Past Events - 2014

Welcome to the 2014 UMR CONNECTS past events page. All presentations on this page have already taken place. You can view the list of upcoming presentations here.

January Theme ~ Conspiracy Theories

January 7 ~ Am I Paranoid Enough? The Psychology of Persecution and Psychotic Violence 

Dr. Angus McDonald III, Director of the Translational Research in Cognitive and Affective Mechanisms laboratory; Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Minnesota

Persecutory ideation is one of the more prominent symptoms of schizophrenia, but is not restricted to this mental illness. I will examine persecution and distrust as a symptom and as a feeling, and distinguish the traits of persecution from cynicism. I will then examine what is known about the brains of those who feel persecuted. Finally, I will examine the state of our knowledge and ignorance about paranoia to consider where these findings have practical applications for predicting and addressing psychotic violence.

January 14 ~ Conspiracy Theories and Investigative Reporting

John (JJ) Murray, Executive Director-Upper Midwest Emmys, former TV News Director and Producer


January 21 ~ Conspiracy Theories: A Sampler

Dr. James Fetzer, McKnight Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota Duluth - Philosophy

JFK, 9/11, Sandy Hook and the Boston bombing did not take place as we were told.

A former Marine Corps officer, Jim Fetzer has published widely on the theoretical foundations of scientific knowledge, computer science, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and evolution and mentality. McKnight Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota Duluth, he has also conducted extensive research into the assassination of JFK, the events of 9/11, and the plane crash that killed Sen. Paul Wellstone. The founder of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, his latest books include The Evolution of Intelligence (2005)The 9/11 Conspiracy (2007)Render Unto Darwin (2007), and The Place of Probability in Science (2010)


January 28 ~ Vaccine Defense and Defense Vaccines: Clarifying Common Myths Surrounding Vaccinations

Richard B. Kennedy, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine, Mayo Vaccine Research Group, Department of Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic  


February Theme ~ Olympics and Sports


February 4 ~ Using Olympic Experience to Keep A Baby Boomer Buff: Strategies To Stay Fit For the Rest of Your Life

Dr. Ed Laskowski, Co-Director of Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialist

Dr. Laskowski will review his experience as a physician in the Olympic Polyclinic for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics and will discuss strategies we all can incorporate into our own fitness programs to help us be at our best.

Dr. Ed Laskowski is Co-Director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center and is a specialist in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He has contributed hundreds of articles and interviews for various publications, scientific journals, and media including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, Reader's Digest, Men's Health, Vogue, Outside, Oxygen, Real Simple, ABC World News Now, and Runner's World. He is currently serving as one of the Assistant Editors for the Mayo Clinic Family Health Book and he is the Editor of the Fitness Healthy Living Center for He has been active in providing amateur and professional athletic event physician coverage at events ranging from the Chicago marathon to local high school football games. He was selected to be one of the members of the Olympic Polyclinic Medical Staff for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Dr. Laskowski's expertise is in the areas of fitness, wellness, injury "protection," conditioning, and strength and stability training. Dr. Laskowski's clinical expertise has been recognized throughout the world, and he has completed visiting professorships in Austria, Canada, Portugal, and China in addition to multiple institutions in the United States. He is an elite level alpine skier and a former member of the Professional Ski Instructors of America, and he enjoys hiking, running, biking, and skiing with his family. In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed Dr. Laskowski to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and he has received a Distinguished Service Award from the Department of Health and Human Services for his contribution to the Council. He also has been chosen by fellow physicians across the country as one of the "Best Doctors in America" for the last twelve years.


February 11 ~ Strange but True Stories from the Olympics 

  Tom Ecker, Olympics Historian and Author 

Tom Ecker is the author of the book "Olympics Facts and Fables." He has extensive knowledge of the Olympic Games and the participants. Tom Ecker first became fascinated with the sport of track and field at the age of 12 when he was selected to run on a relay team in the annual elementary school track meet in his hometown of Waverly, Iowa. The meet, which was always held on the town's half-mile horse track, was postponed because of rain and as yet has not been rescheduled. Six years later, as a high school athlete, Ecker won eight individual state track and field championships, setting state records in seven of them. As a member of the University of Iowa track team, he won Big Ten and Drake and Kansas Relays titles. Ecker has coached track and field at the junior high, high school, university, and international levels. He coached for four years at Western Kentucky University, where he was named Conference Coach of the Year all four years. He then served as National Coach of Sweden for two years. The author of 18 books, including two on the modern Olympics, Ecker has traveled the world, collecting little-known facts about the Games and its participants. The research for his most recent book, Olympic Facts and Fables, took 31 years.


February 18 ~ The Evolving Nature of Prosthetics in Olympic Sports

Brandon Sampson, founder and owner of Limb Lab

Derek Johnson is a client of Brandon’s, an athlete with a prosthetic leg. For more on Derek Johnson click here.

