Recent News from Campuses

Professor Emeritus of English Richard Buckstead dies

St. Olaf Campus News - Tue, 08/04/2015 - 10:52am

Professor Emeritus of English Richard Buckstead, who taught American and Asian literature at St. Olaf College for nearly five decades before retiring in 2010, died on July 31.

A graduate of Yankton College, Buckstead earned his master’s degree from the University of South Dakota and his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa before joining the St. Olaf faculty in 1961.

Buckstead led a number of St. Olaf study-abroad programs and received several Fulbright awards, including one that enabled him to teach at Andalas University in Indonesia and another that took him to Thailand.

In the summer of 1965, at the height of the civil rights movement, Buckstead facilitated a life-changing opportunity for 65 St. Olaf students who participated in the Tuskegee Institute Summer Education Program. He served as an advisor for the program, which took college students to Alabama to teach reading, writing, music, and drama to African American teens living in rural areas.

Read more in Buckstead’s obituary.

Brother Roderick Robertson retires

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Tue, 08/04/2015 - 3:00am

Brother Roderick Robertson ’63 probably should have heavily invested in Apple Computer.

As a professor in Saint Mary’s Art Department, he was asked what new program he felt the university could begin to attract students. Brother Rod knew that graphic design was a sought-after, up-and-coming major, even if, at the time, all designs were done by hand.

And he clearly remembers the day he knew that would all change.

“I went to a Dayton’s store and saw a Macintosh in 1984, and I said, ‘This is it! This is the future.’ ” Unfortunately, the Saint Mary’s IT Department didn’t share his vision … just yet. “I think they considered them toys, which they were, but I like to play,” Brother Rod said with a laugh. Once Macs offered two floppy drives, Saint Mary’s purchased a couple for the university.

“And one could say the rest is history,” Brother Rod said.

TITLE: Professor of Art and Design

YEARS AT SAINT MARY’S: Brother Roderick began teaching at Saint Mary’s in the fall of 1973. He has taught classes at the Winona Campus nearly every year except for two years away from campus to complete a graduate degree and a year-long sabbatical in Mexico.

CLASSES TAUGHT: Altogether, Brother Rod has been teaching for approximately 50 years. The founder of Saint Mary’s graphic design program, Brother Rod teaches courses in graphic design and photo imaging. His main interests in the areas of artistic investigation include photo and computer imaging.

PLANS FOR RETIREMENT: To do some of his own artwork, design work, and photography

“I started the graphic design program and began using computers early on,” he said. “I took groups to the Twin Cities to tour design studios. They didn’t have computers yet. We beat most of the design studios to use Macs. We were the only school in the MIAC to have a program, and those kids really appreciated it.”

Since he first arrived on campus as a student, and again since he began teaching at Saint Mary’s in 1973, he’s seen a lot of changes in what is now the Department of Art and Design. For example, he remembers when the “department” began with just two professors and a couple of rooms.

“Karen Kryzsko taught ceramics and crafts, and I taught everything else,” he said. “When the music department moved out (of Saint Joe’s Hall), we expanded and hired Sister Margaret Mear.”

From dot matrix printers to laser printers, and from black and white film to digital photography, he’s also seen many advances in the technology he uses in his classrooms. He was especially surprised when a recent arts core student asked in earnest, “What’s film?”

When asked what he will miss most about teaching, he answers simply, “I will miss students. Many have gone on to have successful careers.” Brother Rod keeps a long mental list of former students and where they have gone on to school and to work. He keeps in touch with many of them. “I’ve seen a lot of talent,” he said. “I’m hopeful that I gave students what they needed to know to get the job done.

“Of course, many of my students have retired,” he adds with a chuckle.

Brother Rod began his teaching career at a couple of Lasallian high schools in the Twin Cities. He does a mental calculation of the overall number of students he’s taught by multiplying 50 years of teaching by an average of 100 students a year, and determines, “That’s a lot.”

Much of Brother Rod’s work can be found throughout Saint Mary’s, and beyond. He not only designed Saint Mary’s logo and the sculpture in the Hendrickson traffic circle, he also completed logos for De La Salle High School in Minneapolis, the Hendrickson Institute at Saint Mary’s, and the Midwest District of De La Salle Christian Brothers.

He also designed the mural for Saint Mary’s Centennial timeline, located in the Toner Student Center on the Winona Campus and the Saint Mary’s University Center on the Twin Cities Campus, and created a mural for Winona Health as well. Brother Rod also graciously donated his collection of historic and artistic photographs to the university, which can be viewed in the President’s Room in the Toner Student Center.

