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Alumnae Council builds on momentum during annual meeting

The Alumnae Council welcomed several new members this year, including Diane Kiesner Hammill '56 of Crawfordsville, IN, and Julie Beckel Nelsen '91 from the Twin Cities.
The Alumnae Council welcomed several new members this year, including Diane Kiesner Hammill '56 of Crawfordsville, IN, and Julie Beckel Nelsen '91 from the Twin Cities.
Sharon Rolenc

Over 150 alumnae from across the country gathered for the annual Alumnae Council meeting in September. The focus of the two-day event was “Building the Momentum” from the council’s inaugural year. Activities included updates from University leaders on the upcoming Higher Learning Commission (HLC) 10-year accreditation site visit, new academic programs and research initiatives and achievements.

In her Friday morning address to the council, President Andrea Lee, IHM, thanked council members for their leadership and involvment with St. Catherine University and underscored the value of a St. Kate's education.

“A St. Catherine education yields committed and effective graduates — business leaders, social workers, parents and legislators; ambassadors and judges; writers and scholars; nurses, physicians and therapists; community and church leaders; scientists, teachers, interpreters and artists. Members of the Alumnae Council, just look around you and you’ll see what I mean,” she said.

Representing various age groups and professions, Alumnae Council members served on one of 11 working committees, which met at the event to set the course for the next year’s work.

Committee chairs presented the numerous achievements of their inaugural year including student recruitment through alumnae referral cards, special marketing and outreach for Give to St. Kate’s Day, a special evening of The Reflective Woman interviews, the creation of new events to engage alumnae like Citizen Katie and KatieFest, and increased engagement with existing events like Reunion and Chautauqua.

"It was terrific to spend a day and a half with such an energetic and inspiring group of alumnae," said Linda Theis Thrasher '88, chair of the Alumnae Council and a trustee of St. Catherine University. She said the Alumnae Council has made great strides in the last year, especially in the areas of delivering new programs and expanding participation in alumnae events.

"During this next year, we will continue to focus on building the momentum that we created during the past 12 months," she said. "For the Council, that means increasing engagement with the University for all of our alumnae across the globe. No doubt a big goal, but an important one!"

Academic Excellence

The three academic deans provided updates and engaged council members in discussion about the happenings of the University, including faculty achievements and new majors being offered by the University like music theater, women and international development and interior design.

New degrees were also highlighted, including the Master of Physician Assistant Studies program, which is already seeing growth.

“We had plans to bring in 16 students this fall, and we brought in 24. We’ll have to look at what we can do next year because right now there’s over 100 who have applied for next year,” says Penelope Moyers, Ed.D., dean of the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health and Graduate College. “It’s very clear that our healthcare system needs these professionals.”

The academic deans also announced a new MBA program due to launch in fall 2013.

“This MBA will launch with a healthcare focus," said Paula King, Ph.D., dean of the School of Business and Leadership, Education and MLIS. "Penny and I, in collaboration with others, are designing an MBA that really focuses on change leadership to address the demand for innovation, processes and practices in healthcare.”

Among the achievements discussed, key grants were secured in the past year positioning St. Catherine University as a leading higher ed institution, including a $400,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development for the University to redesign RN-BS Degree Completion, and a $201,787 grant from the National Science Foundation for the purchase of a single-crystal x-ray diffractometer that designates St. Kate’s as a regional PUI Molecular Structure Facility.

Higher Learning Commission site visit

Alan Silva, assistant vice president and dean of the School of Humanities, Arts and Sciences, also shared details of the University’s upcoming re-accreditation site visit with the Alumnae Council. During the site visit, which will be conducted in February 2013, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association will review St. Catherine University’s ongoing ability to meet the Commission’s Criteria for Accreditation.

“Accreditation is about expressing the quality of our programs and an opportunity for improvement,” he said. Silva, who chairs the University’s HLC Steering Committee, explained that the title of his presentation, “The Reflective U,” is at the heart of the self-study writing process. “The self study is a really a reflection on who we are and how we accomplish and fulfill our mission.”

The theme for the self-study is “From College to University: Eight Directions to Five Destinations in Ten Years." Building upon the University’s 2020 Strategic Plan, the self-study contains eight strategic directions and five destination metrics to be accomplished over ten years – from 2010-2020.

Faculty took the podium on Thursday night to address each chapter of the self-study, outline key facts and share what has been learned about the University’s strengths and weaknesses during the writing process. In closing, they urged alumnae to submit comments regarding the quality of the University or its academic program to the Higher Learning Commission in advance of the site visit.

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) seeks third party comments on institutions to give institutional constituencies the opportunity to provide the Commission evaluation team with their perspectives on the institution. Alumnae may submit comments to:

Public Comment on St. Catherine University
The Higher Learning Commission
230 South LaSalle St., Suite 7-500
Chicago, IL 60604-1411

Comments can also be submitted on the Commission's Website.

Oct. 1, 2012 by Sharon Rolenc

See also: Alumnae/i