Brandon Sampson is founder and owner of Limb Lab, a prosthetics company with locations in both Mankato and Rochester. He is an ABC Board Certified Prosthetist and has been working as a Prosthetist since 2003. Brandon graduated from Luther College with a major in Biology and Music and completed the Technician and Prosthetic Practitioner Certificate program at Century College. He is Certified in iLimb, Michelangelo, C-Leg, Harmony and Genium technology.


February 25 ~ The Olympic Experience: Amanda Smock shares her journey to the 2012 London Olympics

Amanda Smock, 2012 U.S. Olympian

Amanda has been competing in the triple jump since the 8th grade. She competed in the event at North Dakota State University where she was a three time National Champion. After college she wasn’t ready to end her competitive career. While attending graduate school at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, she teamed up with a top US triple jumper to continue working toward her goals of improving her technique and bettering her performances. Finally in 2012, her 8th year training post-collegiately, she claimed a spot on the US Olympic team.

Amanda Smock is originally from Melrose, Minnesota. Upon graduation from NDSU, Smock came to the University of Minnesota to continue both her studies and training for the triple jump. While earning her Master's, Smock discovered an interest in research and decided to continue her studies in the School's doctoral program, where she focused on exercise physiology. She also worked as the assistant coach for the University of Minnesota women's track and field team. Smock's hard work and commitment paid off in 2012 when she qualified for the Summer Olympic Games in London. After winning the U.S. Olympic Trials, Amanda was thrilled to continue her journey to the Olympic Stadium in 2012. Though she was disappointed that she did not advance to the finals, she still felt fortunate to have experienced the London 2012 Olympics. She is currently training in Minneapolis, Minnesota for both indoor and outdoor meets to prepare and compete in the World Championship this August in Moscow.  


March Theme ~ Law and Order


 March 4 ~ From Prison to Ph.D.

Jason Sole, Professor at Metropolitan State University

The goal of the presentation is to provide a holistic view of the issues gang members face, including new challenges of growing up in the 21st century. Participants will learn about the following:
• How to Utilize a Strength-based Approach with Gang Members
• Understand the Effects of Labeling
• The Art of Normalizing Mistakes
• Know When to be What: Selecting the Right Delivery
• The Power of Identifying Resiliency Factors in Gang Members

Jason Sole is a former drug dealer, member of a notorious street gang, and a three-time convicted felon. The middle of three children, Jason was raised on the mean streets of Chicago by a father who was addicted to drugs and an overburdened mother left to pick up the pieces. He joined a gang and turned to a life of crime to gain a lucrative position of authority and financially improve his life. As a result of his criminal activity, Sole has been incarcerated in numerous correctional facilities. Yet despite the height of the odds stacked against him, he turned his life around by earning both his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science degrees in Criminal Justice. He is currently putting the finishing touches on his doctorate in Public Safety with a specialization in Criminal Justice. Jason is an assistant professor at Metropolitan State University. He is a national keynote speaker and gang trainer, including serving as a national trainer for One Circle Foundation. He serves as a board member for NAMI’s (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Criminal Justice Advisory Committee and Minnesota’s Second Chance Coalition. Through his firm, Jason Sole Consulting LLC, he offers juvenile and criminal justice agencies the tools they need to influence people affected by delinquency, incarceration, poverty, and other social ills. In addition, he is a 2013 Bush Fellow who is focusing on reducing the recidivism rate among juveniles throughout the state of Minnesota.


March 11 ~ Minnesota Cases: Learning from the Past

Alison Feigh, MS., Jacob Wetterling Resource Center
-- Celebrating the 3rd Anniversary of UMR CONNECTS! --

Minnesota has had its share of high profile missing child cases. Each case has brought its own challenges for the dedicated law enforcement officers working to find resolution for families and the community. This presentation uses case examples to show how far we have come in responding to missing children and how the past has helped to direct current efforts in case management.


March 18 ~ Hate and Bias Crimes and Parallel Justice

Kay Hocker, Executive Director of the Diversity Council
Jeanne Ronayne, Program Manager for Victim Services

In addition to exploring the nature and incidence of bias/ hate incidents and crimes in Rochester, we will also discuss several cases that have happened in the last few years, and the steps being taken to address this growing area of crime. We will also talk about Parallel Justice; a new concept of justice being proposed for Rochester which creates a new framework for responding to crime—two separate, parallel paths to justice–one for victims and one for offenders.


March 25 ~ Law and Society: From Juvenile Justice to Prison Reform

Dr. Johsua Page, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Minnesota

Joshua Page is associate professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota and a member of the Robina Institute faculty. His interests include crime, law, deviance, and punishment; labor and unionization; political sociology; qualitative research methods; and social theory.

