Program News - Fall 2021

Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of all of us here in mortuary science at the University of Minnesota, we send to you our warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday season! It’s been a very busy fall for us and I am excited to share with you news of recent happenings this past semester.

Return to Campus:
We were thrilled to welcome back our students to campus this fall for their lecture courses. As you may be aware, students had to move to remote learning back in spring of 2020 as a result of COVID. Whereas we were able to maintain on-campus labs and funeral home-based clinical experiences over the past year and a half, all lecture work was delivered remotely, via Zoom. It’s been wonderful having students back on campus once again for all their courses.

Research into Licensure Policy Issues:
In collaboration with the MFDA Legislative Committee (of which I am a member), I began a research project in November to gather feedback from funeral service professionals about a number of policy issues related to the practice of mortuary science in Minnesota. As part of my research, I created a policy issue survey with input from MFDA Legislative Committee members. The survey was sent electronically, via email, to nearly 1,500 funeral service professionals. Over 400 people completed the survey, which is an excellent response rate! I am currently working on analyzing the data, and I will be hosting a webinar soon in which the results are presented to the public. If you participated in this research, thank you very much! I know MFDA will be working hard to use the data to advance mortuary science in Minnesota for the benefit of all funeral directors and the families we serve.

Networking Events:
In November we hosted our annual autumn on-campus networking event, which drew funeral service and allied professionals from across Minnesota and neighboring states. We hosted the event in our program classrooms, and over the course of half a day, both current students and alumni had a chance to meet one another and make connections with funeral directors and allied colleagues that will help them as they move forward in their professional endeavors. Please be advised that we are planning to host another networking event, to be held virtually via Zoom, in early 2022 so that folks who could not make it to campus in November will have the opportunity to meet one another remotely. More information will be emailed out to folks soon. Likewise, information about the event will also be posted on the Program’s website.

Outreach Activities:
We continue to engage in outreach activities to prospective students, both on campus, as well as at local high schools and other career exploration events. In late November, I - along with Miki Tufto and two program students - gave a presentation at Hopkins High School to a health science career explorations class. The students there had really great questions for us, and we were able to promote the profession of funeral service to them. Please reach out to me with any questions you may have about presenting to your local high school students. It’s incredibly important that we work together to share with high school students information about a career in funeral service. When we speak with students at these events, we find that many have never attended a funeral, and most do not know what mortuary science is. It’s so important that we work together to provide information to students about funeral service as they work to discern their career paths - especially while they are still in high school and actively exploring options for a college major.

New Instructors:
We are pleased to announce the addition of two new adjunct teaching specialists to our faculty. Denise Gochenouer will be teaching coursework in marketing and management, and Kendell Poch will be teaching accounting and finance related to funeral home business operations. Dr. Gochenouer is an Associate Professor of Marketing and MBA Director at Southwest State University (Marshall, MN) with demonstrated experience in higher education, research and the banking industry. Skilled in Brand Name development and Identity, Market Research, Segmentation, Consumption and Cultural Research, Advertising, Experiential Learning and Management. She earned her PhD in Sociology (Demography & Social Organization) from South Dakota State University, and also holds both a Masters in Management and a Bachelor's degree in Marketing.

Kendell Poch is a Senior Lecturer at the Carlson School of Management, and previously
served in various roles within the consulting industry, most recently in public accounting
at KPMG. She received both her MBA and MBT from the Carlson School. Kendell
shifted to a full-time faculty role in 2017 teaching undergraduate, MBA, and executive
education courses at the Carlson School, and she also serves as the undergraduate
coordinator for the accounting department. Kendell was a recipient of the outstanding
teaching award in 2019, the undergraduate faculty of the year award in 2020, and the
part-time and online MBA faculty of the year awards in 2021.

We welcome Denise and Kendell to the Medical School and Program of Mortuary
In closing, please know that all of us here in mortuary science send you our warmest greetings for a wonderful holiday season and Happy New Year. As always, we encourage you to visit our website for more information about program happenings: www/ I welcome your questions, comments and feedback - I can be reached at

Michael LuBrant
Program Director