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U SCIENTISTS take on the Addiction crisis

Plus: The world's first stewardess Alumni help shape the New York skyline Playing with player pianos

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Made possible by members of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association since 1901 | Volume 116, Number 2

Spring 2017 4 Editor's Note 5 From the Desk of Eric Kaler 8 About Campus Restoration avocation, the best volleyball player in the land, and hello P.J. Fleck


14 Discoveries Proof that gratitude works By Gayla Marty


Addiction 18 Opioids are killing young people, and pediatricians

must help stop it, says Pamela Gonzalez 38 At the frontiers of neuroscience and addiction 24 An alumna mom’s story

A Dance in the Sky

26 Led by famed architect William Pedersen, U alumni

are leading a project that is transforming NYC By Alexander Gelfand

A Soaring Passion

32 The story of how a U alumna became

the world’s first stewardess By Tim Brady


36 Off the Shelf Jim Walsh’s Gold Experience: Following Prince in the 90s By John Toren

39 Alumni Stories From drug czar to meatloaf queen 43 Stay Connected Your guide to the Alumni Association 48 Heart of the Matter Boy/Outside By Emily Freeman

Cover photograph of Pamela Gonzalez by Sara Rubinstein, photo illustration by Kristi Anderson Top: Sara Rubinstein • Hudson Yards: Courtesy KPF • Stewardesses: Everett Collection/Alamy

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Chair Dan McDonald, ’82, ’85 Chair-Elect Sandra Ulsaker Weise Secretary Douglas Huebsch, ’85 Treasurer Laura Moret, ’76, ’81 Past Chair Alison Page,’96 President and CEO Lisa Lewis


Jim Abrahamson, ’81 Wendy Williams Blackshaw, ’82 Eric Brotten, ’03 Natasha Freimark, ’95 Catherine French, ’79 Nicholas Goldsmith Chad Haldeman, ’08 Mark Jessen, ’85 Maureen Kostial, ’71 Quincy Lewis, ’04, ’12 Peter Martin, ’00 Akira Nakamura, ’92 Amy Phenix, ’08 Roshini Rajkumar, ’97 Clinton Schaff, ’00 Kathy Schmidlkofer, ’97 Ann Sheldon, ’88 Abeer Syedah Tony Wagner, ’96, ’06 Myah Walker, ’10 Scott Wallace, ’80

Photo by Rich Ryan Photo by Scott Haraldson

10 Unique Rooms of All Sizes

Adjacent Parking Ramp

D’Amico Catering On-site

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Alumni Association Life Members receive up to $300 off room rental. Inquire with McNamara sales staff for details.

UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA GOVERNANCE President Eric Kaler, ’82 Board of Regents Dean Johnson, chair David McMillan, ’83, ’87, vice chair Thomas Anderson, ’80 David McMillan, ’83, ’87 Richard Beeson, ’76 Laura Brod, ’93 Linda Cohen, ’85, ’86 Tom Devine ’79 Michael Hsu, ’88 Peggy Lucas, ’64, ’76 Abdul Omari, ’08, ’10 Darrin Rosha, ’90, ’91, ’93, ’96 Patricia Simmons

To join or renew, change your address, or get information about membership, go to or contact us at: McNamara Alumni Center 200 Oak St. SE, Suite 200 Minneapolis, MN 55455-2040 800-862-5867 612-624-2323 The University of Minnesota Alumni Association is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to its programs, facilities, and employ­ment without regard to race, religion, color, sex, national origin, handicap, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation.


Sustaining Our Community TWO YEARS AGO, we devoted our Spring 2015 issue to show-

casing global alumni in action. The cover depicted three-time alumna Fouzia Saeed (B.S. ’82, M.S. ’84, Ph.D. ’87), a pioneer in Pakistan’s movement against sexual harassment; among other stories, we wrote about Habib Essid (M.S. ’75), who studied agricultural economics at the U and was elected prime minister of Tunisia just days before the issue went to press. We profiled Agam Sheth (Ph.D. ’04), a scientist with Merck & Co. who is active in the Alumni Association’s Philadelphia network and spent three months in Delhi on a project aimed at improving health care delivery for impoverished women in remote villages. My editor’s note in that issue was titled No Foreigners Among Us. In it, I reflected on how being a student at the University in the 1980s helped me—forced me, actually—to overcome my fear of those who are different from me. I observed that the word “foreigner,” with its vaguely pejorative connotations, has thankfully fallen out of common usage, in contrast to how it was when I was growing up. I ended the column with this: “At the Alumni Association we talk about being a global community. It’s not mere marketing jargon. Our connections to each other through the University we share are an invitation to grow and to expand our worldview in much the same way we did as students. In connecting with the global community of alumni, we’re likely to discover that there are no foreigners among us.” I am not in the habit of quoting myself, but I think it bears repeating that the global nature of the University, and hence of the alumni community, benefits us throughout our lifetimes. The University of Minnesota, and indeed all of American higher education, thrives because it is international. The Alumni Association now has 20 international networks, the most recent in the UK, and they continue to grow under the able leadership of International Alumni and Travel Director Audra Gerlach Ferrall (B.A. ’04). Audra recently attended alumni gatherings in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Jakarta; on page 44 we write about a gathering in Shanghai. And this year, for the first time, the Alumni Association board has an international member, Akira Nakamura (M.B.A. ’92), who lives in Tokyo. When we say we’re a global community, we put equal emphasis on each word. On January 30, the University launched a campaign called “We All Belong Here.” Maroon and gold posters with variations on that theme began popping up all over campus: “Rise above intolerance;” “Strive to be inclusive;” “Respect everyone every day;” and my personal favorite, “Our differences drive our greatness.” Country of origin is just one of many differences within the campus community that drives our greatness. National affairs in recent weeks are a reminder that we cannot take this source of strength for granted. Keeping our global community strong and vital is up to each of us.

President and CEO Lisa Lewis Editor Cynthia Scott Senior Editor Meleah Maynard Copy Editor Susan Maas Contributing Writers Tim Brady Alexander Gelfand Tara Haelle Susan Maas Gayla Marty James Skakoon Stephanie Soucheray Katie Spielberger Andy Steiner Art Director Kristi Anderson Two Spruce Design Senior Director of Marketing Lisa Huber Advertising Ketti Histon 612-280-5144, Minnesota Alumni ISSN 2473-5086 (print ) is published four times yearly by the University of Minnesota Alumni Association, 200 Oak St. SE Suite 200, Minneapolis MN 554552040 in SEPT., DEC., MAR., and JUN. Business, editorial, accounting, and circulation offices: 200 Oak St. SE Suite 200, Minneapolis MN 554552040. Call (612) 624-2323 to subscribe. Copyright ©2016 University of Minnesota Alumni Association Periodicals postage paid at St. Paul, Minnesota, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address corrections to: Minnesota Alumni, McNamara Alumni Center, 200 Oak St. SE, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55455-2040.

Sher Stoneman

Cynthia Scott (M.A. ’89) can be reached at



A Culture of Respect IT IS AN ALARMING FACT that troubles me

deeply. A 2015 survey conducted by the Association of American Universities found that about one in five women on our Twin Cities campus had experienced sexual assault. We are not alone. Sadly, that horrible statistic was roughly the average for 26 peer institutions in the same survey. There is little positive attached to that reality, but we at the University of Minnesota have been national leaders for more than three decades in working to change the culture that creates such behavior. Last fall, our pioneering Aurora Center marked its 30th anniversary of providing safe and confidential space for students, faculty, staff, and alumni who are victims/survivors of sexual assault, relationship violence, or stalking. In fact, in January, a federal report identified 92 specific recommendations for institutions of higher education on handling sexual assault. I’m proud that the University has implemented almost all of them, such as requiring sexual assault training for all incoming students, employing full-time advocacy and counseling services for victim-survivors, conducting regular awareness campaigns, and employing a full-time Title IX coordinator. That Title IX position is critical after the U.S. Office for Civil Rights determined that gender-based discrimination on campus also includes sexual violence. In August 2015, our Board of Regents established an “affirmative consent” policy as a standard for sexual assault investigations. University policy now requires “informed, freely, and affirmatively

communicated willingness to participate in sexual activity that is expressed by clear and unambiguous words or actions.” That is, partners must communicate “Yes.” For those of us who were students at the U in previous decades, the occurrence of sexual assault was likely just as frequent, if not more so, than it is today, says Aurora Center Director Katie Eichele. Eichele believes the current generation of students understands the values embedded in affirmative consent. It is, she says, a generation that has grown up amid antibullying and antiharassment campaigns and has repeatedly been sent messages about asking, listening to, and respecting each other in intimate settings. “Affirmative consent,” Eichele says, “is all about respect.” Of course, we won’t be able to stop all sexual violence on a campus of 50,000 young people. But I am confident that if we encourage victims to come forward, if we help them to have the courage to report what happened to them and support them through the process, and if we continue to focus on creating a culture of respect, we will go a long way to offering them the best care, while also bringing perpetrators to justice. While no one knows for sure whether there will be a change in the federal law related to enforcement of Title IX, it is up to us to remain vigilant and do better to improve education, prevention, and response. Any sexual assault on our campus is harmful to the entire University, undermining our values and the culture we strive to create. I know while I’m this University’s president, we will not retreat from our commitment to educate our students, to support our victim/survivors, and to ensure a campus climate that remains true to our core values of respect for everyone.

With your support, the U of M is finding solutions to climate change right here at home. An estate gi can help protect the planet. Contact Planned Giving at plgiving@umnedu or 612-624-3333 to learn more.

U researchers aim to keep the mighty moose in Minnesota.


Dig Deeper The story The Unequal Burden of U.S. Wars [Fall 2016] was enlightening but did not go far enough. A few years ago I went to the movie Taking Chance, about the death of a young soldier and his trip home to be presented to his parents for burial. A military officer who showed sensitivity and respect accompanied the body as a courtesy to the family. It is worth seeing if you can see through the tears that well up in your eyes. After seeing the movie, I started thinking of the family and their blue-collar surroundings and had the same question that the article addressed. I went online to search for military casualty statistics and found a wealth of information for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan by the Congressional Research Service. The contents were about post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, amputations, selfinflicted wounds, gender and race/ethnicity distributions of deaths, and medical evacuation statistics for U.S. military personnel. The Minnesota Alumni article addressed the inequalities in our military focusing on the greater sacrifice from the nation’s poor. Digging deeper into the subject of inequality reveals more inequalities. Some are uncomfortable to face but need to be talked about, specifically gender and race. The vast majority of deaths by far are males. This is understandable because most men would willingly sacrifice their life before seeing a women being killed in combat. I think this is just a guy thing no matter what people say about equality in the workplace or pay inequality. Regarding race, when compared with the number of deaths among black or African American, American Indian/Alaska native, Asian, and native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders, a large majority is white. The inconvenient truth about sacrifice goes beyond just being poor. The reality is that poor white males make up the majority of the casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. These realities may stimulate needed 6 MINNESOTA ALUMNI Spring 2017