His current research includes work with the Minnesota Corrections Officer Survey Project, research that analyzes the living and working conditions in adult state prisons. It also examines correctional officers’ attitudes and beliefs about correctional policies and practices. Amy Lerman, a political scientist in California, conducted a similar survey of correctional officers in that state, and Page adapted Lerman’s survey instrument for the Minnesota study. Based on their respective research, Page and Lerman will compare the experiences and dispositions of correctional officers in California and Minnesota.
Page’s other current research project is The Minnesota Juvenile Justice Transitions Project. This study analyzes the transition of young offenders from Minnesota juvenile justice institutions back into their communities. It investigates the following question: What factors impede or facilitate the “reentry” process for juvenile offenders after release?  


April Theme ~ War and Conflict 


April 1 ~ From the Trenches: A Medical Perspective on Wartime and Conflict

Dr. Walter Franz, Family Physician, Mayo Clinic; Medical Corps Officer and Surgeon


Dr. Franz shares stories and experiences from his recent deployment to Afghanistan as a Medical Corps Officer and Surgeon. Additionally he will discuss war time through a medical perspective, accented with military history and highlighting his long history serving within the Army. He will also talk about the recent collaboration he created between the Mayo Clinic and the Army Reserve Combat Support Hospital teams to train at the simulation center at the Mayo Clinic.

As a family doctor at the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Franz gained permission to use the clinic's multi-disciplinary simulation training center to train Army Reserve members of his FST team on nights and weekends. He was also instrumental in helping form a partnership between the Mayo Clinic and Army Reserve Medical Command that now allows for medical personnel from Army Reserve Combat Support Hospital (CSH) teams to train at the clinic.    



April 8 ~ Telling War Stories: Exploring the Wartime Experience Through Writing


Panel presentation including:
Bronson Lemer (Author, The Last Deployment; Teaching Specialist, University of Minnesota Rochester)
J.A. Moad II (Fiction Editor, War, Literature, & the Arts)
Leah Cooper (Artistic Director, Footprints Collective; Director of the Veterans Play Project and the stage adaptation of The Things They Carried)

We live in a world increasingly preoccupied with war. Since Homer's Illiad, wartime writing has been a major literary subject and has helped humanity analyze and understand the wartime experience. From soldiers to reporters to civilians, wartime writing helps to illuminate our connection to, and obsession with, war by expressing the variety of emotions, ideas, and experiences war provides. In this way, war belongs to everyone. This presentation will examine the different ways writers explore writing about the wartime experience through a panel of presenters, each with a different perspective on war writing. 

Bronson Lemer's bio is available here.

J.A. Moad II is a former Air Force C-130 pilot with over 3000 flight hours and 100 combat sorties. He served as a professor of War Literature at the United Air Force Academy and as a fiction editor for the War, Literature & the Arts Journal (WLA). He writes online essays for WLA and has recently started a program to make October War Literature Month across the country – Reading, Writing and Talking War. His short stories, poetry and essays have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. In addition to writing, he has performed on stage at the Library of  Congress and The Guthrie Theater as part of The Telling Project - giving a voice to the Veteran experience. He currently flies for Delta Airlines and is working on a novel about an American military in a not too-distant future. 


April 15 ~ Wars, Warriors, and Society: Plato to Iraq

Major Matthew Cavanaugh, Military Strategist and Course Instructor, West Point Academy

UPDATE: Major Cavanaugh sent a link to some of the sources he discussed during his presentation here at UMR. You can access them at Wars, Warriors, and Society: Plato to Iraq.

Major Cavanaugh will share his experiences as a Military Strategist and Course Instructor at West Point Academy in NY and explore both military strategy and returning soldiers/veterans issues. As a native to St. Paul Major Cavanaugh was instrumental in establishing the Wounded Warrior Project in Minnesota and will discuss its inception and evolution.

MAJ Matthew (“Matt”) Cavanaugh is a native of Saint Paul, Minnesota, and is a 2002 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Field Artillery, he served with Howitzer Battery, Second Squadron, Third Armored Cavalry Regiment in Operation Iraqi Freedom I and III. After an assignment at U.S. Strategic Command – Integrated Missile Defense, Major Cavanaugh joined the FA59 Army Strategist community, enabling him to serve subsequently on the Army Staff at the Pentagon. He is a graduate of the Field Artillery Officer Basic Course, the Military Intelligence Captain’s Career Course, and the Basic Strategic Arts Program at the U.S. Army War College.


April 22 ~ "Lest We Forget": The Commemoration of World War I from Minnesota to the Western Front

Chris Gehrz, Ph.D, Professor of History and Department Chair, Bethel University

One hundred years ago this August, Europe descended into a war that would take the lives of over nine million soldiers, including 2 million Germans, 1.8 million Russians, and over 2,000 Minnesotans. Even before the guns fell silent in November 1918, people around the world struggled for appropriate ways to commemorate a war like no other. Should memorials be patriotic or personal? Religious or secular? Grand or intimate? And who would make those decisions? In this talk, we'll visit a wide array of memorials, stretching from Minneapolis to Munich, and consider the enduring challenge and importance of war remembrance.

