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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Campus Community: click here for COVID-19 news and updates.


May 6, 2020 Campus Newsletter

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Celebrating 2020 Graduates

Minnesota State University, Mankato will be celebrating its 2020 spring semester student graduations by sending graduates “commencement-in-a-box” packages, personalized URL videos and creating a special website that will launch Saturday, May 9 at 6 a.m.

The three traditional commencement ceremonies scheduled for Saturday were cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minnesota State Mankato will award more than 2,200 degrees at the end of spring semester. Included are more than 1,800 undergraduate degrees and more than 400 graduate degrees and specialist certifications.

The “commencement-in-a-box” packages were shipped this week to graduates. Included inside the purple-and-gold branded boxes were a diploma cover, two commencement programs, two small branded gifts for the graduates and a personalized note from Minnesota State Mankato President Richard Davenport inviting them to December’s commencement ceremonies.

The University will launch a special website,, at 6 a.m. Saturday, May 9. The website will include videos from Davenport and pre-recorded commencement speeches from graduating seniors representing each of the University’s six colleges. The website will include the names of each graduate and a graduation photo gallery where photos will be shared that graduates, faculty and staff tag with #MavGrad2020.

All students graduating this spring will be emailed a uniquely designed personalized URL video at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

Minnesota State Mankato’s spring commencement website will be available at 6 a.m. Saturday at

COVID-19 Information

Minnesota State Mankato has launched a Web page intended to provide the latest information on COVID-19 to all members of the campus community.

The page includes FAQs, messages from campus and system office leaders, a link to submit questions and much more.

EVENT CANCELLATIONS: To limit the spread of COVID-19, most events and gatherings on campus have been cancelled, postponed or changed to an alternative format.

A complete list of submitted cancellations or postponed events is available here. To be added to the list, please submit your cancellation or postponement to

For information on scheduled events not listed as a cancellation, please contact individual departments. Some events have been moved online or may be moved online.

Coming Soon: Virtual Campus Town Halls

In an effort to maintain communication across campus and discuss topics of interest, plans are underway to schedule a series of virtual campus town hall meetings over the coming weeks. These meetings will provide opportunities for key campus constituent groups to ask questions of University President Richard Davenport and other cabinet members.

Dates and details were still being finalized at the time this campus newsletter was published. More information will be sent via email from the Office of the President in the coming days.

Tentative plans are to schedule a faculty/staff virtual town hall meeting during the week of May 11-15, an undergraduate student virtual town hall meeting during the week of May 18-22 and a graduate student virtual town hall meeting during the week of June 1-5.

Additional virtual town hall meetings are being planned for June and July.

IT Solutions Updates

IT Solutions created a quick course planning checklist intended to help users avoid interruption from recent transitions, including LinkedIn Learning, Kaltura MediaSpace and the upcoming retirement of Adobe Flash Player.

Assistance is available from the IT Solutions instructional design team through online resources, drop-in sessions and consultations.

FY20 Employee Expense Reports

Completed employee expense reports for business expenses incurred in FY20 (7/1/19 – 6/30/20) must be received in the Business Office by July 3, 2020.

To comply with MMB regulations, expense reports for expenses incurred in FY20 received after July 3 require a written explanation, which must be approved by the division head before the expenses can be reimbursed. These expenses will be posted to FY21. This applies not only to travel, but any reimbursement that would be listed under “other expenses” on an employee expense report; i.e. supplies, copies, software, tuition, etc.

Also, for your information, a trip which begins in June and extends into July is charged to the fiscal year which has the most days of travel. For example, travel which begins June 28, 2020, and ends July 9, 2020, would get charged to FY21.

All FY20 business expense entry of any kind, additions, updates, advance settlements, and expense transfers must be completed by Friday, July 3, 2020.

IRS Requirements for Travel Claims

With the end of spring semester arriving, Business Services wants to remind all faculty and staff who may be incurring business expenses during the summer of the IRS requirements for the timely submission of employee expense reports. Several years ago the IRS clarified its requirements regarding the prompt reimbursement of employee business expenses.

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 to the employee. Consequently, federal, state, FICA and Medicare withholding taxes must be taken from the reimbursement and submitted to the IRS. The withholding taxes can add up to nearly 40% of your total reimbursement request.

In past years, Business Services has noticed some employees have incurred travel and business expenses during the summer and have waited to submit their employee expense report until the start of the next fall semester. In a number of instances, the requests for reimbursements were not submitted within 60 days. In adhering to the IRS rules, employees that continue this practice will find themselves being taxed on their reimbursement. Employees are advised to keep this in mind when traveling or incurring business expenses over the summer. It is always best to submit employee expense reports as soon as a business trip is completed. Additionally, if an employee does not plan to return to Mankato after their trip is completed, they should submit their expense reports in the mail so that they can show compliance with the 60-day submission requirement.

Those with questions regarding travel or business expense reimbursements may contact the university’s travel claims clerk, Tami Liebl (389-5006), or view the University travel site.

Diversity and Inclusion Student Leadership Awards

Diversity and Inclusion recently presented its annual student leadership awards.

