PHOTOS BY TONY NELSON AND THE ST. CATHERINE UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES
EVERY NEW BEGINNING COMES FROM SOME OTHER BEGINNING'S END," noted the Roman philosopher Seneca centuries ago. On June 1, our name changed to St. Catherine University in honor of our reputation for academic excellence, our multiple degree offerings, from associate to clinical doctorate, and our nationally recognized programs that have placed us among the top tiers of Catholic and master's universities nationwide. Voices of alumnae/i, faculty, staff and students captured in these pages offer personal viewpoints on the change — as well as the hope it engenders and the pride in our enduring heritage and future promise. As nostalgia for the College sweeps across our community, so does a well-considered embrace of the possibilities and challenges the new University brings, and a determination to turn them to our best advantage. Listening to our own voices is both informative and encouraging as we stride with even greater determination over unknown and uneven terrain.
BECOMING ST. CATHERINE UNIVERSITY
"Becoming" carries a hint of the unknown, a whiff of mystery, a question mark. What are we becoming? St. Catherine in 2009 is strong and vibrant. It is responsive to the needs of students and to current educational developments. St. Catherine is deeply respected as a leader among women's colleges.
As a university we have a great new opportunity. The entire community of students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumnae together has a chance to showcase the best of what makes St. Catherine work: women-powered and womencentered styles, problem-solving skills and special characteristics.
Unlike the common concept of university, we will remain intimate and caring. We will not be everything to everybody; we can remain committed to liberal arts and our Catholic identity because these two arms of our mission offer the most humanizing kind of education.
Doing what needs to be done is characteristic of women. St. Catherine graduates, as they always have, will take the education offered and the principles of leadership and social justice and will find always-new ways to accomplish what needs to be done.
Retaining the capacity to develop leaders committed to the good of all, educated with professional skills and a Catholic and liberal arts foundation, and buoyed by a caring, women-centered atmosphere within and without, St. Catherine University will carve its own place among the finest universities. Within our distinct atmosphere we will continue to be a very special place, a place of which we will all be proud.
RUTH BROMBACH '60, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ALUMNAE ASSOCIATION
REFLECTING WHO WE ARE
I have been promoting the idea of a university for St. Catherine for at least 25 years.
I was on a sabbatical leave at Oxford University when I first realized that college denoted an undergraduate institution or the undergraduate part of a university. So when we first established graduate programs at St. Catherine, I began to advocate university status.
When Sister Andrea Lee became president, I remember urging her to think about this change in status. She probably does not remember — but I do. The process of changing the name was meticulously done, and I am one of its most enthusiastic advocates.
ELEANOR LINCOLN, CSJ, SP'46, MAT'90; PROFESSOR EMERITA OF ENGLISH
MOTHER ANTONIA'S VISION
As the first president and dean of the College, Mother Antonia McHugh (1863–1944) had an expansive vision for St. Catherine — one that transcended both the mores of the times and realistic expectations for the future. Amidst a culture that dismissed the need to educate women and at a time when our neophyte college enrolled fewer than 400 students, she boldly built a magnificent chapel reflecting both the sweeping grandeur and the rich detail of a medieval French cathedral. Our Lady of Victory continues to be a compelling metaphor for Mother Antonia's unbridled vision of St. Catherine as we move forward into our university stature.
What if Mother Antonia was in Sister Andrea's shoes today? I know she'd have a lot of confidence in Sister Andrea being at the helm, leading us forth. And I believe she wouldn't be thwarted by the complexities of our transition and the concurrent challenges of our times. She would stride forward already envisioning the big picture and the future — St. Catherine University of 2050. At the same time, she would be attentive to the details, knowing their potent capacity to articulate mission and identity and inspire others down through the ages.
She would be very proud of our continued mission to women, our dedication to the liberal arts and the manner in which we are true to our Catholic identity. She would be pleased as punch that we so energetically welcome and graduate diverse students at the associate, bachelor's, masters and doctoral levels and imbue them with social justice values, leadership skills and a global perspective. What would she think about men at St. Catherine? Patience not being one of her many virtues, Mother Antonia would exhort, "The more people who understand the St. Catherine mission and carry it forward, the better!"
With her strong will, driving passion and undaunted confidence, Mother Antonia would know that St. Catherine University is on the brink of yet greater possibilities and new ventures. She'd expect and direct us to go forward envisioning the future with broad parameters, certain that the St. Catherine tradition and vision of excellence will cascade into the future with yet a new flourish.
