St. Olaf Campus News
Minnesota Public Radio will air the St. Olaf College Institute for Freedom and Community’s recent lecture by Joanne Lynn, one of the first hospice physicians in the United States and a national leader in research and policy on care for the last phase of life, on March 14.
The “MPR News Presents” program will broadcast the lecture, titled Sick to Death and Not Going to Take It Anymore!: Reforming Health Care for the Last Years of Life, at noon and 9 p.m.
Listeners can hear the broadcast live or listen to the archive on the MPR News broadcast web page.
The Institute for Freedom and Community held Lynn’s lecture March 8 in front of a packed auditorium on the St. Olaf campus.
In her talk on eldercare and end-of-life care, Lynn discussed why she believes “a whole new system” is needed to help support the elderly through medical care, adaptive housing, disability transportation, in-home nutrition, and more.
Her lecture is part of the Institute for Freedom and Community’s spring series on “Freedom, Community, and Health Care.”
In anticipation for the Institute for Freedom and Community’s spring lecture series, “Freedom, Community, and Health Care,” faculty from across St. Olaf College’s campus gathered for a third and final session to discuss the glaring issues facing elder care and end-of-life care in the United States.
Edmund Santurri, the Morrison Family Director of the Institute for Freedom and Community, began the session with an introduction to the assigned readings the group was tasked with analyzing prior to the meeting and a brief introduction into the climate of current elder and end-of-life care services.
Of the assigned readings, three publications took center stage: Health Care As a Social Good by David Craig, Who Cares? How to Shape a Democratic Politics by Joan Tronto, and “The When and Where of Love: Subsidiarity as a Framework for Care for the Elderly,” by Lucia A. Sileechia.
While the conversation began with ethical practices of end-of-life care, the democratization of health care, and the principle of double effect, it quickly mushroomed into an open discussion of a “generational gap” in perceptions of elder care to potential remedies for the current health system. Faculty shared opinions, perceptions, and experience relative to their fields and personal experiences.
Participants were grateful to have such a wide array of faculty to discuss the complexities of elder care and end-of-life care. College Pastor Matthew Marohl particularly favored the breadth of disciplines represented at the session. “I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to read and discuss a series of books and articles with colleagues from across the college,” Marohl explains. “To engage with faculty from a cross-section of disciplines over the practical and not-so-practical dynamics of our healthcare system meant that our time together was always well informed and unpredictable.”
Associate Professor of Economics Ashley Hodgson enjoyed having an academic view brought to the table. “It was really helpful to have colleagues at the table who could place the readings in their broader academic context,” says Hodgson. “I understood the different perspectives much better after Ed [Santurri] introduced the readings.”Ed Santurri led the third and final discussion leading into the IFC’s Spring Series
While the conversation dove deeper into the assigned texts, it became clear that there was no simple solution to the issue at hand and it would not be a fix that happens over night. Seminar participants cited the economic complexities, the cultural mentality of “handing care over to the professionals,” and the lack of available resources to be explanations for issues and lack of access to elder-care. But some agreed that a cultural shift could provide some answers to questions many around the United States ask: “What can we do to provide the best elder and end-of-life care?”
“I really enjoy organizing these seminars because it gives faculty a chance to get out of our academic enclaves and think in interdisciplinary ways about courses and research,” states Santurri. “For this one in particular, aging and elder care don’t get a lot of play in public discussions at the college or the larger society, so it fits squarely with the Institute’s purpose of generating thoughtful dialogue in the St. Olaf community about important issues.”
The open-ended conclusion provided the perfect entrance for a visit by Joanne Lynn, Director of the Center for Elder Care and Advanced Illness at the Altarum Institute, and the following events of the Institute for Freedom and Community’s spring series.
In the next lecture, Gilbert Meilaender discusses the “The Ethics of Palliative Sedation,” on March 15, followed by two parts of “Health Care: Should We Move to a Single-Payer System?” Part one engages David Craig and Joan Tronto in a discussion on whether the United States should move to a single-payer health care system and will be held on April 19, 2018. Part two addresses the same topic but with speakers Amitabh Chandra and Tyler Cowen on April 26, 2018.
Dead Man Walking. Rigoletto. Thaïs. Don Pasquale. The Marriage of Figaro. In their 2017–18 season, the Minnesota Opera presents five vastly different operas. And Darrius Morton ’19 will perform in all of them.
Though only a junior at St. Olaf College, Morton has already auditioned for, and been accepted into, the ranks of the Minnesota Opera chorus. One of his mentors, St. Olaf Assistant Professor of Music Louis Epstein, describes Morton as “well on his way to a career singing heroic tenor roles in professional operas.”
His journey to opera, improbably enough, started with football. As a high-school student, Morton received offers of full-ride scholarships from many colleges. The catch? He had to play football. However, on his high school football team Morton had experienced injuries and a negative social atmosphere. Football wasn’t worth it anymore; he turned down the scholarships, he decided to stop playing. It was hard — yet, Morton says, “in a lot of ways, it was an easy decision.”
