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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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July 18, 2012 Campus Newsletter

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Baer Named Interim Vice President

Linda Baer

Minnesota State University, Mankato President Richard Davenport announced the appointment of Linda Baer as interim vice president for academic and student affairs, effective July 17. Baer replaces Scott Olson, who was recently named president of Winona State University (see related story below).

“I am excited about the breadth and depth of experience that Dr. Baer brings to this position,” said Davenport. “Many of us have worked with Dr. Baer in her prior role as senior vice chancellor of academic and student affairs for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.”

As interim vice president, Baer will be responsible for the academic colleges, student affairs areas, institutional diversity and student support services at Minnesota State Mankato.

“All of the candidates who applied or were nominated for the position are strong, successful leaders,” Davenport said, “but Dr. Baer’s extensive experience in both academic and student affairs is impressive and will be invaluable as we continue moving forward during the next year with our focused institutional goals and objectives. Her leadership skills, her commitment to diversity, and her vision will allow us to maintain our strong position as an innovative leader within the Minnesota State system.”

Baer holds a doctorate in sociology from South Dakota State University. She has served over 30 years in numerous executive level positions in higher education, including senior program officer in postsecondary success for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs in the Minnesota State College and University System, senior vice president and interim president at Bemidji State University.

Currently, she works as the senior program consultant with i4Solutions to inspire leaders to improve student success and transform institutions for the future. She presents nationally in academic innovations, educational transformation, the development of alliances and partnerships, the campus of the future, shared leadership and action analytics. Her most recent publications have been on assessment, smart change, shared leadership, innovations in higher education and analytics as a tool to improve student success. She was the co-leader in planning the first and second annual symposiums on action analytics.

She is known throughout the country for her work on improving student engagement and success and has been recognized for her role in developing the award-winning Minnesota Online.  She served on the board of directors for the Society for College and University Planning and is currently on the board of directors for the Shank Institute for Learning Innovations.

'Excellence in Facilities Management'

student walking in front of msu fountain

Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Facilities Management Division recently received “Excellence in Facilities Management” recognition from the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system. It is the 11th year in a row that Minnesota State Mankato has received the distinction, which was initiated by Minnesota State in 2001.

Minnesota State Mankato was one of just five institutions among the 52 in the Minnesota State system to receive the honor, which was announced by Minnesota State Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Brian Yolitz. The award was established to document and recognize sustained excellence in the management and operations of Minnesota State institution facilities and infrastructure resources.

“Thanks to you and your teams for the superb work you do each day in creating and maintaining the physical space at our campuses as well as administering programs that make them safe and secure,” Yolitz wrote. “Together this work sets the stage for ensuring access to an extraordinary education, being the partner of choice, and delivering the highest value, most affordable option to Minnesotans. Well done.”

Minnesota State Mankato Associate Vice President for Facilities Management Ron Fields said this is a coveted award within the Minnesota State system and that he was proud of the Minnesota State Mankato facilities management team.

“It is the quality of what our facilities management team does and the initiative and professionalism demonstrated in how they do it that sets us apart and makes Minnesota State Mankato’s Facilities Management the great team that it is,” Fields said. “I am extremely proud to be part of this institution and this outstanding division and the part it plays in the success of the University.”

While the Facilities Management accomplishments were many, they were not limited to only the University community.

Minnesota State Mankato is collaborating with the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the City of Mankato in a $200,000 “Greater Mankato Transit Redesign Study. Updates were provided by the Study’s Project Management Team to the Student Senate and campus community in November 2011, with preliminary findings supporting the creating of a “transit hub” on the University’s campus.

With the assistance of nationally recognized consultants, a Green Transportation Fee concept was created. This fee, which was voted on and approved by the student body in May’s elections, will generate funds to expand bus services and increase ridership beyond the existing 200,000 rides each academic year. This increased bus ridership will reduce individual commuter vehicle use and further the University’s “green” commitment.

The mission of Minnesota State Mankato’s Facilities Management Division is to provide essential services to enhance campus buildings, grounds, and the academic goals of the University. Facilities Management is committed to providing the best classroom and working environment for students and employees alike, and ensuring that all University customers are served in a prompt, professional and courteous manner.

Minnesota State Mankato’s Facilities Management Division includes the following areas: Facilities Services; Building Services; Physical Plant; Planning & Construction; and Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management.

'Big Ideas' Campaign Wins CASE Gold Award

The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) has awarded Minnesota State University, Mankato’s “Big Ideas Campaign” fundraising packet a Gold Award in their 2012 Circle of Excellence competition, according to Jeff Iseminger, assistant vice president of integrated marketing, who was notified of the award selection.  The campaign packet won Gold out of 38 entries in this category, which was open to all sizes of universities. 

