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The Magazine of St. Ambrose University | Summer 2012

Liberal Arts: Our Education Foundation ALSO INSIDE: Grads on the Campaign Trail

Scene The Magazine of St. Ambrose University Summer 2012 | Volume XXXVIII | Number 2 Managing Editor Linda Hirsch


Editor Craig DeVrieze Staff Writers Jane Kettering Robin Youngblood


Staff Assistant Darcy Duncalf Contributing Writers Susan Flansburg Steven Lillybeck Emilee Renwick Ted Stephens III ’01, ’04 Designer Sally Paustian ’94 Photo and illustration credits: Dan Videtich: front cover, inside front cover, pages 1, 6, 8, 10–17, 20–21; John Mohr Photography: inside front cover, pages 3, 4, 5, 7, 15, back cover; Greg Boll: pages 1, 26–27; University of Iowa: pages 28, 32. Scene is published by the Communications and Marketing office for the alumni, students, parents, friends, faculty and staff of St. Ambrose University. Its purpose is to inform and inspire through stories highlighting the many quality people and programs that are the essence of St. Ambrose’s distinguished heritage of Catholic, values-based education. Circulation is approximately 23,000. St. Ambrose University—independent, diocesan, and Catholic—enables its students to develop intellectually, spiritually, ethically, socially, artistically and physically to enrich their own lives and the lives of others. St. Ambrose University, 518 W. Locust St., Davenport, Iowa 52803

2 Under the Oaks Learn how physician assistants will join the health sciences team and about a new program to keep first-year students on track. Then meet one of our most beloved professors, Joe McCaffrey, PhD (below).


14 26 Alumni Profile


12 Liberal Arts

26 All Aboard

A St. Ambrose University education doesn’t just help

When Tanya Braet ’05,’06 MOT decided handicapped QC

students become what they want to be. Our commitment

athletes should enjoy the sport of rowing as much as she

to providing a liberal arts foundation helps Ambrosians

does, it was only a matter of time until they could. In June,

discover who they want to be and how they will choose

four paraplegic athletes took their turns at the oars to

to live.

launch the Braet-driven Two Rivers Y Quad Cities Rowing

14 Lessons for Life The St. Ambrose community immerses students in an education steeped in the liberal arts by living, reflecting, and investigating those subjects on a daily basis. And Ambrosian alumni are realizing the benefits of that approach long after they have left campus.

18 Off to the Races St. Ambrose Class of 2010 political science graduates Henry Marquard III and Aaron Windeknecht are racing to November as cogs in Congressional campaigns.

Club adaptive rowing program.

28 Alumni News Kreiter Hall takes St. Ambrose south of Locust on the hilltop and highlights a different way to give; Robert Philibert ‘83, MD, PhD, is breaking ground in behavioral genetics medicinal research; a new graduate combines chemistry and ballet; and a former Queen Bees ball girl finds her way back to campus.

30 Class Notes

20 The Second Act Columbia. Carnegie Mellon. Yale. DePaul. The most prestigious Master of Fine Arts programs in the nation are building on the base St. Ambrose theatre students and artists first found here.


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Visitors Experience Business American-Style The kind of practical experience demanded by companies worldwide is unavailable to a majority of college business students in India. That’s a void Ryan Dye, PhD, and Arun Pillutla, PhD, knew St. Ambrose could fill. The result is the American Business Experience, a hands-on program for international students majoring in business. The three-week program was launched in 2010 by Dye, director of the Center for International Education at St. Ambrose, and Pillutla, an SAU business professor and native of India. “We wanted to introduce students— particularly Indian students—to the SAU brand,” Dye said. Initially, the focus was narrowed to the St. Francis College for Women in Hyderabad, India, a city of more than 4 million residents located in the south central portion of the country. “The St. Francis students typically have several graduate schools in mind,” Dye said, “and by experiencing what St. Ambrose is all about, we thought they could have St. Ambrose on their radar screens. And it’s working.”


Participation is growing, from four students in 2010 to 10 a year ago. This year, 12 were on campus for three weeks in May and June, including two males, Rohan Reddy of the University of Hyderabad and Marko Vukoja of the School of Economics and Management in Zagreb, Croatia. Reddy and Vukoja began internships at Wahl Clipper Corp. in Sterling, Ill., after completing the ABE program on June 14. While there is plenty of focus on the academic side of business, ABE students also acclimate to American culture and learn to understand its nuances, valuable skills in the international world of business. Being on time, for instance. “In India, if you are half an hour late, it’s no big deal,” said ABE student Sadhvi Kewalramani. “Here, that is a very big deal. Timeliness is something I have learned.” The students also are discovering young women are far more independent in the U.S. For Indian parents in particular, Dye said, that is important. “They know that for these women to succeed in their jobs, they need to have more experience, particularly American experience,” he

said. “And that’s what the ABE provides them.” It is a welcome change from Indian classrooms. “It gives us a lot of exposure to business and management styles and we’re learning more about practical knowledge rather than empirical,” Kewalramani said. “Back in India, it’s more about theory.” This year’s daily schedule included a morning lecture with one of 18 participating St. Ambrose professors and an afternoon session at an area company or enterprise where they could see the morning’s lesson in action. This included trips to Deere and Co., to survey American innovations, managements systems and creativity; Wahl Clipper Corp., to explore cross cultural leadership; and Bandag, Inc., in Muscatine, Iowa, to see how teams in business work. “This program is systematic and organized,” said Bhavana Buddhavarapu. “You learn it, and then apply it,” Divya Kosaraju added. —Robin Youngblood

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advising and peer

feeling disconnected


Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, PhD,

from her fellow

the program, but none

president of St. Ambrose University,

first-year students

of those operated under

will proclaim Sept. 15 “Military

a single umbrella.

Appreciation Day” on campus.

at St. Ambrose, concerned about her academic standing, and overwhelmed by the

First Year Experience is a First-Year Success

challenges of combining work and school.

“Prior to strategic

Current and former members

planning, we were

of the military from within the

finding this group was

St. Ambrose community and

over here doing this and this group was

elsewhere will be admitted free of

over here doing another thing,” said Tracy

charge to that day’s 1 p.m. Fighting

student from Davenport. “And I didn’t know

Schuster-Matlock, PhD, dean of university

Bees football home opener at Brady

if there was any help for me.”

academic programs. “Sherri is the air traffic

Street Stadium in Davenport. They

There was help, ready and waiting.

control person, making sure that the right

and post-9/11 Gold Star Quad-Cities

Sherri Erkel, Loos’ academic advisor

hand not only is talking to the left hand, but

families will be honored throughout

and staff instructor in the New Student

that they complement each other’s work.”

the day.

Seminar, had a sense Loos was adrift but

Part of that coordination is fostered

said she couldn’t pinpoint why. When the

by the use of MAP-Works, a program of

the St. Ambrose Office of Veterans

student detailed her problems via a MAP-

voluntary web-based surveys to assess

Recruitment and Services. Office

Works early intervention program computer

college success indicators such as personal

coordinator Andrew Gates ’11,

survey, Erkel knew how to respond.

adjustment, level of homesickness and

himself a veteran, encourages SAU

hours devoted to study.

grads who are veterans to attend a

“I was struggling,” said Loos, a commuter

“There were a lot of factors that were hampering her ability to succeed,” said Erkel

SAU response rates to four surveys

The event is being organized by

SAU to Honor Military, Vets

Courtney Loos was

pancake breakfast on campus prior

director of the First Year Experience office.

issued during the 2011–12 school year

“When I got her survey results, I could say,

shattered national response rates, said Paul

‘OK, here’s how we can help.’ I introduced

Koch, PhD, vice president of academic and

veterans among its spring Class of

her to the Student Success Center to get

student affairs.

2012 and hopes to see those numbers

tutoring and helped her have a conversation

More importantly, Erkel said, MAP-

with her employer on the number of hours

Works and the coordinated focus placed on

she could work. All these things came

first-year students helped keep Courtney


Loos and other struggling new-to-college

And at the end of the school year, Loos happily phoned Erkel with the news she had earned a passing grade in the math class she

grow,” Gates said.

calling it quits. “At the end of the day, the number that matters most is retention and then, more

excited to come back,” Erkel said. “That was

than that, the number that matters will

good for all of us to have that experience.”

be persistence in our graduation rates,” she said. “Because if a student stays from

St. Ambrose sophomores is a primary

first to second year, they are more likely to

mission of First Year Experience.

continue to graduation.”

Much of what constitutes First Year

“St. Ambrose graduated 14

students from packing their books and

had feared she would fail. “And she was so

Bringing first-year students back as

to kickoff.

—Craig DeVrieze

Experience—New Student Seminar, Welcome Week, service learning, faculty 3

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SPRING COMMENCEMENT Lessons learned at St. Ambrose will continue to reveal themselves years after the May 2012 class of more than 700 graduates put their degrees to practical use. Cardiothoracic transplant pioneer Richard Wood ’58, MD, promised graduates that much in his remarks. Wood said his St. Ambrose education prepared him to ably adapt to changes and progress that continued throughout his storied and distinguished surgical career.

These photos feature May 2012 graduates. Visit for a recap of the ceremony.


