The year in review at CSB and SJU

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December 19, 2012

Let's play a round of "Jeopardy," with a focus on our two favorite schools - the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University. 

All right, here's the answer: Presidents, VIPs, a retirement and a new student housing facility.

Now, the question: How will 2012 be remembered at CSB and SJU? Let's expand on this:

A new president was selected to lead SJU (Michael Hemesath), while two CSB alumnae were named presidents of colleges (Beth Dinndorf of Columbia College, and Barbara Edwards Farley of Illinois College). 

Journalist Tom Brokaw and national recording artist Mat Kearney were among the very important persons who graced the campuses. Kearney was so taken by the experience that he wrote a song about his visit that became an Internet sensation.

Legendary football coach John Gagliardi announced his retirement after 60 seasons at SJU, including four national championships and 489 career wins. 

And, Centennial Commons opened in August for 124 CSB students. 

Here's a list of some of the top CSB and SJU stories of 2012. Listed first are highlights for both institutions, followed by two separate lists for CSB and SJU. All items are in chronological order.

CSB and SJU Year-End Highlights

March 6 - CSB and SJU received the 2012 Senator Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization by NAFSA: Association of International Educators. The award was presented to CSB and SJU Nov. 13 in Washington, D.C. Named for the late senator from Illinois, the Simon Award recognizes outstanding and innovative achievements in campus internationalization. Simon was a strong supporter of international education and foreign language learning. NAFSA said CSB/SJU has taken a "well-coordinated approach to internationalization. The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University ... understand the need for sustainability and made expanding international education experiences a cornerstone of their 2010 strategic plan. Now, 60 percent of the 2,000 female students and 45 percent of the 1,900 male students study abroad ... , while the colleges' Center for Global Education is expanding partnerships for exchanges and internships across China, Japan and India."

April 28 - National recording artist Mat Kearney performed at '12 Pines in Sexton Arena, an event coordinated by the CSB and SJU Joint Events Council. After performing what he called "the most energetic acoustic show I've ever played," he wrote the song "Bennie and Johnnie" as a thank you. The song was initially released and uploaded May 10 by Kearney.

Sept. 11 - Tom Brokaw, NBC News television journalist and author, delivered the sixth annual Eugene J. McCarthy Lecture titled "Conscience and Courage in Public Life" at Saint John's Abbey and University Church. Brokaw, who worked on the "Today" show from 1976-82 and then anchor of the "NBC Nightly News" from 1982-2004, spoke about his career in journalism, the current state of journalism and technology and the obligation to be engaged citizens in the democracy. 

Sept. 21 - "Lean on Me," a stickwork sculpture by artist Patrick Dougherty, is completed alongside Stearns County Road 159 - the main entry road to SJU from I-94. The sculpture was constructed with saplings (mostly willow) harvested from Saint John's Abbey Arboretum. The structure features five chapelettes, which are based on the Stella Maris Chapel on Lake Sagatagan. All five are leaning into each other, which is also symbolic of the CSB and SJU communities "leaning" into each other. A number of CSB and SJU students, staff and faculty members assisted in the building of the sculpture, which is expected to last two years. Two CSB students, Jessie Sorvaag and Kirsten Montray, later completed two stickwork figures in the courtyard of Clemens Library at CSB.

Nov. 12 - For the third consecutive year, CSB and SJU are ranked No. 1 nationally among baccalaureate institutions with students who participate in mid-length study abroad programs, according to Open Doors 2012, the annual report on international education published by the Institute of International Education (IIE). CSB and SJU, which shared the top spot with Bucknell University, had 381 students study abroad in mid-length programs during the 2010-11 school year, an increase of almost 4 percent from the 2009-10 school year. Mid-length duration study abroad programs are those lasting one semester, one quarter or two quarters (CSB and SJU operate under the semester system).  The report also found that CSB and SJU ranked No. 4 nationally among baccalaureate institutions for total number of study abroad students, with 531 students who studied abroad in 2010-11. CSB and SJU have been among the top six nationally in the number of students participating in international study abroad programs for the past eight years, according to the IIE. Open Doors 2012 also reported that CSB and SJU ranked No. 14 (tied with Macalester College) among baccalaureate institutions with 268 international students for the 2011-12 school year. The schools had the highest number of international students among Minnesota colleges and universities listed in the top 40 baccalaureate institutions.


CSB Year-End Highlights

April 3, Nov. 21 - Two CSB graduates were named college presidents. Beth Dinndorf '73 was named the 18th president of Columbia College in Columbia, S.C., April 3. She has served on the CSB Board of Trustees since 2005 (she was the chair of the board from 2010-12), and from 1988-97. She began her presidency July 1. Columbia College is a liberal arts college for women of more than 1,500 undergraduate and graduate students. Barbara A. Edwards Farley '81 was named the 14th president of Illinois College in Jacksonville, Ill., Nov. 21. She will begin her presidency in June 2013. From 1984-95, Farley was an associate professor of management at CSB and SJU. Illinois College is a residential liberal arts college with an enrollment of nearly 1,000 students. 

