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UMD Update

Notes from the Alumni Association | Campus Memories | First in the Nation | Theory Erupts! | 88,000 Trees | Making the Grade | Dancing Champions | Worldwide Tweed | Green Awards x 2 | Educating Through Performance

Notes from the Alumni Association


Many bends and bumps in the road led me away from UMD only to return again. Like so many alumni featured in this issue of the Bridge, I am another example of a person using a UMD education to follow an exciting, ever-changing career path.

When I graduated from UMD in 1977 with a BBA, I never envisioned that I would be back on campus today serving as the director of Alumni Relations. I began as a French major at Colorado College, transferred to the UMD business school, married my college sweetheart, enjoyed being a stay-at-home mother of three, volunteered in the Duluth schools and community, wore many hats while employed at our local ski hill, and finally landed in the UMD Alumni Relations office. It was a future I did not foresee, and I can't imagine a more perfect place to end up.

Because UMD prepared me well for my future, it's easy to encourage all of you to suggest that your children and grandchildren attend UMD. As alumni, you could pass on potential financial benefits to them.

For students residing outside the state of Minnesota, the UMD Alumni Scholarship is awarded to non-resident, non-reciprocity students who have a parent or a grandparent who graduated from UMD. Recipients will pay current Minnesota resident tuition, renewable subject to good academic standing.

In addition, the UMD Alumni Association Scholarship is awarded each year to several deserving sophomore, junior, or senior students through an application process. This endowed scholarship is made possible through generous gifts from alumni and friends of UMD.

So here's to following the dream and encouraging family members and others to join the UMD community,

Lisa Pratt, '77

Photo: Alumni Director Lisa Pratt outside the old entrance to Chester Park School, located on the southeast corner of campus. It is the new home of the UMD Alumni Office.

Campus Memories

Kirby in 1971

As we go to press, the first floor of Kirby Student Center (KSC) is in the midst of a renovation. The KSC Lounge will expand from 3,500 to 6,600 square feet, providing a new look and an open floor plan.

Below, UMD alumni share their KSC memories. The Kirby Student Center will continue to serve students into the future with ever-expanding programs and campus connections.

I became a part of UMD through the Kirby Program Board. In between hypnotists and Wrestlemania events, concerts and yelling over the wall to the Statesman office, I not only found my future husband (Jayson Hron, '99), I found myself. – Jen (Bahl) Hron, '99

I have great memories of Kirby: open areas to visit and socialize, billiard tables with folks watching, and most weeks, Saturday night dances upstairs with live bands. – Fred Friedman, '69

We all were in Kirby Hall when the Vietnam draft numbers were pulled. One of the men in Vermilion, a fifth-year senior from New Jersey, dropped the two bottles of pop he was holding, and they crashed to the floor. They pulled his number FIRST. I often wonder if he survived. – Michael Sauve, '72

In '62, KSC sponsored a juried art show for student and community artists. As members of the Kirby Program Board, Hans Tronnes, '64; Bill Baumgarten, '66; John Steel, '66; Merilee "Midge" Skafte Main, '64; John Radosevich, '69; and I, as my memory serves me, were tasked with keeping an eye on the exhibit. We decided to secretly enter a painting. With poster board, pens, brushes, and many colors, each person contributed marks, swooshes, and figures. We gave it a title, which I think included the word "Chaos." – Jim Main, '64

I had the privilege of working at Kirby Information Desk, THE best job on campus with the best boss, Bev Anderson. Asteroid and foosball in the Game Room improved my hand-to-eye coordination and that's helped me later on in life. (Ha ha). – Al Michaud, '84

If you have fond memories of Kirby, we'd love to hear them. Email us at or like us on facebook - KirbyUMD.

Photo: The foosball table in the KSC games room. From a 1972 archive photograph.

First in the Nation

MTAG Graduates

This year, for the first time, 22 UMD students graduated from the Master of Tribal Administration and Governance (MTAG) program. The program, which began in fall of 2011, is the only one of its kind, and focuses on tribal sovereignty, federal Indian law, ethics, leadership, tribal management, tribal accounting, and much more. Tadd Johnson, the director of graduate studies and chair of the American Indian Studies Department, said, "These students are the future leaders of Indian Country."

Photo: Leah Rae Savage (with daughter Deillah Savage) and Leah's mother, Sandra Savage (left), are among the first graduates of UMD's Master of Tribal Administration and Governance program.

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Theory Erupts!

Large Lakes Observatory

When UMD Regents Professor Tom Johnson and his colleagues found ash and organic matter in lake sediment core samples, the discovery altered knowledge about the history of the human race. In 2005, UMD's Large Lakes Observatory (LLO) and an international team of scientists extracted sediment from Africa's Lake Malawi, providing over a million years of the continent's environmental and climate history.

