Recent News from Campuses

Pop-up exhibition Inquire Within features WAI artists

St. Kate's Campus News - Fri, 07/10/2015 - 12:58pm
Eighteen artists from the 2015 Women’s Art Institute are featured in this exhibition, July 11–18. More »

Dr. Eric LaMott Selected for National Leadership Development Program

Concordia University Campus News - Fri, 07/10/2015 - 9:56am

Concordia University, St. Paul is pleased to announce that Dr. Eric LaMott, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, is one of 23 senior-level administrators in higher education nationwide selected by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) to participate in a year-long Executive Leadership Academy.

Individuals chosen for the program are vice presidents or cabinet officers in higher education who aspire to the presidency of an independent college or university. LaMott will participate in two seminars held in Washington, DC, as well as readings, webinars, and a mentoring program. In addition, he will develop an experiential learning plan focused on specific areas of presidential responsibility.

The Academy is designed to prepare provosts and vice presidents to serve as effective college presidents. “Competition for the available places in the program was intense,” said CIC President Richard Ekman. “The review committee found the nomination materials to be most impressive. They (and I) believe that Dr. LaMott has the potential for highly effective leadership as a college or university president.”

“The CIC's Executive Leadership Academy is a highly competitive professional development opportunity for senior leaders in higher education.  I am not at all surprised that Eric LaMott was selected to participate,” said Concordia President Dr. Tom Ries. “He is an incredibly gifted person and over the past twenty years has played many key roles in helping Concordia University evolve into the strong, comprehensive Lutheran university that it is today.”

Since the program began in the 2009–2010 academic year, 53 percent of program participants who have completed the program have advanced to higher positions. “These indicators suggest that CIC is helping to meet the leadership needs of higher education by offering highly effective leadership development programs for modest fees to member institutions,” Ekman said.

The Academy is co-sponsored by CIC, the American Academic Leadership Institute (AALI), and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Tom Kepple, president of AALI and president emeritus of Juniata College (PA), is the program director.

For more information about the Executive Leadership Academy, visit

St. Thomas Real Estate Analysis: Low Inventory Creating a Seller’s Market

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Fri, 07/10/2015 - 9:25am

An analysis of Twin Cities real estate data for the month of May found that while the housing market is continuing its recovery from the great recession, it remains plagued by a low inventory of homes for sale.

Each month the Shenehon Center for Real Estate at the University of St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business looks for real estate trends in the 13-county Twin Cities region and tracks the median price for three types of sales: nondistressed or traditional; foreclosures; and short sales (when a home is sold for less than the outstanding mortgage balance).

“The main story found in data for May is a significant increase in the number of traditional-type home sales and a continuation of the historically low number of homes available for sale,” said Herb Tousley, director of real estate programs at the university.

The number of homes for sale in the Twin Cities in May was 16,282. Normally there are between 20,000 and 25,000 homes on the market. On top of that, the 5,264 nondistressed homes sold in May 2015 was 25 percent more than in May 2014.

This combination of more sales and fewer homes “has created a seller’s market with instances of multiple offers and homes selling for more than the asking price becoming more common,” Tousley said.

Why are there fewer homes on the market?

“There are many homeowners who are considering selling now that values have recovered over the last three years. The question then is, what they do after they have sold their home. They have now turned from sellers into buyers in a market that offers them limited choices for their replacement home and the fact that obtaining a new mortgage is still relatively difficult,” Tousley said.

“The other reason is that although the number of homeowners who are underwater has decreased significantly there are still a considerable number of homeowners who are near negative equity. That means that even though they are not underwater they have very little equity and when they sell their home they do not have enough equity to buy a new home.

“These factors along with more restrictive credit standards and little-to-no wage growth in the last several years are keeping many potential sellers on the sidelines.”

The median sale price for a traditional or “nondistressed” home in May was $229,900, up 2.18 percent from April’s $225,000.

“Originally, we had been expecting an annual median sale price increase in 2015 of 4 percent to 6 percent. However, if the current trend of strong sales numbers and a persistently low inventory of homes for sale continues through the summer and into the early fall, we expect to see higher-than-expected increases in median sale prices,” Tousley said.

Overall, how is the market doing?

To answer that question, the Shenehon Center tracks nine data elements each month, including the median price for three types of sales (traditional, foreclosure and short sales) and creates an index for each. The St. Thomas Traditional Sale Composite Index hit 1109 in May, which is the highest level seen since the index was created in 2005. The index increased 2.8 percent from April 2015 to May 2015, and it increased 5.6 percent from May 2014 to May 2015.

