Recent News from Campuses

Information session Feb. 2 in Oakdale canceled

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Fri, 01/22/2016 - 11:03am

OAKDALE, Minn. — Because of the current weather conditions, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota is canceling its information session today, previously scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. at the Oakdale Center.

Check out Saint Mary’s offerings in Oakdale online:

• Bachelor Completion

• Graduate School of Business & Technology

• Graduate School of Education

• Graduate School of Health & Human Services

Or visit the graduate admission pages to learn more about specific programs Saint Mary’s offers.

Students build sophisticated device that tests sound localization

St. Olaf Campus News - Fri, 01/22/2016 - 9:59am

Mari Balhorn ’16, left, works with Physics Technician Devin Lackie (center) and Jake Westerberg ’16 (right) to test the SoLoArc device they designed and built along with Assistant Professor of Psychology Jeremy Loebach and Roman Tyshynsky ’16.

One of the most sophisticated new research devices at St. Olaf College is able to assist with faculty research, student research, and class projects — and it all started with a meter stick taped to the wall and three students willing to go out of their comfort zone to create something groundbreaking.

The device, called the SoLoArc, tests sound localization in the vertical and horizontal planes. In other words, it is able to present sound systematically so that researchers can test how well subjects are able to discriminate the location of the sounds they are hearing.

The system has 37 individual speakers and 73 LED lights on a 12-foot arc that can present sound and light every five degrees, and then subjects point to where they think the sound is coming from.

The ambitious project all started when Roman Tyshynsky ’16, Mari Balhorn ’16, and Jake Westerberg ’16 approached St. Olaf Assistant Professor of Psychology Jeremy Loebach about continuing a small research project that took place in the span of a three-hour lab in their Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience class in which they taped a meter stick to the wall, blindfolded subjects, and had them localize the sound of a pen click.

Loebach agreed to work with the students as a series of independent research projects to create the apparatus, and the end result was a device worlds more sophisticated than a meter stick and a clicking pen.

According to Loebach, the SoLoArc will be used in classes such as Sensation and Perception, Psychology of Hearing, and Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, as well as his own research and student research projects. For example, Loebach will use the device in his research studying how people with cochlear implants localize sound in situations where their implants do not communicate with one another, or when they have a cochlear implant in one side and a hearing aid or normal hearing in the other.

Jake Westerberg ’16 serves as the subject for a trial run of SoLoArc, which tests sound localization in the vertical and horizontal planes.

The team presented two posters on the device at the Society for Neuroscience conference in Chicago, and are writing two papers on the build process: one focusing on collaborative research and creative engagement of students in research, and another on the device itself.

“I’ve wanted to build something like this for a while — we do activities with it in class, so this is a great way to involve the students and get something out of it that’s much bigger than what I would do on my own,” Loebach says.

The students worked closely with Devin Lackie, a technician from the Physics Department, as well as Loebach to design and build the device in the metal shop in Regents Hall of Natural and Mathematical Sciences. Lackie worked tirelessly with the students, engaging them in the design process, challenging them in the build process, and teaching them how to do the work themselves and think through the problems critically.

“Both Professor Loebach and Devin did not simply do the work for us, but guided us through the process, taking our input as equals and modifying the construction process accordingly or explaining why an idea may not work,” Tyshynsky says. “It has been by and far the best collaborative project of which I have been a part.”

Loebach says this project illustrates what sets St. Olaf apart from other schools: the college has invested heavily in physical spaces like the metal and wood shops in Regents Hall and knowledgeable, talented support staff like Lackie.

“This project could not be done at most schools, and we are incredibly lucky to have the physical resources and amazing support staff to collaborate with to allow the creation of such a device,” Loebach says.

Although the students initially expected to be done with this project in one semester, the design turned out to be a lot more complicated, and it took them a full year to complete.

“We put a lot of hours in over the year it took to build it, and watching it all come together was one of the most satisfying and exhilarating experiences of my college career,” Balhorn says.