His days of creating are far from over, as Brother Rod will continue his work as a Lasallian Scholar in Residence at the university, continuing to share his talents with Saint Mary’s.

With his notorious dry wit, Brother Rod joked about how easy it would be to complete his last set of grades this semester. With a shrug, he said, “Oh, they’re all getting As.”

Saint Mary’s named a Forbes top college

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Mon, 08/03/2015 - 3:27pm

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota is once again named an American top college.

The university is listed in the top 650 undergraduate colleges in the United States in the Forbes annual “America’s Top Colleges” ranking. The 2015 list, released this week, includes Saint Mary’s.

The Forbes “America’s Top Colleges” ranking is based on the following criteria:

  • Student satisfaction
  • Freshman retention rates
  • Post-graduate success
  • Student debt
  • Graduation rate
  • Academic success

Only 18 Minnesota institutions were named to the 2015 list.

“We’re proud to be included in this ranking because it is based on important measures such as student success and satisfaction,” says Brother William Mann, FSC, president of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.

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.

Track and Field Standout Elizabeth Weiers Awarded NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship

Gustavus Campus News - Mon, 08/03/2015 - 12:45pm

Elizabeth Weirs earned a cumulative GPA of 4.0 during her time at Gustavus.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has announced its 2015 spring sports postgraduate scholarship winners. Among the list of 29 male and 29 female recipients was Gustavus Adolphus College track and field throwing specialist Elizabeth Weiers (Le Center, Minn.).

“This is another outstanding achievement for Liz,” said head track and field coach Dale Bahr. “Each award or recognition that Liz has earned these past few months has been well deserved and a testament to the hard work and dedication she showed to her classes and her time with the track and field program. As I’ve said on several occasions, we’re fortunate to have had her on our team as a top-notch athlete as well as a leader and role model. As her coach, I’m very proud of her, not just for her athletic accomplishments, but her academic achievements as well.”

“One of the things that stands out about Liz is that she was involved in so many things, but she knew when her plate was full, and was able to make a commitment to those things on her plate and become very good at them all,” added Bahr. “She is very organized, is very motivated, and is filled with character, and this is why she was a fantastic leader for our team. Liz put in hours upon hours of drills, and it was her hard work and determination to get to the top that made her so good from an athletic standpoint. That type of work ethic is contagious: she was a great role model because those younger kids saw what she was capable of, not just athletically, but in the classroom as well.”

Created in 1964, NCAA postgraduate scholarships promote and encourage education by rewarding the Association’s most accomplished student-athletes. To qualify, student-athletes must excel academically and athletically, be in their final year of eligibility and plan to pursue graduate study. Student-athletes must also maintain at least a 3.2 grade-point average and be nominated by their institution’s faculty athletics representative.

Weiers went on to record an 11th-place finish at the 2015 NCAA championships in Canton, New York, her second consecutive appearance on the national stage, after posting a throw of 168 feet, 7 inches. At the 2014 NCAA championships, Weiers took home All-America Honorable Mention honors with a 13th-place finish after posting a toss of 165 feet.Weiers, who graduated from Gustavus this past May, solidified her place as one of the College track and field program’s most decorated hammer throwers with a second consecutive gold medal performance at this season’s MIAC championships by successfully defending her 2014 title with a winning toss of 168 feet, 9 inches. The two-time conference champion and three-time all-conference honoree in the hammer throw is Gustavus’s first MIAC champion in the hammer throw since Tona Schmidtke ’04 captured the title in 2001. Weiers is also the program’s first three-time all-conference performer in the hammer throw since Kirstin Olinger ’96 and Jen Mull ’97 accomplished that feat in the mid-1990s. Not since Mull did it in 1995 and 1997 and Olinger in 1994 and 1996 has a Gustavus hammer thrower won an MIAC title twice. Weiers also broke the school record in the hammer throw with a toss of 173 feet, 11 inches recorded at the Minnesota State University, Mankato Twilight Meet on April 29.

“Liz was, and will continue to be, a role model for people of all ages who get to know her,” said Weiers’s teammate Kaylee Maxon (New Richland, Minn.). “She is the perfect example of someone who succeeds because of the hard work she puts in.  No matter what she does, she puts 110 percent effort into it. I swear she never missed a single day in the weight room, woke up early every morning to do extra training, and did countless drills outside of practice. Coach practically had to bribe her to get her to leave a practice early. We always joked that if there was an event for ‘Endurance Throwing,’ she would win the Olympics because she never wanted to be done throwing. Her work ethic in track and in academics pushed me and other teammates to strive for our best.”

