Blogosphere

2019 Choral Day canceled due to staffing cuts

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 11/01/2019 - 8:56pm

Correction: This article has been updated to clarify that the 2019 Choral Day event has been canceled, not Choral Day in general. The festival will still take place every other year. It has also been changed to clarify that Band Day and Choral Day are separate events and don’t always occur on the same weekend.

Choral Day, an annual event where high school and St. Olaf choirs sing together, has been canceled this year due to reduced administrative staffing stemming from the College’s cost-cutting efforts.

With leaner administrative support, the music department was unable to coordinate both the Festival of Bands, also referred to as Band Day, and Choral Festival, also called Choral Day, which would have fallen one day apart from each other, said Anton Armstrong ’78, Conductor of the St. Olaf Choir. The music department now plans to hold these festivals every other year.

“We have implemented changes in Choral and Band Day due to changes in staffing which impacts the support of the events, and also while we consider our budget, which is a factor in everything we do and in all decisions,” said Jean Parish, director of college relations for music organizations.

The staffing changes arise from the Strategic Resource Allocation Project (SRAP), the College’s multi-year cost-cutting, revenue-growing initiative. The project changed how Academic Administrative Assistant (AAA) positions work – AAAs no longer work for specific departments and instead serve the departments and programs housed in the academic buildings assigned to their team. These changes brought a 10 percent reduction in spending on AAAs and account for the staffing cuts at the music department.

Armstrong framed the changes as necessary to avert financial shortfalls in the future.

“We’ve had to make some adjustments financially, but so that it doesn’t come on the back of parents and students’ tuition,” Armstrong said. 

Some students who participate in the events feel open to having the Festival of Bands and Choral Festival occur every other year. Emily Geiger ’20, a vocal music education major, said she does not view the change as detrimental because the performances will still happen. She also noted that it was primarily a financial decision.

Armstrong maintains a positive outlook and views the changes as a unique way to highlight the work of the ensembles.

“I’m sad in one sense as I said that we can’t offer [choral festival] this year, but I also think it gives us another opportunity to reach out and make it even more special in different ways than we’ve done before,” Armstrong said.

 

drewes1@stolaf.edu

 

Reporting contributed by Josie Lynn (lynn3@stolaf.edu)

Categories: Colleges

Registrar changes add/drop system, allowing electronic faculty signatures

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 11/01/2019 - 7:49pm

Students no longer need physical signatures from faculty to add or drop a course and can instead receive signatures over email, one of several changes Registrar Ericka Peterson announced in an Oct. 11 email.

The new add/drop policy came after witnessing the stress of students needing a physical signature from faculty, Peterson said.

Peterson also announced some changes to registration holds designed to remove barriers and make registration less stressful. Previously, if students did not remove all holds prior to when registration opened, they would have to wait until after registration closed to sign up for classes. With the new change, once students remove the holds and notify the Registrar’s Office, they will be able to join the registration process, Peterson said.

The Registrar also added a feature to SIS to streamline the search for classes, adding searches for specific major and concentration requirements.

For those who have questions about how to register for spring and interim or about the recent changes, the Center for Academic and Advising Support (CAAS) will be holding support sessions on Nov. 1.

“We’re trying to make it less stressful for students, we’re trying to make it more equitable for students,” Peterson said.

 

bermel1@stolaf.edu

 

Categories: Colleges

SGA Senate expresses support for divestment

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 11/01/2019 - 7:48pm

The Climate Justice Collective (CJC), which led the hundreds-strong climate strike, received a show of support from the Student Government Association (SGA) Senate on Oct. 22, as an ample majority of senators expressed approval for divesting the College’s endowment from fossil fuel companies.

SGA Vice President Ariel Mota Alves ’20 invited CJC to describe their aims, namely divestment, to the SGA Senate in the wake of the prominent Sept. 20 climate strike. During the meeting, Hoyme Senator Logan Graham ’23 motioned for an unofficial ballot gauging whether senators would support a resolution urging the College to divest – 23 voted yes, three voted maybe and one abstained. 

