Monday Moments with President Bergman: January 24, 2022Gustavus President Rebecca M. Bergman shares her thoughts with College students, faculty, and staff each week.
Posted on January 24th, 2022 by

President Rebecca M. Bergman

It is hard to believe that January Term ends tomorrow and Spring Semester 2022 begins next Wednesday, February 2! As I reflect on a productive month on campus, I see a community that has become quite adept at dealing with adversity and responding to change with a spirit of positivity and optimism.

This month, we experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant that has been handled well by our COVID-19 Response Leadership Team and Health Service staff. Our athletic teams were on pause for the first weekend before bouncing back for a successful month of competition. Our Gustavus Wind Orchestra created a tour from scratch after the international tour was postponed due to the pandemic and will perform at six Minnesota locations in the coming days and weeks. Faculty and staff took part in a number of important strategic discussions that will help guide the work of the College as we move forward together. Even in the face of ongoing challenges, so much good is all around us.

Speaking of reflections, I asked several Gustavus alumni who teach and work at the College to look back on their own January Term experiences. Their words bring to life the innovation, excitement, and experiential nature of our unique January Term offerings:

“In January of 1992 I spent J-Term in San Francisco. Bob Moline taught the class San Francisco: The City and its Region. We spent three weeks in San Francisco, staying at a hostel and learning all about the city and the surrounding areas (San Jose, Napa, and Sonoma Valleys). We took public transportation most of the time and our final project was to lead the rest of the class on an informed walking tour of a particular neighborhood that we studied. It was a great experience for a girl from a small town in Iowa!” – Laura Boomgaarden ‘93, Administrative Assistant in Physics and Mathematics, Computer Science, and Statistics

“This is a tough question, because I really enjoyed all of my J-Term courses! But I think my favorite was Radio Theatre taught by John Braun. In addition to listening to the original broadcast of ‘War of the Worlds’ and other plays from the Golden Age of Radio, we recorded and performed a play (‘Seance at Brockman Manor’) that was then broadcast on the local radio station. I loved learning how to make sound effects (e.g. the sound of someone walking down a road was a styrofoam cup and a box of gravel) and doing the old school tape editing/splicing (i.e. an X-Acto knife and tape). We were immersed in every aspect of production and it was fun to brainstorm about ways to spark the imagination of the listener. Shameless plug: If you want to explore documents and other materials from previous January Term courses, visit the College Archives!” – Michelle Twait ‘98, Professor and Chair, Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library

“As a first-year I took a course called Game Show Theory with visiting physics professor Daniel Young. Every day we would learn the rules of a game show, practice them, and then play them as a class—everything from Survivor to Jeopardy! to Deal or No Deal. We learned about the power of rituals, genre of games, and strategies.” – Jenna Ryan ‘20, Admission Counselor

“As a sophomore, I took PE-48 Winter Expedition, an outdoor education course taught by former registrar David Wicklund and former soccer coach and physical education instructor Larry Zelenz. We conditioned for the entire year leading up to the course, including working out together the fall semester prior to the course. Before leaving campus, we learned about winter survival and the natural and indigenous history of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota, and then we traveled there for a two-week journey by dog sled and cross country skis, winter camping our way through the wilderness. It was among the top of my experiences at Gustavus.” – Jeff Dahlseid ‘90, Associate Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Biology, and Chemistry

“I was on campus for three out of four J-Terms during my time as a student. My first one was Fairy Tales with English professor Matt Rasmussen. It was the only creative writing class I had the opportunity to take at Gustavus, and one of my favorite assignments of all time was to write my own fairy tale. My favorite J-Term class, however, was the 3 Crowns Curriculum music exploration class with Justin Knoepfel. This class was filled with my closest friends, and we listened to and studied music from all ages. We even had the opportunity to travel to St. Paul to listen to the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.” – Kelsey Backer ’18, Assistant Director of Alumni & Parent Engagement

I wish I had space here to include all of the wonderful reflections that were shared with me! If you would like to see more January Term memories from our alumni faculty and staff, please read this post on the Gustavus Newswire blog.

This week, take a few minutes to reflect on the start of 2022. Think about what you have already accomplished and what you hope to accomplish during the rest of the year. Catch your breath. Rest up. Spring Semester 2022 starts next week!

Yours in community,

President Bergman


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