Recent News from Campuses
Hamline University Campus News - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 12:00am
Professor in the School of Business, James Scheibel, was recently named president of the Minnesota State President of AARP.
Saint Mary's University Campus News - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 5:25pm
A new bachelor’s degree completion program, the Bachelor of Science in Healthcare and Human Services Management, is being offered by Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota at its Twin Cities Campus in Minneapolis starting this fall. “Graduates of this program will be poised for careers in the rapidly changing healthcare and human services fields,” said Merri
Gustavus Campus News - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 5:05pm
The Board of Trustees of Gustavus Adolphus College has announced that the recently developed West Mall will now be known as the Annexstad Family Mall in recognition of Al and Cathy Annexstad for their years of support of the College through the Annexstad Family Foundation Scholarship Program.
Al Annexstad literally grew up on the Gustavus campus. His widowed mother, Alice, worked in the College’s Food Service to support her family. As a child, Al helped out in the kitchen and experienced the informal mentoring of college students and professors alike. Although he graduated from Mankato State College, Gustavus has remained close to his heart. In 2000, the Annexstad Family Foundation established its scholarship program for financially disadvantaged students who had been served by the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. Its first recipient enrolled at Gustavus and graduated in 2005. To date, twenty Annexstad Family Foundation scholarships have been awarded at Gustavus, including one in 2014. Thirteen have earned their degrees thus far.
In 2012, the Annexstad Family Foundation expanded upon its mission, partnering with a select group of America’s most distinguished colleges and universities—among them, Harvard, Yale, Duke, Emory, Georgetown, Michigan, Stanford, and Notre Dame. The foundation established the Leaders for Tomorrow National Scholarship program, which is intensely focused on helping build the nation’s next generation of leaders. Gustavus will join this prestigious group of institutions this fall when two Leaders for Tomorrow Scholars will be named.
Annexstad spent 48 years at Owatonna, Minn., based Federated Insurance Companies before his retirement in 2012. He steadily worked his way through the ranks of the company before becoming chairman, president and CEO. Federated experienced unprecedented growth under his leadership and transformed from a successful regional company into a prominent national insurance organization. Annexstad has been a member of the Gustavus Board of Trustees since 2001. He was accorded an honorary doctorate degree from Gustavus at commencement exercises in 2005. His alma mater, Minnesota State University, Mankato, presented him with its Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2001. More recently, both Al and Cathy received honorary doctorate degrees from MSU, Mankato. In 2010, he was named as a Horatio Alger Award Winner. Horatio Alger Award Winners are role models whose experiences exemplify that opportunities for a successful life are available to all individuals who are dedicated to the principles of integrity, hard work, perseverance, and compassion for others.
The Annexstad Family Mall extends west from Christ Chapel to the Linnaeus Arboretum. The Mall was conceptualized in 2012 with the completion of Beck Academic Hall and includes the Sesquicentennial Plaza. The Annexstad Family Mall will eventually feature a second plaza that will recognize donors to Campaign Gustavus.
“This is quite an honor for Cathy and me and our family,” Annexstad noted recently. “Gustavus has had a very special place in our hearts, in large part because my dear mother spent so much of her life here. This honor is magnified many times over by the success we see our Annexstad Scholars having at Gustavus as they continue on the path to productive and rewarding lives.”
A dedication ceremony for the Annexstad Family Mall was held on Thursday, June 26 in conjunction with the College’s summer Board of Trustees meeting.
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Matt Thomas
University of St. Thomas Campus News - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 2:00pm
It’s April Fool’s Day 2014, and the community room of the Lutz Wing Nursing Home in the Mayo Medical Clinic in Fairmont, Minn., is full of laughter. The large room is festooned with colorful helium balloons and the lively chatter of 30 or so family members from around the country who have gathered to celebrate the 105th birthday of Robert “Bob” Hilgers ’32.
While it’s not confirmed that Hilgers is St. Thomas’ oldest living alumnus, it’s safe to say the 105-year-old is among the top contenders. In 1909, the year he was born, the first Lincoln head pennies were minted and the cost of a first-class stamp was 2 cents. As a college student, he witnessed the advent of sliced bread, the beginning of the Great Depression and the discovery of Pluto. The year he received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and scientists from England split the atom.
“He aged better than any man I have ever known,” Hilgers’ middle son, Jack, 74, noted, and offered this anecdote: “Some years after mom died, he would come here to the hospital to volunteer three days a week. One day he was pushing a guy around in a wheelchair, and the guy says, ‘It’s hell to get old,’ and this guy is 84. He then asks my dad, ‘How old are you?’ and dad says, ‘I’m 95!’”
Bob, Hilgers’ eldest son and an oncologist who lives in Kentucky, credits “good genetics” for his father’s longevity (Hilgers didn’t take medication until he turned 99), but also admits “it really is amazing how he’s aged.”
A diverted path to St. Thomas
Bob remembers his father as unyieldingly focused. “He always kept his mind engaged,” he said. It’s a trait he honed from a young age.
With dreams of becoming a chemical engineer, as a high school senior he thoroughly researched the best colleges at which to pursue a chemistry degree. Wisconsin’s Marquette University was Hilgers’ top choice. He mailed his transcript and a handwritten note requesting admittance. He was accepted, but during his first semester he developed a life-threatening peritonsillar abscess, or quincy, as the condition also is known. Unable to eat or drink, he lost a frightening amount of weight.
He returned home to Mankato to be treated by the family doctor, who prescribed he place a heat lamp close to his face, causing the abscess to enlarge then burst, thus drawing out the infection. Coincidentally, penicillin was discovered that year but was not made available to the public until the 1940s. Today, antibiotics are used to treat quincy in a more efficient (and less ghastly) manner.