“The inconvenient truth about sacrifice goes beyond just being poor. The reality is that poor white males make up the majority of the casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.” conversation about the who, what, where and why of military conflicts. David E. Wolff (D.D.S. ’71) White Bear Township, Minnesota Ode To Choral Song I am just now getting around to writing a note regarding the touching story by John Toren (B.A. ’74), Letting a Song Go Out of My Heart [Fall 2016]. I fully agree with his remarks concerning choral singing as a kind of therapy, as well as, I believe, one of the higher forms of artistic expression. My personal experience in choral singing started in high school. It gained in personal exhilaration when I entered the U in 1947. I enrolled in University Chorus, not knowing what to expect. The conductor was Dr. James Aliferis, a true master in choral conducting. He could not sing himself, but had the ability to elicit (and sometimes coerce) the kind of sound he was intent on producing. Under Aliferis’s direction, we prepared several of the greatest works of choral music. Under the direction of Mitropouls and then Dorati and the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, we sang works such as Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Handel’s Messiah, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah, all hefty works that demanded hours of grueling rehearsal time. Under Aliferis, it was even fun, as when we prepared for Rifle, Axe, and Plow in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Minnesota territoriality, in 1949. I am an octogenarian now, but fondly remember those days. Truly, choral singing is therapeutic and fun! Leroy Gardner (B.A. ’60, M.A. ’66) Silver Spring, Maryland Writing About Writing On Aging I was truly thrilled with your winter issue of the Minnesota Alumni magazine and the sensitive handling of the readers’ focus on aging! Thanks so very much for addressing the issue with such breadth and depth. (And for including my own small contribution.) I believe your magazine has contributed

greatly to readers’ understanding and views on growing older—something we all have in common. This is important stuff, as how we view aging impacts our health and longevity. Lindsey McDivitt (B.S. ’82) Ann Arbor, Michigan I just read the winter issue of Minnesota Alumni and decided to write my first letter to the editor. The article Intimacy Endures by Susan Maas is about the work of [Dr. June La Valleur,] a student I had in high school when I taught at Ashby Public School. I enjoyed it and found it accurate and interesting. Pardon this 90-year-old’s shaky printing. I am old. I do two miles a day with my wheeled walker and also 40 minutes of physical therapy. The doctor says, “Stay active.” I live in assisted living combined to a nursing home, clinic, and physical therapy facility. I have three degrees from the U of M. I enjoyed being a G.I. Bill student there and earned my bachelors in two years. I had a wife and daughter so I had to get to work! Thanks and keep up the good work. I enjoy all the department publications I get, as research is of interest to me. Keith Kapphahn (B.S. ’51, M.S. ’51) Greenbush, Minnesota I always start reading Minnesota Alumni with the Editor’s Note and with [the winter] issue I read straight through in one gulp. Thanks. Rita Quigley (M.S.W. ’73) St. Paul Best. Issue. Ever. Bill Sonsin (M.S. ’71) Prescott, Arizona Thank you for this very interesting issue about what it means to grow older. I didn’t think of it from the perspective of younger people reflecting on age, but that is important if they want to improve it when they get older. Thanks to all for sharing. Marion Palm (B.A. ’78, M.A. ’93) Brooklyn, New York

We have read our winter Minnesota Alumni cover to cover and wanted to thank you for using our Getting Older offering. Your request was certainly successful and it was interesting to see that all ages were represented. We also thought the Editor’s Note was so interesting. It must have been fun receiving so many different stories and thoughts from young and old. John (B.M.E. ’57) and Carol Koepcke Erhard, Minnesota

Correction: In our story about the 1987 rowing team [Winter 2017] we misspelled Tom Altenhofen’s name. We apologize for the error.

Letters Policy

Minnesota Alumni encourages the exchange of ideas and opinions in the form of letters to the editor. Readers submitting letters for possible publication must follow these guidelines: Letters must pertain to articles published in Minnesota Alumni or to University of Minnesota news or issues. Letters should be fewer than 300 words and will be edited for length, clarity, and style. Letter writers should include: full name, graduation year and degree, if relevant, address and

telephone number (for verification only), and email address, if available (for contact use only). A letter will not be considered if it is deemed by the editor to be potentially libelous or to malign a particular person or group; is not in response to the magazine’s coverage or University matters; promotes a product or service, endorses a political candidate, or proselytizes; was published in another publication; is incoherent or poorly articulated; is anonymous. The number of letters published on one subject


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may be limited. Priority will be given to timely letters that directly relate to the content of the magazine. Publication of letters from one letter writer may be limited in frequency. An editor’s note may follow a letter to correct inaccurate information or misperceptions contained in the letter or to explain a University policy but will not be used to contradict an opinion. Letters reflect the opinion of the author only and do not represent the views of the University or the Alumni Association. Spring 2017 MINNESOTA ALUMNI 7



Selections from the Weisman Art Museum’s exhibit “The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal” through May 21. Many of the drawings are being presented for the first time ever. Cajal (above) is considered the father of modern neuroscience.

“I don’t know if I want to say it’s more important, but it’s differently important. You’re doing something for people. I’m especially aware of that when it’s hot out, when it’s really smelly, when there are a lot of maggots.”

THERE WAS A TIME early in the 20th century when player pianos were common—and coveted—in homes. Most of the instruments are now relegated to museums or dusty basements. But Thomas Chase (Ph.D. ’84) and Thomas Kuehn (B.M.E. ’71, M.S.M.E. ’73, Ph.D. ’76) are doing their part to preserve the history and artifacts of that golden age of pianolas, as they are often called. Chase and Kuehn collect and restore pianolas and a wide variety of other mechanical instruments. Kuehn, who retired last spring after 33 years on the University of Minnesota mechanical engineering faculty, has rescued and restored player pianos, barrel organs, orchestrions (machines that play music that sounds like an orchestra or

University of Minnesota adjunct professor JOHN MARBOE, a Lutheran pastor and garbage man, on NPR’s Story Corps. He originally became a garbage collector to help make ends meet when he was unemployed and keeps the job because he believes it’s a way to help people.

Thomas Chase, left, and Thomas Kuehn tinker with the mechanism of a flute and violin solo piano made in Germany in 1925.


band), fairground organs, and even a self-playing violin. Two of his instruments have been heard on A Prairie Home Companion, including a portable reed organ that he played. One of Chase’s projects is an orchestrion featuring special effects like a mandolin, xylophone, snare drum, cymbal, and tambourine. Housed in a plush oak cabinet with elegant stained glass faces, this coin-operated beauty would have been at home in the cafes and restaurants of the ‘20s, Chase says. Chase, a current faculty member in the department of mechanical engineering, first saw a player piano at age 7 in a penny arcade. “It was really fascinating, and I was instantly addicted,” he says. His father liked them, too, so they purchased one

Paul Udstand

Restoration Avocation

University Athletics

and then another, nonworking model, from an aunt, and rebuilt it. This early fascination, Chase says, is why he went on to study mechanical engineering. “There are a lot of cool mechanisms in a player piano,” he says. “I even gave an exam problem once with a gear train from one of my player pianos.” As a boy, Kuehn lived near the site of the Wildwood Amusement Park on White Bear Lake, a Twin Cities suburb. It was closed, but a traveling carnival still used the rides every spring before hitting the road. The tilt-a-whirls and Ferris wheels spawned his early interest in mechanical things. Kuehn had also been curious about the carousel organs with moving figures and powerful music, so in 1989 he built a replica Wurlitzer band organ from scratch using plans from the Music Box Society. Pianolas were popular at a time when there weren’t many other options for in-home entertainment. “You could have a cylinder phonograph, which didn’t sound like much, or you could have this real, acoustic piano,” Chase explains. Between 1910 and 1925, 85 percent of all new pianos came with selfplaying mechanisms. They became obsolete around 1930, according to Chase, because of electronic amplification and voice recording. “The sad part is that people started chopping them up and throwing them out,” he laments. Some pianolas are complicated automatic machines, but Chase says that ordinary foot pump models can be the most fun. “Pump harder and it gets louder, pump softer and it quiets down. You’re part of it,” he says. And many of the rolls come printed with scrolling lyrics, so you can sing along. Kuehn adds, “They’re the original karaoke machines.” —James Skakoon

Associate Athletics Director Randy Handel pins the M on the lapel of new football coach P.J. Fleck

Hello, Coach P.J. Fleck PHILLIP JOHN “P.J.” FLECK became the youngest head football coach among

major NCAA Division I programs when Athletics Director Mark Coyle introduced him as the new head coach of the Golden Gophers on January 6. Fleck, 36, joined Gopher football after four years as head coach of the Western Michigan Broncos. His five-year contract pays $3.5 million per year. He was hired following the dismissal of Tracy Claeys. Fleck immediately embarked on a frenzied recruiting drive that culminated in the introduction of 25 new Gophers on national signing day February 1. But his recruiting philosophy, he says, extends beyond bringing new players into the program. “We are going to recruit our student athletes every single day with the positivity and energy of University of Minnesota football—every day, to think of the University of Minnesota as the greatest place on earth. We’re also going to recruit the finest student athletes in the country, because we want to fill the Bank every single game. “This has to be more than football. I am more than football. Our kids will be more than football. I’m so proud to be your head football coach. I’m so honored to lead these young men into a new era and I look forward to the challenge of that leadership role.”

I eat difficult conversations for breakfast.

New Gopher head football coach P.J. FLECK in his introductory press conference on January 6 explaining his commitment to culture change within the program.

Human Research Program Reaccredited ON DECEMBER 19 the University of Min-

The Ledger President Donald Trump’s January executive order pertaining to immigration from seven nations* shone a spotlight on the international nature of higher education. International student population on the Twin Cities campus


Students enrolled in U.S. institutions of higher education in 2015–2016 from the seven specified nations


Students from Iran, the country from among those seven with the highest representation

12,269 Students from those seven nations on the Twin Cities campus


Students from Iran on the Twin Cities campus**


* Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen **Student populations from the other six countries are Iraq 3, Libya 2, Somalia 1, Syria 2, Sudan 0, and Yemen 3. Data from the University of Minnesota Office of Institutional Research, Fall 2016, and the Institute of International Education Open Doors Report.

nesota regained full accreditation with special distinction from the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs Inc. (AAHRPP), an independent organization that ensures research institutions meet rigorous standards for quality and protection. AAHRPP had assigned the U the status of “reaccreditation pending” after a site visit in July 2015 found that the human research program did not meet the criteria for full accreditation. This reaccreditation followed a period of significant reforms and improvements to the U’s human research program prompted by complaints about past cases of research participant recruitment and treatment. This included questions raised about Dan Markingson, a patient who died by suicide in 2004 while enrolled in a clinical drug trial at the U. An independent review of the U’s human research participants protections and a report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor recommended significant reforms, which were implemented by the U in 2016. AAHRPP’s special distinction commends the U for its new policy on adults with limited or diminished capacity to consent to participating in research. The policy establishes a high level of protection for such potential participants and clearly conveys these

expectations to the research community. It is one of more than 60 changes. Another significant change has involved how the department of psychiatry engages community members. Sophia Vinogradov, M.D., who succeeded Charles Schulz, M.D., as head of psychiatry last year, established a Community Advisory Council to provide regular feedback about department practices. One of the first members is Mike Howard, a friend of Markingson’s family and longtime advocate for University reforms. “I wanted this council because I want to get the perspective of people not in the department,” Vinogradov says. “People who have the lived experience of mental illness, their family members, people from the nonprofit or legislative worlds. . . .Their points of view are so important to the work we do.” Vinogradov also developed a Chair’s Advisory Group within the department focused on the well-being of research volunteers. In addition, with the blessing of Markingson’s family, Vinogradov instituted the annual Dan Markingson Lecture on the role of the family in mental health treatment, with the first lecture scheduled for this spring. The event will also include a panel discussion with family members and people with lived experience related to medical decision-making. —Cynthia Scott

There were days during medical school that I went three weeks without seeing the sun. . .

