INSIDE 2 Dawn of a New Day
Ever-evolving Saint John’s Shines with New Light
Torres an Inspiring Advocate for Communities
Vibrant Voices Mark Johnnie Athletic History
INSIDE THIS ISSUE SUMMER/FALL 2021
Features Formation and Transformation Illuminate Saint John’s P. 2
Hope springs eternal at Saint John’s University as evolutionary new initiatives and construction enhance traditions and bring fresh innovations in academics, leadership, student facilities, racial justice, the coordinate relationship, Abbey perspective and athletics. Our best days are truly yet to come.
Inspired Torres Grows From His Roots to Help Others P. 16
From his humble beginnings in El Salvador to Saint John’s University to the highest echelons of Minnesota’s state government, Edwin Torres ’16 has already made an enormous impact for people and communities. Now, at age 28, he’s ready to tackle another challenge.
Famous Voices Resonate Through SJU Sports History P. 26
Departments In Sight Johnnie Sports Service to the Church View from Collegeville Class Notes Inspiring Lives
Ray Scott broadcast four of the first eight Super Bowls and World Series games, but he also was the play-by-play radio voice of Saint John’s football for two seasons. He’s part of a long line of notable SJU athletic announcers, a list that also includes Dick Bremer, Anthony LaPanta ’90 and current broadcast mainstay Mark Lewandowski.
16 On the cover: The light of a new day illuminates the back of the Saint John’s Abbey Church as SJU/CSB students (from left) Adrian Flournoy ’22, Tom Wadtke ’21 and Ruby Geng ’22 paddle their canoe across Lake Sagatagan on a bright June morning.
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SAINT JOHN’S MAGAZINE
is the alumni magazine of Saint John’s University. It is published twice a year, in the spring and fall, by the SJU Office of Institutional Advancement.
EDITOR Dave DeLand email@example.com 320-363-3013
CREATIVE DIRECTOR/DESIGNER Lori Gnahn
Bob Alpers ’82 Pam Bacon Jessie Bazan SOT/Sem ’17 Rob Culligan ’82 Dana Drazenovich Mike Killeen Abbot John Klassen, OSB Ryan Klinkner ’04 Barb May Dan McKeown ’85 Br. Dan Morgan, OSB Frank Rajkowski Malik Stewart
PHOTOGRAPHY/VIDEOGRAPHY Michael Becker Denise Gagner Nick Gilman ’23 Brace Hemmelgarn ’12 Thomas O’Laughlin ’13 Nicole Pederson '17 Steve Woit
UNIVERSITY ARCHIVIST Peggy Landwehr Roske ’77
EDITOR EMERITUS † Lee A. Hanley ’58
ADDRESS CHANGES Ruth Athmann Saint John’s University P.O. Box 7222 Collegeville, MN 56321 firstname.lastname@example.org
SJU ALUMNI ARE SOCIAL Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/sjualum Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/sjualumni Follow us on Instagram at instagram.com/sjualumni Subscribe to blogs at sjualum.com
Find Saint John’s Magazine online at sjualum.com/saint-johns-magazine ©2021 Saint John’s University
Morning has broken. Light has pierced the night. As the sun begins to rise amid the darkness of the pandemic, it is not only daybreak at Saint John’s University – it’s the
2 SUMMER/FALL 2021
By Rob Culligan ’82 Vice President of Institutional Advancement During this reawakening, we draw guidance and inspiration from the Saint John’s motto: Induamur Arma Lucis, put on the armor of light. It comes from Romans 13: “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” In the midst of worldwide turbulence, we are mindful that Saint John’s is known for stability. It’s a place of tradition, of ritual, of permanence. We cherish our sense of community, our sense of belonging, our sense of place. It’s often said that things are slow to change at Saint John’s and that Benedictines mark time in centuries. Yet even in Collegeville, behind the towering pines, there is steady change and innovation. In Benedictine communities this is known as conversatio, a monastic way of life rooted in conversion. Some might say that evolutionary change is in our DNA. It certainly is in our history. Saint John’s is a place of formation and transformation. It began as a monastery, then a seminary was added, then a high school and commercial college, and eventually a fullfledged liberal arts university. Along the way, new initiatives sprung forth: the Liturgical Movement, Minnesota Public Radio, the Jay Phillips Center, the Center for Local Government, the Ecumenical Institute
(now Collegeville Institute), the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, the Arboretum and Outdoor University, the Saint John’s Pottery, The Saint John’s Bible, the McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship, the McCarthy Center for Public Policy & Civic Engagement and much more. The late president of Saint John’s University, Br. Dietrich Reinhart, observed that Saint John’s is an idea ... an experiment. It is continually renewing and reinventing itself. Ever in motion. Ever evolving. In his waning moments Br. Dietrich reminded us that “Our best days are yet to come.” As we continue to confront the pandemic, both observations ring true. Saint John’s continues to progress ... and our best days most certainly lie ahead. Indeed, we are on the cusp of a new day. The campus is fully open, there is a flurry of activity, and at every turn seeds that have been sown before and during the pandemic have taken root and have begun to sprout. As Abbot John Klassen mentions in his article (Page 9), forward movement abounds and hope springs eternal. Over the past two years, the monastery was remodeled and the monks reoccupied their rooms in 2020. Plans are underway to construct a facility to house the carpentry shop, the paint shop, the woodworking shop and a new pipe organ building program. Soon, we will embark on the muchneeded renovation of the Abbey and University Church, an architectural monument in the service of God, designed by the renowned Bauhaus architect Marcel Breuer.
A NEW DAY in-person classes. The entire course calendar was modified to a block schedule. Change could be found at every turn. The academic year culminated in an outdoor, socially distanced Commencement ceremony. It’s important to note that the academic winds of change were in the air prior to the rise of the pandemic. As our academic deans describe (Page 11), over the past few years Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s have introduced a new general education curriculum – the Integrations Curriculum – along with several new academic programs including Data Analytics, Pre-Engineering, Neuroscience, Exercise and Health Science, Narrative Practice and a graduate program in Nursing. On the horizon are minors in Entrepreneurship and Finance as well as a Center for Ethical Business Leadership. These programs are in response to the emergence of new fields as well as strong interest by prospective students, all the while maintaining our commitment to the liberal arts. On the Student Development front, Saint John’s continues to take steps to transform Flynntown into a “village.” This summer, the Seton Earth Homes were razed to make way for new townhouses also named to honor of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. Also underway is the construction of a walk At the university, the Board of Trustees recently appointed a Transitional President, Dr. James Mullen. A graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, Mullen also holds a master of public policy degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a doctorate in higher education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Mullen brings an abundance of higher education experience to this leadership position, and he is deeply committed to our educational mission and our vision to be a great Benedictine university in partnership with the College of Saint Benedict. Foremost on his agenda is to work with the Transitional President of the College of Saint Benedict, Laurie Hamen, to facilitate stronger integration and deeper coordination between Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s as we transition to a single president and common-board leadership. This closer partnership will enable us to be more nimble and responsive as we navigate a variety of challenges that face all colleges and universities: demographic change, rising costs, fierce competition in the marketplace and concerns about the value proposition of the liberal arts. During the pandemic, the most rapid and dramatic changes at SJU and CSB have occurred in the core of the enterprise – Academic Affairs. In spring 2020, within a matter of days, all classes were moved online. Over the summer, classrooms were outfitted with state-of-the-art technology to stream
bridge across Stumpf Lake that connects the lower campus to the upper campus. These improvements support a broader strategic initiative to foster a great college experience for our students. In Athletics, after a year of limited competition, the Johnnies eagerly look forward to the fall sports season. It will be a new era in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Conference without our longtime rival, St. Thomas. The conference has been restructured with two additional schools, St. Scholastica and Macalester. Saint John’s seeks to build new rivalries, both in the MIAC and on a national level. Those who attend one of six regular-season home football games will notice a new state-of-the-art digital scoreboard with replays, game
information and event promotions. A new scoreboard will also be installed in the baseball stadium, Becker Park. These improvements will further enhance the fan experience and bolster our recruitment efforts. Music and the arts nurture and sustain us in times of crisis, tragedy and loss. During the pandemic, The Saint John’s Bible has been source of hope and inspiration for believers around the world. Throughout the Easter season, illuminations from The Saint John’s Bible were featured in an online performance of Handel’s Messiah by London’s famous St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church Choir. In the thick of the pandemic, a monumental work of art was installed in the newly established Jon Hassler Sculpture Garden adjacent to the Reinhart Learning Commons. Created by Saint John’s Artist-in-Residence Richard Bresnahan, the Prophetic Messenger sculpture features a kura (Japanese for bin or vault) that contains 178 jars with heirloom seeds and a handwritten scroll of the Rule of Saint Benedict. We look forward to the dedication and blessing of this sculpture on the evening of Friday, Oct. 22. All are welcome. Lastly, as our Multicultural Center Director, Malik Stewart, points out (Page 10), Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s continue to make strides to combat racism and to support diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. Over the past year, students issued a Call to Action that led to a variety of steps by the administration including the appointment of a Coordinating Council and the establishment of a Multicultural Center.
by the words of Martin Luther King Jr. who stated, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice” as well as by the statement by the US Conference on Catholic Bishops, who wrote: “Racism can only end if we contend with the policies and institutional barriers that perpetuate and preserve the inequality – economic and social – that we still see all around us. With renewed vigor, we call on the members of the Body of Christ to join others in advocating and promoting policies at all levels that will combat racism and its effects in our civic and social institutions.” Yes, change is in the air. A fine example of this is our alumnus, astronaut Mark Vande Hei, who is currently orbiting the Earth aboard the International Space Station. It’s a new day, and our best is yet to come. Let us rejoice and be glad.
At Saint John’s, we continue to experience success raising scholarship funds for first-generation students and those with financial need, many of whom are students of color. Over the past two decades we have raised $18 million for this purpose, with another $12 million in the pipeline. This includes an alumni effort to establish a Racial Justice Scholarship Fund. Confronting racism is not an easy task. We are motivated
We would like to thank and salute all those who are guiding and supporting us through the pandemic – Board, administration, faculty, staff, alumni and friends, as well as the visionary leaders who are forging an ambitious course for the future. It has been a tremendous team effort. In the midst of this change, we can be confident that Saint John’s will emerge different than before and better than before. After all, as our Benedictine founder Archabbot Boniface Wimmer instructed: “Forward, always forward, everywhere forward.”
A NEW DAY
TRANSITIONAL LEADERSHIP President Jim Mullen’s Mission: Help the SJU/CSB Coordinate Relationship Flourish
the Elms (2005-08), Allegheny College (2008-19) and the Harvard Graduate School of Education (2019) at previous stops during his distinguished 33-year career in higher education. “Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s each have a rich tradition, and we will sustain the values and traditions of the institutions, keeping what is uniquely strong at each,” Mullen said.
Dr. Jim Mullen is excited to bring his 20 years of experience as president of three liberal arts colleges to the collaborative work of building strong integration between Saint John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict. “I was drawn to this transitional presidency for a number of reasons,” said Mullen, who became Saint John’s 18th president when he assumed his duties June 1. “First, because Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s are both highly regarded national institutions. Second, because I believe there is something uniquely powerful in the Benedictine tradition and both Mari and I are looking forward to experiencing it firsthand. Finally, it was clear to me that Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s have done tremendous work already on strong integration and that there is a very clear pathway toward bringing that work to completion in the year ahead. We have momentum and
we intend to make the most of it. “The strong integration effort is tremendously important, not only for these institutions but for all of American higher education,” Mullen said. “I really believe that the work we are completing here will be noted by colleges and universities across the country as a model for others to explore. It is yet one more example of our national leadership.” It’s a new day for Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s, one that accentuates the schools’ unique attributes and personalities while creating a framework that will enhance the joint experience for students, alums, faculty and staff. “We are creating important linkages for the student experience across the two institutions, building on relationships that already exist. We’re doing so in such a way that each institution maintains what’s special about it,” said Mullen, who previously served as president of the College of Our Lady of
“At the end of the day, everything we are doing is about enhancing the experience for students and creating even more effective ways to support our missions.” Mullen is working in conjunction with CSB Transitional President Laurie Hamen, with the schools’ respective boards of trustees, with the SJU and CSB campus communities and with their monastic communities. Together, they’re designing the evolution toward a joint presidency and board. “Laurie and I are thinking through how one president could best lead the two institutions. Laurie is a wonderful, collaborative and wise partner who is committed to the process of strong integration. The good news is we’ve both been presidents for a while, so we can sense the structures and systems that will allow a joint president to succeed from day one,” Mullen said. “Our goal is to allow a joint president to come in and be able to move quickly and effectively on the things that contemporary college presidents need to emphasize. They need to be able
to have time to think strategically. They need to have the opportunity to be with students in a meaningful way. They need to have the opportunity to go out and raise the national profile of our institutions and do the critical work of building our endowments.
The Jim Mullen File
“That’s a lot for a person who’s leading one campus. It’s a BIG job for somebody who’s leading two. And we are setting in place the architecture that will allow a single president to hit the ground running.”
“People know these are great places, but sometimes when you come from the outside you realize even more how great they are,” said Mullen, who brought fresh perspective with him when he took over June 1 as SJU’s transitional president – his fourth post at a university helm.
For everyone involved in this process, the joint mission is to create the framework for a strongly integrated relationship between the schools that will make the SJU/CSB experience even better and more competitive nationally. “This is an important journey, and it’s the right journey,” said Mullen, who along with his wife Mari is a Holy Cross University graduate. “There are certain things that we want to remain true across both institutions – the Benedictine Catholic tradition, focus on a powerful student experience, commitment to inclusion, justice and equity, and a curriculum grounded in the liberal arts. We will stay true to the core of what we’re both all about, and we will be even more vibrant institutions when strong integration is finalized this year. “I am committed to spending the next year doing my part to ensure that the permanent president inherits two institutions with great positive momentum. This is a first-rate pair of institutions, and they’re only going to get stronger because of what we’re trying to do,” Mullen said. “Saint John’s University has afforded me a great honor and I will work every day to listen, learn and be present to every member of this community. “Mari and I are deeply grateful for the welcome we have received and are tremendously excited about the year ahead.”
He created an award honoring civility in public discourse. He also has a college sports arena named after him. That’s an atypical combination, but Jim Mullen isn’t a typical university president.