So how does an ex-football player become an opera singer? “After quitting football, I was looking for something to fill that void,” Morton says. “And opera is similar to football because both are athletic and take a lot of intention and hard work.”
But Morton had a few more twists in his road before fully embracing opera. Post-football, he just knew he wanted to explore music. Attending the University of Akron in Ohio, where he had already been accepted, seemed like a good place to start. By the end of his first year, Morton realized he needed to transfer. The musical education opportunities were not enough: “I was looking for something more intensive,” he says. Meeting St. Olaf Choir Conductor Anton Armstrong ’78 helped Morton seriously consider St. Olaf. “I was drawn in by the excellent choral program,” he says.
“I noticed that when I practiced voice, I just kept wanting to practice voice. My voice teacher looked at me and said, ‘I don’t think you want to become a conductor,’ and he was right.”
Upon transferring to St. Olaf, Morton planned on being a choral conductor. But, he recalls with a laugh, “I noticed that when I practiced voice, I just kept wanting to practice voice. My voice teacher looked at me and said, ‘I don’t think you want to become a conductor,’ and he was right.” At long last, Morton had found his love for singing. And singing opened the doors to opera.
When asked about his favorite opera, Morton has to pause, to think. There are so many. Finally, he says, “L’amoure Du Loin. I like the music and there is really interesting and rich orchestration. I also like the fact that it’s new. It’s so cool that composers are taking the opportunity to advance the art form.”
Morton has been equally inspired by those who work in opera. “All the people I work with at the Minnesota Opera are really good leaders. They are so giving and patient,” he says.
Opera — the music, the movement, the emotion, the color, the power, the wonder, the awe — has become Morton’s life work, his dream. On stage, surrounded by those bright lights, Morton is home.
Watch Morton perform a solo during this year’s St. Olaf Christmas Festival:
St. Olaf College students never shy away from a good debate — and this spring, five students who won the Institute for Freedom and Community’s recent essay contest will have the opportunity to visit the U.S. Supreme Court and observe a round of oral arguments.
The winning students — Emily Behling ’21, Christoph Hodel ’20, Carter Mickelson ’20, Brigid Miller ’21, and Jacob Wilde ’21 — will receive all-expense-paid, multi-day trip to Washington, D.C., in March. They will tour museums and monuments, walk the halls of Congress, and take part in a specially arranged visit to the U.S. Supreme Court.
To win, these Oles wrote essays responding to the following question: “Does the First Amendment protection of free speech also include protection of academic freedom? Why or why not?” The question ties into the Institute for Freedom and Community’s fall theme, Academic Freedom: Its Meaning and Limits.
During the fall, the Institute for Freedom and Community hosted two events on campus as part of the theme. Academic and author Joanna Williams spoke on the topic Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity. Danielle Allen of Harvard University and Peter Berkowitz of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University participated in A Dialogue on Academic Freedom.
The Institute for Freedom and Community, which was established at St. Olaf in 2015, encourages free inquiry and meaningful debate of important political and social issues. It provides a program of academic coursework, public lectures and debates, scholarly and undergraduate research, and internships for students.
It sponsored an essay contest last year centered on important political figures and controversies. The winners of that contest won an all-expenses paid trip to Chicago that included tickets to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton.
The winning entries for this year’s essay contest, which was open to first-year and second-year students, are impressive.
Each of the five essays exemplifies the Institute for Freedom and Community’s goal: discourse that is respectful and open, but also thought-provoking and challenging.
Behling combines eloquence with astute argumentation when explaining that “while academic freedom and the First Amendment are fundamentally similar, they are also slightly different. The difficulty in distinguishing these two notions lies in their definitions: there is no established precedent for academic freedom and therefore no perfect definition. The First Amendment’s protection of free speech includes protection of academic freedom to a limited extent, owing to teachers unique position in society.”
Wilde writes that “the First Amendment right of free speech is often cited as academic freedom’s main protector, but in reality that is not the case. Because court decisions have been both vague and contradictory, many fail to realize that current legal trends point towards the free market as the main source of academic freedom.”
Miller makes an equally powerful assertion: “Through the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the First Amendment, it is evident that academic freedom is a constitutionally protected right, but it only applies to employees in public settings.”
Mickelson argues that “the converse of academic freedom is censorship. While censorship is often viewed as form of protection, such as censoring curse words on television shows, censorship in the academic field is of great danger. New ideas gain traction because they undermine the status quo.”
Hodel contends that “to protect academic freedom, universities must go far beyond the First Amendment values to uphold and encourage a mindset of openness, critical thinking, and empathy in addition to allowing freedom of expression.”
Each of the five essays exemplifies the Institute for Freedom and Community’s goal: discourse that is respectful and open, but also thought-provoking and challenging.
