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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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July 12, 2006 Campus Newsletter

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Excellence Awards: Four in a Row

Linda Baer (left), senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, presents the Board of Trustees' 2006 Innovation in Student Affairs Programming Award to Kelly Meier (second from left,) Service Learning director; Ann Swartz (second from right), Service Learning program coordinator; and Samantha Eckerson (right). graduate assistant.
Linda Baer (left), senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, presents the Board of Trustees' 2006 Innovation in Student Affairs Programming Award to Kelly Meier (second from left,) Service Learning director; Ann Swartz (second from right), Service Learning program coordinator; and Samantha Eckerson (right). graduate assistant.
Linda Baer (left), senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, presents the Board of Trustees' 2006 Outstanding Academic and Student Affairs Administrator Award to Arts & Humanities Dean Jane Earley.
Linda Baer (left), senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, presents the Board of Trustees' 2006 Outstanding Academic and Student Affairs Administrator Award to Arts & Humanities Dean Jane Earley.

For the fourth consecutive year, Minnesota State Mankato has received an award for student affairs program excellence from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees. The trustees also presented their Outstanding Academic and Student Affairs Administrator Award to Jane Earley, long-time dean of the College of Arts & Humanities.

This year's excellence award went to the Service Learning Program for innovation in student affairs programming. The awards to Service Learning and Jane were presented at the Minnesota State system trustees' meeting earlier this month.

Minnesota State Mankato is the only Minnesota college or university to receive a program excellence award each year since the competition started in 2003, and the only institution to capture two or more awards for three years in a row. It is one of only seven colleges and universities to win awards in 2006.

The Outstanding Academic and Student Affairs Administrator Award received by Jane honors administrators who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and made a significant contribution to academic or student affairs programming.

The Innovation in Student Affairs Programming Award is for programs that use new ideas, methods or techniques that result in improved educational or developmental activities, services or management. The programs must have been in operation for at least two years and be adaptable to other institutions. The Service Learning Program is directed by Kelly Meier.

This is the second time in 2006 that the University has been honored by the system for outstanding leadership and programming. In January the University received Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System awards for financial and facilities management excellence.

'Grease' Concludes Highland Season

The Pink Ladies and Danny's crew from the cast of 'Grease'
The Pink Ladies and Danny's crew from the cast of "Grease"

The 40th annual Highland Summer Theatre season will close with performances of "Grease" at 7:30 p.m. July 14-16 and 20-23 in the Ted Paul Theatre. The performances are sponsored by Orthopaedic & Fracture Clinic, PA, Wolf Etter & Co. and the Pamela & Wynn Kearney Foundation.

Rydell High's spirited class of 1959 — gum-chewing, hubcap-stealing, hot-rod loving boys with D.A.s and leather jackets, and their wise-cracking girls in teased curls, bobby sox and pedal pushers — capture the look of the 1950s in rollicking, musical fun. Highland first presented "Grease" in the summer of 1986 and then again in 1997, and it's an encore from the fourth decade of Highland.

"Grease" is directed by Paul J. Hustoles and features Theatre student Matthew C. Atwood of Mankato as Danny Zuko and 2004 graduate Shawn Ashley as Sandy. Musical direction is by Nick Wayne and choreography by Chris Kuisle, with scenic design by regular season technical director Randy York.

Tickets are available now. Cost is $17.50 for regular admission and $16 for senior citizens, youth 16 and under and groups of 15 or more. They may be purchased by calling the Theatre & Dance Box Office at 507-389-6661 between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., Monday-Friday, or they may be reserved by visiting the MSU Theatre website.

Power Outages July 16, 22

A large portion of the campus' primary electrical distribution system is being replaced this summer, to improve its dependability and safety. The work requires contractors to shut down portions of the electrical system as they are replaced, with outages to parts of the system scheduled Sunday, July 16, and Saturday, July 22.

Facilities Management has made every effort to minimize the quantity and duration of the outages, and apologizes for any inconvenience that they may cause. The two outages are scheduled at the following times:

  • Outage 1 will be Sunday, July 16, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. During this time Centennial Student Union, Wigley Administration and Gage will be without power.
  • Outage 2 will be from 6 p.m. Saturday, July 22, to 6 a.m. Sunday, July 23. During this time Taylor Center, Highland Complex, Myers Fields House, Pennington and Blakeslee Stadium will be without power. Sometime during this outage Armstrong Hall will be without power for approximately 15 minutes, and Morris Hall will be without power for 10 seconds.

