UNO Alum — Summer 2009

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Summer 2009

A new era in Athletics

UNO creates a buzz with the hiring of former Husker Trev Alberts to lead the Mavs ALSO INSIDE: • Twords of Twisdom for UNO’s incoming frosh • UNO students studying Internet worms • A 7-footer comes to campus


Summer 2009

College News CFAM






Arts & Sciences






A look at Classical 90.7 FM and UNO TV. The doctorate class of 2009. Good advice from Advisors. Spring award recipients. Coaches in the classroom.

College honors distinguished alumni.

Abuzz over Alberts

UNO Alum Magazine, Summer 2009

Page 16

Editor: Anthony Flott Contributors: Ed Carlson, John Fey, Tim Fitzgerald, Warren Francke, Sian Kennedy, Greg Kozol, Shannon Lauber, Chris Machian, Tom McMahon, Eric Olson, Nick Schinker, Kalani Simpson, Wendy Townley.

Cover Photo by Tim Fitzgerald/University Relations



Twords of Twisdom


The Paperless Pusher


The Class of 2009 Tweets its advice to incoming freshmen — in 140 characters or fewer.


Maury Pepper makes waves with his software that digitizes medical records.

Plains, Trains & Automobiles


Just Curious


Tall Tales


Galen Lillethorup made his mark with some of Omaha’s best-ever advertisements.


From harnessing the sun to forecasting S&P 500 winners and losers, John Geppert remains ever-inquisitive. UNO basketball recruit Jake Anderson hits campus this fall at 7-foot tall — and he’s still growing.



Alumni Association Officers: Chairman of the Board, Mark Grieb; Past Chairman, Rod Oberle; 1st Vice chair, Kevin Munro; 2nd Vice Chair, Laura Kapustka; Secretary, Patricia Lamberty; Treasurer, Dan Koraleski; Legal Counsel, Martha Ridgway Zajicek; President & CEO, Lee Denker. Alumni Staff: Lee Denker, President & CEO; Julie Kaminski, Staff Assistant; Elizabeth Kraemer, Activities Coordinator; Greg Trimm, Alumni Center Manager; Anthony Flott, Editor; Maria Malnack, Business Manager; Loretta Wirth, Receptionist. The UNO Alum is published quarterly by the UNO Alumni Association, W.H. Thompson Alumni Center, UNO, Omaha, NE 68182-0010, (402) 554-2444, FAX (402) 554-3787 • web address: • Member, Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) • Direct all inquiries to Editor, (402) 554-2989. Toll-free, UNO-MAVALUM • email: • Send all changes of address to attention of Records. Views expressed through various articles within the magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the University of Nebraska at Omaha or the UNO Alumni Association.

Citation award presented; December trip offered.


New Advancement Agreement to strengthen university. A concluding history timeline. News from abroad — and close to home

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Summer 2009 • 3

Letter from the


Dear Alum:


s with many of you, I suspect, summer is a time for making improvements or repairs on our homes and landscaping. The UNO family, too, and particularly our facilities management and planning staff, is staying very busy this summer with a variety of projects, all designed to serve students, faculty and staff better. In this edition of the Alum, I thought I’d update you on the major projects we’re undertaking, in preparation for what is shaping up to be a robust enrollment in the fall.

The Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER) addition and renovation continues, having broken ground last October. This exciting project will build both capacity and functionality into the heavily used HPER Building though improved recreation facilities, a more attractive atrium entrance and relocation of Student Health from the Milo Bail Student Center. Studies show that recreation facilities are among the amenities students consider when selecting a college or university, and the nearly 30-year-old HPER Building was due for a facelift. When completed in August 2010, this project will significantly improve our capacity to help students maintain a healthy lifestyle. Construction is being funded through increased HPER membership and student fees. Mammel Hall, being constructed on the Pacific Street campus, will be the new home of our College of Business Administration and will add significant square footage for classrooms, labs and offices for this growing college. At present, the foundation work is done, and steel erection is underway (see photo at right). Truly modern in design, Mammel Hall will complement the existing Peter Kiewit Institute, creating new synergies between the College of Information, Science and Technology (IST) and CBA. Privately funded, Mammel Hall is expected to open in time for Fall 2010 classes. The Milo Bail Student Center (MBSC) continues to undergo modernization and renovation as part of a project that began last summer to update the building’s interior spaces. Last summer, bold colors invigorated walls and carpets on the second and third levels, while this 4 • Summer 2009

summer’s project will renovate the heavily used Ballroom and Maverick Food Court. The original structure was built in 1958 at a cost of $1.3 million. Five decades later, MBSC continues to be a hub of student activity and a focal point of campus life. This summer’s projects will be completed by the opening of classes this fall. Renovation of Annex 24 (Hayden House) will be the new “front door” of the campus, combining the offices of Student Recruitment Services and the Welcome Center in one separate location. Formerly housing the administrative functions of the College of Public Affairs and Community Service (CPACS), the project will create a welcoming environment for prospective students and their families to begin campus tours and orientation and to learn more about UNO with easy access to parking and a view of residential housing. Annex 24 will be ready for occupancy in January. On the drawing board, plans continue for the creation of a University Life Complex on the Center Street campus, as well as breathing new life into Roskens Hall and Kayser Hall. When the College of Business Administration moves into Mammel Hall, the College of Education will move to Roskens, for the start of fall classes in 2011. At the time of this letter, the NU Board of Regents will consider the project’s program statement at their June meeting. If approved, this move will clear the way for the planning and renovation of Kayser Hall, currently the home of the College of Education. This building is envisioned as a Community Engagement Center, to facilitate UNO’s many partnerships and linkages within the metropolitan community. Construction may begin in 2011, with completion set for Fall 2012. As we begin our second century of service, UNO is wasting no time preparing for the future needs of the next generation of students. These projects, and others not yet envisioned, keep UNO a vibrant, modern and inviting place for current students, and you our alumni, to call home. Please visit often. Until next time,

John Christensen, Chancellor UNOALUM

Campus Scene Photo by Tim Fitzgerald/University Relations

Mammel Hall, the College of Business Administration’s new home is rising on the Pacific location of UNO’s campus in preparation for its opening at the start of the 2010-11 academic year.

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Summer 2009 • 5

Alumni Association in Action Citation issued to Boy Scout executive


he UNO Alumni Association bestowed its Citation for Alumnus Achievement upon UNO graduate Lloyd Roitstein during UNO’s commencement May 8. The Citation, inaugurated in 1949, is the association’s highest honor, encompassing career achievement, community service, involvement in business/professional associations, and fidelity to UNO. Association Chairman of the Board Mark Grieb presented the award to Roitstein, the 149th Citation recipient. Roitstein, who earned a degree in education in 1971, is scout executive/president of the MidAmerica Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the largest youth-serving agency in Nebraska with oversight of nearly 34,000 youngsters in 58 counties in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota. The council is among the nation’s largest geographically and in number of youth served. Roitstein’s dedication and leadership skills were most evident last summer. On June 11, 2008, a tornado struck the council’s Little Sioux Scout Ranch in Iowa’s Loess Hills. Four Boy Scouts were killed and more than 40 were injured. Roitstein was at the camp soon after receiving news of the tornado, helping with search-and-rescue missions and providing the Scout’s public response to the tragedy in press conferences and media interviews. In August he led scouts who were at the camp and parents to the White House for a meeting with President George Bush. The Little Sioux Scout Ranch is being rebuilt through a $1.8 million reconstruction effort. An Eagle Scout, Roitstein has been involved in scouting since age 8. His first job with the Boy Scouts was as a district executive in Omaha in 1971. He assumed his UNO Chancellor John Christensen, Citation recipient Lloyd present post in 1992. Roitstein and Alumni Association Chairman Mark Grieb. Roitstein grew up in Omaha’s Photo by Tim Fitzgerald/University Relations Dundee neighborhood and attended Central High School before enrolling at then-Omaha University in 1964. He also served in the U.S. Army reserves while in college. At UNO he served on the student senate and with the Student Programming Organization and was chair of the Committee for Athletic Promotion. He served as the last Ouampi, the mascot when UNO’s nickname was Indians. As Ouampi, Roitstein performed authentic American Indian dances, which he learned through Boy Scouts. Roitstein served on the UNO Alumni Association’s Board of Directors from 1997 to 2002. He has served numerous other organizations as a board member or in other capacities. He and his wife, Debbie, have a son and daughter.

