- Go! Northfield-Dundas
- Submit Content
St. Olaf College
A private liberal arts college of the Lutheran church in Minnesota
Updated: 1 week 6 days ago
St. Olaf College Professor of Art and Associate Dean of Fine Arts Mary Griep will deliver the spring Mellby Lecture, titled Descent Into Detail, on April 11.
The lecture, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Viking Theater, is free and open to the public. It will be streamed and archived online.
Griep’s professional work has been closely connected with her cross-cultural interests and travel with students. Over the past 18 years, she has created a body of drawings — the Anastylosis Project — inspired by sacred architecture of the 11th and 12th centuries from around the world. Her Mellby lecture is an exploration of careful observation and an homage to a thousand years of human creativity and attention to these particular places.
Griep earned her bachelor of arts degree in studio art from Macalester College and a master of arts in liberal studies from Hamline University. Before joining the St. Olaf Art and Art History faculty in 1988, she was a practicing artist with work in public and private collections, both national and international. As a faculty member at St. Olaf, Griep specializes in drawing and painting. She has been Associate Dean of Fine Arts, served as chair of the Art and Art History Department, and taught in the Paracollege.
A champion of international experiences for students and faculty alike, Griep has accompanied and led Interim courses in France, Italy, the Bahamas, Greece, and Turkey, and twice served as field supervisor for St. Olaf’s Term in Asia. She has been an artist in residence in the Dominican Republic and Austria and spent three years at the Center for the Study of Religion and Culture at Payap University in Thailand. She has also had residencies at the Ucross Foundation, the University of South Dakota, St. Catherine University, the Miles City Art Center, and the Anderson Center.
About the Mellby Lecture
The annual Mellby Lectures are named in remembrance of St. Olaf faculty member Carl A. Mellby and were established in 1983 to give professors the opportunity to share their research with the public. Mellby, known as “the father of social sciences” at St. Olaf, started the first courses in economics, sociology, political science, and art history at the college. He was professor and administrator from 1901 to 1949, taught Greek, German, French, religion, and philosophy, and is credited with creating the college’s honor system.
St. Olaf College educates students who are more diverse, more globally engaged, and more digitally connected than ever before. So St. Olaf leaders and faculty members are asking a simple question: “How can we enhance teaching and learning for this new generation of students?”
The college’s work to answer that question has earned the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which recently awarded St. Olaf a four-year, $800,000 grant to examine and improve course offerings and modes of teaching.
The project, To Include is to Excel, undertakes faculty development and curricular improvements to serve a changing student body. The project reflects St. Olaf’s abiding conviction that excellence and inclusion are inextricably intertwined.
“Our goal is to renew what and how we teach, based on a nuanced understanding of who our students are, how they engage with knowledge and areas of study, and what makes them thrive as learners,” says St. Olaf Provost and Dean of the College Marci Sortor. “Faculty members have been deeply interested in this for some time, and we are thrilled with the opportunity this grant presents.”
The project will begin by developing a deeper understanding of current and future St. Olaf students, based on a wide variety of data. Then project leaders will consider this information alongside what faculty members already know about best practices in teaching.
On this knowledge base, St. Olaf educators will pilot and assess new approaches in teaching. What they learn will guide curriculum reform at the program level. Professor of Social Work and Family Studies Mary Carlsen ’79 will direct the To Include is to Excel project.
To lay the groundwork for faculty development, the college’s Center for Innovation in the Liberal Arts (CILA) will sponsor three annual “Teaching Summits” that seed and sustain collaborations among St. Olaf faculty and with partner institutions. Associate Professor of Spanish Maggie Broner will oversee the summits in her role as associate director of CILA.
“The work funded by To Include is to Excel may be the most important work being done at the college in coming years as we look to shape the learning environment for a new generation of teachers and students,” says St. Olaf President David R. Anderson ’74.
St. Olaf College’s Flaten Art Museum will host the first Minnesota screening of the new experimental documentary film Ordinal (SW/NE) this Thursday, April 6, at 7:30 p.m. in Viking Theater. It is free and open to the public.
