Concordia College Campus News
Natalie Siede ’20 won the Dr. Christopher C. Joyner Memorial Award as a student participating in the Lutheran College Washington Semester Program (LCWS), where she interned for the Anti-Defamation League.
Siede received the surprise on the final Wednesday before her program ended. The award recognizes academic excellence in students that take part in the LCWS program.
“I was definitely surprised and really honored and humbled. I studied with some really brilliant people; everyone was so thoughtful and articulate and hardworking. It was a big deal to me to be recognized for going beyond the status quo when the status quo was already at such a high regard,” Siede said. “It was great and really memorable; it was an amazing capstone for my time there and I wish I could have shared it with my classmates because I think everyone was deserving of it.”
Political science professor and department chair Dr. Rebecca Moore noted this is a significant award showing Siede’s excellence as a student and intern.
“Receiving the prize, which honors the memory of Dr. Chris Joyner, former LCWS faculty member and professor of international law at Georgetown University, constitutes a significant academic accomplishment,” Moore said. “Ultimately, it also reflects Natalie’s hardworking nature, intellectual curiosity, and determination to go the extra mile in her academic pursuits, even while interning almost full time with a Washington, D.C.,-based NGO.”
The political science and communication studies double major with a history minor says that her interest in Concordia’s program with LCWS grew even before she enrolled as a student. Before she began her education at Concordia, Siede toured campus between her sophomore and junior year of high school.
“I was able to meet with Dr. Bath about programs after we talked about my potential interest in majors,” Siede said. “He told me all about students he had that were working on the Hill. It was something I was immediately interested in. The partnership with LCWS was kind of the cherry on top.”
Siede worked as an intern at the Anti-Defamation League, or ADL. Established in 1913, ADL was originally formed to combat hate and anti-Semitism in the United States, with its mission to secure justice and fair treatment to all, but is now also considered a global leader in delivering anti-bias education and uncovering extremism.
In the LCWS program, students are matched up with a part-time internship and attend class in the evening. Spending 32 hours a week doing work for ADL, Siede worked as one of two spring legislative assistants for government relations and a community engagement team. While a lot of her work throughout the semester was research intensive at a state and federal level, she also completed more specialized projects.
“I worked on several long-term projects that included state hate crime reporting data in addition to the more emergent issue pieces, such as writing memos and press releases, and helping draft coalition letters,” Siede said.
Acquiring experience in D.C. solidified Siede’s hopes to work there someday.
“LCWS was a great trial run and confirmation that my plan to try and live and work in D.C. is something that I could see in my future,” she said. “Not only did the experience meet my expectations, but also expanded my views on how and where I fit into political conversations.”
Siede gained professional experience in D.C., but one of the most important aspects of the program for her was the friendships she made.
“The one thing I really hope will stay with me are the friendships I made while I was there,” she added. “My roommates, my classmates, everybody – we walked in and were kind of awkward strangers, and we were in our separate circles but left feeling like a huge family.”student-wins-award-for-academic-excellence
Dr. Julie (Bjerke) Blehm ’74 is taking advantage of her recent retirement to be on the go. She recently spent two weeks whitewater rafting the Grand Canyon. She was back in Fargo long enough to take part in the May Concordia Board of Regents meeting before boarding a plane for Bulgaria and then Turkey.
She decided retirement would be both fun and games. Some very specific games – the Special Olympics World Games – were on her list of places to be, serving on the USA medical team. Blehm’s interest in the program began years ago when her daughter competed with Special Olympics. She’s served on the North Dakota Board for Special Olympics and thought the medical team was a good fit when she was asked to apply for the spot.
“The medical team really worked well together,” Blehm says. “A nice aspect of Special Olympics is in most cases they are really good sports. It’s a very positive environment.”
All athletes can get sick or injured though, so the team of three medical doctors and three athletic trainers were available to assist the U.S. athletes during their competition in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. This is the fourth time Blehm has been a part of the medical team for the Special Olympic World Games. She’s also traveled to South Korea, Los Angeles and Austria. Blehm says the athletes’ medical needs are as varied as the people themselves.
“There are some sports-related injuries, sprains and falls. Many of the athletes may also have other medical conditions,” Blehm says.
The medical team had to be on-call to treat the athletes’ medical needs even when they weren’t competing. Blehm thought the team makeup of trainers and doctors was a great blend for the athletes.
“If there was an ankle injury that needed wrapping we’d always call on the trainers because they are just much better at it. And if there was something more internal they’d call on the doctors,” she says.
While everyone spent a lot of time working with the athletes, they also had a bit of time to get to see the host country including the Grand Mosqu in Abu Dhabi. Blehm says the United Arab Emirates was extremely welcoming and referred to the athletes, all of whom have some sort of disability, as “people of determination.”
“I liked that,” Blehm says. Over the years, she’s also liked watching high school and college athletes volunteer with Special Olympics, which is usually a learning experience for all involved. More often than not, other athletes will see the athletes with disabilities in a whole new light.
“They see that [people with special needs] can be happy and can have very fulfilled lives,” Blehm says. “It’s a good reminder that they also contribute to society.”attending-to-special-athletes
Amanda (Hams) Melby Crisalli ’96 starred in “Raising Buchanan,” a full-length feature film that premiered in April at the Harkins Scottsdale 101 Theatres as an official selection of the Phoenix Film Festival. The film, written and directed by Rocky Mountain Emmy Award winner Bruce Dellis, won Best Arizona Feature at the festival and Best Dramedy Feature at the Manhattan Film Festival.
Filmed in and around Phoenix and Prescott in 2017, the film tells the comedic tale of a woman named Ruth (portrayed by Amanda Melby) who steals the corpse of much-maligned President James Buchanan with the hope of scoring a large payday, only to find that no one out there has much interest in getting him back.
Melby, who boasts an extensive background in independent film, had double duty as actor and producer for “Raising Buchanan,” which was produced entirely with a local crew including 28 interns from surrounding colleges and universities.
Melby came to Concordia with a cello scholarship and majored in it at first, but found it difficult to meet the requirements for a double major in theatre and music. She ended up dropping the music major and picking up an English major instead. After changing her major, she still took lessons and played in the orchestra.
After graduating, Melby taught private lessons along with dabbling in some ensembles, but ultimately settled on theatrical pursuits.
“I came back to the same issue I had in college. There was not enough time to pursue two different crafts, though I still play occasionally and teach my daughter,” Melby said. “I also play cello in in the film, which was fun.”
After stints in Cleveland, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and San Diego, Melby made her way to Phoenix where she owns Verve Studios and teaches acting. Verve offers summer camps for young actors where they take an educational approach to making a movie.
“Many of the kids only have theatre experience, so getting on a movie set for the first time can be intimidating,” she said. “We take the fear out of it by teaching them about the process as we go. And we end up with some fun short movies.”
In addition to acting in several feature films, Melby has an impressive list of credits as producer, writer and director, mostly for short films made at Verve. She is also a three-time Emmy nominee for her work as producer and host of “Screen Wars,” a weekly television show featuring short films made across Arizona.
In “Raising Buchanan,” Melby worked alongside Emmy-nominated and Tony Award-winning actor René Auberjonois as President Buchanan. Auberjonois is best known for his role on the popular TV show “Benson,” as well as roles on “Star Trek: Deep Space 9,” in the film “The Patriot” and, more recently, a four-episode arc on “Madam Secretary.” The cast of “Buchanan” also includes a combination of national and local Arizona acting talent, including Cathy Shim, M. Emmet Walsh, Terence Bernie Hines, Steve Briscoe and Jennifer Pfalzgraff.
“Flawed characters are the most fun to play and Ruth was no exception,” Melby said. “It was a huge honor to have this character written for me and I am excited for people to be able to see the finished film. It’s funny, has heart, and is incredibly timely.”alumna-stars-in-feature-film
Dr. Roy Harrisville III ’77, a pastor in Menominee, Wis., has published a book, “The Faith of St. Paul: Transformative Gift of Divine Power” (Pickwick Publications, March 2019).