The ballot is likely a harbinger that Senate will approve a divestment resolution when CJC presents one. Though a resolution would not obligate St. Olaf to divest, it would send a message that the student body wants the College’s money out of the fossil fuel industry. Mota Alves is currently working to schedule CJC’s presentation of a resolution in the next few weeks.

A draft of CJC’s resolution obtained by the Manitou Messenger would commit Senate to advocate for divestment from fossil fuel companies and the right of students to know what corporations the College invests in, among other things.

About eight percent of St. Olaf’s $534 million endowment is invested in the fossil fuel industry as of September, said Chief Investment Officer Mark Gelle. CJC argued at the meeting that St. Olaf has an ethical obligation to divest and that divestment is a wise financial decision.

Gelle said that while it may be financially unwise for the College to invest further in fossil fuel stocks, immediate divestment would result in the College losing money because the stocks’ value is currently low. 

The size of St. Olaf’s investments and the names of the companies it is invested in have not been publicly accessible since January 2018, when the College hired investment consulting firm Cornerstone Partners. The firm prohibits the College from disclosing this information, Gelle said. CJC takes issue with the opacity of the investments, arguing that making them visible “is the only way that you can make sure those investments are ethical,” CJC member Abby Becker ’21 said.

Senator River Gerding ’21 asked CJC if divestment would prevent St. Olaf from investing in index funds, which include every stock from a financial index like the S&P 500. Many index funds include shares of fossil fuel companies. CJC member Ian Roback ’21 responded that the answer would depend on the percentage of the fund allocated towards the fossil fuel industry.

Senator Melie Ekunno ’21 asked CJC if the resolution will include parameters for future investments with money divested from the fossil fuel industry. Becker answered that CJC intends to push St. Olaf to invest in “ethical” endeavors, including renewable energy, once the College has divested.

While CJC argues divestment can reduce carbon emissions, President David Anderson ’74 said in a 2013 video memo that “disinvestment would not result in one molecule less of carbon being emitted into the atmosphere.” Nonetheless, Shell Oil Company, Peabody Energy and the Goldman Sachs Group Inc. have all reported that the divestment movement can have negative material consequences for the fossil fuel industry at large.

On behalf of the President’s Leadership Team (PLT), Associate Director of Media Relations Kari VanderVeen wrote in an email, “it is always our hope that, before simply issuing a resolution, SGA members engage in discussion with college staff and faculty about the issue and find meaningful ways for students to participate in the work to improve our campus community.”

 The PLT did not comment on whether the College views itself as obligated to follow Senate resolutions.

For Senate to approve a resolution, two thirds of senators must vote yes for it. CJC looks to have a two thirds majority and then some.

 

irwin2@stolaf.edu

 

Categories: Colleges

Unpacking St. Olaf’s budget process

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 11/01/2019 - 7:45pm

The Board of Regents approved the College’s final operating budget for the 2019-20 school year during their October meetings on campus. The budget resembles those of recent years, with few major changes.

Final approval from the Regents completes the annual budget review and implementation process.

“We start our budget process late fall, by putting together a number of assumptions,” Chief Financial Officer Jan Hanson said. “It’s our responsibility to present a budget for Board approval.”

Over the next several months, staff in the Finance Office gather budget requests from College departments and programs, making budget assumptions based on the previous year’s enrollment, and modeling scenarios as tuition increases or decreases. They present these reports to the Finance Committee, a committee of the Board of Regents. The group then creates a preliminary budget which is presented to the Regents for approval in May.

There is a four-month hiatus between the Regents’ approval of the preliminary budget in May and the construction of a final budget in October. During this time, enrollment and financial aid figures shift as students choose whether or not to enroll over the summer. The College takes these changes into account when constructing the final budget, altering revenue estimates based on actual enrollment figures, Hanson said.