The film, directed and produced by Minnesota filmmaker Rini Yun Keagy in collaboration with visual artist Miljohn Ruperto, explores relationships among land use, global climate change, and human health through an investigation of valley fever, a disease associated with a soil-dwelling pathogenic fungus in California’s Central Valley.
Following the screening of the 65-minute film, Keagy and Ruperto will lead a discussion about the documentary and their work.
The film screening is part of a larger Flaten Art Museum exhibition focused on the film. The exhibition, titled Black Sun: Rini Yun Keagy with Miljohn Ruperto, is open through April 16.
Black Sun transforms elements of the film Ordinal (SW/NE) into a rich sensory environment. The gallery is occupied by film stills, live-action video, animated sequences, soundscapes, and physical objects used in the film’s creation.
Watch a trailer for the film here:
Want to know all about Olaf? Just ask St. Olaf College student Elijah Verdoorn ’18.
Verdoorn led the creation of the latest version of a mobile app called “All About Olaf,” which provides menus, building hours, calendars, and much more on an easily accessible platform for students’ convenience.
Drew Volz ’16, Hawken Rives ’16, and Matt Kilens ’16 began work on All About Olaf in the summer of 2013. In 2016 Verdoorn joined the development team to help expand the capabilities of the app, now installed by more than half of the St. Olaf student body.
All About Olaf isn’t Verdoorn’s only contribution to campus life. He also serves as the chief technology officer for the Student Government Association (SGA), heading the team that keeps its site Oleville up and running.
Verdoorn first became interested in working with computers when his parents asked him to set up their home Wi-Fi router.
This interest in computers led Verdoorn to major in computer science and mathematics at St. Olaf and pursue a summer internship with Proto Labs, which the Star Tribune has called “one of Minnesota’s leading technology companies.” St. Olaf alumnus Brad Cleveland ’82, the former CEO of Proto Labs, helped the Piper Center for Vocation and Career develop an entrepreneurial competition called Ole Cup.
As a software development intern at Proto Labs, Verdoorn was tasked with writing code to manage manufacturing processes, quality assurance, and order management. Not only did he improve his software development skills through the internship, but he also learned more about the value of teamwork.
“In the professional world, there are no lone wolf programmers,” says Verdoorn. “You always work in a team.”
Verdoorn is considering software engineering and research as potential career paths after graduating from St. Olaf.
To further explore the software engineering field, Verdoorn recently accepted an internship with Pandora Media. As part of the Android team, he will be contributing to the development of the Pandora mobile app.
“I’m especially excited about this opportunity because it is out of Oakland, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley,” says Verdoorn. “Having traveled there with the Piper Center for the Connections Program trip over Interim break this year, I’m looking forward to returning to the Bay Area.”
The Piper Center’s Connections Program connects students with St. Olaf’s vast network of alumni nationwide, specifically in metropolitan areas. The trips are focused on industries in particular cities with a critical mass of alumni, who help students broaden their perspective on what they can do with a liberal arts education.
“My time at St. Olaf has taught me so much, not only in the classroom but also from student organizations and other out-of-the-classroom opportunities,” Verdoorn says. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to give back to the St. Olaf community through All About Olaf, and I look forward to continuing my education through the many opportunities that St. Olaf has afforded me.”
The Luce Foundation has awarded recent St. Olaf College graduate Corey Ruder ’16 a prestigious fellowship that will enable her to continue her work in aquatic biogeochemistry in Asia.
The Luce Scholars Program is a nationally competitive fellowship program. It was launched by the Henry Luce Foundation in 1974 to enhance the understanding of Asia among potential leaders in American society.
Ruder, who majored in environmental studies at St. Olaf, is one of 18 students selected as a 2017 Luce Scholar. She is currently studying the effects of internal waves on nitrogen cycling in reservoirs through a Ph.D. program at Washington State University Vancouver.
“I’m optimistic that this year in Asia will contribute to my dissertation research at Washington State, and I am most excited to be completely immersed in a new culture,” says Ruder. She hopes to continue her research at Lake Biwa in Japan and become fluent in Japanese, including the technical vocabulary she’ll need working in a laboratory setting
As a senior at St. Olaf, Ruder received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. NSF Graduate Research Fellowships support the most promising graduate students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Ruder had a number of hands-on learning experiences at St. Olaf that prepared her for the graduate work she’s now doing.
