Recent News from Campuses
Black Panther’s Danai Gurira Is Just as Excited About the Movie as You Are | FLARE | February 14, 2018
Stories pour from 'A Crack in the Sky' at St. Paul's History Theatre | Star Tribune | February 12, 2018
The evaluations in a competitive first round of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program 2018-2019 are complete and a record number of Gustavus Adolphus College students were named semifinalists for the prestigious grant program. Their applications have been forwarded to their respective countries for final review.
“This is the largest number of semifinalists Gustavus has ever had, so it is a very exciting time for these students as they work through this challenging process together,” said Gustavus Fellowships Coordinator and Associate Professor of Chemistry Amanda Nienow. “Through Fulbright, students are able to immerse themselves in a different culture and learn more about themselves as individuals. It is an important opportunity for students to explore themselves and the world before the next step after graduation.”
Six Gustavus seniors, Megan Johnson (Vietnam), Megan Kallestad (Peru), Ellen Kneeskern (Norway), Liza Long (Nepal), Isabella Robertson (Malaysia), Ally Xiong (South Korea), and two Gustavus graduates, Julia Rydberg ‘17 (Taiwan) and Emma Schmidtke ‘17 (Taiwan), represent the College as English Teaching Assistant program semifinalists. Through the Fulbright ETA program, recent U.S. college graduates and young professionals serve as teaching assistants in primary and secondary schools or universities overseas to improve foreign students’ English language abilities and knowledge of the United States. At the same time, the U.S. students are able to expand their own language skills and knowledge of the host country.
“I first came to Gustavus from out of state, and then I interned abroad in Sweden. I want to continue to break out of my comfort zone and keep growing an expanding network,” said Isabella Robertson, a communications studies major who applied to teach in Malaysia. “This opportunity would allow me to immerse myself in a different culture, represent the United States in a positive way, and incorporate the two cultures for the better.”
Gustavus senior Amanda Landaverde, a psychological science, Spanish, and Latin American, Latino & Caribbean studies triple major and the ninth Fulbright semifinalist, is seeking a Fulbright Research/Study Grant to conduct research in El Salvador. Also funded by the U.S. Fulbright Student Program, the Research/Study Grant allows recent college graduates and young professionals to develop and execute a unique research project for a specific country. If accepted, Landaverde will return to her father’s home country to complete her proposal, an investigation of generational trauma and its impact on anxiety and stress.
“Most of the existing research on generational trauma is completed in European countries, so I am very interested in using my LALACS studies to investigate the impact of the civil war and violence that occurred during the 1980s in El Salvador and how it affects young people today. The entire research project would be in Spanish, which adds another element,” said Landaverde.
“As coordinator, I have loved meeting the best and brightest students from all departments to help them find unique opportunities abroad,” said Nienow. “Our applicants and finalists in this world renowned program bring an element of prestige that we are proud of here. Having past finalists return and help read the applications and guide the process for current Gusties makes it even more special.”
Working with both students and alumni, the Gustavus Fellowships Office assists applicants in identifying and applying for appropriate nationally competitive fellowships and scholarships. The various programs provide Gusties with the opportunity to spend time overseas, conduct independent research, earn money toward undergraduate tuition, or attend graduate school. Nienow and a team of faculty and administrators support students from all majors as they strive to secure fellowships both domestically and abroad. In order to learn more about the Fulbright and other programs, she encourages students to contact her directly.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest U.S. exchange program offering opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide. The program currently awards approximately 1,900 grants annually in all fields of study, and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide.
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
Tennis and Life Camps at Gustavus Adolphus College will benefit from a generous $1 million gift from Boy and Betty Toy of Mounds View, Minn., camp director Neal Hagberg announced today.
The commitment serves as a cornerstone gift of Tennis and Life Camps’ (TLC) ambitious 40-Love Campaign, which seeks to raise $4 million over the course of 40 months to celebrate the 40th anniversary of one of the nation’s preeminent summer tennis camps.
“Boy and Betty come from harrowing beginnings, barely escaping World War II China with their lives,” Hagberg said. “When you see people as kind as they are who believe in their depths about giving back, and that it is a privilege to help others, it makes us reevaluate our own beliefs and opens up more generosity in us toward others.”
The couple’s gift will establish the Boy and Betty Toy Endowment Fund to support the Wilkinson Legacy Endowment, which seeks to fulfill the dream of late Tennis and Life Camps founder and former Gustavus Men’s Tennis Coach Steve Wilkinson to continually upgrade the College’s first-class tennis facilities by providing for court maintenance, improvements, and expansion.
The gift will also provide funding to support the Swanson Tennis Center renovation project and supplement the Boy and Betty Toy Tennis and Life Camps Staff Programming and Development Endowment Fund, which the couple created in 2015.