The United Nations seeks durable solutions for refugees currently living in refugee camps around the world. In her sociological research, Breanne Thornton Grace examines how these UN solutions — resettlement, local integration, or voluntary repatriation — become durable through social citizenship, which refers to having access to things like health care, education, food, and legal representation.
A professor in the University of South Carolina’s College of Social Work, Grace primarily conducts her ethnographic field work at the first intra-African resettlement in Tanzania. She also conducts research among refugees in the United States, looking at how access to resources affects their integration into society and how financial stress affects the structure of their families.
“I’m intrigued by questions like ‘What are countries beholden to for their citizens? What are the rights that are enumerated?’ I’ve found that the ability to access good-quality housing, education, and health care is affected by how much money you have,” Grace says. “Scholars call it market citizenship, as rights are purchased rather than given.”
Grace first discovered an interest in studying refugee resettlement on a study abroad program at Tanzania’s University of Dar es Salaam during her junior year at St. Olaf. She struck up a friendship with a Fulbright Scholar on campus who was conducting research in a refugee camp, tagging along on his interviews. She also learned Swahili and, after graduation, worked as an interpreter for refugees in San Diego. Eventually she returned to Tanzania, working in refugee camps and developing research questions as a Fulbright Scholar herself. She earned a Ph.D. in sociology from Michigan State University in 2013. At home in South Carolina, Grace volunteers as an interpreter at a clinic for survivors of torture and serves on the state’s Refugee Resettlement Board.
The lessons Grace learned at St. Olaf — the value of a global perspective and of rethinking your place in the world — are ones she tries to impart to her students at the University of South Carolina.
“I majored in political science and American studies at St. Olaf, and it might seem a little weird to have my scholarship so focused abroad,” says Grace, who noted that the late Jim Farrell, professor of history and American studies, had a great influence on her. “He taught me that you only learn about your own culture by looking at yourself through another culture’s lens,” she says.
“I’m intrigued by questions like ‘What are countries beholden to for their citizens? What are the rights that are enumerated?’ I’ve found that the ability to access good-quality housing, education, and health care is affected by how much money you have. Scholars call it market citizenship, as rights are purchased rather than given.”
The Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington will visit St. Olaf College March 19 to deliver this year’s James Reeb Memorial Lecture, titled Social Justice 2018: The Work Continues …
The lecture, which will begin at 4 p.m. in Tomson Hall 280, is free and open to the public. Washington will also offer a talk in Daily Chapel at 10:10 a.m. that will be streamed and archived online.
Social Justice 2018: The Work Continues… centers on the idea that building people’s capacity to engage injustice and create more welcoming communities requires commitment and real work. Washington will invite people to consider just what it takes to do this work both in 2018 and in years to come.
Washington has spent the past 33 years working as an educator, administrator, and consultant in higher education. He is the president and co-founder of the Social Justice Training Institute and the president of the American College Personnel Association (ACPA).
The recipient of many awards and honors, Washington most recently received the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s Legends of Excellence Award for his contribution to the lives and education of Black and LatinX faculty, staff, and students.
Washington is also the president and founder of the Washington Consulting Group (WCG). In 2015 The Economist named the WCG as one of the Top 10 Global Diversity Consultants in the world. Alongside his work with WCG and higher education, Washington serves as the pastor of Unity Fellowship Church of Baltimore.
He earned a B.S. degree from Slippery Rock State College and double Masters’ of Science degrees from Indiana University/Bloomington. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in College Student Development from the University of Maryland College Park. Washington also holds a Master’s of Divinity from Howard University School of Divinity.
Washington views himself as an instrument for change and tirelessly works to help people find the best in themselves and each other. He lives by the lyrics to one of his favorite songs: If I can help somebody, as I pass along: / If I can cheer somebody, with a word or song: / If I can show somebody, that he, she, ze or they, are traveling wrong, / Then my living shall not be in vain.
About the Reeb Memorial Lecture
The James J. Reeb Memorial Lecture series brings nationally and internationally renowned speakers to campus each year whose life, work, and dedication to the cause of social justice and human rights are an inspiring example for the St. Olaf community.
The endowment to support the lecture series was established by Paul Jeffrey Parks in memory of his companion, Stephen Henry Oertel, who died of AIDS in 1989. Parks hopes that this annual series contributes to ongoing conversations about social justice and serves to remember Oertel and his commitment to these issues.
The lecture series is named in honor of St. Olaf alumnus James Reeb ’50, who in 1965 answered Martin Luther King Jr.’s call for clergy to march with him in Selma, Alabama. Shortly after arriving in Selma, Reeb and two other clergy members were attacked by white supremacists as they were leaving a diner. Reeb died from his injuries two days later. His death inspired a wave of nationwide protests and served as a catalyst for the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
St. Olaf College will host Keith Edwards, a scholar and educator on sexual violence prevention, for a series of talks and presentations on March 15.
