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Michael O’Connor named to Metropolitan State Foundation Board

Metropolitan State University welcomes Michael O’Connor to the Metropolitan State Foundation Board of Trustees.

O’Connor is director, strategy and project management/chief of staff with Medtronic, Plc. He has over 27 years of professional experience in the medical device industry in greater Minnesota and in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. He brings to the Foundation Board an ability to make corporate connections and to advocate on behalf of Metropolitan State as an alumnus of the institution. In addition to Medtronic, his corporate experience includes 3M and Pfizer.

Michael O’Connor
Michael O’Connor

“I am honored to be a part of the Metropolitan State Foundation Board. I very much looking forward to working with the board and making contributions by utilizing my talents, background and networks,” O’Connor says. A native Minnesotan, O’Connor was born in Saint Paul, grew up in Maplewood, and has lived all of his life in Minnesota and the Twin Cities. He now lives in Lino Lakes with his wife and son.

O’Connor received his BA from Metropolitan State in 1992 and a minor in project management in 2004. He also holds graduate degrees in project management, technology management and business administration. O’Connor earned his PhD in civil engineering, majoring in project management, from the University of Maryland, College Park, A. James Clark School of Engineering. In 2012, he was selected as a Quality Fellow for the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and in 2014 selected as a Medtronic Technical Fellow.

In 2017, O’Connor was awarded the prestigious Harold Kerzner Award for Excellence in Project Management. He has also been recognized by the Minnesota Federation of Engineering, Science, and Technology Societies (MFESTS) Distinguished Science and Technology Professional Award in 2018. He is a former director at-large for the Product Development and Management Association, currently the co-chair for community outreach with the Minnesota Project Management Institute (PMI) and has volunteered with many groups, professional societies, universities and colleges over the past 40 years.

O’Connor has been recognized by universities and colleges for his community and educational work. He is an adjunct faculty member at Metropolitan State, The University of Wisconsin, Platteville and The College of St. Scholastica and teaches graduate-level project management, project capstone and culture and organizational courses. In his leisure, he enjoys being outdoors and is active in playing soccer, biking, running and tennis.

In addition, O’Connor recently became a regular contributor to PMWorld 360 Magazine, a digital project management publication that launched in March 2018, and will share his expertise with readers worldwide in the areas of leadership and quality.

“It is a distinct pleasure to welcome Michael to the board. He has already shown an extraordinary commitment to the mission, cause and purpose of the university,” says Rita Dibble, vice president of University Advancement. “He has been most versatile in applying his talents to diverse projects on the Alumni and Foundation boards from hosting an alumni gathering in Las Vegas to serving to review and revise the board’s bylaws. He embodies a Metropolitan State graduate and we look forward to much success together.”

Metropolitan State, a member of Minnesota State, is the Twin Cities public, urban, comprehensive state university providing lifelong learning, and competitive academic and professional degree programs at the bachelor, master and doctoral levels.

The mission of the Metropolitan State Foundation is to generate maximum public awareness, as well as governmental and private support, for Metropolitan State, and to assist the university in its development as a comprehensive, urban university in the Twin Cities metropolitan area for changing and diverse student needs.

Metropolitan State University presented with Governor’s Safety Award

Metropolitan State University was recognized for excellence in workplace safety and health at the Governor’s Safety Awards luncheon on Thursday, May 10 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Metropolitan State is one of 279 employers to be honored through the awards program, coordinated by the Minnesota Safety Council. It is also the first university in the state  to achieve the recognition.

“Metropolitan State University enhanced its commitment to a healthy and safe environment last June and is very pleased to have received recognition for our efforts,” said Mark Lenling, Metropolitan State University’s environmental, health and safety officer.

Since 1934, the annual Governor’s Safety Awards program has honored Minnesota employers with exceptional safety performance. Applicants are judged on several years of injury data as it compares with their industry’s national statistics, as well as on their progress in implementing a comprehensive safety program. Winners are recognized at three levels:

  • Meritorious Achievement (182 winners): Incidence rates that are better than the industry average for at least three years, and a score between 50 and 74 on a 100-point safety program evaluation scale.
  • Outstanding Achievement (59 winners): Continuing improvement and/or a continuing outstanding record with incident rates that are 51-90 percent better than the industry average, and a score between 75 and 90 on the safety program evaluation scale.
  • Award of Honor (38 winners): Incidence rates at least 91 percent better than the industry average, and a score between 91 and 100 on the safety program evaluation scale.

