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Spring 2020


The newsletter of Pierre Laclede Honors College at the University of Missouri-St. Louis

Message from the dean

Ed Munn Sanchez

Dear Friends, The last few months have been very busy at the Pierre Laclede Honors College with some significant changes and growth in our staff and the excitement of our 30 th Anniversary Celebration. So let me start by getting you caught up in all that has been happening. After nine years at the College and seventeen at the university, Sherry Gerrein retired on November 1st. Sherry was a wonderful presence in the College and was always there for our students. We will miss her and wish her our best. We have hired Audri Adams as our new administrative associate. Many of you know Audri. She graduated from UMSL and the Honors College in December 2017 and has been working with us part time. I am very excited to welcome her to our full time staff. She joins Geri Friedline, Dr. Kate Votaw, Dr. Holly Pope, and Jen Richardson as Honors College alumni who have returned to work for us. I am also excited to welcome Dr. Rob Wilson as a full time faculty member. Rob has been teaching in the College since 2004. He will be both an assistant teaching professor and the College’s Community Engagement Coordinator. Rob will be helping the college develop more courses and opportunities that encourage our students’ engagement in the Saint Louis community. One example is his own course, Beyond the Buildings, in which our students work with Saint Louis residents on projects that capture and share the history of their neighborhoods. Some videos from this class are available on YouTube. Dr. Rita Csapo-Sweet has been with the Honors College since August. She joined us from Media Studies at UMSL and is teaching film courses. She is also the American producer of Made in Auschwitz: The Untold Story of Block 10 that was most recently screened this November as part of the St. Louis International Film Festival. You can hear an interview with Dr. Csapo-Sweet on the Saint Louis Public Radio show, “St. Louis on the Air.” With the recognition of how important undergraduate research is both to PLHC students and other UMSL students, it seemed a natural fit to house the University’s undergraduate research efforts in the Honors College. Dr. Kate Votaw has taken on the role of the Undergraduate Research Coordinator for the University. Kate will continue to teach Honors psychology courses, serve as an academic advisor, and do all of the many great things that our Honors faculty do. And she will add the challenging task of coordinating undergraduate research for all UMSL students. And in what will be a profound change for us, Nancy Gleason is retiring from the Honors College. Nancy has been “retired” for several years now, but she has continued working part-time with us. As many of you who know Nancy might imagine, part-time still meant fully engaged, and she has been in many ways the heart and soul of Pierre Laclede Honors College. Nancy has decided that it is time to retire in full. It is difficult to even begin to say everything that Nancy has meant to the College. We will try to do justice to Nancy’s contribution in the coming months. For everyone in Honors, Nancy has been a friend, mentor, guide, sounding board, and just a great person to know, and we cannot begin to express our thanks to her.


Provenance Spring 2020 In other news, we had the largest entering class in the history of the Honors College this August. We welcomed 191 new students. I am currently teaching a freshman Cultural Traditions course, so I can say from personal experience that at least 18 of these students are sharp, engaged, and a whole lot of fun. Our new students have already been writing for Brain Stew, gone to a performance of Merchant of Venice, participated in UMSL’s common reading experience (James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk), started on our men’s soccer team, and enlivened the college as only new students can. And of course we have our 30th anniversary celebrations, the Honors Ball and 30th Anniversary party, on April 4. Our 10th annual Trivia Night is on January 25. And the celebration of 20 years of Bellerive during Homecoming on February 28. There is more on these events later in this issue, but please visit the anniversary page on our website. I very much hope to see you at any and all of these events. As you can see there is a lot of excitement and some big changes at the Honors College. We are growing, our students continue to succeed, and I believe that we are at a tipping point. We are looking forward to a very exciting future. At the same time higher education is changing rapidly, demographics are trending in the wrong direction, and state support is not going to improve. It is time in our history to take a step forward in the quality and scope of our program and make the excellence of the Pierre Laclede Honors College more visible and accessible. And so more than ever we need your support. Financial support, of course. The reality of higher education is that resources are shrinking and public institutions who want to thrive will need support from their alumni and friends. Many of our students at UMSL and in the Honors College face real economic challenges. What we want to make available to our students in the Honors College is the kind of education that often is only available to students with substantial means. So your financial support will continue to grow in importance.

But just as crucial is your willingness to give your time and perhaps most importantly to advocate and just get the word out about the Pierre Laclede Honors College. We are, as many of you have already heard from me, a hidden gem. We really need to quit hiding. So tell everyone you know that you are a graduate or a friend of the Honors College at UMSL. Let them know about your experiences and about the excellence and opportunity that we offer. And if there is anyone you think I should meet, contact me. I really mean this. I love telling people about the Honors College and what we do and would really welcome any advice and help you can offer. I really enjoy hearing from and meeting our alumni and friends so please be in touch and be sure to join us in our celebration of thirty years of our Honors College.




The Provenance Contributors Provenance is a student-produced publication of the Pierre Laclede Honors College. Its goal is to help keep alumni and friends connected with the college, current students, and each other.

Our Spring 2020 Provenance staff: • • • •

Kevin Kuchno, English, class of May 2020 Kaitlyn Waller, English, class of May 2019 Kristyn Waller, English, class of December 2019 Dan Gerth, Associate Dean, faculty advisor

Click here for back issues of Provenance or visit for these and other editions, as well as additional Honors publications, such as Brain Stew and the Undergraduate Research Symposium program.

