Recent News from Campuses

Fine Arts Programming executive director observes Spanish festival up close

Brian Jose saw a variety of acts at the festival; some may end up performing here on campus. Jose attended the festival for the first time as an invitee of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters while also representing CSB and SJU.

Gustavus Receives Grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Gustavus Campus News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 8:48am

Gustavus Adolphus College has been awarded a three-year, $100,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The College plans to use the funding to support the development of January term courses for students in their second year. These specially devised courses will focus on the core components of the liberal arts, first introduced to students in the First Term Seminar (FTS), and the increasingly fundamental role that digital humanities play in liberal learning.

These January-term courses will function as a foundational liberal arts focused arch between the First-Term Seminar and their final years to graduation and the completion of the B.A. degree. The grant will also provide resources to enhance our overall commitment to the digital humanities and enable faculty to teach more courses in this burgeoning field.

“We are very excited about the possibilities for these seminars. They will offer students an opportunity to develop through their coursework a reflective, integrative, and more focused understanding of the connections and possibilities underlying a liberal arts degree. This will be immensely helpful as students move toward graduation and beyond. These seminars, like our longtime offering of a second general education curriculum, 3 Crowns, are part of what makes Gustavus innovative and a model for other colleges,” said Paula O’Loughlin, Associate Provost and Dean of Arts and Humanities at Gustavus.

“The project-based and interdisciplinary courses developed through this grant will enable students to conduct research using cutting-edge digital humanities sources and methods,” said Alisa Rosenthal, Gustavus Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Kendall Center for Engaged Learning. “The reflection and values embedded in the planned courses will ensure that students understand these projects in the context of their own particular educational paths and within the liberal arts more generally.”

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation was founded in 1969 by Ailsa Mellon Bruce and Paul Mellon. The Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies. To this end, it supports exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work. The Foundation appropriated more than $235 million in grants in 2013.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Matt Thomas

New Members of Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame Announced

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 8:21am

The Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame, established in 2010 by the Shenehon Center for Real Estate at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business, will add three new members in a morning ceremony Thursday, Nov. 6, at the Golden Valley Golf and Country Club.

Members of the Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame are chosen for their outstanding business performance, high standards of ethics and sense of community. The three new members are:

George Karvel

George Karvel, Ph.D.
George Karvel chaired the real estate programs at both the University of St. Thomas and St. Cloud State University and has been a prolific writer, lecturer and litigation consultant during his long and illustrious career. Well-known for his popular Sunday morning real estate program on WCCO radio and his column in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, George Karvel made complex real estate topics easy to understand, while advancing the careers of real estate students and professionals through his leadership and his teaching.

Cyril “Cy” Kuefler Sr.

Cyril “Cy” Kuefler Sr. (1925-2001)
A successful real estate entrepreneur in the St. Cloud area, Cy Kuefler worked hard to promote his own business and to improve his profession. He believed in the power of education and played a significant role in elevating the educational and ethical standards within the real estate industry. His progressive vision included real estate programs in higher education and his efforts have had far-reaching and long-lasting benefits for real estate students, consumers and companies in Minnesota.

Jim Stanton

Jim Stanton
Jim Stanton is among the few who can take credit for shaping the terrain of a large metropolitan area. From Coon Rapids’ Riverdale Village in the north to Prior Lake’s Wilds Golf Course in the south, Stanton has developed more than 6,000 home sites in 28 different metro area cities. His numerous commercial and residential buildings dot the Minneapolis skyline. During his long career Stanton has made a significant contribution to the real estate industry through the projects he has completed and through his extraordinary service work with industry-related organizations.

The Nov. 6 induction program runs from 8-10:30 a.m. Keynote speaker will be Robert Senkler, chairman and CEO of the Securian Financial Group. Senkler, who has been with Securian for more than 35 years, has served as chair of the Minnesota Business Partnership and was named Executive of the Year in 2006 by the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal.

The program is open to the public and the cost is $50. More information is available here.

