Life on the Mississippi

From the President

Supporting community well-being

St. Cloud State embraces a unique role that calls upon the university to help create more livable communities, stronger economies and a more inclusive society. Many of our peers refer to this role as being “a steward of place” — an agent responsible for the well-being of the communities entrusted to our care. On the pages of this Outlook you will read about faculty and staff who take this role seriously. They have become excellent role models of stewardship, i.e., public engagement that has wide-reaching benefits.

Among these benefits is the way in which we prepare our students for life, work and citizenship. We enable and encourage our students to participate in beyond-the-classroom experiences that allow them to apply what they have learned in the classroom in “real-world” settings. Often these experiences have been developed through university/community relationships.

As a vital component of the region’s economic and cultural well-being, St. Cloud State actively pursues external associations with businesses, organizations and other partners that benefit multiple parties, including students. Some examples include:

  • Collaborations with businesses such as Algaedyne Corporation, a leading Minnesota-based technology firm focused on commercializing fast crop cycling algae-based products that could help meet the growing demand for energy.
  • Programs that support and exchange expertise with businesses that are building Minnesota’s economy, such as the trio of Master of Science programs St. Cloud State offers in support of the state’s fast-growing medical device industry.
  • Internships that benefit Minnesota businesses with student expertise and in turn benefit thousands of students with hands-on experiences. More than 1,800 internship sites have offered our students opportunities to enhance their education with work experience in their fields. For example, St. Cloud State students fill 40 percent of Xcel Energy’s intern force at the company’s Monticello and Sherco power plants.
  • Partnerships with area public schools, incorporating St. Cloud State’s nationally-acclaimed co-teaching model. More than 1,200 education students are involved in field experiences at 185 area schools each year.

These and many more examples of St. Cloud State’s commitment to stewardship of place are helping us fulfill our core purpose to graduate people who have developed their potential to succeed in all aspects of work and life.

University News

Former President Clinton visits

A line of about 4,000 campus and community members snaked through Atwood Memorial Center and past the Miller Center just days before the November election to see former President Bill Clinton speak on behalf of President Barack Obama’s Minnesota campaign.

The grassroots gathering was the first time a former or sitting president has used St. Cloud State’s facilities for an event. While on the campaign trail in 1952, Dwight D. Eisenhower crowned Joyce Pearson as St. Cloud State’s homecoming queen on the steps of the Stearns County courthouse before 6,000 spectators. Eisenhower became president in 1953.

Obama’s Minnesota campaign rented the Atwood Memorial Center Ballroom for the last-minute event, which held about 1,100 attendees. Hundreds in overflow watched the presentation on large screens set up outside of Atwood. According to reports from local media, crowd members spanned the political landscape — some were in support of the campaign while others flocked just for a chance to see a president speak.

Clinton, along with Sen. Al Franken and 6th Congressional District candidate Jim Graves ’74, greeted outdoor viewers before taking the stage in the Ballroom. Graves, an SCSU graduate and hotel magnate, narrowly lost to incumbent Michele Bachmann in the election.

A select handful of St. Cloud State faculty, staff, alumni and public leaders, including President Earl H. Potter III, met briefly with Clinton before the event.

HEED award recognizes diversity and inclusion

St. Cloud State University is recognized for its commitment to diversity and inclusion in the December issue of Insight Into Diversity magazine.

St. Cloud State is honored along with 47 other Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award recipients for its ongoing efforts to include all aspects of diversity such as gender, race, ethnicity, veterans, people with disabilities and members of the LGBT community. Other Minnesota schools recognized are the University of Minnesota and the William Mitchell College of Law.

“St. Cloud State understands the importance of having a diverse and inclusive student body and workforce, and is diligently working to accomplish their goals. We applaud their hard work and wish them much success,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of Insight Into Diversity.

The University’s focus on providing a welcoming environment for all its students, faculty and staff is reflected in its mission, vision and learning commitments and in efforts to cultivate pride in the University as a catalyst for social change, growth and opportunity for all its students to succeed.

“Embracing diversity is a key to both personal and professional growth at St. Cloud State,” said President Earl H. Potter III . “The HEED award is a reminder that diversity and inclusion need to remain priorities as we prepare students to enter the workforce and a global society.”

This is the first year Insight Into Diversity, the oldest and largest higher education diversity-focused publication, is presenting the HEED awards.

“We looked for schools that had a broad diversity plan,” Pearlstein said, in the December issue feature story. “We didn’t just look at the statistics schools submitted; in some cases we considered the improvement in the numbers over previous years. We wanted to ensure that diversity and inclusion are a part of the campus DNA of each award winner.”