“The continued increase in the Traditional Sale Composite Index is an indicator of the ongoing improvement in the health and resurgence of the Twin Cities housing market,” Tousley said.

Things also are continuing to look better for the two “distressed sales” indexes. In May, the short-sale index increased 5.1 percent from a year ago, and the foreclosure index moved up 5.6 percent. Several years ago these two indexes represented a significant portion of the all home sales in the Twin Cities. In May, short sales were just 3.1 percent of the total while foreclosures were 8.6 percent.

St. Thomas researchers did find some interesting results when looking at changes in the number of homes sold at different price levels. For example, three years ago, in May 2012, 40 percent of homes sold for less than $150,000. But in May 2015, less than 15 percent of the homes sold for less than $150,000. Meanwhile, the number of homes that sold for more than $450,000 in May 2015 is nearly double what it was back in May 2012.

“This shift is a reflection of the high number of foreclosures three years ago as well as the general decline in the value of all homes during the crash. Moving to 2015, as we are recovering from the recession, the economy is beginning to improve and home values are increasing,” Tousley said.

He added that this trend is expected to continue, but the differences will not be as stark as the market continues to stabilize over time.

More information online

The Shenehon Center’s charts and report for May can be found here.

The index is available free via email from Tousley at

Passing of a Colleague

Hamline University Campus News - Fri, 07/10/2015 - 12:00am
Professor Emeritus of Religion Tim Polk passed away on Wednesday, July 8, after an extended battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Study abroad photo winners

St. Kate's Campus News - Thu, 07/09/2015 - 6:02pm
From Guatemala to South Africa, St. Kate’s students travel the world — and take winning photos. More »

Researchers examine the importance of emotional development

St. Olaf Campus News - Thu, 07/09/2015 - 4:12pm

Associate Professor of Psychology Grace Cho (right) and student researchers Joy Smith ’17 (center) and Anna Johnson ’16 review some of their findings on the way emotions are socialized and expressed in families with young children.

Think back to a moment in your childhood that is particularly tinged with emotion — the anxiety of getting on the bus by yourself for the first time, for example, or the fear of moving to a new town and the sadness of leaving your friends behind.

How did your parents help you? Did they provide comfort? Did they talk about the experience with you? Did they validate your feelings and help you to express them effectively? Or did they minimize the experience and leave you to figure things out on your own?

And who was there for you to help you with your emotions? Your mother? Father? Both?

St. Olaf College Associate Professor of Psychology Grace Cho and two students are spending the summer analyzing this particular part of family life in an attempt to provide more insight into children’s emotional development.

The project, part of the college’s Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry (CURI) program, examines the way emotions are socialized and expressed in families with young children.

The research team is analyzing parents’ beliefs about emotions and their interactions with children, particularly how elaborative parents are when talking to children about their emotional experiences. The team is also looking at the role of sociocultural factors (e.g., parent and child gender) in the patterns of emotion socialization.

“In the broad psychological literature, there is a lot of attention focused on children’s cognitive and literacy development. The way children become emotionally literate has often been neglected, but it is equally important,” Cho says.

Indeed, research finds that early emotional competencies are linked with greater well-being and positive outcomes later in life.

Cho notes that when developing good socioemotional skills and emotional maturity are sacrificed in pursuit of cognitive and academic excellence, there may be negative consequences. Some researchers have proposed that this trend, for example, may lead contemporary students to have higher levels of anxiety and depression.

The importance of emotional development
Cho says the preschool years are vital for emotional socialization, as this is the time when a child’s awareness of the complexities of emotions really burgeons. The socioemotional skills children learn during this period of time, including how they understand, regulate, and express their emotions, can help them to develop into emotionally competent and healthy beings.

Joy Smith ’17, one of the students working with Cho this summer, says this research is relevant to parents as much as to psychologists, since they are the primary influence on their children during their early years of growth.

L-R) Joy Smith ’17, Associate Professor of Psychology Grace Cho, and Anna Johnson ’16: “Children who understand and express emotions more easily have better empathetic and social skills, which can help to build relationships,” Johnson says. “They even do better academically.”

“Everyone expresses emotion, and emotion is a key part of our everyday lives and interactions with people. Studying how children and their parents communicate about emotion can give us better insight into how children learn and develop emotions,” she says. “How they talk about emotions with their child can have implications for their child’s emotional competence, social skills, and relationships.”

Anna Johnson ’16, the other student researcher, says the project has taught her a lot about the methodology involved in developmental psychology research, along with how vital it is for children to learn to express their emotions.