Which version of Provenance do you prefer? Are you reading this online and prefer physical media? Are you reading a hard copy and prefer the electronic edition for easier access to web links? Contact Dan Gerth at if you would like a version of Provenance other than the form you are reading.

Fall 2018

Honors College Facebook: Pierre Laclede Honors College at UMSL Twitter: @UMSLHonors Instagram: umslhonors

PLHCSA Facebook: Pierre Laclede Honors College Student Association Twitter: @umslplhcsa Instagram: umslplhcsa

Alumni Facebook: Pierre Laclede Honors College Alumni

Spring 2019

Fall 2019

Brain Stew Twitter: @UMSLBrainStew

BEllerive Facebook: BellerivePublication Twitter: @UMSLBellerive Instagram: umslbellerive

Looking for an independent study opportunity?

Honors 4900-003: Independent Study in Honors: Provenance ARR

1-3 credit hours Gerth, D.

Interested in developing your writing, communication, or design skills? Want to help nurture the relationship between alumni and the PLHC students, faculty, and staff? Provenance is looking for students for Spring 2020. You will be part of a team that develops ideas for future articles; interviews alumni, students, or faculty for articles; collaborates on editorial decisions; and gains valuable writing skills in genres that you may not always be exposed to in traditional writing classes. Credit hours and duties are negotiated so as to provide you with the best possible learning experience. Duties can begin immediately or in the spring, depending on your availability. Non-credit volunteer positions are also available. Contact Dan for more information:


Alumni Profile: Shawntelle Fisher Photo courtesy of UMSL Daily

Profiled in UMSL Daily in May 2015, Shawntelle Fisher is one of the most amazing people to complete the Honors Certificate. She graduated in spring 2015, with degrees in Media Studies and Educational Studies, as well as a Social Work minor. And she did all of this while she was also getting SoulFisher Ministries, her non-profit organization that supports children of incarcerated parents and women recently released from incarceration, up and running. Dan Gerth and Ed Munn Sanchez were fortunate to be able to catch up with Shawntelle last September at Drake’s in Ferguson. What is it that brought you to UMSL and the Honors College? It was summer 2013 and I was preparing for graduation from St. Louis Community College at Flo Valley and I was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society. They have the Missouri Academic scholarship competition, which provides a full tuition scholarship for your next degree. And I actually won the competition! So it was a no-brainer; I’m going to UMSL for free! Then, through the UMSL application process, I heard about the Honors College. I spent a lot of time in the writing lab at Flo, and I thought Honors would a great opportunity for me to continue growing as a writer, not ever knowing that I was going to be running a non-profit, writing grants, etc. And I was accepted. Then you’re at UMSL and the Honors College, and you start enrolling in a huge number of classes. You completed 102 credit hours in 4 semesters and 2 summers! Two degrees, a minor, a certificate, and a 3.98 GPA, right? [Laughing] Yes! How in the world did you do that? You completed 24 credit hours one semester. I had to petition to take this course overload. They [College of Arts and Sciences] said “absolutely not.” And so I’m upset now because I know what I can do. You all don’t know me well enough to say what I can and what I can’t do! And so a college administrator said that when a graduate student wants to take a course overload, they have to put it in writing and be able to articulate why. So I did, and they granted it. And after that, they just automatically approved everything [laughing]!

Why so fast? And why so much? Because I was older than the rest of the students, and I didn’t have a lot of time to explore, like they did. I was also getting the SoulFisher Ministries up and running. And so I was just really trying to move as quickly as I could through my program. But, while still, you know, maintaining a strong academic standing. It took a lot of perseverance. It took a lot of sleepless nights. It took a lot of early mornings. But I was able to do it and do it well. You were also active in a lot of student organizations too, right? UMSL Ambassadors, Golden Key, Phi Kappa Phi. I helped with the Honors Alumni Trivia Nights too. I just felt that it was important to not just be engaged in my outside community, but to also be engaged with the campus community too. It didn’t seem like networking at the time. I was just doing it because I liked the organizations and their missions. But now when I reach out to people on campus, they always respond with “Sure I’ll help. I remember you. What can I do?” Even the Chancellor! He knew me because I was always right next to him as an Ambassador. So when I started asking him for sponsorship assistance, especially with our gala or gold tournament events for the Ministries, he said “of course.” When I graduated, I had so many different tassels, sashes, and other robe accessories that they wouldn’t let me wear all of them! You were already starting SoulFischer Ministries while you were at UMSL too,


right? Can you tell us a little bit about the process? I incorporated it while I was at Flo Valley. It was after a leadership course there that I wrote up and pitched the business plan, which didn’t get great reviews at the time. But I persevered and we started major operations while I was at UMSL. In 2013, I reached out to a CPA that I found online. I just googled “CPAs” and just called and asked “how do you do a 501c3?” And we talked, and he liked the ideas. He helped me finish the application and in 2014 we had 501c3 status. Since then, we’ve just taken off. We started programming in the fall of 2014. That year I think our annual budget was $15,000. Last year, our budget was $1.3 million. That’s how SoulFischer Ministries was started. We were amazed when reading about all of the grants you have received since the organization started. I think I read about a recent one for $350,000. That was partial funding for one year. We actually got $1.5 million for over 5 years, which was a DESE [Department of Elementary and Secondary Education] grant. There was also a $500,000 DOJ [Department of Justice] grant recently. Do you write the grant proposals? I do. I’m the grant writer charged with that, as the CEO. So I write all of our grants, watch and monitor all of the grants, report on all the funding, report to the auditors, and all of that. What’s your recipe for success?