Some things to remember before and during an outage:

  • Please turn off your computer before leaving work the Friday before the outage.
  • Elevators will not work.
  • Phones will not work.
  • Data, card access and security systems will not work, so if you need access to a building, please use your keys.
  • Building interiors will be dark.

Further updates will be provided regarding future outages affecting other parts of the campus. The Facilities Management staff thanks for your continuing patience.

TRA, MSRS Contribution Rates

TRA MSRS logoContribution rates to the Minnesota Teachers Retirement Association (TRA) and the Minnesota State Retirement System (MSRS) General Employees Retirement Plan have increased for employees and employers as a result of legislation passed this spring.

As of July 1, the contribution rate for TRA members increased from 5.00 percent to 5.50 percent. Faculty and administrators whose current retirement plan is TRA will see the 0.50 increase in their TRA payroll deduction as of this month. The university's contribution rate will increase to 5.50 percent as of July 1, 2007. Additional information is available on the TRA website.

MSRS General Plan contribution rate increases will begin in July, 2007, and will increase 0.25 percent each year until they reach 5.00 percent. The employee and employer contribution rates will remain at 4.00 percent through June, 2007. Beginning in July, 2007, the contribution rates for both employees and the university will increase as follows:

  • July, 2007 - 4.25 percent
  • July, 2008 - 4.50 percent
  • July, 2009 - 4.75 percent
  • July, 2010 - 5.00 percent

See the MSRS website for more details.

No contribution rate increases are scheduled at this time for the Individual Retirement Account Plan (IRAP), Supplemental Retirement Plan (SRP), or MSRS Unclassified Retirement Plan.

Smoking Policy Promotes Wellness

no smoking imageIn order to promote the campus Health and Wellness initiative, and to address the concerns and rights of students, faculty, staff and visitors, the president has approved a policy outlining guidelines for smoking on campus.

Following a campus-wide survey in spring 2005, the smoking policy was drafted and reviewed by student, faculty and staff councils and meet-and-confer organizations. It was approved in April 2006, and is effective Aug. 15, 2006.

The new policy carries forward some current smoking rules, and adds some new restrictions:

  • Smoking is prohibited in all University facilities except for Room 42 of Centennial Student Union. The prohibition applies to outdoor seating areas such as Blakeslee Stadium.
  • Smoking is prohibited in all University owned or leased vehicles.
  • Smokers may not block the route of entrance or exit on sidewalks where smoking is allowed.
  • Smoking will be prohibited next to 25 building entrances where it currently is allowed. (For specific locations, see map at website below.)
  • Smoking will be permitted at designated outdoor areas that are at least 15 feet from other building entrances.

According to the 2005 survey, 65 percent of faculty, staff and students want smokers to stay 15 feet from building entrances. Half would like to ban smoking on campus entirely.

The new policy promotes health benefits for the entire campus community, by reducing the risk to non-smokers from second-hand smoke. It also provides economic benefits: Health insurers say they will raise fees if clients do not reduce smoking and second-hand smoke exposure among their employees.

Smoking Policy (broken link)

State-of-Technology Chase Vehicle

chase vehicleA state-of-the-technology mobile weather chase vehicle has been added by WALTER (the Weather Analysis Laboratory for Teaching and Educational Resources), and it has been used during the 2006 tornado season.

Students from the Department of Geography and Auto & Manufacturing Engineering Technology transformed the 2000 Ford Taurus into a self-contained mobile weather lab. The vehicle is equipped with on-the-road instrumentation for forecasting, nowcasting and weather analysis.

The mobile lab and its team are capable of chasing storms and supporting communities that have sustained major damage from severe weather. Team members are qualified as first responders to any incident, carrying full trauma packs and other disaster and first aid supplies.

The vehicle is equipped with XM Radio satellite and GPS technology which provides high-resolution NEXRAD, storm cell identification and tracking, storm shear detection, county weather warnings and lightening data. It also has laptop computers and mobile wireless Internet connectivity; a solar-powered wireless weather station; three communications systems (digital cell phone, ham radios and CB radios); high-visibility emergency strobe lights; digital cameras and mini camcorders; and a 200-amp alternator with three sealed batteries to power the equipment.

The chase team participated in a field research effort in May, working with the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the United States Weather Research Program on the "Weather and Society * Integrated Studies (WAS*IS)" program. The program is intended to provide weather-science forecasters and researchers with better information.

