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Lorraine Weverka Q&A

Sustainability Efforts

Spanish Radio Show

Spring 2010

A magazine for alumni & friends of Southwest Minnesota State University

Young Alumni:

Making the Mk Katie Freeman ’08 in Alaska

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A magazine for alumni & friends of Southwest Minnesota State University

Spring 2010

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Greetings fellow alumni and friends:

volume 29 number 2

Sustainability Q & A with Lorraine Weverka The Faculty Office: Pat Brace Four Young Alumni Faculty Achievements Alumni Connections Athletics

President Dr. David C. Danahar Executive Director of Foundation/ Associate VP for Advancement Bill Mulso ’93 Director of Alumni Relations and Focus Editor Tyler Bowen ’95/MS’08 Senior Writer and Photographer Jim Tate

Designer Marcy D. Olson, ’93/MBA’05 Contributors Stacy Frost ’93 Kelly Loft ’97 Tim Gerszewski Mike VanDrehle ‘08 Editorial Assistance Jessica Fokken ’05 Janice Robinson ’09

I love Spring! The promise of rebirth and the promise of warm, sunny days ahead! Which means it is only fitting that we celebrate graduation in the spring with our newest SMSU alumni as they begin their new chapter in life after college. Graduation is truly a day of celebration yet is full of mixed emotions as you separate from friends, faculty and staff who made a lasting impression on your life. No matter if you are graduating in 2010 or graduated with our charter class, we are all part of the growing SMSU family. Remember, the connections that you already know and alumni you are yet to meet all share the same foundation, if you will, in SMSU and I encourage you to continue to be supportive in whatever direction life takes you. I encourage you to keep in touch with the connections you have made at SMSU, reconnect with those you lost touch and reach out to grow and expand your connections and friendships. I look forward to meeting you at our upcoming alumni events!

Amanda Romaine Alumni Association President English Literature ’03

All hometowns are in Minnesota unless otherwise noted. Focus (USPS 565-770) is published twice each year for alumni and friends of Southwest Minnesota State University by the Alumni Office. Opinions expressed in Focus do not necessarily reflect official University policy. Send correspondence, name changes and address corrections to: Focus, Alumni Office, Southwest Minnesota State University, 1501 State Street, Marshall, MN 56258 or call (507) 537-6266. Focus is not copyrighted. Unless otherwise noted, articles may be reprinted without permission if credit is given to Southwest Minnesota State University. Southwest Minnesota State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action educator and employer. Southwest Minnesota State University is a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. This document can be made available in alternative formats to individuals with disabilities. Please make your request by calling 507-537-6266, 1-800-260-0970, or through the Minnesota Relay Service at 1-800-627-3529.

Where have all the “Class Notes” gone? Our surveys have shown that the class notes section of Focus is one of the most popular features of the magazine, but without your involvement there are no ‘notes’ to publish. If you have news that you would like to share with classmates, please let us know. There are many convenient ways to share your news: email | online call 800-260-0970 | mail SMSU Alumni Office | 1501 State St. Marshall, MN 56258

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Sustainability @ smsu

Sustainability is not just a catch phrase at SMSU. The First Year Experience theme has focused freshman learning on the topic for two years. The students have embraced the efforts, as educational programming, speakers and hands-on activities have raised awareness all around the campus. And it’s catching on.

SMSU Campus Dining In April, SMSU Dining Services began using ionator machines to clean floors and tables. The machines ionize tap water and clean better than previous methods, which included the use of chemicals. “It gives us a much better surface, with no chemical residue,” said Tim Kellen, SMSU Dining Services Director. “We have a large Ionator for the floors, and a smaller one for the tables.” SMSU went trayless two years ago in its Residential Restaurant, and that decision has cut down on waste and helped save water, said Kellen. “We’re finding that we’re cooking just about as much food, but the students are taking less at a time,” he said. “They are eating what they take, and throwing away less.” There’s also a new Garden Water station made available in the Residential Restaurant. Instead of drinking a carbonated beverage, students are now able to drink and fill their water containers with water flavored by fresh fruits. “As more students learn about it, it’s getting more use,” said Marnie Hicks ’08, Residential Restaurant Manager. In addition, plastic utensils are now corn-based materials and ‘to-go’ boxes are recyclables. Dining Services is also recycling cans, plastic jugs and cardboard.

SMSU Residence Life Students with an interest in sustainability may choose to live in Aquarius, a residence hall with sustainability as its theme. The Sustainability House, as it’s called, is part of the Living & Learning Communities at SMSU. These offer a unique living experience that is either connected to an academic area (TRiO, Culinology® and Fine Arts), or an area of special interest like sustainability and Mustang Traditions.

