Thursday, June 27, 2013

Centennial ends with a flourish; 1,200 at All-School Reunion

It literally ended with a bang! A bevy of colorful fireworks helped to cap off the year-long celebration of Saint Mary’s Centennial Saturday, June 22, on the Winona campus. But, even more importantly, the university community came together to launch its second century in style.

At the Red Carpet Centennial Gala, more than 800 guests were treated like Hollywood stars, beginning with a red carpet entrance (complete with student paparazzi and live interviews).

Attendees followed the red carpet gold “stars” to the festivities. Names on the stars recognize SMU’s philanthropic partners whose extraordinary cumulative giving to SMU has transformed the university during its first century and who continue to help dynamically position the university into the future.

The Gostomski Fieldhouse was transformed for the reception into a giant, glittering celebrity lounge, with entertainment provided by the John Paulson Big Band. The reception also included butlered hors d’oeuvres, elegant lounge decor, signature drinks and a special Centennial ice sculpture.

As the curtains parted, the crowd was ushered into the dining area, where a gourmet meal was served under glittering chandeliers.  Alum Bill Lunn ’87, news anchor for KSTP-TV in the Twin Cities kicked off the program in true Oscar-esque style as music and movies set the scene for the glamorous evening.

The event program spoke to the transforming nature of the university, past, present and future.

Honorary co-chairs Mike ’66 and Claudia (Drvota CST’69) Dooley and Jack and Mary Ann (Wera CST’64) Remick were recognized for serving as ambassadors throughout the university’s Centennial year.

Centennial Awards were presented to Brother Álvaro Rodríguez Echeverría, Superior General of the Institute of Brothers of the Christian Schools, on behalf of the Institute, and to Brother Larry Schatz, Visitor, on behalf of the Midwest District of the Christian Brothers. The university gratefully recognized the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools for its continued leadership and vision, inspired by the teachings of its founder. The university gratefully recognized the Midwest District for its work to inspire new Lasallian educational partnerships through the strength of its dedication and vision.

Mike ’62 and Joette Gostomski of Winona received a Heritage Award for their outstanding support, engagement and philanthropy. The Gostomskis have shown their generosity in support of numerous university initiatives through gifts of time, talent and treasure, which know no bounds. Mike has served on the university’s Board of Trustees for 17 years. Their largest single gift to the university made possible the completion of the athletics fieldhouse bearing their name. They have also partnered with Saint Mary’s and The Wasie Foundation for more than a decade to support full scholarships for students from Poland. Other gifts to the university include support of the First-Generation Initiative, as well as campus expansion and facilities projects. Mike speaks proudly of the impact Saint Mary’s had on his own success as a local entrepreneur — one of the original founders of Fastenal Company and current president/CEO of Winona Heating and Ventilating, Inc.

Brother William reflected back on key points in Saint Mary’s history and told stories of alumni who have gone on to do wonderful things, strengthened by the knowledge they gained at Saint Mary’s; and he invited participants to join SMU as it steps boldly into its second century.

After dinner and in between thunderstorms guests viewed fireworks in the university plaza, provided by RES Specialty Pyrotechnics (founded by 1978 alum Steve Coman. Portions of the Centennial Suite and other exciting music were incorporated into the on-campus show, which came alive from the sky, as well as on the plaza. The night was capped with dancing to the cool sounds of Nicholas David, finalist in NBC's “The Voice.”

Approximately 1,200 visitors were on campus throughout the weekend. Special guests included the more than 50 Christian Brothers who gathered for the unveiling of a new statue, designed by Brother Jerome Cox ’60, which honors all members of the international Catholic teaching order who have served the university. Brother William spoke to the All-School Reunion crowd and to the Brothers from around the nation and the world.

Numerous other activities were held over the All-School Reunion weekend, including decade and reunion class gatherings, canoe trips, an alumni art exhibition, ropes course demonstrations, city and campus tours, a 5K fun run, and an all-school picnic.

Thanks go out to everyone who donated so much of their time throughout the weekend and to everyone who joined in the celebration and in making our guests feel welcome throughout the weekend.

To view photos from throughout the weekend, go to

Public invited to play in Tom Farren Memorial Golf Classic

The public is invited to play in the fifth annual Tom Farren Memorial Golf Classic Sunday, July 21. The four-person scramble will have a 9 a.m. shotgun start at Cedar Valley Golf Course. The $80 entry fee includes a Sunday brunch from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m., a Saint Mary’s pullover jacket and 18 holes of golf with a cart.  The deadline to register is Monday, July 8.

This outing honors former SMU golf coach Tom Farren and is a fundraiser for the men’s and women’s golf teams.

Raffle prizes are available. Team prizes will include: first place — four FootJoy shirts; fifth place — four Greg Norman shirts; 10th place — four Cutter & Buck shirts; second-to-last place — Twins pint glass and sleeve of balls; and last place — Twins pint glass and sleeve of balls. Games will include closest to pin (holes 4, 8, 11 and 15), long drive (holes 1 and 10), longest putt (holes 9 and 13) and closest to pin in two shots (a team prize on hole 18). Game prizes will include golf caps, with a team prize of four 18-hole rounds of golf.

