Saint John's Magazine Winter/Spring 2023

Page 1

Williams Brothers Extend Saint John’s Legacy of Service

Academic Innovation Sparks Golden Age at CSB and SJU

Historical Bronzeville Project Career Pinnacle for Adams

INSIDE THIS ISSUE WINTER/SPRING 2023 MAGAZINE 6 Departments My Perspective 2 Transforming Lives 3 In Sight 22 Johnnie Sports 30 View from Collegeville 32 Alumni Achievement Awards 38 Class Notes 40 Inspiring Lives 44 16


Saint John’s, Saint Ben’s Pivot Toward Bright Academic Future P. 6

In response to changing times in the 21st century, methods and outcomes in higher education must also change. SJU and CSB are answering the challenges and headwinds with an innovative approach designed to engage and empower students in a new Golden Age of learning.

Family’s SJU Legacy Prompts Brothers to Answer the Call P. 16

Chuck ’82 and Paul ’84 Williams grew up with a strong connection to their Catholic church background, but their family, academic, athletic and spiritual influences at Saint John’s ultimately guided their career paths toward business, political and public service success.

Adams Grows from Saint John’s Roots to Career Pinnacle P. 24

He traveled from Chicago to Collegeville to enroll at a university he had never seen before. That launched John Adams ’77 on an accounting career that took him from the Chicago mayor’s office to Rev. Jesse Jackson’s organization and now to the helm of the Bronzeville Trail Project, an historical endeavor that highlights pivotal moments in civil rights history.


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.


Dave DeLand



Lori Gnahn


Kevin Allenspach

Dr. Brian Bruess

Rob Culligan ’82

Dana Drazenovich

Troy Fritz ’88

Michael Hemmesch ’97

Ryan Klinkner ’04

Frank Rajkowski

John Young ’83


Paul Middlestaedt

Graham Miller ’25

Thomas O’Laughlin ’13


Peggy Landwehr Roske ’77


† Lee A. Hanley ’58


Ruth Athmann

Saint John’s University

P.O. Box 7222 Collegeville, MN 56321


Like us on Facebook at

Follow us on Twitter at

Follow us on Instagram at

Subscribe to blogs at

Find Saint John’s Magazine online at

©2023 Saint John’s University



Lifting Our Gaze

Working in higher education is a blessing every day, because our focus is on students and their holistic development. It’s on human flourishing and, ultimately, creating a better world.

At Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s, we are working to solve the perplexing problems facing society through providing every student a robust liberal arts education. Our distinct contribution to American higher education is, of course, our compelling foundation: the values which animate our Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts and residential campuses. Generations of alumni and alumnae evidence point clearly to the unique value of Johnnie and Bennie educational experiences.

At the same time, the headwinds we face are unrelenting. We see the reality of simply fewer higher school graduates … challenging economic conditions raising questions about the affordability of college … increased competition, political malaise and post-pandemic workforce challenges.

These and many other threats to the health and vibrancy of SJU and CSB require us to be creative, bold and innovative. How do we overcome and thrive in the face of these pressures?

We do so with a strategy that remains laser-focused on the essence of who we are and what we do best: producing first-class outcomes.

An unapologetic focus on our missions will drive our priorities and help us invest in even more sophisticated student experiences. That focus will allow us to produce even more impressive student outcomes. Emerging from the current gauntlet of challenges

will require us to lift our gaze to higher-order outcomes, recommit to our compelling and distinctive missions and accentuate our greatest strengths – our faculty and staff. Simultaneously, it will require us to respond to the needs of new generations of students.

I’m frequently asked: “Brian, how’s it going?” Without hesitation, I can honestly say: “GREAT!” Because in these first nine months I’ve seen countless examples of resilience, creativity and passion in our faculty, staff, students, alums and common boards. We are confronting the challenges of today with a greatness of spirit, honesty about our weaknesses, eagerness about opportunities and commitment to student learning and flourishing.

As we work to further differentiate ourselves at the intersection of teaching and learning, our focus will be on targeted investments in curricular and co-curricular innovation. Evolving the student experience is essential to producing healthy enrollments and exceptional learning outcomes. The schools that will successfully navigate the current headwinds are those that are wisely seeking program balance and innovation while also offering increasingly more sophisticated and impactful educational practices.

In this issue we highlight current academic program development – one of our leading strategies for building momentum toward ensuring student flourishing and success. With creativity, innovation and much hard work, we’re building around our Integrations Curriculum, emphasizing our institutional learning goals, creating new programs of study and emphasizing the high-impact practices and experiences we offer. We’re increasing our investment in contemporary teaching and learning pedagogy and development.

Be assured, we look forward to your input and support along this journey. So many of you have already made contributions to the health and vibrancy of SJU and CSB, and we thank you! We are grateful you’re sharing in this critical work of sharpening our vision and enabling SJU and CSB to deepen and broaden our contributions to the world.

It’s always been my view that there’s no better job than being a college or university president. This community has shown me something even better: getting that honor at both the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University! Thank you for your role in making possible the remarkable Johnnie-Bennie experience.


Generosity Opens Doors at SJU’s New Baseball Clubhouse

Members of the Saint John’s University baseball team will soon have a spacious clubhouse to call home.

The 7,540 square foot facility, located on-site at Becker Park, is designed to contain space for 55 lockers, showers, a training room, laundry facilities and office space. It will have a rooftop deck that can be used for viewing baseball games as well as for tailgating prior to football games in the fall.

A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled April 21 and the building itself is expected to be ready by the start of classes this fall.

It’s being made possible in part by a generous lead donation from Scott Becker ’77 and his wife Julie. Their contributions helped fund the state-ofthe-art turf field that was built in 2013, the grandstand and surrounding plaza, and the video scoreboard that was installed in time for the 2022 season.

The clubhouse will help alleviate some of the locker crunch in Warner Palaestra, which is located up the hill and across the road from the baseball complex.

“Right now, we really don’t have a

home,” said Jerry Haugen ’78, who begins his 46th season as Saint John’s head baseball coach this spring.

“Our lockers are in the Palaestra, and especially during the five-and-a-half weeks of fall practice we’re squeezing into any spots available to us. During the spring, we take up half the football locker room. But this will give us a place we can call our own.”

The clubhouse facility will be located along the left field line. A main entrance will open to the outside, while an opposite entrance will allow players direct access to the field.

That helps significantly with our overall student enrollment focus.”

Haugen can’t wait for the facility to be completed.

“It’s going to be awesome,” he said with a smile. “There are so many great amenities that will be part of this project. But the piece that will really deliver the ‘Wow!’ factor will be the locker room. These will be big-time lockers. They’re going to make a great impression when we show them to recruits.”

Haugen said neither the project nor the entire baseball complex itself would have been possible if not for the generosity of the Becker family. Scott Becker was a teammate of Haugen in football and baseball at Saint John’s in the early-to-mid-1970s and is now in his seventh season as a volunteer assistant coach on his staff. Becker is also the founder of Northstar Capital, a leading private equity firm based in Minneapolis.

“Scott and I were teammates and we’ve been friends forever,” Haugen said. “He’s been such an amazing resource for us over the years – not just with the donations, but through all the time he’s given to our program and the school.

“The clubhouse project also helps alleviate some of the space issues in the Palaestra and allows us to continue to have a roster of 55-plus baseball players.

“There's no way we can ever adequately thank the Becker family.”

“The goal is to create the best Division III baseball experience in the country, and to provide the facilities that make that possible,” said John Young ’88, associate vice president for institutional advancement at Saint John’s.

Fr. Rene McGraw – Our Eternal Gratitude

Jesse Doers ’81 reflected Rene’s impact on his life:

“It is with great difficulty that I write about the impact of Fr. Rene on my life. How do I describe the role of someone who helped me examine how I thought, what my values were, who I was as a person and who I wanted to become?” Doers wrote.

“Rene has impacted the very core of my being. Not a day has gone by over the past 40 years that his influence, his guidance and his friendship have not affected my thoughts, my actions and how I treat others.”

Others feel similarly:

an epic milestone. His transition to eternity represented the passing of his only living mentor, someone who was perhaps more instrumental in shaping his consciousness, world perspective and adult life than any other person, except for his father.

In 2017, The Fr. Rene McGraw, OSB Endowed Scholarship was established to carry forward Rene’s legacy and to help provide need-based scholarship support to students with no restriction on majors.

To so many, Fr. Rene McGraw, OSB in his multiple roles as faculty resident, monk, professor, mentor, spiritual adviser and friend represents the very best of the Saint John’s Benedictine educational experience that transformed so many lives for more than five decades.

In my work with Saint John’s University, I have often heard stories about the impact Fr. Rene had on those who lived on his dorm floor, had him as a professor or engaged him as a spiritual advisor and friend. What astonished me mostly was the depth of these relationships and the influence he had on these alums, both as students and long into their adult lives. In my own time with Rene, there was a sense of comfort and wisdom that crept into our conversations.

As the person who formed The Fr. Rene McGraw, OSB Endowed Scholarship,

“Fr. Rene was famous for his love for his students, celebrating each of them with birthday greetings annually, performing many weddings and baptisms and mentoring them decades beyond graduation. His legacy lives on in the way that his many grateful students live out their lives, making their communities and the world better through Fr. Rene’s influence.”

“It’s been 20 years since I last sat in Rene’s classroom, but Levinas and several other philosophers continue to play a meaningful role in how I understand my own wife, raise my two children and treat my coworkers. Like so many of his students, Rene has forever enriched my intellectual and moral life – and for that I am eternally grateful.” –

On Sunday, November 20, 2022, Fr. Rene died at Saint John’s Abbey. For Philip Galanis ’75, his passing marked

For those students, Fr. Rene will no doubt be looking upon them from the heavens and cheering them on, as he did as a friend, mentor, spiritual adviser, professor and monk to so many during his time here at Saint John’s.

“Rene was deeply gifted, always interested in the meaning and purpose of life. He would listen to whomever he counseled without judgment, to help them to find their own truth.”
– Abbot John Klassen, OSB

Places of the Heart

Shortly after my dad passed away in January 2012, Saint John’s University hosted an art exhibition featuring his watercolors called A Sense of Place. This theme, which is familiar to many in the Johnnie community, comes from a book of the same title about Saint John’s complied by Fr. Colman Barry.

In the book’s foreword, Fr. Hilary Thimmesh cites a campus visitor who remarked that he felt a strong sense of place at Saint John’s. Fr. Hilary elaborates:

Surely it [has] something to do with a settled way of life and with the awareness of local history that links successive generations living under the same roof and walking the same paths. A sense of place depends most of all on a shared history. A transient population does not sink roots in a place.

As a result of Fr. Hilary's insights, Saint John's became known for and synonymous with A Sense of Place

True to its Benedictine heritage, Saint John’s is not only characterized by a sense of place, but also by a sense of community and a deep sense of belonging.

Not to be overlooked in this word scramble is a sense of humor. The former president of the College of Saint

Benedict, Sister Colman O’Connell, in her charming, witty and kindhearted way, once quipped: “Saint John’s has a Sense of Place. Saint Ben’s is a Place of Sense.”

Another Saint John’s president, the late, great Br. Dietrich Reinhart, had a unique perspective on the distinctiveness of Saint John’s. Two weeks before his passing in 2008, he was interviewed by journalist Fred de Sam Lazaro. In a weakened, raspy voice, he whispered: “All colleges have their claim to fame… but only Saint John’s has heart as its claim to fame.”

Only Saint John’s has heart as its claim to fame. Can I get an Amen!

This notion was echoed recently by Saint John’s alumnus, Jeb Myer ’97, former president of Cristo Rey High School in Minneapolis. In speaking with President Brian Bruess, Jeb observed that “Saint John’s has a way of burning itself on your heart.”

Perhaps the sequel to Fr. Colman’s collection of essays should be titled A Place of the Heart. It rings true, much in the same way as A Sense of Place.

In this era of stronger integration between Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s, the scope of this phrase merits expansion. Together, we are Places of the Heart.

Recently I shared these thoughts with Saint John’s alumnus Joe Cavanaugh

‘81. Joe is the founder of Youth Frontiers, an organization dedicated to values-based character development. He is well known in the alum community for the following observation:

When most college graduates are asked where they went to school, they respond with a place: “Marquette, Penn State, the U.” When a Saint John’s or Saint Ben’s alum is asked the same question, they typically reply: “I’m a Johnnie or I’m a Bennie.” It’s a state of being.

During our conversation about the college search process, Joe pointed out that “Today’s young people are looking for a great education, but they yearn for more.” He added: “During the pandemic, they experienced loneliness and isolation. At every turn they encountered a cold world characterized by division and polarization.

“Gen-Zs are searching for meaning and a sense of belonging,” observed Joe. “At Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s they can find both community and purpose.”

When asked his thoughts on these topics, Joe shared a quick-witted response: “You know, this all makes perfect sense.”

He went on to say, in a more serious vein: "Yes indeed, Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s are places of the heart ... in an often heartless world."



Pivoting Toward the Future

The 21st century will become a Golden Age of learning. Use of technology; new opportunities for student engagement; students empowered to learn at their own pace and style; universities as centers for innovation; increased diversity and inclusion. The new university where all this and much more is possible, is within our grasp. What we must do to make it a reality is to pivot.

Times change. Methods change. Outcomes change. So, it stands to reason that higher education must change as well, and nowhere more than at its core – the teaching and learning experience. The instructive and interactive legacy of the past and the upheaval of the present inevitably lead to a future filled with demographic and technological challenges and uncertainties that demand a fresh, new approach.

“Colleges and universities are facing intensifying headwinds that have been known to us for some time,” observes Dr. Brian Bruess, President of Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s. “They’ve been accelerated by things like demographic shifts, unfavorable demographics, questions of affordability, questions of the value proposition of higher education and the challenges to the essence of who we are as a liberal arts institution.”

“Despite a myriad of challenges, the future of higher education

Pivot: A Vision for the New University Joan Soliday and Mark Lombardi

is bright, provided that we pivot and innovate,” said Richard Ice, Provost at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. “We need to embrace new understandings and dynamic approaches to the liberal arts.”

In the pathbreaking work, The Great Upheaval: Higher Education’s Past, Present and Uncertain Future, authors Arthur Levine and Scott Van Pelt make the assertion: Residential liberal arts colleges will persist as they have since the founding of the very first American college but in substantially reduced numbers owing to demographics and finances. This assumes the liberal arts are updated as they have been throughout history to provide the education contemporary students and society need.

“We’re trying to do is to address the upheaval that’s happening nationally,” said Ice.

Georgia Nugent, president of Illinois Wesleyan University and past president of Kenyon College and College of Wooster, is an expert on liberal arts education, who has spoken at CSB and SJU at the opening workshops in 2021 and at the national conference, “Liberal Arts Illuminated” hosted at CSB and SJU in 2016. In “The Liberal Arts in Action: Past, Present, and Future,” she points out that there has been a movement away from defining the liberal arts based on academic disciplines toward more fluid lines of inquiry.

