University to honor five during Founders’ Day celebration

Posted On: 2022-03-02

In celebration of its heritage, Saint Mary’s University will present awards to our beatified alumnus, Blessed James Miller, FSC ’66, M’74, as well as one faculty member, one staff member, and two outstanding seniors at its annual Founders’ Day celebration Tuesday, March 15, on the Winona Campus.

Blessed James Miller will receive an honorary Doctorate in Educational Leadership posthumously, in recognition of his lifelong dedication (and ultimately tragic death) in service to the marginalized youth in his care. The recognition highlights Blessed James Miller’s devotion to youth in Central America at a time of great violence, pervasive injustice, civic unrest, and political turmoil, and his faithful and devout life as a De La Salle Christian Brother for 19 years prior to his death.

Paul Kotz, Ph.D., core professor in the Ed.D. in Leadership program, will receive the Distinguished Lasallian Educator Award. Presented each year, the award recognizes a member of the faculty, staff, or administration whose life of faith and service exemplifies the ideals of Saint John Baptist de La Salle. The award is given by Lasallian institutions like Saint Mary’s in the Lasallian Region of North America of the De La Salle Christian Brothers to honor contributions and commitment to the Lasallian mission of education. Kotz, a core professor in the Ed.D. in Leadership program who has worked at Saint Mary’s for a total of 18 years, is renowned for his kindness, his patience, his dedication, and his positive spirit — traits that he shares with students, colleagues, and through his many involvements and written works. A sought-after adviser and mentor, Kotz models the Lasallian charism in his interactions.

Deb Nahrgang, senior director of communication, will receive the Bishop Heffron Award. The Heffron award — named after the founder of Saint Mary’s University — is awarded every other year to an employee who has contributed positively to the life of the university, has demonstrated a long-term commitment to the values of the university, and has been a model of the Lasallian spirit in interactions with colleagues and students. Nahrgang has served the university faithfully and tirelessly for 18 years. She demonstrates, through her work and her interactions with other employees and with students, a deep commitment to respect for all persons and to our mission of ethical leadership and service. Her bright smile and infectious laugh lighten the load of many employees and are a source of inspiration for many.

At this event, Saint Mary’s also announces its Outstanding Male and Female Seniors. Outstanding Seniors have demonstrated the ideals of scholarship, character, leadership, service to colleagues and the university community, as well as genuine concern for the needs of others. Nominees include: females, Mary Furlong, Jordan Keeley, Terra Lieser, Jordan Modjeski, and Destiny Walker; males, Jack Hatton, Jonathan Krull, Trevor Paradise, Angel Sacta Espinoza, and Elijah Williams.