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SMSUFOCUS A magazine for alumni & friends of Southwest Minnesota State University


Dr. Connie J. Gores


Spring 2014 Edition

SMSUFOCUS A magazine for alumni & friends of Southwest Minnesota State University

[ around campus ]

Loft and Onyeahala Selected as Deans

SPRING 2014 | VOL. 33, NO. 2

1 2 3 4 8 10 11

Table of Contents

Around Campus Southwest Stories: Julie Kelly ’08 Campus Spotlight: HLC Reaccreditation The Inauguration of President Connie J. Gores Alumni Connections Mustang Athletics Class Notes

President Dr. Connie J. Gores

Senior Writer and Photographer Jim Tate

Vice President for Advancement/ Executive Director of Foundation Bill Mulso ’93

Cover/Feature Story Photograph Greg Devereaux

Director of Alumni Relations Michael VanDrehle ’08/MBA ’10 FOCUS Editor and Designer Marcy D. Olson ’93/MBA ’05

Contributors Dr. Lori Baker Stacy Frost ’93 Kelly Loft ’97/MS ’11 Mary Meaden Emily Neperman ’12/MBA ’14

Send correspondence and story ideas to: SMSU Communications & Marketing, Attn: FOCUS 1501 State Street, Marshall, MN 56258 Contact the FOCUS Editor: or 507-537-7374 All cities and towns are located in Minnesota unless otherwise noted. Year(s) after names reference degrees obtained at SMSU. Year of undergraduate degree is listed first. Year of graduate degree is listed after MBA or MS.

Feature stories may be reprinted with the written permission of the editor: Other articles may be reprinted without permission provided that credit is given to SMSU.

FOCUS (USPS 565-770) is published twice each year for alumni and friends of Southwest Minnesota State University by the Office of Communications & Marketing at SMSU. Opinions expressed in FOCUS do not necessarily reflect official University policy.

Southwest Minnesota State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action educator and employer. A member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. ADA Accessible. This document can be made available in alternative formats to individuals with disabilities. Request by calling 507-537-6255, 1-800-260-0970, or through the Minnesota Relay Service at 1-800-627-3529.

To make name changes and address corrections, call (507) 537-6266 or email

Visit us online and Follow the latest SMSU news at



Two familiar faces at Southwest Minnesota State University have been named permanent deans. Dr. Jan Loft has been named the permanent Dean of the College of Arts, Letters and Sciences (ALS), while Dr. Raphael Onyeaghala has been named the permanent Dean of the College of Business, Education and Professional Studies (BEPS). Both had been interim deans of their respective colleges since 2011. Before moving into administration, Dr. Loft was a Speech Communication professor, chairperson of the Department of Speech and Theatre on two occasions, and twice president of the SMSU Faculty Association. She earned a Ph.D. in Sociology from South Dakota State University, a master’s in Speech Communication and a bachelor’s in Mass Communication from MSU Mankato. “I’m excited to continue the ongoing initiatives at the University, and thankful I’ll be able to bring some of the things I’ve been working on to fruition. I look forward, also, to being a part of new initiatives as we move forward,” she said. Dr. Onyeaghala has been at SMSU since 2002, and prior to his administrative duties, served as the Chair of the Department of Business and Public Affairs and Professor of Agribusiness Management. Before coming to SMSU he worked two years at the University of Nebraska-Kearney as Assistant Professor of Economics. He holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois; master’s degrees in Agricultural Economics from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and the University of London, Wye College; and a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture from the University of Maiduguri, Nigeria. “I’m really honored to be named the permanent dean,” said Dr. Onyeaghala. “I look forward to working hard with my faculty and staff colleagues to grow and develop unique academic programs that attract students to the University. It’s an exciting time at SMSU, and I look forward to being a part of it in the future.”

[ around campus ]

Dorman Qualifies for National Oratory Tournament SMSU Forensics team member Nick Dorman is good with both words, and chemistry. He combined the two to qualify for the prestigious Interstate Oratorical Association National Tournament, held at James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va., in April. He was one of just two forensics participants from colleges and universities across Minnesota to qualify for the tournament. He became the first SMSU forensics team member in a dozen years to advance. Dorman’s winning oration advocates for federal regulation of the anti-bacterial compound Triclosan, found in many consumer products. Gov. Mark Dayton, late in the recent legislative session, signed a bill to make Minnesota the first state to prohibit the use of Triclosan in most retail consumer hygiene products.

Nick Dorman

Dorman is a busy senior. Besides his forensics team commitments, he also helps coach the Marshall High School speech team, mentors in the SMSU Speech Center, works in the Scheduling and Event Services office and is also a certified pharmacy technician at the Marshall Hy-Vee store. Dorman was selected to give a speech on “The Possibilities” during the delegate and special guest lunch held prior to the inauguration of President Connie J. Gores. He was also a speaker at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Development Conference. His future plans include either graduate school in speech, or medical school. “I have a passion for both,” he said. “I know there will come a time when I have to choose.” He is the son of Richard and JoAnn Dorman of Marshall.

Students Present Research at the Capitol Rotunda Four Southwest Minnesota State University students presented their undergraduate research at the state Capitol rotunda on Feb. 26. A total of 35 students presented research posters during the Minnesota Undergraduate Scholars event, which highlights the research of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) students. The Capitol presentations allow students to share the results of the work with legislators and other leaders in state government and draws attention to the work being done on the MnSCU campuses around the state. The four SMSU students and their research topics include: • Erin Reps, a junior Sociology major from Belgrade, Minn., “Exploring African-American Spirituals Through the Lenses of Three Sociological Perspectives.” Advisor: Kerry Livingston. • Josh Hughes, a senior Psychology major from Sartell, Minn., “Health Halo Effects from Diet and Zero Calorie Sodas.” Advisor: Scott Peterson. • Jessa Roberts, a senior Theatre major from Brandon, S.D., “Defining Faces for All Spaces.” Advisor: Sheila Tabaka. • Jared Wagner, a senior Environmental Science major from Osakis, Minn., “Comparison of Macroinvertebrate and Planktonic Populations in a Newly Constructed Storm Water Holding Pond and an Existing Storm Water Holding Pond.” Advisors: Emily Deaver and Thomas Dilley.

From left: Reps, Hughes, Roberts, and Wagner.