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Training Class ‘Works Out’ Well for Students and Staff

London Scott ’12 played the cello for 18 years, but after a shoulder injury she suffered in an automobile accident

appropriate weights and exercises,” Logan said. “This was

made that impossible, the recent St. Ambrose graduate

a good chance to do that and help out the exercise sci-

found a new instrument to tune.

ence program too.”

The human body.

Heather Medema-Johnson, PhD, ATC, CSCS, said the

“This is something I really enjoy doing,” Scott said after

personal training class has grown along with the exercise

completing a spring semester kinesiology class that pairs

science program, which had 15 students when she joined

student personal trainers with St. Ambrose staff and fac-

the faculty eight years ago but had nearly 100 last year.

ulty willing to break a sweat as fitness trainees. “It helps with critical thinking,” said Scott, whose six

Alex Wignall hopes to be among the 80 percent of the training class graduates who move into health science

weeks of training Vickie Logan, an administrative assis-

graduate programs such as med school, physical therapy,

tant for the College of Arts and Sciences, solidified Scott’s

occupational therapy or as a member of St. Ambrose’s

interest in becoming a personal trainer. “It’s not like the

inaugural Master of Physician Assistant cohort. And he is

beginning classes where we get somebody’s goals and

confident the people skills he learned working alongside

problems on a sheet of paper. You actually have some-

a client in the spring will serve him well in any of those

body with problems you have to adapt for every week.


“My client taught me that with the program I make up,

“You learn a lot about people’s motivations,’’ he said.

there are going to be issues that I need to correct. You

“What ticks them off. What they like. How to persuade

have to be ready to change at a moment’s notice.”

them to do something they really don’t want to do at all

Learning from clients is the crux of the 400-level course called Exercise Prescription and Program

and get them to like it a little bit. Or at least tolerate it.” Medema-Johnson said providing that coaching and

Management, which is now in its tenth year as part of

coaxing experience is the program’s primary goal. A side

the kinesiology curriculum. The students enlist all they

benefit is a slimmer collective waistline for the university.

learned as underclassmen about the impact of aerobics,

“I would say the average person loses about 5 pounds

weight training and proper diet in helping their clients

in the six weeks,” she said. “But not everybody is aiming

shed pounds, or regain health and mobility. Those clients,

for weight loss. For some, it’s more about improving fit-

in turn, teach the students that life doesn’t always follow

ness, improving health, finding ways to keep working out

textbook formulas. Although Logan did the heavy lifting with Scott there to show her how, she was aware that she was teaching, too. 6

“I really wanted to get back into a program with age

as part of their lifestyle.” —Craig DeVrieze

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PAs are an integral part of the modern healthcare team.

Physician Assistant Program Joins the SAU ‘Team’ Board of Trustee member Daniel Broderick ’82, MD, said his message to future students in the new St. Ambrose Master of Physician Assistant degree program will be a hearty “Welcome to the team.” 30 students in June 2014 and graduating that Quite literally, he stressed. cohort in December 2016. “The modern healthcare team really is The program will debut at a time when a team,” he said. “It’s not just physicians a growing shortage of doctors, particularly and nurses. PAs are integral members.” general practitioners in rural settings such So, he said, are physical therapists. as Iowa, is expected to collide with a larger And occupational therapists. And speechdemand for healthcare from the aging language pathologists. And nursing baby boomer generation. administrators. It is a void that physician assistants Each of the above already are among can fill quite ably, and in Iowa, only St. Ambrose’s health science offerings, the University of Iowa and Des Moines which are sure to be strengthened by the University currently offer MPA degrees. MPA program that was announced to the There will be no shortage of quality public on May 8. applicants for the SAU program. DMU “This new graduate program is had 659 applicants for 50 spots in 2010, an excellent addition to an already and applicant pools generally far exceed exceptional set of offerings in the health openings nationwide. sciences field at St. Ambrose,” said Students seeking entry into the first Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, president of St. Ambrose cohort will need at least St. Ambrose University. 500 hours of healthcare experience. Sandra Cassady, PhD, dean of the The 27-month program will begin with College of Health and Human Services, classroom and laboratory work, followed has been laying the foundation for the by 12 months of clinical rotations under program since June 2010. the supervision of a nationwide network Cassady and newly hired program of physicians and healthcare specialists. Director Clare Kennedy, MPAS, PA-C, will With more than 525 students enrolled spend the next year hiring faculty and in existing SAU health science programs, staff members, developing the program’s Broderick is excited that the physician curriculum, and setting up clinical assistant candidates will get a healthy rotation sites around the country. exposure to the team approach that is The program has applied for becoming an integral part of modern provisional accreditation from the patient care. Accreditation Review Commission on “Certainly, a lot of people currently Education for the Physician Assistant in medicine were not trained with that (ARC-PA). Pending completion of this model,” said the certified neuroradiologist, initial accreditation process, St. Ambrose who currently practices in Florida. “If you anticipates matriculating its first class of

Clare Kennedy, MPAS, PA-C Director, Master of Physician Assistant Program

can have trainees understand that holistic approach, that’s really going to be very critical.” Cassady said St. Ambrose healthcare students already work and learn within that team-oriented framework, sharing occasional classes and patient cases. “One of the things we are very excited about is to be able to build on the interprofessional educational experiences we have,” she said. “All of these individuals are team members who help take care of patients together. The more our students can learn about each other’s fields, the better healthcare providers they will be.”­ —Craig DeVrieze Read more about the St. Ambrose University MPA program at


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Who is SAU?

Merredyth Beno As Director of Student Retention at St. Ambrose, Merredyth Beno’s primary goal is ensuring students have the help and tools they need to remain students in good standing. “The first words out of my mouth are usually ‘you’re not in trouble,’” she said. “When students feel stuck, I like to give them options.” In her 25th year at St. Ambrose, Beno said she likes “working in the trenches with students” and is ready to assist any St. Ambrose student struggling to succeed in college.

Merredyth Shares a Story “I worked with a young man from western Iowa who left after a very rough first year. When he came back after some time off, we ‘cleaned him up.’ He chose a major and really committed; got back on track. Now he’s been accepted into law school! You just never know. And he sent me a card that said, ‘You believed in me when I didn’t even believe in myself.’”

“When students feel stuck, I like to give them options.”

Merredyth Trivia Started at St. Ambrose as an admissions counselor Earned her master’s in student development in postsecondary education Reports that 80 percent of her Christmas cards come from former students and their families Is a self-described sun-lover: “I’m all about the nonwinter months.” Loves spending time with her children Chelsea and Mark Unplugs by running, riding her bike and swimming Enjoys her shelter dogs, Torrie and Viking

In Merredyth’s Words “Retention is everyone’s responsibility.” “This is such an important time in our students’ lives.” “It doesn’t get boring—ever.” “I think St. Ambrose is different from any other school.”


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SUMMER at SAU: Hammer Time Another summer brings another season of construction at St. Ambrose. Among other projects this summer, a 1,700-square-foot addition is being completed on the west side of the dining room in Cosgrove Hall to add 100 seats. Vice President of Finance Mike Poster said the university’s summer projects would create an estimated $27 million in economic impact for the Quad Cities and provide the equivalent of 270 jobs. Other major summer projects include: Lewis Hall Chemistry and biology majors

this fall will have access to two new labs on the first floor of the building that has been home to science students at St. Ambrose for 83 years. An update

to the ventilation systems also is part of the $750,000 first phase of the renovation project. Parking Three parking lots will be added

on Gaines Street between Locust and Brown Streets. Nine university-owned houses are being razed to make way, and the lots will be available for the start of fall classes. Information Technology A move to the

lower level of the library was completed in late May. The change includes an upgraded server room with generators and more efficient air conditioners.

Race in America Princeton professor and noted author

“Racial injustice is a moral issue at

Cornel West, PhD, will help launch the fifth

the heart of one of the core values of

of St. Ambrose’s year-long series of lectures,

St. Ambrose, that of social justice,” said

films, performances and exhibits as the

project director Lisa Powell, PhD, an

featured guest for the Baecke Lecture Series

assistant professor of theology. “We will

on Sept. 28 in the Rogalski Ballroom.

explore it by examining the pressing

“Race Matters” is the title of the 2012

dilemmas, and having the difficult

St. Ambrose University project series and

conversations we avoid too often and too

fittingly also is the title of the best known


of West’s 19 books, one which was published a year after the 1992 Los Angeles race

For a schedule of “Race Matters” lectures and events, visit

riots. West since has emerged as one of the leading voices in the discussion of race relations in America.


Joe McCaffrey a “teacher’s teacher”

Joe McCaffrey, PhD has finished tidying his third floor Ambrose Hall office and is now making a latté. A plaque on his bookshelf commemorates “The most inspiring professor I have ever had.” A ceramic monk bank warns, “Thou shalt not steal.” Across the room, St. Francis shares space with a pack of Galway cigarettes and a bottle of Glenlivet scotch, near a framed photo of McCaffrey’s son. “I gave up cigarettes and alcohol 33 years ago,” the former Dominican monk notes. He has settled into a leather recliner that looks comfortable if inconvenient: he has to reach down to the floor to pick up his latte. Meet one of the most beloved professors ever to command a St. Ambrose classroom. Dedicated to creating—as McCaffrey is quoted in a 1982 Des Moines Register article—a “healthy skepticism in students so they will recognize garbage when they see it,” McCaffrey provokes, prods and coaxes his students into a love of learning. “When you get done with Joe’s class, you’re like, Aristotle! Yes!” Mara Adams ’82, ’95 MPS, PhD, says, laughing. “I took ancient philosophy with him and his enthusiasm was contagious. The thing with Joe is, he pushes you enough that you learn something about yourself in the process. He helps you be the best version of yourself.”


