines, Iowa, and brought about a significant increase in public interest. He received the Outstanding Achievement in Education and Engagement award from the Broadway League.
Olmscheid is Director of Programming and Education at Des Moines Performing Arts, central Iowa’s premiere performing arts center that now serves more than 315,000 patrons annually. Olmscheid, whom selects shows and negotiates with artists to determine the center’s programming, enjoys the challenge of finding a high-quality arts experience and figuring out how to make it fit into the community.
“Building education and community engagement intersections with the arts are really what brings me the most satisfaction,” Olmscheid said. He has created six programming initiatives, including the Iowa High School Musical Theater Awards, and has led the growth of education and engagement programs to serve more than 75,000 patrons annually. Such efforts and results were why he was recognized by the Broadway League.
When Olmscheid began his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota Duluth, he initially desired to have a career in education. He soon realized that he wanted to teach and be involved in education, but not in the traditional classroom sense. Olmscheid graduated with a B.A. in Music in 2004.
“Through graduate school at Saint Mary’s, I discovered the ability to marry my arts and education interests,” Olmscheid said. “The M.A. in Arts and Cultural Management program catapulted me forward in my understanding of nonprofit arts management and what it takes to be an effective leader.”
The Broadway League is a full-service trade association dedicated to fostering increased interest in Broadway theater and supporting the creation of profitable theatrical productions. Olmscheid serves on the Broadway League Audience Engagement Committee.
“I had no idea that I was nominated,” Olmscheid said. “It’s a huge honor and very humbling.”
Concordia University, St. Paul and the Hoffmann Institute have relaunched the Hoffmann Mentoring Initiative (HMI). The program enables CSP to equip a wider range of students for service to Christ through their vocations.
“We have and will continue to work with church work students at Concordia St.… Read More
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The Minneapolis College of Art and Design, on behalf of the McKnight Foundation, is proud to announce the eight recipients of the 2016 McKnight Fellowships for Visual Artists: Erik Benson, Julie Buffalohead, Leah Edelman-Brier, Tia-Simone Gardner, Monica Haller, Jay Heikes, Pao Houa Her, and Caroline Kent, all of the Twin Cities metro area.
Concordia University’s Christus Chorus recently completed its fifth international tour since 2000, performing throughout Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. Led by Dr. David Mennicke, the entourage of 47 people, including 34 students, toured the three nations May 9-23.
Singing primarily in venues ranging from medium-sized “parish” churches to cathedral-sized buildings, Christus also performed 135 meters below the surface in the Wieliczka Salt Mines near Krakow, Poland.… Read More
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St. Olaf College Vice President for Enrollment and College Relations Michael Kyle ’85 has announced the appointment of Katie Warren ’95 as its first chief marketing officer.
Warren, who is currently president and director of strategy at the Minneapolis-based marketing services agency Gabriel deGroodBendt (GdB), will begin at St. Olaf July 5.
Warren has spent the past 16 years leading brand strategy, innovation, and marketing communications plans in both the advertising and retail industries.
Prior to joining GdB, she was vice president of brand marketing at SuperValu, where she led banner brand marketing and advertising, private brands marketing, health and wellness marketing, and strategic planning. She also worked at Campbell-Mithun and Br&nd Innovators, assisting clients like Coca-Cola, General Mills, and Land O’Lakes.
“Katie is strategic, accomplished, and down-to-earth,” Kyle says. “The experience she brings will drive stronger integration across campus, enabling the group she leads to provide effective, authentic, and compelling communications.”
This new role at the college is intended to strategically elevate the role of marketing in the college’s communications plan to increase awareness and visibility of the college and support the college’s strategic plan.
“St. Olaf has long had a place in my heart and I’m thrilled with the opportunity to leverage my skills and experience to take the St. Olaf brand to the next level,” Warren says.
Warren holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf, where she majored in English, and a master of marketing communications certificate from the University of St. Thomas.
WINONA, Minn. — Michael J. Charron of Winona has been reappointed to his third consecutive term on the Minnesota State Arts Board. Charron is currently serving as the dean of Arts and Humanities at Saint Mary’s University. A graduate of Lourdes High School in Rochester, he holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Minnesota and a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater, English, and secondary education from Saint Mary’s University. He was first appointed to the state arts board by Governor Tim Pawlenty in 2008 and served as chairman from 2009-11 and 2013-14. Charron currently serves as the vice-chairman.