Weatherby Announces Retirement at the end of 2014 Southwest Minnesota State University Provost Dr. Beth Weatherby is leaving one passion — education — in pursuit of another — writing. In a letter to University faculty, staff and students in April, Provost Weatherby said she is “excited by the prospect of making more time to do things that are personally important to me, writing and reading first among them.” She has been at SMSU 22 years, serving as Provost since July 2007. She was the Dean of the College of Arts, Letters and Sciences from 20042007, and prior to that was interim dean from 2002-2004. “Beth has served SMSU with distinction as a professor and administrator,” said SMSU President Dr. Connie J. Gores. “She has a lot of history at SMSU, and I appreciate her hard work and dedication on behalf of the entire University community.” Provost Weatherby has no definite plans, and said she looks forward to “a pause to reflect on what I want to do in the next phase of my life. I’ve had wonderful experiences at SMSU, and that has left me with some

options. I don’t know what will be next, what it will look like. I’m wide open right now.” She came to SMSU in 1992 as an Assistant Professor of English. She was the Creative Writing director from 1992 through 2000. Provost Weatherby received her Doctor of Arts in English and Creative Writing from the University of New York at Albany in 1992. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Evanston, Ill. She received the Weatherby President’s Exceptional Performance Award in 2005 and 2006, and was the Minnesota Book Award winner for short fiction in 1998 for her work, Small Invasions. She was a Salzburg Seminar Fellow in 1998, and in 1997 received a LoftMcKnight Artist Fellowship in Creative Prose.


[ southwest stories ]


Julie (Pohlman) Kelly likes teachers from the U.S. and Canada. “They have a work ethic; they like to get things done,” said Kelly, a 2008 alumna who is currently a school administrator in Sweden. Kelly, a Heron Lake, Minn., native, graduated with an Elementary Education degree. She is an assistant principal at the International English School in Halmstad, Sweden, on that country’s southwest coast. Her school is part of a charter group that increases about three schools each year. When she returns to the U.S., she helps recruit teachers to the school. “The public school system in Sweden is child-centered,” she said. “They let the kids decide what they want to do. There’s no discipline and the public schools are a disaster.” There’s a word in the Swedish language, lagom, “that means not too good, but not too bad either. People (in Sweden) strive to be mediocre. No one wants to be the best.” An American woman, Barbara Bergstrom, saw a need in the Swedish education system and did something about it. She is the founder of the International English Schools, and the one who approached Kelly about moving into administration after a couple of years as an English teacher. “The students in our school choose to attend our school,” she said. “The Swedish culture is not as work obsessed as that in the U.S.,” she added. “Our school has rules and discipline. We have consequences and detention. That’s not the case in other public schools in Sweden.” Her husband, Jeff, is a 2009 alumnus who works in IT at her school. It was Jeff who originally found the job listing online. “I applied for it, but had no hope. I was student teaching at the time (at Lakeview High School, Cottonwood). One day, I got a phone call, and a couple of calls later, I had an offer.” She laughs when she talks about her salary. “They told me, and we figured it out and it was only about $3,000,” she said with a chuckle. “When we got there, I got the courage up to tell them that $3,000 wasn’t very much money. I then found out it was $3,000 per month.” She likes the no-nonsense approach of the International English

Schools, and is acclimating to Sweden quite nicely. She plans on becoming a dual citizen. She and Jeff are the parents of a one-year-old son, Liam. They haven’t driven since arriving in Sweden. “Gas is so expensive,” she said. A longdistance runner, she enjoys taking her son on runs with her Julie Kelly ‘08 visited campus during a in a jogging stroller. recruiting trip to the United States. Her time at SMSU was filled with self-discovery — finding out not so much what she couldn’t do, but what she could. “The faculty believed in me. That saw things in me that I didn’t see,” she said. “They engaged me, and pushed me to do more. “I picked SMSU because it was close to home. I had heard about the Education program there, that they get you into the classroom right away, and I liked that fact. When I visited the campus, it felt like home. It was a comfortable fit for me.” The couple had talked about studying overseas while they were students at SMSU. “I wanted to go somewhere warm and exotic,” she said. “He had hockey friends in Sweden. He won (that argument), as usual. We spent a semester there.” Thus was her introduction to Sweden and its educational system. There are a total of 23 schools owned by the International English Schools. “Their high schools are like junior colleges,” she said. “After ninth grade you pick which line of study you want to pursue.” She had taught English for a couple of years when she was approached about moving into administration. Like at SMSU, she said that others saw things in her that perhaps she did not, and she was up to the challenge. “It has been an incredible journey, and SMSU helped prepare me,” she said.

Teal Awarded Full-Ride to Notre Dame Doctoral Program Lauren Teal is one of nine students from colleges all across the country accepted into the Sociology doctoral program at the University of Notre Dame. Teal, who graduated with degrees in Sociology and Literature in December 2013, will receive a full-ride scholarship and $19,000 annual stipend for five years from the University of Notre Dame as she pursues her Ph.D. in Sociology, with a concentration in gender studies and inequality. “A big part of being selected for the program was the undergraduate research I did at SMSU,” said Lauren, a Brandon, S.D. native and the daughter of Barbara and Scott Teal. As a junior, Teal’s research project at the University’s annual Undergraduate Research Conference was “Stereotypical Series Portrayal of GLBT Characters in the Media.” She studied the portrayal of gays and lesbians in mainstream broadcast television. She would later


present those findings at both the Great Plains Sociological Conference in Sioux Falls, and the Minnesota System Conference of Undergraduate Scholarly and Creative Activity Conference, which highlights the top undergraduate research at MnSCU institutions. Her senior research project was entitled “Rape Realities” and focused on how rape cases are portrayed by broadcast networks. Last summer, she earned an internship at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

Lauren Teal ’14

Variation [ guest column ]

3, Long horizontal (banners, timeline, pens, etc):

I am



A message from Dr. Lori Baker, HLC Self-Study Coordinator, and SMSU English Professor since 1998.



Greetings! As I wrote in the Fall 2013 issue of FOCUS, SMSU is slated for an accreditation review this coming October 20-22, 2014. Approximately every 10 years, the University must undergo an external review by our regional accrediting agency, called the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), in order to reaffirm our accredited status. SMSU has been continuously accredited since 1972, following its initial candidacy stage after being established as a university. Teams of faculty, staff, administrators, and students have been working hard preparing for the upcoming review. A first draft of a selfstudy, which is a reflective self-analysis based on the HLC’s five criteria for accreditation and all of their related core components, has been assembled and will be published on the University web site this summer. The final self-study will be over 200 pages long, a detailed evaluation of all aspects of the University. The self-study will be sent to an HLC review team eight weeks before they arrive on campus. Five reviewers, who are volunteer administrators and faculty from other universities in the 20-state accrediting region trained in the criteria for accreditation, have been assigned by the HLC. The reviewers carefully read over the self-study and determine what they wish to further pursue when they come to campus. For the three days they are in Marshall, they will explore any issues brought up in the study and ascertain whether SMSU is indeed meeting all of the criteria. They will

be meeting with a variety of faculty, staff, and students, as well as meeting with members of the community and perhaps visiting some additional locations, such as a College Now classroom. HLC wants to hear not only from those of us at SMSU but from all of you as well. Before the visit, HLC will host a survey on its web site. Any person can submit their comments about SMSU directly to the accrediting agency using this online feedback form. (Comments may also be mailed to HLC.) HLC calls this “thirdparty comment.” We will be emailing alumni, donors, and community members with a link to that survey later in the summer when it is activated by HLC. You may also find the link or the mailing address by visiting the HLC web site at html. Please note that all submissions must be received by September 20, 2014, one month before the reviewers come to campus. We invite all of you to read the self-study this summer and see how deeply SMSU is dedicated to the region and beyond. On a personal note, my involvement overseeing the self-study has made me appreciate all the more the very, very good people we have working on behalf of students here at SMSU. I have learned so much about the University – probably some things that many of you former students already knew. We look forward to the review team’s input and ideas about how the University can continue to improve. Remember, we are all SMSU! Go Mustangs!


