Travel Adventures On All Seven Continents

Explore the world with award-winning author and Duluth native Marty Essen as he presents the multimedia show, Around the World in 90 Minutes, at UMD on Wednesday, April 18 at 7 p.m. in the Weber Music Hall, sponsored by the Ben and Jeanne Overman Distinguished Speaker Series. This event is free and open to the public, with free parking after 6:30 p.m. in campus maroon parking lots.

Around the World in 90 Minutes features interesting facts, stories, and thousands of photos that were taken while Essen traveled the world for his book, Cool Creatures, Hot Planet: Exploring the Seven Continents.

Essen has been named the #1 booked college speaker for 38 out of the past 42 months, according to the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities (APCA). Additionally, Campus Activities Magazine named Essen as their “Hot Speaker” for 2011. Essen has won multiple book awards for travel/essay writing, including the Benjamin Franklin Award, the Best Books Book Award, and the National Indie Excellence Award. In addition, he won a first place award at the 2009 Green Book Festival in Los Angeles, and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune named Cool Creatures, Hot Planet a top-10 “Green” book.

Essen grew up in Duluth. He attended high school at Duluth East and college at UMD.

“I’m really excited about returning to my hometown,” said Essen. “I’ve performed at prestigious colleges from coast to coast, but my UMD show will easily be the highlight of this year’s tour.”

The Ben and Jeanne Overman Distinguished Speaker Series
The goal of The Ben and Jeanne Overman Distinguished Speaker Series is to demonstrate the interrelationship of achieving success while providing sustenance to others in return.

This was the principle on which Ben and Jeanne Overman built their lives. Ben came to Superior, Wisconsin from Russia when his father took work at a chair factory. His family lived in such poverty that it was necessary to heat their house with the coal dropped from trains. By the time he was 10, Ben was helping to support his family by selling newspapers. He became his family’s primary provider but still managed to find time to complete his schooling. Eventually Ben was able to learn the finance and real estate businesses from which his greatest financial success was later achieved.

Jeanne, too, grew up in poverty and began working at a young age. By the time she was a high school junior, she was working as a secretary at Diamond Tool company. Her excellent skills eventually earned her the position of executive secretary to Col. Henry, the longtime business manager of the Duluth Herald. She held this position for many years until she quit working to raise a family.

For 60 years Jeanne and Ben built on their early successes and provided leadership to both the Twin Ports business and Jewish communities. Their efforts resulted in innumerable good deeds, among which was their donation of the original building to house what is now the Boys and Girls Club. Their good deeds are still with us today.

Posted in Education, University | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Travel Adventures On All Seven Continents

UMD Diversity Dialogue

Performers Geraldine McMillian and David Mayfield with UMD faculty member Elias Mokole







On Friday, March 30, UMD’s Elias Mokole is trading his spot in a concert hall where he performs opera in his rich, warm baritone, for the role as host for a presentation on diversity.

Mokole will introduce the acclaimed American soprano Geraldine McMillian and pianist David Mayfield as they speak about their professional and personal journeys. “There are more musicians of color working in classical music than ever before, but they often find themselves blazing trails,” said Mokole. “UMD is working toward making the campus more inclusive. Hearing Geraldine and David tell their stories is just one additional way for faculty, students and the community to gain a better understanding about how to welcome diversity.

McMillian and Mayfield will speak at the event, “Diversity Dialogue…through Concert & Conversation,” at noon on Friday, March 30 in the Tweed Museum of Art Lecture Gallery. The format for their talk is reminiscent of “Inside the Actor’s Studio,” and is hosted by Elias Mokole. A reception with light refreshments will follow in Tweed Activity Gallery. The event is made possible by a UMD Diversity Grant.

Geraldine McMillian and David Mayfield will perform at the Ovation Series Artist Concert on Wednesday, March 28, at 7:30 pm in the Weber Music Hall. Geraldine McMillian made her debut with the New York City Opera as Mimi in La Bohème, and has performed with orchestras including the Chicago Symphony and Hamburg Orchestra. Her diverse repertoire includes Treemonisha with Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Elisabeth in Don Carlos with Minnesota Opera, Madame Lidoine in Poulenc’s Dialogue of the Carmelites, with Central City Opera and Aïda, which she has sung to acclaim with Nashville Opera, Memphis Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Minnesota Opera and Opera Omaha. In February 2008, and in October 2009 she made her debut with Cape Town Opera as Aïda. Mr. Mayfield’s time in New York is primarily occupied with working with individual singers in the areas of performance style, language and interpretation, both privately and at Manhattan School of Music. McMillian and Mayfield will perform works by Beethoven, Debussy, Strauss, Berlioz, and Duparc. For tickets ($5-$19) call 218-726-8877.

