University of Minnesota | Rochester

UMR CONNECTS - Free Professional Speaker Series

Click the video above to "Get To Know"

2014 themes include:

March ~ Law and Order
April ~ Wars and Conflicts
May ~ Food and Travel
June ~ Performing Live!
July ~ Arts and Communication
August ~ Invention
September ~ Spirituality and World Religion
October ~ Bioethics
November ~ Terrorism
December ~ Natural Disasters


Free Professional Speaker Series Events

- Every Tuesday at 7:00 pm -

(Downtown Rochester, MN)


Are you looking for something to do in Rochester on a Tuesday night? Please join us for these FREE Professional Speakers every Tuesday at 7:00 pm. You'll find us on 4th floor at University Square - University of Minnesota Rochester (downtown Rochester, MN). Get directions here.

UMR CONNECTS is committed to supporting the University's overall mission of public engagement and outreach by fostering connections between the University, its students, and those who live in or visit our community. In support of this, UMR launched a weekly professional speaker series for the Rochester community and visitors in 2011, entitled "UMR CONNECTS." The University of Minnesota Rochester strives to sustain an open exchange of ideas in an environment that embodies the values of academic freedom, responsibility, integrity, and cooperation. Please check the Google Calendar for up-to-date cancellation or location-change information, and contact Nick Anderson at 507-258-8053 or with any other questions.

Would you like to receive monthly updates about future speakers, and other happenings at UMR, via email each month? Sign up here!

Following a specific theme each month, this weekly professional speaker series will connect you to speakers, authors, panels, etc. on a variety of engaging topics. No pre-registration is required, and we hope you will join us!


2014 Schedule of Events
(Schedule is subject to change. * Denotes tentative information: final details still to come)
Would you like to easily add the UMR CONNECTS events you're interested in to your own Google calendar? Click here!
This page lists only UMR CONNECTS events. Please check the Event Calendar for other events taking place at the University of Minnesota Rochester.


April ~ Wars and Conflicts  


April 22 ~ "Lest We Forget": The Commemoration of World War I from Minnesota to the Western Front

Chris Gehrz, Ph.D, Professor of History and Department Chair, Bethel University

One hundred years ago this August, Europe descended into a war that would take the lives of over nine million soldiers, including 2 million Germans, 1.8 million Russians, and over 2,000 Minnesotans. Even before the guns fell silent in November 1918, people around the world struggled for appropriate ways to commemorate a war like no other. Should memorials be patriotic or personal? Religious or secular? Grand or intimate? And who would make those decisions? In this talk, we'll discuss a wide array of memorials, stretching from Minneapolis to Munich, and consider the enduring challenge and importance of war remembrance. 


April 29 ~ Rwanda: The Legacy of the Genocide

 Christie Nicoson, World Without Genocide

This year is the 20th anniversary of the genocide. This talk will explore issues of justice, economic development, political and press freedom, and the impact of Rwanda's genocide in neighboring Congo. 

World Without Genocide is a human rights organization headquartered at William Mitchell College of Law. World promotes education and action to protect innocent people, prevent genocide, prosecute perpetrators, and remember those whose lives and cultures have been destroyed by genocide.


May ~ Food and Travel


May 6 ~ Calories and Carbon Footprints: Well-travelled food

UMR students of Patrick Dean (School of Nursing) and Ryan Furness (Center for Learning Innovation, Spanish)

Attendees will be challenged to ponder and discuss environmental, as well as nutritional, aspects of foods that travel great distances versus those locally produced and taste foods from the People’s Food Co-op that travel near and far. This joint effort between the UMR Nursing and Health Sciences departments will bring current UMR students to share with the community. This event will examine the foods grown with the help of migrant workers, the effects of transporting foods over great distances, and a comparison of nutrient content of local and remote sources of fruits and vegetables. Imagine nursing students from UMR someday consulting with local farmers on the finer points of crop production, especially the nutrient content of vegetables and fruits from the consumer healthcare perspective. UMR students will present a video produced by BSHS and BSN undergraduates, as well as share their respective professional points of view on this topic of vital health importance. Along with this, UMR health sciences students who study Spanish, consult with Latino members of the Rochester community, educating them about diabetes, for example; especially among the migrant worker population.