Campus Garden for Campus Kitchens

Hmong StudentThe Hmong Student Association has planted the former Amos Owen Garden with vegetables to provide fresh produce for the Campus Kitchens Project. Meanwhile a new, public Amos Owen Garden is being cultivated nearby, and a second one is being planned by Anthropology faculty members.

Student Leadership Development & Service-Learning staff and Hmong Student Association volunteers planted the vegetables this spring, as a way to help feed the hungry. Produce from the garden will be used in the 200-plus Campus Kitchens meals delivered each week in Mankato.

As student Neng Thao said, it's a way for the Hmong Student Association to "do something for the University and the community, too." The Hmong Student Association will provide labor to grow and harvest the organic produce, in partnership with facilities staff, Drummers Garden Center and Home Depot.

The 900-square-foot garden was conceived in 1976 to show the contributions of Native Americans to agriculture, and was named after highly respected Dakota Sioux spiritual and community leader Amos Owen.

The new public Amos Owen garden will include signs identifying the garden's native plants and how they were used in Native American food and culture. The second Amos Owen garden will be used to test gardening practices that were used by Native Americans.

Dean Trauger: Special Presidential Assistant

Dean Trauger will retire as vice president for Finance & Administration on Wednesday, July 12. He will begin his new part-time assignment as special assistant to the president on July 26.

In his new position, Dean will oversee Intercollegiate Athletics and report directly to President Richard Davenport on issues related to athletics. Additionally, he will work with the president and other campus leaders on matters pertaining to real estate planning, acquisition and management, and will provide assistance to the president on other matters as needed.

Faculty and staff may continue to contact Dean via e-mail ( or by telephone (389-5010).

In honor of Dean's outstanding and dedicated service to Minnesota State Mankato, a celebration of his achievements is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 22. Additional information will be forthcoming, but faculty and staff are asked to reserve the date as a special occasion to thank Dean and wish him well with his new responsibilities.

Xcel Energy: $5,000 for Scholarships

Xcel Energy Community and Government Relations Manager David Pearson (center, dark suit) presents a check for $5,000 to Vice President for Advancement David Williams (second from left). Looking on are Tsuguhiko Takamura (left), director of the Minnesota Center for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence; John Frey (second from right), dean of the College of Science, Engineering & Technology; and Patti Kramlinger (right), director of development for CSET.
Xcel Energy Community and Government Relations Manager David Pearson (center, dark suit) presents a check for $5,000 to Vice President for Advancement David Williams (second from left). Looking on are Tsuguhiko Takamura (left), director of the Minnesota Center for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence; John Frey (second from right), dean of the College of Science, Engineering & Technology; and Patti Kramlinger (right), director of development for CSET.

Xcel Energy Corp. has donated $5,000 to the College of Science, Engineering & Technology for scholarships.

The donation was presented last month by Xcel Community and Government Relations Manager David Pearson. Over the years, Xcel has contributed more than $111,308 to Minnesota State Mankato.

Vice President for Advancement David Williams and CSET Dean John Frey accepted the scholarship check, explaining that the University and CSET sincerely appreciate Xcel's gift and continued support.

"It's great to continue our partnership in higher education, especially with Minnesota State Mankato," David Pearson said. "The University is the greatest resource in Mankato."

Summer Expense Reports

The Comptroller's Office reminds all faculty and staff who may be traveling during the summer and incurring business expenses of IRS requirements for the timely submission of employee expense reports.

Approximately one year ago, the IRS clarified its requirements regarding the prompt reimbursement of employee business expense. The main thing to remember is that employee business expenses must be submitted for reimbursement within 60 days after the expense is incurred or the trip ends. If a request for reimbursement is not submitted within 60 days, the reimbursement becomes taxable income for federal, state, FICA and Medicare tax purposes. Consequently, withholding taxes must be taken from the reimbursement.

In past years the Comptroller's Office has noticed that some employees — employees who did not have summer duty days but who incurred travel and business expenses during the summer — waited to submit their employee expense reports until the start of the next fall semester. In a number of instances, the requests for reimbursements were not submitted within 60 days.

Employees who continue this practice may find themselves being taxed on their reimbursement because of the stricter IRS rules. Please keep this in mind when you are traveling or incurring business expenses over the summer.

Those who have any questions regarding travel or business expense reimbursements should contact the university's travel claims clerk, Margaret Novak (389-5006), or view the travel site.