The packet was designed by Wendy Johnston, graphic designer in Printing & Photocopying Services, with copy edited and largely written by Sara Frederick, interim director of content marketing, and Iseminger. Production support came from Doug Fenske, director of printing services, and the print shop team of Dave Franke, Larry Hennis, Mike Theissen and Dave Ziesmer.

Iseminger said that he and Frederick also received important input from the development directors on what they needed in the packet and thanked all who had input on the final product for their effort in the Gold-winning project.

Olson Gets Rousing Sendoff

scott and kelley olson

Scott Olson’s colleagues and friends packed Centennial Student Union’s Hearth Lounge in late June to offer a rousing sendoff to Olson and his wife Kelley as they head to Winona State University, where Olson will become that institution’s new President.

Olson departs MSU after nine years as provost and vice president for student and academic affairs to be president of the Minnesota State sister institution.  Everyone from President Richard Davenport on down said the gregarious university leader will be deeply missed.  “We have fun almost every day,” said Davenport. “I want to state, for the record, Scott is the best administrator I’ve ever worked with.”

The few serious moments were broken up with lots of humor, led by event emcee Paul Hustoles, chair of Theatre & Dance.   Gifts included shiny purple tennis shoes and a purple top hat, both of which Olson put on immediately, and a purple cowboy hat for Kelley.

Other interesting facts about Olson shared at the program: A nickname assigned by a colleague was Boy Wonder. He’s a movie buff who, early on, wanted to work in the film industry in California. He’s also a great athlete, which includes scuba diving and skiing.  Olson also is a singer and joined with MSU Theatre & Dance students in singing “Minnesota State we hail to you. Purple and gold we’re ever true.”

Mike Lagerquist in Theatre & Dance has provided links to three video clips of Scott & Kelley Olson’s reception that he posted on Facebook.

Halbur Named Senior Director of Major Gifts

Jeff Halbur, director of development for the College of Education and point person for planned giving for the past two years, has moved into the position of senior director of major gifts, effective July 1. Halbur's appointment was announced by Doug Mayo, Vice President for University Advancement.

Halbur has served on numerous campus committees and task forces, including the President's Commission on Diversity and the Great Place to Work Task Force.

He also has been a member on the YWCA Board of Directors and has served as a Mankato Area Diversity Council Prejudice Reduction Workshop Facilitator. Previously, Halbur was the lead administrator at Open Door Health Center.

"His experience in leading organizational change and growth will serve us well as we approach the final year of our Big Ideas Campaign, and as we position the University for sustainable growth in the years to come," said Mayo. "Please join me in welcoming Jeff to his new role."

Mayo also thanked Patti Kramlinger for serving as Interim Senior Director of Major Gifts.

"Interim roles bring a unique set of challenges, and Patti embraced them with an exceptionally strategic approach and a constant focus on obtaining and exceeding major gift goals," Mayo said. "I am grateful for all Patti has done to build a stronger and more collaborative team, both within Development and across the Division. The College of Science, Engineering and Technology is looking forward to having Patti back full-time as Director of Development. I truly appreciate Patti's flexibility, professionalism and ongoing commitment to the University."

Hejhal Named to CSU Events Post

Megan Hejhal has been named to the position of Events Coordinator in the Centennial Student Union.

Hejhal’s appointment was announced by Dan Elliott, the CSU Associate Director. She assumed her new position in mid-June and succeeds Nadeem Mohammed, who moved out of state in 2011. Graduate Assistant Amy Chin has served as Interim Events Coordinator since that time.

In her new role, Hejhal will be responsible for supporting out of class educational programs by supervising the set-up crew in effectuating reservation requests; by providing periodic assistance with lighting, audio and visual support; and by providing periodic direction to general maintenance workers.

Hejhal graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sports Management and Marketing from MSU Mankato in 2011. In 2010 she worked for the Minnesota Twins with the non-baseball Events Staff where her responsibilities included set up and take down for non-baseball related events, helping event coordinators with events and administrative work and assisting guests with questions and directions.

July 19:  Research Showcase Features Work by 35 Students

The fourth annual showcase of graduating Master of Social Work students’ research – Real World Challenges, Social Work Solutions: MSW Research Showcase – will be held Thursday, July 19 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Centennial Student Union 253, 254 and 255.

Thirty second-year MSW students will be presenting their research. For more information, contact Nancy Fitzsimons, professor and MSW program director, at 507-389-1287 or

social work logo

July 28:  MSW Program Graduating 30

Thirty students in the Master of Social Work program will graduate on July 28, with a special MSW Recognition Celebration Ceremony in Ostrander Auditorium from 3-5 p.m. This is the fourth graduating class of the program.

Barry Ries, interim dean of the College of Graduate Studies and Research, will be in attendance and speak.

July 18-21: 'Sound of Music'

MSU, Mankato's 46th annual Highland Summer Theatre season comes to a close this week with the final performances of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical classic, "The Sound of Music."

