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St. Olaf College
A private liberal arts college of the Lutheran church in Minnesota
Updated: 2 hours 20 min ago
Brad Cleveland '82 wants St. Olaf College students to realize how much fun it can be to be an entrepreneur — no matter what type of organization they're interested in building.
So Cleveland, who recently stepped down as CEO of Proto Labs and is working on plans to launch a technology development company, helped the St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career develop a new business plan competition.
The Ole Cup, modeled after the highly successful Minnesota Cup, will provide several students with the resources to help turn their business idea into reality.
The winner of the Ole Cup will receive $7,000 and be paired with alumni and parent mentors to receive pro-bono legal, accounting, and human resources services to support the business for up to one year.
The second-place finisher will receive $5,000 and the third-place finisher $3,000.
The winner of the Ole Cup will also automatically qualify for the semifinal round of the student division of the Minnesota Cup, the largest statewide new venture competition in the country. The winner of the student division of that competition is awarded $20,000 and can compete for the Minnesota Cup Grand Prize of $50,000.
Increased support for entrepreneurship The Minnesota Cup grew out of a business plan competition that Cleveland's father started at the University of Minnesota 15 years ago.
"It's become a very effective funding source for entrepreneurs," Cleveland says. "My thought was that we should try to do something similar at St. Olaf, with the winner feeding into the Minnesota Cup."
That idea fit in perfectly with the Piper Center's increased efforts to support and nurture student entrepreneurship.
The Ole Cup will be part of St. Olaf's Entrepreneurial Summit, a daylong event that will also feature keynote speaker Adam Gettings '04, the founder of RoboteX and co-founder of Leeo, and the student-run STO Talks.
"Employers that hire Oles are interested in entrepreneurial skills. If, as a student, you have started your own company, grown your customer base, and delivered a quality product, those are skills students can take anywhere," Piper Center Director Branden Grimmett '03 says. "Entrepreneurial skills are critical for careers ranging from performing arts to business."
Gifts from Cleveland and St. Olaf Regent Greg Buck '77 and his spouse, Lisa Nave Buck ’77, which were bolstered through the college's Strategic Initiative Match program, have provided initial funding for the Ole Cup. The Strategic Initiative Match is a St. Olaf Board of Regents initiative that provides matching funds for gifts above $50,000 that support the college’s strategic plan.
A strong training ground Cleveland says it never occurred to him to consider becoming an entrepreneur while he was a student at St. Olaf. Instead, he spent a lot of time in the physics lab building data acquisition systems consisting of sensors and computing systems. That led to careers at Honeywell and MTS Systems, as well as graduate school.
"After about 10 years I got the bug to build a business, and started one with a friend," he says.
He co-founded an MTS subsidiary before applying to become the CEO at a 10-person company called Protomold, in which he was also an early investor. He recently retired from that position at what is now Proto Labs, a company that had Minnesota's most successful initial public offering of the last decade and has grown to include more than 750 employees in six countries and over $160 million in revenue.
Cleveland says he has been well-prepared for each position he's held during the course of his career — from project manager to sales and marketing roles to CEO — by the liberal arts education he received at St. Olaf.
"All in all, I had great undergraduate training for what I did," he says.
Now, as he works to start a technology development company aimed at producing energy at a lower cost and with reduced CO2 emissions, he wants to encourage a new generation of Oles to think about entrepreneurship.
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts has donated seven of the famed artist's prints to St. Olaf College's Flaten Art Museum.
The large prints boost the college's Warhol collection, which includes 150 original Polaroid photographs and gelatin silver prints that the foundation awarded St. Olaf six years ago.
St. Olaf's new Warhol works include four prints and a colophon from the artist's Endangered Species series; the "Annie Oakley" print from the Cowboys and Indians series; and the "Sitting Bull" print.
All of the pieces will be used for teaching and learning, says Flaten Art Museum Director Jane Becker Nelson '04.
"Studying first-rate original works of art is something our students can do right here at St. Olaf, and that experience is incredibly beneficial for professional preparedness and graduate school," Becker Nelson says. "The Piper Center helps students take their on-campus experience and connect it with vocational interests, so this seems a fitting site to place one of the Warhol prints."
Andy Warhol was an American pop artist acclaimed for his Campbell's Soup Cans paintings and portrait series of Marilyn Monroe. A controversial figure even when alive, he is well known for using silkscreen to produce his work in large quantities.
As a group of St. Olaf College students traveled through the northern European nations bordering the Baltic Sea this Interim, they had the opportunity to learn about the technology infrastructure in Estonia.