Construction on track

Renovation of the half-century-old Case-Hill residence hall is delivering more student-friendly comfort, features and space. The $12 million project, completed in August, returned 326 beds to service, ahead of schedule and under budget. Among the many updates are larger, more private bathrooms and air-handling equipment that improved air quality and control of room temperatures. Get more information at http://scsu.mn/TfKm1l.

The Integrated Science and Engineering Laboratory Facility (ISELF) is enclosed and on track for use in August 2013.

“As we move toward completion of our $45 million Integrated Science and Engineering Laboratory Facility, it will be important to equip its new classrooms and labs with tools that will help prepare students and to transform St. Cloud State into the Minnesota leader in science education and science business collaboration,” President Earl H. Potter III said.

St. Cloud State received $120,000 in state funds in September for an X-ray diffractometer valued at $365,198 that will allow students and faculty in undergraduate and graduate programs to gain a deeper and more practical understanding of X-ray diffraction techniques. The University will raise $140,000 in matching contributions for the remainder of the cost and receive $105,000 in vendor discounts.

View the ISELF web cam at http://scsu.mn/T5e060.

The $14.7 million renovation and expansion of the National Hockey & Event Center is expected to be complete in April. The four-story glass atrium along Herb Brooks Way is enclosed. The SCSU Foundation and Husky Athletics are teaming to renovate the Husky Hockey locker rooms. Learn more about the NHEC, including the Alumni and Friends Locker Room Campaign at http://scsu.mn/QZx21X.

WPA wall restored and dedicated

A crowd of about 100 onlookers watched Oct. 30 as master mason Brian Kostreba mortared into place a granite sign that reads “WPA 1936” as the final element of a two-month, $200,000 restoration project to help preserve St. Cloud State’s First Avenue Walls.

Built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the walls line the sidewalk on the east side of First Avenue from 8th Street south to University Bridge.

The vast majority of the rough granite facing stones and polished granite capstones in the First Avenue Walls remain original material.

“We knew we had to respect the character of the walls,” said John Frischmann, facilities construction coordinator.

The Great Depression federal relief WPA program created $11 billion in public works projects between 1935 and 1943, according to Bill Morgan, professor emeritus of American Studies who spoke at the dedication event.

Watch video of Bill Morgan's remarks during the dedication: scsu.mn/Qihciw 

President Potter signs commitment to future statement

St. Cloud State is one of 487 participating universities involved in the Project Degree Completion: A Public University Initiative with a commitment to increasing the number of undergraduate baccalaureate degrees granted by public universities and colleges by 3.8 million between now and 2025.

President Earl H. Potter III signed a commitment to the future statement as part of the initiative through the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).

“Project Degree Completion is an unprecedented initiative that will drive the instructional agenda of public universities and colleges in the years ahead,” said M. Peter McPherson, president of APLU. “Never before have public colleges and universities, and our two associations, formally come together around such an important and sustained effort. This initiative is an economic competitiveness imperative for the future of the country and the individuals involved.”

The project also calls for providing students with a quality education and renewed partnership among public colleges and universities, the states and the federal government while working to achieve these goals.

Other portions of the Project Degree Completion commitment pledge support for student access and diversity; efforts to reduce the average “time to degree” for students; and closer partnerships with elementary and secondary schools and community colleges to prepare students to earn four-year degrees, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Faculty/Staff News

Douglas H. Vinzant named vice president

President Earl H. Potter III named Douglas H. Vinzant, a veteran administrator, as the next vice president for finance and administration.

Vinzant replaces Steve Ludwig who retired in June after 25 years of service with seven years as vice president. Len Sippel has filled the vice president position as an interim.

Vinzant has more than 25 years of experience in public higher education leading budget, strategic planning, administration and finance, and information technology operations at universities across the country. He served as vice president for administration at the University of Wyoming from 2009-12 and has held administrative roles at the University of Illinois, Arizona State University, Eastern Washington University and Central Washington University.

Most recently, he was a senior consulting associate with the Pappas Consulting Group.

Education prof Kathy Johnson attends CGI

Kathy Johnson, associate professor in the Department of Special Education, recently accompanied Zhao Chin Li, known to many as Angel, to the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting in New York City. They attended the CGI meeting on behalf of Ginkgo Academy Partnership, a P-16 community initiative among Minnetonka Schools, St. Cloud State, Yangshuo Mountain Retreat creator Chris Barclay and others who work to support the advancement of opportunities for children with disabilities.