The Minnesota Real Estate Hall of Fame now has 27 members. Previously named were:

  • 2010: Tony Bernardi, Lloyd Engelsma, Gerald Rauenhorst, William Reiling, Jim Ryan and Sam Thorpe Sr.
  • 2011: Robert Hoffman, Darrel Holt, Bernard Rice, Emma Rovick and five members of the Dayton family: Bruce and the late Douglas, Donald, Kenneth and Wallace.
  • 2012: David Bekk, Robert Boblett Sr., Philip Smaby and Boyd Stofer.
  • 2013: Leonard Bisanz, Helen Brooks, Thomas Crowley, M.A. Mortenson Sr. and Kenneth Stensby.

O’Shaughnessy Biography Published; Book Launch Event Is Nov. 4

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 8:14am

That Great Heart, a biography of legendary St. Thomas benefactor I.A. O’Shaughnessy, has been published and will be available at three campus events the week of Nov. 3.

The biography chronicles O’Shaughnessy’s rise as the 13th child of a Stillwater bootmaker to become the largest independent oil refiner and largest benefactor of Catholic higher education in the United States. Four buildings at St. Thomas bear the name of the 1907 alumnus, who died in 1973.

Doug Hennes ’77, vice president for university and government relations at St. Thomas, is the author. The book is published by Beaver’s Pond Press of Edina and sponsored by the I.A. O’Shaughnessy Foundation, which O’Shaughnessy established in 1941.

The foundation will hold a book launch event 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 4, in OEC auditorium on the St. Paul campus. The event will include a reading, reception and book signing, and is open to the public. Other That Great Heart signings include:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 5, noon-1 p.m., St. Thomas bookstore, Terrence Murphy Hall, Minneapolis campus
  • Thursday, Nov. 6, 11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m., Campus Way, Anderson Student Center, St. Paul campus
  • Sunday, Nov. 9, after 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Masses, St. Mark’s Catholic Church, 1976 Dayton Ave., St. Paul
  • Saturday, Nov. 15, 11 a.m.-12:45 p.m., St. Patrick’s Guild, 1554 Randolph Ave., St. Paul
  • To be determined: Valley Booksellers, 217 N. Main St., Stillwater

Concert presents music for flute and piano

Carleton College Campus News - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 11:54am

Guest artist Linda Chatterton (flute) will join Carleton faculty musician Matthew McCright (piano) for a recital of masterworks from the piano and flute repertoire on Sunday, Oct. 26 at 3 p.m. in the Carleton College Concert Hall. This performance is free and open to the public.

Lefler Lecture to Focus on Japan’s Cold War, Post-Colonial Asia, and the Kula Ring

Carleton College Campus News - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 11:46am

Professor Hiromi Mizuno will present the Carleton College Fall 2014 Herbert P. Lefler Lecture on Tuesday, Oct. 28 at 5 p.m. in Leighton Hall Room 305. A professor of history at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Mizuno’s lecture is entitled “Japan’s Cold War, Post-Colonial Asia, and the Kula Ring: Technical Aid Reconsidered.” This event is free and open to the public.

St. Thomas Students, Professor Receive EPA Grant for Phosphorus Removal Project

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 10:00am

It’s a gorgeous summer day in St. Paul and dozens of residents are taking advantage of one of the city’s watery gems, Lake Como. The sun glistens off the pristine blue water a dozen yards away.

Wait. Strike that pristine blue part. Lake Como has been on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s impaired water list for excess nutrients since 2002, closer in hue to Kermit the Frog’s green than Sam the Eagle’s blue.

The discouraging profile is due to the abundant levels of phosphorus that have built up for decades within the lake. It’s an overly nutrient-rich ecosystem that has grown on itself to damaging levels and  while many projects have aimed to stem this cycle  much of the phosphorus is entrenched inside the lake’s sediment. That leaves a potentially decades-long timetable before positive results are seen.

Dr. Gaston “Chip” Small

Enter Gaston “Chip” Small, a St. Thomas biology assistant professor, and his students. Their proposition: What if we could harness the nutrients of that phosphorus by creating a hydroponic (water-only) system that grows vegetables and valuable plants right on top of the water? Could we restore this damaged ecosystem to healthy levels by creating a new, sustainable ecosystem that yields resources and balances Lake Como?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency believes in that idea; this week it rewarded a $15,000, P3 (People, Prosperity and the Planet) grant to St. Thomas to continue the pursuit of its already expansive research into the possibility.

