Message from the President: Some outstanding accomplishments by our faculty

May 19, 2011

To our alumni friends:

Another St. Norbert College commencement is in the books. By Sunday afternoon of a raw weekend the sun had returned and the gale-force winds were dying down. Thanks to our hardworking grounds crew, campus looked as beautiful as it always does in mid-May.

Right on cue, then, more than 460 SNC graduates marched into Schuldes, preceded by their faculty mentors.

A college is built on its faculty, and St. Norbert is blessed to have an outstanding one. These men and women not only are dedicated teachers, they inform their pedagogy with active scholarly and creative work outside the classroom. In many cases, they bring students into their research agendas, making the "St. Norbert experience" all the richer.

I was reminded of our faculty's academic accomplishments the other day when we learned that Dr. Jim Hodgson of our biology faculty, along with a number of co-authors, was being published in the prestigious journal Science. Their article explained the team’s groundbreaking research suggesting that the collapse of an entire ecosystem might be predicted if you know what to look for.

Jim is no stranger to academic accomplishment. But he has plenty of company around campus. To make that point, here's a nice sampler of the kind of nationally and internationally important work our faculty have produced this year:

SABINE HYLAND (Anthropology): Not long ago Sabine went to a remote village in the Peruvian Andes to study a newly discovered hybrid khipu (Inca knot-record)/alphabetic text dating to the 19th century. This item may be the "Rosetta Stone" for deciphering the Incan khipus. She will give invited lectures on her work at the University of Heidelberg in June, and at Harvard in the fall.

TYNISHA MEIDL (Education): In collaboration with TRIPS, Tynisha took 10 education students to New Orleans, where they spent a week working at a school with at-risk learners needing reading intervention. This is the first collaboration between a credit-bearing course and our TRIPS service program.

WOLFGANG GRASSL (Business Administration): Wolfgang recently was invited to the Vatican to present a paper in conjunction with a special conference called to advance the agenda described in the 2009 papal encyclical Caritas in Veritate. His talk, "New Forms of Business Organizations," analyzed how businesses can be effective and at the same time grounded in Catholic social principles.

PAUL NGO (Psychology): As a byproduct of some recent national presentations on the impact of socio-cultural influences on public health, Paul has been invited to co-chair a symposium at an upcoming meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

JASON SENJEM (Business Administration): Jason’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team was in Minneapolis this week for the national SIFE competition. St. Norbert’s SIFE teams have won six regional championships, most recently in Chicago against 60 other colleges and universities.

TOM BOLIN (Religious Studies): In November, Tom will publish a book entitled "Ezra, Nehemiah," a new interpretation and commentary on two books of the Bible, from Liturgical Press.

RAVI AGARWAL (Computer Science): Ravi will be taking two SNC computer science students to Hope College this summer for a nine-week research experience.

TIM FLOOD (Geology): Tim collaborated with ’92 SNC grad Dr. Kathy Licht, now in the geology department at IUPUI, and senior geology major Nicole Baader on a J-Term research trip to Antarctica.

DAVID BAILEY (Biology): David recently published an article based on his ongoing research with zebra finches in the journal Hippocampus. The first author, Ashley Ash, is an SNC grad now in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at UW-LaCrosse.

BLAKE HENSON (Music): Blake’s ethereally beautiful compositions are being performed literally all over the world (e.g., by the Choir of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican; by the Washington State All-State Symphonic Choir in Bellevue, Washington; by the Capital University Chamber Singers in Columbus, Ohio; and by the Thomas Circle Singers in Washington, D.C. – and of course by our own choral ensembles at various concerts!)

LAURIE MacDIARMID, KARLYN CROWLEY and JOHN PENNINGTON (English): For the tenth time in 10 years, SNC English students under their tutelage won major awards at the national Sigma Tau Delta convention, which annually attracts more than 1,000 student participants. Highlighting a particularly strong SNC showing this time was Gretchen Panzer’s winning the $3,000 Junior Scholarship award. Laurie, meanwhile, was recently one of just 18 nominees picked from over 60 colleges and universities to participate in the Council of Independent Colleges’ Lyric Poetry Seminar this August.

MARK BOCKENHAUER (Geography): The National Geographic Society recently honored Mark for his "exemplary contributions in geographic education" for his leadership of the society’s Grosvenor Teacher Fellow Program. In 2009, he led a group of five teachers into the Norwegian Arctic for a week as a pilot for the program, which is now up and running and providing teachers a once-in-a-lifetime experience to bring back to their classrooms.

WAYNE PATTERSON (History): Wayne published "In the Service of His Korean Majesty: William Nelson Lovatt, the Pusan Customs, and Sino-Korean Relations, 1876-1888," from the University of California Institute of East Asian Studies.

IKUKO TOROMOTO (Modern Languages): Three of Ikuko’s graduating seniors in Japanese – Troy Wiesner, Danielle Marie Le Sage and Brian Hurley – won the coveted Japan Exchange and Teaching Fellowship, which carries a $36,000 stipend plus travel expenses. The graduates will teach English next year in Japan.

JOHN NEARY (English): John published a book entitled "Shadows and Illuminations: Literature as Spiritual Journey," from Sussex Academic Press.

FR. JIM NEILSON (Art): Jim received a first-place award for sculptures accepted for exhibition at the 66th Art Annual (juried art exhibition), hosted by the Neville Public Museum.

EDWARD RISDEN (English): Ed published the book "A Consideration of Anglo-Saxon Humor," from Mellen Press.

SARAH PARKS (Music): Under Sarah’s direction, the St. Norbert College Choir has been selected by a jury to perform at the 2011 Wisconsin State Music Conference. The choir will perform for a large number of state music educators, including many of our alumni.

RYAN CORDELL (English): In just his first year as our Writing Across the Curriculum director, Ryan is doing a great deal of cutting-edge work in the digital humanities, along with hosting his THATCamp in June, which will bring in participants from 44 colleges and universities. Then, in August, he will host a Summer Writing Institute called "The Little Red Schoolhouse: Toward a Common Vocabulary for Academic Argument."

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This list literally could have been three times as long, but I hope it gives SNC alumni the same sense of pride it gives me.

Tom