MSU SP Logos

In This Issue




Colleen Landkamer

Christopher Frederick


Larry Anderson
Blake Freese
Jim Wendorff

In Our Next Issue...



Interviews with:

Dan Dorman
Brad Finstad


"Connecting knowledge
and the real world."


OERG - a strong partner

Sachua & Students at AFOSI
MSU Alumnus, Dr. Major David Englert, Joshua Wittrock, Mahlia Matsch,
Ashley Johnson, Jessica Gertz, Jeremy Jones, and Dan Sachau
at the Air Force Office of Special Investigations

What is your relationship with Strategic Partnerships?
The faculty in the Industrial/Organizational Psychology Master's Program formed the Organizational Effectiveness Research Group a couple of years ago. The OERG helps businesses select employees as well as measure and improve employee performance. In addition, we help train leaders and improve group process. We also design and implement employee opinion surveys. So, industrial psychologists work with normal, healthy people and we work to improve productivity and job satisfaction.

A couple of years ago, Bob Hoffman came on board at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Within just a few weeks, we met with Bob and he asked, "Hey, how can we help you?" This is fairly rare in a university setting, where somebody comes and says, "Let me work for you. Let me find you some opportunities." Once I gave him an overview of the work that the OERG does, Bob wasted no time—he was on it like that [finger snap]! Within just a matter of days, Bob had me talking to the folks at the Free Press, the City of Lake Crystal, and SAGE Electrochromics. We started projects with all these groups. For instance, at SAGE we are analyzing the corporate culture, and developing a new employee selection program.

In what ways do you work with clients?
One of our biggest clients is the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations, at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, DC. The OSI is like the FBI of the Air Force. They investigate internal crime, cyber-crime, and espionage. The OSI asked us to help them identify the causes of employee turnover. Turnover, especially of highly trained employees, is very expensive. This study led to five others and we are now investigating topics as varied as work-life balance, stress, employee engagement, and job satisfaction.

One of the unusual aspects of the OERG is that we contract for a fee, but our faculty don't take pay out of the project revenue fee. Instead, we use the money to support the I/O Psychology program. For instance, we have an international program and we organize a short-term study abroad program every other year—this year we're going to Ecuador and Galapagos. In addition, we send students to conferences and we help them with research expenses. We are also able to pay for our own office equipment. Consequently, we don't have to fight with the rest of the Psychology department over limited funds.

How do you see the impact of Strategic Partnerships on the economy?
Well, I think there is unlimited potential. Frankly, I would like to see the University put more money into the Strategic Partnerships Division. It's an investment with a payoff. There are plenty of opportunities, and I'd like to see other faculty members get involved. I suspect that many faculty would like to work with public and private organizations but they are not quite sure how to get started, or they don't know how to deal with the bureaucracy on campus. These have been stumbling blocks for many years. The good news is that Bob is finding opportunities for faculty. In addition, he is working with folks like Rosemary Kinne in the Budget office, Kristel Lynch in the Grants office, and Patricia Anderson in the Business office. This is a great group of folks and they are streamlining the Minnesota State University, Mankato grants and contract processes.

Again, I think there is unlimited possibility for collaboration between the University and external organizations. These collaborations are a win-win, and I know that's a business cliché these days, but that really is the case.

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Offering a wide range of professional, human resources, and management consulting services related to employee selection, training, and employee development for private and public organizations.

Sage - a partner with a window into the future

"When you go into our lunchroom at 12:00, you will see scientists, engineers, accountants, and factory workers, all sitting together. And sure, they're talking about the Twins or what people are doing this weekend, but they're also talking about our products and how to improve them." explains Chuck Hayes, company Vice President at SAGE Electrochromics and self-described 'Executive Utility Infielder'. "I'm on point for many areas of the company. I wear many hats."

Minnesota State University, Mankato students have evaluated the corporate culture at SAGE, comparing the understanding of the company from the viewpoint of executives and Process Technicians against the "ideal" corporate culture they would like to see. The goal of universal respect is exemplified even as one finds the same ceramic tile floor, electric hand dryers, lighting, mirrors, and so forth in the factory restrooms as the executive ones. There are no second-class citizens here.

SAGE creates windows used in corporate settings that, through lithium technology, resolve the love-hate relationship we have with the sun. We love to have a connection to the outdoors and sunlight, but we hate the glare and heat it produces in buildings. A demonstration of this shows that, within about five minutes, the thin film SageGlass® coatings between dual panes of glass tint the window to a very comfortable 97% reduction of visible light and 92% reduction of solar heat, while still allowing enough light through for viewing.