MARY ANN BRENDEN, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF SOCIAL WORK; PROGRAM DIRECTOR, BACHELOR OF SOCIAL WORK; CSJ CONSOCIATE
ALL ARE WELCOME
I arrived at the College in January 1998 to fill a temporary position. I recall looking forward to the opportunity, but I was certain I'd be ready to move on when the time came. Little did I dream that 11 years later I would still be here — and happily so.
I will never forget my first Student Affairs meeting. The Campus Ministry team started it off by leading us in the hymn "All Are Welcome."
The five previous public and private schools at which I had worked had never celebrated their identity in such a fashion. That was the beginning of my realization that St. Kate's infuses its mission in everything.
Now it's 2009, and I have become one of the Sisters of St. Joseph's most ardent fans. I think about "evoking hope" whenever I'm working with someone who needs encouragement. It's become routine to ponder how I can assist students to "lead and influence." And I have fully come to know that the right to an education is truly an issue of social justice.
So, as the melody of "All Are Welcome" runs through my head, I am excited for our evolution from college to university. Even more so, I am thankful for over a decade of personal and professional transformation.
MICHAEL J. BAYNES, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF STUDENT LIFE, MINNEAPOLIS CAMPUS
AVENUES FOR GROWTH
The new St. Catherine University will enhance an already dynamic and engaging community of faculty, staff and students in Weekend College. We will benefit from expanded student services and more options for social interaction in the life of the University.
With many new majors and programs on the horizon, a Weekend College woman soon will have even more avenues for personal growth and career advancement.
Thirty years after Weekend College was founded, that is amazing to consider.
JOAN ROBERTSON, DIRECTOR, WEEKEND COLLEGE
STILL, AND ALWAYS, ST. KATE'S
Even when I came to the College of St. Catherine 15 years ago, it was no small liberal arts college. It was, centrally for me, a women's college, steeped in tradition, clear about its values, attentive to the needs of women in an urban community.
That College of St. Catherine ain't goin' nowhere, as I used to say growing up in Pittsburgh. Ungrammatical, but true. Our college isn't going anywhere; the College of St. Catherine, the one the Sisters of St. Joseph envisioned and that the present faculty cherishes, will continue because, to paraphrase Olympia Dukakis in Moonstruck, "we know who we are." We are a comprehensive liberal arts institution, set firmly on a Catholic foundation, with a mission to educate women. As long as we remember and tend to that, our College of St. Catherine will remain.
But my ungrammatical phrase is also true in the second sense — the College of St. Catherine isn't going nowhere; it's going somewhere. After years of service to the college, I anticipate the change to University with optimism. St. Kate's doesn't stagnate. We move (inevitably, sometimes stumbling) forward. The years I have been at the College have been years of remarkable change and growth, years that required nimbleness and creativity of the faculty and administration. I have had great fun envisioning with my colleagues an innovative core curriculum, a list of carefully articulated liberal arts goals, a thoughtful expansion of our women's studies coursework, the Assistantship Mentoring Program (AMP) for meaningful mentoring of students, new models for faculty leadership, and a raft of novel courses in a lively English Department that continues to attract terrific students and faculty.
So I say: Bring on St. Catherine University. It more accurately represents the complex place we have become. I'm not worried, because our College of St. Catherine ain't goin' nowhere.
CECILIA KONCHAR FARR, PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH
EXPANDING OUR REACH
I love the College of St. Catherine and our deeply institutionalized focus on women, our Catholic heritage and the liberal arts. The melding of these three elements on both campuses has resulted in particular rituals as well as social, political and intellectual practices that have fed my soul and the souls of thousands of students, faculty and staff for many years.
The Henrietta Schmoll School of Health, where I work, was borne out of the legacy of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and their commitment to healthcare since the cholera epidemic of 1853. Their leadership launched our College in the direction of health education, and today, we are the state's oldest healthcare educator.
The name change to St. Catherine University will help us increase strategic national and international partnerships, positioning us, in turn, to respond to emerging health and health education needs of the region and far beyond.
I believe that moving to university status recognizes St. Catherine's legacy of achievements and provides a larger launching pad to further excellence and quality. With a commitment to the traditional mission and high standards of the institution, and close ties to the multiple, diverse communities we serve, we will reach even farther in our effort to serve the dear neighbor.