2008 UNO Annual Report on the Web


he 2008 UNO Alumni Association Annual Report is now online, available under the UNO Annual Fund section of the association’s Web site, www.unoalumni. org. The document reviews the UNO Alumni Association’s numerous efforts and accomplishments last year, including its activities, communications, scholarships and awards issued, university support provided and finances. Also included are two listings of donors: 1. All members of the Lifetime Giving Societies, ranging from cumulative gifts of $2,500 to $50, 000 or more; and, 2. All 2008 UNO Annual Fund donors.

Longtime activities director Sheila King retires


King during a UNO homecoming with grandson Ben.

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he UNO Alumni Association bid adieu to Activities Director Sheila King, who retired June 4 after serving UNO and the association for more than a decade. A 1990 graduate of UNO, King joined the association in 1999. She previously worked in UNO’s office of University Affairs. She grew various UNO Alumni Association programs, including Golden Circle (for graduates of 45 years ago or longer), Homecoming, Shakespeare on the Green, Alumni Night at the Theater, and other events. Under her leadership the Chancellor Scholarship Swing held each September raised more than $350,000 for student scholarships. King was instrumental in the 2007 formation of UNO Young Alumni, an association affiliate for graduates 40 years or younger. She also oversaw two events in 2008 that kicked off UNO’s Centennial Anniversary — the Centennial Barbecue and Reception and UNO Homecoming. She also played a major role in the Centennial Gala held in February. King and her husband, Ken, are leaving Omaha for Texas, where their two daughters, sons-in-law and five grandchildren live. Elizabeth Kraemer, a 2006 UNO graduate, replaces King as the association’s activities director. A former UNO student regent, Kraemer began her duties June 1.


News, Information & Activities

Shakespeare on the Green set for June 24 J

Travel with us Dec. 1-8, 2009

Christmas Markets Tour

Join fellow alumni, families and friends for an eightday tour of Austria and the Czech Republic featuring the festive, traditional Christmas markets of glittering Salzburg, Linz, Vienna and Prague. The UNO Alumni Association and Classical 90.7 KVNO are sponsoring the program, scheduled for Dec. 1-8. Cost is $2,599 per person for double occupancy and includes airfare, accommodations and more. An information webinar will be webcast June 29 at 6 p.m. For more info, visit Or call the UNO Alumni Association at (402) 554-4887 or toll-free at UNO-MAV-ALUM (866-628-2586). Send emails to

Teams, sponsors sought for Sept. 14 Swing


he UNO Alumni Association will tee off for scholarships on Monday, Sept. 14, with the 29th annual Chancellor's Scholarship Swing at Tiburon Golf Club. The UNO Alumni Association’s biggest single fundraiser each year, the Swing last year raised more than $50,000, pushing the total to more than $500,000 raised since the association began hosting the tournament 14 years ago. The money raised supports various Associationsponsored student scholarships, including four UNO Alumni Association Scholarships, $2,500/year scholarships to graduating high school seniors who have demonstrated leadership and involvement during high school. The scholarships may be renewed for up to four years. Letters are being sent to business and individuals seeking participation in the tournament as sponsors. To participate, or for more information, contact Elizabeth Kraemer at (402) 554-4802.

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oin the UNO Alumni Association Wednesday, June 24 (rain or shine), for the Shakespeare on the Green Alumni Picnic followed by “Macbeth.” Cost is $12 per person, featuring: • Picnic Buffet (Chicken, BBQ pork, potato salad, baked beans, cole slaw, cookie, beverages). • Reserved spot “down front” at the play. • Reserved parking near the Green. • “Macbeth” preview by UNO Professor Cindy Melby Phaneuf, co-founder/artistic director of Nebraska Shakespeare Festival (NSF). • Satisfaction knowing part of your fee helps underwrite a donation to the NSF. To Register: Complete the Shakespeare Registration Form on Page 47 and remit with payment. Questions? Call Elizabeth Kraemer at 554-4802.

Annual Fund campaign begun


he 2009 UNO Annual Fund campaign is underway! UNO Annual Fund gifts are a vital source of support for UNO in the areas of alumni communication, community engagement, student support and academic excellence. Your gift will make a valuable difference in the future of the university. Please help us support the university by making a gift to the UNO Annual Fund. To do so, please complete and return the envelope attached inside this Alum.

Summer 2009 • 7

University News

News & Information

Advancement model incorporated by University, Alumni Association, NU Foundation

New collaboration agreement advances UNO


NO is inextricably bound to the fabric of Omaha as the region’s premier metropolitan university. Just as our university has evolved to better serve the needs of an increasingly urban population, it also must adjust its ability to manage the many external relationships that are essential to UNO’s future. Communication and support from key constituents — including alumni and friends, members of the community, and philanthropic entities of all types — are essential to moving UNO forward. Or, as we say, advancing our university. The key players advancing UNO are the university itself, the University of Nebraska Foundation and the UNO Alumni Association. The three organizations have implemented a new advancement agreement, becoming a model for other metropolitan universities across the country. The agreement leverages the strengths and missions of each organization, driving efficiencies that make external outreach more effective. Advancing UNO can be illustrated as a three-sided pyramid (seen at right). Each side of the pyramid represents a partner that advances UNO. Together, the three collaborate to elevate the base of alumni and friends up the pyramid, from being informed to becoming further involved to generously investing time, talent or treasure to advance UNO. Advancing UNO is a multifaceted effort. It takes visionary thinking, dedicated involvement, respect for our heritage, and the courage to act in new and innovative ways. The results will

position UNO as the region’s premier metropolitan university and a key resource and asset to the growth and prosperity of Omaha.

Highlights of the new collaborative advancement agreement: A look at key components of the new advancement agreement implemented by the University, the UNO Alumni Association and the University of Nebraska Foundation. • Creation of a leadership team devoted to advancing UNO. The five-member “Advancement Collaboration Committee” is chaired by the chancellor and includes leaders and board members from both the UNO Alumni Association and the University of Nebraska Foundation. This committee will ensure that resources align with

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priorities as the organizations work to advance UNO. • Enhancement of the Alumni Association’s outstanding history of strengthening alumni relationships by redirecting resources toward expanded alumni programs and communications. • Leveraging of the University of Nebraska Foundation’s fundraising expertise to benefit the UNO Annual Fund program and increase private support for UNO.

• Implementation of a shared, state-of-the-art alumni database that is fully funded and managed by the University of Nebraska Foundation. • Development of innovative print and electronic communications with consistent messaging by all three organizations, streamlining UNO’s message to a broader audience of stakeholders. Making connections with alumni through all life phases is a priority.


Centennial Celebration UNO in history


In celebration of UNO’s Centennial the UNO Alum presents the last of four timelines highlighting pivotal moments in the university’s history. Each timeline has focused on 25 years of UNO’s existence, concluding with 1983 to 2008. 2005 Soccer team wins national title.

