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Carol Jo Kelsey, Cathy Konat, and Laurel Mallon at the Legislative Briefing

Carol Jo Kelsey, Cathy Konat, and Laurel Mallon mingle and share their stories at the 2008 Legislative Briefing.

Connecting alumni, spring 2008


More than 300 University alumni and friends gathered at the McNamara Alumni Center on campus January 23 for the annual Legislative Briefing, which unveiled details of this year's $225.5 million capital request. The cornerstone of the request is $100 million in Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement (HEAPR) funds to address safety and maintenance issues in the U's 800-plus buildings and 28 million square feet of building space.

The theme of the event was storytelling; attendees shared with one another their personal stories about why the University is important to them. President Bob Bruininks emphasized that the future of the state is intimately tied to the future of the University, and urged participants to tell legislators their stories about how the University has helped shaped their lives.

Visit the Web site for tips on telling your own story about why the U is important to you.


The University of Minnesota Alumni Association honored volunteers who made extraordinary contributions during 2007 at its annual volunteer awards celebration on October 30 at the McNamara Alumni Center.

Dan Kennedy (B.S. '99), of Mankato, Minnesota, was named Volunteer of the Year for his outstanding leadership of the new College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) Alumni Society. Pictured with Kennedy from left to right are UMAA Executive Director Margaret Sughrue Carlson (Ph.D. '83), University President Bob Bruininks, and alumni association National President Tom LaSalle (B.A. '72).


A discount on membership to the popular Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is one of many benefits of membership in the alumni association. This year the Arboretum is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a number of showcase events. The first of these, "Tree-ology," is an interactive exhibit celebrating the beauty and wonder of trees that opens May 24.


> A subscription to the award-winning Minnesota magazine

> Discounted University library borrowing privileges and free access to two University online databases that contain thousands of publications

> Special offers on tickets for football, basketball, and other Gopher sports

> Discounts at a variety of campus venues, including the Bell Museum of Natural History, the Weisman Art Museum, the Center for Spirituality and Healing, the Campus Club, and more

One-year, three-year, and life memberships are available. An envelope is attached to this issue for your convenience, or join online.

Supporting alumni programming at the University is a simple, effective way to support the U while staying in touch with its important work of teaching, research, and outreach. On the Twin Cities campus, members are the engine of the alumni association, one of the most widely known and respected advocates for the University.


For most Americans, olive products--table olives, tapenade, and extra-virgin oil--are primarily culinary. Indeed, the United States is the largest importer of olive oil outside of Europe, at 256,000 tons per year.

But that is only a small part of the olive world that Habib Essid (M.S. '74) knows. Since 2003, Essid (pictured on the January-February cover of Minnesota) has led the International Olive Council (IOC), a Madrid-based organization established by the United Nations that represents countries producing the majority of olive products in the world.

He served as executive director until November 2007 and is now head of the technical division, putting him at the center of the olive commodity market, a multimillion-dollar industry that is a source of income for more than 12 million people worldwide.


Minnesota is the award-winning magazine of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association. Visit the Web site to read a longer version of "For the Love of Olives" by Janice Cole and "Of Algae and Acrimony" by Tim Brady and other stories published in the January-February 2008 issue, including:

> a photoessay of the hospice program at Angola, Louisiana?s maximum security prison

> an interview with a University alumna and DNA expert

> a roundup of discoveries by University researchers

> a profile of the first Hmong American to earn a Ph.D. in history.

Members of the alumni association receive Minnesota six times a year. To receive a sample copy or to join, call 612-624-2323 or 800-862-5867 or visit the Web site.

Essid, with a degree in resource economics from the University of Minnesota, is fluent in the council's five official languages--Arabic, English, French, Italian, and Spanish--and sometimes must call on his considerable diplomatic skills to navigate tense situations between IOC member countries. For example, during the Lebanese-Israeli conflict of 2006, Lebanese farmers brought a complaint before the IOC accusing Israel of bombing their olive trees.

"The destruction of olive trees is absolutely forbidden [even during war]; many of them are thousands of years old," Essid explains.


Josephine Tilden, the first woman ever employed as a scientist at the University of Minnesota, in the late 1890s, founded the Minnesota Seaside Station on Vancouver Island and went on to become one of the world's leading scholars of algae, as well as a pioneering figure in the overwhelmingly male-dominated world of scientific study.

Tilden was farsighted in her understanding of the connections between algae and the life of the ocean. She also predicted future difficulties with oil spills.

"It is essential to prevent contamination of waters in large harbors by oil from ships," she told a Minneapolis newspaper. "The oil prevents the algae from securing the necessary air for life. Because seaweed forms the basis of all animal life of the sea, to destroy the seaweed would be ultimately to destroy fish life."


Alumni and friends of the University have the exceptional opportunity to hear firsthand from the researcher who recently created a beating heart in her U of M laboratory. Doris Taylor, Ph.D., will be the keynote speaker at the University of Minnesota Alumni Association 104th annual celebration on May 29.

Dr. Taylor and her team's discovery is a medical first and was heralded around the world. Alumnus Earl Bakken (B.S.'48), founder and long-time CEO of Medtronic and inventor of the world?s first wearable battery-powered pacemaker, will introduce Dr. Taylor, who holds the Medtronic Bakken professorship.

The celebration will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a reception and dinner on Northrop Mall. The program starts at 7:30 p.m. in Northrop Auditorium. Tickets are available for the dinner and program or the program only. Visit the Web site to order.