June 11 Safe Return update
I hope that your summer is off to a relaxing start and that wherever you are you are enjoying the gifts of the season! We have a robust update for you today, please take time to read through this information. A reminder that our newsletters over the summer will come to you every two weeks starting today.
Fall planning efforts
Given the overall increase in vaccination rates and the precipitous fall in COVID-19 rates statewide, the Minnesota Department of Health continues to release guidance to colleges and universities focused on reducing restrictions for fall semester. The recommendations are largely to continue to promote vaccinations and have protocols in place for quickly identifying sick individuals.
This guidance is in line with our current plan and therefore we’ll keep moving forward with our face-to-face return. The College intends to maintain a contact tracing program, quarantine and isolation space, and vaccination offerings, while continuing to strongly encourage all eligible community members to receive their vaccine. We encourage individuals to wear face coverings if desired.
In the short term, we are working actively with the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection to collect aggregate information regarding our overall vaccination rates for our community (see below). We are also working with our Marketing and Communication Team to review and refresh our website and other external communication to ensure they align with our current fall plan.
As always, we remain grateful for your continued support and vigilance!
Partnering with the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection (MIIC)
This past spring, the College administered two pulse surveys to help determine the COVID-19 vaccination rates among our students, faculty and staff populations. The response to the surveys were very positive and reflects that our community is supporting our efforts to ensure a safe return to this coming Fall semester. To continue our efforts in our path back to normalcy, the College, through a confidential process, is working with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection (MIIC) to evaluate the COVID-19 vaccination status of our campus community. The data collected will be aggregated, which means the College will not receive any identifying information from our student, faculty and staff populations.
MIIC is a statewide immunization information system that stores electronic immunization records for Minnesota health service providers and for the public. Here is a link to learn more about MIIC.
Student Center Update: Gallery Walk feedback
During April and May, the College hosted a virtual and in-person Gallery Walk of the preliminary concept design for the student center. Thank you to everyone who participated and provided comments! Of note, more than 75% of the respondents said they would hang out at the student center. Here are the top responses/comments for each of the questions:
- What do you like about the proposed concept?
Outdoor/green space/rooftop/plaza; social/gathering space; open concept/natural, bright light; design/modern/aesthetically pleasing; fireplace and study areas
- What do you not like about the proposed concept?
Loss of parking; no designated “quiet area” for study; will graduate before it is completed; industrial/sterile look; high ceilings/cavernous/noisy/wasted space
- If you could change one feature what would it be?
Add more indoor seating; add private rooms/space for study; space is too open with unused space/cavernous; add a tunnel to Somers Hall and BWC; remove patio dining and ice rink
- If you could keep one feature what would it be?
Fireplace and lounge; high ceiling/modern design/open concept; rooftop patio; ice rink; quad
Your comments are very helpful as we move to the next steps that will define the final design of the center. Over the next few months, we will begin fundraising for the project and are hopeful that donors will be responsive to supporting the student center and all that it will bring to the Duluth campus.
Saints Rise Up! Athletics End of Year Update
In review of a successful year for athletics, the Saints have many accomplishments to celebrate including our 17th UMAC Jerome Kruse Award (All-Sports Trophy) and 12th consecutive honor. Below are several additional achievements from the 2021 season.
Saints by the Numbers
- 90 All-Conference Selections, including 72 First Team Honorees
- 59 Chi Alpha Sigma National Honor Society Inductees
- 24 NCHA All-Academic Honorees
- 9 Conference Regular Season and Postseason Championships
- 9 All-Region Selections
- 9 Conference Player of the Year Awards
- 6 Conference Coach of the Year Awards
- 5 Nordic Skiers compete at NCAA Championships (most in program history)
- 4 Conference Rookie of the Year Awards
- 2 NCAA Team Tournament Appearances (Men’s Tennis, Women’s Golf)
- Softball records 800th win as a program
- Women’s Golf wins fifth consecutive conference championship and attends fourth NCAA Division III Championship
- Women’s Hockey wins first-ever NCHA Regular Season Championship
- Men’s Tennis qualifies for second NCAA Tournament
- Softball’s Olivia Howe named a Third Team NFCA All-American (fourth All-American in program history)
- Men’s Nordic Skiing Emil Book Bratbak earns Second Team All-America laurels (second All-American in Nordic Skiing)
- Men’s Basketball Nick Carlson named First Team D3hoops.com All-West Region (first player in program history to be named All-Region)
- Men’s Track & Field’s Samuel Eben Ebai Jr. earned All-Central Region accolades for the second consecutive indoor season.
Chief Diversity Officer reminders and invitations
Last week, we shared a resource list to support and celebrate people of all sexual and gender identities during Pride Month and beyond. We will also have a presence at the Duluth Superior Pride festival on September 4, and will be looking for volunteers to help staff the EDI table at this event. Stay tuned for more details later this summer.
Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, is a historic day to commemorate the ending of slavery in the United States. Since this year’s event falls on a Saturday, the College will observe Juneteenth on Friday, June 18. Early next week, the EDI Office will be sharing a resource and activity list to help our community celebrate and learn more about this significant holiday.
State Fair pause
After thoughtful and collaborative deliberation, we have decided to pause on having a presence at the Fair this year. Over 140 dedicated volunteers are needed to staff the booth during the Fair’s twelve-day run. Based on the responses from our interest survey, we know that securing the necessary number of volunteers will be especially tough this summer. Ultimately, we want to be respectful of our community members’ varying levels of comfort.
The pause will also allow us to reflect on our “why,” including who our audience is and how we measure the success of our efforts. If you are interested in being a part of this conversation, please reach out to Breanne Tepler.
New at the Saints Shop
The Saints Shop has been buzzing with excitement as new students and their families have been visiting and shopping for their first pieces of Saints apparel and general merchandise (here are some of their favorites: Pro-Weave hoodie, See Ya Gaiter Mask Hoodie, Butter Yellow Hoodie).
Exciting news for our Social Work Department
Congratulations! The College was just awarded a four-year $1,333,332 HRSA grant for our Master of Social Work program. These funds will help prepare 80 MSW students to practice and seek employment in clinical sites in rural and underserved northeastern Minnesota communities, as well as build upon the 2017-2021 ROBUST project with an expanded focus on the needs of children, adolescents, and transitional-aged youth at risk for behavioral health disorders, substance abuse and violence.
Cohorts of 20 MSW students will receive a $10,000 stipend in their final year if they complete a longitudinal placement in an underserved community. Our values in action!
Our gratitude and congratulations to Dr. Shelly Smart, Janet Rosen, Katie Morford and Amanda Abrahamson Roseth for their work in securing this HRSA grant!
To all of you, thank you for your ongoing efforts as we plan forward. Enjoy the weeks ahead!
Blessings to you,