Edwards will deliver a chapel talk and community time presentation open to everyone from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. He will speak to faculty and staff from 4 to 5 p.m. in the Black and Gold Ballrooms, and will close his visit with a presentation for students at 7:30 p.m. in the Pause.
This event was made possible by generous support from a fan of all that St. Olaf is doing to promote dialogue on important topics.
For the past 15 years, Edwards has been speaking on college campuses nationally on sexual violence prevention, men’s identity, social justice education, ally development, leadership, curricular approaches beyond the classroom, and student affairs leadership. He has spoken and consulted at more than 150 colleges and universities, presented more than 150 programs at national conferences, and has written more than 15 articles or book chapters on these issues.
“The purpose of his visit is to provide our community with the information and language needed to start more conversations on campus regarding gender-based violence prevention and men’s identity development,” says Assistant Director of Student Activities for Wellness Jon Mergens. “Our hope is our community will feel empowered to talk with one another more critically about these issues on campus.”
Visit St. Olaf’s Title IX website for information about sexual violence resources on campus.
Edwards took time before his visit to campus to answer a few questions about his work:
How did you come to be an educator on sexual violence prevention?
I first heard messages about real sexual violence prevention when I was a sophomore in college at Hamline University. Unfortunately, I wasn’t ready to hear them at the time, but I kept coming back to it every time a person in my life would share their experience as a survivor. Later in graduate school I was working with many survivors and brought the same person to speak, who I had disagreed with as a sophomore. At the end of his visit to campus, he shared the presentation with me and encouraged me to start speaking. That was nearly 20 years ago.
What will your talk focus on when you visit?
My talk on sexual violence prevention will focus on how we can reframe the issue of sexual violence from being reactive to being proactive. This will include clear definitions, ways to support survivors, exploring the realities of sexual violence on campus, clarifying actionable definitions of consent, exploring the ways we are mis-educated in our culture, and identifying concrete and tangible ways we can all take action to make sexual violence rare and socially unacceptable.
What is the most important point you hope students will take away from your talk?
That they need to and can make a difference right here in their communities that will make things better for everyone.
Why is your talk beneficial for all genders to attend?
Because we are all mis-educated in our culture about these issues. We probably all contribute to the problem of sexual violence in ways that we are unaware. And most importantly, we can all be part of the solution in changing our communities.
How can students help change the culture of sexual violence on campus?
They can speak up and address sexual violence when it is imminent. They can also speak up and challenge the roots of sexual violence.
Watch his TEDx Talk below
Last Thursday, the Black and Gold Ballrooms of Buntrock Commons were buzzing with students from the Class of 2020. The sophomore class meandered around the perimeter of the rooms, chatting with faculty members from each of the St. Olaf College academic departments. A line stretched half-way across the ballrooms as people waited for a chance to pose for a photo with their classmates. The remaining students hovered over round tables filling in a blank line below the words “I Declare.” It’s major declaration day!
The event, co-hosted by the Academic Support and Advising and the Alumni and Parent Relations Office, was a celebration for students declaring their major course of study for the remainder of their time at St. Olaf. Some signs were simple and had a clear direction, while others could have used two more signs to accurately depict their studies.
The Piper Center offered photographers to take headshots for students’ LinkedIn profiles. Some departments even offered small rewards — the Philosophy Department table was covered in buttons with likenesses of famous thinkers from antiquity, while the Biology Department table sported temporary tattoos that say “I heart Biology,” with the word “heart” depicting an actual human heart.
Congratulations, Oles!Click to view slideshow.
What happens when the goat-god Pan brings a city boy, a country girl, and a crabby old man all together? You get a play with a very happy ending!
A cast of 15 St. Olaf College Classics students, directed by Professor of Classics and Department Chair Anne Groton, will present an ancient Greek comedy, Menander’s Dyskolos (“The Crabby Man”), on March 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m. in Christiansen Hall of Music, Room 233 (Fosnes Hall).
Both performances are free and open to the public; no tickets are needed. Since it is performed in a musical mixture of English (90 percent) and ancient Greek, no knowledge of Greek is required for understanding the show. The humor is suitable for children from about the age of 5 and up, so it’s a family friendly event.
Before the performances at St. Olaf, the troupe will go on a two-day tour. On March 7, they will perform at Parnassus Preparatory School, Benilde-St. Margaret’s School, Eagle Ridge Academy, and Macalester College. On March 8, they will perform at St. Croix Preparatory Academy, St. Agnes School, and Gustavus Adolphus College.
This will be the St. Olaf Classics Department’s 22nd production of an ancient comedy.
Menander (c. 343-291 BCE), a famous playwright from Athens, wrote more than 100 comedies in Greek; many of these were later adapted and translated into Latin by the Roman playwrights Plautus and Terence. Dyskolos, which won first prize at the Lenaea festival of 316 BCE, is the only complete play by Menander to have survived. After being lost for over 1000 years, it was rediscovered by chance in the late 1950’s, preserved in a papyrus codex from Egypt.
