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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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February 15, 2006 Campus Newsletter

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Evaluation Team to Recommend Full Reaccreditation

An evaluation team for the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools says it will recommend that the University be accredited for the maximum 10-year period. The team announced its preliminary recommendation on Feb. 8, during an exit interview session with members of the campus community.

Higher Learning Commission evaluation team
Higher Learning Commission evaluation team chair Dr. Neil Hattlestad (at podium) announces the welcome news that the team intends to recommend the full, 10-year accreditation for Minnesota State University, Mankato.

President Richard Davenport said the announcement is "outstanding news. The recommendations are preliminary, and nothing is final until the Commission acts on the final report, but the opinion of the visiting evaluation team is a critical part of the accreditation process."

"We are delighted with the review," added Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Scott Olson. "We've made amazing progress since 1996. Ten years ago we were an institution with eight major concerns, resulting in a Focused Visit on three areas in the year 2000. "To have the team cite no concerns in 2006 is progress indeed."

The team has the authority to recommended actions that could require severe consequences of the University, including accreditation with multiple progress reports, partial accreditation with restrictions, probation or revocation of accreditation. Instead it intends to recommend "a very positive option – full, 10-year accreditation with just one progress report along the way," Scott said.

The team will prepare a detailed written report for a Higher Learning Commission review committee, which in turn will make recommendations to a 26-member Institutional Actions Council. The Council will evaluate the recommendations and act on reaccreditation. Then, the Council's decision will go before the Higher Learning Commission Board of Trustees for validation.

The team was on campus Feb. 5-8, meeting with students, faculty members, administrators and staff.

In their interviews with faculty, staff and students, team members focused on five core criteria:

  • Mission and integrity – insuring that the university uses structures and processes that involve the board, administration, faculty, staff and students to fulfill its mission;
  • Preparing for the future by carefully allocating resources and planning to improve the quality of education;
  • Evidence of effective student learning and teaching that demonstrates the university is fulfilling its educational mission;
  • Promoting a life of learning for students, faculty, administration and staff, by fostering and supporting inquiry, creativity, practice and social responsibility;
  • Engaging and serving constituencies in ways that both the university and the stakeholders value.

The team commended the university's strategic planning processes, but will recommend that the university submit a report in three years to detail how it is fulfilling those plans through the budgeting and assessment processes.

University officials requested that the team also make recommendations about planning for future doctoral programs, which were authorized last year by the Minnesota Legislature.

"The recommendation to give a progress report on planning is just right," Vice President Olson said. "We know we are only mid-way along in the planning-budget assessment cycle."

The complete report will be available to the public once it has been written and approved by the Higher Learning Commission.

The team visit followed more than two years of self-study by university staff and faculty. The self-study effort was led by English Professor Donald F. Larsson and Dean of Library Services Joan Roca with the help of many students, faculty and staff.

"The evaluation team's positive report is a credit to the dedicated work of all faculty and staff members and student leaders, and to the high quality of our students," President Davenport said. "Thanks to all of them for working with the team that recommended the full 10-year reaccreditation."

Maverick Wrestlers: Second in the Nation

Maverick LogoThe wrestling team again is ranked second in the Division II wrestling poll released Feb. 8 by the NCAA Division II Wrestling Coaches' Association. The Mavericks have been ranked No. 2 throughout the season.

Seven of the Maverick's 10 wrestlers are in the individual rankings, including two ranked No. 1: junior Travis Krinkie and senior John Koons. Other ranked Mavericks include sophomore Nick Smith (No. 8), senior Zach Stevens, No. 7, senior Mathias Bitz, No. 3, sophomore Andy Pickar, No. 4, and senior Tim Kraemer, No. 8.

Two-time defending champion Nebraska-Omaha stayed the unanimous pick and received all eight first-place votes.

Communicating with Purple and Gold Pride

Karen Wrightlapel pin
KMSU-FM Operations Director/Producer Karen Wright holds one of the new, purple-and-gold University folders available from University Stores as part of the campus-wide "Communicating With Pride" color-branding effort. Handsome new lapel pins (at right) are now available from Printing Services, and each University employee soon will receive one.

Purple and gold are a key part of our visual identity at Minnesota State Mankato, as featured in the "Communicating With Pride" posters that all faculty and staff members recently received.

