Friday, June 27, 2008

Saint Mary’s recognized for use of Tegrity learning technology

WINONA, Minn. — On June 23, Tegrity (provider of the leading class-capture web service for higher education) announced that Saint Mary’s University was one of the winners of the Tegrity Innovation Awards Program. These awards honor leading institutions whose innovative uses of the technology have impacted student achievement and reinforced their institutional missions during the 2007-2008 academic year.

The Tegrity Innovation Awards program debuted last week at the Tegrity Annual User Conference. Honorees were chosen from a broad spectrum of colleges and universities and honored at a special awards luncheon at the Disney Swan Resort in Orlando, Fla. Awards were presented to both individuals and institutions, indicative of performance milestones achieved this past academic year.

Saint Mary’s University received the Provost Award for achieving the highest total volume of faculty recordings. With more than 5,000 faculty recordings posted, faculty usage of Tegrity at Saint Mary’s University illustrates the widespread acceptance Tegrity is achieving among faculty of all disciplines.

“The Saint Mary’s faculty embrace Tegrity because it helps students learn more effectively,” SMU Provost, Dr. Jeffrey Highland said. “We share a common vision with Tegrity — helping students achieve their goals by enhancing their academic performance.”

Other awards and their recipients were:

• President’s Award — Dr. Sadie Gregory, Provost of Coppin State University
• Innovator’s Award — Eddie King, Chief Information Officer of the University of South Carolina, Beaufort
• Student Advocate Award — Jimmy Duke, Division Chair of Health Sciences at Calhoun Community College
• Rapid Response Award — The University of Texas at Brownsville
• Student Achievement Award — The University of Alabama
• Student Achievement Award — The University of Central Florida

About Tegrity
Tegrity Campus is the leading web-enabled class-capture system, impacting learning, student satisfaction and retention across the entire institution. Requiring no hardware or software installation, Tegrity Campus makes class time available all the time by automatically capturing, storing and indexing every class on campus for replay by every student. Educators know that the more students can see, hear, and experience a class, the better they learn. With patented Tegrity “search anything” technology, students instantly recall key class moments for replay online, or on iPods and mobile devices. Tegrity is based in Santa Clara, California with regional offices throughout the United States. For more information, visit

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Area youth groups invited to July 13 ‘Little Shop’ matinee

WINONA, Minn. — Area youth groups are invited to a reduced-price showing of this summer’s Gilmore Creek “Little Shop of Horrors” production. After the show, the groups will have the unique opportunity to meet the professional actors — including the show’s horticultural humorous horror star, Audrey II.

Youth groups of eight or more and their chaperones are invited to the 3 p.m. matinee of Little Shop of Horrors on Sunday, July 13, at Saint Mary’s University’s Page Theatre. Suitable for children 10 and above, Little Shop of Horrors by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken is a musical based on the film by Roger Corman and screenplay by Charles Griffith. A down-and-out floral assistant becomes an overnight sensation when he discovers an exotic plant with a strange craving for fresh blood. Soon “Audrey II” grows into an ill-tempered, foul-mouthed, R&B-singing carnivore who offers him fame and fortune in trade for feeding its growing appetite, finally revealing itself to be an alien creature set for global domination! The show —under the direction of Judy Myers — has been described as charming, tuneful and hilarious, with tongue planted in cheek. Anthony Freeman is providing musical direction.

Tickets are $5 each for youth and their chaperones (one adult per eight youth) and are available for purchase through the Performance Center box office, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., by phone (507) 457-1715, or at the box office. These specially priced tickets are not available online.

“We want to provide kids with an opportunity to experience live professional theatre in a beautiful setting,” stated Patrick Grace, general manager of the Performance Center. Grace invites young audiences to bring a bag lunch and enjoy a picnic on the greens of the SMU campus before settling in for an afternoon of song, drama, and summer fun. Study guides for pre- or post-show activities are also available by contacting the box office.

As a special treat, immediately after the show, the actors and Audrey II will meet and greet the audience inside the theatre. Participants can learn the secrets of theatrical plant life, see up close how the puppet works, and ask the actors questions.