“The grant shows that what we’re doing is important and [the EPA] believes it has real potential to help the environment,” said junior Jessica Brown, one of the students working with Small.

Building blocks

This isn’t the first time Brown’s own belief has been awarded: St. Thomas provided her a Young Scholars Grant for last summer, a stipend to work full time on advancing the project Small has championed for several years. Working alongside them was Brown’s classmate, junior Quinn Niederluecke, herself now the recipient of a St. Thomas Collaborative Inquiry Grant that is funding her continued research this fall.

The majority of Brown’s efforts focused on collecting samples at Como Lake and creating a rich set of data to work with. On top of her own work measuring phosphorus levels in the lake’s sediment, Niederluecke used Brown’s data to plug into a system she created that models what changing variables could do to the existing Como Lake ecosystem if – in the future – actual changes could be made.

“What Jessica was doing was so closely linked to what I would be doing, it backs each other up so well,” Niederluecke said. “The data I got can help her out and hers can help me. It’s really cool to be able to build off of what other people have done and look at solving the problem.”

Professor Gaston Small and his students have worked with a 600-gallon hydroponic tank inside the greenhouse attached to Owens Science Hall. Fish inside the tank help balance a system that can grow plants with just water. (Photo courtesy of Gaston Small)

That problem-solving started even before Brown, who picked up on the project with Small after a former student of his, senior Louis Sand, did preliminary research in summer 2013. Small said that kind of continuity and collaboration is something professors try to encourage for their students, along with the overarching significance of students getting valuable hands-on research experience they can apply to their careers.

“I was excited just to get to come in and help with a project, much less to get to do something on my own. So, when I started doing my own thing and it could play into what overall Small wants to do, I was really excited about it,” Niederluecke said. “I’m really lucky to have the chance to do this. It’s so cool to learn all these things that I couldn’t even imagine doing [when I first came to St. Thomas].”

As one of 42 EPA grant recipients the St. Thomas team is invited to Washington, D.C., in April to present their project and compete for a larger, $90,000 grant to further their efforts. Unfortunately, Brown and Niederluecke will be studying abroad during the conference, but that opens the opportunity for other students to represent St. Thomas after they contribute research of their own from fall and J-term classes with Small.

“It’s going to be a great opportunity for them,” Niederluecke said.

Small said discussions are already in place with St. Paul for the possibility of a realized hydroponic system in Lake Como if another grant was secured or other options present themselves. Regardless of the next steps, the value of sustainable research collaboration to this group is as clear as crystal blue water.

“Each person that works on it learns something new,” Small said. “And we can keep building this together.”

Please Remember John Coskran ’47 in Your Prayers

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 9:27am


John Coskran in his 1947 yearbook photo

Please remember in your prayers John Coskran, 91, who died Oct. 16. Coskran was a 1947 graduate and also Mr. Tommy in 1944. He received the alumni association’s Humanitarian Award in 1994 to signify his life’s work as a social worker and, since 1962, was one of the leaders of Catholic Charities here in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Mass of Christian burial will take place 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 23, at Mary, Mother of the Church, 3333 East Cliff Road, Burnsville, with visitation from 4-8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 22, at the White Funeral Home, 12804 Nicollet Ave. S., Burnsville, and one hour prior to Mass at church. In lieu of flowers, memorials will be donated to Catholic Charities. Read his obituary online.

Coskran held social worker positions in several Minnesota communities before starting work at Catholic Charities in 1962. He and his boss, Monsignor J. Jerome Boxleitner, helped  Catholic Charities grow from fewer than a dozen people in the mid-1960s to 8,500 in 1993.

The Humanitarian Award is presented by the St. Thomas Alumni Association for contributions to the spiritual and material betterment of people who are less fortunate. The plaque presented to Coskran in 1994 read: “Your three decades as associate director of Catholic Charities and your lifelong commitment to helping the less fortunate embody the very best in humanitarian service.”

In his acceptance speech, Coskran noted, “St. Thomas, through its dedicated and patient professors, lay and religious, taught us about the encyclicals and the rich church history on issues of social justice.”