Mullen was hired in large part to help facilitate STRONG integration between Saint John’s and the College of Saint Benedict as they transition to a single president and common board leadership. But there have been a myriad of accomplishments and awards during his 33-year career in higher education. As president of Allegheny College (2008-19), Mullen directed initiatives that boosted the university’s competitive national position and recruitment strategy while enhancing campus diversity. He also established the Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life, which since its inception in 2012 has honored such individuals as then-Vice President Joe Biden, Senator John McCain, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Antonin Scalia, the women of the United States Senate, Congressman John Lewis, and political columnists David Brooks and Mark Shields. “Institutions like ours are preparing people to lead in public life. The ability to listen and engage difference with civility is fundamental to public service. The Benedictine tradition teaches us many lessons in that regard,” Mullen said. “Encouraging young people to embrace public life and politics has been a passion in my life.” Athletics is another. James H. Mullen Jr. Arena at Allegheny was dedicated in his honor in 2019. “I spent a lot of wonderful nights in that gym. I love history and politics – and I love sports,” said Mullen, a Massachusetts native who counts Mickey Mantle, Arnold Palmer and John F. Kennedy as childhood heroes. His wife Mari (formerly deputy press secretary to Gov. Michael Dukakis), daughter Franki and son James also have professional connections to Massachusetts. Mullen’s favorite weekend activity? “I enjoy hanging out with Mari, reading and seeing if I can get my golf game straightened out,” he said. “I’ve told (SJU Athletic Director) Bob Alpers I need to get in that simulator.” Favorite restaurant fare? “Shepherd’s pie in an Irish pub.” Favorite sporting event? “I’ve had the chance to attend The Masters and would love to go back. If you mean Saint John’s athletic events, I’m going to ALL of them.”
A NEW DAY
Joint Strategy Sustains Traditions, Fosters Efficiencies For a Bright Future By Dan McKeown ’85
costs and changing demographics.
Saint John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict have a long and rewarding partnership that began over 50 years ago. This partnership fostered individuals at both institutions who saw a brighter future together and took on initiatives to create new ways to work together.
When the two boards looked to the future while beginning strategic planning for the 2025 horizon, it looks very different. Higher education is being impacted by external pressures of rising costs, changing demographics of future students and a double-digit decrease in eligible students due to lower birth rates.
From countless examples of sharing a need for our students grew the extensive partnership that is called the Coordinate Relationship. This partnership deepened through leadership of our past presidents, creating new ways to share the enhanced student experience while maintaining the unique educational and student development that our alums remember and our students experience each day.
We have great momentum, and the work we are completing is already attracting national attention.
Today, our prospective students first learn about Saint John’s or Saint Ben’s from a shared enrollment team led by a single leader, Nate Dehne, vice president. SJU and CSB students share one academic program led by a single leader, Richard Ice, provost. In addition, many student life services are shared by both schools, including the library, technology, bookstore and a variety of student activities.
In the spring of 2019, the two boards created a task force called the Joint Strategic Vision Committee to assess the internal challenges at each institution, the external challenges, and examine what others are doing in the marketplace. From this research, the committee recommended a new organizational model that would allow the two institutions to be nimbler in a fast-changing environment, be bolder with the incredible assets and strengths of SJU/CSB in this unique Coordinate Relationship, and enhance the student experience of this unique Catholic and Benedictine academic setting.
The Coordinate Relationship is managed by two presidents managing joint and separate employees while being directed by two independent boards. This model has changed over the past 50 years and worked very well during rising enrollment, lower tuition
The new model is called Strong Integration and is an evolution of the Coordinate Relationship. It maintains two separate and distinct institutions, yet moves forward with a single leader and the same individual board members. By having the
same leadership of the boards and institutions, we can create a more flexible and nimbler strategic plan with a faster implementation that allows us to build on the strengths of the past, incorporate learnings from our last year with COVID-19 and face the challenges of the future. At a time when many higher education institutions are searching for successful strategies to address the future, Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s have been focused and deliberate in developing our strategy. The result is a game plan that at once sustains the traditions and best of each place, strengthens the student experience and allows us to find efficiencies that help us fulfill our missions most effectively. We have great momentum, and the work we are completing already is attracting national attention.
McKeown is chair of the SJU Board of Trustees
ABBEY PERSPECTIVE Living Into a New Space
By Abbot John Klassen, OSB The Saint John’s Abbey’s monastic community has been living in the monastery designed by Marcel Breuer since August 1955. At the same time that COVID-19 was forcing the closure of our schools, the monks had completed the emptying of the Breuer monastery to prepare for a renovation. In July 2020 we moved into a completely renovated monastic space – now energy efficient in all the ways we have come to expect, the natural beauty of oak and maple floors revealed once again, a unified heating and cooling system and a menu of rooms suited to a different demographic. We also were able to include a space for reading and praying with the Saint John’s Bible gifted to the community by the university regents in 2012. We feel so blessed to have brought this large project to completion with the help of so many friends.
Learning During COVID Because of the pandemic, we immediately were challenged to dramatically upgrade our ability to stream all our eucharistic liturgies and the Divine Offices associated with Sundays and feasts. Participants now join us from across the country and the world. We don’t think this will change. Any work we do in the church going forward has to take this key factor into consideration. Saint John’s produces an enormous
amount of theological and spiritual content, including the teaching and preaching of our pastors, the work here in the Abbey and the work of the Liturgical Press. How do we organize and share this rich and vast work with a much larger audience?
An Expanded Pipe Organ and a New Dream As COVID was unfolding, the expansion of the Holtkamp pipe organ was being completed by organ builder par excellence Martin Pasi. The whole Saint John’s community is discovering the amazing richness of this expanded instrument, which is now scaled for the size of the church.
monastic community for the liturgy of the hours and Eucharist. SJU students have Eucharist on Sunday evenings. Faculty, staff and students gather for the opening convocation each year. The community gathers in solemn and joyous assembly for graduation, and funerals for SJU friends and alums and weddings of Saint John’s University, School of Theology and Preparatory School alums are held throughout the year. It is time to bring the Abbey and University Church forward into the next 70 years, as a church that serves our common mission and vision.
Abbey Woodworking made the 32-foot wooden pipes for this expanded organ. In the process, Pasi became intrigued with the possibility of moving his organ-building business into a new, integrated woodworking building that will include an instructional space for undergraduate and graduate students. This new building, with the expanded scope of work possible in it, will continue to shape our Saint John’s community as we share a bigger vision of Benedictine artistic culture.
Klassen is the 10th Abbot of the Saint John’s Abbey
Revitalizing the Abbey and University Church In its seventh decade, the Abbey and University Church is a visible symbol of the educational mission shared by the university and the Abbey. Even though it now is seldom filled with worshippers, the church is heavily used by the
A NEW DAY
Becoming Community Sparks Consciousness of the Need for Change By Malik Stewart Summer at Saint John’s University has a different feel. Most days are quiet, with less hustle and bustle than during the school year. But this day – July 6, 2016 – would not be one of those. Police in Falcon Heights, Minnesota had shot and killed a Black man. Protests were starting. Just the day before, police in South Carolina had killed another Black man. Disturbing videos of both events were circulating online. A rising Saint John’s sophomore sent an email out to a group of Black students working on campus over the summer. He wanted to gather and process. Being a Black employee, I wanted to be there to support these students, but I couldn’t hide that I was angry. So, myself and another Black colleague joined the students in the Quad as we discussed their experiences, off campus and on, and their fears. In the end, about 30 students attended. An administrator joined to listen and offer support. I think people left the meeting feeling a little better, but there was a palpable sense of “OK, now what?” and ultimately there was little follow-up. After all, Philando Castile was not shot at SJU/CSB. He had no connections here. What role was there for this community to play? Fast-forward four years to 2020. New students. New job at SJU/CSB. It was
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summer again, but this summer would be most unusual. The country had just shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic when a horrific video of a police officer with his knee on a Black man’s neck began circulating. Because of the pandemic, students had been rushed home and forced to complete the semester online.
There was recognition that our “community” is constantly changing as new individuals come to SJU/CSB, and the goal of creating an inclusive community is an ongoing process. Zoom ended up being the platform for SJU/CSB Senates to hold a communitywide event to address the killings of Black Americans at the hands of police.
to help create transformative inclusion among faculty, staff, students and alumnae/i. There was recognition that our “community” is constantly changing as new individuals come to SJU/CSB, and the goal of creating an inclusive community is an ongoing process. Dialogue groups of faculty, staff, students and alums sprung up to discuss many issues related to inclusion on campus. Mini-grants funded on-campus research for students and faculty to gather data to help answer a central question: How do Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s promote or inhibit creating an inclusive community? We must continue to ask that question and wrestle with the answers as they arise, knowing that we have to create and foster the tools to make sure our best days are yet to come.
Out of that event, the Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s Senates developed a Call to Action that would inform how the SJU/CSB community could respond and drive changes at all levels of both institutions. I am happy to say that as you read this, many of the items in the 2020 Call to Action have been acted upon. But what was so different about 2020 compared to 2016? What had changed at SJU/ CSB? Well, for one: Becoming Community. In 2018, the Mellon Foundation awarded SJU/CSB the “Becoming Community” grant, which is intended
Stewart is the SJU/CSB Multicultural Center Director
Classroom, Academic and Equity Changes Help SJU & CSB Move Forward By Barb May and Pam Bacon Our classrooms are changing. Radical changes occurred this past year at Saint John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict as faculty moved to hybrid teaching to address classroom social distancing and isolation/ quarantine requirements. Although we return to in-person classes this fall, faculty have learned from their hybrid teaching experiences and will incorporate new technologies and practices into their in-person classes, including opportunities for guests from around the world to work with our students during class and a learning management system that allows for more interactive learning outside the classroom. We offered five fully remote courses this summer and will offer a hybrid course, Exploring Medicine, in the spring for our students on campus as well as an external audience. We anticipate faculty and students will take advantage of Zoom and other forms of technology developed and incorporated during the pandemic well into the future. Our academic programs are changing. Most significantly, we introduced a new general education curriculum – the Integrations Curriculum – this past academic year. The Integrations Curriculum is based on 12 learning outcomes that blend traditional liberal arts learning like writing and speaking with more contemporary liberal arts skills like collaboration and working with diversity. These are the skills
that our faculty determined to be at the heart of the liberal arts and that employers consistently report needing in the workforce. The Integrations Curriculum is designed around courses that connect learning across disciplines, enhance core skills, allow students to think about purpose and provide opportunities to learn by doing. In addition, we have new and revamped programs, majors and minors on campus. The reconceptualization of the Honors program, called the Honors Scholars, focuses on developing leadership skills and tackling social challenges among courses designed to foster a close-knit academic community. We have responded to student interest by adding an Exercise and Health Science major and minor to examine the relation between physical activity and health, a Data Analytics minor to help students engage in ethical analysis of data and a Narrative Practice minor that supports community building in health and business. Co-curricular opportunities are changing. The new Integrations Curriculum enhances opportunities for engaged learning beyond the classroom, with experiential, global and artistic engagement requirements. In addition, we are integrating offices to provide a one-stop shop for academic co-curricular opportunities including undergraduate research, internships, service learning and study abroad to promote engagement across a student’s
four years. We want all of our students to explore their interests and passions to better support not only lifelong learning but career discernment and development. Finally, we are changing regarding inclusion, diversity, equity and access. This is happening inside and outside the classroom. Not only are faculty working to create equitable and anti-racist classroom environments, curriculum and programs, but we also have incorporated two courses on gender, race and ethnicity into our new Integrations Curriculum. We are restructuring offices to ensure better student access to academic resources and providing support to all incoming students with our new First Year Experience program, which provides comprehensive programming and support to students during their first year to help them transition to college, develop tools to succeed and become successful members of our campus community. At the heart of all these changes is our commitment to become inclusive, equitable and anti-racist communities.
May is the Academic Dean
Bacon is the Dean of Faculty
A NEW DAY
Flynntown’s Renovation Builds a Better Future for Residents By Br. Dan Morgan, OSB The landscape of Flynntown is changing, and that is a great thing for our students. After a year of delay due to COVID-19, Saint John’s University broke ground this spring on a major construction project that will provide better housing, recreational space and a stronger sense of community for residents of Flynntown. The project includes demolition of Seton Apartments, construction of a pedestrian bridge and building a new townhome complex along the shore of Stumpf Lake. Together, these changes reconfigure Flynntown’s footprint, which will help us improve the student experience with a “village vibe” for years to come. Located on the north end of campus, Flynntown has been home to SJU juniors and seniors for more than a century. Named after Edward Flynn, the university’s basketball and baseball coach from the early 1900s, Flynntown began as a neighborhood of farmhouses and has slowly evolved into a community of nearly 300 students. Although two farmhouses are still maintained as residences, nearly all the houses in Flynntown have been replaced with higher density facilities consisting of four- and six-person apartments. Seton Apartments, which are being demolished and replaced as part of this strategic initiative, were the first apartment-style housing offered to
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students in Flynntown and on campus. When it opened to Johnnies in 1981, Seton was considered cutting edge for its style and design, especially its unique earthen roofs. Their half-in-the-ground construction, however, made it difficult to protect them from moisture, and the need to replace them became inevitable after four decades of heavy student use. In 2016, the university initiated a comprehensive study and planning process to understand what the future of Flynntown could look like. The process was guided by these principles: The Flynntown community shall provide strong connection to the main campus but remain individual in its identity; community is the heart and soul of Saint John’s University; and shall provide an environment that reinforces learning together. The Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Village townhome complex will feature two large rectangular structures, each with seven or eight six-person apartments. The townhomes will have 94 beds, 14 more than Seton Apartments. The apartments feature front porches, air conditioning, private bedrooms, 2:1 bathroom ratio, a full kitchen and living room. The townhomes will be placed along the shoreline of Stumpf Lake, and the footpath between the two structures will link to the McKeown Center and the new pedestrian bridge, which has a span of 270 feet. In addition to these amenities, Flynntown’s new footprint will help us create a stronger village vibe in the
student experience. The theme of village vibe emerged in our planning sessions with students and refers to “a sense of belonging to an interconnected social network with one’s neighbors.” To help shape this experience and define the space, the pedestrian bridge will serve as Flynntown’s primary entrance, and the landscaping will help you know that you have arrived and are now entering the village. Our use of the McKeown Center will connect Flynntown’s residents and neighborhoods through focused programming, such as outdoor concerts and intramural tournaments. While each element of this initiative will positively impact Johnnies for decades to come, I am especially encouraged by the process we followed to get here – careful listening, strong collaboration and the shared conviction that we can build a better future for our students.