1986 First Diet Pepsi/UNO Women’s Walk held, raising $12,000. Through 2009 the annual walk has raised more than $3.75 million for scholarships. 1987 Three-story, $14.5 million Durham Science Center dedicated. Featuring a rooftop observatory and a domed, 50-seat planetarium, it is named for donors Charles and Margre Durham. 1989 Henningson Memorial Campanile dedicated. 1990 UNO Aviation Institute formed. UNO becomes the first university in the country to offer a Ph.D. program with an aviation specialization. 1991 UNO wins national wrestling title. 1992 Fine Arts Building dedicated. In 1997 it is named in honor of former Chancellor Del Weber and his wife, Lou Ann.

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1995 UNO offers its first independent doctoral program, in criminal justice. 1996 UNO acquires 70 acres of the former Ak-Sar-Ben property, donated to the University by First Data Resources. College of Information Science and Technology formed. Its home, the Peter Kiewit Institute, is dedicated in 1999. Volleyball team wins national title. 1997 First NCAA hockey game, vs. Manitoba. Nancy Belck appointed university’s first woman chancellor. 1999 University Village dedicated, bringing the first student residence halls to campus. 2001 Scott Residence Hall and Conference Center opens. Scott Business and Technology Development Center is added in 2001 and Scott Village residence halls in 2003. UNO wins NCAA Division II national softball championship.

2006 Heavyweight Les Sigman becomes just the fourth Division II wrestler to win four individual national titles. UNO wrestling team captures third-straight national championship. Another title is added in 2009, the program’s sixth overall and UNO’s 12th in all sports. Alumni Center renovated and expanded after facility hosts more than 10,000 functions in 11 years. Previously renovated in 1993 and first dedicated in 1981. 2007 John Christensen becomes the first UNO graduate to head the university as its Chancellor.

Summer 2009 • 9

By the numbers

By John Fey

The economic slump isn’t slowing an enrollment jump, but where will UNO put them and who will teach them?


hen Wade Robinson reviews the ACT scores of incoming UNO freshman classes during the past few years, he can’t help but smile. Scores that once averaged around 20 now are between 22 and 24. And the top performers are coming in droves. “The number of students who are coming to us with ACTs in the 28 to 36 range is absolutely through the roof,” says Robinson, associate vice chancellor of student affairs. Average grade-point averages are up, too, from 3.33 to 3.40. The changes are among many that Robinson’s seen in a 15-year career that concludes Aug. 1 when he becomes Wichita State University’s vice president for campus life and university relations. And those changes are spurring a spike not just in quality, but in quantity. Last year’s fall enrollment of nearly 15,000 students was a six-year high. And another bumper crop of freshmen and transfer students are expected for the 2009-2010 academic year. That’s counter to the enrollment dips expected at the UNL and UNK sister campuses. As of April 1, UNO had more than 6,000 undergraduate applications in hand, a 15 percent

jump from 2008. “Absolutely phenomenal growth,” says Robinson. “Typically, if we see some growth in the 4, 5, 6 percent range, we’re happy.” When the doors open on the fall semester Robinson expects those applications to translate into a 6- to 8-percent growth in the freshman/transfer class, an increase of perhaps 250 students. Robinson wouldn’t provide an estimate for any overall increase in enrollment. What’s driving UNO’s growth? Better marketing has helped, and the economic downtown is creating an uptick in students. New and improved facilities also are attractions, as is favorable tuition for many western Iowa students. More than any other factor, though, campus housing gets a lion’s share of the credit. “As new housing has come online and some new facilities, certainly the new freshman interest has skyrocketed,” says Robinson.

Following the MAP to Iowa



NO’s boom goes beyond its rooms. Wade Robinson points to an aggressive marketing campaign urging students to get “ Mav MOJO” and “ Be a Mav” for creating interest among high school seniors and potential college transfer students. Developed by Ervin & Smith Advertising and Public Relations for UNO Recruitment Services, the quirky campaign has won several national marketing awards. “ Know why you really can't fight your Maverick Mojo?,” a web promotions asks. “ Because you can't escape it. No, not in that creepy ‘I know where you live’ way, but in a way that permeates your every waking moment. As a UNO student, you have a life outside of the classroom, and no matter how you choose to live it, it's inspired and propelled by the Maverick spirit.” See more at

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Economic give & take

What’ll it cost?


o matter how many students decide to enroll at UNO this coming year, none learned what tuition was until mid-June, when the University of Nebraska Board of Regents decided tuition rates at each of the NU campuses (on June 12, after the Alum went to press). UNO’s 2008-2009 per-credit hour undergraduate tuition rates were $164 for residents, $246 for MAP students and $483 for nonresidents. Beyond tuition students incur expenses such as a new student fee, an enrollment services fee and the largest of all, the University Program and Facility fee that supports many campus services and organizations, as well as the $38.6 million HPER renovation. “ We’re very conservative with fees,” Robinson says. “ We’re very costconscious with fees.” Randy Sell, director of financial aid, prepared a report that shows estimated cost of attendance for students living at home with a parent, off campus on their own or on campus. The estimates factor tuition, fees, books/supplies, room and board, transportation and miscellaneous expenses for 2009-2010. Many schools don’t estimate all those expenses, but Robinson says it’s a way for UNO to be up front with parents and students about the real cost of a college education. “ We go out and actually calculate what they spend on gas and what their entertainment costs are,” Robinson says. “ That’s the best way for parents to understand what they can expect to contribute if they’re contributing or what their son or daughter might be experiencing for costs.” Tuition, fees and books in the coming year are expected to cost $5,980 for a resident student taking 30 credit hours. That jumps to $8,050 for MAP students and $13,830 for non-residents. Total cost of attendance for a residence is estimated at $11,740 for students living at home, $16,650 for students living on their own off campus, and $16,610 for students living on campus. Though four years of attending UNO can be expensive — Robinson estimates the average student-loan debt is $20,000 — the return on investment is significant. “ The difference between having a bachelor’s degree and having only a high school diploma can be anywhere between $15,000 and $30,000 a year, depending on your field and things like that,” he says.

Housing boom


t’s likely that Emily Kirkland wouldn’t be housed at UNO if she had no home on campus. After graduating from Omaha Westside High School she narrowed her choice to UNO and UNL. She moved away from home, but stayed in Omaha. “ I chose UNO because of the great financial aid [she received a Regents scholarship], the new Maverick Village housing and related opportunities of living on-campus,” says Kirkland. Having two brothers at UNO who gave the university high marks and the opportunity to stay close to family also factored into her decision. Housing, says Robinson, is getting more freshmen than ever to consider attending UNO — he estimates perhaps 500 more freshmen each year than compared to UNO’s pre-housing days a decade ago. That’s when University Village opened its doors on the university’s main campus, attracting students from outstate Nebraska and beyond. Robinson says that prior to housing 95 percent of UNO’s students came from within a 90-mile radius of Omaha. Today that’s down to 90 percent of students. Among those to come from outside that 90mile bubble was Toni Monette of Norfolk, Neb. “ I was able to become very involved in groups such as the National Council of Negro Women, as well as playing intramural basketball,” Monette says, “ just by living on campus. It is a great way to socialize. I also like the setup, where you have your own room and space.”

