St. Olaf Campus News
Through For the Hill and Beyond, St. Olaf’s comprehensive campaign, donors are helping to lower student costs, create new program models, and increase equity in participation for international and off-campus study — as of July 31, donors have generously given $10.96 million to support St. Olaf’s study programs and student access. Last year, gifts helped 496 Oles study off-campus; this number will grow in the years ahead.Gifts through For the Hill and Beyond are increasing aid to help Oles study abroad.
Mists closed in as nursing major Erin Nemetz ’19 made her way to Machu Picchu last January. Quietly she thought about the millions who walked the same trail — it made her think about home.
“For me, being in Peru affirmed I want to work as a nurse,” says Erin. “There is also so much I can do on the way.”
Erin and 17 of her fellow Oles were in Peru as part of St. Olaf’s Peruvian Medical Experience. Over Interim, they worked with local and volunteer or nonprofit providers — many whom are alumni — to set up and work in clinics in municipal orphanages and Andean mountain communities.
The program is one of 123 St. Olaf offers in 43 countries worldwide. Combining academic and experiential learning with self-reflection, Oles gain life-changing experiences that last far beyond the Hill.“These opportunities are transformational. They foster academic engagement, vocational discernment, intercultural development, and personal growth. Oles come back seeing themselves and the world in a different way.”
— Jodi Malmgren ’92, Director, International and Off-Campus Studies
This potential for impact drives St. Olaf’s leadership — it outpaces every other baccalaureate college in the U.S. by the number of students who study abroad. Yet the opportunity cost is high. In 2017–18 it averaged $2,312 to $4,043 more than studying on campus, with Interim programs averaging highest.Oles outside the Plaza de Armas in Cusco, Peru
Through For the Hill and Beyond, donors are helping to lower student costs, create new program models, and increase equity in participation. Since the campaign launch in 2014, nearly five times as many Oles are receiving support to study off-campus.
Biology major Neetij Krishnan ’20 learned more about patients he supported as a Spanish translator. He plans to be a pediatric oncologist.
“Some of the orphans had heartbreaking stories but also wishes, joys, and bright personalities, like any child,” says Neetij. “Their happiness was inspiring. Our work wasn’t just about diagnoses, but creating genuine relationships that support effective care.”
Doug Tate ’70 launched the program in 2005 with Professor Emeritus of Biology Ted Johnson — alumni providers return every year. Their continued work is one of many impacts Oles have made globally.
“I see myself going back too,” says Erin.
Often missed on busy early semester calendars, Constitution Day usually passes without much thought or fanfare. But this September 17, colleges and universities around the country are using the occasion to recommit to preparing students for effective engagement in democracy through dialogue and deliberation — something that was so critical at the nation’s founding and in the centuries since.
All educational institutions that receive federal funds are required to observe Constitution Day, but in 2018 St. Olaf is seizing the opportunity to highlight and build upon the menu of dialogue activities that will be available on campus this year. Thanks to an ongoing collaborative effort by the Institute for Freedom & Community, Academic Civic Engagement (ACE), and the Dean of Students Office at St. Olaf, Oles will have more chances to practice the art of civil discourse across political disagreements, cultural differences, and other challenging yet essential concerns.
Constitution Day at St. Olaf will begin at 10:45 a.m. with small group conversations and a Know Your Values exercise facilitated by Professor of Political Science Douglas Casson’s Constitutional Law students in the Buntrock Commons Crossroads. Participants will explore how their own personal values connect with shared American ideals — such as liberty, justice, and equality — and reflect on how to better understand those with differing values. Students, faculty, and staff are all welcome to be a part of these important conversations.
“Living within a constitutional government means recognizing that our deepest disagreements take place within a framework defined by shared commitments,” Casson says. “One of the goals of the Know Your Values exercise is to help participants clarify their own views within the context of truths that we hold in common. We should not expect to agree on everything — even the founders disagreed on some very important issues. Yet it is worth reminding each other of basic principles — freedom of speech and press, separation of powers, rule of law — that make democratic self-government possible.”
At 12 p.m. all are encouraged to join President David R. Anderson ’74 in the Buntrock Commons Crossroads for a public reading of the Constitution. Drop-in readers are more than welcome, but members of the campus community may also sign up for specific passages ahead of time here.
“The common values by which we agree to live together in community are enshrined in our Constitution. It is a living document. What better way to celebrate Constitution Day than to take the time to read and ponder what it says?” — President Anderson
“The common values by which we agree to live together in community are enshrined in our Constitution,” says President Anderson. “It is a living document. What better way to celebrate Constitution Day than to take the time to read and ponder what it says?”
