Recent News from Campuses

Carls enjoy "Late Night Breakfast" before exams

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

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

Students Shave Verdugo's Head

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

WACS student art on display at Valéncia Arts Center

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


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

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

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

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

Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts hosts two Winter Dance Showcases

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dancer Ella Skranka  is featured.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Evan La Ruffa ’05 Is Making Art Accessible to Everyone

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

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

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

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

‘Putting art where we live, work, play’

Evan La Ruffa ’05 (Photo provided)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another key aspect: price.

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

Continuing to expand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joseph A. Larson ’79 Wins 2015 Gustavus Service Award

Gustavus Campus News - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 10:20am

Joseph A. Larson ’79

Gustavus Adolphus College recognized Joseph A. Larson ’79 as the 2015 recipient of the Gustavus Association of Congregations and Alumni Service Award at the daily chapel service on Monday, Nov. 16. The award recognizes Gustavus alumni who have made distinctive commitments and contributions to the service of others.

A religion major at Gustavus, Larson earned a master’s of divinity from Luther Seminary in St. Paul in 1983. Since then, he has spent his career in the social services sector, serving poor, marginalized, stigmatized, and disenfranchised populations. Previously with Catholic Charities, the American Red Cross, and United Way, he also served for 14 years as the executive director of the Aliveness Project, a community center for individuals living with HIV/AIDS. Larson currently serves as the development director for the GOD’s CHILD Project, a humanitarian organization that develops and administers health, education, family foster care, community development, and human rights protection systems in the world’s poorest nations.

Grady St. Dennis ’92, chaplain and director of church relations at Gustavus, presented the award. “It is a great joy for the Gustavus Alumni Board and Gustavus Association of Congregations Board to honor Joe Larson with 2015 Gustavus Service Award. He embodies the best of what faith, service, and justice mean in daily living for the sake of others. Joe Larson has dedicated his life to serving the poor and marginalized and is deserving of the recognition,” he said.

“I am thrilled to receive this prestigious award from my alma matter. In reflection, I feel that my years at Gustavus helped inspire me to pursue a life of service on behalf of those who live on the edges of our community. I am humbled by this special recognition and grateful to God, my family, and all those who have supported me throughout my career,” Larson said.

A member of Lutheran Church of Christ the Redeemer in South Minneapolis, Larson has been involved in preaching, worship coordination, and lay leadership. During his free time, Larson enjoys using his artistic gifts to express his faith. He has been commissioned for projects for local congregations, including hanging murals at Lutheran Church of Christ the Redeemer and St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church in St. Paul. His artwork has been featured in The Lutheran and in Metro Lutheran publications.

Larson and his husband, Charlie Jordan, live in Minneapolis.

The Gustavus Adolphus College Association of Congregations and Alumni Service Award recognizes alumni and former students of Gustavus Adolphus College who have made distinctive commitments and contributions to the service of others. Gustavus and the Association of Congregations celebrate the efforts of members of the college community who participate in service activities through volunteer work, involvement in the church, and extraordinary professional accomplishments.

The College’s commitment to service is expressed in its mission statement, which calls for “a mature understanding of the Christian faith, service to others, a sense of community, an international perspective, and attitudes and behaviors that work toward a free and peaceful world.” The Covenant Statement between Gustavus and the Association of Congregations further encourages members of the Gustavus community to view their “life’s work as vocation, a call to service for the greater good of the community.”


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin

Alumni in Action: Jon J. Kabara, Ph.D. ’48

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 8:00am

Jon J. Kabara, Ph.D. ’48

Medical researcher, entrepreneur, professor
Hometown: Galena, Ill.
Major: Chemistry

After graduating from Saint Mary’s, Jon Kabara earned an M.S. in Organic Chemistry at the University of Miami, and a Ph.D. in Pharmacology at the University of Chicago. He dedicated his life to medical research. He served as a professor at the University of Detroit and later Michigan State University, where in 1969 he helped establish the first school of osteopathic medicine affiliated with a major university. An expert in the field of dietary fats and oils, Dr. Kabara and his innovative company, Med-Chem Labs, Inc. were awarded 16 U.S. and foreign patents. He is credited with more than 200 publications, including eight books.

In 2005, Jon and Betty Kabara made a transformational gift to establish the Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at Saint Mary’s University. In 1970, Saint Mary’s honored Dr. Kabara with the Heffron Service Award; in 1998 he received the Distinguished Alumni Award; and in 2008 he received an honorary Doctorate of Ethical Leadership. In 2012 the university recognized Betty and the late Jon Kabara with the Heritage Award for exceptional philanthropy.

Read more Alumni in Action stories.