Dr. Connie J. Gores, President of Southwest Minnesota State University, leads the recessional, followed by Dr. Steven J. Rosenstone, Chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, and Alexander Cirillo, Jr., MnSCU Board of Trustees.

The Prairie. The People. The Possibilities. The inauguration of Dr. Connie J. Gores as the ninth president of Southwest Minnesota State University was celebrated Friday, April 11 in the R/A Facility on campus. President Gores was named the ninth permanent president of SMSU last spring and began her duties on July 1, 2013. She is a Cando, N.D., native and the theme of the inauguration — “The Prairie. The People. The Possibilities.” — reflects the spirit of SMSU and the region. The inspiration for the theme came from the late English Professor Bill Holm’s essay, “Horizontal Grandeur.” Holm was a beloved faculty member and an advocate of rural people and places. University greetings to the president were given by John DeCramer on behalf of Bob Byrnes, Marshall mayor; Alexander Cirillo Jr., MnSCU Board of Trustees member; Dr. Steven Rosenstone, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system chancellor; and Dorene KronkeMcCourt, SMSU Foundation board president. Rosenstone delivered the statement of investment, and Cirillo, the oath of office.


The prairie eye looks for distance, clarity and light... the prairie eye looks at a square foot and sees a universe... if the prairie size moves the imagination, its delicacy moves the heart... the prairie is endless. Excerpts from Bill Holm’s essay “Horizontal Grandeur” published in The Music of Failure (Prairie Grass Press, 1990)


Dr. Connie J. Gores

Trustee Cirillo; Chancellor Rosenstone; Congressman Peterson; Senator Dahms; Representative Swedzinski; City Councilmember DeCramer; other platform guests; my fellow presidents; college and university delegates; our foundation board members; our faculty, staff, and students, our SMSU alumni; my colleagues and friends; my wonderful family; and all of our guests here today – WELCOME on this glorious afternoon. I want to thank you all for being here. I also want to thank everyone who has made possible today’s celebration and – more importantly – this entire week’s celebration of the arts, service, and civic engagement. Over this last year, it has become obvious to me why this fine institution inspires such love and devotion, and I am tremendously honored and deeply humbled to stand before you as its 9th president. This afternoon I would like to share with you a few thoughts about the Prairie, the People, and the Possibilities, as we honor the past, celebrate the present, and envision the future. Some fifty plus years ago, a visionary group of community leaders (several of whom are here with us today) gathered at the Old Atlantic Hotel in downtown Marshall to envision and dream about the possibilities of a college on the prairie. Their passion, resourcefulness and political savvy laid the foundation for what soon would become Southwest Minnesota State College. These leaders portrayed a determined, entrepreneurial spirit that would distinguish Marshall from the many other communities vying for the privilege of building a new college to serve Southwest Minnesota. From fund-raising and securing land to building political support, their tenacious and resilient drive made a University on the prairie a reality. The leaders who brought us this fine institution didn’t just dream; they rolled up their sleeves and went to work. The leaders who were to follow would show those same qualities. From President Bellows whose charisma and ingenuity built a world-class faculty and President Wefald’s personal commitment to recruiting students across the region; and from President Sweetland’s dedication to faculty and students to President Danahar’s leadership in fundraising and improving campus infrastructure – each of these leaders brought a vision to move the University forward in their own unique ways. SMSU has a history of turning dreams into realities. History Professor Emeritus Joe Amato said it so eloquently in the preface to his book, A New College on the Prairie, “Many lives have been lived at Southwest and many stories are told of those lives… This means acknowledging that a portion of one’s life was given to it. Dreams, passions, generosities, frustrations, even anger are inseparable from that red-brick college rising out of the prairie. A room, a chair, a path to classes, or a group of people may be the memories that hold a life in tether, or it may be knowing that one cannot entirely define oneself without reference to experiences at Southwest State.”

The dreamers who made Southwest a reality built a foundation for future generations to write their own chapters of this ongoing story. The influence of past dreamers and doers resonates across all parts of our campus and beyond. An entrepreneurial spirit thrives throughout the community and region that no doubt has been influenced by the presence of SMSU. One does not have to look far to see dreams made real. One example is Ralco, a homegrown business led by SMSU alumni partnering with SMSU faculty and students to explore new ways to grow a safe and abundant food supply. Ralco has experienced tremendous growth and has made a significant international impact in the agricultural community. Not many stories of an entrepreneurial spirit can be more inspiring than that of the Swenson family and the development of the Action Trackchair. Their vision and innovation have opened up a whole new world of mobility and activity for those whose physical disabilities once limited their freedoms. The success and impact of their innovation have allowed Tim & Donna Swenson to give back and support SMSU students facing similar physical challenges with access to trackchairs as well as scholarship opportunities to attend college. Of course the history and present day success of Southwest Minnesota State cannot be highlighted without mention of the Schwan Food Company. Marshall’s most famous and successful entrepreneur, Marvin Schwan, made investments in the people and place that are SMSU, investments that the company has continued — in programs, people and facilities. In addition, their commitment to support scholarships for prospective students has made a college degree much more affordable and realistic for hundreds of SMSU students. More than in any other region where I have lived, here I see a focus on getting things done, of making dreams a reality, of truly making a difference. We are all aware of the realities facing higher education today, especially the funding challenges and the shifting demographic trends. Our population in Southwest Minnesota is not only shrinking, but the demographics of our communities and the workforces that make up our population are changing as well. Now is the time for us – the entire SMSU family including alumni, friends, business partners and community members – to come together and embrace the opportunities and challenges in front of us. We need to take pride in our past, celebrate our accomplishments, and share and proclaim the economic vitality that the University brings to the Southwest Minnesota region.

Top photo: The presidential medallion. Bottom photo: MnSCU Trustee Alexander Cirillo, Jr. places the medallion on Dr. Connie J. Gores.


