Perspectives, news, and announcements from the Center that will ignite your passion for wellbeing.

Wellbeing for All Campaign, Major Gifts Guide the Bakken Center's Future

December 10, 2018

By Dianne Lev

A beautiful September weekend gave me the chance to enhance dimensions of my personal wellbeing, informed by the Center’s Wellbeing Model (at right). Biking (Health) in Door County was something I had looked forward to since spring (Purpose), and riding in glorious weather on back-country roads (Environment) with ten compatriot cyclists (Community) created an amazing fall experience. Adventuring, eating, laughing, and working together permitted me to deepen bonds and make new friends (Relationships). That’s five out of the six Wellbeing dimensions, Security being the other.

All weekend, I felt secure, led by our trip leaders and surrounded by my companions. I also enjoyed the presence of a classic symbol of security—the lighthouses we viewed while bicycling around the tip of Wisconsin’s peninsula, and ferrying to and from Washington Island. They were majestic—distinctive in location and design. Each one stood out in a unique setting, poised for duty to guide ships on Lake Michigan.

My attraction to lighthouses is not random. I’ve long had a passion for ports and maritime lore (“Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”). A photograph of the Sand Island Lighthouse in the Apostle Islands, taken by Center Senior Fellow Craig Blacklock, calls to me each time I look at the cover of the Spring 2017 issue of Mandala. A print of his photo hangs prominently in the home of Center founder and director, Dr. Mary Jo Kreitzer.

As I cycled, a metaphor began to take shape—lighthouses…the photograph…Mary Jo…the Center. I played with the notion of the Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing as a lighthouse, standing confidently with beacons of wellbeing light streaming out into the world. The lighthouse offers a helpful image to describe several recent developments that have made our work more solid and relevant than ever. So join me in exploring this metaphor of the Center as a lighthouse.

In 2017, we announced Earl Bakken’s legacy gift devoted to strengthening the Center’s foundation. Our lighthouse now has a sturdy base, able to withstand storms and steadfastly advance wellbeing efforts. The foundation of a lighthouse often contains a cellar where provisions can be stored for times of scarcity; the Center’s endowment serves a similar purpose. In terms of our Wellbeing for All campaign, this secure base addresses our strategic priority to grow sustainably into a bright future.

A lighthouse’s ground level and second story include spaces where the lighthouse keeper works and lives—an oil room, a gallery with maps and tracking devices, a kitchen, and sleeping quarters. In the metaphor, these rooms stand for the Center’s three other campaign priorities:

1) Transformational Learning, 2) Research and Discovery, and 3) Strategic Innovation — all areas where our work is done.

1) Learning — Each year, I am awed by the thousands of academic and community learners that explore and grow through the Center’s courses, workshops, and events. In 2018, the Center’s graduate education program was strengthened through a legacy gift from University professor emeritus, Dr. A. Marilyn Sime, who passed away two years ago. Dr. Sime valued the Center’s commitment to create courses and workshops that permit professionals with diverse perspectives to come together and learn in transformational ways.

2) Research — Center faculty currently lead four studies funded by the National Institutes of Health that will generate new evidence about integrative therapies, mindfulness, and the healing power of community. A grant from the NCMIC Foundation now supports two integrative research fellows, expanding the Integrative Health & Wellbeing Research Program’s capacity. NCMIC’s remarkable leaders understand that the care we provide for people with painful chronic conditions will change only when health providers are presented with compelling evidence about integrative healing practices and patients’ abilities to take charge of their health.

3) Innovation — The Center is adept at incubating ideas. To advance emerging innovations, we have relied on seed grants from forward-thinking philanthropists. This was true for the Mindfulness in Education and Nourishing Minnesota initiatives, and we are grateful to those efforts’ early supporters (described in previous issues of Mandala). Yet entrepreneurial ventures take time to gain traction and prove their merit, and it’s been challenging to secure grants that will sustain the work for the long term. Proactively addressing this dilemma, the Center established a Strategic Innovation Fund that can be tapped at pivotal junctures when an initiative needs an infusion of resources beyond what has already been secured. A timely gift from the estate of Dr. Mary Goepfert this year gives the Fund a solid balance for advancing innovation and taking worthwhile strategic initiatives to scale. The full story about Dr. Goepfert’s legacy appears on page 7.


A lighthouse’s uppermost level contains a lantern room, where its spotlight generates an essential focal point for all to see. In the Center metaphor, the lantern is Dr. Kreitzer. Her view sweeps the landscape, and her leadership becomes a beacon when piloting innovations or mentoring students, staff, and faculty. We are honored that Dr. Goepfert’s estate also established the Center’s endowed Leadership Chair in Integrative Health & Wellbeing. Dr. Kreitzer will be the first to hold this prestigious title, and the Chair will be in place to support the work of future visionary directors.

Like lighthouses on the Great Lakes, the Bakken Center is grounded, resilient, and positioned to lead ably in these dynamic times. New resources to support our foundation, emerging strategic priorities, and the Center director role now empower our leaders to take on new challenges and explore horizons to better understand how individuals, organizations, and communities can flourish. It’s now our time to stand tall and shine the light. +++



With our Wellbeing for All campaign, the Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing is proud to contribute to the larger University of Minnesota’s Driven campaign. Both multi-year efforts are successfully on pace toward their goals—ours of $12 million and $4 billion at the University level. More importantly, these campaigns are accomplishing exactly what they set out to do—focus priorities, secure game-changing private support, and ready this remarkable enterprise of higher education, research, and public engagement to address the global challenges of today and tomorrow.

For the Bakken Center, the Wellbeing for All campaign has generated an excitement and momentum to advance beyond our goal and continue working intensely on several fronts. First, building on NCMIC’s formative gifts, we have set out to establish the nation’s first Integrative Health & Wellbeing Research Fellowship Program. We will train the brightest, most passionate, emerging researchers to rigorously study benefits of mindfulness, physical movement, integrative healing practices, and self-care so that, with credible evidence, people can confidently enhance their lifestyle choices and overall wellbeing.

Second, we will continue to pursue strategic Wellbeing initiatives and opportunities, and take those that have proven their merits—like Mindfulness in Education—to a larger scale. The future calls for the Center’s expert teams to utilize their insights and skillsets to impact more individuals, workplaces, and communities. We’ll use far-reaching educational technology as well as the strengths and capabilities of trained leaders in their own clinics, schools, businesses, and nonprofits. Read more about these innovative educational approaches in the story on page 18.

As we head toward the Bakken Center’s 25th anniversary in 2020, I invite you to join in the Wellbeing for All campaign! Each one of our priorities will advance due to your contribution of any amount. I look forward to discussing your passions soon—now could be a perfect time to plan a year-end gift that makes a difference in ways that matter most to you!

Please contact me at or 612-624-1121.


autumn18 mandala cover

Mandala is a biannual magazine produced by Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing. It captures the core aspects of the Center: reflection, transformation, spirituality, creation, and the ongoing journey that continues to shape what we are to become.

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