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Young alumni entrepreneurs build dreams

Thu, 03/31/2016 - 1:43pm

The Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at Saint Mary’s University is in the business of promoting entrepreneurship. And who better to give real-life business advice than six successful young alumni entrepreneurs?

The public is invited to hear them describe their experiences at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 5, in Salvi Hall on the third floor of Saint Mary’s Hall.

These graduates from the past 10 years say there’s no such thing as overnight success. It takes a well-rounded education, experience, hard work … and start-up funds. And they say you need to be born with a special drive they call an “entrepreneurial spirit.” Owning and/or operating their own businesses isn’t always a bed of roses, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Alumni speaking include:

  • Zachary Cizek ’11 of Bollito’s, a food stand business based out of Chicago that brings gourmet sandwiches and sauces to street fairs and festivals. Cizek is now branching out and selling his Bollito’s Tuscan Red Sauce in the Midwest.
  • Nick ’07 and Marie (Fay) ’05 Kuhn of NorthEnd Pub and Grill, a popular bar and restaurant in Cochrane, Wis.
  • Mike McManimon ’07 of Fillmore Financial Corp, a financial advising business based in Burnsville, Minn.
  • Tucker Edwards Robeson ’09 of CDL Helpers, a locally formed business that saves companies money by helping them improve the retention rates for their professional driving staff.
  • Wes Smithe ’09 of Vaystays, a fast-growing, global vacation home rental marketplace with professionally managed inventory based out of Chicago

Zachary Cizek ’11

Zachary Cizek’s dream of selling delectable sandwiches and sauces started with a study abroad trip to Florence, Italy in the summer of 2009. The marketing major and self-proclaimed “foodie” had a great study-abroad experience, but what stuck out most in his mind was a special sandwich he’d tasted there, made from a tender brisket, slowly simmered with wine and vegetables, which added a memorable flavor.

His senior year of college, when Cizek needed to come up with a small-business plan for a business entrepreneurial class, he chose to investigate selling this unforgettable sandwich. “I knew I had a strong passion for food and this sandwich,” he said. “I called it a Taste of Tuscany. I still have (my final report and research).”

Following graduation, Cizek worked diligently to perfect his sandwich while working full-time as a medical sales representative. It was while listening to a pep talk from life coach Tony Robbins that he decided to “go for it” and enter the sandwich-selling business; Robbins advised him that if there was something he was really passionate about and couldn’t stop thinking about, he should do it.

Cizek obtained his food manager license, took classes on safe food management, and begin selling sandwiches at a booth during a Twin Cities festival. He attended four food fairs and events in Minnesota and then relocated to Chicago (with his full-time job) and continued spreading delectable dishes at festivals further south.

Customers, he said, loved the sandwich and Bollito’s got fantastic reviews. Everyone especially raved about the red sauce Cizek made from specially imported Italian peppers.

Cizek refocused his business to bottling and selling his red sauce under the Bollito’s/Tuscan Red Sauce label. He learned to acidify the sauce and make the product shelf-stable. From sandwiches to pizza to eggs, he boasts his sauce makes the perfect addition.

The Tuscan Red Sauce is currently in 12 stores in Chicago and, beginning May 1, it will be sold in all 56 Midwest Whole Foods Markets. He went from selling 5 to 10 cases a month to needing to produce 50 to 100 cases.

He will be launching additional sauce varieties and then expand into the salad dressing market. His dream is also to begin a Bollito’s fast casual restaurant chain.

“Stepping outside of the box is key,” he advises future entrepreneurs. “Saint Mary’s was so great. Faculty encouraged me to concentrate on my passion and put it into my plan. I attribute my business to Saint Mary’s.”

He credits the experience he received being a part of the Mayo Innovation Scholars Program, and he advises students to take advantage of all of the programming and networking Saint Mary’s offers, particularly through the Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. No surprise, one speaker that sticks in Cizek’s mind was David W. Anderson of Famous Dave’s.

“Saint Mary’s did a great job of bringing people from different businesses in, showing us opportunities and potential,” he said. “They really inspired me. I thought, ‘I could do that!’ If Bill Gates did what everyone else was doing, he would be an IT manager at IBM.”

Nick ’07 and Marie (Fay) ’05 Kuhn

Nick ’07 and Marie (Fay) ’05 Kuhn started in the restaurant business when they were teenagers, learning by rolling up their sleeves, wiping down tables and taking orders.

So when people question how, at 25 and 27 years old, the couple are able to run NorthEnd Pub and Grill, a popular bar and restaurant in Cochrane, Wis., Nick Kuhn explains that they aren’t novices.

Nick majored in business management with the entrepreneurship track; Marie majored in public relations and minored in marketing. It was a match perfect in marriage and in business.

Armed with business education and experience, the Kuhns began running a restaurant after a friend of theirs purchased the building and contacted them about running a restaurant out of it.