As we envision our future, we are building upon our strong history and harnessing the resolve to build an institution that truly thrives. We must capture the spirit of working together on behalf of the greater good; of being good neighbors; of partnering with others in education, business, and non-profits to tap in to the foresight, passion and optimism to dream big. Now is the time to engage our “Prairie Eye” to look for the distance and the light, to look at a square foot and see a universe…. The Prairie. There is something special about this place that spawns our creativity and brings us together. What is it about the prairie that reinforces our resolve? What is it that inspires us to imagine new possibilities, seize opportunities and dream big? What does this sense of place mean to each of us and how does it inform our actions? And what does it mean to be a “steward of place” and to act on our responsibility? The People. From the moment I first set foot on campus, I knew that SMSU was special, in part because of the remarkable physical plant and buildings, and certainly because of the remarkably high quality visual Art on the walls, but especially because of the People. People who know the value of hard work and fulfilling their purpose. People who understand that difficult times call for difficult decisions and courageous actions. People who are dreamers and doers. In the words of the French poet, journalist, and novelist, Anatole France, “To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe.” Although he did not live in our midst, he captured our spirit in his words. Clearly we are a community of people who act, dream, plan and believe. The Possibilities. What are the implications ahead of us? What are the infinite possibilities before us? What path must we take to ensure a strong and sustainable University for generations to come? I challenge us to envision a future in which SMSU advances our scholarly pursuits, explores new dimensions of our mission, and enhances the education of our students, all while actively contributing to the Southwest region of Minnesota and beyond. A future where SMSU is a working model of a dynamic 21st Century institution linked to the world around us – here and abroad – and deeply committed to making the world a better place. I ask you to consider with me: What would it look like for SMSU to be known as an Incubator of Innovation? A community of learners that links theory with practice and the abstract with the concrete. With innovative programs that are strong academically, theoretically, and creative at their core. Programs that celebrate the joy of discovery, the love of learning, and the fulfillment of creating something new - whether on canvas, on the stage, in a lab, or by using a tablet device. Programs that prepare students for a lifetime of learning, taught in the liberal arts tradition characterized by breadth with an emphasis on solving complex problems from wide and multiple perspectives – in essence, viewing many separate

things at once as a whole. Programs and offerings that distinguish SMSU from other institutions leading us to be a University of Choice for all students in Southwest Minnesota, the entire state and surrounding region. Programs that build on the strengths of this area and our agricultural roots to help build our capacity for a vibrant future. Programs that build on the high level of undergraduate research already occurring on our campus across all disciplines; a truly distinguishing and distinctive feature of the University led by Dr. Emily Deaver and showcased by our students at the annual Undergraduate Research Conference for the past eight years. Programs that encourage our students to challenge themselves as well as challenge others, and to explore new horizons. Programs like the one that brought Ariana Anderson to student teach in Thailand this past fall semester, an experience that she says changed her life. I ask you to envision with me: What would it feel like to be a truly inclusive community that respects all students whether from this region or born on the other side of the globe? A community that embraces the diversity of customs and cultures and that builds an inclusive and welcoming environment for all students, faculty, staff and friends. A student experience that honors and cultivates the entire student experience – inside the classrooms and labs and outside the classrooms in internships; in work experience on campus or locally; in residence halls and in club meetings; in volunteer experiences and service activities. A student experience that includes active and collaborative learning and engages students to reflect on their insights and practices while applying that learning to their personal and professional lives; an experience that lifts up the “civic” in civic engagement and inspires students to be active, engaged citizens. Students who are global citizens prepared for an ever-changing world of the 21st century. Many of our students are already setting the bar high. I smile with pride when I think of students like Nicolas Dorman, a junior Chemistry and Speech Communication major who was named the Minnesota Collegiate Forensics Association State Champion in Oratory a few weeks ago or our Culinology students who for the fifth straight year were finalists in the National Research Chefs of America Student Competition, capturing national titles in three of those years. All types of experiences that have clearly made a difference for our graduates who are successfully entering the job market and graduate school with a 99% employment rate. How many other institutions can claim such success for their graduates? Finally, I ask you to imagine with me: What would it take to be known for our partnerships marked by a spirit of entrepreneurship and collaboration, involved in engaged learning and meaningful experiences for our students, faculty, alumni, and our entire community? Partnerships that build on our innovative and extensive undergraduate research program and our arts and cultural offerings; partnerships similar to those in the Exercise Science area where our students have partnered with the Schwan Food Company to work with a cohort of their employees developing wellness plans to promote exercise and healthy lifestyles. Partnerships and meaningful engagement characterized by new forms of innovation, new kinds of working

Top photo: Dr. Connie J. Gores accepts the University Mace from MnSCU Trustee Alexander Cirillo, Jr. Bottom photo: The University Mace.


relationships, and a new spirit of cooperation. The social, economic and entrepreneurial qualities that the SMSU Enactus organization has promoted from Marshall to Jamaica and that have inspired our students to become engaged beyond our borders is another shining example of partnerships and experience beyond our walls. SMSU must play an essential role in growing our economy and opening the doors of educational opportunity to all by forging partnerships and meaningful experiences that are essential to the building and creation of vibrant and robust communities. Communities that are thriving arts and cultural centers. Partnerships involving school districts, community and technical colleges, business and industry – in our local community and beyond – to create a sustainable workforce and future leaders. We must do our part to: • Ensure access to an extraordinary education for all Minnesotans • Be the partner of choice to meet Minnesota’s workforce and community needs

• Deliver to students, employers, communities and taxpayers the highest value and most affordable higher education option And all of this we must do in a culture of sustainability and good stewardship of our resources, of our talents and our treasures. Stewardship of our land and our heritage; of our financial resources; of our human resources, and of our human potential. Today I challenge us to be the architects of our future. A future of BOLD thinking; a future of dreaming and doing; a future of achieving and exceeding our own expectations. Let us begin building this future together. We are Southwest Minnesota State University. We are the prairie. We are a people rooted in the land and in touch with the sky. The possibilities are endless and completely within our reach. So let us engage our prairie eye where together we can look at a square foot and see the universe. Together we can envision the possibilities and make them our destiny. Thank you for your kind attention.

Southwest Prairie Improvisation


written by Beth Weatherby in honor of the Inauguration of Dr. Connie J. Gores

After a tense faculty meeting, An historian shrugs, smiles, whispers, Human Institutions. Human, the richness and the poverty, the music, poetry, numbers, the doubt. Human, the troubles, the grand astonishment. The joyful, exhausting work of thought, range of feeling. Human, the nonsense and the sense, Frightening, awakening, The making of sense. Making. Unmaking. Making again. Earth Wind and grass Sunlight Fire Bricks. Glass. Steel. Mortar. Enclosures of Air. Land of the Dakota. Haŋ, Mitakuyapi. Owasin caŋtewaŝteya nape ciyuzapi ye. Hello, my relatives, with a good heart I greet all of you with a handshake. Knowing nothing, Moving through the changes, Wounds and healing, A human institution. How to be whole, always opening? Courage. Breathe.

A human institution. All histories at once. Undeniable. Improvisation, season after season, in all directions. Movement and rest, but mostly movement. The poignant rests, grace notes of the prairie. LISTEN: Cherish this nonsense, this sense, This crazy, ambiguous beauty. Perseverance of the spirit, Vision of the founders, Infinite horizon. Make it what you will. In the beginning, said the Original Southwest Employee, Before there were buildings, Before there were students, When we worked in three trailers, Work was so much fun, so exciting, so thrilling! Every moment, every day, we rushed to get ready. The students were coming! We had to get ready! The students were coming!