Herchran Singh ’17: Nobel Conference Networking Leads to Research at USC

Gustavus Campus News - Wed, 11/18/2015 - 2:50pm

Herchran Singh with Antonio and Hanna Damasio.

As a Gustavus Adolphus College sophomore last year, Herchran Singh volunteered to serve as a student host for one of the speakers at the College’s annual Nobel Conference. At the time, she had no idea that the decision would lead to a research experience at the University of Southern California, a relationship with leading neuroscientists Antonio and Hanna Damasio, and a connection with Nobel laureate Dr. Eric Kandel.

Born in Canada, Singh grew up in Rochester, Minn. and chose Gustavus for its personal attention and the warm and welcoming community that she found. When she heard about the opportunity to host one of the Nobel Conference speakers, the biology major with neuroscience and classics minors jumped at the chance. “Nobel is by far the most inspirational activity I have participated in since being at Gustavus. It goes beyond increasing interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields and addresses innate human curiosity,” she said.

As a student host in 2014, Singh was responsible for helping neurobiologist and consciousness researcher Antonio Damasio navigate the campus, connecting him with Gustavus faculty, administrators, and other invited guests, and assisting with final preparations for his lecture. However, the most rewarding part of the three-day experience for Singh was the opportunity to listen and talk with Damasio and his wife, Hanna, about their research. “They were here for the conference, but that’s not all they wanted to talk about,” she said. “The meals were always memorable because we discussed their work and what they were passionate about.”

The access to the Damasios and the relationships that Singh built during their time at Gustavus paid off this summer when she traveled to Los Angeles to research in the Damasios’ Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California. The opportunity materialized after Singh emailed Damasio to inquire about the possibility of working in the lab. To her surprise, the door was wide open. “If you ask, there’s bound to be a way to make it happen,” she said.

Michael Ferragamo, director of the Gustavus neuroscience program and Singh’s academic advisor, is impressed by her ability to network and make authentic connections. “She’s very expressive and proactive in thinking beyond just the next step,” he said.

Singh poses with Nobel laureate Eric Kandel.

During her time at USC, Singh worked with cognitive and social psychologist Assal Habibi to write a literature review on the role of music education on social and emotional growth in children. She also spent two days shadowing Dr. John W. House, surgeon at House Ear Clinic and former president of the prestigious House Ear Institute. During the shadowing experience she attended clinical appointments, watched House make diagnoses, and observed a cochlear implant surgery.

“My experience this summer was one that will be integral to how I approach the remainder of my time at Gustavus as well as the decisions I make about my future,” Singh said. “As a learner, integrating research and clinical application is perfect for me, especially if I can use it to serve others.”

Singh also reflected on the circumstances that led to the summer experience. “Both the Brain and Creativity Institute and the House Ear Clinic have shown me the importance of mentorship and education. I believe that by simply asking for guidance and networking via the Nobel Conference I have gained several mentors and friends, as well as found clarity and direction for my future,” she explained.

Back at Gustavus, Singh volunteered to be a student host for the Nobel Conference again this fall. She was paired with Dr. Eric Kandel, 2000 Nobel Prize winner for medicine/physiology and the Nobel Conference’s opening speaker. An acclaimed memory researcher, Kandel is the director of the Kavli Institute for Brain Science at Columbia University and a senior investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

“She’s had the opportunity to rub elbows with some of the preeminent scholars in the field,” Ferragamo said. The networking connections that Singh made with some of the top researchers in the world exemplify one of the many benefits of the College hosting the Nobel Conference each year. “Herchran embodies the enduring impact of the Nobel Conference on the Gustavus community,” he explained.

Singh (front) is heavily involved in campus life at Gustavus.

In addition to her research, Singh is involved with the Pan-Afrikan Student Organization (PASO), International Cultures Club, Tri-Beta biology honors society, Gustie Greeters, Diversity Leadership Council, and Student Senate. She also volunteers with the Mayo Clinic. A future doctor, Singh hopes to attend medical school at Mayo Medical School, Columbia University, or the University of Southern California.

“The most rewarding part of being a professor is watching the trajectory of the students,” Ferragamo said. “The experiences that they have here make students emerge in ways that can surprise them.”

After making the simple decision to volunteer for the Nobel Conference as a sophomore, Singh has built a network of connections and experiences that will help make her medical school dream a reality.

“Seek out opportunities and create them for yourself,” she said. “Be ambitious in your pursuit of knowledge.”