The professional actors of Gilmore Creek will present “The Foreigner” and “Little Shop of Horrors” in repertory with the children’s story “The Mouse Expedition” July 10 through Aug. 3. “The Foreigner” and “Little Shop of Horrors” will be staged at Saint Mary’s Page Theatre, and audiences can catch “The Mouse Expedition” at the Valéncia Academy Theatre, located at 1164 W. 10th St.

Tickets are available for any of the Gilmore Creek shows from the SMU Box Office or online at Tickets to “The Foreigner” and “Little Shop of Horrors” are $20; $18 for seniors or $12 for youth ages 12-18. Family and group packages are available. Tickets to “The Mouse Expedition” are $8.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

SMU dean appointed to state arts board

WINONA, Minn. — Governor Tim Pawlenty announced Friday, June 20, the appointment of three members — including Michael Charron of Winona — and the reappointment of one member to the Minnesota State Arts Board.

Charron is the dean of Saint Mary’s University’s School of the Arts. He is a former professor of theater arts and chair of the theater department at Concordia University in St. Paul. He also is a former board member of the Hill Murray Community Theater and the Woodbury Fine Arts Council. He holds a Master of Fine Arts and Theater degree from the University of Minnesota and a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater, English and secondary education from Saint Mary’s. Charron is appointed as a public member to a four-year term that expires Jan. 2, 2012. He replaces Jane Belau on the board.

Other appointments include: Brooke Barsness of Fergus Falls and Mary Beth Schubert of Inver Grove Heights. Ellen McInnis of Robinsdale was reappointed for another four-year term.

The Minnesota State Arts Board attempts to enrich the quality of life in Minnesota by making the arts accessible to all citizens, nurturing creative activities, encouraging the development of innovative forms of artistic expression and preserving the state’s diverse artistic heritage. The board provides grants and services to individual artists, arts organizations, schools, colleges and universities, communities and other organizations that sponsor arts activities. The board is made up of 11 members appointed by the governor.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Gilmore Creek guarantees adventure with ‘The Mouse Expedition’

WINONA, Minn. — Children and their families in the Winona area are invited to the greatest birthday adventure ever: Gilmore Creek Summer Theatre’s production of The Mouse Expedition, by Erin Malcolm. This children’s theatre production is receiving its professional premiere at GCST this summer, after its world premiere at Millikin University earlier this year.

The Mouse Expedition takes place at Henry Braithwaite’s birthday party, where his older sister Caroline has been left in charge. Henry’s mother has promised him a special gift, and when he opens the box, he discovers a compass – and a mother mouse, who needs that compass to rescue her children from the cats in the forest. The audience, taking on the role of guests at the party, is invited along to help Henry, Caroline, and the mother mouse rescue the “Meece children.”

According to Sarah St. Laurent, director of the GCST production, the production will focus on the power of the audience’s imagination. “Even if I had a $300-million budget, I couldn’t match what a child’s imagination can create,” says St. Laurent. Working with a handful of striking, iconic props and costume pieces the seven actors and the audience play with their shared imagination, which will create “a different show for every audience.”

GCST actress Karin McNamara was a student at Millikin and took part in the original production. “I’m really excited to do [the show] again,” McNamara said adding that the requirements of running Mouse Expedition in repertory with GCST’s other shows will make this “a completely new and different production.”

In addition to McNamara and St. Laurent (who is the production stage manager for GCST’s other productions), The Mouse Expedition will feature actors Tyler Bellmon, Peyton Conley, Stephen DiBlasi, Krista Hingtgen, Whitney Rappana, and Eric Zuber. Tony Freeman will music direct, and GCST’s assistant stage manager, Tracy Hoida, will stage manage.

The professional actors of Gilmore Creek will present “The Foreigner” and “Little Shop of Horrors” in repertory with the children’s story “The Mouse Expedition” July 10 through Aug. 3. “The Foreigner” and “Little Shop of Horrors” will be staged at Saint Mary’s Page Theatre, and audiences can catch “The Mouse Expedition” at the Valéncia Academy Theatre, located at 1164 W. 10th St.

