Recent News from Campuses
A $1 million gift from Carol and Ward Klein ’77 is transforming one of St. Olaf College’s oldest and most iconic academic buildings into its newest high-tech learning space.
Holland Hall, built 90 years ago and modeled after the Mont-Saint-Michel monastery in France, is currently undergoing a $13 million renovation. This project, combined with the generous gift from the Kleins, is changing the building into a flexible, light-filled learning environment that better showcases its iconic architecture.
The Kleins’ gift is supporting the installation of presentation, lecture capture, and interactive classroom technologies, as well as software licensing for these systems in Holland Hall and across campus. With these tools, educators can use more class time to engage students in discussion, group work, and other active learning techniques. In gratitude, St. Olaf will name a sixth-floor seminar and study space inside Holland Hall the Carol and Ward Klein Learning Loft.
This contribution is among the latest that donors have generously provided for St. Olaf’s $200 million For the Hill and Beyond comprehensive campaign.
How students and faculty access and share information has changed dramatically since Holland Hall first opened in 1925.
“Digital technologies have opened up inquiry and teaching in exciting ways,” says Provost and Dean of the College Marci Sortor. “They provide students and professors classroom access to everything from ‘big data’ and geographic information to scanned and searchable copies of early printed books. These resources enrich learning, expand the possibilities for mentored research, and help our educators spend more time working directly with students. We are deeply grateful to the Kleins for advancing learning in this important way.”
As an economics major, Ward Klein spent a lot of time in Holland Hall shortly after an extensive 1969 renovation prepared it to house St. Olaf’s Paracollege, as well as its Economics, Home Economics, History, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology departments — a remodel that also sacrificed much of the hall’s interior character.
“It always struck me as the most beautiful building on the outside, but not the inside,” says Klein. “Even so, I have a lot of fond memories from my time spent there. I was also drawn to the current renovation project by the technology upgrades being done. In my senior year at St. Olaf, I did some heavy statistical analysis that required computing. Back then St. Olaf had one major computer in the Science Center. Programs were coded on a series of punch cards and run through the machine — if you dropped your punch cards on the floor, your program would crash! So I am very happy to support upgrades to help students and faculty.”
Klein credits his St. Olaf education with providing the skills he needed to launch his career. Following his graduation from the Hill, Klein earned a graduate degree from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and then worked for Ralston Purina and Energizer Holdings, advancing to become Energizer’s CEO and guiding the firm through a separation of its household and personal care companies until his retirement in 2016. He now serves on the St. Olaf Board of Regents.
“Education is a strong focus for our giving,” Klein says. “St. Olaf gave me a great academic underpinning — I tested out of most of my core requisites at Kellogg because of the great courses I had at St. Olaf, and my leadership skills came from opportunities I wouldn’t have found at a larger institution.
“I am also mindful that my contributions didn’t cover the full cost of my tuition nor all that I got out of St. Olaf — my education depended on the gifts of others,” he adds. “Now that we are in the position to give, we felt a moral imperative to give back. St. Olaf is really a college that changes lives.”
The renovation of Holland Hall will be completed this August in time for the start of the 2017-18 academic year.
The University of St. Thomas’ School of Engineering will begin offering a civil engineering major in fall 2017.
Civil engineering will join mechanical, electrical and computer engineering as major options in the growing School of Engineering, which has grown by nearly 80 percent in credits generated over the last decade.
“The excitement from around the community, the data showing the need for this, mission fit, what students are saying – it all seems to be coming together and pointing in the right direction,” Dean Don Weinkauf said.
Center for Engineering Education Director Deb Besser helped lead a lengthy market and curriculum analysis over the last year-plus, which included developing the curriculum with advisement from a working group of professional engineers from government and private sectors. Weinkauf said meeting with regional CEOs helped solidify the idea that there is a large desire for civil engineering graduates with a St. Thomas education.
“We looked at the market, current degree production, and there’s a pretty good argument for opportunities for our students in the future,” he said, citing Bureau of Labor Statistics data that show strong growth projections and a dearth of projected degrees compared to the number of jobs needed.
“There truly is a need for this,” Besser said.
Besser will join two newly hired faculty members as the program’s founding teaching core. Weinkauf said a huge benefit to expanding to include a civil engineering major is the strong overlap with the existing mechanical engineering curriculum, so – outside of a freshman survey course – the new curriculum isn’t that different until students reach the end of their sophomore year.
“There won’t be the extensive starting over because it’s so well coupled to mechanical,” Weinkauf said.
The new program will make St. Thomas the only private school in Minnesota offering a B.S. in civil engineering, and it will join Marquette University as the only other private school in the Midwest region.
“The brand that we offer will be pretty distinct in this market,” Weinkauf said. “And with mission fit, if you talk about what civil engineers do, they build the things that people touch and depend upon. What better degree is there for a university that is founded on the ability to impact society and improve the community? It’s right in the wheelhouse of our mission.”