Points of Honor are plentiful at St. Cloud State University

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Adam Ulbricht, National Journalism Center intern. Photograph by Steve Woit 75.


St. Cloud State has a long-standing tradition of having a lot to be proud of. That tradition is most apparent in the accolades and awards distributed to faculty, staff, students and alumni in especially large numbers this past academic year.

It can be seen on the walls of the university where awards hang like tapestry in display cases, such as the UTVS case in Stewart Hall. Trophies, plaques and certificates show just a sampling of the college TV station’s 27 awards from the 2011-12 school year, including college broadcasting Emmy Awards from the American Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

It also can be seen on the office walls and on magazine covers such as the February edition of Forbes Magazine featuring John Stumpf ’76, CEO of Wells Fargo.

Even the university itself was recognized for the second year in a row with the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll designation by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the U.S. Department of Education. The honor roll recognizes higher education institutions that reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities.

But the most notable tradition of excellence at St. Cloud State University is the knowledge and fellowship that is shared campus-wide and beyond through award-winning efforts and collaborations.

It starts in the classroom with faculty members like Robert C. Johnson, professor of ethnic studies.

Johnson, who recently received the National Association of Ethnic Studies’ (NAES) Robert L. Perry Mentorship Award, has been instrumental in providing students — especially minority students — with opportunities to transform their lives. During the last 25 years, Johnson’s residential math-science-computer camps have provided life-altering experiences to more than 3,200 students from grades 2 through 12. The camps serve demographic groups that have traditionally been underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, including those from ethnic minority and immigrant backgrounds, low- or moderate-income families

and a high proportion of females. This is especially notable for the St. Cloud area which continues to move toward greater racial and ethnic diversity.

An estimated 9.8 percent of Stearns County’s population were minorities in 2011, up from 9.4 percent in the 2010 census. The minority population also grew in neighboring Benton County. Among children, the racial and ethnic makeup is even more diverse.

The camps also serve as a pipeline to higher education for a significant number of participants by exposing them to campus life and the opportunities of education.

The NAES award honors talented professionals who devote countless hours mentoring students and faculty, said Connie A. Jacobs, one of the award committee members. “Your nominators, from a student to the president of your university, praised you for your work, which was cited as ‘legendary,’ and recognized the role you played in helping students become the successful people that they are today,” Jacobs wrote in a letter to Johnson announcing the award. “Your impressive vitae details the many programs you have developed that have been instrumental in providing students, especially minority students, with opportunities to transform their lives.”

Award-winning students

The good work at St. Cloud State doesn’t stop with the work of faculty and it sometimes comes in pairs.

Take for example students Carolyn Ritter and Daniela Lorenz, novice debate team partners, who earned a national championship at the Pi Kappa Delta National Comprehensive Tournament in March in Overland Park, Kan.

The SCSU speech and debate team competed with nearly 70 colleges and universities in the biennial tournament. Ritter, a first-year student from Grand Rapids, also won an 11th place Debate Speaker Award while Lorenz, a sophomore from Ellsworth, Wis., earned 15th place.

Jennifer Austin and Lindsey Branwall got a taste of the Emmy’s when they received second place from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation for Best Newscast for their work at UTVS. Austin, a senior from Champlin, and Branwall, a senior from Shakopee, also won an award from the Upper Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for Best Community Public Affairs Programming, while Austin won solo for Best General Assignment Reporting for her “Burglaries over break” story. As news directors, the duo led their team to top honors from the Broadcast Education Association as well during the BEA2012 Conference in April at the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nev.

The success and awards stories also carry over into various athletic arenas. This past winter, SCSU saw national champions crowned in both diving (Chris White, junior from Rochester) and wrestling (Derek Skala, senior from Owatonna). White also was named the NCAA Division II Male Diver of the Year and was one of five SCSU athletes  who earned Capital One Academic All-American® honors. Joining White with first-team honors were football players Matt Theis , Eden Valley, and Matt Schwartz, Forest Lake, and baseball player Phil Imholte , St. Cloud. Junior hockey goaltender Mike Lee , Roseau, was named as a third-team selection, bringing the total academic all-American team members to five.

And just as professors mold award-winning students, these student athletes are shaped by their coaches. For the second time in her career, diving coach Tracy Torgerson  was named the NCAA Division II Men’s Diving Coach of the Year while Larry Sundby  was named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Division II Central Region Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year.

Sundby recently completed his 25th season as a coach with the SCSU tennis program and helped lead the Huskies to their 12th straight Division II tournament bid last year. He served as the head coach of the women’s team for 18 seasons before becoming an assistant coach for both the men’s and women’s teams at St. Cloud State in 2006 and also is a professor emeritus of accounting at SCSU.

Developing future professionals

Graduates also are continuing their professional education with internships and fellowships.

