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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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January 14, 2015 Campus Newsletter

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2015 Distinguished Alumni Awards

Eight Minnesota State University, Mankato graduates have been named 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award winners for exceptional achievement and contributions to their professions and communities. The awards will be presented by the Minnesota State Mankato Alumni Association on Friday, April 24 in the Centennial Student Union Ballroom.

Achievement Award – presented to graduates who have achieved high rank or honor in their profession and have a widespread effect on their communities.

  • Jay Abdo ‘96 – B.S. in Open Studies. Senior Partner at Abdo, Eick & Meyers, LLP, Mankato, Minn.
  • Christopher Dietz ‘10 – D.N.P. in Nursing Practice. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist at Mayo Clinic Health System, Rochester, Minn.
  • Linda Koerselman ‘81 – B.S. in Accounting. Partner at Eide Bailly, LLP, Mankato, Minn.
  • Robert Rauenhorst ‘89 – B.A. in Geography. Commanding Officer/VMFA-312/F-18 Pilot in United States Marine Corps, N.C.
  • Mark Stenzel ‘69 – B.S. in Math/Statistics. Founder and President of Exposure Assessment Applications, LLC, Arlington, Va.

Harold J. Fitterer Service Award – presented to graduates distinguished by their record of service to Minnesota State Mankato and to their communities.

  • James Connors ’68 – B.S. in Math/Statistics. Owner and Dentist at Total Dental Concepts, Mankato, Minn.

Humanitarian Award – presented to graduates whose lives exemplify service to humankind.

  • Coventry Cowens ‘68 – B.A. in Recreation, Parks & Leisure Services. Consultant at The Coventry Group/Assistant Director of Multicultural Programs & Services at College of St. Catherine, Minneapolis.

Young Alumni Award – presented to graduates 35 and younger who have reached or are reaching personal and professional achievements early in their careers.

  • Donald Mitchell ‘07 – M.S. in Educational Leadership. Assistant Professor of Education at Grand Valley State, Michigan.

Alumni Survey Results

The campus community is invited to attend an alumni survey forum on Tuesday, Jan. 20 from 2:30-3:30 p.m. in the Centennial Student Union Ostrander Auditorium. Rob Shoss from Performance Enhancement Group, Ltd. will present the results of a Minnesota State Mankato alumni survey that was conducted in September and October.

PEG is an organizational development consulting firm. It helps clients improve their individual, team and organizational performance. PEG will offer ways for the University to make the most of its communication with alumni.

Give Kids a Smile

The University’s Department of Dental Hygiene and Mankato dental professionals are joining a statewide effort to provide free dental care to children in need.

The Dental Hygiene Department will provide care Thursday, Feb. 5 from 1-8 p.m. and Friday, Feb. 6 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the dental clinic on campus (located in the lower level of Morris Hall).

Appointments are available for children who are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian for cleanings, x-rays, exams, fluoride treatments and sealants. Those interested in scheduling an appointment should call the dental clinic at 507-389-2147. Minnesota State Mankato will also offer free dental exams and x-rays for adults Friday, Feb. 6 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

2015 Annual Giving

The Office of University Development invites the campus community to "make a difference in January," sending the following message to the campus community:

"During this new year, we are grateful for your support as a member of the Minnesota State Mankato family. Please give a gift to help students reach their full potential and achieve their dreams. Your gift will make a difference to students like Jacob Ball, a recent alumnus who is now pursuing his big idea to become a bilingual family physician serving rural America. Learn more about his story by watching the video on the University’s home page. Thank you for making a difference every day for our students at Minnesota State Mankato!"

You may give securely online at or by phone at 1-800-662-2705. For more information, contact Lucette Hurley, director of annual giving, at or 507-389-5279.

$1 Million Gift Commitment

The University’s College of Education announced that it received a gift commitment of $1 million from an anonymous donor. College of Education Dean Jean Haar said the gift commitment is in honor of the donor’s father and wife, both of who graduated from Minnesota State Mankato and were lifelong teachers.