The Minnesota State Arts Board’s mission is to enrich the quality of life in Minnesota by making the arts accessible to all citizens, nurturing creative activities, encouraging the development of innovative forms of artistic expression and preserving the state’s diverse artistic heritage. The board provides grants and services to individual artists, arts organizations, schools, colleges and universities, communities and other organizations that sponsor arts activities. The board is made up of 11 members appointed by the governor. One member is selected from each of the state’s eight congressional districts; three members represent the state at large. Members serve four-year terms.
Asmat artists from a remote region of New Guinea – two renowned carvers and a master singer and drummer – will visit the University of St. Thomas the week of July 18. They will perform at the 2016 Spirits of Summer Asmat Gala, an annual fundraiser for the St. Thomas-based American Museum of Asmat Art, from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 20, in Woulfe Alumni Hall of the Anderson Student Center on the university’s St. Paul campus.
The Asmat are one of the indigenous peoples of the island of New Guinea, which lies directly north of Australia in the southwest Pacific Ocean. Today, the Asmat’s homelands lie within the modern nation of Indonesia. They live in several hundred villages along the numerous rivers that wind through the dense swamps and rainforests of a vast, muddy coastal plain; even today virtually all transportation there takes place by canoe.
The challenges of reaching this part of southwest New Guinea meant the Asmat had little contact with the outside world until the 1950s. Dr. Eric Kjellgren, director of the museum, said the group’s visit to St. Paul “is the first visit to the United States by a group of Asmat artists in over a decade and provides an extremely rare opportunity to meet artists from the culture behind the works now on display at the university.”
Past and present Asmat artists, recognized as among the finest sculptors in the Pacific Islands, created the artworks now preserved in the American Museum of Asmat Art. With more than 2,200 works in wood, fiber and other materials, it is the largest collection of Asmat art in the United States and among the largest collections in the world.
Other Asmat collections are held by major art museums in Europe and across the United States, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the de Young museum in San Francisco and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
The two master carvers (called ipits) coming to St. Thomas are Biatus Amernat and Feransiskus Yemes from Omanesep, a village known for its strong tradition of wood sculpture and especially for monumental ancestor poles (called bis) that are similar to those on display in The Gallery, located on the second floor of the university’s Anderson Student Center.
Joining them will be Bernat Bicimpari, a master singer and drummer from the village of Syuru.
All three are highly active in the art and ceremonial life of their communities. This will be their first trip outside their homeland and they will be accompanied by guide and translator Andre Liem.
At the July 20 gala, they will demonstrate their carving techniques and perform their singing and drumming. Open to the public, the gala is sponsored by the American Museum of Asmat Art and St. Thomas’ Art History Department and the College of Arts and Sciences. Tickets are $125; to register and for more information visit this website.
During their week on campus, the carvers will create an original work of sculpture in a space near the student center’s second-floor Gallery. The carving will be about 8 or 9 feet tall and made from a Minnesota-grown basswood tree.
In the past, most Asmat works were created for use in ceremonies; many honored men and women who recently died and served to assist their spirits to reach safan, the land of the ancestors. While nearly all Asmat today are Catholic, they continue to practice many of their ancestral art traditions and also produce new art forms for sale on the international art market.
“Humans and wood sculptures are closely related in traditional Asmat cosmology,” Kjellgren said. “According to one Asmat origin tradition, the first humans originated as wooden figures, carved by an ancestral being named Fumeripits, who brought the figures to life by drumming. Today’s Asmat carvers and drummers follow in Fumeripits’ footsteps, maintaining and perpetuating the artistic lives of their communities through sculpture and performance.”
The American Crosier Fathers and Brothers began collecting Asmat art when they first arrived there nearly 60 years ago. Their 1,400-piece collection was donated to St. Thomas by the Crosiers and the Diocese of Agats in 2007. The St. Thomas-based American Museum of Asmat Art continues to grow through donations from private collectors and by direct purchase of works in the Asmat region.
Funds raised at the Spirits of Summer Asmat Gala will be used to support the creation of the Bishop Alphonse Sowada Endowed Chair of Pacific Art at St. Thomas. Sowada, who died in 2014, was a Crosier missionary from the United States who first arrived in Asmat in 1961 and became the first bishop of the Diocese of Agats in 1969. Like many members of the Crosier order who served in Asmat, Sowada held a degree in anthropology and encouraged the Asmat people to preserve their culture through art and the continuation of their ritual life.
Thirty-six Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota student-athletes were named MIAC Academic All-Conference during the 2015-16 winter season, contributing to a record-high year of honorees for the MIAC.
The MIAC conference recognized more than 1,000 students during the 2015-16 school year. Eleven Saint Mary’s student-athletes were named All-Conference in the fall season, bringing the university to a total of 47 All-Conference student-athletes in 2015-16.