“Children who understand and express emotions more easily have better empathetic and social skills, which can help to build relationships. They even do better academically. Even before children enter school, they are taught which emotions are appropriate to express and how they should express them,” Johnson says. “If children aren’t able to understand and express emotions, it can affect a lot of different areas of their lives. They are likely to have lower-quality relationships and it can even contribute to disorders such as depression.”

Looking at it from different lenses
Cho earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in developmental psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She teaches courses in child and human development, diverse families, and research methods at St. Olaf.

Her research is located in the intersections of developmental and cultural psychology and family studies. She is concerned with better understanding and enhancing children’s socioemotional development and examines them within the contexts of the family and the broader culture. What is the role of parental beliefs and practices, and how do parents nurture and shape their children’s emotional selves?

Cho also considers how cultural values and norms influence parent-child interaction. Toward this end, she is collaborating with her counterparts at the Catholic University of Korea to examine whether Korean parents express emotions with their children similarly or differently than American parents.

Cho asserts that gender may also affect emotional socialization. There is an assumption in the larger culture that mothers — and women in general — are more emotional and have the ability to express their emotions more freely. This may affect the ways in which mothers and fathers talk about emotions with their daughters and sons.

There is also a cultural assumption that mothers may be more influential to children’s development than fathers, which has led fathers to be understudied historically in the field. However, Cho argues that fathers are as essential in the emotional development and upbringing of a child as mothers. She added that it is important for research studies to give equal attention to fathers and mothers since there are things that fathers may do differently than mothers.

The pathway to emotional competence
Cho hopes that her research will prompt a shift toward a more balanced and holistic approach to child development.

“We should not be only concerned with how quickly children are learning to read, or how well they solve math problems, but we should also be concerned about their emotional well-being too,” she says.

She hopes her research can bring serious consideration into the ways caregivers and educators can better nurture their children’s emotional skills, helping them to effectively manage and express their feelings as they grow. “Caregivers can help children in their path towards emotional competence by providing them with ample opportunities to discuss the variety of emotions they may experience in their everyday lives, by elaborating on the emotions and utilizing rich emotion language while doing so,” Cho says.

“Children benefit when they have developed adaptive strategies and appropriate vocabulary to express their emotions.”

Information session is today at Oakdale

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Thu, 07/09/2015 - 10:05am

Whether you’re looking to advance your career or you’d like to complete that bachelor’s degree, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and its Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs can help you reach your goals.

Saint Mary’s University offers a variety of programs that are affordable and at convenient locations throughout Minnesota. Visit the bachelor completion and graduate admission pages to learn more about specific programs Saint Mary’s offers, or have your questions answered and meet with staff members at the event detailed below.

Oakdale Center Information Session
Thursday, July 9, 2015 from 5–7 p.m.
7200 Hudson Boulevard N, Suite 200
Oakdale, MN 55128-7098
(612) 238-4550
Programs Offered
Click Here to Register

About Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota awakens, nurtures, and empowers learners to ethical lives of leadership and service. At Saint Mary’s, students find in every classroom—whether in person or online—a relationship-driven, person-centered education. Through intense inquiry, students discover the truths in the world and the character within. Founded in 1912 and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota enrolls 5,800 students at its residential undergraduate college in Winona and its Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs, based in Minneapolis but extending worldwide. Saint Mary’s offers respected and affordable programs in a variety of areas leading to bachelor’s, bachelor’s completion, master’s, certificate, specialist, and doctoral degrees. Learn more at

Working Beyond Boundaries

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Thu, 07/09/2015 - 8:40am

I can’t say exactly why, but the variety in our world – political, cultural and economic – has always intrigued me. It may have something to do with reading National Geographic magazines as a kid and the lack of variety I saw around me in the Minnesota suburb where I grew up.

Wanting to experience and better understand variety led me to two degrees in international politics (Carleton College and Columbia University), a two-year fellowship (Japan), lots traveling and studying abroad (over 30 countries), working for a global company (including a foreign assignment in Hong Kong), a Ph.D. in international management (University of MN), and then teaching and researching here at St. Thomas.

Variety is intriguing but also challenging. In my research I try to learn how people can more effectively collaborate across boundaries like time zones, language, culture and business functions. Working in a global organization, I experienced firsthand the benefits of working across boundaries and the difficulties they present.

The focus of most of my research is work teams, because they are a very common mechanism organizations use to collaborate across boundaries and get work done. In each project, I investigate aspects of teamwork and team outcomes that are affected by variety on one or several dimensions, like nationality, gender or language.

Most research uses objective measures of diversity, but my co-authors and I have found that understanding perceptions of difference and similarity provides additional insight. For example, we found that on some dimensions perceptions of similarity shift and change as team members interact.

