Hamline News

Spring 2014 Happenings on Hewitt


Remembering a Piper Legend

Vern Mikkelsen ’49, who brought Pipers basketball to prominence in the 1940s before moving on to a celebrated career in the NBA, died on November 21, 2013. He was 85.

During Mikkelsen’s tenure at Hamline, the Pipers posted a 78-11 overall record, winning a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics title, finishing third in another NAIA contest, and earning a pair of Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Association crowns.

Mikkelsen was named all-conference all three seasons he played at Hamline, and he made the All-America team in 1949. He was inducted into Hamline’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1965.

Hamline’s 1948-49 team, which also included future professional basketball players Hal Haskins and Joe Hutton, Jr., is considered one of the best college basketball teams in Minnesota history.

Mikkelsen went on to play 10 seasons with the Minneapolis Lakers. He was a member of four NBA championship teams and played in six All-Star games. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995.

“Vern Mikkelsen’s contributions to an entire generation of athletes cannot be measured in statistics of wins and losses—he was a winner to all who knew him, a gentleman, a consummate sportsman and role model of ethical behavior, loyalty to team, and generosity of spirit,” said Hamline University President Linda Hanson. “He was beloved and will be greatly missed.”

— Gail Nosek MFA ’12 and David Wright

Discovering What it Means to Belong in Mexico

Amy Laboe MAESL ’10, 2013 recipient of the Fulbright Distinguished Teacher Award, recently completed her Fulbright research project in Nepopualco, Mexico, a town of 2,000 nestled in the shadows of two majestic volcanoes.

Laboe returned to Minnesota in February 2014 after working with students, teachers, and families in a three-classroom school for six months. Her narrative research, which she calls “a living thesis,” involved collecting stories of the Mexican educational experience. She hopes to use her findings to help Mexican heritage students and their parents find belonging and success in the U.S. educational system.

“The most important lesson I’ve learned while I’ve been here has been about the value of community and belonging,” Laboe said while in Mexico. “Despite having lower economic resources, the people here are happy and have a sense of self and appreciation for the beauty of both their families and their town.”

A sense of belonging is a key determinant of a student’s success in school and in life, Laboe observed. “If many students don’t have a sense of belonging to their schools, how does this affect their outlook, their daily work, and, ultimately, their success? I believe that a focus on uniting our communities can be one way we tackle the achievement gap.”

— Jen Gehrig

Digging up History

Students in Associate Professor Brian Hoffman’s Excavating Hamline History class recently uncovered some interesting artifacts from the late 19th and early and mid 20th centuries in the backyard of the White House at Hamline. Items discovered included fragments of bone toothbrushes and dishes, buttons, bisque doll parts, coal from a cook stove or furnace, and part of a harmonica. “One of my favorite artifacts is a little metal box that held pencil leads,” Hoffman said. “I wonder if this artifact had belonged to a Hamline student.”

New Hamline Law Dean Brings Wealth of Experience

Jean Holloway started her new role as dean of Hamline School of Law on January 6.

Holloway brings nearly 30 years of legal expertise, experience in corporate and private practice, strategic plan development and execution, and fiscal management. She holds two bachelor’s degrees from Yale University and a joint MBA and JD from the University of Chicago.

Previously, Holloway served as vice president, general counsel, and secretary at C.R. Bard, Inc., a global medical device manufacturer. Prior to that, she served as vice president and deputy general counsel at Medtronic. She also was a partner at two law firms — Faegre & Benson and Dorsey & Whitney—and a strategic business consultant at McKinsey & Company.

“The university and the law school have a long tradition of academic innovation; hands-on, practical learning; and public service,” Holloway said. “I look forward to working closely with the excellent faculty, staff, and students, and the university’s committed leadership to provide high quality and innovative legal education and programs. I am especially excited about building on Hamline Law’s unique strength in developing practice-ready, problem-solving lawyers through challenging and personalized experiential learning programs.”

Alum’s Organization Awarded Nobel Prize

In his role as the United States permanent representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Robert Mikulak ’64 has dedicated his career to stopping the proliferation of chemical weapons. In 2013, the OPCW, located at The Hague in the Netherlands, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

“The announcement came as a big surprise to me and others,” Mikulak said in an email interview. “The press speculation . . . had been in a very different direction.”

Mikulak has spent more than 40 years as an arms control expert and negotiator.