ERICA LEVINE (B.S. ’12), executive president of the University Medical School Student Council, quoted in a Minnesota Daily article about the need for a new health sciences education facility. Levine said many classrooms in the current facility do not have windows. 12 MINNESOTA ALUMNI Spring 2017

Player of the Year Sarah Wilhite, right, celebrates a victory.

University Athletics

Best in the Nation SARAH WILHITE HAS LOVED VOLLEYBALL since she started playing in fourth grade, practicing with her father in their Eden Prairie driveway after school. But she never thought she’d end up where she is today, recognized as this year’s top college volleyball player in the nation. After racking up more than 1,100 career kills and helping the Gophers advance to the NCAA Final Four for the second year in a row, the senior was named the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) National Player of the Year. It’s the first time a Gopher has ever won this award. Wilhite hadn’t received even an honorable mention from the AVCA before this season. But she knew her coaches always believed she could reach this level and pushed her until everything “seemed to click” at the end of her junior season. Her faith and her family helped with her mental game, she says, and she can’t praise her teammates enough. “The best part about it is the people who you get to play with and against,” Wilhite says. Wilhite wasn’t the only standout Gopher. The AVCA gave All-America honors to Samantha Seliger-Swenson (first team) and Hannah Tapp (second team) and honorable mentions to Molly Lohman and Alexis Hart. Paige Tapp became the first Gopher athlete ever to receive the NCAA’s Senior CLASS Award, which recognizes both academic and athletic achievement. Wilhite will graduate later this year. She is finishing coursework in her physiology major and looking into physician assistant graduate degree programs. She’s also thinking about playing volleyball abroad in the fall. But this semester, she’s back at Gopher team practice, helping to mentor new volleyball players, eager to give back to the program that’s given her so much. What advice would Wilhite give new players? “Not to lose the love for the game. That’s what really drives your appreciation—not taking a second of it for granted.” —Katie Spielberger


The new $64 million Bell Museum, currently under construction on the St. Paul campus, will showcase Minnesota’s natural history, inside and out, featuring an exterior that is partially clad in eastern white pine from Cass Lake, Minnesota. Thermally modified to enhance durability, the white pine will cover about 40 percent of the building’s exterior and is one of several natural, locally sourced building materials being used by Perkins+Will, the museum’s designer. The goal is to create a museum that tells the story of Minnesota’s natural history, not just through exhibits and dioramas, but also through materials and architecture. Check out the construction site web camera at bellmuseum.umn. The new museum is scheduled to open in 2019.


The Power of Three Good Things New research documents the benefits of gratitude in recovery By Gayla Marty


MIGHT CULTIVATING FEELINGS OF GRATITUDE be key to addiction recovery? Amy Krentzman, a researcher and assistant professor in the University’s School of Social Work, thinks so. Gratitude already plays a role in many addiction treatment and recovery programs. Alcoholics Anonymous, for example, recommends expressing “genuine gratitude for blessings received” in step 10 of the 12-step program. And people in recovery are encouraged to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude,” including writing a gratitude list. It’s not surprising that gratitude has been the subject of research in the field of positive psychology—the scientific study of wellness, not illness—that emerged in the 1990s. But Krentzman was surprised to find in 2012 that no research had been done on gratitude practices in recovery programs. “Gratitude is a common emotion among people in 12-step recovery programs because it’s a theme in Alcoholics Anonymous literature and at meetings,” she says. So, knowing that gratitude practice is considered promising in positive psychology interventions, Krentzman designed an experiment to study the effect of a popular positive psychology intervention called the Three Good Things exercise in relation to recovery. After assembling a team, she conducted the research in early 2013 in a Midwestern community where 23 participants were enrolled in an outpatient program for alcohol addiction.

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Digging back into the data, Krentzman and a smaller team found evidence that people in the study, like many with addictions, suffered from alexithymia: difficulty identifying, naming, and expressing emotions. In completing the PANAS, they found that their ability to identify, accept, and regulate mood increased. The finding was significant because mood plays such a crucial role in models that explain the motivation to drink. Published in the journal of Qualitative Health Research in 2015, it was the first study to suggest that the PANAS questionnaire might have therapeutic properties for people with addictions. Currently, Krentzman is heading up a study looking at whether gratitude increases after substance use disorder treatment, and the effect of gratitude posttreatment on future drinking. She is also about to begin work on a new study to see whether journaling, particularly about things people feel grateful for, and sharing those entries with a designated partner, might be helpful to people in recovery in rural communities where recovery can sometimes be complicated by isolation. “Gratitude practice is helpful to everyone, not just people in recovery, because of a psychological phenomenon called the negativity bias, which causes us to react strongly to threatening or problematic events and pay less attention to good or neutral things,” she says. “That bias served an evolutionary function, but it can cause disproportionate focus on worrisome events and relatively muted reactions to good things that happen. Looking back over your day and remembering positive things can help overcome that bias. That’s especially important for people in recovery because negative thoughts can spiral downward and lead to relapse.”

Documenting African American History Learning the depth and breadth of African American history got easier with the January launch of Umbra Search African American History, a partnership between the University of Minnesota Libraries and St. Paul-based Penumbra Theatre Company. offers free access to hundreds of thousands

of videos, photographs, oral histories, maps, handwritten letters, and other items from more than 1,000 U.S. archives, libraries, and museums, including Yale, Temple, and Howard Universities and the Smithsonian Institute. Umbra Search pays homage to the Umbra Society of the early 1960s, a renegade group of Black

writers and poets who helped create the Black Arts Movement. “No library is able to digitize all of its holdings, but by bringing together materials from all over the country; Umbra Search allows students and scholars to tell stories that have never been told before,” says director Cecily Marcus.

This photograph is one of thousands available at It shows founding members of the Niagara Movement, a black civil rights organization established in 1905, superimposed over an image of Niagara Falls. The organization was named for the “mighty current” of change it wanted to effect. 16 MINNESOTA ALUMNI Spring 2017

W.E.B. Du Bois Library, Special Collections & University Archives, UMass Amherst, via Library of Congress


All were adults, with nearly equal numbers of men and women; 80 percent were white. After a face-to-face intake assessment, each participant was asked six survey questions via email every day for 14 days. Half the group was asked to describe their sleep, exercise, and caffeine intake over the past 24 hours. The other half was asked to describe three good things that had happened over the past 24 hours and what caused them. Throughout the two weeks, the participants also completed a set of questionnaires to identify and rate their emotions and mood. Eight weeks later, they were invited to talk about the experience. While the control group’s outlook and experience stayed the same, those who did the Three Good Things exercise experienced a decrease in negative feelings and an increase in feelings of calm and ease— factors known to support and reinforce recovery. “The people in the gratitude group said that the practice pulled them away from habitual negative thinking,” Krentzman says. “It also had the unanticipated effect of reinforcing their recovery, because when they were asked, ‘Why did that good thing happen?’ they would say, ‘Because I’m in recovery now and not drinking.’” Significantly, Krentzman and her team documented that the effects lasted only as long as the practice continued; there was no lingering aftereffect. The results of this first formal study of gratitude practice in alcoholism treatment were published in the Journal of Positive Psychology in February 2015. Interestingly, and unexpectedly, participants mentioned in their Three Good Things follow-up interviews that completing a questionnaire about their emotions—the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule, or PANAS for short—was helpful to their recovery.

Scientists from several universities, including the University of Minnesota, have isolated and cloned a gene that makes wheat resistant to Fusarium head blight. The devastating disease, commonly known as wheat scab, has caused several billion dollars in grower losses in U.S. wheat fields. Frequent epidemics are reported in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and South America. Nearly 100 scientists from the University of Minnesota, other American universities, and China have participated in the 20-year-long research project leading up to this discovery, which was made by a team at Kansas State University. Bikram Gill, a distinguished professor of plant pathology and director of the Wheat Genetics Resource Center at Kansas State, credited several scientists, including University of Minnesota Professor of Wheat Breeding and Genetics James Anderson, whose research team has been working on resistance to Fusarium head blight since 1993. Anderson’s team was the first to genetically map the location of the resistance gene to a small segment of the wheat chromosome. They have worked closely with researchers at Kansas State and Washington State University to help prove the identity of the resistance gene. The study was published in the October issue of Nature Genetics.

“Just imagine.” That might be the only direction necessary for a brain-computer interface technology developed at the University of Minnesota that allows people to use only their minds to control a robotic arm. The discovery could lead to significant improvement without surgical intervention for people who are paralyzed or have neurodegenerative diseases. This is the first time that people can operate a robotic arm to reach and grasp objects in a complex 3D environment using only their thoughts without a brain implant, says U biomedical engineering professor and lead researcher Bin He. Eight healthy human subjects completed the study’s experimental sessions, which used the noninvasive technique electroencephalography (EEG)-based brain-computer interface. Participants wore EEG caps fitted with 64 electrodes that converted weak electrical activity—thoughts—into action. After first learning to control a virtual cursor on a computer screen, they moved on to controlling a robotic arm to reach and grasp objects on a table. Eventually, they were able to move the robotic arm to reach and grasp objects in random locations on a table and move objects from the table to a three-layer shelf using only their thoughts. The study was published in the December issue of Scientific Reports.

Extensive grazing Very large

Large Medium Small Very Small

A study led by researchers at the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment (IonE) has produced the first-ever map of farming households around the world. Family-run farms play a crucial role in helping to feed people globally. Small farmers are also central to the development of successful policies that aim to alleviate poverty, boost food security, and protect biodiversity and natural resources. Despite their importance, little has been known until now about the location and size of family farms (also known as smallholder farms), which often are situated in remote areas where some of the world’s most vulnerable people live. IonE researchers used census data from millions of households in dozens of countries that was made available by the Minnesota Population Center to identify and map smallholder farms in developing countries. They identified more than 900 places in 83 countries that are likely to be home to a high concentration of small farms, which are key sources of important agricultural commodities. Information about the number, location, and distribution of small farms can be used to guide investments and target policies for agricultural development, food security, and sustainable land use. The study was published in the November issue of Environmental Research Letters. Details about the map, above, can be found at A study coauthored by University of Minnesota Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management Katy Kozhimannil (B.A. ’99) found a striking increase in cases of babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), or opioid withdrawal, especially in rural areas. The study found a nearly sevenfold increase in NAS in rural areas from 2004 to 2013, along with a fourfold increase in urban areas. While fewer than 15 percent of all births in the United States occur in rural areas, the study found that 21 percent of all NAS cases occur in there. “Every infant who is withdrawing has a mom who was exposed to opioids and possibly didn’t have access to the treatment she needed,” says Kozhimannil. She recommends that policies and programs aimed at reversing the rising trend of opioid-affected births in rural areas focus on both prevention and treatment, including developing rural health care infrastructure to include mental health, substance abuse, chronic pain, and obstetric services. The study was published in the December 12, 2016, issue of JAMA Pediatrics. Spring 2017 MINNESOTA ALUMNI 17