According to Loebach, the students created a device that was much more usable for maybe a tenth of the cost to buy something pre-made.

“We can do more with the investment that the college made, and we can do a lot more with the money than we would have been able to do otherwise,” he says.

Everyone involved in the project expressed great pride in the finished product.

“The most rewarding aspect was creating something that will outlast us with respect to our time at St. Olaf,” Westerberg says. “Students five, 10, even 20 years down the road could use this device to further their education. It is satisfying knowing that we have left a sort of legacy.”

Alumnus named Star Tribune Artist of the Year

Peter Rothstein '88 topped off an amazing year by being chosen as the 2015 Star Tribune Artist of the Year.

Alumni in Action: Tatjana Hutnyak ’96, M’03

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Thu, 01/21/2016 - 8:00am

Tatjana Hutnyak ’96, M’03

Job creator, non-profit co-founder
Hometown: Zagreb, Croatia
Major: Psychology; M.A. in International Business

Tatjana Hutnyak was working for Lifetrack in St. Paul, a nonprofit organization that provides job assistance, when she heard that local businesses were having trouble finding skilled sewers. She knew plenty of people who needed a job but none of them had the right sewing skills. The Maker’s Coalition (TMC) was created after Hutnyak met a CEO of a leather goods company that needed workers trained in industrial sewing. Seeing sewing as a professional skill on the rise, the pair created a non-profit and established a sewing training program at Dunwoody College in Minneapolis. Fourteen students graduated from the inaugural fall 2013 class. The Maker’s Coalition brings together 60 businesses, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, and service providers to fulfill its mission to bring back industrial sewing skills, which largely disappeared in America decades ago. As the next group enrolls and TMC’s program improves, educational modules on topics like quality control, inspections, alterations and upholstery are being added. Hutnyak has served on the board of directors for The Maker’s Coalition since 2012. Their story has been featured in the New York Times, CBS News, CNBC and CNN.

Read more Alumni in Action stories.

Saint Mary’s professor and sons to perform jazz fundraiser

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Wed, 01/20/2016 - 7:23pm

WINONA, Minn. — The father and sons jazz trio known as “H3O” will be featured at “Jammin’ at the Well” on Saturday, Feb. 6, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Wellington’s Pub & Grill in Winona. Eric Heukeshoven of the Saint Mary’s University Music Department will play the piano, and he will be joined by his two sons, Hans on drums and Max on bass.

The H3O Trio began this successful fundraiser for the Winona Area Public Schools Misato Ambassadors program in 2013 when Max Heukeshoven traveled with the group to Winona’s sister city in Japan.

Joining the trio again this year is Minnesota Music Hall of Famer Les Fields with his pocket cornet. Rumor has it that several other well-known jazz musicians may sit in with the trio. There is no cover charge and donations would be gratefully appreciated.

For more information, contact A. Eric Heukeshoven at 507-457-7292 or eheukesh@smumn.edu.

Alumnus shares leadership tips for happiness

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:57pm

WINONA, Minn. — Happiness. It’s a universal desire to seek a happy and successful life. Yet in today’s crazy busy world, happiness and success seem more elusive. Studies show an alarming trend—happiness levels are on the decline. We don’t flourish when we’re not happy. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can reinvent our happiness. At least 40 percent of your happiness is based on your voluntary actions—driven by your thoughts and behaviors.

In his bestselling book, “The Reinvented Me: Five Steps to Happiness in a Crazy Busy World,” CEO coach, 1980 Saint Mary’s alumnus, and current member of the university’s Council of Regents Chuck Bolton shares a step-by-step holistic framework to reinvent your happiness and become more successful. Want to flourish and thrive? Learn Bolton’s five steps to greater happiness and success at a public event Thursday, Feb. 4, at 4:30 p.m. in Page Theatre, located in Saint Mary’s Performance Center.