May 13 ~ Sit Down for a Meal, Take a Stand for Hunger 

Professor Star Sage, University of Minnesota Rochester Student Association, Oxfam International

Starr Sage, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota Rochester where she designs and teaches public health courses. She has taught numerous courses on global health issues and has spent time in both West and East Africa examining the impact of various environmental factors on human health. Professor Sage believes there are several basic human rights to which all the world’s citizens should have access if they are to achieve and maintain good health. These include access to: education, safe housing, medical care, clean water, and food. Unfortunately, far too many of the world’s poor and marginalized populations do not have access to these fundamental resources. Ultimately large-scale efforts that focus on minimizing inequality and increasing access to resources are needed such that more people are empowered to improve their health statuses. Locally, as informed global citizens we should engage in conversations and efforts, such as the Sit Down for a Meal, Take a Stand Against Hunger event, which seeks to raise awareness about critical global health issues such as food insecurity and world hunger.


May 20 ~ The Minnesota Table: Savoring Local Foods Throughout the Season

Shelley Holl, Author and Illustrator, The Minnesota Table

Join author Shelley Holl as she discusses travel stories, recipes, and menu ideas that follow Minnesota's growing seasons. Travel along in spring, summer, fall, and winter to hunt morels, pick blueberries, winnow wild rice, and come nose-to-nose with yaks, elk, and bison. Shelley will also explore the rich history of food and travel in New Orleans and discuss the potential for taking pure flavors of fresh, local ingredients to now heights. 

Author and illustrator Shelley Holl is known for her creative use of material and socially-aware subject matter. Shelley's illustrated travel stories and essays have appeared in the Times- Picayune Newspaper of New Orleans, the Star Tribune
Newspaper of Minneapolis, Minnesota and in her books: Louisiana Dayride: 52 Short Trips from New Orleans, University Press of Mississippi, 1995 ; Waterbourne Witness - Elegies for My New Orleans, Lulu Press, 2008 and Minnesota: A Fare for All Seasons, published by Voyageur Press in 2010.



May 27 - A Cooking and Dining Adventure with Johnny Mango!

Johnny Mangouras, President, Cabernet Catering and Consulting

Join Johnny as he travels into the world of gourmet cuisine and shares his knowledge and passion for gourmet cooking with an emphasis on his Greek heritage. Johnny will educate about unique ingredients, and demonstrate how to create simple yet elegant dishes. In addition to food preparation, his class will also cover wine etiquette, food and wine pairing, proper glassware, and wine storage.

Growing up in a stereotypical Greek family, Johnny’s love of food began at an early age with his families restaurant business in Seattle, Washington. There he nurtured and cultivated his love of fresh food, and the realization of how central food and a special meal is to family and special moments in time. Johnny eventually ran the business before venturing into the private golf and five star restaurant worlds with membership sales, promotion, food and wine management, cellar development and all things considered exquisite food and wine.

Johnny views food and wine pairing as the cornerstone of any important dining experience.


June ~ Performing Live! (Outside, on the Peace Plaza)


 June 3 ~ Chorale Arts Ensemble 

               Chorale Arts Ensemble with Artistic Director Rich Kvam    

Founded in 1985, Choral Arts Ensemble (CAE) is a highly selective vocal ensemble of forty volunteer singers, all of whom are carefully selected for their musicianship and their ability to work together to promote our organizational mission; singers do not have tenure and must re-audition annually to perform with the ensemble. The singers of CAE are active community members from a wide variety of professions, all drawn together to create excellent music and contribute to the thriving arts community in and around Rochester and southern Minnesota, northern Iowa, and western Wisconsin.

In addition to its paid accompanist, CAE occasionally hires both professional instrumentalists and vocal soloists as dictated by programming needs. Choral Arts Ensemble holds a unique position and reputation in the area it serves. CAE is regarded as the region’s premier organization dedicated to the creation and performance of choral music of all eras and genres, including premiere performances of newly commissioned choral works. The organization has a strong history of audience growth and retention as well as a successful record of program expansion, while maintaining its reputation of excellence.

Artistic Director Rick Kvam has loved choral music his whole life, and holds music degrees from Harvard and Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Rick founded the Rochester Men’s Capella in 1982, the Choral Arts Ensemble in 1985, and the SE Minnesota Honors Choirs in 1992. He has won the Sally Ordway Award for arts initiative and the Mayor’s Award for artistic excellence. Married to accompanist Jan Kvam for 23 years, he has also worked for nearly 20 years as an emergency medicine physician at OMC hospital. 


 June 10 ~ Confessions of a Belly Dancer: Part II! 

Terri Allred and the International Dance Studio Troupe 

Have you ever wondered what it was like to be a professional belly dancer? Terri Allred will share the rich history, current interest and sometimes hilarious inside world of belly dance while she takes you on a visual journey through various styles of Middle Eastern dance. Egyptian cabaret, American Tribal Style, Fusion and Folkloric dance will come alive as you are lost in a world of costumes, swords, veils, and canes.

