Mount Marty Magazine 2023

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MOUNT MARTY UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE EDITING Fresh Produce Joanna Soukup Ashley Bargstadt Greg Franz WRITING Fresh Produce Greg Franz PHOTOGRAPHY Joanna Soukup Ashley Bargstadt Cooper Davis Fresh Produce


MMU and Sister Arthur of Sacred Heart Sisters Celebrate Milestone in Anesthesia Education

DESIGN & LAYOUT Fresh Produce Joanna Soukup


LOOKING FOR LANCERS Friends, if you have a son, daughter, cousin, neighbor, etc. That you think would be a great fit for Mount Marty, please contact the Office of Admission at 605.668.1545 or email us at




Dr. Chun Wu adds new perspective to the chemistry lab.

Hospitality program matches students with community members.




Mount Marty University

Juan Duarte graduated from Mount Marty in the spring of 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration. Read more about Juan on page 7.












@MountMarty @MountMartyUniversity







PRESIDENT’S LETTER Dear Friends, There is a special kind of energy at Mount Marty University. Everyone I talk to lately mentions it. Perhaps it’s because we just kicked off the fall semester with our largest degree-seeking class since 2011—making this seven consecutive years of enrollment growth. It could also be the energy of new opportunities. Read on page 19 about the new biotech and endocrinology programs launching this year. Both are game changers for the healthcare industry and are vital to our region. As we work to create the flagship Benedictine University of the 21st century, we need your support. Talk about Mount Marty successes to your friends and neighbors, and let us know how you would like to contribute to that success. I hope you enjoy these stories from MMU. We are blessed to be South Dakota’s Catholic University. In Benedictine peace,

Marcus Long, PhD, OblOSB


STUDENT H I G H L I G H T S ROCK SOLID SUMMER: ONE STUDENT’S LOVE FOR MINERALS This story is paraphrased from Carl Masa’s article for treble hook, MMU’s student publishing platform.

Just outside of Custer, Carl Masa, Class of 2026 with Bachelor of Arts on Biology, uncovered his appreciation for rocks. While working a summer job at Ken’s Minerals, a long-running shop brimming with rocks, fossils, gemstones, agates, and the rare Fairburn, Masa found many hidden treasures—both in the rocks and the visitors. There was the family of the late Jessi Combs, holder of the female land speed record, and the older woman living in a dark purple van who had called back after reaching her daughter in Seattle. There were the average Joes, the global travelers, and during the Sturgis motorcycle rally, the bikers.

Each brought a new perspective. “Most people are drawn to the rocks in the shop that are shiny and flashy or carved into a unique pattern or shape,” Masa says. “Nearly all of the time these specimens are doctored to look a certain way.” But, like the people, natural rocks tell a story, he explains. “There is a certain aura to a rock that hasn’t been altered by human hands. Making everything the same takes away the understanding of just how diverse geology can be.” The way Masa sees it? Rocks and people aren’t that different. “Everyone is so obsessed with the perfection of self-image that they don’t even realize that the real treasure is individuality.”

HOME AWAY FROM HOME: HOSPITALITY PROGRAM BRINGS STUDENTS AND YANKTON TOGETHER Hospitality and community—two of Mount Marty’s core values—come together in a new program that connects students from afar with community members. Launched last fall by a committee of business leaders, volunteers, Mount Marty, and Yankton Thrive leadership, the Hospitality Program connected over 60 students with Yankton families in its first year. Tianna Bumbaca-Kuehl, a senior criminal justice major from Brookdale, Calif., was matched with Wayne and Jantina Nelson-Stastny and their two children, Clay and Leona. “I absolutely enjoyed all my time with my hospitality family,” says Bumbaca-Kuehl. “Their support and love that they given me has bettered my experience at Mount Marty significantly and brought so much light to my life.” The Nelson-Stastnys attended Tianna’s soccer games and track and field events, met for coffee, delivered goodie baskets around holidays, and hosted meals with her friends. Bumbaca-Kuehl interned with the Sioux Falls police department, making sure to visit her Yankton family at least once through the summer.

Wayne & Jantina with Tianna (right) and friend Calli Davis of Elk Point, S.D.

“Every relationship is different,” says Lori Stephenson, a founding member of the Hospitality Program. “The community of Yankton really cares about these kids. The families are at ease that their children have a support system in Yankton, too.” The connection goes both ways, according to Stephenson. “Some of the families have never been to a Mount Marty event and this gives them a reason to do that. And they really enjoy it! That connection to Mount Marty is just as important as the students to Yankton.” Community members interested in joining the Hospitality Program can contact Johanna Jablonoski, director of alumni and family relations, at (605) 668-4020 or

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FINDING THE LIGHT: LOOKING INTO THE EYES OF AN ESA This story is paraphrased from Kendra Horsley’s article for treble hook, MMU’s student publishing platform.

Kendra Horsley, Class of 2025, majoring in psychology, writing, and human services, was 15 years old when depression and anxiety consumed her life. “I had to fight, and it was a battle I was not convinced I could win,” she said. A few months later, she leaned over a tiny crate and laid her eyes on Novy Bear, a golden doodle. “It was the first time, in months, I had allowed myself to truly fall into someone else’s love. I would like to believe we chose each other, but whatever the truth may be, he played a key role in sparking light back into my life,” says Horsley. To receive Emotional Support Animal (ESA) certification, Horsley had to obtain a documentation letter from a professional third party. ESA documentation varies exponentially from the documentation of a Psychiatric Service Animal, and proper research and consideration should be discussed with a professional before deciding which route to take. Several students on campus have ESAs,

and Horsley has witnessed firsthand the light they bring to students’ lives. “Even when I feel at my worst, Matilda always lifts my spirits,” said MMU student Calli Davis, of her ESA. Having the knowledge and awareness of what these animals provide, gives those who have ESAs the ability and reassurance to learn, educate, and advocate on the relevance and benefit of finding support. Having access to an ESA has taught Horsley the possibility of opening her heart to unconditional love and gentle grace. “The light, which was once engulfed by darkness, slowly crept out after the day I looked him in the eyes, and his devotion has endured through every trial and tribulation I have walked through since.”

