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hen University of Saint Francis President Sister M. Elise Kriss led the charge for the creation of a football program in the 1990s, she had a grand idea of how it would benefit the higher-level institution. The rewards have exceeded even her lofty expectations.
“It is more than I ever expected when we finally got it going,” Kriss said about the football program, now in its 17th year. “My intent was for it to be an enrollment driver, a way to get more male students and diversity in our student body and have more going on on weekends on campus.”
The formation of the football program — led since its inception by coach Kevin Donley — has accomplished all that and more.
Game days for the Cougars have developed into a public exhibition of the university as a whole. From parents of students to community leaders to just regular people looking to watch a college football game, the campus comes alive as thousands trek to the school. Many initially come just to enjoy a game but are introduced to many other activities and organizations at the university.
“There are people that come to our games on Saturdays that only come to our campus for football,” Athletic Director Mike McCaffrey said. “The welcome mat is rolled out, and our football game serves as that (introduction) for a lot of community members.”
Before football, Saint Francis never really had an event of any type that brought a bunch of different people to campus and could be used to promote all the university had to offer.
This year, Saint Francis added an alumni house just west of campus on Bass Road to host returning guests on game days. A marching band, the USF Marching Pride, is being developed under the direction of Steven Kandow.
“We didn’t have anything like this,” Kriss said about football’s impact. “Football is sort of a rallying point. It brings greater campus involvement and is a great benefit to small colleges.”
With football, the university has not only been able to extend its geographical footprint but also grown substantially because of it. During the first few seasons in the late 1990s, many business people who are casual football fans ventured out to see Saint Francis and what the program was about, in addition to getting to know Coach Donley. That has led to many community and business partnerships that benefit the entire university.
“People we have brought in because of football have become trustees of our university,” McCaffrey said. “Some local business leaders have only got involved with our university because of either our football coach or they came to a football game.
“A lot of things we do — including economic development — came because of football.”
The key to growth for schools is visibility, both to private-sector investors and the community at large. With great help from football, Saint Francis has grown in enrollment and community presence because of the relationships it has enhanced.
The expectation is that will continue as Saint Francis ventures into downtown Fort Wayne with its acquisition of the old Scottish Rite Center and the former Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce building.
“We didn’t start football to make a whole bunch of money,” McCaffrey said. “We do what we have to do to provide a community (that) people want to come and be a part of.
“We want to get people on our campus to see all the fun stuff we do, and football is a fantastic way to do it.
PHOTOS BY ELLIE BOGUE OF THE NEWS-SENTINEL
an Rolland and Rick Cartwright remember well the day they went to see the Standard Oil building adjacent to the University of Saint Francis campus. Cartwright, dean of the School of Creative Arts, badly wanted the school to buy the polluted building and convert it into an art and visual communications center. He needed Rolland’s support. Rolland, who was formerly CEO of Lincoln National Corp., was a member of the school’s board of trustees.
As Cartwright remembers it, “We drove up and it was just a mess.”
As for Rolland’s first impression? “I thought it was a disaster. I thought, how are you going to use that thing?”
It turned out Cartwright had a vision for the building, and Rolland, Sister M. Elise Kriss, president of the university, and others endorsed that vision, which culminated in a 55,000-square-foot art and communication center that opened in 2000.
The visual arts center could be seen as a metaphor for the way the university has grown the School of Performing Arts over the past 40 years, in large part due to Cartwright’s vision. When he started at Saint Francis in 1975 teaching painting and drawing, there were 34 students in the program. The department had the use of only three classrooms, which also served as studio space. Cartwright remembers having to rearrange the furniture in the classrooms for different classes.
As Saint Francis celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, 260 students are majoring in SOCA programs. SOCA offers bachelor’s degrees in communication; graphic design; animation; studio art; art education; pre-art therapy; music technology; dance; and art history. Several minors are offered, including one in theater.
When asked how they felt about an arts building at the University of Saint Francis being named after them, Ian and Mimi Rolland have two distinct, if humble, reactions.
