Congratulations to our 2021–22 faculty and staff award winners!

Each spring, we honor the exceptional work of St. Kate’s faculty and staff with the Year-End Faculty and Staff awards. We were thrilled to celebrate our community members in person once again, convening in Our Lady of Victory Chapel on May 13. We appreciate our faculty and staff and their continued commitment to our mission — the success of the University is a direct result of their hard work and contributions. Please join us in recognizing our outstanding colleagues, friends, and teachers below.

Staff Excellence Awards

The Staff Excellence Awards honor staff members who have been nominated by their colleagues for their exceptional work and outstanding contributions to the University. The winners are selected from a collection of impressive staff who exemplify the highest echelon of academic excellence and student focus.


Rose Hartnett

Sponsored Programs Specialist, Research and External Engagement

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

“Rose goes above and beyond in her role as sponsored program specialist for SPREE. She quickly mastered all aspects of the grant life cycle, from proposal development to award management, and uses her knowledge and skills to expertly give guidance to grant seekers and recipients. Rose has been an integral part of supporting the GHR Legacy and AEG Grant work when we have been short on administrative positions, ensuring there was no gap in budgeting and processing requests for payment. Her amazing advocacy and team focus were invaluable in reconciling the budget and work with forecasting for the next year of the grant.”


Erika Nell

Assistant Director of Admissions, College for Women Admission

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

“As assistant director of Admissions, Erika supervises and mentors 25+ student ambassadors, and has done so for over 4 years. She has imparted much professional wisdom and advice, passing on her exemplary work ethic. She consistently provides good insight and recommendations on how to do our work better, which makes our efforts and outcomes stronger, creating a positive and collaborative work environment around her. Erika also takes on marketing and social media work in the CFW Admission Office, lending her creativity to increased engagement with our prospective students.”


Jane Savage

Administrative Assistant and Onboarding Specialist, Master of Physician Assistant Studies

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

“During the pandemic, it was quite common for Jane to be working late evenings and weekends, getting students ready to go out to the clinic. Last-minute placements were common, and she made sure they were ready to go Monday morning. The pandemic has made finding clinical placements quite challenging. There is not a lot of time to get the student ready to start, but Jane is thorough and efficient in her work. She repeatedly demonstrates the mission and values of St. Catherine University.”


Cynthia Yang 

Admission Events Specialist

Praise submitted in support for Cynthia’s Recognition by the community:

“Cynthia has well developed the position that serves three offices working closely with staff and University partners — no small task during these years of the pandemic. Cynthia led the teams to change from in-person to virtual, to back to in-person, and now maintains Admissions’ hybrid event offerings. For all events, Cynthia collaborates across multiple groups and departments to coordinate the details, both on campus and online. Her service to the University in this capacity has been invaluable during these past years of extreme adversity. Each office on campus would benefit from a Cynthia Yang.”


Heather Van Grootheest

Lab Coordinator, Physical Therapist Assistant Program 

Praise submitted in support for Heather’s Recognition by the community:

“As a lab coordinator in the PTA program, Heather constantly strives to do whatever it takes to make our students' experiences better. She advises, assists with lab courses, manages our lab usage, and constantly volunteers to help faculty wherever and whenever it is needed. Students consistently rave about her relational expertise, her ability to provide helpful feedback, and, as a licensed PTA, her status as a role model for them. Heather also has a long history of service to the physical therapy profession, demonstrating to students how PTAs can be leaders, and this service has led to her developing specific expertise in test question development. She freely shares this knowledge with the faculty in our department, helping all of them to be better exam writers, to the students' benefit.”


Faculty Teaching and Advising Awards

The Faculty Teaching and Advising Award selects faculty members that represent 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.


Jessica Scholl, PTA, MA

Director of Clinical Education and Assistant Professor, Physical Therapist Assistant Program

Jessica Scholl's enthusiasm for teaching and advising are appreciated by her students. One of her students wrote, "Jessica is an incredible instructor, but more than imparting knowledge, she also goes the extra mile to encourage students to excellence. I have more than just learned the material that I need to graduate from her — I have learned to find ways to make the world a better place."