Morgan is the SJU Director of Residential Life and Housing
Full Sports Lineup Returns with Fresh Features for Athletes, Students and Fans By Bob Alpers ’82 We are so excited to welcome students, parents and fans back to campus to share in all that athletics provide. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever looked more forward to the start of a school year. It’s just so good to be back. Last year’s class of first-year students did not get the chance to experience a student section at Clemens Stadium on a glorious fall Saturday in Collegeville. Now we’ll have two classes experiencing this for the first time. I get goosebumps just thinking about that. The 2020-21 school year was certainly a challenge on many levels. Although COVID-19 forced us to forego the fall season and to complete an abbreviated winter season in empty gyms, rinks and pools, we did get to experience a great spring season with incredible success. The restrictions that the pandemic imposed forced us to find new and creative ways to remain connected with our students, parents and fans. Some of that innovation has stuck, including enhancing our streaming coverage and extending it to new sports. We’ve also freshened up our facilities, including new paint and flooring throughout Warner Palaestra and a redesigned basketball court installed in 2020. There will be a beautiful new physical home for our young athletic hall of fame, the J-Club Hall of Honor, and we are excited to welcome our second full class into the hall at a great
celebration on the Saturday night of Homecoming, Oct. 9. Then, of course, there is the amazing new video scoreboard in Clemens Stadium.
Show the world the best that you can do, the fighting Johnnie spirit will shine through. Obviously, there also have been some changes in the MIAC. But athletics at Saint John’s has never been defined by our relationship with a single school. We continue to have strong rivalries with the other teams in the league. And in football, the new divisional format will add an exciting dynamic as we build toward championship week.
students, coaches, faculty, staff, trainers, custodians, physical plant and dining staff and administrators who saw us through a year that felt like it was five years long. We are stronger because of the adversity we faced, and I’m so filled with hope for the future of Saint John’s. My favorite line in our school’s fight song is “Show the world the best that you can do, the fighting Johnnie spirit will shine through.” It has, and it does every single day around here.
It really is the start of a brand-new era – both around the MIAC and here at Saint John’s. But as much as some things change, those that define us do not. We continue to be grateful to our large and devoted fan base, and to our supporters who make such a huge investment in our athletic programs.
Alpers is the Saint John’s Athletic Director
As an athletic department, we remain committed to the high standards our athletes have always maintained – in the classroom, in the community and in competition. Last year, 628 studentathletes combined for a GPA of 3.3, which is higher than the combined GPA of all SJU students (3.27). I’ve been inspired by the tremendous dedication of our entire community –
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Daybreak at Saint John’s Photo by Tommy O’Laughlin ’13
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Helped Lead Minnesota’s COVID Vaccination Effort By Frank Rajkowski After playing a key role in the campaign to re-elect U.S. Senator Tina Smith last November, Edwin Torres ’16 decided to take a little time off to decide what came next. At age 28, he already boasted an impressive resume that also includes serving as the National Latino Outreach Director for the presidential campaign of Amy Klobuchar, the senior U.S. Senator from Minnesota. So he had no shortage of potentially lucrative options to consider. But when Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s office approached him about helping to lead the state’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts, Torres thought back on his own background. And he knew he couldn’t refuse. “I still (remember) my experiences at age 11 and 12,” Torres said. “Being homeless. Showering in the ocean. Being hungry every day I went to school. Not having dental care until I was 18 and enrolled at Saint John’s. Not having a physical for years at a time. My parents working two or three jobs and not having any time off because of their immigration status. “That’s what grounds me. And I want to do everything I can to make sure even one less kid doesn’t go through what I did.” That’s why for the first six months of
the vaccine, which is lifesaving, (was) “To be able to assure just an incredible privilege. To be able that our most vulnerable to help out families that look like mine (was) so humbling.” communities get the vaccine, which is Emotional work One of the areas Torres was most proud lifesaving, was just an of was the efforts he worked on to reach incredible privilege. workers in the food manufacturing industry – an industry that was hit hard To be able to help out in the early weeks of the pandemic. families that look like “We knew that when the vaccines mine was so humbling.” were available this group needed to be this year, until leaving the job this past June, Torres was working 10 to 12 hours a day – often seven days a week – as the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Outreach Director, helping connect Minnesota residents with critical shots that have played a key role in the fight against the deadly virus. “We never had medical care growing up,” said Torres, who is one of approximately 700,000 individuals covered by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a policy allowing those who came to this country at a young age to gain work permits and remain protected from deportation. “Being undocumented and living in the shadows, that’s something that just wasn’t there. So to be able to assure that our most vulnerable communities get
prioritized,” Torres said. “So we went to work and hosted dozens of planning sessions with community leaders, organizations, various departments, key employers and unions who represented these workers. “And from March to May (of this year), we led a highly-targeted approach with no barriers to reach these communities.
“I’m proud of the work we did in towns like Worthington, Marshall and many others to get these workers vaccinated. Because of the work of many (people), the state achieved a 70% vaccination rate with all of these workers in a matter of weeks. When Gov. Walz met with President (Joe) Biden in May, this was one of the vaccine campaigns that he highlighted as a great achievement in our state.” Torres said the work was personal for him.
“Many experts told us that reaching these communities would be hard and that we would be lucky to get 30 to 40 percent vaccinated,” he said. “But I hope we were able to show that intentional planning and having community organizations lead is the key. “Also, I am from these communities, an immigrant, mix-status family whose parents have worked in food manufacturing plants. I knew the challenges and I know these communities. “
Overcoming challenges Indeed, when he was a small child, Torres’ parents were forced to leave both he and his brother behind in El Salvador when they came to the U.S. in search of a better life for their family.
“He’s smart, compassionate and empathetic. He really cares about people and community.” He was reunited with them in California when he was six, but the road was far from easy. By the time he graduated high school, his family had moved 12 times and he had attended 10 different schools. On two different occasions, they found themselves homeless. “There were a lot of challenges to overcome,” he said. But Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said that background has helped Torres bring a deep sense of empathy to his work on the vaccine rollout, especially when reaching out to BIPOC, nonEnglish speaking and undocumented
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Edwin Torres served as the national Latino outreach director for Minnesota U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar during her run for the presidency from 2019-20. (Photo courtesy of Edwin Torres) communities, some of whose members have been hit hard by the spread of the virus and don’t always have access to needed medical care. “Part of outreach is sometimes having the hard conversations,” Flanagan said. “But he answers all the tough questions and forms real bonds. “He’s smart, compassionate and empathetic. He really cares about people and community and that comes
through.” Torres is proud of the work he and others put in to get as many Minnesotans vaccinated as possible, efforts that likely helped avoid a new surge of cases and deaths last spring. He said he tried to approach the task the way he approached his past work on political campaigns. “I (tried) to run this effort like we would a voter outreach effort,” he said.
“Let’s get as many people as possible registered for the vaccine connector. Let’s employ text messages. Let’s go door-to-door. The type of outreach you do during a campaign is very similar to the things (we were doing). “That six-month COVID appointment was life-changing for me,” Torres continued. “Even at the start of the pandemic, I couldn’t have imagined that within a few months I’d be working on getting such a precious material out to so many people. Something that had the potential to save our own lives and the lives of our loved ones. “Words can’t describe the pressure I felt to not mess it up and the sheer amount of work that needed to be done. There
was no infrastructure set up for an
Paying it forward
effort like that. We had to create it from
Torres said he is conscious of the responsibilities that come with the positions of influence he has served in.
the ground up.”
“I’ve been so lucky to be able to have the ears of some of our top elected officials. And the question for me has always been how to take that privilege and bring it back into our communities.”
“One of the things I’ve always tried to do is to take my understanding of what is happening at the local levels and try to use it to get changes made at the top,” Torres said. “I’ve been so lucky to be able to have the ears of some of our top elected officials. And the question for me has always been how to take that privilege and bring it back into our communities. “Because I wouldn’t be where I am now if the leaders of those communities hadn’t placed their trust in me. Political leaders come and go. But the leaders on
While working on U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar’s presidential campaign, Torres attended a presidential candidate forum hosted by the NAACP at its annual convention in Detroit in July 2019.
“I wrote that I’d been given this chance, now I had to take it and run and keep running. I wrote that when I was 18 back in 2012 and it’s still true today.” “From advocating for dreamers like himself to ensuring vaccines are reaching every community across the state, Edwin has a steadfast commitment to public service and making this country a better place.”
Man on a mission Such efforts are all part of making good on the mission Torres set for himself soon after arriving on campus at SJU in the fall of 2012.
the ground will always be there.” Those who have worked closely with Torres over the years praise his commitment to that mission. “He really brings a combination of a zealous work ethic and a core belief in the possibility of public policy and government being able to make the world a better place,” said Matt Lindstrom, a professor of political science at CSB/SJU and director of the Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement. “He’s committed to causes he believes in. He’s a learner and he’s someone who understands that issues can be complex, which makes him appreciate
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the kaleidoscope that a liberal arts education offers. “I’ve known him as a student and I’ve known him as an employee,” Lindstrom continued. “And now as an alumni, he’s been a true friend to the McCarthy Center and a true friend to CSB/SJU as a whole. He’s always willing to talk with current students and pass on his advice and guidance.”
“I’ve kept a journal I wrote in during my first night at Saint John’s sitting in my room on the third floor of Mary Hall,” Torres said. “I wrote that I’d been given this chance, now I had to take it and run and keep running. I wrote that when I was 18 back in 2012 and it’s still true today.
One of his more recent bosses echoed similar sentiments.
“When I was given a chance with Sen. Klobuchar, I said, ‘Take it and keep running.’ When I was given a chance with Sen. Smith, I said, ‘Take it and keep running.’ Working with the governor’s administration on vaccination efforts, I tried to do the same thing.
“Edwin Torres was an invaluable member of our team,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “He embodies Minnesota values – he is hard-working, humble and kind to everyone he meets.
“I try to take every opportunity I have and make the most of it, while putting a ladder down behind me so other people like me are able to have the same experiences in the future.”
Helping Others Mirror His SJU Experience The road that brought Alejandro Guzman ’19 from Immokalee, Florida to Saint John’s University has now taken him to another seemingly unlikely destination and challenging career path. A nutrition major and exercise science
90 percent first-generation college students and 85 percent economically disadvantaged. “A lot of families are just truly trying to push for their kids to have a better education,” added Guzman, who
things like that.” Hopefully, their experience can mirror Guzman’s own First Gen experience at Saint John’s. “My four years at Saint John’s were so amazing,” said Guzman, who was one of the first four success stories of the Immokalee Scholarship Program that provides scholarship support for students from one of America’s poorest communities. “I was able to be part of the Urban Scholars internship in Minneapolis, so I was feeling after graduation I was going to work with public health or some type of government work with public policy. But teaching just kind of fell into my lap and I ran with it.” Part of Guzman’s immersion into his students’ lives in Houston has included steering them toward his own footsteps.
Alejandro Guzman (lower left) poses for a photo with one of his classes at Houston’s YES Prep East End college preparatory high school, where he teaches biology and chemistry. minor? Teaching high school biology and chemistry? In Houston? “It’s very rewarding. You can really see the appreciation that a lot of these kids have,” said Guzman, who is starting his third year of teaching high school first-years and sophomores at YES Prep East End – part of a group of 21 Houston charter schools with a college preparatory emphasis that serve students who are 97 percent Hispanic or Black,
“I tell all my kids, ‘Senior year I’m making you apply to Saint John’s – every one of you.’ ” also coaches East End’s varsity boys basketball and volleyball teams. “We want to make sure that from an early age we’re starting to introduce that you can go to college, you are college-ready,
“I tell all my kids, ‘Senior year I’m making you apply to Saint John’s – every one of you.’ ” Guzman’s long-term vision, however, is focused elsewhere. “My plans are still to one day go back to Immokalee and take all my knowledge, become the first (Hispanic) councilman representing Immokalee or the first mayor,” he said. “That’s still my future goal. “I’m just trying to do my best. Hopefully with the hard work it leads me to be in a position to do even more great things and inspire others.”
Making a Difference For Healthcare Patients Two decades into his professional career, Jaime Ramirez ’00 can proudly say he helps people and makes a difference every single day. Perhaps that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, though, because it’s exactly what Ramirez has been doing basically since his arrival at Saint John’s University.
“When we look to the profile of a good Saint John’s student, these are the things we look to – service and leadership.”
“In my role, I provide individual, couples and group psychotherapy for veterans as well as clinical case management – that’s helping veterans navigate the VA healthcare system,” said Ramirez, who lives in Sartell with his wife Carolyn – also a VHA clinical social worker – and their kids Jasmin (10), Alejandro (8) and Ariana (6). The roots for that career of service sprouted at Saint John’s. “He was an agent for change,” said SJU Director of Admission Marketing Tom Voller-Berdan ’88, who helped recruit Ramirez in 1996. “He’s just this kind, generous person that loves Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s.” As an SJU sophomore, Ramirez founded the Fast Forward Youth Program, an Hispanic/Latino youth college initiative and outreach program through the SJU/CSB Admission Office.
Jaime Ramirez (left) and his wife Carolyn pose with their children Jasmin (top middle), Alejandro (top right) and Ariana. “I was very fortunate being at Saint John’s, coming from a family where I was the first to go to college,” said Ramirez, who served SJU as an admissions student tour guide and as founder and director of an outreach program for Hispanic/Latino youth. “I had experiences with a lot of wonderful men and women who would take the
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time to listen, to talk, to advise, to impart wisdom.” That’s what Ramirez now does for others. He serves as a clinical social worker in the Outpatient Mental Health Clinic at St. Cloud Veteran’s Health Administration Medical Center, where he has provided care since 2007.
“It involved me going to high schools and speaking about my experience in life and how I got to Saint John’s,” said Ramirez, who subsequently recruited over 400 SJU/CSB students to serve as tutors and mentors for Hispanic/Latino students in Central Minnesota during his years as director of the Fast Forward Youth Program. “We’ve got to go to the source. We’ve got to plant the seed. “I’m always looking to evolve. I’m always looking to improve things. When we look to the profile of a good Saint John’s student, these are the things we look to – service and leadership.”