After his recovery, he decided to transfer to a school closer to home. He chose the College of St. Thomas, where he counted physics professor John Madigan as his favorite teacher. He was active within his major, serving as president of the Aesculapian Club − a “pre-medics” club − and as a member of the Biologians, an all-sophomore science club.
Hilgers told the Fairmont Sentinel in 2009 that tuition at St. Thomas was $300 a semester, and he worked to pay his way. With his undergraduate years sandwiched nicely inside the Prohibition era, Hilgers told the paper, “the only way to drink was to buy a bottle of beer. It had no alcohol in it, so from the bootlegger, we would buy a bottle of alcohol. We’d … mix the two together and we had ourselves a strong beer.”
Many of his memories of his time at St. Thomas have faded, but the student-run newspaper, The Purple and Gray (later The Aquin), detailed a memorable debacle from his senior year: After moving into his apartment on Portland Avenue at the beginning of fall semester, Hilgers left to spend the night at a friend’s house in Minneapolis. When he returned the next day, the newspaper reported that Hilgers “was greeted by a sign tacked to the front door stating in letters of generous size making legibility practically 100 per cent, UNDER QUARANTINE – POLIOMOLITIS.” For several weeks Hilgers was forbidden from entering his residence, in effect severing access to all his worldly possessions, including his wardrobe. The article joked, “… in view of the constantly changing array he wears, it is assumed from information coming from sources close to Mr. Hilgers that the Salvation Army took its usual course of prompt and efficient relief.”
Immediately following graduation with a chemistry degree, Hilgers was hired as a teacher at St. Thomas Academy, then located on the College of St. Thomas campus.
His most prominent student was one Jim Shannon, better known as Father James Shannon, who, at 35, would become St. Thomas’ youngest president in 1956 and auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis from 1965 to 1969.
With the Great Depression in full force, the school could not afford to pay Hilgers a salary his first year, so he worked for room and board − a great deal for the school, as he also supervised the student-run short-wave radio station W9NBQ and advised the Kaythodians (a physics and chemistry club) and the Biologians. The latter group he took on annual scientific spring trips to northern Minnesota.
One detail Hilgers remembers is living in Ireland Hall his first year as a teacher and receiving a “raise” of $15 per month his second year. “It wasn’t very much, was it?” he said, laughing. He also remembers that “there was a beer joint just across the street that served a glass of beer for a nickel, so that was OK.”
As a young teacher, Hilgers also needed a little spending money to take Anna Lang, a St. Catherine’s student he fancied, out on dates. The two soon married, and were together for 65 years until she passed away in 2001.
An active mind
Born April 1, 1909, Hilgers would remind his three sons − Bob, Jack and Tom − every year on his birthday, and then some, that “not all fools were born on April Fool’s Day” in his typical jovial deadpan. “He must’ve told us that more than a thousand times,” Jack, a guidance counselor, remembered, breaking out in laughter.
Hilgers’ lifelong pursuit of knowledge in both his work and leisure shows he was no fool.
While remarking on their father’s longevity, Hilgers’ sons Bob and Jack continually circled back to his lifelong aptitude for keeping his mind engaged and his strong sense of humor. He was “sharp as a tack” until he was 101, according to Jack, “and he was a man in moderation who always had a sense of humor regardless of the situation.”
Bob agreed: “He had an active mind, always, and was exceptionally bright.” He also noted, “He was very careful about saturated fats. He got in very early in that game. And he used to brag about the fact that he weighed the same as the day he got married.”
Hilgers’ brightness also shone outside the educational arena. Shortly after earning a master’s degree in secondary education (from the University of Minnesota in 1938) − while teaching full time at the academy − Hilgers began construction on the family’s first home on what is now Old Shakopee Road in Bloomington, Minn.
Though Jack was an infant when his dad built the house, he remembers his father “was a self-taught handyman and craftsman. … He could do anything in the house … wallpaper, fix the plumbing, change his own oil. He was just one of those guys.”
During the birthday celebration in April, Hilgers joked, “It’s surprising that I’m still around!” This, coming from a man who survived (along with his four siblings, all older sisters: Clarice, Margaret, Lori and Gertrude) the 1918 pandemic that killed more people in one year than the Black Plague of the 1300s killed in four years.
After being deferred due to his age and his three sons, Hilgers was recruited into the war effort from 1943 to 1944 as foreman of the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant in New Brighton, Minn. When the U.S. military needed more men, Hilgers was informed he would be among the next group to be drafted. “Lucky for him, the war ended before his number came up,” Jack said, adding, “but the sad part was, I remember hearing about how hard it was for him to have so many of the men he taught lost in the war. It must’ve been a pretty traumatic thing to have happen, to lose all those young students.”
Hilgers returned to the academy for two years, then left in 1946 to pursue a more lucrative field in industry to support his family.
His first move was risky – one that Hilgers labeled “the worst mistake of my life,” Jack recalled. He sold the house he built, of which he was tremendously proud, and moved his family to Marshfield, Wis., on a friend’s promise that together they’d get rich in the tire business.
After a very brief stint, those plans dead-ended, and the Hilgers family resettled in Fairmont, where Hilgers worked briefly for Fairmont Canning before accepting a job as district manager of quality control for Stokely-Van Camp (which became Pictsweet and closed in 1992), where he worked until he retired in 1974.
Through it all he took correspondence courses − including meteorology − through the University of Minnesota to quell his hungry intellect.
Bob remembers that “he was always busy and on the go, but not in a maniacal kind of way. He just had an active mind.” Both agreed that his hobbies helped to keep his mind young, as he always sought discovery.