Stephanie de Sam Lazaro, OTD, MA, OTR/L

Director Graduate Occupational Therapy Programs, Associate Professor, Occupational Therapy

Stephanie de Sam Lazaro goes above and beyond in the classroom. “She routinely introduces new active learning strategies in her classes to help our students achieve higher level student learning outcomes,” one recommender wrote. “Outcomes of her learning methods have been disseminated in peer-reviewed journals and professional conferences.”


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, regionally, and nationally. Both Bonnie Jean and Joan believed that an education grounded in the Liberal Arts was key to women’s success. Joan Kelly, a 1946 graduate, was a faithful, lifelong supporter of St. Catherine University and an exemplary alumna. She established the fund to honor the memory of her sister, Bonnie Jean, who died while a student at St. Kate’s.


Holly Clynch, PT, DPT, MA

Professor, Physical Therapist Assistant Program

Holly Clynch has been a physical therapist for 38 years and an educator at St. Kate’s for 23 years. In developing and launching the new BSPTA program, Holly collaborated extensively across the College for Adults so that the program capitalizes on current course offerings and efficiencies, positioning the program for opportunities related to dual degrees and an entry-level baccalaureate degree in PTA. Holly has also provided leadership for curricular and pedagogical revisions in the PTA program to address lagging licensure exam pass rates, which resulted in significant improvements and a return to compliance with CAPTE standards. 


The Patricia O’Connor Myser Award for Excellence in Faculty Mentoring

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. It recognizes the exceptional dedication and commitment faculty have to engaging undergraduate students in scholarship in a meaningful way. The generosity of this award helps us underscore our appreciation of faculty mentors who do help our students see their potential as scholars. 


Annalisa Jordan, PhD

Associate Professor, Chemistry

Annalisa Jordan’s scholarship focuses on the isolation of natural products (chemicals naturally produced by living organisms) from fungi. Her work with students has been funded by multiple sources including Summer Scholars, Assistantship Mentoring Program, Clare Booth Luce, a GHR Foundation Innovation Scholarship Grant, and the Audrey S. Bingel Fellowship. In the words of a colleague, “Ani has an enthusiasm for science that is infectious! She has boundless energy and a caring heart for students. The micro lab rings with laughter and joy when we work together. It is truly a pleasure to work with Dr. Annalisa Jordan!”


The Denny Prize for Distinction in Writing 

The Denny Prize for Distinction in Writing is an opportunity to recognize the caliber of writing our faculty and staff bring to the classroom and to St. Catherine University. The Denny family established an endowment 26 years ago to create this annual award in honor of their mother, Eleanor McCahill Denny.


Ava Cozzetto 

Administrative Assistant, Clinical Education Department

Ava Cozzetto has worked at St. Kate’s for one year, and in her spare time, she edits and writes nonfiction and fiction. Cozzetto majored in English with an emphasis in fiction writing and women's and gender studies at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. She is originally from Brush Prairie, Washington but has called Minnesota home for the past two years. Judges awarded the prize to Cozzetto for her short story “Her Notebook.” 


Natalie K. Eschenbaum, PhD

Division Chair, Arts and Humanities; Professor, English

Natalie Eschenbaum began at St. Catherine University in 2020 as Division Chair of Arts and Humanities and Professor of English. She has almost twenty-five years of experience teaching Shakespeare, renaissance literature, first-year seminars, and writing. Her research focuses on sensation studies and affect theory, specifically the effect of disgust, in early modern literature.


The Carol Easley Denny Award

The Carol Easley Denny Award recognizes excellence in teaching, research, and community service. It 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. The award amount is up to $20,000. One to two awards may be given annually; the minimum award is $5,000.