 Chris Gehrz (PhD, Yale University) is Professor of History at Bethel University (St. Paul, MN) and chairperson of its History Department. Among his many interests are military and diplomatic history, and his teaching repertoire includes a travel course on World War I that takes Bethel students on a three-week trip through England, Belgium, France, and Germany. He blogs regularly about history, religion, and education at The Pietist Schoolman.


April 29 ~ Rwanda: The Legacy of the Genocide

 Christie Nicoson, World Without Genocide

This year is the 20th anniversary of the genocide. This talk will explore issues of justice, economic development, political and press freedom, and the impact of Rwanda's genocide in neighboring Congo. 

World Without Genocide is a human rights organization headquartered at William Mitchell College of Law. World promotes education and action to protect innocent people, prevent genocide, prosecute perpetrators, and remember those whose lives and cultures have been destroyed by genocide.  


May Theme ~ Food and Travel  


May 6 ~ Calories and Carbon Footprints: Well-traveled food

UMR students of Patrick Dean (School of Nursing) and Ryan Furness (Center for Learning Innovation, Spanish), and Brad Smith, Member Services Manager, People's Food Co-op

University of Minnesota Rochester students in the nursing program, in collaboration with Spanish students (years 3 and 4) and Brad Smith, Member Services Manager of People’s Food Co-op, will present this session. Latino and other self-identified minority members of the Rochester community are especially urged to attend.


May 13 ~ Sit Down for a Meal, Take a Stand for Hunger 

Professor Starr Sage, University of Minnesota Rochester Student Association, Oxfam International

Starr Sage, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota Rochester where she designs and teaches public health courses. She has taught numerous courses on global health issues and has spent time in both West and East Africa examining the impact of various environmental factors on human health. Professor Sage believes there are several basic human rights to which all the world’s citizens should have access if they are to achieve and maintain good health. These include access to: education, safe housing, medical care, clean water, and food. Unfortunately, far too many of the world’s poor and marginalized populations do not have access to these fundamental resources. Ultimately large-scale efforts that focus on minimizing inequality and increasing access to resources are needed such that more people are empowered to improve their health statuses. Locally, as informed global citizens we should engage in conversations and efforts, such as the Sit Down for a Meal, Take a Stand Against Hunger event, which seeks to raise awareness about critical global health issues such as food insecurity and world hunger.


May 20 ~ The Minnesota Table: Savoring Local Foods Throughout the Season

Shelley Holl, Author and Illustrator, The Minnesota Table

Join author Shelley Holl as she discusses travel stories, recipes, and menu ideas that follow Minnesota's growing seasons. Travel along in spring, summer, fall, and winter to hunt morels, pick blueberries, winnow wild rice, and come nose-to-nose with yaks, elk, and bison. Shelley will also explore the rich history of food and travel in New Orleans and discuss the potential for taking pure flavors of fresh, local ingredients to now heights. 

Author and illustrator Shelley Holl is known for her creative use of material and socially-aware subject matter. Shelley's illustrated travel stories and essays have appeared in the Times- Picayune Newspaper of New Orleans, the Star Tribune
Newspaper of Minneapolis, Minnesota and in her books: Louisiana Dayride: 52 Short Trips from New Orleans, University Press of Mississippi, 1995 ; Waterbourne Witness - Elegies for My New Orleans, Lulu Press, 2008 and Minnesota: A Fare for All Seasons, published by Voyageur Press in 2010.

May 27 - A Cooking and Dining Adventure with Johnny Mango!

Johnny Mangouras, President, Cabernet Catering and Consulting 

Growing up in a stereotypical Greek family, Johnny’s love of food began at an early age with his family’s restaurant business in Seattle, Washington. There he nurtured and cultivated his love of fresh food and the realization of how central food and a special meal is to family and special moments in time. Johnny eventually ran the business before venturing into the private golf and five star restaurant worlds with membership sales, promotion, food and wine management, cellar development, and all things considered exquisite food and wine. 

Join Johnny as he travels into the world of gourmet cuisine and shares his knowledge and passion for gourmet cooking with an emphasis on his Greek heritage. Johnny will educate about unique ingredients and demonstrate how to create simple, yet elegant, dishes. In addition to food preparation, he will cover wine etiquette, food and wine pairing, proper glassware, and wine storage. Johnny views food and wine pairing as the cornerstone of any important dining experience.


June Theme ~ Performing Live!


