College of Saint Benedict Magazine Winter 2023

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Action! The College Tour comes to campus, and we’re ready for our close-up. Page 7

INSIDE 10 A Cockeyed Optimist for the Times 18 What’s Next? 22 The Wheel Goes Round




10 A Cockeyed Optimist for the Times

18 What’s Next? 22 The Wheel Goes Round

22 DEPARTMENTS 1 Message From the President 2 Worth 1,000 Words 4 News 26 I’m a Bennie 27 Class Notes 34 Bennie Connection 37 Generosity

The College of Saint Benedict Magazine is published three times a year by the office of Institutional Advancement. EDITOR Greg Skoog (SJU ’89) ASSISTANT EDITOR Blake Theisen CONTRIBUTORS Kevin Allenspach Bridget Deutz ’13 Dan Genzler Lori Gnahn Lexie Holum ’25 Tommi O’Laughlin (SJU ’13) Avalon Roberts ’25 Olivia Shaw ’26 COVER PHOTO Bennies and Johnnies (and George) rallied behind host Alex Boylan as the crew from Amazon Prime TV’s The College Tour showcased CSB and SJU. See page 7. CONTACT College of Saint Benedict Magazine Institutional Advancement 37 South College Avenue St. Joseph, MN 56374-2099 For address changes, please call 1-800-648-3468, ext. 1 or email Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer The mission of the College of Saint Benedict is to provide for women the very best residential liberal arts education in the Catholic and Benedictine traditions. The college fosters integrated learning, exceptional leadership for change and wisdom for a lifetime.


Living in an innovated future* In the early 6th century, when St. Benedict of Nursia wrote his Rule for living together in community, I doubt he could have imagined that 16 centuries later, two schools on a continent he didn’t even know existed would lift up Benedictine values as the single most important gift we give our students, faculty, staff and alums. Could St. Benedict have imagined the Rule would still be so spot-on and timeless, centuries later? Could he have known it would teach generations of his followers that the best vaccine for our epidemic of loneliness is compassion and empathy? He couldn’t possibly have imagined that these two inspiring institutions of higher education in central Minnesota would be proudly using that model to help instill hope in a world hungering for peace, stability, safety … for belonging and justice. But I do believe he would recognize his Rule in action here – in this time and on these campuses – both committed to educating principled and empowered Bennies and Johnnies who think and act in steadfast commitment to the common good. Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s were founded in 1913 and 1857. We are two Benedictine, Catholic, liberal arts, residential colleges, both pursuing educational excellence … 276 years of collective impact! We are two great institutions, guided by Benedict’s Rule and our shared values, evolving a profound and unique institutional relationship. These two strong institutions have forged a shared statement of purpose, calling that relationship “coordinate” as early as 1955. Our definition of “coordinate” in this relationship evolved to include a joint faculty, shared curricula and classrooms, and increasingly collaborative operating strategies. At every step, the purpose was clear: to preserve and protect the profound manifestation of each school’s mission and continue the holistic development of women and of men. On a beautiful snowy winter day in January 2022, when the leaders of both Saint Benedict’s Monastery and Saint John’s Abbey, together with the colleges’ new coalition of common governors, launched “Strong Integration” as the next chapter of these two great institutions, those missions remained.

Our Strong Integration is an innovative model, impacting the entire ecosystem of both institutions: from our governance to our leadership structure; from our student experience to our space planning; from our institutional learning goals to our integrations curriculum. It’s a model that has enjoyed the full support of both monastic communities, demonstrating a commitment to forging an innovative approach to higher education … a sector not typically known for its innovation.

Together WE are establishing what no two institutions in higher education have yet to accomplish: the Strong Integration of two fiercely independent corporate entities – Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s – celebrating our uniqueness.” Our visionaries believed Strong Integration would allow CSB and SJU to be more nimble, adaptive and responsive to the intensifying headwinds facing all of American higher education, while ensuring our missions remain vibrant. Together, both schools have evolved: From fully separate governance to shared trustees simultaneously serving as members of both the CSB and SJU Boards. From two presidents to one officially installed inaugural joint president. From two cabinets to a single, unified leadership team serving both institutions. Together WE are establishing what no two institutions in higher education have yet to accomplish: the Strong Integration of two fiercely independent corporate entities – Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s – celebrating our uniqueness. Each is a nationally recognized Benedictine, Catholic, liberal arts institution. Both are now embracing an innovative model of integration. And so we step forward, bathed in the prayers of these mighty communities, building on the legacy of 276 collective years of alumnae, alumni, students, faculty, staff, family, leaders, past presidents, and our monastic sisters and monks – all of whom, together, believe in what we are creating. Believing that, together, we will flourish.

Brian J. Bruess, Ph.D. President, College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University

* Excerpted from Brian's remarks given in his inauguration ceremony on Friday, Sept. 22.

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PLENTY OF PRESIDENTS Past CSB and SJU presidents showed up to endorse and celebrate the inauguration of Brian Bruess as the first joint president of both schools. L to R: President Emerita Mary Dana Hinton, Transitional President Laurie Hamen, Bruess, President Emerita MaryAnn Baenninger, Transitional President Jim Mullen, Interim President Dan Whalen ’70, Transitional President Eugene McAllister and President Michael Hemesath ’81.

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Seven new trustees join boards of trustees In July, seven new members (three voting and four non-voting) were named to the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University Boards of Trustees, effective on July 1.

New Trustees serving for a three-year term (voting): Fr. William (Bill) Lies ’84, CSC Lies, a 1984 SJU graduate, was elected Provincial Superior for the Congregation of Holy Cross, United States Province of Priests and Brothers, on June 14, 2018. As Provincial Superior, Fr. Lies oversees the work and welfare of the over 500 priests, brothers, and seminarians in the U.S. Province. Most recently, Lies was vice president for mission engagement and church affairs at the University of Notre Dame, a role he began in March of 2012.

Edwin Torres ’16 Torres, a 2016 SJU graduate, is an accomplished political strategist with a proven track record in successful electoral and issue campaigns spanning local, state and national levels. Presently, Torres serves as the vice president of public affairs at NewPublica, LLC where his strategic expertise is instrumental in shaping effective political initiatives.

Alumnae/i Trustee representatives – chairs of the Alumnae or Alumni Associations (non-voting): Rochelle Taus Dumdie ’13 Taus Dumdie, a 2013 CSB graduate, currently serves as benefits and compliance manager at Be the Match, an organization dedicated to saving lives and democratizing cell therapy, with equal outcomes for all. She has served as a member on the CSB Alumnae Board since 2017 and is president for a two-year term.

Bill Olson ’91 Olson, a 1991 SJU graduate, currently serves as owner/consultant with Five-O Corp, Inc. At Five-O Corp, Olson focuses on enterprise resource planning and human capital management consulting with a focus on strategic implementations and high-value operational support needs. He has served as a member on the SJU Alumni Association since 2017 and was recently elected president for a two-year term.

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Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ Lescinski was the 13th president of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. She was the first woman to lead the university in its history, taking office in the summer of 2007 and retiring after 14 years in August of 2021.

Student Trustee representatives (non-voting): Kenedi-Alexis Mullings ’24 Mullings is a senior psychology major from The Bahamas with a double minor in fine arts and English writing. She has previously served on the CSB Student Senate as upperclass representative. Mullings has served two years as an RA in the first-year residence housing. She currently serves as treasurer for the Psychology Club, and as a member of the new Cognitive Neuroscience EEG Lab Research Team.

Evan Mattson ’24 Mattson is a senior political science major from Aurora, Minnesota, with a minor in history. This fall, he will begin his fourth year on the SJU Student Senate. Mattson is also involved with the Saint John’s Men’s Chorus, College Democrats Club, International Affairs Club and serves as an RA in Tommy Hall.


New finance major offers opportunities and flexibility There are loads of alums from CSB and SJU who work in the field of finance. They are leaders and aspiring leaders in banking, wealth management, corporate finance and many related professions. When they were students, they chose majors like accounting, economics or mathematics. But today’s students have a more direct route. They can choose our new finance major. The new program will attract students wanting to understand the roles of money, investments, financial institutions and markets in the broader economy as well as how individuals, corporations and governments can engage with, influence and react to financial markets. “We’ve developed a broad set of options to study finance giving our students flexibility to focus in the areas that align most with their intellectual interests while also preparing them for their futures,” said Parker Wheatley, professor and chair of the economics department. He, along with several colleagues, engaged in the careful analysis and design of the program to meet student academic needs and interests. Steven Welch, chair of the accounting and finance department will be the initial director of the finance program. Faculty members Lauri Miller (accounting & finance), Sucharita Mukherjee (economics), Kris Nairn (math) and Bob Hesse (math) also contributed to the formulation of the major and its learning outcomes. “With the support of our innovative liberal arts curriculum at CSB and SJU, our graduates in finance will be prepared to adjust to a dynamic and challenging world and live full lives with successful careers,” Wheatley said. “We’re not just training them for a specific profession. When they leave us, they’re going to have the skills to adapt, innovate and lead.”

Remarkable generosity fuels record-setting Give CSB Day On Wednesday, Oct. 11, the whole Saint Ben’s community rallied in support of scholarships for today’s Bennies. With powerful matching grants in place to double donations, thanks to an engaged group of leadership donors, alumnae, parents, faculty, staff, students and friends came together to shatter our goal of reaching 850 donors in a single 24-hour period.

At the end of the day,

935 donors

combined to contribute


Both totals are records.

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Denise Christie ’00 is CSB’s first doctor of nursing practice

Denise Christie is flanked by faculty members Dr. Mary Pesch and Dr. Jennifer Peterson ’98.