MMU-WATERTOWN STUDENT WINS SPIRIT OF SAINT BENEDICT AWARD Hunter Moore, a 2023 business administration graduate of Mount Marty UniversityWatertown was selected to receive the Spirit of Saint Benedict award by the MMU Mission Committee.

Hunter Moore, a Watertown graduate, received the 2023 Spirit of Saint Benedict Award.

Each year this award invites graduating seniors to submit an essay on their time as a Lancer and how the university’s core values and 10 Benedictine Hallmarks have impacted them. Moore’s nearly 1,200-word essay, “Journey on the Mountain,” uses the metaphor of a mountain to represent what it means to be a Benedictine leader. In his writing, the mountain has four paths, one for each core value: awareness of God, community, hospitality, and lifelong learning.

“Without these paths, I would not be able to become the mountain I want to be,” Moore wrote in his essay. “A Benedictine leader who has reached the summit of the mountain alone may have reached the destination but has failed in his purpose. I will use these four paths to lead others to the summit.” He took to the podium to share his essay at MMU’s Baccalaureate in Yankton’s Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel on May 5th in front of his peers, faculty, and staff. “The support of the teachers and students made [college] special,” Moore said. “The hallmarks and core values gave me a framework to be my best self and a leader wherever I go.”


ALUMNI H I G H L I G H T S Every day, our alumni are doing amazing things around the globe. Here are just some of our favorite stories from the past year!

ROBERTS EARNS AWARD Dr. Andrea Roberts DNAP ’19, the Mount Marty Program Director of Nurse Anesthesia, received the Patriot Award through the Employer Support of the U.S. National Guard and Reserve (ESGR). She has been recognized for not only her leadership and dedication to her students who are actively serving and for those inquiring about military service, but also for her support, understanding and appreciation for the military challenges realized by her faculty. Roberts served in the U.S. Army achieving the rank of major.

MMU GAINS A BOARD DIRECTOR Dr. Rachel Vannatta ‘87, a Distinguished Teaching Professor at Bowling Green State University, is joining the Mount Marty board of directors this year. Vannatta is the seventh alumni member of the board, joining with S. Mildred Busch ‘67, Denis Fokken ‘73, Shawn Gallagher ‘76, S. Barbara McTague ‘71, and S. Patricia Ann Toscano ‘71.

MEMBER OF ALUMNI COUNCIL RECEIVES SHIELD Sean Morin ‘18, who also serves as a member of the Mount Marty Alumni Council, received his full shield as a member of Sioux City Fire Rescue.

SACRED HEART SISTERS CELEBRATE JUBILEES Many of the Benedictine sisters have celebrated milestone anniversaries in their monastic professions. • Sister Delores Rush, Class of 1972, celebrates 70 years • Sister Michaeleen Muhovish, Class of 1966, celebrates 60 years • Sister Marlene Stetz, Class of 1964, celebrates 60 years

2023 GRAD SIGNS PRO CONTRACT NEW LEADERSHIP AT THE MONASTERY In June of 2023, our Sisters at Sacred Heart Monastery installed and commissioned new leadership (from left): Sister Candyce Chrystal ‘73 (Subprioress), Sister Penny Bingham ‘73 (Prioress), and Sister Bonita (Procurator). S. Penny previously served as prioress from 2011-2017.

Billy Hancock ‘23 has signed a pro contract with the Great Falls (Montana) Voyagers of the Pioneer Baseball League. The Pioneer League is a 10team MLB Partner League based in Montana, Idaho, Utah and Colorado.

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BRAVE ALUMNUS EARNS PURPLE HEART WHILE ON DUTY In the fall of 2021, Mount Marty alumnus Caleb Wilson ‘17, a police officer in South Jordan, Utah, was working on a case in which a suspect was wanted for drugs, weapons, and stolen vehicles. On what he thought would be a routine house arrest, Wilson was shot in the leg resulting in a shattered femur and a femoral artery collapse. A tourniquet was quickly placed and likely saved his life. Wilson described the intense moment, “Everything becomes really slow and you go through fight or flight–my eyes were hyper focused on the gun, but my ears didn’t ring at all.” Wilson went through months of grueling rehab and setbacks and was finally cleared for full duty in early 2023. Wilson, who majored in Criminal Justice at Mount Marty, was touched by the support he received from his police department and the Mount Marty community, including classmates who came out to visit him during difficult times. “I wouldn’t be where I am without Mount Marty,” Wilson shared. In honor of his bravery and service to the community, Wilson received the Purple Heart at the Utah Chief of Police Conference in 2022 and the Fraternal Order of Police Member of the Year Award (Derek R. Johnson Award) in 2023.

ALUM JOINS COLOMBIA BASKETBALL TEAM Juan Duarte ‘22 traveled the world this past year as a guard for the Colombian National Basketball Team, all while remaining in Yankton. He was born and raised in Colombia with the monks at the Benedictine Monastery of Tibatí while attending Colegio San Carlos.

Thomas Buckmiller ‘96 is on a mission to keep jazz and blues alive through his band Buckmiller Schwager. Buckmiller, songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist–along with band member guitarist Brian Schwager–competed in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN after having qualified by winning the 2021 Iowa Blues Challenge. The duo was awe-struck during their time in Memphis. Buckmiller said, “We’re students of the game, and we’re just soaking it in and learning. It’s an important genre that we have to keep alive.” The band made it to the semifinal round of the International Blues Challenge, which was captured in a documentary called “To Memphis and Back,” which shares its title with the band’s most recent album. The film parallels what the band likes to do in their live shows: give a blues history lesson while presenting samples of various blues styles with a brief explanation. Buckmiller shares, “We get asked, ‘Why don’t you play more country or classic rock?’ We could make more money, but that’s not where our passion is! When you see us I hope you can tell that we are blood, sweat, and tears on keeping the blues alive. We’re going to play every note with our heart and soul!”