Provenance Spring 2020

Writing in college paid off! The same tools you use to write great essays, you also use to write great grant applications. Synthesis and cohesion – important for essays and grant applications. If you’re talking about a particular need, because you always start with a need statement, and then if you start talking about the program and it doesn’t align fully with the need statement, that disrupts whole application. So make sure that it’s cohesive from start to finish. And that you’re painting a clear picture. It’s in your head. You have to take it from there and put it on paper. Make sure that anybody who reads it understands exactly what you want to do. What are some of the things that Soul Fischer Ministries is up to these days? What are the projects that you are most proud? Everything! All of it! The after school program for students with an incarcerated parent is near and dear to my heart because we’re preparing our future leaders. Those same students that participated and graduated from our program are now coming back and they’re actually employed as tutors in the program. So just seeing them learn how to manage time, learn how to come to work, seeing them mature and become responsible people, it just makes my heart sing. Then, of course, working with the women working to leave the criminal justice system. We have many of them that come out and struggle. But it just reminds me of the struggles that I too had trying to figure life out. But then seeing the ones that the light goes off and they get it and they stay focused and they’re coming through this program and they’re determined to come out on top on the other side, it just makes me see that what I’m doing is so worthwhile. And makes me get up and want to do it again the next day. Can you tell us more about those programs? How do people participate, for example? The after school program is for kindergarten through eighth grade students in the Riverview Gardens School District. So we’re at Koch Elementary School and we’re at Westview Middle School. Students apply to participate. They either have a currently or formerly

incarcerated parent or are performing two to three grade levels below expectations. The program lasts Monday through Friday. We provide tutoring in math, reading, and English. We provide a host of enrichment activities too. The Science Center comes in once a week and does project-based learning with them. They learn online coding through Global Hack. We have a group of Social Workers that come in and work with them on social-emotional learning. They learn robotics through Bricks 4 Kidz. This year we’re excited because Circus Harmony joined us. It’s still a form of socialemotional learning because you have to get along with people if you’re going to trust them to flip you in the air and catch you when you fall! So we’re excited to have Circus Harmony joining us.

mental health and preventative medications. It’s about helping set them up for success, rather than expecting them to figure out a complicated world without access to the resources they need.

emergency room as a primary care physician. We help cover co-pays for

To read more about Shawntelle at UMSL Daily, please visit

Do you have any one story that you think is really emblematic or symbolic of the whole thing, of what you’re trying to do?

We have one girl who was one of the first five students to start with us at Koch Elementary in 2014. Her academic performance was so far below grade level that it was heartbreaking. Her mom insisted that she come every day, even though she hated the program. She had a bad attitude, and I was always closely supervising her - checking her about her attitude, making sure her work was completed, stopping her from being disruptive or inattentive. She eventually Our program for women - they find out just got it. Then she started coming to the about us either once they’ve been program because she actually wanted to released through probation and parole or come to the program. Now she’s one of if they’re still incarcerated through our the senior leaders in the program. Just liaison in the prison who is the preseeing her now in high school is inspiring. release coordinator. They apply and we She sings in the choir, she comes to work meet for an interview and assessment. every day, she keeps up with all of her Some of whom we accept start in our schoolwork. She went from well below transitional housing program if we basic on the MAP [Measures of Academic identify them as having really high risk Progress], to scoring proficient or needs, such as not having a high school advanced in every area. And the soft skills diploma or equivalency or possibly having are there, which she was really lacking at a lot of parole stipulations. They may the beginning. It lets me know that what have required substance abuse, anger we’re doing is working, on so many management, and parenting classes. And levels. She’s just an amazing young lady to expect them to do all of that and work and I look forward to seeing how bright full-time is not setting them up for her future is going to be. success, so we give them time to finish all of that in the transitional housing. Then Want to plug volunteer opportunities we move them over into the permanent before we go? housing program, which is also an option Yes! We always need volunteers. We have for some people who don’t have all the our annual golf tournament that we need high-risk needs when they enter the program. We place them in their own fully volunteers for. Our annual gala that we need volunteers for. And just after school furnished apartment the day of their release from prison. We give every woman tutoring and the re-entry programs. Any way that they want to volunteer! If they that comes out into the post-release just want to come and help out at the program a cell phone and bus pass, and we help them make sure they have a birth office, we have an opportunity for them. I just think about the practicum students certificate, social security card, driver’s and the interns. They just learn so much. license or state ID, things that many of them do not have when released. We also We have some that just want to work with have a partnership with Aetna. So the day the after school program. They do that. after their release, we take them to Aetna We have some that just want to work with and get signed up for Aetna Better Health, the re-entry program. They do that. We have some that come and say “I want to so that they have access to health learn it all.” And we let them do that! insurance and can see a primary care They learn a lot. physician, as opposed to using the


Now Serving: Pierre Laclede PIlsner In early fall, Ryan Newcomer (see our Fall 2018 issue for a special spotlight on Ryan’s involvement in the St. Louis beer scene) approached the Ferguson Brewing Company with an idea. The Pierre Laclede Honors College has a 30th anniversary coming up, maybe a beer inspired by St. Louis founder Pierre Laclede would also be in order? While the college’s involvement was basically over at that point, we are very happy to announce that not only was the Pierre Laclede Pilsner a go, it’s now officially on the FBC menu! And we can vouch for the fact that it is outstanding. In competition for the Pivo of the Year Award at the Great St. Louis Czech Beer Festival this past December, it will be served at our Alumni Trivia Night on January 25th and at our 30th Anniversary Party on April 4th. Did Pierre Laclede drink this beer while founding St. Louis? Did he brew it with water from the Mississippi river? While these questions might be very, very silly and better posed in Brain Stew than Provenance, please join us for this beer at this year’s alumni events. Fred Fausz, first dean of the college and author of Founding St. Louis: First City of the New West, will be there and can answer all questions about Pierre Laclede.