Take for example Adam Ulbricht, who graduated in May with his master’s degree after serving as news dierector at 88.1 FM KVSC. The Melrose native is now moving to Washington, D.C. where he will begin an internship with the National Journalism Center. He will be assigned to one of the major media outlets in the D.C. area where he will work four days a week. On the fifth day he will return to the National Journalism Center where some of the country’s top journalists will give seminars and provide skill-building workshops. “I am looking to gain as much knowledge as I can along with making connections for a potential job after the internship ends. Working in the biggest political market in the country is something I look forward too,” Albricht said.

Alex Ames, who earned a master’s degree in public history in May, was awarded a fellowship from the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, the nation’s premier graduate program for the study of American decorative arts and material culture.

Winterthur ranks among the most prestigious museums in the United States. Fellows receive a full fellowship and stipend to support their graduate work. Upon completion of the program, Winterthur Fellows are prepared to enter the job market as curators, educators, museum administrators and antiques/auction house professionals. The Winterthur complex, formerly the country home of a duPont chemical company heir, is in Winterthur, Del., an hour southwest of Philadelphia.

And then there’s Carly Thomsen, who tells an amazing story about her educational journey at St. Cloud State that includes the roles that a diverse array of faculty and staff played in her evolution. Thomsen ’04, who is currently a doctoral candidate in feminist studies at the University of California Santa Barbara, was recently awarded one of six 2012 Woodrow Wilson Women’s Studies Dissertation Fellowships. The Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies encourages original and significant research about women that crosses disciplinary, regional or cultural boundaries.

“My time at St. Cloud State University changed my life,” Thomsen said. “I gained critical thinking skills, learned how to engage in cultural analysis and began participating in social justice activism. In doing so, I developed a sense of purpose that continues to infuse how I understand myself and my place in this world. My love of critical social engagement began at St. Cloud State University.”

Continued growth 

Every year St. Cloud State students land plum internships and fellowships. This year is no different. Recently, several have been notified of significant assignments.

Brian Few, a senior in the Department of Mass Communications, landed a full-time marketing internship with the Minnesota Lynx for the summer.

“Brian is active on campus, holds down a part-time job, takes advantage of opportunities presented through the university, works very hard and is extremely personable,” said SCSU Internship Development Director Bobbi Murphy.

Others, such as Megan Nichols, a senior from Corcoran in the Communication Arts and Literature Teacher Licensure Program, will take fellowships outside of Minnesota or overseas. Nichols was one of 25 from across the country who were awarded the Warren Fellowship for this summer at the Holocaust Museum in Houston, Texas.

“Her interest in, commitment to and preparation for professional development in Holocaust education will be realized in this opportunity,” said Dan Wildeson, director of the SCSU Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education.

“We look forward to Megan’s future assistance in, and contribution to, the design of programs that innovate methods and strategies for Holocaust and genocide education in Minnesota in the next decade.”

The Warren Fellowship for Future Teachers is a week-long program that introduces university students preparing for a career in teaching to the history and lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides. The Warren Fellowship, supported by The Warren Fellowship Fund, is developing a corps of educators who want to learn how to effectively teach about genocide and the Holocaust.

The fellowship takes place at the Holocaust Museum in Houston each spring. Twenty-five pre-service educators are selected by a faculty and museum panel and designated as Warren Fellows. Participants attend a six–day, expense-paid institute designed to immerse fellows in historical and pedagogical issues related to the Holocaust.

Amee Vang, a junior from Ramsey majoring in math education and minoring in women’s studies, achieved a noteworthy post when she was named to the 2012 class of Newman Civic Fellows, 162 student leaders nominated by presidents of Campus Compact member colleges and universities. Members of the class are chosen for demonstrating a personal commitment to creating lasting change for the better in their communities through service, community-based research and advocacy.

Vang uses creative strategies for social justice in racial equality, immigration and women’s rights. She has lobbied in Washington D.C., co-directed a fundraising play to assist victims of gender violence, mentored teens, organized gender equity awareness programming and advocated for women of color.

Emilie Wardrip, a senior from Nelson, will engage youth with her fellowship at the World Expo in Yeosu, Korea. Wardrip was one of 40 American students named student ambassador by USA Pavillion 2012. Serving from May through August 2012, the student ambassadors interact with Pavilion guests in many capacities, including greeting visitors, government officials and dignitaries, and providing administrative, protocol and programming support.

The 2012 student ambassadors will receive one college credit and participate in the Making Culture Visible While Studying Abroad course. All student ambassadors are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and are proficient in Korean.

Wardrip spent 10 weeks in 2010 as an intern with the East Asia/Pacific Bureau of the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C.