“We budget, I would say, very conservatively,” Hanson said. “This is so that we don’t have to make dramatic shifts.” 

Part of this budget conservatism is maintained through endowment income. The College’s overall endowment income rests at approximately $20 million, which has risen from around $17 million in 2016-17. Part of this endowment is held in quasi-endowments, which are endowments made to the College whose use is determined by the Board of Regents. In the 2019-20 budget, the College holds about $2.2 million in these quasi-endowments and contingency funds. 

“Money that we put into the endowment generates earnings every year that supports the operating budget,” said Angela Matthews, assistant vice president of budget and auxiliary operations. “This has enabled us to give more scholarships and do more with the operating budget without having to take it from students’ tuition dollars.”

The College’s ability to balance revenue and expenses has been a continued challenge in recent years, Hanson and Matthews wrote in an email. Fluctuating net tuition revenue fuels these challenges. It has dropped in recent years and is projected to continue falling until the 2022-23 fiscal year, according to the Finance Office’s five-year projections.

Conversely, salaries paid to employees for wages are anticipated to continue increasing through the five year projection period. These salaries account for approximately 42 percent of the College’s total operating expenses.

“We estimate what our enrollment will be and modest wage increases, kind of in line with what we’ve done in the past,” Matthews said. “The two big components that change in the budget are the tuition dollars that we bring in and our wage amounts that go up if we give raises.” 

 

marand1@stolaf.edu

 

 

 

Categories: Colleges

Composting expands to Ytterboe and Rand

Manitou Messenger - Fri, 11/01/2019 - 7:40pm

The Environmental Coalition brought composting to Ytterboe and Rand residence halls in mid-October. 

The arrival of compost bins to residence halls began in the 2018-19 school year, following their addition to Buntrock Commons in January 2018 and Rolvaag Memorial Library and Boe Chapel in March 2018.

Signs provided by the Environmental Coalition hang above many of the new compost bins, indicating what can and cannot be composted. The compost is then taken to a commercial compost facility, the Mulch Store, located in Rosemount, Minn.

The Environmental Coalition’s efforts have had a significant impact on waste management on campus. Thorson, Ellingson, Mohn and Kildahl residence halls now have a 26 percent diversion rate for all food waste, according to the Environmental Coalition’s latest waste audit. The potential diversion rate is 79 percent, leaving a 53 percent gap for remaining improvement.

The potential diversion rate is significantly higher than the actual diversion of waste due to issues with contamination of food waste in recycling and landfill bins, said Environmental Coalition organizer Addie Poore ’20.

“We would rather people, if they are unsure or if they’re too lazy to sort their compost and waste in general, put it in the landfill than in the compost or recycling, if they’re not going to be fully educated,” said Environmental Coalition organizer Katie Stein ’20. 

Composting sites can only handle a certain percentage of impurity, which leads to material that is not fit for composting going to waste, Stein said. 

The Environmental Coalition combats improper sorting by having landfill bins be the most accessible option for disposing waste. 

“We make [compost] the hardest bin to get to to avoid the impurities,” Stein said.

Poore and Stein believe the College has yet to achieve its full composting potential in part due to a lack of education and knowledge among the student body about how to sort waste.

The group has used ‘toilet talks’ in Ellingson as educational outreach to communicate proper composting practices. The Environmental Coalition hopes to expand understanding on the subject by launching an education campaign during first-year orientation, Poore said. Stein hopes that composting can achieve a similar mainstream status in waste management to recycling.

With the help of Steve Rasmussen, assistant director of custodial facilities, the group is working to bring composting to Hoyme and Melby residence halls within the next two weeks. The Environmental Coalition then hopes to bring composting to the remaining dorms – Larson, Hilleboe and Kittelsby. They eventually hope to expand to Skoglund.

Courtesy of the Environmental Coalition Courtesy of the Environmental Coalition

 

 

 

 

 

 

brinke1@stolaf.edu

Categories: Colleges

Could trains haul Dakota County groundwater to Southwest?

