2019–2020 Faculty and Staff Awards Winners

Our Lady of Victory Chapel on St. Kate's St. Paul, MN campus

The success of St. Catherine University is a direct result of the energy and contributions of the members of our community. Together, our dedication to the mission to educate women to lead and influence, is demonstrated in every action we take.

The Year-End Faculty and Staff Awards is an annual celebration that recognizes this exceptional work of University faculty and staff. While we are celebrating the end of academic year 2019–20 safely socially-distanced, we want to share our sincere gratitude for each and every one of you who make this University distinguished, innovative, and powerful.

Staff Excellence Awards

The Staff Excellence Awards honor staff members nominated by their colleagues for their exceptional work and outstanding contributions to the University. The winners are selected from a section of impressive staff who further St. Kate’s mission and values, demonstrate strong team collaboration, and show initiative and creativity in their role. The committee selected three awardees, who received $1,000, and two honorees, who received on-campus parking passes for the next academic year. 

Staff Excellence Awardees

Nancy Hendrickson Director of Academic Technology, McGlynn Information Technology Services

Director of Academic Technology, McGlynn Information Technology Services

Praise submitted in support for Nancy’s recognition by the community:

“Nancy and her team meet faculty where they are at in their use of technology and provide strategies for online learning that are student-centered and geared toward the needs of different schools, colleges, and programs. Nancy and her team have integrated the growing and changing instructional technology needs into our strategic planning and positioned St. Catherine University for success during the COVID-19 crisis. She has made it possible for us to continue our reputation for leadership and influence during an extraordinary time.”

“Nancy is a stand-out among the staff and has deserved this award many times over.” 

Sheila Jackson Certified Nursing Assistant Program Coordinator

Certified Nursing Assistant Program Coordinator

Praise submitted in support for Sheila’s recognition by the community:

“Sheila plays such an important role in the nursing department. She is 100% dedicated to giving above and beyond to meet the needs of faculty and students. She demonstrates this by anticipating student and faculty needs in incredibly thoughtful ways. Sheila is always readily available to assist each time I reach out to her with questions/needs.”

“Sheila always considers what must be done and how it can be done more efficiently. [She] sees what needs to be done and makes suggestions on how it can be done more effectively. She is an innovator with vision.”

Darwin Lindblom Administrative Services Coordinator for Nursing and Respiratory Care

Administrative Services Coordinator for Nursing and Respiratory Care

Praise submitted in support for Darwin’s recognition by the community:

“Darwin was our point person who supported all involved by listening to the endless requests for details to be accomplished and then tracking the changes and completion of work as the department moved through this renovation.”

“In his 16 years as a member of St. Catherine University staff, Darwin models a relational presence that is rooted in Catholic Social Teaching and consistent with the mission and vision of the University. He communicates with internal and external stakeholders to advance the work of the nursing department and the respiratory care program by maintaining positive relationships among students, faculty, staff.”

Staff Excellence Honorees

Kimberly Muñoz Assistant Director of Multicultural and International Programs and Services

Assistant Director of Multicultural and International Programs and Services

Praise submitted in support for Kim’s recognition by the community:

“Kim furthers the mission and values of St. Kate's by being a front-line supporter to many of our students of color. Kim has been an advocate for many of our students through matters of housing, mental health, financial insecurity, and personally empowering all students to truly lead and influence. St. Kate's couldn't be a school of social justice if people like Kim didn't exist.”

M. Cat Troche Administrative Assistant for Henrietta Schmoll School of Health

Administrative Assistant for Henrietta Schmoll School of Health

Praise submitted in support for Cat’s recognition by the community:

“Cat's work with clinical contracts for the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health is crucial to positioning St. Kate’s as a leader in healthcare education. She works with 30 programs in 48 states to place 2,500 students into 9000 clinical, fieldwork, internship, and practicum rotations annually. She works with over 1,900 contracts representing 3,000 unique sites for students.”

Honorable Mentions

  • Curtis Buckhanan, Custodian
  • Christine Diaz-Higgins, Associate Director of Global Studies
  • Sarah Gerdes, Program Coordinator in Community Work and Learning
  • Loriene Hammond, Global Programs Coordinator
  • Diana McGrath, Reporting and Data Analyst
  • Deb Miner, Director of Student Center and Activities
  • Neela Nandyal, Study Abroad Advisor
  • Allyssa Van Guilder, Alumni Associate

Faculty Teaching and Advising Award

The Faculty Teaching and Advising Award honors the highest quality of teaching, dedication to effective mentoring, and academic advising. The winners are selected from an impressive faculty that exemplifies the highest echelon of academic excellence and student focus. Each year, St. Kate’s community nominates faculty members for this award and celebrates colleagues who maintain high academic standards, go above and beyond in their teaching, and provide quality mentoring and advising. 