Jack said, “After he retired, all of us boys got together and said, ‘Dad, what do you want?’ And he said, “I’ve always wanted a telescope.’ He had a very scientific mind.”
He took up woodworking in his workshop, carving crucifixes by the dozens out of mahogany and giving them to family and friends. Rosaries and Christmas ornaments were also among his specialties. The rosaries he’d send to a priest in India. “The Christmas ornaments were very fine and intricate,” Jack recalled. “They were replicas of things he saw.”
Sue Hilgers, wife of Hilgers’ youngest son, Tom, who is also a doctor, remarked that he also took up painting. And when he developed a quiver in his right (dominant) hand, he simply taught himself to paint with his left. She pointed to a flawless pastoral painting of trees hanging in his Lutz Wing room, to show how adept he had become.
“He came from the generation that didn’t complain. They just did what had to be done,” she noted. “It’s the spirit that built America, isn’t it? It’s the pioneer spirit.”
In 2005, Hilgers admitted himself to the same nursing home where he had been volunteering. At first, he would joke with the staff and take daily walks, but those days are gone, Jack said. Hilgers’ mobility, vision, hearing and short-term memory have diminished considerably over the last few years, as one would expect for a man born the same year William H. Taft was inaugurated as the 27th president of the United States.
These days, he said, his dad can’t always remember what he had for breakfast, but he can recite the Hail Mary in German (his father’s native language) − a flash of his former brilliance.
When asked what he is most proud of in his life, Hilgers remarks, without hesitation, “My family.” And while his memory may have paled, it is clear, from the joy on the faces of his family on the day of his 105th birthday that he will always be remembered.
“Every year for the past few years, I’ve been telling my wife, “‘this’ll be the last time we make the trip for dad’s birthday,’ but here we are,” Jack said. “I’m thinking we should start planning his 106th.”
Read more from St. Thomas magazine.
Carleton College Campus News - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 1:55pm
Carleton College’s Center for Community and Civic Engagement (CCCE) has rescheduled its annual Lighten Up! Garage Sale for Saturday, July 12 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, July 13 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the West Gym on the Carleton campus. The popular annual sale converts the unwanted year-end possessions of Carleton students into bargains for local residents and cash for local charities. The sale, which is typically held every year during Carleton’s reunion weekend, was postponed this year due to Cannon River flooding on the campus.
Gustavus Campus News - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 12:00pm
To officially close the 2013-14 academic year, the Gustavus Adolphus Sports Information Department is proud to announce senior football player Jeffrey Dubose (St. Paul, Minn.) and senior swimmer Alissa Tinklenberg (Willmar, Minn.) as this season’s Male and Female Student-Athletes of the Year.
A running back who broke nearly every Gustavus rushing record in his final season wearing a winged helmet, Jeffrey Dubose is the second football player to receive the honor since Ryan Hoag ’03 did so in 2002. Solidifying her place as the most honored swimmer in the history of the program, Alissa Tinklenberg is the first to be named Student-Athlete of the Year twice after also receiving the award as a sophomore following the 2011-12 season. Tinklenberg is the second women’s swimmer to take home the award, following in the footsteps of Andrea Kleven ’04 in 2001.
This year, eight male and eight female athletes were nominated. Once nominations are finalized, they are balloted and voted on by the head coaches at Gustavus. Coaches vote for their top-three athletes on both the men’s and women’s sides, awarding five points for a first place vote, three points for second place, and one point for third.
Finishing runner-up in this year’s men’s voting was senior track & field athlete Cameron Clause (Mankato, Minn.) and taking third was junior men’s soccer player Zach Brown (Eau Claire, Wis.). Receiving the second-most points for the women was rookie softball and hockey player Hannah Heacox (Stillwater, Minn.), while placing third was junior track and field athlete Elizabeth Weiers (Le Center, Minn.).
There isn’t a whole lot more to be written about the careers of both Jeffrey Dubose and Alissa Tinklenberg that already hasn’t been done so before. Since they both stepped onto campus in the fall of 2010, Jeffrey and Alissa’s careers, all their accolades, the highs and lows, wins and losses, school records, standout performances, and impact on both their respective programs and Gustavus have been well documented.
For head coaches Peter Haugen and Jon Carlson, these student-athletes have been game-breakers, leaders, and model Gusties since day one. The successes of the Gustavus football team had a direct correlation to what Dubose could do with the football in his hands, and the powerhouse that the Gustavus women’s swimming & diving team has become was built largely on Tink’s ability to glide through the water and win races.
Below are two videos – both of which are brief oral histories about the careers of Jeffrey Dubose and Alissa Tinklenberg as told through interviews with Peter Haugen and Jon Carlson.
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Matt Thomas
University of St. Thomas Campus News - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 10:43am
When Anni Stringini wrote an essay as part of her enrollment application to St. Thomas in 2009, she acknowledged she had gone through “many challenging periods” in her young life as a result of an incurable vision disorder. “Why me?” she asked herself over and over. “Why me?”
She answered the question in her own essay. As “devastating” as her condition was, she would not let it define her or restrict her. She knew she had “to always stay positive” and believe “that anything is possible. If a person continues to think things will improve,” she wrote, “they will.”
Four years later, Stringini is graduating from St. Thomas. She carries the same optimism and has the same attitude of viewing “the glass half full instead of half empty.” And while she closed her essay with a simple hope “to succeed like everyone else,” today that hope has been replaced by a firmer realization that she indeed will succeed.
“Everyone struggles with something,” she said in an interview this spring. “This is just my disability. To give up is to say you can’t win. I won’t allow my disease to define me, but I have to adapt to living a different way. I have a great life, and I won’t get disappointed with my vision issues.”