FIRST ROW: The Pierre Laclede Pilsner brewing inside Ferguson Brewing Co. SECOND ROW: PLHC alumni enjoying the pilsner at the Greater St. Louis Czech Beer Festival. Pictured: JB Carroll, Holly Pope, Ryan and Adrienne Newcomer, served by Jim Wells of Ferguson Brewing Co. THIRD ROW, LEFT: Ferguson Brewing Co. MIDDLE: Fred Fausz’s Founding St. Louis. RIGHT: Pierre Laclede, 1729-1788.


Provenance Spring 2020

Cooking with Kristyn and Kaitlyn By Kristyn Waller and Kaitlyn Waller In this Provenance recurring feature, we spotlight favorite recipes from Honors College faculty and staff members. And we try them out! This issue we visit “Eddie’s Potato Soup” from Assistant Teaching Professor Kate Votaw (and her step-father, Eddie).

suppose.” At this point, and growing increasingly frustrated, I request an objective measurement to which he finally answers “Oh… about 3 or 4 tablespoons, I suppose.” If you’re as unfamiliar with cooking as I was at the time you may not realize that this is a LOT of salt (he meant teaspoons). I didn’t know any better though and followed the directions and ended up with….a very salty soup. It was barely edible. We ended up feeding the leftovers to that one friend who will basically eat anything, and to this day my husband still thinks of this soup as “a bit salty.”

Q&A with Kate Q. Where did you learn this recipe? A. This is one of the few “family recipes” that we had in my household growing up. We would probably eat it once every couple of weeks during the winter. It was a recipe that was my stepdad’s (that he got from his mom), so I can remember when my mom married him and we started eating it frequently. Q. Do you have any special memories associated with this recipe?

Q. How often do you make this recipe?

A. This recipe just makes me think of being a pre-teen and eating dinner with my family when it was chilly outside. We weren’t a big cooking-and-sitting-and-eating-as-a-family sort of family, but this does make me think of dinners with my parents, probably because we had it so often. This was also one of the first real meals that my husband and I made together when we moved into our first apartment together at Mansion Hills. I had never made it before so I called my mom to get the recipe. She’s not one for formal “recipes” so she gave me a long list of vague instructions like “buy enough potatoes to fill the pot.” (Very helpful Mom….what kind of potatoes? Do I peel them first? I’m at the store and don’t have the pot with me… can you help out a bit more?). It was basically just like the Technical Challenge portion of the Great British Bake-Off, except far less quaint and I was anything but technically proficient at cooking at that point. So we get the recipe assembled when I realize that there is most certainly salt and pepper but I don’t really know when or how much. So I call back and this time get my stepdad, Eddie, on the phone. Relieved that I may finally get some concrete instructions, I ask him how much salt to add. His response? “Oh…enough to fill your hand, I

A. It’s not the healthiest of soups so we don’t make it that often, but we still make it a couple of times every winter when we want something easy and comfy-cozy to eat. Q. Why do you like making this recipe? A. I like this recipe because it’s pretty different than a traditional potato soup. I find most potato soups to be overly thick and rich and focus too much on unnecessary flavors like bacon and green onion. This soup, on the other hand, is much more milky and creamy and if you eat it on the second day, it is just about the perfect texture of creamy potatoes and buttery milky flavors. It’s simple but just gets better each day you let it get to know each other in the fridge.

Our Result: We made our own amendments to the recipe. Instead of one whole stick of butter we used half, and instead of putting in the onions with the potatoes, we sautéed them with the sausage. It turned out to be a great soup with a lot of flavor and interesting texture.


From Normandie to How honors Provincial House: found its homes The Honors College was the Honors Program until 1986 when Chancellor Marguerite Ross Barnett announced her desire to create an Honors College to recruit high caliber students to the University of Missouri—St. Louis. It would take some time, but Honors as a college opened for business thirty years ago in fall 1989. Blanche Touhill, Professor and Chancellor Emeritus, said “there was always the thought that our very bright students who like small classes, independent study, debate, and writing

By Kaitlyn Waller

The proposal to establish the Honors College, written by John Onuska, former Honors Program Director, argued UMSL was “conscious of its obligation to make special provision for those highly capable students who, having chosen to come to this campus for various reasons, had indicated a willingness to take on additional academic challenges.” The Honors College was proposed in order “to channel their intellectual enthusiasm.”