So, if you are a U.S. male you might start out thinking you are pretty similar to a U.S. male teammate, but find out the hard way that he procrastinates and you do not. Similarly, you might start out thinking you are quite different from your Chinese female teammate, but realize she likes to get things done ahead of time, just like you do. These findings might help us develop interventions to improve the effectiveness of diverse teams, e.g., early attention to communication about approaches to work.

In other research, I’ve investigated the role of a cross-border team experience on a person’s social network after the team has disbanded. It’s a good thing for organizations to have their members connected across geographic and functional boundaries – it helps facilitate the transfer of knowledge and best practices, and reduces redundancy. But, lots of research has found that it’s hard to connect people across boundaries because we tend to connect to people who are like us: “Birds of a feather flock together” (in social psychology we call it “homophily”). In our research we have found that a shared team experience can help people reach beyond their “flock” (or, across boundaries). We looked at advice-seeking patterns among a group of people.

As homophily predicts, in general, people sought advice from similar others. But, if people had a prior shared team experience months earlier, they were just as likely to seek advice from a team member from a different country as a team member from the same country.

These results mean that people managing global organizations might want to think about how they can strategically use teams, not only to get current tasks completed, but also to help build connections across boundaries that will benefit their organization on future tasks.

Doing research helps me cross boundaries as well – stepping outside the classroom and into organizations, talking to people and understanding issues. It also allows me to be part of a community of scholars outside St. Thomas.

Right now I have co-authors in Singapore and Germany, so we ourselves are the kind of team we are studying – those that cross time zones and have members with different native languages! The process of presenting and publishing research helps scholars from different parts of the world collaborate and build on each other’s work. For example, at a conference my co-author and I met a scholar from Germany who had read our published work and then published his own research challenging some of our assumptions. Now he is a co-author with us on two studies where together we are pushing those ideas even further.

The St. Thomas community is important, but I think it’s good for me and for my students that I’m also connected outside – to colleagues who challenge my work and teach me new perspectives.

As I’ve described in this essay, my research focuses on discovering how people can more effectively collaborate across boundaries, ultimately helping organizations succeed in achieving their goals. My teaching and service at St. Thomas has a similar focus. I teach and advise in the area of international business and I’ve served on several St. Thomas committees working on globalizing education and studying abroad.

I’m currently promoting an idea I’m calling “biculturals in our backyard” where we facilitate intercultural learning by developing deeper connections with our own urban community.

I think experiencing the wider world helps us appreciate variety and differences and at the same time discover our common humanity. In a broad sense, I want to help students learn about the world’s variety and how exciting, interesting and necessary it is to reach beyond our similar and comfortable “flock.”

Associate professor Mary Maloney teaches in the Opus College of Business. 

From Exemplars, a publication of the Grants and Research Office.

Concordia Introduces Doctor of Education (Ed.D) Program

Concordia University Campus News - Thu, 07/09/2015 - 6:03am

Concordia University, St. Paul is expanding its degree offerings with the addition of a Doctor of Education (Ed.D) program. The program offers core coursework in leadership; a strong emphasis on research; and a synthesis of the two in practical field experiences with an emphasis in a theme, topic of interest and/or area of specialization on which the student can focus their study.

“This doctorate program will allow students from diverse settings to come together, learn from each other’s expansive professional experiences, solve common problems together, and collectively construct knowledge that will prepare them to effectively and competently face the challenges inherent in organizations.” Dean of the College of Education and Science Don Helmstetter said.

Helmstetter said the main goal of the program is to give students the tools and skills to become effective leaders for present and future generations through exercises and assignments that require students to engage in creative, constructive responses to real-life situations. Helmstetter will help oversee the launch of this program. 

The program will begin this fall with a pre-selected group of students and will open to all applicants in Spring 2016.

Former St. Thomas Student Elected 58th Master General for the Crosier Order

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Wed, 07/08/2015 - 3:01pm

Father Laurentius Tarpin, a former St. Thomas student, has been elected the 58th master general for the Crosiers, one of the oldest Roman Catholic orders of priests and brothers in the world.

The election of master general for the Crosier Order occurs every six years during its general chapter, which is the gathering of delegates from throughout the worldwide order. The delegates propose, discuss and finalize the strategic plan for the next six years. The master general, who operates out of Rome, implements those directives with the help of his councilors.

Tarpin is the first Indonesian and second non-European to hold the office.

“He is well-known among his confreres for his cheerfulness, his strong commitment for working, his good listening skills and his ability to bring together the voices of all confreres,” said a news release from the Crosiers.