DR. CHUN WU BRINGS LIFE TO CHEMISTRY When Dr. Chun Wu earned her Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico, she had multiple job offers and one decision to make. After sitting down with leadership, a sense of Mount Marty’s Benedictine hospitality and family environment urged her to the Great Plains of South Dakota. That was 2005. Today, Dr. Wu is a student advisor, professor of chemistry, division chair of natural sciences, director of the preprofessional and medical lab science programs, and liaison of the MMUSD Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (BRIN), a federal grant research program under the National Institute of Health.

BRINGING CHEMISTRY TO LIFE “All people are different. In high school, I liked chemistry the same way people liked sports or music. I always tell my students, ‘People are good at certain things. Find what you’re good at,’” replied Dr. Wu, when asked what inspired her to go into chemistry.

Beyond her passion for the subject, there’s something else that stands out about Dr. Wu—the way that she teaches it. Chemistry is abstract and can be hard for many students to grasp, so she focuses on making her class as vivid as possible by bringing high levels of energy to the chem lab and correlating lessons to everyday life. Her approach to teaching earned her the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2012.

PUTTING STUDENTS ON TRACK Dr. Wu is earnest in her role and defines success as seeing her students accepted into their master’s and doctoratelevel programs. She ensures her students have all the information they need to make an informed decision about their career path, including their strengths and weaknesses, a plan to stay on track, or alternative options available as a fallback strategy. “When we place students, we cater to their needs and their potential. We respect them as individuals while also giving them advice that will place them on a track they can handle,” Dr. Wu explained.

After seeing some students passionate about medical school but struggling with the MCAT, Dr. Wu didn’t hesitate to initiate an MCAT preparation and systematic review course taught by six MMU instructors— two biologists, one chemist, one sociologist, one psychologist, and one physicist.

PUSHING THE DIVISION FORWARD As Natural Sciences faculty work toward 100% placement rates for students in either careers or graduate school, they are also excited about the opportunity to expand the division and offer more programs. “Our faculty members are devoted to teaching. It’s not just a way to make a living,” Dr. Wu said. “If you want to give a student a glass of water, you need a bucket of water. Meaning, we need to know a lot more than we’re teaching... The thing with our division is that every faculty member has their own expertise and is really into their field. It’s our passion and our life path.” As the MMU community looks ahead to the future, Dr. Wu notes that the vision and strength of the University’s leadership have been supplemental to its growth.

“Mount Marty is getting bigger and stronger, and that’s what I’m excited about.” said Dr. Wu.


RECORD HIGH, TEN LANCERS SELECTED FOR MEDICAL RESEARCH FELLOWSHIP “ Eighty percent of Mount Marty science majors get to do research. That rate is much lower at bigger universities,” said Dr. Chun Wu, chemistry professor, natural sciences division chair, and MMU-BRIN liaison. “This is just one indicator of the quality of education, resources, and support we provide our students.”

This spring, ten students from Mount Marty University were selected for a 10-week medical research fellowship offered by the Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (BRIN), a record-high for the university since becoming one of South Dakota’s BRIN partner institutions in 2003. The fellowship encourages undergraduate students to follow research careers by exposing them to bench research, hands-on laboratory experiences, interactions with faculty and staff, seminars, and research presentations, all at a competitive stipend.

One of those students is Lexa Burtzlaff, an exercise science major who spent her summer alongside MMU biology professor, Dr. Kathleen Gibson. The pair extracted antimicrobial phytochemicals within plants and characterized them so they can be used to treat pathogens. “ I love learning new things and Dr. Gibson’s research was very interesting to me,” says Burtzlaff. The fellowship also gives students leverage in gaining acceptance to graduate and professional programs.

“ With more students conducting research and sharing their findings, there is a greater potential for breakthroughs and advancements in the field, as well as for fostering partnerships and collaborations with other BRIN partner institutions,” said Dr. Wu. The grant involves several South Dakota institutions and is open to any Mount Marty student interested in medical research who isn’t a graduating senior. C O N G R AT U L AT I O N S T O T H E FOLLOWING 2023 MOUNT MARTY BRIN RESEARCH FELLOWS: • Lexa Burtzlaff • Kaesha Davis • Alysandra Fedde • Xavier Gabel • Madison Kovar

• Aaron Madden • Kylee McDaniel • Elisabeth McGill • Caycee Schneider • Trey Vande Kop



G R A D U AT I N G WITH A PURPOSE Dayvon Botts graduated in May 2023 with a B.A. in Business Administration. He currently is working as an administrative assistant for a sports company and is a personal coach.

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MEET BENNY Benedict the Lancer, known as Benny, is the noble defender of Mount Marty University. Knighted by Bishop Martin Marty himself, Benny joined us at Mount Marty last October. Benny is loyal and fierce but has a gentle heart and loves delighting Yankton’s most important dignitaries. Get to know the Lancer that enjoys long walks and keeps watch over Yankton from The Mount.

FIRST THINGS FIRST, TELL US ABOUT THAT MUSTACHE! The young ladies and gentlemen on campus tell me facial hair is “hip.” If that’s the case, I’ve been “hip” since 1936.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEAL AT MOUNT MARTY? I enjoy what people here call a hot beef sandwich. Doug makes the best gravy this side of the bluff.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LEISURE ACTIVITY? Tubing. There’s something about flying across snow or water on an inflatable tube that gets me giddy.

DESCRIBE YOUR IDEAL FIRST DATE. Horseback riding along the bluffs of Lewis & Clark Lake at sunset followed by a candle-lit dinner of mutton and cabbage.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BOARD GAME? Is chess a board game?

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WHERE DO YOU LIKE TO PRAY? The Lord once said to pray in secret. My favorite spot is the Sisters garden. My second favorite ... Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel, of course.

DO YOU HAVE A SECRET TALENT? I’m really good at hacky sack sometimes. Otherwise, homemade wax seals are my specialty.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE COLOR? I’m blue on the outside and gold on the inside. How can I choose just one?

