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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.


June 17, 2020 Campus Newsletter

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Honors Beacon: ‘Making Our Mark on History’


(Graphic above reproduced with permission of the Honors Beacon.)

Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Honors Program recently published the 17th edition of the its newsletter, the [PDF] Honors Beacon (6 MiB). The theme of the Spring 2020 issue is “Making Our Mark on History.”

According to students Jonathan Fjeld and Emily Schiltz, the publication’s editor-in-chief and co-editor, respectively, the theme of the spring issue was chosen to reflect the “historic nature of our world right now. For many of us, the coronavirus pandemic has led to the most trying times of our lives, and we wanted to share stories of the way our students are living their lives at this time, in order for this to serve as an enriching part of how we share our history.”

Fjeld and Schiltz wrote in an email to readers that this edition of the [PDF] Honors Beacon (6 MiB) features a variety of student reflections, including a student whose study abroad experience in Spain was cut short due to the pandemic, the Honors Program’s graduate assistant reflecting on cultural differences he’s experienced traveling back and forth between the U.S. and his home country of Nigeria, and one of the program’s learning community coordinators reflecting on her learning community’s “Making A Difference” project that they did last fall.

The current edition of the [PDF] Honors Beacon (6 MiB) also includes submissions from graduating seniors and more. The publication is supported by Honors Program Director Leah White and Assistant Director Ginny Walters.

Maverick Return to Learn

Minnesota State Mankato is preparing for the fall 2020 semester through a planning initiative called “Maverick Return to Learn.”

The initiative provides a planning framework for three scenarios and multi-phase planning timelines based on information received on system advisory dates of July 1 and July 31. Fall semester is scheduled to begin Aug. 24.

“Maverick Return to Learn” values include:

  • Keep our students, faculty, and staff healthy and safe
  • Assure students can maintain progress toward educational goals
  • Maintain the financial sustainability of the university
  • Pursue the strategic directions and priorities of the university
  • Advance toward achieving Equity 2030 goals

Committees and teams that will be formed as part of the planning structure include the Return to Learn Decision Committee (RLDC), the Return to Learn Advisory Committee (RLAC), Return to Learn Action Teams (RLATs) and the Pandemic Operations and Tactics Team. A PDF of a “Maverick Return to Learn” power point presentation is [PDF] available here (37 MiB).

Family Orientation Podcast: A new podcast has been created for parents and families of all new incoming students. The podcast was created as an opportunity for parents and families of new students to learn more about University services and planning amidst a pandemic.  

Each episode delves into a university office and talks about the services they provide, especially in light of COVID-19 and how parents can best advise their student in making preparations for this fall. Topics include financial aid, student health resources, how the University is planning on providing classes this fall and more.

The podcast is available on iTunes and Spotify More episodes will be provided throughout the summer with updates on Return to Learn plans.

COVID-19 Information

Minnesota State Mankato launched a Web page on March 3 that is 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.

Upcoming Virtual Campus Town Halls

In an effort to maintain communication across campus and discuss topics of interest, a series of virtual campus town hall meetings have been held via Zoom since mid-May.

Additional meetings will be held in July. These meetings are intended to provide opportunities for key campus constituent groups to ask questions of University President Richard Davenport and other cabinet members.

The format of these sessions includes comments from pre-selected administrators, followed by a question-and-answer segment. Questions may be submitted up to 24 hours in advance of each event to or during the meetings.

The next faculty and staff meeting is scheduled for:

  • Wednesday, July 15, 12 - 1 p.m. (Register here for July 15. Webinar ID: 967-0751-8790)

Separate virtual town hall meetings are scheduled in July for the University’s undergraduate students and graduate students.

Community History Project

In an effort to document the COVID-19 pandemic, the University Archives has created the “COVID-19 Community History Project @ Minnesota State University, Mankato.”

In collaboration with campus and community partners, the University Archives will collect, preserve and provide access to experiences of individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These personal experiences can be in the form of self-documentation (such as journals, diaries, reflective essays, creative works, scrapbooks, etc.), through the submission of “Your COVID-19 Story” through the University Archives project site and/or oral history interviews.

University Archives is striving to document the stories, feelings and experiences felt by students, employees, alumni and the community during this time and is actively seekinig  participation from University employees. Those interested in sharing their personal experiences related to the COVID-19 pandemic and learning more are encouraged to visit the project site.

Employees who would like to be interviewed by a Minnesota State University, Mankato student, please submit their names via an online form.