Finding His Journalistic Calling at SJU Enrolling at Saint John’s University was truly a leap of faith for Julio OjedaZapata ’85. The native of the San Juan, Puerto Rico area had never set foot on campus before he arrived here as a firstyear student in the fall of 1981. “I hadn’t done any college visits and I went to Saint John’s sight unseen,” said Ojeda-Zapata, a longtime reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press who has been covering the changing face of technology since the mid-1990s. “I got dropped off in the middle of nowhere in a place I’d never been before. But it ended up working out. I loved my time there.” Ojeda-Zapata majored in political science at SJU, but he already knew journalism would be his true calling – an insight that dated back to when he started writing for La Flama, a student paper at Colegio Espíritu Santo
parochial school in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico. He also wrote for The Record during his time at SJU, then earned his master’s degree in journalism at the University of Illinois. He worked for the Chicago Reporter, a monthly magazine, for a year, then joined the Pioneer Press as a general assignment reporter in 1987. “Saint John’s had such a solid liberal arts program, which was perfect for me,” he said. In the mid-1990s, Ojeda-Zapata transitioned from his general assignment role into covering the technology beat, just in time for the dot.com bubble and eventually the advent of social media. He’s also written a number of books about consumer technology, business tech and mobile productivity. He’s currently part of the newsroom’s online team.
“I picked Saint John’s on instinct, but within two days of arriving there, I knew I’d picked the right place.” He also is a contributing editor for TidBITS, a website for Apple enthusiasts. His work has appeared in a variety of other print and online outlets, including Macworld.com, Mpls.St. Paul Magazine and the San Jose Mercury News. Ojeda-Zapata said he still looks back on his time at Saint John’s with great fondness.
Julio Ojeda-Zapata (left) and a colleague work in the newsroom at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, where the Saint John’s graduate has worked for more than three decades.
“I picked Saint John’s on instinct, but within two days of arriving there, I knew I’d picked the right place,” he said. “Even now, when I come back and swim out to the raft (on Lake Sagatagan) and lay in the sun, there’s nowhere else in the world where I feel more relaxed.”
Charting a Road Map for Success When Michael Pineda ’21 arrived at Saint John’s University as a freshman in the fall of 2017, he was told about the Eugene J. McCarthy Mentor Program, which pairs College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s students with individual political and community leaders.
As lead video production specialist for Instructional Technology, Pineda supported the Kling Media Lab and Video Studio with a wide range of classes, lectures, podcasts, interviews, newscasts, music videos and more.
2020-21 school year.
At the start of the COVID 19 pandemic, he rapidly created many of the training resources and video tutorials that made it possible for the SJU/CSB community to move online quickly, and to take advantage of the digital tools that would become commonplace as a result of hybrid learning and video conferencing.
of this year’s cohort of the Benedictine Volunteer Corps.
Pineda plans to pursue a career as an instructional technology specialist. But before that happens, he is spending a year abroad volunteering as a member
It’s meant as a way to offer current students sources of support who can provide a road map as they begin exploring avenues to success academically and in later life.
“I try to look at what I do here at SJU as a baseline for future generations.” Pineda, a graduate of Verbum Dei High School in Los Angeles who was raised by a single mother and is the first member of his family to attend college, was paired with Steve Chavez, a 1974 SJU graduate who is now a lawyer in the Twin Cities. “He ended up doing so much for me, including offering personal and professional support,” Pineda said. “And when I offered to try to pay him back, he refused and told me to pay it forward instead. “That’s something that really stuck with me.” Pineda, who graduated from Saint John’s in May with his global business leadership degree, served as a mentor to many during his time on campus.
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For his efforts, he was named the SJU Student Employee of the Year for the
“More than anything, I try to look at what I did here at SJU as a baseline for future generations,” he said. “My grandmother came to this country as an immigrant just hoping to survive. My mother became a resident. I’m just the next in the series of steps my family has taken to continue improving our quality of life.”
Growing Into a Career of Service His home region has always been extremely important to Valentin Sierra ’10. So has the concept of service. But to serve at home the way he is doing now, Sierra first had to travel far and wide. His time at Saint John’s University was an important stop on that journey. “Saint John’s, to me, meant the whole world,” said the 2010 SJU graduate, who is now the secretary of economic planning and development for his home state of Caldas in his native Colombia.
“The Benedictine values of service and caring for one another that were instilled in me at Saint John’s just reinforced my decision to come back to Colombia.” “It changed my perspective on things. It enabled me to apply for the master’s degree of my dreams (in public policy) at Harvard. It set me up with an internship in the city of my dreams in Washington, D.C. “But more than anything, Saint John’s meant grit and growth. It allowed me to discover and believe in what I was capable of doing.” Sierra grew up in Manizales, Colombia, the capital of the Department of Caldas, during a period when the country was racked by civil war.
A scholarship enabled him to come to the U.S. and attend St. Cloud (Minnesota) Cathedral High School as an exchange student. A speech he delivered at an event at St. Mary’s Cathedral in downtown St. Cloud drew the attention of the late Vern Dahlheimer, who spent many years working on behalf of social justice causes in the St. Cloud area. Dahlheimer helped provide the financial support needed for Sierra to
enroll at Saint John’s, where he excelled – majoring in economics and political science, working for the Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement and earning acceptance to the Phi Beta Kappa national honors society. With his résumé, he could have gone anywhere in the world and likely had his pick of jobs. But he chose to return to Caldas, where he helped elect longshot candidate Luis Carlos Velásquez Cardona governor in 2019. He now serves as one of Cardona’s top aides, helping his home state meet the challenges in front of it. “The Benedictine values of service and caring for one another that were instilled in me at Saint John’s just reinforced my decision to come back to Colombia,” he said.
Valentin Sierra serves as secretary of economic planning for his home state of Caldas in Colombia.
Voices of the Johnnies
NOTABLE ANNOUNCERS RESONATE THROUGHOUT SJU ATHLETIC HISTORY By Frank Rajkowski When Mark Lewandowski gets behind the microphone to do the radio broadcast of Saint John’s University football and basketball games, he doesn’t have to imagine what his audience looks like. He can see a sampling right in front of him. “That’s how loyal Johnnie Nation is,” said Lewandowski, who began calling SJU basketball games in 1999 and took over football play-by-play duties the following year. “Even people who are at the games are tuning in. “There’s nothing more incredible than looking out at a large crowd in Clemens Stadium, or at a packed gym in Sexton Arena, and seeing people with headphones on listening to your broadcast.” For decades, those listeners have made up just a small portion of a wider audience of SJU alums and fans tuning in across Central Minnesota – and more recently, thanks to the advent of the internet and the creation (in football) of the Johnnie radio network, the entire
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state, nation and world. Since the 1960s, radio stations based in nearby St. Cloud, Minnesota consistently have carried Johnnie football and basketball. And even before that, a number of games were broadcast locally each season during the late 1940s and ’50s. The broadcasts often have featured top-notch talent, including play-byplay voices who have gone on to call games at the professional level. For a time in the early 1990s, the football play-by-play duties were assumed by legendary broadcaster Ray Scott, who in the late 1960s and early 1970s was the lead voice of NFL broadcasts on CBS television, calling four of the first eight Super Bowls. “It’s unprecedented for a Division III school to have had the kind of coverage we’ve had over the years,” said Johnnie football coach Gary Fasching ’81, who also handled color commentary on SJU broadcasts for several years before returning to his alma mater to join then-head coach John Gagliardi’s staff in 1995.
“I don’t think you’ll find another school our size that has attracted the kind of talent and big names that have come through to call our games over the years. I know we’re the envy of a lot of schools. I hear from other coaches in our conference who are amazed at the amount of radio coverage we’ve had over the years, and at how professionally it’s been done.” Many of those broadcasters look back fondly on calling the action for the Johnnies. “It was really like being part of a Division I atmosphere, but on a smaller scale,” said Dick Bremer, who called SJU football games on WWJO-FM 98.1 in St. Cloud for a number of seasons in the 1980s and has gone on to become the longtime television play-byplay voice of the Minnesota Twins. “You sense it from the moment you park your car and walk into the stadium,” he continued. “People are so into the game and the whole experience. It becomes very evident when you’re doing those games that they’re social events for a lot of people.”
“It’s the coolest thing,” said Anthony LaPanta ’90, an SJU graduate who hosted The John Gagliardi Show on the old Midwest Sports Channel in the mid-1990s and became the play-by-play voice of Johnnie football during the 1999 season on St. Cloud-based KKJMFM Spirit 92.9. He now does play-byplay for the NHL’s Minnesota Wild. “Here you have a Division III team, but they play in front of huge crowds and they have so much support out there,” he said. “You know people are listening from all over. It was such a great atmosphere to be part of.”
EARLY DAYS The first recorded instance of an SJU sporting event being broadcast on the radio came on Oct. 22, 1922 for a matchup between the Johnnies and St. Olaf. By 1925, soon after campus station WFBJ went on the air thanks to a radio tower built atop the old Science Hall (now known as Simons Hall) at
least a very small audience had the chance to tune in for updates on the Homecoming game against Hamline. Johnnie sports updates were featured regularly on St. Cloud station KFAMFM when it first hit local airwaves in 1938, but it wasn’t until 10 years later when full broadcasts of Saint John’s football games appear to have been added to the station’s lineup of local sports programming. “Both colleges (SJU and St. Cloud State University, then known as St. Cloud Teachers College) and three high schools will figure into the overall home-game coverage,” reported the St. Cloud Times in its Sept. 17, 1948 edition highlighting that year’s fall schedule with Cliff Sakry, KFAM’S regional director and social events commentator, handling the call. The station continued carrying select SJU games throughout the 1950s, but by the start of the 1960s a new station had emerged as player on the local sports broadcast scene.
TIN PAN ANDY WJON-AM first went on the air in 1950. By the early 1960s, the St. Cloudbased station would become the regular home for SJU football (and sometimes basketball) broadcasts with Jim Roeser handling the play-by-play. “When I first got there, we started to get pretty heavy into doing the local high schools and colleges,” said Roeser, who remained the sports director at the station until he departed in the early 1970s to take a sportscasting job at television station KCMT in Alexandria, Minnesota. “KFAM had been the dominant station in town, but WJON was really coming to the forefront with Andy (Hilger) as the program director at the time. He was the guy who hired me, and having local sports – especially Saint John’s – on his station was really important to him.” Hilger started at WJON in 1958 as a late-night DJ who went by the name
Mark Lewandowski and Bryan Backes
they were playing was bigger and faster and he didn’t know how the hell the Johnnies were going to beat them. “But somehow they almost always did.”
THE CONNIE O SHOW Roeser’s departure in the early 1970s opened the door for the arrival of a new play-by-play voice. Connie Overboe, who went by the on-air name Connie O, arrived in St. Cloud from Illinois in 1972.
Ray Scott “Tin Pan Andy.” He worked his way up the ladder quickly, buying the station in 1965 and later adding WWJO, KMXK (now Mix 94.9 FM) and KKJM to his portfolio. Roeser spearheaded early coverage of SJU sports, following along when Gagliardi and the Johnnies headed to Sacramento, California for the NAIA national title game in 1963. There, SJU defeated a Prairie View A&M team that featured future NFL stars Otis Taylor and Ken Houston by a score of 33-27, earning the first of the head coach’s four national titles. WJON was not alone in the press box for that game, though, nor for the 1965 NAIA title game in which the Johnnies defeated Linfield (Oregon) in Augusta, Georgia. Unlike today, when contracts guarantee exclusivity, no barriers prevented other stations from airing the games if they chose to. KFAM, which was owned by the St. Cloud Times, took advantage of the fact that sports writer Mike Augustin was already on hand for both the 1963 and ’65 title games — Johnnie alums paid to fly him out— and pressed him into double service as a play-by-play man on
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the radio. “Was there an Oak Grove Dairy in the area?” recalled Pat Reusse, the longtime Twin Cities sports columnist who worked with Augustin at the St. Cloud Times in the mid-1960s, and later for many years at the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune. “I believe they were a sponsor. Augie told this story 1,000 times in bars. He was overamped about a punt return and read the next ad as ‘Drink Oak Grove egg nog and you’ll never drink egg nog again.’ He skipped the word ‘another’ in front of the second egg nog.”
Soon he was handling play-by-play for SJU football and basketball, in addition to high school sports, especially Rocori High School in Cold Spring, Minnesota. Overboe arrived around the same time Johnnie sports migrated from AM (WJON) to FM (WWJO). “The coverage area was much larger at that time,” Overboe recalls. “(WWJO) could carry into the Twin Cities and all that. I worked by myself a lot of the time. Sometimes I had Charlie Reichensperger with me on color for football. Once in a while, Thom Woodward (a 1970 SJU graduate who worked as the school’s sports information director and later in Institutional Advancement) would help out. But mostly it was just me.”
Roeser, meanwhile, said he enjoyed his time broadcasting Johnnie games – even if, like many who came after him, he sometimes found it difficult to get much information out of Gagliardi in the week leading up to a game. “He never changed,” recalled Roeser of the legendary coach who retired in 2012 with 489 career victories – the most of any coach in college football history. “I interviewed him for well over 20 years and he never told me a damn thing. He never wanted to give anything away. The only thing he’d ever say about the upcoming game was that the team
Left: Andy Hilger
had to figure out which one made the last tackle, which wasn’t always easy,” he said. “I also learned to go to the concession stand (located on the ground floor of the press box) before the game started. The smell of Heavenly Apples or popcorn or hamburgers would drift up and get in your nose, and you’d be hungry the whole game if you hadn’t already eaten.”
Among the highlights of Overboe’s time in the SJU booth were calling games for the 1976 Johnnie football team that won the NCAA Division III national title and for the great SJU basketball teams of the late 1970s led by All-American Frank Wachlarowicz. “(Gagliardi) was a great guy to cover, but he could get really paranoid before games,” Overboe said. “I remember (in 1978) the Johnnies were playing Macalester and the Scots were going to set a national record for consecutive losses if the Johnnies beat them. John would not even do a telephone interview with me the week before that game. He just didn’t want to say anything that would motivate them. “They ended up beating them 44-0.”
LEGENDS IN THE BOOTH Though he remained in the area, Overboe had moved on from Saint John’s broadcasts by the late 1970s. The baton was picked up by Gary Sparber, who called SJU action on WWJO from 1979-82 before embarking on a successful broadcasting career that included a stint as the TV play-by-play voice of the original Charlotte Hornets during the NBA team’s first season in 1988-89. Bremer, meanwhile, had already began to make his name in the Twin Cities media, starting as the weekend sports anchor at WTCN-TV, now KARE, in 1981 and working for several seasons on Minnesota Twins and North Stars broadcasts on the old Spectrum Sports Channel.
Bremer remained through the 1987 season. After that, Roeser returned for the next couple of years. Then, in 1990, circumstances led Scott into the SJU booth.
