Friday, February 27, 2009

Page Series presents Einstein Alive! March 12

WINONA, Minn. — Storyteller Marc Spiegel, channeling Albert Einstein, will prove to audience-goers of all ages that learning is fun on Thursday, March 12, at Saint Mary’s University.

The final Page Series event of the season, Einstein Alive! is a one-man show that is both entertaining and educational. Through theater, sing-along songs and audience participation, Spiegel vividly and realistically brings Einstein to life as he takes you on an adventure into the great genius’ mind. Audience members will find themselves laughing while they learn complicated theories, including Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

The show begins at 6:30 p.m. in SMU’s Page Theatre, located in the Performance Center. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and students and are available at the SMU Box Office, (507) 457-1715 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and online at

This presentation is supported by the Performing Arts Fund, a program of Arts Midwest funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art, with additional contributions from Minnesota State Arts Board, General Mills Foundation and Land O’Lakes Foundation. The Helen and Sam Kaplan Foundation is providing additional support, and Excel Energy Foundation has supported the school matinee for Einstein Alive!

SMU High School Challenge winners announced

WINONA, Minn. — On Saturday, Feb. 23, High School Challenge, a tournament of knowledge sponsored by Saint Mary’s, ended the 2008-2009 season with the Consolation and Super Challenge Championships. La Crosse Central defeated Holmen White 195 to 140 for the Consolation Championship, and Eau Claire North defeated La Crescent 155-150 for the Super Challenge.

Eight games were played and taped by Fox 25/48 and will air at 10 a.m. on Sundays March 8 through April 26.

Thirty-two area high school teams began competing in the fall for a spot in the Super Challenge Tournament. Teams that won their second games advanced to the Consolation Championship games. Tune in March 8 to watch La Crosse Central become the Consolation Champion.

La Crescent, Winona Senior High, Logan Red, Eau Claire Regis, Cotter, Onalaska, La Crosse Aquinas and Eau Claire North competed for the Super Challenge Champion title.

Watch these schools in action, starting March 15 on Fox 25/48 with La Crescent playing against Winona Senior High School. Logan Red plays Eau Claire Regis on the March 22 show. Cotter plays Onalaska on March 29 and Aquinas plays Eau Claire North on April 5. Winners will advance to the quarter-finals, starting April 12.

Altra Federal Credit Union and Lewiston Auto graciously supported High School Challenge, and closed captioning was sponsored by Winona National Bank.

For more information, call Nicole Gerdes, High School Challenge coordinator, at (507) 457-1761 or

Saint Mary’s students show work at Private Scholars at the Capitol Day

Saint Mary’s University students, from left, Melissa Wolf, Carina Woodward and Sarah Windschitl participated in Private Scholars at the Capitol Day on Feb. 19.

WINONA, Minn. — Three Saint Mary’s University students participated in Private Scholars at the Capitol Day, a gathering of undergraduate scholars and their faculty research mentors, at the State Capitol Rotunda on Feb. 19. The event, sponsored by the Minnesota Private College Council, is a celebration of the scholarly excellence of undergraduate student researchers and their faculty mentors at Minnesota’s private colleges.

SMU students participating (along with their projects and advisors) were: Melissa Wolf (biology, Dr. Jeanne Minnerath), “A comparison of heat versus methanol fixation for gram staining bacteria”; Sarah M. Windschitl (psychology, Dr. Beth Seebach), “Role models and their influence on self-objectification in college women”; and Carina Woodward (biology, Dr. Jenny Shanahan), abstract of “Recreating reality in one hundred years of solitude.” They joined 26 undergraduate scholars from around the state.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Saint Mary's honors faculty, students, Christian Brothers at Founder's Day

Dean Beckman and Dr. Jane Anderson

WINONA, Minn. —At its Founder’s Day ceremony Tuesday, Feb. 24, Saint Mary’s University observed the 75th anniversary of the De La Salle Christian Brothers’ affiliation with the university. Also honored were a dedicated faculty member, a Lasallian educator, and two outstanding seniors. Founder’s Day is the annual celebration of the founding of Saint Mary’s in 1912 by Winona Bishop Patrick R. Heffron.