Reaching the top

Many St. Cloud State graduates such as John Stumpf ’76, the president and CEO of Wells Fargo, continue to excel at the top long after graduation. The Pierz native got his start at SCSU when he earned a degree in finance. His work is often held in high public regard and on the Feb. 13, he was featured cover of Forbes Magazine. The words on the cover next to Stumpf’s picture read: “The Bank that Works. John Stumpf’s Wells Fargo is making loans, writing mortgages and coining money. Are you listening Wall Street?” According to the article and statistics from SNL Financial, he now heads a bank that “far out-classes its peers in terms of efficiency, profitability and market value.”

And Stumpf isn’t the only St. Cloud State grad to climb to the peak in their profession.

In April, Perkins & Marie Callender’s, LLC., announced the appointment of Jeffrey Warne ’84 as chief executive officer. Warne will also serve as a member of the company’s board of managers.

Warne earned his bachelor’s degree from St. Cloud State and has more than 13 years of experience in casual dining, having served as the president and CEO of O’Charley’s Inc., and in numerous leadership roles with Carlson Companies, Inc., including president and CEO of Pick Up Stix, executive vice president and CEO of TGI Friday’s International and chief financial officer of Carlson Restaurants Worldwide. He also holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and is a certified public accountant and a chartered financial analyst.

“I have been given a tremendous opportunity,” Warne said. “Perkins and Marie Callender’s are superior brands with incredible potential. I am very excited to be joining the organization.”

Also flying high in his career field is John Hornibrook ’85, chief pilot of Alaska Airlines. Hornibrook received the promotion in March and today oversees 1,416 pilots.

Hornibrook holds an aviation degree from St. Cloud State and joined Alaska Airlines as a second officer in 1991. He quickly progressed to first officer before stepping into the captain seat in 1999. In addition to serving as Air Line Pilots Association Council 67 committee chairman, Hornibrook was chairman of ALPA’s central air safety and training board committees.

Prior to joining Alaska Airlines, Hornibrook flew for Great Lakes Aviation and was an instructor at Buffalo Aviation, a small fixed-base operator in Buffalo. He earned a bachelor’s degree in aviation technology from St. Cloud State.

From the classroom to the workplace to the top of the company, points of St. Cloud State pride are spread far and wide. 

Award-winning faculty/staff

  • Caesarea Abartis, professor of English, made the top 50 online stories for the 2011 list for WIGLEAF with her story “The Writer.”
  • Kyoko Kishimoto, associate professor of ethnic and women’s studies, was selected for the 2012 Annual Leadership Award by the Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans.
  • Jason Royce Lindsey, associate professor and chairman of the Department of Political Science, received a Fulbright scholarship for the spring 2013 semester in the Ukraine.
  • Brian Olson, assistant professor of biology, received a large research project grant from the National Institutes of Health.
  • John Palmer, associate provost for organizational development and faculty relations, received the Dr. Robert E. Gustafson Award from the Michigan Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association.
  • Earl H. Potter III, St. Cloud State University president, received the Asian School of Business Management Lifetime Achievement Award for 2012 in Bhubaneswar, India.
  • Mary Wingerd, associate professor of history, won the first Hognander Minnesota History Award, a biennial honor supported by the Hognander Family Foundation in recognition of outstanding scholarly work exploring some facet of Minnesota history, for her book “North Country: The Making of Minnesota.” “North Country” also received a Minnesota Book Award in 2011.

Standout 2012 grads

  • Kurtis Neu, an anthropology graduate from Eden Valley, was one of 15 finalists for the White House 2012 Champions of Change program, which honors students who have demonstrated outstanding leadership on their college campuses through projects that best embody President Obama’s “goal to win the future.” Neu turned a summer research project that provided free bagged lunches to children living in a low-income neighborhood into a non-profit organization, the Promise Neighborhood of Central Minnesota. During his research he made the meals and personally delivered them. Now he is a board member of Promise Neighborhood and acts as liaison between the organization and the university’s applied anthropology class.
  • Abbey Soldner, Wrightstown, Wis., who received her master’s degree in college counseling and student development, was honored with a Minnesota Campus Compact Presidents’ Student Leadership Award for exemplary community engagement. As a student she was involved in service learning and volunteer activities with the St. Cloud State Community Garden, Kaleidoscope Playground for children of all abilities, Feed Our Future program and peer mentoring for the university’s violence prevention program, to name a few.
  • Amber Vandenberghe, St. Cloud, who earned a Master of Science degree in communication sciences and disorders, is the recipient of a prestigious clinical fellowship at Mayo Clinic. After completing her clinical fellowship year Vandenberghe will take a national exam and, if successful, will be eligible to apply for clinical certification. “I chose to come to SCSU because I’d heard of the excellent reputation of the Communication Sciences and Disorders department, because the program has a strong clinical focus, and because the department offers the three year program for students coming from different undergraduate backgrounds,” she said.

- Mike Nistler 79, Adam Hammer 05

<< Previous  |  Contents  |  Next >>