Meanwhile, students from the American Conversations course will be assisting with voter registration, and students from Casson’s Constitutional Law course will crowdsource and collect proposed amendments to the Constitution that they will later analyze as part of a class discussion.
This year’s Constitution Day activities were sparked in large part through Minnesota Campus Compact. Founded in 1994, Minnesota Campus Compact supports 37 colleges and universities in preparing students for lives of engaged citizenship and fulfilling the public purpose of higher education. St. Olaf is one of six institutions to receive a grant to support these activities through the Minnesota Campus Compact Dialogue Initiative.
Constitution Day is only one of several dialogue-related initiatives on campus. This fall, the Institute for Freedom & Community is partnering with the Better Angels organization and St. Olaf alumni Annika Fjelstad ’85, Lisa Larges ’85, and Bruce MacKenzie ’72 to organize workshops that will help students build skills in communicating across political divides. The Center for Multicultural and International Engagement also continues to host a variety of different activities designed to spark meaningful conversations, including the Sustained Dialogue program.
“The St. Olaf community is really tight. You shouldn’t be scared to send an email, or pickup the phone, because an Ole is going to take care of you.” -Blake
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Erika Malpass ’19 had weekly meetings with Dr. Timothy Mahr (left) to discuss progress of the composition piece. Here Malpass shows Mahr a freshly typed score.
What does summer research actually sound like? The clatter of laboratory equipment or a flurry of keystrokes might come to mind at first. But, with thoughts springing from her fingers to the piano keys, Music Composition major Erika Malpass ’19 shows that research is meant to be heard.
As part of the Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry (CURI) program, Malpass worked with Professor of Music Timothy Mahr to compose a piece that the St. Olaf Band will perform in Spring 2019.
The college’s CURI program provides opportunities for St. Olaf students from all academic disciplines to gain an in-depth understanding of a particular subject by working closely with a St. Olaf faculty member in a research framework.
Professor Emeritus of Art A. Mac Gimse approached Mahr, who is the conductor of the St. Olaf Band, with the idea of creating a music piece to accompany the unveiling of his new sculpture and his poem, both of which draw inspiration from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
In order to artistically communicate the breadth and depth of King’s impact to as many people as possible, Gimse felt it necessary to approach the project from varying angles. With Malpass’ composition piece and Gimse’s poem and sculpture, “it becomes an interdisciplinary presentation,” says Mahr. “So if the poem doesn’t speak to you, maybe the sculpture does. And if neither of those speak to you, maybe the music does.”
Malpass’ piece will be comprised of four sections to mimic the four verses of Gimse’s poem, titled “Out of a Mountain of Despair, a Stone of Hope.” The 50th anniversary of King’s assassination — April 4, 2018 — sparked this vision to artistically deal with heavy topics such as social justice and racism to celebrate his accomplishments.At the piano in Dr. Mahr’s office, Erika Malpass ’19 makes some adjustments to her handwritten score.
Malpass, the second student to work with Gimse, explains that this project is not your typical summer college research. Nevertheless, she has taken on a large task. “It is research in that you have to do study of the ensembles, study of the other works for the ensemble, and use all the analysis of the poem. And it is to create a project based on that research,” says Malpass.
Prior to beginning the creative process necessary for composing, Malpass became a bookworm, burying herself in stacks of library books on King. In addition to putting together her own analysis of Gimse’s poem, she also listened to a range of composers and researched band instruments and repertoire.
Then she began tickling the piano keys, finding compelling musical ideas to translate her research into an audible piece. Her overflowing folder of handwritten sheet music slowly became ordered as she figured out transitions, and ordering of sections, and which instruments play what and when. It all adds up to a well-informed piece of music that captures the urgency of social justice.
To furnish her piece with the right movement and energy, Malpass took even the smallest details into consideration. “She had me recite the poetry so she actually had a sense of the verbal cadence in each stanza, with different grammatical structures, including repetitions or refrains,” explains Gimse.
“It’s a monumental task physically just to create the score. In an overture of five minutes duration, there are usually 20,000-30,000 marks in the score, and each one of those is a decision. This will be a more complex piece, so there might 30,000-40,000 decisions that she’ll have to make,” says Mahr.Erika Malpass ’19 paging through her mass of sheet music overflowing from her trusty folder.
Primarily being a violinist, Malpass has quickly had to familiarize herself with band instruments, such as wind and brass, an opportunity not readily available in composition courses. “This work has a much larger architecture than assignments in composition classes … This is just a deeply broadening experience,” Mahr says.