Solar Panels Help Sustain Knowledge

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 9:03am

The newly installed solar panels on the Anderson Student Center roof not only reduce energy costs but also benefit student research. The panels are another step toward St. Thomas becoming carbon neutral by 2035, which former St. Thomas President Father Dennis Dease pledged when he signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment.

The new panels will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 45 tons in the first year. The panels serve another, more academic purpose.

“It’s really the educational component in addition to the sustainability that made the project a go for us,” said Jim Brummer, associate vice president for facilities. “We can invest in variable-frequency drives, or high-efficiency motors … but students don’t really get the opportunity to touch, feel and see behind the scenes. Hopefully this is a little more visible and engaging.”

Students in Paul Lorah’s Conservation Geography class wrote a Campus Sustainability Grant for the solar panels with a cost of $150,000. The project received $50,571 from St. Thomas’ Campus Sustainability Fund and in the form of 10 annual rebates (estimated to be more than $11,000) from the Made in Minnesota Solar Energy Program Lottery.

“The university encourages faculty to actively involve students in addressing challenges they care about, like campus sustainability,” Lorah said. “We have a history of funding student grants, and this really helps in the classroom. Students are more enthusiastic when class projects have real-world implications. Graduate schools and employers also respond well to students who go beyond just talking about problems. Getting a grant shows you can effectively address challenges.”

Nine faculty members from six departments hope to incorporate the solar array system, which includes a solar dashboard, into their courses. Examples include:

  • Geography students in a Weather and Climate course would use the solar panel power to measure the amount of solar radiation reaching the surface, which would tell them the percentage of cloud cover.
  • Environmental studies students would study energy markets by tracking the income generated by solar panels and the value of the carbon offsets they generate.
  • Engineering professors are interested in using data on the panel’s electrical production to analyze the effect of environmental conditions (such as temperature) on panel performance.
  • Biology’s Urban Ecosystem Ecology students would take real-time data and estimate how much of our energy demand could be met by solar power under different scenarios.
  • Engineering’s Energy and the Environment course currently uses three small solar dishes they configured using voltage panels and spotlights for a solar energy source.

Environmental benefits

The Anderson Student Center already is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, which judges facilities on their sustainability, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation and design. Gold is the second-highest of the four LEED certification levels.

The solar panels on ASC are silicon photovoltaic, or PV, modules, and have a 25-year guarantee. They were manufactured by tenKsolar in Bloomington, Minnesota, and installed on the roof by Cedar Creek Energy.

Work still is being done to connect the solar panels to the ASC electrical system. On average, the solar panel system will produce 56,000 kilowatt hours per year for the next 25 years. Electricity generated by the system will lower UST energy costs by approximately $5,100 per year. The system will reduce 4,345 gallons of gasoline consumed per year and 108,585 gallons reduced over 25 years. It also reduces 41,477 pounds of coal burned per year, and 1,036,518 pounds of coal burned over 25 years.

Bob Douglas, chair of St. Thomas’ Sustainability Committee and coordinator of recycling and central receiving, said: “This is a very energy-intense building – the most energy-intense on campus – and to have a 40 kW system will significantly reduce the amount of carbon that is released into the air.” Carbon emissions will be reduced by 1,127.5 tons in the next 25 years.

Brummer noted that solar panels are a step in the right direction.

“For me, the biggest way to have an impact to become carbon neutral is to change behaviors,” Brummer said. “Solar panels are a nice step – it generates awareness, creates energy – but it’s a small step. The biggest thing it will do is the educational component. You never know if one of the students working on the solar panel system will find a way to make it more effective – that’s what is so exciting about this – when our students get to see a live, working model.”

St. Kate’s volunteers serve their communities through annual Citizen Katie event

St. Kate's Campus News - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 7:00am
More than 350 volunteers in the Twin Cities and in alumnae chapters across the country turned out to be of service in their communities. More »

The Gustavus Dining Service: Not Just Great Food

Gustavus Campus News - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 4:30pm

Gustavus was recently ranked No. 7 on Niche’s 2015 Best Campus Food list, which ranks 1,175 colleges based on meal plan cost and opinions from students. Cappex, another website designed to help students make their college choice ranked Gustavus in the top 25 of their Best College Food list.