The Academic All-Conference awards are a combined recognition of excellence in academics and athletics, designed to honor the very best all-around student-athletes in the conference each year. In order to qualify, student-athletes must be a sophomore, junior, or senior with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale. Athletes in team sports must compete in 50 percent of their team’s regular-season varsity competitions.
The team sports eligible in the fall were football, volleyball, men’s soccer and women’s soccer.
The men’s soccer team led the way for Saint Mary’s, boasting five student-athletes on the Academic All-MIAC Team, while the Cardinal women’s soccer team landed three student-athletes.
Cross country student-athletes were required to finish in the overall top 100 or their team’s top seven at the 2015 MIAC Cross Country Championship.
The team sports eligible in the spring were baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s hockey, softball, and men’s and women’s tennis.
Baseball pitching requirements are five appearances or 20 innings pitched, and hockey goalies must play in one-third (33.3 percent) of their team’s total minutes played for the regular season.
The winter and spring individual sports each have sport-specific criteria, and they include golf, swimming and diving, and both indoor and outdoor track and field. The swimming and diving qualifications require a student-athlete to finish in the top 16 of an individual event or compete in a relay race at the MIAC championships to be eligible. Track and field qualifications were modified in 2014-15, and require student-athletes to score in an individual event or compete on a relay team at the MIAC Championships.
Golf moved from the fall to the spring in 2014-15 and its athletic requirements were modified to reflect the split-season nature of the sport. Beginning last year, student-athletes either had to compete in the MIAC Championships or compete in a minimum of 12 competitive rounds.
The Cardinal men’s hockey and women’s tennis teams led the way with five Academic All-Conference selections, while men’s tennis, women’s basketball, and baseball all boasted four.
The student-athletes who received Academic All-Conference honors are listed below.
Joe Bosco (Senior, Elk Grove Village, Ill.)
Sean Butcher (Junior, Cave Creek, Ariz.)
Shawn Gilbert (Junior, Rice Lake, Wis.)
Kareem Rassas (Senior, Lake In The Hills, Ill.)
Michael Tabar (Senior, Skokie, Ill.)
Caroline Blackwood (Senior, Norwalk, Ohio)
Emily Loof (Sophomore, Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Emma Schaefer (Junior, Roseville, Minn.)
Brittney Hanson (Sophomore, Janesville, Iowa)
Sara Lind (Sophomore, Peterson, Minn.)
Women’s Cross Country
Allie Thiel (Senior, Burr Ridge, Ill.)
Bridget Pethke (Senior, New London, Wis.)
Emma Schaefer (Junior, Falcon Heights, Minn.)
Raelynn Speltz (Junior, Altura, Minn.)
Haley Trom (Senior, Hampton, Minn.)
Aaron Romportl (Junior, Stillwater, Minn.)
Mark Schumacher (Senior, Perham, Minn.)
Jessica Cwik (Junior, Chicago, Ill.)
Jane Hannula (Junior, Coon Rapids, Minn.)
Jamie Henderson (Sophomore, Madison, Wis.)
Michael Cimba (Sophomore, Wilmette, Ill.)
Brad Hauser (Junior, Gurnee, Ill.)
Jay Heinle (Sophomore, York, Penn.)
Jared Johnson (Sophomore, Hartland, Wis.)
Mike Mezzano (Junior, Woodbury, Minn.)
Women’s Track and Field (Indoor and Outdoor)
Maria Missurelli (Sophomore, Franklin, Wis.)
Madaline Eichers (Sophomore, Independence, Minn.)
Men’s Track and Field (Indoor and Outdoor)
Brandon Krogman (Sophomore, Owatonna, Minn.)
Bryan Ortman (Senior, Chicago, Ill.)
Phil Emmerich (Senior, Mondovi, Wis.)
Swimming and Diving:
Sarah Fanning (Senior, Sparta, Wis.)
Chloe Morrison (Junior, Ashkum, Ill.)
Kirsten Hoffmann (Senior, Apple Valley, Minn.)
Haley Jorgensen (Junior, Fallon, Nevada)
Ashley Syed (Sophomore, Lewisville, Texas)
Megan Vandenberg (Junior, DePere, Wis.)
Sheyenne Bauer (Sophomore, Cannon Falls, Minn.)
Brenden Amiottte (Sophomore, Rapid City, S.D.)
Bret Geisen (Sophomore, Cato, Wis.)
Alexander Holm (Sophomore, Red Wing, Minn.)
Warren Lawrenz (Senior, Rochester, Minn.)