“I discovered that, as a chemist with political interests and a high frustration threshold, I could play a very useful 
role in strengthening security against chemical weapons,” he said.

Mikulak was the featured speaker at the 3M/Ronald A. Mitsch Lecture in Chemistry last spring. “There is a treaty that prohibits chemical weapons such as nerve gas and mustard gas,” he said in his talk. “I actually helped negotiate that treaty that we are now trying to enforce. We want the elimination of chemical weapons around the world.”

Mikulak earned a bachelor’s in chemistry from Hamline in 1964 and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the university in 2001.

Ask the Expert:
Ann Ness on Personal Branding

Ann Ness is vice president of marketing and enrollment management at Hamline University. She has 30 years of experience growing and shaping global brands such as Cargill and Radisson Hotels Worldwide.

What is personal branding?

Personal branding is a process that helps people identify their strengths so they can share them with the world. It uses the same processes and principles as product or corporate branding.

Isn’t personal branding something only celebrities have to think about?

Celebrities create an asset and manage it through clothes, appearances, behaviors, associations, and their social media presence. So can you! This becomes especially important as employers increasingly use social media to vet applicants.

What are some steps for creating your brand?

You shouldn’t do it alone. It’s important to get feedback from people you trust who can see things from a different perspective than your own.

At its core, your personal brand reflects your values and beliefs—what you stand for. That needs to be evaluated against how you are perceived. Sometimes you discover there’s a gap between who you are and who you want to be. Once you’re aware of that gap, you can work to close it.

I highly recommend the book “Be Your Own Brand,” co-written by Minnesota authors Karl D. Speak and David McNally. They outline a practical process that’s easy to use. 

I’m also happy to lead small groups through the process.

Once you define your brand, how can it be useful?

Just as brands help provide decision-making guideposts for companies, so, too, is your own brand helpful as a filter to guide your own deeply personal decisions and reactions. 

It may be that you think a second longer before replying. It may be that you dress differently, choosing to wear a business suit as a reflection of your aspirations. It may be that you relax your posture to be seen as more approachable. Or you may need to stand up straighter to convey confidence.

What’s your best personal branding advice?

The genesis for personal branding can be found in the 1981 book Positioning: The Battle for your Mind, by Al Ries and Jack Trout. In it, they write: “Don’t try to do everything yourself. Find a horse to ride.” Once done, other choices fall into place. Find your “horse to ride.

Student Honored for 14 Years of Philanthropy

McKenna Nerone ’17 was named 2013 Youth Philanthropist of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals in southeast Wisconsin.

The award recognized the “significant difference she has made through philanthropic leadership” over the last 14 years and her advocacy on behalf of sexual assault victims.

Since she was 4 years old, Nerone, 18, has been involved in community service—everything from stuffing envelopes for her church to being the state spokesperson for an international philanthropic organization that provides hearing aids to children who can’t afford them to rebuilding homes for residents in Appalachia.

Last year for her high school senior project, Nerone created the Denim Day Project to help raise awareness of sexual assault victims. She collected 1,050 pairs of blue jeans—representing the number of women raped during the hours she was in school in a week—and displayed them on a fence around her school. She later donated the jeans to a teen run-away shelter.

Nerone chose to collect jeans for her project because of an Italian rape case in which the defendant was freed because, according to the judge, the victim’s jeans were too tight to have been removed against her will.

The mayor of Nerone’s hometown of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, proclaimed April 24 Denim Day. Nerone also received the Wisconsin Coalition Voices of Courage Award for the project.

Two Legal Service Organizations Move to Minneapolis Campus

Hamline’s Minneapolis campus is now home to two partner organizations: the Mediation Center and the Innocence Project of Minnesota. 

The Mediation Center provides a full range of legal services—including conflict resolution, negotiation, mediation, and training—to professionals, attorneys, businesses, organizations, and government entities.

The Minnesota Innocence Project, affiliated with Hamline since 2002, has a mission “. . . to keep the innocent from being convicted and to free people imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit.” Several Hamline deans and professors serve on the board of directors.

“Our move to the Minneapolis campus will give Hamline interns the opportunity to put what they have learned inside the classroom to work outside the confines of a traditional campus environment, preparing them for their careers,” said Erika Applebaum, executive director of the Minnesota Innocence Project.

—Jennifer Bush MBA ’12