According to Niche, “a high ranking indicates the college offers a variety of healthy, quality food options that accommodate various dietary preferences and that the students are happy with the quality of campus food.” Gustavus offers many food options for students, including vegan and vegetarian food, gluten-free, and various ethnic foods, all at a reasonable price. But the Gustavus Dining Service goes one step further in their service for students.

The dedicated and long-serving dining staff make a point to listen to students’ needs and actively participate in their education, which Director of the Dining Service and Book Mark Steve Kjellgren ’86 believes is what sets Gustavus’ Dining Service apart from other colleges.

“We try hard to make the community know that this is something we’re doing for them. This is a service we’re providing for them, not at them. So in order to do something for this community, and have them respond well, we need to know what it is they want. And the only way for us to know that is for them to tell us. We’ve been able to open this community dialogue in a way that other colleges haven’t,” Kjellgren said.

The Dining Service is always open to new ideas or suggestions, and if an idea makes sense for the community as a whole, and students can convince them it is a good idea and worth pursuing, they will give it serious thought and see if it’s something they can implement.

The Dining Service also gets a lot of input from its nearly 350 student employees. But in addition to informal input from members of the Gustavus community, the Kitchen Cabinet program was started by Kjellgren and Professor of Philosophy and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies Lisa Heldke ’82 to serve as an advisory body to the Dining Service. The Kitchen Cabinet meets once a month and brings together Dining Service staff, professors, and students to talk about suggestions and thoughts related to the Dining Service.

“The work of the Kitchen Cabinet keeps in focus the question, ‘what is the mission of this college and what are our core values?’ Heldke said. “We try to think about how the work of the Dining Service can enable the College as a whole to achieve that mission and to uphold those values. This is the place in which we ask big and abstract questions about what it means to live out those values on the ground. The committee is invaluable experience for those students who serve on it because they get the opportunity to participate in these discussions with faculty and staff, and to do so as colleagues, not as only students.”

Food and Education Intersections

While the cafeteria is traditionally seen as a place simply to come and eat in between classes and studying, the Dining Service has been active in students’ education in unique ways.

Director of Dining Service Steve Kjellgren

“What we look at is how the Dining Service can be an active participant in the educational process. So beyond just food tasting good, and keeping students happy, we want to say, what more is there that we could be offering in terms of educating the whole person,” Kjellgren said. “We really feel connected to the college. We feel like part of the community. So rather than this being a place where our staff come to work and just do what’s on their list that day, they’re more interactive and they’re more engaged with students. That’s sort of what our philosophy is here, and it seems to work.”

When students aren’t in the classroom learning directly from their professors, students have a chance to learn and grow through a number of programs that are supported by the Dining Service.

One such program is the Coca-Cola Educational Partnership Grant Program, which gives funding to students to carry out sustainability and community health projects around campus. After Gustavus’ beverage contract with Coca-Cola expired in 2012, instead of simply signing on with Coca-Cola for another ten years or so, Kjellgren wanted to rethink the school’s beverage contract.

Most beverage providers give a certain amount of money back to the school, which can be put toward anything. Kjellgren along with other Dining Service staff challenged beverage providers to be creative with their proposals, asking them to think about the resources their companies have and how those resources could be used to benefit the school. Along with other suggestions, Kjellgren asked if there was a way that the money that is given back to the school could somehow be tied up into a fund that could be tapped for educational initiatives.

Out of all the companies, Coca-Cola came back with the most exciting proposal, and Gustavus partnered with Coca-Cola for another seven years. Along with the regular services, the contract includes $20,000 a year towards a sustainability, health, and environment grant program. This became known as the Coca-Cola Educational Partnership grant program, and it allows students to send in proposals for projects around campus. Some past projects that received funding from the grant program include a research project to study the feasibility of a bike-share program at Gustavus, the Mental Health Wellness Fair, Stress Free Finals Week, and a Turn out the Light initiative to promote turning out the lights when leaving a room around campus.

This was the first time Coca-Cola had done anything like this for schools, which prompted them to think about their contracts with other schools and companies.

“After the first year of the program we had people from their headquarters come and review the grant applications and see the projects, and they were so excited about it that they said they were going to make this part of their proposals at other institutions,” Kjellgren said.

