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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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February 11, 2015 Campus Newsletter

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7 Theatre Students to National Festival


Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Department of Theatre and Dance participated in the Region V Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival at Normandale Community College and the Guthrie Theater during festival week, Jan. 18-24.

Minnesota State Mankato advanced more students to the semifinal and final rounds of the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition than any other school in the region.

As further detailed in a Theatre and Dance news release, making the top 16 out of a field of more than 400 Ryan nominees, finalists included Adam Yankowy partnered by Erin Horst. Also in the finals were James Ehlenz partnered by Steven Labine and Leigh Jacobsonpartnered by Emily Scinto.

Semifinalists included Scinto as the partner of Matthew Stairs and Kendra Verhage partnered by Maureen O’Malley.

Finally, Cassandra Johnson partnered by Amanda Mai broke to the finals and then took third place overall in the Irene Ryan Competition. All students in the final round performed on the Guthrie Theater’s famous Wurtele Thrust Stage.

Six Minnesota State Mankato students who performed in the Musical Theatre Intensive were recognized and selected to perform at the Kennedy Center as part of the National Festival. “The Gun Song” from "Assassins," featuring Yankowy, Horst, Ehlenz and Stairs; and “People Like Us” from "The Wild Party," featuring Johnson and Jordan Oxborough will be performing at the festival in Washington, D.C.

The University was also well represented with a variety of behind the scenes awards. Students receiving awards included  Anna AlexLauren NelsonMatthew CaronMichael SheeksIsaac SawleTimothy WilliamsNick Voight; and Colton Moyer. Costumes from "As You Like It," designed by Professor David McCarl, were invited to the juried Annual Costume Parade.

KCACTF Certificates of Commendation for past productions at Minnesota State Mankato were awarded to: Alisa Bowman; Noah J. Files; Luke Walchuk; Professor John Paul; Samantha Goerss; Voight; Heather Grandprey; and Caron.

During the past year, faculty members John Paul, Heather Hamilton and Paul J. Hustoles served as Region V Respondents. Paul presented design workshops and Hustoles presented a theatre management workshop at the festival. Hustoles continues his service to Region V by being on the Regional Advisory Board and served as the Festival Registrar for the 15th time.

Faculty Recruitment Website Launched

A new website designed to share the benefits of working at Minnesota State Mankato is now live. The Future Faculty website was created to showcase all that the University has to offer and to provide additional information to those interested in open faculty positions. The effort to create and launch the site was led by the Office of the Provost, with input from Human Resources, the Council of Deans and Integrated Marketing. All departments that are engaged in searches for new faculty are encouraged to share this link with possible candidates.

PCSW Grants, Awards

The President’s Commission on the Status of Women is proud to announce the following opportunities for University students, faculty and staff:

Research and Professional Development Grants:

PCSW grants of up to $500 are available this year for campus community members who plan to conduct research or attend professional development opportunities concerned with the status of women or gender related issues.

For more information and to apply, visit the PCSW website. The deadline for spring 2015 proposals is Friday, Feb. 27.

Project of the Year Awards:

The PCSW is seeking submissions for undergraduate student, graduate student and faculty/staff member projects that exemplify excellence in creative or research-based work pertaining to women or gender-related issues. Award recipients will be honored at the Women of Courage and Vision Reception and receive a $350 award.

For more information and to apply, visit the PCSW website. A nomination requires a brief reflection (no more than 350 words) that addresses the significance of the project and its relevance to women. The deadline for spring 2015 proposals is Friday, Feb. 27.

Contact Keane Richards, graduate assistant for the PCSW, with questions at

Call for Judges: Greek Community Awards

Judges are needed for awards to recognize University fraternities and sororities for their accomplishments during 2014. John Bulcock, assistant director of Greek life and student activities, is seeking:

  • Seven judges to review two categories within award notebooks submitted by chapters. Times for judging are flexible within the two weeks following Friday, Feb. 13. One to two hours should suffice to review two categories. Criteria are objective, but it is up to the judges to determine whether documentation provided sufficiently proves that chapters meet award criteria.
  • Three judges to evaluate in-person chapter presentations for Chapter of the Year. Judges should be available from 1:15-4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3 and Wednesday, March 4. Each chapter will present for up to 20 minutes. Presentations will be back-to-back both days.
  • Four to five judges to review and rank nominations and applications for various individual awards. Timing is flexible within the two weeks following Saturday, Feb. 14. Judging is subjective.