Performances continue nightly at 7:30 through July 21 in the Ted Paul Theatre of the Earley Center for Performing Arts.

Directed and choreographed by faculty member Paul Finocchiaro, with musical direction by Nick Wayne, the cast includes junior BFA Musical Theatre candidate Callie Syverson as Maria, summer BFA Acting candidate Dustin Guy Jackson as Capt. Georg Von Trapp, and a total cast of 30 that includes several community children as the Von Trapp family.

Tickets are $22 regular, $19 discounted, and $15 for 4 students with a current MavCard.  They may be purchased anytime online at, or by calling or stopping by the Theatre & Dance Box Office in the lobby of the Earley Center between 4 & 6 p.m. Monday-Friday.  Or phone 507-389-6661 for more information.

July 26: Vikings Open Training Camp

The Minnesota Vikings will report to Minnesota State University, Mankato on Thursday, July 26, and practice will begin the next day (July 27) for their 47th straight training camp season on the campus. Camp closes Wednesday, Aug. 15.

Planned events include a Family Football Day on Saturday, Aug. 4, a Fan Appreciation Day on Tuesday, Aug. 14, and autograph sessions with players on specified days throughout the camp.

Vikings Village will open a half-hour before each prac­tice session.

This will be the longest training camp for the Vikings since a three-week stay in 2008. The team’s complete training schedule is posted here on their official website.

Aug. 9-10:  Crime Scene Recovery Workshop

A forensic workshop designed to acquaint law enforcement personnel, teachers, and others interested in forensic anthropology with the procedures and techniques specific to crime scenes involving human remains will be presented Aug. 9-10 at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Crime Scenes, especially where human bone may be present, require special handling and expertise. If all the evidence is to be recovered and preserved in its entirety, certain measures must be implemented from the beginning.

This two-day workshop will cover the following topics:

  • Determination of human vs. animal skeletal materials
  • Site survey
  • Mapping of skeletal remains
  • Archaeological excavation techniques
  • Proper collection, handling and preservation of skeletal material

The workshop offers a great opportunity for hands-on experience working with human remains and learning the fundamentals of forensic anthropology. Understanding forensic anthropology also can help prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s careers in forensics, anthropology, law enforcement or teaching.

High school teachers who complete the workshop will be able to incorporate many of the classroom exercises into their own curriculum; and some have even been able to re-tool the excavation procedures they learned into a scaled-down version for their high school students, organizers said.

For more information and on how to register, go to:

Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree Approved

The Higher Learning Commission’s Institutional Actions Council (IAC) has formally approved MSU Mankato to offer a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.

“The DNP program approval shows that our College of Allied Health and Nursing and School of Nursing are at the forefront of educating future leaders in the health care profession,” said President Richard Davenport.

For the past several years, the DNP program at Minnesota State Mankato was successfully operated as a consortium with three other Minnesota State Colleges and Universities—Metropolitan State University; Minnesota State University, Moorhead; and Winona State University.

Marcia Stevens, professor and chair of the School of Nursing, said the approval means Minnesota State Mankato DNP graduates will be better prepared to meet future health care needs and will be able to influence health care in many ways by:

  • Providing leadership on the front lines of nursing.
  • Evaluating clinical outcomes more effectively by using evidence-based practice tools.
  • Identifying and managing the health care needs of special populations.
  • Using technology and information to transform health care systems.

“A key strength of our DNP program is the Becky Taylor fellowship,” said Stevens. “The fellowships will provide students financial support for their education and enable them to pursue their DNP learning from leaders in the areas of family and societal health.”  Stevens said that one or two students will be named annually for the Becky Taylor doctoral fellowships, funded through the Glen Taylor Nursing Institute for Family and Society.

The Higher Learning Commission is one of two commission members of the institutional accrediting North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).  Notification of its approval came on June 5.  The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree brings to four the number of doctoral programs offered at Minnesota State Mankato. The others are: Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)—Counselor Education and Supervision; Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)—School Psychology; and Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)—Educational Leadership.

WCHA Plans for 2013-14

The nine member teams that will make up the men's Western Collegiate Hockey Association beginning in 2013-14 concluded a series of positive and productive meetings in Detroit in mid-June under the leadership of MSU Mankato President Richard Davenport, chair of the revamped league’s President’s Council.

"This is certainly an exciting time for the newly-integrated WCHA," Davenport said. "We are all looking forward to the 2013-14 season. Across the board we are 100% committed to putting a highly competitive product on the ice in the WCHA, to compete for championships, to give our student-athletes the best possible experience and to provide our fans with a great game-day experience. The WCHA brand is strong, historic and full of rich tradition and we will carry on that tremendous tradition and also build upon it."

