Gustavus Campus News
The January Interim Experience at Gustavus Adolphus College gives students the opportunity to take a deep dive into a subject for the entire month. Meeting for several hours a day, the topics offered can afford students the chance to learn something new—or to immerse themselves in something they are already passionate about. For students in the Tabletop Game Design course taught by mathematics professor Jacob Siehler and instructor Jeff Ford ’02, it’s about pairing theory and practice as they create their own game over the course of the month-long class.
Even though the intensive, hands-on course is new to the game, the course demonstrates mathematical content and investigates the role of mathematics in the design and play of games. This is more than Siehler could say when he was taking mathematics in school. “I found mathematics terribly dull as a course. I want people to have a relaxed atmosphere where they can play games and see there are ideas that would be available to explore further if you enjoy going deeper into
On a typical day, the students play a new game that introduces mechanics, rules, and techniques. These insights are used as ingredients or inspiration for the games made by the students. “I want to make a game that I’d be able to take back home and play with my friends and family,” Aidan Seyala ‘23 said, “Something that is fun for me and others to play.”
During this time, students are able to discuss as a class the success or failure and implications of the game. Occasionally, the professors will deliberately introduce a game that does not work in order to have a productive discussion about game mechanics and theory.
Currently, students are in the process of narrowing down game ideas in teams. A full day is given to each idea for hard development to obtain a prototype game. During the process of creating a game design, students have a rigorous schedule of brainstorming, meeting with professors, and testing. Students may not have thought about if the rules were readable or if the first player always has a winning advantage in a game. These are only a few of the issues considered with each new game.
With students from a variety of majors taking the course, Tabletop Game Design welcomes anyone who has a passion for board games. Julia Stathopoulos ‘22 is a communication studies major who has always enjoyed playing games such as Monopoly. “I love the class, love the new games, and it’s been fun learning them,” she said. Seyala, a computer science major, has aspirations of becoming a video game designer and a creative course such as this enables him to express his ideas visually.
Students also get a healthy dose of mathematics while exercising their creativity, and are working as a class to publish a book with the results of their work. “We focused on this idea of making a publication. We want students to compile a book and have their chapter in there and be able to say, ‘look what we did,’” Siehler said. The publication will include polished rules and materials needed for game play so that others can enjoy playing and reading about them.
The last destination in the creative process is a public showcase of board games the Gusties designed throughout the month. The showcase presents the opportunity for students to grab lunch and explore a variety of different games. “When you design and create something, whether it’s writing, whether it’s artistic, whether it’s designing a board game, there’s no better feeling than seeing other people interact with it,” Siehler said. “The more you can discover games like chess, the more you can make a lifelong career out of studying.”
The showcase, which is free and open to the public, will take place on January 31 from 11:30-1:30 p.m. in the Jackson Campus Center’s Heritage Room. According to Siehler, if you are a game lover, this an event for you.
To learn more about the Gustavus Department of Mathematics, Computer Science, and Statistics, visit the departmental website.
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
Rev. Dr. Ralph David Abernathy was a leader of the American Civil Rights movement and a close friend of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Together, they made history in the United States with their nonviolent social movement. On May 2, 1975, Rev. Dr. Abernathy visited Gustavus Adolphus College to speak on his experience during the Civil Rights era.
Forty-five years later, his daughter, Donzaleigh Abernathy, will share what it was like for her as she spent her childhood surrounded by some of the most influential leaders of the time as the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Celebration speaker at Gustavus. Her lecture, Growing Up with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., will take place on Monday, January 20 at 10 a.m. in Christ Chapel.
Since 1986, Gustavus has hosted speakers annually who are champions of civil rights in remembrance and honor of Dr. King. As the daughter of the Civil Rights movement co-founder, this year’s speaker spent her formative years attending major civil rights marches and rallies. As a child, Donzaleigh participated in the March on Washington, the Freedom Riders, The Chicago Housing Demonstrations, and the Selma to Montgomery March for the Right to Vote.