Randy Richards ’71, PhD, agrees. “I took as much McCaffrey as I could,” he says. “Ancient philosophy, medieval, metaphysics. He’s peerless. The breadth and depth of his knowledge is astounding.” The longest-tenured member of the St. Ambrose faculty, McCaffrey arrived as an instructor in 1964 and teaches business as well as philosophy. He also has served as an assistant dean, associate dean for curriculum, academic dean and dean of the graduate business administration program. Twice, he left St. Ambrose for administrative positions down Brady Street, as president of Palmer Junior College from 1977 through 1979 and as vice president of academic affairs at Palmer College of Chiropractic from 1991 to 1992. Yet, McCaffrey always has found his way back to the front of a St. Ambrose classroom, where, in the estimation of Aron Aji, PhD, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, he has earned the honorable distinction of “a teachers’ teacher.” Fellow faculty members like Richards, a professor of philosophy and business, and Adams, a professor of theology, continue to learn from McCaffrey. A colleague of 38 years, Richards says he sometimes lingers by McCaffrey’s classroom to hear him lecture from the hall. “He’s the real deal,” Richards says. “I’ve taught in a lot of places and I’ve never experienced anyone better, especially in lecture. He makes philosophy more grounded in places and ages than anyone, using a wonderful mix of abstract principles and concrete examples.”


by Susan Flansburg

“The thing with Joe is, he pushes you enough that you learn something about yourself in the process. He helps you be the best version of yourself. —Mara Adams

The concrete examples come from chreias— “personal life stories”—that McCaffrey gathers about philosophers during his worldwide travels. “Philosophy isn’t just a study of abstract ideas,” McCaffrey says. “It’s also about context, and chreia provides context. Two-thirds of the Gospels are chreias. We understand lots about Christ because of the chreias, the personal details. “I go to a lot of countries that nobody goes, to walk the ground the philosophers walked. I went to Hippo, which is now Annaba, in Algeria because I wanted to go where St. Augustine was bishop. It was desolate, barren. It gave me a sense of Augustine’s experience. I’ve gone to Tunisia, Carthage, Lybia. Lybia has marvelous Roman ruins. You bring that back to the classroom, show pictures and maps.” McCaffrey is motivated to engage students at such a deep level, he says, because he is planting seeds. “You want them, 10 years from now when they walk into a bookstore, to be comfortable picking up a challenging book and enjoying it,” he says. “That’s what liberal arts education is. It’s seeds that are being planted for the future. As teachers we have to make it as interesting as possible, so that the seed takes, you know.”


Sometimes it is hard to see the forest for the trees. It’s also okay to admit that. This fall, St. Ambrose will welcome a new class of first-year

Now, more than ever, the liberal arts can play a crucial role in how we move forward as a vibrant culture, a creative community, a nation built not just on knowledge, but also on imagination. We

students. They will arrive with dreams of being doctors or

must be a community that not only invests in math or science or

teachers, lawyers or social workers, private investigators or

engineering, but one that also values what we gain by studying a

physical therapists. They will come with a solid vision for their

diverse range of subjects that enhance the way we work as analysts,

future, and the faculty and staff stand ready to walk with them

physicians or engineers.

as they navigate their time of mind-expanding learning.

That is what students and faculty discover at St. Ambrose. Enroll

And unexpected mind-broadening questions.

here, and you find an education that challenges students to load

Here, students have the chance to investigate the change

their arsenal with tools that solve problems. We help widen their

in perspective—and change in direction—they no doubt will

perspectives and delve deeper within to uncover their life’s mission.

experience, numerous times, during their academic career.

We prepare them to someday work not only to get a paycheck, but

When they leave our campus, they will do so not just with a

also to live in a way that is just and contributes to the greater good.

professional focus, but as important, a worldly one. And after

The greatest institutions in the world instill in their students

they have entered the job market, they will no doubt come

an unshakeable confidence in the future and send them into the

back and share with us their newfound appreciation for what

world empowered to truly make the future better. This may be

the liberal arts offered them—how what they learned guided

St. Ambrose’s greatest strength.

them through turbulent times in a fast-changing world. That is exactly what is supposed to happen.

At St. Ambrose, students have the opportunity to surround themselves with an innovative, curious and transformative community. And when they leave our historic halls, they can go forth and make clear connections in an oftentimes unclear world— creating that vibrant culture, that creative community, a society that

St. Ambrose will be recognized as a leading Midwestern university rooted in its diocesan heritage and Catholic Intellectual Tradition. Ambrosians are committed to academic excellence, the liberal arts, social justice and service. This is the fifth issue of Scene in which we continue to “unpack” our university’s vision statement to explore the meaning and significance of each of its elements, so that we may understand this vision more wholly, and thus use it more purposefully to guide us in planning for the future.


makes life better for all. Indeed, Ambrosians are more than just doctors or teachers or social workers or physical therapists. They are philosophers and historians, artists and entrepreneurs, too. And they approach their work—and their life—with an aptitude for compassion, innovation and meaning. Inspired beneath these oaks by an education immersed in the liberal arts, they see—and value—both the forest and the trees.

by Ted Stephens III ’01, ’04



hen Aron Aji, PhD, came to St. Ambrose University as dean of the college of Arts and Sciences in 2006, he brought an idea he thought just might transform the curriculum across the campus. His faculty would emphasize the concepts of community service and community outreach in the classroom. Students would tackle discussions with inquiry and reflection, and find ways to discover the connections between the courses they took and the way one leads a life. And together, faculty and students would propel an innovative university forward, intent on living the message it sought to teach. Much to the new dean’s surprise, however, that quiet plan failed to capture the imagination of anyone on campus. “It probably felt to some people like putting new clothes on a very old body, a body that had already been very mature, very alive and very productive here,” he said with a characteristic chuckle. Aji, of course, was not the least bit disappointed to discover that his plan already was a core philosophy and approach to education that had been deeply woven into the fabric of this Catholic liberal arts institution since its founding 130 years ago.


Liberal Arts Live Here

by Ted Stephens III ’01, ’04

On a spring afternoon in his tidy, second floor Ambrose Hall office, Aji reflected on what he believes are the foundations of a liberal arts education. “Inquiry, reflection, integration, engagement, creativity and transcendent thinking—these attributes were fundamental to the training of the classical leader,” he began. “During the Classical period, the liberal arts comprised the training free citizens received, ostensibly to run the state—and not just in the political sense,” he said. “It was also so they might run a harmonious society, one that enjoyed not just leisure and wealth, but also the finer interests in life like the pursuit of beauty and truth.” And, he said, these were fundamental to the educational experience students get at St. Ambrose. Coming to Davenport from Butler University in Indianapolis, Aji found a community where investigation mattered. He found a campus where classroom conversations and debates were not just an exercise that led to a test and an eventual grade, but where a search for deeper meaning and a clearer understanding of one’s self led to rewarding lives long after a grade had been computed and a diploma delivered. Indeed, that is the St. Ambrose Thomas Higgins ’67 found when he arrived on campus in the mid-’60s. “St. Ambrose was a lifeline for me,” Higgins said from his office in San Francisco, where he currently is the CEO at Berkeley Energy Sciences Corporation. “I spent my freshmen and sophomore year at a Catholic seminary, and when I decided that the priesthood wasn’t for me, I knew that I wanted to go to a liberal arts school—a Catholic liberal arts school.”

A political science major who would found and direct a number of private and public companies after serving in President Jimmy Carter’s White House administration, Higgins recalled an academic experience that was “strikingly good” due in part to charismatic leaders who approached teaching as a partnership between faculty and student. Legends like Rev. Joseph Kokjohn ’50, PhD, John Norton ’56, PhD, Rev. Edward Catich ’34 and Sr. Ritamary Bradley, he said, defined the very essence of the liberal arts. They did that as individuals who were intensely involved in the lives of their students, as people you would have respect for in the classroom and a friendship with beyond it.

Community transforms Aji thinks that is part of what makes a St. Ambrose education so very relevant today. “There are people for whom boundaries are blurred. They move freely through fields of knowledge but also fields of engagement,” he said. “I think a lot of that has to do with creating a community that matters. Curriculum alone cannot transform. But community can. Imagine taking courses that may seem arcane and obscure to you, but then imagine these courses addressing topics that become the subject of campus conversation. That’s what education is really about.” Over the course of the past few years, St. Ambrose has taken additional steps to grow that dialogue across campus. In particular, a series of yearlong projects that bring lectures, performance and discussion centered on a topic relevant to the world right now—from the inaugural Darwin Project in 2008 to the coming school year’s Race Matters—have connected the academic life with life beyond college. 15

But the connection between lessons for life and life’s lessons existed here long before 2008. Now a member of the St. Ambrose Board of Trustees, Higgins said he became increasingly aware he was following a path established at St. Ambrose as the years went by.