CSB probably couldn’t have found a better candidate than Denise Christie to lead the way for the new graduate nursing programs. She has practiced as a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) for the past 17 years at St. Cloud Hospital and recently was named to its 15-person advisory board – the only member who also is an advanced practice registered nurse and someone who can lead from the perspective of the hundreds of nurses in the CentraCare health system. Of the dozen candidates to enroll in the first doctor of nursing practice (DNP) class at CSB, Christie was the only one who’d already achieved a master’s degree. As a Saint Ben’s alumna and someone with significant experience, she instantly gave credibility to the new program and became a standard bearer for the first class of DNP students. On Friday, Aug. 25, she received her doctoral hood and diploma by earning her DNP-Leadership degree – the first ever conferred at Saint Ben’s. The other DNP track offered at CSB, in partnership with SJU, is for those who want to become a family nurse practitioner (FNP). Ten of the remaining 11 students who started their DNP

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program with Christie are pursuing their FNP. They, along with another Leadership DNP, will graduate in the spring of 2024. “The education [the CSB faculty] offered me was elite,” Christie said. “I went into my clinicals with [president of St. Cloud Hospital and executive vice president and chief operating officer of CentraCare] Joy Plamann and I was not worried that I didn’t have the knowledge or information to sit in that C-suite with her. And if that was significant for me, wait until you see the people I call my classmates, even though they’re nine months behind me. The future of nursing is bright. Those are some amazing women and I’m honored to have walked alongside them for part of their journey.”


Watch for CSB and SJU on The College Tour on Amazon Prime Early October is a beautiful time on the Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s campuses. Soon, prospective Bennies and Johnnies are going to get the chance to see just how beautiful – even if they can’t make the trip to Central Minnesota. A crew from The College Tour was in St. Joe and Collegeville this fall, filming an episode for the upcoming 10th season of the Amazon Prime TV show. The informative series highlights college campuses across the country (CSB and SJU will be the first Minnesota colleges featured), showcasing academics, housing, athletics, student life and more. Each 30-minute episode is broken into 10 student-led segments. The show was inspired by host Alex Boylan’s niece and her college search. Her parents told her they would fund one college search trip, and it was up to her to select her destination and arrange visits to as many campuses as she could. That seemed limiting to Boylan, who was certain there had to be a way for prospective students to get close looks at as many colleges as they’d like. The Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s episode is scheduled to post at in mid-January, before being released on Amazon Prime in May.

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McCarthy lecturer is first sitting head of state to visit CSB and SJU* The Hon. Philip Davis KC, MP, the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas presented the 2023 Eugene J. McCarthy Lecture on Dec. 11. other challenges and opportunities related to The Bahamas, and the longstanding relationship between CSB, SJU and the island nation. Since May 2017, Davis has been leader of the Progressive Liberal Party in The Bahamas. In September 2021, he was elected the country’s fifth Prime Minister. He also serves as Minister of Finance.

In his lecture, sponsored by the Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement, Prime Minister Davis addressed climate change, economics,

Davis is a Member of Parliament for Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador. Professionally, he is known both locally and internationally as an acclaimed corporate and human rights lawyer, a highly distinguished legal educator and a passionate sports fan and sponsor.

The annual McCarthy Lecture carries forward former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy’s deep commitment to the ideals and principles of democratic self-government. It seeks to inspire a new generation of young people to pursue fresh ideas, to challenge the status quo, to effect positive change in their communities and, like McCarthy himself, lead with honesty, integrity and courage. *Prime Minister Davis was originally scheduled to deliver his McCarthy Lecture on Nov. 20. Sadly, the death of a Bahamian cabinet minister demanded a rescheduling for Dec. 11. This issue of Saint Benedict Magazine went to press before Dec. 11, so if any further scheduling conflicts have caused another rescheduling, we apologize for the confusion.

Names to know in Donor and Alumnae Relations There are new faces on the CSB Institutional Advancement (IA) team, but – as Bennie alumnae – they’re all well acquainted with the community and what makes Saint Ben’s special. Ellen Newkirk ’13 took on her new role as an engagement officer in 2022. Livvy Simons ’20 came back to Saint Ben’s this year and serves as a new development officer. And Marcia Mahlum ’96 (learn more on page 26) is just now moving over from student development to serve as director of alumnae relations.

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Ellen Newkirk ’13 Ellen is already an IA veteran, having been a “student employee for several years before graduation. She left to serve with AmeriCorps in Chicago and ended up staying for four years, teaching elementary school. In 2017, she came back to Saint Ben’s IA as an annual giving associate. Today, as an engagement officer, Ellen works with alumnae and leadership-level donors to find avenues of engagement that fit best for them: philanthropy, volunteerism, experiential or communications.

Livvy Simons ’20 Livvy graduated in December 2020 and joined Thomson Reuters in business development and sales. She always knew she wanted to come back to Saint Ben’s though. As a development officer, she’s a frontline fundraiser, working with donors to help them achieve their philanthropic goals. “I’m passionate about the education I received,” she said. “And in my role now, I can help donors who are just as passionate about the education Saint Ben’s provides.”

Photo credit: Lexie Holum ’25

Photo credit: Olivia Shaw ’26

Sisters bring a special connection to Saint Benedict hockey

Photo credit: Avalon Roberts ’25

Three years after playing on the same high school team at Hill Murray School, Ava and Shae Stinnett are back together on the ice and playing on the same line. It’s a wonderful family reunion for the sisters from North Oaks, Minnesota. And, given their family, Saint Ben’s is precisely the place it should happen. Their family has deep roots at both the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. Their mother, Maria Spanier Stinnett is a 1987 Saint Ben’s graduate. Their aunt, Ruth, is a 1981 Bennie, while their uncle, Doug, graduated from Saint John’s in 1981. Their late grandfather Florbert (Flip) Spanier was a 1954 Johnnie. In addition, Ava and Shae’s younger brother Max, who died as a child, is buried at the Saint John’s Abbey Cemetary. With that history, the Stinnett sisters feel a special legacy every day they attend class, play hockey for the Bennies, or walk the campuses.

“Our family connections certainly tie us to Saint Ben’s and this area,” says Ava, a junior. “And we celebrate it every day.” A year ago, Saint Ben’s tied a program record with 14 wins. This year, the team’s expectations are even higher – and Ava and Shae have a role to play in that. “It’s good for us to be together again. We can offer constructive criticism and support each other. We laugh a lot and have fun,” says Shae, who is in her first year at Saint Ben’s. “I think it feels different (this time) because we have matured and have a higher hockey IQ. We have a nice chemistry.” “It’s a great opportunity to skate on the same line as Shae,” continues Ava. “We push each other and it just feels right. It feels like home.” So far this young season, that pushing seems to be paying off. Through the team’s first seven games, Ava was tied for a team-high with four goals and five points. The Stinnett sisters helped the Bennies jump to a 3-3-1 record, including 3-0-1 for third in the MIAC.

Their coach sees the chemistry. “Ava and Shae are both intelligent, hardworking, great young women who always put the team before themselves,” says CSB head coach Lindsay Macy. “Shae has come in and led the rookies. She understands and values the standards and expectations of our team, which has been important to the growth of our team culture. And Ava leads every single day by example.” A junior nursing major, Ava wasn’t always sure she would end up at Saint Benedict. But she quickly fell in love with the campus and its culture. “I just felt at home here,” she says. “When I toured the campus, the community feel, the team being so closely knit and supportive … I just love it here.” As a first-year, Shae plans on majoring in global business leadership and communication. She says her decision to come to Saint Ben’s was also influenced by the campus and the environment. And, of course, the fact that her sister was here. “Ava being here was a big reason I came. But honestly, it just feels like home.”

LOOK AT HER GO • #BENNIENATION and Winter 2023 | 9



After more than a year on the job, Brian Bruess was officially inaugurated Friday, Sept. 22, as the first joint president of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. While the concept of having one person oversee both institutions is new, it’s only the latest in a long line of communal relationships between the schools. Since early last year, that relationship has been known as “Strong Integration.”

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The holistic development of students– missions that today remain unchanged. Together, our future as Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s has never been brighter.” - Brian Bruess President of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University


e share a commitment to The Rule of Saint Benedict, guiding principles in effect at Saint John’s since its inception in 1857 and at Saint Ben’s since it was founded in 1913. As early as 1955, the institutions began to coordinate activities, eventually including joint faculty, shared classes and increasing collaboration. “At every step, the purpose was clear – to preserve and protect the profound manifestation of each school’s mission,” Bruess said during the ceremony at a crowded Saint John’s Abbey and University Church that installed him as the 17th person to lead Saint Ben’s and the 19th to guide Saint John’s. “The holistic development of students – missions that today remain unchanged. Together, our future as Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s has never been brighter. What is that future? And what does it mean to flourish? “First, let me tell you what it’s not. Strong Integration is not a merger. It is not a precursor to a merger. Nor is it an exercise in institutional symmetry. … Our unwavering focus and vision is to offer a renowned learning experience inspiring students to become empowered and principled graduates who change the world. What we are doing is assertively – and with love, vision, compassion and collaboration – doubling down on our commitment to