Born with brittle bone disease and dwarfism, Angel was unable to attend school as a child. She was locked in hiding during President Bill Clinton’s visit to China in 1998. Against odds, she has connected with American politicians and educators who have championed her cause.

“Angel was the highlight of the session,” Johnson said.

Among those visibly moved was Clinton, who recounted meeting Angel for the first time on stage during the Closing Plenary Session. “It was really one of the most life affirming experiences I’ve ever had,” Clinton said. “For the rest of my life, in every down moment, I will seek to remember this beautiful woman.”

Afterwards, Johnson and Angel were invited backstage to discuss plans for building a bi-lingual school for children with disabilities in China, where many disabled children are denied an education.

Shawn Jarvis publishes anthology

Shawn Jarvis, professor of German and chair of the foreign languages department, has compiled a 368-page hardcover book of 19th century fairy tales written by German women writers. “In the Realm of Wishes” (“Im Reich der Wünsche”) is a collection of tales with classic motifs.

“The history of the German fairy tale is being rewritten in this anthology,” according to C.H. Beck publishing house of Germany. “Its publication coincides with the 200th anniversary of the publication of Grimms’ fairy tales.”

Jarvis credits her husband, Roland Specht-Jarvis, also a St. Cloud State professor of German, for his help in gathering photographic and archival materials for the book.

Multimedia Services wins Telly Award

St. Cloud State was a winner of a 2012 Telly Award for the video entry “Earth Science Here and Abroad” featuring Kate Pound, associate professor of atmospheric and hydrologic sciences. The online commercial highlighted Pound’s core sampling research in Antarctica.

The Multimedia Services department produced the promotional piece, earning an Online Video Bronze award. The University’s video production team, headed by Jim Bertram ’88, producer and director, works with campus clients to plan, direct and produce teaching and promotional videos.

“Earth Science Here and Abroad” focused on Pound’s participation in ANDRILL (ANtarctic geological DRILLing), a deep drilling project undertaken by a multinational group of scientists, educators and students.

“The real excitement for me was translating that science. Finding ways to bring exciting science into the classroom,” Pound said.

Feature Story

Life on the Mississippi

When he came to St. Cloud State Ivan Bartha brought with him strong feelings of reverence and responsibility for the Mississippi River waters that flow through campus and community.

“One of the reasons I took this job is that I am really and truly captivated and fascinated by the Mississippi River,” said Bartha, who is coordinator for Experiential Programs for Campus Recreation and oversees Outdoor Endeavors at St. Cloud State.

If he had his way, Bartha’s enthusiasm for sustaining the river he is so enamored with would spill over onto others who study, live and work next to these world-famous waters. “It is arguably our country’s most significant geographic landmark,” Bartha said. “Folks come to St. Cloud State in delegations from all over the world, and every one of those groups wants to paddle down the Mississippi while they’re here.”

A passionate advocate for recreation and development issues involving the river, Bartha is a leading force for sustainability efforts in the community and is a past board of trustees member for the Wilderness Education Association. He also is an effective mentor who utilizes innovative ways to develop in students a sense of stewardship of the waters and lands around them.

Bartha is a strong believer in the shared ownership that stewardship implies. He makes it his business to help students understand that they have a huge impact – economic and otherwise – on the community. His advocacy for sustaining the river has become a tool for teaching the importance of active learning and community engagement.

“He makes us look at everything a little differently,” senior Matthew Coleman, Elbow Lake, said of Bartha’s leadership. “I’m in criminal justice, not a biology major. When I started working at Outdoor Endeavors it was just a job. Then I started listening to Ivan talk about everything he does. That’s when I started to think about how it all fits together.”

“One of the big things we learn in criminal justice is to serve the community first,” Coleman said. He began to connect criminal justice with what he was doing at Outdoor Endeavors, a campus-based program that offers a wide variety of experiences and equipment to help students and others on campus and in the community discover their outdoor skills.

Coleman went on to take part in the Leave No Trace Master Educators program, the widely accepted outdoor ethics program used on public lands, as well as other advocacy activities that fanned his growing appreciation for the environment.

When he came to St. Cloud State in 2005, Bartha was surprised by the separation between the city and the University, and even more shocked by the lack of interest in celebrating the presence of the river. “It just blew my mind. There had been no effort to promote stewardship of our bank.

“One of the first things I did was enroll Campus Recreation in the Minnesota Adopt A River Program,” Bartha said. “Given our proximity to the Mississippi River it made sense and was, and still is, the right thing to do.”

Every first Saturday in October Adopt A River hosts a riverbank cleanup from the north to south ends of campus. “This year 25 students gathered 42 bags of garbage along with many pieces of steel and assorted big items like televisions and child seats. We were able to recycle close to half of what was gathered. It’s kind of amazing what a few people can do.”