Meghan Mason, PhD, MPH

Associate Professor, Public Health

Meghan Mason is currently working on a project that will create a textbook that aligns with the mission of the public health program and School of Health Sciences by holding health equity at the core, focusing on application of the concepts to prepare students for the workforce, and the inclusion of diverse voices and experiences in the field of public health. Through the support of a health equity consultant, shared authorship with public health educators and professionals of diverse backgrounds, as well as facilitated focus groups with two sets of key stakeholders, this text will showcase public health in action and highlight the academic excellence of the St. Kate’s undergraduate public health program. It also has the potential to influence future public health practitioners across the nation as other programs incorporate this textbook into their curricula.

Milestone Recognition Awards


Susan Bosher, professor of English and director of English as a Second Language (ESL), has spent her career fostering student development through her personal relationships with students and her student-centered initiatives, such as the TESL program and “Digital Storytelling for Immigrant and Refugee Students.” Walk by her office, and you will witness Susan’s dedication to helping multilingual students develop confidence in writing, as she is continually meeting with them individually, generously giving of her time. Integrally connected to this dedicated teaching and mentoring, Susan’s scholarship centers on issues of language diversity and inclusion and has received international recognition. Among many other professional achievements, Susan was the co-recipient of the Bonnie Jean and Joan Kelly Faculty Excellence Award in 2009 for the anthology Transforming Nursing Education: The Culturally Inclusive Environment. She has also received two Carol Easley Denny Awards, two Bush Grants for Diversity and Democracy, and nominations for both the Faculty Excellence in Teaching and Advising Award and the Sr. Amata Miller Catholic Mission in Action Award. Susan’s leadership on behalf of multilingual students has been a living example of our mission and a treasured gift to the St. Kate’s community

Andrew DeBruycker, custodian in the Facilities Management department, has shown remarkable dedication and care for our campus over the years. He started working nights in Mendel and then worked in the Visual Arts Building for several years, and is now currently servicing the residence halls. Andy is best known for his time working in the Visual Arts building, where he was an integral part of the team keeping classrooms clean and ready for students' creativity. Over the years Andy has become a well-respected and important part of the custodial team, and his years of service are a testament to his dedication and hard work.

Roy Oren, lead custodian in the Facilities Management department, demonstrates his hard work and dedication every day. Roy started working at St. Kate’s in Mendel on the night crew. He quickly moved up to a project custodian and has been in his current position as lead custodian for the day crew for the past 18 years. Roy is very well known and respected on campus for his friendly demeanor and quick service. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cleaning concern or furniture reorganization — Roy is there with a smile, a few jokes, and quick and efficient work. Roy’s service to the University has been truly impressive and appreciated. His dedication and commitment to the job are second to none and we are fortunate to have him as a part of the facilities team.

Kristine Haertl, professor of occupational therapy, is a well-respected member of the occupational therapy community and received the honor of induction into the American Occupational Therapy Association Roster of Fellows in 2012. Her expertise within the department and the profession is in addressing the occupational needs of individuals with mental health concerns and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. She is well-published in these areas both nationally and internationally. During her time at St. Catherine University, Kristine has served as faculty representative for our Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) for over a decade and supported a group of students within that organization to charter a chapter of the Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates of Diversity (COTAD) here at St. Kate's. In addition to her roles within the occupational therapy department, Kristine has served the University in many areas, mostly notably as a member of the CORE committee and teaching The Reflective Woman consistently over the last 15 years. Students appreciate her energy and content expertise in the classroom as reflected in her nominations for the University Teaching and Advising Award four times during her tenure at St. Kate's.

David Skelton, public safety supervisor, is a vital member of the University and the Public Safety team. When David started his St. Kate’s career, he was a contracted officer and then stayed on when the University transitioned to proprietary security. This means that David has been here since the inception of the current Public Safety department. David has been a part of many major projects and events in his time at St. Kate’s. Throughout his many years, he has served as an officer, coordinator, interim assistant director, and now currently as a Public Safety supervisor. David has been and is a constant and a rock for the department. He is responsible and critical to department operations and other duties that, while not always immediately seen, would be disruptive if not accomplished. His calm demeanor, service-minded attitude, and persistence demonstrates the best of Public Safety. Daily, he lives the mission and vision of both the department and the University. David’s dedication to the University and the department are evident by both his longevity and his contributions to the history and the growth of the Public Safety department. This dedication and hard work, including processes he has developed, helped lay foundations to the department and will lead the University and Public Safety department to future success. David, thank you for your years of dedicated service, the calm presence, work ethic, and humor you bring each day, and for exemplifying the best of the University and that Public Safety has to offer the community.