SMSU is the only MnSCU institution with Living & Learning Communities, said Peg Furshong, Coordinator of Residence Education. Sustainability was also this year’s First Year Experience theme, many campus speakers also visited Sustainability House residents including Carol Ford, 1982 alumna who, with her husband Chuck Waibel, operates Garden Goddess Produce near Milan, Minn. They grow vegetables year-round in their solar greenhouse, and deliver them to area families who purchase shares. The two discussed their experiences with Sustainability House members during the Home Grown Economy Conference in February, where Ford was a presenter. Faculty, staff and community members have regularly given presentations at the Sustainability House. In addition, Living & Learning Communities have been a part of recycling educational programming efforts across campus. Programs have included “re-purposing” topics like turning old t-shirts into pillows and making jewelry out of magazine paper. A “Donate Don’t Ditch” program encouraged students to donate items they didn’t want to take home at the end of the year. Those items were then given to Goodwill and the local food shelf. All of the efforts throughout the academic year pointed to the campus-wide Earth Day celebration April 22. A campus-wide recycling effort went into effect in January, and participation in the residence halls has been increasing. The university has partnered with Waste Management, a refuse firm that donated 27 large recycling containers. Living & Learning Communities staff members bring the containers to the curb every other week, and the SMSU maintenance staff returns them to the residence halls after collection. “We have the potential for fall of having the containers collected every week,” said Furshong. “Participation is growing every week.” “The topic of sustainability is one our students, faculty and staff are used to hearing about now,” said Furshong. “Awareness has been raised, and it’s really been a campus-wide effort.”



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McMullen Interns at Sanford Medical SMSU senior Charlotte McMullen is learning the meaning of a hands-on education. McMullen is participating in an 11-month, 40-credit internship at Sanford Medical Center in Sioux Falls, S.D. In the mornings, she works in the facility’s science labs. In the afternoon, she attends lectures. She has a job as a microbiology assistant on the weekends. She began on June 1, 2009, and finished her internship at the end of April. “I took 300- and 400-level biology and chemistry classes before I applied. That was required.” McMullen was made aware of the opportunity by Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Vaughn Gehle. Sanford takes just ten students per year. “I didn’t know about it, he brought this route up to me,” she said. “I’m studying a lot,” she said. “We have a full week of finals in every area of the lab — hematology, microbiology, chemistry and blood bank. Every area has a practical, and a written final.”

Looking back...

McMullen was one of just six students across the country to be awarded a $2,000 American Proficiency Institute scholarship last December, which recognizes the best students of laboratory science in the country. The Sleepy Eye, Minn., native graduates from SMSU in May with a B.A. in Biology. The internship at Sanford led to a job interview last month, and a subsequent job offer upon graduation. “I’ll take my national boards to be certified, then work at Sanford for a couple of years and eventually attend medical school,” said McMullen.

“ You and Alumni News” Fall 1979 photo spread

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Lorraine Weverka The first employee of Southwest Minnesota State College was its first president, Dr. Howard Bellows. The second was his secretary, Lorraine Weverka. She worked at SMSU for 42 years, retiring in August 2009. Lorraine and her husband, Michael, are both Ivanhoe, Minn., natives and are the parents of four children: Lisa, Matthew, James and Kendra. They live three miles from Marshall. She’s as busy as ever in retirement, and we caught up with her for a Q&A session. Q: How did you come to be hired at SMSU? I took the Civil Service stenographer secretarial test when I graduated from Mankato Commercial College and received a letter in the mail stating I was eligible to apply for the position of secretary for the new college in Marshall. I was working at the time as a medical secretary in Watertown, SD. Q. What areas did you work at SMSU? I was the first secretary hired for Howard Bellows. I was the first secretary of the new Admissions Office under Mel Renner. I moved to the Career Services Office in 1969. In 1976 I became secretary to the Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs and Development and worked 14 years with Bob Johnson. When he left, I worked with the Foundation Office. I then acquired a secretarial position with the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs, Randy Abbott. I then worked as the administrative assistant for Provost Ray Lou, and, lastly, Provost Beth Weatherby. Q. What was it like in the early years? Since I was hired in 1965, there were no buildings yet. The first offices were in the Municipal Building in downtown Marshall, with other offices set up in the top of the Bromen Office Supply building. It was exciting for me to see the number of offices grow from the President’s Office, to the Business Office, the Admissions Office, to the addition of the deans... all of them