This fall Bartha was reminded of the impact the Adopt A River program makes when he received an email from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Trails, thanking him for his report of the most recent cleanup and his dedication to Minnesota’s waters.

“What started out as a little grassroots effort has not only made a difference for our campus, it also reminds us how our efforts affect everyone who lives downstream,” Bartha said.

Through Bartha’s leadership, Outdoor Endeavors has branched out into other activities to encourage community engagement and sustainability efforts. Since 2009 it has partnered with the St. Cloud community to operate summer paddleboat, canoe and kayak rentals at Lake George near downtown St. Cloud.

The Lake George project offers more opportunities for students to have jobs that help them relate their other learning experiences to their role in the community.

Bartha also is hopeful that St. Cloud will be included in the Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventures program that has been giving canoe experiences to 12,000 to 13,000 kids in the summer in the Twin Cities. Wilderness Inquiry has awarded $453,000 to expand this program outside Minnesota’s metro area.

“We were the group outside the metro that was paddle ready,” Bartha said. “The funding would create more jobs for students that will make a difference in their lives.”

Another way Bartha is changing students’ perspectives about stewardship of the land and waters is the two-credit course he leads over fall break, a backpacking and camping experience at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness Park in Michigan. “The concept is to build resilience in an outdoor laboratory utilizing interdisciplinary learning,” he said.

Bartha also teaches an Honors Program course in the deep exploration of the river that he believes offers a wide range of learning opportunities. “Education is an adventure with a wide variety of outcomes,” Bartha said.

“The entire course is focused on our stretch of the river,” he said. He brings in elements of environmental science as well as an exploration of social issues and literature related to the river. He also has students photograph the river. The result is a gallery of images that provides visual proof of their newfound appreciation for the strength and beauty of the river. View the latest gallery, visit: http://scsu.mn/RxC8Pr.

In his course description Bartha quotes another Mississippi River devotee, Mark Twain, who also believed these famous waters have life lessons to teach: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Marsha Shoemaker

Support in numbers

APP reunion highlights 25 years of opportunities.

When freshman Darryl Howard arrived on campus from Tampa, Fla., last summer for the 25th annual Advanced Preparation Program class, he had a unique advantage over other classmates newly far from home. His mother, an alumnus of the acclaimed program that is one of many St. Cloud State resources to support student success, had clued him in on the advantages his APP experience would offer.

“She told me it would give me a good head start for college,” said Howard, a psychology major who runs track for the Huskies and works part time in the Multicultural Student Services office. “She was right. APP helped me get used to campus and decide what college was all about. I learned how to manage my time and be positive. I got to meet a lot of people like the president. I made friends.”

When Howard’s mom, Stephanie Kelley ’99, arrived at St. Cloud State from Rockford, Ill., in 1995 she experienced the pangs of loneliness and anxiety most freshman have when they leave friends, family and the familiarity of their hometowns for college life. And like the other 600-plus freshmen who have participated in APP she quickly assimilated, learning her way around campus and how to juggle classes and activities. She developed lasting friendships.

When it came time for her son to choose a college, Kelley wanted Howard to have the same advantages of being part of a close community of students who feel comfortable and welcome within the broader campus community.

Kelley was among the 60 APP alumni who returned to campus Aug. 3 for the 25th anniversary reunion of the award-winning Multicultural Student Services program that helps incoming first-year students — many of them students of color — make a smoother transition to college life. For most it was a life-altering experience.

Saengmany Ratsabout ’04 and his wife Gao Lee ’04, Brooklyn Park, have APP to thank for their life as a couple. They metas members of the class of 2000 and eventually married. They brought their son and daughter to the reunion. Another couple, Blia (Thor) Xiong ’09 and Dan Xiong, now from Blaine, also married as a result of their shared experience in the 2004 APP class.

Also among the program’s 600 alumni are numerous siblings and others with family ties. Like Kelley, they passed along to younger family members their APP memories.

Those memories were hot topics at the reunion as alumni renewed friendships with fellow APP participants from as far back as the first class in 1988. They mingled with Darryl and the 48 other members of the 2012 APP class of incoming students and discovered how much they had in common. The vast majority of alumni and students had the same answer when asked what their most memorable APP experience had been: “The Camping Trip” that was a first for many.

“APP gave me a better understanding of my own identity,” said BernaDette Wilson-Suwareh ’93 ’96, director of the Intercultural Center and Student Human Rights Office at the College of Saint Benedict and member of the 1988 class. “It helped me become the person I am now,” said Wilson-Suwareh, who previously served as associate vice president for Student Life and Development at St. Cloud State. “APP helped me build confidence, accept who I was and work with other people.”

