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The University of Minnesota Duluth

BRIDGE Summer 2010, Volume 28, #1

Lendley C. Black | Victory In Vancouver | Award Winning Alumni |
Iron Range Program |
Immersed in Ojibwe | Richard Brown | Civil Engineering Opens | Bagley Classroom | Tele-Present Wind |

News About UMD, Alumni, The Campus, and Beyond

Dr.Lendley C. Black
NEW LEADERSHIP: UMD Welcomes Chancellor Lendley C. Black

On August 1, 2010 the University of Minnesota Duluth will welcome a new chancellor, Dr. Lendley (Lynn) C. Black. Black comes to UMD from Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga. where he served as vice president for academic affairs from 2002 until he was promoted in 2006 to provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Black has extensive administrative experience including nine years as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, three years as director of undergraduate studies and more than three years as director of student advising at Emporia State

University in Emporia, Kansas. He earned his Ph.D. in theatre at the University of Kansas. In his previous positions, Black has demonstrated his ability to engage the university with the surrounding community to establish strong relationships between faculty, students, and community members. He has also shown a commitment to bringing diversity to the campus and the community.

VICTORY IN VANCOUVER: UMD Ranks Second Among Colleges with Olympic Athletes

Former Bulldog Caroline Ouellette and UMD student Haley Irwin celebrate their gold medal victory with Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

UMD was well represented at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia: on the ice, in the newsroom, and behind the scenes. UMD ranked as the second highest college in the world with the most athletes in the Winter Games. A total of 15 Olympians hailed from UMD.

Seven current Bulldog women’s hockey players hit the ice for three teams: Canada, Finland, and Sweden. UMD redshirt forward Haley Irwin won her first gold medal playing for Team Canada. Former Bulldog and assistant captain for Team Canada, Caroline Ouellette also celebrated the victory over Team USA. The silver medal for former Bulldog and Team USA’s Jenny Potter makes her the most decorated UMD Olympic medalist in program history with four total medals; a gold in 1998, a silver in 2002 and 2010, and a bronze in 2006. In June, USA Hockey named Potter the 2010 women’s player of the year in the United States. Former 2007-08 Bulldog Assistant Coach Julie Chu also earned her second silver medal and third Olympic medal overall with Team USA.

Bulldog Senior Captain Saara Tuominen helped Team Finland to a 3-2 overtime victory over Sweden for the bronze medal by shooting the game-winning goal. The bronze medal game featured two currently rostered UMD players, Tuominen, and Mariia Posa who played for Finland; four currently redshirted Bulldogs, Elin Holmlov, Pernilla Winberg, Jenni Asserholt, and Kim Martin all played for Sweden; and three UMD alums, Heidi Pelttari for Finland and Maria Rooth and Erika Holst for Sweden.

Former students Iya Gavrilova and Kristina Petrovskaya also competed in the XXI Olympic Winter Games for Russia’s women’s hockey team. Duluth native and former Bulldogs hockey player Leah Wrazildo refereed the women’s hockey games.

Three former UMD students also made up part of Team USA’s men’s curling team. Former curling Olympian and 2007 UMD marketing graduate John Shuster represented Team USA for the second time since 2006 when he helped them win the bronze medal, America’s first curling medal. Jeff Isaacson, a previous student at UMD, was also on the team that was coached by yet another former UMD student Phill Drobnick.

In addition to the many successes on the ice, UMD was also represented off the ice. UMD’s radio station, KUMD, sent Mimmu (Ira) Salmela to the Vancouver Olympics to update the Northland. Former UMD student Chad Salmela also reported at the Olympic games as the primary color commentator for NBC’s coverage of the biathlon as well as covering cross country skiing events.

Topping off the lengthy list of UMD connections to the 2010 Winter Games are the handful of alumni involved behind the scenes. Former Bulldog goalie Tuula Puputti worked as an administrator for the Finnish Olympic Committee. Kara Salmela was the hospitality host for the biathlon events. Cory Salmela served as a statistician for NBC sports and also assisted broadcasting for KUMD. Josh Sandell served as a chiropractor with the sports medicine team that cared for Team USA during the Olympic games.

Chris Olwell

AWARD WINNING ALUMNI: Using skills learned at UMD to make a difference

Chris Olwell, a 2008 UMD graduate, received first place in the New Journalist of the Year category at the 2010 award ceremony for the Minnesota Newspaper Association. Nominated by judges in Maryland, Olwell submitted pieces published within the previous year.