Connie Overboe of the 1976 national championship team who provided color for Bremer during Johnnie broadcasts, a role he has reprised numerous times over the years. “I started doing the Saint John’s stuff sort of out of necessity,” Bremer recalled. “Spectrum Sports had ended and I wanted to keep doing games. But everywhere you looked in the Twin Cities, there was a legend working. Herb Carneal was doing the Twins. Ray Christensen was still doing the Gophers. Al Shaver was doing the North Stars. “One of the guys I worked with at KCLD, Jack Hansen, was involved with Andy Hilger’s operation at WJON and WWJO. He connected me with Andy and I agreed to come up and do some Saint John’s football and basketball.”
The Staples (Minnesota) High School and St. Cloud State graduate had plenty of familiarity with Central Minnesota, working for a time as a disc jockey on St. Cloud Top 40 station KCLD-FM 104.7.
Bremer, who rejoined the Twins broadcasts in 1987 and has been there ever since, said covering Saint John’s football could be challenging for a broadcaster – both professionally and gastronomically.
“Duke in the Dark, that was the name he went by,” said Mike Carr, a member
“John would dress so many players that sometimes there’d be two 77s and you
The legendary broadcaster, who was the voice of the Green Bay Packers during the Vince Lombardi era and who called Twins baseball from 1961-66, was living in the Twin Cities at the time. Paul Johnson, who began the year doing play-by-play for the Johnnies, also hosted a weeknight sports talk show with Scott that was broadcast from Scott’s restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. When Johnson needed a color man early in the 1990 season, he called on his co-host, who was happy to do it. “I said ‘Heck, yes,’” Scott told the St. Cloud Times that season. “This is the first time in 45 years I haven’t done a full schedule of games.” He ended up sticking around, taking over the play-by-play duties through the 1991 season. Scott died at age 78 in 1998. Carr occasionally served as his color man in the booth. “I’d just sit there in awe,” he remembered. “Here was a guy who called the Ice Bowl, who’d called World Series games and Super Bowls. It was amazing that he even cared what I had to say. But he couldn’t have been nicer to work with.”
ON THE AIR IN THE ’90S
Filling in for Scott when he could not make games during the 1991 season was Emmett Keenan ’81, who had called Johnnie basketball on the radio as a student on campus station KSJU-FM during the late 1970s and early 1980s. He took over football and basketball play-by-play duties full time in 1992, joined by Fasching for football color commentary. He and Fasching lived on the same floor at Tommy Hall when they were sophomores. “One of my best memories of doing those games came before a Johnnie/ Tommie game in St. Paul,” recalled
booming voice he has he yelled ‘Augie, you better not have that red-colored underwear on today.’ At which point Augie actually dropped his pants to show that he really did have red underwear on.” J.G. Preston, who was working on Twin Cities Public Television’s Almanac program at the time and was WJON’s morning man until 2005, took over football duties from Keenan in 1993, though Keenan remained on color at times and also continued to call Johnnie basketball. Preston, meanwhile, remained on commentary for the bulk of the games from 1993 to 1998, except in 1995, making him the play-by-play announcer listeners heard when SJU became the second Division III school in the nation to put its radio broadcasts online in 1997. He was also on the call when the Johnnies advanced to the national semifinals in 1993 and ’94 – falling 56-8 in the mud at rising Division III football titan Mount Union (Ohio), then dropping a heartbreaker 19-16 at home to Albion (Michigan) the following year.
J.G. Preston Keenan, now St. Cloud Cathedral High School’s longtime athletic director. “(Mike Augustin) was covering the game for the Pioneer Press. He’d worked at the Times in the ’60s and he loved Saint John’s. (Longtime St. Thomas basketball coach and athletic director) Steve Fritz knew that and he used to accuse Augie of being so proJohnnies that he wore red underwear. It was kind of a running joke. “Well, before this game, Steve came into the press box, and in that big
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Hilger, who died at age 83 in 2013, sold WJON, WWJO and KMXK to Regent Communications in 1998. But he kept KKJM-FM Spirit 92.9, the station to which SJU broadcasts had already moved in 1997. The move also brought a new play-byplay voice when the up-and-coming LaPanta took over football play-by-play for the 1999 season. During broadcasts, he was paired with former SJU quarterback Steve Varley, who had been his college roommate. “I became pretty good friends with (then-SJU quarterback) Tom Linnemann that year,” LaPanta said. “He broke his leg early on that season,
so he was always in the press box. He knew Varley because Steve had been a student teacher in Melrose (Minnesota, Linnemann’s high school). So he’d come up and hang out with us. “We ended up becoming pretty close. I was in his wedding. He became my daughter’s godfather. And that all grew out of that season.”
VOICE OF THE JOHNNIES LaPanta was already working on Twins broadcasts in 1999, and when he was unable to make a couple of games because of scheduling conflicts, his place was taken by a new play-by-play voice who has ended up sticking around for over two decades. Lewandowski, a 1992 graduate of Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, began his radio career in Little Falls, Minnesota before going on to do stints in Havre, Montana calling Montana State University-Northern sports, and in Scotts Bluff, Nebraska calling junior college and high school athletics. He returned to Central Minnesota in 1999 and began calling SJU basketball that winter. The following season, he was paired with longtime Saint John’s Prep coach and activities director Bryan Backes ’87 in the football booth, and the two have been together ever since. They were on hand to call the Johnnies’ run to the national championship game in 2000, and again three years later during the season Gagliardi passed Eddie Robinson as the winningest coach in college football history and won his fourth national title with a memorable 24-6 upset over Mount Union. And there have been so many other memories – both on the football field and basketball court – in the years since. “The national championship in football is certainly right up there,” said
L to R: Mark Lewandowski, Dick Bremer, Anthony LaPanta Lewandowski, who moved with the broadcasts to Tri-County Broadcasting’s powerful AM station WBHR in 2006. “But who could forget Russell Gliadon's game-winning field goal against Bethel (in 2009) when all the fans came streaming out on the field? That was a huge call for me. “And the Kyle Gearman call when the wide receiver caught a Hail Mary pass from quarterback Alex Kofoed as time expired to beat Concordia in Moorhead in 2005 was another big one. We were coming out of the break before that play happened and Bryan asked me what I was going to do for Thanksgiving. That’s when it dawned on me that if they lost, they weren’t going to make the playoffs. “When he caught the ball, he was a good five yards behind the defensive backs. You can actually hear me on the Concordia radio broadcast. Larry Knutson, the dean of MIAC announcers, was calling that game and I was so loud you can hear me in the
background.” Indeed, Lewandowski’s passion and exuberance for all things SJU – as well as his occasional critiques of the officiating if a call goes against the Johnnies – have become his trademarks over the years, much to the delight of his listening audience on WBHR and the two other stations around the state that now make up the Johnnie radio network. “I’m a homer,” he said with a smile. “There’s no doubt about that. I broadcast the games for Johnnie fans. And it’s been an amazing 21 years. I can’t believe time has flown by the way it has. But this is such a great community to be part of. And the crew we have on the broadcasts now – with Mike and (son) Charlie Carr (a former SJU punter) – is amazing. I can’t say enough about all those guys. They make me look good.
who have called Saint John’s sporting events over the years: Jim Roeser 1960s to early 1970s, late 1980s Connie Overboe (Connie O) 1970s Gary Sparber late 1970s-early 1980s Dick Bremer 1980s Ray Scott 1990-91 Emmett Keenan early 1990s J.G. Preston early to late 1990s Anthony LaPanta 1999 Mark Lewandowski 1999-present For an expanded version of this story, and to listen to memorable SJU calls from over the years, go to gojohnnies.com
“This has truly become my home. I feel very lucky to have been as accepted as I have been by Johnnie Nation.”
Scorecard BASEBALL The Johnnie baseball team tied for third in the MIAC with a 16-9 record (29-12 overall) and made its 11th consecutive appearance in the MIAC Tournament. Designated hitter Max Nyrop ’23 was named to the D3baseball.com All-America first team hours after he and catcher Ethan Roe ’22 were named All-Midwest Region by both D3baseball.com and the American Baseball Coaches Association. The Johnnies have had 38 All-Region honorees on the diamond since 2010. Nyrop fell one RBI shy of SJU’s singleseason record of 52 set by Ryan Roder ’97 in 1997, while Roe hit a single-season-record 13 home runs. BASKETBALL SJU played a seven-game schedule in empty arenas and posted a 3-4 record. The Johnnie basketball program picked up its ninth consecutive National Association of Basketball Coaches Team Academic Excellence Award. Wing Oakley Baker ’21, guard Gavin Bates ’22, guard Jake Binley ’22 and guard Colton Codute ’22 were named to the NABC Honors Court. GOLF The Johnnies shattered the 54-hole championshipmeet record with a three-day total of 850, besting the previous record low (set by SJU in 2006) by 27 shots to win the
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program’s 13th MIAC title May 2 at Emerald Greens G.C. in Hastings. Four Johnnies finished in the top 10 to earn All-MIAC honors. Thomas Gutzmer ’23 became the 12th Johnnie to earn medalist honors at the MIAC Championship with a three-round total of 208 (-8). SJU made its 18th appearance at the Division III Championship May 11-14 in Wheeling, West Virginia, and tied for 15th out of 37 teams. Bob Alpers ’82 and Michael Whitlock were named the MIAC Men’s Golf Coaches of the Year. HOCKEY The Johnnies posted a 6-2-2 record (4-0-1 MIAC) during their shortened 2021 schedule. Eleven Johnnies achieved Academic AllMIAC status and 10 were named American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA)/Krampade Academic All-Stars. SOCCER SJU played an abbreviated six-game schedule in the spring and compiled a 2-3-1 record. Aside from the scoreless tie, the other five matches were decided by 2-1 scores. Midfielder Paul Wadsworth ’21 led the team in goals (2), assists (4) and points (8). Twelve Johnnies were named Academic All-MIAC. SWIMMING AND DIVING The Johnnie swimming and diving team’s 2020-21 competition schedule fit into one month. Divers Jack Grabinski ’23 and Connor
Reed ’23 were named 2020-21 College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America All-Americans. Grabinski received first-team honors in the 3-meter dive, while both divers earned second-team distinction on the 1-meter board. TENNIS SJU finished sixth in the MIAC, one win from the MIAC playoffs, with a 4-5 record (6-5 overall) in 2021. Thomas Gillach ’21 and Wil McDowell ’23 earned All-MIAC honors in both singles and doubles competition. The honor was the third consecutive for Gillach in both competitions. INDOOR TRACK & FIELD Void of championships meets at the MIAC and NCAA Division III level, SJU competed in six indoor competitions. The schedule ended with the Division III Elite Indoor Championships, hosted by Wartburg (Iowa), where Lloyd Young ’23 (5,000 meters), Shawn Schindler ’22 (pole vault) and Michael Wallace ’22 (triple jump) all finished second. The trio, along with Drew Dockendorf ’21 (pole vault), Ryan Miller ’21 (60-meter dash), Maguire Petersen ’23 (high jump) and Gavin Rupp ’23 (weight throw) were U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-Central Region. OUTDOOR TRACK & FIELD SJU placed 12th at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Championships held in Greensboro, N.C., thanks to AllAmerica performances in five events: Miller was third in the 100-meter dash, Schindler was fourth in the pole
A New Era Dawns at SJU with State-of-the-Art Video Scoreboard
vault, Dockendorf was sixth in the pole vault, Petersen tied for eighth in the high jump and the 4x100-meter relay (Miller, Kevin Arthur ’23, Brady Labine ’21, Jack Young ’22) claimed fourth. Miller became the 11th Johnnie to win three conference championships in the same outdoor event with his third consecutive title in the 100-meter dash as SJU finished second at the MIAC meet. Petersen became the fifth Johnnie to win the MIAC decathlon and first since AllAmerican Brayden Wagner ’09 in 2009. WRESTLING The Johnnies’ 2021 wrestling schedule consisted of competitions against Augsburg and Concordia. Logan Edwards ’23, Carter Entinger ’23 and Jacob Scherber ’21 were named 2020-21 National Wrestling Coaches Association Scholar All-Americans. SJU has now produced 29 Scholar AllAmericans over the last 13 seasons.
A new, state-of-the-art Formetco video scoreboard has been installed at Saint John's University's Clemens Stadium. The high-definition, LED scoreboard – which is situated just in front of the southeast hillside – can display live footage from the football field and stands, as well as replays and recorded content. It’s expected to be up and running in time for the start of the football season this fall. The approximately 30 feet by 50 feet (1,400 square feet) scoreboard is a gift from the Sexton Family Foundation in recognition of legendary SJU head coach John Gagliardi, the winningest coach in college football history with 489 career victories. The new scoreboard features a single-point sound system on top and is slightly larger than the videoboard at CHS Field in St. Paul (home of the St. Paul Saints), which is slightly under 27 feet by 49 feet (1,300 square feet). The task of operating the scoreboard will be part of the new Go Johnnies Network, which oversees live video streaming, the mobile app and more.
SERVICE TO THE CHURCH
Hearts Corazones on Fire en Fuego Bivens, Emmaus Institute program help adults spread bilingual joy By Jessie Bazan, SOT/Sem ’17 “Do you see how on fire this place is?” A colleague’s question stops Kristi Bivens, SOT/Sem ’08, in her tracks. It is opening night of the Emmaus Institute, a ministerial formation program for lay leaders and deacon candidates in the Diocese of Saint Cloud. Nearly 100 new students and instructors flock to the Quad for a welcome dinner before class. Eager chatter in both English and Spanish fills the room. Many participants have never set foot on the campus of Saint John’s University before tonight. Bivens had been consumed by the chaos of coordinating the institute’s many moving parts. Now as she gazes around, Bivens notices sparks of joy flying from her students.
Their hearts burn within them. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, these students encounter the risen Christ in their parishes, families and communities. They feel called to serve the church in both paid and volunteer positions.
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Now, there exists a formation program to take their service to the next level. “The Emmaus Institute is designed to equip adults with the skills and knowledge to really, truly claim their baptismal call,” said Bivens, the associate director of lay leadership formation for the Diocese of Saint Cloud. “We designed the program to teach students about theology and the church, as well as ministerial skills like listening, pastoral care, forgiveness and creating small Christian communities. This is formation that enables lay people to be co-responsible for the church.” The Emmaus Institute launched in Fall 2019 as a partnership between the diocese and the School of Theology and Seminary. Cohorts of students come to Collegeville for classes one weekend per month for four years. Alumni of the SOT/Sem serve as instructors for many of the classes, which Bivins sees as a real strength of the institute. “Most alumni are in ministry themselves, so they are able to bridge the heady theology with the practical, pastoral implications on the ground in parishes and schools,” she said. Another highlight of the Emmaus Institute is its cultivation of leadership from within local Latinx communities. Two of the Institute’s three cohorts are taught entirely in Spanish – one for Spanish-speaking lay ministers and another for Spanish-speaking deacon candidates. Bivens says Latinx leadership is desperately needed in the church, and not just
because numbers of Latinx Catholics continue to rise. “Latinx Catholics have gifts and experiences to offer that will help the church at large understand the Gospel in new and exciting ways,” Bivens said. “Latinx people have been doing great things in our diocese for a long time. One of the biggest ways for them to be seen and heard is through formation.” Bivens said coordinating an institute in two languages has only strengthened her Benedictine hospitality.