The APP program was started in 1988 by the late Robert Broadus. “The foundation has remained the same,” said Multicultural Student Services Director Shahzad Ahmad ’90 ’03. “It works.”

“It’s amazing how much of a difference three or four weeks can make in the transition from high school to university mindset,” Ahmad said of the program. “It just happens.”

For Jenny Yang, 2012 APP class member and first in her family to go to school outside her home town of St. Paul, APP was a tremendous bridge experience. “At first I was really scared,” she said. “The first night I called my boyfriend at 4 a.m. and cried. But after a while I started connecting with friends. APP taught me to discipline myself. It taught us everything is really up to me. I had a great time.”

“I’m glad I came,” said Akosua (Nana) Adu Danwa, Bloomington, who packed a lot of learning into the program’s three weeks. “I made friends with Dr. (Luke) Tripp and other faculty and staff. They taught me study habits. I improved my writing. I didn’t know how to swim when I came, but I learned how to float. I meta lot of people from other countries. I made a friend.”

Brianna Walker, an incoming freshman from Oahu, Hawaii, said her three-week experience of taking classes, getting familiar with the campus and launching lifetime friendships has taught her what college can do for her. “I’ve always been a reserved person,” she said. “College is about growing — realizing that making a change is being the change.”

Marsha Shoemaker

Focused on safety

With wheels-on-the-ground training for nearly 38,000 private and professional drivers each year, the Minnesota Highway Safety and Research Center (MHSRC) carries out its mission to reduce traffic accidents and the human trauma they cause.

In 1974 the St. Cloud State facility, then known as the Minnesota Highway Safety Center, opened and quickly became the state’s premier provider of advanced training skills for law enforcement and other emergency responders. Over the years the center has extended its education options to other segments of the population, including senior drivers and, most recently, teen drivers.

For each of its target markets, the center — a self-sustaining arm of the University’s Center for Continuing Studies — provides drivers the opportunity to experience real-life scenarios in a controlled environment with training that’s tailored to their unique needs.

For drivers involved in law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services, one-day training courses act largely as a refresher in advanced driving techniques related to their profession.

“The one thing these professional responders do each day is drive, so it makes sense we would reinforce that part of their jobs with skills-based training,” said Larry Nadeau ’89, the MHSRC director of outreach. “We give them practical training in applying safety skills to activities such as pursuit of suspects, collision avoidance, skid control and light and siren use.”

The center also offers specialty classes, including training for law enforcement in “pursuit intervention.”

“What we see officers doing in pursuit on television can seem very simple, but it’s a skill that’s developed through many hours of classroom and skills training at our facility,” Nadeau said.

This year the center has resumed specialized driver and roadway scene safety training for firefighters. MHSRC is a recognized provider of Advanced Fire Apparatus Driver Training by the Minnesota Board of Fire Training and Education.

Minnesota Highway Safety and Research Center by the Numbers:

More than 200 police officers from 85 departments participated in a Ride and Drive Program in April 2012

8 full-time staff plus 10 part-time adjunct instructors

70 training vehicles, including 2 fire trucks

1,364 officers from 268 state law enforcement agencies took continuing education law enforcement courses in 2012

10% insurance reduction for Minnesota drivers age 55-plus who participate in the Driver Improvement Program

219 teenagers and 211 of their parents participated in the Teen Driver Crash Avoidance Programs Aug. 11 and 12, 2012

160 acres with 3 miles of paved track and 2 miles of gravel track

32,000 senior drivers participate in training at the MHSRC each year

One of the center’s most successful programs has been the Driver Improvement Program for senior drivers 55 and older. “Keeping senior drivers safe is a critical issue,” Nadeau said. “By 2025 one in five drivers will be over 65.”

The Driver Improvement Program benefits from a longtime partnership with American Automobile Association (AAA) which provides learning materials and the use of its well-known name in return for royalties and advertising resources.

Drivers who take the two-session course save an estimated $100 a year on insurance rates, but the benefits of the course go far beyond reduced insurance premiums.

“Seniors’ quality of life really is affected by the ability to drive,” said Gail Weinholzer, public relations director for AAA Minnesota-Iowa. “Maintaining their ability to be safe drivers benefits them personally and benefits society as a whole.”

Just as seniors benefit from driver education that could save their lives, the newest MHSRC initiative, the Teen Driver Crash Avoidance Program, has the potential to alter the grim fatality statistics related to young drivers.