As a Beckman Scholar at St. Olaf, Ruder independently designed an 18-month research project assessing the utility of Chironomidae (Diptera) as indicators of nitrogen loading in lakes under the guidance of Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies Charles Umbanhowar Jr.
She also studied abroad in Australia for a semester with Associate Professor of Biology Steve Freedberg, where she was involved in several smaller research projects, and spent two Interims in Japan — one with Associate Professor of Political Science and Asian Studies Katherine Tegtmeyer Pak and the other with Associate Professor of Chemistry Paul Jackson ’92. Both of these faculty members worked with the Luce Foundation and helped Ruder apply for the scholars program.
Ruder traveled with St. Olaf Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies John Schade to Siberia last summer as part of the Polaris Project, which investigates the impacts of global climate change in the Arctic ecosystem.
In addition to her research projects, Ruder received the Finstad Entrepreneurial Grant from the St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career during her first year on campus and co-founded the Ole Thrift Shop LLC with Lyla Amini ’14 and Sudip Bhandari ’14. The student-run small business combats campus waste by collecting donations of clothes, books, and miscellaneous belongings in the spring, then selling the secondhand items during the first week of the following school year.
From study abroad programs to research projects, Ruder’s experiences have prepared her for the work she’ll do through the Luce Scholarship program. “I very much consider this an opportunity that St. Olaf made possible,” says Ruder.
The St. Olaf College Fifth Year Emerging Artists will hold an exhibition at the Public Functionary Art Gallery from March 31 to April 8.
The artists — Jon Tiburzi, Madison Vang, Erika Terwilliger, and Marra Evans — all graduated from St. Olaf in 2016.
The objective of the Fifth Year Emerging Artist program, along with the new Emerging Curator position held by Taylor Davis, is to offer St. Olaf graduates an intensive art experience to better prepare them for graduate school or a professional career in the arts. The program is designed for gifted and self-motivated artists and curators who wish to make visual arts the core of their professional future.
The exhibition at the Public Functionary Art Gallery, titled 4 Fifths, will feature printmaking, ceramics, game design, illustration, and sculpture.
Terwilliger will display 472 ceramic tiles on a 20-foot long plywood table. These tiles are replicas of cross sections of plastic lumber from park benches that she found at the Mississippi Lock and Dam in Minneapolis.
Vang will display a series of small bronze sculptures encased in soap. Exhibition attendees will then be invited to wear the soap away by hand with water.
Tiburzi will show a video game that he has been working on designing in collaboration with London-based musician Terrane. The game will explore procedurally generated islands and ambient music, with the computer generating the game’s musical soundscapes and content almost randomly via algorithms.
Evans will use side-by-side drawings to illustrate that what we see in front of us — whether a person or a plant or another object — is actually composed of more complex matter. A drawing of a runner, for example, will be paired with a drawing of the runner’s skeletal system.
“We see the outer layer of everyone around us, but we are made up into other parts in order for us to function as a whole unit,” she says. “Showing what we can’t see with the naked eye is very beautiful in that its composition is important to how it functions.”
Tiburzi hopes his video game can convey a similar message. “I hope to share a sense of musical exploration with the players. In the larger picture, I wish to illustrate video game design as an art form, by presenting it in a space traditionally regarded as for the ‘fine arts,'” he says.
Furthermore, the artists hope that the audience can experience arts beyond the way they commonly experienced it.
“I enjoy creating interactive sculpture because it isn’t common for an audience to be able to be involved in art in such a tactile way, but it is an incredible way to experience art and to form more personal connections with a piece,” Vang says. “I hope viewers will come away from this show and my body of work with that personal connection and a deeper understanding or curiosity about sculpture.”
I have heard from a number of people in recent days who continue to be concerned about the post-election environment on college campuses.
Strong feelings as a result of the election are being expressed everywhere, and the discourse happening on our campus is similar to what we see happening in many other communities across the country. We welcome diversity in all of its forms, including political ideology, and we strive to create an environment that promotes the free and respectful exchange of ideas.