Brittney Birkhauser (Sophomore, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.)
Stanzy Snyder (Sophomore, Johnston, Iowa)
Ben Buerkle (Junior, Roseville, Minn.)
William Doll (Senior, Stevens Point, Wis.)
Nathan Mathwig (Sophomore, Woodbury, Minn.)
Joseph Seegers (Sophomore, Oconomowoc, Wis.)
When Rachel Larson ’15 touched down in Liberia, Africa, just two weeks after graduating from St. Thomas, Ebola was still an international concern. Liberia, one of the countries hardest hit by Ebola, had just experienced a small resurgence of the virus after having been previously declared Ebola free by the World Health Organization in May 2015.
Larson described the media coverage at the time as “very hysterical,” which led to some of her friends being concerned for her safety.
But Ebola, in one sense, was precisely why Larson had left her home of Apple Valley, Minnesota, and moved more than 5,000 miles to Liberia, a country of around 4 million people located on the West African coast. She works with Last Mile Health (LMH), an organization partnering with Liberia to repair its health infrastructure.
While LMH was started before the Ebola outbreak, the epidemic highlighted the intense need for such work.
Larson, who double majored in justice and peace studies (JPST) and global health while she was at St. Thomas, was so captivated by LMH and its mission that she decided to graduate early to accept her position.Traveling as a Tommie
While making a move to Africa so soon after graduation might intimidate some people, Larson, who is known for her impeccable organization skills, put her St. Thomas time to good use so she could, in her own words, “immediately contribute” upon graduation.
While applying to colleges, she knew that studying abroad would be a priority for her, and even though she was concerned that it would be too expensive through St. Thomas, she did her due diligence anyway. She came across the Keri Kohut Memorial Scholarship, which is named after a 1993 St. Thomas graduate, that helps psychology, JPST or social work majors study abroad.
She contacted the JPST Department to inquire if she could study in Northern Uganda and have the credits apply, which led her to the new chair – Amy Finnegan.
“I don’t think I ever told Amy this, but I went home that night and looked up the articles she’d published and was really inspired and excited about her research interests and her work in [the area of] health equity,” Larson said. “Amy’s background … led me to assume that JPST would probably be a good fit for what I hoped to learn about.”
Larson ended up majoring in JPST, as well as doing an individualized major in global health. She spent fall 2013 in Northern Uganda and followed that trip – with the help of the aforementioned Keri Kohut Memorial Scholarship – with homestays in India, Argentina and South Africa through the International Honors Program on Health and Community: Globalization, Culture and Care.
She said those trips were beneficial because she was surrounded by people who reminded her to deeply examine what she was experiencing and to not forget the privilege that allowed her to be where she was.
“Gently, [faculty and mentors] challenged us to think critically about the impact we might be having on the people whose homes and communities we were visiting, and the ways in which we might be projecting our own assumptions and experiences on what and who we were learning about,” Larson said.
Alongside her peers, Larson analyzed the complexities of engaging in work to address social, political and environmental challenges both at home and abroad, and how to thoughtfully bring about change. She’s carried that mindset with her, and said that her year abroad greatly informed her decision to move to Liberia.
Finnegan added that she saw Larson flourish while she was abroad. So, when Larson showed up in spring 2015 asking for advice on whether or not she should apply for a job with LMH – one that she would have to graduate early to accept if offered – Finnegan, who knows one of LMH’S founders, Raj Panjabi, was able to confidentially say she thought
Larson should be a good fit for LMH, and that LMH would be a fit for Larson.
“She had all these different paths she could take and was very organized in exploring each of them,” said Finnegan, crediting Larson’s planning skills for her ability to travel so much and still be able to graduate early. “It just made me so happy to think about her there, and what she can bring to Last Mile Health, but also for her, that one of her first jobs would be with an organization that’s so committed to social justice.”Serving the Last Mile
LMH started in 2007 under the name “Tiyatien Health” – which means “justice in health” in a local dialect – and was organized by American health workers and Liberian survivors following the Second Liberian Civil War, which devastated the country’s health care infrastructure. Quickly, the burgeoning organization realized that the greatest needs were in Liberia’s so-called “last mile,” where some people couldn’t access a health care worker because of distance and poverty, and were often dying from treatable diseases, such as pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria and malnutrition.
“Many Liberians have to go to great lengths, including crossing log bridges and hiring canoes to cross rivers and streams, in order to reach the nearest health facility,” Larson said. “Those who can’t walk due to illness, injury, pregnancy or disability are carried in hammocks. In the most remote communities, there’s no electricity to charge a phone to call for support during an emergency – let alone cell service – and often no proper road for an ambulance to drive on, were it possible to call one.”