shaping and delivering an increasingly sophisticated, powerful, integrated, and contemporary student experience.” Bruess went on to say CSB and SJU will continue to be unapologetic about their mission traditions. Those include educating students who will lead and help solve the “wicked problems of this complex world,” and “always doing so with Benedictine values as their compass.” He said the schools will never compromise on their “foundational values of liberal arts, residential, Catholic and Benedictine” and how they are uniquely suited to women and men. Those Benedictine values include awareness of God, community living, hospitality, justice, listening, moderation, peace, stability, stewardship and respect for all persons and for the dignity of work. As an example of how they work together, and those involved with both institutions interconnect, he directed the audience to turn and view the front of the church with its honeycomb of stained-glass windows (178 feet wide by 65 feet tall) and 430 glass-and-concrete hexagons. “Since joining this community and while preparing this address, I have learned more about honeycombs than I ever imagined was possible – and it’s a tricky metaphor for me, because I’m allergic to bees,” said Bruess, who earned

his bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology from St. Norbert (’90), and subsequently a master’s and doctorate from Ohio University. “Honeycombs are flourishing and productive communities – the homes and food containers of hardworking bees … no doubt, bees triplemajor in art, math, and physics. (And) together, a series of hexagons creates so much more than the sum of its individual parts. It becomes a system of sheer strength … a structure of awe, beauty, and remarkable efficiency.” In that way, Bruess alluded to how the mission traditions of CSB and SJU combine to create something far greater than the sum of their individual parts. They are “where students learn how to think, not what to think.” The last inauguration at Saint Ben’s was in 2014, and there hadn’t been such festivities at Saint John’s since 2012. Many students were in the audience as classes were canceled for the afternoon. Participants from most clubs sat in seats on the lower level. Dignitaries and other attendees flowed through the middle to the back of the sanctuary. And studentathletes filled the balcony. More than two dozen delegates of colleges, universities and associations across the nation also attended in full regalia.

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The installation ceremony began with an academic processional to The Mace and the Medal. LeAnne Matthews Stewart ’87, chair of the schools’ boards of trustees, offered a welcome. Karen Rose, OSB, prioress of the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict, delivered an invocation and was among a dozen speakers to offer greetings. Others included: • Paul Cerkvenik ’81, president of the Minnesota Private College Council • Bishop Patrick M. Neary, C.S.C. Bishop of the Diocese of St. Cloud • Rochelle Taus Dumdie ’13 CSB alumnae board president • Rick Speckmann ’72 SJU alumni board past president • Clair Moonen ’24 CSB student senate president • Wes Kirchner ’24 SJU student senate president • C arrie Hoover, Ph.D. CSB and SJU faculty senate chair ucharita Sinha Mukherjee, Ph.D. • S CSB and SJU faculty senate vice chair • Richard Ice, Ph.D. CSB and SJU provost • K ara Kolomitz, Ed.D. CSB and SJU chief operating officer • A bbot John Klassen ’71, OSB (SOT/Sem ’77) Abbot of Saint John’s Abbey

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My optimism isn’t a naive brand. It is one simply and deeply rooted in our creative vision to flourish, together – our indelible core commitment to the resilient, strong honeycomb of community – the very reality that our founders and sponsors built, nourished and tended.” - Brian Bruess President of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University

“You are the one God has chosen to serve in this role,” Neary told Bruess. “May you serve with wisdom and joy.” Kirchner and Moonen took turns telling Bruess he’d already shown “the heart of a Johnnie and a Bennie,” that he was a “kind and courageous leader,” and “welcome home.” Hoover represented the faculty in telling Bruess that, in a short time, he’d already “made it abundantly clear you’re deeply committed to the liberal arts and Catholic/Benedictine traditions.” “Together, with your leadership, we are unstoppable,” Kolomitz added. After readings, presentation of presidential medals by eight former leaders of the schools (the three most recent presidents of CSB and the previous five from SJU), Bruess was introduced by Andrea Lee, his former boss as president of St. Catherine University. “I’ve had glimpses into this man’s soul, and I can tell you he’s open and wise,

tried and true,” Lee, now a chaplain at the University of Notre Dame, told the audience. “I don’t know another lay person who better understands the relationship between mission and education as does your president.” “We are navigating unprecedented times,” Bruess said. “Trust has eroded … we inhabit a fractured and polarized country. Can we be the antidote to the erosion of what chips away at our humanity and better natures? Can the Benedictine charism – which Pope Francis describes as ‘a heart expanded by the unspeakable sweetness of love’ – be a part of the solution? Can we be witnesses to that love in the vision that our sisters and monks have so boldly and brilliantly modeled, stewarded, and nurtured? We can. And we must.

simply and deeply rooted in our creative vision to flourish, together – our indelible core commitment to the resilient, strong honeycomb of community – the very reality that our founders and sponsors built, nourished and tended. A powerful sense of community, one that so many joyfully call home.” Following a hymn (Never Silent in Your Praises), the school alma maters and a benediction from Klassen, Bruess finally got to officially begin doing just that. The crowd of attendees then flowed outside to a champagne reception, followed by Friday-night events including an artists and musicians reception at the Benedicta Arts Center at CSB. Later, there was an outdoor concert by The Riverside Hitmen, along with food trucks on the CSB Mall.

“At times I might seem a cockeyed optimist for my unshakable belief and confidence that together we can and will overcome the fractures, fears, challenges and hurdles we face,” he added. “But my optimism isn’t a naive brand. It is one

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rian J. Bruess, Ph.D., was named the first-ever joint president of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University in March 2022, and took over the job on July 1 of that year. Prior to that, he had served since 2017 as president of St. Norbert College, a nationally renowned Catholic liberal arts school with more than 2,000 students in De Pere, Wisconsin. He earlier spent 21 years in women’s education in a variety of roles at St. Catherine University, a Catholic liberal arts institution in St. Paul, Minnesota. That included more than three years as the school’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.

His appointment marked an important step in the implementation of Strong Integration – a new governance and leadership structure for the two schools. It’s a process that began with discussions initiated by the CSB and SJU Boards of Trustees in the fall of 2018. The idea was to put in place a governance structure designed to produce bolder strategies, greater innovation and nimbler decision-making. CSB and SJU have operated under two governance boards made up of one set of common members since mid-January 2022, when the Strong Integration resolutions took effect. A proclamation ceremony was held that May.

Since his arrival, Bruess has effectively led implementation of an innovative ecosystem-wide change process. During his first year, he helped implement a new governance model for the CSB and SJU Boards of Trustees; built the inaugural joint leadership team; redesigned the organizational structure around student learning; implemented academic program prioritization recommendations; launched a fast-paced strategic planning process; rebuilt the admission and enrollment processes; and completed an ambitious alumnae/i tour across the U.S. and The Bahamas to hear and learn from graduates and friends of both schools.

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But his official inauguration marked another key milestone in bonding the two already-connected schools even more closely together. “This is a big deal for our two institutions,” said Mary Geller, the associate provost for student success for both schools. “This is the first-ever president of both Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s. It’s a historic moment in our history and it deserved to be celebrated and recognized.”

So, while the Inaugural Mass at Saint Benedict’s Monastery’s Sacred Heart Chapel and the Installation Ceremony – both held on Friday, Sept. 22 – were indeed the centerpieces, they were just parts of a tremendous week-long celebration on both campuses. The week began on Monday, Sept. 18, with campus clean-up events and concluded on Sunday, Sept. 24, with an afternoon fishing tournament and fish fry on the shore of Lake Sagatagan, followed by Mass on the Grass at the Abbey and University Church Plaza at SJU. In between, there were numerous tours showing off the best of both CSB and SJU, events celebrating scholarship and creativity and the arts, a bean bag tournament, a family carnival and much, much more. “Every event exceeded our expectations in terms of participation,” Geller said. “It was so nice to have the chance to come together in community with one another and just have fun.”

Photo by Lexie Holum

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Some of the many highlights of the week included: • A week-long medallion hunt that ended when Saint John’s students Parker Scanlon, Kyle Thelemann, Max Doom, Dan Eickhoff and Nate Loretz correctly followed the clues given out to locate the prize in the courtyard inside the Benedicta Arts Center at Saint Ben’s. That earned them a $500 gift card to the CSB+SJU Bookstore. • The College of Saint Benedict volleyball team – with Bruess on the bench as an honorary coach – defeating Augsburg 3-1 (25-20, 25-14, 19-25, 25-16) in MIAC action before a huge crowd at Claire Lynch Hall. • A Saturday morning yoga session in the front yard of Renner House on the CSB campus featuring Bruess’s wife Carol and the family’s therapy dog, George. • The Johnnie Tailgate leading into the SJU football team’s 27-7 victory over Bethel in its MIAC opener before a Family Weekend crowd at Clemens Stadium.

It truly is the beginning of a new era at Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s. - Mary Geller Associate Provost for Student Success

But, of course, the focal point of it all was the official inauguration of Bruess, now the 17th person to lead Saint Ben’s and the 19th to guide Saint John’s. “It truly is the beginning of a new era at Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s,” Geller said. “And Brian is the right person at the right time to lead us. Moreover, it’s not just about Brian, but about us all as a community as well. That’s really what we are celebrating. “Because Brian is right, together we flourish.”

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Jennifer Barta ’92 is the new CEO of FINNOVATION Lab.




FINNOVATION Lab is an entrepreneurial co-working space, but offers services and programming that make it much more.