The Comptroller's Office thanks you for your assistance in helping the University comply with IRS rules, and in helping you avoid paying additional taxes.

Good Deeds

Suzie Dugan (Security) is among the Mankato Department of Public Safety Citizen Academy graduates who were honored recently by the Mankato City Council. The academy gives people a chance to experience first-hand what law enforcement and firefighting staff do on a regular basis.

Faculty-Staff Achievements

Stewart Ross (Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning) presented a two-day workshop on Integrated Course Design for faculty at Kansas City Community College in June.

Richard Wheeler (Residential Life) recently attended a national chapter officer training workshop for the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. Rich is secretary of the campus chapter of Phi Kappa Phi.

Melissa Siebke, Adam Johnson: Fulbrights

Recent graduate Melissa Siebke and 2002 graduate Adam Johnson have been awarded Fulbright U.S. student scholarships.

Melissa, who graduated this spring with a master's degree, will go to Spain to teach English As A Foreign Language. Adam, who graduated with a double major in physics and psychology, will study biology in Norway. He currently is studying in the University of Minnesota's neuroscience program, and is the son of Tedmund Johnson.

Fulbright award recipients are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement and demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.

Melissa and Adam are among 1,200 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad for the 2006-2007 academic year through the Fulbright Student Program. Established in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late Sen. J. William Fulbright, the program's purpose is to build mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the rest of the world.

The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Since its inception, the Fulbright Program has exchanged approximately 102,900 Americans who have studied, taught or researched abroad. The program operates in more than 150 countries worldwide.

Rachel Busch: 11th Meredith Scholar

Rachel Busch of Mason City, Iowa, has been selected as the 2006 Meredith Scholar. The scholarship will pay Busch's tuition, fees and much of her day-to-day college expenses for four years.

Busch's selection was announced by John Frey, dean of the College of Science, Engineering & Technology. The Meredith Scholars program was created in 1995 by Dr. Donald Meredith of Mankato, co-founder of Mankato's Orthopaedic & Fracture Clinic PA, and his wife Marjorie.

All Meredith Scholars get full, four-year scholarships and support for daily living expenses. The scholarship is awarded annually to an exceptional Minnesota State Mankato first-year student who plans an education in mathematics or the natural sciences. Candidates must demonstrate outstanding academic achievement in high school (upper 10 percent of his or her class), and must score in the 90th percentile of the ACT college prep exam.

Rachel is the 11th Meredith Scholar since the program's inception. She joins two current students who are receiving four-year scholarship assistance: Eric Hanson of Faribault and Abigail Wagner of West Des Moines, Iowa. Anne Simonis of Stevens Point, WI, who graduated in May 2006 after three years of study, would have been the fourth 2006 Meredith Scholar.

Penny Fellowship Stipends Available

Stipends of up to $2,500 are available to Minnesota State College and University system students who participate in service-related internships this fall. The stipends are available through the Penny Fellowship program, named after former U.S. congressman Timothy J. Penny.

The fellowships provide financial assistance to students performing low or no-pay community and public service internships that foster civic responsibility and leadership. Students who are signed up for fall-semester internships in the areas of public or community service are eligible. Students doing an internship in Minnesota may receive up to $1,500, and students interning in Washington, D.C., may receive up to $2,500.

While representing Minnesota's first congressional district from 1982 to 1994, Penny was a strong advocate for students and public service. Currently he is senior fellow and co-director of the Humphrey Institute Policy Forum at the University of Minnesota.

The application deadline for fall-semester fellowships is July 15. More information and an application are available on the Penny Fellowship website. Those who have questions about the fellowship may call Jessie Prom at 651-224-1518.

Student Achievements

Members of the Dental Hygiene Class of 2006 achieved a 100 percent success rate on their regional board exam (CRDTs). Class members posted outstanding individual scores, with nine students achieving 100 percent ratings.

Graduate student Jean Prokott's poem, "How I Met Beethoven in the North Memorial Psych Ward," has received a 2005 Intro Award, sponsored by the Association of Writers & Writing Programs. One of eight winners in the poetry category, her work competed against 1,000 other entries from 400-plus member programs and will be published in an upcoming issue of Quarterly West.

Alumna Nancy Loewen, graduate student in Hamline University's MFA program, has received a 2005 Intro Award for her story "Harvest." Her work, one of five recipients in the fiction category, competed against approximately 300 other stories from 400-plus Association of Writers & Writing Programs member programs. The story will be published in an upcoming issue of Mid-American Review.