Over the years, scholars have argued about the letters of St. Paul either “being-in-Christ” or “justification by faith.” Instead of assuming these were competing theologies, Harrisville presents “the faith of St. Paul as a dynamic and life-changing power.” His book provides a “path toward reconciling entrenched positions and providing a fresh perspective.”
“I wrote the book because I wanted to offer a possible solution to three questions arising from St. Paul’s theology and language,” said Harrisville. “The first has to do with the recent debate over the center of Paul's theology. Is it justification by faith or participation in Christ? I think that when Paul’s letters are read a certain way, the debate ends. I also wanted to investigate the question of how a person can be a believer while at the same time take no credit for it. Finally, I address how this impacts the PISTIS CHRISTOU (faith in Christ) issue.”
Harrisville has published several articles and is also the author of “The Figure of Abraham in the Epistles of St. Paul (1992).
“The Book is for any New Testament scholar, pastor, or informed reader who wants to learn about Christian faith in general and St. Paul’s language of faith in particular,” says Harrisville.
Lauryn Hinckley ’22 was one of five in the U.S. named a 2019 Stephen J. Brady Stop Hunger Scholar.
The Stephen J. Brady Stop Hunger Scholarship program recognizes student innovation and youth-led solutions to fight hunger in America. It’s awarded to students ages five to 25 who are “creating awareness and mobilizing peers in their communities to be catalysts for change.”
The number of kids in North Dakota that go hungry inspired Hinckley to be a voice for them.
“When I was nine, I started PB&J Drives to help sustain weekend meals for the Backpack Program, which provides meals on weekends to students who live in food insecure households in the Bismarck/Mandan area,” said Hinckley.
She later expanded her efforts to statewide drives in North Dakota through 4-H, educating and recruiting youth volunteers along the way. She has also sent resources to schools to implement food pantries.
“I’ve sent aid to peers across the states and one peer in Ireland,” she added.
At the awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., Hinckley was awarded $5,000 toward her charity of choice – the MSA United Way in Bismarck, N.D. – and $5,000 toward her education.
More than 1,000 people attended the event including CEOs from 15 Fortune 500 companies. Hinckley spoke at the event which doubled as a benefit raising $1 million for hunger in the U.S.
The scholarship is offered by the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation, “a not-for-profit organization with a mission to ensure every U.S. child has access to enough food to enable them to lead a healthy, productive life.” The scholarship is named for the foundation's founder and former president, Steve Brady, who was “an unstoppable champion in the fight to end hunger.”
Since the program’s inception in 2007, Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation has awarded close to $800,000 in grants and scholarships, and more than $29 million has gone to alleviate child hunger.
Hinckley’s program continues in the Bismarck area and has been turned into a curriculum for a leadership class at Century High School to sustain her efforts. She also continues to get more high schools in the state to sustain food pantries for their students.
“I raised more than 33,000 pounds of peanut butter and jelly along with many monetary donations,” Hinckley said. “My total 10-year contribution through my nonprofit has raised over $110,000 locally.
Hinckley continues to do the work because students deserve to eat on the weekends.
“I was so honored to receive this scholarship as this was my third time applying for it,” she said. “With receiving this scholarship, I was able to educate more people about my efforts to eradicate hunger and to bring awareness to hunger in my state. One out of every five children should not be going hungry.”
Photo: Kates Fine Photographystudent-s-pb-j-project-feeds-hungry-kids-and-earns-her-a-scholarship
Retirees were honored at an employee appreciation event.
Honored retirees are Dr. Francisco Cabello-Cobo, world languages and cultures, 18 years; Jane Linde Capistran, music, 17 years; Lois Cogdill, Student Development and Campus Life, 26 years; Dr. Susan Cordes-Green, psychology, 30 years; Florene Culp, Concordia Language Villages, 15 years; Dr. Dawn Duncan, English, 25 years; Dennis Duncan, Information Technology Services, 24 years; Scott Ellingson, Career Center, 40 years; Wayne Flack, Facilities Management, 12 years; Brenna Grund, Dining Services, 13 years; Elaine Johnson, Admission, 27 years; Tracey Moorhead, President’s Office, 30 years; Jessica Rahman, athletics, 16 years; Dr. Barbara Witteman, education, 24 years; and Dr. Xueqi Zeng, mathematics, 29 years.
Dr. Francisco Cabello-Cobo, professor of Spanish and Hispanic studies, retires after 18 years at the college. He earned his teaching license and bachelor’s degree in Spain at the Universidad de Sevilla. He earned a master’s degree in English at Claremont (Calif.) Graduate University and a doctorate in Spanish from the University of California, Davis.
Prior to joining Concordia’s faculty in 2001, some of his teaching experience included Southern Oregon University, Ashland, as a professor; Humboldt State University, Arcata, Calif., as a visiting professor; Austin College, Sherman, Texas, as an instructor; and UC Davis as a teaching assistant.
Cabello-Cobo has presented numerous papers, workshops, and presentations over the years and compiled an impressive list of publications including language textbooks, articles, literary criticisms and newspaper articles. In addition, he has numerous drama productions to his credit as both actor and director. He also has interpretation experience and has translated books, scripts and more.
During his tenure at Concordia, Cabello-Cobo was department chair for Spanish and Hispanic studies and director of the summer study and fall semester programs in Segovia, Spain. He also received numerous grants, honors and awards, including a Concordia summer study grant to conduct research in El Camino de Santiago and a professional development grant for summer travel to Spain and Portugal.
“At Concordia, Francisco has become quite well-known for his Spanish Play Performance course in which students put together and publicly perform a play completely in the Spanish language, but what people perhaps don’t know is that his gift for theatre is present in every class he teaches,” said Dr. Lisa Twomey, assistant professor of Spanish and Hispanic studies. “Francisco’s excellent teaching and communicative approach to language learning go hand in hand with his ability to act on the ‘stage’ of an ordinary classroom. That’s why students love Francisco’s classes. They are carefully orchestrated shows and every act has a purpose. And for that reason, it isn’t all ‘just theatre’ either. When Francisco speaks, everyone knows he has something to say. He’s authentic. He knows what he is doing. He’s a great professor, a great friend, and he will be missed.”
After his “retirement,” Cabello-Cobo plans to return to Spain and continue working.
“I’ll be directing a theatre group in Spain that I founded in 2012, Compañía Andalucía Teatro, in Arcos de la Frontera (Cádiz) in Southern Spain,” he said. “We do fresh, new versions of the classical theatre repertoire.”
Jane Linde Capistran
Jane Linde Capistran, assistant professor of viola, violin, and string methods, retires from the college after 17 years. A native of Moorhead, Capistran studied violin at Concordia College with Isabelle Thompson and Robert Strava while in high school. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in music education from Bemidji (Minn.) State University and her Master of Arts in violin performance from the University of Iowa, Iowa City.
Prior to joining Concordia’s music faculty, Capistran’s public string teaching included seven years with elementary orchestras in the Iowa City Community School District and she was director of orchestras at Fargo (N.D.) South High School for six years.
Capistran taught across a wide spectrum of the curriculum including classroom instruction, applied studio lessons in viola and violin, and conducted the Symphonia Orchestra. During her tenure, she served as advisor for the American String Teachers Association student chapter, interim music education coordinator and evaluator for student teachers.
Though Capistran is retiring from the college, she’ll continue to conduct for the Fargo-Moorhead Area Youth Symphonies (FMAYS) and serve as associate conductor of the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra.
“She is well-liked and well-respected by both faculty and students. She will be missed,” said Dr. John Roberts, chair of the music department and professor of piano.
“When Jane comes into the music office, she has always been super kind and bubbly,” said Renee Kelly, administrative assistant in the music department. “She radiates happiness and warmth and the music department will miss her greatly when she leaves.”
Shannon Hokstad, music department office assistant, agrees that Capistran always has a smile when she comes into the music office.
“We will all miss her warm and sparkling personality when she retires,” Hokstad said.
In addition to conducting for the FMAYS and the F-M Symphony, Capistran will also continue to teach private lessons.