Jennifer Schweich Barta ’92 has spent 30 years innovating what and how we eat. She began her career as a chemical engineer with General Mills, climbing through packaging and product research and development roles for 23 years. She spent seven more years as director of research and development at Land O’Lakes. Then, late in 2022, she learned her position had been eliminated. After decades of developing the next big thing, she now had to ask herself, “What’s next?” Step one: relax. “After working for 30 years, I deserved a little time to just rest for a while,” Jennifer says. Soon though, an idea began to take shape through talks with colleagues, friends and mentors. She discovered she didn’t have to work full-time. With her background and experience, contract roles with consumer packaged goods companies came calling and let her pay her bills with half-time work. And with the other half of her time? She’s stretching, serving and putting some of

her skills and experience to use helping others. In September, Jennifer became CEO of FINNOVATION Lab, a five-year-old co-working space in downtown Minneapolis that supports start-up brands in the food and beverage industry that serve socially conscious consumers. “We’re a place where founders and entrepreneurs come together for community events, trainings, education, and we pair them with the resources they need,” Jennifer says. “Maybe our members need help with strategy development or a fractional CFO. Sometimes even an hour with the right person can make all the difference in the world. And the entrepreneurs we help today will be helping someone else tomorrow.” What’s more, she’s working collaboratively with the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship at CSB and SJU to explore ways she can bring that same entrepreneurial side of herself out in support of future Bennies and Johnnies.

Precious Drew ’18 remembers feeling prepared and supported as a member of the first cohort of FINNOVATION Fellows.

Winter 2023 | 19

TRANSFORMATIONAL EXPERIENCE AT CSB Jennifer grew up in Lakeville, Minnesota, youngest of three sisters. Their parents never went to college, and she visited Saint Ben’s by herself at the invitation of a cousin who was in the nursing program. “I knew I wanted to be a science major of some kind – maybe an engineer, even though I didn’t know what that meant at the time,” she says. “I felt between Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s there were a good number of faculty in science and math. That was important to me, and it was nice – just far enough away from home to be a good fit.” As a sophomore, when January-term was still a thing, she took an introduction to engineering class at Washington University in St. Louis. “I didn’t know a single engineer, but I thought I’d check it out,” she laughs. “A couple of us went down for three or four weeks, and we stayed in a hotel the whole time. I totally fell in love with it. It merged my two favorite topics, and I was amazed to think I could one day get paid to do my favorite things.” She could’ve left CSB after her sophomore year and likely become a chemical engineer in four years. But it was important for her to graduate from Saint Ben’s and have that seal on her diploma. So instead, she earned a bachelor’s in chemistry over three years at Saint Ben’s and added a degree in chemical engineering with two years at the University of Minnesota. “I went to Saint Ben’s because of the community, and I wanted to be a part of that forever,” Jennifer says. “If my degree would’ve come from somewhere else, I wouldn’t feel like an alumna.” And she’s maintained that forever connection she wanted. Jennifer and her husband, Terry, have funded a scholarship for Bennies pursuing careers in science. Their daughters, Megan ’19 and Rachel ’22, also earned CSB degrees in chemistry and biology, respectively. And, as a former president of the alumnae board, Jennifer is the first to point out that her experience at Saint Ben’s unlocked the door to nearly everything else in her life.

20 | College of Saint Benedict Magazine

As CEO of FINNOVATION Lab, Jennifer Schweich Barta ’92 gets to fuel the entrepreneurial spirit in Minneapolis.

CHEMICAL ENGINEERING IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY As she cast about for an internship in 1992, Jennifer hit on what would drive her career. “There were all these places we could interview and one of them was General Mills,” she recalls. “I remember wondering, ‘What would a chemical engineer do there?’ It was a foreign concept to me. But they told me, and I use this answer today when people ask about what I do: Flour and sugar are carbohydrates. They contain numerous carbon-hydrogen bonds that are changed as we hydrate, cook and toast them. What I would be working with were all just natural chemicals and the natural manipulation of them. Hydration and cooking processes are just like manufacturing processes, like anything else. It’s just that you’re working with food.” Jennifer developed new cereals for the Big G division. She oversaw the introduction to the Canadian market of granola bars, snack mixes and other products. She helped create cheaper and more consumer-friendly packaging for the Yoplait division (think Go-Gurt) and later led a team that devised all product packaging for Pillsbury. As senior R&D manager, she created concepts for Totino’s Pizza and Pizza Rolls. And as senior manager over global baked goods, she was responsible for cost-saving R&D for things like Betty Crocker mixes.

With Land O’Lakes, she worked in the dairy foods division, leading more than 30 engineers, scientists and technologists working with butters and spreads, pudding, and processed and natural cheeses. It was then she made the decision to become the first corporate sponsor for Grow North (now known as Naturally Minnesota), an organization at the U of M that worked with entrepreneurs to help make Minnesota recognized as a global leader in food and agriculture. “I wanted my employees to have that entrepreneurial connection and to give back as mentors,” Jennifer says. “I found it was teaching us to be more agile and in tune with what was happening locally on the food scene.”

ENERGIZED TO EMPOWER THE NEXT GENERATION So when it came time to look for a new challenge, it only made sense to join FINNOVATION Lab, created in 2018 by Jacquie Berglund, founder of FINNEGANS SBC, the first beer company in the world to donate 100% of profits to fund fresh produce for those in need. The bottom half of a four-story building in Minneapolis houses FINNEGANS Brewery and Taproom. The third floor is an event center, with FINNOVATION Lab on the fourth. Members can take advantage of dedicated desks and office space, a commons area, outdoor balcony, meeting spaces, wellness room and kitchen in addition to the downstairs taproom and other business amenities. Perhaps as important is the FINNOVATION Fellowship Program, which is supported by the Bush Foundation. In addition to a $50,000 one-year living stipend, fellows receive dedicated space in the lab, access to advisors and mentors, and a nine-month curriculum designed to develop leadership and entrepreneurial skills. Precious Drew ’18 was a member of the first cohort of fellows. As an Entrepreneur Scholar at the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship, Precious co-founded PERK: The Natural Beauty Lab. Her concept was to

provide sustainable skincare products by upcycling used coffee grounds. She has since gone on to become a senior managing director with gener8tor, a venture capital firm in Milwaukee.

something for which they have passion, a proposal is in the pipeline to create a new minor in creativity and entrepreneurship at CSB and SJU. It’s expected to be available in the fall of 2024.

“The FINNOVATION Fellows program accelerated my understanding of the fundamentals of building a sustainable business, prepared me for effectively leading teams based on my strengths and put me in a much stronger position to empathize with and support entrepreneurs,” says Precious. “The small cohort size ensured a safe space to learn, fail and excel among a supportive group of peers embarking on similar journeys. That served as a catalyst for my career where I now have the honor of supporting the advancement of startups from ideation through the growth stage.”

“The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well on the CSB and SJU campuses,” says Marsnik. “We envision students from all majors participating. Learning outcomes for the minor include curiosity, lateral thinking, creative problem solving, opportunity recognition and feasibility analysis. Students who complete it should be equipped with the mindset and tools to spot opportunities and launch initiatives to make the world a better place.”

GROWING THE ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT AT CSB AND SJU As she moves forward with FINNOVATION Lab, Jennifer is keen to forge connections between the lab and the McNeely Center at CSB and SJU. Center Director Paul Marsnik agrees. Perhaps there will be future internships available. That’s in the exploratory stage now. And, while Marsnik believes entrepreneurial students should major in

Just like Jennifer – who is now putting her whole heart into a role that takes half her time. And what’s next for FINNOVATION? “We plan to heavily leverage side gigs,” says Jennifer. “We think fractional employment, the gig economy, side hustles or whatever you want to call them, are the wave of the future. There are people who have 40-houra-week jobs who still find the inspiration to do something else that brings them back to work on Monday morning excited again.”

“I’ve always been creating something,” says Desiree ‘Desi’ Sanner Murphy ’04. “I started working in clay in high school and took every ceramics class they offered. My connection with clay was just instant – it felt like an extension of who I am. I even threw at the Paramount Center for the Arts (in St. Cloud, Minnesota) when I wasn’t in class.”


hen she got to Saint Ben’s, that connection strengthened under the intimidating tutelage of Sister Dennis Frandrup. “She was ruthless, and pulled out her infamous wire cutter to assess our pots,” Desi recalls. “She cut most of our pots in half to teach us about wall thickness and to highlight the areas of improvement. Each time we had a critique our hearts sank, dreading the moment her wire cutter would split our freshly thrown pot in half.

She earned a bachelor of science in nursing and became a registered nurse in 2006. Desi worked as an RN from 2006 till 2017, in Tucson, in Madison, Wisconsin, in Duluth, Minnesota and in St. Cloud. “I worked in a variety of settings like cardiovascular ICU, PACU (post-anesthesia care unit) and surgery,” she says.

“Her teaching techniques left me stronger, wiser and more willing to embrace failure, leading to accelerated growth. Today, one of my core values as an artist is growth.” So Desi grew. She worked toward her art major. She began making plans to study art in graduate school. And then, just one semester short of graduation, came the voice of doubt that speaks to so many of us. “I panicked,” she says. “I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find a job.” She pivoted. Yes, she finished her last semester toward that art major. But she quickly packed a few nursing prerequisites in. She graduated from Saint Ben’s and, instead of graduate school for art, she moved to Tucson, Arizona, and enrolled in nursing school at the University of Arizona. “I had been working for nine years (through high school and college) as a patient care assistant at St. Cloud Hospital,” she explains, “and loved working with patients. Nursing was the perfect alternative route.” Winter 2023 | 23

s r un o


T he wh


l goe

She married and began raising a family. Eventually, while working at St. Cloud Hospital, she enrolled in a family nurse practitioner program at Winona State University. Then, surprisingly enough, that voice of doubt was back. And the wheel began to spin round again. “When I’m not creating art, I feel like there’s a huge piece of me that’s missing,” she explains. “During graduate nursing school, I had this sense that I wouldn’t have enough time to devote to my art. And that feeling was like an ache that wouldn’t go away.” One day in her kitchen, she turned to her husband and asked, “What if I step away from my program and throw pots?” Without hesitation, he replied, “Yes!” The next day she withdrew from her nursing program and began her path toward becoming a professional artist. The transition was slow. “I had been throwing pottery at art centers while working as a nurse,” she says, “so my ceramic skills over that decade had improved. But it took years to build my artistic voice, establish my presence in the local art scene and grow my studio to what it is today.” Though the time commitment of being a full-time artist can be difficult, she’s found the challenges to be fulfilling. “Juggling the time commitment of this new journey and my family has led me to adopt new habits which have elevated my productivity and allowed me to grow as an artist.” She purchased a pottery wheel, throwing in a basement closet and selling at local markets and art crawls. She would haul loads of delicate greenware to a local art

24 | College of Saint Benedict Magazine

center to be fired in the kiln. “It took seven years for me to purchase a commercial studio space and my first kiln,” she says. But. … But all that time in nursing? Would it have been better to have just trusted her gut, believed in her talent, and gone straight to graduate art school? “Working as a nurse was invaluable,” she says definitively. “I am honored to have spent those years in such a wonderful profession.”