May 30 - CSB received a $1,439,405 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to fund the Upward Bound program at CSB and SJU. The program was funded at $287,881 per year for five years starting Sept. 1, and serves 64 high school students each year. CSB was one of 20 Minnesota colleges and universities to receive grants. Overall, 780 programs were funded across the country. Upward Bound is one of a cluster of programs referred to as TRIO, which were established by the federal Higher Education Act of 1965. The goal of Upward Bound is to create opportunities for high school students to attend college, with two-thirds of those students coming from low-income families or whose parents did not attend college. The program began at CSB and SJU in 1995, and has served 325 students. 

Aug. 26 - Centennial Commons officially opened for CSB students. It was named in honor of CSB's upcoming centennial in 2013. The $8 million project consists of four eight-unit townhome style buildings and one community center building. There are a total of 31 four-bedroom  two-story units, which include two full baths, laundry facilities, full kitchen with dining space, living room, storage space and shared front porches and are air-conditioned. There is an additional two-bedroom apartment for the live-in professional residence director. The community center provides multi-purpose rooms for programming and student gatherings as well as a kitchen, fitness room, a computer lab, small-group study rooms and an office for the residential life staff. All five buildings are in the process of becoming LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, a standard that rates buildings on their design, construction and operation.

Nov. 10 - The Blazers' volleyball team advanced to the NCAA Division III regional final before falling to the University of St. Thomas 3-1. The Blazers won the first set 25-23, but then lost 25-18, 25-13 and 25-22. The Tommies turned out to be a season-long nemesis for the Blazers, who handed CSB three of its six losses during a 29-6 season. St. Thomas went on to win the NCAA Division III national volleyball title. "It was two great teams," CSB head coach Nicole Hess said of the match. "When you get to this stage of the game, we're proud that we are one of 16 teams (in the country) left still playing, that's an honor."  Junior outside hitter Lexi Alm and sophomore setter Taya Kockelman each were named to the All-Region team by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. Alm recorded 470 kills throughout the season, and Kockelman had 1,370 assists.

Nov. 27 - The inaugural "Christmas at Saint Ben's"  tree lighting event was held on the CSB mall. A 35-foot tree adorned with 3,200 lights was lit at dusk. Mary Geller, vice president for student development at CSB, explained the college's motto, "Sic luceat lux vestra" ("Let your light shine") during the ceremony. As she spoke, representatives from each class at CSB made their way to the platform with a torch - symbolic of the theme of light. Organizers are hoping the tree lighting ceremony will become an annual event at CSB. 

SJU Year-End Highlights

March 26 - SJU was awarded a $750,000 grant from the Manitou Fund for the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University. It is a five-year pledge beginning with the 2013-14 academic year. The commitment will provide the needed support to continue the core operations of the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship while SJU continues to pursue endowment and annual support to sustain the operations long term. Since its founding in 2004, the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship has evolved into a highly successful interdisciplinary program that serves students, faculty and alumni of CSB and SJU. It is touted for its unique emphasis on both business entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship. 

April 10 - Michael Hemesath was appointed the 13th president of SJU by the university's Board of Regents. He began his official duties on July 1, and was inaugurated on Oct. 20. A 1981 SJU graduate, Hemesath is the first lay president in the 155-year history of the institution. Hemesath, 53, graduated summa cum laude from SJU with a degree in economics and received his master's and doctorate in economics from Harvard University. He has been on the economics faculty at Carleton College since 1989 and has served as faculty president since 2009. Before coming to Carleton, he was on the faculty for two years at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. His wife, Elizabeth Galbraith, teaches in the religion department at St. Olaf College, and they have a son, Cameron. "The privilege of serving as Saint John's 13th president is both tremendously exciting and humbling. The Saint John's community both shaped and shapes me, and it is a rare gift to be able to lead my alma mater through this important transition in the relationship between the monastery and the university," Hemesath said. 

June 18 - A statue of Saint Benedict was installed on the Stephen B. Humphrey Theater Plaza. Br. David Paul Lange OSB, CSB/SJU associate professor of art, sculpted the statue and chose to depict Benedict at the beginning of his monastic life. The installation was designed so that Benedict's face aligns with the bell banner of Saint John's Abbey and University Church, to convey the sense that Saint Benedict is engaged in listening to the call for prayer.   

July 1 - A new civil corporation for SJU begins.  In 2006, Saint John's Abbey and University began to work toward a reconfigured governance and management structure for the University.  The goals were to enhance governance authority for the University, reduce organizational complexity and to strengthen the relationship between the Abbey and University into the future.  Five years of systematic and thoughtful dialogue resulted in a decision to create a new University corporation.  The Prep School and Liturgical Press remain operating divisions of the existing Abbey corporation. The University remains as a major educational and pastoral work of the Abbey and the monks of Saint John's will remain a vital part of the University. 

Nov. 19 - SJU football coach John Gagliardi announced his retirement. "Seventy years (60 at SJU) is a long time to be doing the same job," Gagliardi said. "Luckily, I've always been blessed with great players, friends, family and support to make it this far." The first active head coach to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame (Class of 2006) and the 2009 American Football Coaches' Association (AFCA) Amos Alonzo Stagg Award recipient, Gagliardi ended his record 64th season as a collegiate head football coach and 60th season as head coach of the Johnnies this fall. The winningest coach all-time in college football history, Gagliardi ended his storied career with a 489-138-11 (.775) collegiate record and a 465-132-10 (.774) record at SJU, including a 362-99-9 (.780) record in Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference games. His teams won national championships in 1963, 1965, 1976 and 2003.