Travel is complicated, Larson emphasized, because so many of Liberia’s roads are unpaved. The rainy season then results in “unfathomable quantities of mud everywhere,” compounding travel challenges.
As a result, in 2013, “Last Mile Health” emerged with a more focused mission: Close the health gap by bringing health care to these last-mile communities. At the local level, LMH recruits, trains, equips, manages and provides monthly pay to more than 300 Community Health Workers (CHWs) who function as health professionals in their remote communities by providing primary health care services to their neighbors. LMH also currently supports the Liberia Ministry of Health in preparing a program to ensure that, by 2021, the 1.2 million Liberians who live more than 3 miles away from the nearest health facility will have access to a CHW.
Panjabi was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in April 2016, and his work with LMH was profiled by Bill Clinton.
It was LMH’s mission that resonated with Larson.
“I really value that the organization is dedicated to values of health equity and recognizes that health care is something that all people need to live dignified lives,” Larson said.
The outbreak of the Ebola virus that began in March 2014 highlighted the need for such work, especially in Liberia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were around 28,000 cases of Ebola across the world during the epidemic. Liberia and its neighboring countries of Sierra Leone and Guinea were the hardest hit. Liberia, with 10,000 cases, had the second-highest number of cases, and the highest death toll, with nearly 5,000 casualties.
A January 2015 report from the World Health Organization noted the lack of doctors in West Africa – at a ratio of one or two to every 100,000 people – as one of the potential reasons for the spread of Ebola. Many facilities also did not have isolation wings, protective equipment or staff trained in infection control.
When Larson arrived in summer 2015, the worst of the Ebola outbreak was over but health workers continued to contain individual occurrences and survey the situation. And while Ebola was a serious threat in Liberia, Larson noted that the “country continues on” and that what was happening on the ground was more nuanced than what was portrayed in the media.Capturing Powerful Images
As a partnerships and development associate with LMH, Larson supports business development, fundraising and communications. She collaborates with various teams to keep up to date on programming, solicits new financial partnerships, maintains relationships with existing donors and communicates with external audiences – including writing grant proposals and reports.
She said that one of her favorite aspects of her job is the variety of it, and that it has grown in ways she hasn’t expected.
In particular, she’s put her photography skills to good use.
“She has a beautiful eye for photography,” said Amy Walburn, the director of national partnerships for LMH. “She has captured some really powerful images of the way our work impacts the communities and beneficiaries we serve.”
Larson said that one of her most memorable experiences was when she traveled to Rivercess County in December 2015 and photographed CHWs completing a training module on child health. As they departed, they received their medicine kits.
“They filed out of the classroom with big blue plastic bags carried on their heads, under their arms, and were walking out of the school and going out into the community,” Larson said. “Some were walking, some were on motorbikes, all going back to villages to provide health care services to the children in their communities.
“I was able to catch a few of them and ask basic questions about how they felt and why it was important to be trained in child health, and heard several stories about how, for a long time, children in their communities have been getting very ill, and, in many cases, dying of these easy-to-treat conditions the CHWs can now treat themselves. It was really exciting to see their excitement, and that this is the beginning of a change for these communities.”‘Make the Impossible Possible’
Larson said she’s grateful for the ways her St. Thomas education – particularly her JPST major – allows her to look critically at large-scale problems, such as the quality of the health care infrastructure in Liberia.
“My education at St. Thomas … taught me the importance of looking at the diverse contributing factors that create and sustain patterns of inequality and marginalization,” Larson said. She cited the situations that have led to damaged health care infrastructures in Liberia as an example. While travel difficulties are an easy problem to point out, she said, to truly understand what is happening, it’s important to look at complex and historical dynamics, such as slavery, the colonization of Africa and politics from the Cold War.
“My pathway helped me to understand the tools and skills to dissect those things,” Larson said. “It’s one thing to know there’s a lot of factors that influence justice and peace, and it’s another to start to have the skills and to think critically.”
Her abilities haven’t gone unnoticed: Finnegan and Walburn both praised Larson in that regard.
“In resources-poor areas, things often don’t go as planned,” Walburn said. “She’s an amazing critical thinker, which gives her the ability to [make contingency plans]. ”
“We’re lucky to have Rachel as a critical member of our partnerships department in Monrovia, [Liberia,] and she’s already made an impact on our work in a short time,” Panjabi said.
For Larson, her ability to make an impact with LMH is why she chose to join them in the first place.