Minnesota Highway Safety Center opened.

Began collaboration with AAA to train senior drivers in Driver Improvement Program

Name changed to Minnesota Highway Safety and Research Center.

Three miles of asphalt track and two and a half miles of gravel track added.

Responded to needs analysis for driver training and roadway scene safety training to fire service. Fifty percent of line-of-duty firefighter deaths in Minnesota since 2000 have been vehicle related.

Inaugurated Teen Driver Crash Avoidance Program.

Traffic crashes are the leading killer of Minnesota teens ages 15-19. In 2011, teen drivers were involved in 12,139 crashes that resulted in 39 deaths and 3,921 injuries.

The initial Teen Driver Crash Avoidance Program sessions Aug. 11 and 12 sold out. Co-sponsored by the Minnesota Highway Safety Association, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association and Ford Motor Company, the two classes trained 219 teens and 211 parents at no cost to participants. Sessions also were offered in September and November.

“It’s a challenge to find funding sources to continue this initiative,” Nadeau said. “We’d like to make this training affordable for young drivers and their families.” After a local State Farm Insurance agent told his corporate office about the Teen Driver Crash Avoidance program, the company contributed $2,500 to continue these efforts.

“The exciting thing was we provide young drivers skills-based training that directly targets high-risk factors most likely to cause accidents,” Nadeau said. “Teens drive specially-equipped vehicles on a closed road course under the supervision of professional instructors. The course takes them through scenarios aimed at improving crucial safe driving skills such as speed selection, obstacle avoidance, skid control, off-road recovery and in-car distractions.”

Accident prevention training may be most important for teens who live in outstate Minnesota, Nadeau said. “Crashes tend to be more severe in rural settings, and there tends to be less compliance with seat belt usage.”

What’s next for the Minnesota Highway Safety and Research Center? “We continue to look at developing new ways to help the average citizen and private fleets to improve driving skills and prevent accidents,” Nadeau said.

Marsha Shoemaker

Preparing for the race and beyond

The basement of Halenbeck Hall is home to the Human Performance Lab, a space overfilled with exercise test equipment and health screening stations. The warren of windowless rooms is affectionately referred to as “the dungeon” by graduates who fondly remember the worn furnishings and warm collegial atmosphere of the lab.

For four decades, the Human Performance Lab has offered specialized testing for St. Cloud State athletes seeking to maximize their physical performance. Aerobic capacity and lactate threshold tests are among the services provided gratis to student athletes. The lab is also open to the community and regularly works with individuals to provide wellness evaluations for nominal fees.

Off campus, the lab routinely works with local employers, offering training sessions on workplace wellness issues. Lab faculty members assist K-12 and college instructors in integrating health and sports science experiences into their classrooms. And the lab welcomes opportunities to participate in local health fairs.

By promoting common sense fitness concepts in a variety of settings, the HPL is helping the community embrace better health choices.

Curtis Ghylin ’77, an MBA graduate of St. Cloud State, has been a participant in the Human Performance Lab since the early 1970s.

“I find the testing and the advice that the people at the Human Performance Lab — students and staff — give me is very valuable to my conditioning,” Ghylin said.

A long distance runner, the 74-year-old returns to the lab each fall.

Ghylin worked in the University’s computer center from 1975-2003 and used the lab along with Halenbeck Hall’s facilities to keep active during long days at the office. “The Human Performance Lab, and the fact that Halenbeck Hall was available at noon hour for use, allowed me to stay in shape, even though my work sometimes consisted of long hours at the desk and very little physical movement,” Ghylin said.

The lab’s adult fitness program is designed to improve health behaviors. Evaluations can include a nutrition consult, flexibility and core strength assessments, and other health monitoring tests. As a package, the fitness assessment and diet and exercise prescriptions provide participants with a starting point for better health.

“We used to call people involved in the program ‘Kelly’s heroes,’” said Glenn Street ’79 ’83, professor of kinesiology with 25 years of Human Performance Lab experience. The reference to lab founder Jack Kelly and the 1970 ragtag war film, “Kelly’s Heroes,” captured the spirit of lab participants who sought out health advice in an unconventional setting.

The lab also serves as a place to advance scholarship and engineer new equipment within the fields of biomechanics and exercise physiology. Near an exercise treadmill, a bookcase holds a row of bound volumes of program graduates’ master’s theses. The hardcovers attest to decades of hands-on research performed within the lab. In 1983 as he was working on his master’s degree, Street developed a flywheel ergometer to measure the upper body power of U.S. Olympic skiers. Street holds three patents on product designs that were tested and refined within the lab setting.

