First MBA cohort graduates from St. Kate’s

Photo of the 18 members of the first MBA cohort to graduate from St. Kate's; the ceremony was held February 4, 2016.

More than 100 family members and friends gathered in Coeur de Catherine on February 4 for St. Catherine University’s first Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree Completion Ceremony. The 18 MBA graduates included early- to mid-career professionals at Fairview Health Services, U.S. Bank, Xcel Energy and Second Harvest Heartland.

Offered through the School of Business and Professional Studies, the St. Kate’s MBA, which launched in spring 2014, offers concentrations in management, healthcare and integrated marketing and communications (IMC). The IMC concentration, which focuses on digital marketing and electronic communications — such as social networks, blogging and transmedia campaigns — the first of its kind in the nation.

“Many thought we were foolish to compete with already well-established programs… but the St. Kate’s spirit is never daunted,” said Colleen Hegranes, executive vice president and provost, in her opening remarks. “We knew a degree from St. Kate’s would be greatly different... Tonight is a celebration of your accomplishments. You came to St. Kate’s ready to embrace our values.”

Recent graduate Cheri Keepers, a project manager & school relations representative with Youth Frontier, chose the St. Kate's MBA “because of the strong commitment to social justice and emphasis on critical thinking.” Monique Trageser ’02 wanted to return to her alma mater because of the faculty. “I admire the professors,” she said. “They have a deep passion for what they teach. They have a desire to guide students to learn and succeed by living out the University’s mission in every class.”

Family ties, on the other hand, drew MBA graduate Douglas Scalia, a branch manager at U.S. Bank, to St. Kate’s.

“I was very familiar with the campus since I grew up near St. Kate’s and my mother worked at the campus for much of my life,” he explained. “My wife, mother and sister were all Katies. When I heard St. Kate’s had an MBA program, it was an easy decision to make.”

The evening ended with a rousing standing ovation for the graduates — and an invitation from Joann Bangs, dean of the School of Business and Professional Studies, to return in May for their official master's hooding ceremony at Spring Commencement.

“You decided to be a trailblazer when you chose our MBA program,” she said. “Your experience and feedback will continue to help us shape this program… please give me the pleasure of placing your [academic] hood over your heads.”

By Pauline Oo