The Nobel Conference is the first ongoing educational conference in the United States to have the official authorization of the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden. Held each fall on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College, the Nobel Conference links a general audience with the world’s foremost scholars and researchers in conversations centered on contemporary issues related to the natural and social sciences.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin

Carleton first in study abroad numbers

Carleton College Campus News - Wed, 11/18/2015 - 1:47pm

Open Doors report places Carleton atop list for mid-length experiences for 2013-14

How It Works: VO2 Max Test

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Wed, 11/18/2015 - 9:53am

Why would anyone choose to strenuously exert themselves on a treadmill, jaws pried open by a wide tube, until they’re breathing so laboriously they froth at the mouth? There’s a name for this unique brand of masochism. It’s called a VO2 max test. If you’re a physically fit person looking for a tangible method to track your aerobic endurance and set serious fitness goals, it’s a great resource, despite the likelihood that when you finish you may resemble a rabid animal on the verge of heat stroke.

If you’re still with me, read on for my firsthand account of what a VO2 max feels like. Currently, only students in St. Thomas’ Health and Human Performance Department perform the tests as part of their lab requirements, but the HHP Department is working toward offering this service to the St. Thomas community on a limited basis in the near future. A VO2 max test provides athletes – whether professional or recreational – accurate, personalized data they can use to tailor their training and reach their goals.

VO2 max explained

Translated literally, V represents “volume”; O2, “oxygen”; and max is short for “maximum.” In other words, the test measures the most oxygen a person can process. Dr. Paul Mellick, an assistant professor in the HHP Department, explained it well: “As you stand at rest your body uses ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is a biochemical your body uses to help create energy, just to keep your cells alive. For the average person at rest, they use about 3.5 milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight. But when you exercise, obviously that number goes up because more energy is required, and therefore more oxygen is required to transfer that energy to the systems that need it. The more fit you are, the more oxygen you should be able to use because you’re better able to transfer more energy.”

This is, essentially, what a VO2 max test measures. The higher your VO2 max, the better shape you’re in. For males 18 to 25, the range for above-average VO2 max is between 47 and 60 mL per kilogram of body weight per minute (mL/kg/min); for women in the same age bracket, the range is 42 to 56. Men’s maxes tend to run higher than women’s because they have greater body size and, in effect, greater blood volume. Averages drop slightly with each successive age group. In general, we peak at age 20.

What accounts for a person’s VO2 max? It’s mostly about the blood, because blood is what transports oxygen to muscles and organs. The more one has, and the more hemoglobin-packed, the better. Other factors? A powerful heart to push all that blood where it needs go, as well as high capillary and mitochondrial density in the muscles.

Genetics definitely play a role, Mellick said, but virtually anyone can improve on their max through physical conditioning. “If you look at a guy like Lance Armstrong (VO2 max reportedly around 84) … that guy can bike really fast, which means there’s tons of energy being transferred, which means he’s going to use a lot of oxygen. That’s accomplished by adaptations in your heart and in your muscles.”

Athletic experts generally agree that a training program that incorporates regular exercise at 70 to 80 percent of your VO2 max will result in those heightened adaptations.

Fun facts … to the max

The highest VO2 max Mellick has ever recorded was for a 22-year-old male All-American cross-country runner at St. Thomas, who measured 80 mL/kg/min. The second best, also by a St. Thomas men’s cross-country runner in his early 20s, was 77. The third? Seventy-six, in a professional kickboxer in his late 20s during Mellick’s graduate school days in North Carolina: “He was just a freak of nature, and he’d never taken a VO2 max test. We asked him how long he’d run before and he said, ‘Never more than a mile at a time.’ He had some genetics.”

All three scores, though phenomenal, are not even close to the current world record, 97.5, set in 2012 by then 18-year-old Oskar Svendsen, a Norwegian cyclist and the 2012 junior world time trial champion. Svendsen bested longtime VO2 max record holder Bjorn Daehlie, a 12-time Olympic medalist in cross-country skiing, who recorded a 96 in a test taken during one of his off seasons.

The test

Before I stepped on the treadmill, Mellick handed me a Garmin heart rate monitor, which I strapped around my chest. It measured my heart rate, which was analyzed in comparison to the changes in my oxygen output throughout the test. To my head, he snugly fastened a clunky apparatus – equal parts orthodontic headgear, scuba mask and horse blinkers – made mostly of plastic and neoprene.

“It’ll take some getting used to,” he forewarned.

He then asked for my best guess on a pace I could comfortably hold on a flat road but that was also challenging. “You should last anywhere between seven and 14 minutes,” Mellick said. “If it’s less than seven, it means the speed we chose was too fast. If it goes longer than 14, it was too easy.”