“I had been throwing pottery at art centers while working as a nurse, so my ceramic skills over that decade had improved. But it took years to build my artistic voice, establish my presence in the local art scene and grow my studio to what it is today.”

Desi Murphy Pottery Today, Desi works with porcelain and stoneware that is high-fired in a gas kiln. Her Scandinavian Modern style prioritizes clean lines, functionality and a neutral palette. She exhibits her award-winning artwork throughout Minnesota. She is also the owner of Desi Murphy Pottery, a commercial pottery studio and gallery located in North St. Cloud. In her work, Desi focuses on craftsmanship and perfecting her process, simple forms and materials that emphasize a clean aesthetic. For added control over the aesthetic of her work, she develops and mixes her own glazes. As an artist, she strives to achieve an elegant combination of practicality and sophistication. Her recent art exhibition, “VOID: Presence in Absence,” was “an exploration of Scandinavian Minimalism, an art movement in which all non-essential elements are eliminated. Through this removal of elements, a single underrepresented element is accentuated: space. This negative space, the area between the

components of a piece becomes the focal point. The void or absence of components becomes the focal point. The absence becomes the presence.” Her beautiful, functional pottery is available on her website at and is showing up often in the St. Cloud community, as she’s connected with a variety of groups and businesses. “Businesses purchase drinkware, tableware, wall art or public art. I make everything from logo merchandise and corporate gifting to restaurant tableware. I also create custom art pieces for businesses, taking into consideration their space, values and mission. I work with each company individually to design a concept that works for them. “Community members and businesses value quality handmade art and have been very supportive. Through this journey, I have gained many authentic connections – for which I am grateful.” Recently she’s been able to begin working on larger public art projects. Thanks to a grant from the Central Minnesota Arts

Board,* “I am currently working on a public art piece at the new St. Cloud Tech High School that will be comprised of dozens of large hand-built ceramic prisms that will be installed on a wall near the entrance to the school. The pieces will be arranged in a step-like pattern that represents stepping toward academic excellence and future success; part of Tech’s core mission.” She’s embracing these chances to branch out. “I love the process of ceramics, and so whether it’s functional or fine art, I find joy in the making,” she says. “Recently I have felt driven to create pieces that evoke feelings and are more conceptual in nature. I’m currently working on larger, public art projects and non-functional fine art like sculptures, installations and framed wall art. Pushing clay out of the realm of functionality into the realm of conceptuality intrigues me. And whenever I feel an inner desire to explore something different or new, I go for it.” So the wheel will continue to go round.

*This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Central Minnesota Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. Photos by Guytano Magno

Winter 2023 | 25


MARCIA MAHLUM ’96 “THIS COMMUNITY MEANS THE WORLD TO ME.” As a sophomore student intramural manager, Marcia Mahlum remembers telling her supervisor, Eileen Bitzan, “I want your job.” Fortunately, Eileen remembered that, too. Because a year after Marcia’s graduation, when Eileen was taking on a new role and needed someone to fill her old one, she knew Marcia was right for the job. Marcia was in Michigan at the time, but more than ready to return to her alma mater. She’s been here now 27 years. “Intramural director” morphed into “director of campus recreation,” which grew into “director of campus recreation and club sports.” Somewhere along the way, Marcia began serving as a hearing panel member for sexual misconduct cases and working with (now associate provost for student success) Mary Geller on special projects. “She began talking with me about moving into a new role,” Marcia recalls. “But for a

26 | College of Saint Benedict Magazine

couple of years I just wasn’t ready to give up sports – which had been such an integral part of my life.” Eventually though, she took the position of assistant dean of students. Along the way she also was appointed one of the college’s deputy Title IX coordinators. She’s been a constant campus presence in some very student-facing roles for decades. That’s what makes her next move an exciting and dramatic shift. “I have the privilege of being the new director of alumnae relations,” she says. “I get to engage alumnae through events, experiences and volunteer opportunities. I’ll be the lead project manager for Reunion weekends. I’ll take the lead on programming and events for graduating senior classes. And I’ll be here to support the Alumnae Development and Alumna-in-Training committees of the Alumnae Board.

“I am really excited to engage with alumnae,” she says. “I want to hear their stories of their time at CSB, reminisce and look for ways to engage them with the college today. I want to create those full-circle moments for alumnae to give back to our students and our campus, whether it be through time, gifts or talents, as someone did for them when they were students here. CSB holds a very special place in my heart as an alumna, a Bennie athlete, a college employee and, most recently, a Bennie parent. I want to do all I can to continue supporting the legacy, traditions and values of the college.”

First-year residence hall Aurora, F7 (Each year on move-in day, I try to connect with the students moving into that location.)

Favorite class I took a Theater Audience class during JTerm. We went to productions at the Orpheum, Ordway, Guthrie and Theatre de la Jeune Lune. It was a blast!

Favorite professor I had Tony Cunningham for my firstyear seminar course. The first day of class, he had a Superman t-shirt on and shared how much he liked superheroes. He organized intramural broomball and wiffleball teams with our class. … He was just a really great professor to have that first year as I adjusted to college.

Favorite Bennie memory Traveling with the volleyball team to St. Louis for a tournament. It was the first time I had ever been on a plane!




Corie Dumdie Barry was a speaker at 1997

the 2023 Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit, where speakers focused on deep conversations on timely issues and inspiring stories. Corie is the current CEO for Best Buy Co., Oct. ’23.






published her debut novel The Doctor of Bellechester in 2022 and released the next book in the series, Welcome to Bellechester in Nov. ’23. Cynthia Harkwell Clark has been 1982

appointed as Grant County (New Mexico) Magistrate Court Judge, Aug. ’23.

was appointed managing partner and senior operating advisor for Rise Growth Partners, Oct. ’23.



ristine Johnson Fortman was a final K award winner for the 2023 most admired CEOs by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, Aug. ’23. Kristine is CEO of the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation.


Heather Jantzen Windjue was elected to serve as the executive director at large on the 2023-24 Board of Directors for the National Institute of Pension Administrators (NAPA). She is currently an assistant vice president with John Hancock Financial Services (Minnesota).


eather Holland Neubauer was H recognized as a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America (LCA), June ’23. Fellows are selected based upon excellence and accomplishment in litigation, both at the trial and appellate levels, and superior ethical reputation.


hristina Rabe Weliver was hired as C assistant vice president, employee benefits for Holmes Murphy (Minnesota), June ’23.


egahn Fitzgerald Bonde started M Team Neurodivergent, an organization committed to celebrating and empowering neurodivergent people who identify as gifted and twice exceptional (i.e., ADHD, autistic, dyslexic). She was invited to be a speaker for TedXWoodinville in Fall 2023.

Kathleen Baraga Persian was listed as 1988

a 2023 Minnesota ORBIE Award nominee in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal for her role as senior VP and chief information officer at the Schwan Food Company. The annual Minnesota ORBIE Awards program honors chief information officers and chief information security officers who have demonstrated excellence in technology leadership, Sept. ’23.

icole Miller Regan has been appointed N to the Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. Board of Directors, Aug. ’23. Nicole currently works as the CFO of 7Brew, a network of drive-thru only stands.



participated in the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA), March ’23. Housed at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, HERA enables researchers to study how crew members adjust to isolation, confinement and remote conditions on Earth before NASA sends astronauts on deep-space missions.

H eather Johnson Griffin has been promoted to director of admissions for the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center of Nursing in Lubbock, Texas, Sept. ’23.





KIMBERLY FERLAAK MOTES accepted a new position as the executive director for Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Oct. ’23.


argaret Murphy serves as the founder M and CEO of Bold Orange. Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s “Best Places To Work in the Twin Cities” special section ranked Bold Orange Co. 11th among medium-sized companies. This is the fourth consecutive year Bold Orange Co. has been recognized.


RACHAEL NORQUIST LESCH was promoted to vice president of population health & performance excellence at CentraCare, St. Cloud, Minnesota, June ’23.


accepted a new position at Burnett Medical Center as an orthopedic surgeon, Oct. ’23.


J essica Handwerk Wildes was appointed to serve as assistant city administrator by the City of West Bend (Wisconsin) Common Council, June ’23.

Share your key moments and milestones with your classmates and friends. Email us at

Winter 2023 | 27



eorgia Welle Del Farvero has been G promoted to chief legal officer at First National Bank Bemidji (Minnesota), Sept. ’23.