"I was astonished," Ian said.
"I was embarrassed," Mimi said.
But given the level of support, financial and otherwise, the Rollands have provided to Saint Francis over many years, it is only fitting that the School of Creative Arts (SOCA) named its 55,000-square-foot complex the Mimi and Ian Rolland Art and Visual Communication Center.
"Ian and Mimi have been extremely supportive of the arts in Fort Wayne," said Rick Cartwright, SOCA dean. "He also has been a trustee of the university for a long, long time and they were a major donor to this building. He has been incredibly supportive of me and my vision of what SOCA should be."
Ian's involvement with Saint Francis dates back to the mid-'70s when he was asked to be on the then-Saint Francis College Foundation Board, which he described as an advisory board. Then-president Sister M. JoEllen Scheetz asked him to be on the foundation board because she wanted to "broaden the base," Ian said.
Ian Rolland, former CEO of Lincoln National Corp., was elected to the board of trustees in 1995, when when the foundation board was dissolved. He was elected treasurer and was appointed chair of the Finance and Investment Committee of the Board. He is in his 20th year as a trustee, however his 18-year tenure as treasurer and chair of the Finance and Investment Committee ended in 2013.
He has stuck with Saint Francis all these years because of the importance he places on higher education. When he became chair of the finance committee he said the school "was not in good financial shape." Eventually a skilled financial person was hired and turned the school around. Rolland says "the school is in wonderful financial shape now."
When Cartwright formulated a plan for the school to purchase the old Standard Oil building adjacent to the campus and convert it into an art building, he persuaded Rolland to get behind the project.
Then the two had to convince Sister M. Elise Kriss, president of the school. She agreed to it, and then she pushed it, Rolland said. "She's an exceptional person. She's willing to stick her neck out but does it in a way she's respected."
Rolland also has high praise for Cartwright and the way he ushered the project through. "Rick turned out to be a superb leader," Rolland said. "He's an aggressive guy, but he's careful how he did things."
The Rollands' interest in art developed gradually over the years as Mimi became more interested in it and began collecting pieces from all over the world. Their home is a sight to behold, with interesting art wherever you look, from towering paintings on the walls to whimsical giraffes to a glass piece by famed glass sculptor Dale Chihuly.
And their current collection is a pared down version of the art that used to adorn their former Aboite Township home. When they prepared to downsize they auctioned off more than 120 pieces in 2007, donating the proceeds to the East Wayne Street Center, a nonprofit that helps low-income families and children.
So supporting the art center was a natural extension of Ian's involvement with Saint Francis and Mimi's love of art. And naming the facility after the Rollands was a natural way to thank them for their support.
The Rollands have made plans to support the school's art program in the future as well; they plan to donate most of their collection to Saint Francis after they die.
Each of their five children will get to select a couple of favorite pieces for themselves.
"The rest of the collection goes to Saint Francis," Mimi said.
By Cindy Larson of The News-Sentinel
Ian and Mimi Rolland have been big supporters of the University of Saint Francis for years. The School of Creative Arts complex is named after the Rollands.
Rollands' support invaluable to development of art center
By CINDY LARSON
From brownfield to arts center
Approaching Saint Francis from the south on Leesburg Road, the area looks industrial until the railroad tracks, where the campus begins. Back in the 1990s, Standard Oil owned the building that snuggled up to the tracks. It had been a distribution center, “so you can imagine just how polluted it was,” Cartwright said.
But the school had a chance to acquire the building, so Cartwright and Maurice Papier, then the chair of the department of art and visual communication, went to the administration and asked them to buy the property.
“Sister Elise was president at the time,” Cartwright said. “She said, ‘We’ll consider this if we can get funds.’”
So he wrote a grant to the Lilly Foundation, which gave $2.3 million to seed the project. The city and state helped finance the cleanup.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is it is the first brownfield in Indiana to be returned to public use,” Cartwright said.
He said repurposing an old building demonstrated to the school the benefits of renovating rather than demolishing. “I truly believe it became an impetus to the university,” he said.