“The instruments just function completely differently, and so writing for them is completely different than writing for piano or violin, which is what I’m more familiar with. That’s another part of the research: ‘How does this work?’, ‘What can I write?’, ‘What are they really good at?’, and ‘What do they sound like doing this or that?'” says Malpass.
Mahr emphasizes that “it is important to have a CURI project within the arts. Research is asking the big questions: ‘What if?’, ‘How?’, ‘Why?’ In the music composition world, it is the same thing. What if we use these kinds of instruments? How might it affect the listener if we use this technique? It is a very personalized process. It’s her music the whole way.”
“It is such a privilege to work with the massively talented Erika, and I’m pleased that Dr. Mahr finds this to be a worthwhile project,” says Gimse.
Over the past few years, St. Olaf College has worked to integrate advising within an expanded portfolio of academic support services for students. This fall, this change will be official, as its academic support center becomes the Center for Advising and Academic Support (CAAS).
Many of these changes are supported by a new endowed fund established by Susan and Richard Padula P ’17 as part of St. Olaf’s For the Hill and Beyond comprehensive campaign.“Not one student comes with the same educational experience, same background, same challenges, and same resources. Yet traditionally we have provided uniform academic support services. More and more, we are building multiple pathways to support their success.”
—Kathy Glampe ’92, Director of Academic Support and Advising
“People often think of academic advising as registration — guidance on what classes a student should take in a given semester,” says Director of Academic Support and Advising Kathy Glampe ’92. “We are changing this approach so that students are aware of the many programs that support their performance and well-being and access these sooner.”
An expanded portfolio of services employs models proven especially effective at supporting student success. Greater support is given to students who need it, while more students benefit from programs across subjects, ability, and modes of learning. Offerings range from alternative testing formats to language support for multilingual students. The center also offers workshops and support to faculty to create inclusive learning environments.
As a result, 58 percent of all students used services last year, and 80 percent of recent graduates did at least once during their time on the Hill. This fall, pilot workshops offered in partnership with Athletics and the Piper Center for Vocation and Career will introduce first-years to the expectations of college learning as well as the opportunities and resources available to them at St. Olaf. The pilots this year target student-athletes; the center hopes to expand participation in the years ahead.
“Not one student comes with the same educational experience, same background, same challenges, and same resources,” says Glampe. “Yet traditionally, we have provided uniform academic support services. More and more, we are building multiple pathways to support their success.”Ross Erickson ’20 listens to SI section leader Mckenna Hanson ’18 explain a concept in organic chemistry.
Supplemental instruction (SI) sessions support students enrolled in many traditionally difficult courses. Upper-level Oles who excelled in these courses lead SI sections, providing Oles an interactive space to ask questions about relevant study skills and course content. An initial pilot of 22 sections demonstrated SI strengthened student retention and success; the program has now grown to 110 sections across 40 courses. Last year 39 percent of Oles overall used SI, including 67 percent of first-years.
Ross Erickson ’20 participated in an organic chemistry section led by Mckenna Hanson ’18.
“Organic chemistry is challenging and rewarding,” says Erickson. “Everything in the course builds on top of the other. If you don’t master a concept and the class moves on, it’s difficult to catch up. Having a place to go with my classmates to ask questions and master difficult reactions really helped. Mckenna knew a lot about organic synthesis — I wouldn’t have done as well without her assistance.”“We really felt supporting the innovation behind these programs would be the best way to help St. Olaf deepen and expand its impact.”
—Richard and Susan Padula P ’17
Susan and Richard Padula support the center because its programs help Oles excel. Their daughter Sidney Padula ’17 was an SI section leader; she is now pursuing a master’s in special education at Vanderbilt University.Susan and Richard Padula P ’17. Photo by Anne Ryan/Polaris
“We really felt supporting the innovation behind these programs would be the best way to help St. Olaf deepen and expand its impact,” say the Padulas. “In an ever changing world, a liberal arts education helps students build the skills, flexibility, and resilience necessary to successfully adapt and change throughout their lives. The Center for Advising and Academic Support helps all St. Olaf students take full advantage of their education by asking ‘How do we help you keep getting better?’ It recognizes education is never-ending, and levels the playing field for everyone.”
Ultimately these changes will reinforce the success of St. Olaf students throughout their time on the Hill and beyond.
“College is a place where most students are challenged,” says Glampe. “We are working to make asking for help an ordinary part of the college experience — we want all students to succeed.”
This week St. Olaf College welcomed the Class of 2022, a talented group of 813 first-year students who hail from 500 high schools in 41 states and 50 different countries.
They attended a special welcome ceremony for new students and their families, met President David R. Anderson ’74 while signing their name in the college book, registered for classes, and joined the campus community for Opening Convocation.