Judges for the award said that Olwell’s journalistic work shows excellent promise for his future career. “Catchy, narrative-driven leads pull the reader into Chris’ stories. He clearly knows how to hook a reader,” they said. “Equally important is Chris’ ability to retain the reader with crisp writing across a variety of topics. It’s also important that Chris is embracing new media as the first on his staff to do a daily webcast. ‘New Journalists’ must be prepared to deliver content across a myriad of platforms. It appears Chris can look forward to a great future in journalism.”

Olwell, a history major and journalism minor, gained newsroom experience by interning with the Duluth News Tribune as well as working at the Statesman, the student newspaper for UMD. He said that all he knows about multimedia was learned at UMD. Olwell believes that his professors and hands-on experience have prepared him well for his career.

Olwell is currently working at the Eden Prairie Sun Current as the community editor and is the only full-time editor on staff. His job includes reporting, photography, video, and editing. “A lot of things I learned at UMD dawned on me gradually,” he said. “You don’t feel like you are learning much right away, but it all helps.”

Toni Thorstad

Toni Thorstad, a UMD alumna, received the 2009 Port Cities Woman of the Year award as well as the Grant Magnet School Peacemaker Award in February 2010. Thorstad earned her master’s degree in social work from UMD in 2007 and is now employed with Bridge House in Duluth. Thorstad’s job is part of ARMS (Adult Rehabilitation Mental Health Services), a state of Minnesota program. Much of Thorstad’s day is spent teaching skills in a client-centered approach to individuals with chronic and persistent mental illness.

Cases involving difficult challenges are scary to most; however, Toni was captivated by the opportunities and experiences within this line of work. Although Thorstad was initially hesitant about the research she had to do in the field, she attributes many UMD professors with encouraging her to succeed.

Thorstad’s professors welcomed her to the program because of her experiences as a mother, grandmother, and community activist. Anne Tellett, an assistant professor in the MSW program, recalled, “Toni was never afraid to say what she thought. She has a very strong personality, and we knew she was going to be a great asset to the university. We were right.”

James (Moe) Benda


Advanced engineering degrees are now offered at the Mesabi Range Community and Technical College in Virginia, Minnesota through the UMD Iron Range/Graduate Engineering
Education Program.

The program will offer six to eight courses every academic year including classes for a Master of Science in Engineering Management (MSEM), a Master of Environment Health and Safety (MEHS) and a new Master of Engineering (MEng) with specializations in civil engineering, chemical engineering, electrical & computer engineering, industrial engineering, or mechanical engineering.

The various classes are geared toward people who are either interested in obtaining an advanced degree to further their engineering career or who are simply wishing to upgrade their skills or maintain their professional licenses.

James (Moe) Benda (pictured above), a chemical engineer from the airplane manufacturer Cirrus Design, is the director of the new program. “The degree is tailored to the heavy industry of the Iron Range,” Benda said. “There are a dozen industries with employees who would like advanced training.”

The program is coordinated through the UMD Swenson College of Science and Engineering in conjunction with the Arrowhead University. The Iron Range Higher Education Committee has provided the financial support for the program.

IMMERSED IN OJIBWE: Preschool Language Program Opens

Gordon Jourdain and students

UMD, a leader in American Indian education, has once again excelled by launching an Ojibwe immersion program for ages four and five. In September 2009, the Enweyang Ojibwe Language Nest was established. Brian McInnes, program director, and Gordon Jourdain, the Ojibwe Language Nest head child care teacher, along with others from UMD’s College of Education and Human Services Professions, Eni-gikendaasoyang and more, have created a care and education immersion program. Located in UMD’s Chester Park building, the half-day program includes science, math, literacy, music, and art lessons. It’s a wholistic approach. “The lessons are taught through the Ojibwe language,” said McInnes.

Of the ten students enrolled into the program, about 60 percent have an American Indian heritage. On most days, a UMD education student works beside Jourdain, allowing college students to gain the experience of teaching as well as mentoring.

The classroom is separated into designated areas: learning, playing and projects. Objects and items are labeled with the Ojibwe name to reinforce the language in its written form. The program also enjoys exploring beyond the classroom and makes use of other UMD facilities such as the Tweed Museum of Art, Bagley Nature Center, and the UMD Library.

McInnes believes that this program will become part of a greater movement to bring the Ojibwe language back into homes, families, and communities. Although only a portion of the students have American Indian heritage, McInnes is happy to see anyone embrace the language and believes it is a step towards “intercultural competence.”


Richard Brown

Richard Brown, who attended UMD in the ’80s, was named Senior Fellow of the Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE). This is only the second time in LSBE history that this honor has been bestowed. Brown is the CEO of JNBA Financial Advisors in Minneapolis.