Starting off the Founder’s Day event, Christian Brothers currently affiliated with SMU were recognized for their service to the university. Provincial Edmond Precourt, Superior of the Long Island-New England (LINE) District, accepted a special recognition on behalf of the Brothers of LINE district for their distinguished service. Three SMU presidents (including Brother President William Mann) have been members of this district, which serves Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island and New England with provincial headquarters in Narragansett, R.I.

Dr. Jane Anderson was named as SMU’s Distinguished Lasallian Educator for 2009. Dr. Anderson has been on the faculty since 1995 and now serves as Dean of the School of Education. She is recognized for her efforts to engage and support the San Miguel Schools in Chicago and Minneapolis and her career-long commitment to understand and advance the cause of literacy education. Distinguished Lasallian Educator Awards are given by many Lasallian institutions in the North American-Toronto Region of the De La Salle Christian Brothers; they honor contributions and commitment to the Lasallian mission of education.

The 2009 Brother H. Charles Severin Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to Dean Beckman, assistant professor in the Social Science Department. Beckman has been a member of the faculty since 2001 and teaches courses in the mass communication program.

Over the years, he has shown consistent excellence in preparation of his courses, in communication and delivery of course material, and in fairness in dealing with students. He joins 21 other past and present faculty members as a Severin Award recipient. Recipients exemplify the teaching excellence and commitment to a student-centered learning that characterize a Saint Mary’s University education.

The Outstanding Male and Female Senior Awards were presented to students who have demonstrated the ideals of scholarship, character, leadership, service to colleagues and the university community. Above all, these men and women have shown genuine concern for meeting the needs of others. The Outstanding Male Senior Award went to Jakub Szymanski, son of Ryszard and Marianna Szymanski of Opole, Poland. The Outstanding Female Senior Award went to Emily Berg, daughter of David and Sharleen Berg of Owatonna, Minn.

Szymanski is an accounting major and a statistics minor. He has worked as a resident assistant (serving as SMU’s first international student R.A.), a New Student Orientation leader, a math and business tutor, and a student manager in the cafeteria. He has also actively participated in mission trips, intramurals, Student Senate, Volunteer Services, and Campus Ministry. After graduation, he hopes to earn a graduate degree in accountancy and start a professional career as a Certified Public Accountant.

Berg is a Spanish and K-8 education major with a concentration in language arts. She has played varsity women’s soccer and participated in various intramural sports. She also plays flute in concert band, wind ensemble, and flute choir. A member of the SOUL (Serving Others United in Love) Council, Berg and has led three service trips to Kentucky, Montana and Illinois. She is a member of ASCD, an education club that promotes excellence in education. She has also served as a tutor, taught religious education and migrant school instruction, and coached club and community soccer teams. After graduation, her goal is to teach through Teach for America, Alliance for Catholic Education, or Lasallian Volunteers.

The following students were finalists for the 2009 Outstanding Senior Awards. Males: Gary Borash, son of Ron and Ann Borash of North Prairie, Minn.; Ryan Langr, son of Ken and Cindy Langr of Coon Rapids, Minn.; Neil Leibundguth, son of William and Laura Leibundguth of Westchester, Ill.; and John Nolte, son of Doug and Ruth Nolte of Owatonna, Minn. Females: Maria Borgerson, daughter of Richard and Carol Borgerson of Bellingham, Minn.; Teresa Gill daughter of Mary and Dave Gill, Fort Collins, Colo.; Kaitlin Depuydt, daughter of Mark and Teresa Depuydt of Mankato, Minn.; and Julia Jergenson, daughter of Skip and Kris Jergenson of Houston, Minn.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

SMU to host night of Irish music with David Munnelly Band March 5

WINONA, Minn. — Audiences are invited to a high-spirited show in celebration of the music and dance of Ireland on Thursday, March 5, at Saint Mary’s University.
Celebrate the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day early with Ireland’s young, multi-award winning David Munnelly Band — hosted through SMU’s Page Series.

