by Cori Hilsgen
The College of St. Benedict is planning a celebration, and St. Joseph will be experiencing many of the benefits. After several years of planning, excitement is in the air because the festivities are about to begin.
CSB will kick off its centennial celebration after the last graduation commencement ceremony of the college’s first century on May 11.
Various festivities will continue throughout the year until the first commencement of the second century on May 17, 2014.
Kim Motes, vice president of Institutional Advancement for CSB, and also one of the co-chairs of the centennial, is excited to share her excitement of the celebrations planned for the upcoming year.
Motes said the planning committees looked at many aspects of the centennial.
“How do we mark this major milestone in the life of the college?” Motes said. “It only happens once in a century, so we have to make the most of it.”
People will notice the banners hanging around campus.
“This community will know there is something happening with the college,” Motes said.
Diane Hageman, who is the interim co-director of Communication and Marketing Services at CSB, is chairing the Community Outreach Committee for the centennial festivities.
Hageman said she is excited to be chairing the committee.
“St. Joe is our home and we are very excited to be planning some fun public events,” Hageman said. “We hope the residents of St. Joseph and the greater St. Cloud community will join us in celebrating this wonderful milestone.”
Hageman said several public events and happenings will occur during the next year to help celebrate the centennial. For example, the college will be a major sponsor of the Joe Town Rocks concert and will have a booth set up. This is the first time the college is helping sponsor the event. CSB will host a family picnic before the July 18 Sunset Stages Robert Robinson performance.
On Sept. 13, CSB will host the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce. That includes Sartell, St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids members. At the Millstream Festival on Sept. 29, CSB will host the Millstream Mile – a one-mile family run. CSB also plans to host the annual Christmas party for the St. Joseph Chamber members.
An all-school reunion will be held from June 28-30. Hageman said it will bring a lot of people and business to the St. Joseph area.
Motes said they have invited all 20,000 alumni back to campus for the reunion. They have already received responses from more than 700 alumni who have registered to come back to celebrate. They are anticipating 800-1,000 alumni to return to the campus to celebrate.
Several families of grandmothers, mothers and daughters are planning to attend the reunion. Generations of women are bringing their daughters to introduce them to the college and asking, ‘Don’t you want to be part of this sisterhood?’
The earliest class from which alumni will come is the Class of 1939. They are also inviting all the 2013 graduates. Anyone who attended is invited back to the campus.
A series of alumni awards will be presented at the reunion. Two “Circle of Sisters Awards” for groups of alumni that have done something remarkable together or have stayed together; a ‘Legacy Award” to a family who has had generations of alumni attend; and 14 centennial “President’s Awards” (signifying they have had 14 presidents in their history) will be given. The range of years goes from 1939 to 2000 in areas of accomplishments with those 14 awards.
CSB will host a series of events throughout the centennial year. The Fine Arts programming series will open with Broadway legend Patti LuPone. The year will focus on women artists.
The Literary Art Institute is bringing in a signature author, academic departments are looking at bringing special speakers to campus and some classes will focus on the centennial and roles of women in the area.
Outreach opportunities will include merchandise that is branded especially for the centennial. They include such things as a signature line of “Sisterhood” jewelry, wearing apparel, a one-of-a kind mug and other items that will be available in the CSB bookstore and at “On A Lark.”
CSB has commissioned a book on the history of CSB with one of its history faculty, Annette Atkins, that will come out in June. They are launching an app for the iPhone which will connect to their main website, and people can then connect through the website.
Organizers are hosting a series of trips that people are invited to join, including a cruise to the Bahamas and trips to Chili and Argentina, the United Arab Emirates, Italy and Greece.
Culinary services will create an official centennial dessert. CSB is considering what should go in a time capsule.
A “Bennie day of service,” during which CSB alumni all over the world will do something to serve their area at a certain time on a certain day, no matter where they are, is being planned.
Motes said the banners reflect how it has been a century of connections.
“It’s a whole theme of the century of connection – connections that are made here in this community and how we are all connected out in the world,” Motes said. “There is an immediate connection with Bennies and we really want to celebrate those ties that bind us.”
Motes emphasized how in 1913 women did not yet have the right to vote. It was seven years before they achieved that right. She said if you stop to think what the world was like in 1913 and you had these strong women. There were six Benedictine Sisters who had this vision about starting a college for women.
They had the foresight to build the main building which included classrooms, dormitories, a library, dining hall, biology and chemistry labs and other things.
Motes said the dorm rooms were still in use until about 1988. She herself stayed in the dorms her first year of college and is a 1989 graduate of the college.
“We have to think about women in the world at that time and how women have evolved, how the opportunities have become greater and greater for women over the last 100 years,” Motes said. “Could they have predicted what the college would look like 100 years from now? It was courageous and audacious at times.”
Motes said they then built a state-of-the-art Benedicta Arts Center in the 1960s far away from the main building and in essence they said here’s where we think the campus will grow to. At the time, the BAC was unlike anything else in the Midwest.
As they are ready to celebrate the 100th anniversary, the college has grown beyond the BAC.
“As we have arrived at this milestone, if those sisters who started the college could see us today, they would probably be amazed, but also say – ‘Well yes, of course!’,” Motes said. “We are thinking a lot about that 100-year point, but we are also thinking about what will the college look like 100 years from now? When the community is celebrating the 200-year anniversary of the college, what will they look to? When they look at the centennial of the college, what will they say about what we do today as far as propelling the college forward? That will be the question 100 years from now: Were they as courageous?”
Motes said she thinks they are. She said she believes CSB president MaryAnn Baenninger has good vision. CSB graduates are also going out across the world and doing amazing things. They are taking the Benedictine values and the strong education they get from CSB into the world and are making a difference.
“We see this as a way of energizing our community, including the St. Joseph community – it’s about telling our story to as wide of a network as we can,” Motes said. “It’s about propelling the future vision. It’s about looking back but also really celebrating the vision moving forward for this women’s college and also celebrating our partnership with St. John’s and really thinking very consciously about this moment in our history.
CSB will continually update its Centennial website. They encourage people to check it frequently. For more information, visit www.csbcentennial.com.
Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people's stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.