St. Thomas Day

University honors five at annual St. Thomas Day

Daniel Anderson ’50 wanted to go to college so he wouldn’t have to work as a laborer.

People constantly tell Anne Harris ’87, "I could never do what you do."

Jerry Alfveby ’56 planned to be a pilot but ended up as a judge.

John Kemper said, "If there are faculty who treat their jobs as 9-to-5 obligations, I don’t know them."

Nicole Zwieg ’01 is the eighth woman to win the Tommy Award since it began in 1931.

The St. Thomas community gathered March 3 to celebrate its annual St. Thomas Day and to honor recipients of its Humanitarian, Distinguished Alumnus, Professor of the Year, Tommy and Monsignor James Lavin awards.

St. Thomas Day events began with a Mass in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas. It was celebrated by Archbishop Harry Flynn, chair of the university’s board of trustees. (It was 83 years ago on St. Thomas Day of 1918 that the first Mass was celebrated in that chapel.)

A dinner and awards program followed in Murray-Herrick Campus Center. The awards were presented to:

Distinguished Alumnus — Daniel Anderson ’50, Ph.d., of Taylors Falls, president emeritus of the Hazelden Foundation, received this year’s award. Established in 1971, it is presented for leadership and service to the university, to the community and in the person’s field of endeavor.

Anderson served in the Army during World War II. After graduating from St. Thomas, he attended Loyola University in Chicago, the Yale School of Alcohol Studies and the University of Ottawa, where he received his doctorate in clinical psychology.

"St. Thomas accepted me in 1946 despite a very bad high school record," he said. "At the time, following World War II, my world view was generally negative about everything. I questioned not only religion, but science, society and the military. I wanted to go to college only because I didn’t want to be a laborer.

"St. Thomas courses in philosophy gradually turned me around, and courses in psychology got me interested in mental illness. Without question, without St. Thomas I would not have found such a fulfilling career as a clinical psychologist."

Anderson is one of the founders of the "Minnesota Model" of alcoholism treatment. He began his association with the Hazelden Foundation in 1956 as a psychologist, consultant and lecturer. He joined Hazelden fulltime as director and vice president in 1961, and served as its president from 1971 until his official retirement in 1986.

"Hazelden’s outstanding reputation in the field of chemical dependency is due principally to the leadership of Dr. Anderson," said his biographer, Dr. Damian McElrath, who accepted the award. Anderson was unable to attend because of illness.

Anderson had a pre-eminent role in "raising the national level of consciousness that alcoholism … was an identifiable illness. His goal was to have Hazelden respond wherever there was a pressing need, helping underserved populations, young people, women, people of rural areas, senior citizens and native Americans."

Humanitarian of the Year — Anne Harris ’87, of St. Paul’s Hamline-Midway neighborhood, was recognized for her work as director of the Dorothy Day Center in downtown St. Paul. Established 32 years ago, the Humanitarian of the Year award is presented by the university’s Alumni Association.

Harris graduated from the Convent of the Visitation High School. At St. Thomas, she majored in business administration and sociology, participated in the Volunteers in Action program, and worked fulltime waiting on tables. She also did service work in Colorado and Guatemala.

"Who knew all that would come in so handy," she said. "I learned to deal with chaos and multiple-tasking." The Dorothy Day Center serves 1,000 meals a day, provides shelter for 125 each evening and operates a food shelf, medical clinic and employment resource center. Some 800 volunteers help with Dorothy Day Center programs.

Harris has worked with Catholic Charities since 1989 and has directed the Dorothy Day Center since 1995. "This is a wonderful place to be able to work," Harris said when accepting her award. "Dorothy Day provides a sense of belonging for so many people … we try to build a community where no one is left behind."

"People constantly say to me, ‘I could never do what you do.’ If I had a nickel for every time someone said this to me, I could personally finance the housing developments necessary to address the critical housing shortage in the Twin Cities.

"Often people come to the Dorothy Day Center and look in from afar. It’s like working in a fishbowl … you can look but you can’t touch. Poverty keeps people at a distance because they fear the unknown and they fear the stereotypes. Yet on good days, people stop in and are able to see the total person, full of stories, history and hungry for love and a sense of belonging. We need more good days."