“It’s really rewarding to be working in Liberia at a time when the country’s leadership has made a bold commitment to strengthening health systems. This could really be a turning point for Liberia,” Larson said. “Making the impossible possible. That’s what these folks are doing. There’s so much work left to do, but transformation is already happening in small ways.”
Read more from St. Thomas magazine.
It has taken a full decade, but the median sale price of a home in the Twin Cities in May 2016 almost reached the all-time record high set back in the housing-bubble days of 2006, according to a monthly analysis conducted by the Shenehon Center for Real Estate at the University of St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business.
Fueled by low supply and brisk demand, the median sale price of a home in the 13-county Twin Cities region reached $237,000 in May. That’s just shy of the highest median price on record, which was $238,000 back in June 2006. While the selling prices are similar, there are many differences in the 2016 market when compared to 2006.
Each month the St. Thomas center tracks the median price for three types of sales: nondistressed or traditional; foreclosures; and short sales (when a home is sold for less than the outstanding mortgage balance). In addition, it looks for trends in the market and creates a monthly composite index score by tracking nine data elements for those three types of sales.
Herb Tousley, director of real estate programs at the university, observed that the supply of homes on the market dropped to its current low level in early 2013 and has remained historically low since then. He said possible reasons include difficulty in finding and purchasing a replacement home at a reasonable price; higher standards to qualify for a new mortgage; lackluster wage growth over the last several years; and homebuilders not building as many single-family homes as they used to.
Meanwhile, on the demand side, Tousley said low interest rates, an improving economy, and a tight rental market are key reasons why the number of sales has steadily been increasing to near pre-recession levels.
“In spite of all of the new apartments that have been built over the last few years we remain in a very tight rental market,” he said. “The area has been absorbing the new rental units, and vacancies continue to remain historically very low. The result of a low vacancy and a tight rental market is high rent growth. In 2015 the average rent in the Twin Cities increased by 5 percent. Repeated large rent increases over the last several years have many renters considering the idea of homeownership as an alternative, creating additional potential homebuyers.”
Comparing 2016 to 2006
The Shenehon Center for Real Estate compared May 2016 housing-market statistics with those of 2006. While the selling prices are very similar, some characteristics are quite different. A few examples: in May 2006 there were 5,079 closed sales and in May 2016 there were 6,234; in May 2006 there was a 6.7-month supply of homes for sale and in May 2016 there was a 2.8-month supply; in May 2006 there were 11,458 new listings and in May 2016 there were 8,676; and in May 2006 there were 30,235 homes for sale and in May 2016 there were 13,501.
Another way of looking at the impact of low inventory on sale prices is to create a ratio for the number of homes available for sale divided by the number of homes sold that month. For example, if the ratio was 5, it means there were 5 homes available on the market for each buyer. A lower number indicates a tighter market. There were months back in 2007 to 2010 when the ratio was 10 to 14; it has dropped significantly.
Tousley said that for most of the previous 14 months the ratio in the Twin Cities market has been less than 4, and in May 2016 the ratio hit an all-time low of 2.17. “When the ratio gets lower and the market gets tighter, the median sale price increases,” he said.
Here are the Shenehon Center’s monthly composite index scores for May 2016. The index, which tracks nine data elements for the three types of sales (traditional, short sales and foreclosures), started in January 2005. For that month, the center gave each of the three indexes a value of 1,000.
The May 2016 index score for traditional sales was 1,163, up 3.7 percent from April 2016 and up 8.6 percent from May 2015.
The May 2016 index score for short sales was 980, up 1.6 percent from April 2016 and up 7.7 percent from May 2015.
The May 2016 index score for foreclosures was 859, up 3.2 percent from April 2016 and up 9.4 percent from May 2015.
The May 2016 score was the highest ever for the traditional sale index. “It is the result of a very tight supply situation and continuing high sales activity, indicating the continued health and resurgence of the Twin Cities housing market,” Tousley said.
There are far fewer distressed sales now than there were during the height of the Great Recession. In May, the 79 short sales represented 1.3 percent of total sales and the 341 foreclosure sales represented 5.5 percent of total sales.
“As the number of distressed sales continue to return to pre-crash levels, the foreclosure index will continue to diminish in importance,” Tousley said.
The Shenehon Center’s complete online report for May can be found on its website here.