Research is ongoing at the lab. Currently underway is a graduate thesis study on exercise-induced asthma. While gathering data, the HPL is conducting tests of student athletes to uncover the condition and counsel individuals on how to minimize effects while exercising. Street emphasizes the lab’s commitment to helping participants live healthier lives. Many who utilize the lab as students continue to seek out its services after graduation.

“The adult fitness program has really touched a lot of people’s lives here in the community,” Street said. “We have some people in their 70s and 80s who are still coming for check-ups. It’s an individualized service they really appreciate.”

Graduates of the program have gone on to careers in medicine, research, teaching and fitness coaching. Andrew Gray ’08, a former Human Performance Lab graduate assistant, is now senior human relations coordinator and corporate fitness specialist at Capital One in St. Cloud. Gray gained practical experience by conducting stress tests with exercise science equipment. He also learned valuable lessons on the importance of motivation as a determining factor in fitness.

“Apart from the lab education, the most important part was the personal interaction — the one-on-one,” Gray said. “For me that was the greatest takeaway: learning not to push too hard.”

Bruce Johnson ’83, professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic, was an early graduate of the Human Performance Lab’s evolving program in exercise science. “The program was outstanding,” Johnson said. “It opened many doors going forward.”

After earning his graduate degree, he worked for the Department of Defense in altitude physiology. He later earned a PhD, which led to a clinical role at Mayo Clinic, where he now runs the Human Integrative and Environmental Physiology Laboratory. The position allows him to chase science and question accepted dogma, he said, as he gains insights into the body’s response to hypoxia, high altitude and exercise in a variety of rugged settings.

A recent expedition funded by the National Science Foundation gave Johnson the opportunity to gather data on altitude sickness at the South Pole Station. Because the station is situated atop nearly two miles of ice, it provides a unique setting to study the effects of high altitude exposure.

In April, Johnson led a team of scientists, staffers and expedition sponsors to Nepal, home to the world’s highest mountain peaks. Johnson set up a clinical laboratory at Mount Everest’s base camp and monitored participants’ heart rates. His fieldwork could eventually benefit patients with heart and lung diseases.

Johnson calls his adventures “an interesting path” and plans upcoming research trips to Bolivia and the North Pole.

Char Hopela 87

Students become broadcasters while finishing their degrees

I can’t get a job without experience, but I can’t get experience without a job. This conundrum has confounded college graduates for decades, but many St. Cloud State students don’t have that problem. Through experiential learning opportunities on-campus and off, St. Cloud State students are able to connect to their community, get real-world experience and land that first job after college.

Students like Ashli Gerdes and Ian Luhm aren’t waiting until after college. They’re shining examples of how a St. Cloud State education pays off in the “real world” before they even graduate.

Both connect to their communities as communicators on radio and television. But they’re not alone. Students from many disciplines seek opportunities to learn and grow outside the classroom with similar results.

Read these success stories, but know that they’re unfinished. They’ve only just begun.

Ashli Gerdes

It was a locked door that led to Ashli Gerdes’ radio career. “I didn’t ever expect to do radio,” said the mass communications senior. But a locked door at the University Chronicle in 2009 had the then-first-year student wandering into the studios of KVSC 88.1 FM, where she met production director Ryan Connelly ’10. Three weeks later, she was on the air.

“I absolutely fell in love with it,” she said.

Gerdes has since written columns for the Chronicle, anchored newscasts and been web director for UTVS, was program director for KVSC and interned at KMXK Mix 94.9 in St. Cloud. Those experiences led to her current job, one that really connects her to the community. She’s the night host (7 p.m.- midnight, Monday-Friday) for Rev 96.7 in St. Cloud. She’s also an online content specialist, anchor and reporter for 1240 WJON. Both stations (as well as KMXK) are owned by Townsquare Media. She does all of this while attending classes at St. Cloud State.

Jim Maurice, news director at Townsquare Media, sees Gerdes as an asset. “She covers community event-type stories, stories we wouldn’t have been able to cover in the past,” he said. Gerdes enjoys telling those stories, she said. “Radio helps people get their messages out. We make people aware of what’s going on in the community,” she said.

She hopes she can help others find their passion a little less accidentally than she found hers. “I help people find their passion in a way, by making them aware. Kind of the same way I found mine.”

Ian Luhm – Meteorology

It is a passion for weather that brought Ian Luhm to St. Cloud State. It was watching broadcasters on Duluth TV when he was growing up that led to that passion.