“What appears to produce the extraordinary result of a liberal arts education is the particular combination of matter and manner, a broad-based curriculum with specific pedagogical practices in a context that also contributes to learning,” Nugent said.

“Our academic plans are a response to the changes that have impacted higher education. The world has changed in a variety of ways,” offered Karyl Daughters, Interim Dean of Curriculum & Assessment at CSB and SJU.

“We’re really focusing on innovating and creating a more sophisticated student experience,” added Bruess. “We need to have this idea of innovation essentially permeating all of our innovation, and all of our strategy going forward.

“We need to be nimble, adaptive and responsive to the changing times.”

How do liberal arts higher educational institutions respond to those challenges? How do they pivot toward the possibilities of the future and accentuate the opportunities?

Those are questions that Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s have wrestled with while formulating their own sweeping, innovative initiative toward student-centric education and a nimble, responsive academic future.

“President Bruess has challenged us to work together in new and innovative ways to develop an increasingly more sophisticated student experience,” Ice said. “He has mapped out a unified strategy that is purposeful and intentional”

• Work together in new and innovative ways.

• Develop an increasingly more sophisticated student experience.

• Enhance the curriculum and co-curriculum for the singular purpose of human flourishing.

• Renew and further enrich the learning environment.

• Create new ways that produce even greater, more impactful outcomes

“There is always going to be a place in higher education for residential liberal arts colleges,” Ice said. “Moreover, there’s going to be a sweet spot for the distinctive Benedictine education that we offer at Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s. As Levine and Van Pelt have so aptly pointed out, the academic heart of a college is no longer going to be measured by the classes that we offer, but by the learning outcomes and competencies that students are required to demonstrate.”

“Our mission is the holistic development of students. It is not just limited to their intellectual development. It entails the development of mind, body and spirit. And that’s where our innovation needs to reveal itself, because that’s what will help differentiate the quality and the depth and impact of what we’re doing,” Bruess said.

To pivot toward that future, Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s have designed and developed a comprehensive and multi-faceted plan to foster academic innovation. The plan consists of five key strategies:



Virtually all colleges and universities, particularly liberal arts colleges, have a common or core curriculum – a series or selection of courses from various disciplines deemed essential that all students are required to complete to ensure the depth and breadth of their education. Typically, this involves students selecting from a menu of course offerings to meet requirements.

The shortcoming of this traditional approach is that students are often more focused and concerned about their courses and majors than they are with the comprehensive body of knowledge that they need to acquire and master, as well as the connections between disciplines and ideas.

Today’s world requires us to re-think this approach. This is something that all higher education has been examining and pondering, including Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s. How can we be more relevant to the times?

“The status quo isn’t going to work. We know that,” Provost Ice said. “In response we have designed an innovative new curriculum that focuses on the integration of knowledge and learning outcomes.”

The result is the new Integrations Curriculum.

“It’s all about connections,” Interim Dean Daughters said. “The curriculum is designed to guide students through reflection on the value of their education. This culminates in a senior capstone for which students integrate the knowledge gained through their coursework and campus experiences and connect it to their future vocation and the common good.”

Through the Integrations Curriculum, students learn how to make connections between academic coursework, campus life experiences and the world around them. Integrated learning – the ability to see relationships among the arts, the sciences and the humanities – is a valuable, real-life skill that makes CSB and SJU graduates highly soughtafter by employers and the nation’s top graduate programs.

“The basic tenet of the new Integrations Curriculum at Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s is that it is outcome-based, which will improve the product for students,” observed Ice. “It is also what employers are looking for; that learning occurs in and outside the classroom at CSB and SJU; and that it is about innovation, expansion and moving forward.”

What are these outcomes?

Upon completion of the Integrations Curriculum, students will have advanced adeptness in the following skill areas highly valued in all career fields.

ANALYZING TEXTS – Elicit and construct meaning from texts.

COLLABORATION – Interact effectively in a group while incorporating diverse perspectives.

COMMON GOOD – Develop a conception of a moral life that incorporates concern for the common good.

GENDER – Examine the social construction of gender and related individual and systemic inequities.

INFORMATION LITERACY – Identify, evaluate and responsibly use information.

METACOGNITION – Optimize one’s own thinking and learning processes.

QUANTITATIVE REASONING – Solve quantitative problems and develop and communicate arguments supported by quantitative evidence.

RACE AND ETHNICITY – Examine the social construction of race and ethnicity and resulting inequities.

RELIGIOUS ENGAGEMENT – Analyze religious engagement with society.

SPEAK – Construct ideas, opinions and information in appropriate oral forms.

THEOLOGICAL REASONING – Think critically about sources, doctrines, and themes of the Christian tradition.

WRITE – Construct ideas, opinions and information in appropriate written forms.

“The integrations curriculum is an exciting innovation for general education at CSB and SJU. We have moved away from distributed box checking to intentional pursuit of learning outcomes that more clearly define what we expect students to be able to do when they graduate.” Daughters said.

“I hope the new general education requirements are the last major general education reform we ever do – not because we’re going to perfect it, but because we’re going to constantly be changing and updating it,” Ice said. “The curriculum now has got to be constantly updated and changed to reflect the needs of society.”



At the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, learning happens in classrooms, in labs, on our athletic courts and fields, across campus and around the world.

Drawn from our missions and our Catholic and Benedictine values and traditions, Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s established Institutional Learning Goals to provide clear expectations

and outcomes for the curricular and co-curricular experience. They are our pledge to students. We are dedicated to ensuring students achieve these learning and developmental outcomes by the time they graduate.

The five Institutional Learning Goals

– Think Deeply, Embrace Difference, Engage Globally, Serve Graciously and Lead Courageously – provide the

foundation for our distinctive liberal arts experience.

“These learning goals help us frame our curriculum, what are we aiming towards, what are we trying to do in and outside the classroom and how we innovate,” Provost Ice said.

“They also help describe what our alums look like and how they show up in the world.”

Observe life from as many points of view as possible

Think critically, creatively and with complexity when addressing significant questions


Embody the skills and attributes of personal and professional success

Discover a meaningful life purpose through service and leadership

Embark on a journey of discovery and take part in the world


Finding a way to celebrate and recognize the entire range and scope of a student’s accomplishments during their time on campus is the impetus behind the Pathways to Distinction program that was launched in 2020 by our Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholars.

Pathways to Distinction allows students to work toward obtaining distinction in alignment with our Institutional Learning Goals as well as the honors program.

It is designed to allow multiple ways for students to demonstrate achievement, not entirely based on grade-point average or coursework. It recognizes the important development and

variety of academic, community based, personal, leadership, global engagement, service and other experiences, helping students build and articulate important skills on their resume and adding an exciting signature program unique to CSB and SJU.

“This is going to give our students an opportunity to be able to articulate clearly the skills they have learned here in their liberal arts education, inside and outside the classroom,” said Richard Ice, Provost. “And when they go on to get jobs or apply to graduate or professional schools, they will be able to articulate those skills to employers and to graduate programs so that they

Graduating with distinction in one of our five Institutional Learning Goals will show that you’ve learned and served graciously and courageously, inside and outside the classroom.

“We’re changing. What we used to have for a long time was graduating with distinction honors in a major. It’s now graduating with distinction in one of those five learning goals,” Ice said. “You have to show that you’ve been engaged

“This can be a point of distinction to show that this truly is a holistic education, and that we are really transforming students.”


In our pursuit of educational excellence, CSB and SJU recently completed an Academic Program Prioritization process. The purpose of this analysis was to identify a strategic programming balance as well as to target academic programs that have the potential for growth, innovation and integration.

“The guiding principle for this prioritization process is that students come first,” said Richard Ice, Provost. “We seek to offer educational programs that have strong student interest as well as to position CSB and SJU as a leader and change agent in liberal arts education. We also want to become more competitive in the higher education marketplace.”

Much has been said and reported about academic program reduction at colleges and universities across the country, including at CSB and SJU. And yet, not to be overlooked in this conversation is the significant steps that Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s have taken over the past five years to add a number of new academic programs. “These new programs are innovative and strategic,” Ice said, “and many of them are crossdisciplinary, because that is the future of liberal arts education.”


Data analysis has come to the forefront of society in multiple dimensions. In politics, business, finance, the economy, the environment, international relations, the arts, genetics, healthcare and in the study of languages and history, data analysis has always been of great importance. However, information technologies and increasing availability of data have provided new avenues of inquiry and exploration in the pursuit of knowledge, in the pursuit

of the common good and in the pursuit of private interest.

“Data analytics is a central tool for decision-making, and whether a person’s profession is as an epidemiologist, accountant, marketing manager, physician, political adviser, nurse, teacher, historian or biologist … they will be immersed in data as they attempt to make good choices in a rapidly changing environment.” – Bob Hesse, CSB and SJU associate professor of computer science and mathematics.


The modern concept of data science as a field separate from statistics and computer science is relatively new and exciting as the advance of technology has opened up our ability to extract knowledge from typically large data sets and apply that knowledge across a variety of fields.

The data science major is designed for students who are interested in learning to apply computational and statistical tools for modeling and simulation as well as knowledge discovery from data across many areas. Students who complete this major can choose

careers in business, industry, research or education. They will be able to model and analyze data, build data solutions, discover new knowledge from data and aid in decision making processes. Students will learn to work collaboratively and bring both mathematics and computer science to bear on data-focused problems across varied disciplines.

“Data science is an interdisciplinary field that uses computer science, mathematics and statistics to extract knowledge and insights from large and unstructured data and apply those insights across a broad range of fields.” – Bob Hesse.


The interdisciplinary neuroscience minor is designed to pair with any major or pre-health program and is collaboratively administered by the Biology and Psychology departments. Students take one core course — either Neurobiology or Physiological Psychology — and work with a neuroscience faculty advisor to individualize elective coursework that meets their unique needs and goals, such as accommodating study abroad or gaining computational experience.


“Neuroscience students are encouraged and supported in pursuing research and other co-curricular activities. We have research options available on-campus during the school year and summer and also help students to apply for summer research positions and internships at other locations, such as in clinical positions or at large universities.” – Jennifer


At the heart of the Exercise and Health Science major is the concept of evidence-based practice. Our graduates will ask clinically relevant questions, locate and read applicable primary research articles, evaluate research quality for potential bias, and synthesize research findings to answer the clinical question while giving consideration to the strength of the evidence. These academic skills allow our graduates to use the best scholarly evidence available to inform their clinical decisions, which is foundational to nearly all careers in the exercise and health fields.

“Awareness of these social identities enables our graduates to appreciate the unique values and preferences of each patient or client in relation to their own, and how social identities influence interactions with exercise and health fields.” – Don Fischer, Professor and Chair, Exercise Science and Sport Studies.


The Global Health minor is a compelling and growing field of study that examines the health of

communities on an international scale, paying attention to issues of justice, inequality and problems that transcend borders.

The new interdisciplinary minor takes a liberal arts approach to the study of health within a global context. The program emphasizes the contributions that the social sciences and humanities – such as anthropology, sociology, history, communications and psychology – can make to understanding human experiences of health, illness and healing.

“Students have been interested in Global Health for many years and have been seeking out opportunities, both on and off campus, to pursue those interests on their own. So it just made sense to provide students with an opportunity to pursue this course of study in a more comprehensive way that combines relevant course work with study abroad opportunities, lectures, workshops, summer internships and more.” – Ellen Block, Chair, Sociology department.


The Narrative Practice minor connects the skills of creative writing to students’ future careers. Pre-health and Nursing students in the Narrative Practice minor work with St. Cloud Hospital patients to prevent delirium and social isolation by offering innovative, creative-writing programming.

Students gain clinical experience in multiple units of St. Cloud Hospital, deepening their understanding of acute and chronic illness while learning how metaphor and imagery shape effective


“From first-semester students to graduating seniors, the Narrative Practice Minor prepares students to hear and tell the stories that will improve the health of their future patients, the reach of their future businesses and the vitality of their communities.” – Chris Bolin, assistant professor of English.


The Climate Studies minor aims to provide students with a course of study that helps deepen knowledge about the climate crisis with applications and solutions derived from many academic disciplines. The minor can be integrated with – and complement – any existing major or future career.

With climate change looming as perhaps the biggest crisis of the foreseeable future, it is likely to require multiple solutions and complex thinking to find ways to reverse its effects and live with its reality. To address this need within a liberal arts education, Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s will incorporate many fields from the academic catalog into the new minor.

“Climate crisis requires all-hands-on-deck to research, innovate and craft sustainable and just solutions. Our program builds on our existing liberal arts strengths in cultivating diverse skills and perspectives among our students – the leaders of the future.” – Corrie Grosse, assistant professor of Environmental Studies.


Our Engineering Physics major track is designed to prepare students for


technical jobs directly in industry after graduation as well for students who want to pursue engineering degrees elsewhere. This program provides students with a fundamental background in engineering along with a strong foundation in physics and math. Joining these strong technical skills and knowledge with our known excellent liberal arts education is a winning combination for our students.

Added new courses like computer-aided design and MatLab programming

introduce engineering and give practice in engineering technology. CSB and SJU are formalizing the path for students to do engineering senior projects like designing, building and testing devices like wind tunnels and rail guns.

“We see the new Engineering Physics track as an evolution of our Applied Physics program. Applied Physics has been a great path into industry and engineering for our alums, but they have been telling us that more specific engineering practice would have been useful to them. We are confident that our Engineering Physics program is going to open up great opportunities for our students.” – Jim


Saint Benedict and Saint John’s have a distinguished, 40-year tradition of preparing strong, professional nurse leaders for contemporary nursing practice. That tradition now includes graduate nursing programs designed to prepare registered nurses for advanced roles in healthcare.

Each of our programs offer the academic rigor and preparedness we’re known for, in a hybrid format that fits your life. Our programs are approved by the Higher Learning Commission and Minnesota Board of Nursing; CCNE accreditation is pending.

Program highlights include:

• Guaranteed clinical placements

• Electives for specialty practice areas

• Eligibility to become board certified and licensed as a family nurse practitioner

• Eligibility to become certified as a Nurse Educator and/or Nurse Executive

• One-to-one mentorship for DNP project

• Discounted tuition available for CSB and SJU alums and CentraCare employees

• Hybrid format, with 2-3 in-person visits to campus per semester

• State-of-the-art classrooms that simulate real-1world patient needs and clinical settings

• Leadership students eligible to sit for the AONL Executive Leadership Certificate and NLN Nurse Education Certificates


In recent years, finance has become a more popular avenue of study for our students. The accounting major has seen approximately a 30 percent increase in the number who choose the finance concentration. In addition, the economics major has recently added a finance concentration to cater to students interested in finance through the lens of economics.