This effect is evident in their corporate headquarters. As one approaches the building from the outside, it's a basic, inexpensive, steel, Butler-style building: rectangular, simple, unremarkable. Step inside, and there is a connection to natural light in every room one enters. A tour of the facility reveals that even the factory area has done away with dark, gray, poorly lit workspace, and instead, utilizes skylights and windows for natural lighting.

"Office buildings consume 42% of all sources of energy used in the United States," Hayes states, "according to research by Lawrence Berkeley National Labs." SAGE's glass products have the ability to reduce the energy consumption by up to 40%—an amount significant enough to have an impact not only nationally, but globally.

Minnesota State University, Mankato students have also completed internships at SAGE and gone on to be hired full-time. Hayes explains that the company has no time to "make work" for an intern, and very little time to supervise. What this means is that all the work done by interns is crucial to the business, and a great deal of autonomy is afforded those who work there, combined with high expectations.

Large-scale expansion is in the works at SAGE, as this 20-year-old company is setting its sights on going beyond corporate window products, into home construction, and eventually, even transportation. And through Strategic Partnerships, Minnesota State University, Mankato looks to be right by their side.

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Sage Logo

Founded in 1989

High-Performance, energy-saving electrochromic technology for buildings


Congratulations to Colleen Landkamer, Advisory Team Member, on her recent appointment as State Director of USDA Rural Development!

Congratulations to Christopher Frederick, Advisory Team Member, on his appointment to the Minnesota State College & Universities Board of Trustees!

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Larry Anderson Photo
Larry Anderson
Advisory Team Member
Associate Vice President of Rural Finance
AgStar Financial Services, ACA

What do you see as your role within Strategic Partnerships?
I guess partially as a connector, because I think all of us who are out in this rural area, who have affection for Minnesota State University, Mankato, like many of us do, like to get other people involved, because once they understand what's going on—they get excited as well. So that's our job, to be a connector and an ambassador. But it goes both ways—we need to connect communities with the University and we need to connect the University with the communities. I think that's probably our role at this point.

How do you see these partnerships having an impact on the economy or on budgets?
Here at AgStar, we've been the primary funding source for a project called the Southern Minnesota Regional Competitiveness Project, which is involving a 38-county region, working to try to make this area globally competitive. We can't be globally competitive as individual communities because we don't have the critical mass. But, as a group of counties, communities, and leaders, we do have that potential. It's probably one of the most powerful rural regions in all of the United States when you look at the assets: from the University, to the medical/health care facilities, to the research facilities—the Hormel Institute in Austin, to the animal health research being done in Worthington, and to poultry research being done in Willmar. You put all these things together with all the other assets that the region has and it's a powerful, powerful group. Part of our problem is that we've got a lot of great assets 20 or 30 miles away that we don't know about. We're isolated more than we should be.

What do you see as the importance of Strategic Partnerships—to the University and to Southern Minnesota?
I think every community in southern Minnesota, when they're doing their inventory of community assets, should consider Minnesota State University, Mankato as one of them—because it is and it should be. Likewise, Minnesota State University, Mankato has the responsibility to make sure that they are an asset to every community within that service organization. I think they have a lot more to offer than people generally tend to realize. They're under the radar in a lot of communities, and hopefully, that's something our committee can help alleviate. When people understand what Minnesota State University, Mankato can do for a community—to be located 45 minutes or an hour from a major University center is a wonderful community asset. They bring a lot of things to the community that just would not exist without them being there.

I live in Frost, Minnesota, a town of 250 people, and if we're going to try to figure out how to connect with the University, it's not easy. Where do you go? Where do you stop? Where do you park? How do you get there? Who do you talk to? What door do you knock on? I think this organization is going to present a good front door for the University. It has to be a two-way street—we need to support them and they need to support us. Hopefully this is the beginning of something.

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Agstar Logo

A client-owned co-op with over 90 years of financial leadership and industry expertise in Minnesota and Wisconsin

A Farm Credit Association serving over 23,000 clients and almost $8 billion in loan and lease assets

Blake Freese Photo
Blake Freese
Student Intern
Major: Sports Management

What has been your involvement with Strategic Partnerships?
I started last summer with the Timberwolves' fall camp, having it here—making the camp work, using Bresnan Arena for the week, and then having what was last year the intra-squad scrimmage, and now this year will be the exhibition game, so it's a little bit bigger deal this year. My involvement with the camp is coordinating everything they want to do to what we can do down here: ticketing for the game, promotions for that week, court times, seating—pretty much anything they would have for a regular game.

