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St. Kate’s bids farewell to retirees

Retiring MLIS Professor Mary Wagner ’69 (right), with Myser Initiative Director Amata Miller, IHM.
Retiring MLIS Professor Mary Wagner ’69 (right), with Myser Initiative Director Amata Miller, IHM.
Photo by Hilary Stein '14.

St. Catherine University is saying farewell to 13 retirees — 12 professors and a staff member — this academic year. Only 11 could attend the Thursday retirement reception in Rauenhorst ballroom, which was packed with their colleagues, family members and students.

At the event, University President Andrea Lee, IHM, thanked the retirees for their "long and loyal service." (Collectively, more than 320 years.) She also honored each person with a personal tribute — crafted from 200 words, Powerpoint slides and quotations from celebrities or historical figures that captured the retirees persona or discipline.

"Thank you for the loving tributes," said Toné C. Blechert, retiring associate dean and the longest serving of the group, to a standing ovation. "Love is the word that keeps springing to my lips all the time when I think of this place."

Toné C. Blechert ’67, M.A. ’93
Executive Director, College for Applied and Continuing Learning
Associate Dean of Health Professions and Two-Year Programs
41 years of service

Since the merger of St. Mary’s and St. Kate’s in 1986, Blechert has been a positive and energetic bridge builder and has worked to unite the University while preserving the unique culture and contributions of the Minneapolis campus. She has served on or chaired every elected committee and worked on mission-centered University initiatives for Catholic identity, leadership and diversity. Blechert was named associate dean in 1999.

Alice R. Swan, D.N.Sc.
Associate Dean of the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health
Professor of Nursing
39 years of service

Swan’s leadership guided the merger of the St. Paul and Minneapolis nursing departments, thereby integrating the associate, bac­calaureate and graduate degree programs into a single Department of Nursing. She chaired the department for more than 20 years and was appointed associate dean for nursing in 2001. She also served as interim dean for both the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health and the Graduate College in 2009–10.

Mary M. Wagner ’69, Ph.D.
Professor of Library and Information Science
37 years of service

Wagner established the library science program at St. Kate’s and was director from 1991 to 2010. She collaborated with the St. Paul Public Library in 2003 to establish the Urban Library Certificate Program, which was recognized by First Lady Laura Bush. Wagner received a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship in 2010 to teach and develop curriculum at the University of Zambia in Lusaka.

Terrence F. Flower, Ph.D.
Professor of Physics and Astronomy
33 years of service

Flower chaired the physics department for more than 30 years (1979–2010), was the Endowed Professor of Science 1996–1999 and served as the Univer­sity’s principal investigator in the NASA Minnesota Space Grant Consortium (1992–2010). He is responsible for a number of grants that have resulted in scientific or research equipment for St. Kate’s, including two telescopes and the astrophysical observatory.

Thomas H. West, Ph.D.
Professor of Theology
33 years of service

During his tenure, West served as chair of the Department of Theology, director of the Master of Theology program and held the Sister Mona Riley Endowed Chair in the Humanities from 2005 to 2008. He developed a team-taught course in 1984 examining justice in Latin America. The course provided a model for St. Kate’s Global Search for Justice.

William A. Myers, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy
32 years of service

Myers chaired the philosophy department between 1990 and 1999, during which time he led the St. Kate’s faculty through a comprehensive revision of the core curriculum. He has served as the Sister Mona Riley Endowed Chair in the Humanities. He also invented and taught some of St. Kate’s most popular and rigorous philosophy courses, including “Philosophy and Human Life” and “Environmental Ethics.”

Adele Marie Rothan, CSJ, Ph.D.
Professor of Mathematics
27 year of service

Sister Adele, who teaches a wide range of courses in all mathematical specialties, has served as both chair (1988–1994) and co-chair (1997–2003) of the mathematical sciences department. She had a close professional and personal relationship with Sister Seraphim Gibbons, the founding mother of mathematics at St. Kate’s — and continued her legacy of inspiring students to pursue advanced degrees and careers in mathematics.

Patricia C. Dunlop, Ph.D.
Professor of Chemistry
26 years of service

Dunlop has primarily taught upper-division biochemistry courses and the introductory health sciences chemistry course. She is co-principal investigator on St. Kate’s National Science Foundation-funded S-STEM grants, which provide scholarships for students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Louise Roth
Administrative Assistant, Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
24 years of service

Roth’s responsibilities included managing the occupational therapy office and all the important databases related to students. She recently had a major role in the program's move to Fontbonne Hall.

Kay Vander Vort ’75, M.A. ’89
Director, Spiritual Direction Certificate Program
23 years of service

Vander Vort was a founder and co-leader of the Theological Insights program, the monthly gatherings designed to engage women with some of the best theological voices in the nation. Those gatherings went on for 10 years. She joined St. Kate’s as an adjunct instructor in 1989 and was appointed director of the graduate program in spiritual direction in 1999.

Michael J. Dorer, Ed.D.
Director, Center for Contemporary Montessori Programs
Associate Professor of Education
19 years of service

Dorer began his career in Montessori education in 1969 as a classroom assistant. He joined the Twin Cities Montessori Center as a teacher in the late 1970s and became an adjunct instructor at St. Catherine in 1985 when St. Kate’s acquired the center. In 1993, Dorer, an internationally trained Montessori educator and consultant, was named director of the Montessori program.

Susan A. Johnson, M.S.
Assistant Professor of Nursing
13 years of service

Johnson, who has more than 20 years of teaching experience in maternal-child nursing, has been responsible for orienting new nursing faculty to clinical teaching protocols and processes. Most recently, she has been instrumental in introducing curricular and policy changes in the associate degree nursing program to improve student learning and program outcomes.  

Susan Shoemaker, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Library and Information Science
6 years of service

In addition to teaching and mentoring students, she has regularly incorporated service learning or community engagement experiences in her courses. Her research interests focus on the social aspects of library and information science, especially as they relate to minority and gender status.

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May 8, 2012 by Pauline Oo

See also: Alumnae/i, Faculty, Leadership