“Liz always competed well and scored the team points, even against higher division schools. More importantly though, her passion for track and field, her desire to have a cohesive team, and her leadership skills are what made her a good teammate,” added Maxon. “No matter what event was happening, she was right there being our team’s biggest cheerleader. Having Liz as a teammate made me, and others too, want to work hard and be the best that we could be. Liz has positively impacted Gustavus track and field in an incredible way, and I couldn’t imagine not having her as my teammate for four years.”

As an English major, Weiers also separated herself in the academic sphere with a perfect 4.0 cumulative GPA during her time at Gustavus. The Le Center, Minnesota, native was named the winner of the 2015 Evelyn Young Award, which is presented to the senior female student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA. She also earned academic all-conference honors six times, is a two-time recipient of the MIAC’s Elite 22 Award (MIAC outdoor championships), earned the NCAA’s Elite 89 Award at the NCAA championships two seasons in a row, and was recently named to the Capital One Academic All-America Division III Track & Field/Cross Country First Team.

“I am delighted to hear that Elizabeth was named a recipient of the NCAA’s Postgraduate Scholarship,” said Gustavus English Professor So Young Park. “Elizabeth’s academic excellence, work ethic, sense of responsibility, and commitment to a community of learning place her in a class of her own. Elizabeth epitomizes the scholar-athlete: she’s a stellar student with abounding intellectual curiosity and a stellar athlete with a long list of accolades in track and field. As an English major, Elizabeth excelled in academic and research work throughout her four years in the department. She represents the kind of thinker, athlete, and student that a college like Gustavus excels at supporting and nurturing.”

Weiers is the 37th Gustavus student-athlete to receive an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. Women’s hockey player Carolyn Draayer (Deephaven, Minn.) was the most recent recipient, as she received the scholarship this past winter, while football player James Goodwin was the first Gustie to be honored with the award in 1974. The NCAA awards up to 174 postgraduate scholarships annually, 87 for men and 87 for women. The scholarships are one-time, non-renewable grants of $7,500 that can be used for research, books, tuition, and other educational expenses at any graduate school.


Media Contact: Vice President for Marketing and Communication Tim Kennedy

Gustavus Alumnae Thrive at Mayo School of Health Sciences

Gustavus Campus News - Mon, 08/03/2015 - 10:44am

Pictured left to right are Michaela Holm, Paige Dieleman, and Ashley Petersen.

Three talented students began their first year at Gustavus Adolphus College in 2010, drawn in by the welcoming community of people and the high-caliber of academics, athletics, and activities. All three students: Paige Dieleman ’14 (chemistry), Michaela Holm ’14 (biology), and Ashley Petersen ’14 (biology), knew they were interested in the health care profession, but had no idea that Gustavus would bring them to the Surgical First Assistant Program at the Mayo School of Health Sciences, a school that is part of one of the most renowned hospital and clinic systems in the United States.

The Surgical First Assistant Program at Mayo is unique to Minnesota and operates out of Rochester, MN. It is a three-year-old program that prepares students to become an integral part of the surgical team and become proficient in skills necessary for a variety of surgery specialties. This year’s class features Gustavus alumnae Dieleman, Holm, and Petersen, who will all graduate in early August, 2015.

Dieleman, Holm, and Petersen were challenged academically during their time at Gustavus, gaining the skills needed to succeed in their chosen career path while also developing character and benefiting from the well-rounded liberal arts perspective that Gustavus offers. Each student experience at Gustavus is different, but all contain support in both the students’ professional and personal lives from the College’s many resources.

Dieleman, who majored in chemistry and was a member of the Gustavus gymnastics team, said, “I graduated from Gustavus feeling extremely prepared for my post-baccalaureate program. I also learned a lot about myself at Gustavus. I was able to find my way, develop my own dreams, and define my character throughout my college experience. The friendships and relationships that I gained while at Gustavus made my time there so enjoyable.”

Dieleman cites several mentors for her during her time at Gustavus, one being her adviser and chemistry professor, Amanda Nienow, whose support and encouragement have been appreciated long after graduation. Also, health and exercise science instructor Kiki Harbitz inspired Dieleman to pursue a career involving human anatomy and taught her many skills that she uses each day in the operating room.

Holm, a biology major, said, “One important skill I took away from Gustavus is how to juggle my life. My four years at Gustavus helped me to realize what is important in my life and how to make time for it all.”

Holm was also student-athlete on the Gustavus swim team and was greatly impacted by her coach Jon Carlson and her adviser, Biology Professor John Lammert, both of whom helped her maintain a positive attitude and not let the little things drag her down. The supportive people by her side, especially her teammates on the swim team, made her mentally and physically demanding schedule worth it.