The proposed finance major, currently working its way through faculty governance, was developed with the goal of merging these concentrations into a single major in an interdisciplinary fashion.

“Only one other school in Minnesota currently has an undergraduate major in mathematical finance. We feel that with our current faculty, we have strengths in all of these areas and can deliver a major of outstanding quality and value to incoming students.” – Steve Welch, Chair, Accounting & Finance.


The Creativity and Entrepreneurship minor is designed to help students develop a “Creative Mindset” (curiosity, risk taking/pushing boundaries/ welcoming failure, lateral thinking, embracing ambiguity) and an “Entrepreneurial Mindset” (opportunity recognition, idea generation, customer value proposition design, feasibility analysis and business model design). The minor will include 20 credits of coursework including an experiential component requiring students to create something that they can “put out into the world.”

“This minor is a perfect fit for a liberal arts institution like CSB and SJU. We need creative problem-solvers and entrepreneurial thinkers now more than ever.” – Paul Marsnik, Director, Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship.


This program is in the developmental phase.



A primary strategy to improve the quality and reputation of educational programs at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University is to establish Academic Centers of Excellence.

Grounded in Benedictine values and rooted in our 1,500-year Benedictine heritage, Academic Centers enhance student learning by engaging students, faculty, staff and the broader community in interdisciplinary collaborations, stimulate new intellectual and creative connections, address the pressing needs and challenges of our day, and create new insights and opportunities to further the common good.

“Academic Centers are broad-based and interdisciplinary. They transcend all the departments and disciplines,” Ice said.

“It’s about educating the whole person. We’re trying to break down walls of learning inside and outside of the classroom, to think more broadly about the whole student experience because people don’t compartmentalize their lives.

There are already a number of wellestablished academic centers at CSB and SJU:

• EUGENE J. MCCARTHY CENTER FOR PUBLIC POLICY AND CIVIC ENGAGEMENT fosters dialogue and involvement regarding politics, values and public policy. The McCarthy Center facilitates opportunities for creative and integrated learning through programming and experiential learning on and off-campus. Through events, conferences, lectures and social gatherings, the McCarthy Center gives

INTERFAITH LEARNING promotes dialogue, understanding, friendship and civic engagement across lines of difference. The center does this by sponsoring a host of interfaith activities, including artistic performances, lectures, panels, conferences, retreats and service programs.

• DONALD MCNEELY CENTER FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP is an education resource that provides classes, coaching and assistance to entrepreneurs. It builds relationships among and between

• FLEISCHHACKER CENTER FOR ETHICAL LEADERSHIP IN ACTION supports experiential learning as well as a mentoring program and speaker series. Internships and other opportunities are designed to support the formation of ethical women leaders in fields including business, medicine, education and beyond.

• CENTER FOR GLOBAL EDUCATION offers semester and short-term study abroad and international exchange


programs, teach abroad options and oncampus global learning opportunities. Center for Global Education collaborates with global partners to offer summer English as a second language programs and sponsors visiting international scholars.

New centers being created at CSB and SJU include:


This national center for the environment is a programmatic hub for all things environmental: academic research and teaching, public outreach and education, and operations across both campuses. Over the last 30 years CSB and SJU dramatically expanded efforts in all three areas, launching the environmental studies academic program, the Saint John’s Arboretum and Outdoor University, and broad campus sustainability initiatives in the 1990s. These grew rapidly in the 2000s, literally reaching tens of thousands of students and community members. The new Center elevates our environmentally related programs to the next level, positioning us for national prominence and engaging diverse audiences through the practice of Benedictine stewardship and an orientation toward a sustainable future for all.

“This center allows us to ‘level up’ our environmental and sustainability programing, raising what have developed into very strong regional programs to national prominence,”

said Derek Larson, CSB and SJU environmental studies professor. “Ultimately we hope CSB and SJU will be places that come to mind when anyone is asked about places that inspire them to care about, act upon and advocate for everything from local access to green spaces to addressing climate change on the global stage.”


The mission of the Center for Teaching and Learning is to support, promote and enhance inclusive teaching and innovative pedagogical practices that lead to meaningful student learning. The CTL provides specialized programming for new faculty to help them to understand the mission of the institutions and develop their skills as inclusive teachers. The CTL also provides workshops and events for all faculty to expose faculty to new, evidence-based practices, provide opportunities for faculty to discuss teaching issues and ideas through book clubs, dialogue groups, and faculty panels, and to increase the adoption of inclusive pedagogies.

“The CSB and SJU faculty are outstanding teachers who are constantly working to increase their knowledge and enhance student learning,” said Pam Bacon, CSB and SJU Dean of Faculty. “Providing numerous campus opportunities for faculty to continue to develop their teaching skills, incorporate inclusive pedagogies into their practice, and talk about teaching with other passionate educators will

have a positive impact on teaching effectiveness and, ultimately, the student experience.”

• CENTER FOR PRINCIPLED BUSINESS LEADERSHIP CSB and SJU are establishing the Center for Principled Business Leadership to serve two primary goals: to enhance the quality and reputation of our business programs and to create a ‘big tent’ of opportunities for all students to connect their education to business. We have tremendous business programs in accounting, economics, entrepreneurship, finance, and global business. And, under the Center, we will expand outreach and high-impact practices in those majors.

“We are in a unique position to address the ‘principled’ portion of business leadership as a Benedictine organization,” said Mary Jepperson, Chair, Global Business. “The Benedictine values have stood the test of centuries of time and are as applicable to business as they are to daily life. Community living, taking counsel, respect for persons, listening, to name just a few, are skills that today’s business leader must employ to be an effective and ethical leader.”

“We want to see our students and graduates thrive after they have this educational experience,” Ice said. “This is our vision of academic excellence at Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s.”




“Our parents were very active in the Catholic social justice movement,” said Paul, a 1984 Saint John’s graduate and former deputy mayor of St. Paul. He is now president and CEO of Project for Pride in Living, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit serving lower-income families and individuals through job training and by providing affordable housing.

“They were a bi-racial couple. My mom (Janet) came from a white, German Catholic family in the Frogtown neighborhood of St. Paul. My dad (Charles) came from a very prominent Black Catholic family in the Rondo neighborhood. So there was always a very strong connection to the church –

particularly to its social justice work and issues – in our family. That connected us to Saint John’s.”

“My mom was the chief soloist at the St. Paul Cathedral for 49 years,” added Chuck, a 1982 graduate and standout collegiate athlete who is now a divisional vice president of global marketing for Abbott Vascular, which develops critical medical technology for cardiovascular conditions.

“There was always this mix of the traditional, which my mom was involved in, and the contemporary, which my mom, dad and many family members were all part of. A sort of

journey of independence and prodding the church to become more modern.”

One of Janet’s brothers, Job Dittberner, was a member of the Saint John’s Abbey during the 1960s and ’70s. He taught history at SJU before leaving the monastery in 1975 to pursue a successful career in diplomacy, including working as director of committees and studies for the international secretariat of the North Atlantic Assembly, a NATO organization, in Brussels, Belgium.

“We’d visit him a lot growing up,” said Chuck, whose great-uncle Fr. Arnold Dittberner was also part of the Abbey

There’s a lot to the story that brought Chuck and Paul Williams to Saint John’s University, and just as much to the tale of the successful careers the two brothers have embarked on in the years since leaving
But common threads run through many of those chapters:
A call to service, a desire to challenge the status quo and a deep sense of the value of community foremost among them.

Brothers Hone Life of Service at Saint John’s

for over 72 years until his death in 1999. “My earliest recollections of Saint John’s are of the church and the Gregorian chants of the monk choirs.

“Back then, when you came to campus, you’d first come into the circle in front of the church. I can vividly remember coming out of the light and into the darkness of the Great Hall.

“We’d walk around the corner in that subdued lighting and let Job know we were there. Then he’d come down and meet us.”

In addition, the Williams family –which also included sister Madeline and younger brother Daniel – played host

at their St. Paul home to Black students from Chicago attending Saint John’s.

“There was a program called ABC – A Better Chance,” Paul said. “It was a national program (and still exists today) that recruited Black students to go into college and provided them with support. We were a host family, so we’d have students for the holidays or even some who lived with us in our thirdfloor bedroom at various points.”

Charles, who went on to become a prominent District Court referee, and Janet, who served as a cantor and song leader at various faith communities, had also been folksingers. They spent time

at the Ecumenical Institute (now the Collegeville Institute) on campus.

“My dad told me that at one point they came up to Saint John’s to do a lecture session with students on interracial marriage and interracial relationships,” Paul said. “Job was the one who invited them up to do that.”

School Days

Chuck went to high school at St. Paul Academy, while Paul and the rest of his siblings attended Breck.

“Our parents sacrificed everything for our education and to get us into

Paul Williams
Chuck Williams

high-end college preparatory schools,” Paul said. “There was kind of a struggle and tension they had with the Catholic church in some areas. They battled hard for change.

“Chuck and I both went to St. Luke’s grade school in St. Paul, and the traditional path was to go from there to schools like Cretin-Derham Hall or St. Thomas Academy. My parents pushed back on that. We didn’t follow that model. We were expected to be our own people and follow our own paths.”

For Chuck, that path led to Saint John’s. He chose SJU over other schools including St. Thomas, where his father had been named Mr. Tommy in 1958 – the first Black student to earn that honor.

“Two things really pushed it over the edge for me,” he said. “I was familiar with Saint John’s because we had family history there. And the other part was it was just far enough away from home that I could have some independence.”

He made a big impact in Collegeville where he double majored in political science and business administration and excelled in athletics. He earned All-MIAC and All-American honors in football during the 1982 season, playing on both sides of the ball.

In track and field, he finished second in the 200-meter dash at the MIAC Championships in 1981 and was part of a conference champion 4x400 relay team. The following season, he won a conference title in the 100-meter dash.

“He was incredible,” said current SJU

head football coach Gary Fasching ’81, a teammate of Chuck’s during his time with the Johnnies. “When people ask me who the best athletes I’ve seen here are, Chuck definitely has to be in that category. He had such great speed and athleticism. He made some incredible catches when they put him on offense, but on the defensive side he was just outstanding.

“And he had such a great personality. He got along with everyone on the team and was always fun to be around. He was really the epitome of what you’d want in a Saint John’s athlete.”

Paul, meanwhile, followed his brother to Collegeville – drawn there for many of the same reasons.

“Chuck, of course, was a very prominent football player,” Paul said. “So when I came to Saint John’s, I was not only following my brother, but a pretty big name on campus. I walked in here with the benefit of his name and reputation, which I probably exploited to its fullest extent.

“I chose Saint John’s, like Chuck had, largely based on tradition, reputation and our family history. It was funny, though, because a lot of my friends at Breck went to schools like Harvard or Stanford. There were only two of us in my class who went to Saint John’s. It was me and a guy named Chris Brandl, whose father John was a prominent state legislator and who played a big role in the history of Saint John’s – even serving as a trustee here.”

John Brandl later played a big role in helping Paul gain admission to the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota after he had completed his undergraduate degree at SJU.

“I was a career B-minus student,” Paul said with a smile. “I had a 2.64 GPA coming out of both high school and college. When I was younger, our mother used to say that I had a rich

Janet Williams (front center) is surrounded by her children (from left) Chuck, Madeline, Paul and Daniel Williams.
He got along with everyone on the team and was always fun to be around. He was really the epitome of what you’d want in a Saint John’s athlete.

inner life. What she meant was that I was thinking and I was listening. While I didn’t have a lot of academic discipline, what I did have were really good social skills.

“John Brandl had known I was going to Saint John’s,” he continued. “He put a bug in my ear and in the ears of others to encourage this kid. He was a professor down at the Humphrey School. And he and another Catholic leader named Jim Jernberg, who also taught at the Humphrey School and had been a close friend of our family, conspired to get me down to Humphrey. So there again was that value of community and the network you build up.”

Before that happened though, Paul thrived socially at SJU, playing in local bands and joining the rugby team where he made friendships that have remained strong over the years.

“I’m still part of a network of probably 50 alumni, a lot of whom tie back to the rugby team,” he said. “I ended up playing another 20 years down here for a team called the East Side Banshees, which is where a lot of other SJU

graduates ended up playing as well.

“I’m part of a decades-long tradition that stays connected to this day. It’s really a fabulous network of guys.”

Career Paths

After completing his master’s degree, Paul embarked on a career of service to the community – working as a grant maker for the St. Paul and Minnesota Foundation, as well as The Minneapolis

Foundation. He also served as executive director of Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).

In 2010, he was appointed as St. Paul’s deputy mayor by then-mayor Chris Coleman, a longtime friend whom he’d known since grade school. It’s a post he served in for 3½ years, serving as essentially the city’s chief operating officer.

“The former deputy mayor, Ann Mulholland, had served quite well for four years, and when she announced she was leaving, I went into panic mode,” Coleman recalled. “Then one day, a mutual friend of both of us asked me if I’d thought about Paul Williams. I said ‘Paul is amazing, but he’s going all over the country working for LISC. Why would he take this job?

“If someone of Paul’s caliber was interested in the job, I would have been a fool not to grab him. He had such an expansive knowledge of city issues from his work with LISC and positions he’d held before that.

“He had the perfect temperament for the job,” Coleman continued. “A deputy mayor is wrestling 100 things

Chuck Williams was an outstanding athlete in both football (above) and track and field (below) during his career at Saint John's.

I’m the one who organized the high school parties and brought folks together. That’s a skill. It’s community organizing and relationship-building. And it’s a skill I’ve brought with me into every job I’ve had over many years now.

a day – everything from snowplowing to building sports facilities to light rail transportation. You’re basically dealing with almost everything under the sun and you have to be able to have a large view and keep track of a lot of different things at the same time.

“It’s also a real values position. It’s where things that matter to you really play out. Housing issues, education, racial equality – these are all issues Paul is passionate about and that showed.”

Beyond his work in the mayor’s office, Paul has also served or is serving on a number of boards and councils including the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, HealthPartners, Inc., the St. Paul Port Authority and the Minnesota Ballpark Authority – the latter a subject particularly close to his heart thanks to his Saint John’s alumni ties.

“Long before he was named to the stadium commission, he’d been a part of about 20 Saint John’s graduates who take an annual trip to visit ballparks large and small,” Chuck said of a group that also includes Paul Marsnik, a global business professor at CSB and SJU and the academic director of the Entrepreneur Scholars program.

And, of course, there is his role running Project for Pride in Living, which he has held since 2014. It’s a job in which he is able to utilize many of the organizational skills he has built up throughout his long career.