“He was a former restaurant owner and we used to know him thorough him being a customer,” Nick said. “He liked our diligence and the way we worked so he picked us. If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be where we are. He set us up for a contract for deed.”

North End Pub and Grill opened in 2010. The small, family-owned restaurant and bar has 74 seats and specializes in traditional American food, modified for the desires of their customers.

“I never cooked until got here,” Nick said. “I learned to cook from the good old of school of hard knocks. When we opened up, we had a former kitchen manager who helped us make a smooth transition to get us going and on our feet,” he added. “Those first few days, you haven’t got a clue what you’re in for.”

Nick advises students who may want to follow in his footsteps to be diligent, both in and out of school. “People will see how hard you’re working,” he said. “The interest you show in your current job (even if you’re only doing it to pay your bills) will get noticed, and someone might appreciate the hard work you’ve done. That hard work can get you somewhere. We still work hard, but it has paid off.”

He also stresses that there are multiple aspects to running your own business that you have to be prepared for­­—paying bills, managing payroll, scheduling marketing and advertising, making out taxes, managing staff….“Take all the different classes provided at Saint Mary’s,” he said. “Those classes all had information that was valuable in different ways.”

Nick says that although he and Marie are still working six or seven days a week, it’s more fun to work for yourself. “We get to work together. We’re some of the few people who would rather do it ourselves than rely on someone else,” he said.

Mike McManimon ’07

Mike McManimon started a lawn-mowing business when he was 7. “I started early,” he said. “(The entrepreneurial spirit) is either in you or it isn’t. It’s always been in me, and I saw a niche and decided it’s now or never that I give this thing a shot.”

Expanding from lawns to finances, McManimon founded Fillmore Financial Corporation—which provides general business consulting—in January of 2015.

His management and entrepreneurship classes came in handy in his work with “marketing, sales, financial strategic planning, and market research—all encompassing financial research consulting.”

Also handy are the lessons he learned working seven years for a small real-estate business. “You need experience to be taken seriously,” he said. “It’s one thing to have your education. You also need to find a mentor or superior to work under who is willing to show you the way.”

Without much room for advancement, at age 30, McManimon made the decision to start his own business based out of Burnsville, armed with a passion for entrepreneurship combined with an opportunity he saw in the market.

“It was about a year or two after the healthcare law passed, and I saw first-hand implications that had on small business,” he said. “It affected our business at the real estate company. Premiums went up 50 percent. We all had to sign up for individual plans and they would reimburse us for a portion of the cost. What I saw was an opportunity as many small businesses had to make tough decisions on how to operate. There were some that could no longer afford having full time employees to fulfill a variety of important business functions. That was the niche that I saw and have been fortunate enough to step in and provide these services on an as-needed basis.”

McManimon quickly started networking and formed relationships, strictly on word of mouth. “It’s a one-man show here, and I had to determine what workload could I handle and not be overwhelmed, be able to deliver, and still sustain myself.

“It’s equally rewarding and challenging working for myself,” he added. “I can work remotely and have control over my schedule. I commuted in rush hour traffic for 5 years, and I’ll never do that again. Freedom of working from home or remotely is fantastic; it’s the reward of controlling your own destiny. The challenging side is that you’re responsible for your own well being, it’s not as simple as working 8 to 5 and collecting your check. Sometimes I work until midnight to make sure my clients are satisfied. I run my own books, billing, taxes. It’s no walk in the park. You have to be ready for that,” he said. “I truly believe entrepreneurship is an inherent trait.”

McManimon said he decided early on in his college career that business is a versatile major. “And I had some great teachers along the way,” he said. “Jeff Hefel was one of the most influential people on me. One of the things that inspired me the most was in strategic management, when we had to do case studies. That course was the best at preparing me for the real world,” he said. “My experience at Saint Mary’s helped me with the ability to get in front of people you don’t know and trust your knowledge and experience to deliver consistent results. They encouraged us to pursue our dreams, helped us along the way, and the one-on-one attention you get is great.”

Tucker Edwards Robeson ’09

Tucker Edwards Robeson ’09 admits that he knew in college he would want to start a business, but he certainly never thought it would be trucking-related.

The entrepreneurship and small business management major began CDL Helpers, a consulting firm for trucking companies based out of Winona, when he acquired his first client. He left the GIS master’s program to pursue his business.

“It all came about because I was a recruiter for truck drivers at a gig in the Twin Cities after graduating,” he said. “I learned a lot about different problems in the industry. I learned that companies weren’t doing anything to study this problem.

“I interview truck drivers and talk to them about their job and their experiences interacting with managers. Then we gather data about that, so what we’re trying to do is turn qualitative information into quantitative information about job satisfaction, employee engagement levels, and perceptions of conflict.”

Edwards Robeson examines not only what employees reported during interviews, he looks at employees who are no longer working at the company and why they left, if there was a clear reason.