 June 3 ~ Chorale Arts Ensemble: Singing Music of Many Communities

             Chorale Arts Ensemble with Artistic Director Rich Kvam    

Choral Arts Ensemble invites you to join in our annual Community Sing. With sing-along participation of the audience, we will visit a musical timeline of the 150 years of Mayo Clinic and also celebrate the shared music of the many communities that make up the one community of Rochester. Come and sing with us and your neighbors! 7:00-8:30 pm. Free. Supported in part by Mayo Clinic Community Relations Program.

Founded in 1985, Choral Arts Ensemble (CAE) is a highly selective vocal ensemble of forty volunteer singers, all of whom are carefully selected for their musicianship and their ability to work together to promote our organizational mission; singers do not have tenure and must re-audition annually to perform with the ensemble. The singers of CAE are active community members from a wide variety of professions, all drawn together to create excellent music and contribute to the thriving arts community in and around Rochester and southern Minnesota, northern Iowa, and western Wisconsin.

In addition to its paid accompanist, CAE occasionally hires both professional instrumentalists and vocal soloists as dictated by programming needs. Choral Arts Ensemble holds a unique position and reputation in the area it serves. CAE is regarded as the region’s premier organization dedicated to the creation and performance of choral music of all eras and genres, including premiere performances of newly commissioned choral works. The organization has a strong history of audience growth and retention as well as a successful record of program expansion, while maintaining its reputation of excellence.

Artistic Director Rick Kvam has loved choral music his whole life, and holds music degrees from Harvard and Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Rick founded the Rochester Men’s Capella in 1982, the Choral Arts Ensemble in 1985, and the SE Minnesota Honors Choirs in 1992. He has won the Sally Ordway Award for arts initiative and the Mayor’s Award for artistic excellence. Married to accompanist Jan Kvam for 23 years, he has also worked for nearly 20 years as an emergency medicine physician at OMC hospital.



June 10 ~ Confessions of a Belly Dancer: Part II! 

Terri Allred, Owner, Rochester International Dance Studio and Business Consultant to FatChanceBellyDance, Inc. in San Francisco. 

Back by popular demand, Confessions of a Belly Dancer- Part 2. Last year we heard about the history and inside scoop of belly dance from professional belly dancer, Terri Allred. This year, Terri and friends, will bring you the stories of inspiration and transformation from her newly published book, “I Belly Dance Because: The Transformative Power of Dance.” Contributors to the book will share their essays, giving you an inside look at the people behind the dance. Of course, we will delight you with live performances. Terri is pleased to welcome Lasa Anahata Tribal from Wisconsin, Sartori Violet Belly Dance from Mankato and Gaia Sophia from Pine River. 

About Terri: Terri Allred didn’t aspire to be a professional belly dancer when she grew up. After a head injury left her unable to work in her professional field, she began the journey back to health in a belly dance class. She soon realized the unique value of belly dance for Wester women. Terri owns Rochester International Dance Studio and works as a Business Consultant for FatChanceBellyDance®. She is also a certified teacher and Sister Studio of FatChanceBellyDance®. She teaches American Tribal Style® belly dance and offers belly dance and hula parties for all ages.


 June 17 ~ An Evening of Shakespeare: Behind the Scenes with Shakespeare in the Park  

Kathy Kuhlmann and Word Player Theatre

Join the Words Players Theatre and cast from Shakespeare in the Park as they enact scenes from various Shakespeare plays, perform original music from upcoming productions, as well as incorporate audience members into the scenes!

Little did anyone know in 2004 when The Sign on Rosie's Door and a modern retelling of Aristophanes' The Birds were produced on the whim of a handful of homeschooled students in southeast Minnesota, that Words Players Theatre would be launched. For that two-part production, $200 was collected to pay a church for use of their basement. 

Since 2004, Words Players has offered an annual production that gave a younger crowd—ages 10 - 14—a chance to be on-stage in significant roles, as well as a production for a high school-aged cast. Springing from our emphasis on literature came the annual Original One Act Play Festival—plays written, directed, and acted by students—and the annual Thornton Wilder Short Play Festival.
Faced with a decision in 2007 to move forward or retreat, a newly formed steering committee decided on the former, and in 2009 we obtained non-profit status.

In 2010 Words Players Theatre performed its first Shakespeare in the Park event as part of a community summer festival. With the Shakespeare production, we now offer six distinctly different theatre experiences each year: a Junior and Senior Troupe musical; the Thornton Wilder Short Play Festival; Shakespeare in the Park; the Original One Act Play Festival; and a Christmas show. In addition, year 'round acting and literature classes are offered.


 June 24 ~ The United States Air Force Band Presents, "Max Impact: It’s America - On Tour”  

Max Impact 

Max Impact is the premier rock band of the United States Air Force. The band's six members perform exciting classic and current rock and country hits, as well as patriotic favorites and original music. 

