December 2018 newsletter
Discover the added value of hands-on learning in art and design degrees. Then explore how our colleges contribute to the state’s workforce pipeline by attracting students from out of state, many of whom choose to stay after graduation.
As students continue to think critically about the value of particular majors, art and design degrees stand out for how they combine soft skills with technical know-how.
“I tell students that they need to leave here being able to articulate their ideas visually and verbally — they need to be able to do math and have learned history,” said Karen Wirth, interim president at Minneapolis College of Art and Design. “They aren’t just learning their particular discipline, they are getting a well-rounded college education.”
All Minnesota Private Colleges offer majors in either studio art or art history; others have more specific art and design options available, such as the apparel design major at St. Catherine University or the book arts minor at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. As the only arts-focused institution in the group, MCAD offers fourteen related majors, including animation, graphic design and the region’s only entrepreneurial studies major offered at an art and design college.
At MCAD, art and design majors are paired with course work in the liberal arts and foundational courses to ensure students receive a broad education.
“There are things that have been adapted by the liberal arts and the business world that art and design education does especially well. A big one is experiential learning — it’s not theory, they are doing every day exactly what they will be doing in their professional lives,” Wirth said. “Another is critique — students must open their work to critical comments and support and defend it. These things are transferable skills to the professional work they’ll be doing.”
Along with skills employers’ value, art and design students also bring creativity and beauty to their work and the world, said Andrew Overn, art professor at Bethany Lutheran College.
“The skills art students learn are important to employers,” Overn said. “But I’d argue that their programs of study are every bit as important because they foster an appreciation for art and beauty that helps keep human culture alive.”
Whether or not art and design students are working in the field they studied, art students often continue to create art. These artists sometimes sell their work but other times their art stays a hobby and benefits the people around them.
“Sometimes the public doesn’t understand or appreciate the creative process,” Overn said. “But they sure like the product — that video game, or movie, or novel or new logo is a product of the creative process. These make our world better and often come from art students.”
“It’s important for art students to learn how to monetize their personal and technical skills,” Overn said. “But these same skills are what can also bring a lifetime of reward beyond the workplace.”
By Tom Lancaster
It’s important for the state to attract out-of-state students, given that many Minnesota high school students leave to go to college in other states. Minnesota Private Colleges are a strong draw for students from elsewhere in the nation — and many choose to stay here when they graduate.
The 17 member institutions of the Minnesota Private College Council draw 10,700 out-of-state students to Minnesota, more than University of Minnesota or Minnesota State. Seventy-one percent of the class of 2016 stayed in Minnesota after graduating. And with labor shortages only expected to grow, the presence of these future workers is important to the state.
Consider Macalester College, which brings students from around the country and the world to Minnesota; its students represent all 50 states and 90 countries. “We have a high percent of our alumni staying in Minnesota,” said Katie Ladas, executive director of alumni engagement at Macalester. “Many stay right here in St. Paul.”
Minnesota Private College alumni participate in every sector of the economy. “At Macalester 56 percent of our 2017 graduates are working in the private sector, 19 percent are in non-profits and 17 percent are in education,” said Ladas.
These out-of-state students are important for campus life, as well as the future workforce. “Macalester works hard to have a diverse campus,” Ladas said. “These students bring new ideas, new cultures and new perspectives. And when they decide to stay in Minnesota they offer the same things to the larger community.”
A 2011 graduate of St. Olaf College and a native of Iowa, Ben Langholz decided to make Minnesota his home. “As a health care consultant I am really able to live anywhere,” Langholz said. “But my network and community from St. Olaf was strong in Minnesota, so I decide to live here.”
Not only did St. Olaf’s network keep Langholz in Minnesota, St. Olaf also provided the right education for him to be successful. “At St. Olaf we learned alongside all different types of people,” Langholz said. “Classes had people from different majors and backgrounds. Now I use those skills to collaborate and problem solve with all sorts of people.”
Staying in Minnesota has helped Langholz realize the full value of his education. “It’s interesting, I run into doctors and surgeons who say ‘Hey, I majored in history at St. Olaf’,” Langolz said. “You realize just how strong the network and the education really are.”
For more examples of the experiences of out-of-state students who have chosen to make their homes in Minnesota, see our companion alumni spotlight piece.