“I need to listen with the ear of my heart at a whole new level when someone is speaking to me in a language I don’t fully understand,” she said.
Bivens draws on her Benedictine background often in her work with the Emmaus Institute. As an alumna of both the College of Saint Benedict and the School of Theology and Seminary, Bivens experienced the great value of learning in community with peers who carry common questions and goals. She wants to create similar space for students in the Emmaus Institute. “We can build a solid educational curriculum, but the most important thing we can do is to pay attention: to the signs of the times, to the needs of the church, to the desires of our students,” Bivens said. “The spirit is on the move in this community of learners.” Jessie Bazan, M.Div., SOT/Sem ’17, helps Christians explore vocation and calling in her work with the Collegeville Institute. She is editor and co-author of Dear Joan Chittister: Conversations with Women in the Church (Twenty-Third Publications, 2019).
Kristi Bivens, SOT/Sem ’08, associate director of lay leadership formation for the Diocese of Saint Cloud, speaks to a class at the Emmaus Institute. Classes are designed to teach students about theology and the church, and to foster ministerial skills like listening, pastoral care, forgiveness and creating small Christian communities. They are taught in both English and Spanish as the diocese seeks to cultivate leadership from within local Latinx communities.
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Commencement 2021 The 2020-21 school year was different from any other in the history of Saint John’s University, so it was fitting that it concluded with commencement ceremonies as unique as the times in which they were held. Saint John’s graduation ceremony took place May 16 under sunny skies at Clemens Stadium, marking the first time graduation ceremonies had been held on SJU’s football field since 1961. The Abbey Church was consecrated later that year, and SJU graduation ceremonies have been there ever since. Graduates wore their traditional caps and gowns, and – in keeping with safety measures that have been in place since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic – masks as well. No in-person ceremony was held in 2020 due to the pandemic. Graduates were allowed two guests, and proper social distancing requirements remained in effect. Hundreds more had the opportunity to view the proceedings via livestreaming. The president’s greeting was provided by interim president Dr. Eugene McAllister. The senior speaker was Simeon Farquharson, an accounting and finance major from Nassau, Bahamas. Saint John’s commencement speaker was Gen. Paul Nakasone ’86, who also was presented an honorary degree. The four-star general and White Bear Lake (Minnesota) native is currently serving as Commander, U.S. Cyber Command and Director, National Security Agency/Chief, Central Security Service. Nakasone, who was scheduled to be SJU’s 2020 commencement speaker before the ceremony was canceled, told graduates it was good to finally be with them in person.
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“It took an extra year, a year that has tested most of us in ways we never anticipated,” he said before going on to praise the resilience the 2021 graduating class and the rest of the SJU/ CSB community showed in the face of pandemic challenges.
“Most of the things that are truly worth something in this world – strong relationships, a rewarding career, even meaningful hobbies – take time and effort.”
“We’re all more deeply aware of how special it truly is to gather together in celebration to share this moment with others.”
• A total of 374 students were eligible for graduation at SJU, 447 students at CSB and 29 from the Saint John’s School of Theology.
Nakasone told graduates not to be deterred by the tumult and uncertainty of the past 14 months. “Be brave enough to build something,” he said. “It may seem like you’re heading out into a stormy world. Start anyway. Build something that takes more than a day or a year or even 10 years.
Here is a bit more on this year’s graduating class at SJU/CSB:
• The top five majors in this year’s senior class at SJU were (in order): global business leadership, accounting and finance, computer science, communication and economics. The top five majors in this year’s senior class at CSB were (in order): psychology, nursing, biology, elementary education and accounting.
and movies are watched in another. If they had done the movie in exactly the same way it was written in the book, it would have been hard to watch.”
Logelin’s Poignant Story Hits Netflix In ‘Fatherhood’ Ever since Matt Logelin wrote Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love, the 2000 Saint John’s University graduate has had discussions about turning his book into a movie. The powerful 2011 work grew out of Logelin’s well-read blog, which recounted his day-to-day experiences as a single father following the tragic death of his wife Liz. She died after suffering a pulmonary embolism the day after giving birth to the couple’s first child, Maddy, in March 2008. Even before it was published, there was interest in bringing his story to the screen. But Logelin wasn’t entirely convinced that interest would translate into reality. “It’s always been something off in the distance,” he said, “so I haven’t given it a lot of day-to-day thought over the years. In the back of my mind, there was part of me that thought it would never actually happen.” But it finally has.
The film – Fatherhood with comedic actor Kevin Hart portraying Logelin – was a smash when it debuted on Netflix in June, becoming the most popular title on the streaming service the week of its premiere. Interest was so great, according to Variety, that Netflix estimated around 61 million households would see the movie in its first four weeks of release. “I’m really honored by what they’ve done with my story,” Logelin said of the film. It was directed by Paul Weitz, who with his brother Chris directed such movies as American Pie and About a Boy. Weitz wrote the screenplay with Dana Stevens. Former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama, whose Higher Ground Productions company has a deal with Netflix, presented the film. “They made some changes, but they were all done in the service of the story,” Logelin said. “Books are read one way
Logelin was especially pleased by the involvement of Hart, who stars in the film and was one of its producers. “It’s taken my story, which is kind of universal – love, loss, birth – and allowed it to be told from a different perspective,” said Logelin, who is white, of Hart, who is Black. Logelin has since remarried. He and his wife Lizzie Molyneux, a writer for such TV programs as Bob’s Burgers, live in Los Angeles. In addition to Maddy, they now have a 2-year-old girl and a new baby on the way in October. Last year, his 2000 SJU classmates and the SJU Alumni Association selected him as one of the recipients of the 2020 Alumni Achievement Awards. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the class reunion for those who graduated in years ending with 0s and 5s had to be put off until this fall. It is now scheduled for Oct. 2. The impending birth of his child will prevent Logelin from attending in person, but he said he will be there in spirit. “So many of my friends to this day are Johnnies,” Logelin said. “That’s one of the greatest things about Saint John’s – the connections you form.”
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Mark Vande Hei is Out of This World … Again on hundreds of experiments during his mission to benefit life on Earth and learn more about living in space.” Among the areas of research will be studies on cotton root systems and Alzheimer’s disease and a technology demonstration of a portable ultrasound device. The mission could stretch as long as a year, though that depends on other arrivals to the International Space Station and when modes of returning to Earth become available.
The 1989 Saint John’s University graduate and NASA astronaut blasted off last April to begin his second stint aboard the International Space Station.
Mark Vande Hei is serving as a flight engineer (and occasional pirate) as a member of the International Space Station’s Expedition 64/65 crew.
The retired U.S. Army colonel, who was one of nine candidates selected from a pool of 3,500 applicants in NASA’s 2009 astronaut class, is serving as a flight engineer and member of the Expedition 64/65 crew.
mission. “I had been training as a backup for a launch last October, and as a contingency, I was training for this mission just in case it was finalized. I’m super happy that it was and I’m ready to get going.”
“I’m really excited,” Vande Hei said prior to embarking on his current
A NASA release stated he will “work
It follows up his previous mission aboard the space station that stretched 168 days from Sept. 13, 2017 to Feb. 28, 2018. On that mission he conducted four spacewalks while he and the crew investigated manufacturing of fiber optic filaments in microgravity, improving the accuracy of implantable glucose biosensors and measuring the Sun’s energy input to Earth. His ties to SJU have remained strong over the years. In May of 2019, he was back on campus to deliver the school’s Commencement address and receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree.
Healy’s Leadership, Football Contributions Honored With Basten Award Tim Healy ’87 has been around football his entire life, including four years at Saint John’s University where the offensive tackle from Edina earned AllMIAC first-team honors as a senior in 1986. These days, his focus is on finding ways to make the sport he loves safer, especially for players at the youth level. For those efforts, he has been named this year’s winner of the Bob Basten Award, which will be presented to him at halftime of the Johnnies’ game against Martin Luther Sept. 18 at Clemens Stadium.
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The award is bestowed annually upon a former Johnnie football player who has exhibited outstanding leadership traits, has been involved in his community and with his alma mater, has carried a sense of fair play beyond the football field and has demonstrated an overall commitment to excellence. “To be recognized by the Saint John’s football community like this is a huge honor for me,” said Healy, who signed a free agent contract with the New Orleans Saints at the conclusion of his collegiate career. “It really means a lot.” Healy serves as president and CEO of TackleBar Football, a St. Paul-based company that has developed a new limited contact version of the game which serves as a bridge between flag and tackle.
2021 Extraordinary Service Award Embracing community, serving others and pursuing justice are among the values that serve as bedrocks of the education and experience students receive at Saint John’s University. The three Johnnies selected as this year’s Extraordinary Service Award winners – Kriston Clarke ’21, Tyler Koll ’22 and Logan Edwards ’23 – exemplify those traits.
Clarke has volunteered for numerous groups during his time at SJU, including campus ministry, SJU/CSB Health and Counseling Services and the Saint John’s Abbey Retirement Center. He’s also served as a Residential Assistant with Saint John’s Residential Life and Housing, and he’s been a member of the SJU Student Senate. “I was overwhelmed with gratitude when I heard I had won this award,” said Clarke, a pre-med major with an emphasis on biology from Nassau, Bahamas. He plans on working for a year as an operating room runner at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, then going on to pursue a master’s degree in public health and attending medical school. “Not once did I ever take on a servicerelated activity in the hopes of receiving this kind of recognition. Service has always just been something I’ve tried to involve myself with over the years. There’s a quote from Mahatma Gandhi I really like. He said, ‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.’ ”
Koll is involved in numerous clubs and activities, including serving as a fire captain with the Saint John’s Fire Department and playing a key role in Consent-Equality-Respect-TakingSafety – an SJU/CSB student/staff partnership designed to facilitate honest and open conversation regarding sexual health issues to better foster healthy, safe decisions around sex, as well as to create an environment where sexual activity without consent is not tolerated, accepted or condoned. “Winning the award came as a surprise to me,” said Koll, a Rocori High School (Cold Spring, Minnesota) graduate who hopes to pursue a career in the criminal justice system, perhaps as a police investigator or criminal psychologist. “It’s nice that the school recognizes how important service is and the impact it can have on so many people. It’s something I know I get a lot out of and it’s a big part of everything we all do here at Saint John’s.”
Edwards serves on the SJU faith prison ministry team and participates in the CSB Campus Ministry J-Walking group that speaks with men reentering society after incarceration at the Overcomers International Fellowship Dream Center in St. Cloud. “Service is part of the Saint John’s community,” said Edwards, a Prior Lake (Minnesota) High School graduate with a double major in theology and psychology. He’s a captain on the Johnnie wrestling team who leads a Bible study group with his teammates and has worked to increase interreligious dialogue on campus. “It’s what I signed up for when I decided to come to Saint John’s. There are so many opportunities offered to students to get involved here. When opportunities are presented to me, I’m going to take them.” The Extraordinary Service Award annually recognizes the work of SJU students who are characterized by their personal commitment to service.
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New Doors Swing Open For Kura, Saint John’s Pottery COVID-19 temporarily closed a door for The Saint John’s Pottery and director Richard Bresnahan. For safety reasons, he had to postpone the dedication of the Kura: Prophetic Messenger sculpture, which was installed in 2020 in the Jon Hassler Sculpture Garden located between Saint John’s University’s Alcuin Library and the Dietrich Reinhart Learning Commons. “It was finished last September, but no way we could do any kind of gathering because of the COVID pandemic,” said Bresnahan ’76, SJU’s artist-in-residence and founder of The Saint John’s Pottery. But that postponement in turn provided an opportunity – the time to produce an accompanying publication that promises to make the Kura project even more artistically vibrant and encyclopedic. “The book’s foundation is to be the companion piece to this piece of sculpture. It’s the history of the evolution of how the design and ideas came together, how the pieces of the sculpture came together,” said Bresnahan, whose book Kura: Prophetic Messenger is scheduled for delivery between Oct. 6-12 – shortly before the Kura’s Oct. 22 dedication. “Richard’s Kura sculpture is just an expression of something The Saint John’s Pottery has been doing since 1979 – creating, sponsoring, supporting artworks by artists that embody the values of this community,” said Steven Lemke ’08, who on June 1 began his appointment as associate director of The Saint John’s Pottery and environmental artistin-residence at SJU. “This sculpture and the book represent that next step.” The book, the dedication and Lemke’s return to Saint John’s are highlights of a momentous year for The Saint John’s Pottery, which has added clarity and direction for its future. “It’s comforting to the community that there’s now a
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functional plan of transition. That’s an extreme relief for me,” Bresnahan said. “Returning to the studio and returning to Saint John’s and having the opportunity to take on these new roles – it really is coming home,” said Lemke, a Central Minnesota native who received his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Notre Dame in 2019. He was awarded a 2019-20 U.S. Fulbright Research Fellowship to do research in Slovakia, then served as an assistant professor of sculpture at Auburn University in 2020-21. Lemke also contributed to Kura: Prophetic Messenger, the concept of which – “Seeds as artists, artists as seeds,” Bresnahan said – is to enrich the Kura experience. “It explains in really comprehensive detail what’s inside the Kura,” said Bresnahan, whose sculpture houses 178 small pots containing species of rare heirloom seeds and painstakingly researched descriptors of the seeds and the artists to whom each is dedicated. Bresnahan’s daughter Margaret Bresnahan worked for more than a year to research and write the artist biographies, and his wife Colette Bresnahan spent more than five months researching the seeds. “The research involved to do the biographies is over the top,” he said. “That comprehensive set of biographies is encyclopedic in the sense of what’s inside the Kura.” None of that was available a year ago. But now, The Saint John’s Pottery is moving forward with new assets and new energy. “The book has that responsibility to be a companion piece to the sculpture,” Bresnahan said. “It was fortuitous to have the extra year.”