working in a small building with partitions separating everyone, so we were literally all one, big happy family with one goal in mind, helping to lay the foundation for this new college on the prairie. Q. SMSU had some growing pains, didn’t it? Yes, and that was to be expected. New students, staff and faculty were moving into Marshall and along with them came new styles, new conflicts. There were times of low enrollments, and of legislative talk to close the college. We’ve always been able to weather the storms and come out the better in the long run. Q. What was it like watching the college grow and mature? I can think of nothing more satisfying or exhilarating than starting my experience as an employee who was not much older than the students being admitted to the University (she was 19). I remember standing in the cornfield as the dedication took place, seeing the buildings emerge in every phase of the construction, even the most recent projects, the Regional Event Center, Foundation Residence Apartments and Sweetland Hall. I watched the leadership of every president. It’s more than I had ever imagined. I am fortunate I could experience literally all the good and bad that goes along in such a pioneering process. It was an experience of a lifetime. Q. What’s your fondest memory? It’s hard to pinpoint one memory, because those 42 years have made an enormous impact on my life. I would have to say, though, that the great people I worked with over the years are what inspired me. I have always had great bosses, I have had so many people touch my life, and I’ve made some great friendships. Q. What are you doing in your retirement? Spending more quality time with my husband, my children and of course, my grandchildren. I want to be able to do more fun things with them and for them as they are what keep us young at heart and add so much joy to life.



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Ag Secretary Vilsack Speaks at SMSU conference Participants heard Vilsack and other U.S. Department of Agriculture speakers describe how locally grown Secretary Tom Vilsack was the keynote food products can become an speaker at a conference, “The Home economic development engine, and Grown Economy 2010: Equipping You to how partners can collaborate to meet Build Community-based Food Systems,” growing market demands for fresh, which was held at SMSU Feb. 15-16. locally-produced food. SMSU was the hub of the conference, Vilsack and Peterson both hosted by Seventh District U.S. Rep. commented on how consumers and Collin Peterson, chair of the House suppliers are realizing how important Agriculture Committee. locally grown fresh foods have become, SMSU was linked with four other sites and how trust plays such a big role across the state via interactive video during Rep. Collin Peterson (left) listens on while Ag Secretary between supplier and consumer. the event. Those sites participated in the Tom Vilsack addresses the conference attendees. Afternoon sessions at individual morning session at SMSU. Individual sites then held their own afternoon sessions to focus on community- sites focused on the topic in general, and specific issues related to based food system development, economic opportunities and issues each site’s unique geographic needs. “There is an increased interest in locally-grown food that is faced within their individual regions. Other sites included the University Of Minnesota-Crookston, the University of Minnesota- creating new economic opportunities for farmers, main street Morris, Bemidji State University and Minnesota State Community businesses and residents of rural communities,” said Peterson. & Technical College Fergus Falls.

Students’ Spanish Radio Show Gains Fan Base SMSU senior Victor Ramirez wanted to host a radio program that was different. “Everyone else was doing country, hip hop, rap, ’80s. I wanted to be unique. I knew how to speak both Spanish and English, so decided to do a Spanish show.” His Spanish-speaking show on KSSU radio debuted in the fall semester this academic year. It was part of a Radio Production class taught by Professor of Speech Communication Dr. Jan Loft. As part of the class, students are required to host a radio show once a week for a semester. It’s one of the few Spanish-speaking radio shows being aired by a university, and has garnered a loyal following within the Hispanic community in the region, and beyond. The show runs from 6-9 p.m. on Tuesday evenings. It is broadcast over KSSU radio, which is carried by Knology and Charter cable companies in Marshall. The show is also streamed online. Ramirez is originally from Puebla, Mexico and grew up in Glencoe, Minn. He attended Ridgewater College, then transferred to SMSU and is majoring Speech Communication: Public Relations Emphasis. He’s been surprised by the way the show has taken off. A friend, Jose Luis Castillo, joined him as co-host this spring semester. Though his class requirements are over as they relate to the show, he has continued. He likes doing it, and knows it fills a niche



not easily found on the airwaves. Through word of mouth, Ramirez and Castillo have a following in towns like Marshall, Glencoe, Chanhassen, Worthington and Chaska, as far away as Washington, D.C., and parts of Florida and Texas. The audience grows Luis Castillo (left) and Victor Ramirez (right) in the SMSU radio studio. weekly, as word gets out. And through streaming capabilities, they have an audience as far away as Mexico and South America. “It’s been received well. We play not just new songs, but a wide variety of songs from the ‘60s to today. There’s a lot of variety,” said Ramirez. SMSU Spanish Professor Alejandro Sanchez-Aizcorbe appears weekly on the show at about 8:15 p.m. He reads poetry, and the work of other Hispanic writers. “Both Victor and Jose have done a great job with the show,” he said. Sanchez-Aizcorbe enjoys his readings and, as advisor to the Hispanic Club on campus, is looking for a replacement for the two hosts when they graduate this May. Listen online at:

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The faculty office:

Pat Brace

Faculty offices tend to take on the personality of those who inhabit the space. Take Art Professor Dr. Patricia “Pat” Brace for instance. A Meadville, Pa., native, she’s been at SMSU since 1988. Her office is joyously cluttered with, as you might expect, books of all different topics, along with a potpourri of items that reflect her eclectic tastes. Did you know, for instance,

that she is something of an expert on the television show “Lost?” She is in her final year as director of the SMSU Global Studies program, and has small items scattered throughout her office as mementos of various trips she’s taken. We dropped by her office one day, took a photo, and asked her about six of the items in the picture.