Petersen, a biology major, said, “One of the most important things that I learned from Gustavus was truly the College’s mission statement of ‘Make Your Life Count.’ I feel that the community Gustavus has built allows for individuals to learn from each other and gives them motivation to try to make the world a better place.”

Petersen had a positive experience at Gustavus that prepared her well for life after college. She credits this to experiences like her time traveling abroad, which allowed her to learn about other cultures and enriched her way of thinking. She was also a Gustie Greeter and a student worker in Health Services, both of which provided her with supportive environments for personal and professional growth. She cites valuable experience gained from volunteering and career shadowing as an integral part of her Gustavus experience.

All three alumnae are excited to begin their careers as Certified Surgical Assistants. Dieleman plans to work at St. Mary’s Hospital-Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, specializing in General/Trauma and Critical Care General Surgery. Holm has also received a job offer to work at St. Mary’s, primarily in Orthopedic and Neurosurgery. Petersen has accepted a position at Rochester Methodist Hospital-Mayo Clinic, expanding on robotic surgery.

At the Mayo School of Health Sciences these exceptional Gustavus alumnae have excelled, learning from hands-on experience and working side-by-side with Mayo’s acclaimed surgeons. Dieleman, Holm, and Petersen are highly motivated to assure quality care is provided for patients, knowing that they are making a difference in the lives of others, a quality Gustavus is proud to consistently cultivate in its students.


Media Contact: Vice President for Marketing and Communication Tim Kennedy

Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, returns to campus in September

St. Kate's Campus News - Mon, 08/03/2015 - 10:03am
An award-winning scholar and author, Johnson explores God’s relationship with the natural world. More »

Hamline Alumna Scores Perfect 180 on LSAT

Hamline University Campus News - Mon, 08/03/2015 - 12:00am
Anna Sherman, a 2012 Hamline graduate who majored in international business, scored a perfect 180 on the June Law School Admission Test (LSAT).

Donald McNeely Center presents entrepreneur awards to outstanding graduates

Janet Dryer '83, Rick Bauerly '91 and Krista Carroll '00 will be honored with Entrepreneur of the Year awards on Thursday, Sept. 3, in Minneapolis.

SJU ranked as one of the Most Entrepreneurial Colleges by Forbes Magazine

Magazine ranks SJU No. 21 among 50 American colleges, and is the only Minnesota college or university on that list.

Gaitan Making an Impact for Team Colombia at U19 World Championships

Concordia University Campus News - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 10:44am

Concordia University, St. Paul head women's lacrosse coach Mo Gaitan has had a productive summer, serving as assistant coach for the U19 Colombian Women's National Team at the FIL Rathbones Women's 2015 U19 Lacrosse World Championships at the University of Edinburgh.

While Gaitan will be breaking new ground as Concordia starts a women's lacrosse program (the first offering scholarships in Minnesota), she's also helping break ground in the sport on a larger scale. Colombia's U19 Team is the first women's lacrosse team in Latin America and Gaitan helped the team to its first-ever win against the Republic of Korea on Friday, July 24.

The team continued its run as an emerging lacrosse player at the World Championships by picking up a 15-8 win on Wednesday over Israel before falling in a competitive contest to the Czech Republic today. Colombia will square off with Finland in the 11th place game tomorrow (Friday) to conclude its World Championships tour.

"To be an emerging country and play for 11th place (of 14) is amazing for us!" explained Gaitan. "Our team's spirit and passion to be here has transformed Colombia into the darling team that many here at the championships who were not already affiliated with us are now cheering for Team Colombia!"

Read the entire story at

Alumni in action: Bill and Mia (Cacciabondo) Geheren

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 8:00am

Bill and Mia (Cacciabondo ’90) Geheren ’90

Caring parents and inspirational role models
Hometown: St. Paul, Minn., and Chicago, Ill.
Majors: Marketing/Management and Elementary Education

Bill and Mia (Cacciabondo) Geheren met as students at Saint Mary’s in 1986 and both graduated in 1990. Bill received a degree in marketing while Mia received a degree in management and elementary education.

Shortly after getting married in 1993, they moved back to Winona where Bill worked at Saint Mary’s Press and Mia was a hall director at the university. After moving to campus their first child Michael was born. He spent his first four years as a “Little Cardinal.” Upon leaving Winona, Bill and Mia embarked on a journey of adopting children. Their three youngest boys have special needs that range from moderate to severe. Their four boys are their life!

They say, “We have been blessed in this life – truly blessed. Although we have had our share of challenges, knowing God is looking out for us has carried us through this journey.”

Read more Alumni in Action stories!

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