The meteorology major and mass communications minor landed a job shadow opportunity at WDIO-TV in Duluth during summer 2011. That job shadowing foot in the door paid off. “Then I got a call.” Ian said. The call was WDIO Chief Meteorologist Justin Liles ’02. They wanted him to fill in on Christmas Eve. He’s already come a long way since that first on-air experience in his hometown.

“My entire body froze for about three seconds,” he said, despite a crash training course and about two weeks to mentally prepare. He credits his time at UTVS for helping him be ready. “I never would have gotten the job had it not been for UTVS.  I got the basics of being on camera.

Without that, people can get shell-shocked.”

UTVS may have helped him prepare for his on-air performance, but it was another passion that helped Ian deal with some of the off-camera challenges of being on TV.

A former hockey player, Luhm officiates youth hockey games in Duluth. There are days when he’ll officiate hockey games in the morning and early afternoon, then present the weather on the 6 and 10 p.m. news. “I received critique emails from viewers, and my officiating taught me not to take it personally,” he said, explaining that parents sometimes have less-than-stellar things to say to referees.

“Ian has been a great asset to our staff,” Liles said. He lauded Luhm for helping at community events and noted that as a Duluth native, Luhm knows the Duluth area’s weather intangibles “very well.” Luhm fills in on weekends and has earned real on-air experience, according to Liles. That hands-on experience, his community work and his education at St. Cloud State will have him well on his way when he graduates this spring.

Being on TV in his hometown and allowing him to further connect to his community is a dream come true for Ian Luhm. Friends and former teachers are often excited to see him on TV. “That’s the neatest part,” he said.

Tim Johnson 11


Lock of Love

A group of six St. Cloud State University men’s hockey players are going with the “flow” this season and letting their hair grow out. The end result will be a hair donation to the Locks of Love program when they reach the proper length of 10 inches in a pony tail.

Locks of Love provides supplies for hairpieces and wigs for those going through cancer treatment.

Junior forward Nic Dowd, Huntsville, Ala., was the first to start growing his hair out near the end of the 2011-12 season. Teammates senior Ben Hanowski, Little Falls, freshman David Morley, Richmond Hills, Ontario, sophomore Tim Daly, Maple Ridge, British Columbia, junior Cory Thorson, Crystal, and junior Nick Jensen, Rogers, all opted to join the good cause in the summer.

The unique story has caught the interest of the media with stories on Twin Cities television and in the St. Cloud Times.

Super Storm Sandy

Thanks to Super Storm Sandy the St. Cloud State women’s hockey team members were beneficiaries of an extended stay in Providence, R.I.

The Huskies played Providence College in a non-conference series and were scheduled to leave Oct. 29.

As the team loaded the bus for Boston’s Logan Airport, they learned it had been closed and all flights cancelled.

The teams spent the next two nights at the hotel riding out what head coach Jeff Giesen described as “a never ending thunderstorm.” The team passed the time playing cards, studying and even trying their skills as amateur weather reporters and posting the videos to YouTube.

The team returned to St. Cloud to a media frenzy in time to prepare for its home opener against The Ohio State University.

Weems is quick to make her voice heard

To listen to Director of Athletics Heather Weems speak is to hear her passion for the student athlete experience.

Since stepping into her new role six months ago at St. Cloud State, Weems’ days and evenings have been filled with meetings from greeting her coaches and staff to introductory sessions with individual teams, campus and community members and booster groups.

Weems began her journey to athletics director as the coordinator of student athlete support services at the University of Denver. She became an assistant athletics director for student athlete support services and later was associate athletics director for internal operations and later for student services and compliance. By the time she left Denver in 2008 she was the associate athletics director for student services and compliance. In January of 2009, she landed in her home state of Iowa as the associate athletics director/senior woman administrator at Drake University.

She said she became an athletic administrator to change lives and thought she could make the most impact in collegiate athletics working directly with the student athletes.

“My a-ha moment came when I realized it was the coaches who changed the lives of student athletes. It was the coaches who, day to day, three to four hours a day, and on weekends traveling with the team, made the biggest impact,” Weems said.

If she can help the coaches do their best, then ultimately she has had an impact on the student athletes.

“I consider myself a coaches’ administrator because I believe in what they do. I believe my job is to facilitate and empower them to do theirs.”

Weems loves college athletics because at the end of the day, student athletes are touchable. “They are real and different from what you see in professional sports. Fans and young people can come up, say hello to them, get an autograph, and see that our student athletes are balancing their academic, social and athletic lives, and do it in a positive way.”

A native of Adel, Iowa, Weems holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa and a master’s degree from the University of Denver. She was a member for the University of Iowa rowing team, earning Academic All-Big Ten Conference honors from 1995-97.