Once the building was ready to be repurposed they were faced with a completely wide-open space with no rooms. The school worked with an architect to define spaces. They knew they wanted SOCA to be accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, so the interior was designed in large part based on the organization’s standards.
Aesthetically the building was given a modern flavor while retaining many of the original materials. Whitewashed brick was sandblasted to its original color. Glass, brick, wood and metal “became our decorative palette,” Cartwright said.
When it was all done the SOCA complex actually encompassed four buildings clustered together. The main building houses a gallery; faculty offices; five kilns; areas for painting, drawing, printmaking, metal crafting, ceramics, weaving, photography and sculpture; and a wood shop. An adjacent building houses a TV studio, two classrooms, two computer labs and 12 graduate studios. A third facility is where animation classes are held and includes a mini theater. And in the depot building closest to the road are the art history department and storage for the school’s permanent collection.
By retaining and remodeling the four buildings, the SOCA complex seamlessly merges the industrial area to the south of the railroad tracks with the campus to the north.
The center opened in 2000. It was named the Mimi and Ian Rolland Art and Visual Communication Center in honor of the couple’s generous donation to the project.
In 2004 the school received its accreditation from NASAD.
Beyond visual arts
SOCA’s biggest program is graphic design and animation, with about 90 students pursuing degrees in those areas. Its second-largest program is music technology, with about 60 students. That program will move downtown to space in the former Scottish Rite Center, which Saint Francis bought in 2014 along with the former Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce building.
The purchase of the Scottish Rite Center, which includes a theater, may give a boost to SOCA’s theater program, which produces two shows a year, a musical and a drama. The school offers a minor in theater. Cartwright said they are excited about the potential of the theater program with the new theater downtown.
The newest major that SOCA offers is a bachelor of fine arts in dance. Now in its fourth year, seven students are enrolled. The program is a collaboration between Saint Francis and the Fort Wayne Ballet Conservatory. Dance coursework is held at Fort Wayne Ballet’s facilities in the Auer Center for Arts and Culture.
In addition to educational programming, SOCA students have the opportunity to work with adults with mental and physical disabilities to put on a program that showcases their singing and acting abilities. The Jesters, founded in 1978, has grown to three times the size it was when it started.
Cartwright personally takes pride in an annual event he started 17 years ago. Each year he takes a group of students to Europe for three weeks to see the great works of art. The students can get class credit for the trip. “It’s inspiring for me ... to expose these students to the world and to the masterpieces,” he said.
As much as Cartwright has done in his 40 years at Saint Francis, he still has more to accomplish. One of his goals is to grow a scholarship endowment for students. He also will continue to be involved in the development of the downtown campus.
he 10-month-old baby moved on chubby bare feet across the floor in the exam room. Still learning to walk, she abruptly sat down at the feet of University of Saint Francis student Christina Trahin. The baby reached out and began to touch the black shoes in front of her. Trahin reached down and picked up her patient.
It was all in a day’s work for the student, who was doing a clinical practicum with Wendy Clark, a nurse practitioner and assistant professor at Saint Francis.
Although the university has a long history of graduating nurses through its undergraduate degree programs, only since 1997 has its master’s program allowed nurses already in the field to go back to school and earn an advanced degree. One of the advantages of being a student at Saint Francis, Clark said, is that all of the faculty are still practicing. Clark is director of the university’s master of science program in nursing, and she is on the staff in the doctor’s office where she and Trahin were working.
In the past few years, the university has put much of the school’s graduate programs online, allowing it to reach a much larger population.
Clark said that several years ago the university talked with working nurses interested in the master’s program to find out what scheduling would make it easier for them to complete degrees. Nurses were most likely to be off Tuesdays, so that became the one day students had to be on campus. The university already had solid courses built, but officials also looked at the delivery method and practice of teaching so they could move it to a hybrid format.
“The students have been overwhelmingly happy with the change,” Clark said.