Metropolitan State received a Meritorious Achievement Award based on data recognizing that incidence rates are better than the industry average for at least three years with an above average score on a 100-point safety program evaluation scale.

The Governor’s Safety Awards luncheon is part of the 84th annual Minnesota Safety and Health Conference, coordinated by the Minnesota Safety Council. The conference is the oldest and largest gathering of workplace safety and health professionals in the region. The Minnesota Safety Council, founded in 1928, is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in Minnesota by preventing unintentional injuries.

Center for Online Learning wins Minnesota Connection Award

Metropolitan State University’s Center for Online Learning (COL) has won the Minnesota Connection 2018 Innovation Award. The award, recognizing Minnesota faculty, technical staff or administrators who have used D2L Brightspace to deliver innovating experiences, rewards COL’s efforts in creating engaging online experiences for students. This is the second statewide award COL has received in three years.

After a series of student interviews COL conducted in 2017, one underlying theme emerged: students praised courses that used videos and other third-party multimedia tools to deliver content. These tools increased students’ immersion and helped students connect with their instructors. COL took these findings to Metropolitan State faculty members and worked with them to identify content that could be converted into animation or an animated series.

Using text submissions, face-to-face meetings and studio recordings, the university’s faculty and COL created narratives that matched courses’ learning objectives. Melissa Heinz, a COL associate, made storyboards and consulted faculty for revisions. Creating drafts of the animations were also collaborative efforts between faculty and COL. Once finished, the completed animations were uploaded to D2L Brightspace.

Interactive case studies were developed, allowing students to apply what they had learned online. Faculty members met with COL Instructional Designer Dr. Bilal Dameh and Dominic Jennen, instructional technology associate. In a case study COL designed with Dr. Debra Eardley, students observed an interview between a nurse and a patient. They then charted the problem, intervention and outcomes using a standardized classification system. In a case study COL and Drs. Carol Lacey, Marcia Anderson and Susan Misterek designed for the Credit for Prior Learning Academy course, Minnesota faculty and advisors, the course’s students played the role of an advisor assessing if a student’s prior education was worthy of college credit.

“COL staff work very hard. It’s great to be acknowledged for that,” says COL Director Robert Bilyk. “COL is customer service-oriented and proposes things that are out-of-the-box. Two years ago, our ability to collaborate was recognized. This year, it was our innovative spirit.”

Cynthia Yoder of Saint Paul named Metropolitan State University Outstanding Student for Spring 2018 graduating class

SAINT PAUL, Minnesota—A Saint Paul resident was selected a spring semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Cynthia Yoder, graduated summa cum laude with two bachelor’s degrees in biology and environmental science, was chosen outstanding graduate student in the university’s College of Science. She was one of 1,058 students receiving bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees at Metropolitan State’s 102nd commencement exercises on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Her initial goal at Metropolitan State was nothing more than to earn average grade marks, “C’s get degrees. I really just wanted to get my degree and find any job that would pay the bills, Yoder said. But after getting her start, she decided to strive more in academics.

“Once here, and after meeting teachers who became my mentors, I found that I wanted more than the bare minimum, my goal then became to do well, and push myself, and find a job that I would like to go to each day,” Yoder says.

Her most challenging experience as she worked towards her degree was to balance school, work, family, and friends. “My own spouse doesn’t get to see me as often as she’d like, but understands how much time and effort schooling takes. Her support has been what’s helped me to overcome every challenge I’ve faced,” she said.

Yoder is from Akron, Ohio, and graduated from Kenmore High School there in 2010. She lives in Saint Paul with her wife, Adrian, their two roommates, and their two cats, tarantula, and darkling beetle colony. She enjoys writing as a hobby and especially horror, fantasy and science fiction. She also likes to hunt, prepare, and collect fossils, mostly from the formations of Chadron and Hell Creek, from ranchland in South Dakota.

