Are you looking for something FREE, interesting, and fun to do in downtown Rochester, MN on a Tuesday night? Following a specific theme each month, the UMR CONNECTS professional speaker series will connect you to speakers, authors, panels, and more! Events take place every Tuesday night at 7:00 pm. During June, July, and August you can enjoy the presentations or performances outside on the Peace Plaza (click for directions), and the rest of the year (or inclement weather) we head inside to University Square room 417 (Click for directions to campus). No pre-registration is required, and we hope you will join us!

Please check the Google Calendar for up-to-date cancellation or location-change information, and contact Nick Anderson at 507-258-8053 or with any other questions.

Did you know?

You can sign up to receive a monthly email with the list of upcoming speakers here!

You can easily add the UMR CONNECTS events you're interested in to your own Google calendar here!

This page lists only UMR CONNECTS events. Please check the Event Calendar for other events taking place at the University of Minnesota Rochester.

UMR CONNECTS Schedule of Events

(Schedule is subject to change. * Denotes tentative information, with final details still to come)

- All Events will be held indoors in room 417, 4th floor of University Square, except for the Summer Series on the Peace Plaza (June, July, August) -

April - The Great Unknowns

April 7 - What They Don't Teach Us in History Classes

Dennis Challeen, District Judge from 1964 to 1999, chambered in Winona County Minnesota

In this UMR CONNECTS event on "The Great Unknowns" of historical events, Dennis Challeen will discuss history, psychology and the law touching on the Salem Witch Trials, how our Constitution came together, Lincoln and the Civil war, and how it all comes together today.

If you are wondering why you might want to listen to an obscure judge from mid-America, you may be surprised to find he’s not obscure at all. Yes, he lived for a decade during the 1970s in a boathouse floating on the Mississippi River backwaters in southeastern Minnesota; and he rode a motorcycle to preside in court occasionally wearing a blue denim robe back when judges just didn’t do things like that. Yet, he was re-elected many times and after four decades of hearing just about every kind of case imaginable, he is now a retired judge. But those are only his minor achievements. He’s credited with beginning the sentencing of non-violent offenders to community service hours, the first in the nation that began in Winona, Minnesota and spread throughout the U.S. and many foreign countries. Always a visionary, he has been interviewed several times on national television. In 1978 he was invited to teach at The National Judicial College, a training center for America’s judges; he remained a guest faculty member for 33 years teaching about the criminal mind and sentencing. He has written five books on criminal justice; some have been used in college criminal justice courses. During his retirement he has been a columnist for both Winona newspapers writing about history, psychology and the law. A colorful, down-home, humorous speaker and writer, he has been invited to present his candid views to correction and judicial education seminars in 42 of 50 states, often returning several times. This judge follows the research, not political agendas; thus, he often challenges both liberals and conservatives alike.

April 14 - Under a Watchful Eye: Child Abuse Prevention in Youth Serving Organizations

Alison Feigh, Program Manager at Jacob Wetterling Resource Center

Camps, retreats, faith communities, sports organizations, and arts organizations can provide wonderful quality experiences for youth to grow and thrive under the watchful eye of staff and volunteers with the best interests of the youth. The sad reality is that any organization that provides access to youth, time with youth, and the ability to build relationships with youth are targeted by offenders as places to find possible targets. Most people are in youth work for the right reasons, but one person engaging in a group to look for targets can destroy the legacy of a program and even worse, have detrimental effects to the lives of youth involved. There is no room for denial or minimization when the health of children and youth are at stake. This presentation will provide resources to both adults working within youth serving organizations who are diligently trying to keep their programs safe and community members wanting to learn more about warning signs and prevention. The good news is that we have come a long way in awareness and prevention in a short time. The challenge is that we still have far to go.

Alison Feigh came to the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center initially in 2001 from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. She remained with JWRC until 2009 working with students, parents, law enforcement, and the media with the ultimate goal of reducing abductions and abuse of children. She returned to JWRC in 2011, following the completion of her M.S. in Criminal Justice at St. Cloud State University. Alison’s graduate research led to her current project; co-authoring a textbook with Dr. Mary Clifford on sexual violence prevention for Oxford Publishing. Alison also holds a B.A. degree in Communication and “Responding to Missing Children in the U.S.” from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. While at St. Olaf, Alison co-chaired the Sexual Assault Resource Network and began a peer education training program to compliment the victim services being provided.

As a classmate of Jacob Wetterling, Alison learned early on how important it is to protect our children and youth from exploitation. She believes strongly avoiding fear-based approaches to empower children and teens walk around smart and not scared. Alison previously worked as a minister to youth and children at a metro area faith community for six years. She continues to be inspired and reenergized by working directly with children and teenagers at camps, retreats, and theater companies.