Northfield News - Fri, 11/01/2019 - 5:45pm
ST. PAUL — Could Minnesota water end up in the thirsty southwestern United States?
Categories: Local News

HRA: Ordinance changes will ensure quality rental housing

Northfield News - Fri, 11/01/2019 - 4:00pm
The Northfield Housing and Redevelopment Authority is taking steps to address recalcitrant landlords, a measure the city says will ensure the community’s rental housing stock is of sufficient quality.
Categories: Local News

Northfield Reads book discussion: Flight Behavior

City of Northfield Calendar - Fri, 11/01/2019 - 3:46pm
Event date: November 12, 2019
Event Time: 07:00 PM - 08:30 PM
Location:
210 Washington Street
Northfield, MN 55057
Description:
Book discussion followed by presentations on monarch butterflies, milkweed, and climate change.

Trivia Bee

City of Northfield Calendar - Fri, 11/01/2019 - 3:40pm
Event date: November 1, 2019
Event Time: 07:00 PM - 09:00 PM
Location:
316 Washington Street
Northfield, MN 55057

Media teleconference with DNR officials regarding water well request

KYMN Radio - Fri, 11/01/2019 - 2:52pm

Teleconference at 3 p.m. on 11-1-19 with DNR Deputy Commissioner Barb Naramore and Conservation assistance and regulations section manager, DNR Ecological and Water Resources Division, Randall Doneen. They discussed and answered some questions from media regarding Empire Building Investments, the real estate arm of Progressive Rail, preliminary application to drill two wells on six acres

The post Media teleconference with DNR officials regarding water well request appeared first on KYMN Radio · Northfield, MN · AM 1080 & FM 95.1.

Call 911 immediately, police say, following report of driver masturbating

Northfield News - Fri, 11/01/2019 - 2:37pm
Northfield police are advising residents to call 911 immediately to report suspicious behavior after a report of a man possibly masturbating in a truck last month was filed Thursday.
Categories: Local News

Adventures in the New Humanities: Archiving

St. Olaf College - Fri, 11/01/2019 - 1:35pm
In this "Adventures in the New Humanities" blog post, Professor of History Judy Kutulas highlights why archival work so important — and how St. Olaf is preparing students for this growing profession.
Categories: Colleges

Steve Paulson

KYMN Radio - Fri, 11/01/2019 - 12:52pm

Edina Girls Tennis Coach Steve Paulson joins Wayne in the studio. The team just won a state championship. In Steve’s 28 years as a girls tennis coach, he has won 23 state championships!

The post Steve Paulson appeared first on KYMN Radio · Northfield, MN · AM 1080 & FM 95.1.

Northfield ready to fight winter ice dams

KYMN Radio - Fri, 11/01/2019 - 12:51pm

Energy Action Team recommends Home Energy Squad® visits to identify smart fixes for avoiding trouble and staying comfortable Northfield, MN (November 1, 2019)  As winter approaches, Northfield’s Energy Action Team is mobilizing to help residents avoid costly ice dam problems at home. They are encouraging homeowners and landlords to schedule visits from the Home Energy

The post Northfield ready to fight winter ice dams appeared first on KYMN Radio · Northfield, MN · AM 1080 & FM 95.1.

New class teaches whole system approach to farm and woodland management

KYMN Radio - Fri, 11/01/2019 - 12:07pm

Media Contact: Matthew Russell, Extension forester, russellm@umn.edu, 612-626-4280. ROSEMOUNT, Minn. (10/30/2019)—The University of Minnesota Extension forestry and crops programs are offering a new course to farmers who own woodlands. Starting in late November, the Farms and Woodlands class is specifically designed for landowners and farmers who want to get the most out of every acre

The post New class teaches whole system approach to farm and woodland management appeared first on KYMN Radio · Northfield, MN · AM 1080 & FM 95.1.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