Damon Klaphake, assistant professor of biology, is a well-respected member of the biology department, and before entering this department, was a member of the St. Kate’s Minneapolis campus Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) department. As a core member of LAS, he developed and taught numerous science courses, and mentored associate degree students in developing successful study skills and the confidence necessary to complete healthcare degrees. As a testament to his teaching prowess, Damon received a 2017 St. Kate’s Excellence in Teaching and Advising Award. One long-time colleague stated, “Damon is a teacher through and through. He understands how students best learn, and he provides every opportunity for success in his courses.” Another colleague added, “Damon crafts vivid analogies and stories to help students understand complex processes and patiently responds to every question thrown at him. He is truly a master teacher.” In addition, Damon has a strong record of University service, serving as the program director for LAS during the final years of the Minneapolis campus. His steady leadership and attention to detail were instrumental in the successful merger of the two campuses. Damon is a humble, kind, and trusted colleague. His careful, critical approach to information-gathering and problem-solving makes him a valued team member. One colleague noted, “St. Kate’s is fortunate to have such a teacher and colleague devote twenty-five years to student success.”   

Angela Stanco, associate director of admissions, has been a steady rock for the College for Adults admission office for the last 25 years. She has been responsible for growing one of the largest populations in our College for Adults, the RN-to-BSN program. Very frequently admissions will receive notes or emails those students send in, expressing how thankful they are to have Angela as their admission counselor. No one takes more time with each student to make sure all of their questions and concerns are satisfied. Angela is in touch with the nursing marketplace and has made many program change suggestions over the years that have kept the program thriving. The RN-to-BSN market is one of the most competitive markets in all of higher education; public, private, and for-profit schools all have this program competing for our students. It is Angela's personal touch and relationship building that has kept St. Catherine University competitive in this market. She is a shining example of the University's mission of serving the dear neighbor. We are so fortunate to have Angela and all the talents she has brought to St. Kate's over the years.


Jean Omodt, associate professor of biology, is a key member of St. Kate's human anatomy and physiology team. With her background as a practicing physical therapist, Jean brings critical clinical expertise to the course. Students admire her deep knowledge of healthcare, and appreciate her dedication and warmth as a teacher. Jean has also contributed significantly to faculty governance, having served multiple terms on the School of Humanities, Arts, and Sciences School Curriculum Committee, and before that, on the Educational Policies Committee. In addition, Jean is a clinical scholar who works with inter-professional teams to improve patient care and presents this work in numerous forums. Her colleagues appreciate her desire to help students succeed and to contribute to communities within and beyond the campus gates. 

Robin Lukes, associate professor, joined the Liberal Arts and Science (LAS) department in 1992. She has taught various courses in critical studies, human rights, power and social change, and health justice. She served as the LAS program director from 1996 to 2006 and again in 2015. Robin was awarded the Sr. Anne Joachim Moore award in 1998. She has served on numerous committees, led the assessment and AD core curriculum revisions, and always puts AD students at the heart of everything she does. Robin has mentored many of our department’s new faculty by modeling, guiding, and creating opportunities for junior faculty to lead. She exemplifies lifelong learning, always keeping current on educational practices and technology. During her sabbatical, she learned how to code and develop apps to be able to create an app that supports student writing through the use of the R-T-W method. She is student-centered with a focus on social justice and equity, which is evident in her work on curriculum and pedagogy, institutional policies and procedures, and interactions with students, staff, and faculty.