Bolton’s message will be specially tailored for college-age students, but his message is applicable to everyone. The event is sponsored by Saint Mary’s Hendrickson Institute for Ethical Leadership. For more information, contact Scott McMahon, executive director, at 612-238-4545 or HendricksonInstitute@smumn.edu.   

Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts hosts Parent’s Night Out fundraiser

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:46pm

WINONA, Minn. — Parents need a night out, and kids need a fun and safe place to go. That’s why the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts (MCA) is hosting a Parent’s Night Out just for children ages 6-12 on Friday, Feb. 5, from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at MCA’s home, the Valéncia Arts Center, 1164 W. 10th St.

The evening will be filled with dance, theatre games, visual arts, and even a little performance. Kids will participate in a hip hop class, watch dance demonstrations, and meet cast members from MCA’s pre-professional dance company, the Dance Repertory Company (DRC). They will also have a snack, do crafts, play theatre games, and finish the evening by cozying up to watch a dance-themed movie. This event is presented by the friends of MCA and Dance Repertory Company Dancers (DRC) to help support the upcoming DRC production “Words in Motion.”

The fee is $18 per child and includes a snack, dance instruction, and art supplies. Family discounts apply. Families can register online or in person.

The Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts, an affiliate program of Saint Mary’s University and a nonprofit organization, offers programming in dance, music, visual art, and theatre. Classes, lessons, workshops, and camps are offered for youth ages 18 months and older through adults at the Valéncia Arts Center, located at 10th and Vila streets in Winona. For more information, go online to www.mnconservatoryforthearts.org, email mca@smumn.edu, or call 507-453-5500.

Leading Expert on Modern-day Slavery to Speak Here Feb. 3

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Wed, 01/20/2016 - 6:00pm

Dr. Kevin Bales, widely regarded as the world’s leading expert on contemporary slavery, will discuss his just-published book, Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide and the Secret to Saving the World, from 4:45-6:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3, in the auditorium of O’Shaughnessy Educational Center on the St. Paul campus of the University of St. Thomas.

Dr. Kevin Bales

The lecture is free and open to the public. Co-sponsors are St. Thomas’ Faculty Development Center, John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought, Environmental Science Program, and the departments of History, Philosophy, Geography and Environmental Studies.

Bales holds a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and is professor of contemporary slavery at the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull, England.

His Blood and Earth, published with Random House, is the latest in series of a dozen books he has authored or co-authored about slavery throughout the world. Other books include Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy (1999); Understanding Global Slavery (2005); Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves (2007); and, with co-author Ron Soodalter, The Slave Next Door (2009).

Bales’ latest book, Blood and Earth.

Bales went undercover to meet slaves and slaveholders for Disposable People, which was nominated for a Pulitzer and has been published in 11 languages. An HBO film based on one of his books, Slavery: A Global Investigation, won a Peabody and two Emmys. His Ending Slavery won the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Promoting World Order and his work was named one of the top “100 World-Changing Discoveries” by the Association of British Universities.

He is co-founder of the Washington, D.C.-based Free the Slaves, a sister organization to Anti-Slavery International, the world’s oldest human rights group that was founded in 1787.

In fall 2015 Bales was a visiting professor at the University of Chicago. Currently he is working on a book about the relationship between slavery and forced marriages.

Meteorologist Paul Douglas to discuss climate change Feb. 8 at SJU

Former television meteorologist to present ‘Faith and Climate Change: A Meteorologist’s View,’ with moderator Gary Eichten at 7:30 p.m. at Pellegrene Auditorium.

Historic Education Partnership in Cuba

Hamline University Campus News - Wed, 01/20/2016 - 12:00am
The historic changes in Cuba are leading to many firsts and Hamline is proud to be a part of an educational first in the country.

240 graduates honored at Twin Cities commencement Jan. 16

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Tue, 01/19/2016 - 4:05pm

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Photos were taken, handshakes and hugs exchanged, and accomplishments celebrated! On Jan. 16, the Twin Cities Campus of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota hosted two commencement ceremonies for its adult learners. Approximately 240 students were recognized.