Tarpin joined the Crosiers in 1988, made his first profession of vows Aug. 28, 1990, and was ordained to the priesthood June 26, 1996. Tarpin served as formator in the post-novitiate in Sultan Agung (Indonesia), has been a member of the council of the prior provincial in Sang Kristus, served as vice provincial, was a member of the planning committee for the 2009 General Chapter, and most recently served as prior provincial.

Tarpin holds a doctorate in moral theology from Alphonsianum in Rome and has served for several years as teacher and vice rector of Catholic Parahyangan University in Indonesia.

Tarpin was in the U.S. in 2002 to learn more about Crosier religious life. He studied at St. Thomas in order to improve his English language skills so he could better communicate at Crosier events, as English is the official language of the order.

St. Thomas has strong ties to the Crosiers through the American Museum of Asmat Art, which is housed on the university’s St. Paul campus. The American Crosier Fathers and Brothers began collecting Asmat art when they first arrived in Papua, Indonesia, in the 1950s. The collection, approximately 1,400 pieces, was donated to St. Thomas by the American Crosier Fathers and Brothers and the Diocese of Agats in 2007. Since then, St. Thomas has grown the collection to over 2,000 pieces and has permanent and temporary displays.

A summer internship that brings artificial intelligence to (campus) life

St. Olaf Campus News - Wed, 07/08/2015 - 10:35am

St. Olaf College student Mary McManis ’17 (front row, second from left) and other IBM interns pose with one of the company’s robots (center) and Watson (behind them).

From winning Jeopardy to becoming a cancer specialist, IBM’s Watson has already made a name for itself.

The artificial intelligence computer system, which processes information more like a human than a computer, has taken on roles that usually requires the work of hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

And this summer one of the people working with Watson is St. Olaf College student Mary McManis ’17. As part of her internship at the IBM research lab in Austin, Texas, she is “teaching” Watson about the intricacies and inner workings of the higher education system.

The whole purpose, McManis says, is to create a Watson platform that can improve the student experience by answering questions a student might have about a school, its campus services, campus life, etc. And this is not the same as searching with Google or Yahoo.

“Where search engines provide you with sources that probably have what you are looking for and require a lot of reading to find your answer, Watson provides answers directly in a user-friendly, conversational format,” McManis says.

Bringing that conversational ability to Watson is where McManis plays a significant role. She is working in the Watson Engagement Advisor, a software that has an in-depth understanding of context and dialogue. This system automates customer interaction by answering questions in natural language with informed and evidence-based reasoning.

McManis is currently starting to develop Watson’s comprehension of the higher education system. This is done through a process where she and the other interns gather questions a person might ask in a normal conversation. Then they establish a set of knowledge — or answers — that Watson would read, interpret, and use to create hypotheses. Watson then scores its confidence on each hypothesis before providing a conversational response that was configured by McManis and the other interns.

And Watson is not a system that is still in the testing stage.

“For starters, Watson is in the kitchen, health care, medicine, banks, and robots. Higher education is another great avenue. Hopefully we can keep making cognitive computing more accessible because this is a technology that can really make a difference in our world,” says McManis, who is majoring in English with a management studies concentration.

Coming from a family of engineers and growing up in Silicon Valley — home to many of the world’s largest high-tech corporations — has given McManis a deep appreciation for technology. She’s put that passion, together with the communication and teamwork skills she’s honed in her management studies classes at St. Olaf, to good use in what she calls a “once-in-a-lifetime” internship experience.

“I only just finished my third week, but it has been a great experience and I am meeting a lot of new people in all parts of IBM,” McManis says.

Top Authors for Children and Young Adults to Read at Hamline

Hamline University Campus News - Tue, 07/07/2015 - 12:00am
Children's authors from around the country, many whom also teach in Hamline's Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults, are currently offering free, public readings as part of the program's summer residency.

New medical school student finds undergraduate research experience invaluable

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Mon, 07/06/2015 - 4:51pm

Jose Castellanos is hitting the books this summer, trading fun and sun for round-the-clock studying.

Fueled by a desire to help others, the 2015 biology graduate is already applying the skills he learned at Saint Mary’s in a summer program at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine. Castellanos will do his first year of medical school at the Urbana-Champaign campus and then his second through fourth at the Peoria campus.

His goal: to graduate from medical school in four years and become a surgeon.

“I’m confident,” he said. “I can see how I’m performing in comparison to other students who went to bigger universities. I’ve developed good study skills and that has translated well into the medical school pace,” he said.

