New and Improved USM

Back to School - New and Improved USM Saint Mary students return to campus for the 2015 school year to a new and improved USM.

In the fall of 1964, Saint Mary College opened a new dormitory. “Those of us who began as freshmen in ’64 had the opportunity of beginning the new step in our lives as the first residents of Maria Hall,” said Sue Gonderinger Schoenfelder, C’68. “We were the first to have memories of Maria. We were excited.”

Forty years later, our students feel this same excitement.

Among the upgrades: what was once just grass is now a state-of-the-art track; promises of new hangout space have materialized into a fire pit, updated Dragon’s Den, and lounge; and students interested in Communications now have the opportunity to major in this versatile field.

“Creating the best student experience is our goal,” said Sr. Diane Steele, president. “When students feel supported, appreciated, and challenged, success is inevitable.

“As Saint Mary continues to grow, so do the needs and expectations of our students and our university community. We’re called to respond and adapt. And we have. Our past is strong and our future is even stronger.”

Food Court and Dining Hall Preliminary Drawing

New Food Court at USMWhat’s Cooking?

Fresh food, fellowship, and options—three priorities of the Saint Joseph Dining Hall renovation.

“We want the entire Saint Mary community—undergrads, commuters, and grad students—to feel welcome at the table,” said Dr. Dan Dentino, vice president for student life. “The contemporary food court will be the perfect place to strengthen our close-knit community, and it will absolutely enhance the USM student experience.”

1. Kitchen:

Out with the old and in with the new—the kitchen is getting a much-needed makeover. Shiny new ovens, sparkly new energy-efficient refrigerators, and a streamlined dish return that separates trash from recyclables.

2. Choices:

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner—students will have plenty of options to choose from at the food court. Prepared-to-order entrees, pizza, deli sandwiches, comfort foods, soup and salad bar, plus an exhibition-style chef’s stage.

3. Extended Hours:

On top of extending its hours, the food court will offer a grab ‘n go area—great for mid-day snacks or meals during off hours. And though students can use cash to pay for their eats, the new OneCard (see below for details) will be the ideal way to pay.

4. Community:

Meals bring people together, and the new food court will do just that. Saint Joseph Dining Hall is being transformed into an updated gathering space with all-new decor.

“I like Saint Joseph’s retro chairs and lights, but I’m really looking forward to next semester when we have the new space,” said USM Senior Anthony Payton. “I hang out in there a lot already— sometimes meals are the only time I have a chance to catch up with friends.”

Additional Campus Changes

New Academic Programs:

Applied Mathematics:

New Academic Programs at USMStudents choose from one of three tracks: pre-engineering, pre-actuary, and operations research/IT.

Saint Mary now offers a 3+2 engineering program in partnership with the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). Students take their core mathematics courses at USM, and as a junior apply to UMKC. After two years at UMKC, students are awarded a Bachelor of Science in either Civil Engineering or Mechanical Engineering and a USM Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics.

USM’s coursework comprehensively prepares students to analyze statistical data like mortality, accident, sickness, disability, and retirement rates, while also constructing probability tables to forecast risk and liability. Graduates will be ready to sit for the Society of Actuaries exam—positioning them for success in a field that’s consistently rated as a best job in America for its work environment, employment outlook, job security, salary, and growth opportunity.

Operations Research/IT:
USM teaches students how to collect and analyze data, while also ensuring optimal strategy implementation, evaluation, and review. It’s a combination of applied mathematics and information technology to create models for developing and interpreting information that help in decision making, policy, and other managerial functions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, operations-research occupations are projected to grow 27 percent over the next decade.

Special Education
Saint Mary received approval from the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) to offer a gifted education program. Starting this fall, USM will offer two Masters of Special Education concentrations: High Incidence (formerly Adaptive) and Gifted Education—one of the few on-ground programs of its type in the state of Kansas. The Education program also revised its curriculum to match the new KSDE high incidence special education standards.

Digital Communications
Once an interdisciplinary concentration, students now have the opportunity to major in Communications. Students will take required Communications courses and choose additional coursework in Art, Computer Information Systems, Business, and Sport Management. The program has a strong focus on writing in the always-changing digital media landscape, adding new courses like “To Tweet or Not to Tweet” and a digital humanities course, both emphasizing the global reach of communications.

Human Biology
USM has a new partnership with Cleveland University-Kansas City (CU-KC) giving students interested in pursuing a Doctorate of Chiropractic Medicine a new path. After just three years of coursework as a Human Biology major at Saint Mary, students can apply to CUKC with the required prerequisites. Upon acceptance into CU-KC’s program, students transfer and begin their studies in chiropractor school. After completing their first year at CU-KC, 31 hours of credit are transferred back to USM, and students are awarded a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology.

OneCard System:

New OneCard System at USMThe Student ID is now more powerful than ever. Students need their ID to enter most buildings, and with the push of a button the entire campus can go on lockdown—making campus more secure than ever.

Students (and their parents) will also be able to add Campus Cash to their new ID card.

Campus Cash can be spent in the Spirit Shop, at the concession stand, and at the grab ‘n go area in the food court once renovations are complete.


New STEM options at USMApplied Mathematics majors (along with Biology, Chemistry, and Mathematics majors) can earn a STEM scholarship worth up to $10,000 per year. Students are also invited to participate in a unique scholars program, including:

  • Research opportunities
  • Monthly lectur e series with STEM industry leaders
  • GRE pr eparation (for those considering grad school)
  • Participation in pr ofessional STEM confer ences
  • An annual USM r esearch forum
  • STEM field trips every semester
  • STEM inter nship opportunities

Residence Hall Updates:

Residential Leadership at USMSaint Mary has a new Residential Leadership Program. Student leaders will work with Student Life staff to develop and promote fun residence hall programming, while also working to attract more students to live on campus their sophomore, junior, and even senior year (already up 12 percent from last year).

Students living in Maria Hall will notice the hallways have been freshened up with a coat of paint (thanks to the volunteer work of 25 Saint Mary faculty and staff members this summer), and the main lounge and Dragon’s Den have also been updated with new furniture and a whole new layout that welcomes group studying, floor meetings, and hangouts.

De Paul Library:

New Features at USM's De Paul LibraryDe Paul Library is now equipped with a second television-collaboration station. This setup allows students to practice group and/or PowerPoint presentations before the big day with the same technology that’s used in the classroom.

The library is also working to digitize our impressive Bernard H. Hall Abraham Lincoln Collection and Sir John and Mary Craig Scripture Collection.

USM was selected as one of 42 colleges by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) to be a member of the Consortium on Digital Resources for Teaching and Research. Through the use of SharedShelf, a cloud-based uniform digital platform for cataloging, member colleges will be able to store, preserve, and share hidden or lesser-known collections. Digital images, documents, audio and video files, and other types of materials will be more easily searchable—improving teaching and learning, enriching faculty and student research, and streamlining administrative capabilities.

“This is exciting for us,” said Danielle Dion, director of USM’s De Paul Library. “The grant allows us to create a digital repository and will enable us to establish connections and build partnerships with other institutions that have similar collections.”

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  1. Fall 2015 | Aspire Magazine

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