Stringini credits a strong support system of family, friends, students and faculty for helping her through the rough times and making the accommodations that have allowed her not only to survive, but to thrive. St. Thomas was the right choice for her, she says, and she will be ever grateful for an education and an environment that helped her move on with her life.
Stringini’s sentiments are shared by six classmates – Ava and Blaire Pospesel, Vincent Do, Sarah Meyers, Madeline Wehking and Max Behna – who also were profiled in the fall 2010 issue of St. Thomas magazine. All but one (Do) will graduate this May. As they prepare for new challenges and opportunities, they talked about their St. Thomas experiences and the influence the university has had on their lives.
Majors: Political Science and Philosophy
Anni Stringini began having vision problems when she was 11. She and her family would not accept the initial diagnosis – that she was going blind – and got a second opinion. She had Stargardt’s disease, a rare disorder that limits her central (but not peripheral) vision and affects 30,000 Americans. She struggled during her first two years in high school but went on to play soccer, earn a black belt in taekwondo and get involved in the Foundation Fighting Blindness.
She adapted in classrooms at St. Thomas by reading large-type text, including notes taken by other students, because it was difficult to read what professors wrote on blackboards. She took exams on computers in the Disability Services office by using software that enlarged type on the screen.
“I got an iPad the second semester of my freshman year,” she said. “It is a godsend. I can blow things up and easily read them.”
Stringini holds out hope that advances in research will lead to a cure for Stargardt’s disease in her lifetime. A cure would allow her to do what most of us take for granted, such as driving and, most importantly, seeing the people she loves.
“I have a serious boyfriend, and I really can’t see his face from across the room even though we have dated five years,” she said. “That’s my dream – to be able see his face and, one day, the faces of my kids. To be what people consider ‘normal’ would be a big deal for me.”
In the meantime, Stringini will move on with her life. She plans to work for a year, preferably in human resources, before returning to school for a law degree or a joint degree in law and business. She envisions a career in human resources.
“With my disability, I always have had to advocate for myself and protect myself,” she said. “I love advocating for others, too, so I’d like to do some kind of legal advocacy.”
Regardless of what she does, “I will always stay positive,” she said, repeating the words she wrote in her admissions essay. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Major: Criminal Justice
As a teenager, Vincent Do always looked to his grandmother for motivation, and he believes her legacy will serve him well as an adult.
Tre Nguyen and her husband, Doi, raised 10 children on a small farm in South Vietnam before she decided they would flee the country in 1980 because of Communist rule. They crowded onto a boat with 32 people, including Lucy, their 9-year-old daughter, and headed for freedom. Lucy ended up in Minnesota and has three children, including Vincent.
“My grandma has influenced me in so many ways,” he wrote in his applications essay. “Now, I am more willing to stand up for what I believe in, even if I may get into a little trouble. Now, I am able to take bigger chances in life knowing that there can often be a good outcome.”
Do arrived at St. Thomas thinking he wanted to become a police officer, and he never changed his mind. He will take five years to graduate, and he hopes his experience as an Orono police reserve officer will be beneficial preparation.
“It goes back to kindergarten and a reserve officer I knew in our school,” he said. “He loved his job and I thought, ‘One day, I want to be like him.’ I thought about my grandma and the injustices she suffered in Vietnam, and I told myself that being a police officer would be a good way for me to make a difference.”
Do considered himself “shy and reserved” as a freshman and realized he needed to be more outgoing to get ahead. Professors always helped him when he struggled in class, and he learned to slow down, be patient and deal with issues one at a time – all attributes for success in his career.
“I want to become a sergeant,” he said. “I could go higher, but then I would be chained to a desk. I want to be out on the streets. It’s my calling.”
Ava (right) and Blaire Pospesel
Majors: Marketing (Ava) and Finance (Blair)
Ava and Blaire Pospesel have grown up a lot in their years together at St. Thomas.
The twin sisters, as you might expect, are virtually inseparable. They lived on different floors in Dowling Hall as freshmen, but since have lived together off campus. They are business majors. They played lacrosse. They took the same London Business Semester.
So it should not be surprising that their answers to questions about four years at St. Thomas are strikingly similar. Their bottom line: They grew in ways they never imagined and they are surprised the time went so quickly.
“Coming into St. Thomas, I didn’t have a broad perspective on life,” Ava said. “College expanded my outlook and gave me insights on who I was. I grew friendships and have deep connections because of the St. Thomas network.”
“The St. Thomas community is so strong,” Blaire said. “I’ll keep the friendships I made here for the rest of my life.”
Friendships have sustained the sisters through difficult times, including the death of their mom, Jeanette, in a traffic accident in 2006 when their SUV was broadsided and rolled four times. Ava’s injuries included a fractured pelvis and broken ribs. Blaire escaped injury and climbed out of the car, only to see her mom unconscious and her sister in pain.
They reflected on the tragedy in their application essays. Ava worried how she would live “without my biggest cheerleader,” and Blaire wrote, “I had to learn to quickly become more mature, independent and most importantly find ways to place the puzzle pieces of my life back together.”
The sisters still feel the loss eight years later, “but it’s a different kind of pain,” Ava said. “Maybe time transforms pain. The grieving process goes through stages. The hardest thing now is my friends at St. Thomas never will be able to meet her.”
They show home videos of their mom to friends, “and we all talk about our childhood and our memories,” Blaire said. “A lot of who we are today comes from our mom and how she raised us. We think of her and how she would want us to be strong women.”
They are exactly that, says their dad, Dean.
“Developing a sense of self and character is always a work in progress, and Ava and Blaire have done it in a community that cares,” Dean said. “I am a proud dad, and I know their mom is proud of them, too. I see a lot of their mom in both girls.”