Castellanos did extensive lab research in his Saint Mary’s undergraduate program, and presented those findings publicly. And that experience already gives him an advantage. “I’m finding that’s not something everyone does during their undergraduate years,” he said. “Very few students from bigger schools were able to do research alongside someone with their Ph.D. If they did research, it was with another student.

“For me, that’s a big deal, to be able to work with professors who teach you their techniques,” he said. “I enjoyed applying the things we learned in the classroom, seeing how things actually work.”

Castellanos’ senior project involved the effect of over-expression of TBX2 in Mus musculus epidermal cells and migration.

“We know this gene has been linked to melanoma, a very invasive type of skin cancer,” he said. “There are a lot of factors that can contribute to the cancer. We wanted to know specifically what triggers the invasive characteristics. We put the gene in the skin cells of mice and measured the migration. We found significant migration of the TBX2 gene, compared to the control, so we were able to conclude the overexpression of that gene in skin cells led to more cell migration.”

Castellanos says he was exposed to operating rooms at a young age since his father is an anesthesiologist in the Dominican Republic.

After moving to Chicago in 2006, an inspirational biology teacher at Noble Street College Prep, reaffirmed his desire to go into the medical field.

Coming from a small high school, Castellanos said he found a good fit with Saint Mary’s. “Saint Mary’s provided me with a good amount of space to grow,” he said. “Everyone was very friendly. It felt right.”

Castellanos said he valued the personalized attention he received from Saint Mary’s faculty. “Classes could be tough, but professors there to guide us through it,” he said.

He also took advantage of the university’s close proximity to Mayo Clinic. “We’re only 45 minutes from one of the best hospitals in the country,” he said. “I had the opportunity to volunteer with patients in the heart and lung transplant unit. It definitely helped me during the medical school application process. And it made me more open to the healthcare aspect of medicine, the whole idea of caring for the person.

“I love working with my hands—and this is very black and white—but I like the idea of helping good people having bad days,” he said. “Being able to surgically help a patient who is sick is something that drives me.”

Alumnae inducted as fellows of American Academy of Nursing

St. Kate's Campus News - Mon, 07/06/2015 - 8:03am
Pamela Johnson ’80 and Erin Murphy MAOL’05 are among the six inductees from Minnesota. More »

Senior Stride

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Sun, 07/05/2015 - 2:20pm

Graduation provides these eight seniors with time to reflect on past accomplishments and look forward to what the future may hold.

Nick Ronnei, Chanhassen

Even after interviewing for the position Nick Ronnei didn’t totally understand what he would be doing. It didn’t sink in what a big deal this was until after Ramsey County offered him the chance to lead its Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment.

“The minute I realized the full scope of what I was doing, it really hit me,” Ronnei said.

That full scope included conducting an assessment of how vulnerable certain populations in Ramsey County are to the effects of climate change. It’s the first such study on the scale of a single county in, as far as Ronnei knows, U.S. history. Such studies usually are done on much larger scales with many more people; Ronnei’s summer and fall of research represented a genuine first.

“To get this kind of experience at this point in my career, I feel very blessed,” Ronnei said.

Ronnei said his work likely will set a precedent for similar studies in Hennepin County and at the city level, specifically an initial study in Duluth. Ramsey County has offered Ronnei more work after graduation on studies involving lead levels and organic recycling, which he hopes will help his appeal to graduate schools.

Plans for next year: Attend graduate school at University of California Santa Barbara, Michigan State University or Oregon University.

Asian studies professor receives four grants to support teaching, research

St. Olaf Campus News - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 3:23pm

St. Olaf College students (from left) Jacob Caswell ’17, Cameron Rylander ’16, and Nathalie Kenny ’16 are working with Assistant Professor of Chinese Ka Wong this summer to examine environmental awareness in China. Their work is supported by the Freeman Student-Faculty Fellows Grant from ASIANetwork — one of four grants that Wong has received to support his teaching and research.

St. Olaf College Assistant Professor of Chinese Ka Wong has been awarded four grants that he will use to support projects ranging from field research in China to an in-class exploration of what it means to be a hero.

Wong received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM), ASIANetwork, and the Digital Humanities on the Hill program.

The Freeman Student-Faculty Fellows Grant from ASIANetwork will support Wong’s travels to China this August with three St. Olaf students — Jacob Caswell ’17, Nathalie Kenny ’16, and Cameron Rylander ’16 — to conduct field research for a cross-disciplinary project titled A Tale of Two Eco-Cities: Environmental Awareness and Sustainable Urban Development in Tianjin and Qingdao, China.