“I hope you begin your St. Olaf journey keeping in mind the important things you want to accomplish, the experiences you want to have, and the things you want to do. Stay focused on becoming the person you want to be,” St. Olaf Vice President for Enrollment and College Relations Michael Kyle ’85 told new students at the welcome ceremony. “Find the joy in your life, and share it with others. We want the very best for you, and we expect the very best from you.”
Welcome, Class of 2022!
As part of a decade-long partnership with Mayo Clinic, eight St. Olaf College students gained hands-on experience this summer in the business side of health care.
Through the college’s Mayo Innovation Scholars Program, the students worked on two health care projects offered by Mayo Clinic’s Department of Surgery and their Center for Innovation.
The Mayo Innovation Scholars Program, offered at St. Olaf each summer and Interim, provides an opportunity for selected undergraduate students to evaluate projects submitted to Mayo Clinic Ventures, the arm of Mayo responsible for evaluating potential business opportunities for discoveries and inventions created by Mayo Clinic physicians and researchers.
One team of four students spent six weeks exploring the technical and commercial merits of a novel medical device used for gastrointestinal procedures. This team had an immersive experience learning about the medical device market, intellectual property protection, the Food and Drug Administration approval process, research and development costs, revenue predictions, and potential licensing partners for this technology. The scholars were supported by the inventor, a well-known Mayo Clinic surgeon, and an experienced team of technology managers in charge of commercializing Mayo’s innovations in the health care field.
A second group of four students worked with Mayo Clinic’s Center for Innovation exploring market and consumer habits when patients are considering where to obtain high-cost procedures like Proton Beam Therapy, Car-T Cell Therapy, Nuclear Medicine, or other specialized treatments for complex cancer diagnoses. In order to understand the factors driving patients’ decision-making, the team developed surveys for patients and interviewed oncologists and other practitioners.
“We helped influence Mayo Clinic’s decisions regarding their medical investments. I don’t know of many summer jobs where you can do that.”
At the end of the six weeks, the two teams traveled to the world-renowned medical facility in Rochester, Minnesota, presented their findings to stakeholders at Mayo Clinic, and made recommendations about how Mayo Clinic could move forward with these treatments and technologies.
“It was very real — both meaningful and impactful,” says Mayo Innovation Scholar Disa Sullivan ’20. “We helped influence Mayo Clinic’s decisions regarding their medical investments. I don’t know of many summer jobs where you can do that.”
An interdisciplinary liberal arts experience
The intensive Mayo Innovation Scholars Program highlights the important combination of science and economics that is crucial to the health care world. For this reason about half of the scholars chosen are students who study economics and the social sciences, while the other half are students with academic studies rooted in the natural sciences.
Sullivan, a pre-med biology student, says this intersection of disciplines was what sparked her interest in the program. “What initially drew me to the project was the fact that the program was a combination of economics and science. I was interested in the medical device industry and learning how decisions about how to move forward with medical devices are made,” she says. “It was very much both ends of the spectrum, the business side and the science side, with everything in between.”
St. Olaf takes pride in the liberal arts education that its students receive. With the Mayo Innovation Scholars Program, students are able to see the value of this type of education off the Hill.
“I definitely gained a new appreciation for economics and how interdisciplinary the real world is,” says Sullivan. “Being able to experience the initial phases of innovation and the markets for these devices was incredibly beneficial to pursuing a health-oriented career. Now I not only understand the importance of how medical devices can affect patients, but I also understand how these devices are created and the complicated process that brings them to market.”
The United States Senate has confirmed St. Olaf College alumnus Eric Tostrud ’87 to serve as a district judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.
The Senate approved Tostrud’s nomination via a unanimous voice vote, the Star Tribune story notes, and he will be sworn in after President Donald Trump signs a presidential commission.
Tostrud, who earned his J.D. from William Mitchell College of Law, has been a private attorney at the Lockridge Grindal Nauen law firm in Minneapolis for the past 26 years. He has maintained a complex commercial litigation practice, with emphasis in the areas of complex insurance coverage, health care law and litigation, and Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) practice and procedure.
Tostrud has also served on the full-time faculty at Mitchell Hamline School of Law as Distinguished Practitioner in Residence. He has taught many law school courses, including Federal Jurisdiction, Federal Civil Procedure, Advanced Federal Civil Procedure, and Electronic Discovery.
Along with fellow nominee Judge Nancy Brasel, Tostrud will replace Judges Ann Montgomery and Donovan Frank, who were appointed by Bill Clinton in 1995 and 1998, respectively.