TONÉ BLECHERT, ASSOCIATE DEAN OF HEALTH PROFESSIONS & TWO-YEAR PROGRAMS
A REASONABLE, RESPONSIBLE DECISION
I believe it is timely and appropriate for the College of St. Catherine to be named St. Catherine University. St. Catherine is expanding in programs and degrees offered, and that alone tells me that a different administrative structure is called for.
I was fortunate after graduation from St. Catherine to return later as a faculty member and then a department chair. The challenge of teaching and advising at a high level of excellence was an exciting adventure, always with an element of change as the years progressed.
As a college, we grappled with many issues over the years. Some years ago one of those issues was whether the College of St. Catherine should become coeducational. This was at a vulnerable time, when colleges were strenuously competing for students. We could well have succumbed to the pressures of the moment, but we didn't. It is with the same discernment that I believe the College has examined the present invitation and need to change.
St. Catherine has never veered from its commitment to the values of the Catholic, liberal arts tradition. These values will only continue to flourish as St. Catherine grows and adapts responsibly to the realities of today and tomorrow.
MARGUERITE F. HESSIAN-GATZ '49, PROFESSOR EMERITA OF NURSING
A CATHEDRAL AND A CHAPEL
As the director of Multicultural and International Programs and Services at St. Kate's, I feel conflicted about the change to "university": potential growth versus trusted tradition.
On the international side it carries more prestige and increased potential for recruitment worldwide. On the multicultural side, I'm concerned that "university" carries a connotation of being large and impersonal, certainly not the image we want to project to communities of color that are entrusting us to value each student for her or his unique characteristics.
Upon reflection, however, I realize this is not an "either/or" proposition but rather a "both/and" opportunity. Regardless of our name, this community will continue to be guided by the steadfast values of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, addressing the needs of our time, hospitality and caring, and an unwavering commitment to social justice.
When I ask myself, WWMAMD ("What would Mother Antonia McHugh do?"), I trust she would push us beyond the safe harbor of what has always been and toward the potential a university can offer.
I am reminded of the story of her building the chapel. Upon completion of the building, Archbishop Austin Dowling commented, "Mother Antonia asked to build a chapel, but she built a cathedral!" What an apt analogy for this transition. I trust we will still be that hospitable, humble "chapel" with all the accoutrements and resources of a powerful, grace-filled "cathedral."
Still St. Kate's, both/and.
DONNA HAUER, DIRECTOR, MULTICULTURAL AND INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS AND SERVICES
BIG DREAMS, BOLD MOVES
As we make our bold transition to St. Catherine University, I am reminded of the founding Sisters' can-do spirit and their willingness to dream big. With little support, they had the audacity to "act as if." More than 100 years later, this attitude has allowed St. Catherine to provide a unique education for women and, more recently, men.
From its beginnings, St. Kate's has combined liberal arts education with professional preparation for careers, especially in healthcare and education.
St. Kate's has always been a place that welcomes students regardless of their means. Japanese students were brought from the internment camps in the 1940s; Hmong women were welcomed in the 1980s; Somali students joined our community during the first decade of this century.
When the College of St. Thomas went coed in 1977, some naysayers declared that the College of St. Catherine wouldn't make it. Some thought St. Kate's should have merged with St. Thomas to create one Catholic institution, but the St. Catherine community and our Sisters believed strongly that the particular attributes of an education focused on women would be lost in a coed setting.
Today our student body is comprised of more than 2,800 undergraduate women, 900 associate-degree students and 1,500 graduate students. In 1977 our student body consisted of 1,893 undergraduate women. We have more than 40,000 living alumnae across the Twin Cities, the United States and the globe.
Now the College of St. Catherine is St. Catherine University. This bold move reflects our growth and increasing prominence as an academic institution, as a highly respected resource in the Twin Cities community, and as a beacon of excellence and encouragement for our more than 5,200 students.
Calling St. Catherine a university more accurately reflects who we are and who we wish to become. We are a women's college at heart, but our University is not for women only. Men also enroll in our growing array of associate, graduate, continuing education, onsite corporate and distance-learning programs.
Weaving through each of the schools are three colleges: the college for women, the graduate college and the college of applied learning, where continuing education, new initiatives and associate degrees are housed. Our goal is to have an integrated university with the nation's largest college for women at its heart.
All of this reflects a new vision for St. Catherine's future — and a renewed approach to our timeless commitment to the education of women, promoting social justice in the world.
What will not change is our mission as a Catholic liberal arts college for women. As Sister Andrea often says, our mission is "irreducible, primary, essential.