Special honors were given to students with outstanding accomplishments. The following Saint Mary’s graduates were honored with Outstanding Final Paper Awards:

  • Pamela Lynn Richie, B.S. in Business Administration
  • Joshua Stanley Cook, M.S. in Geographic Information Science
  • Georgia Ann Stephens, M.A. in Counseling and Psychological Services
  • TaLana Rochelle McGee, M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy

The following graduate received the Outstanding Dissertation Award:

  • Ann Elizabeth Lichliter, Ed.D. in Leadership

Graduate speaker Janey Lyn Blanchard told attendees there were highs and lows throughout the process of earning her Ed.D. in Leadership. A definite high was when she was told by faculty she was “the student” they envisioned when they created the program. Another was “when the instructors I admired and respected looked at me and told me that I had accomplished my dream.” She charged graduates to “go forward with the charge Saint Mary’s has given us, to go forth and be extraordinary.”

Another graduate, William F. Donohue, Jr., earned his B.S. in Business Administration and credited the program’s flexibility for allowing him to pursue his dream while still having time for his career and his family. His journey, he said, began 38 years ago when he graduated high school. Six years ago he began taking classes one at a time, one night a week to obtain his bachelor’s degree. “The instructors and professors were knowledgeable and relevant in today’s business world,” he said. “My classmates were intelligent, eager, and engaged. They kept this old guy on his toes!” Donohue told the other graduates, “My hope for us as a graduating class is that we leave people better than we find them.”

View and download photos here  from the day.

Tommie Dancers Win Third Straight National Hip-hop Title

University of St. Thomas Campus News - Tue, 01/19/2016 - 1:59pm

(Photo by @UDAdance on Instagram)

The University of St. Thomas Dance Team placed first in the Open Division Hip Hop category at the Universal Dance Association College Nationals in Orlando, Florida, Jan. 16-17, earning its 10th national championship since 2006 and its third consecutive win in hip-hop. The team also placed second in the Open Division Jazz category.

The UDA competition is the largest national collegiate championship in the United States and is attended annually by teams from around the nation. The Open Division includes Divisions II and III, and smaller schools. Schools are limited to competition in two categories. Prior to this year, the Tommies placed first in jazz in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014, and in hip-hop in 2011, 2014 and 2015.

2015-16 team members are seniors Sydney Borchert, Alex Brown, Hanna Brown, Eve Byron, Morgan McGowan, Kelly Olson, Jackie Schneider and Ari Vazquez; juniors Sydni Grover, Megan Kaveney and Mikayla Larson; sophomores Maddi Adams, Drew Geck, Chloe Gilbreth, Hailey Nerison, Rachel Rue and Annie Vitale; and freshmen Mackenzie Davidge, Alli Getz, Krista Kronlokken and Alexis McHale.

Watch the Tommies’ winning routine (as performed at the University of Minnesota Best of the Best dance show on Jan. 8):

Results from this year’s competition:

Hip-hop
  1. University of St. Thomas
  2. Lindenwood University
  3. West Chester University
  4. University of Puerto Rico – Bayamon
  5. St. Joseph’s College
  6. Westfield State University
  7. College of New Jersey
  8. Long Island University
  9. Keene State College

Jazz

  1. Minnesota State University, Mankato
  2. University of St. Thomas
  3. Lindenwood University
  4. University of Central Oklahoma
  5. Orange Coast College
  6. St. Cloud State University
  7. West Chester University
  8. University of California, San Diego
  9. St. Joseph’s College
  10. Grand Canyon University
  11. Northwest Missouri State University
  12. Avila University
  13. Endicott College
  14. Bridgwater State University

The team began its season in August when the dancers attended the nation’s largest collegiate dance and cheer summer camp at Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells, where they took first place in the camp’s home routine competition.

Watch the Tommies’ first-place camp routine:

Read more about the St. Thomas Dance Team on its website.