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Finding seats & faculty


mong the challenges that come with more students: finding space for everyone and adding the necessary faculty for the extra students. More space is a year away. The opening of Mammel Hall (left) on the Pacific Street campus in 2010 will provide a new home for the College of Business Administration and free space in CBA’s existing home, Roskens Hall, for the College of Education. In turn, Kayser Hall will open for any overflow from the College of Arts and Sciences. Last year, the College of Public Affairs and Community Service got a new home, moving into the remodeled and expanded former Engineering building. The Health, Physical Education and Recreation building currently is undergoing as a $38.6 million expansion and renovation. As for faculty, Robinson says UNO is nearing its maximum ability to find funding for enough full-time and part-time faculty. “ It’s something I talk to the deans with a lot,” he says. “ How do we resolve those things both now and in the future in a very tight budget scenario?” It’s a nice problem to have, he says, for a university with a bright future and bright students. And so many of them.

Summer 2009 • 11

Twords of Twisdom

Advice from 2009 graduates for the incoming Class of 2013 — in 140 characters or fewer By Wendy Townley, University Relations


ore than 1,400 UNO students earned degrees during May’s commencement ceremonies at Omaha’s Civic Auditorium. While they donned their caps and gowns, they undoubtedly walked the stage different individuals than when they first set foot on campus. The lessons they learned, the experiences they’ve shared, could easily fill several pages of a book. Yet Americans live in the information age, where Web 2.0 means keep it short and simple — but make it meaningful. To that end, UNO sought advice from recent graduates for the university’s anticipated 1,850 freshmen students who are campus-bound this fall. The catch: the advice provided could only be the length of a Twitter update (also sweetly referred to as a “tweet”), which is 140 characters (including spaces). At right are words of wisdom from these recent graduates, along with their Twitter usernames – should you wish to keep tabs on their progress postgraduation.

“Remember that the whole point of being here is to learn. Find a subject you love and pursue it as far as you can.” Jesse Andersen, @gotosleep “Say yes to new things, say no to vices, stay involved, take a break when you're overwhelmed and enjoy! Time will pass quicker than you know.” Jackie Chavez, @jackelina08 “Here’s your chance to prove them all wrong. First, find your purpose. Then, have the courage to become the person you’re destined to be.” Kristyna Engdahl, @kristynaengdahl “Get ready to go back.” Di Kang, @dikang “Find people to take classes with, to study with, help you along the way, and keep you accountable. The people you meet will be invaluable.” Meredith Klein, @merklein “Freshmen should hunker down the 1st year to get good grades; it's much easier to maintain your GPA than to bring it up later.” John R Nixon, @johnrnixon


uthor Wendy Townley is a Twitterholic (see As of May 30, Townley ranked No. 76, 106 in the country with 455 followers. She ranked 44th by followers among all Tweeples in Omaha. By comparison, actor Ashton Kutcher on that same date ranked first in the country with nearly 2 million followers. Townley joined Twitter in March 2008 and at last count had provided more than 1,000 Tweets. Her Twitter bio line: Writer, Media Maven, Lover of Music and All Things Apple.

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Finding your way around


f you can type, you can Twitter. Developed by Clarks, Neb., native Evan Williams, Twitter is an online application that’s free, allowing its users to post brief updates about absolutely anything. To date, Twitter has nearly 5 million users around the globe. If you’re familiar with the status update feature on Facebook, you’ll be “ tweeting” (the act of updating your Twitter account) in no time. However, your update can only be 140 characters (including spaces) or less.

Now, let’s try Twitter. (1) Visit and create a username and password. (2) Remember your username and password, as you’ll need it each time you login to Twitter. (3) What are you doing? Simply type anything in the update box and click the “ update” button. Consider mentioning your plans for the weekend, your thoughts on the latest headlines or even what you had for lunch.

2009 UNO Alumni Scholars


he 2009 UNO Alumni Association Scholarships have been awarded to four high school graduates. The four $2,500/year scholarships are awarded to those who have demonstrated leadership and involvement during high school. The scholarship may be renewed for up to four years total. The scholarships are funded by the UNO Chancellor’s Scholarship Swing golf event. Bios of the four recipients follow.

Rachel Hogan, Millard South High School Hogan plans to pursue a major in pre-dentistry/pre-med at UNO. During high school, she was involved in: Varsity swimming, dance, varsity choir, National Honor Society, senior class board, junior class board, peer mediation, cheerleading and soccer. She held leadership positions as: National Honor Society committee head, swimming captain, dance company member/stage mom, cheerleading captain, and junior class board secretary. Some of the awards she received are: 2007-08 Coaches Award, Metro All-American Academic Team, 4.0+ Academic Letter, Rotary Honor Roll and Who’s Who of America High School Scholars. “Having a degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha would put me in a strong position to be hired by one of these local businesses, allowing me to stay in the town that I love.” Cheyenne Nelson, Yutan High School From Yutan, Neb., Nelson will enter UNO as a music performance major. She was involved in the following high school activities: one-act plays, all-school musicals and plays, speech, band, choir, jazz band, jazz choir, show choir, track, softball, National Honor Society, International Thespian Society, and national anthem singer for school activities. Outside of school, she was involved in the following: cantor singer at church and pianist for sunday school. Leadership positions Nelson held are: senior class vice president, clarinet section leader, soprano section leader, 2008-09 all-

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(4) As you type, pay close attention to the number toward the top left of the update box. It keeps a running count of how much space you have left. (5) Share your Twitter account with friends and family. The Web address will be As you navigate the Web, you’ll find other Twitter users (also referred to as “ tweeples” ) whom you may wish to follow. When you are logged into Twitter, simply click the “Follow” button that appears under their user icon. Their Twitter updates will automatically be fed to your Twitter homepage. Consider following these UNO Twitter accounts. Remember: after you’ve logged into your Twitter account, just

click follow under the user icon. University of Nebraska at Omaha UNO Alumni Association: UNO Athletics: Classical 90.7 KVNO: UNO Criss Library: The Gateway: UNO, the UNO Alumni Association also have homes on Facebook. Visit to conduct searches using the full names of each group on campus.

school musical female Lead, 2008 one-act play female lead and Cornhusker girls state representative. Some of the awards and recognitions she received are: state speech qualifier 2007, 2008, all-state honor choir participant 2008, outstanding choir member of the year 2008, academic all-state for speech 2008, honor roll of distinction all semesters 2003-2008. “I’m very close to my family and would prefer to stay nearby. It’s convenient that a great school like UNO is here in Omaha beckoning me with all of their opportunities.” Katie Gray, Winside Public High School Gray, from Winside, Neb., will enter UNO as a nursing major. In high school, Gray was active in: volleyball, basketball, track, student council, National Honors Society, yearbook, newspaper, quiz bowl, W-Club, prom committee, 4-H, and club volleyball. She held leadership positions as: 4-H president and treasurer, W-Club president, student council vice president, senior class vice-president, newspaper co-editor, yearbook co-editor, and volleyball captain. Some of the awards Gray received are: principal’s list, honor roll, National Honor Roll and all-conference volleyball. “Becoming an alumna of UNO will give me a great sense of accomplishment. Knowing that all the hard work paid off will give me pride in the school that I attended.” Brady Sillman, Millard South High School Sillman, from Omaha, will attend UNO and major in chemistry. Activities that he pursued in high school are: Munroe-Meyer Institute, Boy Scouts of America, National Honors Society, math & science club and Spanish club. Sillman held leadership positions in: National Honor Society, Spanish club officer, and assistant troop leader in Boy Scouts of America. Awards he received are: Eagle Scout, Academic letter, Munroe-Meyer Institute “Best New Staff Member,” and UNL Language Fair first in state, Spanish poster. “My plan is to live and work in the Omaha area after graduation. Being an alumnus would keep me connected with the college and all the great things it has to offer.”