“It’s something that goes back even to my high school years,” said Paul, who also recently co-chaired the Governor’s Council on Economic Expansion as well the 2016 search committee for St. Paul’s new police chief. “I’m the one who organized the high school parties and brought folks together. That’s a skill. It’s community organizing and relationship-building. And it’s a skill I’ve brought with me into every job I’ve had over many years now.”

Chuck, meanwhile, always knew his career path was in business. But it took a few stops to find his true calling. He spent a few years in advertising before working five years for National Car Rental and eight more at Ecolab.

He then entered the medical supply business with Medtronic in 2000.

“Being asthmatic, I’ve always been interested in medical things,” he recalls. “I had been working for Ecolab, and because of a variety of circumstances, I decided I wanted to do something different with my life. I was recruited by someone at Medtronic and I was hired by a very nontraditional manager who took a chance even though I had no medical experience.

“It’s funny the way careers change. The number of people who actually set out to do something and that ends up being what they actually do for an entire career, I think, is pretty few. Most of us have twists and turns in our career path – some expected and some unexpected. I’ve been fortunate to be able to get where I am today. I’ve worked hard, but I also benefitted from that manager’s decision to take a chance on me.”

Paul Williams attended an event with his father, Charles Williams (now 93), during his tenure as deputy major of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Drawing on Time at SJU

It was his time at Saint John’s that Chuck said helped prepare him for those career twists and turns.

“Saint John’s really fired my interest in business,” he said. “There were two professors I had here who really inspired me.

“The first was John Kidwell, who was teaching as a visiting professor after having been an executive at 7-Up. The second was a guy named Jack Farley (a professor of management at CSB and SJU from 1978-94). He was a longtime St. Paul Catholic who’d been part of consulting practices and had worked at Northwestern Mutual Life and other places. They both really fired my interest in business in general.”

Other professors also left a lasting impact – all proof, Chuck said, of the benefit of a liberal arts education.

“There’s no question about that,” he said. “Two of the things that really shaped my intellectual pursuits were the grounding in reading and writing I got at St. Paul Academy, then again at Saint John’s. There were a variety of people who contributed to sort of honing those skills.

“I’m a huge believer in a liberal arts education, and I fully believe that my time at Saint John’s helped shape a lot of the skills that had first been incubated during my high school career.”

Paul shares those sentiments, and added that the sense of community he experienced during his time in Collegeville played a big role in helping

prepare him for the roles he has held since.

“That liberal arts training and thinking is something I really believe in,” he said. “But I think the power of community and the network that exists at Saint John’s was just as important to me. And

that goes far beyond just socializing. There was a real support system of other students and faculty there that made a big difference in my life.

“I’m still close to many of those people today. My time at Saint John’s had a tremendous impact on me.”

I’m a huge believer in a liberal arts education, and I fully believe that my time at Saint John’s helped shape a lot of the skills that had first been incubated during my high school career

Winter Wonderland in Collegeville

The winter of 2022-23 brought dramatic weather to Saint John’s University, where stretches of frigid Arctic blasts combined with a string of significant snowfalls to make this one of the most breathtaking seasons in recent years.

It also brought spectacular beauty to campus, where tufts of falling snow combined with crisp evening skies and the illuminated golden façade of the Saint John’s Abbey Church made this season truly one to remember.

Photo by Graham Miller ’25


On Labor Day weekend in late summer of 1973, a young man from the South Side of Chicago loaded his personal items and blind faith into his parents’ car and took off for a place he had never seen.

Greetings from Collegeville, Minnesota.

Welcome to Saint John’s University. It was where John Adams ’77 would find the springboard and direction for his distinctive future.

“I’m not trying to oversell this, but the guy who started at Saint John’s in 1973 and the guy who 50 years later is going to be at this point – that’s quite a journey,” Adams said.

“The story is actually pretty amazing for me. None of this would have happened if not for Saint John’s.”

Half a century later, Adams has arrived at yet another milestone and perhaps the pinnacle of his distinguished trajectory.


That’s saying something. The career he launched at Saint John’s has taken Adams down a winding highway of professional achievement – from noteworthy positions in certified public accounting organizations and at a storied high school, to a prominent role in Chicago Mayor Harold Washington’s city government, to 16 years as chief financial officer with Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Push Coalition.

Now, after receiving a Chicago-area honor for his 45 years of professional and social achievements, Adams is directing the ambitious Bronzeville Trail Project – an auspicious endeavor Adams launched in an historical area in South Side Chicago that will bind optimistic elements of public health and economic development in connection with Chicago’s famous lakefront trail while accessing adjacent sites that include some of America’s most important Black history and civil rights landmarks.

“This sort of seems like the ultimate moment in my professional career,” Adams said, “to be the driving force behind this project.”

And it wouldn’t have happened without Saint John’s. Fifty years after Adams began his formative experience at SJU, he looks back fondly at his roots while looking ahead to this career-defining project.

A Lifetime of Achievement

In 2022, Adams was selected by Crain’s Chicago Business magazine to its annual list of the city’s Notable Black Leaders and Executives.

It was the latest honor in an outstanding career that began after Adams graduated from Saint John’s in 3½ years, returned to Chicago and began his resume as a staff auditor with “Big 8” accounting firm Arthur Young & Co. in January 1977. Three months later, Adams became the founder of the Chicago chapter of the National

Association of Black Accountants.

“I literally took information out of Black Enterprise Magazine while I was at Saint John’s to join the National Association of Black Accountants,” Adams said. “When I reached out to them, they said, ‘You can join, but we don’t have a chapter in Chicago. Would you be interested in launching a chapter in Chicago?’ ”

He became the organization’s first Chicago chapter president.

Adams went on to work in private practices as a CPA and accountant until being hired as deputy director of the department of revenue in incoming Mayor Washington’s administration.

Later came a 16-year stint (2006-22) with Rev. Jackson’s Rainbow Push Coalition, where Adams supervised the finance department, prepared budgets and cash-flow projections and led the organization’s annual audit. He moved to his current position as comptroller at Infrastructure Engineering, Inc., in 2022.

“Rainbow Push was quite demanding, and something incredibly different,” Adams said. “That was an amazing blessing to work for Rev. Jackson, whom history will show is the most significant African American in the last half-century.”

Adams’ current volunteer position, however, is truly his labor of love. He

He returned to public accounting and consulting positions and served as business manager at Hales Franciscan, the Bronzeville neighborhood private Catholic high school from which Adams graduated in 1973. Hales supplied Saint John’s with numerous students during its 54-year history before closing in 2017.

is the founder and project director of the Bronzeville Trail Task Force, a not-for-profit organization that is the driving force behind a project that has enormous local and national historical, financial and civil rights implications. (See Bronzeville Trail Project, page 28.)

All of this grew from Adams’ Saint

(From left) John Adams’ mother Idelle Adams, Adams and his friends and fellow Saint John’s alumni Marcus Ahmed ’70 and Charles Williams ’77 gather on the steps of the Abbey Church to celebrate SJU graduation in May 1977.

John’s roots, which sprouted many branches.

Building a Connection

John Adams was born in Chicago in 1955. Like countless other African Americans, his parents migrated to Chicago for employment opportunities that didn’t exist in the Jim Crow-era Deep South.

His father, Robert Adams – born in Arkansas in 1910, just 45 years after the 13th Amendment ended slavery in 1865 – was never educated and could not read. But he and his wife Idelle, a graduate of Chicago Teachers College, were determined that their son would receive a quality education.

“I’m a cradle Catholic – Catholic elementary school, Catholic high school,” said John Adams, who grew up on Grand Boulevard in Bronzeville on Chicago’s South Side.

His connection to Saint John’s began during his freshman year at Hales Franciscan, thanks to a teacher – and bus driver.

“I ran cross country my freshman year of high school. The guy who drove the bus was Marcus Ahmed,” Adams said. “He had attended Saint John’s, so that’s the Johnnie connection.”

Ahmed, a 1970 Saint John’s graduate, came to Collegeville due in part to the efforts of Fr. Don LeMay, OSB ’48 to develop a student recruiting pipeline between Hales Franciscan and SJU. “My father was old, which is why Marcus Ahmed was a friend AND a mentor,” said Adams, who through Ahmed also became close friends with Ron Morris ’70 and Judge Lewis Nixon ’71. “We were friends before I ever had him as an instructor.”

Ahmed served as chairman of the Organization for Afro-Associated Students at Saint John’s. During a time (1966-70) when only 25 Black students attended SJU, the club played a key

role in educating fellow students on the unique experiences they faced. Ahmed’s leadership helped lay the foundation for future students of diverse backgrounds to thrive in Collegeville.

Following the Footsteps

Ultimately, Adams chose Saint John’s because SJU students had done remarkably well at passing the Certified Public Accountant exam on their first try. That was Adams’ goal.

“A newsletter about Saint John’s was circulating in April-ish of ’73. It said eight out of 14 Johnnies passed the CPA exam on the first try. And that was at a time when the national passing rate on the first try was 15 percent. That’s impressive,” Adams recalled.

“Marcus picked me up one morning, and I said, ‘Marcus, you know, I think I do want to apply to Saint John’s.’ He never pressed me on it, but two of my grade school and high school buddies (Charles Williams ’77 and Anthony Scott) had already committed to Saint John’s and I was completely sold by the newsletter.

“There was a serious little pipeline. Marcus sent Saint John’s my grades and scores, and I had an acceptance letter. I never filled out an application.”

The first time Adams saw Collegeville was when his parents dropped him off on Labor Day weekend in 1973.

This was uncharted territory. “Totally and completely,” Adams said. “It was kind of a different world.”

But not an unwelcoming world.

After graduation, Ahmed returned to Hales Franciscan to teach and impact the lives of many students, including Adams. For his lifetime contributions to education, Ahmed received the Saint John’s Alumni Achievement Award in 2020, a year after he died. Adams presented the award at Saint John’s Reunion in 2021.

“Occasionally he would pick me up from home in the mornings or bring me home after school, but he never pushed Saint John’s,” Adams said.

“When he entered in ’73, that was the peak of our Black population (at Saint John’s and Saint Benedict). He had the largest group of cohort in that sense,” said Ken Jones, Saint John’s history professor emeritus.

There were 47 incoming Black students at Saint John’s and 21 at Saint Ben’s in 1973, the schools’ peak up to that point.

“I think it would have been the easiest time to come so far (to CSB and SJU), absolutely,” Jones said. “2.9 percent of the Saint John’s student body was Black, which for the time and place was pretty amazing.”


“Besides my two buddies, there was a critical mass (of fellow Black students) there at Saint John’s,” Adams said. “There was a Black Student Union. There was a place. And this was significant to me because there were enough African Americans on campus at that time between the two schools, as well as international students.

“My experience on campus is there was a Black community that allowed me to relax within my cultural context. Tommie Hall was where the Black Student Union was. You could go down to the BSU after class or whatever. People would be hanging around and you would just relax.”

But not all the time …

“It helped that I had two lifelong friends there, but I purposely didn’t want to be so attached that it detracted from my studies,” Adams said. “I literally came to Saint John’s knowing what I wanted to do, so I was really focused about accounting.

“My experience was that it probably was like any other student at Saint John’s who came there and was serious about their education.”

Adams lived in Mary Hall his first year at SJU, and in Benet Hall in his sophomore and junior years. He moved into the Seminary in the fall

of his senior year so he could focus on preparing for the CPA exam in November and graduated in 3½ years.

“It just all came together,” he said. “Everything that we accomplished was a milestone.”

Adams then returned to Chicago to launch his career – professionally, politically and socially.

“I’ve always been active politically from the day I got back to Chicago,” Adams said. “I’m a product raised in the Civil Rights movement, and I was a teenager during the Black Power era. I took great pride in civic engagement, knowing that these Black CPAs back in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s were really engaged.”

Adams has been there for 67 years of dynamic change.

“My parents were born colored. I was born Negro and I then became Black,” he said. “During my formative years, ‘Say It Loud: I’m Black and I’m Proud’ by James Brown was released. Now I’m African American.”

And now, he has even more to be proud of.

Pride and Progress

Adams’ distinguished career has included noteworthy contributions back at Saint John’s, including his

presentation of Ahmed’s Alumni Achievement Award in 2021 and his participation on an alumni panel that included Morris, Lewis Nixon ’71 and Charles Bush ’75 and discussed implications of the 1970 Black student takeover of Saint John’s President Fr. Colman Barry’s office. Adams also was a member of the Alumni Board in the early 1980s.

“Certainly I was very proud to participate in that panel discussion about the ’70s,” Adams said. “I just didn’t want that to get lost.”

His professional accomplishments while working with Mayor Washington and Rev. Jackson won’t get lost either. But nothing is quite like the Bronzeville project, which is facilitated by everything that Adams experienced as a Johnnie.

“Accounting as a career profession has been good to me. Saint John’s had enough weight there. Just having a degree from Saint John’s had credibility,” Adams said.

“This only happened because I was at Saint John’s. Saint John’s was the environment I needed to excel in college. It made this possible.”

And it all began half a century ago, with a young man’s leap of faith.


The Bronzeville Trail: Uplifting Black History

The ambitious Bronzeville Trail Project proposes a variety of civic, health and developmental benefits for Chicago’s historic South Side neighborhood.

And in addition to connecting the area to the city’s Lake Michigan walking, jogging and biking trail, it also connects Bronzeville with its storied African American legacy and its role in arguably the most important event in America’s civil rights history.

“That’s what makes this such an amazing educational endeavor: There are so many tentacles to it,” said Saint John’s University graduate John Adams ’77, founder and project director of the Bronzeville Trail Task Force since its inception in September 2020.

“I tell everybody, ‘God put me on Earth to do this project.’ I couldn’t begin to tell you all the coincidences that have taken place that moved this project.”

The project’s goal is to repurpose and revitalize the 1.75-mile Kenwood ‘L’ railroad embankment, which runs through the heart of the historic Black community and has been abandoned since 1958. Splashes of civil rights-related artwork is displayed intermittently at junctures of the embankment.

The east/west trail would emulate the Bloomingdale Trail on Chicago’s North Side and has the potential of connecting with Lake Michigan’s lakefront biking/ walking path without traffic interference. Estimated Trail costs are approximately $100 million, with proposed project completion in 2028.

The project also has significant ties to the Great Black Migration,

“There’s a YMCA in Bronzeville that literally is the Ellis Island of Black migration,” Adams said of the facility, which served newcomers who had nowhere else to stay when they arrived from the South. That YMCA still stands.

In 1865, Chicago’s Union Stockyard was created and connected with the Illinois Central railroad line. The rail line through Bronzeville made Chicago the meat processing

which began in the 1860s and continued into the 20th century as African Americans moved from the Deep South to Chicago to pursue employment opportunities, often in Chicago’s stockyards.

capital of the world and drove the growth of the city and the country. An elevated stockyard line opened in 1907, and an adjacent passenger line opened in 1948. It closed in 1958.