The gift has been set up to be distributed to the College of Education over the next five years in increments of about $200,000 each year. A portion of each year’s gift will be designated for scholarships and programming.

“We are excited to receive such a significant gift,” said Haar. “It will do much to support the transformational work the college is doing to ensure we are preparing graduates who embrace a diverse and changing society and who are successful in impacting K-12 student learning.”

Unions United Food Drive Results

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 638 and six other unions at Minnesota State Mankato collected 595 pounds of food and $911.26 in a Unions United Food Drive on University and South Central College campuses. Of the multiple collection sites on the University’s campus, the highest contributor was Morris Hall. All contributions went to the Emergency Community Help Organization Food Shelf.

Honors Program Call for Faculty Course Proposals

The University Honors Program is seeking both general education and advanced seminar courses that develop leadership, research and global citizenship competencies. The program expects to offer five honors sections of general education courses and at least two advanced honors seminars during the 2016-2017 academic year. The Honors Program provides funds to departments to supplement courses at the contractual rate.

Starting this year, all Honors Program course proposals will be submitted via the Curriculum Design System. The application deadline is Feb. 6. Applicants are encouraged to contact the Honors Program Office at 507-389-5191 for guidance on course proposals, sample syllabi and honors competencies and rubrics. In addition, program staff will hold informational sessions Thursday, Jan. 15 from 1:30-2:30 p.m. in Centennial Student Union Room 256 and Wednesday, Jan. 28 from 3-4 p.m. in Centennial Student Union Room 204.

The mission of the Honors Program is to create future leaders, researchers and global citizens by providing high ability and motivated students with exceptional learning opportunities, mentoring relationships and a community of scholars that foster their development as future leaders in a global society.

Mankato Ranked 14th Best College City in U.S.

WalletHub, a personal finance social network, conducted an analysis of 2014’s Best and Worst College Cities and Towns in America. WalletHub ranked 280 U.S. cities based on 23 key metrics. Mankato ranks 14th overall and 13th among small cities. Some examples of metrics from the data set include the quality of higher education, crime rates and the cost of living.

The College Experience in Mankato (1=Best; 140=Avg.)

  • 64th – Adjusted Cost of Living for Young People
  • 118th – Quality of Higher Education
  • 62nd – Number of Nightlife Options per Capita
  • 38th – Percentage of Part-Time Jobs
  • 124th – City Accessibility
  • 118th – Crime Rate
  • 1st – Student Gender Balance
  • 43rd – Number of Students per Capita

Community Engagement Fair

Minnesota State Mankato will host a spring 2015 Community Engagement Fair on Tuesday, Feb. 3 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Centennial Student Union Ballroom. The fair is an opportunity for non-profit and related community agencies along with University departments and student organizations to highlight specific community engagement activities they offer and outreach relationships they have developed.

Agencies and organizations interested in participating are invited to sign up for a booth by Thursday, Jan. 29. The fair has 90 slots available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Maps, parking instructions and more details will be provided to those that sign up.

For more information, contact Karen Anderson, assistant director for community engagement by phone at 507-389-6076 or by email at

Jan. 12-19: Outdoor Skating Rink Open on Campus

An outdoor ice skating rink is open until Monday, Jan. 19 on the lawn of the Performing Arts Center. The rink is free and open to the public from 5-8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 15.

The rink is decorated with holiday lighting. Hot chocolate is available for purchase, and proceeds will benefit University student organizations. Rink operations are dependent on weather, and rink closures will be announced at

The Minnesota State Mankato Office of Residential Life and the Student Events Team Programming Board are cosponsoring the rink. A limited number of ice skates are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information, contact Bill Tourville, assistant director of campus programs, by phone at 507-389-6076 or by email at

Jan. 12-23: Artist Jonathan Brilliant Residency

North Carolina-based installation artist Jonathan Brilliant is at Minnesota State Mankato for a 10-day residency until Friday, Jan. 23. Brilliant is creating and installing a site-specific sculpture consisting only of materials related to the coffee cup culture.

