Andrea Lee, IHM.

President's Message

Dear Friends,

It's not been a great spring, at least in terms of Minnesota weather. When you've had your fill of ominous clouds, rained-out sporting events and that ubiquitous damp chill, there's nothing like Commencement to warm your spirit.

Held on a gloomy Memorial Day weekend, our ceremonies managed to escape threatening downpours — and offered students and their families time to bask in the sun of accomplishment and bright futures. Our guest speakers, State Supreme Court Justice Lorie Gildea and alumna Joan Kuzma Costello SP'65, inspired students with deeply personal words drawn from their extensive experience, respectively, as attorney and judge and provost and vice president for academic affairs. Our student speaker, Theresa O'Connor, brought her class to its feet as she spoke to the 426 graduates of the College for Women. No rain anywhere, unless you count the paucity of dry eyes in the house.

Alongside the panoply of celebrations, academic presentations and assorted year-end events that crowd the calendar in April and May, the work of the University continues apace and will do so well into the summer.

We are deeply engaged in articulating the 2013–2017 segment of our 2020 Vision strategic plan that is directly aimed at our vision to be recognized as a leading Catholic university distinguished by its innovative spirit and premier baccalaureate college for women. Upcoming issues of SCAN will highlight our critical priorities for the next four years, including a campaign to fund a facility that will house our burgeoning programs in the sciences, student scholarships and an innovation fund to jumpstart promising new program ideas.

The Higher Learning Commission decennial visit to St. Catherine last February is fading into distant memory. Even though we do not expect the final affirmation of our continued accreditation for several weeks, we do know that the visiting team reported all criteria as met with no concerns noted. That is a formidable accomplishment, given the accrediting body's overwhelming array of criteria, components and sub-components that were evaluated. I've read the report and came away feeling incredibly proud of good work by too many people to name.

This issue of SCAN highlights our flagship program in occupational therapy (OT) and our efficient and thoughtful stewardship of our campus facilities. As you'll read, St. Catherine took center stage at the recent national meeting of over 6,000 OTs in San Diego. Senior Vice President Colleen Hegranes and I were in attendance and could not have been more proud. As for recent work on our campuses, a trip up to the fourth floor of Whitby and Mendel halls, as well as to the former Fontbonne pool, will leave you wide-eyed at such beautiful and cost-effective transformation.

I have recently been on the campuses and with the presidents of La Salle, Notre Dame and Alverno. There's always something to learn on visits such as these — and I consistently come away proud of our academic stature and the high regard in which St. Catherine is held by my colleagues.

On the first of June, I attended the funeral liturgy for Dick Conklin, husband of our alumna Annette Pampusch Conklin SP'60 and brother-in-law to my predecessor, Anita Pampusch SP'62. Dick has been a wonderfully wise contributor to our Board's Visibility Committee. To his son's touching eulogy that ended with a tribute to his dad as much beloved "colleague, writer, uncle, friend and father," I would add, "and one of the smartest men in the world." After all, he married a Katie. Requiescat in pace to that good man.

As warmer days approach, I hope you have meaningful and relaxing time with the people you most love. I'm planning on the same.


Lawmakers: Invest In Private Higher Ed

President Andrea Lee, IHM, went before the Minnesota Senate Higher Education Committee on February 14 armed with proof of St. Kate's contributions to Minnesota’s economy.

"As legislators, you have crushing needs brought before you. You have tough decisions to make and many criteria and facts to weigh. And so, ladies and gentlemen, I will leave you with this thought: Yes, higher education is an expensive commodity. I grant you that. But it is the ticket to everything."