Marcus Ahmed ’70 (left), John Adams ’77 (center) and Charles Williams ’77 referred to themselves as “double alums,” graduates of both Saint John’s University and Hales Franciscan High School in the Bronzeville area of South Side Chicago.

“Chicago is the Black Mecca of business in the world at that time,” Adams said. “Chicago also had a real strong economic class. That was all tied to migration and the stockyards.”

Other Black history connections abound near the Bronzeville Trail:

• Marshall “Major” Taylor (18781932) became the world’s fastest bicycle racer and the first African American to become a premier sports figure. He died in Bronzeville and is buried in Chicago, and numerous cycling clubs around the United States and the world bear his name.

“Our initiative is to get Major Taylor the Congressional Gold Medal,” Adams said. “Bike clubs across the country are getting involved to enlist their Congressmen. It’s going to happen.”

• Oscar De Priest (1871-1951), a politician and civil rights advocate, lived in Bronzeville and was the first Black American to be elected to U.S. Congress in the 20th century (1929-35). He also was the first Black man elected to the Chicago City Council (1914).

• Most notably, a landmark incident that sparked America’s civil rights movement happened in Bronzeville, where a stone’s throw away from the western end of the rail embankment stands the Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ.

In August 1955, a 14-year-old Chicago boy named Emmett

Till was brutally murdered while visiting relatives in Mississippi. His wrenching story and the implications for this country were

chronicled in the award-winning movie Till, which was released to theaters last October and has been acclaimed as one of 2022s finest films.

Accused of flirting and whistling at a white woman working at a small grocery store (she eventually recanted her allegation), Till was dragged out of his great uncle’s house, tortured and killed by the accuser’s husband and his halfbrother, who dumped Till’s body in the Tallahatchie River. They were acquitted of murder by an allwhite jury, although they admitted the killing in a Look Magazine interview a year later.

Till’s battered body lay for three days in an open-casket funeral at Roberts Temple at the insistence of his mother, Mamie Till Mobley, who wanted the world to see what

had been done. Over 100,000 mourners passed through the church, a landmark moment in the civil rights movement and the catalyst for the next phase. In a unanimous vote, both the House and Senate passed a bill to posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal to Emmett Till and his mother.

Federal funding is being obtained to transform the church into a civil rights shrine.

“We literally are going to have a national monument, arguably the holiest ground in the modern-day civil rights movement, 50 feet from the trail at the western end,” Adams said.

"We thought the Bronzeville Trail Project would cast a brighter light on Roberts Temple. Once it is designated a national monument, it will bring broader exposure to the trail project.”

Development continues, and Adams wants to share that with his Saint John’s and Saint Benedict roots.

“For us, it’s so amazing,” he said. “As we project applying for major federal funding for the (Bronzeville Trail) infrastructure, it’ll be really nice to already have this partnership with another part of the federal government on our dossier.

“Every time I see a learning opportunity, I’d love for some Johnnies and Bennies to get involved.”

For more information on the project, visit or contact

Adams points out historical images outside the gateway to Chicago’s Union Stockyard, which was created in 1865 and drove the Great Black Migration that sparked economic and racial opportunity development.

Barlage Extends SJU’s Parade to Professional Sports

Sometimes a 20-minute conversation is all it takes to change the course of a lifetime.

That was certainly the case for Saint John’s University graduate Nic Barlage ’06, now Chief Operating Officer of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, Rock Entertainment Group and the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.

Barlage is one of a number of Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s graduates who have risen to positions of prominence in professional sports. That group includes:

• Pat McKenzie Sr. ’79, the longtime team physician for the NFL’s Green Bay Packers;

• Trent Kirchner ’00, Vice President of Player Personnel for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks;

• Ryan Monnens ’98, Director of Player Personnel for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings;

• Anne Doeppner ’01, Senior Director, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the Vikings;

• Brett Becker ’15, Manager, Pro Scouting and Baseball Operations for MLB’s San Diego Padres;

• Bryant Pfeiffer ’94, EVP, Chief Revenue Officer for MLS’s Minnesota United and an early and valuable professional contact for Barlage.

But once upon a time, Barlage was a college sophomore in search of a change in direction.

“I was pre-med for my first yearand-a-half of school and it wasn’t working out,” said Barlage, who also played basketball for legendary former

Johnnies head coach Jim Smith. “I didn’t think that way. I couldn’t string the grades together that I was going to need to go to medical school. I needed to pivot.”

That was when Barlage paid a visit to a counselor in Career Services at SJU. A brief conversation helped set him on the path that led to where he is today.

“I rolled in with no idea of what I wanted to do,” Barlage recalled. “I knew I wanted to change my major. And he told me that whatever I did, it should be something I’m passionate about.

“He had me write down what my passions were and I wrote basketball, football and baseball – in that order. So he said ‘Well, then go work in sports.’ ”

Barlage started with a stint in baseball as the assistant general manager for the Alexandria Beetles of the Northwoods League immediately after graduating from SJU. From there, he landed a job as a sales consultant with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Stints with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Charlotte Bobcats followed before he arrived in Cleveland in 2009. He eventually worked his way up to become the team’s vice president of sales and services, then returned to Phoenix in 2014 to become the Suns’ senior vice president and chief sales officer for three years. He came back to

the Cavaliers in 2017 as the president of business operations, and in 2021 he was also named the chief operating officer of Rock Entertainment Group – the umbrella entity encompassing the teams and venues that are part of Cavaliers’ chairman Dan Gilbert’s Rock Family of Companies. Last year, Barlage was named to his current post. “When I was in school at Saint John’s, I think there were only about two or three graduates working in this field,” Barlage said. “Pfeiffer at the time was with the Timberwolves and he was very helpful in kind of getting me orientated around the right opportunities. Now I think we’ve had a really good run in the last decadeand-a-half or so of alumni that have gotten into the sports industry.”

Barlage looks back warmly on his time at SJU, and credits lessons learned there for helping him develop into the person he is now.

“I owe a lot to Saint John’s,” he said. “The thing I loved most about it was the liberal arts education, which gives you a much wider purview of subjects that you have to engage with.

“The environment and culture of that school teaches you a lot. And I needed that kind of system and environment to help guide me. I was a social butterfly when I first got there and those guardrails helped me develop into a more well-rounded human being.”



The Johnnies’ cross country team finished second out of 11 teams at the MIAC Championship and seventh out of 28 teams at the NCAA Regional last fall. Four Johnnies – Lloyd Young ’24 (fourth), Dillon Diekmann ’22 (11th), Carter Grove ’24 (13th) and Tommy Allen ’24 (14th) – earned All-MIAC honors (top 15 out of 169 runners) at the MIAC Championships on Oct. 29. Young finished 10th to collect his second-consecutive AllRegion distinction (top 35) two weeks later at the NCAA North Regional. Young earned All-America honors by placing 40th out of 294 runners Nov. 19 at the NCAA Division III Championships in East Lansing, Mich. Allen achieved his third MIAC Elite 22 Award, which is presented to the individual with the highest GPA among the student-athletes who achieved All-MIAC honors (top 15 individuals) at the MIAC Championships.


Saint John’s football (10-2, 7-1 MIAC) won its fourth consecutive conference championship – an MIAC-record 36th title – and made its 32nd postseason appearance (28th in Division III) last fall. Defensive lineman Michael Wozniak ’23 was a unanimous 2022 All-American (Associated Press second team, American Football Coaches Association second team and third team), a finalist for the Cliff Harris Award (top small-college defensive player), a Gagliardi Trophy

semifinalist and the MIAC Defensive Player of the Year. Off the field, Wozniak earned an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a finalist for the National Football Foundation's (NFF) Campbell. He was honored Dec. 31 at the Sugar Bowl as a member of the 22-man Allstate American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team, the sixth Johnnie to make the team and the fifth in the last six seasons, and achieved his second-straight Academic All-America distinction. Tight end Alex was named an All-American for the second-consecutive season (first team by the AFCA, Associated Press and and defensive lineman Metoriah Faoliu ’22 completed the All-America trio on’s fourth team. All three earned

All-Region first-team accolades, while cornerback Cayden Saxon ’23 was named to the second team and offensive guard Joe Jaeger ’23, offensive tackle Cameron Murphy ’22 and punter Spencer Ell ’24 were named to the third team. Head coach Gary Fasching ’81 was named the MIAC John Gagliardi Coach of the Year for the fifth consecutive season, and sixth time in his 10-year tenure, and a programrecord 15 Johnnies earned All-MIAC honors: Ell, Faoliu, Jaeger, Larson, Murphy, Wozniak, linebacker Erik Bjork ’23, wide receiver Jimmy

Buck ’24, offensive lineman T.J. Duerr ’23, cornerback John Kohler ’22, kicker Conor Murphy ’25, safety Ethan Stark ’23, quarterback Aaron Syverson ’24, running back Henry Trost ’22 and linebacker Cooper

Yaggie ’25


The Johnnie golf team won its third consecutive title by 13 strokes at the 2022 MIAC Championships in early October. Nate Loxtercamp ’24 became the 13th Johnnie to earn medalist honors at the MIAC Championships with a three-round total of 210 (-6). He also earned the MIAC Elite 22 Award for the second consecutive season and was joined on the All-MIAC (top 10) team by three teammates: Andrew Boemer ’25 (third), Sam Berger ’24 (fourth) and Blake Schuler ’24 (T-eighth).


The Johnnies finished sixth in the conference in 2022 with a 4-5-1 record (8-7-3 overall) and made their 11th trip to the semifinals in 12 MIAC Playoff appearances in 2022. Midfielder Matt D. Anderson ’23 and goalkeeper Evian Siefken ’25 were named to the United Soccer Coaches All-Region IX third team. Siefken was one of two goalkeepers named All-MIAC and defender Aidan Becken ’23 was AllMIAC honorable mention. Off the field, Becken earned the MIAC Elite 22 Award and collected his second-consecutive Academic All-America honor.


Saint John’s Sadly Notes Passing of Former U.S. Senator David Durenberger ’55

The Saint John’s University community noted with sympathy the passing of distinguished alumnus and former U.S. Senator David Durenberger, a 1955 SJU graduate who died Jan. 31 in his St. Paul home at age 88.

“Our country lost a patriotic American, Minnesota lost a skilled statesman, and Saint John’s lost a great Johnnie,” said Dr. Brian Bruess, president at Saint John’s and the College of Saint Benedict.

“Senator Durenberger’s life and legacy (were) centered on public service and civic engagement,” said Matt Lindstrom, a political science professor at Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s and director of the schools’ Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement.

“In his numerous events with the CSB and SJU community and around the

Cold Ducks Toast SJU, 50 Years After Graduation

A motley assortment of freshmen, some with long hair and horn-rimmed glasses, arrived in Collegeville during the late summer of 1969. Within a year or two, more than a dozen guys who would never have known each other but for their time at Saint John’s University, had formed bonds of a lifetime that persisted through generations.

They came from all over the region, from towns as big as St. Paul as little

world, Senator Durenberger inspired others to work for the common good in a pragmatic, bipartisan manner. He encouraged students to be actively involved and treat others with grace and dignity.

“As much as students would light up with enthusiasm after speaking with him, he also loved meeting and mentoring students. He will be deeply missed on campus, but his legacy of practical political moderation will remain forever.”

Durenberger grew up on the SJU campus as the son of George Durenberger ’28, who served as the school’s athletic director from 193172 and helped hire legendary coaches John Gagliardi and Jim Smith to lead SJU’s football and basketball programs.

His son graduated from Saint John’s Prep in 1951, then went on to SJU

as Minnesota Lake. They were good prep athletes from Granville, Iowa, and Fargo, North Dakota, and LaGrange, Illinois. They majored in accounting, chemistry, economics, education, math and psychology.

What brought them together and sowed the seeds of a unique friendship, however, was softball. Their intramural team was called the Cold Ducks – yes, a nod to that drink. They were SJU champions in 1972 and repeated in ’73, when most were seniors. After a couple years’ acclimatizing to the real world, they organized a reunion. A year later, they did so again and won a slow-pitch tournament in Granville. With only a

couple exceptions, they’ve maintained an annual get-together somewhere every year since.

Through it all, their wives became friends. Then their children – naturally dubbed “the ducklings” – joined in. After “grand-ducklings” started to appear, the group had grown to include more than 100 people. As the patriarchs prospered in their careers and their bodies aged, softball became secondary to golf and events like cruises or weekends at a resort. But always the spirit of the team endured.

“It’s another family,” said Mike Dirksen ’99, whose father, Joe, was one of the


where he was part of the school’s first ROTC program, being commissioned as the top cadet in his class.

After graduating from SJU cum laude, he went on to attend the University of Minnesota Law School, embarking on a legal career following his graduation in 1959.

He served as chief of staff to Gov. Harold LeVander from 1967-70, and as counsel to former Gov. Elmer L. Andersen at HB Fuller from 1970-78.

It was in 1978 that Durenberger became a candidate for the U.S. Senate in a special election to fill the remainder of Minnesota political icon Hubert Humphrey’s term following Humphrey’s death from cancer in January that year.

He defeated DFL candidate Bob Short, the former owner of the Minneapolis and Los Angeles Lakers, in an election that saw Republicans claim both of the state’s U.S. Senate seats and the


Durenberger remained in the Senate until January 1995, becoming the longest-serving Republican U.S. Senator in state history.

in public service and after.

But despite his record of achievement, Durenberger said it was the individual relationships he built over the years that he looked back on most proudly.

He served as chair of the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence during the 99th Congress and compiled a record filled with bipartisan legislative accomplishments on such issues as civil rights, environmental protection, healthcare, education and tax reform.

After leaving the Senate, he spent 20 years as a faculty member at the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas before retiring in 2014. He also served on numerous boards and commissions, including as chair of the National Institute of Health Policy.

In 2018, along with co-author Lori Sturdevant he published When Republicans Were Progressive, a book looking back on the changes he witnessed in his party over his decades

“I don’t know how many times I’ve told my former colleagues who all worry about the legislation they pass and all that sort of thing. That’s not what you’re going to be remembered for,” he said while taking part in the eighth annual Eugene J. McCarthy Lecture at SJU in 2014.

“You are going to be remembered for all those relationships you build one person at a time, one incident at a time, one problem at a time, one challenge at a time.

“I really have little reason to doubt that’s the best way for anyone who wants to go into public service –whether it’s the mayor of St. Cloud, the Stearns County commissioner or a congressman or U.S. senator. You want to be remembered for how solid those relationships were and how faithful you were to the commitments that you made.”

original Cold Ducks. “From my earliest recollections, our vacations often were associated with the Cold Duck reunion. It became very special, and we prioritized the reunion every year. Those guys took great interest in my life and all the other ducklings’ lives.