Kay Tweeten, department chair and professor of biology, has defined for students and faculty alike what it means to be a teacher, learner, and scholar of biology. She has been departmental chair twice – once from 1992 to 2002, and again more recently — Endowed Professor in the Sciences from 2003 to 2006, and winner of both the Faculty Teaching and Advising Award and the inaugural Myser Family Excellence in Faculty Mentoring Award. Kay’s many contributions to the biology department and the University stem from her egalitarian and transparent leadership style — balancing boldness with reflection — and her respectful and wise mentoring. She is a consummate scientist and creative problem-solver: she makes things, fixes equipment, and wields a circular saw to great effect. She has an impressive range of expertise, having taught microbiology, molecular and cellular biology, immunology, and many topical seminar courses exploring the leading edge of science. Through an NSF grant in the early 1990's, Kay helped structure St. Kate’s foundational biology courses around team research experiences, and continues to embed novel research projects into her upper-level lab courses. She is an internationally acknowledged expert on Lumbriculus reproduction; her lab has pioneered our understanding of the prevalence of sexual reproduction in this worm as well as discovering which proteins are expressed under various conditions. Kay’s history with student collaborators is a showcase for the synergies that result from the teacher-scholar model of discovery.

Gay Varecka, associate professor of nursing, is a dedicated leader and expert nurse educator in our graduate nursing programs. Gay exemplifies the mission of St. Catherine University and is an advocate for keeping that mission at the heart of our curriculum. Graduating Katie nurse practitioners is Gay’s passion. She has taught nursing for 50 years, with 35 of those years here at St. Kate’s. During that time, she has served on and chaired UCAP in addition to providing many contributions to the department. Currently, she is the track coordinator for the adult-gero NP program. Gay is a member of the American Nurses Association, Minnesota Nurses Association, the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties, and Sigma, the nursing honors society. For Gay, teaching nursing goes hand-in-hand with meaningful clinical work, and she balances her teaching with her expert clinical practice as an NP at Hennepin Health Brooklyn Center Clinic. She routinely precepts St. Kate’s students and participates in ongoing quality improvement projects with students, bridging both of her roles. Gay is a fierce advocate for recruiting, supporting, and nurturing a diverse NP workforce; for health equity; and for applying healthcare to care for the dear neighbor without distinction. Our students shine because of her teaching, and our faculty are grateful to work alongside her.

Anne Maloney, department chair and associate professor of philosophy, joined the faculty thirty-five years ago, and there has not been one moment since that day that she has not shared her deep and relentless passion for philosophy, for life, and for sharing that passion with her students. Her commitment to the strength of philosophical inquiry, of critical thinking, of the never-ending process of becoming more of who we are to be in the world, has not waned, not one bit, and Anne expects the same from her students. She has always stood up for the centrality of the student, as the location of new contributions to truth and the beliefs that will guide their actions, throughout their lives. Anne’s commitments to the community and to society also center on her scholarship, which always starts from the place of questions that arise within reflection on her own life and the places where illumination is called for. Anne has made so many of our lives at St. Kate’s better. She is a genuine gift to this community.



Paulette Nash, custodian in the facilities management department, has a passion for taking the best possible care for all of St. Kate’s students and staff, and her years of service are testament to her dedication and commitment to the University. She has spent most of her career cleaning in the resident hall St. Mary's. She is so well liked and respected that you can’t step foot in the building without hearing about something she has done or how appreciated her work is.


Janet Marinelli, assistant professor of holistic health, is the founding program director of the Holistic Health Studies program. She put her creative mind and pioneering spirit toward the conceptualization and creation of the Holistic Health Studies program in 1984. She has been a holder of the flame for 38 years, first as program director and now as faculty member. Janet is a master teacher and much loved by her students. She brings the creative arts and transformative practice into her pedagogy and creates a powerful learning experience in the classroom. She designed an innovative graduate level energy healing course and has translated that to online learning.  Her philosophy draws from the holistic paradigm, adult learning theory, transformative learning theory, and St. Catherine University’s commitment to student-centered learning and social justice. Janet values collaborative research and has played a key role in facilitating research groups for presentations and papers at multiple international conferences. Her current cutting edge research agenda is to study client experiences of virtual energy healing. Janet has provided extensive service to the Holistic Health Studies program in multiple capacities including advising students and keeping the program on the edge of new paradigms for learning and healing.

Photos by Andy Clayton-King / By King Studios.