Town Square A small print of town square, Wells, England. Wells is an old family name on her father’s side, so she spent a day there. The scene in the print is of the square where she had eaten lunch that day.

The Queen A chess piece replica from the Lewis Chess Set. On a Global Studies tour to Scotland and England, Brace and the group saw the original of this famous chess set. A student commented, “This looks like you when you are not happy with us.” When she ran across a reproduction, she purchased a single piece, the queen.

LOST and Philosophy

Oil Painting


Deceased SMSU alumnus Dean Waltenburg painted this piece, entitled, “Mystery: Fluid Motion.” Brace purchased it at Waltenburg’s senior show. The artist was a physically disabled student who, for much of the painting, held the brush in his mouth while an assistant poured water onto the canvas.

SMSU student Tim Gerrety (Seaforth, Minn.) gave Brace the piece after his oral presentation on Ancient Roman Portraiture took first prize at last year’s Undergraduate Research Conference.

This book, Lost and Philosophy: The Island has its Reasons, was published in 2008 and deals exclusively with philosophical topics related to the popular television show. Brace and former SMSU Philosophy professor Rob Arp co-authored a paper in this book entitled, “Moral Standoffs: Objectification on Lost.” Brace is a huge “Lost” fan. Arp asked her to collaborate when he saw a “Lost” cast poster hanging in her office.

KangaROOS Yes, KangaROOS tennis shoes. Brace is going on sabbatical next year, and will be a visiting artist at American Academy in Rome, Italy. An experienced traveler, Brace knows that trip will require a lot of walking.



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Four Young Alumni

Four Promising Careers

by Kylie Jacobsen ‘12 Special to Focus

For four young alumni, the transition from college to the professional field has been smoothed by the undergraduate education they each earned and experienced at SMSU. Recent graduates Katie Freeman, Lee Trotman, Kara Brockett and Trent Redfield share their post-graduation journeys from students to professionals by reflecting upon their roots at SMSU. Their work spans the country from New York to Alaska and touches the lives of humans, animals and generations to come.

Katie Freeman ’08 The call of the chickadee is unique and so is the call to teach a kindergarten group, the Chickadees, through a homeschooling enrichment program called Louise’s Farm School in Alaska. Southwest Minnesota State University 2008 alum, Katie Freeman, uses her degree in environmental science to teach as the lead instructor at Spring Creek Farm. “SMSU is so unique...I came to expect intentional, deliberate communication between myself, fellow students and our incredible faculty, and that has definitely trickled in to the way I interact with my colleagues and professors in graduate school,” Freeman said. Instead of using a white board or electronics to teach her students, Freeman conducts as much as her class as possible outside. “I have nine kindergartners ready to play outside and learn more about their place here in Alaska. We spend as much time as we can outside; if I can take my lesson and teach it outdoors, I will,” Freeman said. Apart from teaching at the school, Freeman serves as the only intern at the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center, one



of only two in the world. At the Center she researches subjects “ranging from earthquake to liquefaction” and prepares various types of teaching materials for use in the classroom or other academic functions. “My day-to-day usually involves sifting through teaching resources, designing lesson plans, watching the scientists flock to the seismometers and computers whenever a significant earthquake occurs anywhere in the world, and learning as much as I can about Alaska geology,” Freeman explained. As a graduate student at Alaska Pacific University, Freeman boldly uses her learned set of communication skills to succeed post-graduation. “My professors challenged me to go over and above in gaining new experiences that would bolster my resumé or networking. I was always coached by my professors at SMSU to make a great first impression,” Freeman said. “With my job at the Tsunami Warning Center, I walked in and asked to talk to the Center’s director, made my beautifully crafted pitch as to why they needed an education and

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outreach intern, and I got the job,” Freeman explained. Freeman has dedicated her life to preserving the earth for generations to come. “Outdoor pursuits and environmental protection have always been two of my strongest priorities; having a clean, safe environment for our future generations has never been more imperative. Most of all, I love building a healthy lifestyle for my family, one rooted in environmental responsibility, care for our

community, and a sense of local, and global citizenship,” Freeman said. Looking back at her undergraduate education and the networking connections she made, Freeman reflected that, “the incredible opportunities for a diverse, well-rounded education at SMSU have taken me farther in life than I ever thought possible.”