WHAT SURPRISES YOU THE MOST ABOUT BEING A LANCER? I never thought I’d have so many Sisters, I can tell you that.

WHERE CAN LANCER FANS MEET UP WITH YOU? My duty to Mount Marty University keeps me very busy, but I hope to run into fans at parades, Lancer Days, sporting events and campus celebrations. I don’t leave town much ... you know, the giant sword and all.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO HANG OUT ON CAMPUS? The fieldhouse has room to practice my high kicks, but the Raven has popcorn, so I’d have to say the Raven.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BENEDICTINE VALUE AND WHY? Hospitality. I love big hugs. Editor’s Note: Benny joined Mount Marty University last fall thanks to a generous gift from Rudy and Kathie Gerstner of Yankton, SD. The Gerstners also established an endowed scholarship awarded each year to student(s) who have the privilege of bringing Benny to life.

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It was the middle of the night when Mary Arthur Schramm tripped over a body in the bathroom. Bending down, she felt the body was still warm. " I went to the novice mistress and asked her what to do," she recalled. At 17 years old, Sister Arthur worked as an aide while attending the Mount Marty High School resurrected by Yankton's Benedictine Sisters in Yankton, S.D. "She decided, because I was so calm, I should be a nurse." In 1952, Sister Arthur joined Sacred Heart Monastery. In the convent, it wasn't always clear what your future held, but one thing was certain for Sister Arthur—that night in the bathroom wouldn’t be the last time God would play a hand in hers.

A LITTLE DIFFERENT IDEA After taking her final vows, Sister Arthur headed to work in obstetrics where she was told to report to surgery in the morning. With eight weeks left of nursing school, she was going into anesthesia. "I just thought, 'this is not the way to educate people for anesthesia.' It's very demanding work and you have people’s lives in your hands." On her way to writing her boards, not yet certified, Sister Arthur answered a calling to teach anesthesia at Sacred Heart, a program that was initiated by Sister Donata Bentele in 1942.

"I was not going to be a teacher, [but] the Lord had a little different idea for me," she said. Over the following years as Sister Arthur taught, long-term plans to further develop the program lingered in the back of her mind. Those thoughts became a reality when she was named the new program director and obtained approval to pilot a bachelor's level program in 1965.

"People know when things are needed. They're not going to risk doing it, but they will go along with what's right." Sister Arthur became the first nurse anesthetist and woman to be accepted into and complete her Ph.D. at the School of Medicine at the University of South Dakota. While there, she helped develop the curriculum for the program at Mount Marty—the first institution to offer a degree in nurse anesthesia.

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MILESTONES IN THE MAKING In 1973, the program became the first in the nation to graduate anesthetists with a Bachelor's in Anesthesia. " We didn't really realize the impact at the time. I had this degree that nobody else had," said Tim Semple, one of the first graduates. His passion for obstetric anesthesia led him to leadership roles at hospitals in Nebraska, California, Indiana, and Maryland. "The kind of education [Mount Marty] is giving these [students] makes the profession stronger." As Mount Marty celebrates this milestone of educational leadership in anesthesiology, it also honors the perseverance of the Benedictine Sisters who saw a need and followed through, as well as those keeping the legacy alive today. " We continue to have high caliber applicants that are the best of the best, not just in grades, but also in experience, emotional intelligence, and grounded in service to their communities," said Dr. Andrea Roberts ‘19, MMU-Sioux Falls, S.D., CRNA/DNAP program director and graduate of the anesthesia program, which received approval to transition to a doctoratelevel in 2016.

Additional clinical rotations and updates to the simulation laboratory at MMU-Sioux Falls prepare students to work in any setting and fill the need in rural South Dakota and the Midwest. " We are not timid to be the first or to lead in anesthesia education," she said. "We are grateful for the contributions the Sisters provided to the program and to Mount Marty University, and we stand upon their shoulders." At the age of 92, Sister Arthur thinks back with a grin on her face. " When you look back at history, you see how certain things come together that you don't even expect. I didn't have time to be scared or fatigued. I had to get up and go each day because it just had to be done," she said. "It's only when I look back now and see [the program] that I realize, 'gosh, that's really something.””

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HISTORY OF THE NURSE ANESTHESIA PROGRAM A nurses’ training program begins at Sacred Heart Hospital.


1942 The nurse anesthesia program receives full accreditation and Sister Vita Heilman is the first graduate to successfully complete the certification exam.


1950 Sister Mary Arthur Schramm, the new program director, receives approval to pilot a bachelor’s level program.

The program celebrates 50 years of quality nurse anesthesia.


2015 Students officially enroll in the Doctorate of Nurse Anesthesia program.

The baccalaureate program becomes a Master of Science with Sister Virgil as the director. It is accredited in 1984.


1992 Sister Arthur retires from MMU to work in the Caribbean.

The employment of Sister Harriet Gobel leads to the development of several new programs, one is the bachelor’s level in nurse anesthesia in 1971. Sister Arthur returns as program director in January 1972.


1983 Sister Arthur assumes directorship of the graduate program.

The employment of Robert Ballard leads to the teaching of regional anesthesia administration.


1970 Sister Arthur is granted a sabbatical and Sister Virgil becomes Director of the Nurse Anesthesia program.

The diploma program at Sacred Heart Hospital lengthens to 12 months, and then to 18 months in 1962.


1968 Sister Arthur leaves for graduate school in view of the long-term plan to initiate a bachelor’s program. James Briggs and Dorothy Kaser become interim directors.

Sister Donata Bentele initiates an 8-month nurse anesthesia program.


Mount Marty obtains approval to transition to a doctoral program.