Milestones 1973 Mark Reps has published the 11th book in the Zeb Hanks: Small Town Sheriff Big Time
Trouble mystery series. Titled Native Dreams, the book follows Zeb and military veteran Echo Skysong through a series of troubling events that follow her return from service in Afghanistan. You can find his books at amazon.com/Mark- Reps/e/B00BYFEBQ4 1981 David Uppgaard has been selected for the Minnesota
Dental Association’s Humanitarian Award, one of five leadership awards the organization awards annually. Uppgaard has a special interest in providing dental care to the poor. For more than 30 years he has been a monthly volunteer at Mary Jo Copland’s Sharing and Caring Hands Dental Clinic, as well
as instructing University of Minnesota dental students at the Union Gospel Mission Dental Clinic (now the Hope Dental Clinic). He travels annually to St. Francis, South Dakota, to provide dental care to the Lakota of the Rosebud Indian Reservation. “Above all,” Uppgaard said, “I was humbled to have been chosen.”
1983 Akio Naito has been appointed president of Seiko Watch Corporation, effective April 1. Naito has held leadership roles in both Australia and Japan, as well as ushering the establishments of Grand Seiko Corporation of America and Grand Seiko Europe. In his previous role as deputy chief operating officer, Naito oversaw international markets outside of Japan for both the Seiko and Grand Seiko businesses. 1986
Joe Kalkman has been named executive vice president and chief administrative officer at CentraCare Health, an integrated health care system in Central Minnesota that includes six hospitals, seven senior care facilities, 18 clinics, four pharmacies and numerous inpatient and outpatient specialty care services. Kalkman also serves as chief HR officer for CentraCare, which has 13,000 employees.
George Maurer has been accepted as a resident artist/ scholar at the Collegeville Institute from Jan. 10-April 29, 2022. Maurer will be working on musical projects, researching and setting up collaborations with
on-campus departments. Maurer spent June on the island of Hrisey, near the Arctic Circle, in residency in an old schoolhouse composing music for a new project on Polar regions that features journals and texts by Will Steger and Paul Schurke ’77.
Nate Hughes became a new employee shareholder of the Holmes Murphy insurance brokerage firm’s branch in Minneapolis in July. Holmes Murphy shareholders help to determine the direction of major company initiatives, growing employees and the company, fostering the company culture and recruiting employee talent. Hughes specializes in property casualty.
Col. Thomas Burke is in his 27th year of service with the U.S. Army. During the 2020-21 academic year, Burke was chief of staff of the Army Senior Fellow (Federal Executive Fellow) at The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., in foreign and defense policy. Brookings was recently named the world’s No. 1 think tank in the University of Pennsylvania’s annual ranking of global think tanks.
Previously, Burke completed a successful two-year command of the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. In June 2020, Burke successfully defended his doctoral dissertation at The Fletcher School, Tufts University, where he was part of the Army’s Advanced Strategic Planning and Policy program. Burke is currently serving as deputy commander (support) for the 7th Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. 1998
Ryan Monnens was promoted to co-director of player personnel for the Minnesota Vikings on June 22. Monnens will oversee all college and pro scouting operations and personnel decisions for the Vikings, for whom he has worked for two decades. He was promoted after serving as director of pro scouting for the previous eight seasons. Monnens, a Richmond, Minnesota native who played football at Saint John’s, has also served the Vikings as a pro scout and pro personnel assistant.
Kevin Bitterman was named executive director of the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, effective Aug. 16. Bitterman graduated from Saint John’s as a communication and media/ theater major.
Brooks Deibele became a new employee shareholder of the Holmes Murphy insurance brokerage firm’s branch in
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Minneapolis in July. Holmes Murphy shareholders help to determine the direction of major company initiatives, growing employees and the company, fostering the company culture and recruiting employee talent. Deibele specializes in employee benefits.
Jesse Bergland, Northwestern Mutual to form Voyage Wealth Architects. The new firm is focused on aligning clients’ values and life goals with their financial planning, an approach that emphasizes the firm’s commitment to giving back to the community.
Nicholas Pawlowski launched his online business, The Story Table, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Ted Hooley has started a nonprofit organization called Senitizo, which offers basic medical care and specifically maternal and infant care to the people of the Central African Republic. The CAR has one of the highest maternal/ infant mortality rates in the world due to lack of availability of basic medical care, and Hooley has been working without pay to launch the organization and improve the lives and health of people in the CAR. For more information or to contribute, go to senitizo.org.
The Story Table employs the best of modern communications technology and experienced teaching to facilitate a creative space where children are seen and heard, and can partake in physical exercise, learn about world cultures and become co-creators of every Zoom session. Pawlowski has worked to bring dance, music and story to children, elders, veterans and people with disabilities as a teaching artist for years. The Story Table is available at nicholaspawlowski.com.
Brian Eder and his Lake Elmo, Minnesota-based Eder & Associates financial advising firm have announced their merger with Deephaven-based
Bryan Huntington has been elected as a shareholder of the Larkin Hoffman law firm in Minneapolis. Huntington represents developers, landowners, contractors, builders, surety companies, condominium owners, landlords and tenants in the enforcement of property rights. He litigates contract disputes and is passionate about obtaining justice when misrepresentations are made during a real estate transaction about the conditions of real property. Huntington has been practicing law since 2011.
2013 Chris Neumann was selected as one of Connect Commercial Real Estate’s National 2021
Next Generation Award winners. The award recognizes young leaders in the commercial real estate industry who are likely to be influential for years to come. Neumann’s company, Origin Investments, oversees operational and financial performance of multifamily assets in Colorado, Texas and Arizona.
Marriages 1987 Jennifer (Hintz) to Scott Guse, Jan. ’21 2000 Sara (Barrett) to Andrew Landkammer,
2002 Christine (Harper) to Paul Thomas,
May ’21 2005 Chelsea (Korth ’09) to Lukas Ekelund, June ’20 2012 Samantha (Meyman ’12) to Daniel Schmidt, Sept. ’20 2013 Megan to Bill Heck, July ’20 2015 Cassie (Jones ’15) to David Frye, May ’21 Alyssa (Bossuyt ’17) to Bryce Jeppesen, July ’20 Kathleen (Egan ’15) to Rob Pezan, Oct. ’20 Hannah (Zobitz ’17) to Maxfield Rotert, Oct. ’20 Sarah (Roehl ’16) to Alex Schueller, Oct. ’20 Sarah (Broos ’15) to John Williams, Aug. ’20 2016 Mikayla (Nelson) to Brandon Bakken, June ’21 Megan (Vit ’18) to Matthew Fink, July ’21 Ashley (Winden ’16) to Jack Hansen, June ’21 Lydia (Eby) to Tianyu Lei, July ’21 Kate (Ruzynski ’15) to Joe Rusch, Oct. ’20 2017 Sarah (Clark ’17) to Tim Immelman, June ’21 Jessica (Trossen ’17) to Mike Rawlings, April ’21 2018 Devon (Deanovic ’18) to Colton Buse, Aug. ’20 Chelsey (Guetter ’18) to T.J. Fulton, Jan. ’21
2018 Morgan (Windsperger ’18) to Jacob
2013 Beth (McMillan ’12) & Alex Roers, boy,
Kempenich, Aug. ’20 Alyssa (Maty) to David Magnuson, SOT/Sem ’18, Nov. ’20
2020 Amy (Honek ’16) to Pat Martin, June ’21
Births 2000 Radhika (Lal ’03) & Seth Snyder, boy,
Vikram, April ’21 Holly & Mike Thielman, boy, Malcolm, May ’21 Becky (Loonan ’07) & John Boone, boy, John, March ’21 Alex & Chris Gregory, boy, Lucas, June ’21 Kelsey & Matt Milbert, girl, Karin, April ’21 Rachel (Istas ’06) & Nick Prudhomme, girl, Elizabeth, Jan. ’21 Katherine & Samuel Krystosek, girl, Sophie, Sept. ’20 Holly & Lincoln Haugen, girl, Eleanor, Jan. ’21 Lindsey & Mike Leither, boy, Liam, Feb. ’21 Amy & Westley Olmschenk, girl, Adeline, March ’21 Jennifer (Yelle ’12) & Kyle Zirbes, boy, Charlie, March ’21 Ali & Russell Gliadon, girl, Juliette, May ’21 Krystal & Ryan Barten, girl, Zoey, July ’21 Marya & Bryan Huntington, girl, Isabel, June ’21 Kara & Michael Wollmering, boy, Simon, March ’21 Bailey (Walter ’15) & Jason Ziegler, girl, Eleanor, May ’21 Molly (McCue ’12) & Ted Kain, girl, Rose, May ’21 Megan & Travis Krotzer, boy, Graham, March ’21 Samantha & Jordan Mathiasen, girl, Blakely, May ’21 Kati & Wade Powers, boy, Gavin, May ’21 Megan (Lehman ’13) & Joey Benson, girl, Annie, May ’21 Michelle (Pokorny ’13) & Isaak Jones, boy, Norman, Feb. ’21 Elizabeth & Ryan Meyer, girl, Isabelle, Jan. ’21
Blake, Feb. ’21 Alison (Toering ’13) & Jacob Zetah, girl, Hypatia, March ’21 2014 Erin (O’Mara ’14) & Harrison Gerdes, boy, Henry, March ’21 Katie (Zuroski ’14) & Tommy Koehler, Charles and Brooks, April ’21 Lindsey (Weber ’14) & Matt Martien, boy, Cody, Jan. ’21 2014 Rebeka (Schwendemann ’14) & John Scepaniak, girl, Nora, April ’21 Katy (Jenkins ’14) & Adam Steinbach, girl, Florence, May ’21 Raelin & Robbie Stocker, girl, Millee, Aug. ’20 Grace & Rob Voshell, girl, Isla, Feb. ’21 2015 Kayla (Deutz ’14) & Aaron Antony, girl, Mylen, Dec. ’20 2016 Kally (Thoreson ’17) & Patrick Latterell, girl, Piper, April ’21 2018 Marina (Schoeder) & Jeron Terres, boy, Crosby, April ’21 Cassandra & Jesse Zajac, boy, Landon, April ’21
Deaths 1939 Josie Terwey, spouse of deceased Leander, mother of Joe ’66, Roger ’73 and George ’81, June ’21 1940 Esther Bohnenstingel, spouse of deceased Francis, March ’21 1945 Chuck Seivert, father of Greg ’75, July ’21 1946 Charles Anderson, April ’20 1947 Dottie Kelm, spouse of deceased J. Douglas, mother of Jeff ’73, Greg ’75 and Bill ’76, sister of Norbert Berg ’55 and deceased Rev. Donald Berg ’44 and Tom Berg ’50, March ’21 1948 Robert Larkin, July ’19 Rev. Richard Loomis, July ’21 1949 Lois Liners, spouse of deceased Robert, May ’21 Dr. John O’Boyle, June ’19 1950 Rev. Vincent Arimond, July ’19 Harriett Marchildon, spouse of deceased Ralph, Aug. ’20 Robert Sahli, Feb. ’21 Lois Sinner, spouse of deceased Tom, Sr., mother of Tom, Jr. ’77 and Nick ’79, May ’21 1951 Dick Coyan, March ’21
1951 Jim Hart, March ’21
1956 Frank Huber, April ’20
1961 Sheila Kozar, spouse of John, March ’21
James Schumacher, Feb. ’21 Rev. Kenneth Thielman, brother of Br. Nicholas ’59 and deceased Sylvester ’48, May ’21 1952 Elaine Beumer, spouse of deceased Gilbert, April ’21 Earl Frantz, May ’21 Rich Hogan, April ’20 Bill Kremer, July ’20 1952 Marie Schmid, spouse of deceased James, sister of deceased Raymond Huelskamp ’48, March ’21 Lloyd “Bud” Wampach, April ’21 Bernie Wenninger, brother of John ’66, James ’57, SOT Sem ’61, deceased brothers Alois ’43, Rev. William ’49, SOT Sem ’54 and Rev. Magnus ’42, SOT Sem ’45, April ’21 John ”Jack” Zook, March ’21 1953 John Alich, Oct. ’19 Ronald Fashant, father of deceased sons Tom ’76 and Chris ’81, March ’21 Don Futrell, Sept. ’20 John Henkels, Dec. ’20 Don Rubertus, May ’21 Rev. Marc Tillia, April ’21 1954 Mary Ann Klimek, spouse of deceased Joe, June ’21 Dr. Wally Wenner, March ’21 Ardell Vilandre, Feb. ’21 1955 Carleen Bellinger, spouse of deceased Charles, Feb. ’21 Peter Castner, brother of deceased Paul, March ’21 Martin Connor, March ’20 Dick Hiniker, July ’21 John Lavelle, brother of deceased George, Jan. ’19 Bill Lehman, May ’19 Rev. Herman Lutz, April ’21 James McCord, Sept. ’09 Flip Spanier, father of Doug ’83, April ’21 Merlin “Boots” Wald, brother of deceased Rev. Kenneth ’53, June ’21 Hugo Wolf, father of Brian ’79, Michael ’84, father of deceased Gregory ’87, brother of Leo ’53, July ’21 1956 Ruth Beiswenger, sister of Rev. Roger Kasprick, OSB ’56, SOT/Sem ’60, Dec. ’20 Br. Robert Berthiaume, C.S.C, Feb. ’21 Richard Halloran, Feb. ’20
Rafael Muñoz, Jan. ’21 Ralph Nentl, Oct. ’20 Audrey Riley, spouse of deceased John, April ’19 Douglas St. Onge, July ’21 1957 Dennis Becker, Feb. ’21 Kate Laseski, spouse of Wes, Jan. ’20 Dick Moga, May ’21 1958 Jim Archbold, father of John ’85 and Pat ’92, May ’21 John Bachman, brother of Donald ’62, Feb. ’21 Mary DeRocher, spouse of Darien, Feb. ’21 Albert Eisele, June ’21 Daniel Herald, March ’14 David Ladd, Jan. ’18 Bill Mack, March ’20 John Moran, Feb. ’14 Jack Payette, father of Tony ’81, May ’21 Mark Weigel, father of David ’85, March ’21 1959 Mary Jane Grow, spouse of deceased Jerome, daughter of deceased William Kotsmith ’29, sister of Bill Kotsmith ’56, June ’21 Bob Ilg, July ’21 John “Paul” Jacobs, brother of Steve ’75 Aug. ’20 Charles Koppi, May ’21 Roger Martin, brother of deceased Joseph ’49, John ’50, Wayne ’52 and Terrence ’58, March ’21 Robert McDonald, brother of deceased James ’54, May ’21 Bruce Michels, Aug. ’20 Tom Murray Sr., father of Stephan ’92 and Sean ’93, March ’21 Laurel Pastir, spouse of Norbert, April ’21 James Santo, March ’20 Bob Thimmesh, April ’21 1960 James Bachman, May ’15 Col. Louis Hablas Jr., brother of deceased John ’52, July ’21 Tom Homme, July ’20 Vernon Hruby, March ’21 Dennis Kohanek, brother of James ’66, June ’21 Steve Lisle, father of Thomas ’89, April ’21 1961 John Jette, April ’21