“We chose to make Richard a Senior Fellow because of the successes he has achieved and because he is an enthusiastic supporter of LSBE,” said Dean Kjell R. Knudsen.

Brown began offering LSBE student internships at his firm in 2008 and is working with the School to provide more experiential learning opportunities. A number of interns have gone on to be hired by JNBA Financial Advisors.
Brown is committed to giving students hands-on experience. “It’s important for alumni to try to help,” Brown said. “If we want a strong next generation, we need to nurture, mentor, and help build it.”

Brown is also active in philanthropic endeavors. In February 2009, he and over 625 “plungers” jumped into frigid Lake Superior as part of the Duluth Polar Bear Plunge to raise money for Special Olympics. LSBE joined JNBA Financial Advisors and the Duluth Police Department in sponsoring the event, which raised a record $100,000.

“UMD students really stepped up. Their enthusiasm for this event was inspiring. The money that they raised will help a lot of Special Olympians in Minnesota,” Brown said.



Mark Roberts, senior lab coordinator with Civil Engineering students Jonathan McGowan and Dylan Meyer

The Swenson Civil Engineering Building, which broke ground less than two years ago, had its grand opening on June 28, 2010. The new 34,000-square-foot, two-story building that connects to Voss Kovach Hall houses specialized teaching and research laboratories as well as classrooms and administrative offices.

The new building was designed with the recent addition of the Civil Engineering undergraduate degree in mind. The new program, which emphasizes transportation, structural, water resource, and geotechnical engineering, is able to offer upper-level classes this fall due to the addition of the new labs in the building.

Of the six labs, two are very large and reach two-stories high. One of the large labs features a flume, a channel to demonstrate water flow. The second large lab displays structural engineering with two 15-ton hydraulic cranes used for lifting large sections of concrete and other structural elements for evaluation and testing.

The building is designed to be a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified “green building.” LEED is a rating system established by the U.S. Green Building Council. Certification of LEED involves precise evaluation of environmental sustainability aspects such as: water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and overall indoor environmental quality, and applies it to the building’s design, construction, and operation.

The construction of the new facility was led by the Duluth firm SJA Architects. Ross Barney Associates of Chicago also contributed to the architectural design of the project. The two firms collaborated five years ago on the construction of the James I. Swenson Science Building located on campus.

CARING FOR THE EARTH: Bagley Classroom Opens

Bagley Nature Center classroom

The Bagley Classroom had its grand opening in June 2010. Accessible through Bagley Nature Area, the new classroom allows students studying multiple disciplines to experience classes in the natural setting of UMD’s nature area.

Duluth architect David Salmela was inspired by the environment and created a place that reflects sustainability inside and out. The new building is built mainly out of recycled and local materials. It was constructed by UMD Facilities Management staff. An interesting characteristic of the building is the “green” toilets, which look and function like regular toilets. What you can’t see is the transformation of human waste into compost, which will be used to fertilize plants around campus.

The building opts out of an air-conditioning unit and instead uses a high-tech air-cooling system which senses the weather and takes in cool, dry air when necessary. When the weather changes to warmer and wetter, the vents close off to keep the cool air inside. In addition, its vegetative roof doesn’t absorb the sun’s heat, keeping the building at a more even temperature.

The new building has 16-inch thick walls for improved insulation and uses only 10 percent of the power of comparable buildings. The building is strategically placed facing south to utilize the sun and has solar panels. These panels will generate more energy than the building needs, which will allow UMD to sell the extra electricity back to the grid. Students will learn during classes inside the building, but also from it by studying the sustainable technologies the building possesses.

TELE-PRESENT WIND: UMD Shared Live Robotic Art with Moscow, Russia

David Bowen

The Visualization and Digital Imaging Lab at UMD was the site of an art project connecting a wind catching installation in Duluth with a performance installation in Moscow, Russia. David Bowen, professor, Department of Art and Design, designed the international art collaboration entitled, “International Robotic Art: Tele-Present Wind.”

Bowen connected an accelerometer device to a dried tansy plant stalk outdoors in Duluth to thin dried tansy plant stalks in a gallery in Moscow. When the wind blew in Duluth, it caused the stalk outside to sway. The accelerometer detected and transmitted the Duluth movement in real-time and caused the grouping of devices in the gallery in Moscow to sway as well.

The 21 x/y tilting devices were installed at Laboaratoria Art and Science Space in Moscow, and the sensor was installed at the Visualization and Digital Imaging Lab at UMD in June 2010. The data collected by the sensor was sent via the Internet to the installation in Moscow.

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