A place where past, present, and future will unite

Saint Mary's University Campus News - Tue, 01/19/2016 - 10:07am

With a generous $100,000 donation by 1966 alumnus Merle Wilberding, Saint Mary’s will construct a new interactive alumni heritage room, to be unveiled during Reunion Weekend 2016.

It will be a comfortable place to re-visit key points in Saint Mary’s history—and the people who tirelessly devoted their lives to this university.

The Merle F. Wilberding Alumni Room will be located on the main floor of the Toner Student Center and will contain display cases with important historical memorabilia, but will also utilize interactive technology to best tell the Saint Mary’s story, according to Bob Fisher ’97, M’06, director of alumni relations.

“It will be a lounge-style space on campus where alumni can gather to connect with each other, but also to learn about Saint Mary’s past, present, and future,” he said.

Designers are envisioning interactive displays with video testimonials from Saint Mary’s University alumni. The shared experience of a Saint Mary’s education is best told by those who lived it and excelled because of it.

“We’re a people-centered community,” Fisher said. “Our story is about the people: those who have worked closely with our students—like our faculty and De La Salle Christian Brothers—but also our alumni and what they have accomplished since graduation.”

The unveiling will occur as Wilberding returns to campus in celebration of his 50th class reunion.

Ironically, 54 years ago, Wilberding hadn’t even heard of Saint Mary’s. But after learning about it at a college fair, he drove up to campus for a visit and liked what he saw.

During his four years in Winona, one particular faculty member made a strong impact on the economics major, Brother K. Basil, and Wilberding hopes a portion of the alumni heritage room will remember this inspirational educator.

“He really helped me understand how to learn, how to analyze, and how to write concisely,” Wilberding said. “All his exams were the same: eight questions, with only a half a sheet of paper allotted for each answer.”

Students were asked to answer “If so, why so?” and “If not, why not?” “We really had to organize our thoughts,” Wilberding said. “Those tests, and the discipline he instilled in us, served as a major help to me as I went to law school.”

Wilberding went on to obtain a law degree from Notre Dame Law School in 1969, as well as a Master of Law in Taxation from George Washington University National Law Center in 1972, an M.B.A. at the University of Dayton in 1975, and a Master of Library Information and Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2006.

Throughout his career as an attorney in Washington, D.C., and Dayton, Ohio, he has accrued a lengthy list of prominent legal achievements and worked high profile national cases.

As he graduated from law school in 1969, during the height of the Vietnam War, it came as no surprise to Wilberding that he was drafted immediately. He served as an Army JAG Captain and represented the Army in 800 appeals and argued 100 cases, including two of the biggest cases of that time, the Presidio Mutiny case and the Lt. William L. Calley, “My Lai Massacre,” case, which became known as the most notorious court-martial arising out of the Vietnam War.

Wilberding began working with Coolidge Wall in Dayton in 1973 and has been there ever since. Along the way, he’s written five books, 20 law review articles, and many columns and freelance articles.

In 2008, on a substantially pro bono basis, he represented the family of LCpl. Maria Lauterbach who was savagely murdered and buried in the backyard of Cpl. Cesar Laurean in North Carolina. As part of the case, he was interviewed on CNN’s morning news, “The Today Show,” and other national news shows, and testified in hearings before the U.S. Congress. Subsequently, he became a national spokesperson for the victims of sexual assault in the military.

Throughout his career, Wilberding was inspired by the passion Brother K. Basil showed in the classroom.Looking back, it’s Brother K. Basil, and the many friends Wilberding met while attending college that he most thinks of when he reflects back to his time at Saint Mary’s.

“We got to know everybody in the class and developed very close friendships that continue until this day,” he said. “I guess one of the things I always liked about Saint Mary’s was how comfortable I felt as a student and how welcome I felt.”

