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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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May 13, 2009 Campus Newsletter

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Paper men holding hands around a glowing light bulb

Diversity Excellence Award

The Division of Institutional Diversity has earned the top Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system award for diversity excellence.

The first-time Institutional Excellence in Diversity award, for exceptional accomplishment in diversity leadership, programming and services, will be presented May 28. The award recognizes "institutions that have made significant contributions in intentional learning and collaborations that promote inclusiveness, access and opportunities in the community and the institution."

In addition to the overall institutional excellence award, Minnesota State Mankato won awards for Innovative Practices in Diversity and Outstanding Student Organization Diversity.

The innovative practices award went to the pre-doctoral fellowship program for practices that foster inclusivity. The student organization diversity award—for student, staff, faculty or administrative initiatives that foster diversity and inclusion on-campus and within the larger community—recognizes the university's Hmong Student Association.

"The awards reflect the system's pride in the diversity work that creates welcoming environments for all students, staff and faculty on our campuses and prepares students for their professional, scholarly and civic lives," said Whitney Harris, the system's executive director of diversity and multiculturalism.

Ross Gift Jumpstarts Campus Drive

Stewart Ross

Stewart Ross

Stewart and Liz Ross have donated a $50,000 gift for the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning to support the campus drive. This five-year pledge brings the Campus Drive to $198,927.06, leaving $11,000 left to raise.

The drive helps support scholarships, campus beautification projects and other campus needs. Drive Chair Dave Cowan (Facilities Management) is seeking employee donations from 50 percent of all faculty and staff (current participation is 38 percent) for the drive through June 30.

"Donations received from this day forward have an extra impact because Stewart and Liz Ross have joined the Gift Challenge Circle and the group is offering to match some, if not all, of your donation up to $65,000," Dave said "$210,000 is the target goal, which is no small sum to raise. Please dust off your checkbook, give online, by payroll deduction, or make a quick phone call and we'll get the Gift Challenge Circle to pony up the matching bucks. A payroll deduction gift of $1 a pay period for the 26 annual pay periods to total $26 is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to give a financial gift to MSU, and right now will bring another $26 from the Gift Challenge Circle."

Those interested are invited to see 12 Reasons To Give on YouTube, or to watch the Campus Drive progress. Donations may be made online at the Campus Drive's secure Web site or by calling the Development Office at (507) 389-6829.

Governor, Twins Honor Maverick Women

Tim PawlentyThe women's basketball team was honored by Gov. Tim Pawlenty and recognized at a Minnesota Twins game on Tuesday, May 12.

The team met with Minnesota Sens. Kathy Sheran and Julie Rosen and Rep. Kathy Brynaert before touring the Capitol building and being presented with a letter of achievement from the governor.

On Tuesday evening the Mavericks were the subject of a video presentation before the Twins game at the Metrodome, after which the team threw the first pitch.

The national championship Division II team finished the 2008-2009 season with a 32-2 record.

Highland Summer Theatre

Highland Theatre posterThe Department of Theatre & Dance is selling subscriptions for its 43rd annual Highland Summer Theatre season.

Cost is $60 for the two plays and two musicals running May 27 through July 19.

Summer starts with Ira Levin's "Deathtrap" May 27-31 in Andreas Theatre, sponsored by Hale Associates. Seemingly comfortably ensconced in his charming Connecticut home, Sidney Bruhl, a successful writer of Broadway thrillers, is struggling to overcome a dry spell that has resulted in a string of failures and a shortage of funds. Minnesota State Mankato previously presented "Deathrap" in the summer of 1986.

Next is a Minnesota State Mankato premiere musical revue, "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," book and lyrics by Joe DePietro, music by Jimmy Roberts. It will be presented June 11-14 in Ted Paul Theatre. This celebration of the mating game takes on the truths and myths behind that contemporary conundrum known as "the relationship."

Neil Simon returns to Highland Summer Theatre with "Plaza Suite" June 24-28 in Andreas Theatre, sponsored by TRIO Programs. Hilarity abounds in this portrait of three couples successively occupying a suite at the famous New York City Plaza Hotel. Minnesota State Mankato previously presented "Plaza Suite" in 1971.

The season ends with "Damn Yankees," book by Douglass Wallop and George Abbott, lyrics and music by Jerry Ross and Richard Adler. It is sponsored by the Orthopaedic & Fracture Clinic., Wolf Etter & Co. and the Pamela and Wynn R. Kearney Foundation. Show dates are July 10-12 and 16-19 in Ted Paul Theatre. Middle-aged baseball fanatic Joe Boyd trades his soul to the Devil for a chance to lead his favorite team to victory in the pennant race against the New York Yankees. Minnesota State Mankato previously presented "Damn Yankees" in summer 1989.

Season subscriptions are available by mail or online through May 31. Season brochures are available by calling (507) 389-2118. Individual tickets for all summer shows go on sale May 18 by calling the Theatre & Dance Box Office at (507) 389-6661 between 4 and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, or online at

Marilyn Fox, Terrance Flaherty: Interim Deans

Marilyn Fox has been appointed interim dean of the College of Business and Terrance Flaherty has been named interim dean of the College of Arts & Humanities, effective July 1, by Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Scott Olson.