At the 75,000-year-old mark, LLO and its partners at the University of Oxford found ash from the Toba volcanic explosions on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. They also found algae and other organic matter, indicating the environment recovered quickly from the Toba-caused atmospheric disturbance. About the same time as the Toba eruption, genetic evidence points to a drop in the human population. Most geneticists estimate only 1,000–10,000 individuals remained.

Until this discovery, many anthropologists theorized that the population loss was triggered by Toba's explosion and its aftermath. "We can now rule out the widely touted theory that the Toba super-volcano eruption caused the near extinction of humans 75,000 years ago," said Johnson.

Photo: Drilling sediment cores in Lake Malawi in 2005. Photo courtesy of Tom Johnson.

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88,000 Trees

UMD Tree Grant

The project "Adaptation Forestry in Minnesota's Northwoods" has an ambitious agenda — to plant 88,000 trees on 2,000 acres in Minnesota's north woods.

Julie Etterson, UMD associate professor of biology, has joined a Nature Conservancy team to plant trees that are more fire resistant and tolerant of shade and drought in order to study a new native species mix. "By creating a more complex ecosystem, we will see healthier, more resilient forests," said Etterson.

Ultimately, the scientists hope to learn whether these new forest management techniques can help the millions of acres of forest in the Great Lakes region. These forests are crucial to ensuring that the ecosystem, the local timber economy, and recreational opportunities survive future climate changes and keep Northern forests thriving for years to come.

Photo: UMD's Julie Etterson (left), along with Mark White and Meredith Cornett from The Nature Conservancy, are researching ways to ensure the survival of Great Lakes forests.

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Making the Grade

Hitting the books is one thing. Playing hard is another. Those who can, do both.

UMD's 409 student-athletes, including redshirted freshmen, posted an all-time high average GPA of 3.11 in 2012-13. Of that group, 102 achieved GPAs of 3.50 or above and eight turned in perfect 4.00 figures.

During the fall semester, the women's soccer Bulldogs produced the best GPA of any UMD team with a 3.43 mark, and women's basketball took top honors in the spring with a 3.54 figure.

Dancing Champions

UMD Dance Team

The UMD dance team has a way of fascinating and dazzling crowds at UMD events. Now they have wowed audiences on a national level. The UMD dance team captured first place in the 2013 Dance Association Division II Collegiate National Championship. Through this championship, UMD students also showcased their leadership skills by taking this win without a coach. Co-captain Niki Johnson, '13, said that not having a coach strengthened them
as a team and taught them to be leaders and to be organized. "This really makes us unique," she said.

Photo: UMD's dance team celebrates its national victory on a Florida beach.

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Worldwide Tweed

UMD Tree Grant

A new digital database will revolutionize interaction with the Tweed Museum of Art collection. It will allow museumgoers and art enthusiasts around the world to browse through the vast Tweed collection, including pieces that date back as far as the mid-1800s.

The Tweed is undertaking an $80,000 project to catalog, describe, photograph, and store 4,200 pieces of its works-on-paper. The data will then be loaded into a digital database and will ultimately be available online along with images of other works in the Tweed collection.

This 50-week project is set to finish in June 2014 and was funded by the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant (Legacy Grant) through the Minnesota Historical Society.

Photo: (l-r) Krista Suchy and Camille Doran are working to ensure that anyone anywhere in the world can access the Tweed collection online.

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Green Awards x 2

This spring, UMD received two honors for sustainability. The Swenson Civil Engineering Building was listed as one of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) top ten examples of sustainable architecture and green design solutions. Sustainable strategies, like directing stormwater into cylinders filled with rocks for filtering, were incorporated into the design process. The final design achieved LEED Gold certification.

The second honor, UMD's inclusion in The Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges, also touted the sustainable Swenson Civil Engineering Building. Some of the other green highlights listed by the review: UMD has five LEED-certified buildings; the Solar Research Project produces renewable energy atop Malosky Stadium; UMD has several small rain gardens, biofiltration areas, and two green roofs; and UMD offers incentives for commuting by bike.

Educating Through Performance

UMD Performance

The first week in April marked a first for UMD: the inaugural "Shades of Africa" music festival. This series of concerts celebrated the rich diversity of composers and performers of African descent. The world-class performers were featured in a variety of settings: solo recitals, choral, traditional, classical, orchestral, and pop.The artists also participated in conversations with students and community members.

"Shades of Africa" was produced as part of UMD's strategic plan, goal two, "Create a positive and inclusive campus climate for all by advancing equity, diversity, and social justice." Organizer and music faculty member Rudy Perrault explained, "All of the artists selected for this festival have given themselves the mission to educate and affect change through their performances and teachings." Nearly 800 people attended "Shades of Africa" concerts. Perrault said the positive feedback points to the need for such an annual festival in the Northland.

Photo: Sowah Mensah (right) laughs with UMD students during a "Shades of Africa" performance. Photo courtesy of Sara Hughes.

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