You'll be seeing more and more of those regal colors–in the new University lapel pin that was sent this week to all employees; in the University's new folder; and in the new water bottle available from CSU food court vendors and soon at the campus Barnes & Noble Bookstore.

You can get the new folders from University Stores (same price as the old one–59 cents). And if you'd like more lapel pins, stop by Printing and Photocopying Services in Wiecking, or use one of their work orders. The pins are $2.75 each or contact Doug Fenske for a quantity discount for 25 or more.

Undergraduate Research Abstracts: March 1

Undergraduate Research logo
The Undergraduate Research Center will be held April 24-25 in Centennial Student Union. Abstracts and applications to present are being accepted until March 1 in the Research and Sponsored Programs office, MH217.

The conference promotes high-quality undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research, scholarship and creative work. At the conference students present their research utilizing a variety of forms, including poster sessions, oral presentations, and other creative forms. The experience can strengthen a student's application for jobs, graduate schools or professional schools.

Faculty and staff are encouraged to promote conference involvement and attendance by students. More information is located on the Abstract Submission Guidelines page.

Those who are interested in serving as judges for student presentations should contact Michelle Washington Carter, director of the McNair Scholars Program, 389-1189 or

Those who have questions may contact graduate assistant Jody Barney or Marilyn Hart, Undergraduate Research Center chair.

Helget, Healy Nominated for Book Awards

Minnesota Humanities CommissionMinnesota State Mankato's creative writing program will be well represented at the 18th Annual Minnesota Book Awards to be announced in April. Current graduate student Nicole Helget and alumnus Nick Healy were both nominated for awards.

Healy's Muhammad Ali: Genius was selected as a finalist in the area of Children's and Young Adult Nonfiction. Helget's Summer of Ordinary Ways was selected as a finalist in the area of Autobiography, Memoir, and Creative Nonfiction.

The Minnesota Book Awards, sponsored by the Minnesota Humanities Commission, is an annual awards program that recognizes, honors and celebrates the best in Minnesota literature. Since 1988, more than 930 Minnesota-written books have been Minnesota Book Award finalists, representing what some call "the best reading list in Minnesota."

Winners will be announced Saturday, April 29, at 8 p.m. at The Woman's Club of Minneapolis. For information about tickets or the Minnesota Humanities Commission, go to the Minnesota Humanities Commission website.

Faculty Wanted for Service Learning Trip

A group of students are seeking three to four faculty members willing to accompany them on a service learning Alternative Spring Break trip to New Orleans. The students will work on several Habitat for Humanity houses in St. Bernhard's Parish.

The students have committed to participate in the program March 11-19, and have signed an agreement to not use alcohol or other drugs while on the trip. Each student has paid a $100 fee to cover transportation, food, lodging and a program t-shirt for the trip, and accompanying faculty members would need to do the same.

Faculty members who are interested in volunteering for the Alternative Spring Break trip may e-mail or call Matthew Peterson for more information at: or cell 507-469-1269.

Feb. 20: Red Cross Bloodmobile

American Red Cross logo
Upward Bound will sponsor a Red Cross Bloodmobile drive on Monday, Feb. 20, in Centennial Student Union.

This drive will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the CSU Ballroom. Students, faculty, staff and members of the public are urged to donate blood that day.

Appointments can be made by calling 507-389-1211, although walk-ins are welcome. Free hats will be distributed while supplies last.

A Successful Winter Welcome Week

Hundreds of students took part in the successful second annual Winter Welcome Week organized by Residential Life in January. This year's theme was "Proud Traditions in MSU's Cold Conditions."

The "Just Add Water...Breakfast on the Go" event served 195 students. Assistance was received from the Career Development Office, Women's Center, and the First Year Experience Office.

The "Community...At Your Service" event allowed residents to make more than 80 door decorations for a local nursing home.

During the "What's on Wednesday" events, Crawford Complex hosted an Iron Microwave Chef competition, Gage Complex had a Frosty Fling Dance, and McElroy Complex hosted Winter Craft Night.

During the second annual Late Skate at All Seasons' Arena, more than 200 students enjoyed ice skating from 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. The event raised $147 which was donated to the Humane Society of Mankato.

Faculty/Staff Achievements

Numerous faculty and staff members were honored recently for professional achievements.

