Wednesday, July 09, 2014

MCA presents 2014 Summer Dance Intensive Showcase

WINONA, Minn. — The Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts will present the Summer Dance Intensive showcase at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 26, at the Valéncia Arts Center Academy Theatre, 1164 West 10th St.

The showcase, which is free and open to the public, features works that the students participating in the Summer Dance Intensive have learned in their two-week dance camp.  A variety of dance forms will be presented, including classical and contemporary ballet, jazz, musical theatre dance, and modern dance. The works were choreographed by MCA guest artists Dustyn Martincich, Allan Kinzie, Jen TeBeest and Tammy Schmidt.

In addition to learning showcase pieces, students have been participating in comprehensive dance training including technique and theory classes throughout the two-week process. Class studies have included ballet, pointe, variations, pas de deux, repertory, jazz, hip hop, rhythm tap, modern, musical theatre dance, piyo, choreography and improvisation.

The students are from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa; range in age from 11 to 16; and were selected for the program by audition.

For more information about the Summer Dance Intensive showcase or future MCA program offerings, visit, e-mail, “like” them on Facebook, or call (507) 453-5500.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Saint Mary’s string camp students to perform public concerts July 18-20

WINONA, Minn. — Through Saint Mary’s University’s String Camp — held on campus July 13-20 — students ages 12-18 will work on developing their skills and musicianship to master many important aspects of string playing in the contemporary era. Throughout this eight-day camp, participants will have the opportunity to work closely and intensively with Saint Mary’s faculty to improve their skills in solo, chamber music and orchestral playing.

The public is invited to three free and public concerts by these talented young musicians:

July 18 — 7:30 p.m., student solo recitals
July 19 — 7:30 p.m., student chamber music recital
July 20 — noon, string orchestra concert

All concerts will be held in Figliulo Recital Hall, located in the Saint Mary’s Performance Center.

The string orchestra will perform Mozart’s “Divertimento in F major, K. 138”; Coreelli’s “Concerto Grosso in D Major, opus 6 no. 4”; “Company” by Philip Glass; and “Capriol Suite” by Warlock. The student solo recital will include works by Mendelssohn, Bach, Vaughan Williams and Beethoven. The chamber music concert will include string quartets by Haydn, Mozart and Ravel.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Three alumni honored at Saint Mary’s Reunion Weekend June 20-22

         WINONA, Minn. — Each year during summer Reunion Weekend festivities, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota honors outstanding alumni.
            This year’s Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient was Paul J. Meyer ’64, J.D. of Phoenix, Ariz.; the Alumni Appreciation Award was given to Thomas J. Baryl ’58 of Oak Brook, Ill.; and the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award was given to Nathan Semsch ’04 of Crystal, Minn. All three were honored during a reception Saturday, June 21, on the Winona campus.
            Approximately 450 alumni, family and friends returned for Saint Mary’s Reunion Weekend festivities, which began Friday, June 20, and ran throughout the weekend.

2014 Saint Mary’s Reunion Weekend Honorees:
Brother William Mann, president of Saint Mary's University, with Nathan Semsch
Nathan Semsch ’04
Outstanding Young Alumnus

Nathan Semsch is currently a senior project manager with Sullivan/Day Construction, a commercial general contractor based in the Twin Cities. Throughout his time at Saint Mary’s University, he built many good friendships, as well as a reputation for helping others. Selected as Outstanding Senior, he served as president of the university’s Habitat for Humanity chapter for two years. His exceptional involvement at Saint Mary’s continues; in May 2012 he concluded six years of service on the Saint Mary’s Alumni Board, including two years as president. Semsch has assisted with several university initiatives including service days, last year’s Centennial and the First Generation Initiative.
Brother William with Thomas Baryl
Thomas J. Baryl ’58
Alumni Appreciation

Thomas Baryl received the Alumni Appreciation award for his lifetime support of Saint Mary’s University and other Lasallian Catholic institutions. Baryl is president of Peoples Auto Parking, a family business which manages and has owned several parking facilities in downtown Chicago, and which has diversified into banking investments and other commercial properties. Baryl has stayed active with his alma mater, serving as an alumni board member and president of the Chicago alumni chapter, as a financial contributor, a president’s advisory member, and as a supporter of the Chicago Centennial Celebration. He also has sponsored Chicago theatre alumni events.