It has to stop. Five people a day ages 15 to 24 die of opioid overdose in this country. Their drug habits start even younger. Pediatricians must help confront the crisis, says Pamela Gonzalez. By Tara Haelle Photo by Sara Rubinstein


EVEN BEFORE SHE WENT to medical school, Pamela Gon-

zalez’s experiences as an undergraduate were already laying the groundwork for her work as a pediatrician. As a volunteer at an emergency shelter for teens, she saw firsthand the destruction that addiction wreaked on families and individual lives. She met a 17-year-old boy who likely had mania, as his dad did, and who struggled with addiction—as his dad did. When he died by self-inflicted hanging, she was haunted by how society had failed him. “I think of how many ways we fell short systematically in taking care of that kid and that dad and taking care of people as families,” says Gonzalez, an assistant professor in the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry. “And to see it that young really reinforced early on that it’s a life cycle issue.” Today, in the midst of an opioid epidemic that the nation is only starting to grasp, Gonzalez is on a mission to stem it at its source. Pediatricians, she believes, need to understand that they have a key role to play in interrupt-

ing that cycle. And society needs to understand it has a role in addressing the social conditions that increase the risk of addiction. Five adolescents and young adults ages 15 to 24 die every single day in the United States from a heroin overdose, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control. Their drug habits start when they’re even younger, often from prescription opioids. A recent study in JAMA Pediatrics found that from 1997 to 2012, hospitalization rates from opioid poisonings among youth ages 1 to 19 jumped from 1.4 to 3.71 per 100,000. As Gonzalez pointed out in a talk about opioid misuse as the “highway to heroin” at the American Academy of Pediatrics conference last October, heroin poisonings increased from 1 to 2.5 per 100,000 children over those 15 years. Any use of opioids to treat pain before 12th grade triples the risk of nonmedical opioid use in early adulthood. The risk is even greater for youth with mental health conditions. Part of the problem, Gonzalez says, is that people have become inured to the toll opioids are taking, due in


no small measure to the stigma of addiction and misunderstanding when and how it starts. It’s not the patient’s fault, she says. Even the term “substance abuse”—properly called substance use disorder—increases stigma. “When people start assigning responsibility or blame for an illness, it can color how we interpret the available data and make treatment decisions.” The view that substance use disorder is an adult problem is myopic, Gonzalez says. In fact, it’s an illness that pediatricians are uniquely situated to help prevent. That’s especially true now that the pathway to addiction has changed so dramatically from what it was in heroin’s first heyday a half century ago. “Looking back at the 1960s and 1970s during the first big wave of heroin use, most people who used heroin started with heroin,” Gonzalez explains. But today, approximately 75 percent to 80 percent of people who start using heroin receive their introduction to opioids through prescription drugs. The distinction is particularly important when it comes to understanding why addiction is not a failure of willpower or moral character. One of the biggest fallacies about addiction is the misconception that people make a choice to start to use

in the first place. “The problem with that is the people with the most severe disorders started the youngest,” Gonzalez says. “Let’s say we have a 13-year-old: What does it mean that they had ‘choice’? What put them at risk in the first place? What’s going on at home? Do their parents need help? Does the kid have other problems in terms of depression, chronic illness, or ADHD?” Living in poverty, for example, changes the brain, she notes. “They’re at risk for being young, and they’re at risk for being underprivileged and underserved,” she says. “And then they get older and we blame them for things that are social determinants of health. There are environmental and social justice factors that really play a part in who goes on to develop the severest problems. It really is misleading to say this is something that somebody did to themselves.” Gonzalez says the key is to start routinely screening all youth for substance use disorders just as they already get screened for lead poisoning, developmental milestones, and depression. Health care practice in the United States has long revolved around a crisis and disease model rather than prevention and health, she says, but health and prevention comprises the bulk of

PERHAPS NO ONE in Minnesota

To read a story on Falkowski’s passion outside of work, go to page 40.

knows about trends in substance abuse and addiction like Carol Falkowski (B.A. ’75, at left). For 30-plus years she has dedicated her career to understanding and combating addiction: She was at the internationally renowned Hazelden Foundation in Chisago City, Minnesota, (now the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation) for 10 years; the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division of the Minnesota Department of Human Services for 25 years; and now with the consulting firm Drug Abuse Dialogues, which she founded in 2012 to train health professionals, law enforcement, judges, educators, and parents on trends in drug abuse. The addiction landscape has shifted a lot during Falkowski’s


career. Some of the trends are hopeful, such as the fact that cigarette smoking among adolescents has declined dramatically since the mid-1990s. But others worry her. For instance, while fewer adolescents are smoking cigarettes, more are smoking marijuana. Public perceptions of the drug are changing, due in part to legalization efforts in several states. While she believes that medical marijuana shows real promise in some contexts, recreational marijuana use has unique and sometimes lasting ramifications for adolescents. For starters, she says, they’re more likely to develop an addiction. “The longer you can delay the onset, the less likely the development of addiction, and the less likely you are of having negative

consequences while you’re impaired,” she says. Like her peers, she’s particularly discouraged by the heroin and opioid epidemic. Falkowski points to the federal Centers for Disease Control’s finding that in 2015, for the first time ever, heroin deaths outnumbered gun deaths. “It’s an enormous phenomenon, and it’s fed both by prescription opioids and street drugs,” Falkowski says. “Seizures of heroin at our southern border have never been higher, and many people who become addicted through prescription pain medication switch to heroin because it’s never been more affordable. “With the opioid epidemic, because of the role of prescription medication, we also have to look

Rick Dublin

Sobering New Realities

People have become inured to the toll opioids are taking, due in no small measure to the stigma of addiction and misunderstanding when and how it starts. It’s not the patient’s fault. pediatricians’ job. That is why she believes they are so well poised to be on the forefront of addressing the nation’s epidemic of opioid addiction. “We’re the voice that says, ‘We need to start looking at this differently because it’s negatively impacting future adults by us not recognizing its roots, and understanding its origins is involved in prevention,’” Gonzalez says. That prevention includes looking at risk factors, especially social determinants of health such as poverty, untreated parental illness, neighborhood violence, food insecurity, and other adverse childhood experiences. But parents also play an important role. “Kids’ greatest role model is us, as parents,” Gonzalez says. “They might

cross their arms and slam the door, but they remember what we said, and when we give messages consistently, it does influence the choices that they make.” Pediatricians’ roles include empowering parents at the clinical level and advocating at higher levels for policies that support kids, parents, and families. Others are starting to realize the importance of this conversation as well: The questions and comments Gonzalez received at October’s conference showed her that pediatricians are starting to explore what they can do to make a difference. “Every pediatrician has a role,” she says, “and it’s our job to figure out what little piece of it is mine and to do something about it.”

From High to Dry Characteristics of 2015 admissions to Minneapolis/St. Paul area addiction treatment programs at the practice of medicine,” Falkowski continues. “And we’re making progress in terms of looking at prescribing guidelines, but there’s still enough opioids prescribed in this country to have all adults take a daily regimen of them for a month. This is in spite of efforts to develop treatment alternatives for chronic pain.” Synthetic drugs, from methamphetamine to cathinones like bath salts, are also deadly “game changers,” Falkowski observes. “There’s the accessibility of online drugs. And the influx of synthetic drugs from China, including synthetic drugs pressed into pills. It’s really a changing entity.” —Susan Maas








22,635 8,971 3,426 976 2,954 3,738 1,937 39.6% 15.1% 4.3% 13.1% 16.5% 8.6% GENDER

Male 66.8% 77.6 65.2 64.5 62.5 50.2 Female 33.2 22.4 34.8 35.5 37.5 49.8


White 70.9% 49.7 24.5 78.5 63.8 71.6 African American 16.2 31.8 59.3 3.5 15.5 7.0 American Indian 3.2 3.2 2.9 4.1 11.0 10.6 Hispanic 4.9 7.1 6.9 6.1 5.0 4.9 Asian/Pacific Islander 1.8 2.2 1.0 4.2 1.2 3.4 Other 3.0 6.1 5.4 3.7 3.5 2.6 AGE

17 and under 0.9% 18–25 13.2 26–34 26.2 35+ 59.7

24.4 36.3 23.4 15.8

0.7 9.4 17.3 72.5

2.3 24.3 37.3 36.2

0.7 36.2 31.8 31.3

1.0 21.1 33.2 44.9

Source: Drug and Alcohol Abuse Normative Evaluation System, Minnesota Department of Human Services, 2016. Unknown primary drug = 224 (1.0%). All other primary drugs = 409 (1.8%). Spring 2017 MINNESOTA ALUMNI 21

Minds over gray matter University of Minnesota researchers aim to harness the power of the brain to solve addiction. By Andy Steiner

SUBSTANCE ADDICTION is one of the biggest and most expensive challenges of our time. The federal National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates the financial cost at $700 billion per year in health care, crime and law enforcement, and lost work productivity. And addiction kills some 28,000 people every year. Scientists across a wide range of specialties at the University of Minnesota have focused their research on tackling this problem, looking to address addiction in new ways that delve into its causes and triggers. The connection between addiction and brain research is an area that holds particular promise. We highlight the work of four researchers who have taken innovative approaches to deepening our understanding of the role that the human brain plays in addiction.

Disrupt relapse For the last several years, associate professor of neuroscience and psychology Mark Thomas has focused his work on targeting specific areas in the brain that cause addicts in recovery to relapse. Thus far his research subjects have been morphine-addicted mice, but Thomas and his colleagues are inching ever closer to being able to apply what they’ve learned to human subjects. The goal of their research is to find ways to manually “turn off” the relapse response, perhaps through a device that provides electronic stimulation in the same way an EpiPen helps a person survive a potentially deadly allergic reaction. Because recovering addicts are so susceptible to falling off the wagon, the ability to locate the correct biomarker and shut this response down could be life changing. Lately Thomas and his colleagues have seen significant advances in their work, earning professional acclaim and multimillion-dollar grants from the National Institutes of Health. The tool that’s allowing them to probe deeper into the brain is optogenetics: using light-sensitive proteins to alter brain function. Thomas directs pulses of light into targeted areas of the brains of his rodent subjects, disrupting relapse-like behavior. 22 MINNESOTA ALUMNI Spring 2017

How soon does Thomas think he’ll actually be able to help humans put an end to addiction—maybe even to addictions of the nonchemical kind, such as gambling? “Sometimes I think we have it all here: It’s just a matter of putting the pieces together. Those are the good days. And then on the bad days, I think it is going to take some real leaps to get there. But the good news is that lately I have more good days than bad,” Thomas says. Like Thomas, professor of psychiatry Kelvin Lim is interested in reducing the incidence of relapse, but he approaches the problem using different tools than Thomas. Using brain scans of addicted people who have been through treatment and withdrawal, Lim and his colleagues measure how much communication is occurring between their brain’s reward center and their cognitive control center. Lim has discovered that the stronger the communication between these two areas of the brain, the greater the chances of continued sobriety six months later. Since the vast majority of addicts relapse within a year, Lim and his colleagues hope to be able to use their findings to predict which people in recovery are at higher risk of relapse. With this knowledge in hand, Lim believes that those individuals could perhaps get the focused, intense recovery help they desperately need. Reduce reliance on opioids Much of Carolyn Fairbanks’s research is on reducing brain exposure to highly addictive, opioid-based painrelieving drugs. While she appreciates the important role that opioid-based drugs can play in pain relief, Fairbanks (Ph.D. ’99) also believes it is essential to develop nonaddictive pain medicines for people whose diseases are not life-threatening or who are at higher risk of addiction. “We’re trying to find new ways to develop pharmacological treatments that target nerve endings and the spinal cord,” says Fairbanks, a professor of pharmaceutics. “This will keep these drugs as far as possible away from the brain.” Fairbanks’s work keeps her in collaboration with scientists from around the globe: “This is a national and international effort to try to find improved ways to provide pain relief so that we can reduce reliance on morphine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, and other forms of opioids.” Another promising idea that Fairbanks is focused on is the possibility of using gene modification to reduce the body’s response to pain. This nascent idea would involve “modifying the genes of the different cell types that contribute to the pain pathway so that they would instead produce analgesic substances like endorphins,” Fairbanks explains. Her self-described “Star Trek” approach would involve engineering peripheral or spinal-cord neurons to

Neuroscientists Carolyn Fairbanks, George Wilcox, and Mark Thomas

Since the vast majority of addicts relapse within a year, Lim and his colleagues hope to be able to use their findings to predict which people in recovery are at higher risk of relapse.