Examining the concept and construction of the “Eco-City,” a significant chapter in Chinese environmental development, this cross-disciplinary project combines environmental studies, cultural studies, ethnography, economics, natural science, and engineering. Each of the three students will conduct their own research on distinct aspects of the Eco-City, and they will present their findings at St. Olaf this fall during a symposium on campus.

“We want to understand whether the Chinese public is broadly aware of sustainability, recycling, carbon footprint, urban development, and other environmental concerns,” Wong says. “And we wonder if this has led to a relationship with the Chinese government that embraces pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors, as well as support for grassroots, business, and international joint ventures.”

Looking at Asia in the American Midwest
In contrast to visiting China, Wong also received a grant from the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) to look at the Asian American experience right at home in the Midwest.

“Midwestern Asians, unlike their coastal counterparts, have been largely overlooked in academic research and literature,” Wong says.

Titled Asia in the American Midwest: Enhancing Diversity, Visibility, and Connectivity through Digital Learning, the project will look at devising digital teaching and learning materials from a uniquely Midwestern perspective that all colleges in the ACM can share. This will be an expansion of Wong’s current Asia in Northfield project.

Wong will also focus on the Midwest in terms of Japanese American experiences during World War II for a project sponsored by the Digital Humanities on the Hill (DHH) Summer Grants program.

While Japanese families were being placed in internment camps during the war, St. Olaf was one of the very few higher education institutions that accepted Japanese American students. In 1943 and 1944, 10 Japanese American students enrolled, representing seven of the 10 internment camps nationwide.

“Their stories offer fertile ground and a distinct vantage point from which to view American history, and St. Olaf is in a very special position to offer important insights on this topic,” Wong says.

He will create a digital project that will include ethnographic videos, visual artifacts, critical analysis and readings, as well as research tools “to bring key issues such as race, culture, identity, nationalism, and diversity to the forefront of our discussion of American society and history,” he says.

Examining an enduring question
In addition to all of these projects, Wong received an Enduring Questions Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop a new course at St. Olaf that examines a simple question: “What is a hero?”

The course, which will be offered this fall, will prompt students to consider and investigate various questions about heroism: What does it take to become a hero? How are heroes different in various cultures? What is the heroic way to live, and more importantly, to die? Is a hero simply someone we admire and respect? In a post-9/11 world, can our own hero be someone else’s villain?

“To ask these questions is to explore fundamental ideas of the humanities,” Wong says. “I believe that a course that asks ‘What is a hero?’ will not only intrigue our students but will also motivate them to read widely across cultures and reflect on their own understanding of morality, mortality, heroism, patriotism, and good versus evil.”

St. Thomas Student Anna Nolan to Join Gov. Dayton on Economic Mission to Mexico

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 3:20pm

Many St. Thomas students dedicate parts of their summer to mission trips, traveling around the state, country and world to volunteer building homes, to serve the poor and to dedicate manual labor. Junior Anna Nolan is putting a different twist on the idea of summer mission work.

From Aug. 9-14 Nolan will join Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and a group of business, education and cultural leaders on a mission to Mexico City and Guadalajara, Mexico, aimed at promoting economic ties with our nation’s southern neighbor. As the sole college student invited to be part of the delegation, Nolan, an economics major, will represent Minnesota, St. Thomas, college students and herself on what she described as “such a cool opportunity.”

“It is so exciting. I’m just really honored to be invited to go on this trip,” Nolan added. “It will be a really packed six days and a great learning experience.”

Dayton’s office detailed the mission’s goals to “promote Minnesota exports and key industries as well as help Minnesota companies establish and build relationships with potential buyers, distributors and partners. The Governor will also showcase the opportunities and market advantages that exist in Minnesota for Mexican companies looking to expand operations into the United States.”

Nolan described the mission’s three pillars – agriculture, education and manufacturing – and the role she is expected to play representing the educational aspect in particular.

“I’ll be attending all the roundtables dealing with education, although I am interested in the economic portion as well,” she said. “I’m just wildly excited. Mexico is our second largest export market, so strengthening these ties is crucial to our economy. I’m so excited to be a part of something so much bigger than myself.”

Nolan said she also will represent formally Study Minnesota, an organization St. Thomas is part of that is dedicated to promoting Minnesota as an educational destination for students around the globe. As an Aquinas Scholar who speaks Spanish and has mission work experience in Ecuador, Nolan was a prime candidate to be Minnesota’s collegiate representative on the trip.

“We are thrilled Anna was chosen for this opportunity,” said Karen Lange, St. Thomas vice president for student affairs. “We know she will do a great job representing the University of St. Thomas and the state of Minnesota. She will be a great ambassador.”