Wayne E. Allen (Ethnic Studies) received the Clarence E. Harris Humanitarian Award at the annual Institutional Diversity Dinner in November.

Rebecca Bates (Computer & Information Science) presented "Tech Talk" at the 4th Annual Dakota County January Jumpstart, a workshop for displaced workers. She also submitted a co-authored paper, "Symbolic phonetic features for modeling of pronunciation variation," to the journal Speech Communication.

Janet Cherrington (Urban and Regional Studies) was awarded a spring 2006 Teaching and Learning mini-grant. The grant will fund the addition of a scavenger hunt active teaching/learning strategy into her Introduction to the City undergraduate class. It will rebuild course flows and goals and incorporate active and problem based learning techniques as well as assessment measures to judge them.

A paper by Brock McMillan (Biological Sciences) and his graduate student Ryan Wersal was accepted for publication by Canadian Field-Naturalist. The paper is titled "Food Habits of Migrating Waterfowl in a Prairie Pothole System, Heron Lake, Minnesota." Brock also received a $14,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Transportation to study the utility of wildlife crossings in road construction.

Judy Kuster (Speech, Hearing and Rehabilitation Services) presented "The Savvy SLPs Online Guide to Appropriate Assessment and Intervention Tools" to speech-language pathologists in King of Prussia, PA, in December. Judy also served on a review panel for submissions for the International Fluency Association Congress which will convene in Dublin, Ireland, in July.

Russ Palma (Physics & Astronomy) discussed "Stardust and Interplanetary Dust Particles: The Same Old Dust?" earlier this month at Hamline University. Two of his NASA sample proposals also were granted, and he will receive samples from the recent NASA/JPL Stardust Mission, and interplanetary dust particles from the curatorial facility at NASA-Johnson Space Center.

Farid Sabongi (Interior Design & Construction Management) was a guest on WCCO radio's "Parade of Homes" show in January, discussing careers in the housing industry for professionals and skilled craftsmen.

Louis Schwartzkopf (Physics & Astronomy) was a presenter at Minnesota's Energy Future: Community Energy and Economic Opportunity Forum in January at Gustavus Adolphus College. He discussed his recent renewable energy work with the Region Nine Renewable Energy Task Force and the Southeast/South-Central Clean Energy Resource Team.

Kathy Steiner (Speech Communication) was selected by the Communication and Theatre Arts of Minnesota Board of Governors to receive the first CTAM Outstanding Individual Service Award. Kathy will be recognized at the CTAM State Convention in September in Brooklyn Center.

Patrick Tebbe (Mechanical & Civil Engineering) learned that the Engineering Directorate of the National Science Foundation has recommended his proposal, "Development of Engineering Scenarios to Promote Student Engagement and Design in Thermodynamics Courses," for funding. The grant will seek to develop a new form of instructional material for several engineering courses, and will utilize Stewart Ross and the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning for assessment.

The Healthcare Education Industry Partnership's Minnesota Community Health Worker Program recently received a $25,000 grant from the Minneapolis Foundation. The grant will be used to support the creation of a standardized profession for Community Health Workers, a standardized process for educating CHWs in MN, and a process for incorporating CHWs into the healthcare workforce.

Twelve high schools and 48 students participated in the annual FFA Food Science Career Day event in January, hosted by the Biology and Family and Consumer Science departments hosted. Teams were given one hour to develop a dipping sauce and market it to a panel of judges. The winning team was from Dassel-Cokato and will represent the area in the National FFA competition. The event was sponsored by a number of local food companies, including Hormel, Davisco, Protient, SunRich and Tony Downs.

Student Achievements

Todd Fahlstrom (Rehab Counseling) was selected to receive the American Foundation for the Blind Graduate Student Stipend Award of $1,000 from the Delta Gamma Foundation.

The students of Soonhwan Lee's HP 468/568 Sport Promotion and Marketing class donated $682 to American Red Cross for Katrina Victims. They raised the funds through the "$50 Marketing Team Project," with eight class groups producing a sports-related product to sell.

Athletic training students Steve Herrmann, Mike Joseph, Christine Kramer and Marc Feldbrugge won the Minnesota Athletic Trainers' Association student quiz bowl in Minneapolis recently.