Wilberding sees the addition of an alumni room as a place for current students and alumni to always feel welcome. “It will be a great opportunity to stop, look, and listen at where the university is now, and where the school is going in the future. I’ve always seen Saint Mary’s as a gateway to opportunities and a gateway to education. There’s an openness and welcoming feeling about it that attracts students who are looking for opportunities.”

The proposed new alumni heritage room on the Winona Campus.

Jaime Hollis Named Director of Gustavus Diversity Center

Gustavus Campus News - Tue, 01/19/2016 - 8:19am

Jaime Hollis

Jaime Hollis has been named the director of the Diversity Center at Gustavus Adolphus College and will begin in her new role on Monday, Feb. 1. Hollis comes to Gustavus from Gonzaga University, where she most recently served as the director of LGBT, transfer, veteran, and returning adult services.

“Jaime brings with her a strong background in diversity, equity, and inclusion work,” said JoNes VanHecke, vice president for student life. “We are fortunate to have attracted such an experienced, talented, and caring professional to work with our students and the broader Gustavus community.”

Hollis will direct the Diversity Center, which provides leadership for positive and equitable change and works to create a welcoming and supportive environment for historically underserved students at Gustavus. She will join Kenneth Reid, who was named the assistant director of the Diversity Center in September of 2015.

Hollis held a series of positions during her four-year tenure at Gonzaga, beginning as a program coordinator and rising to become the first director of the LGBT Resource Center, transfer, veteran, and returning adult services. She also served as an adjunct professor in Gonzaga’s communication studies department from 2012 to 2015. Educated at Eastern Washington University, Hollis holds a bachelor’s degree in women’s and gender studies and interdisciplinary studies and a master’s degree in communications with an emphasis on cultural, instructional, and organizational communication. She has researched and presented on intercultural competence, building inclusive classrooms, LGBTQ issues, and intersectionality.

“We are excited to welcome Jaime to the Gustavus community and look forward to her thoughtful and collaborative leadership of the Diversity Center,” VanHecke said.

The Gustavus Diversity Center’s mission is to provide leadership and support to persons historically under-served in American colleges and universities. The center partners with faculty, staff, and students to design activities that infuse into college life an acceptance and appreciation for difference that is morally and socially just.

###

Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
jakin@gustavus.edu
507-933-7510

Hamline Co-Hosted the Minnesota Safe and Supportive Schools Conference

Hamline University Campus News - Tue, 01/19/2016 - 12:00am
On Friday, January 22, 2016, Hamline School of Education partnered with the Minnesota Department of Education and PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center to host the Minnesota Safe and Supportive Schools Conference.

Recent graduates work with refugees, share experience with students

St. Olaf Campus News - Mon, 01/18/2016 - 2:43pm

Esme Marie ’14 and Mirwais Wakil ’15 speak to an audience of current St. Olaf students and faculty members during a video chat organized by Associate Professor of Political Science and Asian Studies Katherine Tegtmeyer Pak.

On a single day at the beginning of December, Esmé Marie ’14 welcomed 17 Syrian refugees to Switzerland.

Among those selected for resettlement are mothers who have lost children, victims of torture, and people in need of medical attention.

For the next two years, Marie will help this group of refugees get the help they need and settle into their new environment as part of her work with the Immigrant Services of Baselland in Switzerland.

In neighboring Austria, Mirwais Wakil ’15 is doing similar work as a humanitarian advisor with the Austrian Red Cross. Each day he works to help hundreds of refugees from Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria, Iran, and other countries with basic needs and legal problems.

The work is often overwhelming, the two recent St. Olaf College graduates told an audience of current students and faculty members during a video chat organized by Associate Professor of Political Science and Asian Studies Katherine Tegtmeyer Pak. Yet, they noted, it’s also incredibly rewarding.

Marie and Wakil discussed the challenges they face in helping a small fraction of the more than one million immigrants and refugees currently in Europe, how they find hope in their work, and what Americans can do to help the refugee crisis in Europe and beyond.