They expect to go in different directions after graduation – at first, at least. Ava is interested in a marketing career and Blaire in financial services, but one day they might join forces.
“A and B Inc.,” Ava said. “It’s a lofty goal, but definitely a goal.”
A defining experience for Sarah Meyers in high school was to run a face-painting booth at a fundraising benefit for Emma Phillips, a 6-year-old neighbor girl who had cancer. Meyers raised $224 and learned a valuable lesson during the process.
“Seeing her run around with her friends, laughing and playing, made all of the hard work worthwhile,” Meyers wrote in her application essay. “It overwhelmed me how a community can come together during a time of need.”
She feels the same way today and always looks for ways to do acts of kindness. “If you know someone needs help,” she said, “never brush it aside, even if it’s just listening to somebody who wants to talk.”
Meyers enrolled at St. Thomas to major in biology, with thoughts of becoming a veterinarian, but an internship at Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium her sophomore year changed her mind. She became an aquarist there last summer and takes care of the sea horses exhibit. “I just fell in love working with these animals,” she said, and she hopes to work there full time after graduation.
Meyers is encouraged that Emma, now 11, remains an active girl. She was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a malignant soft-tissue cancer, after a lung tumor was discovered. Tumors developed in other parts of her body, but she has survived a variety of treatments.
“She has her good days and bad days,” said Emma’s father Ted, “but the important thing is she is still with us. Life deals you lemons, and you have to add sugar to make lemonade.”
Maddie Wehking sees similarities between her grandparents and the people she met during St. Thomas study abroad trips, and they all provide motivation for her.
Her grandparents lost their hearing as infants but married, held good jobs and raised a family. Wehking learned sign language from her grandparents at an early age, and they gave her a new definition of “diversity,” she wrote in her application essay. “They opened my eyes to see a broader spectrum of the challenges people have to endure.”
She felt the same about people she met during January Term trips overseas as a junior and senior.
“Grandma and Grandpa took what they had and made the most of it,” she said. “Their positive attitude inspired me, just as the people in Thailand and South Africa did. Some of them live in difficult conditions, but they still live life to the fullest.”
Wehking has tried to do the same at St. Thomas. She was on two national championship dance teams as a freshman and sophomore but left after a knee injury. Her love of cooking led her to conduct random research online and she discovered the Ballymaloe Cookery School on an organic farm in Ireland. She will enroll there this fall and hopes to blend her passion for cooking and marketing to figure out a career, perhaps opening her own restaurant.
“It’s not like me to do something completely off the path,” she said, but she feels she may not grow to her full potential if she doesn’t explore the Ireland opportunity. “As long as you are on a path, that’s OK. Sometimes you need to fail to figure out who you want to be.”
Wehking will most remember St. Thomas for “a small-school environment that made me see bigger. You get everyone’s little stories, and my experiences with roommates and friends have led me to be more accepting of people.”
Majors: Catholic Studies and Philosophy
Max Behna arrived at St. Thomas having thought a long time about the priesthood. He believed that living in the St. John Vianney Seminary community would help him discern any vocation, and he said at the time, “God won’t call me to something that won’t bring me joy.”
Four years later, Behna is ready to take the next step. He will enter Mundelein Seminary near Chicago in August and hopes to be ordained a priest in the Diocese of Joliet in 2018. What once was “a scary thought” is a step closer to reality, and he considers a dinner meeting with two priests during his junior year in high school as a key influence.
“They convinced me through their words and actions that I could be happy as a priest,” Behna said. “They told me I needed to trust God’s goodness. After that realization, the priesthood became much more attractive even though I still had some questions and doubts.”
His time at St. Thomas and SJV gave him certainty, he said, “and that leaves me with a lot of peace and joy.” He gained special insights through apostolic outreach experiences, including teaching religious education and working at a home for the mentally ill.
“The last four years have been life-changing,” he said. “Seminary life is not just learning how to be a priest but how to be a better person. I have learned so much more about myself, my God and my faith.”
In his application essay, Behna recalled how he had helped his father deal with anxiety and depression after losing his job. He thought he was “all washed up,” but his son’s support and love proved otherwise.
“I did not realize it then but these small but positive acts of kindness and sacrifice for my dad began to have an effect on me as well … and improved my sense of responsibility and maturity,” he wrote. “Many choices can be made in difficult times. Deciding to make self-less choices is ultimately what gets you through them.”
The experience surprised Behna in how it showed his strength of character, but what’s important to him is how “it all worked out for the best” and that his father is doing well. “I knew God would provide,” Behna said. “I was just lucky to be there.”
Read more from St. Thomas magazine.
Gustavus Campus News - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 9:26am
For fifty years, the Nobel Conference at Gustavus Adolphus College has hosted preeminent scientists, theologians, and ethicists to discuss deep questions at the intersection of science and society. This October, Gustavus will celebrate a half century of bringing breakthrough science to lay audiences in the upper Midwest, across the country, and more recently around the world. The 50th annual Nobel Conference: Where Does Science Go From Here?, scheduled for October 7-8, 2014, will assemble previous Nobel Conference participants to look at recent advances and future directions in the physical sciences, evolutionary biology and ecology, medicine and physiology, and the intersection of science and public policy.
Tickets for the 50th Nobel Conference are currently on sale and can be purchased online at gustavustickets.com or by phone at 507-933-7520. Reserved tickets are $115 per person, while general admission tickets are available for $70 per person. High schools and college delegations can purchase a group of 10 tickets for $50.