MEET SISTER ARTHUR Sister Mary Arthur Schramm grew up in a Catholic household. The Utica, S.D., native boarded at the four-year, all-girls academy in Yankton, receiving healthcare and education from the local Benedictine Sisters. After suffering three medical crises during the first nine years of her life, along with subsequent complications due to these illnesses, Sister Arthur believed that she owed God, and those through whom He worked, to be of service in this world and to others. On her path to service, Sister Arthur faced many obstacles while focusing on the betterment of anesthesia education. “I did not tell people that what I wanted was a clinical doctorate [because] that would have scared them to death,” she said. “There was a constant struggle for women who were trying to get ahead.” Despite that, she became the first nurse anesthetist and woman to be accepted into and complete her Ph.D. at the School of Medicine at the University of South Dakota, where she helped develop the curriculum for the program at Mount Marty. She also helped initiate programs in Puerto Rico, South Africa, Jamaica, and elsewhere in the Caribbean. While at Mount Marty, Sister Arthur served as the program head of nurse anesthesia and the division chair for health sciences. She was also previously active in the South Dakota Association of Nurse Anesthetists, serving as its president from 1969-1970. At age 92, Sister Arthur is now retired and works part-time as a receptionist at the Sacred Heart Monastery.

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DR. TIM RICE TURNS YANKTON INTO A FIELD OF STUDY Dr. Tim Rice was born to collect. Bugs, books on arachnids, model dinosaurs, ant colonies, plastic snakes—sometimes real snakes— and the occasional green iguana were frequent finds in his suburban Kentucky household. “Mom would always find a big pickle jar for me to put things in,” he shared. “My father was the same way. Grandma never knew what she was going to find when she went into the basement.” STUDYING LIVING THINGS When it came time for college, Tim’s father suggested biology. This advice sent him on a 12-year path to a Ph.D. in ecological toxicology. “[College] reinforced that, somehow, I wanted to make a job doing this,” he said. Tim taught at different institutions across the nation before landing an open position at Mount Marty. In 2017, Dr. Rice made his way to Yankton, South Dakota’s River City and playground for biologists and scientists. CONNECTING STUDENTS TO THE WORLD AROUND THEM Lancers enrolled with Dr. Rice experience in-depth, hands-on learning, exploring Yankton as their

field of study. Fish sampling on the Missouri River and surrounding creeks teach students proper specimen collection and identification, while trips to Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery expose them to the world of artificial raising for conservation and restoration projects. The hatchery specializes in producing and stocking American paddlefish and endangered pallid sturgeon into the Missouri River, and just east of the Gavins Point Dam is the Missouri National Recreational River, a wild and untamed stretch of the Muddy Mo. “My goal is to get students to at least understand what we’re talking about...and to get them to understand the connections I’m seeing in my brain.” Vegetation sweeps, leaf litter collecting, and soil sampling help students reveal the biodiversity of invertebrates down and upstream. Live traps filled with a handful of peanut butter balls and set just before sundown gather and record data on the age, gender,

and recapture of mammal species in the area. MAKING PLANTS EXCITING “At least flowers aren’t going don’t have to chase them down,” Dr. Rice said about his decision to step in and teach when Mount Marty began offering a course in botany. He started collecting wildflowers while on walks with his dog, making them into permanent dry displays for his classroom. With his background in toxicology and the majority of MMU’s biology majors heading into the healthcare field, Dr. Rice’s classroom works to connect plants to physiology. “It doesn’t hurt a doctor to know the difference between a poison ivy outbreak and a peanut allergy,” he explained, adding that the role of organs in the human body closely resembles the different functions of plants. It’s in these moments of connection that excitement is built.

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MMU LAUNCHES FIRST BIOTECH MASTER’S PROGRAM IN THE DAKOTAS Mount Marty is the first to launch a Master of Science in Biotechnology program in the Dakotas, a region top-ranked for industry growth. The program welcomed its first cohort of students this fall, focusing on biotech management in pharmaceuticals and generating future industry leaders. “We’re thrilled about the opportunity to make a footprint in this industry,” said MMU President Dr. Marc Long. “We understand that leaders come from everywhere and we look forward to nurturing and growing those interested in becoming a leader in the biotechnology industry.” With the option to enroll online or in person at MMU-Sioux Falls, the program has drawn a competitive mix of recent undergraduates and mid-level pharmaceutical executives nationwide. “This gives us an opportunity to have very real conversations among differing opinions in the industry,” says Dr. Mark Brown, who was initially contracted to develop the program and now serves as its Executive Director.

NEW ENDOCRINOLOGY PROGRAM LAUNCHING SPRING 2024 Mount Marty will launch a post-master’s Certificate in Endocrinology for nurse practitioners in January, looking to expand access to critical diabetes care in rural areas. The one-year, ten-credit program will be offered online with clinical rotations at Avera Health, in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Dr. Brown has nearly 20 years of experience in organizational management, drug development, and biomanufacturing. He has served in a range of executive roles and on teams that produced the world’s first Ebola therapeutic and vaccines pivotal in fighting the H1N1 and COVID-19 pandemics. As pharmaceutics continue to grow and change in the United States, tapping into the current industry and its network is vital to the future of healthcare and national security. The program is unique in that it is the only biotechnology degree taught entirely by industry professionals, whose experience ranges from Pfizer to the FDA and the Department of Defense. “Mount Marty University’s investment in an MS in Biotechnology degree is a strong statement of the growing biotech industry in South Dakota. We are excited about the opportunity this provides students from across the state and the nation to learn and train in this exciting field,” said Executive Director of South Dakota Biotech, Joni Ekstrum.

“We are challenged around the United States to get people access to endocrine care. And I think that’s a big issue for folksin rural America,” said Dr. Chris Yedinak, the nurse practitioner and adjunct professor developing and implementing the new program.“My interest lies in expanding that access.” Dr. Yedinak has over 20 years of experience in endocrinology and brings a global perspective to Mount Marty, having worked in Europe and her home country of Australia. She was also previously President of

“More than anything, Dr. Brown looks forward to the program being taught in a way that makes sure we’re doing everything for the right reasons.” “Having it at a Catholic Benedictine institution that prides itself on an ethical approach to everything that they do and respects those fundamental human values and service to our community is the type of foundation we need to ensure that we have a properly grounded program,” said Dr. Brown.

both the Endocrine Nurses Society and the Federation of International Nurses in Endocrinology. “There’s still a lot that we need to know, and I think that’s what’s exciting about [starting this program],” she said. “People need to understand endocrinology because it’s basic to all health systems. It’s a fundamental knowledge that can help address issues before they be come problematic.” More information, including curriculum and cost, can be found at endocrinology.