Judges for award notebooks and presentations must not be active faculty advisors to, or alumni of, chapters applying for awards. Arrangements can be made for judges who provided a letter of recommendation supporting an individual’s application or nomination to not judge that particular award.

Those interested in helping should contact Bulcock by email at or by phone at 507-389-6076.

Feb. 11-12: ‘The Vagina Monologues’

Minnesota State Mankato’s Violence Awareness and Response Program, the Women’s Center and the Department of Residential Life, along with the Young Women’s Christian Association of Mankato, the Coffee Hag and Pub 500 will sponsor “The Vagina Monologues” from 7-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 11 and Thursday, Feb. 12 in the Centennial Student Union Ostrander Auditorium.

The award-winning play is based on playwright Eve Ensler's interviews with more than 200 women. With humor and grace, the piece celebrates women’s sexuality and strength. For over 15 years, “The Vagina Monologues” has given voice to experiences and feelings not previously exposed.

Variety Magazine calls the play, “spellbinding, funny, and almost unbearably moving… it is both a work of art and an incisive piece of cultural history, a poem and a polemic, a performance and a balm and a benediction.”

Admission is $8; $5 for students. For more information, contact Rebecca Gonnering, program advisor for VARP, at or at 507-389-2486.

Feb. 12: The Scottie Miller Trio

Piano player and songwriter Scottie Miller will return to Mankato to perform with his trio Thursday, Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Elias J. Halling Recital Hall of the Earley Center for Performing Arts.

Miller, a member of the Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame, is from Minneapolis. His musical style is a combination of blues, soul, funk and jazz. Miller is recognized for his high-energy performances, creative song writing and dramatic lyrics.

Concert admission is $12; $11 for students. To purchase tickets, visit For more information, call the Performance Series Office at 507-389-5549.

Feb. 13: James Luby Seminar

The Department of Biological Sciences will host James Luby (pictured), a professor and director of fruit breeding programs from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, as part of its weekly seminar series on Friday, Feb. 13 at 2 p.m. in Trafton Center 124.

Luby is the developer of the University of Minnesota's famous Honeycrisp apple as well as a developer of the cold hardy grapes that many Minnesota wineries grow. For his seminar, Luby will recount the historical development of grapes in Minnesota and provide insights on breeding in the current era of genomics and metabolomics.

For more information, contact David Sharlin, assistant professor of biological sciences, at or at 507-389-1085.

Feb. 15: Blues/Newgrass Group Blue Hazard

Blue Hazard will appear Sunday, Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the Elias J. Halling Recital Hall of the Earley Center for Performing Arts. The concert event is cosponsored by radio station KMSU and the University Performance Series with assistance from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Blue Hazard is a young band that recently released its third album. The five-piece band, consisting of siblings and friends, merges its traditional roots with folk, pop and contemporary genres.

The band frequently appears at bluegrass festivals, including the Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Festival, the Southeast Minnesota Bluegrass Festival and Lakes Bluegrass Festival, among others. Blue Hazard has performed with the Grammy-nominated bluegrass sensation Cherry Holmes, International Songwriter Competition winner Ben Kyle, and Minnesota Music Hall of Fame members The Platte Valley Boys.

Concert admission is $12; $11 for students. To purchase tickets, visit For more information, call the Performance Series Office at 507-389-5549.

Feb. 16-March 4: ‘Project Passion’ Art Exhibit

The “Project Passion” art exhibition, which celebrates the self-initiated work of graphic designers from all over the world, will be at the University from Monday, Feb. 16 through Wednesday, March 4.