“Donzaleigh brings a perspective and experiences that few are able to offer. As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s closest friend and adviser, few individuals spent more time with him than Rev. Dr. Ralph Abernathy,” said Thomas Flunker, Director of the Gustavus Center for Inclusive Excellence. “Providing opportunities to take a deeper look into the history, logistics, and people that either significantly impacted the Civil Rights movement or whose lives were significantly impacted by it can often help offer perspectives and details that add to the bigger story.”
Bruce Gray ’61 worked in admission, financial aid, and student life at Gustavus and was one of Rev. Dr. Ralph Abernathy’s on-campus hosts for his 1975 visit to campus. “Rev. Abernathy was touring colleges around the country and we were fortunate have him at Gustavus,” said Gray, who began recruiting students in the Deep South in the early ‘60s and authored a book, Black and Bold, that describes the history of African-American students at Gustavus. “He spoke about the importance of young people getting involved if they wanted to see change in our society.”
“That’s still true today,” Gray continued. “Now, we’re pleased to have Donzaleigh Abernathy join us at Gustavus to share her story.”
Abernathy is a talented keynote speaker, author, and actress. Some of her past speaking engagements include the National Association of Women Judges annual conference and United Nations Women’s Federation for World Peace. Her book, Partners to History, Martin Luther King, Ralph David Abernathy, and the Civil Rights Movement, was nominated for the Best Book for Young Adults award. She has received the Tanne Foundation Award for her play script entitled “Birmingham Sunday.” She has held roles in many television shows and movies, such as Any Day Now and Lincoln Heights.
Following the morning lecture, facilitated discussions will be held across campus on Monday afternoon and Tuesday to continue conversations about building authentic community across racial, religious, and ethnic differences. Abernathy’s lecture is free and open to the public and will take place on Monday, January 20 at 10 a.m. in Christ Chapel. For those who are unable to attend, the lecture will be livestreamed and archived on the Gustavus website.
Monday’s events will conclude with Mankato’s 36th annual MLK Community Celebration and presentation of the Pathfinder Award beginning at 5:30 p.m. To learn more about the evening event and request tickets, visit the Greater Mankato Diversity Council website.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Lecture is co-sponsored by the Center for Inclusive Excellence, Office of the Chaplains, Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies Program, Office of the President, Office of Marketing and Communication, Mankato MLK Committee, and Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
Gustavus Adolphus College history professor Maddalena Marinari’s new book, Unwanted: Italian and Jewish Mobilization against Restrictive Immigration Laws, 1882-1965, delves into the United States’ often complicated relationship with immigration policy and the effects that those policies have on different ethnic and national groups. Published by the University of North Carolina Press, the book is Maddalena’s historical account of the experience of Italian and Jewish immigrants as they “tested the limits of citizenship and citizen activism” in the early 20th century.
Unwanted paints a picture of historical immigration trends and legislation that have continued to shape policy and rhetoric today in the U.S. and beyond. As the book hit shelves, Maddalena took a break from her work this semester as a DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) visiting professor at the University of Kassel (Germany) to answer the following questions…
A: History builds on itself. We are where we are today because of what has happened in the past two centuries of immigration policy. The rise of nation states led to increasingly intense efforts to control who enters a country, determine what the ideal immigrant looks like, and reject anyone who is perceived as a social, cultural, or political threat. The United States, for example, has never welcomed all immigrants, but, starting at the end of the 19th century, it passed increasingly restrictive immigration laws that targeted immigrants for their sexual orientation, economic status, political beliefs, ability, and potential. In 1924, the United States instituted a system of quotas that determined how many immigrants could come from countries in the Eastern Hemisphere to limit the arrival of Italians and Eastern European Jews, among others. The same law also banned most immigrants from Asia simply because they were not white and denied the right to naturalize to Asian immigrants who were already in the United States. The U.S. Congress also created the Border Patrol in 1924 and passed measures targeting migrants in Latin America, even though they were technically exempted from the quota system. These legislative developments paved the way for many of the restrictions imposed against immigrants and refugees today. They also made it acceptable to deny entry to victims fleeing persecution or to blame immigrants for any social, economic, or political changes affecting the country. Then, like now, developments in the United States influenced what countries around the world did. Many of them passed similar laws, collaborated with the United States when it came to enforcement, and adopted a similar anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Q: Your book delves into the mobilization of Italian and Jewish reformers against U.S. immigration laws that targeted them. What means of advocacy did those groups use that were particularly effective in advancing their cause?