Sadiya (Terri Allred) and troupe Sadiya is the owner of Rochester International Dance Studio and Sadiya Belly Dance. She has studied dance for over 20 years focusing on Middle Eastern Dance in the last 10 years. She is a licenced Zumba and Zumbatomic teacher. She has also received her General Skills and Teacher Training from Fat Chance Belly Dance and is a Sister Studio to Fat Chance. She teaches several styles of Middle Eastern dance including Egyptian, American Tribal Style (TM), Tribal Fusion and Hula for adults, children and mother/daughter pairs. She also offers parties with women and children.  


 June 17 ~ An Evening of Shakespeare: Behind the Scenes with Shakespeare in the Park  

Kathy Kuhlmann and Word Player Theatre

Join the Word Player Theatre and cast from Shakespeare in the Park as they enact scenes from various Shakespeare plays, perform original music from upcoming productions, as well as incorporate audience members into the scenes!

Little did anyone know in 2004 when The Sign on Rosie's Door and a modern retelling of Aristophanes' The Birds were produced on the whim of a handful of homeschooled students in southeast Minnesota, that Words Players Theatre would be launched. For that two-part production, $200 was collected to pay a church for use of their basement. 

Since 2004, Words Players has offered an annual production that gave a younger crowd—ages 10 - 14—a chance to be on-stage in significant roles, as well as a production for a high school-aged cast. Springing from our emphasis on literature came the annual Original One Act Play Festival—plays written, directed, and acted by students—and the annual Thornton Wilder Short Play Festival.
Faced with a decision in 2007 to move forward or retreat, a newly formed steering committee decided on the former, and in 2009 we obtained non-profit status.

In 2010 Words Players Theatre performed its first Shakespeare in the Park event as part of a community summer festival. With the Shakespeare production, we now offer six distinctly different theatre experiences each year: a Junior and Senior Troupe musical; the Thornton Wilder Short Play Festival; Shakespeare in the Park; the Original One Act Play Festival; and a Christmas show. In addition, year 'round acting and literature classes are offered.


 June 24 ~ The United States Air Force Band Presents, "Max Impact: It’s America - On Tour”  

Max Impact 

Max Impact is the premier rock band of the United States Air Force. The band's six members perform exciting classic and current rock and country hits, as well as patriotic favorites and original music. 

Max Impact is one of the Air Force's most powerful, successful and highly-utilized strategic communication assets. At home or abroad, their high-energy performances assist in enhancing troop morale, building partnership capacities with local and foreign communities, increasing recruiting and retention efforts and inspiring patriotism using effective and powerful music.  


July ~ Arts and Communication (Outside, on the Peace Plaza)



 July 1 ~ Writer's in Conversation: A Poetry Reading and Discussion  

Matt Rasmussen 


Matt Rasmussen is the author of Black Aperture, which was selected by Jane Hirshfield as the winner of the 2013 Walt Whitman Award and was also a finalist for the National Book Award. His poetry has been published or is forthcoming in The Literary Review, Gulf Coast, Water~Stone Review, Paper Darts,, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of grants and residencies from the McKnight Foundation, Minnesota State Arts Board, Jerome Foundation, The Anderson Center, and The Corporation of Yaddo. He received a 2014 Pushcart Prize and is a founder and editor of the independent poetry press Birds, LLC. He lives in Robbinsdale, Minnesota.



 July 8 ~ A Song of Our Warming Planet  

Daniel Crawford 

Daniel Crawford is a composer, educator and student at the University of Minnesota who will be performing his renowned piece "Song for a Warming Planet", which interprets climate data into a musical score. He will share stories from his creative process and the power of using the arts to communicate science. 



 July 15 ~ Baptized in the Blues  

Annie Mack Band 

What do you get when you combine blues,roots,gospel,country and soul? A powerful and eclectic mix that makes up the rich layering that is the essence of Annie Mack. With a powerful voice, strong presence and captivating storytelling ability Annie Mack is a force to be reckoned with. Following in the footsteps of the Blues Women before her, she makes a genuine connection with her audience. She upholds the tradition of "Testifyin" about the experiences of Life. - See more at:



 July 22 ~ Collaboration with C4  




 July 29 ~ TBD


August ~ Invention  (Outside, on the Peace Plaza)


August 5 ~ TBD


August 12 ~ TBD


August 19 ~ TBD


August 26 ~ Mayo BioBank Presentation

BioBank Team


September ~ Spirituality and World Religion


October ~ Bioethics


November ~ Terrorism


December ~ Natural Disasters