Central to Brilliant’s installations are large wooden coffee stir stick structures that contain 30,000 to 50,000 stir sticks. All the sticks are woven in place with tension and compression.

Brilliant’s completed installation will be exhibited in a display free and open to the public from Monday, Jan. 26 through Wednesday, Feb. 4 at the Conkling Gallery, 139 Nelson Hall.

Brilliant will also give a lecture Tuesday, Jan. 20 at 7 p.m. in the Centennial Student Union Ostrander Auditorium. A reception in Conkling Gallery will follow the lecture.

For more information, call the Minnesota State Mankato Department of Art at 507-389-6412.

Jan. 20: 'Can I Kiss You?' Presentation

Dating expert Mike Domitrz (pictured) will present “Can I Kiss You?” in the Centennial Student Union Ballroom on Tuesday, Jan. 20 from 7-9 p.m. The presentation is free and open to the public.

“Can I Kiss You?” is a one-person, critically acclaimed presentation that is shown on college campuses across the U.S. In his presentation, Domitrz will reveal a simple approach to intimacy. The audience is a vital part of Dormtriz's performances, and some audience members will win “Want Some Action?” and “Can I Kiss You?” T-shirts, which will also be available to purchase after the program.

For more information, contact Laura Schultz, violence awareness and response coordinator, by phone at 507-389-5127 or by email at

Jan. 25: Indie-Folk Duo The Ericksons

The Ericksons will perform Sunday, Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the Elias J. Halling Recital Hall of the Earley Center for Performing Arts.

The Minneapolis-based duo maintains its stark sound while stretching out musically on its latest CD, "The Wild." The CD introduces electro-pop instrumentation and ethereal vocal harmonies. Atmospheric, pedal-steel parts guitar and rolling drums add luster to the harmonious sound of sisters Bethany Valentini and Jenny Kochsiek.

Concert admission is $12; $11 for students. Discount tickets are available online at For more information, call the Performance Series office at 507-389-5549.

Jan. 31: Tom Hanson Presentation

Mankato Area Lifelong Learners will host a presentation by Tom Hanson, “Things Fall Apart: The Year Ahead in Foreign Policy,” on Saturday, Jan. 31 from 2-4 p.m. in the Centennial Student Union Ostrander Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Hanson will present his analysis of the latest foreign policy developments, trends and challenges faced by the U.S. during 2015. There will be a question and answer session after Hanson’s presentation.

Hanson is a veteran of Foreign Service, having served in East Germany, France, Norway, the Soviet Union, Sweden and Mongolia. He served on foreign relations committees in both the U.S. House and Senate and was a director for NATO and European Affairs at the Atlantic Council of the U.S. He currently is an Alworth Institute Diplomat in Residence at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Those planning to attend the presentation should contact Lifelong Learners at 507-389-2011 or and leave their names and telephone numbers.

Forensic Team Accomplishments

The Minnesota State Mankato forensic team traveled to Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minn., on Dec. 2 to compete in the third Twin Cities Forensics League tournament. Twelve schools competed in the tournament. Minnesota State Mankato placed fourth in team sweepstakes.

Individual awards are listed:
Aletta Arndt - Prose Interpretation Finalist
Kaila Beckner - 3rd place in After Dinner Speaking and 3rd in Prose Interpretation
Jordan Carrillo - 1st place in Communication Analysis and 2nd in Program Oral Interpretation
Brady Taylor - 1st place in Extemporaneous Speaking and 2nd in Communication Analysis

The forensics team was one of 12 to compete in the Mike Nicolai Invitational at University of Wisconsin-Stout on Dec. 5-6. Minnesota State Mankato won the tournament.