We are a sum of passion and emotion as well as intelligence and analysis—all of it. Through the arts and humanities, we find a way to mediate life’s experiences in ways that bring fulfillment.” “The thing about education—about the liberal arts—is that you have to have a certain amount of humility. At first you take a course because it is something you are required to do. But eventually, a core instinct kicks in, and you want to investigate more about these things, these people, these places,” Higgins said, pausing for a moment. “Thirty-two years. That’s how long it took me to ‘get it.’ To fully appreciate it. On one hand, the liberal arts are intensely personal. They equip you to enter life and engage with life and hopefully fulfill potential—yours and someone else’s,” he said. “When you’re young, that drive is latent, but barely realized. But once you graduate you have a set of tools that help you to grow and learn for the rest of your life. I’ve had four very different careers that have been interwoven a bit, but have certainly not followed a linear line.” Higgins said his education, which includes a master’s degree from Iowa State University, prepared him to veer left or right when the map seemed to point forward. 16

“I guess there are people who can determine a life plan and follow it. I’m not like that,” he said. “And I don’t think life is like that. Life is seldom certain— oftentimes it is utterly perverse. The only way to make it make sense for you is to remain flexible. That is one of the insights you get from the liberal arts. There’s a kind of absurdity, always hovering out there. “As much as we may try to be, we are not computers. We are flesh and blood. We are a sum of passion and emotion as well as intelligence and analysis—all of it. You wouldn’t have a happy life if you were ruled by passion or reason, pure and simple. Through the arts and humanities, we find a way to mediate life’s experiences in ways that bring fulfillment.”

Lessons for life That’s a way of living that resonates with Becky (Maedge) Hayden ’98 and Elizabeth Johnson ’02, who both have ventured out on their own to not only realize career success but also happy lives. Being malleable in the face of opportunity and challenge, they said, directly can be tied back to the type of schooling they sought— and found—at St. Ambrose. From her desk at Monkey Inferno, where she recently began working as a graphic designer, Hayden talked about the decision she made to abandon Spot Works Design, a freelance website design firm and labor of love she led for years, to be part of a bizarrely named start-up incubator in the heart of Northern California’s Silicon Valley. For Hayden, a new mom living in San Francisco, taking the new job meant that she only would be

working 9-to-5, and not the “ridiculously long hours and late nights” that are standard for freelancing. “It’s funny how priorities change,” she said. “I never thought I would go back to work for someone else, but it was the right place and the right energy, and the company is committed to shoving us out the door when the workday is done. Everyone has kids, and we have an environment that establishes family as a priority.” Johnson said it was the ability to establish her own priorities that guided her a few years ago to start CB Studios, an interior design company in Denver, after working for a series of boutique shops and design firms. “I would say the number one reason I wanted to start my own company was to have the power to support the organizations and people who were most important to me,” she said. “I can set my own schedule, which means I can allow myself to take a week off to volunteer or help with a fundraiser.” The inherent commitment to service—and the desire to work in pursuit of the happiness of others— has always been part of Johnson’s life. But it was reinforced at St. Ambrose. She said it wasn’t just service, though, but also exposure to business plans and financials models and creative ways to market oneself that allowed her livelihood to flourish. “So many designers just go and study design, and don’t necessarily learn to run a business,” she said. “They may not know what it truly takes to be a strong communicator, or to be a good steward of resources. I believe clients notice the difference. “Whatever our job or our life, it has to be built on establishing honest, trusting relationships, and pushing

boundaries further than we might initially expect from ourselves or our work.” And passing that lesson on to others is perhaps one of the greatest ways Ambrosians can share the value of a liberal arts education. SAU Trustee Daniel Broderick ’82, MD, sees that in his job as a staff neuroradiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla. With so many medical students coming in and out of the clinic, more and more he notices students who just want to know the answer. “Certainly, there is plenty of memorization in the medical field. But at St. Ambrose, it wasn’t just about memorizing—it was about understanding why things were they way they were. Sometimes today, it seems that people just want to know what the right approach is,” he said. “We have to think far beyond that approach. “College can be a pretty important part of a person’s life. For me, it was this protected time that I could learn a lot academically, but also learn a lot about myself. It provided this space in which we didn’t necessarily have to deal with the world, but rather could find out who we were and what we wanted to do and how we were going to start doing it.” Aji said the way Ambrosians live their lives infuses immediacy into what the university teaches. “We need a community where great conversations not only take place, but are lived out,” he said. “The way we live our lives adds urgency to what we teach. And that’s also what compels our students to want to learn. To be inspired. That’s really a very important difference about St. Ambrose.”


They work on opposite sides of a river, campaigning for incumbent candidates who stand on opposite sides of the aisle in the U.S. House of Representatives. Yet 2010 St. Ambrose University graduates Henry Marquard III and Aaron Windeknecht also share common

had with my teachers,” said Windeknecht, a Davenport


native who, like Marquard, started his post-secondary

“He is a good friend,” Marquard said. “We had a whole

schooling at the University of Iowa but finished at SAU.

bunch of classes together. Obviously, we had some dif-

“The class sizes were great at St. Ambrose. I actually got

ferent views about how the country should go forward,

a chance to talk with my teachers and just grow more as

but Aaron has a great mind. We both double-majored in

a student.”

political science and philosophy. He is big into political philosophy and we both had a lot to talk about.” Marquard is the 2nd Congressional District field

Marquard said the University of Iowa’s political science and philosophy departments featured faculty well known in political research and publishing circles.

director for the Iowa Democratic Party, working for the

But he added, “I really believe that when you look at

re-election of Rep. Dave Loebsack as well as President

St. Ambrose professors Parsons and Miclot and Hebert

Barack Obama and other Democrats on the November

and Jacobson, you’ve got just as good a lineup there. And

ballot. The past two years, he worked on Loebsack’s staff

the real difference is that you can go in and talk to them.

as a district representative in Iowa City. Windeknecht recently became a district director for

“They really are there to increase your learning experience one-on-one. I took advantage of that and

the campaign of Republican Rep. Bobby Schilling in the

I got pushed into doing things I really enjoyed and

17th District in Illinois. He spent the winter working in a

wouldn’t otherwise have done.”

similar capacity for Rick Santorum during the Republican presidential primaries. Joseph Hebert, PhD, an associate professor and chair

With Hebert’s urging, Marquard participated on the mock trial team coached by his father, Muscatine, Iowa, attorney Henry Marquard Jr. That’s something

of the St. Ambrose political science and leadership

he expressly had vowed not to do, said the younger

department, said both students seemed destined for

Marquard. But he wound up captaining the team and

political careers during their active years on campus.

also met his future wife in teammate Kelsey Ann (Ward)

“I like to think that the things we study in political science would prepare young people to do that sort of thing,” Hebert said. “They were both very bright, very

Marquard ’09, who recently graduated from law school at Iowa. At St. Ambrose Marquard also met Windeknecht and

studious, very accomplished while they were here. It is

they became two of the more active members of what

really nice to see them finding opportunities to use those

came to be known as “The Politics Club.”

talents and their education.” Both young campaign professionals said their


“I think probably the best thing was the interaction I

“The basic idea was to get together students and faculty who were interested in discussing a wider range

St. Ambrose experience has been beneficial in getting a

of things than we covered in the classroom,” Hebert

quick start in politics.

explained. “We would come in on a Friday afternoon,

by Craig DeVrieze

“I have thought about it, but it’s probably not something I would ever do,” said Windeknecht, who aspires instead to build his own campaign consulting firm. “I have seen the kind of toll that being a candidate takes on people first hand. We work 60 to 80 hours a week over have a coffee and talk about current events or ancient philosophy or whatever it might be.” The subjects weren’t necessarily political and the conversations never were contentious, even though

here and the candidates do more than that.” The loss of privacy and the exposure to attack ads and voter vitriol have made Marquard re-evaluate, as well. “It’s a lot to give up. It’s tough to do. It’s tough on your

Windeknecht said he and two other conservative

family,” he said of running for and holding office. “If I

Republican students were slightly outnumbered by

have kids, it will certainly make me less inclined to do it.”

members with more liberal viewpoints. “We were all good friends,” Windeknecht said. “I don’t think we ever got in any heated discussions.” Now, both he and Marquard find themselves in the

Hebert is hopeful both former students can turn to their common Ambrosian experiences as a way to become part of a solution to the contentiousness. “I think at this level of academic inquiry, there is really

midst of an election season that could be among the

a lot of common ground, even between people who dis-

most heated in recent memory, participants in a political

agree on policy issues,” he said. “Because it’s not about

process in which the concepts of bi-partisanship and

trying to posture and win an argument or drive home a

compromise may have lost their place.

point. It’s about trying to have a deeper understanding of

“The whole idea of a statesman is the ability to see two different viewpoints and find common ground,”

how things work, what things are all about. “The issues that divide us politically are sometimes

Marquard said. “And theory tells you that you are going

rhetorical, but sometimes very real. In the latter case,

to have to move to a more centrist position as the

there may be no easy solutions, but true progress will

election progresses. Unfortunately, we’re finding that

depend on three things: mutual respect, deeper insights

notions like that are just being thrown out and I think

into the nature of the disagreement, and the ability to

both parties are to blame.

persuade rather than vilify one’s opponents. I’d like to

“It makes it really tough if you want to make a difference, which I think is why most of us go into politics.”

think the education we provide will help our students to contribute these elements to our political process.”