LISTEN: Cherish the difficulty and the challenge, Continual metamorphoses. Birth. Rebirth. Love it, like jazz, open to all voices, all possibilities. They are coming. We must get ready! They are the future. We must get ready! They are here. We must get ready! They go where they go. We must get ready! CALL AND RESPONSE: The students are coming. We must get ready! They are the future. We must get ready! They are here. We must get ready! They go where they go. We must get ready! Every moment, every day, season after season, We must get ready!

Student institution. All who work here, all who visit, all who claim this place or what has grown here, Students. Learning. Creation. University, How to be one, whole, always opening? Courage. Breathe. Make it what you will.

In not knowing, We must get ready!

Welcome, Profusion of life and transformation.

In beginning, We must get ready!

In knowing, We must get ready! In gratitude, We must get ready! In beauty, We must get ready!


[ alumni connections ]

New Mural by Fogarty ’82 Unveiled

Terrence Fogarty, the country’s premiere sports artist and 1982 alumnus, unveiled his Marshall Mural during halftime of the men’s game vs. Bemidji State on Friday, January 31, 2014. The painting will be made into a huge mural to adorn the external wall of the Varsity Pub in downtown Marshall. Terrence was commissioned by the City of Marshall for the project. The painting depicts various youth sports activities. Participating in the unveiling were: Marshall City Administrator, Ben Martig; Terrence Fogarty; SMSU President Connie J. Gores; Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes; and Marshall Amateur Sports Commission Chair, Roger Madison.

MUSTANG PRIDE in Amazing Places

Diane Nagel ’73 traveled to Cuba to show her Mustang Pride. She writes: “My husband, Greg Posch and I traveled to Cuba in February, 2014 through a people-topeople educational exchange program. When traveling in Cuba a person feels like they are transported back to the ’60’s because of all the vintage U.S. cars that are on the highways. I am standing next to a vintage pink Cadillac that is used to transport tourists. The owners of vintage cars proudly display the cars for admirers to have their picture taken next to (for a fee).” Congratulations to Diane, winner of a $50 gift card to the SMSU Barnes & Noble Campus Store redeemable in the store or online at to pick up more Brown & Gold gear! Do you have a photo of yourself wearing your Mustang gear in an amazing place? If so, visit AmazingPlaces and submit your photo and story. One winner will be selected to appear in each edition of FOCUS and will receive a $50 gift card to the SMSU Barnes & Noble Campus Store. To be considered, photos must be high resolution, clear, with “SMSU” or a Mustang logo clearly visible.

2014 Alumni Association Award Recipients Announced Each year the SMSU Alumni Association recognizes alumni and friends who have made significant contributions of time, talent, or financial resources to help advance and bring positive recognition to Southwest Minnesota State University. This year the Alumni Association will honor seven individuals during Homecoming 2014 at the annual awards luncheon on Friday, October 10. ALUMNI ACHIEVEMENT AWARD Andy ’76 and Dona (Schilling) ’76 Kubat of Dawson, Minn., have dedicated their careers to the education of students in the elementary school system. Dona began her teaching career in Villard, Minn., in 1976 and moved to Canby Elementary in 1978, where she is currently teaching second grade. Dona has mentored many student teachers from SMSU during her career and feels it is important to pass along her passion for education. Andy retired in May of 2012 after spending his entire career teaching at the Dawson-Boyd Elementary School. Andy taught physical education and adaptive physical education. He volunteered for over 35 years as a coach with the Minnesota Special Olympics serving as head of delegations and district director. Bill Hanson ’77 is the CFO/ Executive Director of Business Services for the Duluth Public School District. His career includes being in a management role for several companies —Donaldson Company Inc., Nortronics Company, Barko Hydraulics, Pettibone Michigan, LLC, and Barko Hydraulics, LLC. Bill and his wife, Jan (Reber) ’75, live in Duluth. Kris Taylor ’87 graduated from Southwest with a degree in Business Administration and credits the University with giving her the tools needed to succeed. Kris is currently the Vice President of Community Relations and the Ecolab Foundation at Ecolab, Inc. Prior to that, Kris was the Vice President of Finance and Administration for the Minnesota Children’s Museum, Chief Operations Officer for Benz Whaley Flessner,


and the Director of Human Resources for Spanlink Communications. Kris is a member of the SMSU Culinology Board of Directors. HONORARY LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP AWARD Tim and Donna Swenson will receive the 2014 Honorary Lifetime Membership award. Tim and Donna are Mustangs at heart and support SMSU in any way possible. They are the owners of Action TrackChair, a Marshall company that has gained national recognition in recent years and has helped thousands of physically disabled individuals explore the outdoors. From hunting and fishing to hiking and hanging out on the beach, Tim and Donna Swenson are helping physically-challenged individuals rediscover the world around them. GRADUATE OF THE LAST DECADE (GOLD) AWARD Satyajit Dattagupta ’04/MBA ’07 has seen his career take off since graduating from SMSU. He has been the Vice President of Enrollment Management for Washington College, Chestertown, Md., since July of 2013. He began his career at SMSU as an admission counselor while earning his MBA. He was also a web analyst for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. He was hired by DePauw University, Greencastle, Ind., as its Associate Director of Admission and Coordinator of Information Technology, then took a position at the University of Rochester before accepting his current position. Satyajit and his wife, Priyanka (Sharma) ’08, live in Chestertown, Maryland. To hear the complete stories of all this year’s award winners, please attend the Alumni Awards Luncheon on Friday, Oct. 10 at noon in the Conference Center Ballroom. The event is open to the public. Tickets to the luncheon are $12 and are available to purchase online at To read about past award winners, visit:

[ alumni connections ]

Christy (Kubat) Brusven ’02 Gives The 2014 Commencement Address Christy (Kubat) Brusven, a 2002 alumna, was the keynote speaker at the 2014 commencement exercises on May 10 in the R/A Facility on the campus of Southwest Minnesota State University. Brusven is an attorney for the Minneapolis law firm Fredrikson & Byron, where she specializes in the energy industry, permitting wind, solar, transmission and pipeline projects and representing utilities and other clients in energy-related matters. Brusven comes from a long line of Mustangs — 11 total in her immediate and extended family. She earned degrees in Political Science and Public Administration from SMSU. She is a Dawson-Boyd High School graduate who played volleyball at SMSU four years. She earned the Willis R. Kelly Scholar-Athlete Award in 2002, which recognizes the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference’s top female student-athlete. She would go on to earn a law degree from William Mitchell College of Law in 2007, and joined Fredrikson & Byron upon graduation. She first began her work for the state as an SMSU senior, where she was a research consultant for the Minnesota House of Representatives. While in law school, she worked as a research analyst for the Office of Strategic Planning in the office of Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and later as a special assistant to the Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Commerce, where she administered the state energy Conservation Improvement Program and worked on energy efficiency and renewable energy regulatory and legislative matters. Her message to the graduates revolved around how connections made at SMSU can help students professionally as they go out into the workforce. “One of the biggest things that carried me forward is the