Three winners were chosen from 12 nominees:

  • Rebecca Busanich, PhD, Associate Professor, Exercise Sciences
  • Taiyon Coleman, PhD, Associate Professor, English
  • Darla Coss, OTD, Assistant Professor, Occupational Therapy
  • Mary Henderson ’80, PhD, Professor, Business Administration
  • Anna Hillary, Adjunct, Occupational Therapy Assistant
  • Megan Kalina, MBA, Professor, Business Administration
  • David Lesniaski, DMA, MLS, Associate Professor, Library and Information Science 
  • Leso Munala, PhD, Assistant Professor, Public Health
  • Paul Niemuth, PT, DSc, OSC, ATC, LAT, Professor, Physical Therapy
  • Jessica Scholl, PTA, MA, Assistant Professor, Physical Assistant Program
  • Taisha Trotman, Assistant Professor, Occupational Therapy
  • James Wollack, PhD, Associate Professor of Chemistry

Associate Professor, English

Taiyon Colema, PhD, has been a member of the St. Kate’s community for four years, teaching in English, the core curriculum, and women’s studies. Coleman has a passion for her work that inspires students, who deeply appreciate her encouragement to connect their course materials to real world issues, including their own lives and stories.

Professor, Business Administration

Mary Henderson, PhD, has been teaching at St. Kate’s for 23 years and has impacted the lives and careers of generations of students. She approaches her students as partners and holds them to high standards, while providing the support to help them grow and succeed.

Anna Hillary Adjunct, Occupational Therapy Assistant program

Adjunct, Occupational Therapy Assistant program

Anna Hillary has been an adjunct in the occupational therapy assistant program since 2017. Hillary takes on many roles to ensure student success, including being an adjunct professor, lab instructor, level 1 fieldwork educator, and fieldwork placement specialist for the OTA online program. She consistently demonstrates excellence in teaching and mentoring by creating impactful learning experiences and inspiring students.

Bonnie Jean Kelly and Joan Kelly Award for Faculty Excellence

The Bonnie Jean Kelly and Joan Kelly Award for Faculty Excellence recognizes outstanding accomplishments in teaching and scholarship that bring external visibility to the University, both regionally and nationally. The Kelly Award winner receives a $10,000 prize.

Associate Professor of Nursing

Jocelyn Gorlin, PhD, is an extraordinary educator who is innovative in her teaching methods to allow students flexibility, promote engagement, and enhance critical thought. She has received awards for her exemplary nursing work in the community and obtained internal and external grant funding for graduate students to expand their evidence-based scholarship.

Patricia O’Connor Myser Award

The Patricia O’Connor Myser Award for Excellence in Faculty Mentoring honors St. Catherine University faculty members who are exceptional mentors to undergraduate students engaged in research and scholarly work. The winner receives a $5,000 award, plus $2,500 to invest in professional development.

Associate Professor of Economics and Political Science

Caroline Krafft, PhD, exemplifies a commitment to students and knowledge that defines an educator. She describes her mentorship philosophy in economic terms, using what economists refer to as a “multiplier effect.” She says, “Each student I mentor not only becomes more able to achieve her own goals, but also more able to serve and help others achieve their goals.” In fact, students who work on projects with Krafft receive hands-on experience that also brings St. Kate’s mission into practice. Over the last five years, she has worked with at least 25 students on projects for UNICEF, UNESCO, the World Bank and the Economic Research Forum amongst others. She has published papers co-authored with students in two peer-reviewed journals, with a third paper under review at Feminist Economics — a top journal in the field. 

Carol Easley Denny Award

The Carol Easley Denny Award, which recognizes excellence in teaching, research, and community service, is named for the late Carol Easley Denny, wife of the late Charles M. Denny, Jr., trustee emeritus and former chair of St. Catherine University’s Board of Trustees. The Denny Award is considered one of St. Catherine University's most prestigious faculty development awards.

Assistant Professor of Business Administration

Julie Nelsen received this award for her project titled “Investigating the Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting Standards of Minnesota’s Fortune 500 Companies.” It will explore how Minnesota’s Fortune 500 companies report this impact and why they chose to communicate in that method. This research seeks to inform both practitioners and stakeholders regarding current reporting practices and decision making in the CSR realm with the intention to improve overall CSR practices within organizations. 