Mike and his brother, Pat ’02, followed their father to SJU. So did Mark Hawn ’04 and his brother, Matt ’05, whose father, Bill, was another original Cold Duck. “As their fathers are about to mark their 50th year college reunion, ducklings and grand-ducklings have banded together to make a Fellowslevel donation to the Student Fund in honor of their dads.”

“You are going to be remembered for all those relationships you build one person at a time …”

Pedro dos Santos Pursues Political Enlightenment In Both Hemispheres

Pedro dos Santos is 42 years old and has lived most of his life in the United States, but his native Brazil is never far from mind – or heart.

His office in Simons Hall at Saint John’s University has been the center of his academic and professional world as an associate professor of political science for five years. It has also served as the gateway to his home country via his status as the first Fulbright Distinguished Scholar in school history. Soon he will spend his second consecutive summer in Brazil as part of a U.S. government sponsored program to foster international exchange of culture and education.

In 2022, dos Santos’ daughter, Aida,

now 7, joined him for three months of networking and research into political party dynamics, candidate selection and democratic representation –especially as they relate to the Brazilian Gender Quota Law, the subject for his dissertation en route to his doctorate 10 years earlier at the University of Kansas. This year, with his son, Arthur – almost 5 – in tow, Pedro plans to finish organizing a book highlighting the issue of nonviable candidates and bridging the gap between academic and legal interpretations of their impact.

Although the Fulbright award doesn’t have an output requirement, dos Santos’ goal is to have a volume published by 2024, coincidentally when he will

return to Brazil with his wife, Cara Langston, and their whole family as he leads a study abroad program.

“It’s a long game,” said dos Santos, who at 6-foot-9 towers over most people on campus and formerly played pro basketball in Brazil. “I think I’m the only Fulbright there from a small liberal arts college. I teach three classes. I haven’t had much time to touch my research. That’s why it’s important to me to establish connections. This project was lower on my list but jumped up because I got the Fulbright. I had another book I was working on that’s on pause.”

That one is about the rise of religion in politics and evangelical politicians. Although it’s focused on Brazil, dos Santos finds the subject matter resonates in America, too. Both countries had major elections last fall – the midterms in the U.S. and the presidential campaign in Brazil. And dos Santos has provided his perspective in a variety of articles, in English and Portuguese.

“What goes on here impacts how I think about the questions I want to ask down there,” dos Santos said. “There are similarities between Brazilian politics, nonviable candidates, and the sacrificial lambs we have in U.S. elections. It’s comparable to a Democrat running in Stearns County. Like in the race for 6th District with Tom Emmer, if you’re a Democrat you know you’re not going to win. If you’re that candidate, you’re doing it for the party and you’re doing it for experience, and maybe a promise that ‘If you run here, we’ll help you in a campaign for county commissioner.’ In Brazil, women have disproportionately been put in those unwinnable situations.

“I’ve always been curious about the losers,” he added. “Losing can be important, too, to understand the process and gain the resources to be more successful later on.”

Pedro dos Santos (left) met Brazilian presidential candidate Leo Pericles at the famous Hippie Fair in Belo Horizonte in 2022.

Becker’s Contributions Honored With Reger Award

When Scott Becker ’77 was informed he had been selected to receive this year’s Fr. Walter Reger Distinguished Alumnus Award – the highest honor bestowed by the Saint John’s Alumni Association for service to alma mater –his thoughts immediately turned to a past recipient.

“My biggest mentor was the 1995 winner of the award, a great Johnnie named John Agee ’70,” said Becker, who is scheduled to receive the honor as part of Saint John’s Day activities April 21.

“I worked for John at Adler Management in the 1980s. He took me on as his No. 2 and taught me the investment management business.

“It was the typical example of Johnnies taking care of Johnnies. And that really propelled me on in my career.”

Becker went on to become a founder of Northstar Capital, a leading private equity firm based in Minneapolis. But he never forgot the importance of giving back to his alma mater, both financially and through his time and effort.

The former football and baseball standout who played on John Gagliardi’s 1976 Division III national championship team is a current member of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University Common Boards of Trustees, as well as the SJU Leadership Council. He also serves as a volunteer assistant coach for the Johnnies baseball program and – with fellow instructor Cary Musech ’80 – teaches a private equity course on campus.

He was an alumni association board member from 1992-96 and a SJU Private Investment Board member from 2000 to 2012. In addition, he served as an SJU Capital Campaign volunteer from 2015 to 2018. He’s also been a generous benefactor. Becker Park – the state-of-the-art home stadium complex of the SJU baseball team – was made possible by gifts from Becker, his wife Julie and their family, along with other generous Johnnie alumni and friends.

The Reger Award is named in honor of Fr. Walter Reger, OSB. A priest, professor, prefect, dean and friend, he was the driving force behind the SJU Alumni Association for years. He had ties to thousands of Johnnies, corresponding with many of them long into their alumni years. So ardent was his dedication that he became known as “Mr. Saint John’s.”

"In addition to all of the other things, he also does so much student recruitment," said John Young, SJU's associate vice president for institutional advancement. "He's the ultimate ambassador for both schools."

13 SJU Grads Commit to Benedictine Volunteer Corps

Logan Lintvedt ’21 majored in elementary education and likely someday will be teaching kindergarten or first grade. For now, however, his passion is the Benedictine Volunteer Corps (BVC), a one-year service opportunity offered to Saint John’s University graduates by Saint John’s Abbey.

Lintvedt, who recently became assistant director of the BVC, was a participant in 2021-22. He spent six months each in Tororo, Uganda, and Nairobi, Kenya.

“It’s made me appreciate the little things about life,” he said. “I saw people living in mud huts and eating the same meal every day, but they were smiling cheek to cheek because they could provide for their families, and they had work. It’s a lot different from the environment most of us come from where we have so much.”

This year’s class of 13 is smaller but recruiting is still under way and the Abbey aims to send 16-20 members this year.

For a full list of this year’s volunteers and their majors, along with where they are scheduled to be posted, go to


UN Climate Conference in Egypt Inspires Activism

Jervon Sands came to Saint John’s University from The Bahamas, where he’s seen the effects of climate change firsthand with increasingly deadly hurricanes.

“In the course of my life, I’ve seen the intensity skyrocket,” said Sands, a senior who plans to graduate this spring with a degree in applied physics. “There are also challenges with coral reefs and marine ecosystems that are impacted. We’re seeing less of them. And coastal erosion has been an issue.”

Sea walls likely aren’t the only answer, and Sands would love to put his skills to use in finding solutions to what has become a major global crisis. A unique opportunity during the fall semester gave him an experience unavailable to others like him across the country and around the world, meaning he might have a leg up to do just that.

Sands was among 20 students and two faculty members from SJU and the College of Saint Benedict who ventured in two weeklong cohorts to the 27th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change annual Conference of the Parties (COP). It was held from Nov. 6-20 at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The schools have had formal observer status for the event since 2015, enabling participation in large numbers every year.

The COP drew more than 40,000 participants and, among hundreds of non-governmental organizations that attended from the five-state Upper Midwest region in the U.S., only two other higher education institutions have sought and received observer status. Those include Macalester College and the University of Minnesota, with the latter only allowing graduate students to

attend the conference.

Sands and his peers almost literally rubbed elbows with dignitaries like U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, as their credentials allowed them to enter the inner zone, where heads of state appear. The students had access to everything except closed-door negotiations. They also had nightly dinners off-site to experience local cuisine, were able to go to the beach and some found Egyptian culture in twos and threes as their flight arrangements were independent of the others.

To join the SJU and CSB delegation, students from all majors can apply each spring and participate in interviews to determine who goes. They take a two-credit class (ENVR 305: Global Climate Policy) and some add a twocredit workshop (ENVR 303: Climate Action) to prepare for the trip. They are required to develop research projects, conduct interviews with other participants, compile their information

and present their findings back on campus and also in a public setting during winter break.

Sands’ research centered on infrastructure development and community-based solutions from the diverse perspectives of indigenous people and women.

“A lot of focus globally is on mitigation,” Sands said of efforts to combat climate change. “But that’s a challenge for places like The Bahamas because we’re not emitting as much carbon as other places in the world. When you aren’t emitting a lot, mitigation isn’t as much a priority. But we are experiencing the impacts. So, our biggest priority is adaptation. And because the global focus is on mitigation, we have difficulty getting finances for those adaptation strategies.”

COP28 is scheduled for Nov. 30-Dec. 12, 2023 in the United Arab Emirates, and students from Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s plan to be there.

Members of the contingent of 20 Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s students and two faculty members gathered in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt in November 2022 for the 27th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change annual Conference of the Parties.

Alumni Chapters: A Home Away From Home

Among the characteristics of a home is “gathering place.” Many alums think of the Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s campuses during their student years as a community gathering place – for nine months each year it becomes a temporary home.

Many alums reunite on campus to gather for a variety of activities: reunions, sports events, alumni recognition awards, Homecoming weekend, etc. Unfortunately, the further away from Collegeville the less likely an alum will have the opportunity to meet fellow alums in person.

There is nothing that quite connects like direct interaction. Chapters provide the opportunity to engage alums in closer proximity to their residential homes.

Fargo, The Bahamas, Milwaukee, Miami, Seoul and San Francisco are some examples of our 35-plus chapter locations. Chapters provide gathering places for alums to interact in person. Some chapters might gather a couple of times each year, other groups more often. Meetings and events are determined by each chapter.

CSB and SJU alum chapters offer great ways to connect with fellow Bennies and Johnnies. Chapters provide opportunities to gather and build upon existing relationships while creating new ones. For younger alums, this is a great way to find a local mentor,

acquire new clients/customers or gain leadership skills. For those later in life, it’s an opportunity to give back and stay involved with their community. For frequent business travelers, alumni chapters offer an opportunity to connect “on the road.”

Gathering activities that chapters might host:

• Social gatherings with no particular agenda

• Breakfast, lunch or dinner programs/ presentations featuring guest speakers i.e. President Brian Bruess, Provost Richard Ice, monastic representatives, curriculum professors and athletic representatives

• Student recruiting activities including personal note-writing gatherings at a community center or pub to potential first-year students in your area

• Christmas time gift-giving event for families and children

• Gathering with other proximity chapters

A signature event for many chapters is the Benedictine Day of Service. Scheduled in spring every year, the goal of this day is to unite chapter participants with a focus on community enhancement activity that can focus on area food needs, low-income housing needs and support of children. Last year, the Fargo-Moorhead Chapter had approximately 70 Bennies, Johnnies, spouses and children packing bags of cereal for a local food bank, followed by an alum social with pizza and beverages at a local brewery.

Beyond socialization and programs, special event activities extend the values and passion of Benedictine community through the visibility alums have in

their geographic areas. Alums are a significant resource for CSB and SJU in recruiting first-year students and providing authentic support and encouragement to the area students and their families.

Whether one works in healthcare, education or business, stays at home or is retired, building and maintaining relationships is vital to the overall mental health and well-being of alums. Chapter gatherings become a blend of personal, professional and family.

Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s alums foster a reputation rooted in their persona of Benedictine values community, humility and hospitality. Wherever we go in the world, we take those values with us and our shared experience creates a unique bond.

Alumni chapters increase the flame that was lit during our time on campus and provide a tremendous return on investment: happiness.

To find out more about a chapter near you or to start a chapter where you live, go to clubs/classes/chapters

Aaron Hill SJU Alumni Association Executive Committee Member


Michael McCarthy calls Saint John’s University “the debt that can never be repaid,” but he’s clearly determined to try.

With his characteristic humility, McCarthy credits his Benedictine liberal arts education for his extraordinary success as chairman of Omaha-based investment holding firm the McCarthy Group, LLC, which he founded in 1986 to help local businesses grow and diversify after the devastating farming crisis, and now as now as co-chairman of Bridges Trust wealth management firm.

He serves on the boards of some of the country’s largest corporations, including Union Pacific Corporation, Peter Kiewit Sons’ Inc. and Election Systems & Software, and dedicates himself to his community. McCarthy chaired Creighton University’s Board of Trustees for six years, works with a variety of nonprofits and steadfastly supports Saint John’s, where he earned an English degree.

Whether he’s serving on the Board of Regents, speaking at the McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship or championing The Saint John’s Bible — he played a key role in bringing a special Bible exhibit to Omaha’s Joslyn Art Museum in 2019 — McCarthy makes sure his success always comes back to Collegeville.

More than half a million Denver-area families in need can count on regular meals — and a serving of hope — thanks in part to Kevin Seggelke.

During Seggelke’s 16-year term as president and CEO, the Food Bank of the Rockies tripled the number of families it served and upped its annual food distribution from 15 million to 60 million pounds, serving more than 50 million meals a year. This did not surprise those who know him. Compassion and commitment to helping others have been woven into Seggelke’s moral fiber since his days as a Saint John’s University history major.

Seggelke’s resolve to feed those in need and better his community extend well beyond the food bank. He has chaired Feeding America’s National Council, Hunger Free Colorado, Resource Area for Teachers and the boards for the Colorado Nonprofit Association and Hunger Related Events and is a past member of the Denver Healthy Food Access Initiative and SJU’s Strategic Planning Committee.

Seggelke now is board secretary for Senior Housing Options, Inc. and also coaches and counsels nonprofit executive directors.

Dennis Schleper combined his health care experience and financial acumen to build an exceptional career that landed him on Accounting Today’s Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting and helped him make a lasting impact on some of Florida’s most pressing social issues.

Schleper, retired owner of global accounting firm CliftonLarsonAllen, graduated from Saint John’s University in accounting and went on to work as director of finance and assistant administrator for a nonprofit organization that owned and operated a skilled long-term care facility, supervised care facility, assisted housing and home health care services operation.

He then embarked on a 30-year career with CliftonLarsonAllen, where he rose from managing partner to chief executive officer. He remained dedicated to healthcare, serving on the Florida Governor’s Advisory Council for Continuing Care, and also joined the board for Bridging Freedom, a Florida-based nonprofit dedicated to prevention and survivor care for victims of domestic sex trafficking of minors.

Now retired, Schleper continues to mentor the next generations in accounting and the business sector in general, with an emphasis on increasing diversity.

Michael R. McCarthy ’73 Dennis Schleper ’83 Kevin Seggelke ’78

Twenty-thousand music fans enjoying a free concert at St. Cloud’s Lake George. Sixty Central Minnesota high schoolers canoeing the Canadian wilderness. Sixty-five Saint John’s University alumni hunting pheasant in South Dakota.

Their link: Troy Fritz, SJU associate vice president for Institutional Advancement, avid outdoorsman and community builder extraordinaire.

After graduating with a natural science degree, Fritz worked at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota, Boy Scouts of America Central Minnesota Council and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota before returning to SJU.