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SIOUX FALLS POLICE ATTEND BENEDICTINE LEADERSHIP RETREAT FOR THIRD CONSECUTIVE YEAR By helping professionals think deeply about who they are, how they can be the best version of themselves and live purpose-driven lives, the program integrates the Benedictine principles of community, hospitality, awareness of God, and lifelong learning—into being a good police officer, educator, healthcare provider, business leader or entrepreneur, to name a few.

Mount Marty’s Benedictine Leadership Institute (BLI) certificate program builds professional leaders through biannual executive leadership retreats. Over the last three years, the program has earned the dedication of a unique group of Sioux Falls leaders—the police department. Every fall and spring since 2020, a member of the SFPD has joined a BLI cohort for three days of professional leadership training.

“Our job isn’t to help them be good police officers. Our job is to help them understand what it means to be a good human,” said Joe Rutten, Director of BLI. “This ability to be human and to live good lives is a classical thing that humanity has thought about for a long time and what the Benedictine Leadership Institute is doing is excavating this ancient wisdom and putting it into modern contexts.”

“ We gain a new perspective by talking to people in different disciplines and fields, and we bring a unique perspective on what we see in the world,” said Sioux Falls Chief of Police, Jonathan Thum, who completed the program as a lieutenant under former Chief of Police, Matt Burns. “It helps our officers understand the bigger picture and helps the public understand more about what we do.” Thum says the retreat was also a reminder of who he is in this world and the role he plays in his family, workplace, community, and city.

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“I keep the Benedictine values in my office,” he says. “I put them on my shelf so I can think back and reflect on those principles.” While law enforcement officers receive training throughout their careers, the department is excited to continue with BLI.

“We go to a lot of training,” shared Thum. “And we want this to be one where [members of our department] can step away and work on themselves.”


PROFESSOR PRESENTS RESEARCH ON DEFELONIZATION & POLICE DECISION-MAKING AT NATIONAL CONFERENCE law that reclassified particular theft and drug possession offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. Open-ended surveys, semistructured interviews, and reflexive memos revealed how the referendum—a demotivator— affected the decision-making of 15 police officers. " It's important to understand

Among the list of speakers at the 2023 Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) annual meeting was Dr. Stephen Bell. In March, the retired LAPD sergeant and MMU criminal justice professor traveled to National Harbor, Md, to present his research on defelonization and police decision-making. Dr. Bell studied the challenges Los Angeles County law enforcement officers share while policing narcotics offenses in their communities after the ratification of Proposition 47, a

that if we pass laws like this, there are going to be unintended consequences," Dr. Bell said.

" Proposition 47 hoped to lower

the incarceration rate in California, but the unintended consequences look at these officers who are telling me that it's taxing their ability to care."

Whether viewed from the perspective of lawmakers who propose legislation like Proposition 47, or from the perspective of community members who vote for

these representatives, it is crucial to understand the unintended consequences of defelonization and the way each officer makes continuous cost-benefit analyses based on the information they have, Dr. Bell explained. ACJS fosters professional and scholarly activities in criminology and criminal justice by bringing together practitioners, criminologists, and aspiring criminologists. " I love showing my students that

criminal justice is more than just policing and that getting a degree in this field opens doors to a world of other opportunities," says Dr. Bell. “It's an exciting way to influence those who aspire to something other than chasing bad guys at night."


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LANCER AWARDS AND SCHOLAR ATHLETES Eliana “Lanny” Clark (Gayville, S.D.) and Billy Hancock (Wahoo, NEB) have been selected as the Female and Male Athlete of the Year. Clark is a track and field athlete with school records in five indoor and outdoor events. Hancock, a baseball athlete, put together one of the greatest baseball careers in program history with a four-time AllConference Selection, the 2021 GPAC Player of the Year, and the 2021 All-American selection. Seth Wiebelhaus (Fordyce, NEB) was named the Albert Fernandez Champions of Character Award. Wiebelhaus, an NAIA AllAmerican in heptathlon and decathlon, has been hired as an assistant coach for the track and field program. Track and fielder, Calli Davis (Elk Point, S.D.) was selected for the A.O. Duer Award, which recognizes a female studentathlete who excels in scholarship, character, citizenship, and playing ability.

Lady Lancers celebrate a great shot at Cimpl Arena.


ATHLETIC H I G H L I G H T S MENTAL HEALTH WALL UNVEILED IN CIMPL ARENA After losing his brother, men’s basketball coach Collin Authier wanted to share a message with students at Mount Marty University:

Y O U M AT T E R . That’s the message written across a giant interactive display in Cimpl Arena’s athletic training room. The new mental health wall features information and resources developed by the Helpline Center and Mount Marty University Counseling Services, as well as six colored wristbands that represent different mental health conditions. Students are encouraged to take a wristband to wear in support of the loss of a loved one due to mental health. In addition, phone numbers and QR codes for both the Mount Marty University Counseling Services and Lewis & Clark Behavioral Health Services, a partner of MMU, are displayed. The 988 mental health hotline offering 24/7 support via phone or text is also highlighted for students seeking anonymous support. “This is such an incredible honor for the Authier family, and we are so appreciative of all the support and continued focus on our students’ mental health,” said Coach Authier. “It is our hope that having these resources at the forefront and easily accessible will continue to normalize conversations about mental health and let everyone know that they are not alone. Through the wall Shawn’s memory lives on.” Shawn Authier, Coach Authier’s brother, is memorialized on the wall with his likeness and Theodore Roosevelt’s classic “The Man in the Arena,” inspiring students to compete healthily.

