The Magazine of the University of Minnesota Duluth
MILLER SKATES FROM NAGANO TO DULUTH
Shannon Miller gripped the phone. She fired off questions and jotted down notes on a yellow legal notepad. "Is she a strong skater? How would you rank her among high school women hockey players? How many years has she been playing hockey?"
Miller was talking to a girls' high school hockey coach and was focused. With eight scholarships for her inaugural season, Miller needs to recruit and train 20 women to start a NCAA Division I women's hockey team for 1999-2000. Miller has a huge task ahead of her. She has to turn what now is a club team into a quality Division I contender in a matter of months. This means she needs to recruit the best women in the country to skate for UMD.
It is going to be a tough sell. But there are some tremendous advantages as well. UMD is a great school academically and women hockey players will get the chance to play under Shannon Miller.
Some women will come to UMD just for the opportunity to be coached by Miller. Some of them may eventually want to play for professional women's hockey teams and others may have Olympic action in their dreams. In any case, Miller will make them the best they can be. While there are other female coaches at Division I schools, none of them have coached Olympic teams.
Miller, 34, has spent the greater part of the 1990s as a coach with the Canadian Hockey Association. Last February she directed Canada to a silver medal in Women's Ice Hockey at the Winter Olympic Games. Prior to her stint with Canada at last year's Olympics in Nagano, Japan, Miller was the head coach of Canada's national team which captured a fourth consecutive gold medal for the 1997 Women's World Ice Hockey Champion-ships. She also coached Canada to gold-medal finishes at both the 1995 and 1996 Pacific Rim Championship as well as the Three Nations Cup Tournament in 1996.
Landing in Minnesota was no accident for Miller. The region has quickly developed a reputation for turning out top female women hockey players. In 1994, Minnesota became the first state to sanction girls' ice hockey as a high school varsity sport and 24 schools took part that first year. This season 93 high schools sponsor girls' ice hockey teams! There is also legislation in Minnesota that mandates equal ice time and resources for boys' and girls' hockey.
It comes as no surprise that Minnesota female high school players are, in Miller's estimation, the best in the country. Some of these high school athletes started playing before there were girls' teams and they were forced to play with the guys. Now they play harder because of it.
Miller knows what she needs. She has a list of attributes for her top players. She said, "They need to skate fast. They need to be strong." But they also need some special skills because of UMD's emerging status. "The challenge is to create teamwork and to do it quickly," she added.
One of the big draws for Miller's first team is the construction of a new women's hockey rink on campus. The state legislature has approved the funding for the planning phase and the 3,000-seat building is projected to be completed by the 2001-2002 season. The rink will include a high performance training center with a track, a fitness testing lab, world-class athletic weight room, a video suite and a hockey resource center.
Miller is deep in the hiring process for her two assistant coaches. But her first priority hasn't changed. Aside from the efforts put into UMD's future team, Miller is coaching the club team and winning, even against Division I schools.
She said that Athletic Director Bob Corran hired her to build a team. "My job is to make UMD a national force in women's hockey -- and I am the woman to do it."
-- Cheryl Reitan
UMD's Department of Theatre is on the road again. Their season-opening production, Dear Finder, was selected for presentation at the Region V American College Theatre Festival in Ames, Iowa in January 1999. Dear Finder was one of only six plays selected from the eight state Region V which includes Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri, and Kansas.
The world premiere of the play, with an original script written by UMD Theatre Professor Tom Isbell in collaboration with several UMD Theatre students, was held when the play was performed in October. It is a play based on oral histories, diaries, and letters. It chronicles Hitler's rise to power, the massacres at Babi Yar, life in the ghettos and concentration camps, and liberation.
In addition to the play's ACTF selection, six performance students have been chosen to compete in the Irene Ryan acting competition, and five design students will exhibit and compete in the ACTF Barbizon Design for Excellence competition.
If Dear Finder wins the Region V competition, it will travel to the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. for national competition in the spring.
UMD's American Indian Learning Resource Center was the recipient of a generous donation of resource materials last spring. Rosemary Ackley Christensen and her sons, Barry and Dane, donated over 700 books and ten file cabinets with information pertaining to American Indians and Alaskan Natives in memory of their grandfather and great-grandfather James Ackley.