“I will continue to perform chamber music in the Lyra Trio and Dakota Rose String Quartet and guest conduct student orchestra festivals,” Capistran said. “I will also travel to hear my daughter Madeline’s concerts in Iowa City and Chicago and my son Stuart’s in St. Paul, Minn. Several ‘house projects’ will be in the works and I hope to have to time to ‘re-invent’ myself.”
A native of New Rockford, N.D., Lois Cogdill, dean of students, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in English from Minot State University in 1975 and a master’s degree in counseling and guidance from the University of North Dakota in 1979.
Prior to joining the college, Cogdill held positions at North Dakota State University in housing and residential life and at the University of North Dakota-Lake Region in student services, counseling and enrollment. She also taught public school in Bemidji (Minn.) Public Schools and Mohall (N.D.) Public Schools.
Cogdill was named associate dean of students at Concordia in 1993 and retires after 26 years at the college.
Karen Bertek, office manager for Student Development and Campus Life, worked with Cogdill for more than 20 years and admired the passion and dedication Cogdill had for her work, students, faculty and staff.
“With her retirement announcement, I truly learned the meaning of the word bittersweet,” Bertek said. “I am sad to see her leave but happy for her at the same time. Not only was she a good boss but also a good friend. I will miss her friendship, support, and sense of humor.”
Bill MacDonald, director of Public Safety, first met Cogdill in 1990 when they both worked at another local college. Eighteen years later, she hired him to work at Concordia.
“I have been lucky enough to work with her every day for the last 11 years,” MacDonald said. “What a great supervisor and friend. I will miss her dearly.”
Chelle Lyons Hanson ’84, former director of Student Leadership and Service, said Cogdill provided strong leadership to the division and was a constant source of vision and action. Cogdill was able to balance an ability to envision big things while managing the day-to-day workload. She worked tirelessly behind the scenes to assist students who were struggling.
“She was a positive force in my continued growth as a professional, but she also provided compassionate personal support during some difficult times,” Lyons Hanson said. “I always appreciated Lois’ wisdom and thoughtful approach to any situation. She was a skilled and supportive supervisor, a loyal and valued colleague and, most importantly, a trusted friend.”
When asked about her retirement plans, Cogdill said she didn’t have anything specific in mind.
“I’m looking forward to trying new things like yoga and fly fishing, reading the many books on my ‘read someday’ list, volunteering, traveling to new places, and going camping in a Scamp (if I can convince my husband that we should buy one),” she said. “I’ll also be spending more time with our daughter Meghan (and soon to be son-in-law) or maybe just enjoying morning coffee on the deck. I plan to keep busy and have fun.”
Florene Culp worked as a staffing assistant in the Moorhead office of Concordia Language Villages. She was an integral part of the program for 15 years, retiring in January.
Prior to joining the Language Villages, Culp worked for nearly 40 years for the U.S. Postal Service in Georgetown, Minn., and then the City of Georgetown.
“We thank Florene deeply for her years of experience and knowledge of all the details involved in her daily tasks, her resourcefulness, her integrity, her strong working relationships with our hiring managers and co-workers, and her wonderful sense of humor,” said Renae Lacher, staffing coordinator. “Florene will be sincerely missed. Nevertheless, we can only wish happiness for her.”
Marcus Erickson, former staffing assistant, composed a limerick in honor of Culp because he was unable to attend her retirement reception:
Emailing staffing will not be the same.
Who will laugh at my wisecracks?
About I-9s and income tax?
At least she’ll leave with acclaim.
For Florene is one grand dame.
“I will miss her very much and hope she enjoys her retirement,” he said.
A trip to Arizona to visit her sister was first on the agenda after Culp’s retirement.
“I had to wait on the plane for de-icing the day I left but made it out of cold country for a couple of weeks,” she said. “I was unpleasantly greeted by snow, cold, wind, and an overworked furnace on my arrival home.”
As for her future plans, she has a lot on her list.
“I am anticipating planting, painting my fence, and cleaning up the yard. I also plan on other volunteer activities,” Culp said. “There will be numerous short, local trips to attend family reunions, Art in the Park, Medora, visiting relatives this summer, and a six-day trip this fall to visit Kentucky’s ARK Encounter and Creation Museum, and other points of interest. I am definitely enjoying my free time.”
Dr. Dawn Duncan
Dr. Dawn Duncan, professor of English and global studies, joined Concordia’s English department in 1994. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and theatre from Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas, and her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of North Texas, Denton. She retires after 25 years at the college.
As a scholar of Irish literature and postcolonial theory, Duncan has compiled an impressive bibliography that includes four books, 14 contributions to book-length studies, and six journal articles. In addition, she has delivered 45 presentations at academic conferences and has been invited to lecture 40 times.
Duncan received numerous honors and grants during her tenure and was a member/chair of many committees at the college. She has also been involved with professional organizations devoted to scholarly interests, most notably as the secretary of the International Society of Irish Studies since 2003.
As a teacher, Duncan worked tirelessly to help students unleash a love of learning. As a result, she has taught many independent study classes and mentored almost 50 student projects, ranging from academic posters for national conferences to student lectures at Concordia to films shown locally and at regional film festivals. She also worked to establish and direct a popular study abroad program in Galway, Ireland.
“Dawn seeks to live her life through what she calls ‘healing words,’” said Dr. David Sprunger, department chair and professor of English. “In the last few years, Dawn has put this manifesto into practice as she developed a Concordia chapter of Narrative 4, an international program that brings disparate people together to hear and tell each other’s stories.”
As a master practitioner in the Narrative 4 organization, Duncan also trains others around the world to lead their own story exchanges.
Dr. Joan Kopperud, professor of English, said Duncan consistently models strong work habits, sets high standards for herself, and works diligently until excellence is achieved.
“I know this from experience when we co-authored a book,” Kopperud said. “That summer, we had a number of deadlines to meet for our book contract. No matter what obstacles arose – and there were many – Dawn powered through the challenges to a successful completion of the project. Her work ethic is an integral part of who Dawn is as a colleague and friend.”
Duncan and her husband, Dennis, plan to relocate to Las Cruces, N.M., but she won’t be retiring completely.
“I will continue working with Narrative 4,” she said. “I am also planning to work for Concordia’s Continuing Studies, leading Narrative 4 facilitator training courses and perhaps enrichment literature and film courses for alumni. Beyond those plans, lots of time to walk dogs and go on hikes.”
Scott Ellingson graduated from Concordia in 1977. His first job after graduation was as an auditor with First Bank system, returning to his alma mater in 1979 as a residence hall director.
While in Residence Life, Ellingson also worked in the Counseling Center and as director of student activities. He joined the Admission staff in 1987 as an admission counselor and worked in Enrollment until 2015, serving as assistant director, director, and dean of Admission.
Most recently, Ellingson served students in the Career Center as director of Cooperative Education and Internships, retiring this spring in his 40th year at the college.
Ellingson has impacted thousands of Concordia students, faculty, and staff during his tenure. He was a willing volunteer on numerous campus committees and, in 2011, he was the recipient of the Flaat Distinguished Service Award.
Athletic Director Rachel Bergeson is grateful for Ellingson’s faithfulness as a Cobber fan, supporting athletics through the most exciting wins and the most devastating losses.
“It is the genuine hope of the entire athletic department that Scott continues to be one of our biggest fans,” she said.
Jim Meier, former director of Student Affairs, said, “Four words immediately come to mind when I think of Scott Ellingson – flexibility, competence, modesty and loyalty. His ambition was always focused on serving and promoting others – never himself. He is a Cobber through and through.”
“Scott brought a wealth of experience and knowledge to his work in the Admission Office. His ability and total commitment made him an effective voice for Concordia and led to large numbers of enrolled and grateful Cobbers,” said Jim Hausmann, former vice president of Admission and Financial Aid. “His uncanny memory provided a record of alumni that proved valuable in reaching out to second generation Cobbers and his special interest in athletics helped fuel a strong athletic program.”
Career Center Director Kris Olson said, “The Concordia community is grateful for Scott’s successful career and his unending devotion to Concordia College.”