Graphic designer and illustrator Mikey Burton will present an art enrichment lecture Feb. 16 from 7-8 p.m. in the Centennial Student Union Ostrander Auditorium. Burton will also do an art enrichment residency Feb. 16-17 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Nelson Hall studios. Following Burton's lecture, the exhibit will open from 8-9 p.m. on Feb. 16 and remain open through March 4 during gallery hours (9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday). The exhibit will be in the Conkling Gallery, located at Nelson Hall Room 139.

Burton’s residency and the “Project Passion” exhibit is part of Minnesota State Mankato’s art enrichment series. The exhibition was organized by Department of Art faculty member David Rogers. Also contributing were faculty colleagues Ellen Schofield, Bradley Coulter and Matthew Willemsen.

For more information, call the Department of Art at 507-389-6412. Click here for the complete 2014-2015 Conkling Gallery Schedule.

Feb. 17-20: Good Thunder Reading Series

Poet Natalie Diaz and fiction writer Danielle Sosin will visit the University on Tuesday, Feb. 17 through Friday, Feb. 20 as part of the Eddice B. Barber Visiting Writer Residency.

Diaz will present a writing workshop Feb. 17 at 10 a.m. in Centennial Student Union, Room 202, and Sosin will present a writing workshop Feb. 20 at 10 a.m. in Centennial Student Union, Room 203. Both writers will present a craft talk Thursday, Feb. 19 at 3 p.m. in Centennial Student Union’s Ostrander Auditorium and then a reading at 7:30 p.m. in Centennial Student Union, Room 245.

Diaz grew up in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, Calif., on the banks of the Colorado River. She is an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Community. After playing professional basketball in Europe and Asia for several years, she completed her master’s in poetry and fiction at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. She has numerous professional honors and teaches for the Institute of American Indian Arts Low Residency master’s program in Santa Fe, N.M., and resides in Mohave Valley, Ariz.

Sosin is the author of “The Long-Shining Waters,” a novel from Milkweed Editions 2011. “The Long-Shining Waters” won the Milkweed National Fiction Prize and was chosen as the One Book South Dakota 2013. The novel was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award as well as the Midwest Independent Bookseller’s Choice Award. Her first book was a collection of short stories, “Garden Primitives,” from Coffee House Press, 2000. Sosin has been the recipient of many awards and fellowships including the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council and the Loft Literary Center. She resides in Duluth, Minn.

Contact series director Diana Joseph at or at 507-389-5144 with questions.

Feb. 18: Actress Laverne Cox to Speak on Campus

Transgender actress Laverne Cox will give a Carol Ortman Perkins lecture, “Ain’t I a Woman?,” at the University on Wednesday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. in Taylor Center’s Bresnan Arena. Cox stars in the hit Netflix series “Orange is the New Black,” in which she plays a transgender prison inmate. She received an Emmy nomination for the role.

The lecture is sponsored by the Minnesota State Mankato Women’s Center, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center and Department of Gender and Women’s Studies. Cox is a sought-after lecturer on the topic of gender, having produced and starred in her own television show, “TRANSForm Me,” and making the cover of TIME Magazine in June 2014.

Tickets are $20 at the door, $15 for the general public, $10 for faculty and staff and free for students. To purchase tickets, visit the Women's Center at Centennial Student Union, Room 218 or the LGBT Center at Centennial Student Union, Room 294, or call Director of Gender and Sexuality Programs Jessica Flatequal at 507-389-5792.

Feb. 19-22: Bunny Just Piano Recital

Performances by professional and amateur pianists will highlight the 19th Annual Bunny Just Piano Festival on Thursday, Feb. 19 through Sunday, Feb. 22 at the Elias J. Halling Recital Hall of the Earley Center for Performing Arts.

The festival is sponsored by the Bunny Just Piano Festival Endowment and the Department of Music. It is part of the 2015 Spring Performance Series.

Pop pianist Rob Meany (pictured) will perform Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m. in Halling Recital Hall. Meany is an award-winning singer, songwriter and founder of the Minneapolis pop-rock group Terramara.

Classical pianist Heidi Leathwood will perform Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. in Halling Recital Hall. Leathwood has performed chamber music with members of the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and the Colorado Symphony. Since moving to Colorado in 2001, she has enjoyed working regularly with leading musicians in the Front Range area. Leathwood is currently a faculty member at the Lamont School of Music in Denver.