Sara Rubinstein

produce signals that would halt pain impulses before they get to the brain. But Fairbanks notes that this approach, if used incorrectly, would have the potential downside of erasing the body’s ability to feel pain. “Pain is a really important process,” she says. “We don’t want to interfere. People who don’t have natural pain systems have a lot of challenges in life.” Keep drugs away from the brain Like his colleague and former mentee Fairbanks, professor of neuroscience George Wilcox is also interested in keeping drugs away from the brain: restricting powerful pain-relieving medications to the spinal cord, the peripheral

nerve endings, or the internal organs, so patients will experience pain relief but are less likely to become addicted. Working with mice, Wilcox and his team have discovered a combination of two drugs that, when used together, yield greater potency than when used alone. And neither drug crosses the blood-brain barrier, thus greatly reducing the chance of addiction. This discovery means that a 99 percent reduction in dosage would give the same amount of pain relief without brain involvement. Wilcox’s ultimate goal is to apply this finding to relieving pain in humans. Human testing, he says, is just on the horizon. “If you can reduce the number of brains exposed to these drugs, then I think we could have a win,” Wilcox says. Spring 2017 MINNESOTA ALUMNI 23

David Wegner and his mother, Martha Wegner

WHEN MARTHA WEGNER’S 18-year-old son David

disappeared into drug addiction and homelessness, she turned to the thing she knew best to help her cope: writing. For 180 days after he walked away from a Twin Cities-area inpatient drug treatment program, Wegner (M.A. ’82) penned letters to David, writing openly and honestly about what she and her husband, John Hay, were going through and posting them on a blog. Writing was healing, not just for her, but, as she discovered later, for David too. Wegner’s letters were published into a book titled Dear David: Dealing with My Son’s Addiction One Letter at a Time. Wegner, who lives in St. Paul, talked with Minnesota Alumni about how addiction affected her family, how they coped, and how everyone is doing now.


What would you most like parents of addicted children to know? I would like them to know that they are not alone. So many families are going through the same struggle, but you start to think you’re crazy and that you’re the only one. I also want them to know that there is hope, and by that I mean your child may or may not find recovery, but you can still find recovery on your own. You can still be a whole or somewhat happy person even if your child is still using or missing. When I was forced to live my own life I realized that life didn’t stop because David was out using and missing. It’s something I learned: My happiness doesn’t depend on him being sober. When did you find out David was an addict and what was he like before that? He started using in the spring of his junior year of high school. Before that, he’d said he was completely uninterested in drugs. Then he tried marijuana. It was complete downhill slide from there. He said it filled a place in him that felt empty all along.

Renee Jones Schneider/©2016 StarTribune

A happy ending—at least for today

How did you get David into treatment? In between David’s junior and senior year we had him assessed and he did outpatient treatment before going to a sober high school. He had a few relapses, but he did graduate. The night of graduation he left and we didn’t know where he was. He didn’t come home for a few days, and then when he did, he would leave again without telling us where he was going or when he would be back. We noticed money was missing, and we could tell he was stealing other things. We told him he needed to get treatment or leave, so he left. A week later he was back and went to outpatient treatment, but in a few days he walked away and was homeless again, that time for three weeks. Finally, he agreed to do inpatient treatment, but after seven weeks he walked away and we didn’t know where he was. Those were the toughest times, when he was missing. That’s when I started writing the blog. Did you think about how David would feel when you posted these letters? I can’t say I considered him much. I was in such pain and so disoriented that I just had to write about it. I couldn’t keep it inside. I couldn’t keep it a secret. I felt like my heart was going to explode. I thought the only way I could get my feelings out, and despair heard, was to write letters letting him know that I loved him and missed him and was angry with him, but also tell him what was going on here at home. He called his dad once and asked him to tell me to stop writing the blog. He was homeless and didn’t have a computer but kids on Facebook would say, “Hey, how are you doing? Where are you?” So then he checked it out. It was my first awareness of “Oh, maybe I should be thinking about him.” And then I thought, I don’t care. This is my pain and my story and my life and this is what I need to do. It wasn’t about punishing him. The letters, and this book, are not about David. They’re about me and how I survived. Once David was in recovery, I did ask him if it was all right to use his real name in the book. He said it was fine, that this had been his life. He felt bad about the things he did, but he wasn’t ashamed and I wanted him to know that his parents were never ashamed of him. He also okayed putting a photo of him on the cover and a photo of the two of us together, smiling, on the back. That photo lets people know that, at least for today, it was a happy ending.

You think your kid comes from a good family and is an Eagle Scout and a nice boy with good parents and that that will prevent drug addiction. But it doesn’t. Addiction can happen to anyone. How did support groups help you and your husband? I would recommend that all parents of addicted children find a support group. It’s important to understand that you can’t control the situation. Addiction can happen to anyone. You think your kid comes from a good family and is an Eagle Scout and a nice boy with good parents and that that will prevent drug addiction. But it doesn’t. It’s a disease and anybody can have it. I want parents to understand that, because there can be such a level of shame. You feel like you can’t tell anybody and that you must have done something wrong. But you are not defective human beings and neither are they. What do you think saved David, and is he still sober? He had run out of couches and options and was sick and tired of being sick and tired. My friend Mike, a recovering addict, suggested he go to the Union Gospel Mission [a Christian ministry dedicated to serving people who are struggling with homelessness, poverty, and addiction], where Mike was a volunteer, to try to get sober. David went there, he told me later, because he was so tired of hurting inside. He didn’t go there to get sober, but he was in such pain, he couldn’t think of anything else to do and being there did help him. David told me later that my letters helped him too, because they made him hit rock bottom faster. He couldn’t hide from the truth. The jig was kind of up because he couldn’t say, “Oh my parents kicked me out.” The possibility for hiding and keeping secrets really dried up. He’s 20 years old now, and he works in Minnetonka and has an apartment. He’s very happy, and has been sober for over two years. Sometimes he speaks with me when I talk to groups about recovery, but mostly he wants to be done telling his story and just live his life, which includes recovery but isn’t all about recovery. —Meleah Maynard




Rendering of Hudson Yards as viewed from Midtown Manhattan


By Alexander Gelfand

Renderings courtesy KPF


Led by famed architect William Pedersen, U alumni are leading a multibillion dollar project that is transforming the New York City skyline


Architects Lane Rapson, William Pedersen, and Gregory Mell in the New York offices of KPF


door of a temporary elevator on the north side of 55 Hudson Yards: nine stories of scaffolding and steel-reinforced concrete on the Far West Side of Manhattan that in six months’ time will have been transformed into a 52-story luxury office tower. “It’s one of the only buildings in New York that fronts on to a park,” says Lane Rapson (B.S. ’07, M.Arch. ’11) as he peers down at the leafy Hudson Yards Park taking shape below. Like his fellow passenger Gregory Mell (B.S. ’02, M.Arch. ’05), Rapson is an associate principal in the architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF), which designed 55 Hudson Yards and is supervising its construction. (He is also the grandson of Ralph Rapson, who was dean of the University of Minnesota’s School of Architecture when KPF cofounder William Pedersen [B.Arch. ’61] was a student.) As impressive as the nascent building and park may be, they’re but a small part of something far bigger: The Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project, a $20 billion venture encompassing a projected 25 million square feet of office space, 5 million square feet of retail and hotel space, and 20,000 residential units in a 45-block area that runs from 8th Avenue to the Hudson River and from West 30th to 42nd Streets. It is said to be the largest private real estate development in U.S. history, and the grandest that New York City has seen since Rockefeller Center was built in the 1930s. Both claims are true, although the private part requires some qualification. Mark Spector (M.P.P. ’04), past president of the Hudson Yards Development Corporation, the city

Denise Chastain


Denise Chastain

A rendering of Hudson Yards as viewed from the Hudson River Top: Mark Spector, past president of the Hudson Yards Development Corporation, at High Line Park with Hudson Yards construction in the background.

entity charged with encouraging private development in the once desolate stretch of parking lots and low-rise buildings, explains that the city not only managed the rezoning process that made the project possible. It also issued $3 billion in bonds to cover the extension of the No. 7 subway line, whose new 34th Street-Hudson Yards station lies directly below 55 Hudson Yards, and the creation of Hudson Yards Park & Boulevard, which will inject 4 acres of tree-lined open space into what has for decades been an industrial wasteland. 55 Hudson Yards stands at the epicenter of this eruption of glass, steel, and greenery. Gazing south from the seventh floor, Rapson and Mell—both of whom worked with Pedersen on the University of Minnesota’s state-of-the-art science teaching and student services building, Robert H. Bruininks Hall—are greeted by a thicket of cranes and an assortment of structures in various stages of completion. Directly below lies the vast platform that KPF designed to cover the West Side rail yards—a platform upon which many of those structures rest, like a house of cards built atop the inverted saucer of an enormous teacup. On the other side of the platform rises the gleaming spire of 10 Hudson Yards, the first building in the project to have been more or less completed. (The lobby is a marvel of limestone, marble, and cast aluminum, but crews were still working on the interiors of several floors when Mell and Rapson visited the site later in the day.) Designed by Pedersen and coaxed to completion by Mell, the 895-foot-high office tower slopes gently away from the Hudson River to the west as if bowing toward Midtown in the east. When complete, its counterpart to the north, 30 Hudson Yards, will slope in the opposite direction, the two performing together what Pedersen calls a “dance in the sky.” Spring 2017 MINNESOTA ALUMNI 29

Hudson Yards will be an unprecedented integration of buildings, parks, utilities, and public spaces. This schematic depicts the Hudson Yards Public Square, an elevated park with layered utilities, gardens, stormwater drainage, and transit. To see it in detail, go to the magazine at