When asked about his retirement plans, Ellingson said he didn’t have many specific things in mind at this point but is open to new opportunities.
Wayne Flack joined Facilities Management in 2006 after working as the physical plant director for North Dakota State College of Science. He previously worked for NDSCS as an instructor and held positions in facilities and property management. Flack earned an associate’s degree from NDSCS in 1974, a bachelor’s degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead in 1990, and a Master of Business Association from North Dakota State University in 2000.
“Every once in a blue moon does an organization find itself lucky enough to come across a gem like Wayne Flack,” said Angie Jones, administrative assistant in Facilities Management. “A simple walk across campus grounds is a testament not only to Wayne’s commitment to maintaining a beautiful college but also to the way he treated the large group of Facilities staff who made his vision possible.”
Jones said Flack made sure everyone in Facilities Management felt valued and important. As a leader he held the belief that he wouldn’t ask anything of his staff that he wasn’t willing to do himself, so it wasn’t uncommon to see him answering phones at the reception desk or running around campus with a hard hat, button-down business shirt, and dirt-covered hands.
“Wayne is a dearly treasured member of the Facilities Management family and will be very missed,” Jones said.
Others in the office echoed Flack’s ability to make people feel appreciated, and reiterated his commitment and dedication to Concordia and to the work of Facilities Management.
“Wayne brought a sense of caring and compassion to the workplace. He made sure everyone knew his door was open anytime for questions or discussion,” said Karen Hanson, assistant director of Facilities Management. “Anyone that worked for him probably has seen him sketch out a fulcrum showing the goal of having a work-life balance. He demonstrated that balance often by not only working hard but also by lightening the load in sharing his great sense of humor.”
Many said Flack was genuinely interested in getting to know people and how they were doing in both their professional lives and on a personal level.
“From the first day I walked in the door of Facilities to the last day he worked for the college, Wayne always made me feel valuable and important,” said Audra Freeman, Facilities Management office manager. “He encouraged me, mentored me, pushed me when I needed it, and reminded me constantly that I was valuable in multiple ways. That is something that I will always cherish and remember about Wayne.”
Flack and his wife retired to their home on Otter Tail Lake. They have three grown children and six grandchildren in the immediate area and spend a lot of time with them, including fishing, hunting and camping.
“After retiring in February, we traveled for a couple months down South and plan to do that again during the winter,” Flack said.
Elaine Johnson, office assistant in the Office of Admission, came to Concordia after working two and a half years at North Dakota State University. She retires after 27 years at the college.
Johnson started out setting up campus visits and serving as a receptionist in the days before computers to keep her organized. When Johnson joined the Admission team, she worked with Jim Hausmann, Lee Johnson and Scott Ellingson. Ellingson said he was extremely thankful he worked with her for so many years, as much of their work depended on each other.
“I had the opportunity to observe Elaine’s strong commitment to the college, her colleagues, the entire Enrollment team, and both current and prospective students,” he said. “The positive impact she has had on so many people cannot be overstated.”
After two years as receptionist, Johnson moved into processing applications for the next 25. While the tasks remained the same, there were many changes in technology especially when moving to electronic files.
“As time and technology advanced and the move to virtually everything electronic, Elaine took all of this in stride, leading the way, developing new efficiencies, and never losing her enthusiasm, passion and care for every student exploring Concordia,” said Samantha Axvig, director of admission operations.
Axvig estimates that Johnson had a hand in processing nearly 100,000 applications, at least twice that amount in transcripts, admitting more than 65,000 students, and enrolling close to 20,000 new Cobbers.
“No one is a number to her,” Axvig said. “She sees and hears their stories and works to be sure everyone is cared for and given the attention deserved.”
Dr. Karl Stumo, vice president for Enrollment and Marketing, said he would always appreciate and never forget Johnson’s wise and steady presence in the office.
“In the Welcome Center, it’s not easy to be both tough and kind, driven and calm, serious and joyful all at the same time. Somehow Elaine balances the best of all of these,” he said. “I have confidence and pride in saying that Elaine and her work embodies the mission of the college. She is thoughtful and informed, lives a Christian life in her love and service for her family, friends, co-workers and community, and there is no question that she has influenced the affairs of the world.”
Johnson is taking the summer to enjoy gardening and tending her flowers. She may search out a volunteer or part-time job if she gets bored in the winter but plans on spending more time with family and a new great-grandchild due this summer.
“In the fall, I hope to be able to take a trip to the New England states for the fall colors. It has been on my bucket list for a while now,” she said. “I want to thank everyone who has been so kind and supportive to me over the years. It is with sadness and excitement that I’m moving on to this new chapter in my life.”
Dr. Barbara Witteman
Dr. Barbara Witteman, professor of education, earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Minot (N.D.) State University and a Master of Education and doctorate from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. She taught in elementary schools for 20 years and in teacher preparation programs before joining the faculty of Concordia in 1995. She retires after 24 years at the college.
“Barb has fully committed her life to acts of service and hospitality that benefit our community. As a teacher educator, she’s worked with more than 800 college students showing them how to successfully design and implement service projects with about 4,500 students in K-5,” said Dr. Darrell Stolle, department chair and professor of education. “She inspires others by walking the walk. If her students are completing a project, she is right beside them working with them, and she empowers them to become the project spokespeople helping them to gain confidence.”
The program Witteman is probably most pleased about, Stolle said, is the creation of the Birthday Bag project through her church to benefit children who get assistance at the Emergency Food Pantry. Children get a handmade birthday card, cake mix and frosting so their parents who are food insecure are able to make a cake for them for their birthday.
Stolle said because Witteman thoroughly infuses service-learning into her work as a teacher educator, she has given people of all ages the tools they need to be empowered, active citizens who treat all people with dignity, respect and justice.
Current and former students are leading service projects in West Fargo, Moorhead, Fargo, several schools in the Twin Cities, Pelican Rapids, Phoenix, and internationally in Jamaica, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic.
Witteman’s work is multifaceted. She published a weekly column in The Forum newspaper from 2012-16, published several children’s history books over the years, and served as deputy administrator for a school serving aboriginal children in Alice Springs, Australia.
She has also served on nonprofit boards locally, statewide, and nationally every year since moving to the Fargo-Moorhead area, including at the Arc of Cass-Clay, the Emergency Food Pantry, Arc of North Dakota, and as social justice chair at St. Benedict of Wild Rice.
“She is selfless,” Stolle said. “The work she does often requires a great deal of time and effort. Yet, she commits 100% to her projects.”
In the words of a former student, “Not only did she take a chance on teaching this class, but she stuck with us to the end. She forced us (not that it was a bad thing) to take chances and do things we weren’t used to doing. I will never forget how great of a time that I had this semester.”
Witteman is so devoted to her work and the well-being of others that it’s not certain she’ll actually retire, but she did offer some clues to her “retired life.”
Dr. Xueqi Zeng, associate professor of mathematics, earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Beijing Normal University, China, in 1977 and a doctorate from SUNY at Stony Brook in 1990.
Zeng taught at Beijing Normal University and was a teaching assistant at SUNY before joining the faculty at Concordia in 1990. Zeng retires after 29 years at the college.
Her scholarship involvement includes many workshops over the years regionally at Gustavus, Bemidji University and Macalester, among others, and nationally at Cornell, the College of William and Mary, and Mount Holyoke College, to name a few.
Dr. Daniel Biebighauser, associate professor of mathematics, sent an email to previous students, alumni, and staff asking for stories and well wishes for Zeng’s retirement and the responses poured in.
“One of my first experiences at Concordia was walking into my Calc 2 class and I’ll never forget how animated Xueqi was, showing pictures of the Olympic volleyball teams and telling us about how she wanted to be our coach – because the coach is happiest when everyone succeeds,” said Bryce Frentz ’14. “I never encountered a teacher as excited to teach about math. I’m so honored to have gotten to have her as a teacher and a friend.”
Steven Noren ’11 said, “I had Calculus with her during my first year at Concordia and I loved it. Xueqi’s energy and enthusiasm is quite infectious, and it helped me make my decision to try and become a math professor like her.”