Students can go for two years, or they can do it part time. But they must finish in two to three years. In recent years the need for nurse practitioners has been growing, and the number of students in the program has increased. Currently the program has more than 120 students. It had record enrollment this fall, with all 48 spaces in the clinical practicum filled and a number of students taking classes part time so they can be in the next group in January.
Clark said the only thing keeping the master’s program from growing even faster is the lack of doctors’ offices in which students can do their clinical work.
“It’s a very different delivery model because it wraps nursing and medicine together,” Clark said.
Most traditional programs have full-time learners; this program is for working people and learners. The degree is for family practice, designed for people who would like to be in primary care. This is not an acute-care program, Clark said.
Over the past few years the university has had 105 of its students placed into primary-care settings. The program receives federal Title VIII grant funding for nursing workforce development, making it easier for students to afford the program.
Students drive from within a four-hour radius for that one day on campus. To make it easier for students to do clinical work in a primary-care setting, the program allows them to do it in their own towns in settings approved by the university.
Clark networks with five major groups in the region, including Parkview Health and Lutheran Health Network, to find out what their needs are and what types of students they would like to take.
Clark attributes much of the increasing demand for nurse practitioners to the Affordable Care Act. “We now have a lot of people with insurance who need somewhere to go,” she said.
Each of these five health care systems deals with the increased demand for services in different ways. In some cases, this has included an increase in the use of nurse practitioners.
There are less expensive places to go to school, Clark said, so why do students come to the University of Saint Francis? The Franciscan values associated with the program are a big draw for students, she said. The faculty models the Franciscan values.
“Not everybody here is Catholic, but the themes of Catholic teaching values and the Franciscan values are intertwined,” Clark said.
Allison Sabin supervises the university’s online program for licensed nurses who are already in the workforce and would like to have a bachelor's degree; many have associate degrees. This allows them to come back to school and earn their bachelor's degrees in nursing. Their program is entirely online. Because these students are already working in their fields they don’t have the same needs as students who aren’t licensed yet would have.
“They don’t need the clinical bedside settings,” Sabin said.
Of course that’s not to say they don’t do clinical work; it’s more community-health planning, Sabin explained. The school has offered the degree completion totally online for the past three years and now has students from across the nation.
This fall there are 94 students enrolled in the program, up from 28 when the program began in spring 2013. Many students go full time and can complete it in a year; for part-time students, it takes two years. Generally once they start they persist through the program, Sabin said. Once started, they must complete the degree within four years.
“This sort of program has been growing across the United States, not just at Saint Francis,” Sabin said.
Sabin said there is a real push for nurses who have bachelor's degrees. When hospitals are accredited on quality standards, the number of nurses who have their four-year degree is one factor measured.
Sabin said that as the population ages and the press for higher standards in patient care continues, she believes the number of students in the online program will continue to grow.
t its 125th anniversary, the University of Saint Francis is reaching in a new direction: downtown.
The university has purchased and is renovating historic downtown Fort Wayne buildings to provide its students in three major programs with state-of-the-art facilities. The university’s move downtown has the potential to change the university, its students and downtown itself.
“I’m excited to be down there in the middle of the excitement going on in downtown Fort Wayne,” said Robert Lee, dean of the university’s Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership. “It gives us an identity, a home, a place to execute our brand, which is experiential, hands-on learning.”
The coming hub of Saint Francis’ presence downtown will be two buildings on the same block, bounded by Wayne Street on the south, Ewing Street on the east, Berry Street on the north and Fairfield Avenue on the west.
The former Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce building, also home to the former Fort Wayne Woman’s Club, will become the new home of the Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership. The former Scottish Rite Center will become home to the media entrepreneurship training in the (META) arts program and the music technology program. The center also will include a performance hall that Saint Francis will operate.
The largest of the programs is the school of business. Lee, former Allen County treasurer, said there are now 190 undergraduates and 200 graduate students in the school. The graduate students all learn entirely through a virtual — that is, online — university.
Plans call for seven classrooms to be constructed during the renovation of the former chamber building and a finance lab designed “to mimic the flavor of a trading floor” with a ticker along the ceiling, said Lee.