The Big Hill Farm is another program that serves to educate students. About six years ago, a group of students approached Kjellgren about having a garden on campus. Kjellgren was willing to help them start out, but wanted to make sure it would be a sustainable project. He found them a spot for the garden and the students rallied a group together to keep the garden going year after year. The garden began to grow in size and soon became known as Big Hill Farm. Now located near the Physical Plant, Big Hill Farm is run mainly by students, who have had to learn how to manage it and grow vegetables that can be utilized in the Gustavus kitchen.

The Dining Service buys almost everything that students grow at Big Hill Farm. They keep a tally of what students bring in throughout the year, and at the end of the season they write the students a check for the produce based on current market prices. The students use the money to buy seeds and equipment for the next year.

“This was a student idea that we just encouraged. We didn’t do it for them,” Kjellgren said.

When students have ideas, the Dining Service is ready to listen to them and help them make their ideas a reality, and this is reflected in the many student-initiated ideas and programs offered by the Dining Service. For example, the Dining Service transitioned to cage-free eggs and fair trade coffee and bananas because of student input.

“The educational component of the college has really embraced what we do as a service provider. Instead of putting up the wall, saying we do the teaching and you do the feeding, they’ve sort of said there’s a lot of opportunities to practice what we’re talking about in the classroom. We talk about third world economies and fair trade in the classroom, and you get a chance to do it here,” Kjellgren said.

So while Gustavus does offer a variety of quality food at a reasonable price, the sense of community, willingness to listen and respond to input, and involvement in education is something that truly sets Gustavus’ Dining Service apart from other colleges.

“I can’t think of any other college or university or setting that I would rather be doing the work that I’m doing. And I think because of the long-term nature of our employees here, they must all like what they’re doing. And it’s not just because they love frying eggs. It’s not just because they love making grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s because of the people they’re making grilled cheese sandwiches for, and the relationships that they have with them,” Kjellgren said.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Matt Thomas

Highway 14 near Winona Campus to detour Thursday

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 3:50pm
MnDOT to install temporary pedestrian bridge The Minnesota Department of Transportation plans to install a temporary pedestrian bridge on Highway 14 in Winona at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota on Thursday, Oct. 23. Traffic will not be allowed through that area of Highway 14 while crews use a crane to raise the bridge and secure [&hellip

Hill Museum & Manuscript Library dedicates the Maxine H. Wallin Classroom

The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) at Saint John's University has dedicated its new classroom to librarian, philanthropist and past HMML Board of Overseers member Maxine H. Wallin. Wallin served on the HMML board from 1996 to 2004.

Winner of the Sister Mariella Gable Book Award is finalist for National Book Award

This year's winner of the Sister Mariella Gable Award, "Citizen: An American Lyric" by Claudia Rankine, has been named a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award in poetry.

Page Series presents: Creole Choir of Cuba

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 11:15am
The Page Series is pleased to present The Creole Choir of Cuba, this Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Page Theatre. This vibrant 10-piece group — five men and five women who dance when they sing — are a cornucopia of remarkable voices. Multiple award winners, this Grammy-nominated choir sings the vital music learned at [&hellip

Saint Mary’s students to stage ‘Pentecost’ Nov. 6-9

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 8:47am
WINONA, Minn. — Art, religion and politics collide in the Saint Mary’s Department of Theatre and Dance production of the complex British drama “Pentecost” Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 6-9. Written by David Edgar and directed by Judy Myers, “Pentecost” tells the story of Gabrielle Pecs, a beautiful and passionate art curator in a small village [&hellip

For the Love of Math

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 6:08am

For Winger Chidthachack, a high-ranking Army official in Communist Laos, the decision to leave was a difficult one. After saving money for three years, Winger, his wife, Bounmy, and their two daughters began their journey.

Winger paid a Lao guard to keep them safe as they crossed the border into Thailand, bringing only two bags of clothing, a blanket and a tiny sum of money.

Crossing the Mekong River was extremely dangerous as any Laotians found across the border in Thailand would be deemed illegal and shot or beaten to death. The guard instructed the family to hide beneath palm leaves under banana trees along the river for a night and avoid discovery at all costs.