Sponsors include Minnesota City Custom and RTP Co.

Send a check and shirt sizes for foursomes to Cedar Valley Golf Course, P.O. Box 1148, Winona, MN 55987. For more information, contact Ryan Egan, SMU men’s and women’s golf coach at or (507) 457-6918.

‘Campus Notes’ to continue July 19

The faculty/staff newsletter will come out periodically throughout the summer to update the SMU community on all the news and events that occur on campus June through August. The next edition will be July 19.

Steamboat Days parade thanks

The Marketing and Communication Office thanks the many students (along with Lance and Amber Thompson, Nick Lemmer, Terri Lieder and Janet Heukeshoven) who volunteered for year’s Steamboat Days parade Sunday. Saint Mary’s float was a highlight at the beginning of the parade, and the many drawstring backpacks given away painted the streets red with SMU visibility.

Countdown to College to welcome 92 students

Countdown to College students will be on campus July 6-Aug 3. The first two weeks (July 6-19), SMU will welcome cohorts 3 and 4 on campus (21 incoming seniors and 23 incoming juniors). This summer will mark the first C2C graduation ceremony on July 19. Parents of the seniors are invited to join the celebration.

On July 20, C2C will welcome a new cohort of  25 incoming freshmen, and on July 21, 23 returning sophomores will join them. These two cohorts will study on campus through Aug. 3.

This two-week program for students from under-resourced communities is offered each summer for four years, beginning just after they complete eighth grade and continuing until they reach college age — helping to assure each student is prepared for a successful college experience.

The camp is free to student participants from San Miguel and Nativity middle schools and Cristo Rey and Lasallian high schools, their parents (who come the first weekend) and teachers from their schools, who co-teach with SMU instructors, and help prepare SMU instructors on how to effectively work with this growing population of students.

This is one portion of the First-Generation Initiative, which helps students prepare and succeed at college.

Saint Mary’s in top 10 National Universities for students living on campus

Saint Mary’s University is listed seventh among “National Universities” for its high percentage of undergraduates living on campus, according to a recently released U.S. News ranking.

U.S. News says the country is facing a shortage of on-campus student housing at public and private schools, according to a 2012 report by the National Multi-Housing Council that analyzed data between 2000 and 2010. The last decade saw a 38.7 percent increase in student enrollment, and as enrollment surged, most states have seen a smaller percentage of students living in dorms. Areas with the highest campus housing shortages include Arizona, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota and West Virginia.

Despite the shortage, U.S. News compiled a list of 10 universities that are still housing most of their students on campus.

Harvard University tops the list of U.S. News National Universities with the highest percentage of undergraduate students living on campus in fall 2011. The Ivy League school has 98 percent of its undergraduates living on campus.

Saint Mary’s, in seventh, had 89 percent of students living on campus during the reporting period.

Other schools on the list include: Princeton University, 87 percent; California Institute of Technology, 95 percent; Columbia University, 95 percent; Stanford University, 91 percent; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 90 percent; Yale University, 88 percent; Dartmouth College, 86 percent; and Vanderbilt University, 86 percent.

Of the 247 ranked National Universities that provided data to U.S. News about campus housing, an average of 38 percent of the undergraduate population lives on campus. Saint Mary’s is one of only three public or private schools in Minnesota in this category.

“The completion of our newest 141-bed residence hall this past year reflects our commitment to creating a vibrant campus and transformational residential life experience,” said Chris Kendall, vice president of student life. “A high number of students living on campus brings life and vitality to all university activities and events. And a student’s residential experience is an important component of their overall college experience.”

U.S. News surveyed more than 1,800 colleges and universities for its 2012 rankings of undergraduate programs. While much of this survey data is used to rank schools for its annual “Best Colleges” rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News is now producing lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them.

For more information, go to

Kowles publishes book about teaching experiences

Dr. Dick Kowles, professor emeritus of biology, has published a book titled, “A Passion to Teach: 58 years of humorous, weird and engaging tales.” Beaver’s Pond Press, Edina produced it. A large portion of the book talks about experiences at Saint Mary’s.

“A Passion to Teach” is mostly a series of stories about the author’s desire to be a teacher, working his way through college with terrible jobs, and teaching for 14 years in three different high schools before entering resident graduate school pursuing a Ph.D. in genetics.  The graduate school episode took place with a wife and five young children and required unbelievable financial craftiness. Much of the book also deals with teaching at the college level following the doctorate degree in genetics, along with chairing a biology department, conducting research, and engaging in scientific communication.  Most of the stories are about humorous events; however, a few others are more serious situations.  The last three chapters offer personal opinions, viewpoints, and biases regarding pedagogy along with more of the ever-present fun events and the throes of teaching.

The book can be purchased from the SMU Bookstore, the Book Shelf in Winona, Amazon, or directly through Dr. Kowles at Gilmore Creek Press, 1293 County Dr., Winona; (507) 452-1758.