A: Italian and Jewish reformers, along with activists representing other immigrant groups targeted for restriction, tested and re-tested numerous strategies to challenge discriminatory immigration laws. Many of their strategies are still used today, but, at the time, they were not sure which ones would be most effective. They went to court, wrote popular books and articles showing immigrants’ contributions to the United States, and launched nationwide educational campaigns challenging the stereotypes that Americans had of them as undesirable. They believed that if many Americans knew more about them, they would stop denigrating them and join them in their fight for a more humane immigration policy. Ultimately, however, these strategies had a limited impact. What worked for them was to put pressure on legislators themselves and the executive branch to convince them to carry out specific reforms. While they did not always succeed in getting wholesale reform, they managed to challenge several of the more restrictive provisions of U.S. immigration policy in the middle of the 20th century, especially when it came to family reunion.
Q: How does your research inform your teaching? In what ways do undergraduates at Gustavus benefit from an understanding of immigration history?
A: All of my courses, in one way or another, deal with immigration history because immigration is central to the history of the United States. I draw from my research to question some of the longstanding myths about immigration to the United States. The United States has long claimed to be a “Nation of Immigrants,” but it’s important for students to know the history behind this idea and grapple with the fact that the United States has never been, in fact, a country open to all immigrants. Understanding this helps students reflect on what it means to be an American, who belongs, and how immigration laws have been used to shape U.S. society. My research not only informs how I teach because it helps me give students specific example from my scholarship to illustrate critical developments in U.S. history, it also allows me to work more effectively with students when they are working on their own research projects. I can draw from my personal experience to help them frame a research question, look for sources, organize their research, or simply get the writing done. I can also demystify many of the myths that students have about writing history.
Q: What are the key takeaways from Unwanted?
A: The book shows how difficult it is to change course when it comes to immigration. While the people at the center of my book were ultimately successful in pushing for the repeal of some of the most discriminatory features of U.S. immigration policy passed by 1924, the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act was hardly perfect. In the long run, it created new problems for immigrants who came after 1965. This is because, in the racial landscape of the United States, it is very difficult to create interethnic coalitions where every immigrant group feels heard and represented. Moreover, the political system that emerged at the beginning of the 20th century, with its emphasis on committees and seniority, made it virtually impossible to fight for wholesale reform. Italian and Jewish activists understood early on that family reunion was the only issue restrictionist legislators were willing to negotiate on, but that meant that they had to forego reforming other equally important restrictions, particularly those targeting immigrants who were not highly skilled or educated. Finally, my book shows how central war is in the making and unmaking of U.S. immigration policy, something that few scholars have paid attention to. While supporters of immigration restriction successfully used WWI to push for harsher immigration laws, critics of immigration restriction used WWII to push for the first of many small changes to the most draconian immigration policy passed in U.S. history until then.
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
The Gustavus Adolphus College Model United Nations Club sent 22 Gustavus students to Chicago to participate in the recent American Model United Nations Conference. Representing Luxembourg and Mongolia, Gustavus came home with multiple awards for their performance at the conference.
About 1,500 students attended the conference, representing nearly 100 colleges and universities. Delegates at the conference were evaluated on their speaking, caucusing, resolution and amendment writing, and skills related to working towards a consensus for the country that they represented. “A broadly educated liberal arts student makes a good diplomat,” political science professor and group adviser Dr. Mimi Gerstbauer said. “You need good writing and speaking skills, critical thinking and problem solving, and you need to listen well and to seek opportunities for consensus.”
Gustavus United Nations Club co-president Madelyn Smerillo was among the Gustavus students at the conference representing the nation of Mongolia. She took home the award for Exceptional Representation of Mongolia in International Telecommunications Union for her work on resolutions related to cybersecurity and internet access. “I hope to go to law school and become a lawyer in my time after Gustavus, and the skills I build in Model UN thoroughly prepare me to speak in front of all different kinds of people and to represent perspectives that I may not necessarily agree with,” Smerillo said.