Joanne Lynn, one of the first hospice physicians in the United States and a national leader in research and policy on care for the last phase of life, will speak at St. Olaf College on March 8.
Her lecture, titled Sick To Death and Not Going to Take It Anymore!: Reforming Health Care for the Last Years of Life, is part of the Institute for Freedom and Community’s spring series on “Freedom, Community, and Health Care.” It will begin at 7 p.m. in Viking Theater in Buntrock Commons, and is free an open to the public. It will also be streamed and archived online.
In her talk on eldercare and end-of-life care, Lynn will discuss why she believes “a whole new system” is needed to help support the elderly through medical care, adaptive housing, disability transportation, in-home nutrition, and more.
Lynn serves as the director of the Center for Elder Care and Advanced Illness at the Altarum Institute. She focuses on shaping American health care so that every person can count on living comfortably and meaningfully through the period of serious illness and disability in the last years of life, at a sustainable cost to the community.
She is a trusted advisor to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator and staff, faculty member of the Institute for Health Care Improvement, and nationally renowned Clinical Professor at George Washington University. She has formerly held leadership roles with the RAND Corporation and Dartmouth Medical School.
Lynn is the author of more than 250 professional articles, and her dozen books include The Handbook for Mortals, a guide for the public; The Common Sense Guide to Improving Palliative Care, an instruction manual for clinicians and managers seeking to improve quality; and Sick to Death and Not Going to Take it Any More!, an action guide for policymakers and advocates. She has authored various amicus briefs for pivotal appellate court cases and is a trusted resource for the nation’s journalists on these topics.
Lynn is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Social Insurance. She is a Master of the American College of Physicians and a Fellow of the American Geriatrics Society. She is also a fellow of The Hastings Center, having been awarded its lifetime achievement award for ethics and the life sciences.
Read about other upcoming events in the “Freedom, Community, and Health Care” series.
From St. Olaf College’s founding by Norwegian immigrants to today’s “Dreamers,” the college’s commitment to immigrants from all nations is reinforced by its mission. In the most recent issue of St. Olaf Magazine, alumni and students share their personal immigration stories in the hope that Oles will continue to work alongside neighbors, friends, and strangers to welcome all voices and experiences to America. This is one story from that series.
St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church is located in the Phillips neighborhood of South Minneapolis, just two blocks north of East Lake Street, a throughway that was known for porn theaters, pawn shops, and massage parlors as little as 15 years ago. But the area has been transformed recently by an influx of new restaurants and markets, thanks in great part to the immigrants who have embraced the neighborhood and made it their home.
“Immigrants have brought an energy and vitality that has sparked renewal in the neighborhood and community,” says Patrick Hansel, who co-pastors St. Paul’s with his Chilean-born wife, Luisa Cabello Hansel. “These people have left their countries with a mindset of trying to achieve and grow, to work hard and sacrifice so that their children can have a better life.”
St. Paul’s has also transformed itself to meet the needs of its neighbors, many of whom come from Latin America — predominantly from Mexico but also from Chile, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic. The church has a weekly worship service in Spanish and focuses much of its programming on engaging the community. It offers summer leadership and exploration camps and employment programs for young people and provides training in how to grow and maintain a community garden. It also hosts a free clinic in gardening.
“Immigrants have brought an energy and vitality that has sparked renewal in the neighborhood and community”
St. Paul’s founded, and is home to, the nonprofit Semilla Center for Healing and the Arts, which beautifies the Phillips neighborhood by creating public art in the form of mosaics and murals. In collaboration with the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater, St. Paul’s celebrates the Christmas tradition of Las Posadas, a reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem that has been a ritual in Mexico for more than 400 years.
“We were called here 12 years ago with the intention of being a cornerstone for the community,” says Hansel, who previously served inner-city parishes in Philadelphia and the Bronx. “We believe that reconciliation in Christ includes the whole neighborhood.” To that end, St. Paul’s opens its doors as a meeting place for many groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, a diabetes support group, and organizations focused on issues related to immigration.
Hansel says his role as pastor is to help his congregants see their personal story mirrored in the Bible. “So much of the Biblical story is about migrating, from Abraham and Sarah to people escaping slavery in Egypt to Jesus being born in Bethlehem because of powers beyond his control,” he says. “Those stories contain themes my parishioners can relate to, and through them, we can build relationships that are nonjudgmental and welcoming to all.”
“So much of the Biblical story is about migrating, from Abraham and Sarah to people escaping slavery in Egypt to Jesus being born in Bethlehem because of powers beyond his control. Those stories contain themes my parishioners can relate to, and through them, we can build relationships that are nonjudgmental and welcoming to all.” — Patrick Hansel ’75 / Pastor, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church / Minneapolis (Photographed with his wife and co-pastor, Luisa Cabello
Hansel, by Tom Roster)
This spring, St. Olaf College will install synthetic turf at Rolf Mellby Field. Renovation will start in April – the new field will be ready by fall 2018.
