The College of St. Catherine became St. Catherine University on June 1, 2009.

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February 2009
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From the Heart of the Campus


Katies' environmental initiatives take root and grow.

WANT PROOF that the Green Revolution has taken root at St. Kate's? Next time you're on campus, take a stroll past Fontbonne Hall and look up.

If the top of Fontbonne's solarium looks a little shaggy, that's the whole point. Last summer, a crew transformed it into an ecologically sustainable green roof, installing a special waterproof layer, then adding soil and native plants. Look for the roof, which thrived all summer and fall, to be alive and growing again come spring.

The roof of Fontbonne Hall was in bloom last fall as part of a green roof initiative promoted by the St. Kate's Senate Environmental Issues Task Force. Pictured on the roof are (standing, from left) Rachel Toenjes, Lauren Brinn, Caitlin Gray and Anika Bratt; and (kneeling, from left) Claire Hafdahl, Kathleen Arnold and Abigail Bollman.
Besides the fact that it makes for good conversation fodder, why would anyone want to root and maintain plants on top of a perfectly good building? Michalea Swanson '07, former chair of the Student Senate's Environmental Issues Task Force, explains that live plants convert the sun's rays to oxygen rather than heating up the atmosphere.

"Green roofs also reduce urban runoff," adds Swanson, now a graduate student in ecology at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. "With a traditional roof, after a heavy rain, the runoff runs over the asphalt shingles, down the gutters, across fertilized lawns and eventually into lakes and rivers." But plants on the roof collect most of the water, so any excess drains slowly.

The task force spearheaded the green roof project. The Student Senate allocated $15,000 for roofing membranes, planting materials, consulting and engineering fees, and various other costs. The task force also made funding requests to the Weekend College and Graduate Student boards which signed on with an additional $4,000 and $8,000, respectively.

Swanson and others who worked on the project are hopeful that once people understand the benefits, more campus buildings could sprout leafy green tops. "We hope this could be the start of something bigger," she says.

MLIS poised for accreditation

The Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program is up for initial accreditation by the American Library Association (ALA), a status that, if granted as expected this winter, would make St. Kate's the only college in Minnesota offering the MLIS on its campus.

St. Kate's has offered its program in collaboration with ALA-accredited Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois, since 1992. Other programs in the state are not ALA accredited and primarily are focused on meeting the Minnesota Department of Education school media specialist licensure, according to Mary M. Wagner, Ph.D., professor and MLIS program director, who adds that online programs are available nationwide. There are currently 240 to 250 students in St. Kate's program.

The proposed initial accreditation marks the culmination of five years of pre-candidacy and candidacy, during which the ALA put the program through rigorous review. "We've shaped and revised and created what we think needs to happen in the program to meet the standards," says Wagner. "It all culminated in October when we produced the program presentation: what we are, what we do and how all that meets the standards."

Once initial accreditation is achieved, says Wagner, the faculty will turn its attention to re-envisioning the curriculum. "Then we are free to create the kind of curriculum that our faculty here think is needed to put into practice."

For example, Dominican students currently have four courses required for the degree and eight electives. Wagner's team is looking at five, potentially six required courses and six electives.

"We're assessing position descriptions and we're beginning to see that what is currently covered in electives is now being asked of everybody," she says. "At the same time we have to look at what we can drop."


Worldly women are studying abroad

This year, Katies are really out there — as in out in the world studying, learning about other cultures and generally expanding their horizons. Catherine Spaeth, the College's director of global studies, reports that in the winter semester of '09, 35 St. Kate's students will be studying abroad (four for the entire academic year); and 77 scholars left the United States during January term.

The school is now affiliated with more than 150 study programs in other countries. Spaeth, whose office helps negotiate and maintain those affiliations, says the number of Katies who choose to spend part of their college years abroad has doubled in the last decade. Now, 21 percent of students spend some time during their academic career studying in another country.

"Our College has a long history of making meaningful connections to the rest of the world," Spaeth says, "but interest in international study has grown significantly in recent years. Among our students today, there's a real awareness of internationalism, an acceptance of the importance of understanding other cultures."

This year the College is well represented around the globe, with students on most continents. For example:

Teaching Teachers

Bringing Engineering into the Elementary Classroom

With the State of Minnesota currently looking at standards for incorporating engineering into the elementary school curriculum, teachers already are concerned about how these standards are going to take shape. "There's a lot of fear and worry about this," says Rebecca Schatz, president and founder of The Works, a hands-on museum of engineering for children in Edina, Minnesota. "Suddenly all grade school teachers are going to have to do it."

So Schatz hooked up with the College of St. Catherine last fall to launch the state's first conference on integrating engineering in the elementary classroom. Scheduled for February 6 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., the conference is called "E4," or "Excellence in Elementary Engineering Education." More than 200 teachers, administrators, engineering professionals and civic leaders from all over the state are expected to attend. St. Kate's was a logical place to launch what Schatz hopes is an annual event. The College is a leading advocate of so-called "STEM" education — science, technology, engineering and math; it requires three STEM courses for education majors and offers a STEM minor.

To develop the conference program Schatz partnered with Yvonne Ng, director of the College's Center for Women, Science and Technology and an assistant professor of computer science. "We were looking for anyone doing anything good with elementary engineering in the state, and that process uncovered Yvonne," Schatz says. "I was so impressed with her and with the program at St. Kate's."