The family then was herded into trucks, driven for 12 hours and dropped at Nakhon Phanom Refugee Camp in Thailand. For two years, the Chidthachack family lived in the camp, with only an outhouse and a cement bath tub for amenities. They began selling snacks made from cow skin, and eventually, her parents borrowed some money to convert their tiny business into a small market, where the Chidthachacks sold drinks and curry soup with rice vermicelli noodles.

Despite the tiny income, her family was relatively fortunate; all around them families relied on children to sell crack cocaine to make money.

Sousada Chidthachack, the third of three daughters, was born soon after in a nearby hospital. Her birth, she said, marked the end of their stay at the camp. Her family had saved enough money to move to the Philippines for six months to learn to read and write English. Finally, determined to complete their journey and have a better life, the family made it to the United States in 1986.

“My mother wanted her children to go to school,” Chidthachack ’06 said, explaining that in Laos women were expected to stay home and do housework instead of becoming educated. Her mother was shamed for attending school and dropped out in third grade. This made her more determined than ever to ensure that her daughters had more opportunity, Chidthachack said. “So the story of me in academia was a long time coming. … I’ve always thought that I had to go all the way. Because she couldn’t.”

Chidthachack is working on her Ph.D. in math education at the University of Minnesota, and already has five years of teaching math in K-12 schools. And she is excited about returning to St. Thomas this fall to begin teaching as an adjunct instructor in the Math Department.

Chidthachack teaches a class in O’Shaughnessy Science Hall.

Yet the path to this new position at her alma mater was not always clear, Chidthachack said. In fact, a career in math wasn’t even on her radar when she arrived on campus for her undergraduate studies in 2002. Not only did she have her sights set on business and journalism degrees, but she had hoped to attend the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota instead.

“Looking back, [coming to St. Thomas] was the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” Chidthachack said. “I wanted to go to college to see the world, and as someone who comes from the Projects [government subsidized housing] and a working-class background, that was really important to me.” Chidthachack was a Spanish minor, a cheerleader and a social butterfly, and took math classes for fun each semester because she excelled in them.

While the math classes seemed like enjoyable GPA boosters for Chidthachack, to math professor Cheri Shakiban, Ph.D., they were serious indicators of talent. The two were introduced during Chidthachack’s sophomore year, and according to her, they “hit it off right away.” Shakiban served as both a mentor and a guide, eventually persuading Chidthachack to pick up a second major in math because of her strength and love for mathematics.

“I have always been interested in supporting underrepresented minorities, inspiring them to go into math-related fields,” Shakiban said. “One such talent was Sousada.”

An immigrant and refugee herself, Shakiban could relate to Chidthachack on a far more personal level than most. With Shakiban’s help, Chidthachack received a National Science Foundation scholarship to help pay for her math degree.

With her new path established, Chidthachack was motivated to become a math teacher and pursue a degree in education.

“I definitely had some struggles,” she said. “But it never occurred to me that I couldn’t do math or that math was not for me. I have been taught by female math teachers my whole life. Because I had that really solid foundation, I never thought twice about, ‘Is this for me?’ That was something that I was thankful for – that I had this female mathematician, Dr. Shakiban, as a mentor and someone who took me under her wings.”

Chidthachack aims to do the same for her students as she begins teaching at St. Thomas this fall, adding her own flair and emphasis on hard work, and focusing on encouraging students who are what she calls “mislabeled.’’

Often students are sorted as early as middle school into groups that label them as “math minded” or not – labels that are often premature, Chidthachack explained.

“One of the messages I really want to tell my students is, ‘Yes, you can be naturally smart at it and do well in math. But most of the people who can sustain themselves and do well are the people who are persistent and work hard. That’s sort of what brought me here today – working hard through my ESL classes and my math classes – and having a really good attitude about education and about life.”

Like Shakiban, Chidthachack is especially passionate about supporting females and minorities in the math field, noting that she aims to help prevent young females, students of color and marginalized students from being overlooked because of the way the system is set up.

Melissa Loe, Ph.D., math professor and assistant chair of the department, agrees that encouraging females and minorities is a priority. “I think it’s important for students to see people who like what they are doing,” Loe said. “If all they see are white males in math and science and engineering, I don’t think females or people of color are going to want to pursue that. Just by being a female in mathematics … and being interested in students and working hard for them and with them … that sends a powerful message: that we are on the way to overcoming barriers and ceilings for women in the sciences.”