Lee Trotman ’07 SMSU graduate lives the “green” life in New York City. “I believe that it was SMSU’s culture of community service on a variety of levels that sparked my interest in service and lead me to become an AmeriCorps VISTA member,” said Lee Trotman, a 2007 graduate. “As a first generation college student the idea of going to college and succeeding always seemed unimaginable until I transferred to SMSU and received a great deal of guidance and support,” Trotman said. Trotman, a VISTA Volunteer Consultant within Commissioner Margarita López’s Office, graduated with a degree in history and a minor in political science. He applies his study of history to help make important decisions about the future and reflects upon his work in sustainability. “I look forward to making huge contributions to reducing the carbon footprint of one of the largest public landlords in the nation,” Trotman said. “Secondly, I look forward to working with the residents of public housing to make changes in their local neighborhoods to reduce the effects of climate change.” Now, he is nearing the end of his one-year service to New York City Civic Corps and New York City Housing Authority where he organizes green committees at public

residential housing developments throughout New York City and recruits new volunteer resident green committee members. The NYCHA aims to instill lifelong skills in sustainable living that the residents of the five New York City boroughs can utilize after the organization leaves the area. From active participation in History Club, College Democrats, Political Science Club, United Nations Club, and Homecoming Leadership Team to the Minnesota State University Student Association and the Center for Civic Engagement, Trotman says that he gained a mature sense of communication, which has benefited him greatly. “I had several experiences at SMSU that lead me to find and maintain my current position,” Trotman said.

Trent Redfield ’00 From fighting for his degree to fighting for the rights of indigenous people and natural wildlife alike, Trent Redfield found his passion for teaching others about the controversial topics found in humanity at Southwest Minnesota State University. Redfield graduated from SMSU in 2000 when the school was still Southwest State University. He graduated with a degree in history and philosophy and was the very first student to graduate with a minor in American Indian Studies/Dakota Studies (AIS/DS).

“It was just created the year I graduated,” Redfield, AIS/DS activist said. “While I was a student, the administration attempted to cut the program . . . and attempted to prevent the AIS/DS minor from being approved and implemented. I was heavily involved in the process of fighting these decisions.”



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Former president of the History Club, Honors Club and the Oyaté Club, Redfield has contributed crucial components towards fighting for the natural rights for people and animals. “My experience in learning about a variety of people, their history, and worldviews while at [Southwest] has been incredibly important to my professional career,” Redfield said. For the past three years, Redfield has served as the Event Program Coordinator at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana where he has developed and implemented programs such as “Pack Chat” and “Wildlife Watching.” Redfield also interacts with the park’s eight grizzly bears, 11 gray wolves and six birds of prey, all of which are unable to survive in the wild alone due to various reasons. At the park, Redfield leads programs that discuss human interaction with animals, the impact humans have on them and he answers questions from visitors. “At the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, I continue to talk about the history of westward expansion and its detrimental effects on wolves and grizzlies. I continue to talk about the religious, spiritual, and cultural importance these animals have for many

American Indian people,” Redfield said. His minor in AIS/DS has given him the opportunity to work for many organizations after graduating such as Pipestone National Monument, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Devils Tower National Monument, and the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Yet, Redfield attributes much of his professional success to his education and background in philosophy. “Many of the issues I have dealt with and talked about during my career, including American Indian issues and wolves as good examples, have been very controversial. My philosophical background allows me to understand my own beliefs and how I came to have those beliefs, but has been very beneficial in my interaction with others,” Redfield explained. “I can understand their lines of thoughts and beliefs, have a sense of empathy to those people and their beliefs, and then talk with them and discuss those issues in an understanding and professional manner.” The ability to express his viewpoints to others has been one of the most useful skills he learned through his work as the AIS/DS activist on campus, Redfield said.

Kara Brockett ’08 Enrolling at Southwest Minnesota State University gave Kara Brockett, a 2008 graduate, not only a degree in higher education, but also the drive to persevere. Brockett now uses her perseverance to teach in classrooms in central Harlem. Former student body president, Brockett graduated from SMSU with a double major in philosophy and creative writing, with a minor in women’s studies. “I minored in women’s studies because I have long been troubled by the gender inequality that exists within our society,” Brockett explained. “My minor in women’s studies has been particularly helpful as I work with youth from a community that has sustained significant gender inequality in the recent decades.” Since August, Brockett has served as a middle school reading SETSS (special education teacher support services) teacher at a Future Leaders Institute Charter School in Harlem, NY after being trained by Teach For America. In the classroom, Brockett works with the reading teacher to work with students that have special needs and those who are below grade level. “While at SMSU, I tried to experience as much as possible. It is nearly impossible for me to point to a specific activity that led me to become the person I am, but rather, my overall experience at SMSU [that] led me to want to do the work I am currently doing today,” Brockett said.