Invited speakers include:
- Sean B. Carroll, professor of molecular biology, genetics, and medical genetics, University of Wisconsin at Madison
- Steven Chu, 1997 Nobel laureate in physics; former U.S. Secretary of Energy under President Obama; William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Humanities & Sciences and Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University
- Patricia Smith Churchland, UC President’s Professor of Philosophy Emerita, University of California, San Diego
- António Damásio, University Professor and David Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
- Freeman Dyson, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J.
- W. Gary Ernst, Benjamin M. Page Professor Emeritus, Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University
- Harry B. Gray, Arnold O. Beckman Professor of Chemistry, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena
- Sir Harold W. Kroto, 1996 Nobel laureate in chemistry; Francis Eppes Professor of Chemistry, Florida State University
- Svante Pääbo, director, Department of Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany
- Steven Weinberg, 1979 Nobel laureate in physics; Jack S. Josey-Welch Foundation Regents Chair in Science, University of Texas at Austin
- Jennifer L. West, Fitzpatrick Family University Professor of Engineering, Duke University
The Nobel Conference, the first ongoing educational conference of its kind in the United States to receive the official authorization of the Nobel Foundation, is made possible through the generous support of Drell and Adeline Bernhardson, major legacy gifts, and annual contributors.
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Matt Thomas
St. Kate's Campus News - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 8:02am
Doctor of Nursing Practice Associate Professor Rozina Bhimani was honored Wednesday night. More »
Saint Mary's University Campus News - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 8:00am
In a whirlwind tour of England May 26-June 9, 11 Saint Mary’s students were able to walk in the footsteps of authors whose works they’ve read in class. Highlights from the trip included going to Lyme-Regis to visit the home of John Fowles, the author of The French Lieutenant’s Woman; the Jane Austen Center in
University of St. Thomas Campus News - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 12:01am
I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie. The experiences that exhilarate me the most include speed, heights, falling, snakes, performing music or speaking in front of a large crowd. And while it is not difficult to find kindred spirits who would be first in line for a roller coaster or zip line, I am certainly in the minority when it comes to a love of public performance. In fact, an unsettling number of Americans are likely to rank their fear of public speaking higher than their fear of death.
When I tell people that I teach piano, I am struck by how many of them are quick to share their stories about quitting music lessons as a child. Even strangers are eager to offer memories of the negative experiences that ultimately led them to seek out other youth activities that excluded solo performance. While it’s true that some people quit piano lessons to avoid the sting of Mrs. Snodgrass’ knuckle-rapping, more often the event in question is related to a bad performance experience. Audition catastrophes, traumatic recitals or the dread of performance itself can easily prompt a person to give up music study altogether. I can’t help but think that if the teachers of these students had been trained in anxiety management and performance preparation techniques, many more people would have remained in music lessons into adulthood.
Stage fright is not limited to students or amateurs. Famously nervous musicians have included Pablo Casals, Vladimir Horowitz, Carly Simon, Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham. In his autobiography, legendary cellist Casals described every performance as “sheer torment.” We can no longer ignore the emotional stress of performance, or tell our young musicians that it will only get better with time and experience. The same is certainly true at the college level, where we train young adults to be professional musicians. The stage can be a comfortable place, a nightmare, or anything in between, because how we think about it affects our entire performance experience. In the words of Hamlet, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
The natural anxiety associated with public performance can wreak havoc on the mental and physical health of anyone in the performing arts. For many, the desire to perform music with passion and freedom is often tempered by fears, self-doubts and distracting physical symptoms. Yet the study of performance stress has not yet made its way into the mainstream of educational programs in music, theater or dance. What is lacking at the present time is an understanding and appreciation of the importance of the psychological health of creative artists in general. Is it possible that our pedagogy could change so rapidly as to alter the experiences of today’s performing arts student? This question is what motivates me to get up and come to work in the morning.
When I arrived at the University of St. Thomas in 2007, I had worked as a licensed hypnotherapist for a couple of years and was particularly interested in the role of the subconscious mind and the use of hypnotherapy as a tool for performance anxiety management for musicians. It has been my experience that hypnotherapy, creative visualization and other imagery techniques are powerfully effective tools for artists and public speakers. The more I explored the research in that area, the more I realized that I needed to expand my focus to include an understanding of human consciousness, including altered states and “flow” states of consciousness. This interest in the psychology of musical experience inspired me to collaborate with psychologists and neuroscientists to study more about music and the brain. The more I traveled and met with groups of teachers and students around and beyond the United States, the more I became aware that my studies were mostly limited to Western practices in medicine, sport psychology and cognitive psychology. Most recently I have turned my attention to contemplative traditions such as mindfulness meditation, and the potential benefits of these practices for performing musicians. I had practiced meditation for years, but two years ago I became a certified meditation instructor in order to consider various concepts of mindfulness from the viewpoint of an educator.
In many ways, mindfulness and music performance go hand in hand. Each helps cultivate awareness of the present moment; in meditation, this may include observing the thoughts as they come and go, and music only exists in the present moment as an aural event. Both encourage concentration, observation, trust, patience and letting go. The greatest challenge to most performing artists (and other humans) is the importance of non-judging. In mindfulness practice, we experience an awarenessof moment-to-moment experiences, releasing thoughts and emotions without judgment.
The music student, however, has been trained to practice for hours a day, working to identify and correct mistakes over and over again. In her music lessons, her performance is assessed by her teacher, and in studio performance classes, she is critiqued by her peers. In fact, intense daily criticism is essential for any artist in training. But when this self-analysis accompanies a performer on stage, negative thoughts and self-doubts can overwhelm an otherwise well-prepared musician. When the inner judges are allowed to roam free, unsupervised, the mind becomes a performer’s nemesis. Studies have suggested that contemplative practices can help manage anxiety and improve performance quality for amateur and professional musicians alike. I have been surprised and pleased with the number of students, particularly St. Thomas students, who are eager to learn more about mindfulness practice.