Dr. Blanche Touhill discussed her role in the formation of the Honors College when she became Chancellor after Chancellor Barnett left in 1990. John Onuska had contacted Touhill about would like to have a smaller program for the first two years that would encompass their general education. It was more of a the Honors College’s need for a larger building because the college did not have the classrooms and recreational rooms seminar setting than a regular class.” needed for the College and its projected number of students. The original Sophomore Honors Program began in the College In 1976, UMSL had purchased the cornerstone of South of Arts and Sciences in 1978, and it was a two-year program campus. Marillac College, a seminary for nuns owned by the that encompassed general education requirements. Students Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent DePaul, closed in 1974 when were primarily from the College of Arts and Sciences, and enrollment declined to the point that continued operation was Honors courses were held in regular classrooms on north campus, such as in Clark Hall and the Social Sciences Building. no longer practical. The 44-acre property and eight buildings were subsequently offered for sale, representing a portion of a The Program also had a lounge in Lucas Hall for students to larger parcel of land totaling 230 acres, which included St. gather. Vincent’s Hospital and the Daughters of Charity Provincialate. An appointed transition committee prepared a formal proposal The purchase included all the buildings to the west of for the establishment of the Honors College. It spent a year Provincial House, including Marillac Hall. The goal was to before the planned opening in fall 1989 creating a model alleviate overcrowding on North campus and to reduce costs curriculum, including Honors College requirements and for future expansion projects. The purchase did not include Honors courses. It also determined faculty and staff Provincial House or Normandie Hall. arrangements.


Provenance Spring 2020 Blanche Touhill went to the sisters of Incarnate Word Academy

space the Honors College needed to grow to its goal of 600

to see about renting classrooms for the Honors College. The nuns said they were vacating Incarnate Word Hall, later named

students. The building had mostly office rooms, and there were only a few faculty at that time who needed office spaces, as

Normandie Hall, as they were in the process of sending their

most had offices in their respective departments on North

nuns to San Antonio, Texas, to assist migrants.

campus. Incarnate Word also only had several good rooms for classes. The unused cafeteria was split into several rooms by partition for additional classroom space, which wasn’t ideal.

Normandie Hall had a chapel which could turn into a convocation hall, and it had recreational areas on the lower level and dormitory spaces on the upper floor, which could provide UMSL’s first on-campus housing. “I thought the Honors College would grow, and the figure I had in my brain was 600 [students],” Blanche said. “I thought the campus did

Nancy said Provincial House was a better option for the Honors College because it would be closer to Residential Life, which was in Provincial House prior to the Honors College moving in, and it would be closer to the nursing building and the new

need a small college within a big university. It was filling a need residential housing units, such as University Meadows and for a group of students that I thought could benefit from such a Seton. Additionally, unlike Normandie, Provincial House had a college.”

common room, a kitchen, two libraries, and other “nooks and crannies,” which altogether created a stronger academic space for Honors students.

“My goal was to get the building so that the Honors College would be downstairs on the first floor,” she continued. “The Honors College students who wanted to live on campus could live on the top two floors, and the basement would be the recreational area.”

Normandie Hall was still used for conferences and student orientations in the convocation hall, or the “great hall,” after the Honors College moved into Provincial House.

Incarnate Word was bought on a lease purchase arrangement, and the Honors College was officially inaugurated in the Fall of 1989. It moved into Normandie Hall in 1991, and the first dormitories on campus were offered in Normandie Hall in the fall. Students in the dormitories lived with the sisters of Incarnate Word Academy until the sisters completely moved out of Normandie Hall.

Nancy Gleason said the Provincial House reflects the lifestyle of the Honors College. It is “a home away from home for students, faculty and staff.” Indeed, many Honors students now live in Villa Hall, dorms inside of the Honors College, and Honors students spend long hours in the common room working on homework or relaxing until their next class.

Normandie Hall was the home of the Honors College until 2001 when it moved into Provincial House after the building became available for purchase from the Daughters of Charity in 1999. It also included the chapel and several other buildings, such as Seton Hall, which could be used for more dormitories.

Dr. Touhill lauded the Honors College. She said it became a rigorous expanded program that offered a wide variety of diverse courses connected to the larger campus through shared faculty and students from all majors.

“It really is a small college within a big university,” she said.

Nancy Gleason, Associate Dean Emerita, explained that while Normandie Hall alleviated many of the spacing problems that came with being on North campus, it still did not have the

ABOVE: Honors College established at Normandie Hall (1989) RIGHT: Provincial House 90 year apart: Sisters of Charity (1929) and the Honors College freshman class (2019)


THE EAGLE HAS LANDED! The Normandie Hall Eagle Comes Home to Honors While Honors moved homes from Normandie Hall to Provincial House in 2001, the iconic eagle in

Laclede family coat of arms and the Honors College seal designed by Fred Fausz, Emeritus

front of the building was sadly unable to make the journey. But to honor the 30th anniversary of the

Associate Professor of History and first dean of the college? You should come talk with Fred about the

college, Associate Dean Emerita Nancy Gleason worked with UMSL Facilities to arrange for a

Pierre Laclede and the founding of St. Louis and the early days of the Pierre Laclede Honors College

homecoming. Is this the same bird that’s on the

at our 30th anniversary party on April 4th!

ABOVE: The eagle statue arrives at Provincial House. LEFT: The statue at its original home, Normandie Hall. RIGHT: The Pierre Laclede Honors College seal which features a familiar bird of prey.


Provenance Fall 2019

The Provenance of Provenance : Newsletter Flashback Before Brain Stew, before Bellerive, before Provenance… we are very happy to bring you a selection from first issue of the first PLHC newsletter from our first year as a college: Confluence. Plus, a new reflection from Andy Theising, 30 years after his first Confluence article. Andy is a long-time member of the PLHC Leadership Council, where he also served as chair.