LANCERS APPOINT INAUGURAL SENIOR WOMAN LEADER In partnership with an initiative set forth by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), Cindy Sohler has been named the first Senior Woman Leader (SWL), setting a historic precedent for women’s representation in leadership roles across Mount Marty Athletics. The creation of the SWL designation marks a significant milestone in promoting meaningful representation of women in the leadership and management of college sports. By appointing Cindy Sohler as the SWL, Mount Marty is reaffirming its commitment to empowering women and offering a designated female presence at each member institution, facilitating open communication with staff and student-athletes. “Cindy has dedicated 23 years to Mount Marty athletics,” said Andy Bernatow, Mount Marty athletic director. “I am excited to have her continue in a greater administrative role for the institution and the department.” The SWL role holds immense importance as it provides a platform for Cindy Sohler to become a key participant in senior-level management decisions concerning intercollegiate athletics on campus. With her extensive experience and unwavering dedication to Mount Marty, Cindy is a natural choice for the SWL position.

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The Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete program recognizes excellence in the classroom by NAIA-member studentathletes who are sophomores or above in academic standing with a 3.5 cumulative GPA. Eighteen teams from Mount Marty had one or more athletes receive this award. The women’s track and field team lead the Lancers with 13 athletes and the baseball team followed with 12 athletes. Overall, 76 Lancer athletes earned the NAIA-Daktronics ScholarAthlete Award in the 2022-2023 school year. The NAIA also designated Mount Marty with the Champions of Character Fivestar Institution Award, recognizing the University’s pursuit of characterdriven athletics.

JAIN WINS RECURVE CHAMPIONSHIP Lalit Jain, a graduate student from India, shook up the NFAA Indoor National Championship this spring by winning the freestyle men’s recurve over an Olympian archer.

Over the summer, Jain also won the NFAA Field National Championship held at Darringto, WA. After getting a Bachelor’s degree and coaching archery at Punjabi University, Jain joined Mount Marty’s archery team while pursuing a Master’s in Education with a focus on coaching leadership. Jain is a Recreational Management Intern at the NFAA Easton Yankton Archery Center, the world’s largest archery complex that hosts year-round national and international tournaments. The Mount Marty Archery team finished sixth in the nation for the second straight year. Micheal Plummer (Midland, Mich.) took Gold for Individual Male Recurve. The mixed team of Alyssa Nelson (Salt Lake City, UT) and Micheal Plummer took Silver.

CHAPLAINS BRING THEIR LOVE OF PRAYER TO LANCER ATHLETICS “ I see my role as somebody who is trying to get them to recognize that God is active in their lives, even in football,” said Terry. “I knew I wanted to be active in their lives and thought the best way to do that is through something near and dear to me—prayer.”

Football has always been a big part of Dr. Terry Lafferty’s life. So, when Mount Marty University formed its football program in 2021, it only made sense that the chair of the theology and philosophy department serve as Lancer football’s chaplain. For Terry, this is an opportunity to bring her love of prayer to the playing field as she prays with the team before every game and provides lessons on the value of prayer and recognition of God through sport.

Knowing the team has someone they can go to for support has been a game-changer for players, according to John Michaletti, head football coach for the Lancers. “ Some of the players may not have someone in their life they can talk to about faith,” he said. “And Terry provides that.” As for the inspiration that ignited the program? The Lancers have Sister Carmella Luke to thank, who after spending several years as a teacher and chaplain of the volleyball team at O’Gorman High School in Sioux Falls saw an opportunity to implement a similar program at Mount Marty.

“ Young people want somebody to notice who they are and to appreciate them and support them in their life goals,” said Sister Carmella. “We focus on glorifying God through sport and remind players that life isn’t just volleyball, but that volleyball is, in fact, an important part of their lives.” In just a few years, the sports chaplain program has grown to involve Sacred Heart Sisters and faculty overseeing five athletic programs including football, volleyball, softball, and men’s and women’s basketball. “ There’s a reward in helping these students notice the gifts that God has given them,” said Sister Carmella. “And that, for me, is to see them meet their potential and listen to their true call from God.”

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NEW CFO DRAWS STRENGTH FROM JESUS AND RELATIONSHIPS that God placed her here. “There’s a pull,” Read said, of Yankton and Mount Marty. She and her family have been visiting Yankton since 2017, staying for long weekends and enjoying the outdoors. An accountant by training, Read spent eight years in demanding roles in the transportation industry with Yellow Transportation and Crete Carrier. She decided to transition into a career in higher education that provided more opportunities to be present with her kids and enjoyed building relationships and impacting students for 12 years at the private Lutheran university.

Lori Read moved into her sunny, wood-paneled office in Bede Hall earlier this spring. Read, Mount Marty’s new Chief Financial Officer, is a confident executive with a background in analytics, financial aid, and accounting in the private sector. She is engaging, thoughtful, and acutely aware of today’s headwinds in higher education. But her focus is simple: “Learn and teach others how to live like Jesus.” Read has had an eventful 2023. “We’re entering a new season,” she said. After leaving her job as Director of Institutional Analytics at Concordia University in Seward, NEB, she took Mount Marty University’s top finance job. This coming year, while her son starts his senior year in high school in Seward and her daughter continues her college education, Read will split time between Yankton and Seward before permanently moving to the Yankton area with her husband, Chris. Read knows this transition might be difficult. Raised on a Nebraska farm near the ClearwaterEwing area, and a 15-year resident of Seward, she loved the stability that her position at Concordia afforded her. But she says confidently

Read is an accomplished professional in both higher education and private business, but before any of that, she is a mother, wife, and faithful follower of Jesus. Read is a lifelong Lutheran and loves the values of her Church. In conversations with Sister Bonita Gacnik, Read’s counterpart at Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton, she is reminded that no matter the events of the world or in her daily life, “God has got this.” It’s an uncommon trait of a CFO to steep their work in Jesus, and Read knows it. She’s aware that people in finance often come across as analytical and calculating.