Associate Professor of Political Science and Asian Studies Katherine Tegtmeyer Pak talks to current students and faculty members who gathered on campus to hear from recent graduates working with refugees in Europe.

Meaningful work
Marie’s work with the Immigrant Services of Baselland is through a governmental pilot project created in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

So far, her work has focused on helping refugees with immediate needs like gaining access to health care. She is contacting health care providers, arranging and accompanying refugees to appointments, and dealing with insurance companies. Moving forward, her work will focus on helping this group of refugees learn the local language and integrate into the workforce.

Although many of the people she is working with have lost everything — often including family members — they persevere.

“I’ve seen refugees carry on with such great strength in a graceful way,” Marie says.

For Wakil, the work he is doing in Austria reflects his personal experience. He fled from Afghanistan to Austria at age 15 after six years of living under the Taliban regime.

Now he serves hundreds of refugees — many of whom fled the Taliban — living in a temporary housing unit in Vienna.

“Most importantly I ensure that it’s safe in the house and that people receive the dignity they are entitled to as human beings. It is somewhat difficult to say exactly what my typical day looks like because there is no typical day,” says Wakil.

For Mirwais Wakil ’15, who fled Afghanistan at age 15 to escape the Taliban, working in refugees mirrors his personal experience.

Applying knowledge
A political science major at St. Olaf with a concentration in Middle East studies, Marie learned Arabic through the college’s Alternative Language Study Option program.

She uses those skills, which she honed through the U.S. State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship Program and the time abroad it supported in Jordan, on a daily basis to connect with refugees. She has found that language creates a sense of trust and familiarity between herself and the refugees she’s working with.

Wakil, who majored in political science, studio art, and economics at St. Olaf, wrote an extensive paper for the Immigration and Citizenship course taught by Tegtmeyer Pak on the reception mechanisms of unaccompanied minors in Austria compared to those in the United States. With his knowledge of this topic, he was able to find a number of jobs with nongovernmental organizations in Austria.

Despite being surrounded by such loss and history of fear and violence, Marie and Wakil are still optimistic about the future.

“There are many cases of Austrian families essentially adopting people in the house,” says Wakil, who notes that he finds hope in watching these refugees find new families.

Marie and Wakil say Americans who want to help with the refugee crisis can reach out to political leaders to advocate for policy changes in the United States, volunteer with marginalized refugees who are already in the country, and support national nonprofit organizations.

St. Olaf student Rigsar Wangchuk ’16 asks a question during the video chat with recent graduates Esme Marie ’14 and Mirwais Wakil ’15.

Wakil plans to continue his work with the Austrian Red Cross until next fall, when he will use a Rotary Global Grant Scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in international relations at the London School of Economics.

After completing his graduate program, he would like to work with the International Committee of the Red Cross or the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Marie will be working with the resettlement program in Switzerland until the end of 2017, after which she plans to resume her studies and complete a master’s degree program in a politics.

“My bottom line is sustainable institutional and societal progress,” she says.

Governor Dayton Proclaims Mitchell Hamline School of Law Day

Hamline University Campus News - Mon, 01/18/2016 - 12:00am
Governor Mark Dayton recognizes the combination of Hamline University School of Law and William Mitchell College of Law by proclaiming January 20, 2016 as Mitchell Hamline School of Law Day.

Rubbelke Announces Retirement Following 2015-16 Academic Year

Concordia University Campus News - Fri, 08/14/2015 - 10:52am

Tom Rubbelke has announced that the 2015-16 academic year, his 12th as director of athletics, will be his last at Concordia. Rubbelke will retire at the conclusion of the athletics season having spent parts of four decades in the department.

Rubbelke was named to the post on December 27, 2004 after serving as assistant athletic director and compliance coordinator since May 1, 2002. He came to Concordia in 1983 as an assistant softball coach until he was named head softball coach in 1998, leading the team for seven years before his appointment to the AD post.