McMillian and Mayfield will also present a Talk and Master Class, on Thursday, March 29, 2012, from 12 – 2:30 pm in the Weber Music Hall.

Posted in Music | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on UMD Diversity Dialogue

Jenelle Bartelt Explores the World of Puppets

In “The World of Puppetry,” senior Jenelle Bartelt researched the different uses of puppetry and how it benefits theatre and film productions for the current generation for her Undergraduate Research Opportunity Project (UROP). Bartelt said, “I’m hoping that my UROP helps others by introducing them to puppetry or offering them more information about this art form. Whether it inspires them to work with puppets in the future or not, I hope to inspire greater respect and understanding of its possibilities within performance.”

Read the full story

Posted in Art and Design, Theatre, University | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Jenelle Bartelt Explores the World of Puppets

Choral Event Launches Scholarship

A special concert will honor the memory of UMD Professor Vernon Opheim and launch the UMD Dr. Vernon Choral Scholarship intended for students studying to become choral directors. The concert will begin at 3 p.m., Sunday, March 4 in the Weber Music Hall where approximately 45 former students and UMD alumni of Dr. Opheim will join the current University Singers under the direction of Professor Stanley R. Wold by singing Opheim’s arrangement, “Let Us Break Bread Together.”

The net proceeds from the concert will go toward the scholarship fund.

Dr. Opheim was a UMD choral director, as well as the conductor for the University Singers and Elizabethan Singers for 20 years, from 1972-1992.

“There’s been an overwhelming response. Even people who can’t come to the concert have talked about how much he meant to their lives,” said Sonja Rasmussen (’81), who sang with both choral groups while attending UMD.

Opheim’s wife, Avis, two of his three daughters, and their families will be in attendance.

Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the Weber Music Hall box office at 218-726-8877.

Posted in Education, Music, University | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Choral Event Launches Scholarship

Annual Awareness Event About Eating Disorders

During the week of February 27, UMD will be holding the annual Body Image and Eating Disorder Awareness week with “Family and Friends” as the theme. Kicking off the week on Monday, February 27 at 7 pm in Bohannon 90, Kitty Westin, an advocate for people with eating disorders and a UMD alumni, will be speaking on “Understanding Eating Disorders and How to Support Someone Who Is Suffering.”

Read more about this event

Posted in Education, University | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Annual Awareness Event About Eating Disorders

Antiracist Author to Speak at UMD

One of the most prominent anti-racist writers and educators in the United States, and one of Utne Reader’s 25 Visionaries Who are Changing Your World in 2010, will speak on the University of Minnesota Duluth campus at 6 p.m., Thursday, February 16, in the Kirby Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public.

The appearance of Tim Wise, author of Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority, White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, and other books, is part of UMD’s commitment to the UnFair Campaign, a major anti-racism effort launched in Duluth in January.

The UnFair Campaign’s goals are fundamental to the change UMD is working to achieve, according to UMD Chancellor Lendley C. Black. “Our Strategic Plan provides the framework for realizing a learning and working environment that reflects the values of equity, diversity, and social justice,” he said. “The first step is recognizing that racism and inequality exist. Advancing equity, diversity, and social justice requires persistence and long-term work. I am committed to stay the course and work with Duluth and the campus community until we reach our goals.”

For more information about the initiative and for a list of community events, please visit:

Posted in Education, University | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Antiracist Author to Speak at UMD

2012 Rudolf Nissim Award Presented to UMD Assistant Professor

From among 230 entries, UMD Assistant Professor of Percussion Gene Koshinski was presented with the 2012 Rudolf Nissim Award. The awarded composition entitled Concerto for Marimba and Choir is written for solo marimba, percussion ensemble, and choir. The recording that represented the piece consisted of the marimba solo played by Koshinski; percussion by Jeremy Craycraft, Jianpeng Feng, and Brett Jones; and the vocals by UMD Concert Chorale and University Singers, conducted by UMD Assistant Professor Tina Thielen-Gaffey.

Koshinski’s musical work varied from the typical submissions for the annual award. According to the judges, his work, a marimba solo accompanied by percussion ensemble and large choir, was largely different because of the instrumentation. “I’m not a classically trained composer,” said Koshinski. “I have never studied composition in a formal setting and it is not my main area of focus as a musician, so it’s amazing, and surprising, that I received this recognition for a project I took on just for fun.”

The Rudolph Nissim Award was established by Dr. Rudolf Nissim, former head of The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). Nissim established the annual prize for an ASCAP concert composer whose work requires a conductor but that has not been performed professionally. In order to be considered for the award, composers must be ASCAP members; their work must be a new piece of musical composition that has not been published or performed; and, the written score and a recording must be submitted for review.