At her interview for the Concordia position, Dr. Julia Walk, assistant professor of mathematics, said her first memory of Zeng was her energy and enthusiasm.
“I’m grateful for the part she played in making the math department a welcoming community for our students and faculty,” Walk said. “The laughter heard coming from her office, the ‘shenanigans’ played with her office door decorations, the student visits in semesters after they actually had a class with her – are all evidence of the connections she made.”
Biebighauser added, “As both her student and her colleague, I’ve always been impressed with Xueqi’s energy, passion and dedication. She puts so much effort into each student and each course, whether she’s teaching it for the first time or the 51st time. The students love her, she’s been a wonderful colleague, and we will miss her so much. We wish her the best for her retirement.”
Zeng plans to be closer to her grandchildren and travel a little in her retirement.concordia-recognizes-retirees
Community members gathered to attend a tomato pruning workshop led by Tyler Franklin, Concordia’s high tunnel and garden manager, where they learned the importance of using pruning techniques to maintain a healthy tomato plant. The event was held at Concordia’s high tunnel on the southeast side of campus.
“It is a perfect day to prune,” Franklin said. “If you don’t know how to manage your tomato plants, you won’t get the most production of quality fruit out of them.”
Managing your tomato plants through pruning, explained Franklin, is the process of stripping away areas of a plant to help promote healthy growth and yield better fruit across a plant’s growing period.
In a typical tomato plant, there are flowers, leaves, a stem and the fruit. Throughout the growing period of a tomato plant, side shoots grow from the space between the stem and a branch. These side shoots tend to rob energy from the tomato plant, making the plant focus less on already growing fruit and more on growing a side shoot. Side shoots grow heavy and do not always produce good fruit. Franklin stressed quality over quantity when it comes to growing tomatoes.
“The goal isn’t as many OK-tasting tomatoes as possible,” he added. “The goal is to have a well-maintained plant with some terrific tasting tomatoes.”
Franklin says you should prune your plants to help direct plant energy toward the most important part – the fruit.
“By pruning, we get the plant to focus. We want to make the plant produce useful fruit and pruning helps with that,” Franklin said. “You will have a much more productive growth in the summer if you prune your plants. Pay attention to what your plant needs.”
Proper tomato plant maintenance can be done by getting rid of dying leaves and side shoots that are attached to your plant. Ideally, your tomato plant should only have the stem and four to five main branches of leaves and fruit attached. This process can be completed with gardening shears or your hands.
With gardening shears in hand, event attendees kneeled together to help accomplish pruning various breeds of tomatoes that are planted inside the high tunnel with Franklin’s help and instruction.
Concordia student and event participant Leah Jadeke ’20 explained that her favorite part of the workshop was the advice that Franklin gave to the group.
“His advice can be used in the garden and in life, observing and reacting,” she said. “I think that advice can be applied to what I do in my everyday life, whether I am in the garden or not.”cornucopia-tomato-pruning-workshop
The YWCA Cass Clay honored women whose work and passion benefit our community at the 2019 Women of the Year event. Concordia had eight alumni and faculty nominated for the awards and six won in their respective categories.
The following are those recipients:
- Dr. Dawn Duncan, professor of English, in the Advocating for Equality category
- Laura (Espedal) Caroon ’06, Office of Communications and Marketing, and Danyel (Schneider) Moe ’16, in the category of Leader in Women’s Empowerment for their startup organization for women called Ladyboss FM
- Maureen (Munt) Bartelt ’08, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Premier Properties, in the category of Community & Volunteer Service
- Kirsten (Gilbertson) Jensen ’97, MSUM, in the Communication category
- Sara (Hodsdon) Stallman ’01, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, in the category of Youth Advocacy
In its 46th year of the event, the YWCA Cass Clay selects awardees in various categories to honor women in the region who stand out.
Duncan’s award in Advocating for Equality stems from her work with the international organization Narrative 4, a storytelling exchange program designed to build empathy and understanding among people who are different from one another. Duncan has used as her mantra both personally and professionally that “words have the power to harm or to heal; they are never neutral.” That’s one of the reasons she was drawn to Narrative 4 as an organization that relies on words to lead to healing.
“My work in the classroom, with Narrative 4 in our college community and far beyond, in Northern Ireland and through Irish studies, in Anti-Racism Training, and in diversity action on many levels is natural to me and necessary,” Duncan says. “As I listened to the bios of all the other nominees, I heard of other women who work daily to make our world better. I was honored simply to be among them.”
Caroon and Moe’s Ladyboss organization is a women’s empowerment model that is also used as a networking and mentoring platform for women primarily in the Fargo-Moorhead region. The duo started the organization when they both worked in the Communications and Marketing Office at Concordia. Moe has since moved to new opportunities but both are moving the Ladyboss platform forward.
“Danyel and I were so honored for Ladybosses of Fargo-Moorhead to be nominated for YWCA Women of the Year and totally blown away to leave with an award,” Caroon says. “This community is full of amazing women and we’re humbled to be recognized in this way.”
Photo of all 2019 recipients:
Front row: Cyndy Skorick, Sara Stallman, Katie Mastel, Kirsten Jensen
Back row: Susan Jarvis, Taya Spelhaug, Jana Bruhschwein, Britt Selbo, Danyel Moe, Laura Caroon, Dawn Duncan, Maureen Bartelt
Roald Amundsen, famous for discovering the South Pole, came to Fargo in 1927 to give a lecture about his adventures. This lecture left a unique mark on Concordia.
Captain Amundsen was born on July 16, 1872, in Borge, Norway. Graduating with honors from Christiania University, Amundsen decided to pursue his dreams of exploration instead of a career. To do so, Amundsen relied on the wealth from his deceased parents, who had been successful in the shipping business.
Amundsen’s success began in 1905 when he made the first successful voyage around the northern coast of North America via the Northwest Passage. By 1909, Amundsen had set his sights on the North Pole, which was defeated after it was discovered by another explorer. Amundsen then decided to pursue the South Pole, which he discovered in 1911. Despite these successes, “The Last Viking,” as Amundsen was called, never gave up on his dreams of seeing the North Pole. He tried four times to accomplish his aim but did not have success until he came to America for a lecture tour to earn income for his expeditions. While the lecture tour did not prove as successful as he had hoped, Amundsen did meet Lincoln Ellsworth who provided financial assistance for Amundsen to accomplish his ambitions.
Amundsen was greatly concerned that his explorations contributed to scientific knowledge. The Amundsen-Ellsworth expedition was no different. This expedition was the first to travel from Europe to America via the North Pole in an aircraft. To do so, Amundsen and Ellsworth purchased a dirigible from the Italian government and reconstructed it with the guidance of Colonel Umberto Nobile. The aircraft was named Norge I and measured 325 feet in length. Amundsen and colleagues departed on May 11, 1926, and landed at the North Pole at 2:30 a.m. on May 12. On their voyage, they encountered the Pole of Inaccessibility – the most difficult point of the earth to reach. Some of the first motion pictures of the North Pole and surrounding regions were taken during this expedition that cost $750,000 in sum.
At the age of 54, Amundsen decided to retire having accomplished his dream of landing on the North Pole. Being fluent in English, Amundsen again traveled to the United States to recount his adventures. One of his stops was Fargo, N.D., where he presented his lecture titled “From Rome to Teller by Air Over North Pole” on Thursday, March 24, 1927, at the Fargo Auditorium. Concordia sponsored this lecture with professors J.A. Holvik, Herman C. Nordlie, and Paul A. Rasmussen in charge of the event. Articles in The Concordian student newspaper provided enthusiastic reviews of the lecture.
Shortly after the evening’s speeches, Amundsen developed a toothache and visited Dr. Albert Hallenberg who extracted the two molars that were plaguing his patient. In 1928, one year later, Amundsen died while on a rescue mission for General Umberto Nobile when his plane crashed into the Arctic. A little over a decade later, Hallenberg, who had saved the explorer’s teeth, donated them to the Concordia Museum. These Amundsen relics are now part of the Concordia College Archives collections. Thus, Roald Amundsen not only provided a memorable lecture and a subject for many Cobber papers and presentations, but also his only existing remains which are a common inquiry at the Archives.