This summer, more than 20 St. Olaf College faculty and staff members gathered together in a crowded Old Main classroom to participate in the four-day summer faculty seminar on “Viewpoint Diversity and General Education” hosted by the Institute for Freedom and Community.
Professor of Religion and Philosophy Edmund Santurri, the Morrison Family Director of the Institute for Freedom and Community, convened participants hailing from a range of academic disciplines to explore the central question of the seminar: “In what sense should a commitment to viewpoint diversity be part of a liberal arts education, and how might such a commitment be embodied particularly in St. Olaf’s general education curriculum?”
To prepare for the week’s discussion, seminar participants received a reading syllabus, which covered a broad range of opinions on the subject, from How Civility Works by Keith J. Bybee to How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds by Alan Jacobs. Faculty were eager to discuss — as Assistant Professor of Biology and Education Emily Mohl put it, “I think of the seminar as an opportunity for me, as a faculty member, to engage in the kind of liberal arts learning that our students participate in regularly.”
“I think of the seminar as an opportunity for me, as a faculty member, to engage in the kind of liberal arts learning that our students participate in regularly.” — Emily Mohl
The first day of the seminar was facilitated by Debra Mashek, Executive Director of the Heterodox Academy. Mashek left her position as a professor of psychology at Harvey Mudd College to lead the Heterodox Academy, which partners with professors, administrators, and students in an effort to increase viewpoint diversity, mutual understanding, and constructive disagreement in college classrooms.
As facilitator, Mashek put forward a range of questions to spur discussion around viewpoint diversity: To what extent does it advance vs. undermine the goals of a liberal arts education? What are the risks and rewards for students, faculty, and administrators? How do we create those conditions in our classrooms and on our campuses? These questions, and others, encouraged participants to challenge their assumptions around viewpoint diversity and its place in higher education.Associate Professor of Religion and Department Chair Jamie Schillinger, who also serves as the director of Middle Eastern Studies, makes a point during the discussion.
Over the course of the week, Santurri furthered these discussions by exploring such topics as academic freedom and freedom of speech; equity and inclusion; the relations and possible tensions among different forms of diversity (ethnic, gender, intellectual, political, racial); disagreements about microaggressions, safe spaces, and trigger warnings; and the benefits and potential risks of civility standards governing discourse in the classroom and larger society.
“This was my third time participating in an Institute seminar,” says Assistant Professor of Music Louis Epstein, “and, as always, I found it thought-provoking, informative, and energizing. It’s a rare pleasure to be able to spend significant time reflecting on scholarship and current events with my colleagues.”
While “many of us are engaged with debates concerning diversity, civility, free speech, and disagreement in our teaching and research,” Professor of Political Science Douglas Casson explains, “we do not often get the opportunity to speak with each other about these crucial issues in any detail.”
The summer seminar offers a chance for faculty to slow down and delve deeper into what theoretical conversations could look like in practice.The reading list for the seminar included “How Civility Works” by Keith J. Bybee, “How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds” by Alan Jacobs, “Safe Spaces, Brave Spaces: Diversity and Free Expression in Education” by John Palfrey, and other works.
The seminar’s viewpoint diversity focus is closely tied to the Institute for Freedom and Community’s overall goals. Established at St. Olaf in 2014, the Institute promotes free inquiry and offers a distinctive opportunity to cultivate civil discourse within the context of the liberal arts. Its fall programming series will continue to foster constructive dialogue among those with differing values and perspectives as a means to explore the theme “Patriotism, Nationalism, and the Idea of America.”
As faculty approach another school year, Mohl explains that “one of the challenges going forward will be to think about how to generate this kind of discourse in my classes.” Leaving the seminar, one of her key ideas is that “classrooms need to be ‘brave spaces’ where students can put themselves in uncomfortable situations, take risks, and test out ideas. We talked about some strategies for ways to make that happen, including acknowledging that we are all learners who make mistakes and can acknowledge others’ experiences even if we disagree with their ideas.”
There are no simple answers around viewpoint diversity in the classroom, and the diversity of opinions was evident throughout the faculty seminar. “As you would hope in a room of 25 people, we didn’t always agree on the viewpoint-related problems facing higher education or St. Olaf, and we certainly didn’t agree on how to solve the problems that we identified,” Epstein says. “But we debated in good faith and with great collegiality, and I definitely left the seminar with new ideas and perspectives to mull over as I return to teaching.”
“Indeed, there was a lot of viewpoint diversity and disagreement in the room, as I anticipated there would be, and the conversations were vibrant and forthright, all the while that they were respectful and, dare I say, civil.” — Edmund Santurri
Santurri agrees, noting that he hopes these discussions continue long after the end of this seminar.
