Year in review at CSB and SJU

Bookmark and Share

December 22, 2016

Compiled by Mike Killeen

You can't spell news without the letters n-e-w. It turns out there were plenty of new things when looking back at some of the top stories at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University in 2016.

You want new? We've got new. Richard Ice was named the new provost at CSB and SJU. A new facility opened for nursing students at CSB and SJU. A new conference to talk about the liberal arts was held at CSB and SJU.

New athletic and recreational facilities have either opened (SJU) or are under construction (CSB). And, a new solar farm is ready to come online at SJU.  

Listed first are highlights for both institutions, followed by two separate lists for CSB and SJU. All items are in chronological order.

CSB and SJU Year-End Highlights

Jan. 11 - A new semester brought the opening of the new nursing facility at CSB and SJU. Located on the fourth floor of the Main Building at CSB, the area was originally designed long before sweeping changes came to the medical field, in terms of both pedagogy and technology. "This renovation finally allows us to create a simulated learning space that is up-to-date," explained Carie Braun, professor of nursing. The $2.5 million renovation is known as the Schoenecker Nursing Education Center, in recognition of the generous lead gift from Guy and Barbara Schoenecker.

Richard IceMarch 7 - Richard Ice was named provost at CSB and SJU. Ice, who served as interim provost when Rita Knuesel retired as provost June 30, 2015, was one of four candidates interviewed during a national search to replace Knuesel, who had served as chief academic officer at CSB/SJU since 2007. Ice has been a member of the faculty at CSB and SJU since 1989, serving as a professor in the communication department. He was academic dean from 2011-14, and vice provost in 2014-15.

April 29 -
Four seniors and three recent graduates of CSB and SJU received grants from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, sponsored by the Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. All seven received Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) awards. In the last three years, 20 students or graduates from CSB and SJU have earned Fulbright ETA awards. SJU senior Paul Park and CSB senior Melissa Vang received ETA awards to Thailand, and CSB senior Mai Tong Yang received an ETA award to South Korea. CSB senior Diana Elhard received an ETA award to Turkey (because of political unrest in Turkey, Elhard could not take part in her award). CSB graduates Gretchen Hughes and Jillian Andresen, and SJU graduate Robin Swingley received ETA awards to Taiwan, Malaysia and Germany, respectively. The ETAs improve international students' English abilities and knowledge of the U.S., while enhancing their own language skills and knowledge of the host country. ETAs may also pursue individual study/research plans in addition to their teaching responsibilities.

Money MagazineJuly 11 - SJU (ranked No. 25) and CSB (No. 47) are both ranked in the top 50 in the third annual Money Magazine's "Best Colleges for Your Money." SJU and CSB were the highest ranked schools in Minnesota. Money Magazine also assembled several additional lists that highlighted the two schools. SJU was ranked No. 3 and CSB No. 11 among the 50 best Liberal Arts Colleges in the nation; SJU was ranked No. 8 and CSB ranked No. 21 among the 50 Most Affordable Colleges in the nation; and SJU was ranked No. 43 among the 50 Best Private Colleges for Merit Aid in the nation.

July 11-13 - CSB and SJU opened their campuses to a national audience of faculty, senior college administrators, trustees and policymakers for a conference to discuss the challenges, issues and opportunities facing liberal arts colleges. The conference's theme was "Liberal Arts Illuminated: Pathways, Possibilities, Partnerships," and was hosted by Presidents Mary Dana Hinton of CSB and Michael Hemesath of SJU. Approximately 200 people attended the conference, which facilitated new pathways of opportunity, new partnerships and new opportunities to lead. The conference included a series of plenary speakers, panel discussions and breakout sessions.

Study AbroadNov. 14 - CSB and SJU were ranked among the top baccalaureate schools nationally for the total number of students who studied abroad according to Open Doors 2016, the annual report on international education published by the Institute of International Education (IIE). CSB and SJU were ranked No. 3 and tied with Calvin College of Grand Rapids, Michigan, among baccalaureate schools with a total of 524 students who studied abroad during the 2014-15 school year, the most recent data measured by the IIE. CSB and SJU have been ranked among the top six schools nationally in this category for the past 12 years. CSB and SJU are ranked No. 5 among baccalaureate schools with 307 students who studied abroad in mid-length study abroad programs during 2014-15.

Nov. 16 - Both CSB and SJU raced past their goals on "Give CSB Day" and "Give SJU Day." The money raised will fund scholarships for current students. CSB raised a total of $422,136.39 which includes matching grant money. A total of 1,078 donors contributed, with the average gift $173. "This was our largest giving day goal to date, and in true Bennie spirit our community rose to the challenge," said Maggie Weber Utsch '00, director of annual giving at CSB. SJU raised a record total of $436,348, which includes matching grant money. A total of 1,268 donors contributed, with the average gift $270. It was the most donors SJU has had in a single day. "Even after the match was fulfilled, we saw donors wanting to be part of a fun, engaging day that involves a whole community," said Raj Chaphalkar '08, director of annual giving at SJU.  