Brother William with Paul Meyer

Paul J. Meyer ’64, J.D.
Distinguished Alumnus

After being selected an Outstanding Senior at Saint Mary’s, Paul Meyer went on to notable careers in law and business. Meyer served as the senior law clerk to Chief Justice Earl Warren of the U.S. Supreme Court, and he later became a managing partner of Meyer, Hendricks & Bivens, PLC in Phoenix, Ariz. Meyer was executive vice president and general counsel of Eller Media and then president and CEO of the Americas Division of Clear Channel Outdoor, the largest outdoor advertising company in the U.S. He is now president of Digital Sign Services of JCDecaux North America. Meyer is currently serving his second term on the Saint Mary’s Board of Trustees. His generous financial contributions have significantly furthered the mission of Saint Mary’s University.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Saint Mary's professor, alumni play role with Fermilab’s MicroBooNE project

Father Paul Nienaber, Ph.D.
WINONA, Minn. — As the massive 30-ton MicroBooNE particle detector — a tool that may unlock many unexplained mysteries of the universe — was transported across the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermilab site today, a Saint Mary’s University physics professor watched with anticipation alongside the world’s leading physicists.

Father Paul Nienaber, Ph.D., associate professor of physics at Saint Mary’s, has been involved with the project since it was proposed in 2007. Additionally, four Saint Mary’s undergraduates (including, most recently, 2014 graduate Evan Shockley) worked on MicroBooNE as summer research interns from 2010-2012.

The MicroBooNE detector has been under construction for nearly two years. The tank contains a 32-foot-long “time projection chamber,” the largest ever built in the United States, equipped with 8,256 delicate gilded wires, which took the MicroBooNE team two months to attach by hand. This machine will allow scientists to further study the properties of neutrinos, particles that may hold the key to understanding many unexplained mysteries of the universe.

“The MicroBooNE collaboration is an amazingly talented and energetic group of scientists, many of whom are in the early stages of their careers,” Dr. Nienaber said. “Their enthusiasm and ingenuity is infectious, and I’m excited and grateful for having had the opportunity to contribute to an enterprise on which so many bright people have worked so hard. But this is just the beginning. Now that the detector is built and located in the particle beam line, much work remains to check all the detector systems under running conditions, and to begin to accumulate the estimated three years’ worth (minimum) of data from the run.”

Father Nienaber will continue to work as part of the MicroBooNE collaboration through its initial commissioning and data run stage (expected to last until the beginning of 2018).

“My role on the MicroBooNE experiment is as a collaborator from an undergraduate teaching institution,” Nienaber said. “I try to connect Saint Mary’s students to the physics profession in general and introduce them to the particular rewards and challenges of research. These efforts are of necessity not as central or as crucial as the ones made by laboratory scientists and students working full-time, but they have paid dividends for me and for Saint Mary’s students (as evidenced by Evan Shockley’s entering the physics Ph.D. program at Chicago) and have contributed to the success of the experiment.
“The four Saint Mary’s students and I worked on part of a detector subsystem; their summer stipends were paid by a National Science Foundation grant. It is unmistakably unusual that physics undergraduates from an institution like Saint Mary’s would have had the chance to be associated (in however small a way) with a project of this importance.”

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Saint Mary's University honors Chicago doctor, meteorologist

Tom Skilling, chief meteorologist for WGN-TV, received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota May 17 at a Chicago reception. Shown are, from left: Brother Robert Smith, vice president of Saint Mary’s Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs; Michael Gostomski, chair of the Saint Mary’s Board of Trustees; Skilling; and Dr. Donna Aronson, vice president of academic affairs.

Dr. Robert Dolehide was awarded the Presidential Award for Outstanding Merit from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota May 17 at a Chicago reception. Dr. Dolehide — a Saint Mary’s alumnus and esteemed medical doctor who practiced in the Chicago area for more than 50 years — and his wife Eileen are congratulated by Brother Robert Smith, vice president of Saint Mary’s Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs.

WINONA, Minn. — On May 17, close to 270 alumni and friends of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota gathered in Chicago to celebrate the university’s longstanding legacy of excellence in the sciences.

Two special guests were honored at the event, held at the Union League Club. Dr. Robert Dolehide, a 1947 alumnus of Saint Mary’s, received the Presidential Award for Outstanding Merit for more than five decades of compassionate and exemplary medical practice in Chicago. Also honored was Chicago broadcasting legend Tom Skilling, WGN-TV chief meteorologist, who was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree for his contributions to the science of meteorology and his paralleled résumé of award-winning broadcasts, films and seminars in climate science.

Dr. Dolehide was applauded for his tireless service as a physician to thousands of patients in the Chicago area for 50 years, for his positive and long-lasting impact on generations of families and for his remarkable life as a physician, family man and for enthusiastically supporting a variety of social causes.