The most fascinating aspect of my research has been my travels to 10 different countries and 16 states within the United States, working with other students, teachers, and professional musicians, learning from their stories, and sharing my experiences. I have learned that performance anxiety, like music, is a universal issue which transcends differences in culture and language. In Taiwan, the music teachers I worked with tended to avoid the topic of performance anxiety, but the students seemed eager and interested to talk about it. In Serbia, a culture rooted in the old Russian school of music training, teachers were particularly interested to learn about the neuroscience of anxiety and new discoveries in neuroplasticity. In Ireland, a group of college professors has joined forces to study spirituality in education, including the effects of contemplative practices on the emotional well-being of students. Many American music teachers seem especially interested in the idea of holistic teaching, such as injury-preventive technique and mental wellness for performers. An unusually high percentage of instructors affiliated with the Minnesota Music Teachers Association have written to request mindfulness training workshops for them or for their students.
My own students at St. Thomas are a colorful group and represent the diversity of personalities that one might find in any music school. Some of them bound up the steps to the stage, excited to perform for feedback, validation or the sound of applause. These students are in the minority, though, since the vast majority struggle with the physical or emotional symptoms of stage fright. Some of my students sit quietly, waiting with dread for their turn to perform. Others engage in breathing exercises or creative visualization to slow their pulse rate or steady their shaky hands. Some keep a journal, which helps them identify and dispute unhealthy thought patterns that interfere with their enjoyment of performing. Some express their fears openly, pacing back and forth, seeking reassurance from friends, or speculating dramatically about sensational worst-case scenarios. Every musician approaches performance differently, and I have learned to be flexible in my approach to teaching performance preparation. My students are the driving force behind everything I do. They offer perspectives and insights for further research, they serve as occasional guinea pigs for anxiety management techniques, and they benefit directly from the most current research in the field. Of the many techniques I have tried with students and professional musicians, mindfulness practice tends to be the most accessible, effective and long-lasting.
In using contemplative practices such as mindfulness meditation, performers learn to join the outer world of physical technique and the personality with the inner world of the silent observer. Or, perhaps they are uniting the modern world of competition and achievement (“doing”) with traditional philosophies of awareness and acceptance (“being”). It is my desire that this sort of integrated teaching become the very essence of music pedagogy in the new millennium.
Vanessa Cornett-Murtada is associate professor of music and director of keyboard studies in the College of Arts and Sciences.
From Exemplars, a publication of the Grants and Research Office.
Carleton College Campus News - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 3:09pm
Gao Hong, world-class pipa (lute) player and composer and director of the Carleton College Chinese Music Ensemble, will perform the world premiere her Green Willow Tree: Double Concerto for Pipa, Violin and Orchestra with the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Jere Lantz, on Sunday, July 6 at 5:30 p.m. at the Lake Harriet Bandshell in Minneapolis. Additional performances will be held Monday, July 7 at 10:30 a.m. at the Nicollet Island Pavilion and on Thursday, July 10 at 1 p.m. at the Humboldt-Cerenity Senior Care Center in St. Paul. All performances are free and open to the public.
St. Kate's Campus News - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 2:22pm
2014 Swiss Grand Prix Design winner Erich Biehle has joined the Apparel Design and Fashion Merchandising Advisory Committee. More »
University of St. Thomas Campus News - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 12:01am
I was 19 years old and sitting in a classroom in Vancouver Community College when the professor said something that would alter my life, though I could not have said that at the time and he would never know how far reaching his comments would be. Father Jim Roberts, a Catholic priest, was teaching an introduction on Western religions when he mentioned that Christians had persecuted Jews throughout many centuries. I was startled by this. I might not have known much about the history of Christianity at that time, but I did know that Jesus and all his apostles were Jewish. I also knew, growing up as a Mennonite, that Christians were supposed to be peaceable people, so why would they persecute anyone?
I went to talk to Father Roberts and told him that I wanted to know more about the history of Jewish-Christian relations, much more, and could he recommend a university for me where I could continue my study. He suggested that I apply to St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto, and I did just that. My studies at St. Michael’s launched both my course of academic study and my entry into the Catholic Church. As I studied I realized that my interests were in the origins and early development of Christianity and its relationship with Judaism. How did Christianity begin? How did a Jewish movement begin to separate from Judaism? How did Christianity grow and develop? How did Christianity and Judaism continue to interact? The deeper I went into the academic study of the early church and Judaism the more I was drawn to the Catholic Church and felt called to enter the church, which I did in 2000.
I completed my degree at the University of Toronto, and to continue my studies I attended the graduate programs at McMaster University, which had a renowned program in “Judaism and Christianity in the Greco-Roman World.” I began to focus my attention on the interactions among Jews, Christians and Greco-Roman paganism, and this research took me to Germany and Israel. This interest has never left me, and while I concentrated initially on the understanding of “law” among these communities, today I study how Jews, Christians and pagans understood childhood, and how they treated children in the ancient world. The idea came to me when teaching at the University of Winnipeg, where my colleague Mark Golden had written a book about children and childhood in classical Greece. I read his book and had a simple question: Did Christianity change ancient perceptions of childhood and how children were treated?