The political arena never has been a place for the meek, but both Marquard and Windeknecht said the increased stress and demands placed on candidates today have made them reconsider the prospect of eventually putting their names on a ballot. 19


“It just thrills me beyond belief that our students are going out into the world with curious minds, embracing who they are and realizing so much success in whatever path they choose.” —Cory Johnson

Mastering the Fine Arts by Ted Stephens III ’01, ’04


M She sweeps into

the Starbucks on 49th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues in Hell’s Kitchen with a sense of purpose—and confidence—that even she would admit was lacking when she first stepped off the plane at LaGuardia Airport in the winter of 2008. Back then, her hair went past her shoulders. And her clothes might best be described as “Midwestern chic.” Four years later, she’s got a cute bob haircut just past her ears. She wears a scarf despite the unseasonably warm temperatures and commands a room in a way that might just put a young Judy Garland to shame. It is 3:06 p.m. on a Dark Monday in Manhattan, a reference not to the weather outside, but to the theatre. It is her one and only day off. On this particular day, the sun is shining bright, there’s not a cloud in the sky and the sheer number of people on the street might make you believe that everyone in New York City had the day off. She is late but has a good excuse. “I was waiting for you at the Starbucks right on the corner,” she says. “I picked our meeting place poorly,” I reply. “Besides, you’re actually early. I mean, everyone knows that showing up for an appointment anything less than 30 minutes late means you’re right on time. It’s good to see you, Marianna. It’s been way too long.” We share a double-kiss on the cheek, or a European greeting— however you want to describe it. It’s something that, for some reason, comes naturally in New York. We squeeze into our tiny corner of the bustling café. “So, how was your first year at Columbia?” I coyly ask, fully aware this question is loaded. She lets out an expulsion of air, crosses her arms and rests her head in her hand. I can tell the mind is racing. I recall the sense of pride and accomplishment, confusion and loneliness after my own first year of graduate school. I can’t hold back the quiet chuckle of knowing as I stare. “I haven’t the slightest clue where to begin,” she says.


arianna Caldwell ’07 cools her coffee, sips it and sets it down on the dirty café table like any actor in a movie might just before saying something important. “I got knocked around a lot my first year here,” she admits. “Standing outside in the freezing cold January air, waiting in line at the Actors Equity building before the sun comes up hoping to get an audition time. It’s a really cruel shock. The business of acting stinks. But it’s part of it, as much as juggling three jobs, paying bills and dealing with awful landlords in notso-great-overly-priced-get-me-out-of-here apartments.” She pauses. “I have a love and hate relationship with this city. It’s the best city in the world, but it can be a very lonely place too. It doesn’t just beat you down. It kicks you when you’re on the ground. It’s a hard place. It’s surprisingly difficult to find a community here. And yet, oddly there’s no place I’d rather be right now.” That’s a good thing. Because like it or not, Caldwell has at least two more years in the Big Apple ahead of her as a candidate for the Master of Fine Arts in Acting degree at Columbia University. She is one of a growing number of St. Ambrose University theatre graduates who are moving on from the Galvin Fine Arts Center and finding artistic homes in some of the most prestigious MFA acting and design programs in the country. Columbia. Carnegie Mellon. Yale. DePaul. The universities of Connecticut, Florida and Tennessee. On the east and west coast and everywhere in between, Ambrose theatre alumni are uncovering the value—and rewards—three years of artistic exploration can mean for their personal self-discovery and professional fulfillment. “I don’t deal well with the business of

Marianna Caldwell

theatre,” Caldwell admits as we observe the long line of personalities waiting for caffeine, most of them, likely as not, actors between auditions. “You have to really know yourself and how to market that to someone else. I wasn’t confident in marketing me early on.” She leans in. “The thing about graduate school, you have to deal with some of the dusty corners of yourself. And then once you’ve worked through those cobwebs, you have to figure out how to package that. I’m not someone who can just walk up to someone else because they are so-and-so,” she admits. “I can’t do fakery.”

An investment in ‘me’ It was an ambition to learn more about her craft—and herself—that drew Caldwell back to academia. Having “pounded the pavement” in Minneapolis and then New York for a few years out of St. Ambrose, she set her MFA sights on the people she wanted to work with: artistic innovators like Anne Bogart and Kristin Linklater. And she was going to “go big or go home,” applying only to the programs she really believed in. She’ll never forget the day she received her acceptance into Columbia. “At first you have this ‘holy you-knowwhat’ moment that you just got into this school,” she recalls. “Then you hear about the costs and you have that moment again. But then, for me, the moment of decision was easy. This was an investment in me. And, come on, no other investment can yield you a greater return than yourself.”

Andrew Harvey ’07 is about to cash in on his investment of three years of graduate school when he sells all his worldly possessions and drives cross-country to the City of Angels in pursuit of a film career. But don’t ask him where he’s going to live in Los Angeles. He has no idea. In fact, he’s never even stepped foot in LA. “Are you serious?” I ask him. “It’s crazy, right?” he responds, though he doesn’t seem the least bit concerned. “It’s kind of how we live as actors—as artists, you know?” he continues. “As an actor, I’m heading to LA with complete confidence in what I’m doing and where I’m going. And I’m just going to need to accept that I won’t always know what my next job will be, or where.” Harvey is a newly minted graduate of Michigan State University. And on this particular day, as he multi-tasks speaking with me while shopping for groceries, he’s rather introspective of his time at St. Ambrose. In his voice you can hear complete confidence and charisma, maturity and drive. He’s not a new person, but a newly grounded one—even if he could be referred to as the Person Formerly Known as Andrew Harvey. “I’m not sure how to address you,” I say to him, half-joking yet half-serious. Since graduating from St. Ambrose, he has taken the stage name of Edward O’Ryan. “It’s easier to remember,” he says, as if there are thousands of Andrew Harveys walking around LA. At Michigan State, he was able to hone his love for all things Irish theatre, something he first discovered on two study abroad trips at St. Ambrose and through areas of study in history, Irish studies and of course, theatre. “I also better understand how I work best—when I allow myself to take initiative,” he adds. “Once I discovered that, a

whole world of opportunity opened for me. I’m LA-bound with a solid theatrical training. I love what I do. And I’m ready to do it. If there’s one thing I’m apprehensive about, it’s making rent. And maybe finding a place to live.”

The Ambrosian network Lucky for Harvey, he already has a strong network to leverage in California—mostly St. Ambrose graduates who span the decades. They’ve been peppering him with advice on where to live, where to audition and how to make ends meet. In New York, Brian Hemeseth ’94 says a network is one of the greatest advantages for any student coming out of an MFA program. He is in the middle of preparing for the season finale of “Saturday Night Live,” where he’s an associate designer. Meanwhile he’s gearing up for a new season of “Sesame Street,” which earned him his first Emmy Award for Outstanding Costume Design and recently landed him a second consecutive nomination. Still, he finds a minute to walk down the street from his Midtown West design studio to meet me. “I went to graduate school right out of St. Ambrose,” he says about his decision to go to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh for an MFA in costume design. “More than anything, I felt like I needed a bigger network on the East Coast. I found graduate school to be a great learning tool for networking within the industry. You gain this group of people with whom you go through the ‘system.’ And through the years, that group grows and grows. Simply, it’s been invaluable for me.” Sam Michael ’06 would echo that. He’s one year out of the Yale University School of Drama, where he graduated with an MFA in technical theatre. It was the only school he applied to out of St. Ambrose. 23

Bringing knowledge back Edward O’Ryan

“I looked at the schools I wanted to go to, and decided Yale was it. Either it was incredibly egotistical of me or I was incredibly lucky,” he says, still sounding a bit dumbfounded. “You see, after high school I dropped out of community college. I didn’t think university—of any kind—was in my future. But then St. Ambrose came along, and helped me to discover my direction—and my potential. “People might think there’s a big difference between Yale and St. Ambrose. Let me tell you: There is not. Sure, there’s a difference in scale. But in both places, I found professors who cared about the individual and tailored the education to who you were and what you wanted to do,” he says. “They give you the toolkit, and not just a wrench. They say, ‘OK, so you want to learn underwater basket weaving? Fine.’ But then they help you to figure out—for yourself—why that may or may not be the right direction for you, and what to do with that knowledge.” Therein may lay the secret to success for St. Ambrose theatre graduates as they consider continuing their education. “We spend a lot of time talking about why graduate school because, frankly, it isn’t for everybody,” says Corinne Johnson, PhD, the SAU theatre department chair who probably spends more time coaching people away from MFA programs than toward them. “I think sometimes students don’t know anything but school. They feel comfortable in that framework. But not knowing what to do after college is not a reason to spend tens of thousands of dollars on graduate school.” 24