Directly from that country's president.
Estonian President Toomas Ilves spoke to St. Olaf students studying abroad on the college's Mare Balticum program, focusing much of his lecture on explaining the country's sophisticated national Internet system.
This spring he'll speak to an even larger group of St. Olaf students when he visits campus to receive an honorary degree and deliver the charge to the graduating class at the commencement ceremony.
Ilves will receive the honorary degree in recognition of a relationship with St. Olaf that has spanned more than 15 years.
He first visited the college in 1997 when, while serving as the Estonian ambassador to the United States, he agreed to speak to St. Olaf students interested in the Mare Balticum program. The program, led by Professor of German Vern Rippley and Professor of Economics Steve Soderlind, travels through eight countries and includes two stops in Estonia.
Rippley remembers explaining to Ilves during that first meeting that the program follows the medieval tracks of the Hansa, an international sea trading league.
"Instinctively, Ilves reached into his pocket and produced an airline ticket for Lufthansa — which in German means 'air Hansa' — and a Visa card issued by the Hansa Bank in Estonia," Rippley says. "He was showing us that the name lives vicariously all across the region to this day."
Ilves went on to help line up a number of events in Estonia for St. Olaf students on the Mare Balticum program, including connections to the national university in Tartu. He assisted in arranging lectures and receptions at the State Department of Estonia, followed in 2011 by an official welcome and lecture to Mare Balticum students at the Kadriorg Palace Park in Tallinn.
Students who met with Ilves during this year's Interim program heard firsthand about the technological reform he's championed there, which has helped Estonia achieve a level of digital sophistication far beyond many other nations.
Technology, Ilves told USA Today recently, "has allowed 'tiny little backward Estonia' to overcome 'a learned helplessness' following 50 years of Soviet 'un-development.'"
Ilves, who holds a baccalaureate degree from Columbia University and a master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania, is the fourth president of Estonia. He was first elected in 2006 and was re-elected to a second five-year term in 2011.
Justin Pahl '16 had 20 points and Sterling Nielsen '15 had 16 as visiting St. Olaf defeated St. Thomas 63-53.
The win gives the Oles (22-5) the MIAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament, which will begin later this week. St. Olaf will play Central College in the first round.
The appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament will be the first for the Oles. St. Olaf made three appearances in the NCAA tournament in the early 1970s before the association split into three divisions.The title is the first basketball championship of any kind since the St. Olaf men shared the MIAC regular season title in 1988-89. Read more about the championship game in the Star Tribune and at St. Olaf Athletics.
A story in USA Today highlights St. Olaf College's commitment to helping students discern their vocation — what they are called to do — and then translate that calling into a career.
The story, titled "Colleges ramp up career guidance for students," notes the investment St. Olaf has made in a variety of programs aimed at helping students leverage their liberal arts education.
"St. Olaf's career center now offers a searchable database that shows where young alumni — so far the classes of 2011 and 2012 — landed after graduating. It's one of several new initiatives, including student trips over school breaks to network with alumni in major cities, a workshop for freshmen, and a sophomore retreat on campus," USA Today reporter Mary Beth Marklein writes.
She notes that St. Olaf's Piper Center for Vocation and Career started a new program this year to reach out to first-year students before they even arrived on campus. The goal of the program is to get students thinking about their vocation from the moment they step on campus and to have the Piper Center become an integral part of their time at St. Olaf.
"The economic factor, very frankly, tilts a lot of people's attention to the reality that, while there are many intangible benefits of a liberal arts education, there also have to be tangible ones," St. Olaf President David R. Anderson '74 tells USA Today.
As she was digging through a box of materials at Ireland's oldest university last month, Johnna Purchase ’14 suddenly found herself holding a priceless object: a book with a handwritten inscription and the signature of World War I poet Siegfried Sassoon.
For Purchase, moments like this were all in a day's work during her internship at the Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland. The St. Olaf College senior designed an internship to study early printed books at the library, which houses the Book of Kells and other ancient manuscripts.
Purchase spent a month working with five different collections at the library. Much of her work focused on cataloguing rare book dealer Julia Rosenthal’s Oscar Wilde collection, which includes Victorian-era publications, German translations of Wilde’s works, and contemporary scholarship on the famed playwright and poet.
“As an English major focused on the modernist period, Oscar Wilde is a hard figure to ignore,” says Purchase.
The other collections she worked with included the library of a Carmelite Order in Dublin, with materials dating as early as the 1500s and in six different languages, and an Irish Nationalist collection that related to an independent research paper she completed at St. Olaf this fall on the role of sound in James Joyce's Ulysses.