Yoder is currently tutors science for the Center of Academic Excellence at Metropolitan State. After graduating, she hopes to find similar jobs as a science tutor, work in a laboratory settings, or as a researcher, and is considering graduate school options. Her primary reasons for choosing Metropolitan are cost, location, and size. Yoder had previously attended a larger college as a PSEO student, but enrolled in Minneapolis Community and Technical College when she moved to Minnesota. She liked and wanted to stay with smaller classes that had more instructor interaction and a community-based learning environment.

Yoder praises Metropolitan State professors and in particular, Dr. Cynthia Harley, who she says was a great mentor who helped her toward graduating and helping decide her career path.

“The entire biology department is amazing, and without them I don’t think I’d have gotten this far, or done so well,” Yoder says.

Of her student, Dr. Harley, an assistant professor in the Department of Natural Sciences, says, “Cynthia represents the best of us. She stands out as a scholar in her classes and tutors others. While taking 18 credits this semester, including research in two labs and a graduate-level course, she still finds time for helping others. She has given so much to Metropolitan State and I view this award as a ‘thank you, for all of that.’”

Christopher Sugden selected Metropolitan State University Outstanding Student for Spring 2018 graduating class

SAINT PAUL, Minn.—A Saint Paul resident wasselected a spring semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Christopher Sugden
Christopher Sugden, College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Student Spring 2018

Christopher Sugden graduated with a bachelor’s degree and was chosen as an outstanding graduate student representing the university’s College of Liberal Arts in History. He was one of 1,058 students receiving bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees at Metropolitan State’s 102nd commencement exercises on April 28, 2018 in at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

“I chose Metropolitan State because I needed a school that would allow me to get a degree while I worked full-time,” Sugden said. “My goal was to earn a bachelors degree; something that would allow me to leave the world of call center work and allow me to find a career that was fulfilling and stimulating.”

Sugden is employed at Great Lakes Higher Education, where he works with schools and borrowers. He volunteers for the Great Lakes Gives foundation and participates in the Great Lakes Pen Pal Program, in which he corresponds with a 4th grader at a low-income school. Sugden also serves as a Parent Advisory Board member at his daughter’s school.

After graduation, Sugden plans to begin graduate school at Hamline University to obtain a Minnesota teaching license for secondary social studies education, grades 5-12 and for his master of arts in teaching.

In a nomination, Sugden was praised for his presence and active participation in the classroom. “He is an enthusiastic and reliable student in classes and raises the level of class discussions, thus improving the learning experience for everyone in the room… Chris has the ability to think about and integrate knowledge from a multitude of sources and experiences.”

Jessica Stewart selected Metropolitan State University Outstanding Student for Spring 2018 graduating class

SAINT PAUL, Minnesota—An Andover resident has been selected a spring semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Jessica Stewart
Jessica Stewart, College of Nursing and Health Sciences Outstanding Student Spring 2018

Jessica Stewart graduates cum laude with a Doctorate of Nursing Practice-Family Nurse Practitioner and is chosen Outstanding Student representing the university’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences. She is one of 1,058 students receiving bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees at Metropolitan State’s 102nd commencement exercises on April 28, 2018 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

At Metropolitan State University, Stewart was awarded the Minnesota Nurse Practitioners Annual Scholarship in 2017 for her capstone work and future plans for dissemination of her research. She was also awarded the Lukaszewski Family Professional Development fund from Metropolitan State in 2018 to again help further disseminate project findings on a larger scale. She is also one of three students who were selected by the dean to present her findings at the Midwest Nursing Research Society annual conference in Cleveland, Ohio earlier this month.

Stewart is a single mother of three daughters, the youngest of which she gave birth to in her second year of graduate school. In addition to being a full-time parent Stewart worked close to full-time as a nurse at Allina Health, even as she attended graduate school full-time.

“Everything I do is for those girls, and I work very hard every day trying to provide them with the best life possible,” Stewart said. “I make it a priority to be a part of every important event in my children’s life as best I can, even amongst the chaos. It has been the most rewarding and challenging experience to accomplish all that I have set forth and be so close to achieve a degree at the highest level of nursing.”

Stewart is also active in International Association of Forensic Nursing and Minnesota Chapter (IAFN), Midwest Nursing Research Society (MNRS), and Minnesota Nurse Practitioners (MNNP).