A college master class session will be Friday, Feb. 20 at 1 p.m. in the Halling Recital Hall, and a competition and master class sessions for junior and senior high school students will be Feb. 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The sessions are free and open to the public.

Beneta Just initiated the Bunny Just Piano Festival at Minnesota State Mankato in 1996. In 2004, her estate created an endowment to fund the annual festival. Just was a promoter, volunteer and financial supporter of many social concerns, such as special education and human rights. A University scholarship in special education remains in her name.

Concert admission is $12 for adults; $7 for University students. To purchase tickets, visit For more information, call the Performance Series Office at 507-389-5549.

Feb. 19-March 1: ‘Life is a Dream’

The Department of Theatre and Dance will present Pedro Calderon de la Barca’s “Life is a Dream” Thursday, Feb. 19 through Sunday, March 1 in the Ted Paul Theatre of the Earley Center for Performing Arts. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Satruday, Feb. 19-21 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 26-28, as well as 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28 and Sunday, March 1.

“Life is a Dream” is directed by Department Chair Paul J. Hustoles, with scenic design by John Paul and costume design by David McCarl, two faculty members. The cast includes junior Jake Sullivan as King Basilio and senior Ben Stasny as Segismundo.

Tickets are $16; $14 for senior citizens, youth 16 and under and groups of 15 or more; and $11 for students. Tickets are available at, during box office hours (4-6 p.m., Monday-Friday) and one hour before performances. Call 507-389-6661.

Forensic Team Accomplishments

The Minnesota State Mankato Forensic Team traveled to Webster University in St. Louis on Jan. 24 to compete at the Gorlok Gala Individual Events Tournament. Twenty-seven schools competed in the tournament. Individual awards are listed:

Aletta Arndt – Drama Interpretation Semifinalist, Prose Interpretation Semifinalist
Zach Aufenthie – Fourth Place in Informative Speaking, Excellence Award in Impromptu Speaking
Caitlyn Frymet – Excellence Award in Impromptu, Prose and Communication Analysis
Paige Russell – Prose Interpretation Semifinalist

Student News

The South Central College team “Delivering the News” was announced as the Global Winner for the Distributive Education Clubs of America Idea Challenge 2014. More than 6,000 students from around the world entered the competition. Minnesota State Mankato student Laken Fennern, along with South Central College students Jake Ward and Landon Brown, made up the “Delivering the News” team.

Margo McKay, an alumna of Minnesota State Mankato’s Professional School Counseling Program, was featured in the Owatonna’s People Press for being the first semifinalist for the National School Counselor of the Year from Minnesota. Mckay, along with 35 other finalists, attended a ceremony for America’s school counselors at the White House. Walter B. Roberts Jr., McKay’s former professor, was also mentioned in the article. Click here for the story.

Faculty/Staff News

Stephen J. Druschel, an associate professor of environmental engineering, was featured in the Mankato Free Press, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Rochester Post Bulletin and was also featured on radio station WCCO for his work on a study about determining the best road deicer. Click here for the story.

William Lewinski, executive director of the Force Science Institute and a professor emeritus of Minnesota State Mankato, testified before the U.S. Presidential Task Force about 21st Century Policing. Lewinski’s testimony focused on the widespread need for training and education on scientifically founded limitations of body cameras. Click here to read more about Lewinski’s testimony.

Jacob Swanson, an assistant professor of integrated engineering, was featured on Fox 9 News for his work on a study about atmospheric air quality and its impact on human health, specifically as it relates to combustion-generated particulate matter. Click here for the story.

William James “Jim” Wilde, a professor of civil engineering, was featured in television station KTSP’s story about the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s use of a new tool to determine the impact of heavy vehicles on roads. Click here for the story.

Department News

To read newsletters from around the University, click below:


Timothy L. Anderson died Feb. 2 at age 27 in the Memorial Library. Anderson was a philosophy student at the University. Click here for Anderson’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, Feb. 25. The deadline for that newsletter will be the previous Friday, Feb. 20.

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.