The renovated area will include what Lee described as “collaboration space for experiential learning,” with teams of students working on a project.
“It’s certainly oriented to millennials,” Lee said of the design for those born after 1980. “There are flat-screen TVs on the wall and movable partitions. It’s kind of a relaxed atmosphere.”
The media program enables students to work in small groups, focusing on solving real challenges and using arts expertise to develop solutions for small businesses and nonprofits, such as Artlink, Community Harvest Food Bank and the Allen County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Director Andrea Hinsey said a key part of the value of META for students is drawing on students’ skills in a wide range of disciplines, based on the demands of the project, whether designing a logo or producing promotional material. Then they work within a
budget set by the META client.
“I’m excited about working downtown,” Hinsey said. She said she expects the new location to provide more opportunities to help small businesses grow — and to help students understand the realities of collaborating on real projects. This fall, there are nine seniors and 20 juniors involved in META.
Saint Francis offers both bachelor's and associate degrees in music technology. About 60 students are pursuing those degrees. Music technology is part of the School of Creative Arts.
Rick Cartwright, dean of the School of Creative Arts, said there are now three broad concentrations available to students majoring in music technology:
• Recording and production.
• Music technology sales and marketing.
• Audio for the creative arts, including video games, television, movies and multimedia presentations.
All the programs will benefit from vastly more space in their new locations. As an example, Jeff Rodgers, director of the music technology program, said the new location in the former Scottish Rite will provide his students with about 18,000 square feet, probably quadruple the space now available to them.
“It’s going to be a state-of-the-art facility. I’ve been told it’s going to be one of the best facilities of its kind,” Cartwright said.
The facility has been designed with extensive input from Sweetwater, where Rodgers worked for seven years and which is a major employer of students who’ve been through the music technology program. Sweetwater provides internships in sales for music technology students, and its human resources department cultivates relationships with students throughout their time at Saint Francis.
The new site for music technology includes studio spaces, mastering facilities, practice rooms and ensemble rooms.
“We can do everything in here you would need for a band or an artist,” Rodgers said.
Throughout the design process, Rodgers said, a central consideration was, “How do we teach music technology in a collaborative way?”
Part of the answer has been creating spaces that are multipurpose, with networked access throughout.
“The whole building is a recording studio,” Rodgers said. “Anything could be recorded in this facility.”
THE PROMISE FOR DOWNTOWN
“It makes a huge statement for downtown to have a university,” said Bill Brown, president of Fort Wayne’s Downtown Improvement District.
“It’s a great way to strengthen that western corridor,” he said. “Now you’ve got West Main Street evolving in a very real way. There’s really a developing corridor in a business and entertainment sense.”
He also praised the creative renovation of two existing buildings. “That adaptive reuse is just off the charts,” Brown said.
John Sampson, president and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, said having a significant university presence downtown is bound to build on what he described as the “Parkview Field effect.”
“People think baseball was the point of Parkview Field. Baseball wasn’t the point of Parkview Field. The point was bringing more people downtown,” Sampson said.
BY BOB CAYLOR OF THE NEWS-SENTINEL
One of the five Franciscan values emphasized at the University of Saint Francis is respect for creation. Along with learning about the environment, students also get involved in preserving it through restoring a small prairie near an athletic field on the south side of campus and organizing an Earth Day Fair.
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF SAINT FRANCIS
WORDS INTO ACTION
The values create a different atmosphere on campus, several students said.
Spencer Norton, below, a 22-year-old junior from Fort Wayne, who is majoring in business administration,originally attended the much larger University of Cincinnati, where he felt more like a number. At USF, faculty make an extra effort to reach out to students individually, Norton and other students said.
USF also is more flexible than some other universities regarding what classes he must take or the order in which they are taken, Norton said.
The university organizes a number of community-service projects, such as Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, when students help others in the community rather than take the day off for the national holiday, Prall said. In past years, USF also has participated in the Feed the Fort food collection drive for Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana. This year, the university will join with other local colleges in the You Can Crush Hunger drive for Community Harvest, he said.