Marilyn and Terrance will serve as interim deans during the 2009-'10 academic year, while national searches are conducted for permanent deans.

Marilyn's and Terrance's "experience and enthusiasm will serve the colleges well during this transition period," Scott said.

Warren Sandmann: AVP

Warren Sandmann has been named associate vice president for Academic Affairs, effective June 22.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Scott Olson said Warren "was enthusiastically supported by the search committee and will make a wonderful addition to the Office of Academic Affairs."

Scott also thanked John Winkworth for the many contributions he made to Minnesota State Mankato over the years.

Faculty/Staff Achievements

The Construction Management Department hosted a reception in Minneapolis in April to honor the achievements of 1980 alum Alan Gerhardt, chief operating officer of Kraus-Anderson Construction.

Christopher Danielson (Mathematics & Statistics) presented two sessions at the Minnesota Council of Teachers of Mathematics meeting in Duluth in May.

Craig Evers (AMET) recently received a $2,500 faculty improvement grant to attend an applied vehicle dynamics seminar hosted by the Society of Automotive Engineers in Greer, S.C. He will use the seminar to help him prepare a chassis engineering course and develop an advanced chassis course.

Sherry Folsom-Meek (Human Performance) presented "CAPE…What is that?" at the Developmental Adapted Physical Education in Your Backyard event, part of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance conference in Rochester, Minn., in March. She also gave two presentations at the alliance's national convention in Tampa, Fla.

John Janc (Modern Languages) recently was elected vice president of the American Society of the French Academic Palms.

I.-J Kim (Mathematics & Statistics) presented "Symmetric Sign Patterns with Maximal Inertias" at the Mathematical Association of America north central section meeting at Hamline University in April. Two of In-Jae's co-authored research projects, "Critical sets of inertias for matrix patterns, Linear and Multilinear Algebra" and "Generating Potentially Nilpotent Full Sign Patterns" recently were published.

Russ Palma (Physics & Astronomy) gave an invited departmental colloquium, "NASA's Genesis and Stardust Missions: Exploring the Early Solar System," at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, in April. He also co-authored a paper, "Brownleeite: a New Manganese Silicide Mineral in an Interplanetary Dust Particle," submitted to American Mineralogist, and was lead author on a paper, "A Preliminary Light Noble Gas Investigation of Stardust Samples," accepted for publication in Meteoritics & Planetary Science. He co-authored a paper, "Carbon Raman Spectroscopy of 36 Interplanetary Dust Particles," accepted for publication in Meteoritics & Planetary Science, and will present at the 72nd annual Meteoritical Society meeting in Nancy, France, this summer.

Gary Rockswold (Mathematics & Statistics) gave the keynote address, "The Amazing Impact of Mathematics on Modern Society," to about 1,000 mathematics educators at the joint meetings of the Minnesota Council of Mathematics Teachers and the Minnesota Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges in May in Duluth. He also gave a presentation, "Why Mathematics Is Much More Than Computation."

Farid Jean Sabongi (Construction Management) presented a research paper at the 45th annual International Conference of the Associated Schools of Construction in April at Rinker School of Building Construction, University of Florida. The paper will be published in the annual proceedings of the ASC.

Deepak Sanjel (Mathematics & Statistics) presented "Integrating Statistical Software Package R at the College Level Teaching" at the 2009 Minnesota Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference in Duluth in May.

Miles Smayling (Business) recently was reappointed to the Minnesota Merit System Council by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. He will serve a three-year term. The three-member Merit System Council hears personnel appeals, sets policy for examination administration and reviews classification and compensation plans and proposed rule changes.

Mahbubur R. Syed (Information Systems & Technology) was appointed Ph.D. thesis examiner for a thesis submitted to Berwick School of Information Technology, Monash University, Australia. He also was invited to be a member of the International Program Committee for the International Association of Science and Technology for Development's international conference on Internet and multimedia systems and applications in Honolulu, Hawaii, in August.

Richard Terrill (English) was keynote speaker at the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets State Conference in April. New poems appear in Connecticut Review, Blue Earth Review and Iron Horse Literary Review.

Maria-Claudia Tomany (Scandinavian Studies) discussed "Viking Tourism in the North Atlantic Region" at the annual conference of the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies in Madison, Wis., in May. At the International Medieval Congress at Kalamazoo, Mich., she co-sponsored two sessions and presented a paper, "Orkney's bid to join the Anglo-Norman Culture Club," to the New England Saga Society. She also submitted a paper, "Earl Hakon of Orkney's Journey to Sweden," for the International Saga Conference in Uppsala, Sweden, in August. The papers present some of her 2008 research under the first Nadine B. Andreas Faculty Research Grant.

Two papers by Jie Wang (Computer Science) recently were published: One in the International Journal of Granular Computing, and one in the Symposium on Computational Intelligence and Data Mining.