Summer 2009 • 13

Worm Chasers UNO students at PKI take on Conficker and other creepy crawlies trying to wriggle their way into our computers


By Kalani Simpson

very so often, a computer worm grabs the headlines and bores into our collective conscience, scaring us out of what had previously been blissful ignorance. There was the Christmas Tree Worm of 1987. More recently there have crawled Love Bug in 2000, Bugbear in 2002, Blaster in 2003 and Blackworm in 2006. All meant to wreak havoc. This year it was the Conficker Internet worm, which we were told would start its reign of terror April 1 — April Fool’s Day. Were we fools for not adequately protecting our PCs (OK, our Macs, too)? Or were we fools for buying in to the hysteria? It was, “supposed to wreak all sorts of havoc,” says Dr. Blaine Burnham, executive director of the UNO-based Nebraska University Consortium on Information Assurance — NUCIA (pronounced “new-sha”). “And then,” adds Burnham, “nothing happened.” Or did it? “That’s the 10-cent story,” Burnham says. When it comes to Internet worms, most often we don’t even know what we don’t know. “Advertised behaviors may or may not have much to do with actual behavior,” Burnham says. “It may have done nothing more than to set in some very deep trap doors set in place by the bad guys.” When it comes to worms, Burnham notes, there tend to be two camps: “The bad guy and the had guy.” But now, thanks to NUCIA and work being done at UNO’s College of

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Information Science and Technology out of the Peter Kiewit Institute, there is a third group: the detectives. How to think like a bad guy To hear NUCIA Assistant Director and Senior Technology Research Fellow Steve Nugen tell it, the work being done on UNO’s Pacific Street Campus sounds like something out of a CBS television crime drama. Like “CSI” or “Numb3rs,” only set in a computer lab. Students majoring in Information Assurance learn the science part of computer security and how to think like “bad guys” in order to better prevent and fight crime. They study Conficker and other worms. One notable way is to work with them in an electronically and digitally isolated lab — one not connected to the Internet or any computer network — in order to experiment on worms without letting them loose. Conficker is so “smart,” Nugen says, that it refuses to run if it’s in a virtual machine, or if the machine is not connected to the Internet. The NUCIA team, then, must find a way to fool it. Then the team must fool it again once NUCIA detects that it’s been fooled a first time. And so on. “It’s fascinatingly difficult to reverse-engineer what the code is going to do,” says Burnham. Says Nugen: “The criminals are pretty smart. We underestimate them at our own peril.” UNOALUM

Worming I around

t is believed that the first use of “ worm” to describe a computerinfesting program was by science fiction author John Brunner in his 1975 book “ The Shockwave Rider.” Brunner described a

And they are criminals. Worms are as old as the Internet itself. Some early worms were pranks, or for bragging rights, or just programmers challenging themselves to stretch the limits of what could be done. Burnham says there used to be a flight simulator game hidden in the popular spreadsheet program Excel. But in most every case now, Nugen says, no worm creators work so hard and spend so much money devising their creepy crawlies without a profit motive. They may be genius thinkers, but they’re also cyber thugs. Some Internet worms allow bad guys to steal credit card numbers by the thousands — they’ll often charge just $1 at first to see if anybody notices. Others are the muscle behind high-tech protection schemes — instead of demanding payment to keep your store windows from getting smashed, it’s to keep businesses’ computer systems from imploding. Nugen paints the picture of entire hotel rooms filled with “bot herders” on laptops all working simultaneously on their nefarious schemes. Burnham points out that computer programs themselves aren’t evil. “Computer programs are in heart pacemakers. They’re in all the newfangled automobiles.” But in the hands of people with bad intentions … “The same constructs are available to the bad guy,” Burnham says. “If he can get his stuff to run on your machine, by large measure, you lose.” And that is the basic premise of an Internet worm: Someone getting his stuff to run on your machine. The thinking of the hacker is: “I don’t attack from my computer. I do it through your computer,” Nugen says. Nosing around with NUCIA That’s where UNO’s NUCIA detectives come in. For most of the history of criminal Internet worms, the response has been reactive; we hear about one once a year or so. How many worms are out there and how many criminals have been caught? We don’t know, really. We don’t know how many worms never make the news. Nugen recalls working with the FBI a few years ago. With the Mafia, the FBI had studied the culture, had even been able to infiltrate the mob. An FBI agent told him that with hackers, “We don’t even know what the rules are.” At NUCIA, designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency, students learn how to decipher code and the strategies behind it. Last October NUCIA hosted 100 persons from 15 nations at the 2008 International Cyber Defense Workshop. Participants, who included public sector and government agency representatives, were divided into teams to explore network security and weaknesses. During the exercises, participating nations could attack each other anonymously as a way w w w. u n o a l u m n i . o r g

totalitarian government that kept control over citizens by use of a powerful computer network. In Brunner’s story, a freedom fighter introduced into this computer network a contaminant — a “ tape-

worm. ” The tapeworm infested and shut down the system, depriving the government of its main base of power. (Source:

to explore hacker tactics. They were real attacks on real networks. By learning to think like bad guys, UNO’s detectives-intraining can prevent crime from happening in the first place. Nugen likens it to learning how to build a bomb in order to know how to defuse one. His students are brilliant minds — the type who get perfect ACT scores. Does Nugen ever look around the room and wonder if the next great cybercriminal is in it? The question was asked as a joke. Nugen took it seriously. “Absolutely,” Nugen says. “I think about that all the time.” Enrollment in some advanced classes at NUCIA are by instructor-permission only. Through government internships, NUCIA students often have high-level clearances by the time they graduate. NUCIA alumni have gone on to the National Security Agency and to STRATCOM. Some are already hiring managers. Of course, they know where to look for fresh talent. “A lot of our guys are in senior positions very quickly,” Nugen says. Meanwhile, NUCIA sounds like it would make a great show on CBS. Students and faculty are studying worms, going over problems, thinking like bad guys, solving mysteries. And the bad guys, “They’re working very, very hard,” to stay ahead, Nugen says. They have to now that UNO’s NUCIA detectives are hot on the case.

Keeping your computer safe


hen it comes to keeping computers safe from Internet worms, here’s the good news: There are many security programs out there which detect known Internet worms. Now for the bad news: Security programs may detect worms, but they don’t prevent them. Furthermore, no one can say how many worms are out there that are as yet unknown. Uh-oh. It’s easy to see why Information Assurance is such a growing field, and why NUCIA is doing such important work. NUCIA Assistant Director and Senior Technology Research Fellow Steve Nugen says bad guys have a jump on

those who fight worms because criminals aren’t constrained — ethically or otherwise. And worm fighters are typically “playing defense,” reacting to what the bad guys do rather than dictating the fight. But at NUCIA, that way of thinking is changing. The detectives will try to anticipate bad guys’ moves, to prevent crime rather than react to it. In the meantime, keep your security software updated and don’t open suspicious attachments or click on suspicious links. And if you’re really worried, “Make your computer less functional,” Nugen says. “Turn off the JavaScript. Some sites will stop working, but attack software does, too.”