The theatre faculty spends a lot of time with current and former students talking about professional goals, exploring curricular approaches and core philosophies of the fine arts, and learning about the makeup of the faculty at potential graduate programs. Johnson says it’s important to know who the teachers are, and who they know in the industry. “We care so much about these students,” she says. “I want to find a good home for them. It just thrills me beyond belief that our students are going out into the world with curious minds, embracing who they are and realizing so much success in whatever path they choose.” And MFA students and graduates are bringing their knowledge back to the department’s classes. Each year, alumni speak in the junior and senior seminars, offering an honest assessment of their educational and career experiences. “It’s like a free education for me,” Johnson says. “It keeps me honest, and really drives the courses and curriculum we offer. We are only able to offer two acting classes, some voice and body classes, and some history and design courses. But at Ambrose, we also are giving them a fully rounded, liberal arts experience. To be an artist, you have to know the world. And you get that here.” Back in New York, with one year down and a summer ahead performing some of The Bard’s greatest works at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival just outside of Manhattan, Caldwell finds herself very reflective of what she has gone through. The dark depths of the first semester seem easy now, compared to the second semester she just limped through. “You go through a gigantic change,” she says. “You emotionally, physically and spiritually start to examine yourself as a

person. I hate the phrase ‘breaking you down,’ but that’s what they do. You sort of feel like you’re falling apart. And your acting becomes really messy—so does your life. Even right now, going into a professional experience for the summer, I’m in this mode of flux. “But, the second year will build us back up. And the third year will be about getting us ready for the business,” she says, more upbeat. She takes a final sip of her coffee. “If you’re not truthful with yourself, how can you be truthful as a character for an audience? That’s really important,” she says. “And personally, I’m going to be a stronger person in life. Isn’t that the way you want live a life?” After a double-cheek-European-whatever-you-want-to-call-it kiss and a hug good-bye, Caldwell slings her over-sized purse on her shoulder and walks out of the Starbucks, quickly blending into the bright lights and crowded streets of Midtown. And as I watch her become a speck in a sea of people, I think of her heading to a tiny apartment just north of Central Park. Of her climbing the stairs of her walk-up apartment, locking the door behind her and settling into a warm New York night of reading, script memorizing and endless possibility. Author Ted Stephens III ’01, ’04 was a Grinter Fellow in the Master of Fine Arts in Acting program at the University of Florida, where he earned his MFA in 2008. He performed in a number of regional theatre productions and commercials before starting a communication and fundraising businesses with a fellow St. Ambrose graduate. Today, he works with a number of New York’s leading off-Broadway theatre companies.

Alumni to Serve Up Comedy on Galvin Stage Theatre alumni from across the country will return to the Galvin Fine Arts Center this fall for an alumni production of “You Can’t Take It With You,” the George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart comedy classic. The comedy will be a co-production with The Curtainbox Theatre Company, which was founded by Kimberly Kurtenbach Furness ’94. Proceeds from the three-performance benefit will fund the Michael Kennedy Scholarship and The Curtainbox Theatre’s yearly mainstage and educational programs. “I am so deeply touched that so many of our alumni are returning home to act, direct and design in this show,” says Corinne Johnson, PhD, theatre department chair and the play’s producer. “No one is getting paid—and in fact, many of our alumni are using their vacation time to spend the two weeks prior to opening night in Davenport to rehearse for the show. We even have a few alumni returning to spend no more than two minutes on stage.” “You Can’t Take It With You” will star Kennedy, professor emeritus, and Johnson. Alumni reprising their roles from the 1996 production of the show include Rev. Tom Hennen ’00, chair of the Presbyteral Council for the Diocese of Davenport, as Mr. DePinna, and Scott Naumann ’97, a Bettendorf alderman, as Boris Kolenkhov. David Bonde ’93 directs the production. This is the second time an alumni, faculty and student production has been staged. In 2004, the university produced “Death of a Salesman.” Proceeds from that production established the Kennedy Scholarship, which offers a financial award to a first-year student majoring in theatre. Johnson says she hopes proceeds and donations from this project will grow that endowment to a level that allows the department to award multiple scholarships for each recipient’s entire academic career at St. Ambrose.

You Can’t Take It With You by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Sept. 7–8 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9 Allaert Auditorium Galvin Fine Arts Center Prior to the Saturday, Sept. 8 performance, alumni can enjoy a 6 p.m. preview dinner at the Rogalski Center (advance reservations required). For ticket information on the play and more information on the dinner, visit


“Passion, extreme passion. Without her, this program would never be where it is.”

OT Grad Creates Program for Handicapped QC Rowers by Craig DeVrieze


What Tanya Braet sees, Tanya Braet often does. Two years ago, Braet ’05, ’06 MOT was crossing the I-74 bridge and saw members of the Two Rivers Y Quad Cities Rowing Club skulling on the Mississippi. In a matter of days, she had an oar in each hand. Some months later, Braet was researching her newfound hobby on the Internet and came across the concept of adaptive rowing. In June, a year and a half after Braet hit the print-screen tab on that online discovery, four Quad Cities paraplegic athletes hit the river in a specially adapted skull. It was Braet who led the local adaptive rowing chapter from concept to reality, combining her foremost passions: rowing and occupational therapy. Her see-and-do nature also led Braet to enroll a decade ago in the St. Ambrose Master of Occupational Therapy program at the age of 33. She had spent the previous several years as a secretary at Illini Restorative Care in Silvis, Ill., working directly with the center’s therapy department.


SAU Therapists Help Disabled Skiers, Too

“I saw the deficits patients had when they started therapy and saw them progress and become more independent and I just loved that,” said Braet, who is now an occupational therapist at Hope Creek Care Center in East Moline, Ill. “I just love that it makes a difference.” Despite maintaining a 20-hour-per-week work schedule, Braet attacked college with her standard dose of relentlessness. It wasn’t an easy path as a full-time student in her 30s, but Braet said she had the advantage of pursuing her degree in an MOT program where the teachers’ motivational levels matched her own. “They want you to succeed,” she said of a program that boasts a 100 percent job placement rate. “Once I was able to accomplish getting my degree, I just felt like ‘OK, what’s next?’ I have always got to have something in the works.” Before she submitted her proposal for an adaptive rowing program to Mike Wennekemp, the Y’s executive director, Braet needed to write a business plan. And, as it happened, she knew how. “The only time I had ever written a business plan was in graduate school,” Braet noted. “At the time, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, when am I ever going to use this?’’’ Her plan, of course, was approved last year, and Braet, adaptive rowing coach Jessica Brady and rowing club equipment

expert Paul Herrington spent the spring outfitting and testing a wider, more stable adaptive hull at the Moline-based boat house. On June 2, adaptive rowers Bob Jaurez, Juli Varble, John Sparks and Brent Herman put their oars in the Mississippi for the first time, but definitely not the last. If all goes according to plan, the QC group will be joined by adaptive rowers from across the Midwest at the annual Quad Cities Rowing Regatta in October. That would amount to Braet’s latest finish line and Dave Weaver, rowing director for the QC club, won’t be surprised to see it crossed. “Passion, extreme passion,” he said in describing Braet’s key strength. “Without her, this program would never be where it is.” —Craig DeVrieze

Tanya Braet’s interest in adapting rowing started with adaptive water skiing. Braet was among the first student volunteers who helped MOT Professor Phyllis Wenthe ’97 MEd, PhD, with Access to Waves, an adaptive water skiing clinic conducted annually by the Genesis Therapeutic Recreation Department and the Backwater Gamblers water skiing club. “Just to see people with disabilities be able to get out of their chairs and into the water, I thought it was pretty amazing,” Braet said of the seven-year-old program. Scheduled this year for Aug. 18 on the Rock River, Access to Waves has grown through the annual volunteer participation of Wenthe, MOT Instructor Jon Turnquist ’92, ’10 MOL, and as many as 20 St. Ambrose MOT students. Wenthe and the students help wheelchair-bound athletes transfer from their wheelchairs into chairequipped skis. Turnquist helps construct those skis and ensures they fit properly, said Glen Sancken, himself a paraplegic and the Genesis director of therapeutic recreation. “Phyllis and Jon are just so instrumental for our program,” Sancken said. “I don’t even know if it would exist without those two.”



SAU ‘Daughter’ is New Alumni Relations Director

Anne Gannaway has come home. Virtually raised on the St. Ambrose campus—her father, Ed Henkhaus, was the university’s vice president of finance throughout her childhood—Gannaway left for college and a career that took her from Minnesota to Missouri to Iowa City. Now, she has returned to St. Ambrose as director of alumni relations.

The concept of homecoming is as American as a double-cheeseburger and as Ambrosian as Chicken Nugget Day in the Cosgrove Caf. You can fill up on both as Homecoming

2012 kicks off with an alumni get-together at the Circle Tap in Davenport the night of Sept. 28 and then run or walk off those calories in the 17th annual Killer Bee 5K Run/Walk the

University of Iowa. Why did you apply for the Ambrose job?

A. I always thought I’d come back home. So when I found out about it (husband Ethan, who teaches art history at SAU, had forwarded an email announcing the position was open), I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I decided to give it a shot and was hired. I love St. Ambrose. I feel like I’m a part of a family and community here. I know my kids and husband will, too. Q. You say you grew up on campus.

A. I sure did. One of the things I remember best was going to the women’s basketball games with my dad. Coach Bluder asked if I wanted to be water girl for the team. I even got to be in their posters. Later on, I worked in the business office and took summer school classes. It was a great experience.

A. I’ve learned how important it is to maintain relationships. To connect students with the university in a meaningful way right from the beginning, and maintain that connection, is critical. Students need to know that as soon as they arrive here, they are alums. This is their family, their community. Q. You talk a lot about family.