Max Impact is one of the Air Force's most powerful, successful and highly-utilized strategic communication assets. At home or abroad, their high-energy performances assist in enhancing troop morale, building partnership capacities with local and foreign communities, increasing recruiting and retention efforts and inspiring patriotism using effective and powerful music. 


July Theme ~ Arts and Communication


July 1 ~ Writers in Conversation: A Poetry Reading and Discussion  

Matt Rasmussen 

Matt Rasmussen is the author of Black Aperture, which was selected by Jane Hirshfield as the winner of the 2013 Walt Whitman Award and was also a finalist for the National Book Award. His poetry has been published or is forthcoming in The Literary Review, Gulf Coast, Water~Stone Review, Paper Darts,, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of grants and residencies from the McKnight Foundation, Minnesota State Arts Board, Jerome Foundation, The Anderson Center, and The Corporation of Yaddo. He received a 2014 Pushcart Prize and is a founder and editor of the independent poetry press Birds, LLC. He lives in Robbinsdale, Minnesota.


July 8 ~ A Song of Our Warming Planet

Daniel Crawford, Composer, Educator and student at University of Minnesota

Daniel Crawford will perform his renowned piece "Song of Our Warming Planet," which interprets climate data into a musical score. He will share stories from his creative process and the power of using the arts to communicate science.

July 15 ~ Baptized in the Blues

Annie Mack Band 

What do you get when you combine blues, roots, gospel, country and soul? A powerful and eclectic mix that makes up the rich layering that is the essence of Annie Mack. With a powerful voice, strong presence and captivating storytelling ability Annie Mack is a force to be reckoned with. Following in the footsteps of the Blues Women before her, she makes a genuine connection with her audience. She upholds the tradition of "Testifyin" about the experiences of Life. - See more at:

July 22 - Spontaneous Art

In collaboration with C4. Danny Solis, Spoken Word Poet will perform and emcee; Bobby Marines (painting); Philip Taylor (screen printing); Mikayla, expressive/impromptu dance

Life is full of art, but have you ever experienced painting, screen printing, poetry, and dance through spontaneous art?  Come watch these art forms  created by spur-of-the-moment inspiration, and be amazed at our local artists' impromptu creativity!

July 29 - Painting on the Plaza

The Urban Easel

Are you a little nervous to paint?  Don't be!  Talented staff from The Urban Easel will guide you step-by-step, and you will be amazed at your very own work of art! *No talent or experience is necessary. *Must be 18 to participate. *Space is limited, and RSVP's are required to reserve your spot.  (You will receive a confirmation e-mail within 3 business days with additional details and your Painting Pass.)

August ~ Invention and Innovation

August 5 - "Brother of Invention" with Brother Finbar McMullen

Brother Finbar McMullen, Christian Brother and former Environmental Awareness Instructor at Saint Mary's University

Watch this presentation now! Hear about the creativity and inspiration that motivated this local inventor whose innovations were created to enhance the experience of many outdoor enthusiasts, including explorer Ann Bancroft on her journey to the North Pole.

August 12  - Innovation at the University of Minnesota **Indoors at UMR, 4th floor.**

Please note today’s political significance: Primary Election. We recognize and support your participation in national and state politics. Please be sure to participate and/or vote, as it has an impact on our future!

Chancellor Lehmkuhle and University of Minnesota Rochester Faculty
Robert Dunbar
Rajeev Muthyala
Molly Dingel

Learn about the wide range of research and innovations at the University of Minnesota Rochester and why students and staff are "Driven to Discover!" Learn how the U of M is making contributions that are integral to the state, country, and world. Optional tour and light meal available from 5:30-6:30 prior to the indoors UMR CONNECTS event, with no RSVP required.

August 19  - Inventing 101

Deb Hess, Program Director, The Minnesota Inventors Congress

Calling all inventors and entrepreneurs!  Do you have a great idea, but don’t know what to do with it?  Deb Hess, Program Director of the Minnesota Inventors Congress will share how successful inventors develop marketable products and help you learn how to identify reliable resources and invention scam companies.  The most important investment and aspiring inventor can make is to become educated in the product development process.

August 26  - The Mayo Clinic Biobank; An investment for the future

Janet E. Olson, PhD, Mayo Clinic Biobank
The Mayo Clinic Biobank is a collection of health information and biological samples, such as blood, that is used for medical research. Hear from their team about the innovative progress they have made since opening in 2009, and their plans for the future.

September ~ Spirituality and World Religion

September Reminder: Indoor Season Begins

September 9 ~ Transforming Preaching

Dr. Lori Carrell, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Student Development

Please NOTE: This is the first opportunity to hear from UMR's new Vice Chancellor!

September 16 ~ Traversing the Light of the Christian East

Bette Ensign discusses Eastern Orthodoxy/Mysticism

September 23 ~ Old Order Amish: In the world, but not of the world

Drucilla Milne, Author, "Amish Voices of Harmony."