Years of Service Awards

We are celebrating 105 employees who have reached milestone anniversaries with the University. This year 95 people are reaching 5, 10, 15, and 20 years. We’d especially like to recognize those celebrating milestones of 25, 30, 35, and 40 years of service. 

25 Years

Gay Herzberg, PhD, assistant professor of English, is a treasured faculty member. Her warm, supportive presence in the English department welcomes students into the world of words, where she encourages them to grow in their appreciation for literature and evolve into eloquent writers themselves. Through her signature courses — Advanced Writing: Power, Purpose and the Perfect Word, Writing for Writers,an honors seminar entitled The Three Harriets, and her J-term course Literary Trailblazers and Remarkable Heroines — Gay has introduced students to revolutionary women writers and their craft. Gay is also a wonderfully congenial, collaborative, and committed colleague. Her valuable service to the department has included the development of an innovative internship course that connects English majors to the professional world through meaningful work experience; research on career readiness leading to a successful internship requirement proposal that will be implemented this fall; and facilitation of our annual Career Day lunch featuring English alumnae who return to campus to mentor current students. Gay’s service to the University includes her many years as editor of Colleagues, a publication that forged connections among faculty and staff across campus. Gay’s dedication to St. Kate’s has been a unique and long-standing gift to our community.

Paul Hunter, turf technician, has been an incredible asset to the University over the years.  From his start as a custodian to his advancement to the turf technician role, Paul has always demonstrated the most admirable and desirable work ethic that you could possibly want in a colleague. Paul’s attention to detail is remarkable. Despite all of his hard work and efforts, he doesn’t slow down. Fall brings on new challenges of leaf removal and impending Minnesota winters. His dedication to snow removal and keeping the students, faculty, and staff safe is second to none. He will be the first to arrive and the last to leave with no complaints.

Karen Sames, OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA, professor of occupational therapy, is our legislative, policy, and advocacy expert within the occupational therapy department. Karen has served the department in the role of faculty as well as program director for our Master of Arts in Occupational Therapy program. She has also served on or chaired several elected and ad hoc faculty committees during her time at St. Kate's. She recently worked with our Academic Technology team and a group of students on their master's project to train faculty on accessibility and universal design of course materials within our online learning management system. Karen is well respected in the occupational therapy community for her contributions to the profession and currently serves on the Government Affairs Committee for the Minnesota Occupational Therapy Association (MOTA) and as the treasurer of the American Occupational Therapy Association. In her role with MOTA, Karen helps organize the annual OT Day at the Capitol and prepares students, faculty, and practitioners for advocacy with our state legislators. Karen is dedicated and passionate about all projects she is involved in both inside and outside the classroom.

Nancy Heitzeg, PhD, professor of sociology, is a well-respected member of the sociology department, our University community, and anti-racist social movements. Nancy has served as department chair, director of Critical Studies of Race and Ethnicity, director of the core curriculum, and has served on many faculty committees. In 2018, Nancy received the honor of the Endowed Chair for the Sciences. In that role, not only has she generously shared her scholarship in the area of racism in criminal justice and related institutions such as education, but she has also galvanized the campus community to recognize and address institutional racism by giving talks, producing exhibitions, and inviting prominent speakers such as Sister Helen Prejean (2020) and Angela Davis (2021). Nancy is a prolific writer in her research areas, having published two books (with another in progress), and numerous research articles. Nancy is a lifelong advocate for racial and environmental justice, in all aspects of her work: research, teaching, service, and activism. Her passion and devotion have helped distinguish the sociology curriculum at St. Catherine University, transformed student minds and lives, and contributed to St. Catherine University’s collective effort to address institutional racism. 

30 Years

Julie Bass, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, professor of occupational therapy, has served in many roles within the occupational therapy and public health departments throughout her years at St. Kate's. Julie has served as faculty, occupational therapy program director (bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs), occupational therapy department chair, and founding director of the public health program. Julie is a lead faculty within the scholarship track of our curriculum, teaching our evidence-based practice, foundations of research, and doctoral proposal and project courses. Julie has mentored numerous post-professional doctorate students through their doctoral proposals and projects and into publication of their work post-commencement. In addition, for the past four years, Julie has coordinated the first-year entry-level students' evidence-based practice presentations to be disseminated as continuing education events for the Minnesota Occupational Therapy Association. These presentations have brought 60–100 practitioners to campus in-person or through livestream to hear dissemination of student work each year and have been highly regarded by the occupational therapy community throughout Minnesota. Julie brings her experience from her role as the director of research for the American Occupational Therapy Foundation (from 2012–2016) into the classroom to push students to become leaders in scholarship and knowledge translation within and across professions. 