Trang Pham won a Sports Emmy for her work as a technical supervisor for Fox Corporation (California) in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, May ’23.


aigos Vue Ngdhdgguyen was elected M vice president of the 2023-2024 Board of Directors for the Minnesota College Personnel Association, Sept. ’23.


Molly Lax accepted a position as media & public relations manager at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Oct. ’23.


Michaela Peplinski Johnson was 2018

promoted to audit manager at KPMG LLP. KPMG is one of the leading professional services and accounting firms in the United States, May ’23.




was appointed executive director of Northern Waters Land Trust (Minnesota), July ’23. She moved into this position after serving as NWLT’s grants manager and conservation specialist for three years. Karlee Pfaff was promoted to head coach of the Sartell-St. Stephen (Minnesota) High School varsity softball team. Karlee previously managed the 9th grade softball squad, Oct. ’23.


2005 2013

M arsha Miller Edel to Brian Lahr ’03, June ’23


April McClellan to Aaron Dunning, June ’23

Angela Sausen to Eric Zheng, Sept. ’22


Lauren Kelleher to Steven Kilchenman, Dec. ’22

Sarah Spear to Alladin Spudimlic, Aug. ’23

Catherine Kress to Daniel Rife, Aug. ’22

Emma Weber to Daniel Holperin, Aug. ’23

Gwendolyn Marrin to Derek Wetmore, July ’22


Samantha Hurrle to Alex Lease, June ’23

Lonnica Johnson to Garrett Hedberg ’15, Oct. ’22 Sarah Lange to Eric Miller, June ’23 Megan Westlund to Christopher Osby, June ’22


Jerly Alcala-Gomez to Tatsuya Ogiue, Aug. ’23

Grace Vaughan to Charles Wenner ’16, Aug. ’23


STEPHANIE HART TO MANDY SPICZKA, JUNE ’23 28 | College of Saint Benedict Magazine

Kacee Medved to Marcus Barone ’16, Oct. ’22 Lydia Skemp to Jacob Stock ’17, Sept. ’23

Emily Gasperlin to Shakti Prasad, Jan. ’23

Jillian Wees to Justin Kobza, Sept. ’23

Deborah Heinzmann to William Jones, June ’23


Samantha Womeldorf to Connor Reilly ’16, March ’23


Brittany Stein to Grant Kierzek, June ’23


Danielle Berg to Jesse Brooks, June ’23 A nne Bjelland to Neal Smith ’16, Aug. ’23 S arah Bokinskie to Alexander Mohn, Aug. ’22

Rachel Broos to Michael McQuire ’18, Aug. ’23 G race Cardinal to Travis Zappa, Oct. ’22 Kaelyn Dabney to Liam Fogerty, June ’23 E lizabeth Day to Blake Weber ’19, Sept. ’23 H aley DeVlaeminck to Brent Arceneau, Nov. ’22 Anne Dockendorf to Josiah Passe ’18, Sept. ’23

Kayla Bartels to Shane Corrigan, Aug. ’23

MacKinnon Ehlenz to Spencer Radtke ’18, Dec. ’22

LeaRae Enerson to Colin Fisher ’17, Aug. ’23

Allison Eikmeier to Trevor Dittberner ’18, Oct. ’23



Taylor Ellingson to Chad Gaikowski, May ’23

Bailey Fowler to Ryan Duda, July ’23


Mackenzie Fritz to Cole Wagaman, Aug. ’23 2020

Toni Gohman to Christian Henning, Oct. ’22 Hannah Manley to Paul Flanagan ’18, July ’22

Meghan Ortizcazarin to Alexander Ormsby, July ’23


Maya George to Nicholas Skluzacek ’20, Aug. ’23 Brianna Griffin to Maximilian Stevens ’19, June ’23

Ellen Marvin to Thomas Conlin ’18, June ’23






A MBER KLEIN TO JACOB MUEHLENBEIN ’20, SEPT. ’23 Ashely Kraemer to Brady Wulf, Sept. ’23 Frances Weyrauch to Kyle Sorenson ’20, Aug. ’23


Casey Klimpel to Mitchell Hess, Aug. ’23

Jane Ludwig to Nathan Saunders ’20, July ’23 Ruthie Schutz to Hayden Pfenning, June ’23 2022 Alexis Thang to Noah Fletcher, July ’23 2023




Megan Boll Foley & James Foley ’12, 2012 boy, Arthur, Sept. ’23


Abby Hansen Landrum & Brett Landrum, girl, Lyla, June ’23 nna Martin Larson & Pete Larson ’08, A boy, Jack, July ’23


Alyssa Sinner Meuwissen & Joshua Meuwissen ’12, girl, Melody, June ’23

Michaela Peplinski to Benjamin Johsnon, Oct. ’23

Carolyn Triggs Moscho & Ryan Moscho ’12, boy, Brooks, April ’23


Elizabeth “Libby” Reinert to Nicholas Lindberg, June ’22 Sierra Schmelz to Joshua Dutcher ’18, Sept. ’22


Jordan Stavedahl to Eric Wagman, Aug. ’22 Kathryn Traynor to Luke Tietz, July ’23 Ashley Wilson to Jacob Drehobl, Oct. ’22 Erin Eikmeier to Hunter Galligan, June ’21 2019 Maia Happke to Chistopher Pathoulas ’19, Aug. ’23

Abby Stahl Zipoy & Paul Zipoy ’08, boy, 2008 John, Feb. ’23


Dana Joseph & Theodore Fagrelius ’09, girl, Birdie, June ’23

Larissa Reid Lekang & Tyler Lekang, girl, Linnea, April ’23

Brianna Schrankler & Joseph Fiedler ’12, boy, Beckham, June ’23 Nicole Werner Thompson & Brandon Thompson, boy, Jude, Aug. ’23 Jill Kraemer Johnson & Taylor Johnson, 2013 girl, Hailey, June ’23

Lisa Fenske Shaw & Stephen Shaw, girl, Ava, April ’23 Amy Kiminski Baebenroth & Timothy 2014 Baebenroth ’14, boy, Everett, April ’23

Catherine “Cady” Bowe Goetsch & Jake Goetsch, girl, Harper, April ’23

Winter 2023 | 29



Ashely Bukowski & Michael Sowada ’16, 2015 girl, Olivia, Sept. ’23

Sara Gardner Danielson & Ben Danielson (SOT ’14), boy, Henry, July ’23 K atharine Hamand Dirkes & Christopher Dirkes ’15, girl, Lenna, June ’23






Let’s start the conversation now, so your voice can carry on through generations. A legacy gift of any size pays exponential returns. It’s an investment in ambitious, promising women – women who will honor your legacy with transformative, world-changing impact. Make a bequest through your will or trust, name CSB as a beneficiary, or establish a charitable gift annuity.

The choice is yours. Your legacy is in good hands. Email us at or call 320-363-5307 to learn more.

30 | College of Saint Benedict Magazine


Emily Hille Hawkins & Joseph 2016

Hawkins ’16, girl, Elouise, March ’23

Samuel Browman, spouse of Patricia 1959 Keane Browman & father of Jean Browman Schmitz ’81, April ’23

E lizabeth Sloan Sunde & John Sunde, girl, Sloan, Aug. ’23


anessa Voigt Kohner & Paul Kohner ’17, V girl, Zoey, Jan. ’23

Mary Hooley Wright & Zachary Wright ’17, boy, James, May ’23


lexis Klatt Jarveis & Tanner Jarveis, boy, A Wyler, July ’23

Mary Anne Brenny Roberts, Aug. ’23


C atherine Johnsen McAndrews, May ’17

Steven McCarthy, spouse of Rosalie Heine McCarthy, Sept. ’23


L aurence Kelly, spouse of Marilyn Fenlon Kelly, Aug. ’23

Samantha Athmann Jokela & Luke Jokela, boy, Greyson, Sept. ’23

David Vinck ’54, spouse of DiAnn Tintes Vinck & father of Virginia Vinck Ball ’93, June ’23

Josie Thelen Fritz & Mitchell Fritz ’19, 2019

1962 Theresa Thole Barrett, mother of

Leah Koll Schneider & Kyle Schneider, boy, Felix, June ’23

Gayle Boucher Kline, Aug. ’23 1963 Rita Kunkel, OSB, July ’23 Thomas Kaluza, spouse of Norma Jean 1964

boy, Frankie, July ’23

DEATHS 1947 1948

Martha Rivera Bravo, July ’23 Ramona Bjork, OSB, June ’23 Luke (Lucille) Hoschette, OSB, July ’23


Renee Twomey, mother of Ione Twomey Daniel ’46, Kathleen Twomey Pecchia ’49, Elaine Twomey Stramer ’49, Hildegarde Twomey Nolan ’51, Julia Twomey Wenner ’55, & Barbara Twomey Wolfe ’60, June ’23


ary (Frances Joan) Pattison, OSB, M July ’23


Violet Moldovan Lauzen Colwell, May ’23 Audrey Hylden Corcoran, March ’21 Joan Chione Kluber, May ’21 Barbara Doerner Tinucci, Dec. ’22 Mary Ann Hagerty Berliner, May ’21 Delores Ludowese Bullemer, Oct. ’21 Virginia Moser Oberg, Dec. ’21

Burke, Sept. ’23

Elizabeth Vanselow, mother of JoAnn Vanselow Olson, Oct. ’23


Hall, Julie Wenner Niebur ’80, & Colleen Wenner ’96, July ’23


J ames Joranger, father of Mary Joranger Neraasen & Donna Joranger Himmel ’84, Aug. ’23