– Contributed by the Concordia Archives
Main photo: The Norge landing in Teller, Alaska.
Story photo: Roald Amundsen with his dog sitting in the front of the passenger compartment of The Norge.world-s-greatest-explorer-leaves-mark-at-concordia
Dr. Ann (Schroeder) Taylor ’93 is one of 39 emerging leaders named by the American Council on Education as an ACE Fellow for the 2019-20 academic year.
Taylor is the William J. and Wilma M. Haines Associate Professor of Biochemistry and chair of the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics for Wabash College, Crawfordsville, Ind.
“I'm thrilled to be selected as an ACE Fellow,” said Taylor. “Participating will provide me with perspective on the range of leadership opportunities in higher education and the opportunity to see how other institutions foster leadership development among both faculty and students. I am particularly interested in the transition from receiving tenure into a faculty member’s first significant leadership role, and models of developing student leadership through course-based activities.”
Taylor was Wabash College’s first biochemist. She created courses and curriculum for the biochemistry major and serves as chair of the chemistry department. She’s served on several committees, presented workshops on teaching college science to grad students and serves on the editorial review board for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education. She is also active in research and regularly publishes case studies for use in the classroom related to her interest in how students learn.
The ACE Fellows Program, established in 1965, works to strengthen institutions and leadership in American higher education to ensure its future leaders are ready to take on the challenges of their institutions. The program packs into a single year training and experience that usually takes years to acquire. Nearly 2,000 higher education leaders have participated in the program over the last 50 plus years.
ACE is the major coordinating body mobilizing the nation’s colleges and universities in shaping public policy and fostering innovative, high-quality practice. Its more than 1,700 member institutions include all types of U.S. accredited, degree-granting institutions – two-year and four-year, public and private.alumna-named-ace-fellow
Americans today enjoy a greater variety and availability of foods – fresh fruits and vegetables in winter, for instance – thanks to a global food supply network.
It is 1997 graduate Amy (Schroeder) Kircher's job to see that this food supply is safe for consumers and poses no threat to the security of our country. It's a big job.
Kircher, who has a doctorate in public health, is director of the National Center for Food Protection and Defense at the University of Minnesota. It's one of 12 Department of Homeland Security Centers of Excellence. Other centers – all located at major universities – study subjects like responses to terrorism, animal disease defense, catastrophic event response or environment security.
Kircher leads and coordinates a consortium of experts throughout the United States who defend the food system through research and education. The main emphasis of her work includes identification and warning of food disruptions through data analysis.
"It's a complicated task," says Kircher. "Our food comes from a complex series of systems of global productions and rapid transportation. Food grown in one place might be mixed with products from somewhere else, so following the supply chain is a challenge."
Before coming to the University of Minnesota in 2011, Kircher held epidemiologist positions at NORAD – the U.S. Northern Command and with the Air Force where she worked on health informatics, biosurveillance and data analytics. She was part of the response effort in 2005 with Hurricane Katrina and 2009 with the H1N1 worldwide flu pandemic.
In her current role, Kircher watches for three basic threats to the nation's food supply: terrorism, people who are motivated to make money by hurting the system, or disgruntled employees out to ruin a brand.
"I look to identify trends and pattern, and then warn of possible disruptions in the system," she says.
Kircher's research shows there is evidence of "bad actors" contaminating food. Plots have been uncovered to use food as a delivery mechanism for weapons of mass destruction, and economically motivated adulteration is a growing concern.
"These threats illuminate the need to stay ever vigilant, and be able to rapidly respond," she says. "We can limit our exposure to terrorism or disaster by choosing not to fly or live near a nuclear power plant, but we can't opt out of eating because food is necessary for survival."
Kircher's path to this prominent role began on her family's 50-cow dairy farm near Glenwood, Minn., where she participated in all the activities small towns are known for – running for water carnival royalty, playing high school volleyball and basketball, singing in the choir. A favorite teacher helped her prepare a speech for a scholarship competition, and today she gratefully relies on that experience for the numerous presentations she must make to military, government and industry officials.
"If I know the material, I can speak with confidence to anybody," she says.
Intent on becoming a doctor, Kircher grew frustrated by out-of-sequence science classes and labs at another college. While visiting friends at Concordia, she discovered she could stay on track academically with majors in biology and health.
After she transferred, her career sights were altered by events on campus.
One epiphany came after pausing to read Concordia's mission statement carved into a rock near Lorentzsen Hall.
"It said to me, 'take your talents and what you've learned, and go forth and serve.' I liked the emphasis on going into the world to do good things," says Kircher. "It spoke to me. It was really my personal orientation to Concordia because I missed my freshman year."
Another revelation came while listening to a talk by Dr. Michael Osterholm, then the Minnesota state epidemiologist, and a prominent public health scientist who has become a nationally recognized biosecurity expert.
"He has the ability to convey to an audience a problem, the concern and the appropriate action," says Kircher. "I thought, 'That's it! That's what I want to do.' From Mike I found a new passion. Mike gets you excited about things and I now work with him."
Kircher soon realized she could help many people by working in the broader area of public health. As a physician, she could only treat one patient at a time.
"Those experiences, and the influence of faculty who always were ready to listen and offer advice, were transformative for me," she says. Kircher credits Dr. Larry Papenfuss, who taught health courses at the time, with opening new perspectives for her.
"Amy was my advisee and we formed a mentoring relationship," says Papenfuss. "What set her apart was her ability to take on a rigorous academic load. Amy has a keenness of thought, and a sense of confidence and independence. She is assertive while also being open to being directed. She's certainly among the brightest I've encountered."
Papenfuss helped her land a summer internship at the University of New Mexico and recommended the master's program in public health at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse. Both were schools where Papenfuss had done his graduate work. Kircher completed her doctorate in public health at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill.
Papenfuss believes that Concordia opened a wider world for Kircher and gave her the belief that she could do whatever she set her mind to.
"You recognize that it started at Concordia with the benefits of the liberal arts," he says. "Today Amy's career crosses boundaries because of her background in biology, public health, nutrition and political science."
There were formative Cobber moments, too. During a pickup basketball game in Olson Forum, she met Jon Kircher '97, a history and business major from Olivia, Minn. In the spring of their senior year, Jon proposed to Amy under the campanile. They are now the parents of two boys and a girl. Jon Kircher has worked at Wells Fargo since graduating and is a vice president and senior private banker at the St. Paul bank.
Within days of accepting her first professional job with the Air Force as an epidemiologist, Kircher was on a base in San Antonio. It could well have been a world away.
"Public health work I knew," says Kircher. "But working for the military was completely unknown to me. I'd worked in the systems before, but the military was a new culture."
She called her dad after her first day on the job and asked him to explain military structure and rank. And for the first six months, her boss, a colonel, translated the meaning of each acronym she encountered.
"What a gift that was," says Kircher. "He was so careful and thorough, he wanted me to understand everything. It gave me a sense of how precise things need to be in a big organization like the military."
Kircher worked in preventive medicine, doing data analysis and providing accurate information to the decision makers, like doctors, so they could take better care of people.
"I'm very proud of my years working for the Air Force," she says. "I have an incredible appreciation for what the men and women of this country volunteer for to protect our freedom."
In 2003 she joined NORAD – the Northern Command, rotating between offices at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the famous nuclear bunker excavated from solid granite at Sheyenne Mountain.
"We were always 'on' there. Whether it was a training exercise or an event, we were constantly responding to the unexpected. It was something new every day. I never envisioned I'd ever be doing this," Kircher says. "It's an exciting place to be."
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Kircher was on the medical watch desk with three phones ringing simultaneously, suddenly in real-time, crisis operation.
"In a situation like that, you do what's necessary to save lives," she says. "You remember your training, ask for help, and you respond. The military moves and functions as a team. It knows how to work. The military style is to believe you're doing the right thing, with the right people, at the right time, to save lives and protect our homeland."
