What were some activities or departments you were involved in while an undergrad?
I was a double major in Chemistry and Russian which kept my days pretty full. I was an RA in Wallace my junior year and a Hall Director in Dayton my senior year. I was also part of Mac DFL.
What are some favorite memories you have of your time at Macalester?
I really enjoyed J-term — both the classes and the chance to enjoy winter with Macalester friends. I [also] enjoyed my classes. One I would highlight is Professor Hopper’s Science and Religion class. On the non-academic side, I remember some fun and intense games of Trivial Pursuit, as well as intramural broomball [and] winter snowball fights across Grand Ave. I also have fond memories of seeing my classmates in great costumes at the ‘Hennepin Avenue Party.’
Did you have favorite places to visit in the Twin Cities?
[Sure,] we would go downtown, sometimes we would go bowling — we liked going to the St. Clair Broiler for late night study breaks. We also went over to the Dinkytown area from time to time.
You are now the Executive Director of the U of M’s Office of Economic Development. Did any experiences from your time at Macalester hint at this direction?
I can see a link between each step on my academic journey and the specific responsibilities I have had in my career. My Macalester experience reinforced the importance of moving between disciplines, rather than staying solely focused within a discipline. Interdisciplinary engagement and bringing academic (U of M) and non-academic (industry and non-profit) groups together is a key component of my current job.
In addition to your current position at the U, you serve as Chair of the Academic Affairs Board Committee. What are some of the responsibilities of this Committee? How do you engage with faculty in this role?
The Academic Affairs Committee works with faculty, staff and students to ensure that the academic programs and infrastructure are of high caliber consistent with Macalester’s mission and purpose. In addition to the participation of the Committee members (faculty, staff, students and trustees), the Committee also invites presentations from faculty and students on a variety of academic topics.
Sitting on the Board is clearly a commitment. Can you tell us why are you serving on the Board of Trustees?
I serve on the Board because Macalester has been an important part of my life and because I care about the College’s continued success. I am proud of my family’s connection with Macalester (my father was on the faculty, my brother and I both graduated from Macalester, my husband — David Whitman — is also an ’85 grad, and my son Alex graduated in 2013).
Wow. How did your father teaching here affect your decision to attend Macalester?
I did not think I would attend Macalester because it seemed too familiar and close to home. However, I was thoroughly won over by my experience at a Macalester sampler weekend. I enjoyed seeing my father on campus from time to time. I even took a class from him — Intro to Art History — [and it was] one of the most challenging classes of my time at Macalester.
We know Mac reunions happen all over the place. Other than these Board meetings, where are some of the places you have reunited with Mac alums?
I have met several Mac alums who work at the University of Minnesota. I also knew several alums who work or [have] worked at Medtronic. I feel very fortunate to live close to campus and enjoy every opportunity of coming to campus to meet current students as well as alums.