Professor of the Year — John Kemper, Ph.D., of St. Paul’s Mac-Groveland neighborhood and a member of the Mathematics Department since 1976, was this year’s Professor of the Year. The 40-year-old award recognizes excellence in teaching, scholarship and inspiration to students.

Kemper, 56, has taught more than 2,500 St. Thomas students. A native of San Francisco, he earned his bachelor’s degree and doctorate in mathematics from Rice University in Houston.

Before joining St. Thomas, he taught at New York University, the City University of New York, and the University of Minnesota, where he was involved in mathematical research related to the spread of infectious diseases.

Kemper, who chaired the Mathematics Department from 1983 to 1994, helped lead the development of the university’s award-winning Science and Mathematics for Elementary Education program. Now an undergraduate major, the interdisciplinary program prepares students to teach at the grade-school level.

Kemper, who helped plan the Frey Science and Engineering Center, says St. Thomas has been attracting outstanding math students. With the advent of computers, students enter college with a more sophisticated background in technology. "It makes for a much richer teaching environment," Kemper said. "The problems we work on are more realistic now. We’re not limited by our capacity to compute things.

"My students might tell you I ask them to do a lot," he said. "I want them to work on problems that are difficult and challenging, and I hope that when they leave, they do so with confidence to attempt things in their lives that also are difficult and challenging."

Accepting his award, Kemper thanked his colleagues, noting, "If there are members of the faculty who treat their job as a nine-to-five obligation, I don’t know them."

Monsignor James Lavin Award — Gerald Alfveby ’56, of St. Paul’s Highland Park, received the award. Established in 1994, the award honors a volunteer for service to the St. Thomas Alumni Association.

Alfveby, now retired, was a family court judge with Ramsey County District Court. In addition to his alumni service, he has been active with judicial organizations, archdiocesan committees and the Friends of the Orphans.

Alfveby has served on the university’s alumni board and co-chaired his 40 year class reunion. He volunteers his time on several alumni committees, helps at homecomings and even helped design the St. Thomas afghan.

"Life has a way of taking you where you didn’t plan to go," he said when accepting his award. "I was told by the Air Force ROTC that I would be accepted into the pilot training program. Then the Air Force changed the program to desk pilot training. ... I graduated with a political science major, then went on to law school. Having spent 30 years in family court in St. Paul, I can say that where life took me, I’m happy to have gone.

"St. Thomas taught me many things, such as the importance of making a lifelong commitment … to education and being of service to others starting with your family, your church and your community. So I ask: why should one be honored for having fun? My life is surrounded by persons I love: my family and my friends, and the projects I love."

The Tommy Award — Nicole Zwieg ’01, of St. Michael, Minn., was selected the 2000 Tommy Award winner by a vote of students, staff and faculty. The award, given annually since 1931 to a senior who exemplifies the ideals of the university, is sponsored by The Aquin and the Alumni Association.

Zwieg is the eighth woman to receive the honor since St. Thomas became fully coeducational in 1977.

Zwieg has been active in a host of St. Thomas organizations and committees. She has served on the All College Council for three years and this year is its president. Zwieg is a double major in business administration and journalism-public relations, holds a 3.8 grade point average and will graduate summa cum laude.

A graduate of Buffalo Senior High School, she is the daughter of Ron and Nancy Zwieg. She said that she learned the values of sincerity, compassion, hard work and integrity from her family.

"I thank my extended family for wonderful memories and life-lasting relationships at St. Thomas," Zwieg said. "I thank you for the lessons you have taught me, inside and outside of the classroom and the fun we had learning them. I thank you for the strong faith, tradition and the opportunity to be associated with and involved in such an exemplary institution built on academic excellence, community service and the entrepreneurial vision we are so proud of.

"I always say ‘I love St. Thomas!’ I have been teased by many who say, ‘Oh, Nicole, you are a St. Thomas lifer.’ And I know they are right."