Opening Celebration

Join the Fall 2020 Opening Celebration

Each year, St. Catherine University launches the new academic year with a gathering of students, faculty and staff. We continue this tradition in a new format this year, with experiences and stories to inspire, encourage, and strengthen our community. This year, we honor two amazing women, Jan Malcolm and Mary Madonna Ashton, CSJ, who have been at the forefront of public health leadership in Minnesota.

Wednesday, September 9


  • 10:30 a.m. Prayer and Praise. All are welcome!
    Led by Sharon Howell, CSJ, Director of the Center for Spirituality and Social Justice, and Bex Gaunt, Liturgist
    A link will be provided in a future email.
  • 11 a.m.–12 p.m. Opening Convocation LIVE STREAMED
    Leadership in Public Health: A Story in Two Chapters
    Keynote Speaker - Jan Malcolm, Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Health
    Conferral of Honorary Degrees


Classes held between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. will be canceled, and administrative offices will be closed in order to encourage participation by all. 

A link to the Zoom event will be sent on the morning of September 9 and will also be available in the announcement section of the My St. Kate’s web page.

ASL interpreting will be provided. 

For any questions or to request accommodation, please email


Online Scavenger hunt: All are welcome to play!

How well do you know St. Kate’s? Find all 15 items and be entered to win a prize! Scavenger submissions will be accepted until 8 a.m. on Thursday, September 10.

Prizes include:

  • Bluetooth Earbuds
  • Webcam
  • Bluetooth Portable Speaker
  • Hydro Flask
  • Gift Certificates to the St. Kate’s Bookstore

Join the Scavenger Hunt!


About the Speakers

Photo of Mary Madonna Ashton, CSJ, former Minnesota Commissioner of Health

A Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Sister Mary Madonna was named to lead St. Mary’s Hospital, Minneapolis (now part of M Health Fairview) as president and CEO from 1962 to 1983. During her tenure, she accepted the acute need for alcohol and drug treatment, and added to the St. Mary’s Hospital site the St. Mary’s Rehabilitation Center with a treatment program developed by Dr. George Mann that became a unique model for the entire nation.

In 1983 Sr. Mary Madonna accepted the position of Minnesota State Commissioner of Health, the first woman, religious sister, and non-physician to fill this role. During her tenure, she helped pass landmark legislation that outlawed tobacco use in public spaces and protected the state's blood supply in the midst of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. From 1992 to 2000 she served as founding CEO of Carondelet LifeCare Ministries, which operated St. Mary's Health Clinics, a system she worked to begin with Sisters of her community in order to provide free medical care, outreach, and education to those not eligible for government programs.

Sr. Mary Madonna graduated from St. Kate's with majors in psychology and sociology, completed a master’s degree in social work at St. Louis University, and a master’s degree in hospital administration at the University of Minnesota.

Trustee of St. Mary’s Junior College, 1974 to 1986, St. Catherine University, 1986 to 1995 and a trustee emerita since 2006, founding member and emerita member of the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health Advisory Council, Sr. Mary Madonna has served as consultant, guide, and enthusiastic supporter of St. Catherine University as the region’s foremost healthcare educator.

Jan Malcolm

Jan Malcolm was appointed in January 2018 as commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), and is responsible for directing the department's work as the state's lead public health agency, responsible for protecting, maintaining, and improving the health of all Minnesotans.

Prior to being appointed commissioner, Malcolm was an adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, where she co-directed a national research and leadership development program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Earlier she also helped develop initiatives to strengthen the nation’s public health system as a senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Malcolm previously served as CEO of the Courage Center and as president of the Courage Kenny Foundation following the merger of Courage Center and the Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute. She has also worked as vice president of public affairs and philanthropy at Allina Health. From 1999 to 2003, Malcolm served as commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health. Throughout her career, Malcolm has been active in state and national health care, public health associations, and government commissions on health care access and quality.

Malcolm is a graduate of Dartmouth College.