Spring 2009 • 15

A shot in the arm UNO creates a buzz with the hiring of former Husker Trev Alberts as AD


By John Fey

Photos by Tim Fitzgerald

buzz in the Omaha World-Herald, on retired associate athletic director, was NO Chancellor John local sports talk radio and on Internet impressed by Alberts’ remarks. Christensen’s checklist for traits blogs. The hiring also was posted on the “I’m excited,” Claussen says. “I could in a new UNO athletic director was Sports Illustrated, MSNBC and various see the coaches smiling. He’d certainly short but stringent. Christensen wanted done his homework.” Husker-related Web sites. a leader, someone with absolute integriUNO hockey player Nick Von “I’m thrilled, I’m excited, I’m humty who was people-oriented and a Bokern, a sophomore, says the team is bled,” Alberts said in his opening thinker, doer and finisher. looking forward to what Alberts will do remarks. “This is a real privilege to be Over and over, people kept for UNO athletics. telling Christensen that those “He’s saying all the right were exactly the qualities they things,” Von Bokern says. “He’s saw in Trev Alberts. jumping on the bandwagon for Christensen heard enough, hockey.” hiring the former Husker footAlberts realizes how imporball All-American as UNO’s tant hockey is to the athletic 10th permanent athletic direcdepartment’s overall wellbeing. tor since the school resumed “I will tell you from my perathletics following World War spective,” he says, “hockey sucII. He replaces David Miller, cess is non-negotiable. I underwho resigned to become athstand the importance of hockey letic director at Upper Iowa to this program. I understand University in Fayette, Iowa. that as a Division I sport we Miller had served in the post have to leverage hockey in a since May 2007. Alberts wasted little time The hire of Alberts as UNO AD drew local and national media cov- real way. It needs to be the focal erage, including a crowd of Omaha press. point of what we do as an athmaking his first major deciletic department.” sions as UNO’s new athletic director. On May 7, Alberts revealed that standing here before you today.” Experience needed He quickly established his philosotwo-time former Athletic Director Don Alberts acknowledged that he lacks Leahy would serve as part-time assistant phy about his new position. “It’s our job experience as an athletic department to do our part as an athletic department athletic director. One week later, another administrator. The Cedar Falls, Iowa, to work with, collaborate with this great surprise: Alberts shuffled Mike Kemp native starred at Nebraska, was drafted from UNO hockey coach into a new post institution and work together as part of by and played for the Indianapolis Colts, that larger mission of UNO,” he said. as an associate athletic director with then became a college football analyst “This is a UNO family. That’s what I responsibility for hockey (see story Page for CNN, ESPN and CBS College Sports. want to be a part of, that’s what I’ve 18). A search committee was assembled He says he’ll immerse himself in his been sold and that’s what I want to buy to find Kemp’s replacement. new role — and get plenty of good help. into.” “I think what you do is surround yourCreating a buzz The hiring also created buzz among self with smart, intelligent people,” he Alberts was one of four finalists to coaches, athletic department staffers and says. “You understand what you’re replace Miller. Christensen introduced athletes, many of whom were around in weaknesses are, you understand what him at an April 29 press conference 2007 when the improper spending of your strengths are. You play to your attended by around 100 coaches, athathletic department funds by former strengths, and add people that can comletes, staff and media at the William H. UNO administrators Nancy Belck and pensate for the weaknesses. Will there be Thompson Alumni Center. The hiring Jim Buck was discovered. Longtime athContinued Page 18 created considerable, mostly positive letic department figure Connie Claussen,

16 • Summer 2009


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Summer 2009 • 17

OFF TO WORK: UNO Chancellor John Christensen was all smiles on his way to introducing Alberts as UNO’s new AD.

From Page 16 a learning curve? Absolutely. I’m not afraid to admit that.” Christensen is confident that Alberts’ team approach will help him quickly grow into the job. “I think Trev’s intention is to complement the areas in which he has least experience with someone who brings those talents to the table,” he says. Among Alberts’ top priorities is improving fundraising, something that has been lacking the past few years. His new boss addressed that after the press conference. “I think fundraising is first,” the chancellor says. “He needs to connect with the community and will be

masterful at doing that and has already done that to a certain degree.” Outside contributors to UNO athletics apparently agreed with the hire — $25,000 of Alberts’ $150,000 salary is coming from the private sector. Alberts believes the key to his success will be an ability to communicate his vision for UNO athletics with those in the community. He’s eager to get that word out. “I believe people care about studentathletes here,” he says. “Sixty percent of our student-athletes stay right here in Omaha. They’re making a difference in the lives of people that one day are going to make meaningful contributions to their community.”

Transitions: Leahy returns for third stint in AD office; Kemp out as hockey coach, in as associate AD

Don Leahy, left, hired Mike Kemp as UNO hockey coach in 1996. Now the two are working together in support of new AD Trev Alberts.

By John Fey


t took Trev Alberts just two weeks as UNO athletic director to make two major changes in his department. On May 7, Alberts named two-time former A.D. Don Leahy as part-time assistant athletic director. On May 14 he announced that Hockey Coach Mike Kemp would step off the ice and become an associate athletic director with responsibility for hockey. The latter decision was the more surprising of the two. “Mike has made a choice of great humility and selflessness in order to benefit our hockey program,” Alberts said in a press release. “We need him here long-term and in a role larger than coaching. He will figure prominently in the strengthening of our marquee program.” Sports talk show banter had included much speculation about Kemp’s future following a season in which the Mavs finished 15-178. That wasn’t good enough for many fans of a program that created great expectations so soon after its 1996 debut. UNO finished runner-up in the CCHA in 2000, notched a school-

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record 24 wins in 2001, was ranked as high as No. 5 in the nation in 2002, and earned its first trip to the NCAA tournament in 2006. Kemp was named CCHA coach of the year in 2005. In the past three seasons, though, the Mavs were a combined 50-52-18. Some saw a need for change; Alberts agreed. The change, however, was mutually conciliatory. “Mike and his wife Julie have made amazing contributions to UNO and the greater Omaha community during his tenure here,” said Alberts. “It was important to us that he continue to play a prominent role in Maverick hockey.” Kemp in a release said he was “thrilled for the opportunity to join Trev, Michele Roberts, Don Leahy and Connie Claussen as a cog in the management team. The UNO hockey program has been a huge part of my life and to continue to make decisions and plot the course of Maverick hockey is something I cherish.” Kemp will work as associate athletic director under the final year of his coaching contract and then under a two-year extension commensurate with the salary and benefits of an associate athletic director. Kemp also will have responsibility for golf, cross country/track and field, and soccer. The committee to select a new head hockey coach includes Alberts, Kemp, Leahy, women’s basketball coach Patty Patton Shearer, faculty athletic representative Bill Wakefield, hockey captain Mark Bernier and a member of the community. Leahy finds the right terms Leahy, meanwhile, makes his third stint in the department. He was UNO’s athletic director from 1974 to 1985 and from 1995 to 1997. The octogenarian was glad to accept Alberts’ offer to return to UNO. “It took me 80 years,” Leahy says, “but I finally got the job I wanted. You set your own hours, and I’ve got a parking space.” The two met before Alberts was announced as the next athletic director. “We are excited that someone of Don’s stature in the community is going to lend his vast experience to Maverick athletics,” Alberts said in a release. “He guided UNO through an era of great change and achievement, and I think he can help us write that next chapter of success.”


Appointment completes national search

West Point Man named to head PKI


niversity of Nebraska President James B. Milliken on April 23 named Dr. Michael L. McGinnis as executive director of the Peter Kiewit Institute of Information Science, Technology and Engineering. A Wisner, Neb., native, McGinnis was executive director of the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center at Old Dominion University. Prior to leading the VMASC, he served as head of the Systems Engineering Department at the United States Military Academy at West Point. McGinnis is a graduate of West Point, and served in the military for 29 years, retiring with the rank of Brigadier General. “Mike McGinnis is a proven leader with broad academic experience and a demonstrated record of success in growing research programs and partnerships with government and industry,” Milliken said. “He has guided several organizations through significant transformation and expansion, and is a highly effective team leader and program builder. These skills will serve him well as he leads the Peter Kiewit Institute into a new era of accomplishment which will have tremendous benefits for the state of Nebraska.” PKI, founded in 1996, houses UNO’s College of Information Science and Technology and the Omaha-based programs of UNL’s College of Engineering. McGinnis’s 29 years of military service concluded with his leadership for seven years of the Systems Engineering Department at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He served as director of the Army Training and Doctrine Command Analysis Center at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., director of the U.S. Army Unit Manning Task Force in Washington, DC, and director of the U.S.