It is not easy to build skyscrapers that resemble modern sculpture atop a working rail yard (train service had to be suspended as massive supporting columns were sunk between the tracks), or to secure approval from all the different bodies—the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Long Island Railroad, Amtrak—whose assent this requires. Like the great mosque that surrounds the Kaaba in Mecca, 55 Hudson Yards encloses an existing six-story building owned by the MTA. The southern façade of 10 Hudson Yards, meanwhile, cantilevers over a 60-foot-long section of the High Line, the public park that was conjured from an elevated rail line that winds its way through lower Manhattan. Often, muses Rapson—whose role at 55 Hudson Yards, like Mell’s at 10, ranges from inspecting mock-ups of windows and walls to wrangling permissions from large bureaucratic organizations—the complexity involved in large-scale architectural projects is self-inflicted. “In this case,” he says, “it’s not.” Managing that complexity has required a team befitting the sheer magnitude of the project. At any given time over the years, 55 architects, engineers, designers, and consultants have been involved, a striking proportion of whom are alumni of the University of Minnesota. In addition to Pedersen, Mell, Rapson, and Spector, these include Michael Squarzini (M.S. ’93) of Thorton Tomasetti, an engineering firm that has provided structural and façade consulting for 10 Hudson Yards; Mike McElderry (B.Arch. ’04, M.Arch. ’07), who recently left KPF for Diller 30 MINNESOTA ALUMNI Spring 2017

Scofidio + Renfro, another prominent architectural firm involved in the Hudson Yards project; and Steve Wang (M.Arch. ’07), who served on KPF’s 30 Hudson Yards team before moving to Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which also has a finger in the Hudson Yards pie. The hard work, however, is paying off. 10 Hudson Yards has signed such major tenants as Coach, L’Oréal, and software company SAP; Time Warner has announced that it will move to 30 Hudson Yards from the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle; and the seven-story mall linking the two towers will host the first Neiman Marcus department store in New York City, along with restaurants run by celebrity chefs Thomas Keller and José Andrés. For New York City, says Spector, Hudson Yards represents an opportunity to drive economic development and job growth in an underutilized part of Manhattan. For Bill Pedersen, however, it represents something more personal. “This is the last work in my career,” Pedersen says from his office on 42nd Street, just two stops on the No. 7 from Hudson Yards. “It’s sort of like the final exam, in a way.” That career spans half a century, and includes such iconic buildings as 333 West Wacker, in Chicago, whose curved surface reflects the Chicago River; and the Westend Tower, in Frankfurt, whose ringed top pays homage to the Frankfurt Cathedral, where generations of Holy Roman Emperors were once crowned. The central theme of his skyscraper work, Pedersen explains, has been to make these enormous buildings “gesture towards their contexts,” or respond to their environments. Sketching nonstop on a pad as he speaks—“I can’t talk any other way,” he says—Pedersen illustrates how he designed both 10 and 30 Hudson Yards to do precisely that. The way in which the paired towers genuflect toward the river and city; the manner in which 10 Hudson Yards embraces the High Line; and the way in which it steps down, through a series of setbacks, toward the smaller arts center that that will stand just to the west of it, all allow buildings that might otherwise seem lofty and intimidating to engage in a dialogue with their surroundings and one another. Considering the many other commercial and residential buildings that are slated to populate the redevelopment zone—not to mention the six-acre plaza that will sit at the heart of it, offering a public gathering place to rival Columbus Circle and Lincoln Square—it’s easy to imagine that the project as a whole could, as Pedersen says, “transform New York City.” Judging by the view from his sketchpad, it already has.

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Lettering: Alicia Blackard • Church, this page: United Airlines Historical Foundation • Opposite page: Ullstein Bild/Getty Images

LATE IN 1929, ELLEN CHURCH (B.S. ’26, B.S. ’36), a 26-year-old recent

At the dawn of commercial air travel, alumna Ellen Church convinced Boeing to take a chance on her as the world’s first stewardess. The rest is history. By Tim Brady

Left: Ellen Church welcomes a traveller at the door of a tri-motored Boeing 80A of Boeing Air Transport on May 15, 1930. Right: Church graduated from the U of M School of Nursing in 1926.

graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Nursing, spied an advertisement in the window of a downtown San Francisco storefront. Church, who worked at a nearby hospital, was window-shopping over her lunch hour when she saw the ad from a company called Boeing for flights to Chicago that would take just 20 hours. She had a couple of reasons to pause: She grew up in the small town of Cresco, Iowa, not that far from Chicago, and the thought of those 20-hour flights was pretty tempting for home visits; and she also had a deep interest in flying, having earned a pilot’s license after moving from Minneapolis to San Francisco. So she went inside, where she met Steve Stimpson, Boeing’s regional manager. The two started to chat about flying and the recently established and quickly growing airline business. Ever since she was a girl in Cresco, watching World War I pilots training at a nearby field, she had been enchanted by flight. Church soon began to make a habit of stopping in at Boeing on her lunch hour strolls, striking up a solid relationship with Stimpson. She hinted that she might like to fly for a company like Boeing one day. Stimpson discouraged her—her license was fine for small planes, he said, but she didn’t have the sort of experience necessary to pilot a Boeing airliner cross-country. Church asked about other roles with the company, and Stimpson happened to mention that the airline was considering the possibility of adding stewards to its flights. Airline copilots had been given the duty of serving passengers meals and coffee up to that point, but as plane size grew and more passengers began filling seats, those chores became too much for the copilots, who were also expected to occupy seats next to the pilot and perform flying duties. Spring 2017 MINNESOTA ALUMNI 33

Stewardesses had to remind passengers to keep their hands inside the cabin and smokers not to pitch their matches and cigarette butts out the windows.

At the time, planes flew at slow speeds and low altitudes—100 to 120 miles per hour, compared with today’s speeds of 500 to 600 miles per hour—and about 5,000 feet, a far cry from modern cruising altitudes of more than 35,000 feet. Thus, the flights were as rocky as the most prominent mountain chain they flew over, making airsickness a near constant presence and adding even more work for the poor copilot. A German airline had been experimenting with hiring a few stewards to fly on its commercial liners, but no company in the United States had made the same move. As Stimpson described the burdens placed on copilots, Church’s response was nearly instantaneous: Why not hire women to do it? Specifically, Stimpson recalled in a speech at a function 25 years later celebrating the birth of the stewardess profession, she suggested women like her, with the training of a nurse who could provide com34 MINNESOTA ALUMNI Spring 2017

fort and care to often fearful passengers traveling on rocking, rolling flights of up to 20 hours. The fact that Church knew how to fly and loved it, and was only 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed less than 115 pounds, enhanced the logic of her suggestion: She could easily and comfortably navigate the aisles and low cabin ceilings of Boeing’s cramped commercial liners while adding only a modest weight to the plane’s load. Furthermore, Stimpson recalled, Church was bright, knowledgeable, and had an open and sunny disposition. Stimpson quickly agreed that Church’s idea was a good one, but he needed permission from company headquarters in Cheyenne, Wyoming, about halfway between the West Coast and Chicago. Stimpson wrote to the brass asking for permission to hire a crew of stewardesses. After some shock at the request—there were the usual trepidations of the day about hiring women for

anything, and fears of placing young women in air travel jeopardy—they granted permission for a three-month trial, and Stimpson immediately hired Church as the world’s first stewardess. He named her crew chief and she set about hiring eight other stewardesses. They chose the name stewardess over hostess, courierette, pursorette, airess, skipper, and aidette. Church designed a green wool uniform for the women, with accompanying tam o’shanter cap and black oxford shoes with a sensible heel. Using her own resume and physical type as a model, Church found and hired four candidates in San Francisco and three more in Chicago. Within months, the group of women, who would subsequently become famous in air travel annals as the “Original Eight,” was ready to fly to Cheyenne for training and publicity photos. Each new attendant was given a manual of instructions that described her duties:

Bettmann/Getty Images

This undated photo shows the interior of a Boeing 80A passenger airplane, operated by Boeing Air Transport, a predecessor division of United Airlines. Passengers are getting a rare treat: a cup of hot coffee in flight.

punching tickets, attending to sick passengers, and serving meals. There were 12 different stops on the flight from San Francisco to Chicago, and the “stews,” as they came to be known, had to be familiar with local railroad schedules so they could help passengers figure out where and when catch their trains after their flights. They had other chores that were unique to the Boeing craft on which they flew. Early airliners had windows that could open and close, which meant that stewardesses had to remind passengers to keep their hands inside the cabin and smokers not to pitch their matches and cigarette butts out the windows. In warm weather, they also needed occasionally to swat flies that would hitch rides in the plane. The Boeing airliner seated 12 passengers, with one stewardess per plane. One peculiar duty required her to accompany each passenger to the plane’s lavatory, which was located at the rear of the cabin behind one of two identical doors: one opened into the commode and the other to a quick rush of air and a 5,000 foot drop. Stewardesses were an instant success. Boeing made the three-month experiment permanent, and other fledgling airlines adopted the role and began hiring. Church’s idea that stewardesses should have some kind of nursing training prevailed as industry practice up until World War II. In fact, Stimpson claimed that hospitals on the West Coast became leery of airline companies poaching some of their best young nurses for a more adventurous life in the air. By 1937, Time magazine reported that due to the popularity of air stewardesses, railroad companies began hiring women to serve as attendants on various commuter lines along the East Coast. Church’s pioneering career was cut short in 1932, when she was hurt in a car accident that prevented her continued work in the air. She returned to the University of Minnesota to continue her studies, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing education in 1936. She was also active in the University’s Flying Club and the Business Women’s Club.

From Minneapolis she moved to Wisconsin and served as supervisor of pediatric nursing at Milwaukee County Hospital until the onset of World War II. During the war, Church once again took to the air, serving as a captain in the Army Nurse Corps. She cared for soldiers from December 1942 through the remainder of the war, nursing in every theater of combat from North Africa, through Sicily, to England, France, and Germany. She helped evacuate soldiers from Tunisia and Italy and trained evacuation nurses for D-Day. She earned seven Bronze Service Stars and the prestigious Air Medal for her work. After the war, Church served as a hospital administrator in Elgin, Illinois, earned a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Chicago, and in 1952 was hired as the administrator of a hospital in Terre Haute, Indiana. There, she met and married a bank president, Leonard Marshall, and the two lived happily in Terre Haute. In 1965, on a morning horseback ride, Church was thrown, and died in surgery. A year later, United Airlines, the successor company to Boeing Transport, presented Union Hospital in Terre Haute with a check for $25,000 in the memory of Ellen Church Marshall. The company president also dedicated a wing of the United Airlines Stewardesses training school in suburban Chicago in Ellen Church’s name. Church’s bust sits outside the school. Multiple copies of the sculpture were created and presented to training facilities at airline companies around the world as a salute to the industry’s first flight attendant. The airport in Cresco, Iowa, where years before Church had first fallen in love with aviation, was eventually named Ellen Church Field in her honor. It bears her name to this day. A footnote: Cresco, Iowa, Church’s hometown, may ring a bell for close readers of history in Minnesota Alumni. Professor James “Crash” Ryan, profiled in the Fall 2016 issue, was likewise raised in Cresco. Futhermore, famed Nobel Prize-winning alumnus Norman Borlaug (B.S. ’37, M.S. 4 ’ 1, Ph.D. 4 ’ 2) was also raised in the small northeastern Iowa town.