Individual awards are listed:
Aletta Arndt - 4th place in Prose Interpretation, 5th in Dramatic Interpretation and 6th in After Dinner Speaking
Kaila Beckner - 1st place in After Dinner Speaking, 6th in Impromptu Speaking and 2nd in Program Interpretation
Sarah Cain - 2nd place in Prose Interpretation and 3rd in Informative Speaking
Alex Cutschall - 1st place in Duo Interpretation and 1st in Impromptu Speaking
Caitlin Frymet - 1st place in Individual Sweepstakes, 1st in Communication Analysis, 1st in Duo Interpretation, 2nd in Poetry Interpretation and 3rd in Prose Interpretation
Cade Shelton - 2nd place in Persuasive Speaking, 1st in Music Interpretation and 1st in Informative Speaking
Brady Taylor - 3rd place in Poetry Interpretation and 3rd in Program Oral Interpretation

Department News

To read newsletters from around the University, click below:
[PDF] The Honors Beacon (1 MiB)

Student News

Geography student Courtney Kietzer’s Geographic Information Systems Day presentation “Analyzing the Historic Integrity of Mankato’s Lincoln Park Neighborhood” was posted as No. 26 on Buzzfeed’s “39 Geogeeks Who Ruled Instagram on #GISDay."

Susan B. Fredstrom, associate professor and director of the Dietetics Program, along with eight dietetics seniors (Lauren Alexander, Jody Bertness, Anna Cardenas, Christina Genelin, Meghan Kammerlander, Sarah Schumacher, Melanie Semrau and Kirsti Spencer) presented “Ethics in Action - Hot Topics in Today's Practice” at the Minnesota Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics South Central fall meeting. The students demonstrated situations that require ethical decisions through role play and led round table discussions with dietitians.

Angela Sahli, a Minnesota State Mankato alumna with a master of fine arts in costume design, was featured in the St. Cloud Times for her work with Great River Educational Arts Theatre. Sahli's husband, Adam, an alumnus with a master of fine arts in acting, was also mentioned in the article. Click here for the story.

Faculty/Staff News

A retirement party for Diane A. Berge from the Office of Admissions will be held Monday, Feb. 2 from 2-4:30 p.m. in the Johnson Alumni Room, which is located in the Taylor Center.

Mark Constantine, director of the Centennial Student Union and student activities, was featured on page 7 of the Association of College Unions International Region V newsletter in the staff spotlight.

Stephen J. Druschel, associate professor of civil engineering, was the principal investigator of a Minnesota Department of Transportation and Minnesota State Mankato deicing study. Druschel was interviewed about the study for KSTP-TV. The results of the study were posted on the Minnesota Transportation Research Blog. Click here for KSTP-TV’s story.

Margaret P. Li is the new director of development for the College of Education. Li has a bachelor’s in English and psychology from the University of Hong Kong and a master’s in business management from Southern Illinois University. In addition, she has earned a Certified Fundraising Executive designation.


Professor Emeritus Sheldon Leroy Brown passed away Nov. 26 at age 83. Brown was employed at the University in curriculum and instruction until his retirement in 1996. Click here for Brown’s obituary.

Professor Emeritus Leon J. Frost passed away Dec. 31 at age 92. Frost was an associate professor of finance and management at Minnesota State Mankato from 1978 to 1983. Click here for Frost’s obituary.

Professor Emeritus William B. Nelson passed away Dec. 5 at age 84. During his tenure at the University, Nelson was an assistant football coach, business manager and assistant athletic director. He also served as acting chairperson of the Health and Science Department and was a professor of health sciences until he retired in 1994. Click here for Nelson’s obituary.

Online TODAY Magazine

today magazineVisit 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. Contact Sara Frederick at 507-389-6981 or to share ideas.

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 Wednesday, Jan. 28. The deadline for that newsletter will be the previous Friday, Jan. 23.

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.