Kircher sent in medics to set up field hospitals, helped locate special helicopters fitted to transport at-risk babies in incubators, and even moved a school of dolphins to safety one day.
"Believe it or not, there's a way to do that," she says.
Kircher often has had to reach back and utilize her communication skills. She recalls supporting a four-star admiral during a video teleconference about responding to a pandemic. When then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld kept asking questions the admiral couldn’t answer, the admiral told Rumsfeld, "My epidemiologist is right here, let's ask Amy."
And so Kircher stepped up to brief the defense secretary.
She also spent 20 minutes with President George W. Bush when he toured the command center after Hurricane Rita.
"He wanted to know about bird flu, which was a question I wasn't anticipating," says Kircher. "He was very curious about how many infections had been reported. You could see he felt very comfortable being in the secure command area. He was easy to talk to."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 76 million new cases of food-related illness (resulting in 5,000 deaths) occur in the United States each year. Data reveals that health-related costs from food-borne illness in the U.S. are now more than $152 billion annually.
"That is completely unacceptable," she says.
Consider the cheeseburger, a staple of fast food restaurants. Dozens of ingredients are used to bake and preserve the buns, make sauces, and supply condiments. The ingredients in a typical burger can come from as many as 80 countries. Beef can come from 10 countries, wheat from as many as 15, and sauce and condiment ingredients from more than 50 countries.
With that one example, monitoring such a complex food system is a daunting task. The solution involves prediction through data analysis, timely intervention and education.
"We understand the food supply networks," says Kircher. "We assess risks and close gaps where we find them. We study, predict, inspect and pull things out of commerce so they don't enter the supply system. We also provide awareness of what to look for. We make strides every day to be better."
The most troublesome items are huge batches of ingredients, anything mixed or blended or that is transported in bulk like honey, olive oil and spices – especially pepper. Mislabeled fish or substituted species is a continual problem. High value items like infant formula are showing up as substandard or contaminated.
One suspect supplier has been China, a high-volume producer of low-cost products. But Kircher is encouraged by recent admission by Chinese officials that the country has a cultural problem of producing fake or adulterated products. Fearing that worldwide consumers will reject their products, Chinese officials have signed an agreement with the U.S. to more closely regulate their manufacture and supply networks.
"The Chinese know they have a pervasive problem and they are taking visible measures toward changing their culture," says Kircher. "It's a promising step in the right direction."
Kircher knows it's hard for individual consumers to know where food comes from because others must do their jobs before products ever appear on grocery shelves. But she offers some common sense advice: Buy brands you know, buy where you know food is grown (bananas don't grow in Canada), and pay the right amount for food – if it's too cheap, it might not be real.
Personally, Kircher avoids sprouts ("they can never be clean enough") and she doesn't like raw oysters.
The biggest fear is using food as a weapon. It doesn't take a large dose of toxic material to affect a large number of people. Twelve countries have reported contamination events since 2008 from agents like arsenic, cyanide, rat poison, and various herbicides, insecticides and pesticides.
Documents seized by CIA agents in Afghanistan indicate interest by Al-Qaeda in food terrorism by using small amounts of easily transported cyanide salts to contaminate food and water supplies.
An example of how food is monitored comes from Thailand, the world's number one exporter of shrimp. In 2011, most of the country flooded and the year's shrimp harvest was lost. Importers expected to see a decrease in shrimp availability, but it never happened. Adulterated shrimp from somewhere else entered the global market, and Homeland Security promptly warned regulators and food companies.
Kircher's task is to analyze this complex information, probe suspected threats by known "bad actors" and worry about potential casualties.
"Then at the end of the day, I go home, make dinner and be a mom," she says. "You have to be able to separate home life from work life, or these worries will absolutely consume you."
Originally published in the Spring 2014 Concordia Magazinefood-fight
Concordia College honored Dr. Matthew Culloton ’98 and Betsy Grams ’98 as the 2019 Sent Forth recipients.
The Sent Forth Award is presented to young alumni who have made an impact early in their career, emphasizing service to others and demonstrating a strong vocational commitment. With an array of experiences and accolades, Culloton and Grams shared their stories of serving others throughout their careers.
Culloton earned his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Minnesota. He is currently choirmaster at the House of Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul, Minn., and an adjunct faculty member at the University of St. Thomas.
He is the founding artistic director of The Singers – Minnesota Choral Artists. He has composed works for The Singers and the Dale Warland Singers, among others. He is editor of the “Christmas with The Singers Choral Series” and co-editor of the “Matthew and Michael Culloton Choral Series.”
Grams is co-founder and executive director of CycleHealth. Founded in 2014, CycleHealth aims to equips kids with the knowledge and tools necessary to power their own wellness. Sweat Rx is an innovative platform created by CycleHealth that can be prescribed by pediatricians in more than 50 clinics in the Twin Cities.
Sweat Rx uses adventure and goal-attainment programs to encourage active engagement between children and their health and wellness. Prior to directing CycleHealth, Grams was a high school English teacher and director of an alternative school for students at risk of not graduating.
Culloton and Grams have embodied the qualities of the Sent Forth recipient throughout their careers and were honored by the college during commencement weekend.2019-sent-forth-recipients
Clements attended the three-day conference with Dr. Laurie Dahley, assistant professor of social work, and a group of senior social work students. Held in Minneapolis and attended by thousands of social service professionals, the MSSA conference presents opportunities for students to network and attend any of more than 130 educational sessions.
For Clements, being honored for her work in front of such a large gathering was a little intimidating but feels that her award is particularly meaningful as a first-generation college student who struggled academically early on.
“When I found the social work program, I found something that I was passionate about,” Clements said. “I went from almost flunking out of college to winning this award. My professors and my social work cohort have been a great blessing and have guided me through my journey here at Concordia. This award is a reflection of how great the social work program at Concordia truly is.”
Dahley remarked that the award is an affirmation of Clements’ hard work and dedication.
“For Mikayla to be recognized by this large organization for her past experiences and her future as a human service professional is highly significant,” Dahley said.
Dahley also sees the conference as an opportunity to introduce her seniors to the large network of social work professionals they’ll join after commencement. It’s an experience that consistently leaves an impression on her students.
“One of the student takeaways [from the conference] I hear over the years is the increased awareness of the profession they are entering,” Dahley said. “The impression that they are joining an important profession and will be engaged in vital work to the quality of life for our citizens has a great impact on the students who attend.”
After graduating this spring, Clements will pursue an advanced degree at Augsburg University. She hopes to work in the criminal justice system with families affected by incarceration as well as with black and underrepresented communities in regards to trauma and healing.cobber-named-outstanding-student-of-the-year
Rural broadband is a hot topic these days with many in rural areas not having access to high speed internet services, but Erich Hennig ’97 and his wife, Erica, have been working to change that. Together they started Zumacom, high speed wireless internet for Montezuma County and southwest Colorado.
After graduating from Concordia, Hennig moved to Boulder where he met his wife. They lived in Alaska, Northern California, Phoenix and Durango before moving to Dolores, Colo., located in Montezuma County. They discovered how poor the internet service was there and decided instead of just complaining about it, they’d do something to change it.
Hennig had 20 years of experience working in the IT field and he built their first radio tower in their backyard. They sold the extra bandwidth to their neighbors and Zumacom was born. Sites are connected to fiber or via licensed microwave backhaul and the facilities transmit signals picked up by a radio mounted on the outside of the client’s house.
“Zumacom was created to help bridge the ‘digital divide’ or the lack of modern internet service availability that is prevalent in the rural area of southwest Colorado that we call home,” he said.
Zumacom provided wireless internet to its first customer in February 2017. Since then they’ve slowly expanded the coverage area, using existing fiber-optic lines and cellphone towers. The Zumacom network currently provides service to three counties in Colorado and one resident just across the state line in Utah.
“Since its inception, we have seen massive growth and are currently helping families continue to prosper in a rural setting by providing internet service to their homes and farms that allows for telecommuting, home schooling, online college study, online livestock auctions and, of course, Netflix,” he said.