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ON APRIL 21, 2016, Minneapolis-born musician Prince

was found dead at age 56 from an accidental opioid overdose in the elevator of Paisley Park, his state-of-theart recording studio/home in the Twin Cities suburb of Chanhassen. Fans around the world mourned, but those in Minnesota were especially hard hit, and spontaneous gatherings—part grieving, part celebration—took place for days at Paisley Park and the rock venue First Avenue in downtown Minneapolis, where much of Prince’s film Purple Rain was filmed in the early 1980s. From the start, Prince’s music career has always been described as both brilliant and controversial. In the ’90s, things grew increasingly intense: Prince clashed with his record label, Warner Bros., over rights; changed his name to a symbol (left); and wrote some of his most enduring music. Covering it all was Minneapolis music writer Jim Walsh (B.A. ’90), who followed Prince and reported extensively on everything from his performances and the goings-on at after-parties and clubs to his veganism and wedding to bandmate Mayte. The best of those writings make up Walsh’s new book Gold Experience: Following Prince in the ’90s. In the introduction, Walsh writes that whenever he 36 MINNESOTA ALUMNI Spring 2017

was following Prince, he felt he was writing a history book and that Gold Experience is that book. But while it’s true that this book is historical in some ways, it is more than that too. Named for Prince’s 1995 album, The Gold Experience, Walsh’s writing is passionate and personal, spirited but also discriminating. At times an extended fan letter to an artist who meant a great deal to him, his words often offer insight into the mind and life of a complicated musician who is now gone. While descriptions of concerts are full of superlatives such as “jaw-dropping,” “exhilarating,” and “dazzling,” Walsh many times discards the hype, both positive and negative, attuning himself to what Prince, at any particular moment, was trying to do musically. On the 1994 album, Come, he writes: “Throughout his career, Prince has been cast as a musical prodigy, love nymph, quasi-religious icon and out-of-touch space cadet—and has made some truly terrible records. But while the damage to his public image may have led many to write him off as old news, Come is a breakthrough. It reveals a guise of the guy that has been all but forgotten: human being.” Among the highlights of the early part of the book are descriptions of a series of concerts Prince gave in

Graham Wiltshire/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A Fan Letter to Prince

SKI-U-MAH Proud supporters of University of Minnesota for more than 24 years!

Prince performing at Wembley, London in 1990

the summer of 1994 in an annex of Glam Slam, the Minneapolis nightclub that Prince himself opened in 1990. Listening to Prince at that moment in his career, when the furor of Purple Rain was a distant memory, Walsh felt he’d discovered an underground band that “nobody had ever heard of before.” Walsh’s interviews with Prince are also interesting to read. During one lengthy interview, he asked Prince where he found inspiration. “Everything goes by very quickly,” Prince tells him. “You can see time. I’m hearing the sound of a future time, and I’m listening to it in a car. You have to get that out of your head and onto the planet.” Walsh offers an interesting and human take on the challenges Prince faced at that difficult point in his career, describing him as someone who, “like you and me, struggles day in and day out, but unlike you and me, does so in a very public forum. And that public flailing makes the music somehow resonate even deeper, and transcend the confines of good beats and hit-making. It is the sound of an artist at odds with himself, his world, his past, present, and future. Who would’ve guessed that such a sound could be this big, bad, and joyful?” —John Toren

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Gold Experience: Following Prince in the 90s By Jim Walsh (B.A. ’90) University of Minnesota Press, 2017 120 pp.

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Crookston Duluth Morris Rochester Twin Cities


Narrating a Brainstorm A journalist’s story of living with epilepsy

Mark Luinenburg

By Stephanie Soucheray

STACIA KALINOSKI (B.I.S. ’07) doesn’t shake during her seizures. Her eyes don’t roll

back in her head, and she doesn’t bite her tongue. That could happen to some people if they’re having a grand mal seizure, but for many Americans with epilepsy, seizures look different. For Kalinoski, 31, they look like blackouts, brief periods of time when she might scream, flail her arms, shake, or act out, and not remember a single thing. “My brain goes black but my body is still on,” she says. “I might have a split second of lightning, or awareness before I go black, but then that’s it.” Kalinoski suffers from temporal lobe seizures; during an episode her brain’s electrical currents misfire and cause her to behave oddly or lose consciousness. Seizure can affect any part of the brain, and when they do, the brain suffers from a “storm.” Despite affecting 3 million Americans, epilepsy is a widely misunderstood disease. Kalinoski says there are 40 types of seizures, and many can be misdiagnosed as mental illness. She was a junior in broadcast journalism at the University of Minnesota and a Gopher track and field athlete when she first started experiencing auras, strange feelings that preceded her seizures. But it wasn’t until 2009, after Kalinoski moved Spring 2017 MINNESOTA ALUMNI 39


Learn more about the documentary Brainstorm at

Now is the time to double, triple, quadruple down on digital. . . . We have to stop conflating ‘saving journalism’ with ‘saving newspapers.’ They are not the same thing. Nostalgia and wishful thinking are powerful forces, but a lousy business model.

ARON PILHOFER (B.A. ’94), who became the James B. Steele Chair in Innovation Journalism at Temple University in November and teaches a course on entrepreneurial journalism. He is formerly the digital editor at the Guardian in London, a reporter at the New York Times, and the founder of two startups.


CAROL FALKOWSKI (B.A. ’75) is a national

authority on drug abuse and addiction. Now, with the publication of her revolutionary cookbook Meatloaf Outside the Pan—a how-to treasury of quirky, nutritious meat sculptures—she’s also gaining a following as the Bernini of beef. In both roles, she says, her goal is to help alter people’s behavior. “I’m a firm believer in the capacity of people to change. Now I’m encouraging people to change their meatloaf behavior and resist the pan!” Falkowski currently runs her own consulting firm, Drug Abuse Dialogues, training health professionals, law enforcement, judges, educators, and parents on trends in drug abuse. Prior to founding the firm in 2012, she worked for 25 years in state government, including as director of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division of the

Rick Dublin

to Eugene, Oregon, to work at a news station that she was diagnosed. There, she began having on-air seizures. “I had one while interviewing the mayor of Eugene on air,” she says. “I would daze off of camera and blank out.” The seizures continued until 2015. By then she was on air in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and having complex partial seizures. She began seeing Brien Smith, M.D., an epilepsy specialist at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, the same doctor who would eventually treat former Gopher football coach Jerry Kill, who resigned in 2015 because of his struggle with epilepsy. Though she was learning more about her seizures, Kalinoski was still suffering from several episodes at work. During one, she acted out toward a supervisor and was officially let go for inappropriate conduct. “I was humiliated, and I went back to Minnesota,” she says. Her new doctors began monitoring her seizures and decided she was a good candidate for surgery. Her right temporal lobe, the site of her seizure activity, was removed in the summer of 2015. She still suffers from some auras, but the surgery has halted her seizures. In the six months following her surgery, Kalinoski got the idea to tell her story, and the story of other epileptics, by writing and producing a documentary. Last November, her documentary, titled Brainstorm, aired on Twin Cities public television. “I’m used to doing daily 90-second news stories, so a 55-minute documentary was a bit different for me. But I thought it was the best way to educate people on this disease.” Using Kill’s story, her story, and one of a small boy in Atlanta, Kalinoski’s documentary shows how widespread epilepsy is, and how no two epileptics have the same symptoms. According to the Epilepsy Foundation of America, one in 26 people will develop the disease in their lifetime. “My mom says making this documentary was payback for getting my health back,” says Kalinoski, who currently works as a substitute teacher in Minneapolis. Kalinoski doesn’t know what’s next for her career-wise, but she says her life is getting back on track. She’s running again, and interested in showing her documentary to wider audiences. “It turns out I like long format, and I liked that I can make a difference in how people understand this disease,” she says.

Getting By, One Meatloaf at a Time

core recipe sculpted into myriad shapes and ingeniously decorated with other food. She refers to her book-signings as “meet-and-greetloafs.” There’s a meatloaf lion, with a mane of macaroni and cheese. There’s a clown meatloaf, with a red tomato nose and carrot curls for hair. There’s a rubber ducky meatloaf, covered in mashed potatoes “dyed” gold with mustard and sporting a yellow bell pepper wing. She can’t seem to stop. Since the cookbook’s publication last year, Falkowski has been on a tear: This past fall she created a picture-perfect lobster, baseball meatloaf for the World Series, and Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton meatloaves. And during the holiday season, she admits, “I got way over the top,” sometimes meatloafing as many as five times a day. Her husband is a fan, but she’s making way more than a two-person

Minnesota Department of Human Services, and 10 years at Hazelden Foundation (now the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation) to combat substance addiction. Grim statistics and shattering conversations have always been part of her work. “It seems every time I give a presentation— whether it’s a professional presentation or a community [discussion]—someone will hang back afterwards and identify themselves as a parent who’s lost a child to opiate overdose,” Falkowski says. “It breaks your heart.” She needed levity in her life. “So: Enter meatloaf. It’s uplifting and fun,” she says. Falkowski comes from a long line of artists and crafters. “I guess it just took me all these years to find my medium—raw beef and vegetables,” she laughs. Most of the book’s meatloaves start with the same

household can consume, so friends and her grown children are often beneficiaries. She hopes the book is giving families a fun incentive to spend time loafing around in the kitchen together. When it comes to drug abuse prevention, research suggests that the family dinner table can play a key protective role: According to studies from the national Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, teens who eat dinner with their families several times a week are less likely to use alcohol and other drugs. Falkowski preaches that when you liberate yourself from needlessly confining bakeware, the creative possibilities are endless; she says she’s got “a million” more ideas. “I’m just getting started. Everywhere I look, I see meatloaf.” Falkowski’s meatloaf innovations can be found at —Susan Maas

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MEMBERS, WE HEAR YOU. I’d like to share a few reflections with you regarding the Alumni Association’s commitment to you, our valued members, when events at the University become the focus of public controversy. My reflections come following the events surrounding the Gopher football team in December and January that received widespread coverage in local and national media. Because you are at the core of the Alumni Association’s mission, our office sent two updates to members. In response to our communications and to media coverage, we received more than 300 emails from alumni as events unfolded—the suspension of 10 players, the subsequent threatened boycott of the Holiday Bowl by the football team, and the eventual change of leadership in the coaching staff in the weeks following the Holiday Bowl game. Many of you applauded the University’s actions. Many of you were critical of them. Some had questions and wanted to better understand the situation, and a few criticized the Alumni Association. All of your letters were impassioned, some with anger, some with pride, but each with the depth of feeling that naturally comes with being deeply invested in the University. I read all of your emails, as did several of our communications staff members. We responded to all of them by email or in some cases by phone. After we read them, we forwarded them to the appropriate leaders on campus to ensure that they heard your voices. I say this to underscore our commitment to this kind of open communication. As you are aware, the University is a large institution and it is not always easy to know how or where to express your views or get your questions answered. As members, you can count on the UMAA to be that place. I assure you, we are listening. It’s fair to say these events have prompted a great deal of conversation on campus. Your correspondence and calls are part of that conversation. They have reaffirmed something I learned very early in my tenure here at the Alumni Association: Without exception, alumni have high hopes for and expectations of the University of Minnesota and the Alumni Association—and rightfully so, as your relationship with us is the foundation of what we do. We will continue to honor that relationship by listening, dialoguing, and keeping you informed in the pages of Minnesota Alumni, in our emails to you, and other channels. We value your relationship with the Alumni Association. Thank you for your membership and for your commitment. Warmly, Lisa Lewis President and CEO


Stay connected.