“Working in early printed books ties in with my career goals of becoming a rare book librarian, where I will hopefully curate special collections like the one I was working on," she says.
Purchase, who had studied at Trinity College in the fall of 2012, was inspired to return after working for the Library of Congress last summer. While at the Library of Congress, she spoke with her supervisor, St. Olaf alumnus Mark Dimunation ’74, about the possibility of working with libraries in Ireland. He recommended Trinity College.
“Through my work experience at the Library of Congress, I was equipped with the necessary tools to work for Trinity,” says Purchase.
Purchase received internship funding from the St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career that made it possible for her to spend the month in Dublin. As part of St. Olaf’s commitment to supporting students as they navigate potential career paths, the Piper Center has established several new cohort-based internship programs and significantly increased funding for unpaid or underpaid internship opportunities. Last year the center provided internship and scholarship support to 191 St. Olaf students, and that number continues to grow this year.
The opportunity to dig into her desired career field and continue to develop the connections she made while abroad proved very rewarding for Purchase.
“I think it’s really cool that my internship combined the past three years of my life: my initial study abroad experience at Trinity, my English major, and my internship at the Library of Congress,” she says. “It was really powerful to see these diverse experiences all connect and inform each other during my month there.”
Hanson, who currently serves as the Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, will begin at St. Olaf March 31.
Hanson has nearly two decades of experience as the chief financial officer and member of the executive team for both public and private institutions of higher education.
In her 14 years at UW-Superior, she oversaw more than $200 million in funded capital projects that included a new academic building and student union.
Prior to joining UW-Superior, Hanson served as the vice president for business and finance at Marian College; worked as a project manager and management consultant at American Management Systems; and worked in the budget office at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
"Jan is a highly regarded CFO who understands the challenges facing higher education," Anderson says. "I look forward to her contributions to St. Olaf as she helps us think strategically about stewarding the College’s resources and using them in the best interest of our students."
Hanson earned her baccalaureate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and master's degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a certified public accountant and holds a Society of College and University Planning Institute certificate.
She will replace Alan Norton, who retired after serving as Vice President and Treasurer at St. Olaf for 18 years.
St. Olaf College students Guttu Maskalo ‘14, Lansa Dawano ‘14, and Carlos Rivera ‘15 traveled to Washington, D.C., last week to present their research at the Emerging Researchers National Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
The conference aims to help students enhance their science communication skills and better understand how to prepare for science careers in a global workforce. It is centered around student presentations, with workshops focused on strategies for success in graduate school, career preparation, and examining STEM careers in a global context.
Maskalo presented the work he did this summer alongside Associate Professor of Biology Kevin Crisp to develop a wireless probe for pacemakers. The research team — which also included Erick Marigi ’14 and Shane Allen ’14 — spent weeks hand-building tiny wireless probes that could replace the relatively clunky wires and batteries currently used in pacemakers.
Dawano presented the on-campus research she did as part of the TRiO McNair Scholars Program. Working alongside Professor of Biology Anne Walter and two other students, she helped reorganize the curriculum for the Student Support Services Summer Bridge program, which assists first-generation, low-income first-year students with the transition to college.
Rivera’s research looks at how DNA strands break down in various types of solutions. By figuring out what part of the DNA falls apart in reaction to what type of solution, Rivera can determine what section of the DNA contributes to the stability of the structure.
Rivera, a Beckman Scholar who attended the conference as a presenter for the second year in a row, says the gathering really helped him make connections and learn how to communicate with professionals.
“It’s one thing to email people, but to be able to to talk to them face-to-face is a different thing,” he says.
Both Maskalo and Dawano are part of the TRiO McNair Scholars Program and leaders of the NorthStar STEM Cohort, which Rivera is also a part of. All three students are part of the TRiO Student Support Services program.
Not many classes award students a yellow belt by the term’s end, but in Assistant Professor of Philosophy Danny Muñoz-Hutchinson’s Zen and the Art of Judo course it's as fitting as a letter grade.
Pairing martial arts with intellectual discussion, the St. Olaf College course takes a hands-on approach to philosophy by teaching students beginner judo techniques alongside essential Zen Buddhist texts.
Muñoz-Hutchinson developed the course with the intention of opening St. Olaf students’ eyes to philosophical issues through an approach that transcends traditional Western practices. The class is in line with a nationwide movement to engage students with Eastern philosophies long overlooked by university departments (although even within that trend, few move discussion from the classroom to the wrestling room in the way that Muñoz-Hutchinson has).