The conference promises that attendees will leave with information on new elementary engineering standards, knowledge of engineering and why it's important, activities for the classroom and ideas to integrate engineering into other subjects.


pop•u•lar/ pap-ye-ler/adj[L popularis]
4: commonly liked or approved

Latin Enjoys an Unexpected Surge

Some people say Latin is dead, but if you take a look around at St. Kate's, you'll see that study of the language is alive and kicking.

Part of the popularity of Latin at the College has to do with Emily Blanchard West, assistant professor of Classics/History and a veritable cheerleader for the language. She argues that the study of Latin may be particularly relevant in troubled times.

"When the economy plummets, people start to realize that there aren't quick answers," West says. "They learn that they can't just go to college and do the thing that's going to get them a job. Latin is a deep investment that a thoughtful person makes. Nothing gets you a job better than being a well-rounded, intelligent person, and studying Latin can get you there."

Indeed, the Classics Department has seen a recent surge in interest. West reports that enrollment in her Latin classes has tripled since she arrived four years ago. "I routinely handle 100 students a year now," she says.

And the December 2008 commencement was a showcase of Latin scholars. Four of West's graduating seniors played significant roles in the event: Patti Klucas did the first reading at Baccalaureate; Sally Moe served as accompanist during the "Hymn to St. Catherine"; Diane Perry sang in the choir; and Christina McGovern was one of the valedictorians and the commencement speaker.

These students represent West's first graduating cohort, so she took an almost motherly pride in their accomplishments. "I felt like I could burst," she concedes. "They are all so amazing, so accomplished. During the ceremonies, I was in tears over and over again."


A healthy endowment

School of Health Set to Grow

In establishing the School of Health in September 2007, St. Catherine President Andrea J. Lee, IHM, said that the institution had a "moral imperative" and unique preparation to reshape the education of healthcare professionals.

That vision has become a profound reality, in which others are willing to invest.

The School of Health in December received the College's largest gift ever — at least $1 million annually from a foundation that will hold the endowment in perpetuity. The school has also received a name, the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health. Henrietta Schmoll is a 1949 graduate of the College and was a trustee from 1980 to 1989.

The endowment, which College officials estimate to be worth more than $20 million, will help fund several goals over the next five years, including:

• An increase of 170 nursing students in a program that routinely fills to capacity;
• Expansion of advanced practice nursing programs;
• Launch of a physician assistant program focused on primary care;
• Enhanced online learning tools and
• Expansion of nursing laboratories.

Additional short-term goals for the School of Health include establishing clinical partnerships with at least two Catholic healthcare systems that have a strong presence in the Midwest.

The National Healthcare Summit held on campus last November also broke new ground. Called "Catholic Partnerships for Workforce and Leadership Development," the summit brought together executives and thought leaders in Catholic healthcare systems and Catholic higher education.

"The decision to establish a School of Health is among the most critical decisions made during my presidency and perhaps the most important initiative I will lead," said President Lee upon the school's launch. "It expresses the coalescence of our mission, signature curricular strengths and the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph."


Celebrating 10 YEARS!

St. Kate's nationally recognized Center for Sales Innovation celebrates its 10th anniversary this academic year. On November 20, center director Lynn Schleeter, left, gathered with representatives of partner companies for an executive breakfast in the President's Dining Room. Guests included Richard Blakeman, vice president of Miller Heiman.


A record-setting 3,000 visitors viewed The Saint John's Bible exhibit at the Catherine G. Murphy Gallery in fall 2008. The exhibit, "Divine Words, Inspired Art: Prints from The Saint John's Bible," contained 31 framed giclée prints from five completed volumes.


You Don't Say

Writers' Week

January Brings Writers Out

IN Minnesota, January is the deep, dark heart of winter, a time for hibernation and contemplation. St. Kate's is no exception. With many undergraduate students away, the campus can feel eerily quiet, like nothing's happening anywhere.

But all that quiet can be deceiving. For the last few years, faculty advocates have embraced the year's quiet start by declaring the first full week in January Writers' Week, a full week set aside for interested faculty members to focus on writing projects.

To emphasize the importance of distraction-free time devoted to writing, there are no committee meetings, and participating faculty (20 to 40 sign up each year) are encouraged to "write, write, write," says Susan Cochrane, Professional Studies dean and Writers' Week organizer.

"Writers' Week is an incredibly productive time," Cochrane says. "I know of someone who wrote a journal article during the week that was later published. People make progress on their dissertations. Another faculty member completed a poem that he sent for publication."

The week begins with an orientation session for first-time participants, and then participants are released to focus on their writing projects. Some faculty members work alone in their offices, but, Cochrane says, others work alongside their colleagues in the library's faculty study or take the time to work with others on group projects.

On the last day of the week, Cochrane hosts a wine-and-cheese reception, where participants read a sample of what they've written during the week. Cochrane finds the closing readings to be particularly helpful. "It's an opportunity for faculty members to meet people from other departments and learn more about their areas of expertise," she says. Many faculty members report that the week has helped them gain inspiration, support and an important sense of outside accountability. "That's exactly what we were hoping they'd take away from the experience."