Drucilla lived on a farm near Harmony within the Amish community for many years. Living in close contact with her Amish neighbors enabled her to interact with families. She earned their trust, shared their humor, and learned about their struggles with their shunning practices. She also shared their heartwarming times as families and a community. Despite the changes that have taken place in the past 40 years, the Amish continue to live without modern conveniences, rejecting the world as we know it. They call attention to this separation by referring to this as "your world and/or our world." There are many ways they separate from the world at large and there are several Bible verses on which they base their practices and beliefs.

September 30 ~ Toleration and Intolerance of Other Religions in the Christian Bible

Joe M. Sprinkle, Ph.D., Professor of Old Testament, Crossroads College

Toleration is not always a characteristic of religion, though it is an important value in today's society. Moreover, the definition of tolerance has changed considerably over the last fifty years. After defining what tolerance ought to mean, this talk will discuss ways in which the Bible in both Old and New Testaments is both tolerant and intolerant of other religions. This will lead to reflections on toleration between religions today. Hear more about this event, and the presenter, in the FOX 47 news story, here.

October ~ Tackling Tough Questions: Bioethics and Modern Medicine

October 7 ~ History of Bioethics

Alex Kromminga, E.J.D. Director of Student Conduct, Winona State University 

This presentation will look at the history of Bioethics with the understanding that this new discipline is located between the intersections of medicine, theology, politics, the life sciences, law and moral philosophy. The emergence of bioethics was the outcome of a number of different historical developments, including social movements, technological developments, the setting of legal precedents, the breaking of medical scandals, changes to the institutions of medicine, new ways of saving and prolonging life, and the appearance of new diseases.

October 14 ~ Next-Generation Sequencing: Brute Force & Big Data

Dr. Kenneth Beckman, Director, Biomedical Genomics Center, UMTC

The modern era has been one of technological revolution, with new methods for acquiring and analyzing data resulting in far-reaching changes that have broad implications for society. Personal computing, the Internet, and cell phones are three obvious examples. In the coming decade or two, revolutions from the life sciences are poised to combine with and amplify these other technologies, bringing the concept of "Big Data" into medicine. In this talk, Dr. Beckman will describe the ways in which the Big Data revolution has already re-made life science research itself, and how this revolution is about to spill over into all our lives.


October 21 ~ Shades of Grey: Ethics and Controversies in Brain Death

Dr. Jennifer Needle, Assistant Professor, Center for Bioethics and Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota Medical School

Recent headlines about patients who are declared brain dead but remain on life support have raised questions about what it means to be brain dead.  How has the concept and controversy evolved over time for medicine, ethics, religion, and society?  This talk will explore the history and science of brain death, the implications for patients and their families, and how ethics addresses these concepts.


October 28 ~ Ethical Quandaries and Emerging Technology: Direct-to-Consumer Advertising and Testing

Dr. Aaron Kostko, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Dr. Kelsey Metzger, Assistant Professor of Life Sciences, University of Minnesota Rochester        

Should pharmaceutical companies be targeting their advertising directly to consumers? Should genetic test results be provided to individuals without the guidance of a physician or genetic counselor? Participants in this interactive session will consider these and other questions through facilitated discussion. Hear more about this presentation on the FOX 47 news.

November ~ Overcoming Terrorism

November 4 ~ Running Strong: We All Run Boston 2014

Maureen Jones, Boston Marathon 2013 Participant and Physical Therapist, Mayo Clinic

Everything dramatically changed in an instant on Monday, April 15, 2013, Patriot's Day in Boston, about five to seven minutes after I completed my 6th Boston Marathon.  The next 12 months were an emotional journey but I knew, without a doubt, that I somehow needed to return to run the 2014 Boston Marathon.  Fear of future terrorism was not bigger than my desire to show my support for the city of Boston, the Boston Marathon, and all of the heroes and victims affected by the 2013 bombing.

November 11 ~ Iran: The Hostage Crisis, Religious Warfare, and the Current Conflict with ISIS

James (Jim) Rodgers, Professor of Social Science, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

This month marks the 35th anniversary of the Iranian Hostage Crisis, where a group of Iranian students took over the US Embassy and held fifty-two American diplomats and citizens hostage for 444 days. Now 35 years later, it appears that little progress has been made as our headlines cover the current conflict with ISIS. Dr. James Rodgers will discuss the basic scenario of the 1979-1980 Crisis and how it played out, the ramifications for religious warfare in the Gulf region afterward and how these earlier events relate to the emergence of ISIS and the challenges for containing or defeating it.