Tickets are available for any of the Gilmore Creek shows from the SMU Box Office, (507) 457-1715, during summer office hours 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday or online anytime at Tickets to “The Foreigner” and “Little Shop of Horrors” are $20; $18 for seniors or $12 for youth ages 12-18. Family and group packages are available. Tickets to “The Mouse Expedition” are $8.

Saint Mary’s University to host auditions June 28 for Fox 25/48 ‘Idol’

WINONA, Minn. — Saint Mary’s University and Fox 25/48 are looking for the next singing sensation. Auditions for “Fox Fest Idol” will be held Saturday, June 28, at SMU.

The open auditions will be held in the Performance Center. Participants may register online at or at the audition location. Online registration ends Thursday, June 26. Participants will be notified by mail of their acceptance.

Men and women must be between the ages of 16 and 28 and must provide proof of age and photo identification. Parents must accompany minors.

On June 28, registration will be taken from 11 and 12:30 p.m., during which participants will be assigned a number. The first round of auditions begins at noon. For the first round, participants must sing without music for more than 30 seconds; 15 participants will advance to the semi-finalist round at 3 p.m.

At 3 p.m., the 15 semi-finalists will be asked to sing for up to three minutes, karaoke style, to music of their choice in front of a live audience and judges. Participants must provide their own karaoke music CD.

At 4:30 p.m., five finalists will then be selected to advance to the FoxFest Idol finals on Sunday, Aug. 3, at Skipper Liner Marine in La Crosse, Wis. Finalists from the Saint Mary’s Competition — as well as competitions in Eau Claire, Wis., and La Crosse, Wis. — will perform at this regional finale.

The winner Aug. 3 will receive an “American Idol” audition at a city and date yet to be announced.

If you miss this round, SMU will host another “Idol” audition in August through the Rochester Fox 47 station.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Gilmore Creek Summer Theatre to stage ‘Little Shop of Horrors’

WINONA, Minn. — Gilmore Creek Summer Theatre’s (GCST) production of Little Shop of Horrors, July 10- Aug. 2 at the Saint Mary’s University Page Theatre, will mark two milestones in Winona-native Mike Speck’s professional life.

First, GCST’s 2008 summer season will be the first time Speck has performed in Winona since Rock Solid Theatre’s production of Godspell in 2002. Second, Speck will be repeating a role for the first time: the voice of Audrey II, the manipulative man-eating plant at the heart of Little Shop of Horrors.

“I’ve done a number of shows twice – Little Shop included, actually,” comments Speck, 29. “But I’ve always had a different role the second time around, even if it was as small a change as switching which brother I played in Joseph [and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat]. The chance to tackle Audrey II again, with more experience and better technique – it’ll be a great test and great fun.”

Speck’s first time doing Little Shop was with the Fountain City River Players, immediately after graduating from Winona Senior High School. He played Orin, the sadistic dentist famously played by Steve Martin in the movie. But it wasn’t until his junior year at Luther College that he got the chance to voice the vegetable. One of his former roommates was the puppeteer that controlled the giant flytrap’s movement – and provided lip synch for Speck’s lines.

“Theatre’s always a collaborative art form, but this role obviously requires even more cooperation between actors than usual – I’m literally providing only half of the character” without the puppeteer, Speck notes. Even playing the same role, though, Speck will have plenty of work to do relearning the show. After all, he has a brand-new body this time: GCST has cast Eric Zuber, of Bradley University, as the puppeteer.

Under the direction of Judy Myers, “Little Shop of Horrors,” follows Seymour, a down-and out skid row floral assistant as he becomes an overnight sensation when he discovers an exotic plant, which he names Audrey II, with a mysterious craving for fresh blood. Soon Audrey II grows into an ill-tempered, foul-mouthed, R&B-singing carnivore that offers him fame and fortune in exchange for feeding its growing appetite. Audrey II finally reveals itself to be an alien creature poised for global domination. Written by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, this musical is based on the film by Roger Corman and screenplay by Charles Griffith. Anthony Freeman will serve as the musical director.