UMD American Indian Learning Resource Center Director, Rick Smith, views the gift as a demonstration of "Rosemary's traditional value of giving something back to honor our ancestors."
The family's cultural contribution also included video and audio tapes, masters and doctoral theses, and documents on culture, language, history, spirituality, law, treaties, sovereignty, gaming, legislation, and education, making the center one of the largest Indian-specific collections in the Midwest with over 5,000 available resources.
While Christensen, her sons, father and grandfather are enrolled members of the Mole Lake Band of Lake Superior Chippewas, in Mole Lake, Wisconsin, she also is enrolled as a student in the Leadership Academy at the University of Minnesota where she is finishing her doctoral dissertation. Christensen also holds a Masters of Education from Harvard University.
UMD is proud of its Great Lake location and the academic areas dedicated to freshwater research. The combination of these, in this age of environmental conservation, has set the stage for new opportunities in scientific research. Chancellor Kathryn Martin and Representative James Oberstar announced the formation of the UMD Center for Freshwater Research and Policy, last summer, to identify and focus attention on threats to the world's supply of fresh water. The new institute is headed by Timothy Holst, associate dean at UMD's College of Science and Engineering. "There are all sorts of research projects going on in our programs but no one person knows something about all of them," Holst said. "I plan to be that person."
The center is designed to channel research information between entities at UMD including the Large Lakes Observatory, Natural Resource Research Institute and Minnesota Sea Grant. The center will produce a major annual publication, periodic newsletters, and plans to provide freshwater research information projects on a Web site.
The project, which is being partially funded by a continuing legislative appropriation, will also allow UMD to hire staff that will take part in local, regional and national water policy issues. The project will complement the excellent faculty who are already pulling in research money -- often times beating out researchers at Stanford and M.I.T.
This impressive endeavor adds to one of UMD's most important niches. "Our undergraduate research program provides opportunities for students who have extraordinary skills, and it provides our faculty a keen group to work with," said Martin who also stated that research opportunities at UMD compare with graduate level opportunities at major universities.
Michel Gerber, a UMD senior enrolled in the College of Science and Engineering, was honored last April as Minnesota Student Employee of the Year. Gerber's hard work for UMD Library Technical Services paid off in more ways than one when the Midwest Association of Student Employment Administrators selected him for its 1998 title and a cash award from the State of Minnesota.
UMD's innovative, award-winning tutoring program achieved a new milestone last February, as one of UMD's dedicated tutors assisted a student in the center's 100,000th tutoring session.
In its 11 years, the unique program has grown accustomed to receiving positive feedback for the outstanding performance of its services. Minnesota Monthly magazine named the center the winner of its "Minnesota's Ten Best Ideas" contest. National recognition came from the College Reading and Learning Association, which granted the program its certification. Both regional and national presentations have been given on the credit-based Peer Tutoring program, which offers free drop-in, anonymous service. The program's manual has also been sold to over 200 individuals and institutions.
Forty-two percent of graduating seniors have utilized the tutoring center for instruction in accounting, American sign language, chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, physics, Spanish, and writing.
Approximately 100 tutoring scholars work three to four hours each week, conducting 3,000-4,000 individual and small group tutoring sessions over a nine-week quarterly period, and participating in a two credit tutor training course and a practicum. This resume-building opportunity also helps tutors build better teaching and communication skills.
Last September, UMD's Medical School and St. Louis County announced that a cooperative agreement has made UMD the new home of the St. Louis County morgue.
The county was left without a medical examiners facility in St. Lukes Hospital this year when Dr. Donald Kundel, a longtime Duluth physician and medical examiner, asked to step down from his administrative duties. This left the county no facility to perform approximately 175 autopsies each year. Sheriff Gary Waller approached UMD with the idea that the medical school and the criminology department would be able to offer a unique learning experience while the county would get a morgue and medical examiner services.
Medical School Dean Richard Ziegler said that the county and the UMD Medical School would each put in $16,000 to renovate a classroom in the medical school. The medical school installed the equipment for the autopsy suite, which includes a video camera to allow students to observe procedures. Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin approved of the facility saying that anytime the university can establish a cooperative agreement with the local municipality, the University is eager to help. "In a sense we're breaking new ground and moving in a new direction, especially to the benefit of our students," Martin said.