By Tom Lancaster
Thousands of college students come to Minnesota each year to earn a degree at a private college. And many of them stay — sometimes even despite our challenging weather. Take Harry Griffin, who came from Alabama to earn his bachelor’s at The College of St. Scholastica. After graduating last spring, he’s sold on staying here. "I decided to stay in Minnesota because of the variety of job opportunities that are available throughout the state," he said. "Minnesota is also a great place to live because of the amazing nature and the outdoor scenes that the state has to offer.”
For more on the 10,700 undergrads our colleges enroll each year who come from outside Minnesota, read our article on attracting and retaining out-of-state students. For more on the stories of grads like Griffin, read on. We have excerpts on:
- Maya Santamaria ’94, Augsburg University – originally from Iowa
- Isaac Rice ’13, Bethany Lutheran College – originally from Michigan
- Sam Lacy ’03, Bethel University – originally from Texas
- Harry Griffin ’18, The College of St. Scholastica – originally from Alabama
- Utit Choomuang ’75, St. Olaf College – originally from Thailand
Originally from Iowa
Leaning back into a sturdy wood and wrought iron chair pulled up to a corner table at Restaurante El Nuevo Rodeo, Santamaria looks at home. Behind her, customers dot the dining area engaged in conversations that seem warm and relaxed—matching the space’s cheery mustard- and terracotta-colored walls whose rich hues are reminiscent of a southern sun, even when rays struggle to break through the stubborn, overcast sky resting above Lake Street in Minneapolis.
As a restaurateur, Santamaria is proud of the menu she created by compiling favorite dishes from the trips to Mexico that have punctuated her life. She points out Chiles en Nogada, a special entrée that fuses sweet and savory: dried fruits with ground beef. The meal is a showpiece of Mexican cuisine that’s typically prepared in the fall to accompany independence day festivities, and Santamaria says you won’t find it at other restaurants in Minnesota. The same claim of singularity and unrivaled authenticity also can be made for the musicians she books from across Mexico and throughout Latin America to perform in her nightclub, which is just upstairs.
As a former salsa band frontwoman, Santamaria is accustomed to the late nights the entertainment industry demands and to commanding attention in a crowd, although she’s perhaps most skilled at placing the Twin Cities’ growing Latino/Latina community in the spotlight.
And, as the owner of a half dozen independent but intersecting businesses, Santamaria knows about balance and fusion.
She’s an author, an entrepreneur, an innovator, and an Auggie. In addition to running El Nuevo Rodeo, Santamaria operates a real estate management business, a community festival enterprise, and several special event venues. She became the Twin Cities’ first Latina media owner when she purchased La Raza 1400 radio, and she later took on the Minnesota affiliate of Telemundo television, both of which broadcast in Spanish.
Originally from Michigan
Bethany Lutheran College has a long history with the sport of soccer. Perhaps the College was ahead of the curve when it came to the sport. There were some terrific men's Viking soccer teams as far back as 45 years ago. And the women's soccer program was among the first sports added as a new four-year institution.
The same can be said about Bethany's communication program—It's it's a leader in many ways. Bethany recently celebrated the naming of the Thomas Kuster Media Center in October 2018. The naming was certainly well deserved as the communication program was the first of our four-year majors at Bethany.
Where does this all lead? These aforementioned athletic and academic programs were and are leaders for Bethany. The communication program has already produced some very successful graduates, and thus it's no surprise that alumnus Isaac Rice ('13) is on his way to becoming a broadcast media leader in the Twin Cities. About that soccer connection, Rice didn't play soccer at Bethany but he's currently working in an important position in the soccer broadcast business. During a recent visit with Rice, his leadership was evident while he was directing the Fox Sports broadcast of the Minnesota United Major League Soccer club at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus. It's quite an accomplishment for the young Bethany alumnus.
Rice is a native of the western Michigan community of Covert, and he attended Michigan Lutheran High School in St. Joseph, Michigan, graduating in 2009.
While Rice was a freshman at Michigan Lutheran, he explained that his senior locker buddy Jeff Hendrix ('10 BA, '14 MDiv) first put him in touch with Bethany and the Communication communication program. Hendrix, who also studied communication at Bethany, stayed in contact with Rice past their year together in high school and shared with him some of the details about his communication studies at Bethany.