Political science and statistics major Ben Menke represented Mongolia at the conference as well, where he worked towards a resolution related to humanitarian aid with his partner, Autumn Zierman. They were awarded Exceptional Representation of Mongolia in the General Assembly Plenary. “I believe that my Gustavus education, and specifically the Three Crowns program, has improved my critical thinking and communication skills, and those skills are crucial for being effective in diplomacy,” said Menke.
Other awards received by Gustavus students included the award for Exceptional Representation of Mongolia in the World Conference on Youth given to Mustafa Abuhamdeh.
“I think Model UN really embodies the Gustavus mission and core values,” said Gerstbauer. “It is international learning. It lives out diversity in terms of students who participate and interactions at conference, and it simulates an organization, the United Nations, the purpose of which is to create a more just and peaceful world by addressing the most pressing challenges of our time.”
2019 has been a whirlwind, in a good way.
The Gustavus Acts Strategic Plan continues to shape the future of the College. The Nobel Hall of Science has a new, larger footprint and is providing expanded opportunities for students and faculty in the sciences and arts. The current first-year class is one of the most diverse and academically accomplished groups in the College’s history.
A lot can happen on a college campus in 12 months. Here, we take our annual look back at the many accomplishments of members of the Gustavus community over the past year and celebrate the continued progress of the institution. Interested in more detailed information about athletics and arts? Year-end recaps for Gustavus Athletics and Gustavus Fine Arts are available online.
Here we go…
Gustavus continued its long tradition of offering a January Interim Experience, with on-campus courses ranging from Culture, The Self, and Agriculture (geography); Understanding and Applying Sport Psychology (health and exercise science); Disaster Films (history); Ancient Egypt and the Near East (classics); and Introduction to Data Visualization (mathematics and computer science). Students also had the opportunity to complete a career exploration or travel on faculty-led trips to Sweden, Italy, Hawaii, Brazil, Indonesia, Germany, France, England, Japan, Tanzania, and Spain.
Rev. Dr. Luke Powery of Duke University spoke at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Lecture, focusing on King’s concept of the “World House.” According to King, the modern world is “a family unduly separated in ideas, culture, and interest, who, because we can never again live apart, must learn somehow to live with each other in peace.”
Frigid temperatures, wind, and snow combined to cause a rare cancellation of classes on Wednesday, January 30. Gustavus alumni and others shared stories of their own winter experiences on the hill on the Gustavus Facebook post announcing the closure.
The annual student-run Building Bridges Conference, Immigration: Demolishing the Legacy of Bigotry in the Land of Opportunity, tackled the experience and policies of immigration, migration, and asylum.
Leading legal expert and Supreme Court historian Dr. Paul Finkelman gave a free public lecture in early March titled “Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court.”
Up-and-coming Minnesota poets Su Hwang and Michael Torres gave a reading in the Linnaeus Arboretum as part of the Department of English’s Bards in the Arb series.
Gustavus students took to the Minnesota State Capitol for a day of advocacy in support of the Minnesota State Grant Program. They met with legislators, networked with Gustavus alumni who work in government and public policy, and student Monali Bhakta testified in front of the Minnesota Senate Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee.
1976 graduate and Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Barry Anderson gave the Ronald S. and Kathryn K. Christenson Lecture in Politics and Law in April.
Biochemistry and molecular biology major Abby Trouth ’20 won the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the premier undergraduate award for students pursuing careers in mathematics, sciences, and engineering. Honors psychological science major Kristen Eggler was named the 2019 winner of the Donald G. Paterson Award in Psychology by the Minnesota Psychological Association (MPA). The award recognizes and encourages high achievement in psychology at the undergraduate level and is given to an outstanding college senior from across the state who is planning a career in psychology. Shelby Klomp ’20 was named winner of the Rossing Physics Scholarship.
Geography professor Jeff La Frenierre’s research on glacial retreat in the Andes Mountains was featured on BBC’s Earth From Space.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman spoke at the annual MAYDAY! Peace Conference. The 2019 topic was “War on the Press: At Home and Abroad.”
Additional visitors to campus included former Deputy National Security Advisor Dr. Meghan O’Sullivan as the Lindau Resident in Conservative Thought, #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, and Danish author Dorthe Nors as the Out of Scandinavia Artist-in-Residence.