Exploiting Honors: 30 Years Later I wrote that column when I was about to start my professional career thirty years ago. Now, I’m looking at retirement on the horizon. It’s fun to be reminded of these events over time and it makes me think how things change and how they don’t. Thirty years later, the Honors College is still part of my life. I’ve had the pleasure of studying there, of teaching courses there 20 years ago, of joining in alumni projects, and of serving on the Leadership Council. Many things have changed, of course—some for the better, some for the worse. Technological change is stunning. Students today start college with more breadth than ever before thanks to technology. That is a plus. However, it is depth that sets us apart and leads to success. Students who have a strong sense of inquiry are unstoppable. The Honors College is built around the notion of inquiry. Find your depth! Be sure to stay in balance, though. Something that has not changed is the importance of relationships—family, friends, colleagues, life partners. In 30 years, I’ve never had a job for which I was not invited to apply. I don’t think that’s a statement about unearned privilege; I do think it speaks to people who cared about me and my well-being. My professors cared. My colleagues cared. They opened doors and made introductions. It will happen for you too. The Honors College wants your success and will help you shine. Dean Munn Sanchez skillfully leads a team that should make you proud. They care about you. They will make introductions. They will open doors—and when you walk through those doors, know that the Honors College has prepared you for whatever you will find. I wish you every success along the way!

Andy Theising, 2019 UMSL Distinguished Alumni Awardee, 2015


The Desert island interview: Geri Friedline By Kaitlin and Kristyn Waller This recurring feature Provenance helps showcase the outstanding Honors College faculty, but in a format that is more creative than a traditional interview. Inspired by a long-running series conducted by the BBC, we asked Geri Friedline what eight items she would bring with her to a desert island. Geri has been a full-time teaching professor in the Honors College since 2007, and in February, she is leading the celebration for the 20th anniversary of Bellerive, our annual anthology of poetry, fiction, prose, art, photography, and music. Geri has led the class for more than ten years now, after starting as an assistant to Bellerive’s founder, Nancy Gleason. For information about the Bellerive anniversary party, please contact Geri directly at or visit us at Imagine you are going to be stranded on a deserted isle for an indeterminate length of time. You have been barred from bringing anything survivalrelated—no tents, matches, or anything of the like. In lieu of more practical luggage, you have instead been permitted to bring eight items that hold more meaning to you as an intellectual and scholar rather than a cast-away; these items could be novels, songs, films, or even especially entertaining tweets. What are your eight items? First would be a Bible. Second would be an anthology of philosophy that included both Western and Nonwestern works. Third would be an issue of Bellerive. I can’t tell you which one. I’d have to think about that more. Fourth would be a smooth jazz mix. They don’t say CDs anymore, right? Fifth would be Beethoven's Sixth Symphony, and some of his sonatas. Next would be a photo album, a journal, and a pack of pens. Do you have a favorite quotation from any of these works? I would probably have to say anything in the Psalms, particularly Psalm 46 or Psalm 23. If I were looking at philosophy, Socrates has any number of quotes on true knowledge being about what you don’t know, or realizing that you don’t know, so probably those would

be the choices, but pinning it down to one or something specific is really hard to do. Do you incorporate any of these into your classes? If not, which ones would you like to? I do incorporate Socrates, particularly in Cultural Traditions, but it kind of comes up in all of my classes because I like to tell students, “Hey, you think you’re really smart but….” No, I’m kidding. But I think it’s always important to think about what you don’t know, not just what you do know, and to me, the more educated I became, the more I realized there’s a lot of stuff out there I don’t know, and that was kind of painfully enlightening in some ways, but it’s also kind of neat because then you can keep learning for the rest of your life. I’m kind of thinking about how in Cultural Traditions we do incorporate some elements from the Bible, concerning it as literature, and typically I’ve been sticking with things like Genesis and Exodus because they’re consistent with ideas that we see in the other texts. I think it would be really interesting to maybe switch it up next time to incorporate Psalms as poetry because they’re so lyrical and so poetic and they incorporate a lot of the history that’s covered in the Bible, and I can see it kind of being a nice parallel to some of the poetry and the lyrical quality of Bhagavad Gita, so it can still show a connection between Western and Nonwestern culture. What made you decide to become an educator? I loved playing school when I was a kid because I loved going to school, but it took me a while to get to education. It was kind of like a third career. I was a nontraditional student when I finished college. I realized that every job that I ever did that I loved had to do with teaching in some way, or training. When I was afforded an opportunity to go back to school, I jumped on it, and this is what I’ve always wanted to do, and I’ve never been sorry. What do you see as the goal of education?


