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St. Catherine University honors staff and faculty in annual awards ceremonies

Left to right: Brian Bruess, VP, Mary Ann Brenden, assoc. professor (social work), and Rafael Cervantes, assist. professor (comm. studies).
Left to right: Brian Bruess, VP, Mary Ann Brenden, assoc. professor (social work), and Rafael Cervantes, assist. professor (comm. studies).
Photo by Rebecca Zenefski \'10.

Three St. Kate’s staff members and two faculty members were honored for their achievements and efforts over the past year.

Each year, University staff members acknowledge colleagues' achievements by nominating them for annual staff awards. Following nominations, staff members campus-wide submit letters of support, and a committee comprised of past winners and campus leaders makes recommendations to University Cabinet for the final decision.

Winners are announced during the annual Faculty and Staff Awards ceremony in Our Lady of Victory Chapel in the heart of the University’s St. Paul campus.

The event also acknowledges staff members for years of service. Starting at five years and acknowledging employees at five-year intervals, staff members who have served St. Kate's up to 40 years were celebrated this year for their dedication.

Presiding over the ceremonies was President Andrea J. Lee, IHM, who acknowledged all those who work at St. Kate’s as “wonderful colleagues who show up, and step up — every single day and so keep St. Catherine moving in the right direction.

“The many ways in which you lead and influence is the highest form of modeling those qualities we hope students will develop during their time here.”

A look back to 2010

The 2011 staff member awards began with an addendum to the 2010 awards. Beth Koenig, director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP), was selected for the 2010 Administrator of the Year award but had to miss the ceremony last year due to a family member’s illness.

An alumna and valued employee, Koenig is an attorney and founding director of ORSP, an office that supports the work of faculty, staff and students, as well as the goals of St. Catherine’s strategic plan.

“Beth challenges colleagues to think big, and then supports those dreams with extensive knowledge of funding sources and requirements, considerable energy, thoughtful insights and plenty of late nights and hard work,” said Sister Andrea in making the award.

Service/support staff member of the year

Candidates for staff member of the year were nominated for their efficient and professional work performance, positive communication skills and contributions to the St. Kate’s community. Winners receive a cash prize and certificate of appreciation.

Described as the “glue that holds the FCNS department together,” Mary Galvin, administrative assistant for the Family Consumer and Nutrition Sciences and Exercise Science departments, was honored for demonstrating the highest ideals of St. Kate’s:  caring, resourceful and dedicated to the goal of empowering women.

Letters of support for her nomination praised her for living her values in the workplace and the model that presented to students. “She is exactly the kind of person who makes students feel at home here at St. Kate’s,” said President Lee, recounting a faculty member’s letter of support.

Administrative staff award

Martha Malinski, director of the Center for Community Work and Learning (CWL), was honored for her leadership in developing the center and those who work there.

“Martha has worked tirelessly to develop strong connections and grow the Center to deepen students’ learning and St. Kate’s impact in the community,” said President Lee.

 In 2010, more than 1,000 St. Catherine University students logged more than 24,000 hours at community organizations across the Twin Cities, making a noted difference for both the University and the community in which students serve.

“But her achievements are more than just numbers,” said President Lee. “Martha is a strategic and thoughtful leader.  Her passion for social justice is apparent in the way she chooses partnering organizations and works to integrate CWL’s work across both campuses.“

2011 Faculty Teaching and Advising Awards

St. Catherine University recognizes faculty members for their quality of teaching and dedication to effective academic advising.

“They are selected from an impressive faculty that, itself, embodies the highest tiers of academic excellence and student centeredness,” said President Lee.

The selection committee conducts classroom visits and reviews faculty syllabi, course evaluations, and letters of nomination and support in making their decision.

The first faculty member honored was Rafael Cervantes, assistant professor of communication studies and department chair.

Affectionately known as “Dr. C” to his students, Cervantes received enthusiastic nominations and multiple letters of support from students and colleagues.

"As nominators and supporters wrote in letters of support, Cervantes 'laid back' demeanor hides a razor-sharp intellect that combines effectively with a rigorous and creative teaching style," said President Lee.

 One admirer said: “Don’t let Dr. C’s jovial nature fool you; he demands quality work from his students and routinely requests students to push themselves beyond their expectations, and in doing so, often uncovers hidden potential.”

Students wrote that his expectations were high, but that he worked hard to help them achieve what he knew they were capable of attaining.

The second Faculty and Advising Award winner was Karen Sames, associate professor of occupational science and occupational therapy

In letters of support from students and colleagues, Sames was praised as an innovative educator whose passion for continuing education and commitment to students and to the profession made her a role model for all.

 Sames, who has served students and the University for two decades, joined St. Kate’s as an adjunct instructor and rose to associate professor. She was described as a leader who set high goals and expectations for students but also accommodated their personal needs and worked with them to ensure success.

Dew Drop Bop 

In closing, the President congratulated all those who had been honored and acknowledged those departments that organize the awards ceremony and the annual Dew Drop Bop. Featuring music, food and activities—even a Ferris wheel—the University celebration is held on the last day of the academic calendar. 

May 26, 2011 by Julie Michener

See also: Faculty, Leadership, Students