Nolan was granted a professional development grant from the St. Thomas Luann Dummer Center for Women for her trip, and Student Affairs contributed to Nolan’s mission support fee. Looking forward to a full itinerary, Nolan said she was most excited to “learn about the merging of two vastly different cultures and how they come together to reach one economical deal. It’s a really interesting relationship we have with Mexico. On a business level I’m excited to see how I can impact and help this situation.”

After returning from Mexico, Nolan is slated to be the inaugural resident adviser for St. Thomas’ Aquinas Scholars Honors Living Learning Community.

Finding Answers – and Questions – Through Teaching and Research

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 1:16pm

When I originally came to St. Thomas over 30 years ago, I was not expected to be involved in substantive business and legal research, but over the past decade I have truly developed and enjoyed my research. As a faculty member at St. Thomas I believe my role encompasses teaching, research and service – balancing all three is just a matter of dedication and time management. I also believe that both faculty and students are researchers and learners. I am fortunate in that the courses I teach are aligned with my research interests. It is those courses that, in turn, further develop and deepen these interests. My research helps me because it is way of checking my ideas and seeing if I can make them practical and meaningful to my students.

Since becoming a faculty member at St. Thomas, I’ve developed three primary research streams: a) legal issues and performance-enhancing drugs in sport; b) legal issues in sport and risk management; and c) legal issues dealing with employment and trade secret law.

The business of sports is a multibillion-dollar global industry. My interest in legal issues and performance-enhancing drugs in sport comes from serving as one of the few members from the United States on the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which is located in Lausanne, Switzerland. Often referred to as “Sport’s Supreme Court,” the CAS is an institution independent of any sports organization, which provides services to facilitate the settlement of sport-related disputes. The CAS does this through arbitration or mediation, by means of procedural rules adapted to the specific needs of the sport world. With less than 300 arbitrators from 87 countries throughout the world, these arbitrators are chosen for their specialist knowledge of arbitration and sports law.

While being part of the CAS has made it logical for me to conduct research in this area, I also have chosen this stream because I firmly believe that doping is a dangerous health risk for the youth of the world today. Doping is contrary to the basic principles of sport and fair play. Most recently I have been working on the need to consolidate and harmonize the fight to protect clean competition for athletes throughout the world. It is essential for the integrity of sport. From conference presentations and citations of my work, I have seen that my research has raised an awareness of the problem and has stimulated discussion and debate.

Nelson Mandela once said, “Sport has the power to change the world … it has the power to inspire.” At the same time – as seen from the tragic events at the 2013 Boston Marathon – because sports are so strongly associated with American economy and culture, they have been considered significant targets of terrorism attacks. The heroic “Boston Strong” recovery showed that sport can truly inspire and unify. Yet I also believe it showed that there is a need for sport event managers to create a risk management plan. Risk management is more than just looking at potential losses; rather, it is important to emphasize that modern risk management is now structured around a comprehensive process for assessing and addressing risks.

In order to fully comprehend their legal responsibilities, event managers must gain an appreciation for the development of risk management plans specific to their activities. Risk management should be used to assist sport event managers in providing a reasonably safe environment for their contestants, guests and sponsors. As such, risk management may be perceived as constituting a fundamental way in which decision-makers solve problems. By possessing this awareness, event organizers may minimize the likelihood of future potential litigation that negatively impacts the reputation and financial considerations of the organization. Best practice models provide access to event processes that appear to describe the best ways of preparing, organizing and conducting an event.

My third area of research and teaching interest – employment and trade secret law – comes from my personal experience in business and law. I have been fortunate to be a member of a family business that is the premier source for structural steel bending in the United States. Additionally, in my private practice I had the opportunity to provide legal advice and counsel to clients in the areas of employment and business law.

I have been extremely fortunate to have the support of my chairs, the deans and the college to continue to expand my research. It is also exciting because my research is interdisciplinary and has given me the opportunity to work not only with colleagues in the Opus College of Business, but also with colleagues throughout the country – crossing traditional disciplinary boundaries of inquiry.

Finally, I firmly believe that my research has and will continue to enrich my teaching just as my teaching enhances my research. When I first came out of law school and graduate school and started teaching, I was foolish enough to think I knew the answers. Over the years, I have learned from my students and my research that I still may not know the questions. Life is a journey, so we can enjoy the ride.

Professor Dr. John Wendt teaches in the Opus College of Business Ethics and Business Law Department and has served as MBA director for Sports and Entertainment Management. 

From Exemplars, a publication of the Grants and Research Office.

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