Stewart truly has a passion for nursing and caring for others in their most dire moments and has already built a reputation in her field. Her capstone project developed a protocol for Allina Health to use with domestic violence victims. She was asked to speak about this at the IAFN in Reno, Nevada. She plans to submit her work to the Journal of Emergency Nursing for publication.

“Jessica is one of the most motivated, driven, dedicated doctoral students I have had a privilege to be a faculty chair. She is a leader in her field of healthcare and doctoral education for nurse practitioners,” said the faculty member who nominated Stewart Dr. Kerry Johnson, professor in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. “She is an outstanding student in all of the areas of her life, work, studies, and family.”

Tess Spence-Sing selected Metropolitan State University Outstanding Student for Spring 2018 graduating class

SAINT PAUL, Minn.—A Minneapolis resident was selected a spring semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Tess Spence-Sing
Tess Spence-Sing, College of Community Studies and Public Affairs Outstanding Student Spring 2018

Tess Spence-Sing graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree psychology was chosen Outstanding Student representing the university’s College of Community Studies and Public Affairs. She was one of 1,058 students received bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees at Metropolitan State’s 103rd commencement exercises on April 28, 2018, at the Minneapolis Convention Center .

“I chose Metropolitan State University because it was affordable and because it allowed me to easily transfer and continue my four-year psychology degree,” Spence-Sing said. “I wanted to complete my bachelor’s degree in psychology and start getting prepared for graduate school.”

Spence-Sing is recognized on the Dean’s List and has applied to the Psi Chi International Honor Society. She conducted and prepared research to present at the Midwestern Psychological Association ‘s annual conference this month in Chicago. She is now planning to pursue a master’s degree.

An accomplished world traveler, Spence-Sing and her husband, Szymon, have visited New Orleans, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Poland, Croatia, and Italy—all in the four years since moving to the United States.

Advisor Dr. Glen Spielman of the university Psychology Department commented that Spence-Sing’s work is “the level of work I’d expect from a graduate student with substantially more training and clinical experience than you’ve had at this point.”

Rodrigo J. Sanchez of Saint Paul selected Metropolitan State University Outstanding Student for Spring 2018 graduating class

SAINT PAUL, Minnesota—A Saint Paul resident was selected a spring semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Rodrigo J. Sanchez
Rodrigo J. Sanchez, School of Urban Education Outstanding Student Spring 2018

Rodrigo J. Sanchez, who graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree, was chosen as an Outstanding Student represented the university’s School of Urban Education. He was one of 1,058 students receiving bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees at Metropolitan State’s 102nd commencement exercises on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

From the outset at Metropolitan State, Sanchez wanted to become an educator. He feared not being able to fit in, not only as a student but as a schoolteacher and in the classroom. “I feared that I wasn’t built for this but I worked hard each and every day to become a better person, to become a better teacher. I also don’t take all the credit because my professors reassured me and supported me every single time, they always had something positive to say and helped me boost my confidence.”

“I heard great things from people and friends about the Urban Education program,” he says. “I had that goal set for a while but I knew Metropolitan State would help me achieve that goal.” He appreciated the real-world experiences his professors brought to courses, and practical exercises such as using classroom scenarios of real-world problems to teach preparation and lesson planning. Following graduation and as he pursues his teaching career, he plans to enroll in a master’s program at Metropolitan State.

Sanchez is a Special Education Paraprofessional and currently works at Academia Cesar Chavez charter school, where he also has coached both the boys and girls basketball teams. He is also active with his church, Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Bruce Drewlow, a professor in the School of Urban Education, says, “Rodrigo Sanchez epitomizes what it means to be an urban educator. He is a strong advocate for the diverse students we find within our urban classrooms working on behalf of the under-served students. Rodrigo is able to see the assets that each student brings into our classrooms and builds upon those assets. Rodrigo wrote and illustrated a children’s book for his Language Arts methods course which clearly displayed his passion. There are not enough adjectives to describe this individual although ‘impressive’ encapsulates many of them. This is a well-deserved award.”

In her nomination of Sanchez, Dr. Yvonne RB-Banks, School of Urban Education, wrote, “What an outstanding gem—Mr. Sanchez is well prepared to bring leadership to his future classroom—as he has demonstrated the innate ability to be inclusive, as well as, the ability to use specific techniques in assessment to bring about the best learning outcomes for a diverse body of students— “impressive” is often the word I would give as feedback on his academic work. He is well deserving of this academic acknowledgement.”