In the Fall of 1999, the pulse of UMD's academic life will most certainly change as UMD makes the transition to semesters. People all over the university have been working hard to ensure that the movement from quarters to semesters will be a smooth one.
Student credit load has been an issue for schools who have gone through a semester transition. A full 15-credit load may mean taking five courses, and students may think that's too many. Some schools that have moved to semesters have experienced at least a temporary decline in student credit load.
Vice Chancellor Vince Magnuson said that the switch will mean that a student will take more courses per semester than they were accustomed to taking during the quarter system, but semesters will provide greater educational value. "They shouldn't be studying more, he said, but would be dividing it differently." Jackson Huntley, director of advisement and retention at UMD, stresses that good faculty advisement during this transition is essential. "The transition will be less complicated if students consult with their advisors and with them make careful, knowledgeable decisions," he said.
Although there will be an increase in the course-to-credit ratio, planners are optimistic about the semester curriculum. John Hamlin, associate dean, College of Liberal Arts, said "The curriculum next fall will be the most thoroughly scrutinized curriculum ever offered." In every department, every single course will be restructured and updated. Restructured courses provide educational improvements for both students and faculty.
Concern for students is a priority for all who are planning the semester conversion. Huntley stated that there is a pledge that no student will be left at a disadvantage because of conversion from quarter courses into semesters. The amount of planning and preparing for the semester conversion has been substantial. Although it's too early to call semester conversion a success, a positive attitude and a smooth transition will surely change the looks of panic now on students' faces into expressions of relief.
Semesters will begin in fall 1999 on all University of Minnesota campuses. Classes will begin on September 7, the day after Labor Day. For lots of good information, go to the semester web site: www.semesters.umn.edu.
This academic year has seen the addition of two scholarships and two tuition-waiver policies aimed at high-achievement students, children of alumni, and international students. Announced last spring, the new programs offer major tuition benefits to students with good academic standing.
"These new initiatives will favorably position UMD for the year 2000 and beyond by recognizing academic accomplishment through financial opportunity," said Acting Director of Admissions Beth Esselstrom. The hard work of both resident and non-resident students of first or second rank in their high school class will result in their eligibility for for the "Best of Class Scholarship." This offering includes a tuition reduction equal to 50 percent of the current resident tuition for these new freshmen.
Non-resident first year students who are children or grandchildren of UMD alumni will also benefit from a new scholarship. These students will pay current resident tuition for their studies by receiving the "UMD Alumni Scholarship."
Resident tuition is now available to other non-resident, non-reciprocity undergraduate students as well. This tuition waiver will be considered for students in the top 25 percent of their high school class or under the recommendation of their college of admission. Aside from a strong portfolio, these students must possess a 3.0, or higher, grade point average after a minimum of one full year at another institution.
International students looking to make UMD their new home may also qualify for resident tuition. These students must also be in the top quarter of their high school class, with their colleges' recommendation on the basis of a strong portfolio, and a 3.0 grade point average as well as a minimum score of 550 on the English language test. The total number of International Tuition Waivers for 1998-99 will be limited to 200.
Aside from these credentials, all students must remain in good academic standing with normal progress toward a degree to insure their eligibility.
As Duluth thaws out and its winter hibernation comes to an end, The Department of Theatre will entertain audiences once again this summer with performances from the Minnesota Repertory Theatre (MRT), a resident, non-profit, professional theatre company. By bringing active professionals together with student artists-in-training, the MRT creates a vital theatre experience that is both professional and educational.
The summer of 1998 brought the campus and community two great shows: the comedy The Nerd by Larry Shue and the smash hit musical Little Shop of Horrors, featuring the wonderful music of the award-winning team of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman.
The return of three alumni, Michelle VanEmmerick, Mel Sando, and Julie Unulock, and the participation of Actors Equity Association member and Associate Professor of Theatre, Tom Isbell was especially rewarding for the acting company. As the Repertory continues to grow, UMD hopes to see an addition of a third production, a coupling with the Summer Performing Artists Series, the development of a high school apprentice program, and a guest artist program.
The response to bring back the Repertory has been positive. The University of Minnesota Duluth stood beside the Minnesota Repertory Theatre to launch the 1998 season with Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin as its strongest advocate. Many area businesses and individuals gave generously to the Repertory start-up effort this past year so be sure to highlight July and August on your summer 1999 calendars.
- Chris Fortin