When reactions cross this line and lead to bullying, harassment, or other behavior that violates our community standards, we have and will continue to enforce our code of conduct. There is no place for bullying of any kind at St. Olaf, including student-on-student bullying because of a student’s political views. We also do not permit faculty/staff imposing their own views in an academic setting. Here is a link to our policy on harassment and discrimination.
In each case where a complaint was reported to the Dean of Students or Provost, prompt action was taken to address that behavior with the student or faculty/staff member and appropriate sanctions were imposed.
In the days immediately following the election, two separate messages — one from me and another from leaders of College Republicans and College Democrats — affirmed the college’s commitment to honoring and encouraging the diversity reflected in our community.
My message said, in part:
Please remember that, regardless of how you view the results of the election, each of you is a valued member of our community. Seeking to understand different views, and finding ways to support one another is a requirement of life in community with others. I encourage you to continue to engage with one another.
Meanwhile, the commitments of the College remain firm. Access and inclusion remain guiding values. We welcome and respect diversity of persons, of thought and of opinion, and we promote dialogue among those with competing views. As always, we pursue excellence in everything we do.
In the coming days as we as individuals, we as a college, and we as a nation go forward, take care of yourself, take care of each other, and take care of this place.
In their bipartisan message, leaders of College Republicans and College Democrats noted:
Every person on this campus, regardless of race, nationality, creed, sexual orientation, gender, or political affiliation, is an equal part of our community, and deserves to be respected, heard, and to feel safe on campus. We encourage open, civil dialogues across campus and we believe there is a lot we can learn from each other. We condemn any and all instances of hatred and intolerance.
Tensions are high, but at the end of the day we should be able to turn to each other and recognize the special bond we all share as Oles. The sun will rise tomorrow, and we should face the new day as students united, beyond our labels, who ultimately know that our strength lies in what we share, not what divides us.
As we welcome students back from spring break next week, we look forward to continuing to provide an environment where the broadest range of ideas get a full and fair hearing.
President David R. Anderson ’74
Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany.
“He intended to spur an academic discussion but ultimately wound up triggering a historic and theological earthquake that changed the world. The repercussions – positive and negative – can still be seen today,” says St. Olaf College Director of Government, Foundation, and Corporate Relations Helen Warren. “Events and exhibitions to showcase this protagonist of German and European history and to discuss his impact are taking place in Germany, in the U.S. and all over the world.”
St. Olaf will join in the worldwide celebrate of the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation by hosting a series of events over the course of the next month. All events and exhibits are free and open to the public.
The event series, Dissonance and Resolution: Musical and Moral Legacies of the Reformation, is supported in part by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany.
“What we hope St. Olaf students, as well as faculty, staff, alumni and community members, gain from the events is greater understanding of the breadth and sometimes controversial complexity of Martin Luther’s impact in diverse spheres,” says Assistant Professor of German Amanda Randall. “In this way, the event series is a chance not only to highlight, but to give further dimension to the college’s Lutheran heritage.”
The events, public exhibits, and other activities will include:
- A chapel talk by Gustavus Adolphus College Professor Emeritus of Religion Darrell Jodock ’62 on Thursday, March 30, at 11 a.m. in Boe Memorial Chapel, followed by a discussion during community time.
- A performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. John Passion (Johannes Passion) by St. Olaf Cantorei, members of the St. Olaf Orchestra, and guest musicians, directed by St. Olaf Assistant Professor of Music James Bobb. The performance will be held during Vespers on Palm Sunday, April 9, at 7:30 p.m. in Boe Memorial Chapel, and will be followed by a reception in the Undercroft.
- A Luther-related book display in Rolvaag Memorial Library from March 20 to April 20.
- A “Here I Stand” poster exhibit on the life and work of Martin Luther in Boe Memorial Chapel beginning the last week of March and going through the month of April.
- A weekly student reading group led by James Bobb examining Lutheranism, Anti-Judaism and Bach’s St. John Passion by Michael Marrisen. This weekly reading group will be held throughout the month of March and is solely open to students and faculty of St. Olaf.