Taskin Haque selected Metropolitan State University Outstanding Student for Spring 2018 graduating class

SAINT PAUL, Minn.—A Minneapolis resident has been selected a spring semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Taskin Haque
Taskin Haque, College of Management Outstanding Student Spring 2018

Taskin Haque, who previously earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Dhaka in her home country of Bangladesh and graduated with a Master of Management Information Systems, was chosen outstanding graduate student in the Metropolitan State University’s College of Management’s graduate program. She was one of 1,058 students receiving bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees at Metropolitan State’s 102nd commencement exercises on April 28, 2018 in Saint Paul.

“As an international student, blending in with the new culture was my biggest fear. Also, being one of the youngest people with the least experience in the class was challenging for me at the beginning,” Haque said. “I would like to thank my professors, classmates and colleagues at the Center for Online Learning for always being there for me and always helping me at their best capacity. The culture of Metropolitan State taught me to embrace the new while keeping my own values.”

Haque began working as an associate technical support analyst for Medtronic in January 2018. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband, who is a PhD student at University of Minnesota. She plans to pursue a PhD after working in her field for a few years.

At Metropolitan State, Haque was active in student life. She participated in a number of cultural groups and is a cultural program coordinator for University of Minnesota’s Bangladeshi Student Association. She performs as a singer and dancer in the association’s annual program.

Haque is also active off campus, and has volunteered for Friends for Non-Violent Worlds since Fall 2017. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the world and trying new recipes with her husband. She recently purchased her first pair of ice skates with plans to learn. Haque and her father also share a love for music and enjoy singing together. Her mother has always been her biggest fan and ready to support her to “win the world” at any time.

Haque set her eyes on outstanding student recognition and finishing her master’s degree with a 4.0 grade point average, both of which she has achieved. More than anything, she actively sought to learn as much as possible from her classes and explored different facets of information technology through her assistantship with the Center for Online Learning. She previously earned her undergraduate degree from one of the most prestigious business schools in Bangladesh.

“I clearly remember the day I first heard about this award from my pervious academic advisor, Dr. David Bouchard. It was my graduate school orientation day. Growing up as a girl in a underdeveloped country, appraisal and recognition have been always a big part in my life. It motivates me to set my goal and work above and beyond,” Haque said. “I set up my grad school goal that I want to one of the recipients and work towards that. I am extremely grateful to my honorable faculty members, advisors, my colleagues and supervisor at Center For Online learning for encouraging and supporting me all the time.

“Being nominated for outstanding student award and also winning gives me the motivation to work harder for my future endeavors. Also, it means a lot to me to make my parents proud by winning this award. The award given to me to live my dream and receiving the award in the presence of my parents is the dream I was living for.”

Raelene Caswell selected Metropolitan State University Outstanding Student for Spring 2018 graduating class

SAINT PAUL, Minn.—A Saint Paul resident has been selected a spring semester Outstanding Student at Metropolitan State University.

Raelene Caswell graduated summa cum laude with a master’s degree in advocacy and political leadership was chosen Outstanding Graduate Student representing the university’s College of Community Studies and Public Affairs. She was one of 1,058 students receiving bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees at Metropolitan State’s 102nd commencement exercises on April 28, 2018, at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

“I chose Metropolitan State so that I could be enroll in the Master of Advocacy and Political Leadership program,” Caswell said. “My goal was to learn about policy and advocacy work, and connect with amazing people that are active in their communities.”

At Metropolitan State, Caswell was active in student life. She was the president of Metropolitan State’s Advocacy and Political Leadership student organizations where she built a network of like-minded community-oriented scholars.

Caswell is also active in her community, playing with the Roseville Community Band and dance with Rince na Chroi. She’s also played with the Center for Irish Music.

Caswell holds a bachelor’s degree from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. She is a program manager at SafeJourney, a domestic violence program at North Memorial Health in Minneapolis.

“She has helped to revitalize APLS, bringing in new leadership and raising the prominence of the group in our program… She has always been an active volunteer helping out with human needs, said Caswell’s advisor, Adrienne Falcon, MAPL academic director.