“I find out if their terminations were preventable (like if the employees are disengaged and are doing things that knowingly put their jobs in danger). In quantifying this for the business owner, we discuss how much it is costing them to have this problem. How much is it worth to fix?”

Employee issues and high turnover often cost companies a lot of money, but whether business owners are willing to make changes has to begin with the willingness of business leaders. “There are $30 million companies that should be $70 to $80 million but aren’t because they are complacent,” Edwards Robeson said.

Before anyone thinks of starting his or her own business, he advises asking, “Do you have money? If you don’t have money, what are you willing to give up? You will have to trade putting off having kids, maybe be willing to live in your parents’ basement, work side jobs, give up sleep. It takes time.”

Edwards Robeson said that he is grateful for professors at Saint Mary’s who were curious and shared that love of being curious with him. “I wasn’t a fabulous student. I liked the professors a lot but I don’t like to sit in class,” he said. “A lot of my professors were curious people and even when I wasn’t the best student, they would share their curiosity and encourage curiosity in others. If I was fascinated with something a little off-topic, they still encouraged curiosity and promoted discussion. The more you learn by exploring concepts more deeply on your own, the better off you are.”

Wes Smithe, center, is joined by his partners Geoff Polk (CFO), left, and Chris Brusznicki (CEO), right.

Wes Smithe ’09

Wes Smithe ’09 went from dreaming about tropical destinations to helping others book their vacation destination dreams.

Two of his partners founded GamedayHousing, a vacation home rental marketplace that allows property owners who live near sporting event venues to earn extra income by renting out their homes to respectful fans on big game weekends. The bootstrapped business, which continues to thrive today, started with just one house in South Bend near the University of Notre Dame.

After graduating with an entrepreneurship major, Smithe joined their business venture, helping them to expand to over a dozen major college football markets with more than 1,000 properties across the nation.

By 2011, all three partners had quit their day jobs, and in 2014 they founded Vaystays, a fast-growing vacation home rental marketplace headquartered in the River North neighborhood of downtown Chicago. Similar to the rooms listed by trusted brands on, 100 percent of the listings on (all whole homes/units) are verified, professionally managed, and instantly bookable. This is a claim that both Airbnb and HomeAway cannot make. Smithe is a co-founder and the chief marketing officer.

“We started in the Caribbean,” Smithe said. “The Midwest polar vortex was looming, and we were all day-dreaming about warm destinations. Using our experience running GamedayHousing, we began signing on individual property owners and slowly but surely penetrated new markets. While we were experiencing success, it wasn’t quick enough and there were notable challenges. For instance, many of the owners were managing their units remotely, which often led to quality issues. And, because most of the prospective clients were distributing their property through more than one listing platform, calendars weren’t always kept up-to-date which led to double bookings.”

After making an effort to network in the industry, Smithe became acquainted with many well-respected property management companies, including one in Florida he signed who manages more than 2,000 properties. Given the closing cycle was comparable to an individual property owner, it seemed plausible that focusing on property management companies instead of individual property owners might be more scalable. So they went out of their way to build a custom proprietary web crawler for this client that allowed their calendars/ rates on Vaystays to be updated automatically daily.

“But there was still room for improvement with integration between our system and theirs,” he said. Specifically, the Florida property manager also distributes on multiple channels, so the relationship isn’t exclusive. This means there are reservations coming in from multiple channels, and calendars/rates are changing in their system throughout the day. And, pricing wasn’t penny perfect, which caused accounting issues.

“We then inked a deal with this client’s property management software provider, and in turn are now fully integrated with their API,” he said. “Thus, once we were integrated with the API, the property manager was able to ‘switch on’ Vaystays in their software portal, upon which thousands of listings instantly began importing. As well, calendars and rates updated automatically in real-time all day, every day. This is one of many clients this software provider serves. Light bulb.”

The company has since signed deals with several other leading property management software providers who each manage relationships with dozens or hundreds of property management companies. Their goal is to have more than 100,000 listings this summer and to be the third-largest marketplace in the world within the next 12 months.

“We’re getting more and more bookings every week and it’s very exciting,” he said. “Getting here wasn’t easy though. It’s a constant grind for the entire team, and we’re all solving the biggest problems any of us have ever had to solve in business.”

So who’s most likely to start their own business? According to Smithe, “those who have good ideas that they are very passionate about.”

“I really like to speak my mind, and if I have a vision, I like to execute it; I’m surrounded by like-minded individuals in this regard, and we all push back on one another to achieve the best results day in and day out.”

Smithe was a transfer student to Saint Mary’s, and he admits it took some time for him to fit into the smaller school atmosphere. He’s grateful, though, as he was able to study abroad in Spain, as well as graduate on time. To help him reach that goal, he had to take 21 credits his final semester at Saint Mary’s. That balancing act, in and of itself, he said, helped him to prepare for the future.