I quickly learned that little research had been done on this issue and when I arrived at St. Thomas I teamed with Cornelia Horn, a new colleague at the time, and we began to study early Christian literature to determine all of the ways in which children appeared in early Christian texts. One of the fascinating findings that came about was the reality that the Jews and Christians of the ancient world were the first people to challenge the use of children sexually and even coined a term, which means “sexual abuse.” Our book, Let the Little Children Come to Me: Children and Childhood in Early Christianity (Washington, D.C: Catholic University Press, 2009), opened the doors for a flood of new books, conferences and articles in this area. I have continued to do research in this area, with one article published in 2009 called “Do Not Sexually Abuse Children: The Sexual Ethics of Early Christianity” and another soon to be published called “I Renounce the Sexual Abuse of Boys: Renegotiating the Boundaries of Sexual Behavior in Late Antiquity by Jews and Christians,” presented first in May 2012 in Rome.
It is important to me in my research and teaching to connect my fellow scholars and students to ancient peoples as real people, not simply academic constructs, to open up the world so that they can connect to the ideas and ways of life that continue to shape us today. Since the Bible is not just an ancient artifact, but a document that continues to guide the church and individual Christians, it is important for me to let my students encounter the Scripture in their own lives and to make the world come alive for them.
My most recent adventure has been to become the Scripture columnist for America Magazine, a weekly Jesuit journal that is more than 100 years old and has a circulation of 48,000 worldwide. I write on the Lectionary readings each week. In some ways, this is the fruit of my academic studies and my Christian life as I bring to bear all of my expertise on Scripture and interpretation to try to open up the Bible for all Catholics, whether they are students, professors, priests or lay people. I supplement this with my blog, Bible Junkies, in which I try to bring biblical scholarship at a high level for free to those who are interested. I am currently finishing my second “online commentary” for the Web. In dialoguing with an interested audience of all sorts, Catholics, other Christians, those with other religions or no religions, I have been amazed at the interest readers have shown. At this point, my main readership comes from the United States, but, surprisingly, the next largest readership comes from China, then Rus- sia and Ukraine. My interest in the intersection of ancient cultures and worldviews has led me to my own dialogue with cultures and peoples all over the world.
John Martens is associate professor of theology in the College of Arts and Sciences.
From Exemplars, a publication of the Grants and Research Office.
Gustavus Campus News - Tue, 06/24/2014 - 3:33pm
The Loeb Classical Library Foundation at Harvard University has awarded a Loeb Classical Library Fellowship to Gustavus Adolphus College Professor of Classics Eric Dugdale for the 2014-15 academic year. Dugdale received the $34,000 fellowship for his book project on empathy in Greek tragedy in performance.
“We are very proud of Professor Dugdale and his scholarship. We believe that this news illustrates the overall quality of the Gustavus faculty,” said Paula O’Loughlin, Associate Provost and Dean of Arts and Humanities at Gustavus. “This experience will only enhance what he provides to Gustavus students through the Classics Department and the liberal arts curriculum as a whole when he returns.”
Dugdale will be spending the fall semester of his sabbatical year at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he has been elected to the position of Visiting Scholar. The experience will be a homecoming of sorts for Dugdale, who earned his bachelor’s degree from the institution in 1994. During his time at Oxford, Dugdale will have access to the Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama, a unique repository of materials from modern productions of ancient drama.
The tragedies performed in the theatre of Dionysus in Athens appear to have elicited strong empathetic responses from actors and audience members alike. Dugdale is studying the ancient evidence to determine what aspects of the plays and of their performance context were important factors in eliciting empathy. He is also examining modern performances of Greek tragedy, investigating why some succeed in activating empathetic responses while others leave their audiences cold; his study draws on cognitive psychology and sociology as well as the rapidly advancing field of affective science.
“I am interested in the continued role of tragedy as a vehicle for fostering regard for others,” Dugdale said. “I believe that developing the capacity for empathy that bridges cultural difference is more important than ever, and I see liberal arts colleges such as Gustavus as having a central role in this process.”
In addition to his undergraduate degree from Corpus Christi College, Oxford, Dugdale holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina. His publications include a translation of Sophocles’ Electra and Greek Theatre in Context, both published by Cambridge University Press. He is co-editor of the series Greece and Rome: Texts and Contexts, recipient of Gustavus’ 2011 Faculty Scholarly Achievement Award, and founding director of the biennial Festival of Dionysus, in which Gustavus students perform scenes from ancient drama in Linnaeus Arboretum.
The Loeb Classical Library has been at the forefront of classical studies for more than a century. James Loeb, a prominent banker and philanthropist from New York, studied Greek and Latin at Harvard in the 1880s. Upon graduating he joined the family business but retained a strong interest in the classics. In 1911, Loeb founded the Loeb Classical Library “for the encouragement of special research at home and abroad in the province of Archaeology and of Greek and Latin Literature.”
Gustavus Campus News - Sun, 06/22/2014 - 10:31pm
Due to flooding in Southern Minnesota, several roads including Highways 169, 22, and 99 have been affected in and around St. Peter. Anybody traveling to Gustavus should visit the website 511mn.org for the latest information and the best route to the College.
The College will remain open and is looking forward to hosting summer athletic and academic programs as well as visitors for Minnesota Private College Week.
UPDATE: If you are traveling to Gustavus from the Twin Cities on Highway 169 southbound, here is the fastest route to the College: When you are forced to exit 169 in Le Sueur, take a right at the top of the ramp. Continue on County Road 8/336th St. for approximately one mile before turning left on County Road 20. Continue on County Road 20 for approximately 10 miles before turning left on Broadway Avenue. Travel less than a half mile on Broadway before turning right on Sunrise Drive. This will take you to the College’s northwest entrance near the St. Peter High School football field.
If you are traveling to Gustavus from the south near Mankato, Highways 169 and 22 from Mankato to St. Peter are now open. The Highway 99 bridge coming into St. Peter from the east remains closed.