“Our first attendance at camp gave us unbelievable mental and physical changes in our daily living. The bottom line is we not only learned how to play better tennis but also how to be better people in life and to control the things we can control, accept the things we cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference,” the Toys said. “Steve and Barb [Wilkinson] are both wonderful and generous individuals who gave so much of their lives to create TLC so others can become better tennis players and more importantly better citizens of our country. We have a deep desire for continuous support of the organization.”
For more information about the Toys’ gift, their motivation, and their affinity for Tennis and Life Camps, visit the Tennis and Life Camps website.
The non-profit Tennis and Life Camps at Gustavus Adolphus College have taught over 60,000 campers not only top-notch tennis but the TLC Three Crowns philosophy of Positive Attitude, Full Effort, and Good Sportsmanship. Founded by Steve and Barb Wilkinson in 1977, the camps were gifted to Gustavus Adolphus College in 2010. Learn more at tennisandlifecamps.org.
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
San Francisco Is Counting Its Artists to Address the Problem of Gentrification | Hyperallergic | February 14, 2018
St. Thomas a capella group Cadenza has performed dozens of times in many venues, but their performance in January at the Science Museum of Minnesota was different. The 100-plus audience members could not only hear the music, but see it.
That’s because the performance was part of Code and Chords, an interdisciplinary project at St. Thomas out of Associate Professor of Engineering and Entrepreneurship AnnMarie Thomas’ Playful Learning Lab. Over the past two-plus years Code and Chords has developed a unique way to, as senior Emily Meuer, the project’s main software developer, put it: “Feel the sound of the music through visuals.”
So, as seven Cadenza singers’ voices changed pitch and amplitude, mixing with one another through sound waves, that music also was represented visually on a giant screen. The goal of this is not to create a simple light show or iTunes visualizer, said Meuer, who’s also a music minor, but to “get across the true musicality of the sound into the visual.”
The success of that can be seen in several ways, from the positive reactions from concerts like January’s to the fact the software underlining the project recently won the best paper award for the manufacturing division of American Society of Engineering Education. Students have collaborated with St. Paul’s Metro Deaf School, as well as a professional music producer and Cantus, one of the country’s premier men’s vocal ensembles.
“They’re really creating something pretty unique,” Thomas said. “People are really intrigued by it, and it gives us a chance to really explore different ways of looking at things like music and code.”Knowledge and leadership growth
The combination of music and code is exactly what drew then-sophomore Meuer to the project in its infancy, and the opportunities it has created for her and fellow students since have defined her educational experience at St. Thomas. As well as getting to put concepts from class into a dynamic real-world application, Meuer said the leadership skills she has developed working with a team on a large-scale project have been invaluable.
“It’s been huge for me,” Meuer said. “That’s probably been the biggest part of the project for me. Just in our team dynamic, even. Being that person is new but definitely a growing experience and not one I had expected coming into school.”
As Meuer approaches graduation and looks to pass enthusiasm and leadership onto younger team members, the experience of those like first-year Grace Kubista will take center stage.
“I definitely did not think I would be doing research yet, as a freshman, to get an opportunity like this,” Kubista said. “It’s really helpful to figure out what I’m interested in, and to see how this all works. It makes my education a lot cooler. It drives me to focus on what interests me. You can sit down and do problems in a textbook … but research is more hands-on, and you’re creating something. It makes the learning a lot more interesting.”
Meuer is proud of the software’s growth, from its improved accuracy and responsiveness in pitch detection, to the development of more software modules that can feed the final product. Thanks to the foundation she and others have laid, Tommies will be exploring their own possibilities with Code and Chords for years to come.
“It’s really interesting what we might be doing in the future,” Kubista said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how we might develop the visuals more, working with graphic artists to make it more in depth. I’m excited to see what more it can do.”
Together, Catholic Charities and the St. Thomas Center for the Common Good tackled a pressing issue for many cities, including Minneapolis: How does race play a role in where people live?
Acooa Ellis, director of advocacy at Catholic Charities, led a panel discussion on Monday, which informed an audience discussion. President Julie Sullivan opened the 2018 Sowers of Justice Assembly, highlighting that the event was informed by St. Thomas and Catholic Charities’ commitment to Catholic social teaching.
“We have a common mission, we share common principles, we share the same faith-based roots, so we want to work together to expand what we can do as a university … and what they can do as social services agency, but more importantly, what we can do together,” Sullivan said. “What does it mean for the common good if ZIP code and the color of your skin has more power over your destiny than any other factors?”
The event was the first in a growing relationship between the Center for the Common Good and Catholic Charities.