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Military Academy Operations Research Center. He was a visiting research fellow at the Naval Postgraduate School and a visiting professor at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. He has authored or co-authored more than 45 publications in refereed journals and technical proceedings in the fields of operations research, computer simulations, systems engineering and engineering education. He holds a bachelor’s degree from West Point, master’s degrees in applied mathematics and operations research and statistics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a master’s in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College and a doctorate in systems and industrial engineering from the University of Arizona. “I am deeply honored to be selected as PKI’s executive director,” McGinnis said. “My wife, Tracy, and I are excited to be joining the University of Nebraska team and moving to Omaha. “In moving PKI forward, we will build upon the notable progress and past accomplishments of the outstand-

ing faculty and students from the UNL College of Engineering and the UNO College of Information Science and Technology.” McGinnis was selected after a national search. He replaces previous executive director Winnie Callahan, a UNO graduate who had guided PKI since 1998.

A new plan in place for PKI F

ollowing a comprehensive review by the Washington Advisory Group, the University’s Board of Regents and the Institute’s Board of Policy Advisors adopted a revised charter that established a new position of executive director and chief science and technology officer who will be responsible to the president. McGinnis will be responsible for leading the development and implementation of the plan for PKI’s next decade, which will draw heavily on the Washington Advisory Group’s report. Elements will likely include: • Increasing the Institute’s emphasis on research; • Identifying and strengthening areas of technical and educational focus; • Increasing the number of graduates, especially in information science and technology; • Expanding the financial base to attract star faculty; • Developing deeper strategic partnerships with organizations and corporations; and, • Strengthening collaboration across disciplines and among colleges and campuses.

Summer 2009 • 19

Paperless Pusher Maury Pepper spearheads an international push to computerize medical records via open-source software By Greg Kozol

Pepper, center, teamed with K.S. Bhaskar, left, and Joseph Dal Molin to found WorldVistA, which offers opensource software that allows medical records to be stored electronically. Photo by Sian Kennedy

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You assume that the spark of inspiration came a half century ago. Maury Pepper, the son of a cardiologist, would walk into his father’s office and see file folders stuffed with papers. Surely the Central High School student and future computer whiz could visualize the day when technology would allow patient records to be stored in an electronic format, right? Not so fast. Pepper did go to his father's office after school, but the teenager had other things on his mind in the late 1950s. “Did I look at those bulging records and think, ‘Wouldn’t that be neat to computerize?’” Pepper asks. “It wasn’t on the radar at that time.” Pepper’s light-bulb moment came four decades later, long after he had earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Omaha University. It all started about nine years ago, when he joined a handful of computer experts at a meeting in Birmingham, Ala. What was intended as an arcane discussion of computer language standards evolved into something more ambitious: How to revolutionize the way hospitals and doctor’s offices store and retrieve medical records. WorldVistA was born. “That was the first seed,” Pepper, 67, recalls. “That’s where it came together.” Today, WorldVistA isn’t the only organization that seeks to bring an outdated system of medical record keeping into the 21st century. But WorldVistA is unique in that it has little intention of making a profit, let alone becoming the next Google. As such, Pepper finds himself butting heads with corporate and political interests that don’t see the logic of improving health care efficiency and saving money at the same time. “Computer people in general tend to not be very materialistic,” Pepper says. “They’re sort of the typical nerd. They’re not interested in doing it for self-gain.” WorldVistA’s aims are more altruistic. It operates as a nonprofit with no central office. Pepper, with his own computer

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consulting business in St. Louis, serves as chairman on a volunteer basis. The open-source WorldVistA software can be downloaded at any hospital or clinic for free. About 30 different users, including a health system in Jordan, are running a version of the software. The low-cost, high-tech development prompted Wired magazine to name WorldVistA a winner of a “Rave” award for technological innovation in 2007. “It’s building steam,” says Pepper, who was featured in the Wired article. “At times it looks like we’re going to be swimming in an ocean of opportunity.”


Growing up in Omaha, Pepper didn’t always seem destined to win awards for innovation. Born about 40 years before the first personal computer, his logical mind was attracted to puzzles and the wiring of model trains. He spent a semester at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln before transferring to OU with a friend, Roy Katskee, in 1961. Katskee, who went on to become a teacher in Omaha Public Schools, says the search for an intellectual outlet proved frustrating for Pepper. Katskee watched as his friend experimented with different majors, veering from engineering and business to physics and chemistry. “He was a very, very intelligent guy,” Katskee says. “Mathematically, he understands things at first look. He was just not challenged. It wasn’t OU’s fault. He just hadn’t found himself yet.” Pepper left school for a year and worked at a factory in St. Louis. He wouldn’t have been the first frustrated undergraduate to choose a blue-collar career, but something drove Pepper to return to campus in 1963. “He wanted a better life for himself and knew he had abilities,” Katskee says. “He knew he was not meant to be a factory worker.” Back at OU, Pepper settled on math and noticed a little detail that would flip a switch for him. The engineering students were walking around campus with punch cards in their pockets. Pepper didn’t see nerds. He saw a fledgling technology that would become as influential as the internal combustion engine or Gutenberg’s press. He knew he had to get his hands on those cards. “That drove me nuts,” he says. Inside the engineering building, OU’s computer was an IBM 1620, a 6-foot-long beast built into a horizontal desk structure. It had no screen, no disk drive and no integrated circuits. Its memory, the equivalent of 20K, wouldn’t be enough to store one song from iTunes. OU bought it for $70,000.

Summer 2009 • 21

Maury Pepper in his St. Louis home, which doubles as his WorldVistA office. Pepper lives in Webster Groves with his wife of 39 years, Marianne, who collects masks and is a fine arts photographer. Maury’s collection now includes a Rave Award as presented by Wired Magazine in 2007 for his work with WorldVistA on digitizing medical records. Photos by Kristen Hare.

Pepper loved it. He would get his blank punch cards at one end of the machine and insert them into the IBM’s card reader. “It was phenomenal,” he remembers. “I took to computing like a duck to water.” He had found his calling.

Career in Computers

A career in the computer field became the logical step after graduating from OU in 1967. Pepper moved to St. Louis and got a master’s degree in computer science at Washington University. His career followed the evolution of computing from mainframes to PCs to the Internet. But he was never someone who dreamed of moving to Silicon Valley and launching the next big thing. He developed computerized library systems for the blind and physically disabled. He was involved in some of the early laboratory work that led to keyboards, visual displays and other elements of today’s PCs. Much of his computer work was connected to Washington University’s medical laboratory. “I’ve never been very far from medicine,” Pepper says. So the WorldVistA project was a perfect fit for the son of a doctor. His initial goal, first voiced at the meeting in Alabama, was to preserve a successful electronic records system used in the Veterans Affairs health system. about WorldVistA at Pepper had learned that the VA wanted to eliminate its program, known


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as VistA. Government officials, he says, couldn’t believe that the VA could design something that worked. “There’s always been political pressure to undo it,” Pepper says. “We’ve shined a light on how good VistA is.” Pepper and his colleagues set out not just to save VistA but to adapt it to the private sector as WorldVistA. The opensource software, Pepper says, allows a private hospital to go paperless at a fraction of the cost. An open-source system can be installed for about $6 million when training and hardware are included with the free software. That doesn’t sit well with competitors who charge around $20 million for a licensed system. “It’s clear we’re on their radar,” Pepper says. “There are so many people who are interested in what we’re doing.” With only 25 percent of U.S. health care providers using electronic records, the WorldVistA founders could be forgiven for heady visions of a dot-com boom. Pepper keeps the group focused on its original mission: reducing medical errors and improving patient care through better computer records. “Maury has been our pillar of objectivity and reason,” says Joseph Dal Molin, one of the founders of WorldVistA. “Maury brings pragmatism and level-headedness. It’s good to have that balance.” It’s nothing new for Pepper, who once walked away from a consulting partnership that offered “too much business and not enough technology.” Ever since he encountered that hulking machine in the engineering building, a computer has been more than a path to riches. It’s been a passion. “To look back on the dark ages of computing, it kind of takes your breath away,” he says.