“And I really enjoyed a lot of business professors; they were just good, personable people, like Dr. Tom Marpe,” he added. “I remember our final strategies presentation, which my team ended up winning. Given our professional experience I’m sure my former team members and I would laugh if we watched our presentation today, but the case study involved Starbucks and what was on the horizon for the company. At the time Starbucks didn’t have much of a presence in China, and given their middle class was exploding and Chinese consumers were trading up for luxury goods, one of our main recommendations was greater expansion throughout that continent. Lo and behold, Starbucks has exploded in China in the years since. Maybe Howard Schultz read our deck?”


Alumni in Action: John McDonough ’75

Thu, 03/31/2016 - 9:00am

John McDonough ’75

President and CEO of the Chicago Blackhawks
Hometown: Chicago
Major: Communication Arts

John McDonough joined the Chicago Blackhawks in 2007 as president, and was named president and chief executive officer in 2011. Under his guidance, in what Forbes Magazine has called “the greatest sports business turnaround ever,” the Blackhawks have revitalized the team’s profile and re-energized their fan base. With McDonough’s leadership, the Blackhawks have become one of professional sports’ biggest success stories. Since he joined the Blackhawks, the team has won Stanley Cup titles in 2010, 2013, and 2015, the first organization in the NHL’s salary cap era to capture two championships. Prior to joining the Blackhawks, McDonough served as president of the Chicago Cubs. During his tenure, the Cubs won the 2007 National League Central Division while setting an all-time franchise attendance record. As the Cubs’ chief, and in his previous role as senior vice president of marketing and broadcasting, he was widely viewed as a sports marketing and management innovator who played a major role in increasing the Cubs’ fan base and attracting sponsorships for one of the most successful professional sports franchises in America. McDonough has returned to Saint Mary’s on multiple occasions to share his story with the Saint Mary’s community and serves on the Athletic Advisory Board.

Read more Alumni in Action stories.

Recent alumnus now analyzing data for Rams

Tue, 03/29/2016 - 12:26pm

Preston Black ’15 always dreamed he would one day work in the professional sports field. He could never have predicted he’d land a job with the Los Angeles Rams just two months after graduating from Saint Mary’s University.

When the former Cardinal men’s basketball player first chose his areas of study, he knew he wanted to double major—in Sport Management and Spanish. Then, when Saint Mary’s began offering a Business Intelligence and Analytics major his junior year, Black decided to take on a third major. “I thought it was a big opportunity, and after I took a class in it, I liked it right away,” he said. “I knew it would make me more marketable.”

Black said that several of his business analysis projects were based on sports analysis. In fact, for his senior project, he created a prediction model that evaluated Major League Baseball players’ statistics in order to determine a free agent’s contract value.

“My range of error was within a half million to a million dollars. I wasn’t 100 percent accurate, but fairly accurate,” he said.

The exercise came in handy when the Aurora, Ill., native applied for the job with the Rams as a data analyst and business intelligence coordinator, a title he’s held since July 2015.

“That was one of my bigger selling points of being able to tell a story through data,” he said.

Black says that in his current position he works in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system and deals with all aspects of business for the Los Angeles Rams, from concessions to ticket sales to sponsorships, linking all aspects of the business, from finance to customer service, so each area is in communication. Every day is different for the two-person department.

“There are always different tasks, whether we’re cleaning up data or we’re looking at different data sets,” he said. “We make sure the right people are seeing the right type of information at the right time.”

By looking at the data in different ways, Black also creates dashboards and reports that assist with making business decisions. For example, he creates different lead lists for ticket sales, based on what previous fans had purchased, in an effort to find additional ways to reach new fans.

“Michael Ratajczyk (Business Department) always talked about how a lot of business intelligence is data cleanup, and that knowing what you’re looking at makes it a lot easier to break (the data) down and do something productive with it. That’s what a lot of my job has been, looking at the information and organizing it. Professor Ratajczyk would tell us that the numbers can tell you a story, and you need to know how to look at them just right.”

Black is in the process of moving to California as the Rams make a triumphant return to their former home state, beginning with the 2016 season. “It’s a whole new opportunity to experience the team’s move,” he said. “L.A. hasn’t had a team since 1994, which is exciting and almost overwhelming. Just to be in this opportunity to work for the Los Angeles Rams at 23 years old is incredible … I’m really lucky.”

Black also says he’s proud to be part of the first official class to graduate with the Business Intelligence and Analytics degree. “Professor Ratajczyk was always very helpful, always there to answer questions,” he said. “He helped me get an internship at Saint Mary’s working in the Student Success Center, which was a big résumé boost for me. He was a great teacher. I’d like to see the program grow.”



Six young Saint Mary’s alumni entrepreneurs to share stories April 5

Tue, 03/29/2016 - 10:43am

WINONA, Minn. — Saint Mary’s University will welcome back six successful young alumni entrepreneurs 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 5. The public is invited to listen to their stories and hear tips about starting and running a business. The event, sponsored by the Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at Saint Mary’s, will be held in Salvi Hall, located on the third floor of Saint Mary’s Hall.