During her years at SMSU, Brockett worked closely with Minnesota State University Student Association as student body president and State Chair of the MSUSA, and the respective administrations. “These relationships taught me the importance of mutual respect and perseverance to reach the goals that had been set. I can recall many instances when I was told ‘that will never happen.’ Hearing those words always encouraged me to accomplish the impossible,” Brockett said. Brockett’s current job requires her hard work and determination every day to teach students how to communicate, which she gratefully learned from her professors. The students she works with are at a disadvantage, and “statistically, their future is bleak.” “The perseverance I learned during my years at SMSU is the same perseverance that I rely on now,” Brockett said. “I never realized in my four years at SMSU, that I was learning what it meant to spread hope and optimism in an often bleak environment.”

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Any time. ANY PLACE. Supporting SMSU through online giving has never been easier or more secure... Any time, any place. You have the power to create opportunities for students and faculty at SMSU. Your gifts can enhance the many programs that make SMSU such a special place. Visit us online to learn more or to make a gift.

Visit to give today.

Faculty Achievements Our faculty members are committed to student success, and do much throughout the year to keep abreast of trends in their respective academic disciplines. Some examples of faculty achievements this year include: Dr. Michelle Beach (Education) gave a presentation, “The Use of Digital Media in Minnesota Early Childhood Classrooms” at the 2010 Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference. Dr. Jay Brown (Chemistry) oversaw a group of students whose paper, “Electrochemical Reduction of Propazine: NMR Evidence for Dechlorination and Reduction of the Triazine Ring,” was accepted for publication in the 2010 Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry. Dr. Corey Butler (Psychology) presented a paper, “Sense of Belonging Mediates the Effect of Interpersonal Relationships on Subjective Well-being,” at the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, Ill. Dr. Mark Campanelli (Mathematics) was awarded his Ph.D. in Mathematics. His research was presented at the American Mathematical Society’s Central Section meeting in St. Paul, Minn. Dr. Michael Cheng (Culinology®) won a cash award and was a finalist in the Culinary Arts category of the Vilcek Foundation’s prizes celebrating immigrant achievement in biomedical science and the arts. Dr. Emily Deaver, Dr. Thomas Dilley and Dr. Linda Jones (Environmental Science) have expanded the scope of the SMSU Water Resource Center (WRC) to include new collaborative ventures, including one between the university, county and Marshall Municipal Utilities for an internship position at MMU; research at the East and West Twin Lakes area and at Gislason Lake. Prof. Robert Dorlac (Art) will be the Artist-in-Residence this summer at the Upernavik Museum in Upernavik, Greenland. He’ll create plein air paintings and drawings of the region’s islands, fjords, glaciers and icebergs. Prof. Mark Fokken (Speech Communication) was elected to serve on the District IV American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament Executive Committee. Dr. Brett Gaul ’99 (Philosophy) presented “Transformations in 3:10 to Yuma” at the Faith, Film and Philosophy Seminar, Spokane, Wash. Dr. John Ginocchio (Music) was a guest conductor for the Minnesota Fine Arts Festival Band and presented a clinic at the Colorado Music Educators

Setting the Standard for Academic Excellence

Association Conference. He will accompany the SMSU jazz combo on a trip to Thailand this summer. Dr. Teresa Henning (English) gave a presentation, “Digital Texts and Contexts: Electronic Career Portfolios & the Professional Development of Undergraduate Professional Writing Majors,” at the May Computers and Writing Conference, Purdue University. Dr. Sharon Kabes, Dr. Dennis Lamb and Dr. Debbie Van Overbeke ’89/’01 (English) combined efforts to write the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) report for their review of the Master’s in Education Learning Community Program. Dr. Kabes, Dr. Lamb and Dr. John Engstrom ’98 received the Best Presentation Award at the International Teaching and Learning Conference in Orlando, Fla. Dr. Louella Lofranco (Speech Communication) won the University of North Dakota’s Graduate School Distinguished Dissertation Award, 2010 for her paper, “The Meaning of Development for Filipinos by Filipinos in Diaspora: Rhetorical Vision and Participatory Communication.” Prof. Mu-wan Huang (Mathematics) give a presentation on her research, “Fan Cohomology and Equivariant Chow Rings of Toric Varieties” at the Joint Meeting of Mathematics, San Francisco, Calif. Dr. Susan McLean (English) published a new book of poetry, The Best Disguise (University of Evansville Press, 2009). She also had over a dozen poems and several poetry translations published. Dr. Alejandro Sánchez-Aizcorbe (Spanish) presented a paper, “Hora Zero: Eternal Avant-Garde,” at the 57th Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies in Boulder, Colo. Dr. Paulette Stefanick ’86 (Education) gave a presentation, “Kindergarten Literacy Centers,” at the Education of Young Children National Conference, Washington, D.C. Dr. Debbie Van Overbeke ’89/’01, Dr. Rhonda Bonnstetter ‘96/’99 and Dr. Michelle Beach (Education) gave a presentation, “Teacher Education for the 21st Century,” at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Convention, San Diego, Calif. Dr. Wiji Wijesiri (Mathematics) attended the Assessment for Changing Environment Conference.