“I WANT TO BE KNOWN FOR THE RELATIONSHIPS I’VE CREATED VERSUS A NUMBERS-DRIVEN RESULT.” Mount Marty is a natural fit for Read, as she shares its core values—awareness of god, community, hospitality, and lifelong learning. She knows Mount Marty needs a skilled hand in charge of budgets, the endowment, and implementing strategic planning, and has a plan to allocate resources so they match the institution’s mission and provide financial stability. Read supervises the Business Office, Human Resources, Information Technology, and Operations. She graduated from the University of Nebraska at Kearney with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and an Emphasis in Accounting and Management Information Systems. She earned a Master of Science degree in Business Administration from Concordia University in Seward, where she worked from April 2011 to May 2023. Lori and her husband, Chris, have two children, Delaney and Dylan.

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SHUDAK RETURNS TO MMU AS DEAN OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDIES After nearly 10 years, Dr. Nicholas Shudak has returned to Mount Marty University as dean of undergraduate studies. Dr. Shudak moved to Yankton from North Carolina in 2007 to start his academic career as a professor of education at Mount Marty. “I fell in love with the mission,” said Dr. Shudak. As his career advanced into chair of the Division of Education, director of the Department of Teacher Education, and director of the Master of Education program at Mount Marty, so did his love for the Benedictine traditions and teachings. Dr. Shudak even started the Oblate program with the Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery. New opportunities led Dr. Shudak to the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, and later as the dean of the School of Education and Behavioral Sciences at Wayne State College in Wayne, NEB. During this time, Dr. Shudak, his wife, and five children continued to call Yankton home. “Yankton is an amazing place,” said Dr. Shudak. “More than a million people descend on Yankton every year, and we get to live here. Our family motto is ‘let’s not take it for granted.’” That’s why, when Mount Marty released a search for a dean of undergraduate studies, Dr. Shudak put his name in the hat. In just a decade, Shudak watched a lot of growth at “the college on the hill,” including the launch of the Benedictine Leadership Institute—in its infancy when he left—and new programs like the Master of Science in Biotechnology. As dean, Dr. Shudak is looking forward to hearing and learning from the faculty, as well as finding new ways to partner with the business community in Yankton and the region. And, he plans to pick back up where he left off to become an Oblate.

Dr. Shudak feels most connected to the Benedictine values of lifelong learning and awareness of god as he works to earn a Master of Arts in Theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary while exploring new ways to build programming for Mount Marty students and faculty.



GROWING AND THRIVING During the past year, Mount Marty University experienced exceptional support that backed numerous areas on campus, from scholarships to fine arts and athletics to academic programming. THANK YOU to all who were part of another successful fiscal year and contributed to our growing and thriving university! In a time when many nonprofits and charities nationwide are seeing decreases in the number of supporters, we have been blessed with an 85% increase in donors to the different areas on campus.




TOTAL 85% donorS






Mount Marty was blessed with gifts of all sizes, especially those at the leadership level. The President’s Society is an annual donor recognition program that recognizes individuals and businesses who have contributed $1,000 or more during the past fiscal year. Once again, we saw an increase in President’s Society membership, reaching a record-high of 272 members.


The President’s Society has seen a continual increase in membership over the past decade, providing an even greater impact and foundation for Mount Marty University. Find a listing of all 272 donors at

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GIVING SOCIETIES Mount Marty’s giving societies stand as pillars of philanthropy, fostering a culture of support and impact. These exclusive groups recognize the generosity of dedicated donors who believe in the transformative power of our Benedictine education. These societies, through their collective giving, fuel scholarships, innovative programs, and facilities. They forge lasting connections, inspire future leaders to pay it forward and unite individuals in a shared mission, uplifting the institution and empowering generations to come.



Recognizes those who have indicated their intentions to leave a legacy gift. President’s Society Recognizes those with cumulative giving of $1,000 or more during the past fiscal year. Loyal Lancers A new program that recognizes those who have given for three or more consecutive years. A permanent listing is located in the Advancement Hallway in Roncalli and welcomes all visitors to campus.

The complete listings are also available at or by scanning the QR code.

Anyone interested in exploring opportunities to give can contact Shannon Viereck at 605-668-1542 or

MARCH 19 & 20

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EVENTS September 25 - October 1 Lancer Days

November 7 - December 15 Student Art Show

November 10-12 Theatre performance of Urinetown: The Musical

December 9 Vespers January 12 & 13 Theatre performance of A Night in the Theatre

January 25 Alumni Virtual Paint Night March 19 Aquinas Lecture

March 22 & 23 Theatre performance of And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank

March 26 & 27 Stations of the Cross

April 12 Research & Scholarly Work Showcase

April 17 - May 8 Student Art Show

April 27 Watertown Commencement

May 4 Yankton Commencement


Visit for more events.

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2 0 L A N C E R D AY S 23 WEEKEND SCHEDULE OF EVENTS FRIDAY Lancer Days Open House 9.29.23 11:30 AM - 4 PM | MMU Welcome Center

Mount Marty Trivia

12 PM | MMU South Dining Room

Night with The Lancers (Athletics Hall of Fame)

5:30 PM | Ruth Donohoe First Dakota Fieldhouse


7:30 PM | Marian Auditorium

SUNDAY Alumni Mass 10.01.23 10:00 AM

| Bishop Marty Memorial Chapel

Fine Arts Hall of Fame 11:15 AM | Marian Auditorium

SATURDAY Lancer Days Parade 9.30.23 9:30 AM

| Meridian District, Downtown Yankton

Food & Drink, Specials, Shopping All Day | Meridian District

Alumni Honors Luncheon

11:30 AM | Meridian Venue, 109 E 3rd St.

Lancer Tailgate 3:00 PM | Memorial Park

Lancers Football Game vs. Dakota Wesleyan University

6:00 PM | Crane-Youngworth Stadium




1. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and X.

2. Visit us on campus for

Lancer Days, Vespers, fine arts events, athletic games or a tour.

3. Show your Lancer

spirit with gear from Lancer Locker, available at

4. Contact career services (605-668-4030) to hire MMU students for internships and jobs.


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