The headgear held in place a long plastic breathing tube with a mouthpiece on one end. It essentially propped my mouth wide open so I couldn’t swallow or speak. Otherwise, it wasn’t that uncomfortable.

Mellick plugged the other end into a Parvo Medics metabolic cart – a $20,000 piece of equipment that analyzed my exhaled gasses – stationed beside the treadmill. (Contrary to popular belief, the air we exhale is less than 5 percent carbon dioxide, the rest roughly 16 percent oxygen and 79 percent nitrogen in a person at rest.) It’s the same device NASA uses to ensure their astronauts are adequately fit to do time in outer space. The cart was attached to a laptop loaded with specialized software.

From the laptop, he had the ability to incrementally increase the intensity at which I ran by raising the incline by 2 percent every two minutes. Based on that, I should eventually reach an all-out effort that I had to try to sustain as long as I can. During that painful and short-lived space my body would move from aerobic metabolism to anaerobic metabolism, and my VO2 max number would be revealed. The idea is that the test would end only when my muscles were too fatigued to continue.

Mellick explained that during the test he would ask me every minute or so to signal my perceived physical state via a hand signal. Thumbs up meant, “I’m fantastic. VO2 max test? What VO2 max test?!”; palm-down and tremulous was, “I’m fading”; and thumbs down translated to, “Stop this insanity now.” He also mentioned that, at St. Thomas, they use a treadmill versus a stationary bicycle to administer the test because running is a more natural movement to most people.

While he gave me the run-down, drool seeped from the corners of my mouthpiece. He noticed my self-consciousness.

“Oh, yeah. Forgot to tell you. You’ll probably drool,” he said. “Everyone does. Don’t worry about it.” Then he tapped a key on the laptop and the belt started to move. The test was beginning.

After a short warm-up, he increased the pace to the “challenging but doable” speed I held through the test.

For the first two minutes I felt sprite. After the first incline raise, my breathing thickened, and the back of my throat was uncomfortably dry.

After five minutes, saliva sputtered from my mouthpiece.

By the third increase, I was glaring at the digital clock on the laptop monitor. 6:05. I’d hoped to last 10 minutes, but I was already struggling.

“How you doing, Kelly?” Mellick asked on cue, delicately.

I signaled “I’m fading,” but somehow I held on for another two minutes. Throughout, Mellick inquired about my physical state more of often, about every 30 seconds.

Immediately after the fourth rise, a surge of lactic acid flooded my quads, the headgear suddenly felt 10 pounds heavier, and I had to focus hard to stabilize my breathing. Within a minute I flashed him a “thumbs down.”

“Fifteen more seconds?” he prodded, to which I reluctantly signaled “thumbs up.” I can do this, I thought, but my eyes were fixated on the laptop clock, counting down every second. My once-upright running form was crumbling.

“Fifteen more?” he asked again, trying to eek a bit more out of me. This time I emphatically signaled, “thumbs down.” I’d endured a little more than nine minutes. My cheeks were brightly flushed, my chest heaving erratically, my legs burning. I was spent.

Next stop: The Olympic games?

Once I’d cooled down, I didn’t walk away with just a sweaty shirt. Mellick handed me a print-out packed with personal data – hard numbers that reflected all the nooks and crannies of my cardiovascular fitness. The most important figures are RER – respiratory exchange ratio – which measures CO2 in versus CO2 out and most importantly, VO2/kg STPD mL/kg/min: the number that marks the exact point at which my oxygen consumption plateaued while my exercise intensity increased – my VO2 max.

“Most people, when they’re figuring out their target training heart rate, are setting it based on the standardized equation for their age group, which is 220 minus their age.” Mellick said. “That’s not very accurate.”

He pointed to my VO2 max – 47 – on the printout, then drew my attention to my heart rate the second I hit it: 200. Under his calculations, I should be training between 140-160 heartbeats per minute, well under 179, where the all-purpose formula would have put me.

With this information, I can set forth on my lifelong quest to make the U.S. Olympic marathon team. Or I can crash train to run a blistering speed in this year’s turkey trot. Probably the latter.

Professor’s curriculum project empowers women on the fringes

St. Kate's Campus News - Wed, 11/18/2015 - 9:38am
Social Work Professor works to address the needs of the Latino community. More »

International Students’ Ranking at St. Thomas Rises to Fourth in Minnesota

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Wed, 11/18/2015 - 9:15am

The Institute of International Education’s Open Doors Report 2015 recently released its annual report on international enrollment and U.S. students who study abroad during college.

International student enrollment again sees 10 percent increase

Open Doors Report 2015 reports recent (2014-15) results for rankings of international students studying in the United States. With 14,438 international students studying in Minnesota in the 2014-15 academic year, Minnesota again ranked 19th in the nation for its total number of foreign students. This indicates a 4.9 percent increase over the previous academic year.