The report is available free via email from Tousley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Administrator, Development Professional, Business Ethicist
Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
Major: Psychology and Sociology, M.A. in Philanthropy and Development
Tim Burchill worked tirelessly for the betterment of Saint Mary’s for nearly 30 years. At the time of his unexpected death in 2007, he served as the executive director of the Hendrickson Institute for Ethical Leadership and as president and co-founder of the Metanoia Group, then an affiliate of Saint Mary’s that provided development consulting services to nonprofit organizations. In 1991, he co-created Saint Mary’s master’s program in philanthropy and development, which he continued to teach in every summer. He was also a 2000 graduate of the program. Burchill previously served as vice president for university relations, which encompassed the university’s fundraising, public relations, and alumni relations. “In many ways, Tim was the core of Saint Mary’s. He was steady as a rock, smart, wise, and ethical,” said Brother Louis DeThomasis, president emeritus of the university. Burchill was active in his profession and community, including serving as the national director and ethics chairman for the Association of Fundraising Professionals. In 1999 he was named by then Gov. Jesse Ventura to the Minnesota Humanities Commission.
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota aims to empower its students to live ethical lives of service and leadership. Kue Yang Thao M’16 is using her M.A. in Health and Human Services Administration degree to do just that.
Thao has worked as the Director of Operations for Natalis Counseling and Psychology Solutions for 11 years. She also serves as a board member for two foundations that are working to bring about change in the community: the Natalis Foundation and Support Women Period.
The Natalis Foundation promotes education, research, and awareness, and connects behavioral health services to underserved populations. Support Women Period provides pads and tampons to girls and women in need in the greater Twin Cities area.
“I think that as individuals we need to constantly foster and empower others to give back,” Thao said. “It’s a cycle. We need to continually care for the next generation.”
During her time at Saint Mary’s, Thao studied healthcare systems throughout the world in order to recommend improvements for the United States. She received an Outstanding Final Paper award from Saint Mary’s during graduation on Saturday, June 4.
Through the completion of a master’s degree program at Saint Mary’s, Thao gained more than just an education in health and human services.
“Saint Mary’s has opened my eyes tremendously in regard to seeing my blind spots,” Thao said. “I have really focused in terms of my self-development. The culturally diverse campus has helped in regard to understanding people. The instructors and professors are working professionals who bring that experience back to the classroom in the form of examples, which is crucial for learning.”
Thao aims to use her degree to improve her workplace, as well as healthcare itself. Her research and philanthropic organizations are just the beginning.
“It may not impact the whole nation, but change starts in small increments,” Thao said.
By day, Mike Fuerstein is an associate professor of philosophy at St. Olaf College. By night, he lays down a beat like nobody’s business.
Fuerstein plays drums in a band named, appropriately enough to anyone who dabbles in philosophy, The Counterfactuals. He is joined in the band by three more professors, all of whom teach at neighboring Carleton College.
The band recently released its second album, eponymously titled The Counterfactuals.
Daniel Groll, the band’s vocalist, and Jason Decker, the guitarist, also teach philosophy. Thus, one would be forgiven in assuming the fourth and final member of the band also happened to be a philosophy professor, to complete a very philosophical quartet. Yet one would be wrong in making that assumption — in fact, they would be counterfactually thinking. Andy Flory, the bassist, teaches music at Carleton.
Fuerstein did not follow the typical path to becoming a professor of philosophy. He completed a dual-degree program in philosophy and saxophone performance from Tufts University and the New England Conservatory of Music.
After years on the New York City jazz scene, playing and teaching the saxophone, while also completing a Ph.D. at Columbia University, he joined the St. Olaf faculty.
Upon arriving in Northfield, he came to find out about a band named The Counterfactuals that was in need of a drummer. So, of course, the saxophone-playing philosopher signed up to play drums.
The band released its debut album, Minimally Decent People, in 2013. The album garnered critical acclaim, leading Minnesota Public Radio’s 89.3 The Current to label it “must-hear music.”
A string of tour dates all across Minnesota, in addition to profiles and reviews in a raft of publications, including the Star Tribune, cemented the band’s position among the finest of the burgeoning Northfield music scene.
On the back of the first album, the band had every reason to take a break and return to their “normal” lives. However, its members were still committed to practicing as much as they could — culminating in the band’s new album.
If the band’s first album represented a bubbling to the surface, their recently released second album — curiously titled The Counterfactuals — is an explosion of artistry and musicality. The band will play an album release show on Saturday, June 25, at Icehouse in Minneapolis. The show will feature Joey Ryan and the Inks as their special guest.
The eponymous album title is normally reserved for an group’s first album. Fuerstein admits that the decision to self-title the band’s second album was a “recognition that we were trying to be a little quirky and a fruitless bout of toying with other titles.”
Nonetheless, there is no evidence of a lack of ideas when it comes to the important business: the music. An eclectic range of sounds pervades onto each of the nine songs on the album — no surprise, given the eclectic methods of making music that the band employed.