Returning to Socrates, realizing what you do not know is key, as is being comfortable or pleased with what you do know. So I think for me the biggest goal of education is to definitely keep students open minded to explore previously unexplored territory, and that can include ideas that you’re not really comfortable with, or things that you normally wouldn’t choose to do because when you step outside of your comfort zone, you kind of see that things do fit together in ways that you don’t think they do, and maybe we’re not so different even if we don’t agree on some things. So I think that that leads to respect for other cultures, respect for other people, and just awareness that it’s not all about you or all about me, it’s about how everything works together, so I put that as a priority for education. What do you think distinguishes between a “good” teacher and a “bad” teacher? I think a good teacher is someone who instead of telling you what to think, teaches you to think and makes you make that a priority for yourself because thinking can be kind of risky sometimes, and a little bit scary, and we get in our comfort zones. Just kind of instilling this idea of lifelong learning being something that's a process of thinking and not just coming up with the answers because sometimes the way to the answer is more important than the answer itself. I also try really hard not to let my biases or perspectives or preferences come through in what I’m teaching because, again, I don’t think it’s my job to tell you what to think. What’s smart for you is

Provenance Spring 2020 what you figure out is smart for you. To me, a bad teacher is someone who does the opposite, who lectures at people, and particularly in literature, says there’s only one way to interpret it—what a disservice to literature itself and to the students. I really don’t like a teacher who inflicts. I don’t think you’re teaching if you’re inflicting your opinions because in a sense you’re shaping what people think. And bad teachers don’t listen. I think it’s really important to listen. It’s almost like a bedside manner because sometimes you have to just sit and listen to somebody talk through the stuff that doesn’t seem important to get to the part that is important, and there’s so much more to being a teacher than just making sure somebody passes a course or giving them the information they need. I think there’s a relationship. Maybe that’s coming from the Honors College, or maybe that’s coming from the teachers I always related to as a student, but I think teaching has to be more than what happens in a classroom.

read it, but hey. And if I finish that and still have time, I’d switch from coffee to wine and sit outside where I could enjoy nature a bit and think and meditate. And I am a religious person, so I would pray. If you could go on a road trip with one fictional character, who would it be? Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice for lots of reasons. For one, he’s rich, so about anything could be possible, but he’s also someone who, as you saw in the book, developed from a very snobbish, tight, closed person, to being somebody who you could have an enjoyable friendship with. He was always pretty intelligent and a pretty good conversationalist, well-read and all that, so I think he would be very interesting. And he had a bit of a sense of humor, too, so yeah, I think it would be Mr. Darcy.

As an educator, who was your greatest influence?

If you would bring one person back from the dead, who would it be?

I was very fortunate. I started at community college, and I had some fantastic teachers at Florissant Valley Community College. They kind of saw something in me that I didn’t see, and helped me to see it and to get the confidence to try it, and then I got to UMSL, and we have some amazing faculty here at UMSL. But, again, I couldn’t single out anybody—get to the Honors College, and it’s like, wow, it doesn’t get any better than this, with the people that I was fortunate enough to encounter. It turned my dream job into wanting to teach at the Honors College. And here I am. Among those people I have to say Nancy Gleason is—I don’t have words for it, honestly. She is one of those people who are so good at seeing things in people that they never would have dreamed of looking at themselves, and steering them in a direction where they discover it and think “I figured this out.” She’s been really good at that. Everybody I work with, all the faculty here, are really supportive. Choosing one is just too hard. We have so many amazing people on campus here.

Mahatma Gandhi. I really like his writings and his teachings on peaceful nonviolent protest, and also his commitment to having a sense within yourself of committing to the things that you fight for. He speaks about the importance of an oath, that it’s totally binding and pretty much sinful if you break the oath, so you shouldn’t take an oath lightly; but if you really believe in something, and you really want to fight for something, you should be willing to take that oath and stick with it no matter what it takes. And that whole peaceful nonviolent idea—there’s so much strength in that if you can get enough people to do it. I think it has more effect in the long haul and more impact than violence. Violence scares us, and we’ll respond to violence and we’ll do what people want because we don’t want the violence and we don’t want to get hurt, but it doesn’t really produce any change. What Gandhi’s talking about, there’s a serenity and a commitment to it that really does make a difference and really does produce change in the world.

How has UMSL impacted you?

If you could turn any book into a movie or TV show with you as director and unlimited resources, what would it be?

UMSL has gotten me to the place I always wanted to be, and that changes daily. I’m not stagnant. First it got me into college, pursuing what I wanted to pursue—being an educator—then it got me into being a TA and teaching. Then it got me into being a faculty member, and as a faculty member, branching out and doing other things that faculty members do, like working with student organizations and conferences, and developing curriculum and getting to talk to people like you guys, and Bellerive. Bellerive has been such a huge part of my life. That whole process of just watching the group dynamic form and seeing people work together, and then there’s something permanent sitting on the shelf after that class. Instead of walking across the stage and feeling really proud of myself, I get to watch my students walk across. So it changes daily, but I think there’s a consistency where even though there’s other places that I want to go, they tend to all be connected to where I’m at now at UMSL. If you and only you found out the world was ending tomorrow, what would you do? First thing I would do is make a cup of coffee and grab a bag of chocolate. And then after I did that, I’d make a list of all the people who are really important to me, and that would be family and friends, colleagues, and students, and I would systematically call, text, facetime, and tell them what I think is the most special thing about them and what I think they should find special about themselves. I don’t know if they’d


Jasper Fforde. He wrote a couple of series that are sort of metafiction. The first series is about a literary detective called Thursday Next, and the name of the book is The Eyre Affair. Thursday Next is really interesting. She drives this sports car splattered with all different colors of paint, and she book jumps. She works with the literary police and actually goes inside novels and meets literary characters. She’s part of the secret agency that maintains literary integrity because every time someone changes something in a book, it changes history because the real world reflects the book world. She’s in training, and her handler is Miss Havisham from Great Expectations, and she likes to drive a red sports car, which is really kind of cool. It’s kind of a spoof on detective fiction, but it’s all in the literary world. I think it would be interesting to turn it into a television show. It would be expensive because of jumping from book to book, but it’s very imaginative and works with classic literature in a very fun way.