The show begins at 7:30 p.m. in Page Theatre, located in the SMU Performance Center. Tickets are $20 for adults and $17 for seniors and students and are available at the SMU Box Office, (507) 457-1715, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays or online at

The David Munnelly Band is fast becoming one of the most sought after groups in Irish music. Led by button accordion wizard David Munnelly, who toured with The Chieftains for four years, as well as with DeDanaan and other legendary groups, the band plays with an exuberant style not often duplicated. The group combines button accordion, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, banjo, bodhrán and flute for a high-spirited instrumental sound colored with a bit of jazz and ragtime. Munnelly and his band create “pure Irish magic” through their contemporary reinterpretation of the music of the 1920s most widely associated with The Flanagan Brothers.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

SMU to host High School Challenge Consolation, Super Challenge finals

WINONA, Minn. — Area schools will compete in the final round of High School Challenge — a tournament of knowledge held at and sponsored by Saint Mary’s University — Saturday, Feb. 21. The 2008-09 season marks the 38th year of the longest running academic competition for high school students in the area.

Thirty-two area teams from Eastern Minnesota, Western Wisconsin and Northeast Iowa started competing in High School Challenge in the fall for a chance to participate in the “Consolation” and “Super Challenge” tournaments. Participating teams earn scholarships for their schools.

The public is welcome to watch the consolation championship between La Crosse Central and Holmen, beginning at 9 a.m. in Figliulo Recital Hall, located in SMU’s Performance Center. After this competition, the final run for the “Super Challenge” begins, with brackets featuring teams from La Crescent, Winona Senior High, Aquinas, Eau Claire Regis, Cotter, La Crosse Logan, Onalaska, and Eau Claire North.

The games will be taped by Fox 25/Fox 48 and aired Sundays, March 8 through April 26, from 10 to 10:30 a.m.

For more information, call Nicole Gerdes, High School Challenge coordinator, at (507) 457-1761 or

Monday, February 16, 2009

SMU Chamber Singers to present Homecoming Concert Thursday

WINONA, Minn. — The Saint Mary’s University Chamber Singers will present a Homecoming Concert at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 26, at Chapel of Saint Mary of the Angels on the Saint Teresa campus.

The 24-voice select ensemble, directed by Dr. Patrick O’Shea, is currently touring Provence, France as part of their 2009 Concert Tour. Tour highlights include performances at Cercle Naval de Toulon (Vauban) and Salle Tino Rossi, Les Pennes Mirabeau. The Chamber Singers will also serve as the guest choir for Mass at the Église de Notre-Dame de l’Assomption de Lambesc.

Repertoire will include a cappella works by Nystedt, Byrd, Debussy and Stanford; English madrigals; and a world premiere of “Due Sonetti di Petrarca,” composed by Dr. O’Shea especially for this tour.

For more information, call Dr. O’Shea at (507) 457-1598.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Saint Mary’s alum dies in New York plane crash

Madeline Loftus

WINONA, Minn. — Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota is mourning the loss of 2006 graduate and former star athlete, Madeline Linn Loftus, who died Thursday in a plane crash.

University officials learned Friday morning that Loftus was one of the 44 passengers aboard Continental Airlines flight 3407, which crashed Thursday evening outside Buffalo, N.Y. News reports confirm everyone onboard was killed, as well as at least one person on the ground.

Loftus, 24, of Parsippany, N.J., was a marketing major who played on the SMU women’s hockey team from 2004 to 2006. Loftus was also instrumental in starting the Cardinal Athletic Council, which represents student athletes and is active in community service projects.

“The Saint Mary’s University community extends its sympathy and its prayers to the Loftus family, as well as to all of the families who lost loved ones in this tragedy,” said President Brother William Mann, FSC.