This is an internship for me—I did half of it last year, and I'm a Sports Management major, Marketing minor, so it fits in perfect for what I'm trying to do. Meeting with the president and their assistant general managers is exactly where I want to put my foot in the door. So, it's an excellent opportunity for me. I have three credits left on my internship and that's it. If it can lead into a job with the Timberwolves, that'll be nice!

I work from down here, but I'll make trips up there and they make trips down here to go over the facilities to see what can work and what can't work. The camp will be the first week of October. It's pretty much constant right up to that week. It's pretty consistent—probably 20-25 hours a week. I'll get my hours in!

What have been the best experiences you have had working with this program?
Seeing how a real organization like the Timberwolves works. When we go up to meet with them, there's an agenda laying out right in front of us, they just go right down the line and their ideas pop, pop, pop! There's no messing around—you get in and out. They go through everything they need to do and their agenda is just kind of a checklist, and it's really professional. It's the same with Bob when I come back to meet with him. He's just on the ball with everything. Chris Wright, their President, is one of the most intriguing guys up there, because he's two steps ahead of everybody when we go to meet. I'm sitting there watching him work, and it's pretty amazing, because I'm like, "How does he do it?" It's fun to learn and see how everything works, and that's the experience you don't get from the classroom.

What do you see is the future of this, from a student's perspective?
I hope it can keep growing because it's an awesome experience. Every company needs something in a different department, whether it would be engineering or marketing or sales. That's what the students can bring to that company and the company needs them. Each side needs each other, so why not do it? It just makes sense.

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Minnesota State University, Mankato Flame Logo

Minnesota State University, Mankato

Student Internships

Sports Management Program

Jim Wendorff Photo
Jim Wendorff
Advisory Team Member
Vice President of Human Resources
Viracon, Inc.

How do you view your role with Strategic Partnerships?
I've been pretty vocal and critical, quite frankly, of Minnesota State University, Mankato. I've met with a variety of people that have been in Owatonna representing the University, and my message to them is, "Hey, Owatonna needs you." I just felt Mankato wasn't doing enough to help with economic prosperity or intellectual prosperity. I'm very passionate about this part of the state, this part of the country.

I see my role as one to hopefully prompt new thinking. I try to, at times, make the University uncomfortable and challenge some of their thinking and status quo. As we move into a new century, some of the thinking that we've had 50 years ago that made our universities great is just outdated. It's not going to serve us well. The backbone to southern Minnesota is a lot of small companies. I just see that Minnesota State University, Mankato has some assets and resources, both in their instructors as well as their students, that could help bring prosperity to a lot of parts of southern Minnesota.

I asked if the University still offers German and French, [then] I asked, "Why? You should be offering Mandarin Chinese, you should take a look at Japanese, maybe Portuguese, with the emergence of Brazil. I just spent two weeks in Asia, I'm going to spend a week in South America, and I can tell you that if we don't change things, we're going to get our heads bashed in economically. And I don't want to see that happen for my kids or grandkids."

How do you see this division's impact on budgets and economies?
You've got the big campus in Mankato, and they're really focused on some Twin Cities activity. I hope the feedback helps them just kind of turn around and say, "What about southern Minnesota—the marketplace?" I told them, "You should absolutely own all the way to Rochester...from the Iowa border up to the Twin Cities, southern Metro—that should just be 'MSU Country'." You either win in the economy with quick minds or cheap hands, quite frankly, and I don't want to turn this into 'we have cheap hands.' I think you've got to win with quick minds, and I think Minnesota State University, Mankato can help polish that.

How do you see the future of Strategic Partnerships?
I think our economy is really a three-legged stool: on the first leg, you have agriculture, the second leg would be health care with Mayo being the anchor, and the third leg would be manufacturing. I think the University has an opportunity to help promote and drive some of that prosperity. And the more prosperous this region is, the more prosperous Minnesota State University, Mankato is going to be. I really think it's a win-win.

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Viracon Logo

Founded in 1970 in Owatonna, MN

A subsidiary of Apogee Enterprises, Inc.

500 Billion sq. ft. of glazing installed in 100,000 buildings, including some of the most remarkable buildings in the world

Strategic Business, Education and Regional Partnerships
329 Wigley Administration Center
Mankato, MN 56001