ability to build strong relationships. The people you know — and the work ethic you exhibit once you get your foot in the door — are key in any workplace,” she said. Much of her energy work revolves around wind energy in southwest Minnesota, a wind she remembers vividly from her volleyball days. Brusven “When people ask why we build so much wind on the Buffalo Ridge, I just laugh and I usually end up telling them about the days I’d leave practice at SMSU and have to lean my shoulder into the back door of the PE building when it was windy just to get to the parking lot,” she said. “I worked on the recent wind project north of Luverne and two near Cosmos. I am currently working on another project by Windom that is expected to start construction next year. “I like what I do because it’s always changing. I’ve worked on a number of wind projects throughout the Midwest, but I’m also working on a large distributed solar project, several transmission lines and a pipeline, all with unique policy, technical and environmental issues.” Brusven and her husband, Dan, are the parents of two sons, Nash, 5, and Ryan, 3. Dan is a production manager for Trademark Wood Products, a cabinetry and furniture shop in the Twin Cities. They live in Minnetonka. She is the daughter of Andy and Dona (Schilling) Kubat of Dawson; both are 1976 SMSU alumni.


Southwest Minnesota State University held its 46th annual commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 10 in the R/A Facility on campus. A total of 620 graduate and undergraduate students were candidates for master’s, bachelor’s and associate’s degrees, with approximately 415 of those candidates participating in the ceremony. Pictured is Anna Johnson, Speech Communication and Psychology major from New London, Minn.

Clarence Hightower ’77 Receives President’s Award A special President’s Award was presented to 1977 alumnus Clarence Hightower during commencement on May 10 at Southwest Minnesota State University. Hightower is the chairperson of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees and the Executive Director of the Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties. He previously served as president and chief executive officer of the Minneapolis Urban League. Hightower has been the chairperson of the MnSCU Board of Trustees since July 2012. He was first appointed to the Board of Trustees by Gov. Jesse Ventura in 2002. He was reappointed to a six-year term by Gov. Tim Pawlenty in 2008. His term expires June 30 of this year. In his work with Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties, he is involved in grassroots public policy and community engagement activities and manages a $20 million budget and a staff of 300. It marks the first time since 1996 that an individual has received the President’s Award. The last recipient was Robert Johnson, former

Vice President of Marketing and Development. The award is given to individuals who have distinguished themselves professionally and supported and represented Southwest Minnesota State University with Hightower at commencement with President Gores distinction. Hightower earned Health and Physical Education degrees from SMSU and was an Alumni Achievement Award recipient in 2000.


[ athletics ]

Ground Broken on New Track and Field Complex Southwest Minnesota State University will soon be home to the finest track and field facility in southwest Minnesota. Ground was broken April 14 for the Marshall Regional Track & Field Complex, and work is expected to be completed by the first week in August, 2014. The complex, located at the old Mattke Field in the northeast part of the campus, will include a nine-lane 400-meter track, a water jump pit, hurdle for the steeplechase and high jump area. An NCAA regulation synthetic turf soccer/football field will also be placed within the track. The long/triple jump, pole vault, shot put, discus and javelin area will be just north of the complex. The project is a collaboration between SMSU and Marshall Public Schools. According to Director of Athletics Chris Hmielewski, he was approached by representatives of Marshall Public Schools several years ago. The high school track, located at the Middle School, is deteriorating, and Hmielewski was asked if the University might be interested in collaborating on the project. SMSU has recently added both cross country and track and field, and before long, the two parties were discussing specifics. SMSU students voted overwhelmingly last year to a raise in student fees to help fund the turf infield portion of the project. “We’ve collaborated with the high school in the past on projects,

The SMSU Track & Field Team with President Gores at the ceremony on April 14.

and this is just another example of the cooperation that exists,” said Hmielewski. “This type of relationship is not common, and is a testament to the leadership of this University, and the high school.” SMSU President Dr. Connie J. Gores said the project will be a real draw to the campus and will help SMSU with Title IX compliance.

Patnoe Named the NSIC’s Top Female Scholar-Athlete The Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference announced that Southwest Minnesota State University senior golfer Rachel Patnoe has been named the 2014 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Willis R. Kelly Scholar-Athlete Award recipient. The award—now in its 29th year—recognizes the NSIC’s top female studentathlete. She is the sixth SMSU student-athlete to earn the award and the first since 2002. Christy (Kubat) Brusven in 2002, Janelle Gibbs in 1999, Paige Karno in 1996, Katy (Pivec) Hansen in 1995, and Shauna (Wendland) Rhinesmith in 1989 are the previous Mustang female student-athletes to earn the award. Two male studentathletes earned the Britton award: Bruce Saugstad (1989)


and Tyler Fischer (2007 & 2008). A native of Milbank, S.D., Patnoe graduated this spring with a bachelor of arts degree in Biology and a minor in Psychology. She is a 2010 graduate of Milbank High School. Patnoe maintained a 3.98 grade point average as a four-year member of the SMSU golf team. Patnoe made the Deans’ List every semester and has been named an SMSU Scholar Athlete the last three years. She is a four-time National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA) AllAmerican Scholar Athlete and last spring was named to the Capital One Academic All-District VII At-Large team. She also received the NSIC Myles Brand Award this past spring and was named to the NSIC All-Academic team three times.

Rients Sets Records and Earns More Honors this Season Southwest Minnesota State junior baseball player Patrick Rients put together one the best seasons in program history this past spring earning several national accolades and helping the Mustangs qualify for the NSIC tournament. Rients, a designated hitter from Jackson, Minn., set three program records and tied a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference record this season and was rewarded with second team All-American honors by both the American Baseball Coaches Association and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, while earning honorable mention All-American honors by Daktronics. He was named the 2014 NSIC Newcomer of the Year and first team All-NSIC, Rients led SMSU in

batting average (.369) and hits (66), while setting school records for home runs (19), triples (6) and total bases (144). His 15 home runs in conference play also tied a league record. He helped lead the Mustangs to 27 victories (tying for the eighth highest in team history) and a spot in the NSIC tournament for the first time since 2010. Rients finished the season in the final NCAA Division II statistics ranking first in the country in slugging percentage (.804), first in home runs per game (0.38), second in home runs, fifth in total bases, 14th in triples, and 18th in RBIs per game (1.14). Rients also performed off the field of play, earning first team CoSIDA Academic All-District accolades, compiling a Rients 3.56 GPA in management.