SMU athletic director Nikki Fennern added, “We are deeply saddened at the news of the tragic plane crash that claimed the lives of so many, including one of our own. Madeline was an important part of the university and athletic communities. Our thoughts and prayers now turn to Madeline’s family, friends and teammates as they cope with this sudden loss.”

“Maddy was the first senior to graduate from my program. She will always hold a special place in my heart,” said Terry Mannor, SMU women’s hockey coach. “Everyone who knew her will remember someone full of life and compassion. She was loved by everyone, and will be greatly missed.”

Dr. Thomas Marpe, dean of the SMU School of Business, said he “will miss Maddy for her quick smile and outgoing personality. She was a wonderful student, and her classmates were always eager to work with her on projects. Maddy was enthusiastic about life and especially about women’s hockey.”

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Saint Mary’s to stage hopeful drama ‘The Long Christmas Ride Home’

WINONA, Minn. — The heart — and the heartbreak — of family dynamics are closely examined in the hopeful drama, “The Long Christmas Ride Home,” to be presented by the Department of Theatre and Dance at Saint Mary’s University.

In a seemingly Rockwellesque beginning, author Paula Vogel introduces audiences to a family of five, traveling by car to their grandparent’s house on Christmas Day.

Arguments ensue, unfortunate words are spoken, and we discover that memories of this dysfunctional and poignant car ride play a pivotal role in how the family’s three children mature into adulthood.

As the author intended, the three children are portrayed by Japanese Bunraku-inspired puppets. In this production each puppet is controlled by two black-cloaked figures, and one of their puppeteers (whose face is not obscured) then becomes an adult version of each child as the story flashes forwards.

Audiences also discover that the opening car ride is a memory of one of the children, Steven, who has died of AIDS. Though somewhat damaged by their past experiences, the three siblings have an enduring bond that transcends life itself.

“It’s universally beautiful,” said director Sarah St. Laurent, an SMU senior theatre major. “We all have a family, and no family is perfect. Family comes with a lot of baggage, but there are also redeeming qualities.” St. Laurent and Preston Lawing, chair of the SMU Department of Art and Design, constructed the puppets used in this presentation.

The show contains several adult themes and is recommended for mature audiences.

“The Long Christmas Ride Home” will be staged at Academy Theatre, located at the Valéncia Arts Center, 10th and Howard streets. The show runs 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 26-28 and Monday, March 2; a matinee performance is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday, March 1.

Tickets are $10, $5 for students and seniors and are available at the SMU Box Office, 457-1715, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, or online at

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Saint Mary’s Chamber Singers to perform in Provence Feb. 19-22

WINONA, Minn. — The Chamber Singers of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota will perform in Provence, France as part of their 2009 concert tour.

The 24-voice select ensemble is directed by Dr. Patrick O’Shea, associate professor of music at Saint Mary’s.

Tour performances will include concerts at:
• Cercle Naval de Toulon (Vauban) at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19, and
• Salle Tino Rossi, Les Pennes Mirabeau at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20.

The Chamber Singers will also serve as the guest choir for Mass at the Église de Notre-Dame de l’Assomption de Lambesc at 11 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 22 (followed by a short concert).

All performances are free and open to the public. Repertoire will include a cappella works by Nystedt, Byrd, Debussy and Stanford; English madrigals; and a world premiere of Due Sonetti di Petrarca, composed by Dr. O’Shea especially for this tour.

For more information, call (507) 457-1598 or fax (507) 457-1611.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

School matinee tickets still available for Saint Mary’s ‘Einstein Alive!’ show

WINONA, Minn. — Seats are available for school matinee performances March 12 of “Einstein Alive!” — part of Saint Mary’s University’s Page Series.

Performances, scheduled for 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. in SMU’s Performance Center, are recommended for students in grades three through eight.

School representatives that would like to reserve seats for their students should contact Jennifer Fanello at (507) 457-1716. Special rates for the matinee are $2 a seat (for students and chaperones).