Clara Melsen, mother of Kathy Melsen 1981

Eagan, & Christine Melsen Campbell ’85, March ’23

Thomas Huffman, spouse of Jane Koebele Huffman, June ’23 William Winum, father of Jane Winum Pahl & Mary Ellen Winum Reger ’83, Aug. ’23 Anne Fasching, mother of Mary Fasching Schmidt, Aug. ’23


J ane Heitz, mother of Constance Heitz Grausam, Aug. ’23

John Rosenberg, father of Angela Rosenberg Hauger, April ’23 Renee Buerman, mother of Sandra Buerman Lindberger, June ’23 T homas McKeown ’52, father and stepparent of Mary McKeown & Mary Cullen ’82, Sept. ’23

T imothy Casey ’69, spouse of Geraldine O’Reilly Casey; father of Mary Casey Rah ’97 & Mayme Casey Petrich ’00, July ’23

V ickie Solmonson O’Brien, June ’23

David Heying ’70, spouse of Jean Silvers 1970

Gloria O’Brien Huss, mother of Margaret “Peggy” O’Brien Parenteau, Aug. ’23

1972 Judith Sitarz, Sept. ’23 Michael Ohman, spouse of Kathleen 1973

Micheal Gresser, father of Michelle Gresser Walston, June ’23

Heying, June ’23

Domino Ohman, Oct. ’23


Daniel Fink, spouse of Dianna Vossen, Oct. ’23

orothy Tacheny, mother of Patrice D Tacheny Imai & Jacqueline Tacheny Defries ’93, Feb. ’23 Martha Linden Poquette, Sept. ’23

Alice Doll, mother of Dianne Doll Sikora, 1974

Janet Kieke, mother of Janelle Kieke Cain, Oct. ’23

1975 Iris Pahlberg Peterson, Feb. ’23 Julie Panek Hennessy, Sept. ’23 1976

Adrienne Smith, mother of Megan Smith Cannistraci, Maura Smith ’85 & Deirdre Smith Darovic ’91, Aug. ’23

Elinor Wright, mother of Deanne Detra Leither, June ’23

Arlene Stangl, mother of Janet Stangl Olson, June ’23

Lorentz, June ’23

Stephen Susag, spouse of Rebecca Black Susag, Aug. ’23

Harold Thibault, father of Laura Thibault Twohy, Aug. ’23

Ramona Maguire Tauer, March ’23

Joseph Belshe, spouse of Mary Loch 1977

Thomas Flock-Johnson ’85, spouse of 1985

J oan Richardson Marchek, mother of Mary Marchek Bacheller ’81, Susanne Marchek White ’84 & Jane Marchek Brandhagen ’86, July ’23

Helen Reveland, mother of Diane Reveland Clapp, Janice Reveland Nelson ’79, & Shelly Reveland Otto ’84, June ’23

Margaret McCarron, mother of Mary McCarron McVey, Oct. ’23

JoAnn Sandal Miles, July ’23

Genevieve Ludowese, mother of Kay Ludowese Klein & Nancy Ludowese ’83, June ’23

Janice Skram, mother of Julie Skram Peters, June ’23

Marlene Cummings Arnold, Sept. ’23 Kathryn Casper, OSB, June ’23 ayne Freund ’53, spouse of Marguerite W Buchl Freund & father of Mary FreundBraun ’80, June ’23

William Lorentz, spouse of Sally Schmitz 1955

Delores Wilkinson, Feb. ’21


Bernard Burke, spouse of Geneva Keppers

Mary Kunkel Nothnagel, Sept. ’23 1978 Clifford Wenner, father of Natalie Wenner 1979


of Tara Williams Fortune ’77 & Clare Williams Cizek ’80, Oct. ’23


nnette (Margaret Mary) Brophy, OSB, A Aug. ’23

Sebasky Stawarski, Marcia Sebasky Smieja ’78, & Juliette Sebasky Robinson ’80, May ’23

Wayne Zenk ’72, spouse of Phyllis Herzog Zenk & father of Margaret Zenk ’96, July ’23

Rosemary “Pat” Fleming Barry, mother 1953


Van Beck Kaluza, July ’23

Rose Spanier, mother of Karen Spanier Schindler, June ’23

Anna Ellenbecker Ritz, July ’23


Stephanie Barrett Combey ’87, Oct. ’23

Renee Sebasky, mother of Eilleene 1977

April ’23

Belshe, May ’23

J oseph Garrett, father of Kathleen Garrett Bassett, July ’23

Patricia Flock-Johnson, Aug. ’23

Sylvie Parks, daughter of Anne Wurtz Parks, April ’22

Winter 2023 | 31



J acqueline Beumer, mother of Diane Beumer Rezak, Deborah Beumer Bradley ’86, Dayna Beumer Pillinger ’88, & Denise Beumer ’92, Sept. ’23

Mustafa Aksoy, father of Deniz Aksoy Stanton & Peri Aksoy Flanagan ’88, July ’23

1986 Mary Becker, Sept. ’23 Lucille Grothe, mother of Leslie Grothe Cadle, March ’23 Wayne Hergott ’57, father of Anne Hergott Hanson & Sara Hergott Laughlin ’90, Aug. ’23 John Peck, father of Elizabeth Peck Rebrovich & Julie Peck Schulz ’88, Sept. ’23 Barbara Wiegand, mother of Wendy 1987 Wiegand Douglas, Feb. ’23

Edmund Duevel, father of Mary Kay Duevel, June ’23 Janet Litzinger, mother of Gerilyn Litzinger Hommerding, Aug. ’23 Howard Wagner, father of Julie Wagner Modjeski, Feb. ’23 Louise Bartlett, mother of Mary Bartlett Nemanich, Aug. ’23 Mary Ann Polipnick, mother of Karen 1988 Polipnick Kemper, Sept. ’23


J ohn Borman, father of Joan Borman Olson, Jan. ’23

Patricia Schroeder, mother of Ann 1989 Schroeder Gross, June ’23

Vincent Landsteiner, father of Pamela Landsteiner-de Looze, March ’23 Koren Solarz, father of Theresa MakoonsSolarz, July ’23 Stephen Muggli, father of Cheryl Muggli, Aug. ’23 Beverly Randall, mother of Nancy Randall, Sept. ’23 Henry Berling, father of Julie Berling, 1990 July ’23

Richard Conzemius, father of Carla Conzemius Bock, Jan. ’23 Ellen Dauplaise & Ronald Dauplaise, parents of Renée Dauplaise, Jan. ’22 & Nov. ’22 Valerian Luetmer ’59, father of Ann Luetmer Erickson, Aug. ’23 Gary Polaczyk, father of Caroline Polaczyk Langfeld, Aug. ’23 CariDee Foley, mother of Sheila Foley McCarr, March ’23 Myron Busby, father of Christine Busby, 1991 Feb. ’23

1991 Ronald Fahnhorst, father of Felicia

Fahnhorst & Heather Fahnhorst ’93, Sept. ’23

Ralph Kuehn & Carol Kuehn, parents of Patti Kuehn Torgerson, Aug. ’23 & Sept. ’23


ichard Knapp ’65, father of Paula Knapp R Cooper & Julie Knapp Uyemura ’93, June ’23

Geraldine Ginther, mother of Colleen Ginther Lacey, Feb. ’23 Roger Rehkamp, father of Catherine Rehkamp Loeb, Feb. ’23 Nancy Cepress, mother of Anne Cepress 1993 Clark, June ’23

Sandra Cusick, mother of Candace Cusick Goulet, June ’23 Dale Beach, father of Melinda Beach Richardson, Jan. ’23 Lois Mernin, mother of Peggy Mernin Zimmer, Sept. ’23 Dolores Dardis, mother of Nicole Dardis, 1994 July ’23

Suzanne Redman, mother of Joanna Redman, Sept. ’23 Kenneth Persons, father of Michelle 1995 Persons Dauch & Gail Persons Onderak ’97, June ’23


IT ALL BENEFITS BENNIES Establishing a named annual scholarship at Saint Ben’s lets you impact the life of a Bennie. • Name yours in honor of someone who inspires you. • Set general criteria for the students you want to support. • Get started for as little as $2,500/year for a three-year commitment.

32 | College of Saint Benedict Magazine

Learn more about named annual scholarships today from Senior Planned and Leadership Giving Officer Tara Maas ’14 at or 320-363-5078.