The $1.25 million project is made possible by a lead anonymous gift from an alumni family, supported by additional gifts from Ole families.
“We are very grateful for the investment these alumni are making to enhance the student experience,” says St. Olaf College Athletic Director Ryan Bowles. “These improvements will help us match the commitment Oles are making to excel in whatever they do.”
Installing an advanced artificial turf system at Mellby will provide Oles a consistent high-performance athletic surface that reinforces their safety and increases the field’s usability. The project will remove the current bleachers and add a viewing plateau cut into the bowl at mid-field. Additionally, team benches will face east, helping student athletes and coaches avoid glare during play.
While St. Olaf’s soccer teams will have priority access, other varsity, club, and intramural sports will be able to use the new turf. The field design provides St. Olaf the option to add an inflatable dome over the field at a future date to extend use through winter.
“We are very grateful for the investment these alumni are making to enhance the student experience. These improvements will help us match the commitment Oles are making to excel in whatever they do.”
The project is among several enhancements recently funded by donor contributions — on Friday, the college announced construction of new facilities for its nursing program. St. Olaf has also begun building an ice arena that will include new varsity locker rooms for its baseball, soccer, softball, and volleyball teams.
Donors are making these gifts as part of St. Olaf’s $200 million For the Hill and Beyond comprehensive campaign — Oles and friends have given $173 million or 87 percent toward this goal as of January 31 to advance high-impact academics, enhance affordability, and strengthen St. Olaf’s residential learning community while sustaining our mission.
Ole women first organized a soccer club team 40 years ago next fall — to celebrate the anniversary, the first team to play on the new pitch will be the varsity women. The women’s home opener is currently scheduled for August 31.
In a year awash with groundbreaking accomplishments by women — from Simone Biles’s Internet-breaking Olympic performances to Leslie Jones’s rising Hollywood star to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign — Julie Van Grol saw artistic inspiration.
The illustrator and college instructor had been casting about for a project that would strengthen her portfolio when she hit on an idea to highlight a successful woman every day for 100 days with a series of portraits on Instagram. A hashtag to promote the project, #100daysofbadassbabes, was born. “I had just come off of a weekend cabin retreat with my college roommates, and we had spent the weekend talking about feminism and women we admired,” she says. “I realized that I wanted to put my mind in that frame every day — to think about someone I admired and challenge myself to learn to things.”
She launched the project on August 1 with a portrait of Michelle Obama, who’d ignited the Democratic National Convention with a powerful speech just days earlier. Using her Wacom tablet (a digital drawing tool similar to an iPad), Van Grol spent hours sketching a colorful portrait of the First Lady, and wrote a few sentences about her influence in politics.
Over the coming days, Van Grol found new sources of inspiration from daily news and historical reading. Her subjects included Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, political activist Angela Davis, and tennis and entrepreneurial superstars Venus and Serena Williams. Regardless of her workload as an instructor at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) and her other freelance projects, she carved out a couple hours every single day to work on the project.
As the number of portraits in the series grew, so did her Instagram following — more than quadrupling to about a thousand followers — and she was profiled in Huffington Post. At popular request, she began selling a dozen of the most popular portraits on her website.
Most important to her, she’s had school teachers request images from the series to use in their classrooms. “It’s tough to find teaching aids that speak to particular subjects, so it’s thrilling that teachers are finding this work,” Van Grol says. “The best thing I could possibly hear about this project is that it gets into schools.”
Somewhere in the process of illustrating portraits of badass babes, Julie Van Grol became one.
“Art can seem very serious — like you’ve got to encapsulate the entire human experience, but sometimes, you just want to make someone smile.”
The Instagram project did more than put a spotlight on 100 women that Van Grol admired and wanted to bring to a wider audience — it highlighted the discipline that has helped her succeed as an artist on her own terms. In a world bubbling with great ideas, very few people maintain the dogged commitment to seeing the spark of inspiration all the way through to completion. “It was an undertaking,” she admits. “I’m not very fast, but it was a daily commitment. I didn’t miss my babe of the day.”
Associate Art and Art History Professor John Saurer sussed out that work ethic almost from the moment Van Grol arrived at St. Olaf. “Julie always had
a particular focus and determination to do things,” he recalls. “She tried what we had available here, and when she couldn’t get it in her classes, she pursued other opportunities, like [screenprinting] in Paris and an independent study with me.”
Saurer admires Van Grol’s desire to explore new areas and challenge herself. “In her independent study, she set up lessons for herself based on what she wanted to accomplish and learn and experience,” he says. “She set her own path.”
For Van Grol, St. Olaf offered rich opportunities, both within the classroom and beyond it. Even as she excelled in studio art, she also sought to find an outlet for her work that aligned closely with her personality: optimistic, clever, and funny. “Art can seem very serious — like you’ve got to encapsulate the entire human experience,” she says. “But sometimes, you just want to make someone smile.”