I am proud that this small university on the Midwestern prairie in North America is both progressive and committed to a mission that started more than a century ago when the Sisters simply "acted as if." And they did. And here we are!
COLLEEN HEGRANES, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT
REACHING BACK, MOVING FORWARD
Our founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, had a great vision for women's education and social justice. This vision continues to guide our work today.
St. Kate's is now the largest undergraduate women's college in America, but our classroom student counts intentionally remain small. We've expanded in the areas that will allow us to offer more opportunities to more students, yet we've remained smaller and focused in areas such as teaching and advising that allow us to connect with students.
When our alumnae return to one of our campuses, they often say that it is like coming home. St. Catherine's foundation is still the same — we've just carefully added a few more levels and completed some home improvements over the years. The lights are on, and we always welcome our students and alumnae to come inside, to come home.
MARY UNGER HENDERSON '80, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR AND ASSISTANT CHAIR, BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION
WHAT WILL DISTINGUISH ST. CATHERINE UNIVERSITY?
A quarter century ago the College of St. Catherine made the momentous decision to launch its first graduate program, the Master of Arts Program in Theology. Celebrating this anniversary in the year that St. Catherine becomes a university invites reflection on the revolutionary chain of events that have brought us to this new juncture, but perhaps even more on what lies ahead.
St. Catherine University is emerging on this pluralistic and thoroughly secularized American scene just as the great universities of America and Europe have disencumbered themselves of their religious identities.
The mission statements of so many other "Catholic universities" swell with generic language, vacuous terminology and bland moralism. What will distinguish the mission of St. Catherine University? Will it stir us with its intent to be a vital center of Catholic "faith seeking understanding," of fidelity to its religious roots and vigorous engagement in the Catholic intellectual tradition?
In the words of Michael J. Buckley, S.J., professor of theology and director of the Jesuit Institute at Boston College, "The fundamental proposition of the Catholic university is that the religious and the academic are intrinsically related." The university is where the pursuit of truth is the primary occupation. Any effort toward truth and meaning reaches out to the infinite, that is, to God in Christ and the Spirit; and likewise, the dynamism of faith seeks "understanding" — truth. This dual impulse drives the Catholic university. This is its purpose: to allow the dynamism native to each, the life of faith and the academic life, to reach its completion in the other.
May this new University deliver its promise, both religiously and academically.
CATHERINE MICHAUD, CSJ, DIRECTOR, MASTER OF ARTS IN THEOLOGY PROGRAM
IT'S NOT JUST THE NAME, AND THAT'S GOOD
I'm a product of big universities. I graduated from LMU (Large Midwestern University) in 1972 and took the doctorate from another LMU after that. My career at St. Catherine has really been my only contact with the small-college environment, and I have greatly valued the distinction between the two academic worlds. I have also tended to view many changes to the academic enterprise with a jaundiced eye, and with good reason, but don't get me started on that.
So I felt a little ripple of excitement when I was asked to serve on the committee that was to explore the virtues and drawbacks of making my beloved college a university. I saw it as a chance to give voice to my reservations about the whole idea. I had several, which most readers will recognize: risk of losing our small-college intimacy, of becoming a more generic, less women-centered institution, of losing market share, of looking like followers rather than leaders. Not to mention, of course, the costs and work involved.
But it didn't take much deliberation around the table for me to realize that this change could be an opportunity to address a number of growing strains at the College. I kept hearing other members say things like "the name change will represent what we have already become," and this made me think about how difficult and complicated it has become over the years to do many things that used to be easy. With graduate programs, two-year programs, Weekend College, the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health and a dozen other ways of slicing the institutional pie, we simply can't run like a small college anymore. We can't be the mom-and-pop organization ("mom-and-mom" would be more apt, I guess) that we were even just a few decades ago.
I also began to see that our identity as a small women's college was already questionable, with more and more programs contributing to our identity and image, many of them admitting men.
So I was gratified when the committee concluded that this could not be just a change in name, but a reorganization. This will be a good thing. Decentralizing the institution's governance will free up the initiative and creativity that an academic institution needs. It will create clearer lines of communication and more opportunities for close collaboration. Best of all, it will preserve the undergraduate college as a true women's institution, thus ending the gradual erosion of its identity, even as other components establish their own identities and serve different clienteles.
St. Catherine University will run better than the College of St. Catherine, and at the same time will be better positioned to make its case to students of varying backgrounds and interests. It's a change we need.
BRIAN FOGARTY, PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY
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