Kurt Olson, PhD, associate professor of biology, has taught a few thousand St. Kate’s students over the years. Kurt teaches anatomy, physiology, histology, and pharmacology in the biology and physical therapy departments. Kurt has chaired the Biology Department, the University’s Institutional Review Board, and its Allocation and Compensation Committee. He has also served on several University hiring committees, as a long-term member of the Physical Therapy Admissions Committee, and as a faculty mentor for the Mayo Innovation Scholars Program for ten years. Students and colleagues appreciate his dedication, clarity of expression, excellent editing skills, advice on medical and home repair issues, hearty sense of humor (students particularly love his Friday dance), and musicality (he always leads the biology honors society songfests). To know Kurt is to be impressed by his high standards (for students and for himself), his careful thinking, and his deeply ethical approach to his work.

Deep Shikha, PhD, professor of economics and political science, is an integral part of the St. Kate’s community and a chief architect of many of the University’s exemplary programs. Deep has led the economics and political science department for years serving as chair and teaching every economics course in the catalog. She started the financial economics major, worked with the chair of women’s studies to create the unique women and international development major, founded the MBA, and launched the nonprofit studies and operations minor. Deep has also been central to the development and refinement of the core curriculum, serving as core director and taking students on five GSJ trips to India. Students know that Deep is a challenging and caring instructor. She pushes students to develop their critical thinking skills and is particularly insistent that they learn to write well. Among her colleagues, Deep is known for her patient and persistent commitment to excellence and inclusion. Our economics and political science department has been shaped by her exemplary leadership and our University is better for her tireless commitment.

Janet Dahlem, associate professor of holistic studies, over the past 30 years has sustained a holistic presence for and commitment to students, colleagues, the holistic health program and community, but above all, a keen sense of social justice. Janet has a presence and heart for students. She provides teaching that academically challenges students and models the best of holistic teaching and learning methods. She creates dynamic, rich classroom experiences.  Janet consistently supports colleagues and shines a light on our gifts and talents and brings them forward. She led the collaborative development of the MAHS program in 2004 and has retained a strong commitment to it by networking in the community and having an eye for the leading edge in the holistic health field. Overarching and woven into her work is a sense of social justice and advocacy in the daily workings of the MAHS program and in multiple arenas in the broader society. On a daily basis she consistently models awareness and empathy. She is a dear and valued colleague.  

35 Years

John Fleming, PhD, associate professor of occupational therapy, is our resident historian within the occupational therapy department. John's passion for the history of the profession of occupational therapy and the history of the profession at St. Kate's comes through in all of the work he does both inside and outside the classroom. He brings the spirit of the Sisters who founded our occupational therapy department into all that he does. John has served as the faculty advisor for the occupational therapy student honor society, Pi Theta Epsilon, since its inception at St. Kate's. This society's mission is to support scholarship and research among occupational therapy students. Outside the department, John has served on the University's Institutional Review Board for many years and serves as a support to any students or faculty who are working on research proposals. John has been in the occupational therapy department longer than any other current faculty member and has taught just about every course we have offered within the program over the years. He is always willing to jump in to teach a course or assist with committee work whenever asked.

40 Years

Susan Herrmann, assistant director of financial aid, has been a key staff member ever since Jane Svobodny, CSJ, hired Sue Herrmann in 1979. Sue started in the bursar's office, then moved to financial aid, followed by nine years as assistant registrar, and in 1999 she returned to financial aid. A lot has changed since the early days of writing awards by hand. Sue has navigated the many changes to computer-based applications with a talent to provide clear and easy-to-understand information, always in a professional manner. Sue has worked on various planning teams, including the Retirement and Dew Drop Bop committees, and with many of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet who were staff and faculty members on their annual picnic for the incoming College for Women students. Throughout her 40 years of service, Sue has embraced the student-centered focus at St. Kate’s with an open door policy that allows students to get the counseling they need. She is an excellent counselor and is well known for her compassion and ability to explain the complexities of financial aid and help students figure out how to pay their bills. Sue is always willing to step up and help, and students and colleagues alike know they can count on her.