The professional actors of Gilmore Creek will present “The Foreigner” and “Little Shop of Horrors” in repertory with the children’s story “The Mouse Expedition” July 10 through Aug. 3. “The Foreigner” and “Little Shop of Horrors” will be staged at Saint Mary’s Page Theatre, and audiences can catch “The Mouse Expedition” at the Valéncia Academy Theatre, located at 1164 W. 10th St.

Tickets are available for any of the Gilmore Creek shows from the SMU Box Office, (507) 457-1715, during summer office hours 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday or online anytime at Tickets to “The Foreigner” and “Little Shop of Horrors” are $20; $18 for seniors or $12 for youth ages 12-18. Family and group packages are available. Tickets to “The Mouse Expedition” are $8.

SMU alumni, faculty display nature in art exhibit June 14-Aug. 1

This stylized Bambara antelope, designed by Ben Hunt, a long-time contributor to a Boy Scout magazine, was carved by retired SMU educator Brother Finbar McMullen. The hunters of the tribe tied these figure to their heads during the ceremonial dance before going out on a hunt. McMullen is one of three artists displaying at the next SMU art show.

SMU alumnus Chris Lunn is displaying various Native American-inspired pieces in “Il Est Dans la Lune” at Saint Mary’s University including this article of clothing.

Black and white photography — including "Flooding Mississippi Spillway" by SMU alumnus Keith Moore is on display in “Il Est Dans la Lune,” the next exhibit at Saint Mary’s University June 14-Aug. 1.

WINONA, Minn. — Art and artifacts by three “off-center” artists will be on display in “Il Est Dans la Lune” — the next exhibit at Saint Mary’s University. “Il est dans la lune” is French for “he is in the moon,” roughly translated as “he has his head in the clouds” or “he is off-center.” This exhibit, which runs June 14 through Aug. 1, is meant to honor the “off-center” spirit and enduring educational influence of Brother Finbar McMullen, a retired SMU educator and a 1946 Saint Mary’s alumnus.

The exhibit will feature an impressive collection of practical and decorative woodwork, various Native American-inspired pieces, and a series of black and white photographs.

The woodwork is by McMullen himself. McMullen, now retired, has been a Christian Brother for 65 years and has inspired many learners in his long career as an educator. A long-time nature enthusiast, McMullen has created hand-carved masterpieces from found and discarded pieces of wood. One of his pieces details the interweaving of the Christian Brothers, with each “thread” serving as a personality of a specific colleague; other pieces in the show include detailed bowls and coffee mugs.

The exhibit foregrounds not only McMullen’s own formidable skills as a woodworker, but it also attests to his influence on the hearts of students, and particularly two Montana artists (both alumni of Saint Mary’s), Chris Lunn ’91, and Keith Moore ’03.

Sharing McMullen’s love for nature and for working with wood is Moore, who will display his large-format photographic work developed and printed by Moore himself and presented in frames handmade from reclaimed wood.

Twenty years ago, when Lunn was a student at Saint Mary’s, McMullen encouraged his desire to learn how to tan hides and carve masks. Lunn now runs Trapline Lodges, a Montana-based business that offers products from a variety of different aspects of the Plains Indian experience and culture. Lunn began tanning and decorating hides and making and selling tipis but he has evolved his craft to include other native items and artifacts —including bows and arrows, articles of clothing, and quill and beadwork.

Joe Tadie ’91, a member of the Department of Philosophy at SMU who has also been inspired by McMullen’s “off-center” persona, is producing the show.

An opening for Il Est Dans la Lune is scheduled for 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, June 14, in the Lillian Davis Hogan Galleries, located in the SMU Toner Student Center. The galleries — free and open to the public — are open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

Special gallery installation for Homecoming 2008!
SMU music faculty member and A. Eric Heukeshoven has created “Time/Machine” in time for the next gallery opening. “Time/Machine” is an interactive multimedia installation created especially for Homecoming 2008.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Three alumni to be honored during Homecoming June 13-15 at Saint Mary's University

WINONA, Minn. — Each year during summer Homecoming festivities, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota honors outstanding alumni.