Among the many topics covered in the meetings,

  • the membership discussed and approved a 28-game league schedule for 2013-14
  • the membership discussed and approved a nine-team post-season tournament format
  • the membership discussed and updated the league's by-laws
  • the membership discussed and continues to explore several potential venues for the annual WCHA Final Five playoff championship.

"We have accomplished a great deal and feel tremendously upbeat about where we are at as we look ahead to the 2013-14 season," said WCHA Commissioner Bruce M. McLeod. "We have had very productive meetings with the coaches, athletic directors and presidents all present and we are united in moving forward to ensure the continued success of the WCHA and its member teams. We are also engaged in on-going discussions with various venues for our flagship event – the WCHA Final Five – and hope to finalize those championship plans as soon as possible."

A change in governance will have the Presidents Council act as the Board of Directors and the Athletic Directors serve as the Management Council. The Presidents Council also created a Steering Committee, led by President Davenport, to coordinate and handle major issues going forward.

Beginning in 2013-14 the men’s WCHA will consist of the University of Alaska Anchorage, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Bemidji State University, Bowling Green State University, Ferris State University, Lake Superior State University, Michigan Technological University, Minnesota State University, Mankato, and Northern Michigan University.

Wigley Remodel Project Runs to Aug.17

Wigley Administration Building remodeling continues, with an estimated completion date of Aug. 17.

The President's Office has been temporarily relocated to 209 Morris Hall during the remodeling. All other departments remain in their current locations, and clear floor space has been allotted for traffic to and from the Academic Affairs, Human Resources, Strategic Business, Education, and Regional Partnerships, and Research & Sponsored Programs offices.

The elevator and stairwell remain accessible.

Faculty/Staff Notes

Dance instructor Dan Stark had his haunting piece “Crash,” staged at the recent National College Dance Festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

The Minnesota State University dance instructor is now a thrice-selected choreographer for what is considered the top national honor for collegiate dance departments.  His earlier works were staged in 2004 and 2010.

Stark's piece, which was one of just 30 works nationally select­ed for the biannual festival, was a narrative centered on the relationship between a man and woman, before and after a horrible car accident.  To create the haunting atmosphere for his piece, he came up with a technically innovative mobile light source.  Working alongside Steven Smith, an MSU lighting and design instruc­tor, Stark created a mobile stage light of sorts. Though somewhat heavy and cum­bersome, Stark envisioned a piece in which a dancer car­ried the only light source used during the dance.

To manifest what Stark calls “the foggy edges of memory,” he used 10 dancers and his mobile light source to create the atmosphere he was seeking.

Among those ten dancers was MSU Mankato senior Bridget Carlson, honored as a first- time dancer at the national event.

Pieces chosen for the national festival are culled from a dozen regional events. In each region, two or three dances are selected by accredited judges for per­formance at the Kennedy Center.

Julie Nelson, program coordinator of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), together with other service providers, presented at the monthly “Hot Topics” breakfast sponsored by the New Ulm Chamber of Commerce.  The focus of the June 22 event was to help employers learn more about hiring veterans and to showcase the area resources available to assist service members and veterans in starting or growing a business.  The SBDC also participated in Beyond the Yellow Ribbon’s reintegration event taking at MSU Mankato on July 8, attended by nearly 900 service members and family members.

Cindy Miller, Professor of Geography, has been working closely with the Greater Mankato Convention and Visitor's Bureau for the past year or so to produce a map of all veterans' memorials in Mankato/N. Mankato. The project, her name, Department of Geography and MSU made it onto the front page of the Free Press: The map, which is already into distribution, also features the MSU logo. MSU Mankato students also were involved in the final project under Miller’s guidance.

Student Notes

Kathleen Ritter has been named the 2012 Outstanding Graduating Senior in Finance. Ritter was chosen by Department of Finance faculty based on her contributions to the area of finance and by her outstanding classroom performance. During her academic career, she maintained a 3.98 grade point average.

In addition to her standout academic record, she captained the women’s golf team, served as president of Delta Sigma Pi, a co-ed professional business fraternity, and was a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma International Honor Society. Following graduation she was hired by the KPMG accounting firm as an audit associate.

Online TODAY Magazine

today magazine

Visit the online TODAY magazine at to keep up-to-date with news, alumni and stories about the people who help make this University great.

The mission of TODAY is to entertain, to inform and to connect the reader to the campus. The print TODAY is mailed twice per year to 95,000 alumni and friends.

TODAY welcomes story ideas supporting this mission.

Content is updated regularly, so check back often


Do you have faculty, staff, student or departmental news for the campus newsletter? Send news items to the Media Relations Office at The newsletter is published every other Wednesday during the academic year (except during scheduled break weeks) and monthly during the summer. The next newsletter will be published Aug. 22; the deadline for that newsletter will be the previous Friday (Aug. 17).

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.