Originally from Texas
Growing up, Sam and Matt Lacy didn’t have much. They lived in a trailer park in west Texas with their parents, who both worked to hold down steady jobs but still had to cash welfare checks to make ends meet. It was a lifestyle they were expected to inherit—so the Lacy brothers surprised everyone, including themselves, when they became the first in their family to graduate from college, a feat made possible largely by scholarships.
Now, almost two decades later, Sam ’03 and Matt ’02 have become donors themselves, establishing the Jo Lynn Lacy Scholarship at Bethel University. The scholarship, created in honor of the Lacy brothers’ mother, is meant for first-generation students who are acquainted with trauma and tasked with paying for their own education.
“We were those things,” Sam says. “My brother and I understand uniquely what it means to try to go to college without parents to walk you through it or resources to do it.”
While Sam and Matt were young, it wasn’t uncommon for their home’s power to be shut off. Their younger brother had cancer—twice. Their parents divorced and got back together. But none of this seemed out of the ordinary. Among the working poor, Sam says, life was hard.
Although Jo Lynn—whose own opportunities for education were limited—didn’t have the resources to point her sons in the direction of college, she did point them in the best direction she could: upward. “My mother told me that just because I came from poor white trash didn’t mean I had to be it,” Sam says. “She told me I could lift myself up from my humble origins and do something different.”
Sam met his future roommate, Minnesota native Tim Adams, while volunteering at a Young Life camp in North Carolina when he was 19. Adams invited him to visit Bethel—a whopping 975 miles north of the Lacy brothers’ Texas hometown. Moved by the welcome they received when they arrived in Minnesota, Sam and Matt packed up to study and play football for the Royals.
Originally from Alabama
For Harry Griffin '18, relationships have fueled his pursuits. Whether it was mentors who helped give him the confidence to move from Alabama to Minnesota, or connections with teammates and students that helped him feel at home in Duluth, Griffin has been graced with positive influences. His high school football offensive line coach, William Moguel, and family friend Doug Martin were instrumental in his personal growth.
"I was lucky enough to have great role models who pointed me in the right direction, and helped me shape priorities," Griffin said. "They both thought going up north to Duluth would be a great chance to see different places and experience life outside Alabama."
Griffin sought to be the same kind of leader in a role he took on during his senior year: assistant offensive line coach for St. Scholastica.
"I want to reach out to young men in various communities and be that positive influence for them," said Griffin, a double-major in psychology and education studies. "Plus, I absolutely love sports — from football to basketball and baseball, they've been a part of my life since I was five years old."
Since graduating in spring of 2018, he still aims to serve as a good example for athletes and students alike. He is now a resident director for Residential Life at St. Scholastica, and defensive intern with the football team.
"I decided to stay in Minnesota because of the variety of job opportunities that are available throughout the state," he said. "Minnesota is also a great place to live because of the amazing nature and the outdoor scenes that the state has to offer."
Originally from Thailand
Utit Choomuang is living a remarkable life. From the humblest of beginnings in a primitive Thai jungle to an early education by Buddhist monks to becoming an exchange student at Northfield High School and a graduate of St. Olaf College, Choomuang’s curiosity about the world led him far from home. His artistic talent, work ethic, and easygoing personality has sustained Choomuang during a distinguished career as an animation artist in California and South Korea. And finally, his desire to give back to his childhood community has brought him home to Thailand, where he farms and is continually seeking ways to build up the village of his ancestors.
The village in southern Thailand where Choomuang was born is known as Nongnokkai, or “the pond where the birds lay their eggs.” For the first several years of his life (without a paper record of his birth, he guesses he’s about 65 years old), Choomuang thought Nongnokkai was the whole universe, he says.
“We lived off the land, eating rice and fish and ants,” he says. His older siblings and parents moved about to work in various rice fields, so Choomuang was often left in the care of his grandparents. As a little boy, he waited on the nearby river’s edge, keeping an eye out for the tradesman who’d exchange a bucket of rice for a bucket of salt needed for preserving fish.