“We’ve used stairwells to get echoes, recorded in offices to get more of a dry sound,” Fuerstein says.
Evidently, the band is as resourceful as it is talented.
No matter how “ruff” the obstacles, the “K9Ninja” (aka 1999 alumnus Andrew “Roo” Yori) is ready for the next round of NBC’s American Ninja Warrior—and ready to help garner even more support for rescuing dogs from shelters.
To describe the recent Indianapolis Qualifier event (which aired June 13), imagine an obstacle course that tests every physical limit imaginable. After clinging tightly to a rolling log, leaping between suspended flywheels, and scaling a 15.5-foot wall (among several other grueling feats), Yori reached the final buzzer, sending a crowd of onlookers—including wife Clara (Setzer) ’01—into a frenzy.
How did pushing that buzzer feel?
“Flat out awesome,” Yori said, explaining that being chosen for the national show was undoubtedly the toughest obstacle of all.
The Mayo Clinic lab technician was one of more than 70,000 people who applied to be ninja warriors. Only about 100 applicants per city are chosen (for a total of 500 competitors) plus about 25 walk-ons per show.
Yori needed to demonstrate his athletic abilities. At Saint Mary’s, the Outstanding Senior Award winner and biology major played soccer and held the long-jump record his senior year in track (a fact proudly broadcast during his competition).
And, through the years, he’s stayed physically fit, focusing on upperbody strength and doing a lot of crossfit training. He even found a gym in the Twin Cities which is dedicated to ninja training.
But once Yori submitted his application and was about to start training—just in case he was chosen—he partially tore his rotator cuff and wasn’t able to train for two months while he healed.
“And then the call came, just one month before I was supposed to compete,” he said. “I wasn’t quite healed, so I worked with Mayo Sports Med so I could get some last-minute training in. Fortunately I was able to regain a lot of my strength.”
At 39, Yori found himself competing against 20-some-year-olds in top condition.
Ironically, he trained and competed with Leif Sundberg, the “Swedish Ninja,” who also has ties to Saint Mary’s. His father, Craig Sundberg, is director of the M.A. in Educational Leadership program on Saint Mary’s Twin Cities Campus. Although Sundberg did not successfully complete the course, he raised attention for Alzheimer’s disease, a cause close to his heart.
“Leif is such a good guy. He actually beats me most of the time during training,” Yori said. “He just had a little slip up. That’s the thing about the course. We are not allowed to touch the obstacles beforehand. It’s a little added nervousness and tension. If you had a couple of chances, you might be able to figure it out. Only a couple of inches can make a difference of getting through the course or getting wet.”
Once Yori successfully completed the course, he had to keep the results a secret while waiting to hear when—or if—his run would be televised. Even more importantly, he hoped he would be given the opportunity to share his platform of rescuing dogs.
“They shot me an email to let me know when I was going to be on, but I only knew it would be in some capacity,” he said. “ I was watching it on TV with everybody else to find out if I was just going to be a quick one-second blip on the screen.”
But then he saw the teasers featuring him and his pitbull Wallace. Producers shared Yori’s backstory, which included a feature on Wallace, a dog the Yoris adopted who became a world and national-level Frisbee dog champion, and Hector, a dog they adopted who had formerly belonged to Michael Vick. The show detailed how the former “fighter” became a beloved certified therapy dog.
“My goal is to save the lives of dogs,” he said. “To get the full feature to share what I’ve been doing with the dogs and to encourage other people to adopt dogs was the dream come true. To be able to hit the (competition) button and succeed on all levels was pretty incredible.”
Once he hit the button, Yori said his phone “blew up” and his Facebook feed “went crazy.” Countless members of the Saint Mary’s community were among those sharing their congratulations.
“People were telling me that their entire news feed was basically me,” he said with a laugh. “Friends were tagging friends. I haven’t even gotten through them all. It’s overwhelming in a good way.”
As one of the top 30 in the qualifier, Yori now advances to the city finals in Indianapolis. Although he has run this course, he isn’t allowed to talk about how he did, and he doesn’t know the air date as of yet but surmises it will be in the next month. The top 15 from the city finals will advance to the Vegas finals.
“One of the hardest parts is trying to keep a secret,” he said. “I can talk about the experience and the qualifier but can’t talk about the city finals. I catch myself and tell myself I should shut up now. I can say it’s been a lot of fun so far. Hopefully I can keep it going as long as I can to have fun—but also get as many dogs out of shelter and into homes as possible.”
Watch for more details on the air date of Yori competing in the city finals.