He has dedicated his time and talents as a St. Cloud Park and Recreation Board member, Les Voyageurs outdoor leadership program’s board president and the Rotary Club of St. Cloud’s former president and entertainment chair, helping build the Summertime! By George weekly concert series into an event that has drawn more than 1 million people since 2011.

Fritz’s countless contributions to SJU include serving on the Outdoor University’s Advisory Council, and starting the annual Saint John’s Alumni and Friends South Dakota Pheasant Hunt.

Ryan Hagan’s post-Saint John’s University life reads like a study in Benedictine influence.

Hagan, an accounting and business management major, is managing partner of Altruic Advisors, an accounting firm with the unique mission of working exclusively with nonprofit organizations. Altruic has seven offices in Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota and Washington, D.C., dedicated to the motto “Helping nonprofits create good.”

Hagan also serves on the board of the nonprofit he founded in honor of one of his college mentors, S. Dolores Schuh, CHM, his supervisor at the former Institute for Cultural and Ecumenical Research. When his funds ran short, she gave him an interest-free loan that allowed him to stay at SJU and graduate on time. The Dolores Fund provides homes and a support network to singleparent families with children who are homeless or in an unstable living situation.

He's left his mark on the soccer pitch, too. While at his first postcollege position with the Christian Appalachian Project in Kentucky, Hagan started the Floyd County Youth Soccer program, which now includes more than 1,000 kids in eight counties.

Micah Kiel, Ph.D., dedicates his considerable expertise to illustrating Scripture’s relevance in modern society.

Kiel, a professor of theology at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, focuses his research and writing on relating the Bible to contemporary issues such as our environmental crisis and women’s roles in the church.

His publications display his commitment to the Catholic intellectual community. In addition to many articles in peer-reviewed journals and presentations at national Biblical studies conferences, Kiel published his book Reading the Bible in the Age of Francis in 2019. He wrote Apocalyptic Ecology during his 2015 sabbatical as a Collegeville Institute resident scholar.

Kiel graduated from Saint John’s with a music degree and spent a year volunteering with local students in Belize. He also regularly teaches a study abroad course in Greece. He received his M.Div and Ph.D in New Testament Theology from Princeton.

Kiel is also involved in his parish and is president of the board at the Café on Vine, whose mission is to feed the homeless.

Troy Fritz ’88 Ryan Hagan ’93 Micah Kiel ’98


1967 Carol Moore to Don Orth, Sept. ’22

1986 Kate to Andy Kovacs, Jan. ’23

2008 Megan (Atkinson ’11) to Brandon Wolf, Aug. ’22

2010 Chui Yee Yeung to Banny Ngan, Nov. ’22

2012 Tessa to John Gervais, May ’21

2013 Lauren Tien to Ryan Zajic, Sept. ’22

2014 Abby (Schmidt ’14) to Evan Miller, Dec. ’21

Alicia (Johnson ’13) to Justin Ostendorf, Feb. ’22

2015 Sarah (Ober ’15) to Zach Kier, Aug. ’22

2016 Afton (Windsperger-Dick ’16) to Tyler Dick, Dec. ’22

2017 Mariah (Rathmanner ’17) to Parker Anderson, Oct. ’22

Raina (Quinnell ’17) to Sam Ferguson, Oct. ’22

Kali (Frederickson ’18) to Zack Templin, May ’22

Emma (Zvanovec ’18) to Joey Wattenhofer, Nov. ’22

2018 Hannah (Wohletz ’20) to Michael Frye, Aug. ’22

2019 Courtney (Mueller ’20) to Ben Alvord, June ’22

Marleny (Huerta-Apanco ’17) to Michael Garber, Sept. ’22

Mackenzie Kuhl ’19 to James Gathje, Aug. ’22

Chevelle (Palomino ’19 to Nick Kazmierczak, June ’22

2020 Sydney (Robillard ’20) to Dan Gehrz, Apr. ’22

Madelyn (Konsor ’20) to Ryan Strelow, Apr. ’22

2021 Annika Seager to Drew Heroux, Sept. ’22


2001 Brittany Hopkins & Adam Switlick, girl, Vinni, Jan. ’23

Kaite & Brian Traxler, girl, Allison, Sept. ’22

2003 Kathleen & Jim Pach, boy, Matthew, Oct. ’22

2006 Lindsey & Sean Fahnhorst, girl, Clara, Oct. ’22

2007 Kelly & Randy Tietz, boy, Tyler, Dec. ’22

Laura & Kyle Triggs, girl, Juliana, Aug. ’22

2008 Quinn (Bennett ’10) & John Krebsbach, boy, Jude, Aug. ’22

2009 Erica (Marsyla ’09) & Adam Benney, girl, Chloe, Sept. ’22

Beth (Haagenson ’09) & Trent Dirkes, girl, Greta, Nov. ’22

Alissa (Burg ’10 ) & Nick Gunderson, girl, Vivian, Dec. ’22

Anna (Roach ’09) & Michael Orts, boy, William, Jan. ’23

2010 Julia (Bedford ’13) & Shawn Buermann, boy, Gabriel, Sept. ’22

Lisa (Marthaler ’10) & Aaron Hellem, girl, Charlie, Aug. ’22

Kelsey (Gustafson ’10) & Sean Suter, boy, Logan, Sept. ’22

Lindsay (Havlik ’10) & Ben Wessels, boy, Brooks, July ’22

2011 Katherine (Windschitl ’11) & Matthew Brolsma, girl, Cecilia, Aug. ’22

Katie (Elmquist ’12) & Andrew Grausam, girl, Emma, June ’22

Molly (Noel ’11) & Zach Madson, girl, Millie, July ’22

Brittney (Helmbrecht ’11) & Alex Schoephoerster, girl, Sylvia, Aug ’22

2012 Taylor (Schmidt ’12) & John Burns, girl, Eloisa, Sept. ’22

Kelley (Knapek ’12) & Dalton Buysse, boy, Simon, Feb. ’22

Kelsey (Rose ’12) & Parker Deutz, girl, Marie, Dec. ’22

Shelby-lyn (Schneider ’19) & Chad Henle, girl, Sawyer, Nov. ’22

Nicole & Austin Reischl, boy, Aiden, Aug. ’22

2013 Katie (Brown ’13) & Devin Massopust, boy, Ellis, Aug. ’22

Calley & Mitch Oakes, boy, William, Sept. ’22

Morgan (McGrath ’15) & Chris Otterstetter, boy, Callan, May ’22

Paula (Kearns ’14) & Steven Steichen, girl, Julie, Apr. ’22

2014 Erin (Wissler Gerdes ’14) & Harrison Gerdes, girl, Annabelle, July ’22

Lexie (Alm ’14) & Jesse Johnson, girl, Alea, Apr. ’22

Emily (Roberts ’14) & Jay Roane, girl, Eloise, Aug. ’22

2015 Abby (Jarnot ’14) & Dylan Gertken, boy, Weston, July ’22

Sarah (DeWitt ’15) & Kevin Greening, girl, Blair, Sept ’22

Brittany and John Schwend, twin boys, Joseph and Justin, Sept. ’22

2015 Kelsey (Nelson ’15) & Michael Tomten, boy, Bennett, Dec. ’22

2016 Laura & Derrick Anderson, boy, Calvin, May ’22

Ali (Hammerstrom ’16 & Andrew Commers, girl, Sophie, Dec. ’22

Sarah (Roehl ’16) & Alex Schueller, girl, Emmersyn, April ’22

2017 Mariah (Zamzow ’17) & Brian Burroughs, girl, Sloane, Oct. ’22

Christie & Chris Morgan, twin boys, John and Wendell, Sept. ’22

2018 Morgan (Kessler ’18) & Andy Russek, girl, Lettie, Sept. ’22

2020 Kathleen (Jameson ’13) & Logan Payne, girl, Iris, June ’22

2021 Michelle (McFarlane ’12) & Jimmy Barnett, SOT, boy, Noah, June ’22


1945 John Krebsbach, father of Mark ’81, Oct. ’22

1946 Al Wegleitner, father of Kurt ’73, Aug. ’22

1949 Lois Gelbmann, spouse of deceased, Fred, mother of Paul ’82, July ’22

George Lund, Dec. ’22

1950 Frances Baron, spouse of Charles, Oct. ’22

1950 Tony Biesiot, Dec. ’22

George Hickner, father of Bob ’84 and deceased, John ’71, Nov. ’21

Dorothy Zumwalde, spouse of deceased, Linus Guggenberger, Dec. ’22

1951 Vincent Paul, father of Mike ’77 and Dan ’86, July ’22

Charles Powers, Dec. ’22

Grace Pribyl, spouse of deceased, George “Judd”, Nov. ’22

Tony Schulzetenberg, Oct. ’22

1952 Claire Fox, spouse of deceased, Eugene, mother of Patrick ’83, Nov. ’22

Robert King, Dec. ’22.

Glenn Teske, Nov. ’22

Patricia Teske, spouse of deceased, Glenn, Oct. ’22

Don Thene, Aug. ’22

1953 Roland Ley, Nov. ’22.

Harold Mullenmeister, Nov. ’22

Ludmila Voelker, spouse of deceased, Francis, mother of Tom ’80, Dec. ’22

1954 Leonard Busch, father of Patrick ’86, Aug. ’22

Rev. Damian Dietlein, OSB, Dec. ’22


1954 Don Herzog, Sept. ’22

Mary Lu Herzog, spouse of deceased, Don, Sept. ’22.

John “Jeb” Vachuska, Dec. ’22

1955 Leo Barbel, Jan. ’23

David Durenberger, son of deceased, George ’28, brother of Mark ’62 and Thomas ’65, Jan. ’23

Iris McAlpin, spouse of Pat, mother of Marty ’86, Oct. ’22

Rev. Casimir Paluck, Jan. ’23

1956 DeVaughn Nelson, Aug. ’22

Margaret Opatz, spouse of Don, Jan. ’23

1957 Rev. Jonathan Fischer, OSB, SOT/Sem ’61 brother of Henry ’59, Jan. ’23

Bill Hunt, brother of Vincent ’56 and James ’66, Oct. ’22

Tom McCann, Nov. ’22

Rev. Rene McGraw, OSB, SOT/Sem ’62

Nov. ’22

John McGuire, Dec. ’22

John Rian, Nov. ’22

Barbara Schissel, spouse of Richard, Dec. ’22

Eugene Sheridan, Aug. ’22

Patricia White, spouse of Jim, Oct. ’22

1958 Theresa Commers, spouse of deceased, Larry, mother of Mark ’85, Oct. ’22

Kenneth Graham, brother of deceased, Ron ’64, Dec. ’22

Gary Klein, father of Dave ’81 and Bob ’82, brother of deceased, Bill ’51, Nov. ’22

Tom LeRoux, Jan. ’23

Roger Scherer, father of Kristopher ’87 and Mark ’90, Aug. ’22

Kathreen Thomey, spouse of deceased, Chuck, Aug. ’22

Marlene Wollner, spouse of Tom, mother of Mark ’82, Dec. ’22

1959 Rev. Jerome Cosgrove, Oct. ’22

Joseph Ladner, Dec. ’22

Rev. Raymond Monsour, Oct. ’22

Henry Wagener, Dec. ’22

1960 John Getchman, Dec. ’22

Richard Nettleton, father of William ’87, Paul ’88 and James ’90, brother of Bob ’57, Sept. ’22

Arnold Pundsack, brother of deceased, Vern ’64, July ’22

Greg Stein, Dec. ’22

1961 Lance Crombie, father of Ross ’94, brother of deceased, Terence ’54, Jan. ’23

Robert Kraft, Dec. ’22

1961 Lee Larkey, Dec. ’22

Jim Rutten, father of Rev. Erich, SOT/ Sem ’93, Nov. ’22

Mike Skwira, father of Mike ’88, Peter ’92, Joe ’93, brother of Greg ’70, Nov. ’22

Della Theis, spouse of deceased, Bob, mother of Peter ’93, Dec. ’22

1962 M. Don Bolke, Aug. ’22

Ronald Klein, Aug. ’22

Nannette Kolbinger, spouse of Jerome, Nov. ’22

Philip Maas, brother of John ’58, Sept. ’22

Maximilian Steininger, father of Greg ’88, Oct. ’22

Kathleen Ziegler, spouse of Frank and the mother of Frank ’03, Oct. ’22

1963 Jerry Kelly, SOT/Sem ’66, Jan. ’23

David Pinzka, Aug. ’22

David Turch, son of David, Oct. ’22

1964 John Hein, Oct. ’22

Russel Kadow, Aug. ’22

Michael McElwee, Aug. ’22

1965 John Dale, son of deceased, Jack ’37, Sept. ’22

Dave Keller, brother of deceased, Ronald ’60, Sept. ’22 Rev. John Krier, SOT/Sem ’69, Aug. ’22

1966 Anne Frankman, spouse of Frank, Dec. ’21

John Munshower, brother of deceased, Rev. William ’54 and Frank, Sr. ’55, Jan. ’23

Sally Peliter, spouse of Gary ’66, Nov. ’22

Tom Sullivan, father of John ’00, Jan. ’23

Ann Thelen, spouse of Mark ’66, Oct. ’22

Bob Tomczak, Aug, ’22

Jerry Warkel, Oct. ’22

1967 Tom Hilgers, Jan. ’23

Patrick King, brother of John ’68, Timothy ’71, Vincent ’80, Sept. ’22

John Ryan, Aug. ’22

William Schmitz, Oct. ’22

Michael Seymour, Dec. ’22

1968 Bernard Pakarek, father of Paul ’95 and Matt ’02, Aug. ’22

Rita Buckley, sister of Br. Alan Reed, Jan. ’23

Linda Scherer, spouse of Greg ’68, mother of Dan ’01, Apr. ’22

1969 Arthur Laliberte, father of Michael ’69, Bill ’70, John ’74, Sept. ’22

1970 Rod Olson, Nov. ’22

Kathleen Zweber, mother of Julian ’70 and deceased, Terry ’80, Aug. ’22

1971 John Hickner, brother of Bob ’84, son of deceased, George ’50, Aug. ’22

Mark Karnowski, brother of Tom ’68, Jan. ’23

Bill Minnich, Oct. ’22

Tom Poscharsky, Nov. ’22

Del Ruegemer, Oct. ’22

1972 Richard Bishop, Jr., Aug. ’22

John Grobe, father of Sam ’01 and Fr. Lew ’06 SOT/Sem ’15, Sept. ’22

Mike Lehn, Dec. ’22

Patrick McDonald, spouse of Gloria, SOT/Sem ’72 Nov. ’22

1973 Mike Atwood, Sept. ’22

Margaret Balestri, spouse of Bill, Jan, ’22

Richard Blin, brother of John ’70, Sept. ’22

Bob Ohnsorg, father of Paul ’98 and son of deceased Leander ’47, Nov. ’22

1974 Rev. Jerry Rogers, SOT/Sem, Sept. ’22

Jeff Wachlarowicz, brother of James ’74, Frank ’79, John ’81 and deceased brother Tom ’75, Jan. ’23

