High hopes for university grant from Gov. Rauner

By Melissa Rohman  

Since November, President Donna Carroll has been anticipating a grant awarded by former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.  Unfortunately, since the election of Bruce Rauner, the grant has been frozen. On Feb. 12, Carroll received a call from the office of Illinois Senator Don Harmon, who is advocating on Dominican’s behalf for the grant. Carroll is hopeful that Dominican will receive the money and said, “This is good news.” Many other private colleges and universities in the Chicagoland area are anticipating grants as well. In 2009, Gov. Quinn announced a new capital program for non-profit private colleges and universities in Illinois called the Independent Colleges Capital Program. The program appropriated $300 million to fund university projects. The funds come from the sale of Build Illinois Bonds, administered by the Illinois Board of Higher Education, not the state’s operating budget. The projects that the program will fund are those that can be implemented quickly such as construction, repair and renovation to private institutions in Illinois. Funds will be transferred to a new institution if not used within 10 years. Student Government Association president Cutberto Aguayo said: “About a month ago, Gov. Rauner issued Executive Order 15-08, which requires every executive department to report…every contract awarded or entered into by a state agency on or after Nov. 1, 2014 and to halt such grants or contracts. Executive Departments are to halt these awards until July 1, 2015.” According to Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Amy McCormack, who is managing the grant, Dominican was awarded a sum of $4,165,631 because it had met the grants eligibility requirements. The first distribution of the grant was made in 2010 and subsequently Dominican has received two more distributions, totaling $2,819,873. McCormack said, “The capital projects covered under the grant proposal for Dominican include the Sisters’ Garage Conversion (currently OMC offices), the Library Link and Soccer Field projects.” McCormack also said that the remaining funds of $1,345,758 are expected to be received in 2015 and will be used for the new Student Commons project which will likely begin construction in 2016, taking an estimated 16 months to complete. McCormack expressed hope that the remaining grant will come soon. “We had hoped to receive the funds before the end of 2014,” she said. “There is some additional paperwork that is required with the transition in the governor’s office. So while the funds have been delayed, we are still hopeful the money will arrive in 2015.”

Men’s volleyball team ranked in AVCA top 15 poll

By Marty Carlino

For the first time in the brief history of the program, the men’s volleyball team entered the American Volleyball Coaches Association top 15 poll. The Stars gained entry into the week 6 rankings, coming in as the 14th ranked team.

The Stars have continued improving since their initial ranking and moved up to the 12th ranked team in the latest edition of the poll. The team traveled to Massachusetts over spring break and won four out of their five games, including another win against a ranked opponent when they defeated the 13th ranked Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Stars defeated MIT in five sets, rallying back from a 2-1 deficit. The team now owns an overall record of 11-7 that includes an impressive 6-2 record within conference play and they now sit in second place in the MCVL standings behind conference frontrunner Carthage College. The Stars lead the conference in hitting percentage and also rank near the top of the conference in team assists and kills.

The team has answered tough challenges all season, already squaring off against 9 opponents ranked in the top 15 AVCA poll.  The Stars have already defeated four ranked opponents this season and they will look to add on to that total as they are slated to match up against another ranked opponent in their next match.

Adjunct band professor produces with big-name artists

By Emily Lapinski

In order to try to understand how adjunct band professor Anthony Svejda’s brain works on a daily basis, you have to imagine Percy Aldridge Grainger amped up with some electronic dance music (EDM) beats.

Whether performing, directing, teaching or producing, Svejda is always interacting with music. It all started in sixth grade when he chose an instrument to play in his middle school band. Svejda said: “The instrument that looked the most challenging was the Tenor Saxophone. The rest is history.”Anthony Svejda pic

Fast forward a few years and Svejda, fresh out of college with a master’s degree under his belt, starts developing his professional presence as a musician. During the 1998-1999 season, Svejda performed as Principal Alto Saxophonist with the Chicago Civic Orchestra. In December 1998, he won a position with the United States Navy Band in Washington, D.C.

After working as a band director in multiple schools, Svejda found his home at Oak Park and River Forest High School. He has been the band director there for ten years.

Svejda directs OPRF’s Wind Ensemble, Wind Symphony, Symphonic Band, Concert Band, Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Band II, Pep Band and the Marching Huskies. He works with students from all four years but really enjoys working with the freshman because: “you can see some immediate results and improvement and technique. It is great to see them feel like they have improved over the course of the year.”

Band director by day, mixer and producer by night, Svejda has broadened his musical horizons in the past few years and gained presence in the EDM world. His cousin Marc Stout, a resident DJ for Chicago’s B96 radio, got Svejda into the EDM scene.

Svejda said: “The dance industry was not a love of mine at first but as a music educator, it is important to keep up with the students’ interests.”

Svejda and Stout are the mixers and producers behind the group Papercha$er. They started the group as an outlet for their creative interests in EDM. Two years ago, the duo signed with an agency in New York called Primary Wave. Svejda said, “It was a cooperation that gave both my cousin and I more opportunities to work with well-known artists.”

Their mixes, which can be accessed on iTunes, YouTube, SoundCloud and Amazon, have been played on the radio worldwide. They have collaborated with artists such as Taio Cruz, Rihanna, Kelly Clarkson, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez and many more.

Svejda said: “J Lo actually used a part of our ‘On the Floor’ remix in her music video and the famous ‘Sunglasses at Night’ by Corey Hart was re-written as ‘Night Visions’ by Papercha$er featuring Corey Hart. He actually contacted our agent to work on the collaboration.”

While Svejda and his cousin enjoy remixing the works of well-known artists, they also want to produce more of their own work. Svejda said: “What we really would like to show is that we are capable of not just re-arranging their music but composing it as well. We would love to be the original producers of their music.”

Svejda’s successes in the faced-paced world of EDM are important to recognize; however, his classical roots are a bigger part of who he is. Svejda said: “My role as a remix artist and producer is more behind the scenes. If someone is interested, I will share information with them. It is a nice side gig but my main job is Director of Bands at OPRF.

Dominican University was privileged to have Svejda on campus as an adjunct last semester to work with the university’s budding band program. “I was the band director for a small 8-10 piece ensemble,” Svejda said. “I wouldn’t call it a band as it was more of a chamber music ensemble. The format was flexible which allowed us to work not just as a chamber music ensemble but as a pep band as well.”

Due to the lack of interest, Svejda is not on campus this semester. He said: “This was the first year that band was offered in a long time at Dominican. I would like to return in the event that the interest is there. The main issue is that students are booked and are not able to schedule band, even though they might be interested.”

Sophomore Jessica Patino, who played the flute in her high school band, said consistency is key when playing an instrument. Patino joined Dominican’s concert band during her sophomore year and said Svejda was “very patient” with the students who had not picked up their instruments since high school.

Patino said, “Even though our band consisted of eight or nine people, Svejda always found a way to make things work. He also gave us the opportunity to have the concert band experience because we were able to go play with his high school concert band. He is very fun, energetic, patient and professional. You can tell that he loves what he does.”

Regardless of the context, Svejda will always surround himself with music. He said: “I don’t see myself actually retiring from music. It is my life, my passion and simply what I love to do.”