1995 Leander Pierskalla, father of Rochelle

2000 Gary Vanderkelen, father of Celine

Mary Funk, mother of Jill Funk Simons, Aug. ’23


L aVonne Spanier, mother of Jill Spanier Wuertz, June ’23



L inda Huber, mother of Julie Huber Benyon, July ’23

Pierskalla, Aug. ’23

Dona Boschee, July ’23

Linda Mitchell, mother of Kelly Bruce Regan, Aug. ’23


Vanderkelen, Sept. ’23

Joseph Kalla, father of Kelly Kalla Sanders, June ’23

J ames Hoover, father of Stephanie Hoover Corradi, April ’23


Marilyn Swenson, mother of Sarah Swenson Kilibarda, March ’23

T homas Ecker, father of Gretta Ecker Eder, Aug. ’23


F rancis Gervais, father of Carin Gervais Huff & Rebecca Gervais ’09, Oct. ’23

Ronald Hegle, father of Trisha Hegle Larson, July ’23 Darrell Hatlestad, father of Jennifer Hatlestad Reyes, June ’23

Robert Cowles, father of Anne Cowles Pierce, May ’23 Joseph McClure, father of Stephanie McClure Youso, Sept. ’23

Jacqueline Schulte, mother of Karen Schulte & Gretchen Schulte Kampshoff ’01, Oct. ’23



T homas Massop, father of Rachel Massop, Jan. ’23


A nthony Stalboerger, father of Ann Stalboerger Fleming, Sept. ’23

ark Simcox, father of Susie Simcox M Steinhagen & Sadie Simcox Beckius ’05, July ’23

James Heinz, father of Sara Heinz Bryan 1999 & Angela Heinz Maenke ’03, Aug. ’23

Darren Roehrich, spouse of Emily Prindle Roehrich, May ’23


S andra Grigg, mother of Rakel Grigg Swanson, June ’23

MaryEllen Jaspers Westreich, July ’23 2009 M ark Waters, father of Wesli Waters 2011 Doyle, Oct. ’23

Timothy Morin, step-parent of Rachel Indihar, July ’23 Russell Sorensen, father of Maria Sorensen & Sarah Sorensen ’11, June ’23


S tacy Hanson, mother of Ashley Hanson, April ’23


aniel Donovan, father of Ellen Donovan, D July ’23

Amy Ebert, mother of Bridget Ebert, 2018 July ’23

Robert Kleason, father of Jennifer Kleason, July ’23 Richard Illg, father of Bailey Illg, Aug. ’23 2021 Julie Webb, mother of Megan Webb & Anna Webb ’23, June ’23

Jaxon Liila, son of Laura Schoen Liila & Jeremy Liila, July ’23


onald Hoyt, father of Rebecca Hoyt, D April ’23

Anthony Meyer, father of Caitlin Meyer, June ’23

Young Alumnae President’s Circle The Young Alumnae President’s Circle is a collaborative community of women who show their impact by sharing consistently. This spring, we’ve made big changes to make membership easier and more inviting for more young alumnae. It’s a clear and affordable path to leadership giving. Take the next step and visit to discover how easy it is to empower the women who follow in your footsteps.

Come see the new circle!

Your gifts make a big impact!

Winter 2023 | 33




1 Frances Weyrauch ’20 and Kyle Sorenson ’20 married in August. Joining in celebration were many Bennie and Johnnie friends. Front row (L to R): Katie Leonard, Meghan Verkinderen ’20, Bella Haeger Vermedahl ’20, Frances Weyrauch Sorenson ’20, Sydney Sherek ’20, Kendall Koenen ’20, Taylor Schreiner ’19 and Sam Schorzman ’20. Back row: Joe Miller ’20, Liam Reardon ’20, Jack Vermedahl ’20, Kyle Sorenson ’20, Sam Schuberg ’20, Cullen Chisholm ’20 and Kyler Kalla. 2 Nancy Frost Bellmont ’74, Barb Feider ’76, Jill Baker Schiks ’75 and Jeanne Leifeld ’73 (flanked here by Nicole Hess and Mike Durbin) were all members of the first CSB basketball and/or volleyball teams. They stopped by campus for a tour and, coincidentally, ran into Coaches Durbin and Hess, who gave them a behind the scenes look at Claire Lynch. These alumnae are so proud of how everything is now and how many opportunities are available for today’s Bennies.


3 The Bennies and Johnnies who studied in St. Galen, Switzerland, in 1973 with Sister Margretta and Sister Rogatia gathered in August to reminisce, catch up and celebrate 50 years of friendship. Front row (L to R): Nancy Schoolmeesters Morales ’76, Peg Achter Mann ’76, JoAnn Winter ’75 and Sara Wormas Holter ’76. Back row: Roland Manbeck ’74, Bob Wolf ’76, John Holter ’75, Jan Scott ’75, Kathy Whelan Schultz ’75, Cathy Trebnick and Julie Hullerman Theisman ’76. 4 Teachers and staff at Highland Catholic School in St. Paul celebrated Bennie Day in Oct. Front row (L to R): Susan Kammueller ’94, Emily Boyle ’17 and Corrie Schmidt ’06. Back row: Chris Theobald Peterson ’91, Kassy Kenney ’84, Linda Shea ’97, Mary Schmidt Nyhus ’12, Maria Muellerleile ’16 and Brittany O’Neill ’21.

34 | College of Saint Benedict Magazine



5 Marsha (Miller) Edel ’03 married Brian Lahr ’03 in June. They were surrounded by a lot of Bennies and Johnnies whose graduation dates ranged from 1991-2007 (or thereabout).


6 Bennie Day 2023 in Duluth was thoroughly enjoyed by these Bennies. Front row (L to R): Rose Kapsner ’77, Rita Rosenberger ’89, Christine Terrell ’83, Sharon Kong Yung ’98, Tara Frisbie Fouts ’14, Jodi Carlson Grebinoski ’92, Sue Kulas Higgins ’89 and Mary Cherne Schoenfelder ’16. Back row: Kelsey White Berg ’04, Toni Roberts ’06 and Kathryn Eischeid ’17. 7 Bennie Day 2023 brought together this group for some camaraderie in Rochester, Minnesota: Amy DonahoeAnshus ’81, Lisa Brewers Walther ’81, Ashley Thiner Kimeu ’06 and Amy Ohmann Hull ’95. Not pictured: Joyce Overman Dube ’79. 8 Classmates from 1968 gathered for lunch in Maple Grove, Minnesota, to celebrate Bennie Day 2023! Mary Ann Kennedy Sullivan, Gayle Hinkemeyer Smoley, Barb Molacek Werlinger, Barb Walrath Casey, Mary Ann Lyndgaard Weisbrod and Berni Heinen Couillard.





9 Andrea Dowd ’05, Megan Glady Evens ’05 (director of donor relations and campaign events for SJU), Maria Jõse Herrera Septien (director of prospect and portfolio management for CSB), Chris Backes ’21 and Brita Thielen ’11 connected with one another at the American Prospect Research Association (APRA) – Minnesota conference in Oct. ’23. 10 Class of ’82 Bennies gathered recently for a mini-reunion in Minneapolis. Front (L to R): Marilyn Peller Nelson, Sandra Boes O’Brien and Liz Lawyer Tomten. Second row: Lori Lowe Hume, Carol Hince Tigges and Lynn Sheree Lynch Lesmeister. Third row: Fran Walters Davis. Fourth row: Sharon Cogley Paulson and Mary Bernard Freundschuh. Back row: Cheri Drahos Dixon.

10 Winter 2023 | 35


Your words have

POWER The Alum Referral Scholarship is a $1,000 scholarship (renewable for four years, totaling $4,000) available to deserving prospective Bennies and Johnnies. And all it takes to qualify is your recommendation.

Give your support to help them make a CSB and SJU experience affordable while you help us fill our campuses with talented, ambitious students who can make our community stronger. We’re counting on you to help us recruit an amazing group of new students … and, with the Alum Referral Scholarship in play, those students are counting on you, too.

36 | College of Saint Benedict Magazine

T hink about the students in your life, then visit today and get started.


It’s a family tradition

Rita Allen ’13 grew up with a philanthropic spirit. “We never talked about it explicitly, but it is definitely something I learned by example both at home and at church, growing up,” she says. With that background, she started giving back to Saint Ben’s in support of scholarships right after she graduated. “The giving campaign my senior year was very successful at normalizing that philanthropy,” she recalls. So she gave. And kept giving. At some point, she embraced the convenience of becoming a Saint Ben’s Sustainer, with automated gifts that she can define and direct. “It’s so convenient,” she laughs, “I’ve forgotten how it even happened.” It all just made sense to Rita. “Saint Ben’s transformed me,” she says. “I think it truly is a special place. I appreciate the explicit focus on feminism and women’s leadership, which has carved out a space for students to explore who they are and build confidence. And I want others to have the opportunities I did. “I don’t believe I would be the person I am today without my experiences at Saint Ben’s. As a philosophy major, I was

constantly engaged with so many exciting and challenging ideas. My friends from Saint Ben’s are some of the best people I have ever known, and I am so glad to share the journey with them.”

Rita Allen ’13 and her grandmother Barb Coy McGinnis ’50 (as well as Rita’s mother Cate McGinnis ’79) share a giving tradition that goes back nearly all the way to Barb’s days on campus.

Rita is a young Saint Ben’s donor. It’s not so rare. In fact, a few years later, Rita learned she’s not even the first in her family.

“I think that’s pretty incredible,” Rita marvels.

At a Saint Ben’s dinner not long ago, Rita met an alumna from the class of 1956. That Bennie didn’t know Rita, but she sure knew her grandmother. “This Bennie was only a few years younger than my grandma,” Rita says, “and she told me the story.” Barb Coy McGinnis ’50, Rita’s grandmother, didn’t come from wealth. But it was important to her to give back. So she began funding a scholarship immediately after her graduation. And it was that scholarship that made it possible for the Bennie Rita met to attend Saint Ben’s.

Saint Ben’s transformed me. I think it truly is a special place. I appreciate the explicit focus on feminism and women’s leadership, which has carved out a space for students to explore who they are and build confidence.”

Attending Saint Ben’s, and then establishing enduring habits of supporting scholarships so others can do the same, has become something of a family tradition. Barb has been a generous and reliable donor for decades. The same goes for Rita’s mother, Cate McGinnis ’79. And now Rita continues the trend – with no signs of stopping.

You can learn more about supporting access to education at the College of Saint Benedict by contacting Heather PieperOlson, vice president of institutional advancement, at or 320-363-5964.

Winter 2023 | 37



Our Sustainers plant the seeds. We’re paying them forward!

Our Sustainers plant seeds of hope in Bennies by providing automated funds that sustain scholarships. Over time, even modest monthly gifts grow and produce beautiful results. Sign up now to become a Sustainer and do your part in cultivating Bennie dreams!


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