November 18 ~ University of Minnesota Marching Band, at Rochester Civic Center

UMR CONNECTS takes a week off to promote one of the most exciting and highly visible organizations on the UMTC campus! The Minnesota Marching Band provides enthusiastic support to the University's athletic programs, and represents the University with pride, at home and away. See them online here. UMR CONNECTS invites you to hear the Pride of Minnesota perform a selection of halftime show favorites and rousing traditional music, as they celebrate a band tradition since 1962! Free tickets will be available at UMR CONNECTS events in October. NOTE: Doors open at 6:00 pm. Please arrive at the Civic Center by 6:30. You must be in your reserved seat BEFORE 6:45 pm, or it will be forfeited.

Free general admission tickets are also available at any Rochester area branches of Associated Bank, and you must pick up tickets in advance to guarantee admittance.

November 25 ~ Terrorism Recruitment Among Us: Protecting Minnesotans From Joining Radical Terrorist Groups

Mohamed Farah, Executive Director of Ka Joog

Over the past few years a striking number of Minnesotan men have been recruited to join radical terrorist groups such as Al-Shabaab, the Al-Quaida militant group responsible for the 2013 Nairobi Mall shooting. Ka Joog, a nationally renown organization out of the Twin Cities, was founded with Somali youth in mind in order to allow opportunities for growth and education. Through arts and other cultural events, they are working to deter youth from jihadist ideology and instead embrace Somali culture. This presentation will discuss the motives behind men who have left to join Al-Shabaab and how Ka Joog's efforts are making a noticeable impact to put an end to this trend.

December ~ Natural Disasters

December 2 ~ Resilience through Arts and Narrative after the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami

Yuko Taniguchi, Author and CLI Faculty, UMR

This presentation will introduce the stories of the residents in Tohoku who were affected by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. In 2012, Taniguchi, an author and writing instructor at University of Minnesota Rochester (UMR), traveled to Tohoku to document the aftermath. Through a series of interviews she discovered, a common thread: the role of art. The attention that is required to focus on creating something out of nothing was a central healing tool for bringing people through the disasters and for bringing them together. Taniguchi will discuss how resilience and healing are connected to arts and narrative and community engagement. This presentation will include a short video that documents the UMR students' visit to Tohoku through a Global Seminar program led by Taniguchi in 2014.

NOTE: There will also be a community event which will be held March 11- 20, 2015, entitled "Surviving Tsunami Waves: an Exhibition of Resilience through Arts and Narrative." This is a collaborative event sponsored by UMR, Mayo Clinic Dolores Jean Lavin's Center for Humanities and Medicine, and the Rochester Art Center. We are working on this special event to allow people to learn about the role of art as a tool to respond to change, shock and grief. It will include exhibitions displaying the Sashiko work created by the Tohoku residents at three locations (UMR, Mayo, Rochester Art Center) during the week, and we hope to offer a variety of workshops and lectures that relate to the topic of resilience. Here is how you can get involved:

Participate:  Would you like to incorporate this event as a part of your class, meeting, activities?  If so, please contact me at  I specifically wanted to bring your attention to the Narrative Project, which calls for the general public to submit their experiences of using art and narrative to heal during difficult times. 

Share: Please share this email with others who may be interested in participating in or attending this event.

Donate:  We are raising funds to bring the guest artists from Japan, and your donation will directly support the artists’ travel and housing expenses in Rochester. We believe that hearing the Tohoku residents’ experiences first hand will inspire our community.  Please visit this SITE if you would like to support this program.

December 9 ~ Hurricane Katrina: Exacerbating a Natural Disaster through Unnatural Means

Shanna Altrichter, MA, ABD; CLI Faculty, UMR

Nine years have passed since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. The hurricane was a natural disaster, wreaking over $100 billion in damage and taking the lives of more than 1,800 people. Yet the effects of this natural disaster were exacerbated by unnatural means. Structural inequalities that resulted in institutionalized racism, segregation, failure to prepare and strengthen levees, and an inadequate evacuation plan turned this natural disaster into an unmitigated one. Hindsight gives us the ability to look back and analyze how power and privilege shaped the effects of the hurricane, as well as the opportunity to consider how to apply the lessons we learned to our current hurricane preparedness.

December 16 ~ The Sea Wing Disaster: Tragedy on Lake Pepin

Fred Johnson, Author

The July 13, 1890, capsizing of the steamer Sea Wing and death of 98 of its passengers horrified Minnesota and the nation. Author Frederick L. Johnson’s book The Sea Wing Disaster: Tragedy on Lake Pepin captures the terror and desperation of the vessel’s 215 crew and passengers as the accident unfolded and the four days anguish that followed. Johnson’s presentation makes use of the research he carefully gathered—documents, letters, maps, interviews, newspapers, magazines—to inform listeners of exactly how and why the accident occurred. He also shares the remarkably complete and graphic photographic record developed at the accident scene. The many personal stories of victims and survivors, an important part of the book, provide greater understanding of the accident’s terrible human toll.


December 23 ~ ***NO EVENT*** Happy Holidays!


December 30 ~ ***NO EVENT*** Happy Holidays!