A. It’s my top priority. I’m excited to be coming into an environment that supports that. Let me give you an example. My mom had some health issues and needed to use a wheelchair. We were up at Mayo Clinic wondering how we’d get her into the house when we came home. When we got here, some St. Ambrose staff members had already built her a ramp. This is my family. I’m thrilled to be home. —Susan Flansburg


following morning. And should you run up an appetite? Perfect. A Taste of Ambrose will precede the annual Homecoming football contest at Brady Street Stadium. The classes of 1967 and 1972 and the nursing

class of 1962 will convene on campus for homecoming this year along with emeritus honoree, the Class of 1962. Friday, Sept. 28 Alumni Get-Together, 7 p.m.–midnight, Circle Tap

Saturday, Sept. 29 17th Annual Killer Bee, 8 a.m.

Q. You’ve worked at a number of universities in student services, did you learn from those experiences?

Sept. 28–30

Food for the Ambrosian Soul

Q. You had a great job as director of scholar recruitment at the

recruitment, advising, alumni relations and development. What


‘Thrilled to be home’

Bumble Rumble, 9 a.m. Campus Tours, 10:30 a.m.–noon Football Reunion, 10:30 a.m., Rookies Taste of Ambrose, 11 a.m., Brady Street Stadium Fighting Bees Football vs. Grand View, 1 p.m. Class Reunions 1962, 1967, 1972, 1987, 2002 Sunday, Sept. 30 Homecoming Mass, 10:30 a.m., Christ the King Chapel Lunch 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. Special Event Heritage Brunch for members of the Heritage Roll of Honor and special guests, by invitation only. For more information on Homecoming, visit

Go Bees!


The Gift of Giving Kreiter Hall

A ‘REAL’ WAY TO SHARE From his medical office across West Locust Street, Richard Kreiter, MD, watched St. Ambrose grow from a compact campus of 11 buildings in 1984 to a diverse university more than twice that size today. This summer, the 54-year-old, one-story, red-bricked building that housed Kreiter’s orthopedic practice for a quarter of a century officially became a part of the university’s expanding physical presence. Located on the south side of Locust a block south of the library, the new Kreiter Hall is home to the St. Ambrose communications and marketing department as well as members of the enrollment data center and the assessment office. The addition is significant in at least two ways, one being geography. That’s because Kreiter Hall continues to advance the campus footprint south of Locust on the Davenport hilltop. “We believe this is an important change in that it affirms our university’s commitment to working toward improving and reviving Davenport’s central city,” said Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, PhD, the president of St. Ambrose. The university previously demonstrated that neighborly commitment through membership on the Board of Directors of the Hilltop Campus Village Corp., along with academic partnerships with hilltop businesses and service organizations. “Our physical presence south of Locust Street strengthens those efforts,” said Sr. Lescinski. Kreiter Hall also can help highlight an under-utilized means of gifting, said Sally Crino, assistant vice president for advancement gift planning and interim advancement director. Richard Kreiter and his wife, Judy, donated the building in the fall of 2008 through a charitable remainder annuity trust (CRAT), a process Crino described as a “win-win” arrangement for both the donor and the recipient. A CRAT allows the donor a one-time tax deduction as well as a guaranteed annual income from the trust. Crino stressed that all property donations are reviewed for university benefit by Vice President of Finance Mike Poster and then require approval by the board of trustees.

Crino said the university has declined property donation offers that do not fit the SAU footprint or mission, but Kreiter Hall is not the only gift of real estate from which St. Ambrose has benefited. “They are maybe not common, but the potential is there if more people knew about them,” she said. “They are a creative way people can fulfill philanthropic desires.“ Philanthropy is important to the Kreiters. Judy has been a community volunteer through the years, serving on the boards of the Girl Scout Council, the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend, the Handicapped Development Center and the Vera French Foundation. Richard and Judy have both been very involved in the growth and development of Camp Shalom near Maquoketa, Iowa, a Christian camp for youth and families. Richard Kreiter felt connected to St. Ambrose as a youngster because he played football, baseball and basketball against Ambrose Academy teams. When he opened his office across the street from campus, it gave him a new appreciation for the university. He also developed a friendship with Ed Rogalski, PhD, SAU president emeritus. Eventually, Kreiter came to feel like an Ambrosian himself. More importantly, he said of the university that is home to Kreiter Hall, “It has done so much for the community.” —Craig DeVrieze




The Fifties

Msgr. Marvin Mottet ’52 received the Servant of Justice Award from the Roundtable Association of Catholic Diocesan Social Action, in Washington D.C. The award is presented to those whose leadership advances social justice and dignity for all members of society through the tradition of Catholic social teaching. Two alumni celebrated milestone anniversaries of their ordination to the priesthood. Rev. Thomas Doyle ’58 celebrated 50 years and Rev. Edmond Dunn ’58 celebrated 40 years. Dunn served as a faculty member at St. Ambrose from 1975– 2010 in the theology department. They both served in the Davenport Diocese.


The Sixties

Frank Schneeberger ’69 is theater technician for the Overture Center for the Performing Arts located in Madison, Wis. He was a founding member of Forward Theater Company and serves on the FTC’s advisory company.


The Seventies

Wayne Cabel ’78 was awarded the Assistant Principal of the Year award from the Black Hawk Region of the Illinois Principals Association. He is currently the assistant principal at Moline High School and has served the Moline school district for 21 out of 33 years in education.


Amy Baker ’79 retired from the Davenport School district. She spent most of her years at Davenport North High School where she was a physical education teacher and the only volleyball coach in the school’s 27-year history. Jeanne Sheehan ’79 was awarded the Woman of Achievement award from the Zonta Club of Austin, Minn., for her positive impact on the community, service as a volunteer and accomplishments at work. This was the first year for the award.


The Eighties

Teresa Simon-Harris ’82, ’87 MBA has been named the chair of the Quad City Area Realtors Association for 2012. She is currently the broker/ manager at Ruhl & Ruhl’s Bettendorf office and has worked there since 1993. George Moser ’84 published his first novel “Nine Lives,” a psychological thriller with a twist. He is currently working on two more novels. “Nine Lives” is available in select bookstores and on Michael Miller ’85, ’90, ’93, ’04 MAcc, retired from the Federal Government and is now a part time front desk specialist at Senior Star Elmore Place in Davenport.


The Nineties

Robert Lewis ’90 was named the business process and technology leader at McGladrey & Pullen. His responsibilities include aligning

regional and national technology strategies. He joined the Davenport firm in 1990. Gayle Roberts ’91 MBA, a member of the St. Ambrose Board of Trustees, was presented the 2012 Athena Award in March by the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce and The Women’s Connection. Roberts is the president and chief operating officer of Stanley Consultants, Muscatine, Iowa. Bob Quast ’92 self-published “Life 101: An Educational Biography.” He dedicated the book to his late sister, who died as a result of domestic violence. A portion of the book’s proceeds will be donated to the Lynnette Quast Craft Charity. Tim Ridder ’95, Des Plaines, Ill., was named the assistant director of Public Works and Engineering for the city of Des Plaines. Margaret Gustafson ’99 MBA was named this year’s Kewanee Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors Club Outstanding Citizen for her work in the community and for her tenure as chief executive officer at the Kewanee Hospital, Kewanee, Ill. She recently accepted a new position as president of the Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria, Ill.


The Zeros

Jocelyn (Kandl) Metzger ’00, ’01 MOT released her first educational DVD called “The Inner Guide to Stretching: Advanced Healing Using Myofascial Release.”

David Guyer ’01, Bettendorf, was promoted to manager of the Agency Accounting Department at Modern Woodmen of America. He has been employed with Modern Woodmen since 2002. Jennifer (Kislia) Kincaid ’03 became a shareholder, director and vice president at McGehee, Olson, Pepping, Balk & Kincaid, Ltd., Silvis, Ill. She joined the law firm in 2006. Curtis Clark ’04 was named head coach of the Bettendorf High School varsity boys basketball program. He will continue his work as a physical education teacher for the district. Glenn Plummer ’04 MEA was named principal of Regina High School in Iowa City. He began teaching math in the district and has been director of student services, assistant principal and interim principal. He also was a junior high football and girls and boys track coach. John ‘05 and Kara (Roberts) McKenna ‘06 recently married and relocated to Seattle. John is a project manager for Walsh Construction, a national general contractor, and Kara is the manager of client development for LexBlog, a company that teaches lawyers and professionals how to use the Internet to accelerate relationships to help drive business development. Jarret Witmer ’06 accepted a promotion as residential coordinator for the Children’s Home Association of Illinois. He was a nominee for employee of the year and awarded employee of the quarter honors in April 2012.

New grad brings chemistry to dance

Adam McKenzie ’07 received his medical degree from Lincoln Memorial DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medical School in Harrogate, Tenn. He will serve his residency in Internal Medicine at Garden City Hospital in Garden City, Mich. Gene Thompson ’07 received his Juris Doctor from the University of Tulsa, College of Law, Tulsa, Okla., in May. Joshua McIntyre ’08 joined the law firm of Lane & Waterman LLP, located in Davenport and Moline, Ill., as an associate. He is a member of the Illinois State and American Bar Associations. Andrew Rabka ’09 became the qualified developmental disabilities professional at Help at Home Inc., located in Michigan City, Indiana.


The Teens

Justin Shaffer ’11 MEA was promoted to middle school principal for the Camanche (Iowa) School District, where he was a special education teacher. He has worked in the school district for five years.