“We’re excited about the relationship with Catholic Charities,” said Theresa Ricke-Kiely, executive director for the Center for the Common Good. She said working with Catholic Charities will create opportunities for St. Thomas community members to partner with essential programs across the Twin Cities.
“We particularly want our students to not only understand symptomatic societal problems, but the structural issues that come into play,” Ricke-Kiely said. “Students will learn from this vantage point and experience, and help to contribute to the common good.”
Here are five observations.
1. This issue is complicated, but don’t give up (see No. 5).
Housing and its intersection with race is a topic that can easily and quickly become overwhelming because it has such a long and tangled history. The panelists were open about this, and also that one simple solution wasn’t going to solve everything. But, they acknowledged the importance of listening, learning and taking a simple next step.
“The system we created many years ago lives with us today,” said Tim Marx, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. “It is our obligation to deconstruct it, to make it better, to not live with it. It was one that was consciously put together. We designed it and we got the results, which were intended to be created. And now we have to figure out as a community how to do it differently, and that is really hard.”
2. Housing segregation was purposeful.
Kevin Ehrman-Solberg, of the Mapping Prejudice Team, gave a historical overview of how segregation developed in Minneapolis over the course of the 20th century. He pointed out that – while it is a common misconception that segregation was a natural part of the way many cities developed – segregation was actually built into many metro areas, such as Minneapolis.
For example, in 1910, Minneapolis was not segregated, but as cities began to ask how to purposefully build “better” cities in the early 20th century, a category that was raised was race.
“The idea is that you have a white neighborhood, it is a good, stable neighborhood,” Ehrman-Solberg said. “If African-Americans move in, this is going to decrease property value. It’s not because they’re bad neighbors or that their median income might be lower, not because of education levels, simply because African-Americans are occupying what used to be white space.”
This conflation of race and space played out through discrimination. The Federal Housing Administration had the ability to mark neighborhoods deemed to be bad neighborhoods as poor financial risks, and banks refused to offer loans to these redlined areas. Because African-American neighborhoods were deemed to bad neighborhoods simply because African-Americans lived there, financing was denied to members of that community.
The Mapping Prejudice Team focuses on a lesser-studied form of housing discrimination. In property deeds, it was legal to include racially restrictive covenants, which could stipulate that someone who was not white could not own that piece of property. Because the deed went with the land, even after the property was sold and no longer had any connection to the original owner, that covenant was enforceable by law until 1968 and still can be found on property records.
Little data has been collected on these covenants, so the Mapping Prejudice Team is combing through those in Minneapolis and mapping how they grew across the metro. The team already has mapped over 10,000 of these restrictions and have many more to go.
Redlining and covenants together meant there was not much land in Minneapolis where African-Americans could get financing and legally live, which is what results in black families living in constrained spaces throughout the city.
3. We continue to deal with the history of these policies, and racial discrepancies are still in place.
Much of the panel discussion also centered around how much individual choice plays a role in where people live currently. Shannon Smith Jones, executive director of Hope Community, spoke on how people of color built tight-knit history, and created culture and community in these segregated spaces.
She highlighted how gentrification is a problem because people who have historically lived in these communities are being displaced with rising prices as their neighborhoods become “trendy.”
“We cannot have housing conversations without the people who are living in the housing,” Smith Jones said.
Adam Belz, a Star Tribune reporter, also spoke on the difficulty of moving to what is considered a “better” area. He wrote a story on Ethrophic Burnett, an African-American woman relocated to Chaska after a lawsuit alleged public housing in Minneapolis perpetuated segregation by race and income.
Burnett spoke to Belz about the difficulty of discrimination and building a network in the largely white community.
“It was fear on my part because here I am in an all-white neighborhood,” Burnett said in the article. “It was fear on their part because here this black woman comes with all her little kids. What’s she trying to do?”
Smith Jones also pointed out that such changes almost always put the burden on those who already are being negatively impacted.
4. Where people live plays a role in their economic mobility.
Belz spoke on a series of articles he wrote that indicated where individuals grow up plays a large role in their possible economic mobility: Those who live in a economically integrated areas, or areas where they’re growing up alongside people of different economic backgrounds, have a greater chance of movement. Yet, cities are more segregated by income, meaning it is more difficult to overcome poverty in cities.
The panelists also discussed other regional factors, such as education, that can play a role in economic mobility, and how living in a poor area can restrict access to good schools.
Ehrman-Solberg also discussed the homeownership gap, which is a prominent way families pass along wealth. In Minneapolis, white people are still three times more likely to own a home than African-Americans.
“Gaps like this don’t just happen,” Ehrman-Solberg said. “This is the result of decades of systemic policies.”