While at St. Olaf, she was inspired by the work of Jay Ryan, an illustrator whose lighthearted drawings of cats, rabbits, and bears — featured prominently on concert posters for musician Andrew Bird — helped her understand that there were many ways to be an artist. “I realized there was a spectrum,” she says. “There’s art that makes you think about the larger idea of humanity, and there’s the commercial art of a candy bar wrapper. I like being more in the middle, where you can still create a narrative and have human connection, but you don’t have to overthink it.”
Thanks to her friendships with St. Olaf musicians, she had opportunities while on the Hill to create gig posters and other art for bands. When she graduated in 2008 — launching herself into the world just as the economy began to crumble — she stayed fiercely devoted to her work. She took a job at a Chicago-area cafe and kept at it. “In my off hours, I was making artwork from cardboard flats that I would take from work,” she says. “I just kept drawing.”
When the cafe closed down in 2010, Van Grol moved to Minneapolis and prepared a portfolio that eventually landed her a spot in MCAD, where she earned an M.F.A. She later took an adjunct teaching position at the art college, which she balances with her freelance work.
The whimsical touch she has honed over the years is evident within her portfolio, which is dotted with illustrated paper airplanes, cowboy-hat- clad rabbits, and llamas peeking out of apartment windows. Today, you can see her work on tea towels — she’s created souvenir towels for the city of Dallas, as well as for Tennessee and most Midwestern states — and on the St. Paul Public Library’s Bookmobile. If you’ve seen any of the work for St. Olaf’s current campaign (you have), you might recognize a Van Grol illustration: an image of candy-colored St. Olaf buildings against a pink sky.
“There’s art that makes you think about the larger idea of humanity, and there’s the commercial art of a candy bar wrapper. I like being more in the middle.”
After more than three months of serious portrait work, Van Grol wrapped up her Badass Babes project with her 100th woman, Hillary Clinton, on November 9. “It was serendipitous that it ended that day, but regardless of the outcome of the election, history was made,” she says.
And while she’s ready to return to some of the more playful illustrations she’s done for years and occasionally wants to make lighthearted work (“like illustrating a turquoise house cat hanging out in a fluorescent pink jungle”), Van Grol will not stop using her artistic practice to engage in the social and political conversation.
“I feel compelled to still use illustration to continue to make a difference. And perhaps that means turning toward children’s books. That medium holds so much significance on how children view themselves and the world. I feel compelled to enter that field in order to empower children to live lives of love and respect, towards themselves and others,” she says.
“I need to keep using my voice and my work, now more than ever.”
Erin Peterson is a Minneapolis freelance writer and editor, and a regular contributor to St. Olaf
100 Days of Badass Babes
From authors to athletes to political figures, the women of Van Grol’s Badass Babes project are
high achievers from many eras. To see the entire project, visit:
St. Olaf College’s Nursing Department will move into a state-of-the-art learning and simulation space inside Regents Hall of Natural and Mathematical Sciences. Renovation will begin this June and be complete next fall. Instruction in the facility will start in February 2019.
“Regents Hall offers us both the space and technical capacity we need to train our nursing students,” says Associate Professor and Chair of Nursing Mary Beth Kuehn. “Nearly half of the prerequisite nursing courses are currently taught in Regents. Making Regents our new program home will better support collaboration with our science colleagues and provide us the space needed to provide the best training possible for our nursing students.”
A key feature of the 5,500 square foot renovation will be expanded space for simulation training with high-fidelity patient simulators. The $805,000 facility will feature two simulation labs — double its current space — along with a simulation control room, multi-bed skills lab, demonstration classroom, debriefing/testing rooms, and faculty and staff offices. It will occupy space that formerly housed the science library that is now part of Rolvaag Memorial Library.
“Regents Hall offers us both the space and technical capacity we need to train our nursing students.”
Experiential learning is a critical part of a nursing education at St. Olaf. Traditionally nurses have gained most of their clinical experience working with providers in hospitals and other clinical settings. But as demand on providers grows and nursing enrollments expand, clinical placements are increasingly difficult to arrange. Newer risk protocols also limit patient exposure to students. In response, schools like St. Olaf are increasingly using simulation training. It’s a move that multiple studies support, including a landmark study by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing that affirms up to 50 percent of traditional experiences can be replaced with simulation training.
“Working with simulators allows students to engage in more high-impact, realistic scenarios such as cardiac or respiratory arrest or drug overdose that may not be consistently available to students during their clinical experiences,” says Kuehn. “This expansion will allow all our nursing students to build experience in these critical scenarios — doing so will increase their confidence and clinical judgment for professional practice. We are excited for the possibilities this new facility will provide and grateful for the support that will make it possible.”
In simulation labs, students work with educator-controlled adult and neonatal patient simulators that mimic neurological and physiological processes such as respiration, blood flow, muscle activity, eye movement, and skin response. Training modules support St. Olaf’s curriculum and lead students through a variety of clinical experiences related to patient care.