Chidthachack, who also tutors elementary to college-age students on the weekends, said, “One of the things that brings me the most joy is when a student says, ‘Wow! I actually really like doing this. I can’t believe we’re doing math.’”

She hopes to get a similar reaction from the students in her new class this fall, Math For All Purposes. Chidthachack says the class will be one of the larger classes on campus, because students are placed in it to fulfill their math requirement. The class will be made up of non-science majors and elementary education majors – exactly the sort of students she works with best.

Although Chidthachack doesn’t have much down time, she says she’s perfectly happy doing what she does best: socializing, doing math and sharing her story with others. As a Page Scholar and fundraiser for the Page Education Foundation, she speaks regularly at events. She also has done research with two grants: one to teach in Thailand and one to study the educational model in Brazil.

All this has prompted her to write a memoir titled, The Lesson is Never Just a Number: A Math Teacher’s Journey from the Projects to Pursuing a Ph.D. The book is still in the works, but Chidthachack informally already has published a few parts of it on Facebook. While the memoir discusses her life story, it also highlights other talented people in the Twin Cities who have remarkable backgrounds and are making a difference. Already, she said, it has received overwhelming positive feedback.

“If you follow your passion, you find your purpose,” Chidthachack said. “And this is my purpose: to talk about how education opens so many doors.

“I have this message that I want to share. I have this story that says, ‘Here’s where I’ve started, here’s where I’m at now because somebody gave me a chance.’”

Read more from St. Thomas magazine.

Area schools invited to special matinee performances at Saint Mary’s

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 1:46pm
WINONA, Minn. — The Performance Center of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota is pleased to announce the 2014-2015 school matinees. To reserve seats for your school, contact Adam Wiltgen, box office manager, at 507-457-1716, or email: All seats are $3 for these matinees (only available for area schools). We request no more than one [&hellip

Saint Mary’s music faculty to present free recital Oct. 26

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:35am
WINONA, Minn. — Members of the Saint Mary’s University Music Department faculty will present a free recital on Sunday, Oct. 26, at 3 p.m. in Figliulo Recital Hall. This performance features Dr. David Leung (violin) and Derek Clark (cello) performing a duet by Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly; 18th century arias performed by Lindsy O’Shea (soprano); [&hellip

English Professor Joyce Sutphen Appears on <i>A Prairie Home Companion</i>

Gustavus Campus News - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 9:15am

Gustavus Professor of English and Minnesota Poet Laureate, Joyce Sutphen.

Gustavus Adolphus College Professor of English Joyce Sutphen was a guest on Garrison Keillor’s live radio variety show, A Prairie Home Companion, on Saturday, Oct. 18. Keillor recited Sutphen’s poem “Girl on a Tractor”, while Sutphen read several of her poems including “Autumn Again”, “My Legendary Father”, “A Dream of Empty Fields”, and “Say It”.

You can listen to the segment featuring Sutphen and her poetry on the website of A Prairie Home Companion.

Sutphen was named Poet Laureate for the state of Minnesota by Governor Mark Dayton in August of 2011. The role dictates that Sutphen serves as the primary spokesperson, supporter, and promoter of poetry in the state. She is only the second individual to hold the title, as she replaced Robert Bly who was appointed by former Governor Tim Pawlenty in 2007.

Sutphen has published several collections of poetry including the anthology To Sing Along the Way: Minnesota Women Poets from Pre-Territorial Days to the Present(2006), which she co-edited. Her other collections include Straight Out of View (1995),Coming Back to the Body (2000), First Words (2009), Fourteen Sonnets (2005), andNaming the Stars (2004), which won the Minnesota Book Award for poetry in 2005. Her other awards include the Eunice Tietjen’s Memorial Prize from Poetry magazine, a Loft-McKnight Artist Fellowship, a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship, and a grant from the Jerome Foundation.

Sutphen grew up on a farm near St. Joseph, Minn., and currently lives in Chaska. She holds three degrees from the University of Minnesota including a master’s degree in English and a Ph.D. in renaissance drama. Sutphen teaches a variety of courses at the College, mainly in the areas of poetry, creative writing, and British literature.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Matt Thomas

Syndicate content