"We are so pleased to be able to celebrate over the next academic year the dedicated service which Tom has brought to Concordia, first as a softball coach and as the athletic director," said Dr. Eric LaMott, Concordia Senior Vice President and Chief Operator Officer. "The university has undergone significant and substantial changes and the marvelous leadership Tom has brought to the athletic program has been a blessing and an integral part of Concordia's strategy."

In his time leading Concordia athletics, the Golden Bears captured an NCAA (all divisions) record seven volleyball national championships, earned 12 appearances at the Division II championships (Elite Eight or comparable), 19 Sweet Sixteen appearances, 34 NCAA Tournaments and 26 Northern Sun championships (regular season & tournament).

"I really appreciate the confidence that President Holst, Dr. Eric LaMott and President Ries have had in me. I've been privileged to be part of CSP since 1983, but especially in my roles here in the last 10 to 15 years," said Rubbelke. "I want to recognize the great coaches and administrative staff I've had, without them we would not have had the success we've had. At this time my main focus is on the 2015-16 season, the student-athletes here really mean a lot to me and I appreciate the relationships I've been able to build through the years with graduates and alumni."

The 2011-12 NACDA Under Armour Region Athletics Director the Year also secured the largest donation in Concordia's history, a $5 million donation for the construction of Sea Foam Stadium, along with another large private donation for the construction of Carlander Softball Field that came with naming rights to the Sea Foam Stadium concourse.

"The championships have been great, and will live on for years to come, and the awards and recognition from my peers have been special. But to me, the biggest accomplishment we've had is the addition of Sea Foam Stadium. Being able to bring our football, soccer and track & field student-athletes a permanent home on campus is really special, and it's something that truly has benefited all of our student-athletes."

Under Rubbelke's leadership, Concordia athletics served as host for seven NCAA regional championships on campus, numerous NSIC Tournaments but the crowning achievement was when the NCAA accepted Rubbelke's bid to host the Division II Championships in volleyball in 2008 and 2009, with the Golden Bears winning the title on their home court in front of the CSP students, staff, alumni and families.

Aside from the tremendous athletics success, the Golden Bears have earned high honors academically consistently throughout Rubbelke's tenure as athletics director. Concordia's teams have earned 46 team academic awards by their respective coaches association, had 11 teams ranked in the top-10 in the country for team grade point average while producing six teams who had the highest ranked GPA in Division II in their sport.

He's become an influential member of the Northern Sun, the NCAA, an active member of NACDA and also serves on the Division II Athletic Director's Board of Directors.

His career as an athletic director has been defined by a commitment to the student-athlete experience as reflected by his popularity among Concordia student-athletes and alumni. He has gone above and beyond to increase student-athlete scholarship funding while improving facilities across the board for training, competition and studying.

He has overseen and planned special events for breast cancer awareness as well as the award-winning Military Appreciation Day event. The 2009 event drew a Mayoral Proclamation from St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, and the 2012 Day of Heroes event captured the NCAA Game Environment Award that included a pre-game speech from Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton.

Concordia's dignitaries extended beyond the Military Appreciation Day events, as Minnesota's U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar assisted the 2012 volleyball team in unveiling its sixth NCAA championship banner.

Rubbelke spent his first 15 years at Concordia as an assistant softball coach before being named head softball coach of the Comets in 1998. Under Rubbelke, the softball team transitioned to NCAA Division II play as the Golden Bears and quickly won NSIC regular season and tournament championships in 2001 in just the second year of league and DII membership. In seven years as head softball coach, Rubbelke's Golden Bear clubs combined for a 220-124 overall record including a 56-24 mark in NSIC play. The team had five 30-plus win seasons and a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances, reaching the Sweet Sixteen each time including a regional championship (Elite Eight).

Tom and his wife, Barb have two children, Bryan and Teresa as well as four grandchildren.

Gaitan Making an Impact for Team Colombia at U19 World Championships

Concordia University Campus News - Thu, 07/30/2015 - 9:44am

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 cugoldenbears.com.

Syndicate content