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Upcoming Events

Save the date:

October 1-2

June 11 June 14 June 27 July 19 Aug. 15 Sept. 25 Oct. 1-2 Oct. 28-31 January 9

SMSU Alumni Night at Target Field (SOLD OUT!) SMSU Golf Classic Start your engines at Raceway Park in Shakopee SMSU Alumni Day at Valleyfair Wicked Alumni event at the Orpheum Theatre SMSU Tailgate Tent at Augustana in Sioux Falls, SD Homecoming 2010: Vote Stanger Marshall Festival 2010 Billy Elliot Alumni event at the Orpheum Theatre

For more information, updated events or to register go online to

2009 Alumni Award Winners Alumni Achievement Dene Thomas ’78 Dr. Dene Thomas is the president of Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho, a liberal arts institution of 4,200 students. She was recently named president of Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo. Thomas began her college career at SMSU as a single mother of three. She went to graduate school, where she met her current husband, Gordon. They both got jobs as English professors at the University of Idaho before she moved into administration and then applied for the Lewis-Clark opening. “I was 30 when I started at SMSU, and if it hadn’t been for professors like Jack and Mary Hickerson, Bill Whipple, Jim Hayes, (Delbert) ‘Deb’ and Edith Wylder, people like that, I would never have made it,” she said. Steven Binder ’79 Steve Binder came from the Chicago, Ill., area to SMSU to swim for Don Palm. Binder



gradated in 1979 with a degree in Business Administration. He got a job with Hormel Foods immediately upon graduation. He Eric Luther Dene Thomas ’78 Steve Binder ’79 never left. Binder is the Group served on the SMSU Foundation Vice President for Refrigerated Foods for Hormel, the 118-year old board for nine years, was department chair for eight years, Austin, Minn.-based food interim dean of distance learning company. for two years, and the first Cowan Award winner, given at Honorary Lifetime commencement each year to a Membership person who makes a difference at SMSU. Gerald Toland Dr. Gerald D. Toland, Jr. came to Laurie Maeyaert SMSU in 1990 and has worn Laurie Maeyaert worked with several hats during his time here. SMSU Dining Services for just Toland is a Business under 34 years, retiring at the end Administration professor and a of last year as Campus Dining Philadelphia, Penn., native. Services Director. Most of his classes are taught to She went to Canby Vocational undergraduates at the university, Technical School and received a though he also teaches in the MBA degree in food management. While program at SMSU. He’s filled in attending classes there, she did her other areas over the years, though practical experience work at SMSU. the majority of his career at SMSU Maeyaert was offered a job at he has taught economics. He has

Gerald Toland

Laurie Maeyaert

SMSU upon graduation, and stayed until her retirement. She is a Currie, Minn., native and a graduate of Tracy High School. Eric Luther Eric Luther believes, as a businessman, he should give back to the community. The owner of the Marshall Burger King franchise is a Brookings, S.D., native who moved to Marshall in 1987 to manage the franchise. He received his management and economics degree from South Dakota State University. Luther purchased the Marshall franchise in 1999. He’s been active in the business community ever since.

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SMSU Alumni Reconnect, Clutch and the Shifters Reunite 1

Isiah Whitlock Jr ’76, Don Kanten, Pat Rasmussen ’77, Chris Nolte and Lee Kanten ’74 attended the Mid-America Music Hall of Fame where Clutch and the Shifters were inducted 2

2 1

Eric Deutsch ’08, Rachel Lehman ’08, Adam Wiebe ’08, Jacob Heimerman ’08, Trent Dammann ’10, Kelly Jo Fransman ’08 enjoy the Hawaiian Night post-game luau at the Wooden Nickel 3

Brittany (Knutson) Krull ’04 and Jessica (Reiman) Mensink ’04 keep warm during Homecoming 2009 “Mustang Mardi Gras” 4


A group of alumni, friends and faculty attended the November alumni event of the Louvre Masterpieces at the Minneapolis Art Institute 5

Christine Versaevel ’99, sons Carter and Noah, and Chris Versaevel ’94 at the Minnesota Wild Alumni event



Mustang Pride in Amazing Places Andy Schlichting ’06 traveled to the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt and proudly displayed his Mustang Pride at the historic location. Congratulations to Andy! You’ve won a $50 gift card to the Barnes & Noble Campus Store that you can use online at to pick up more gear! Do you have a photo of yourself wearing your Mustang gear in an amazing place or while on an incredible adventure? If so, send it along with a brief description to: Winners will see their photo published in FOCUS and receive a $50 gift card to the SMSU Barnes & Noble Campus Store. To be considered, photos must be in focus with SMSU or Mustang logo clearly visible.