Maverick Software Consulting, corporate partner for Project Maverick, will fund three $1,500 scholarships starting next academic year, according to Mike Wells (Information Systems & Technology).

Youwen Xu (Physics & Astronomy) gave a poster presentation, "Oxygen stoichiometry and fluorine doping in superconducting compound LaFeAsO," at the Midwest Solid State Physics conference.

Rec Center Discount

The Lake Crystal Area Recreation Center is offering Minnesota State Mankato employees a 10 percent discount off membership fees.

Those interested in joining the center, or members who would like to take advantage of the discount, may contact Debbie at (507) 726-6730.

Student Achievements

Katherine Jacobson (Music-Piano) recently received the Music Teachers National Association Student Achievement Recognition Award.

Chris Thomas recently received an "Above and Beyond" award the area Quality Council. The award, periodically presented to local "front-line" workers, is for individuals, programs, departments, companies and organizations that actively promote quality. Chris has worked part time for Perkins Restaurant at both Mankato locations.

Eight Mechanical Engineering students and one Manufacturing Engineering Technology student participated in the EPA National Sustainable Design Expo in Washington, D.C., in April. They presented results of two EPA-funded projects: "Solar Collector and Storage Kit Made with Tire Inner Tubes," by Joseph Dobmeier, Matthew Simones, Bradley Wiyninger, Christopher Esser and Michael Peterson, and "Small-Scale Solar Chimney for Sustainable Power," by Ryan Lindsey, Derek Gramstad, Andrew Scalzo and Joseph Nuttall.

ASME banner

Regional Design Winners

A mechanical engineering student and a manufacturing engineering technology student hope to win an international design competition with their plans for an unmanned Mars vehicle. Seniors Michael Trombley (ME) and Andrew Scalzo (MET) last month won the American Society of Mechanical Engineers' regional student design competition in Milwaukee. In November they'll take their plans to Lake Buena Vista, Fla., to compete in the International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition.

The annual mechanical engineering competition challenges teams of up to four students to design, construct and operate a prototype that meets specific requirements.

This year's ASME "Mars Rocks" contest called for students to design an unmanned prototype vehicle that could be controlled from Earth while collecting rocks from the surface of Mars. The vehicle must be able to maneuver over obstacles, retrieve rocks and bring them back to a designated spot.

For winning the ASME district C design competition, Michael and Andrew received $500, a plaque and a trophy. The Upper Midwest district includes the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Wisconsin and North and South Dakota.

Michael and Andrew attended the competition with 15 other Minnesota State Mankato mechanical engineering students and faculty member Jin Park. The student contingent won two other awards:

  • John Scheierl, Outstanding Student Award of $300;
  • Most Student Attendance Award, $100 (third consecutive year in which Minnesota State Mankato has won the award).

Marcy Koch: Top Counseling Student

Marcy Koch, a Professional School Counseling graduate student, has been selected by the Minnesota School Counselors Association as the 2009 Potential School Counselor of the Year.

She is the fourth Minnesota State Mankato Professional School Counseling graduate student to win the award in the last six years. She was honored and received a scholarship at the Minnesota School Counselor Association's spring conference in Brainerd in May.

The award and scholarship are presented annually to an outstanding individual pursuing a master's degree in school counseling. Professional school counselors and counselor educators select the winner.

A first-grade lead teacher at Hoover Elementary School in Mankato, Koch is on sabbatical leave to complete her degree. She received her master's degree May 9.

Concrete canoe team

Concrete canoe team members are (from left): Eric Hanninen, Ashley Veldkamp, Thomas Klevan, Cody Groenke, Greg Mitchell, Shelby Sovell, Kyle Sammons, Matt Bauman, Aleigha Ahlstrom, Cady Morel, April Stayner, Becky and Mike McCarty (paddling coaches).

Concrete Canoe Wins Second

A concrete racing canoe designed and built by Mechanical & Civil Engineering students finished second in regional American Society of Civil Engineers competition. The 13-student team's canoe finished second in both design and on-water races against six other teams during the Midwest regional competition in Iowa City, Iowa, in April. The annual competition included a design paper, technical presentation, beach display and races.

Students spent a year designing and building the canoe for the contest. They tested numerous concrete mixes to find a strong, lightweight mix suitable for a sleek canoe.

The team members, led by captains Aleigha Ahlstrom and Greg Mitchell, also organized fundraising, designed molds, tested construction techniques and practiced team paddling.

Seventy-five percent of the competition's team score is based on engineering design, construction, the written paper and oratory skills. The remaining 25 percent is based on canoe performance in five race events: men's and women's slalom/endurance races, men's and women's sprint races and a co-ed sprint race.


Do you have faculty, staff, student or departmental news for the biweekly campus newsletter? Send news items to newsletter editor Mike Cooper. The newsletter is published every other Wednesday during the academic year and monthly during the summer. The next newsletter will be published June 17; the deadline for that newsletter will be the previous Friday (June 12).

You should also submit your event to the university's official Campus Events Calendar. Go to the events calendar website, click on the self-service "Submit Event" link, and provide the information requested.