Alumni speaking include:

  • Zachary Cizek ’11 of Bollito’s, a food stand business based out of Chicago that brings gourmet sandwiches and sauces to street fairs and festivals. Cizek is now branching out and selling his Bollito’s Tuscan Red Sauce in the Midwest.
  • Nick ’07 and Marie (Fay) ’05 Kuhn of North End Pub and Grill, a popular bar and restaurant in Cochrane, Wis.
  • Mike McManimon ’07 of Fillmore Financial Corp, a financial advising business based in Burnsville, Minn.
  • Tucker Edwards Robeson ’09 of CDL Helpers, a locally formed business that saves companies money by helping them improve the retention rates for their professional driving staff.
  • Wes Smithe ’09 of Vaystays, a fast-growing, global vacation home rental marketplace with professionally managed inventory based out of Chicago.

The Kabara Institute aims to incite a passion for the entrepreneurial spirit in students across Saint Mary’s University, as well as the wider community, by providing opportunities for learners to interact with entrepreneurs and experience entrepreneurship first hand. The institute was founded in 2005 with a goal to foster a greater understanding and appreciation for the importance of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship in our society. The Kabara Institute was founded by 1948 alumnus Dr. Jon Kabara and his wife, Betty. Jon Kabara was a medical entrepreneur who knew he wanted to share his passion, spirit, and know-how with the aspiring entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

Photo caption: 2011 alumnus Zachary Cizek’s Bollito’s Tuscan Red Sauce will soon be available in Whole Foods Markets.



New leadership emphasis at Saint Mary’s

Thu, 03/24/2016 - 9:25am

Leadership is in our mission—”Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota awakens, nurtures, and empowers learners to ethical lives of service and leadership.”

But it’s much more than that.

It’s embraced by students and faculty, regardless of discipline.

It’s embraced and showcased by our thousands of alumni throughout the world in their workplaces, communities, and homes.

It’s in our ethos as a culture.

For years to come, we want—and the world needs—leadership to be a core value.

So Saint Mary’s is placing even more emphasis on leadership development.

This year, at the undergraduate college campus in Winona, several new leadership initiatives have been launched.

First of all, students and staff were treated to a leadership series that included alumni and other guest speakers who told their stories and provided tips on successful leadership. They included:

  • John McDonough ’75, CEO and President of the Chicago Blackhawks, who brought the Stanley Cup to his alma mater (again) and also spent time connecting with and presenting to students and student-athletes about leadership and success. During the September visit, McDonough stressed the importance of strong teamwork, as well as drive and determination.
  • Chuck Bolton ’80, an executive leadership coach and author who returned to the Winona Campus Feb. 4-5, shared leadership advice and keys to success and happiness with students, staff, and faculty. A former student-athlete/ left-handed pitcher from the Chicago area, Bolton shared life lessons and tips from his new book, The Reinvented Me: Five Steps to Happiness in a Crazy Busy World.
  • Alex Sheen, creator and founder of the “because I said I would” social movement, spoke on the Winona undergraduate, residential campus and at Cotter High School this fall. Known for his TED Talks and YouTube videos, as well as his commitment to promoting leadership development through his nonprofit, Sheen shared powerful stories encouraging action during a convocation for the entire student body.

“The leadership events held on campus have really helped me grow as a student and person. Because college life can become so hectic at times, these events have allowed me to be able to sit back and think about what I can do to become a better leader,” said Chloe Morrison ’17, an International Business major and a swimmer. Morrison attended all of the aforementioned leadership series’ events. She had good things to say about each one.

“Alex Sheen’s presentation really struck a chord with me, because it can become very easy to say you’ll do something and then forget about it. Sheen reminded me that I should always try to stick to my word. Everyone on campus was really excited when John McDonough came to visit because he is a great example of how important leadership is and how much you can achieve as a leader. When Chuck Bolton talked to us about the keys to happiness, I realized how important it is to take time for myself and reflect on everything I have to be thankful for,” Morrison said.

The impact on students is what it’s all about. “The goal is to help develop the next generation of world leaders,” said Jamison Rusthoven, a member of the leadership series’ planning group and head men’s basketball coach at Saint Mary’s. “The key with leadership learning is that one size doesn’t fit all,” said Rusthoven. “The more you learn about it, the more effective you’ll be to evaluate your tools and experiences.”

In addition to the three previously mentioned leadership series’ guest speakers, co-curricular and extra-curricular leadership opportunities occur with regularity at Saint Mary’s. There are Living Learning Communities where students participate in theme-related, growth-enhancement activities, such as trips to rock climb, visit a museum, or hear an off-campus speaker. Saint Mary’s University also offers numerous (more than 100) student clubs and organizations, and if you don’t find one you like, you can start your own. What a leadership opportunity that provides! Just ask Heidi Ledermann ’19 who started the Nordic Ski Club this year.