For the latest headlines, post-season results, and spring sports wrap-ups, visit! 10 | FOCUS

[ class notes ] 1974 Lee Kanton gave a presentation at SMSU about a documentary he made, entitled “Evidence of Hope,” in November 2013. Kanton and his wife Jean (Stube ’75) own Lee Pictures, Inc., a company offering corporate non-profit communications services. Lee and Jean have a 22-year-old son, Sam, and reside in Ortonville. 1976 Deb Almer received a Human Resources All-Star Award from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system in September 2013. She is the SMSU Human Resources Director and lives in Marshall with her husband, Fred. 1979 Craig Porter was chosen as the official starter for the 2014 Minnesota State High School Boy’s Class AA Swimming and Diving Championships. 1980 Dr. Mark Nook has been named the new chancellor of Montana State University Billings. He was formerly the Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs for the University of Wisconsin system, encompassing 13 four-year and 13 two-year institutions. Mark is married to 1980 alumna Cheryl (Londgren). 1981 Larry Gavin recently published a new book of poetry The Initiation of Praise with Red Dragonfly Press. Larry lives in Faribault with his wife, Patty. 1985 Tom Jackson, Jr. was named the 10th president of Black Hills State University in Spearfish, S.D., on April 30, 2014. He will begin his duties July 3. Previously, Jackson provided leadership for student affairs activities at the University of Louisville. 1986 John Schultz led New Richland-Hartland-EllendaleGeneva to the Minnesota Class AA Girl’s Basketball State Championship. 1988 Laurie (Millhouse) Driessen is running for the District

16A House of Representatives seat as a Democrat. She is employed by REM Southwest/ Central Services as the quality assurance specialist for a seven-county area and lives in Canby. 1989 Corey Lunn was named superintendent of the Johnston Community School District in Johnston, Iowa. Lunn has been the superintendent of Stillwater Area Schools since 2011. His begins his duties July 1, 2014. Dan Westby led the Marshall High School girl’s basketball team to a second-place finish in the Minnesota Class AAA Girl’s Basketball State Tournament. 1994 Scot Allen is the Regional Director at LMG Holdings Inc. in Des Moines, Iowa. 1995 Chad Johnston led the Minneota High School girl’s basketball team to a secondplace finish in the Minnesota Class A Girl’s Basketball State Tournament. Marty Seifert has entered the Republican primary race for Minnesota governor. He lives in Marshall with his wife, Traci, and their two children. 1998 Becky (Evers) Gerdes accepted a principal position within the Duluth Public Schools system. Lois Schmidt was awarded the Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration President’s Award. The award is given at the discretion of the board president and executive leadership at MAVA to recognize an individual or organization that has provided outstanding support to advance MAVA’s strategic efforts or the field of volunteerism. Schmidt is the Director of Development for Project Turnabout. 1999 Ryan Ziemann and his wife, Allie, welcomed their fourth daughter, Vienna VerenaLovey, in November 2013. 2000 Brett Gaul and his wife, Anita, welcomed a son,

August Joseph, on Sept. 4, 2013. Brett was also promoted to Associate Professor of Philosophy at SMSU in September. 2001 Erin (Frye) Lind was named commissioner of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. She has been part of the NSIC staff since 2001 and will start her new position on July 1. 2002 Brad (MS ’09) and Heather (Smith ’05/MS ’08) Bigler welcomed a daughter, Tatum Diane, on Nov. 25, 2013. Christina (Kubat) Brusven was the keynote speaker at the 2014 commencement exercises on May 10. She is an attorney with the Minneapolis law firm Fredrikson & Byron. Travis Carroll led the Marshall High School boy’s basketball team to the Minnesota Boy’s Basketball State Tournament. Carroll has been head coach two years. Brandon Groenhoff and his wife, Lynn, welcomed a daughter, Aubrey Lynn, on May 13, 2014. 2003 Natasha (Kuhle) Reierson (MS ’13) and her husband, Jarod, welcomed a daughter, Rylie Jean. Shelli (Schoeneck MBA ’06) Hawkinson and her husband, Josh, welcomed a son, Hudson Henry, on April 3, 2014. 2005 Darlene Guse married Brian Sparkman on March 23, 2014, on a beach in Costa Rica. Niaz Patwary and Afsana Rahman welcomed a baby boy, Neil Ryan, on Sept. 21, 2013. Joanna Stern (MBA ’09) married Corey Jerzak on Dec. 14, 2013. Adam Willert and his wife, Heather, welcomed a son, Maxton Arvid, on March 4, 2013. 2006 Sarah (Fuechtmann) and Eric (’07) Eveslage welcomed their second daughter, Olivia Rose, on March 4, 2014.

Samantha (Hattey ’07) and Andrew Fox welcomed a daughter, Zöe Claire on Oct. 25, 2013. Derek Rignell and his wife, Raftyn, welcomed a daughter, Quinn Elizabeth, on Dec. 26, 2013. Stephanie (Agre) Ryan and her husband, Ben, welcomed a son, Levi Benjamin, on March 9, 2014.

Gavin ’81

2007 Jamie Enger married Galen Lanners on Sept. 28, 2013, in Minneota. Jaclyn (Messer) Helgeson is a Senior Java Developer with Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. Melody Ide married Erik Manthey in Napoli Beach, in Maui, Hawaii on Oct. 20, 2013.

Lind ’01

Andrea Kopfmann joined Open Arms of Minnesota as its event manager. Jon (MBA ’10) and Sarah (Quiram ’10) Kubat welcomed a son, Briggin Jon, on April 11, 2014. Teresa Nelson and Miller Cubas were married on May 4, 2014. Jeff Neuse and his wife, Katie, welcomed a baby boy on Jan. 17, 2014.

Bigler ’02

Sam (Stenzel) Schroeder and her husband, Adam, welcomed their second son, Zaiden Dean, on April 30, 2014. Jennifer (Bednar) and Grant (’08) Tilus welcomed a daughter, Emilia Anna, on Dec. 14, 2013. Justin Zajic received Dakota Wesleyan University’s Exemplary Teacher Award in April.  He and his wife, Kacie (Cleveland), have one daughter, Nikayda, and a second child is due in July. They live in Mitchell, S.D.

Guse ’05

2008 Steven and Heather (Isley ’09) Anderson welcomed a baby girl. Krystle (Londgren) Enniga and her husband, Dustin, welcomed a baby boy, Colsten Daniel, on April 16, 2014.

Schroeder ’07

FOCUS | 11

[ class notes ] Jacob (MS ’13) and Kelly (Fransman) Heimerman welcomed a baby girl, Tegan June, on January 3, 2014. Laura (VanOverbeke MS ’13) and Jake Jenson welcomed a daughter, Tessa Lane, on May 6, 2014.

Flatin ‘09 joseph a. amato

Buoyancies A Ballast Master’s Log

Kelli (Johnson) Helm and her husband, Christopher, welcomed a baby boy, Quinlan James, on Feb. 17, 2013. Ken Karwoski married Jessica Goeser on April 26, 2014. Heather (Piatz MS ’13) Lynch and her husband, Mitch, welcomed a baby boy, Jackson “Jack” James Lynch, on May 2, 2014. Kyle Nickles and Heidi DeMuth were married on Sept. 21, 2013 in Marshall.