Skilling was lauded for his “professional competence, significant accomplishment and influential contributions to the field of meteorology and television journalism,” as well as for conducting free weather seminars and for sharing his love of science and research for others.

The event, titled the Brother Charles Severin Celebration of Excellence, was named for a renowned science faculty member at Saint Mary’s University in Winona. Brother Charles started teaching ecology at Saint Mary’s in 1934, using the river bottoms, bluffs and trout streams of the area as his laboratory. Nearly six decades of learners benefitted from his pioneering teaching methods, knowledge and dedication.

The annual event showcases the achievements of Saint Mary’s students and faculty; honors exceptional alumni and community leaders; and garners financial support to advance the sciences during the university’s second century.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Saint Mary's dean, chair of state arts board attends White House reception for Turnaround Arts

WINONA, Minn. — Winonan Michael Charron, dean of the School of the Arts at Saint Mary’s University and chair of the Minnesota State Arts Board, was invited by First Lady Michelle Obama to attend a White House function Tuesday, May 20.

During the occasion, Mrs. Obama announced the expansion of the Turnaround Arts program — an arts education initiative to help improve low-performing schools. The program launched as a pilot program in April 2012 in eight schools across the country and was developed through the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education and the White House Domestic Policy Council.

The Turnaround Arts initiative is a public-private partnership designed to narrow the achievement gap and increase student engagement through the arts. Working in some of the nation’s lowest-performing elementary and middle schools, this program will test the idea that high-quality and integrated arts education boosts academic achievement, motivates student learning and improves school culture in the context of overall school reform.

Minnesota is one of three states (the others being California and Louisiana) chosen to participate in Turnaround Arts educational programming for the upcoming year. Following an application process, four Minnesota schools will be chosen, according to Charron.

“We will not replace subject matter or teachers, but we will provide training; we work with the school to integrate arts into their curriculum,” Charron said. “A direct correlation has been made between the arts and a wide range of benefits to students including academic achievement, school involvement, and social and emotional development. We will be working with current school staff and provide expertise from arts education specialists and will incorporate local artists and at least one nationally known artist to assist the school. We’re not there to replace, but to add to what schools are doing.”

In fact, he said, every school in the pilot program showed improvement in math and reading scores after just one year.

“I’m just so moved by the work that is being done,” Charron said. “And I’m honored to be a part of it. Visiting the White House has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

The Minnesota State Arts Board is acting as the program’s fiscal agent at the state level, partnering with the Perpich Center for Arts Education.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Saint Mary's University honors Thomas Kilbride with honorary degree

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas L. Kilbride, J.D., received a Doctor of Ethical Leadership from Brother William Mann, president of Saint Mary’s University, left; and Michael Gostomski, chair of the Saint Mary’s Board of Trustees, right.

WINONA, Minn. — In recognition of 30 years of service and ethical leadership as a committed public servant, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas L. Kilbride, J.D., a 1978 Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota alumnus, was presented with an honorary doctorate by Saint Mary’s at its commencement ceremony May 10 in Winona.

Justice Kilbride was awarded a Doctor of Ethical Leadership degree, honoris causa, for conscientiously serving the people of the State of Illinois for more than 30 years. His career began as an attorney in Rock Island, Ill., where he engaged in the general practice of law while providing significant pro bono service to clients and organizations. He was elected to the Supreme Court of Illinois for the Third District in 2000 and served as Chief Justice from 2010-13. The award honors him for his “outstanding leadership, professional competence and significant accomplishment.”

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Conservatory for the Arts’ Tap Showcase is May 22

WINONA, Minn. — In honor of National Tap Dance Day, students from the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts will present a Tap Showcase Thursday, May 22, at 7:30 p.m. at Saint Mary’s University’s Figliulo Recital Hall.

The showcase will highlight the talents of students who range in age from 8 to 20. They will be performing rhythm tap pieces they learned in workshops this month as well as a demonstration of Irish step dancing. The evening will also include a special tap history presentation featuring the “Shim Sham Shimmy,” a dance known as the national anthem of tap. The showcase is open to the public, and freewill donations will be accepted.

Students performing in the Winona showcase will include: Rory Briggs, Carter Briggs, Megan Costello, Hannah Graff, Nathan Graff, Viva Graff, Ariana Jacobs, Hannah Schwarze, Max Uribe, and Lucy Wilfarht. The showcase is choreographed by MCA tap instructor Christine Martin.

For more information about MCA’s National Tap Dance Day Showcase or other arts programming, visit, email, or call (507) 453-5500.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Saint Mary's commencement ceremony scheduled for May 10

WINONA, Minn. — On Saturday, May 10, the Winona campus of Saint Mary’s University will host a joint commencement ceremony for both Winona undergraduate and graduate students, beginning at 11 a.m. in the gymnasium.