1975 Elaine Bromelkamp, mother of Mike ’75, Dan ’79, Dave ’82, Patrick ’76 and Tim ’91, Jan, ’23

Timothy Byron, Sept. ’22

Tom Piekarczyk, Sept. ’22

Nancy Starbird, mother of Jeff, Sept. ’22

Tom Wachlarowicz, father of Matthew ’06 and brother of James ’74, Frank ’79, John ’81 and deceased brother Jeff ’74, Jan. ’23

1977 S. Claire Slama, CPP, SOT/Sem, Dec. ’22

Denise Suess, spouse of Duane, Sept. ’22

1980 Thomas Lynch, father of Kevin ’80, Dec. ’22

Kathleen Zweber, mother of Julian ’70 and deceased, Terry ’80, Aug. ’22

1981 Mary Lynn Byrne, spouse of Tim ’81, Dec. ’22

Bradley "Scooter" Larson, Jan, ’23

1982 Daniel Guiney, brother of Joe ’86 and Tim ’89, Sept. ’22

Tom Heisler, brother of David ’89, Jan. ’23

1983 Daniel Lee, brother of Greg ’76, Aug. ’22

1984 Don Bergman, brother of David ’87, Oct. ’22

Gregory O’Brien, Nov. ’22



1985 David Hagen, father of Parker ’17, Nov. ’22

Rev. Maurice Peterson, SOT/Sem, Oct. ’22

1987 Chris Huber, Jan. ’23. Bob White, son of Tom ’57, Oct. ’22

1988 Ann Cronin Bock, mother of Rev. Michael, Feb. ’22 Char Vecellio, spouse of Mike ’88, Nov. ’22

1990 Scott LaBarre, Dec. ’22.

1992 Beatrice Callery, SOT/Sem, May ’22

1995 Jim Gmeinder, father of Mark ’95 and Scott ’02, Nov. ’22

1997 S. Louise Koltes, OSB, SOT/Sem, Aug. ’22

1999 Syed Husain, father of Darius ’99, Sept. ’22

2000 Dr. John Salveson, SOT/Sem, Sept. ’22

2003 John Beuning, brother of Mike ’97, Jan. ’23

2006 Nathan Rothstein, son of Denny ’72, Jan. 22

Thurber Spaanem, father of Andrew ’06, Nov. ’22

2012 Deacon Mark Stenger, SOT/Sem, Dec. ’22

2014 Gerard Jenniges, SOT/Sem, father of Rev. Brad, OSB, Oct. ’22


1958 Tom Melchior was selected to receive the Glenn Carlson Distinguished Service Award from the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame. The award is given to an individual who has made special meritorious contributions to promoting Minnesota Amateur Baseball. A native of Belle Plaine, Minnesota, Melchior was a four-year started for the Johnnie baseball team before graduating to an extended teaching and coaching career, including 31 years at Burnsville High School (and 10 years as baseball coach). He was named Minnesota Teacher of the Year

in 1971 and was inducted into the Burnsville High School Hall of Fame after his retirement in 1993.

1964 John Garot has published a pair of books, Heartfelt Prayers of Thanks & Hope and Hope for the Future from the One Above. In semi-retirement, Garot also teaching at the college level as an associate professor of English after a diverse career that included military service during the Vietnam War, teaching secondary school and working in advertising, sales promotion and public relation for several national companies.

1981 Tom Smith announced his retirement as President and Chief Executive Officer of TopLine Financial Credit Union on Jan. 3. Smith joined TopLine as Chief Lending Officer in May 2008 and was selected as President and CEO in January 2014. During his tenure, the credit union has grown from $340 million in assets and 40,100 members to $735 million in assets and 49,000 members.

1982 David Rehr has been appointed to the Board of Directors at Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Rehr, who is also a professor and director of the Center for Business Civic Engagement at George Mason University, will serve a three-year appointment in the statewide appointment in Virginia.

1983 Steve Nelson, chief executive officer of Capital Insight Partners in Scottsdale, Arizona, was honored last July 25 by the New York Stock Exchange with the privilege of ringing the NYSE’s closing bell. This was in honor of the new global Christian Stock Fund that Capital Insight Partners

launched earlier in 2022. Faith Investor Services out of Dallas, Texas approached Capital Insight Partners about sub-advising the fund, which deals with holdings that are screened for Christian values. Previously, Nelson was awarded a Presidential Citation by Saint John’s President Br. Dietrich Reinhart in 2008.

1985 Eric Christianson has been named Chief of Staff at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. Christianson began his career in the Emergency Room in 1993, took on the role of Assistant Medical Director in. 1997, and has served on various committees on the Medical Executive Committee, to which he was elected as an officer four years ago.

1986 John Rosengren’s newspaper article A Son’s Decision to Help His Father Die was published in the Dec. 4, 2022 Washington Post Magazine. The article delved into the right to refuse medical treatment and a controversial Supreme Court ruling on a patient’s method choice to end his own life. In April, Rosengren’s book The Greatest Summer in Baseball History: How the ’73 Season Changed Us Forever will be reissued with an updated version.

1989 Fr. Michael John Izen was named by Pope Francis to serve as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis on Jan. 5. The Episcopal Ordination of Fr. Izen, who earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics and computer science from Saint John’s, will take place April 11 at the Cathedral of Saint Paul. Fr. Izen worked as a systems analyst


at 3M for nine years following his graduation from Saint John’s before enrolling at Saint Paul Seminary, where he earned a Masters of Divinity degree. He was ordained to the priesthood in May 2005.

1990 Tim Sticha joined Forum Communications Company Jan. 3 as chief financial officer. Sticha, who has held senior financial leadership positions with Carlson Companies and the Radisson Hotel Group over a 20-year span, will lead the finance team with Forum Communications with responsibilities including leading financial reporting and planning, budgeting, forecasting, tax, credit and treasury duties. Sticha earned an accounting degree at Saint John’s and is a certified public accountant.

1995 Jeffrey Montpetit, an attorney and partner at SiebenCarey Personal Law in Minneapolis, was named a National Trial Lawyers Civil Plaintiff Top 100 Trial Lawyer in the state of Minnesota Jan. 16. The honor is granted to the top 100 attorneys in each state or region for their superior skills, qualifications and results as civil plaintiffs or criminal defense lawyers. This is the third year in which Montpetit has received NTL recognition.

1997 Ryan Roder and his wife Stephanie (Sack) Roder (CSB ’97) have purchased Thomsen’s Garden Center in St. Joseph. The business is the largest garden center under glass in Central Minnesota.

1998 Brett Mushatt was promoted to Assistant Chief of the St. Cloud Police Department, effective Nov. 30, 2022 with

the retirement of Chief Blair Anderson. An All-American football player at Saint John’s, Mushatt graduated with a social work degree and joined the SCPD in 2002. He began as a patrol officer and subsequently moved up the ranks to sergeant, lieutenant and commander of operations before being named top assistant to incoming St. Cloud Police Department Chief Jeff Oxton.

1999 Brian Kelly, a Wealth Management Advisor with Northwestern Mutual, recently launched a boutique firm, Refine Wealth Strategies, with two other seasoned advisors. Refine Wealth focuses on comprehensive wealth management and financial planning services. Kelly is a past president of the Saint John's Alumni Association, an engaged alumnus and Fellow Society donor.

2005 Ben Dold was named chief operating officer Jan. 26 by Midco, a regional cable television, Internet and telephone service provider based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Dold, who had been senior vice president of operations since May 2002, will lead the business operations, customer care and supply chain functions in addition to leading field operations and field engineering and construction with the company.

2008 Kevin Crane has been recognized by the Credit Union National Association with a national award for his volunteer service on the TruStone Financial Credit Union’s Board of Directors. He is one of 25 individuals recognized nationally for above

and beyond contributions to their respective organizations. As board vice chair at $4.4 billion asset TruStone in Plymouth, Minnesota, Crane is one of the youngest people to serve in an executive capacity on the board.

2018 Sam Broman has been promoted to Manager at Mahoney CPAS and Advisors, a full-service certified public accounting firm based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Broman’s primary area of practice is providing audit and accounting services to real estate businesses and not-for-profits.

2020 Michael Kelly was recognized in a feature by CBS-TV in Minneapolis for his accomplishments as founder of MD Link, a non-profit studentled organization that connects medical students to vulnerable youth. Kelly is a medical student at the University of Minnesota. Before graduating from Saint John’s, Kelly spent the summer of 2019 conducting research on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease at the HealthPartners Neuroscience Center in St. Paul. 2021 Joe Pieschel has joined the Saint John’s University Institutional Advancement department as assistant director of annual giving. Pieschel spent over a year in the Benedictine Volunteer Corps, serving in Rome, Tabgha and Collegeville and using the skills and talents he developed as an individualized major in Film Studies with a minor in Global Business Leadership. He will support SJU Class Volunteers from SJU’s youngest 25 class years (1998-2002), including the 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th and 25th Reunions each year.


SJU Grad Steps Up When Immigrant Family Needed a Home

Tony Mannella ’84 graduated from Saint John’s University and went to law school. He passed the Minnesota bar exam in 1989 and has been an attorney based in his native Coon Rapids and specializing in Social Security disability ever since. He’s volunteered in many capacities and, like other Johnnies, tries to live the Benedictine values so apparent to him on campus. But to Mannella and his wife, Danielle, those values run deeper than most people know.

To understand how, ask Mario Zarate, a Mexican immigrant who became the Mannellas’ gardener in 2019. He struggled without his own trailer, so the Mannellas – who knew he didn’t have much margin – volunteered to buy one for him. He repaid them over time – more than $6,000, and their relationship grew.

Zarate’s daughters helped the Mannellas as dog-walkers and last summer their families got together for a fish fry. About the same time, the Mannellas purchased 80 acres of property near Preston, Minnesota. They needed assistance in cutting back vegetation, and Zarate was between jobs and happy to help.

“I went to pick him up and he’s got three kids at home and his wife in this little house,” Tony recalled. “I asked him ‘What’s going on? You guys need more space.’ … He said they were renting but had to move, and I was like, ‘What are you going to do?’ ”

Mario confided he was working to obtain legal immigration status and couldn’t apply for financing. Tony didn’t say anything else at the time, but Mario soon got a call from Danielle.

“She said, ‘You know what? We’re going to help you buy a house,’” Mario recalled. “I couldn’t believe it.”

They collaborated through a contractfor-deed on a three-bedroom, two-bath home. The Zarates moved in just before New Year’s Day 2022.

“We weren’t looking for anything fancy and this house is like a dream,” Mario said, emotion creeping into his voice. “As soon as I can get a conventional loan, I’ll take it over. Until then, Tony and his wife are my bank. I feel like they did a lot – too much.

“Every time I get a chance, I thank them for all the things that they’ve done. And, from what I hear, we’re not the only ones they’ve helped.”

Tony said his inspiration for helping others is Danielle, whom he met in high school and dated while he was at SJU. They later adopted a 9-month-old baby

girl from Guatemala, who is now their daughter, Mariana.

“We talked about it and said a couple prayers,” Tony said. “Mario works harder than anybody I’ve ever known, and we trust him … We’ve been blessed. It’s hard to not feel like you shouldn’t be doing stuff for others. A lot of it comes from that Catholic teaching that we had.

“I want it clear that, while we’re working hard, it isn’t us. Without God’s help, these things wouldn’t be happening. I can almost point to when I made that commitment in my life to when we’ve been able to give more and open our hearts to people like Mario. I don’t feel like we’ve done anything special.”

Mario asked how he could repay the kindness.

“Tony just said, ‘Whenever you get a chance, pay it forward. If you can help somebody else someday, do that,’” Mario said. “I thought it was a great answer. I know how much of a difference it has made for me, so I can’t wait to be that for somebody else.”

Inspiring Lives is reserved for reflective pieces with a Benedictine theme. Please submit essays, poetry or other reflections for consideration to Dave DeLand at 44 WINTER/SPRING 2023

Nolan ’77 Inspired to Leave His Mark

Bruce Nolan has always been passionate about giving back.

The Minneapolis resident – who retired a number of years ago after a successful career as a certified public accountant –says that’s a trait he attributes, at least in part, to his experiences at Saint John’s University.

“I volunteered during my time at Saint John’s,” he said. “I’ve always had kind of a soft spot for the elderly. And during college, I’d go up to a Catholic nursing home in Albany once a week to play cards with the residents and speak German.

“I really enjoyed that experience a lot.”

Nolan worked as a nursing assistant in two nursing homes during his time at SJU. More recently, he has volunteered at Catholic Eldercare, and has also worked as a tutor at Sacred Heart, a Catholic grade school in Robbinsdale.

He has also made donations in honor of his mother Ann, who resided in the nursing home adjacent to St. Anthony of Padua Church in Minneapolis.

“After my mother died, it really got me thinking,” he said. “I’ve never married. I’ve never had children. I have a lot of nieces and nephews, a lot of whom went to Saint John’s or the College of Saint Benedict. And they’re all doing well for themselves.”

These thoughts inspired Bruce to include Saint John’s in his estate plans.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have a great life,” he said. “And I decided I wanted to find ways to leave my mark.”

One way he is doing that is by establishing an endowed scholarship in his family’s name. The scholarship will go to a graduate of a Minneapolis public or Catholic high school with a preference given to applicants who would be the first members of their family to attend college. Nolan, the youngest of five siblings, was just the second member of his family to go to college.

“I went on a tour and I fell in love with the Saint John’s campus. I visited for the first time in October, when the fall colors were at their peak. The campus was so beautiful, and peaceful. Then I met briefly with Fr. Donald LeMay and got my first loaf of Johnnie bread. I was hooked from that first loaf.

“The values that are instilled there have always stuck with me. And I want to see others have the chance to have the same experience I did.”

For more information on ways to LEAVE YOUR LEGACY through Charitable Gift Annuities, or other similar giving tools, please contact the Planned Giving team at 320-363-2116 or visit

CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED INSTITUTIONAL ADVANCEMENT P.O. Box 7222 Collegeville, MN 56321 DETNIRP W I T H VEGETABLE -BASEDINK S • COVWOL S 2023 COLLEGE OF SAINT BENEDICT AND SAINT JOHN’S UNIVERSITY Classes ending in 3 and 8 –Your class reunion is fast approaching! Mark your calendar to reconnect with friends and enjoy the campuses in the summer. Learn more and register today at We look forward to seeing you June 23-25 NON-PROFIT U.S. POSTAGE PAID PALMER

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.