April 21 - Oneota Archaeology in the Lower St. Croix Valley: Current Research at the Sheffield Site

Ed Fleming, Curator of Archaeology at the Science Museum of Minnesota

Clusters of massive Oneota farming villages once dominated the river valleys and prairie landscapes of southern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa (AD 1100 – 1500). The Sheffield site is an anomaly as the only Oneota village currently known within the woodlands of the St. Croix valley, and differs from its southern cousins in a number of ways.  This lecture will discuss current archaeological studies of this and other sites in the St. Croix valley by the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Dr. Ed Fleming is Curator and Program Director for Archaeology at the Science Museum of Minnesota.  Dr. Fleming has been involved in archaeological research projects in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Montana, Ireland, and Belize.  His primary research focuses on the archaeology and material culture of North America, specifically the Upper Midwest during Late Pre-Contact times (ca. 1000 - 1400 A.D.), but the diverse collections at the Science Museum of Minnesota has instilled broad interests.  As curator, Dr. Fleming is responsible for building, caring for, researching, and interpreting the museum’s archaeological collection, so he works at the intersection of field research, collections care, and interpretation.  In addition, he contributes content research and interpretive direction for SMM-developed archaeological exhibitions, such as The Dead Sea Scrolls: Word that Changed the World and Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed.

April 28 - Hittin' the Road with a Ghost Hunter

Nancy Horvath

Join Rochester's premier ghost hunter as she takes you on the road to some of the many places she has investigated with her team, After Hours Paranormal Investigations.  Nancy, or as her friends call her, "Hawk", has investigated throughout the United States and as far away as Ireland.  She will share stories along with actual audio and video evidence of her investigations.

Dr. Nancy J (Hawk) Horvath, has been ghost hunting since 2007. She is an inter-spiritual mentor, inspirational speaker, writer, paranormal investigator, psychic and medium, whose gifts include her ability to see and hear other dimensions as well as communicating with those who have died physical deaths. As the CEO and Lead Investigator of After Hours Paranormal Investigations, she uses her gifts, but is ultimately in search of evidence. Read more about her on her team website

May 5 - Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at UMR! 

UMR Spanish IV students

Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that is celebrated in the United States and Mexico on May 5. Join us for this special UMR CONNECTS event as UMR students from the Spanish 4 class entertain and educate us on on traditional food and dance in Mexico, play a fun game of BINGO, and much more!

May - Conspiracy or Critical Connection?

May 12 - Media Representation of Female Athletes: An Oft Unrecognized Inequality in Society

Sarah Wolter, Visiting Assistant Professor, Gustavus Adolphus College

Scholarly research shows that on average female athletes represent about 40% of all athletes yet only receive 2-4% of media coverage, regardless of level of play or mass medium. Join Sarah Wolter as she uses a critical cultural perspective to analyze why representation is so low, integrating aspects of identity such as gender, race, and sexuality as well as the way the U.S. media system is organized to complicate depictions. Sarah will present case studies of athletes and women’s athletic teams to show how broader themes related to gender and the institution of sport are manifest in media content.

May 19 - The Cities Divided – How History Impacts the Shape and Character of Minneapolis-St Paul

Geoff Maas, Program Coordinator, Metropolitan Council

Modern cities are the process of many years of economic activity as well as successive waves of social, demographic and political change. In this talk, we will explore how housing practices, transportation projects and public policy have shaped—and continue to shape—the concentration of minority populations in Minneapolis–St. Paul. We will explore the cities' development and response to interstate highways and light rail transit through the lens of urban planning and environmental justice.

May 26 - Who Really Killed President Lincoln?

Dean Urdahl, Minnesota State Representative

Several conspiracy plots have been advanced regarding the murder of Abraham Lincoln.  While others are worth discussing, I will focus on two plots that can be historically traced leading to Lincoln's death.  I will also discuss the secret of April 14 that, if revealed then, could have brought down the Union government.

UMR CONNECTS (on the Peace Plaza)

Summer Series Schedule

- All Events will be held on the Peace Plaza (June, July, August), except during inclement weather -

(Schedule is subject to change. * Denotes tentative information, with final details still to come)

Would you like to easily add the UMR CONNECTS events you're interested in to your own Google calendar? Click here!

June - Performing Live! (on the Peace Plaza)

June 2
June 9
June 16
June 23
June 30

July - Inspirational Stories (on the Peace Plaza)

July 7
July 14
July 21
July 28

August - U.S. Celebrations (on the Peace Plaza)

August 4
August 11
August 18
August 25

The University of Minnesota Rochester strives to sustain an open exchange of ideas in an environment that embodies the values of academic freedom, responsibility, integrity, and cooperation. UMR CONNECTS is committed to supporting the University's overall mission of public engagement and outreach by fostering connections between the University, its students, and those who live in or visit our community. In support of this, UMR launched a weekly professional speaker series for the Rochester community and visitors in 2011, entitled "UMR CONNECTS," which has now reached well over 10,000 attendees!