Undergraduate student reflections will be offered by this year’s Outstanding Male and Female Seniors Amy Spitzmueller, daughter of Kathy and Bill Spitzmueller of New Brighton, Minn., and Miles Dunna, son of Wokie Dunna of St. Paul.

Representing SMU’s Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs, Stephanie Nuttall, an M.S. in Geographic Information Science graduate, will also give a reflection. Courtney Leasure Clark, M.A. in Philanthropy and Development, and Kathleen Junko, M.Ed. in Teaching and Learning, will be presented with Outstanding Graduate Final Paper Awards.

A reception on the plaza will follow the ceremony. In case of inclement weather, the reception will be held in Gostomski Fieldhouse.

Prior to the ceremony, a Baccalaureate Mass will take place in Saint Thomas More Chapel at 8 a.m.

Limited parking will be available. A shuttle service will be provided from a nearby parking lot. More information is posted at

The Saint Mary’s Nairobi campus hosted its commencement ceremony on May 3. The Twin Cities campus will conduct three summer commencement ceremonies on June 1.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Saint Mary’s presents Student Life awards to students, faculty, staff

WINONA, Minn. — Saint Mary’s University recognized outstanding students, faculty and staff April 23 at the Student Life Awards Ceremony. Individuals who have exhibited outstanding leadership and service through co-curricular activities at Saint Mary’s were recognized.

Awards included:

Brother Finbar McMullen Award (presented to an SMU community member who demonstrates him/herself to be an individual who unselfishly meets the needs of the undergraduate students of Saint Mary’s) — Brother Lawrence Humphrey, FSC, assistant vice president for mission at Saint Mary’s

Charlene “Char” Tjaden Outstanding Resident Assistant Award — Theresa LaValla, daughter of  John and Susan LaValla of Saint Charles, Minn.

Intramural Official of the Year — Courtney Euerle, daughter of Greg and Sharon Euerle of Litchfield, Minn.

Outdoor Leadership Recognition — Jamie Herrick, strength and conditioning coach, physical education instructor and facilities assistant, as well as ropes course facilitator at Saint Mary’s

Club/Organization of the Year — Big and Little Pals (accepted by Mae Yang, daughter of Yeng and Panee Yang of Minneapolis, Minn., and Kacie Kusinski, daughter of Dan and Janet Kusinski of Chicago)

Outstanding Student Senator of the Year Award — Miles Dunna, son of Wokie Dunna of St. Paul, Minn.

Club and Organization Advisor of the Year — Steven McGlaun, dean of campus ministry at Saint Mary’s

Winona Community Service Award — Katie Wall, daughter of Michael and Michelle Wall of Aurora, Ill.

Saint Benilde Award (presented to students who reach out to new members of the university community, are inclusive and inspiring, and lead by being hospitable, open and accepting) — Sarah McNary, daughter of William and Donna McNary of DeForest, Wis.

Brother James Miller Award (presented to a student who has dedicated his/her college experience to promoting the legacy of Brother James Miller, spreading the compassion of God and continually serving the community) — Elizabeth Arnold, daughter of Thomas and Patricia Arnold of Cincinnati, Ohio

Brother Charlie Burke Award (presented to a faculty or staff member who has made significant contributions to the entire Student Life Department. This individual has promoted the growth of the whole student through their exemplary standard of ethical service, dedication to creating developmental relationships, and their desire to promote lifelong learning) — Lance Thompson, director of student activities at Saint Mary’s

Student Service Award — Abigail Osborne, daughter of Roger and Pamela Osborne of Winthrop, Minn.

Leadership Certificate (presented to students who have completed the co-curricular program designed to give both emerging and advanced leaders the skills and knowledge to enhance his or her leadership development) — Samantha Borawski, daughter of Richard and Cynthia Borawski of Stickney, Ill.; Maetzin Cruz-Reyes, daughter of Rosario Cruz Garcia and Luisa Reyes-Ortiz; Conner Ellinghuysen, son of Robert and Lorrie Rinn of Winona; Hannah Friedrich, daughter of Mary Friedrich of Rochester, Minn.; Peter Hegland, son of James Hegland of Utica, Minn.; Jose Herrera, son of Mr. and Mrs. Jose Herrera of Chicago; Elisabeth Ortega, daughter of Elizabeth Ortega of Berwyn, Ill.; Christine Volk, daughter of Bryan and Kim Volk of Champlin, Minn.; and Emily Weber, daughter of Lawrence and Anne Weber of White Bear Lake, Minn.