  • Outstanding Student Employee Award: OASIS Office – Kameron Cook; Multicultural Center – Elijah Lewis; Gender and Sexuality Programs – Jenna Gonzalez; Accessibility Resources – Max McKenzie.
  • Student Leadership Awards: Accessibility Resources – Leah Hanson, Steve Ellis; African American Affairs – Michael Osei, Bola Ogunlana; American Indian Affairs – Drake Russell, Lyric Lopez-Kohler; Asian American Affairs – Chao Xiong, Jenna Vang; Guiding Pathways to Success (GPS) Program – Abdurrahman Guantai, Liya Yemiru; Latinx Affairs´╗┐ – Lizbeth Vazquez, Alexis Peralta; LGBT Center – Briana Spangler, Kirby Crow; Violence Awareness and Response Program – AnaRose Hart-Thomas, Melanie Ramsey; Women’s Center – Fatuma Abdulkadir, Amina Jemi.
  • Outstanding Graduate Student Award: Ashley Parent
  • Diversity Merit Award: Oscar Andrade Lara
  • Diversity Outreach Award: Marilyn Allen
  • Diversity Service Award: Noemi Duran
  • Diversity Ambassador Award: Melanie Yang
  • Excellence in Diversity Award: Cher Vang
  • Jessica Flatequal Rainbow Award: Michael Greene
  • Women of Action Award: Mich’le Rolan
  • Outstanding Recognized Student Organization Award: Minnesota State Mankato’s Owaci Okodakiciye (Powwow Committee) – Marilyn Allen, Clare Carroll
  • Student Diversity Champion Award: Ian Yang, Katie McQueen
  • Faculty/Staff Diversity Champion Award: Kari Much, William Broussard, Jameel Haque, Sherrise Truesdale-Moore, Matt Cecil
  • The Vice President’s Diversity Award: Anisa Omar

Student News

First-year student Kianna Fladland of St. Clair, Minnesota, was selected as the 2020 recipient of the Evelyn and James Tischer Honors Program Scholarship. The award is given to a student who demonstrates leadership traits, a drive to succeed and has faced adversity. The scholarship is awarded to one current first-year University student who is also a member of the Honors Program. The scholarship will provide funds for the student’s second, third and fourth years at Minnesota State University, Mankato, at a level of $8,000 per year. In addition, the student will receive $6,000 upon graduation, bringing the scholarship amount received to $30,000.

Brent Mitchell (MFA student & GTA in communication studies/speech & debate) was elected to serve on the national council of the National Forensic Association as their incoming graduate student representative.

Faculty/Staff News

Paul Force-Emery Mackie, professor of social work and director of the University’s Bachelor of Science in Social Work program, discussed implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on rural mental health in a National Press Foundation briefing on May 4. Audio, video and Mackie’s presentation are available here.

Jose Javier Lopez, professor in the Department of Geography, and Sherrise Truesdale-Moore, associate professor in the Department of Sociology, published the article “The Use of Spatial Statistics to Control Human and Sex Trafficking” in the International Journal of Social Science and Humanity, Volume 10 Number 2 (May 2020) pp 57-61.

Daniel Vorwerk, Stadium Heights hall director in the Department of Residential Life, authored an article published in the Spring 2020 edition of Perspectives, the UMR-ACUHO regional magazine for residential life professionals throughout the Upper Midwest. The article is based on his experience and lessons learned about communication while working with the deaf community in Jamaica. The article is located on page 26 of the Perspectives magazine located here.

Jodi Egeland, medical director in Student Health Services at Minnesota State Mankato, was one of four individuals throughout the state system designated as “outstanding service faculty members” on April 23 by the Minnesota State system Board of Trustees.

Six Minnesota State University, Mankato faculty members were recognized as “outstanding educators” April 23 by the Minnesota State system Board of Trustees. Those honored included Rajeev Bukralia (computer information science); Kyena Cornelius (special education); Melissa Krull (educational leadership); Megan Mahowald (speech, hearing & rehabilitation services); Robert Sleezer (integrated engineering); and Christophe Veltsos (computer information science).

Carolyn Nelson, the University’s director of scholarships, was selected as the 2020 recipient of the Dr. Ron Nickerson Award, recognizing exemplary contributions to the Honors Program. Nelson was nominated due to her long time membership on the Honors Council and support of the partnership between honors and the presidential scholars program.

Department News

RASP Spotlight: The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs has published its list of faculty and staff who made external funding submissions and received awards during the month of March 2020. More information is available on the RASP website.

The Career Development Center has added a “Career Resources During a Pandemic” page to its website.

The April 24, 2020 edition of the Community Engagement newsletter is now available. An email subscription sign-up link is available here.

Library Services announced that while the Memorial Library building may be closed, its online resources are open and available to anyone with a Minnesota State Mankato Star Id and password. Last year Mavericks downloaded over a million book chapters and journal articles at no charge to themselves. Those looking for assistance are invited to contact a specialist in the library. Library liaisons can help from identifying materials for use in classes to creating online tutorials and workshops to assist students navigating and using library resources effectively.

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) at Minnesota State University, Mankato announced the following about “Documented Consent and Qualtrics”: Those needing to obtain documented (signed consent forms) consent from folks at a distance, Qualtrics can be set up to obtain signatures on a consent form. See information in this “Qualtrics” link.

For the latest news on Maverick Athletics, visit


Charles Keal, an emeritus faculty member who taught computer science for 11 years, died April 15. An obituary is available here.

Sheila Herke, an emerita employee who worked for 16 years as the credentials/recruiting coordinator in the Career Development Center, died April 26. An obituary is available here.

Online TODAY Magazine

Visit the online TODAY magazine at for alumni news 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 to 95,000 alumni and friends.

TODAY welcomes story ideas supporting this mission. Contact Joe Tougas at 507-389-1369 or to share ideas.


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, May 20. The deadline for that newsletter will be the previous Friday (May 15).

You should also submit your event to the University’s official Campus Events Calendar by sending an email to Shirley Piepho at