Joyce Pappenfus, spouse of Greg, June ’21 Janice Pikal, spouse of deceased Michael, July ’21 Paul Weir, May ’21 1962 Ollie Sue Bauerly, spouse of Ron ’62, May ’21 Thomas Howden, March ’21 1962 Patrick Moren, brother of Michael ’65, Feb. 21 James Winzenburg, Feb. ’21 1963 Damian Barthle, Sept. ’20 Denis Boyd, father of Tom ’97 and Alan ’92, Sept. ’16 Diane Casey, spouse of Dick and mother of Jim ’90, April ’21 Diane Kohorst, spouse of Mel, May ’21 Rolf Middleton, father of Paul ’91, Feb. 21 James Scully, July ’21 John Seckinger, brother of Jim ’64 and Larry ’67, June ’21 S. Maureen Truland, SOT/Sem ’63, Jan. ’21 1964 Rev. Timothy Buyansky, OSB, Feb. ’21 S. Mary Rose Hammeling, OSB, SOT/ Sem ’63, Nov. ’20 Clarice Kellen, spouse of Jim, March ’21 Rev. James Lesczynski, March ’21 Rev. Robert Pedretti, May ’21 Jane Vessel, spouse of deceased Ed, Feb. ’21 1965 Gary Plantenberg, brother of Mark ’67, March ’21 Patricia Seiler, spouse of Bill, Jr., June ’21 1966 S. Sarah O’Malley, OSB, SOT/Sem ’66, Aug. ’20 Bob McCarthy, brother of Jack ’68 and Dan ’70, May ’21 Rev. John McGuirk, Feb. ’21 Mary Beth Shannon, spouse of Dan and mother of Patrick ’88, April ’21 Mike Wise, Nov. ’20 1967 James Bettendorf, brother of Gerard ’74, Feb. ’21 Joseph Bijak, Jr., March ’21 Margaret Fazendin, mother of Dan ’67, April ’21 Darrell Ruhland, March ’21 Earl Schoenberg, Jr., son of deceased Earl, Sr. ’39, Feb. ’21 1968 Rev. Ben Bachmeier, Feb. ’21
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1968 Judith Perry, spouse of Mike, mother of Ryan ’98, April ’21 1969 Paul Bell, March ’21 Jack Bisek, April ’21 Claudia Freund, spouse of Thomas, Sept. ’20 1969 Chris Weber, son of deceased Joseph ’29, brother of Paul ’60, Stephen ’62, Bernard ’67, Joseph ’58, James ’73 and deceased brother Jerome ’64, Jan ’21 1970 Ruth Beck, spouse of Guy, mother of Matt ’10, March ’18 Barbara Waletzko, spouse of Ken, Feb. ’21 1971 Jeanne Fraune, spouse of John, April ’21 James Thibodeau, June ’21 1973 Gerri McFarland, spouse of Patrick, April ’21 1974 Paul Ampe, brother of Peter ’61, March ’21 Greg Tetrault, April ’21 S. Joan Tuberty, June ’21
1975 Jim Fahey, brother of Michael ’75 and
1983 William Sherlock, father of Russ,
John ’84, April ’21 Lucile Kalkman, mother of Dave ’75 and Joe ’86, May ’20 1977 Karen Juhn, spouse of Carlos, Sept. ’20 Paul Kalland, brother of Rev. Kurt ’79, May ’21 Rev. Joseph Miller, CPPS, June ’21 Jerry Ruff, March ’21 1978 Mary Frey, mother of Jim, July ’21 Mark Seifert, brother of Matthew ’76, Paul ’84, James ’87 and son of deceased Donald ’51 July ’21 1979 John Miheve, May ’21 James Mitchell, March ’21 1980 Dr. Mark Johnson, July ’21 1981 Mark Comstock, March ’21 Helen Gathje, mother of Peter, SOT/Sem ’81, John ’85, Jim ’86 and Mike ’88, Feb. ’21 1982 Wanda Clark, mother of Doug, Feb. ’21
1985 Bill Radosevich, brother of Peter ’86,
1986 S. Barbara Kort, OSB, SOT/Sem ’86, March ’21 Ruth Kubinski, mother of Tom, July ’21 1987 Richard Gomez, March ’20 1988 Susan Tadych, spouse of Craig, March ’21 1991 Mary Darnall, mother of Kyle, Feb. 21 1994 Mark Allen, June ’21 Chris Streefland, son of deceased Russell ’57, June ’21 1996 Br. Gregory Simpson, March ’21 2000 Radhika Snyder, spouse of Seth, July ’21 2009 Ryan Dell, Dec. ’20
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REINVENTION AND INSPIRATION Kort Natterstad ’09 optimistically battles paralysis with the help of Saint John’s friends and family
F By Dave DeLand
our friends were bouncing along on an off-road adventure Feb. 20 at rugged Joshua Tree National Park in Southeastern California when their Jeep hit a rock and rolled. Three of them suffered minor scrapes and bruises. They brushed themselves off and walked away. Kort Natterstad – who went flying out of the back seat – did not. “I remember getting launched. I hit the ground and blacked out. I came to and I was on my stomach,” said Natterstad, a 2009 Saint John’s University graduate. “I’m lying there feeling my body. I can’t feel my stomach. I can’t move anything below my chest. “It was very traumatic. I thought, ‘Just breathe.’ ” Natterstad, 34, had shattered his T5 thoracic vertebrae. Compression on his spinal cord left him paralyzed from the chest down. His medical prognosis: less than a 5 percent chance of regaining the use of his legs. Kort Natterstad (center) is rehabilitating from his injuries with the help of SJU roommate Peter LaNova ’09 (right) and his wife Anne LaNova.
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“The doctors basically said, ‘You’re not going to walk again,’ ” said Natterstad, who wasn’t having it.
Natterstad to his professional career as a medical device sales representative. LaNova graduated with an accounting degree, then segued into a career as a healthcare, IT strategy and finance consultant.
“I’m not listening to you. This is not the way it’s going down. There are miracles out there. There are people that one day just get up and walk.”
Their lives took them on varying paths across the United States, but they never lost track of their friendship at Saint John’s.
Kort Natterstad is focused on being that miracle. And with relentless positivity – along with the resolute support of his mother and his best friend from Saint John’s – he has turned an injury that some would see as an epitaph into a challenge to be met and an inspiration to be followed.
“When I’m around him, I always tell him that he makes me a better person. It’s something that’s hard to explain. I love the guy to death. It’s a bond that I’ll never lose,” Natterstad said.
“His attitude is just amazing. He inspires me. He’s just like ‘Challenge accepted – let’s flip the script. I’m going to beat this’,” said Kim Natterstad, Kort’s mother. “It’s not only his attitude, but his willingness to go out there and conquer it,” said Peter LaNova ’09, whose friendship with Natterstad began when they randomly were paired as Saint John’s roommates in the fall of 2005. “It’s a lot easier to fight for a guy who’s fighting for himself as well.” Whether that means attacking his physical rehabilitation exercises or projecting positivity about his situation, Natterstad definitely is fighting. “Ever since this happened, it’s a new reinvention of Kort Natterstad,” he said. “I’ve got a new outlook on everything.” Part of that strength and determination comes from his Saint John’s roots, and from a chance connection with a dedicated friend.
FORMING A BOND A self-described “social butterfly,” Natterstad found a roommate with an entirely different personality when he moved into SJU’s Tommy Hall in 2005. “I’m sociable, likeable, wanted to go out and have a good work/life balance.
“There’s one thing that I can definitely look back at and appreciate about my time at Saint John’s, and it’s the fact that I walked away with family,” LaNova said. “Kort is one of those guys, and I have a couple other best friends that I consider brothers. “That’s only possible because of the experience we had together there.” Top: A battered Natterstad flashes the “victory” sign shortly after his Feb. 20 accident. Above: Natterstad with his mother, Kim Natterstad.
That friendship deepened in the wake of the February accident in the California desert.
(LaNova) was all work-work-workwork,” Natterstad said.
The initial news of Natterstad’s injury was devastating.
“I was already reading out of textbooks for class and he walked in,” LaNova said with a laugh. “It’s interesting that even though we had those different personalities how complementary they were.
“We were up ahead, figuring they would catch up to us at some point,” said LaNova, who along with Natterstad was part of a group that was camping and off-roading together.
“He was just a very positive, inviting guy from day one.” Natterstad was certified as an emergency medical technician at age 18, and he served as a trainer for the Saint John’s football, wrestling and rugby teams while working his way toward his psychology degree. That background helped steer
TAPPING SOURCES OF STRENGTH
“That phone call changed our life, instantly,” Kim Natterstad said. “It was all so chaotic. Where do we go for rehab? What do we do?” Natterstad was airlifted from Joshua Tree to a nearby hospital and had his first of two spinal surgeries the next day. He subsequently was admitted to Denver’s renowned Craig Hospital & Medical Center, which specializes in
can either destroy you or it can make you stronger. It feels like he’s electing to make it a positive and make him stronger going forward,” LaNova said. “I’m just amazed at his attitude. You could go the other way,” Kim said. “Somebody sent me a card that said, ‘He has inspired me every day with how his attitude is.’ That’s so cool to hear.” “Keeping that mental positivity is huge,” Kort added. “That’s just the way I’m going about it and putting it out there on all of my platforms. And it seems to be contagious because I’m getting a lot of letters from people about how inspiring it is.” Some of that determination was modeled by Kim, who raised Kort as a single parent.
Natterstad goes through a grueling array of rehabilitation exercises at Denver’s renowned Craig Hospital & Medical Center, which specializes in spinal cord injuries. rehabilitation for spinal cord and brain injuries. “You should see all the contraptions they put me on to help stimulate those nerves and create new pathways,” said Natterstad, who plunged into his long days of physical therapy with inspired determination. “You don’t really know the long-term prognosis until after 1218 months. In that time, it’s extremely critical to start rehabilitation, try to continue working those muscles and that brain function to your limbs.” Rehabilitating a severe spinal injury is a challenge beyond anything most people will ever face, and some simply give up. Natterstad pushed even harder. “Folks can break in different ways – it
“I always tell her I wouldn’t be who I am today without her,” he said. “She did everything for me. I stepped outside my boundaries.” LaNova’s presence also was an incentive. He spent weeks in Denver during Natterstad’s rehabilitation stay at Craig Hospital, where the two former Saint John’s roommates provided inspiration to each other. “When this happened and Kort said, ‘Hey, if you’re able to, are you willing to come out to Colorado?’ it wasn’t really even a question for me. He’s family to me,” LaNova said. “A lot of that friendship and brotherhood was formed when we were there. I’m definitely thankful for it.”
ENVISIONING THE FUTURE Natterstad was discharged from Craig Hospital May 6 and transitioned to outpatient rehabilitation while also receiving stem cell treatments at the Mayo Clinic. Science is working in his favor. Elon Musk’s company Neuralink is getting
closer to starting human trials on a system that implants electrodes into the brain and areas of paralysis of paraplegics, forming new paths of connection and re-enabling physical mobility. That technology has already had successful trials with primates, who literally can play video games entirely with brain signals operating a joystick. “There’s so much happening out there right now with SCI (spinal cord injury),” Natterstad said. “I’m going to be walking by the time I’m 40. That’s my mentality in general: I’m always going to be a glass half-full type of guy.” It will be a long road, but Natterstad sees good things ahead. “I’ve had dreams about it,” he said. “I swear I’ve woken up and my legs were moving. I don’t think they were – it was still a dream. “That’s something I need to add to the back of my brain: The day that I step up off that wheelchair and roam around. That’s a very good picture that I need to paint, and I want it to be extremely vivid.” In the meantime, Natterstad is focusing on that vision of hope – for himself and for others. “I’m excited to get out there and spread that word of continually challenging yourself,” he said. “Bring yourself to uncomfortable situations that are challenging, because I’m doing that every day. Then spread positivity.” That’s his message, his quest, his power. That’s his inspiration. Kort Natterstad is one himself. Contribute to Kort Natterstad’s GoFundMe page at gofund.me/75f51eab
Inspiring Lives is reserved for reflective pieces with a Benedictine theme. Please submit essays, poetry or other reflections for consideration to Dave DeLand at email@example.com.
48 SUMMER/FALL 2021
LEAVE YOUR LEGACY
Continuing the Mission When looking for worthy causes and institutions to lend his support, Paul Winter ’61 falls back on the values instilled in him growing up in Glenwood, Minnesota during the 1940s and ’50s. Values, he said, that were reinforced during his time as a student in Collegeville. “I come from a good family with good Christian values, and all those things that taught me continued to increase at Saint John’s,” said Winter, a business major who spent almost 40 years with the EMC Corporation in St. Paul, serving as the company’s president from 1987 until his retirement with the sale of the company in 2005.
spring of 2017 and was named in honor of Winter’s wife Dr. Lian Chang, a geriatric psychiatrist. Winter spent much of his life as a bachelor until he met Chang 12 years ago, when he was 70. They met through an online dating site. “I thought to myself that if there ever was a girl for me, she was it,” he said. “And we’ve been together ever since.” It’s truly been a happy ending. And through his donations to SJU, he hopes he is able to provide future happiness for others as well.
“It was a continuation of what I grew up with. It amplified all those values – love, respect for others and treating people the way you want to be treated. Those are values we need so much of in our society.” Assuring there will always be a place for those values was a big part of why Winter decided several decades ago to include a gift to Saint John’s in his will. “Saint John’s has always lived up to my trust over the years, so I trust them to find to find the best use for the money I donate,” he said. “I just want to see the mission at Saint John’s continue.” Winter has also found other ways to support SJU through the years, most notably a donation that helped return outdoor tennis courts to campus after a fiveyear absence. The Chang Tennis Complex opened in the
For more information on ways to LEAVE YOUR LEGACY contact the Planned Giving team at 320-363-2116 or visit sjulegacy.org Read more inspiring donor stories at advancingsaintjohns.org
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Welcome Back 2021 2021
Saturday, Oct. 9
Join us for a day packed with activities for alums and families. All class years, all majors – this is a day for everyone. And this year it promises to be a homecoming to remember!
Visit csbsjuhomecoming.com for details.