But that’s not nearly all!

Saint Mary’s is home to more than 20 NCAA Division III athletic teams that involve about 30 percent of the student body as leaders in various fields of competition, the Student Success Center where all students can obtain advice and sign-up for internship experiences, the Hendrickson Institute for Ethical Leadership forum featuring guest speaker Former U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman, Jr. on April 20, 2016,

And, not last or least, starting Fall Semester 2016 students on the undergraduate college campus will be able to minor in Leadership. This new minor is a combination of theory and practical learning to prepare students for today and tomorrow.

“Expectations for professionals are increasing and this new curriculum not only reflects these changes but also makes graduates more desirable in the job market and better prepared for career advancement,” according to Dean Beckman, chair of the Department of Communication. The Leadership minor resides in communication, although it is open to all students regardless of their major area of study.

This undergraduate college curricular offering joins the university’s existing academic offerings focused on leadership, including Saint Mary’s Master’s in Educational Leadership, Master’s in Organizational Leadership, and Doctorate (Ed.D.) in Leadership.




Alumni in Action: Robert Rotering ’71

Thu, 03/24/2016 - 9:00am

Doctor, global medical practitioner, teacher
Hometown: Dickinson, N.D.
Major: Philosophy and Pre-Med

Dr. Robert Rotering served as a physician in the most remote areas of the world; cared for wounded soldiers in Saudi Arabia; flew more than 150 transport and rescue flights as a transport surgeon; authored two books; and even experienced the world’s first artificial heart transplant. Instead of a lucrative career in medicine, Dr. Rotering said what was calling his heart was a career in service to others and in support of his country. He has practiced in Grenada, West Indies; Saudi Arabia; Brunei; Borneo; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He said the times in his career that have been the most satisfying have been cradling a dying soldier taking his last breath, or in Southeast Asia, going up the Borneo rivers and caring for indigenous people who had never met a Westerner or benefitted from our medicine. “It gave me a sense of satisfaction that I never could have had if I had practiced for money,” he said. Read this feature article about Dr. Rotering that was previously published in the Spring 2014 Saint Mary’s Magazine.

Read more Alumni in Action stories.

Winona Campus closed today due to weather conditions, Rochester Center to open at 4:30 p.m.

Thu, 03/24/2016 - 7:43am

Updated March 24, 2016 at 8 a.m.

Here’s a weather-related announcement for Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota on Thursday, March 24, 2016:

  • The Winona Campus will be closed today due to extreme weather conditions. Campus offices and business operations will be closed. Essential employees will be contacted individually by their supervisor to determine the need to report for work.
  • The Rochester Center is closed today until 4:30 p.m. due to RCTC being closed. We will reopen at 4:30 p.m. and evening classes will be held.
  • The entire University, at all locations, will be closed for Easter Break from Friday, March 25 through Monday, March 28.

When traveling, use caution.

Severe weather emergency closure information for Saint Mary’s University students attending classes through the Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs is online at Campus Safety for the Winona Campus is online at

Saint Mary’s student is found safe; thanks for help in locating

Wed, 03/23/2016 - 3:45pm

WINONA, Minn. — Saint Mary’s University student Luke Ringhand has been safely located.

Ringhand was found earlier today (Wednesday, March 23) in the Chicago area.

The Saint Mary’s community wishes to thank the quick actions of the Winona Law Enforcement Center, as well as everyone who helped to spread the word.

Ringhand had gone missing from the Winona Campus during the early morning hours of Monday, March 21.

“Luke’s family, as well as the entire Saint Mary’s community, give a prayer of thanks that Luke has been located and is safe,” said Brother William Mann, president of Saint Mary’s University. “The response of our regional media, as well as our online communities in spreading the word, has been astounding. We especially appreciate the quick actions of law enforcement personnel. We are blessed to be a part of such a caring community.”


Page Series announces 30th anniversary season

Wed, 03/23/2016 - 3:44pm

WINONA, Minn. — Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota’s Performance Center proudly announces its 2016-2017 season. The 30th annual series, which runs Sept.10, 2016 through April 8, 2017, honors the Page Series’ rich history of presenting professional performing artists and celebrates some of today’s brightest young talent.

Returning to the Page Theatre are Minneapolis-based modern dance company Shapiro & Smith Dance, who gave a sold-out performance during the 2000-2001 season; The Second City sketch comedy and improvisation troupe, a highlight of the 1993-1994 and 2013-2014 seasons; and Virginia Rep On Tour (formerly Theatre IV) performing their Civil Rights Movement-inspired play, I Have a Dream. The season also includes the a cappella show VOCALOSITY, the Shanghai Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China, Childsplay’s production of Rock the Presidents, Tout à Trac’s production of Alice in Wonderland, Irish band Caladh Nua, and a performance of Sacred Earth with live music by Ragamala Dance.