5. Even though this issue is complicated, there are immediate steps to help.
With such a whirlwind of information, some participants were curious what the next step was in helping this issue.
The panelists had a few suggestions: Contact elected officials to continue the conversation; find other people, especially those who are not likely to agree with your perspective, and share this information with them; and simply be a good neighbor, especially to those who may look differently than you do.
The Catholic Charities Advocacy Team also promoted signing up for their Sowers of Justice network to learn more, as well as about other issues of social, economic and racial justice that may be of interest to people of faith.
Thirteen days and thirteen cities later, we stepped off the train and joined the busy crowds on the streets of Paris. As we arrived at the last hotel stop of the trip, the same building as our first two nights in France, a familiar feeling came back.
It didn’t quite feel real. Looking out the balcony windows over the city that we had only begin to explore, it felt as if we were just kicking off the trip again. A whiff of the suitcases, a long scroll through our phones’ photo album, and a glance at our journals would tell quite a different story.
In the time between our two stays in Paris, we had stood on the tallest bridge in the world, visited ancient Roman amphitheaters, ate countless baguettes, and watched at least four teammates face plant as we ran down the sand hill of the Dune du Pilat.
Trying new foods every day, we accidentally said “si” instead of “oui” too many times and ate more than we should.
We listened to experts of history and culture as we followed guided tours through each city, surprising each guide with how many sites we had seen that day.
In Carcassonne, we toured the medieval city and visited the cathedral inside. After climbing the much more modern steps to the Orange Vélodrome, we watched Marseille soccer fans choose their season tickets in two of the nearly 70,000 seats inside the stadium.
In Nice, we walked along the beach, looking for sea glass and pretending we wouldn’t have to return to a blizzard back on the Hill. During our afternoon in Monaco, we posed for pictures outside the palace and hiked down to the streets of Monte Carlo.
Knowing it was taking us home, our second ride on the TGV, the fastest train service in the world, wasn’t nearly as fun as the first trip two weeks prior.
It was the busiest and prettiest two weeks I have had in a long time. So, as we packed our final night in Paris and hoped the bags were still under 50 pounds, the reality set and it was clear. We would have to return.
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
Senior Mohamed Malim, Associate Professor and Bachelor of Social Work program Director Dr. Katharine Hill, and community partners Gayle Godfrey and the behavioral health staff at Regions Hospital have received Minnesota Campus Compact Awards for their leadership and civic engagement.
The organization, which annually confers awards that recognize effective leaders who develop campus-community partnerships, will recognize the three recipients as part of a state summit and awards luncheon on Hamline University’s campus on April 19. (For more information and to register to attend the event, click here.)
Malim, a business administration major, is being recognized for the Presidents’ Student Leadership Award, which highlights “an individual student or a student organization that models a deep commitment to civic responsibility and leadership, evidenced by initiative, innovative and collaborative approaches to addressing public issues, effective community building, and integration of civic engagement into the college experience.” Malim embodies that in his founding and leadership of the nonprofit Dream Refugee, “whose mission is to begin to tackle today’s most relevant and troubling themes of exclusion, xenophobia and apathy by connecting refugees with disparate communities in unique ways.” Through storytelling and the building of individual and community pride, Malim’s “courage and creative efforts provide a platform for bridging our divides, for helping us recognize our common humanity, and for enabling us to advance the common good together as a unified community,” said nominator Laura Dunham.
Hill is being recognized for the President’s Civic Engagement Stewardship Award, which recognizes a member of the faculty, administration or staff who has “significantly advanced their campus’ distinctive civic mission by forming strong partnership, supporting others’ civic engagement and working to institutionalize a culture and practice of engagement.” Starting with her 2015 Social Policy for Change class, Hill developed a project in which students picked a population with lower voter turnout, registered them to vote, and worked to keep them engaged and informed through Election Day. As a national leader and member of the board of the National Social Work Voter Engagement Campaign, Hill has been a leader at St. Thomas and beyond.
Godfrey is being recognized for the President’s Community Partner Award, given to “a community-based organization that has enhanced the quality of life in the community in meaningful and measurable ways and has engaged in the development of sustained, reciprocal partnerships with the college or university, thus enriching educational as well as community outcomes.” The Regions Hosptial’s behavioral health units staffs have been hosts for the past 17 years of Psychology 428 students as they complete 10 two-hour visits with behavior health units. “To a person, students view this experience as an amazing experience that encourages the development of significantly enhanced skills in listening and skills in providing appropriate encouragement with patients of varying ages and ethnic and economic statuses, not to mention varying mental health statuses. Students note what a powerful experience this is for confronting any remaining stigma they may unwittingly harbor toward people battling mental health concerns,” said nominator Lauren Braswell.