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A season of Change for Mustang Athletics It has been a spring of excitement for the Southwest Minnesota State athletics department. The change of seasons has ushered in a trio of new head coaches at SMSU, while another athletics program on campus hosted a national tournament.

Coaching Changes The staff has a new look. Corey Sauter was hired as the new head football coach, replacing Eric Eidsness, who resigned to take a position at South Dakota State. Brad Bigler became the head men’s basketball coach after serving in an interim role last season. Allison Kruger will take over the women’s basketball program after Mike Jewett stepped down from his post in March. Sauter recently completed his second season as an assistant coach at SMSU in 2009, serving as the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. During his first season in 2008, Sauter served as quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator. Prior to SMSU, Sauter, spent several years coaching at both the collegiate and professional levels. In 2006, he served as quarterbacks/receivers coach for the Hamburg Sea Devils in NFL Europe and was also a graduate assistant at the University of Minnesota. In 2007, he was quarterbacks coach for the Berlin Thunder, also of NFL Europe. Sauter also enjoyed a decorated career as a quarterback at the University of Minnesota. He played four seasons for Minnesota (1994-97). Following his time at Minnesota, Sauter spent six years in the NFL 1998-2004, playing for the Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts. Bigler is no stranger to SMSU basketball, having been a part of the program for 12 years as a player, assistant coach and interim head coach. He has spent the past seven seasons as a coach at SMSU, beginning his tenure in 2003 and spending two seasons as a graduate assistant before being elevated to full-time assistant coach prior to the 2005-06 season. He was named associate head coach in the summer of 2006 before being named interim head coach on Sept. 30, 2009. During this past season as interim head coach, Bigler led SMSU to a 17-12 overall record, including a 10-10 record in conference play and a tie for sixth place in the conference standings.

During his four-year tenure as a full-time assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, SMSU recorded 80 wins, had four winning seasons and captured an NSIC and NCAA region championship. Bigler played five seasons in the Mustang men’s basketball program from 1997-2002 and left as one of the winningest players in school history. A point guard, he played on the 2001 NSIC and North Central Region championship team that went to the NCAA Elite Eight in Bakersfield, Calif. He currently ranks fourth all-time in assists with 286. Kruger recently completed her second season as assistant coach at NCAA Division I University of South Dakota. During her two seasons at USD, the Coyotes had a combined record of 33-27 as the program moved from NCAA Division II to Division I. Prior to coming to USD, Kruger was an assistant for four seasons at Wayne State College. During her time at WSC, the Wildcats compiled a record of 8835, which included two appearances in the NCAA tournament, one Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference regular championship and one tournament championship. Prior to starting her coaching career, Kruger played four seasons at NCAA Division II University of Nebraska-Kearney. UNK finished 101-21 during Kruger’s four seasons as a player.

Corey Sauter

Brad Bigler

wheelchair Basketball The SMSU wheelchair basketball team hosted the 2010 National Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball Tournament in March at the R/A Facility, entertaining the country’s top teams. The Mustangs, who entered the tournament with the No. 7 seed, went on to knock off a pair of higher-ranked squads and capture a fifth-place finish in front of their home crowd. Freshman Jacob Williams paced the Mustangs all weekend, averaging 16.7 points per game throughout the tournament. SMSU sophomore Kyle Timmerman received the Frank Brasile Sportsmanship Award, given annually by the National Wheelchair Basketball Association to a player in the intercollegiate division of the sport. The award's namesake, Frank Brasile, is a former commissioner in the intercollegiate division of the NWBA. He was has been active in the sport for decades. The award was voted on by head coaches from across the country.

Allison Kruger

Kyle Timmerman

For updates on all your favorite teams visit: www.smsumustangs. com

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Published by SMSU Alumni Office 1501 State Street • Marshall, MN 56258

If FOCUS is addressed to a son or daughter who has graduated or no longer maintains a permanent address at your home, please email to provide the current address or call toll-free 1-800-260-0970.

A painting by Terrence Fogarty capturing the new Mattke Field at the Regional Event Center. Over the last 25 years noted Minnesota artist Terrence Fogarty (SMSU class of ’82) has depicted historic stadiums and sport arenas across the United State and Canada. Fogarty’s latest painting titled “Horsepower” celebrates Southwest Minnesota’s newest jewel—Mattke Field at the Regional Event Center. Fogarty’s ultra realistic painting style captures a Mustang football game at the REC in dramatic detail and atmosphere. Prints are available for purchase through the SMSU Alumni Office. Each print is signed and numbered by the artist and will be shipped directly from the artist’s studio.



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