The panel of judges is comprised of conductors who select a single composition for the annual award. The honorary title as the 2012 Rudolf Nissim recipient is combined with a monetary prize of $5,000.

Additional Information about Gene Koshinski

Gene Koshinski is currently Assistant Professor of Percussion at the University of Minnesota Duluth and in demand as a soloist and chamber musician having performed in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Jordan, Slovenia, Canada, and throughout the United States. In 2002, Koshinski won the National MTNA Percussion Competition in Cincinnati, OH and in 2004, finished 3rd in the prestigious Universal Marimba Duo Competition in Sint-Truiden, Belgium.

“So far, my favorite place to perform was in Jordan,” said Koshinski. “Western music is very new to their culture. It was told to me that I was likely the first person to have performed a solo percussion recital in their country. There is only one classical music school in Amman, but there is such a fresh interest in Western music.”

When describing what it means to be a percussionist, the range of musical options is limitless. “The percussion family is any instrument that you can strike, shake, or scrape,” Koshinski said. “Music is very important to me and teaching students about what I know is something I truly enjoy. The students in my classes have a variety of backgrounds – every day is different, and every student brings something valuable to the classroom.”

About the ASCAP Foundation
Founded in 1975, the ASCAP Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to supporting American music creators and encouraging their development through music education and talent development programs. Included in these are songwriting workshops, grants, scholarships, awards, recognition and community outreach programs and public service projects for senior composers and lyricists. The ASCAP Foundation is supported by contributions from ASCAP members and from music lovers through the United States.

Posted in Art and Design, Awards and Recognition, Education, Music, University | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on 2012 Rudolf Nissim Award Presented to UMD Assistant Professor

MTAG Open Houses for Prospective Students

Three open house meetings are taking place on February 24th, March 30th, and April 27th for prospective students interested in the UMD Master of Tribal Administration and Governance (MTAG) program. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet with students in Cohort I at the March and April events. All three open houses will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. in 268 Kirby Student Center on the UMD campus.

“Local, regional, and national Indian tribes designed this program and the first cohort is doing very well. We are now seeking a second cohort,” said Program Director Tadd Johnson. “The entire program is designed to accommodate working adults, offering weekend and online classes. Students who participate in the program will gain a firm grounding in the principles of sovereignty, ethics, law, management, budgets, and leadership. This education will benefit everyone, including tribal governments, in the years to come.”

The two-year program launched this fall with 25 students. Executive directors from three area tribes, and several rising tribal executives and scholars, are in the current cohort. The program seeks to train future American Indian tribal leaders and managers through coursework grounded in ethics. It focuses on tribal governance and the management issues encountered on a reservation as well as the complex relations among tribal, state and the federal governments. The curriculum includes classes on principles of tribal sovereignty; tribal budgets, finance and accounting; principles of tribal management; federal Indian law; and leadership and ethics.

“MTAG provides the student with a good base of relevant knowledge to work with, or in, tribal government,” said UMD MTAG student Lea J. Perkins. “The cohort model allows for you to interact with other professionals to give a multidimensional perspective. I found that the relevance of the program was something that I was able to see in practice at my job immediately.”

Students in the program may already serve as tribal administrators, council members or tribal leaders. The curriculum is based on the roles that tribal administrators, leaders and professionals play in formal and informal situations that support tribal sovereignty and self-determination. Traditional language and culture is an important thread throughout the program.

The masters program has statements of support from the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, and the Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes. The curriculum was developed in consultation with tribes over a two-year period.

Please confirm your attendance by calling 218.726.7332 or
For directions and parking information, please visit

Posted in Education, University | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on MTAG Open Houses for Prospective Students

Women’s Studies 30th Anniversary

UMD’s Department of Women’s Studies 30th Anniversary will take place Feb. 11, 7:30 p.m., Weber Music Hall. Events include a multimedia presentation; musical performances by Oshkii Gizhik Singers, Sara Thomsen and Paula Pedersen, Rachael Kilgour, Eleni Johnson, and Wild by Nature; and a reception. Free and open to the public.

Read more about the event

Posted in Awards and Recognition, Education, University | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Women’s Studies 30th Anniversary

Potential for Storing Wind Energy in Abandoned Mines

The UMD Natural Resource Research Institute released a study that illustrates the potential for storing wind energy in abandoned mines.  The pumped-hydro storage process would match consumer demand at peak usage, while storing excess power when the need for energy is lower.

Read more about storing wind energy

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Potential for Storing Wind Energy in Abandoned Mines