The sound of applause, the heat of stage lights, the fluttering of a nervous heart and… bubbling test tubes? Not the traditional mix, but it fits with the non-traditional life led by Jacob Lyon ’12. The combination of chemistry and ballet may seem incongruous, but Lyon thinks they actually go hand in hand. “Bringing a little science to the art and a little art to the science keeps things in balance,” he explained. Lyon, 33, earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from St. Ambrose in May, just days before the final performance of his 10th season as a full-time member of Ballet Quad Cities. Lyon began dancing ballet at 18, just as something to do with a friend. While working as a dance counselor in Vermont, he learned of an opening with the QC company. Two weeks later, he packed all his possessions, headed west and began work at the company where he would also meet his future wife, Courtney Lyon, the artistic director of Ballet Quad Cities. Now he is a beloved member of the company, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. He started his educational career in his late 20s, realizing his body would not always allow him to dance, and said his passion for chemistry comes from a desire to make the world better “through science as well as art.” Dancing helped his studies. “I believe that the creativity required to be a good dancer can help a scientific inquiry when problems need imagination,” he said. In the fall, Lyon will begin graduate studies in chemistry at the University of Iowa, but will continue to dance as his schedule permits. He will carry what he gained at St. Ambrose wherever he goes. “It gave me an appreciation for a big slice of what life has to offer,” he said. —Emilee Renwick

The creativity required to be a good dancer can help a scientific inquiry when problems need imagination”



obert Philibert ’83, MD, PhD, is a pioneer. Not in the sense of an explorer mapping the New World. Rather, the University of Iowa professor and research leader is exploring the frontiers of stem-cell research, genetics and the emerging science of the relationship between stress, immune activation and cancer. From his lab in Iowa City, where he works as a professor of psychiatry, neuroscience and genetics, Philibert spends most of his time doing what he likes best: research. “When I graduated from St. Ambrose in ’83, I was accepted into Johns Hopkins, but I …what I strive for is decided I wouldn’t be happy there,” he said. “So I went to Iowa instead. When to give hope to those I got here, I asked one of the professors who don’t have any. about his neurotransmission research, Hope is cheap, only because I was told that was the polite thing to do. but priceless. “Turns out I found his research very Ambrose taught me that. fascinating. I love research.” Now, Philibert’s own groundbreaking research offers hope to people suffering from alcoholism, drug addiction, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia and other related diseases loosely organized under “behavioral genetics.”

“ ”

Hunting hope in a test tube 32

It is research that looks for connections between an inherited genetic anomaly that predisposes someone to psychosocial disease like schizophrenia and the environmental factors that stimulate that genetic anomaly. The results may provide solutions to some of society’s most debilitating psychological and sociological diseases. One goal of the research is to determine early on (in many cases through a simple blood test) if an individual has a genetic propensity for drug and/ or alcohol dependency, or a host of psychosocial diseases. The ultimate goal is to prevent those diseases from occurring. “Take schizophrenia, for example,” Philibert said. “Typically, the first onset of schizophrenia occurs in a person’s late teens or early twenties. We may never find a cure, but if we can determine an individual has the gene that may someday result in schizophrenia, we could prevent onset.” Underpinning all of his research is a passion tempered with humility and justifiable excitement that he is deeply involved in important scientific research. He also is quick to point out he is not working in a vacuum. “I believe I’m doing groundbreaking work,” Philibert said, “and I believe I can help people. But everyone else can help people, too. What I do, I do with the collaboration of others. Nothing happens in isolation. Everything in my laboratory is paid for with tax dollars, for example. So what I do is dependent on the largesse of society and the collaboration of likeminded colleagues.” The doctor also gives credit to his alma mater, noting a liberal arts-based St. Ambrose education provided a philosophical foundation upon which he built his scientific work. “Perhaps more than anything, Ambrose teaches you how to contemplate taking the leap of faith,” Philibert said. “Ambrose teaches you that there is good in the world. There are disenfranchised people in this world without hope, and what I strive for is to give hope to those who don’t have any. Hope is cheap, but priceless. Ambrose taught me that.” —Steven Lillybeck



Lisa Leiby ’02 and Bradley Linville, LeClaire, Iowa Kimberly Carstensen ’04 and Cory Conrad, Negril, Jamaica David Adams ’08 and Chelsea Noe ’09, Peoria, Ill. Ashley Moellenbeck ’09 and Matthew Kelting, Long Grove, Iowa Spencer Hill ’10 and Ann Hull ’10, Burlington, Iowa


Jeff Muntz ’00 and wife Sarah (Pierce) Muntz ’00, became proud parents of a baby girl, Mary Katherine. “Mary Kate” was born on Jan. 18, 2012. She was welcomed home by big sister Anna.

William “Bill” Peterson ’47, Charleston, Ill., Sept. 3, 2011 Arden DeReu ’48, Geneseo, Ill., May 5, 2012 Harvey Legris ’49, Lexington, Ky., March 5, 2012 Gerald “Bix” Bixenman ’50, Panama City Beach, Fla., Feb. 25, 2012 James Cahill ’50, San Diego, March 25, 2012 Charles Horton ’50, Bettendorf, Iowa, May 22, 2011 Jon Manock ’50, Sun City, S.C., June 17, 2011 John Smidebush ’50, Moraga, Calif., Oct. 19, 2011 James Henneberry ’51, Springfield, Ill., March 8, 2012 David Kakert ’51 Academy, Bettendorf, Iowa, April 28, 2012

Charles Rosenfield ’51, Scottsdale, Ariz., Aug. 25, 2011

James “Judd” Guild ’39, Rock Island, Ill., Sept. 23, 2011

Joseph Kelly ’52, San Diego, Jan. 14, 2011

Francis “Frank” Tofanelli ’39, Sleepy Hollow, Ill., Feb. 25, 2012

Rev. Thomas Wise ’52, Arlington Heights, Ill., Aug. 11, 2011

Philip Shanley ’40, Edina, Minn., April 8, 2012

John Hedrich ’53, Las Vegas, Jan. 6, 2012

David Learner ’41, Scottsdale, Ariz., May 10, 2011

Msgr. E. Edward Higgins ’53, Peoria, Ill., Feb. 16, 2012

Hugo Cerretti ’42, Johnston, Iowa, Feb. 24, 2011

Richard “Dick” Les ’53, Palatine, Ill., Nov. 1, 2011

Edwin Schmidt ’42, San Antonio, Feb. 2, 2011

Sr. Catherine Cecilia Lodder ’53, OSF, Clinton, Iowa, March 25, 2011

Peter Cianciola ’45, Cordova, Tenn., Feb. 24, 2011

Shirley (Dipple) Stuckel ’53, ’83, Davenport, April 17, 2012


Sr. Mary Margaret DeWit ’54, OSF, Clinton, Iowa, Jan. 25, 2012

Brian Kneafsey, ’57, Sarasota, Fla., April 20, 2012

Michael Halfman ’75, Bettendorf, Iowa, Dec. 20, 2011

John Patterson ’57, Shorewood, Ill., Aug. 3, 2011

Rhoda Morgan ’77, DeLand, Fla., June 14, 2011

Margaret “Maggie” Stutsman ’57, Rock Island, Ill., Feb. 1, 2012

Barbara Hansen ’79, ’92 MBA, Eldridge, Iowa, April 13, 2012

Donald Bell ’58, Rock Island, Ill., Sept. 12, 2011

Steven Laude ’81, Bettendorf, Iowa, May 12, 2012

William “Bill” Eggers ’58, Overland Park, Kan., March 6, 2011

Nira “Del” Creekmur ’83, The Villages, Fla., Feb. 7, 2012

Patrick “Pat” Murphy ’59, Watseka, Ill., March 10, 2011

Thomas Killion ’83, Montgomery, Ill., Feb. 27, 2012

James Champion ’60, Osage, Iowa, May 22, 2011

Markus McKissick ’86, Davenport, May 21, 2012

Lt. Col. Nicholas Kass ’60, Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., Oct. 27, 2011

Lynn Parker ’99, Rock Island, Ill., Feb. 23, 2012

Gerald “Jerry” McGee ’61, Madison, Wis., March 1, 2012

Jessica (Owens) Brown ’01, Davenport, April 1, 2012

James Egan ’62, Moline, Ill., June 25, 2011

Debra Livingston ’12, Blue Grass, Iowa, May 23, 2012

Mary (Knoll) McMahon ’62, Winona, Minn., Oct. 23, 2011

Faculty and Staff

John “Jack” Pfrimmer ’62, Lincoln, Neb., Jan. 28, 2012 Janet Ruhde ’62, Brimfield, Ill., July 1, 2011 Mary (Reynolds) Volk ’62, Cascade, Iowa, Dec. 27, 2011 James Grady ’65, Corpus Christi, Texas, Aug. 2, 2011 Ronald Vogel ’65, Peoria, Ill., March 11, 2011 Michael Metz ’66, Bloomington, Minn., March 7, 2012 David Pottratz ’73, Clinton, Iowa, April 27, 2012 Curt Wilson ’73, Sherrard, Ill., June 1, 2012

Gregory Lensing, Cuenca, Ecuador, May 22, 2012 John McGuire, Davenport, May 7, 2012 Robert Ristow, Midland, Texas, March 2, 2012 What’s New? Let us know what you’ve been up to! Drop us a note at Alumni Relations, St. Ambrose University, 518 W. Locust St., Davenport, Iowa 52803 or go online to share updates. Be sure to include your full name, class year and a phone number or email address where we can contact you to verify your information. online extra: tell us what’s new at

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