“We are thrilled to celebrate 30 seasons of bringing renowned performing artists and engaging experiences to the Winona community,” said Performance Center managing director Theresa Remick. “Our 30th season offers a wonderful variety of events that highlight the diversity of art forms and traditions flourishing in today’s cultural landscape.” The season, selected by Remick in consultation with the Page Series Advisory Committee, highlights cultures of the United States, Canada, Ireland, China, and India.

Over the course of the season, the Page Series will build upon its educational and community outreach programs with free events offered throughout the Winona area, including residencies by Shapiro & Smith Dance and Ragamala Dance, as well as the continuation of Page in History events at the Winona County History Center and Gatherings at the Winona Public Library. A full schedule of community events will be available in late summer.

Subscriptions for the 30th anniversary season go on sale Wednesday, March 30. This year, patrons will have the opportunity to choose from interest-based packages such as Dancing Delights, Explore the World, Musical Moments, and Family Favorites, as well as the option to build their own package of any three or more events. In addition to special pricing for Page Series performances, subscribers will also have the opportunity for advance purchase of tickets to Dance Repertory Company’s The Nutcracker (Nov. 30-Dec. 3). Subscriptions may be purchased online at (new subscribers only), by phone at 507-457-1715, or in person at the Performance Center Box Office from noon to 6 p.m. weekdays through May 6, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays beginning May 9. Tickets to individual performances go on sale Monday, Aug. 15. Full details about 2016-2017 performances, artists, and subscription packages are available at

The 2016-2017 Page Series

Shapiro & Smith Dance

Sat., Sept. 10 • 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $24, $21

Founded in 1985 by Danial Shapiro and Joanie Smith, Shapiro & Smith Dance has a reputation for performing tales of beauty and biting wit that run the gamut from searingly provocative to absurdly hilarious. Dancing with breathtaking physicality and emotional depth, they have earned an international reputation for virtuosity, substance, craft, and pure abandonment. The company’s blend of contemporary dance and dramatic theater has elicited enthusiastic receptions across the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Canada, and its work has been presented at major festivals and venues including the Joyce Theater, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, Dance Theater Workshop, PS 122, Festival di Milano, Teatro de Danza in Mexico City, and the Korean International Festival.

Area dancers will have the opportunity to work with members of Shapiro & Smith Dance at master classes offered in June and September, offered in partnership with Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts. The company will also invite several local dancers to perform alongside them in their Page Series performance. Details and registration information for master classes and the performance are available at


Sat., Oct. 8 • 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $27, $24

Presented in partnership with Saint Mary’s Student Activities Committee

VOCALOSITY is the all-new live concert event from the creative mind of artistic producer Deke Sharon (Pitch Perfect, The Sing-Off) that takes a cappella to a whole new level! This fast-paced production features an all-star ensemble of diverse young vocalists singing some of today’s chart-topping hits in brand-new arrangements that set a new standard for 12-part harmony. It’s the aca-perfect concert experience!

Area a cappella groups will have the opportunity to enter the “Aca-Performance of a Lifetime” contest, and the winning group will be invited to open the Oct. 8 show. Details of the contest will be available at in the coming months.

Shanghai Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China

Wed., Oct. 26 • 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $30, $27

Founded in 1959, the Shanghai Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China has more than 100 performers and is one of China’s most renowned acrobatic troupes. Its acts have won silver and gold medals at the Cirque de Demain festival, the Italian Golden Circus Festival, the Massy International Circus Festival, and the Russian International Circus Festival as well as the China National Acrobatic Magic Competition and the Wuhan International Acrobatic Festival. In addition to touring around the world, the company performs a full season in Shanghai each year. For their Page Series performance, the troupe will perform their newest production, “Shanghai Nights,” which celebrates scenes from the nighttime skyline to the Shanghai countryside.

Childsplay presents Rock the Presidents

Wed., Nov. 10 • 6:30 p.m.

Tickets: $14, $6

Book and Lyrics by Dwayne Hartford

Music by Sarah Roberts

Directed by Anthony Runfola

The Page Series celebrates election week with Rock the Presidents. Childsplay’s smash-hit musical about the presidents of the United States is back by popular demand! Rock the Presidents is a high octane, multi-media-filled, musical revue spanning 223 years of the American presidency—from George Washington to Barack Obama. The 44 men who rose to the highest office in the land are brought to life through rock, pop, and folk music. A second performance for school groups will be presented Thursday, Nov. 11 at 10 a.m.


The Second City

Sat., Jan. 21 • 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $27, $24

A favorite of audiences during the 1993-94 and 2013-14 seasons, Chicago’s legendary sketch and improvisational comedy theater returns to Winona with “The Best of The Second City.” This must-see show features the best sketches and songs from The Second City’s 55-year history made famous by superstars like Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray and more—as well as their trademark improvisation. Fresh, fast, and always spectacularly funny,​ The Second City is celebrating 55 years of producing cutting-edge satirical revues and launching the careers of generation after generation of comedy’s best and brightest.