Nationwide, the international student rate (across all types of institutions) also increased, 10 percent nationally, with 974,926 foreign students studying in the United States, up from 886,052.

St. Thomas rises to fourth in Minnesota for international student enrollment

Although St. Thomas does not rank on Open Doors’ national lists for international student enrollment, it now ranks fourth in Minnesota and was the top private institution, based on the number of international students, with 544 students in 2014-15.  This is up from last year where St. Thomas ranked fifth, below Minnesota State University – Moorhead. The University of Minnesota ranked first in the state (6,984), followed by St. Cloud State University (1,375) and Minnesota State University – Mankato (1,228).

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; 544 in fall 2014; and 612 in fall 2015). This fall 2015 figure factors an additional 76 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; in fall 2014, 284 students enrolled; and now in fall 2015, the figure increased again to 338.

Lori Friedman, director of International Student Services at St. Thomas, said, “St. Thomas has also seen an increase in Saudi Arabia, China 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 2015 are, in order: Saudi Arabia (140), China (94), India (76), Uganda (24) and Nepal (22).

Study abroad ranking drops slightly, participation up

Open Doors 2015 report showed that St. Thomas’ undergraduate study abroad participation saw a slight decline but remains among the leading U.S. institutions for undergraduate students who study abroad. The report analyzes study abroad data from the previous academic year (2013-14).

In 2013-14, St. Thomas held steady with 721 students participating in study abroad (up 8 students from 2012-13), putting St. Thomas’ participation rate at 52.8 percent. Nationally, this places St. Thomas 13th among doctoral institutions. The ranking is based on the number of undergraduate students who participated in study abroad programs (721 this year) in relation to the number of undergraduate degrees conferred (1,365), an increase of 111 from the previous year.

These rankings mark the 12th 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: Pepperdine University, University of San Diego, Northeastern University, University of Denver and New York University.

Sarah E. Spencer, director of the Office of Study Abroad, said, “We are very proud of St. Thomas’ national ranking and grateful for the broad involvement and support from faculty, staff, students and partners – it is truly a ‘one university’ program. Student participation is also very strong for January and spring semester, substantially expanding our global engagement and learning opportunities.”

The state of Minnesota also saw a modest increase in study abroad participation, sending 9,353 outside the United States in 2013-14. In 2012-13, the United States sent 9,022 students abroad. Nationally, study abroad participation was up 5 percent with 304,467 American students studying internationally in 2013-14.

Swing in the holidays with Saint Mary’s jazz Dec. 4

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Tue, 11/17/2015 - 2:00pm


WINONA, Minn. — Start your holiday season with big band favorites, combo carols, and a quartet of crooners at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4, in Page Theatre. Saint Mary’s Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combo 1 will be joined by vocalists Shauna Frahm, Liam Hahn, Darvell Jones, and Kelsey Thurston to celebrate the season in swingin’ style. From the music of “Peanuts” to “Jingle Bells” on the tuba, it’s an evening of music you won’t want to miss!

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors and are available by calling the box office, 507-457-1715, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, or online at

For more information, contact A. Eric Heukeshoven at 507-457-7292 or

St. Kate’s wins awards for magazine excellence

St. Kate's Campus News - Tue, 11/17/2015 - 11:55am
The Marketing and Communications office reels in gold, silver and bronze at the 2015 Minnesota Magazine & Publishing Association gala. More »

Saint Mary’s Cardinals host Teddy Bear Toss Saturday

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Tue, 11/17/2015 - 10:28am

WINONA, Minn. — The Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota men’s hockey team will hold the sixth annual Teddy Bear Toss Saturday, Nov. 21, during the Cardinals’ 7 p.m. home game against St. Olaf at the Saint Mary’s Ice Arena.

Fans attending are encouraged to bring a teddy bear or stuffed animal—preferably new, but those in good used condition will also be accepted and appreciated. Teddy bears will also be available at the arena for a donation of $1.

After the first Saint Mary’s goal in the first period—or at the end of the first period if no goals have been scored—fans will have an opportunity to throw their teddy bears and/or stuffed animals onto the ice. They will then be collected and distributed to children in the Winona area through the Toys for Kids program.

Argument and Inquiry seminars show freshmen the academic ropes

Carleton College Campus News - Tue, 11/17/2015 - 9:50am

What is a liberal arts education? Most, if not all, first-year students would likely struggle to explain the concept before stepping into a Carleton classroom. That's why Argument and Inquiry seminars help establish expectations.

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