University of Minnesota Alumni Association

Up Front

Up Front

Stories from around the U

Through U of M Extension’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, research focuses on a number of subjects, including finding ways to build efficient, deep winter greenhouses that operate with a minimum of fossil fuel. Pictured here is one of five in the state, at Alternative Roots Farm near Madelia, Minnesota. Inside, owner Brooke Knisley tends boxes of luxurious greens in early February.
Photo Credit: Malwitz Photography

Alumnus Produces LGBTQ Documentary

Photo courtesy Joel Chiodi

Joel Chiodi (B.S. ’94), left, executive produced the four-part HBO Max series EQUAL about the Stonewall Uprising, which has been nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for best documentary.

The series, narrated by Billy Porter, star of the current television drama Pose, chronicles landmark events and leaders in LGBTQ history through archival footage and reenactments. EQUAL stars several actors including Samira Wiley, Jamie Clayton, and Anthony Rapp.

Chiodi, who graduated from what is now known as the Hubbard School of Journalism at the U of M, says, “Of all the things I have done, this is the thing that has brought me back to my roots at the U of M, where I came out and started my journey as a gay man. It has been a three-year labor of love chronicling the early pre-Stonewall uprising heroes of the LGBTQ movement.”

U of M Alumna Designs Award-winning Mask

Julia Duvall models the B2 mask she helped design.
Photo courtesy Breathe99

Julia Duvall (B.S. ’15, M.S. ’17), a graduate of the U of M’s College of Design, helped design a face mask called the B2 for the company Breathe99 that was named by Time Magazine as one of the best inventions of 2020, one of three mask designs selected in the article.

The magazine noted that the machine-washable, flexible, rubber-like face piece holds two replaceable filters that remove about 99.6% of particles.

Duvall, part of the product team who designed the mask, says “I would not have been able to do the work I am doing now without my time at the U of M, the connections I’ve made there, and the opportunities it has afforded me.”

The mask sells for $59.99 and filters are $7.99, available at

Report on UMPD, Public Safety Released

Photo courtesy Robin Wolfson Agency

After a multi-month investigation of perceptions of public safety on the U of M campus, in January consultant Cedric Alexander, left, an expert in law enforcement with over 40 years in public safety, released a 59-page report with his recommendations.

Alexander was hired last year to conduct interviews and listening sessions across the University about sentiments related to the University of Minnesota Police Department (UMPD). This occurred after some members of the University community expressed concerns about feeling unsafe on campus. Critics of the UMPD also became more vocal about the department after the death last spring of George Floyd.

Recommendations in the report fell into eight broad areas:

1) Strengthen trust and legitimacy;

2) Embrace procedural justice;

3) Differentiate and realign policing responsibilities;

4) Engage the U of M campus community in UMPD training;

5) Measure outcomes and impacts of these efforts;

6) Better use equipment and technology to improve safety and feelings of safety;

7) Improve community engagement in accountability and transparency;

8) Recognize the U of M as a role model in addressing police and safety reforms.

Alexander and his team gathered input from hundreds of students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff, and administration, as well as UMPD officers.

President Joan Gabel welcomed the report and promised to implement certain recommendations immediately, including equipping UMPD officers with body cameras; continuing regular meetings with the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul to keep communication lines open and to coordinate, as needed, on public safety issues; purchasing and distributing a campus safety app to all students, faculty, and staff; and transitioning Department of Public Safety/UMPD oversight to Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations Myron Frans.

Alumna Advises First Lady

Alumna Mala Adiga (M.P.H. ’97) has been appointed policy director to First Lady Jill Biden after formerly serving as a senior policy advisor to the Biden-Harris campaign and at the Biden Foundation.

Adiga previously served as deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for the Obama Administration. She is expected to help Jill Biden, a longtime teacher, focus on education-related issues.

In addition to holding a master’s in public health from the U of M, she holds a bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College in Iowa and earned her law degree from the University of Chicago.

End of an Era

Photo credit: Jack Rodgers/Minnesota Daily

For generations of U of M students, the Dinkytown McDonald’s was a familiar, comforting stalwart, particularly after late nights. However, after 57 years, the business has now closed and is slated to be demolished. Future plans for the site include an apartment complex.

$5M Grant for Racial Justice

A Minnesota Transform workshop with Minnesota Youth Story Squad codirector Kari Smalkoski and VISTA’s Srija Chatterjea-Sen, joined by local high school students.
Photo credit: Ben Hovland

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation recently awarded the U of M a $5 million grant to create more just and equitable futures for all through Minnesota Transform: A Just University for Just Futures. The grant will fund efforts around the University’s relations with Minnesota’s tribal nations. See other stories and resources about racial justice on the Alumni Association’s Addressing Racism website at

Read More