Humanitarian of the Year-Paul Langenfeld '89
Paul Langenfeld ’89, ’92 M.Div., who holds a bachelor’s degree in theology and a Master of Divinity, lives in St. Paul and works as a personal-care attendant for those who are disabled. He established the Langenfeld Foundation in 2006 to create opportunities in the areas of fishing, hunting, nature, sports and music for women and men with mental, physical and developmental disabilities.
His Hastings-based foundation grew out of an experience several years ago when he took two of his disabled clients hunting.
“I want to show the world what people with disabilities can do,” he said in a recent “On the Road With Jason Davis” interview on KSTP-TV. “We want to take the world’s thinking about disabilities and stand it on its head.” The “On the Road” segment followed two men with disabilities who went on a donated safari hunt in South Africa.
Last summer, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources partnered with the Langenfeld Foundation to conduct the state’s first hunting and firearm safety classes for young adults with special needs.
From 1993 to 2002, Langenfeld lived in a religious community of brothers and served as a youth pastor, pastoral minister and hospital chaplain in Indiana, Oregon and Minnesota.
Professor of the Year-Sister Katarina Schuth
Sister Katarina Schuth, who holds the Endowed Chair for the Social Scientific Study of Religion at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity of the University of St. Thomas, is this year’s Professor of the Year. The award recognizes excellence in teaching, scholarship and inspiration to students.
Recognized internationally as a leading expert on seminaries, Schuth came to St. Thomas in 1991 and chairs the university’s Faculty Senate.
Schuth, since 1960 a member of the Sisters of St. Francis, Rochester, teaches and does research in the fields of theological education and the relationship between the church and American culture. She holds five degrees, including a master’s and doctorate in cultural geography from Syracuse University. Her doctoral research took her to India where she studied literacy in rural villages.
She is the author of many articles and five books. Her most recent book, Priestly Ministry in Multiple Parishes (Liturgical Press, 2006), addresses the shortage of priests in the United States.
In a book about the faith of many Catholics, Yes I Am Catholic: How Faith Plays a Role in My Life by Beth Dotson Brown, Schuth talks about the importance of connecting with each of her students. “When I learn about some of their family situations and about their goals and aspirations in life, I have a more positive and more complete view of them and recognize the struggles many of them are having.”
Tommie Award-Dejen Tesfagiorgis
Dejen Tesfagiorgis was selected the 2008 Tommie Award winner by a vote of students, staff and faculty. The award has been given annually since 1931 to a senior who exemplifies the ideals of the university. The award recognizes scholarship, leadership and campus involvement.
Tesfagiorgis, of Madison, Wis., holds a 3.67 grade-point average and will graduate with a double major in music and business administration, with a concentration in entrepreneurship.
Principal saxophonist in the Symphonic Wind and Jazz Ensembles, he has served as vice president of the Band Club, peer tutor in the Music Department and a vice president of the Music and Entertainment Industry Student Association. He also has been a resident adviser in Ireland Hall and is in the Delta Epsilon Sigma National Honors Society and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.
The Aquin student newspaper on Feb. 22 carried a front-page story of Tesfagiorgis that said he “has an amazing work ethic, dedication to family, friends and colleagues, and general love for St. Thomas,” according to Doug Orzolek, the music professor and band director who nominated Tesfagiorgis for the award.
Monsignor James Lavin Award-Michael Thyken '83
Michael Thyken ’83, who holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and quantitative methods and computer science, received this year’s Lavin award honoring a volunteer for service to the St. Thomas Alumni Association.
Thyken served as the association’s president from 2003 to 2005 and has been involved in a host of alumni activities since his graduation. In addition to serving as the alumni representative on the university’s Board of Trustees from 2005 to 2007, Thyken has been involved with class reunions, First Friday lunches, community clean-up days, the President’s Council, William Finn Heritage Society, theater events and hockey alumni events.
Thyken, who also holds an M.B.A. from the University of Minnesota, is vice president of corporate information technology, Merrill Corp.
Note: You can submit your nominations via the Alumni Association site at www.stthomas.edu/alumni