Zumacom has made a strong effort not to “oversell” its network so the Hennigs can maintain an adequate performance level for their current customers. They limit the customer count where necessary to maintain a good service level for all clients and, in some cases, have had to turn away business.
“This completely slays the business lobe of my brain, but it is a key differentiator between Zumacom and everyone else,” Hennig said. “We seek to be the provider of choice in our service area, and thus far we seem to have been successful in that effort based on feedback from our customers.”
The Hennigs work out of their home west of Dolores, where Erica runs the business and marketing side and Erich is in the field. They plan to expand Zumacom’s wireless infrastructure and the network to support as many customers as they can while they grow.
Image: The green shows Zumacom’s initial coverage area and the blue denotes where the company has expanded.bridging-the-digital-divide
As family and friends entered Memorial Auditorium for the graduation ceremony, spirits were high. The weather delivered a near-perfect day with sunshine and moderate temperatures. Those who had attended baccalaureate that morning may have been pondering the Rev. Elly McHan’s sermon on transitions and how their graduate would soon be living in liminal space – the time between what was and what is to come.
But there was still one event left for these graduates, and The Concordia Band didn’t want anyone to forget this was a festive day. Dr. Peter Haberman nearly brought the audience to its feet during the prelude as he enthusiastically conducted the band in two vibrant marches. Then they reverently played the traditional “Crown Imperial” for the graduates, faculty and staff to process.
The ceremony began with conferring an honorary degree on guest commencement speaker Colum McCann. An author, artist, educator, and social activist, McCann first came to Concordia to speak at the National Book Awards event on his book, “Let the Great World Spin.” He has since been working with Concordia as it created its collegial chapter of Narrative 4, an exchange program McCann co-founded that brings awareness and empathy to the other through storytelling. McCann’s message to students was the hope they would raise their voices to make “one small crack in the wall” that is keeping people apart.
“If we want to be listened to, we have to be listeners as well,” McCann said.
He commended Concordia for its works toward greater understanding of differences in story exchanges. “This is a campus that believes we can forge a path through the great grace of storytelling.”
After the degrees were conferred, Concordia graduate Mikaela Herberg ’19 delivered the student response. Herberg, a biology major who is planning to go to med school in the fall, said she has many things she will personally miss about Concordia then went straight to the commonality for her and her fellow graduates.
“We share the strong foundation of a liberal arts education,” she said, noting the power and potential each graduate holds.
Herberg noted how faculty had taught the graduates to question the world around them and think critically. Now as the newest alumni of the college, they will leave with the confidence that this college can still be a home.
“Concordia will always still be here and this place will always be ready to welcome you home,” she said.
Out of six applicants, Concordia had four students receive scholarships. Seniors Toby Kindem, Alexandra Rankin, Hannah Allen and McKayle Carter have received Fulbright awards.
Fulbright coordinator and professor of English Dr. Jonathan Steinwand says nationally about 20% of applicants are funded and Concordia had 66% of applicants funded.
“I’m pleased with the results and I’m proud of these Fulbrighters,” Steinwand says. “Our World Language programs in particular deserve a lot of credit.”
Kindem, a K-12 German education major, was awarded an English Teaching Award to Germany and will be going to Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony). He has studied in Germany in the region in which he will be working. He’s excited about having a head start knowing the dialect of the area.
Rankin’s English Teaching Award to Taiwan will take her to either Kaohsiung or Taipei – her city will be selected later this summer.
“I am so grateful for this opportunity,” Rankin says. “I am excited to continue to improve my Chinese and also learn more about Taiwanese culture. I am also looking forward to learning more about the Taiwanese school system by working alongside Taiwanese teachers.”
Allen was awarded a Study/Research Award in Music Therapy and is going to be studying at SRH University in Heidelberg, Germany, pursuing a master’s degree in music therapy. She first went to Germany in 2017 for a year abroad and enjoyed the German culture and lifestyle.
Carter has been awarded an English Teaching Assistant Award to Bavaria, Germany. She spent a year in Germany during her sophomore year.
“I’m excited to have another opportunity to work on my German language skills, as well as to educate students on the importance of cultural awareness and diversity,” she says.
Every year, approximately 10,000 students apply for 2,000 awards worldwide in all fields of study and in over 140 countries. More than 380,000 Fulbrighters from the U.S. and other countries have participated in the program since it was established in 1946.
Photo (from left): Hannah Allen, McKayle Carter, Toby Kindem, Alexandra Rankinrecord-setting-fulbright-year
Andre Schaum ’20 has been awarded the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship. Schaum, an ACS chemistry and biology major from Osage, Minn., is one of only 496 students from across the country to receive the award. He was selected from an initial pool of more than 5,000 students from 443 academic institutions. The scholarship is awarded to undergraduate sophomores or juniors who are intending to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering.
“It is extremely humbling and rewarding to be selected as a 2019 Goldwater Scholar out of the large group of applicants across the nation,” Schaum says. “However, I could not have completed the four-month application process if it was not for the tremendous support and patience of my fellow applicants, friends and faculty mentors.”
Among those who Schaum says helped him through the process were Concordia’s Goldwater representative Dr. Althea ArchMiller, assistant professor of biology, and 2018 Goldwater Honorable mention Alexandra Ward ’19. Both provided assistance and advice.
“I would also like to thank my recommendation letter writers – Dr. Donald Krogstad, professor of chemistry, and Dr. Graeme Wyllie, assistant professor of chemistry, both of Concordia College, and Dr. Stanley May of the University of South Dakota,” Schaum says. “I am excited to join the community of past and future Goldwater Scholars and to see how this award will influence and propel my life beyond Concordia.”
And faculty members who have worked with Schaum know his abilities will take him far.
"Andre Schaum has a natural love for nature and curiosity about science,” Krogstad says. “He does things the right way and for the right reasons. Andre has the drive, ambition, intelligence, and creativity to make a real impact as a researcher and world leader."
Schaum has already been immersing himself in research. He spent last summer at the University of South Dakota where he studied the luminescence of nanoparticles on patterned metal surfaces as part of a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates.
This summer, Schaum is headed to Prague for an International Research Experience for Students program. He will be studying the recycling of industrial coolants in the European Union.schaum-earns-goldwater-scholarship
Senior McKayle Carter, originally named an alternate for a Fulbright Scholarship, has now been awarded an English Teaching Assistant Award to Bavaria, Germany.
“We now officially have a record year with four Fulbright Award winners as McKayle Carter has now been offered an award,” exclaimed Dr. Jonathan Steinwand, professor of English. “Nationally, around 20% of applicants are funded. This year at Concordia, 66% of our applicants were funded.”
Concordia had six applicants for the 2019-20 Fulbright Awards.
Carter was named an alternate when Toby Kindem, Alexandra Rankin and Hannah Allen recently received their Fulbright awards. At the time, it was noted that while not currently selected as a principal candidate, Carter’s selection as an alternate offered the chance of promotion to finalist.
Shortly thereafter, Carter was indeed promoted to finalist.
“It’s a huge honor to be selected and I am so humbled to have the privilege to be a part of the Fulbright program,” Carter said. “I’ve wanted to apply for a Fulbright since I found out about the program my freshman year. Having spent a year in Germany my sophomore year, I’ve seen how valuable it is to learn about cultures that are different from our own. It was such an eye-opening experience for me that drastically changed my perception of the world.”
While in Germany, Carter is encouraged to engage in the community through volunteering and various types of involvement, and she plans to do so. She also expects to attend meetings and conferences with other Fulbright recipients and possibly government officials.
“I’m excited to have another opportunity to work on my German language skills, as well as to educate students on the importance of cultural awareness and diversity,” she added.
Every year, there are approximately 10,000 applicants for 2,000 awards worldwide in all fields of study and in over 140 countries. More than 380,000 Fulbrighters from the U.S. and other countries have participated in the program since it was established in 1946.
For information about the other three Fulbright award winners, see Fulbright Selects Concordia Students.concordia-adds-fourth-fulbright-award