USF nursing program graduates volunteer to offer a medical clinic for residents of Charis House, which provides shelter to homeless women and their children. The nurses also involve current USF students at the clinic.
Other projects are student-initiated, such as members of the Eco Club working on restoring a small prairie area near Coonan Field, an athletic field on the south side of the main campus, said Alejandro Diaz, below left, a 19-year-old sophomore from Decatur, who is majoring in nursing with a minor in biology.The club also organizes an Earth Day Fair.
Fellow student Cross and her friend Alyssa Patterson involved the student body in collecting just more than 1,000 pounds of plastic bottle caps and lids, which were recycled into park benches for the campus.
All combined, senior Satalino said, their USF education gives them a different perspective on the world and the tools to go out and be successful, contributing members in it.
SHARING THE VALUES
As in the past, members of the Sisters of St. Francis religious order take the lead in sharing and encouraging students and staff to embrace the Franciscan values, Kriss said. This year, eight sisters will work on the Fort Wayne campus in roles ranging from teaching chemistry and theology to working in development and as director of the university’s Center for Franciscan Life.
Each year, the university also places extra emphasis on one of the five values, said Andrew Prall, below, vice president for academic affairs. Last year, it was respect for creation. This year, it is the dignity of each person.
Students learn the Franciscan values through their classes, co-curricular activities, service projects and other activities, Prall said.
All students must take at least one course each in religion and ethics
During senior year, the final course in their major includes discussion on how students can use the Franciscan values in their career field and as citizens of the world, he said. Nursing graduates, for example, are urged to use their technical skills and knowledge along with showing compassion for their patients.
“We are really proud,” Prall added. “Hospitals and employers say they can see a difference in our graduates.”
The emphasis on Franciscan values doesn’t include seeking converts to Catholicism, Kriss said. The university’s first priority is providing students with quality academic programs. That attracts a diverse student body that is only about 30 percent Catholic. But the sisters and USF staff hope all students graduate with a strong sense of the Franciscan values and the spark to live by them the rest of their lives.
SAINT FRANCIS: BY THE NUMBERS
Members of the Catholic women’s religious order the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration founded what is now USF as Saint Francis College in 1890 in Lafayette, according to the university’s website, www.sf.edu.
A handful of sisters had traveled there in late 1875 from their founding location in Olpe, Germany. They initially opened a hospital and then founded the college to train sisters to serve as teachers, the USF website said. The college began admitting lay women in 1939 and men starting in the late 1950s.
The college moved in 1944 to Fort Wayne to settle on the former 65-acre estate of industrialist John Bass at 2701 Spring St.
The campus since has expanded to a former Christian church property across Spring Street, now known as the North Campus, and recently to downtown Fort Wayne with the purchase of the former Scottish Rite Center and Mizpah Shrine Center, both in the 400 block of West Berry Street, and the adjacent former Greater
Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce building at Ewing and Wayne streets.
Throughout its history, the university has been guided by five values inspired by the wisdom of St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi:
Show reverence for the unique dignity of each person.
Encourage a trustful, prayerful community of learners.
Serve one another, society and the church.
Foster peace and justice.
“I think students appreciate them,” said Ashley Cross, left, a 20-year-old junior from Bluffton who is studying for a double major in chemistry/pre-pharmacy and science and entrepreneurship.
“They are helpful guidelines to remember why we are here, our purpose and to help serve others.”
hen Nicole Satalino, right, was trying to decide where to attend college, the Fort Wayne woman wanted a place with strong academics where she also could get involved and make a difference. She chose the University of Saint Francis.
The opportunities to serve, both on and off campus, are almost endless, said Satalino, 20, a senior business administration major and the current Student Government Association president. As the university celebrates its 125th year, the values of its Catholic faith and founders still guide life on campus today.
“We actually have an opportunity to bring faith and reason together,” said Sister M. Elise Kriss, USF president. “Only when the two come together do you really have holistic perspective.”