Alijah Nelson ’19 won the Gustie Entrepreneur Cup after presenting “D-Up,” a robotic basketball defender used for player development and training.
Religion professor Dr. Casey Elledge was named the 2019 winner of the Faculty Scholarly Accomplishment Award, Dr. Hayley Russell (Health and Exercise Science) was announced as the 2019 recipient of the Swenson-Bunn Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence, and Dr. Margaret Bloch Qazi (Biology) received the Edgar M. Carlson Award for Distinguished Teaching.
The Office of Alumni and Parent Engagement hosted the first-ever Gustavus Night at the Minnesota Twins. Over 2,000 Gusties watched the Twins beat the Boston Red Sox on Monday, June 17 at Target Field.
The band Cloud Cult performed on campus in late June as part of the annual Gustavus Academy for Faith, Science, and Ethics.
In July, the Linnaeus Symposium explored the changing climate in Minnesota in anticipation of the Nobel Conference.
Andrew Coston was named the executive director of the Gustavus Center for Career Development. Under his leadership, the office is expanding programmatic offerings, partnerships with academic departments and employers, and mentorship and internship opportunities for all students.
671 new students in the Gustavus Class of 2023 began their academic journey at the College with move-in day on August 31.
The newly-expanded Nobel Hall of Science opened for classes at the beginning of fall semester. The 74,000 square foot addition connects Nobel Hall with the Schaefer Fine Art Center’s Theatre Wing and features a new laboratory theatre, a coffee shop called The STEAMery, and 20 teaching labs.
Gustavus was named the Best Value Liberal Arts College in Minnesota and 22nd in the country by the U.S. News and World Report.
The 55th annual Nobel Conference, “Climate Changed: Facing our Future,” brought together a panel of world-leading experts to discuss approaches to mitigating and adapting to the changing global climate.
The College launched the largest comprehensive fundraising campaign in Gustavus history in late September. The Show the World campaign seeks to raise $225 million to support the continued implementation of the Gustavus Acts Strategic Plan and initiatives that will advance the College’s mission, provide increased opportunities for students and faculty, and continue to raise Gustavus’ standing as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the United States.
Campus Safety Officer Scott Meyer, Director of Health Service and Assistant Dean of Students Heather Dale, and Professor of Mathematics Dr. Tom LoFaro were honored with outstanding employee awards at the College’s annual Founders Day Celebration in late October.
Three Gustavus students won the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to support their study abroad learning opportunities. Mayra Gurrola-Calderon ‘20 (Peru), Samantha Raghu ‘21 (Thailand), and Phounsith “Quincy” Yangh ‘21 (Nepal/India) spent the fall semester studying away.
The public phase of the Show the World campaign got off to a roaring start when Give to Gustavus Day (October 24) and A Royal Affair (November 9) combined to raise over $1,000,000 to support day-to-day operations, the Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library, and scholarships for first-generation college students.
Gustavus students won the Deloitte Audit Case Competition for the third time in the event’s five-year history.
The Gustavus Academy for Faith, Science, and Ethics won a major grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. to support the ongoing summer program for high school student that explores faith- and science-based approaches to the great challenges of our time.
Christmas in Christ Chapel 2019, Love Beyond Borders, brought together over 350 students, faculty, and staff for five worship services that were attended by over 5,000 people and viewed by thousands more across the globe. Public television stations from around the country also broadcast last year’s Christmas in Christ Chapel worship services this holiday season.
Hanaa Alhosawi ’22 was crowned St. Lucia at the College’s celebration of the 79th annual Festival of St. Lucia on December 12.
The student-run E. Terry Skone Investment Club donated $8,920 to support scholarships for students in the economics and management department. The club plays the stock market and uses its profits to give back to the College in the form of scholarship donations.
1958 Gustavus graduate and Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War historian Dr. James McPherson gave a $1 million donation to the College to create an endowed chair in American history at Gustavus. The inaugural James and Patricia McPherson Endowed Professor of American History is Dr. Greg Kaster, a member of the Gustavus history department since 1986.
…and there are more good things to come in 2020!