Thanks to Geri Friedline for agreeing to be interviewed! Have a suggestion for the next faculty desert island interview? Be sure to let us know. And mark your calendar for Bellerive’s 20th anniversary celebration on Friday, February 28th.


Provenance 2019 Provenance Fall Spring 2018


PAWSOME JOB! ANNOUNCING THE WINNER of The PURRRFECT FUNDRAISING CONTEST! Thanks to everyone who donated to our first ever fundraising contest involving our pets! We were able to raise over $1000, which will be dedicated to summer scholarships for Honors students. We appreciate every donation, whether made in honor of a cat, dog, chicken, guinea pig, salamander, or even those donations for tigers (although we seriously doubt you have pet tigers. If so, we need pictures!).

And the moment you’ve all been waiting for… Cats are the official pet of the Pierre Laclede Honors College for 2020! Cats raised exactly $6 more than dogs to take the prize. Which individual pet will be crowned as the official mascot of our 30th anniversary party? To be determined at the drawing later this month. All pets who donated – or had owners who donated, in case the pets could not figure out how to use a computer or were not allowed to have their own credit card – are in the running.

Thank you to the following pets… Abbey Road






HRM Bruce-Dog














Beat ‘Em Up Joe





Dr. Teeth









Juno Manuno


















Oscar de la Pooch Pancakes Pax Penny Lane Pepper Perry Pete Pickles Princess Ribbon Roxy

Sage the Mage Saba Sammy Simba Sinatra Skittles Sophie Steven Sunflower Sunny Treebert Tucker



Thank you to the following pet owners… Audri Adams

Aimee Dunlap

Glen Gould

Clarence Baker

Lucas Fischer

Sophie Bell

Audrey Forth

Lindsey Grossheim

Mindy Bier

Abby Foster

Bob Bliss

Danielle Friz

Bryan Buckley

Olivia Fuller

David Buhr

Alex Galindo

Alivia Hall Mara Hamilton Ashton Hartman Tommy Hoffman

Maddesyn Langley

Janice Petty

Cole Sutterer

Holly Pope

Ann Torrusio

Jen Richardson

Davis Volpitto

Ed Munn Sanchez

Leslie Scheuler

Kate Votaw

Hunter Moore

Christoph Schiessl

Kathryn Walterscheid

Sophie Loban

David Munn Carstensen

Taylor Schroeden

Wolfe Weeks Hannah Wells

Sue Carstensen

Nick Galindo

Mya Horn

Ana Munn Carstensen

Amy Seidel

Michelle Ciurria

Nicole Gevers

Ariel Hur

Selena Nolte

Hope Dearing

Dan Gerth

Sarah Wilson

Jenna Kot

Hayden Steingruby

Tyler Obermark

Nigel Stoff

Rob Wilson

Ruth Kvistad

Debbie O’Reilly

Katelyn Delvaux Nancy Gleason

Jay Widlacki

And thank you to everyone who donated outside of our pet contest Our full donor recognition list will appear in our Fall 2020 Provenance.


Provenance Spring 2020

Please consider giving To the honors college Your gift brings many good results. Scholarship support helps us attract more and stronger students and encourages those same students to realize their full potential at St. Louis’s very own public, research university. Some funds are devoted to student welfare and facilities, refreshing those parts that public funds don’t often reach or cannot encompass. Gifts help us seize unexpected opportunities for our students’ benefit. All gifts work together to make our small seminars flourish, multiply our independent study and research projects, and ensure the continued relevance to our students’ lives of a liberal education and the attitudes to learning it embodies. In almost thirty years, we’ve grown to 600 students who major in every UMSL program and enrich the campus with their diversity. They come mainly from the region but from further afield, too, and represent a dozen states and about the same number of foreign countries. But they come to like St. Louis, and most stay here after graduation, whether in graduate and professional programs, or teaching in our schools, or working in its private or public sector firms and organizations. So your gift not only strengthens our students; it makes a difference to St. Louis, too. If we can provide you with further information about how we use your gift or about the institution in which you’ve invested, please ask. Our conversations with our friends are among our very greatest treasures. Some of the options for giving include:

Dean’s Pierre Laclede Honors College Fund This critically important fund

supports all parts of college life, particularly the ones where university funds fall short. This past fall, for example, donations from this fund helped to send the Pierre Laclede Honors College Student Association to Boston, where they presented on how to lead a successful student organization at the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference.

The Bellerive Fund Bellerive celebrates its

20th anniversary this year! Please consider submitting and attending the launch party for the 20th issue on February 28th. Your financial support for the publication is also much appreciated. In recent years Bellerive has expanded to accept musical contributions (published via QR codes) and now accepts alumni submissions too. Your support helps ensure the publication can continue to flourish.

The Robert and Paulette Bliss Study Abroad Scholarship Named after our emeritus dean and his spouse, this fund provides scholarships for Honors students studying abroad – especially for our own trip to Germany, led by Christoph Schiessl, in alternating summers.


Pierre Laclede Honors College Provincial House 1 University Boulevard St. Louis, Missouri 63121 (314) 516-5243

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Provenance Spring 2020  

Provenance Spring 2020