Bryan and Kasey (Loeslie ’09) Nikkel welcomed a daughter, Sloan, on Oct. 16, 2013. Eric Novosad is now the director of Marshall High School’s popular drum performance group entitled “Beats.” Amy (Woetse) and Michael Sarne (’09) welcomed a son, Chandler Michael, on March 10, 2014. Michael VanDrehle (MBA ’10) was named the Director of Alumni Relations at SMSU.

Dangel Tyler Hansen joined the Real Estate Retrievers’ Marshall office as an agent in April 2014. Tyler is also an independent insurance agent for Southwest Insurance Service in Walnut Grove.

2009 Matthew and Cari (Zitzow) Burnett welcomed a son, Jamis Chad Burnett, on Jan. 31, 2014. Bradley and Erica (Spencer ’10/MS ’12) Flatin welcomed a baby girl, Brooke Ann, on Nov. 25, 2013. Brenda Lonneman and Doug Desmedt were married on

April 26, 2014. The couple resides in rural Minneota. Travis and Sarah (Klingbile) Olsem welcomed a baby girl on Oct. 16, 2013. 2010 Sameer Advani has been promoted to Product Manager at Hitachi Data Systems, Seattle, Wash. Stephanie (Bristle ’11) and Matthew Condon welcomed a son, Emmett Matthew, on March 2, 2014. Tegan Gullikson began her master’s of marketing studies at Georgia State University and became senior account executive at Edelman, an Atlanta public relations firm, in April 2014. Caryn Holzheimer accepted the head teacher position at Small Wonders Preschool and Childcare in Fargo, N.D. David Luepke is working as a senior credit analyst for CoBank, ACB in St. Louis Park, Minn. He also was admitted to the Master’s in Business Administration program at the University of South Dakota. Heather Keck and Andrew Williamson (’11) were married on May 31 in St. Paul. Heather is an administrative assistant for Danfoss Power Solutions in Plymouth. Andrew works as a logistics analyst for Target Corporation in Minneapolis. 2011 Jeremy Blackwelder received a Juris Doctorate degree from Hamline University in December 2013. Jeremy and his wife, Kristina (Nelson, ’09), reside in Granite Falls. Taylor Huseby gradued from the University of Wisconsin-

La Crosse with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree in May, 2014. Benjamin Tiensvold is a communication specialist at Sage Project Consultant, Sanford Health, in Sioux Falls, S.D. FACULTY/STAFF Joseph Amato, Emeritus Professor of History, recently published a book of poetry Buoyancies: A Ballast Master’s Log. He lives in Marshall where he continues to read, research, and write. Leo Dangel, Emeritus Professor of English, recently published his fifth book of poetry Saving Singletrees, part the Kloefkorn Series by the Wayne State College Press. In the jacket review, Philip Dacey wrote, “What I admire most about Leo Dangel’s work is his tact—by that I mean his unerring ability to know what not to say.” Dangel lives in Yankton, S.D.

fiction novel, The Marsco Dissident, will be released on July 20, 2014. It was previously available only as an e-book. He is also coordinating a series of events in Marshall to commemorate World War I. IN MEMORIUM Lita (Ackerman) Clarke (’71) passed away on Dec. 9, 2013 at the Westbrook Good Samaritan Center in Westbrook at the age of 85. Justin Couillard (’08) passed away in May 2013 in Glenwood. Teri (Schweer’) McCausland (’82) passed away on Nov. 28, 2013. Jeff Menage (’87) passed away Dec. 17, 2013, at the age of 49. Evelyn Minnie (Folkestad) Ostlie (’92) passed away on Aug. 23, 2013 at the age of 84. Former professor Kenneth L. Peatross passed away on Dec. 4, 2013 at the age of 76.

Kim and Christian Guenther welcomed their third son, Cade Michael, in March 2014.

Gene Runnoe (’74) passed away on June 19, 2013 at the age of 62.

Susan McLean won the 2014 Donald Justice Poetry Prize. She is currently on sabbatical and is publishing her second book of poetry, The Whetstone Misses the Knife.

James “Jim” Swor (’72) passed away on Nov. 4, 2013 at the age of 63.

Former Director of Athletics and interim Vice President for Advancement Lloyd “Butch” Raymond announced his retirement as commissioner of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. Raymond will retire Aug. 1 after 50 years of service to intercollegiate athletics.

All cities are in Minnesota unless noted otherwise.

Dr. James Zarzana, Professor of English, was the 2014 recipient of the Cowan Award. The print edition of his science

Dean Vlastuin (’95) passed away on Feb. 3, 2014.

WHAT’S YOUR STORY? There are many ways to share your news with other alumni: email call 800-260-0970 click mail SMSU Alumni Office 1501 State St. Marshall, MN 56258

Share your love for SMSU with the Mustang Referral Program Do you know a student who would be a good match for SMSU? If so, please participate in our Mustang Referral Program. Alumni referrals are a great source of qualified applicants because of your unique understanding of the type of student who would thrive here at SMSU. We truly value and are very grateful for your referrals. If you know someone who might be interested in attending SMSU, participating is as easy as completing our quick online form at the website listed below. What else can you do to help spread the word about SMSU? • Share your own experience with potential SMSU students. • Direct them to our website: • Encourage them to attend a special event or plan a visit.

12 | FOCUS

The artistic rendering of the future University Entrance.

A GRAND ENTRANCE SMSU Foundation and Alumni Association Team Up on Entrance Project A distinctive new entrance to the campus of Southwest Minnesota State University will soon greet students, faculty, staff and friends of the University. The University Entrance Project began last year with the construction of a retention pond on the southeast corner of campus, near the intersection of Highways 23 and 19. The retention pond was a collaborative project between the University and the city of Marshall. Construction continues this summer and will include signage, landscaping and a fountain that will give the area a unique, welcoming appearance and define the entrance to SMSU. The project will be completed in the summer of 2015 with the addition of a full-sized bronze Mustang, the focal point of the project. Deeann Griebel, a 1980 alumna and the Senior Vice President-Investments for Moors & Cabot Investments, Mesa, Ariz., will match $100,000 raised for the project. Alumni wishing to donate to the University Entrance Project can make a gift online at Call the SMSU Alumni Relations office at 507-537-6257 or email

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Save the Date:

Saturday, October 11, 2014 Events held throughout the week of

October 6-12, 2014

For more information, visit: Homecoming


Game Time 7:10pm @ Target Field FOR and Info: For TICKETS Tickets and Info: WWW.SOUTHWESTALUMNI.COM/Twins2014 Please purchase tickets by Wednesday, July 9.

SMSU Focus Alumni Magazine Spring 2014  

A magazine for the alumni and friends of Southwest Minnesota State University

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