EXCEL, MANAGE WELL, AND TALK CAREER The Alumni Association provides many opportunities for professional and personal development through our free Alumni Webinar Series. Don’t miss out on these sessions coming up. If you can’t make it for the live presentation, our entire archive is available on demand through our YouTube channel or on Gold Mind at Search Tips from Recruiters March 30, noon to 1 p.m. How do professional recruiters view the job search process? What are the best practices they have observed? What are the missteps they have seen job seekers make? Join us for a panel discussion with four recruiters and learn how to stand out in your job search. Includes time for open Q & A. Creating a Meaningful Career April 20, noon to 1 p.m. This webinar will share simple tips that can help you create a professional life that provides meaning and purpose and aligns with your values. Presented by Kelly McClellan, associate director for the Graduate Business Career Center at the Carlson School of Management.

Student Debt Management and Refinancing April 27, noon to 1 p.m. Have student loans? Our partner, Credible, will present easy ways to refinance and save on student loans, key considerations when choosing whether to refinance or not, and how better managing your student loans and refinancing affects other parts of your life, including your credit, mortgage, etc. Presented by Credible Partnerships Manager Nichol Newell. Twitter Chats Join your U of M community of students, alumni, and friends at #UMNCareerChat as we talk about various career topics, tips, and strategies. Navigating a New City April 12, noon to 1 p.m. You moved or you are about to move to a new city—now what?! Join us as we talk about ways to prepare for the transition of moving, how to get acquainted with your new city, and important tips on being a newcomer.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE Minnesota legislators are currently debating important measures that will affect the future of the U. Congressional actions also have an impact on higher education in Minnesota and the rest of the nation. Stay informed by visiting UMN Advocates at The site contains all you need to know to be a confident advocate for the U. Raise your voice via Twitter at #UMNadvocates. Alumni voices are critically important.


ALUMNI GATHER IN SHANGHAI University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler (Ph.D. ’82) recognized the leadership of Alumni Association Chapters in the Greater China Area at a reception in Shanghai on November 9, 2016. Kaler thanked Shanghai Alumni Chapter President Jacqueline Beihua Tang (M.M. ’99), her fellow chapter leaders, and alumni volunteers for organizing the gathering and spoke about recent changes to the campus landscape and the U’s many successes. One hundred fifty alumni and guests attended the reception, which also featured presentations by Tang, Eric Xiandong Jing (M.B.A. ’05), Alex Zhao Zhang (J.D. ’89), and Li Wang (Ph.D. ’92). Joining President Kaler from the University of Minnesota were Karen Kaler; Joan Brzezinski, University of Minnesota China Center; Robert Burgett and Tim Wolf, University of Minnesota Foundation; Audra Gerlach Ferrall (B.A. ’04), Alumni Association; and Wanling Qu (M.A. ’08), University China Office. Pictured above are Beijing Chapter leaders Snow Wang and Fran Liu holding certificates of appreciation from President Kaler and Alumni Association President and CEO Lisa Lewis that were presented to all chapter leaders in attendance.


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YES, IT’S SPRING, BUT . . . It’s not too early to mark your calendar for Homecoming! The Alumni Association will kick off the week with our immensely popular nationwide Day of Service on October 14. New football coach P.J. Fleck leads the Gophers against Illinois in the Homecoming game on October 21. Mark your calendars now and watch for details as the date draws closer. See you there!


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to our newest fully paid Life Members!* MEMBER ADVANTAGES Thank you for being a member! Don’t forget to make the most of your member advantages. Here are just a few: PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT u Take part in a quarterly roster of noncredit courses (save 10 percent on continuing education). u Invest in yourself with a course in the Carlson Executive Education program (save 10 percent). EXPLORE CAMPUS u Visit the Weisman Art Museum and Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (discounted membership rates). u See the finest Northrop Dance, U of M Theatre Arts, and School of Music performances (member ticket rates). u Dine with a view from the Campus Club (local and non-Twin Cities membership discounts). u Tour The Raptor Center for a beak-to-nose educational experience (weekend program discounts, save 20 percent on birthday parties). MEMBERS-ONLY ACCESS u Advance notice and special pricing of exclusive events. Keep an eye on your inbox! u Online access to U of M Libraries (subset of student access). u Continue reading this award-winning magazine! Membership includes a subscription. SPECIAL SAVINGS u 20 percent savings on U of M Bookstores apparel and gifts in store and online. u Academic pricing on select Apple products at the U of M Bookstores. u 10 percent discount at Goldy’s Locker Room locations in the Twin Cities u Show your member card for alumni rates at the Commons Hotel on campus.

As a Life Member, you join more than 18,000 loyal and enthusiastic alumni supporting the U’s important work. Dues are invested in a fund that provides a stable support for key Alumni Association programs. Eric J. Anderholm Carmelita J. Anderson Kevin J. Ario Paula D. Ario Kathleen M. L. Ayaz Jeanne M. Baker Driscoll Joanna C. Beachy Bruce O. Benson Erica L. Benson Kathleen M. Bernard Leonard Bernstein Michael E. Bjorkman Meredith G. Bleifuss Rodney L. Bleifuss James L. Bowyer Emma P. Broderick Joel A. Brown Geraldine K. Bullard Robert L. Bullard Ellen Butler Gina E. Carlson Kenneth G. Carlson Michael D. Carlson Michael S. Casello Carol S. Clay J. Sheldon Clay Robert L. Coderre Edwin R. Coover Muriel P. Copp Lee W. Cunningham Roxanne L. Cunningham Marie E. Daly Martin E. Davis Patricia J. Dickmann Gary J. Dietrich Linnea F. Dietrich Kari J. Douglas-Rundlett Laura J. Edman Timothy J. Edman Kurt J. Erickson Sarah Z. Erickson Teresa A. Fiedler Tracy L. Fink Ann M. Flis Ambreasha D. Frazier Steven J. Gangelhoff James M. Gannon Tracy F. Gannon John V. Garnett Pamela L. Gates Debra M. Ginzl

Jared G. Goodwin Anita J. Hall Richard Hamre Kathleen J. Haug Dai Q. Hoang David Holt Keith D. Hovland Joseph C. Imberman Bryan G. Johnston Mark W. Josephson Varun B. Kharbanda Michele C. Kieke John G. Killam Charles J. Kniebel Margaret A. LaFleur Lynn M. Leaf Keith J. Leavell Vincent K. Leung Charles M. Linnell Jeanne M. Long Melissa R. Lott Chun S. Luo Edward J. Luterbach Teresa A. Luterbach Benjamin J. Maas Michael J. L. Marotz Karen J. Martinson Bradley L. Melby Henry E. Menzel Pradeep Mohan Marianne A. Moline Daniel J. Monahan Scott E. Morin Kelly E. Muellman Jeremiah Nelson-Nikolaides Panagiotes NelsonNikolaides Laura C. Nickolay Scott T. Nieman Debra J. Noll Judith A. O’Brien Timothy M. O’Brien Annmarie Oliver-Collins Amy S. Olson David F. Olson Abdul M. Omari Robert J. Owens Curtis L. Page Mary Alice Pappas Mary A. Perrizo Ann L. Person

Douglas J. Peterson Leah S. Peterson Richard A. Peterson Robyn F. Peterson Stephanie V. Peterson Terry L. Placek Mark K. Pribula Trevor A. Putrah Charles R. Quick Kathleen H. Rhodes Cassandra R. Rodgers Dawne J. Rohlf John H. Rohlf Rolando R. Rosas Gregory K. Ross Benjamin Ruth Judy Ruth Matthew L. Sabbe Kathleen M. Schmidlkofer Debbie A. Schuhardt Clinton J. Selvik Melissa L. Sherman Barbara L. Shiels Robert Shurig Ashley E. Sievers Matthew M. Sievers Bridget A. Siljander Cara C. Sjodin Timothy M. Skopec Andrew M. Solfest Loren M. Solfest Jerod S. Spilman Charles L. Squires Zachary H. Steiner Steve J. Sun Naoki Takayama Clayton A. Talbot Craig Taylor Brian T. Van Beusekom Ann C. Vasaly Myah P. Walker Paul M. West Matthew J. Winegar Angus B. Worthing Melissa Wuori Kenneth R. Yliniemi Richard A. Young Donghong Zhang Dennis S. Zylla *Reflects October 25, 2016, through January 13

Join this list of Life Members by upgrading your membership today! | 800-862-5867 46 MINNESOTA ALUMNI Spring 2017

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Boy/Outside By Emily Freeman AS A TEACHER of memoir writing, I’m often

Emily Freeman (M.F.A. ’08) teaches writing in Missoula, Montana. Illustration by Miguel Gallardo


struck by the way my Montana students who were born and raised here write about the land: like it’s a character, not just a setting. I have certain students with whom I’ve worked every week for nearly two years, students whose close personal relationships outside the classroom remain mysteries to me, but whose deep and abiding love for a certain section of river or mountain range I’ve come to fully understand. I see this same sensibility emerging in my younger son, Isaac, the sole member of our family born in Montana. Isaac seems to belong to this place and its land in an effortless and organic way, in spite of his coastal parents and Minnesota-born older brother, so much so that it makes me wonder about forces at work beyond simply genes and parenting. On a drizzly fall afternoon in Missoula, I’m midway through the drive to Isaac’s preschool when the snow starts to fall. Arriving at the school, I scan the field for him as always do, looking for his red fleece hat and the dark blue jacket he’d opted to wear that morning. But on this day, through the rapidly increasing snowflakes, I don’t see him. While Isaac’s preschool is 3,985 feet above sea level, our house in town is 787 feet lower at 3,198. This matters because, often, when it’s rainy at home, snow is falling at school, even though it’s only a seven-minute drive. Such is the magic of Montana, where Isaac can spend the day at school making snowmen and return home to find a damp and muddy backyard. My son’s teacher walks over to me with a bemused look on her face. The mother of three school-aged children, she’s refreshingly unexcitable, the kind of person who, if your child had disappeared, might simply wander over to where you were standing

and casually mention that he was missing, exuding utmost confidence that he’d be back. And you’d trust her. “Do you see Isaac?” she asks me, glancing up a steep hill on the north end of the property, which is also her home. I follow her gaze to the place where the forest begins, the tall dark trees of the subalpine zone. Partway up is an enormous ponderosa pine. New to me when I moved to Montana from Minnesota nearly five years ago, the tree seems almost otherworldly, as though it were devised to entertain children with its vanilla-scented bark shaped like jigsaw puzzle pieces. Isaac and his classmates eat lunch under this tree in the snow-free circle at its base. This is where I spy my son’s blue jacket, his red hat resting on his backpack and his curved form protected by the boughs as snow falls all around. “He’s asleep,” his teacher says, with a halfsmile. I love her not only for appreciating the sweetness of the moment, but for having simply let the nap happen when and where it did, not keeping Isaac on schedule with everyone else or moving him indoors. For a 4-year-old, this is what being a Montanan means: feeling so much at ease outside that he can nod off after lunch on a cold afternoon as though it were the most natural thing in the world—and perhaps it is—to rest beneath a tree on a mattress of pine needles. I walk through the snow towards the tree, trailing two of Isaac’s classmates who’ve noticed him lying there. Their giggles rouse him from sleep, and as they peel off to distractions elsewhere, he blinks his eyes open. “Mama,” he says, a smile blossoming on his face. “I was hoping you’d wake me up.”

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Minnesota Alumni, Spring 2017  

The Spring, 2017, edition of the award-winning publication of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association

Minnesota Alumni, Spring 2017  

The Spring, 2017, edition of the award-winning publication of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association