Alice in Wonderland

Wed., Feb. 8 • 6:30 p.m.

Tickets: $14, $6

Based on Lewis Carroll’s classic

Written and Directed by Hugo Bélanger

English translation by Maureen Labonté

A production of Tout à Trac

Alice refuses to do her homework. She prefers to play and daydream in her father’s study where she stumbles across a strange rabbit that nibbles on books. Wanting to stop him from eating books, she follows him into his rabbit hole. Faithful to the unbridled humor and madness of the original tale, this adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s famous book is filled with surprises that bring the vast range of colorful characters to life by a set in which each book becomes a door to the next adventure. A homage to reading, Alice in Wonderland offers a window into our imagination. A school matinee performance will be offered at 10 a.m.

Caladh Nua

Wed., March 15 • 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $27, $24

The Page Series’ tradition of presenting leading Irish musicians continues with Caladh Nua. Caladh Nua is a tightly knit, vibrant band with its origins deeply rooted in the Southern counties of Ireland. Comprised of five versatile musicians and singers playing a wide selection of instruments, the band has captured the essential qualities of traditional Irish music and balanced them finely with an innovative contemporary flair. Through Caladh Nua’s collective influences, both the history and future of Irish music spark to life with a charismatic verve. From slow airs and plaintive vocals hauntingly delivered to modern arrangements played with virtuosity and spell-binding flair, Caladh Nua respectfully delivers the music of their heritage and carry it forward seamlessly into the future. Fans of 2013-14 Page Series artists Danú will love Caladh Nua!

I Have a Dream

Mon., March 20 • 6:30 p.m.

Tickets: $14, $6

Play by Bruce Craig Miller

A production of Virginia Rep on Tour

The impact of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is chronicled in this compelling dramatization of the life and times of one of the most influential and charismatic leaders of the “American Century.” Inspired by the arrest of Rosa Parks, Dr. King gains national recognition and becomes the dominant force in the Civil Rights Movement during its decade of greatest achievement. I Have a Dream tells this inspirational story of this great leader’s struggle and his dream of lifting “our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.” School performances will be offered at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Ragamala Dance

Sat., April 8 • 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $24, $21

Ragamala Dance explores the dynamism of Bharatanatyam, from its ancient roots to its contemporary possibilities. Drawing from the myth and spirituality of their South Indian heritage, Co-Artistic Directors Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy create dance landscapes that dwell in opposition—secular and spiritual life, inner and outer worlds, human and natural concerns, rhythm and stillness—to find the transcendence that lies between. Sacred Earth explores the interconnectedness between human emotions and the environments that shape them. Performed with live music, the dancers create a sacred space to honor the divinity in the natural world and the sustenance we derive from it. The company will be in residence April 6 and 7, and will offer workshops and activities throughout the Winona area.


Weather-related announcements – Wednesday, March 23

Wed, 03/23/2016 - 2:53pm

Updated March 23, 2016 at 2:45 p.m.

Here are weather-related announcements for Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota on Wednesday, March 23, 2016:

  • Winona Campus afternoon classes are canceled. Offices remain open for normal business hours.
  • The Rochester Center is closing at 4:30 p.m. today, due to the closing of Rochester Community and Technical College facilities. All evening classes are canceled.
  • Apple Valley Center is closing at 4:00 p.m. All evening classes are canceled.

When traveling, students, faculty, and staff are advised to please take necessary safety precautions.

Severe weather emergency closure information for Saint Mary’s University students attending classes through the Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs is online at Campus Safety for the Winona Campus is online at

Saint Mary’s invites public to learn to line dance, walk the track in support of cancer survivors

Wed, 03/23/2016 - 11:57am

WINONA, Minn. — At Relay for Life events, communities across the globe come together to honor cancer survivors, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease. The public is invited to join Saint Mary’s University’s annual Relay for Life Friday, April 15, beginning at 6 p.m. in the university’s Gostomski Fieldhouse. The event runs until 2 a.m. Saturday, April 16.

Want to help out raise money for the event—and the great cause—while learning some fancy footwork? Line dancing lessons will be offered by guest instructors Laurie Haase and Eddie Hale for a minimum $5 donation at the Blackhorse Bar and Grill on Sunday, April 3, from 1 to 4 p.m.

To join a team or donate, go to:

Many fun activities are scheduled throughout the night. Anyone is welcome to stop by and partake in the activities or to make a lap in honor or memory of a loved one who has battled cancer.

All cancer survivors are invited to participate in a special ceremony near the start of Relay for Life. In a very moving portion of the evening, survivors walk the first lap on the Saint Mary’s track as others applaud. Everyone then joins in behind the survivors in a touching show of support.

As another opportunity to show your support, you can remember or honor your loved one with a contribution during the American Cancer Society’s Luminaria Ceremony. Stop by and purchase a luminary and decorate it in honor or memory of someone who has battled cancer.