Just Food Co-op - Fri, 11/01/2019 - 12:02pm
Spicy Pumpkin Soup By: Co+op, stronger together Creamy pumpkin soup is spiced up with jalapenos and a refreshing dollop of chipotle sour cream.
Servings6 servings Cook Time30 minutes Ingredients Soup Chipotle Sour Cream Instructions
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion, celery, carrots and jalapeño peppers, stirring frequently, for about 10-15 minutes. Add the cumin, garlic powder, pumpkin purée, broth and milk. Bring to a simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. While the soup is cooking, blend the sour cream ingredients together in a small bowl. Place a dollop of the sour cream on each soup serving.
Recipe Notes Serving Suggestion

Served with mulled apple cider and hearty bread, this soup goes equally well with roast pork or a spinach salad.

Tips & Notes

Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are smoked jalapanos in a tangy, slightly sweet sauce. Look for them in a small can with other Mexican condiments. They can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 6 months.

Nutritional Information

190 calories, 10 g. fat, 14 mg. cholesterol, 408 mg. sodium, 22 g. carbohydrate, 2 g. fiber, 6 g. protein

The post Spicy Pumpkin Soup appeared first on Just Food Co-op.

Categories: Businesses

Pumpkin Parmesan Savory Scones

Just Food Co-op - Fri, 11/01/2019 - 11:48am
Pumpkin Parmesan Savory Scones By: Co+op, stronger together This savory scone is the perfect accompaniment to a steaming bowl of minestrone or a crisp glass of dry cider or chilled white wine. 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
Servings8 servings Prep Time10 minutes Cook Time10 minutes Passive Time20 minutes Ingredients Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly oil it. In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, dried thyme, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Grate the butter into the flour, tossing to coat. Add 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and toss to mix.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin and cream. Stir into the dry mixture just until mixed, then add walnuts. Spread a little flour on the counter, then scrape the dough out onto the flour. Form into a round, and flatten to about an inch thick. Sprinkle with chopped thyme, top with remaining Parmesan, and pat down with your palms. Using a knife, divide the round into 8 wedges. Transfer to the baking sheet, leaving a couple of inches between the scones.
  3. Bake for about 18–20 minutes, until the scones are golden around the edges and firm to the touch. Cool on racks before storing in a tightly covered container or bag.
Recipe Notes Serving Suggestion

A warming, savory scone featuring the flavors of fall is the perfect accompaniment to a steaming bowl of minestrone soup or enjoyed with a crisp glass of dry cider or chilled white wine.

Nutritional Information

330 calories, 21 g. fat, 45 mg. cholesterol, 460 mg. sodium, 29 g. carbohydrate, 3 g. fiber, 9 g. protein

The post Pumpkin Parmesan Savory Scones appeared first on Just Food Co-op.

Categories: Businesses

City Council Meeting

City of Northfield Calendar - Fri, 11/01/2019 - 11:15am
Event date: November 5, 2019
Event Time: 06:00 PM - 09:00 PM
Location:
801 Washington Street
Northfield, MN 55057

Railway wants to drill for water in Randolph, ship it southwest; Don’t leave leaves in the street – compost your pumpkin too; St. Dominic teams up with City on painted plow project; Bundles of Love provides for babies in need

KYMN Radio - Fri, 11/01/2019 - 11:02am

By Teri Knight, News Director UPDATE with comment from DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. A Lakeville-based railway wants to drill two wells in Dakota County that would annually produce 500 million gallons of water to be shipped by rail to the drought-stricken southwest, areas like Colorado, Arizona and Utah. According to the Star Tribune, Empire Building

The post Railway wants to drill for water in Randolph, ship it southwest; Don’t leave leaves in the street – compost your pumpkin too; St. Dominic teams up with City on painted plow project; Bundles of Love provides for babies in need appeared first on KYMN Radio · Northfield, MN · AM 1080 & FM 95.1.

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