By offering courses that push traditional definitions of what should be studied as philosophy — and furthermore, how it should be studied — Muñoz-Hutchinson hopes to encourage students to diversify their understanding of life’s deepest, and most universal, questions.
“Through studying Eastern philosophy, students can gain invaluable insights about the Western philosophical tradition that would not have been obvious had they been philosophizing within the Western philosophical tradition alone, as well as learn the philosophical doctrines of the Eastern philosophers themselves,” says Muñoz-Hutchinson.
An Eastern way of learning This difference was immediately apparent to this year’s students. “A typical philosophy class would consist of a brief lecture followed by a careful discussion of the assigned reading,” explains Greg Gianopoulos ‘16. “In Zen and the Art of Judo, we spend most of class physically learning and practicing judo, but we also have the opportunity to study the philosophical underpinnings of judo and related Buddhist ideologies.”
And participants can attest to the course’s success. “Academically, this class really threw me for a loop,” says Steph Hagan ‘16. “In Western philosophical culture, intellect is revered and often considered the fundamental way to access truth. On the converse, Zen Buddhism offers a very different portrayal of the intellect and reveals the inherent limitations of the logical mind. What happens when intellect can only take you so far, and something more like faith has to enter the picture?”
Judo offers a fascinating response to this question by calling for equal participation of the mind and body, rendering it in many ways more accessible to those who find Western philosophy limited.
“Students sometimes get the impression that being a philosopher means being a professor of philosophy, engaging in philosophical argumentation of the sort that professors engage in during class, at conferences, and in publications. However, this is not entirely so,” says Muñoz-Hutchinson. “One can be a philosopher — that is, a lover of wisdom — without being a professor, and one can philosophize — that is, pursue wisdom — without engaging in the kinds of activities that professors engage in.”
Blending physical prowess and mental discipline As a martial art, judo calls for a unique blend of physical prowess and strong mental discipline that the students quickly learned to appreciate. Beginning with warm-ups and conditioning drills, the class spent the majority of the period learning and practicing judo techniques including throws, pins, and escapes.
“There’s something about the strength and intellect gained from judo that can’t be replicated in a class or weight room alone,” says Hagan. “In moving your body in a very organic way, and using another person’s size and strength to your advantage, you almost become habituated to anticipate and counter various difficulties you face and turn them into something positive — on and off the mat.”
The discussion portion of class was just as strenuous intellectually. Muñoz-Hutchinson presented his students with readings by the founder of judo, Jigoro Kano, along with Zen writings from ancient and modern sources.
“The discussion offered a critical philosophical perspective that supplemented the judo training,” says Gianopoulos. “Our learning was enhanced by experiencing judo through movement, but the Buddhist philosophy ultimately changed my way of life.”
Zen and the Art of Judo masterfully blends the martial arts and the liberal arts to create a learning experience that brings together the East and West, the body and mind, and students from an array of academic backgrounds.
“There is no other course at St. Olaf I’ve taken that has felt this way,” says Horacio Lopez ‘14. “We cover significant concepts in many other classroom settings, but rarely do we exercise them as we do in this class.”
Gianopoulos agrees: “I am incredibly thankful to have had the opportunity to take this class. I see the potential of education in a whole new light.”
St. Olaf College Provost and Dean of the College Marci Sortor has announced that two faculty members have been promoted to the rank of full professor, seven have been granted tenure and promoted to the rank of associate professor, and one has received tenure.
Promoted to Professor
- Professor of Chemistry Doug Beussman '92, who specializes in bioanalytical chemistry and mass spectrometry, is a St. Olaf graduate who earned his Ph.D. from Michigan State University.
- Professor of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science Paul Roback '89 is an applied statistician whose research interests include Bayesian statistics, nonparametric methods, and statistical education. He is a St. Olaf graduate who earned his master's degree from Iowa State University and Ph.D. from Colorado State University.
Granted Tenure and Promoted to Associate Professor
- Associate Professor of Religion Mara Benjamin, who specializes in modern Jewish thought, earned her baccalaureate degree from Hampshire College and Ph.D. from Stanford University.
- Associate Professor of Music David Castro, whose research interests include the music of Dmitri Shostakovich and Arvo Pärt and the pedagogy of music theory, earned his baccalaureate degree from Pacific Union College, master's degree from the University of Arizona, and Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
- Associate Professor of English Jennifer Kwon Dobbs is interested in poetry, creative nonfiction, Asian American studies, and translation. She earned her baccalaureate degree from Oklahoma State University, M.F.A. from the University of Pittsburgh, and master's degree and Ph.D. from the University of Southern California.