CSB Year-End Highlights

Feb. 25 - For the second year in a row, CSB was among the top bachelor's institutions for producing the most Fulbright Student Grantees for 2014-15, according to the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. CSB was ranked 34th among bachelor's institutions for having the most Fulbright grantees with four English Teaching Assistant (ETA) awards. Jenna Maus (Malaysia) and Erin Speltz (Bulgaria) were 2015 graduates of CSB. Victoria Adofoli (Malaysia) and Stella Fredrickson (Greece) both earned their undergraduate degrees in December 2014 from CSB.

Corie BarryJune 14 - Corie Barry, a 1997 graduate of CSB, was named chief financial officer (CFO) at Best Buy Company. She assumed her new post after working with the company in various financial roles since 1999. AS CFO, she oversees audits and closing the books among other duties, and replaced Sharon McCollam, who retired from the post. When Barry came to CSB in the fall of 1993, she wanted to be a chemical engineering major and complete the Honors program. However, she changed majors and graduated with degrees in accounting and business administration. Barry spent two years as a public accountant at Deloitte and Touche, one of the "Big Four" accounting firms, before joining Best Buy.

Mary and Jim FreyAug. 11 - Jim Frey and Mary White Frey of Edina, Minnesota, committed a $1.5 million gift to CSB aimed at creating scholarships for CSB students from under-represented communities. Mary White Frey is a 1980 graduate of CSB and her husband, Jim, is a 1978 graduate of SJU. "It is our privilege to have the opportunity to establish the Mary White Frey '80 and Jim Frey '78 First Generation Scholars Fund," said Mary White Frey. "Our goal is that the scholarship funds will help to ensure the education Saint Ben's provides is accessible to all young women regardless of their financial capacity or academic family history. We also want to challenge others to participate in the fund." 

Sarah McLarnanAug. 17 - Sarah McLarnan, a senior environmental studies and biology major from Victoria, Minnesota, conducted research over the summer after she was awarded a Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) Undergraduate Fellowship with a grant of $50,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The agency awarded 35 new fellowships this year, and included an internship at an EPA facility during the summer following their junior year. As part of the fellowship, McLarnan looked into the Clean Water Act, specifically researching the bacteria contamination of Plum Creek in southern Stearns County, which has been deemed "impaired" by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Nov. 11 - Construction began on the College Avenue Athletic Fields at CSB. The completed complex will include two soccer/lacrosse fields, two softball fields, three intramural/multi-use fields, an athletic center featuring dedicated locker rooms and a training room, restrooms and concessions for spectators and fixed spectator seating on the varsity softball and soccer fields. The new athletic fields will be located between Centennial Commons and Renner House.





SJU Year-End Highlights

April 6 - SJU students James, Nick, Chris and Joe Pathoulas won a gold medal for providing a possible answer to the question, "What is the cause of sporadic fallopian tube epithelium transformation to ovarian cancer?" in the Innovative Minds Partnering to Advance Curative Therapies (IMPACT) undergraduate program at Mayo Clinic. By winning the gold medal for their research, they each won $1,000. In addition, they each accepted an opportunity to conduct summer research related to their innovative hypothesis at Mayo's downtown campus in Rochester, Minnesota.

Sammy SchmitzApril 8 - Sammy Schmitz '03 shot a second-round 75 and tied for 79th with a two-day total of 156 at the 80th Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. The top 50 players advanced to play the final two rounds. Only 34 of the 89 golfers, including Schmitz, improved their scores from round one to round two. A four-time All-American and a four-time All-MIAC honoree for SJU, Schmitz earned a spot at the Masters thanks to his win at the U.S. Mid-Amateur Oct. 8, 2015.

May 28, Dec. 14 - Two SJU student-athletes reached the pinnacle of their respective sports. In May, junior Ryan Bugler won the NCAA Division III national championship in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. It marked the fifth time a Johnnie has won an individual national title in the outdoor meet. Then, in December, senior linebacker Carter Hanson won the 2016 Gagliardi Award as the most outstanding football player in NCAA Division III this fall. Given annually since 1993 and sponsored by Jostens and the J-Club of Saint John's, the Gagliardi Trophy recognizes excellence in athletics, academics and community service. The award is named after John Gagliardi, SJU's legendary Hall of Fame football coach.

Gagliardi Field DedicationNov. 5 - The dedication ceremony for Gagliardi Field was held. Gagliardi Field is located at the site of the old football practice field - a place where John Gagliardi spent much of his coaching career. The multi-purpose athletic facility, which features an artificial turf field and seasonal dome, will serve as a football practice field as well as an athletic field for other varsity, club, intramural and recreational sports, such as baseball, soccer, lacrosse, rugby and ultimate Frisbee. It will also feature an indoor golf learning center that was named for SJU Hall of Fame golf coach Bob Alpers '82.

Solar FieldDec. 9 - A new and improved photovoltaic solar field which went on-line Jan. 4 (2017) at Saint John's Abbey and University, will convert solar radiation into electrical energy. The new solar field will provide just over 13 percent of Saint John's annual electrical needs. The new solar field is located on the northwest side of campus on Abbey-owned land. It covers 23 acres, and is almost six times bigger than the initial two solar farms (a combined four acres), which opened in 2009 and 2014, respectively, and are adjacent to the new field. The three fields combined will provide almost 19 percent of Saint John's annual electric power needs. In the summer months, when there are fewer people on campus and electrical usage goes down, it will provide just over 88 percent of peak electrical needs.