“Indeed, there was a lot of viewpoint diversity and disagreement in the room, as I anticipated there would be, and the conversations were vibrant and forthright, all the while that they were respectful and, dare I say, civil,” he says. “I think this week was an important moment in the life of the college, and I am hopeful that we have launched a new trajectory of deliberation over the character of general education at St. Olaf.”
St. Olaf College ushered in a new academic year on Thursday, September 6, with its annual Opening Convocation in Boe Memorial Chapel.
Faculty processed in academic regalia, and Student Government Association President Sarah Freyermuth ’19 welcomed the congregation.
Professor of Mathematics Paul Zorn delivered an Opening Convocation address titled “Prove All Things.”
Zorn grew up in the then-verdant hills of South India, where he graduated from Kodaikanal International School. He holds an A.B. degree in mathematics and English from Washington University in St. Louis, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in mathematics from the University of Washington in Seattle.
In 1981 he joined the faculty of St. Olaf’s Mathematics Department, which later became the Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science (MSCS) Department. Zorn has taught courses in mathematics, science writing, first-year writing, and the Great Conversation. Zorn has chaired the MSCS Department for six years, in two stints.
In 2014 he was awarded the Marie M. Meyer Distinguished Professorship. The fact that Marie Meyer was a professor of English literature, not mathematics, made this a special honor for Zorn.
The Institute for Freedom & Community’s fall series on Patriotism, Nationalism, and the Idea of America will explore the meaning of America in 2018 from a variety of different perspectives.
Morrison Family Director of the Institute for Freedom and Community Edmund Santurri has carefully curated an assemblage of speakers and programming opportunities in an effort to answer the fall theme’s most pressing questions: What kind of role should America be playing on the world stage? What kinds of values and experiences can unite Americans from all different backgrounds? What do American citizens owe to themselves, to their families, and to other Americans?
Answers to these questions are neither simple nor easy, but they are all the more important to discuss in our current political climate.
“Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and presidency have urged in various moments a revival of American patriotism and nationalism,” explains Santurri. “His clarion call has been ‘America First,’ and this attitude is indicated in a range of policies and policy proposals related to immigration, trade, international security, and other things. Trump’s election and presidency concur with other revivals of nationalistic spirit worldwide, and prompt thoughtful Americans to consider carefully the idea of America, the role of the United States in the international community, and the obligations of American citizens to other Americans and to humanity at large.”
The institute’s fall speaker series will explore these topics from different angles to promote thoughtful discussion around the identity of America and our place in it. All lectures are free and open to the public. They will also be streamed and archived online.
New York Times columnist and best-selling author David Brooks will kick off the season’s speaker series by presenting a keynote address at St. Olaf College on September 24. In a New York Times opinion piece, Brooks articulates a version of the American dream that, as he puts it, “says no to tribe, yes to universal nation, no to fences, yes to the frontier, no to closed, and yes to the open future, no to the fear-driven homogeneity of the old continent and yes to the diverse hopefulness of the new one.”
Widely acclaimed historian and public intellectual Walter Russell Mead will follow on October 30 with two lectures titled “History, American Greatness, and the State of Israel” and “Examining ‘America First’: Nationalism and Jacksonian Democracy in the 21st Century.” According to Santurri, Mead has made prominent “the idea that Trump’s ‘America First’ proposals and their associated policy predilections, in effect, resurrect the spirit of ‘Jacksonian democracy,’ which he distinguishes from Hamiltonian, Jeffersonian and Wilsonian perspectives.”
St. Olaf alumnus and global media expert R. Eugene Parta ’62 will round off the fall lecture series with his November 15 talk on “U.S. Global Media and American ‘Soft Power’: Cold War Successes, Current Challenges, An Uncertain Future.” After working for many years for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “Parta is especially well situated to describe how American values are embodied in the policies and practices of government-supported international communications,” Santurri says.
Established at St. Olaf in 2014, the Institute for Freedom and Community encourages free inquiry and meaningful debate of important political and social issues among students, faculty, and the general public. To that end, the Institute will sponsor a range of fall programming opportunities, in addition to the lecture series, to further cultivate civil discourse within the context of the liberal arts.
Other fall programming includes a Constitution Day celebration on September 17; a student workshop facilitated by Better Angels, an organization that works to depolarize America through meaningful conversations across the political aisle; and an October 4 performance by the Theater of Public Policy, which uses improvisational comedy to advance the understanding of complex ideas and issues.