“Working with simulators allows students to engage in more high-impact, realistic scenarios such as cardiac or respiratory arrest or drug overdose that may not be consistently available to students during their clinical experiences.”
Regents Hall is especially well-suited for simulation training and interdisciplinary collaboration. It supports major instrumentation, student-faculty research collaboration, and technology-rich instruction that keeps pace with emerging scientific discovery. The new nursing facilities will aid other pre-health students, often science majors, who frequent Regents too. The department is temporarily housed in Ytterboe Hall.
“While this renovation will expand our tools for teaching, St. Olaf’s holistic approach to nursing education remains unchanged,” says Kuehn. “Simulation training will supplement rather than replace clinical experiences we coordinate with a range of providers. Our curriculum will continue to integrate an education of the whole person and foster lifelong learning and service.”
The new facility is made possible in part by a grant from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies. St. Olaf is working now to raise additional project support from alumni and friends of its nursing program.
About 165 Oles take nursing courses annually, and 24 majors graduate from the nursing program each spring. In 2017, 100 percent of the graduating class passed the NCLEX licensing examination — only one other baccalaureate program among 23 in Minnesota did the same. All Oles gained employment as entry-level professional nurses within six months.
Eight recent St. Olaf graduates were named Fulbright fellows for 2017-18, and three members of the graduating class were named alternates. They include (front row, from left) Mary Studer, Susan Hoops, (middle row, from left) Sophie Breen, Mary Katherine Maney, Elaine Macon, (back row, from left) Serena Calcagno, Madison Okuno, and Rinnah Becker.
St. Olaf College is one of the top producers of Fulbright fellows among liberal arts colleges across the nation.
Eight recent St. Olaf graduates won Fulbright awards for 2017–18, putting the college on a list of colleges and universities that produced the most fellows this year.
The list, compiled by the Institute of International Education on behalf of the U.S. Department of State, was published in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Of the eight recent St. Olaf graduates who earned the prestigious award this year, three are using their Fulbright awards to conduct research and five are performing English teaching assistantships.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is sponsored by the Department of State and awards more than 1,500 grants to U.S. students every year.
The program operates in more than 140 countries, seeking to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and people of other countries” and “contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.” Program participants are chosen based on many factors, including leadership potential and academic merit.
Shaquille Brown ’19 stands in the Groot Gallery, where the exhibit she curated, ‘Uprising | Black Reign: Narrating Black Expression on the Hill,’ is on display through February 26.
Fabric. Photo Montage. Digital Painting. Charcoal. Music Media. Ceramics.
Everywhere a visitor looks in the new Groot Gallery art exhibit, there is a new work created in a new medium by a new artist. No signs, no explanatory plaques. Here, the art speaks for itself — and the powerful story it tells is one of Black presence at St. Olaf College.
Curated by Shaquille Brown ’19, Uprising | Black Reign: Narrating Black Expression on the Hill, features the work of St. Olaf students, faculty, and one recent graduate.
“Every piece of art in this show explores some specific narrative of Blackness,” Brown writes in her Curatorial Statement. “The variation of media in this show is a testament to the versatility of Black artists at St. Olaf and in our wider global community. Our stories are diverse, and they will be heard.”
The show runs through February 26 in the Center for Art and Dance’s Groot Gallery, and it will be reinstalled in the Flaten Art Museum June 1-3 for Reunion Weekend.
In inviting artists to participate in the show, Brown did not ask that their work fit into a specific theme. “Originally the concept was ‘a seat at the table,’ and I knew that I wanted the gallery transformed into a home. With that in mind, I knew that I could arrange any piece of art into that setting,” says Brown, an international student from Kingston, Jamaica. “I did not want to force a theme. So many people expect that Black art has to have a political theme to it, but I disagree. For me, ‘Black Art’ is simply art created by Black artists, and Black works occupying a space like Groot was in and of itself political enough.”
“The variation of media in this show is a testament to the versatility of Black artists at St. Olaf and in our wider global community. Our stories are diverse, and they will be heard.”
Brown hopes that the exhibit will help people acknowledge and celebrate the depth of the contributions of Black students, faculty, and staff to the St. Olaf community. She notes that the exhibit was intentionally designed to symbolize “the fractured atmosphere surrounding race” in the community.
“The colorful home installed inside Groot’s white walls plays on the reality of many Black students, faculty, and staff at St. Olaf: decorative black faces interrupting a white space,” she notes in her Curatorial Statement.
The opening reception and viewing of the show had an impressive turnout, and Brown hopes to make exhibitions like hers an annual event at St. Olaf.
“This show is first and foremost narration and celebration of Black life on the Hill,” she says, adding that it’s also an opportunity for members of Black community “to occupy space and have our presence seen and felt at St. Olaf: to demand the privilege of also feeling at home at St. Olaf.”Click to view slideshow.