“I spent a lot of time on the river, floating, watching people,” Choomuang says. “One day, I saw a sailboat with people on it wearing clothes, so pretty and colorful, like the birds of the jungle. I was naked and I had never seen clothes before. I told my grandfather I wanted to wear those things.” So Choomuang and his grandfather went on a walk — naked still — to a school about 10 kilometers away, where the schoolchildren wore colorful clothing.
Interested in more alumni stories? Check out these past spotlights of alums whose studies cover a wide range of academic disciplines:
- Alumni spotlight: Embracing possibility, March 2018
- Alumni entrepreneurs: Farm fresh food to craft brewed, June 2017
- Alumni spotlight: Tapping into talent, Mar. 2017
- Alums find career success by pursuing their passions, June 2016
- Recent grads find their niche, Dec. 2015
- Alumni turn dreams into goals into careers, Oct. 2015
In fall 2018, students of color and American Indian students accounted for 27 percent of all undergraduate enrollment, an increase of 129 percent compared to fall 2008, when they accounted for only 15 percent of total enrollment. For nine of our member institutions, they accounted for 20 percent or more of undergraduate enrollment. (For context, last spring students of color and American Indian students graduating from Minnesota high schools accounted for 23 percent of graduates.)
New freshmen enrollment by race/ethnicity, fall 2018
Source: MPCC survey of member institution data
Note: Percentages exclude international students and students of unknown race/ethnicity
Maakwe Cumanzala '19 is a finalist for the 2019 Zimbabwe Rhodes Scholarship
A St. Catherine University student is a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship program. Maakwe Cumanzala ’19, an international student from Zimbabwe, is majoring in economics and mathematics.
The Augsburg Podcast
Augsburg University launched the Augsburg Podcast, a new 18-episode series offering a variety of perspectives on our most important work: educating students for the future.
St. Olaf ranks No. 1 in study abroad for 10th straight year
St. Olaf College once again sent more students to study abroad than any other baccalaureate institution in the nation.
Saint Mary's University alumnus to be beatified
Pope Francis officially recognized the martyrdom of Saint Mary's University of Minnesota alumnus Brother James Miller, FSC '66, M'74 on Nov. 8, clearing the way for beatification.
Carleton, along with St. Olaf, makes annual donation to City of Northfield
Carleton College and St. Olaf College were among the first colleges in the United States to make such a gift, which dates back to the 1920s.
Cobber grads receive scholarship from ELCA
Six Concordia College (Moorhead) graduates received the full-tuition Fund for Leaders Scholarship from the ELCA to attend seminary.
CSB and SJU ranked among top baccalaureate schools for number of students who study abroad
The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University are ranked No. 2 among baccalaureate schools with 365 students who studied abroad in mid-length study abroad programs.
Gustavus awarded $1 million grant to support continuing education for pastors
Gustavus Adolphus College will run a leadership development program for pastors in southern Minnesota thanks to a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.
St. Scholastica starts National Center for Computer Science Education
The College of St. Scholastica has created the National Center for Computer Science Education, which helps create equitable computer science education opportunities for all K-16 students and educators.
Macalester president writes opinion piece for The Chronicle of Higher Education
Macalester College President Brian Rosenberg writes that rather than trying to recreate an idealized past, we should be trying to create a more equitable future.
Scholars at the Capitol scheduled for Jan. 23
Students from our colleges will be on hand the morning of Jan. 23 in the Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda to talk one-on-one with visitors about recent research efforts during the 2019 Private College Scholars at the Capitol. This is a public event so stop by if you can make it.
Job and Internship Fair coming in February
Undergraduates students from our member institutions will meet and interview with employers at the Minneapolis Convention Center for the 43rd annual Minnesota Private Colleges’ Job and Internship Fair, which is attended by more than 2,000 students each year.
Winter issue of parent newsletter now available
A new issue of The Bridge: Parent News, our college planning e-newsletter for parents of a middle or high school student, is now online. Please consider sharing this useful resource with parents you might know — or sign up yourself!
Studious friends and roommates might lead to higher grades in college
The Hechinger Report, Nov. 12, 2018
Study abroad numbers grow
Inside Higher Ed, Nov. 13, 2018
These are the skills to learn for the future of work, according to the World Economic Forum
Quartz at Work, Nov. 14, 2018
New data on admissions: Criteria that matter, early decision and more
Inside Higher Ed, Nov. 12, 2018