“Einstein Alive!” is a one-man show that is both entertaining and educational for audiences of all ages. Through theater, sing-along songs, and audience participation, actor Marc Spiegel vividly and realistically brings Einstein to life as he takes you on an adventure into the great genius’ mind. Audience members will find themselves laughing while they learn complicated scientific theories, including Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and that the two most important qualities a scientist must have, curiosity and determination.

The entire family is invited to an evening performance at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for this show may be purchased from the Performance Center box office, (507) 457-1715, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday or online at Tickets are $10 for adults or $5 for students and seniors.

The school matinee is supported in part by Excel Energy Foundation. The visit of Einstein Alive! is supported by the Kaplan Fund. The Einstein Alive! presentation is supported by the Performing Arts Fund, a program of Arts Midwest funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art, with additional contributions from Minnesota State Arts Board, General Mills Foundation, and Land O’Lakes Foundation.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Public invited to adopt, decorate Winona-area drinking fountains

An example of a decorated water fountain at Saint Mary's University.

WINONA, Minn. — The public is invited to adopt a drinking fountain as part of the “Our Drinking Fountains, Our Water!” collaborative yearlong project — designed to inspire stewardship of our public local water and promote a broader understanding of water issues.

Through the adopt-a-drinking fountain project, community members are invited to design and implement an artistic design around a drinking fountain. This project was designed to get the community involved in highlighting our drinking fountains and remind everyone how lucky we are to have clean, drinkable water right at our fingertips.

Fountains must be registered by Feb. 27. Decorating must be started and completed between March 2-18, and the design must remain in place until Earth Day celebrations on April 27.

A map of the decorated fountains (along with designer credit) will appear on the project’s website, Prizes will be awarded in a number of categories including: most educational, most inspirational, best use of water theme, most creative, and most eye catching.

Designs cannot interfere with accessibility to the fountain and must be respectful and appropriate. Permission must be obtained from the owner/management of the building, and only indoor drinking fountains may be decorated. All costs must be borne by the company, organization or participant.

Refer to the project’s website for rules of the contest, as well as details about how to register a fountain, or call Katie LaPlant at (507) 457-6936 or

The website also includes details of the other projects – including this week’s Heart of the Beast Puppet-Mask Theater residency at Saint Mary’s University and the Lake Park Bandshell drinking fountain art project.

As part of “Our Drinking Fountains, Our Water!” Saint Mary’s, Winona State University, Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical, Southeast Minnesota Water Resources Board and the City of Winona are incorporating the water theme into classes, presentations and activities this year. The goal of the project is for the community to achieve a broader and deeper understanding of water quality and stewardship. This project is funded by the State of Minnesota through the Minnesota Campus Compact.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Next SMU exhibit to feature digital photography, paintings

Painting by Ming Zhou
Digital photography by Jing Zhou

WINONA, Minn. — “Old Media, New Ideas and New Media, Old Ideas” — featuring the work of two Chinese-American artists — will be on display Feb. 16 through March 20 at the Lillian Davis Hogan Galleries of Saint Mary’s University.

Jing Zhou, Monmouth University in West Long Branch, N.J., will display digital photography that reflects her interest in spiritual experiences, and Eastern and Western art, literature and philosophy. “As a Chinese artist living in the western world, I am aware of art and philosophy from both cultures,” she said. To her, creating art is a process of expressing her nature via “being human.”

Ming Zhou, University of Missouri, Columbia, critiques “China’s new middle class’s tasteless manner, which is also a mirror of superficial, boastful and rash society of contemporary China” with her paintings. “Through the slightly ironic paintings, I intend to euphemistically remind the new Chinese bourgeoisie that good taste actually comes from internal cultivation, not just blind mimicry,” she said.

The Lillian Davis Hogan Galleries, located in the Toner Student Center, are free and open to the public and are open daily between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. For more information, call (507) 457-1652.