Those looking for other ways to participate may send an email to

The University Archives and Southern Minnesota Historical Center contains records from the creation of the Mankato Normal School in 1868 to the present and the surrounding twelve county region.

The University Archives is the official repository of the records of Minnesota State University, Mankato. The Southern Minnesota Historical Center documents the history of individuals, organizations and businesses from South Central Minnesota.

IT Solutions Updates

IT Solutions announced that multi-factor authentication for Office 365 is now available.

Multi-factor authentication is a tool that enhances security on Microsoft Office 365 accounts, making it harder for cybercriminals to access confidential data.

It adds an extra layer of protection on accounts by requiring users to sign in using more than one verification method.

Learn more and enroll.

Student News

Mansoor Ahmad, a student photographer for the Reporter campus newspaper, recently won a number of awards in the annual Visual MN photography contest (previously the Minnesota News Photography Association). Ahmad’s awards included:

  • News photo: First, third place
  • Feature photo: Third place
  • Sports photo: First, third place
  • Photo story: Third place
  • College Photographer of the Year: Third place

Ahmad’s photos are pictured here. The contest was judged by Liz Flores of the Star Tribune and Joe Ahlquist of the Rochester Post Bulletin.

Junior student Lauren Borell, from Rochester, Minnesota, was named the latest recipient of a $9,750 Dr. Donald and Marjorie Meredith Nursing Scholarship for 2020-2021 at Minnesota State Mankato. Borell will receive $3,250 each semester for the last three semesters of the program, allowing her to participate in the School of Nursing and Student Nurses Association in addition to serving on the College of Allied Health and Nursing Advisory Board.

Faculty/Staff News

David Sharlin, an associate professor and biology MS program coordinator in the Department of Biological Sciences, recently participated in a virtual career symposium hosted May 8 by the Office of Intramural Training and Education (OITE) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The symposium was streamed live and open to the public. Sharlin’s session, “Faculty Careers: An Introduction to Academia,” had over 1,800 live participants. OITE’s goal is to provide postdocs and graduate students across the country with access to valuable career information and top-notch professionals in the field.

Gregory T. Wilkins, associate director of the Centennial Student Union & Student Activities, was one of 30 Minnesota artists selected to submit a design for the summer run of Hennepin Theatre Trust’s “Art Connects Us” billboard initiative. His art concept will be showcased on electronic billboards across the Twin Cities. KEYC TV published a news story about Wilkins' design.

Department News

The Center for African American Affairs organized a June 4 webinar titled “The Effects of Police Brutality and Racism on Black Students and Professionals in Education.” Minnesota State Mankato panelists participating in the 90-minute webinar were Henry Morris, vice president of diversity and inclusion, Kenneth Reid, director of African American and multicultural affairs and Jeffrey Brown, assistant professor in the School Psychology Doctoral Program. Three other leaders in K-12 and higher education also participated. Highlights from the webinar were compiled and posted to YouTube by Lenny Koupal, communications coordinator for the Centennial  Student Union. For more information, contact Koupal at

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) Board of Commissioners acted at its May 5-8 meetings to grant accreditation to the baccalaureate degree program in nursing, the master's degree program in nursing, and the post-graduate APRN certificate program at Minnesota State University, Mankato for 10 years, extending to June 30, 2030. The accreditation action is effective as of Oct. 2, 2019, which is the first day of the program’s recent CCNE on-site evaluation.

The Health Commons at Pond, the school-based clinic in Bloomington that is run by the University's nurse practitioner faculty and staffed by University students, has earned a 2020 Silver Rating from the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics Quality Standards Program. Information on the NAFC’s Quality Standards program can be found on the following site: Standards

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

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 recently published some information and tips.


Howard Prouse, an emeritus faculty member who taught mathematics at the University until 1993, died May 24. An obituary is available here.

William Montag, who taught business and accounting at the Mankato State Teachers College, died May 26. An obituary is available here.

Eric Bartleson, who served as an assistant professor in the Education Leadership department for three years, died June 8. An obituary is available here.

Burdette Wheaton, an emeritus faculty member who served as a professor of mathematics and statistics within the College of Science, Engineering, and Technology for 32 years, died May 31. An obituary is available here.

William “Bill” Norton, a general maintenance worker at the University until retiring in 1998, died June 9. 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, July 15. The deadline for that newsletter will be the previous Friday (July 10).

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