Please visit the Institute’s website to learn more about the fall speaker series, to sign up for event reminders, or to receive regular updates and information about Institute programming through the quarterly newsletter.
During the first week of a summer course at St. Olaf College, seven students headed to the outskirts of campus with a simple woodworking knife. The task: to find a piece of brush and carve chopsticks out of the fresh wood. In this straightforward yet meticulous task, students became familiar working with tools that they will use for the rest of the summer in Christie Hawkins’ studio art course that focuses on the Scandinavian concept of sloyd.
Sloyd is the time-honored Scandinavian practice of handcraft, using traditional tools to create objects for everyday use in and around the home. In this course, students explore the intersection of handwork, woodwork, and creativity using simple tools: knives, hand saws, axes, and froes, to create objects such as spoons, butter spreaders, bread boards, coat hooks, and benches. Much of their work is being made using green wood; freshly cut and then carved or shaped while still wet.
“We are making functional, usable products. These everyday objects — chopsticks, spoons, butter spreaders, benches, boxes — introduce an element of utility that is not present in many art courses,” says art major Kali Breska ’19. “Most of my artistic experimentation over the past few months has focused on 2D media, and I knew this sloyd course would force me outside of my comfort zone.”
The fulfillment of creating
Aside from object making, an essential part of sloyd is the artist’s development of individual character and intellectual capacity that creating something with your hands can spur.
“Learning and making go hand in hand,” Hawkins says. “I hope the students will take away a new knowledge of hand skills and green woodworking, but more importantly an understanding of how sloyd was used in daily life back in the day, and how they can use it to simplify and enrich their own lives.”
“I hope the students will take away a new knowledge of hand skills and green woodworking, but more importantly an understanding of how sloyd was used in daily life back in the day, and how they can use it to simplify and enrich their own lives.” — Christie Hawkins
In the five-week course, students will study the works of influential sloyd artists, both their styles as well as the philosophies behind their work. In his book, Slöjd in Wood, Swedish artist and woodworker Jögge Sunqvist speaks to the importance of crafting things with your hands. “People from all walks of life benefit from the interaction between the mind and hand,” he writes. “Slöjd affects us by satisfying the body and in turn, the soul. There is a kind of practical contemplation where there is time for thought — a certain focused calm, which is an antidote to today’s media-centered society.”
Expanding handwork at St. Olaf
This course, titled Summer Sloyd, is a significant step in expanding the community of makers at St. Olaf — a community that Hawkins has dedicated much time and energy to. In 2014 Hawkins taught a similar class focusing on the folk school movement and sloyd themes over Interim. She is also the advisor for a student-run Sloyd Club that meets weekly to work with their hands.
“There’s a ‘folk school’ and ‘maker space’ explosion in our country right now. People want to make things; it’s in our nature as human beings to make things, and I believe it’s tied to our wellness, to our thought process, and to sustainability,” Hawkins says. “Plus, it’s really soothing and stress-relieving to just sit down with wood and make something.”
Hawkins has also been talking with the St. Olaf Library staff about St. Olaf’s new maker space, the Cave, and how folk school programming might dovetail with their mission as a space where students can process ideas, try things out, and relieve stress through the act of making.Some of the tools and carvings from the class.
Hawkins’ passion for sloyd goes far beyond teaching St. Olaf students. Four years ago, she implemented a folk school at St. Olaf that brings to campus artists who work with traditional techniques to lead workshops for community members. Part of that includes a residential youth camp on the Hill that focuses on traditional skills. This year, it was green woodworking and sloyd.
This spring, Hawkins will lead another course that will focus on the history of sloyd and its importance to Scandinavian history.
“When I attended Oslo International Summer School in 2016, I had the opportunity to see Norwegian folk art firsthand — but mostly in museums and galleries,” Breska says. “Classes like sloyd teach a greater appreciation for this art form while also making it more accessible. In a sense, I have gained the skills and knowledge to carry on a tradition. Now, when I see a carved spoon in a museum, I am able to say ‘I could make that!'”
Rolf Mellby Field received a major upgrade this summer with a new synthetic turf thanks to a $1.25 million investment by St. Olaf College alumni and Ole families.
“It’s perfect, it’s actually perfect,” says Head Women’s Soccer Coach Rachael Sushner. “The student-athletes are really liking it — it kind of gives a whole new energy for us.”
Sushner explained that synthetic turf is desirable for players because the ball moves cleanly and quickly. She’s excited that her youthful team, which includes 17 first- and second-years out of 26 players, will spend a majority of their career playing on the new field. With the addition of St. Olaf, now half of all teams in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) use synthetic turf.