- Associate Professor of Norwegian Kari Lie Dorer, who specializes in how technology enhances language learning, earned her baccalaureate degree from Concordia College-Moorhead, master's degree from the University of Minnesota, and Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.
- Associate Professor of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science Sharon Lane-Getaz, who specializes in statistics education, earned her baccalaureate degree from Trenton State College, master's degree from Hamline University, and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.
- Associate Professor of Romance Languages Alberto Villate-Isaza, whose research and teaching interests include Hispanic-American literature and discourses of Latin-American identity, earned his baccalaureate degree from Universidad Javerina and Ph.D. from Boston College.
- Associate Professor of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science Katie Ziegler-Graham, who specializes in biostatistics, earned her baccalaureate degree from the College of Wooster and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University.
- Associate Professor of English Carlos Gallego has a wide range of research interests that include Chicano/a studies, 20th-century American literature, comparative ethnic studies, philosophy and critical theory, and cultural studies. He earned his baccalaureate degree from the University of Arizona and master's and Ph.D. from Stanford University.
The St. Olaf College men's cross country team and the Johns Hopkins University women's cross country team have been named the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Division III Scholar Teams of the Year.
The St. Olaf men’s cross country team won the NCAA Division III Championship this fall, led by third-place finisher Grant Wintheiser '15 and eighth-place finisher Jake Brown '15.
St. Olaf and Johns Hopkins earned the Scholar Teams of the Year honor as the highest-finishing teams at NCAAs to have earned All-Academic Team honors by compiling a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.1.
St. Olaf earned a cumulative 3.26 grade point average on its way to the school’s first-ever NCAA team title. The team's roster featured five individuals who earned All-Academic individual honors.
The Scholar Teams of the Year were among 215 women’s teams and 146 men’s teams that earned All-Academic Team honors for the 2013 season.
“I’ve been blessed to be here," Dan Kosmoski tells the Star Tribune about the two decades he's spent leading the St. Olaf College men's basketball team.
Star Tribune sports columnist Patrick Reusse notes that this year, Kosmoski and his 20th collection of Oles are within reach of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's regular-season title.
Kosmoski, a high school basketball standout who went on to play with and coach the University of Minnesota Gophers, "has been around long enough and has been attached to enough important figures that 'Koz' is the only identification required with a Minnesota hoops crowd," Reusse writes.
And while he spent nearly a decade coaching Division I basketball, Kosmoski has spent most of his career at St. Olaf.
“It’s a different mentality from Division I … a different realism as to what education is, what it’s supposed to be," he tells the paper.
Read more about the men's basketball team at St. Olaf Athletics.
St. Olaf College has once again earned a spot on the Peace Corps’ annual list of the top volunteer-producing colleges and universities.
With 15 alumni currently serving overseas as Peace Corps volunteers, St. Olaf ranks No. 6 among schools enrolling fewer than 5,000 students (St. Olaf enrolls 3,000).
St. Olaf has appeared on the Peace Corps’ Top Schools list every year but one since the rankings started in 2001. For the past seven years, it has placed in the top 10 small schools — and the past five years has consistently been in the top 3.
St. Olaf also reached a milestone this year in its all-time volunteer count, topping 500 alumni volunteers. Since the Peace Corps was established in 1961, 501 St. Olaf graduates have served.
As the preeminent international service organization of the United States, the Peace Corps sends Americans abroad to work on sustainable development projects related to agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health, and youth development.
The Peace Corps makes a difference not only to the communities served, but also to the volunteers themselves, who return home as global citizens with cross-cultural, leadership, and language skills that position them for advanced education and professional opportunities in today’s global job market.
Eric Rahman '11 is currently serving as an economic development volunteer in Madagascar. He works with a youth fruit-drying cooperative and a farming association to provide training on business development and management practices, and he’s also helped coordinate youth camps that address gender-equality issues. Rahman was inspired by his parents, both St. Olaf alumni who also served in the Peace Corps.
"The most transformative part of a St. Olaf education is the community," says Rahman, who majored in political science and economics at St. Olaf. "The academic experience at St. Olaf undoubtedly pushes students to reach and think beyond themselves, but it is the broader St. Olaf community that reinforces those values and truly prepares students to explore opportunities to give back and seek a challenge abroad."
Three other Minnesota colleges made the small schools list. Carleton College and Macalester College tied at No. 3, each with 16 volunteers in the field. The College of St. Benedict has 11 alumni volunteers and ranks No. 23.