This year's Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient is Edward Zabrocki ’63 of Tinley Park, Ill. Receiving the Religious Service Award is Hugh Downey ’62, of Arvada, Colo. And the Alumni Appreciation Award will be presented posthumously to Tim Burchill ’68 of Winona. All three will be honored during a reception Saturday, June 14, on the Winona campus.

Approximately 350 alumni, family and friends will return to their alma mater for Saint Mary's Homecoming festivities, which begin Friday, June 13, and will run throughout the weekend. In addition to the alumni awards ceremony, highlights include a golf outing, the Gilmore Gallop 5K, a 50+ anniversary social, and the alumni picnic.

Distinguished Alumnus
Edward Zabrocki ’63

Ed Zabrocki ’63 has served as mayor of Tinley Park, Ill., since 1981, for seven consecutive terms. He has been featured in both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times as one of the hardest-working mayors in the Chicagoland area. Zabrocki was one of 10 U.S. mayors honored as finalists for the World Mayor Award in 2005. (Other finalists included Richard Daley, mayor of Chicago, and Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York.) This honor is given to mayors who have made significant contributions to their city, both nationally and internationally. He’s seen his community through both heartbreaking tragedy (the recent Lane Bryant mall shooting) and celebratory triumph (the village’s greatest physical and financial growth has occurred during his leadership). The community also has shown tremendous generosity and hospitality with the “State of Hope” endeavor, through which Tinley Park hosted many evacuees of Hurricane Katrina. But being “mayor” wasn’t his full-time job; Zabrocki retired from Brother Rice High School in 2005 after 39 years as a teacher and director of counseling. He was also elected as a representative to the Illinois State Legislature for one term.

Religious Service
Hugh Downey ’62

Hugh Downey ’62 is being honored for his humanitarian efforts as president of the Lalmba Association, a relief agency that, although small in size, accomplishes great things in the areas of health care and education within East Africa. Lalmba (which means place of hope) operates with fewer than 10 volunteer doctors, nurses and project directors, and a handful of local volunteers. Forty-four years ago, U.S. Army communications specialist Hugh Downey found himself stationed in a remote eastern African outpost. Little did he know how the land and its people would change him, or that he would change them in return. Today, Downey and his wife, Marty, are “guardian angels” to more than 1,500 African children who are part of the Downeys’ outreach program. Most were born to parents who died from AIDS. The Downey’s small organization has seen 2 million patients and cared for hundreds of orphan children through their facilities in Eritrea, Ethiopia and Kenya. For part of the year, the Downeys share a grass hut on the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya or in the rain forest of Ethiopia. The rest of the year is spent at their home in Arvada, Colo., where Hugh is a deacon at Spirit of Christ Catholic Community.

Alumni Appreciation
Tim Burchill ’68, posthumously

Whether at work or play, Tim Burchill ’68 was well-known for wholeheartedly and unreservedly giving 100 percent. In his 28-year career with Saint Mary’s University, one could argue he gave 110 percent. The Chicago native began his career as a teacher at Aquinas High School in La Crosse, Wis., and at Totino-Grace High School in Fridley, Minn. He returned to his alma mater in 1979 and most recently served as executive director of the Hendrickson Institute for Ethical Leadership and as president and co-founder of the Metanoia Group. In 1991, he co-created Saint Mary’s master degree program in philanthropy and development; he greatly enjoyed teaching in the program every summer. Burchill previously served as vice president for university relations, which encompassed the university’s fundraising, public relations and alumni relations. A champion of ethical fundraising, his work and insights were known and recognized in philanthropic communities worldwide. He cared deeply about what was best for Saint Mary’s, and his dedication to the university, his colleagues and students was unwavering. Burchill died unexpectedly in February 2007. He is remembered as a gifted colleague, caring mentor, inspiring teacher and friend.