“Division III athletics isn’t always seen as ‘big time’ as a Division I or II school,” Sushner says. “Any time people donate it shows they truly believe in the program and what we are doing here.”
While St. Olaf’s soccer teams will have priority access, other varsity, club, and intramural sports will be able to use the new turf. The field design provides St. Olaf with the option to add an inflatable dome over the field at a future date to extend use through winter.
“We are very grateful for the investments our Ole community is making to enhance the student experience. These improvements will help us match the commitment Oles are making on the Hill to excel in whatever they do.” — Athletic Director Ryan Bowles
The project at Rolf Mellby Field is one of several enhancements recently funded by donor contributions. The St. Olaf nursing program will receive new facilities inside Regents Hall of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, due to open February 2019. Construction has already begun on an ice arena that will include new varsity locker rooms for its baseball, hockey, soccer, softball, and volleyball teams. Other recent additions include Klein Field at Manitou, new golf team training facilities and tennis court surfaces, and a training and performance center at Tom Porter Hall.
Donors are making these gifts as part of St. Olaf’s $200 million For the Hill and Beyond comprehensive campaign — Oles and friends have given $180.8 million, or 90 percent, toward this goal as of July 31 to advance high-impact academics, enhance affordability, and strengthen St. Olaf’s residential learning community while sustaining the college’s mission.
“We are very grateful for the investments our Ole community is making to enhance the student experience,” says St. Olaf College Athletic Director Ryan Bowles. “These improvements will help us match the commitment Oles are making on the Hill to excel in whatever they do.”
Ole women first organized a soccer club team 40 years ago — to honor this anniversary, the varsity women’s soccer team will be the first to compete on the new pitch. The women’s home opener is scheduled for 2 p.m. on August 31, and the men’s home opener will immediately follow.
The field dedication and game will be streamed and archived online. Watch it below.
“I think the background of faith at St. Olaf makes it very supportive to many students of all kinds” -Wed
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August 27, 2018
A Message from Larry Stranghoener ’76, Chair of the St. Olaf College Board of Regents, and President David R. Anderson ’74:
The Report of the Working Group on Equity and Inclusion, issued last May, recommends the establishment of a St. Olaf Council on Equity and Inclusion.
The Report further recommends that the President and the Chair of the Board of Regents select the Chair of the Council with input from the President’s Leadership Team. The Report then recommends that the Chair “help recruit members and put in place the governance structure for any future elections.”
We are writing now to name the Council Chair, to establish a process for recruiting other members of the Council, to deliver a charge to the Council, and to invite all members of the community to offer their active support for the Council’s work.
The Chair of the Council:
We are happy to report that the Provost and Dean of the College, Marci Sortor, has agreed to serve as Chair of the Council. We thank Marci for taking on this important task. Her areas of responsibility cross academic departments and disciplines, faculty and staff domains, and directly serve the students at our college. Her calm and experienced leadership, her deep knowledge of so many areas of the College, and her demonstrated commitment to equity and inclusion position her well to lead the Council as it begins its important work.
The Report of the Working Group recommended that the Council be formed in a “transparent and collaborative fashion.” We believe that can best be accomplished in the following manner.
The Membership of the Council:
— A Chair selected by the Chair of the Board of Regents and the President.
— 2 members of the President’s Leadership Team, selected by the PLT.
— 2 faculty members, one elected by the faculty through its established governance process and the other selected by the Dean’s Council.
— 2 members of the staff, one elected by the exempt staff and the other elected by the non-exempt staff.
— 2 students, one elected by the Student Government Association and the other jointly selected by the Council Chair and the President of SGA.
— 1 alumnus/alumna of the College selected by the Alumni Board.
We think it is important for there to be a selection process as well an election process in forming the Council to ensure balance as to gender, race, and ethnicity, among other identities in the Council as a whole.
We leave it to the Council, early in its process, to establish staggered terms for the members of the Council and to consider not only the length of terms of service but also the possibility of renewal of terms up to some limit.
The Charge to the Council:
The Working Group’s Report did not specify a Charge to the Council, so we have done that, quoting directly from the very words of the Report:
To assist in the development and monitoring of the College’s strategic equity and inclusion plans and metrics, advise the administration on the implementation of the recommendations contained in this report, connect disparate efforts across campus, and serve as a resource for academic and administrative departments. The Council should report annually to the President and Board of Regents.
We urge the parties involved to make their selections for membership on the Council as soon as possible after the academic year begins. The Chair of the Council, Marci Sortor, will oversee and work with them to put the processes in place to do that.
Formation of this Council is an important step forward for the College, and we urge all members of the community to lend the Council their support and good will.