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Success begins with what you stand for
College President Thomas Kunkel

It was nearly one in the morning at the crowded Omni hotel in Las Colinas, Texas, which was home base for the Green Bay Packers players during Super Bowl week. Now the hotel was hosting a raucous victory party, and word raced around the ballroom that the newly crowned world champions were arriving.

We all collected around the hotel entrance, whooping and whistling, as the players split the crowd in a long single line. The applause spiked for certain favorites: Clay Matthews, long hair knotted behind his head; Charles Woodson, a sling accenting his black wardrobe; MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Some of the players were wearing suits, while others had on more casual workout gear. But almost all sported the Super Bowl XLV championship caps they had claimed just hours before at Cowboys Stadium.

In their civvies one better appreciates that football players come in all shapes and sizes. The defensive backs seemed shorter than you’d imagine, and some of the linemen were more ripped than round. But watching them go by, the main thought I had was the same one I have always had whenever I’ve been around a professional football team off the field:

They’re so young.

Of course they are. The Packers, for the most part, are men in their early and middle twenties. Some are actually baby-faced. They are, in other words, not far removed from the students on our own campus. For all their youth, however, these young men had just come together, under the direction of their coaches, and reached the pinnacle of their profession. They’d achieved a common goal of excellence, one they’d all dreamed about for as long as they’d been playing football. As a Packers fan and rookie member of the team’s board of directors, I have to tell you it was a great thrill and a privilege to watch it play out.

And in following days, as I devoured all those news stories analyzing how the Packers management had methodically built this championship team, I was struck by how much the process sounded like what we are trying to do right here at St. Norbert College.

In any organization, of course, success begins with what you stand for – your mission, which must be sound, widely embraced and often reinforced. Then there are your goals, clearly articulated in the institution’s vision. Then it’s about talent – acquiring the creative people who understand what you’re trying to do and want to help you do it. You’ve got to have outstanding facilities, so people want to be there and where they can do great work. You need sufficient financial support. And you need the contributions and complete “buy-in” of your ultimate constituency – in our case, our fine students; in the team’s case, the unparalleled Packers fans.

An organization clicking on all cylinders is a thrilling thing to watch. Every Packers fan I know is already champing at the bit for next season to begin, so enthused are we to see what this young but hugely talented team will manage for an encore. And here at St. Norbert, while we have no shortage of challenges before us, the momentum we’ve discussed in this space many times is as real as it is over on Lombardi Avenue. And it’s great fun to watch the dividends in the young faces of our own superstars—our students!

Spring 2011 Magazine

Web extraLook here for web-exclusive content that expands on topics presented in the current
St. Norbert College Magazine.

VideoMaterials from Minahan Stadium find new expression
Bill Bohné (Art) transforms reclaimed materials into pieces that speak to many storied decades.

VideoIt’s a question of football, and a question of history
Kevin Quinn (Economics) interviews the Green Bay Packers’ former general manager Ron Wolf.

VideoA Day to Celebrate
Each spring research partners on campus share their work at an event that is abuzz with scholarly achievement.

Text ExtraPaired offerings
The college’s partnerships with other institutions expand options and academic opportunity.

Text ExtraIce cubed
Blogging about their research in Antarctica gives St. Norbert geologists a way to share their findings – and their experiences.

Text ExtraRitual in relationships
University of St. Thomas professor Carol Bruess ’90 makes the study of interpersonal communication her scholarly business.

GalleryFarm work, personified
A photography project by Elizabeth Groshek ’11 stands as testimony to the work of her family’s farming community.

VideoSisters in learning
Norbertine sisters from Slovakia join student singers to enrich worship at St. Norbert Abbey.

Story ideas? Your ideas for future magazine stories are most welcome. Write to the editor with any suggestions or comments.

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