A Texas-sized gift $1 million gift to benefit UNO students needing financial assistance to attend college


Dallas businessman is helping UNO make higher education more affordable for students in Nebraska and western Iowa who otherwise could not attend college. Edward Pechar, a 1963 graduate of then-Omaha University and an Omaha native, made a $1 million gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation to create full tuition scholarships. Pechar is owner and chairman of McCormick Distilling Company Inc., located in Weston, Mo., with offices in Dallas. The Edward A. Pechar Scholarships are directed toward UNO students who need financial assistance to attend college but are ineligible for federal Pell grants, the largest federal effort to help students from low-income families afford higher education. Currently, more than 11,000 of UNO’s 15,000 students apply for financial aid. Of that number, only 25 percent are eligible for Pell Grants, leaving the rest to seek other forms of assistance. “The University remains concerned about a critical segment of students, many of them first-generation college students who are struggling to afford a college education,” UNO Chancellor John Christensen said. “These students have tremendous potential and a great desire to pursue a higher education. Yet many of their families earn incomes that disqualify them from receiving Pell Grants. These families are struggling with financial challenges that greatly influence their ability to help their students pay for college. “We are tremendously grateful to Mr. Pechar for his foresight, compassion and generosity. These scholarships will make a difference in the lives of those students who receive this assistance and to the university in making a college education accessible to a broader group of students.”

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Pechar understands the importance of higher education. A first-generation college student himself, Pechar graduated from Omaha University with a bachelor’s degree in speech communication. After serving in the U.S. Air Force, he earned a law degree from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law and was admitted to the Ohio State Bar in 1972. Pechar has spent the last 40 years working in the liquor industry as a business executive. He bought his first company in 1987 and then in 1993 bought McCormick Distilling Company, the oldest continuously operating distillery in the United States west of the Mississippi River. In the nearly 16 years that Pechar has owned Edward Pechar, foreground, and his longtime business McCormick Distilling the partner, Michael Griesser, who passed away in 2004. company has grown from 35 employees and $50 “I gained so much when I was a stumillion in sales to 186 employees and dent at Omaha University. The faculty more than $180 million in sales. Today, was remarkable, and I have nothing but McCormick Distilling products are sold good memories,” he said. “I recently in all 50 states and in 37 foreign counreturned to campus and couldn’t believe tries. what I saw. The progress UNO has made In 2007 McCormick Distilling introis amazing.” duced 360 Vodka, the world’s first By creating need-based scholarships, EcoLuxury vodka. This “green” product Pechar said he hopes to help students is produced and bottled in an environfrom economic backgrounds similar to mentally friendly process, a first in the his when he attended college. liquor industry. “Financial stress is a huge problem Pechar credits much of his profestoday, and without scholarship assissional success to UNO and said giving tance many deserving students may not back to his alma mater made sense at be able to attend college,” he said. “I this point in his life. want to help change that.”

Summer 2009 • 23

Planes, Trains & a Ad man Galen Lillethorup made his mark with some of Omaha’s best-ever advertisements

By Warren Francke Photos by Chris Machian

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Summer 2009 • 25


hen some 300 advertising professionals searched for their “Top Ten Moments” in an entire century of Omaha ad campaigns, it was no surprise to find Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom atop the list. Or that the Union Pacific’s “Great big rollin’ railroad and our story’s just begun” came close behind, followed by the entertaining Old Home Bread commercials with trucker C.W. McCall and Mavis the waitress.

A closer look reveals only one name connected to all three campaigns, including the Mutual branding “that put advertising in this city on the map,” according to a centennial spokesman for the Omaha Federation of Advertising. It’s Lillethorup, an 11-letter Danish name from the UNO class of 1959. Galen Lillethorup put his creativity to work on award-winning ads thanks to high school and college connections that weren’t yet called networking back in the ’50s. Maybe it was just called classmate friendship when Lillethorup got involved in journalism at North High and, after time away for the Korean War, the University of Omaha. Today he’s more involved with airplanes than trains and trucks. He’s also busy as president, treasurer, record-keeper and chief grave finder for Omaha’s Springwell Danish Cemetery, an institution nearly 20 years older than the university. But a career that led to heading his own award-winning ad agency both started and reached its peak due to his talents and others nurtured by his alma mater. That begins with his high school teacher Ellen (Hartman) Gast (’38) and extends to his fellow journalism major Mark Gautier (’55) and to his ad agency partner, artist nellie (Sudavicius) maccallum (’68). Flying high If not for Gautier and their teacher, Lillethorup might have stuck to his childhood fascination with airplanes. Growing up in North Omaha after father Niels left farming near Creighton,

26 • Summer 2009

Neb., Galen went to Belvedere grade school, where he soon discovered one of author Lois Lenski’s many children’s books, “The Little Airplane.” She wrote that “Pilot Small did it all,” and Galen couldn’t wait to do it all, too. With neighborhood buddies, he built a man-carrying glider. “I was the smallest, so I flew it.” Pulled down a hill with a motor scooter, it was only briefly airborne. On Saturdays, the boys rode their bicycles down to the Omaha Municipal Airport (pre-Eppley) where they would sweep out hangars and be paid a dollar plus a plane ride. But Galen never refers vaguely to flying machines. “It was a J3 Piper Cub, 65 horsepower.” That led to aerial adventures that continue to present, now mostly with radio-controlled models that he builds, but journalism and advertising intervened. He had wrestled at 105 pounds as a North High sophomore but was a lanky 6-4 when he entered Omaha U. “I shot up in my senior year,” he says. He also became an editor of the North Star, following Gautier, a year ahead of him. He’d follow Gautier again at the university’s Gateway newspaper. In 1951, Gautier joined the Navy; two weeks later, Lillethorup went into the Air Force. Gautier finished his stint and joined KMTV; Lillethorup followed him there, too, the longtime friends reporting television news while completing their journalism degrees. Aviation might have played an even larger role, but the Air Force saw his glasses, checked his vision and put him into an aptitude and psychological testing unit. He spent active duty in Texas conducting statistical analysis. Back in journalism courses, he worked full time at KMTV until graduating with distinction. “All of us who were lucky enough to be there in those early years had a hand in inventing television news,” he says. He was also lucky enough to find office romance, marrying coworker Marcene Athen, an Iowan who assisted the Hawk, one of those comic book characters who hosted local shows in TV’s early days. Lillethorup went from $1 an hour part-timer to a $55-a-week assistant to sportscaster Dick Charles. “Dick flew me to Kansas City on a DC-3 for the basketball final four” with Bill Russell and K.C. Jones of the San Francisco Dons. Another flight (He seldom forgets air time) took him to Florida for St. Louis Cardinals spring training. Looser security made world leaders “easier to film and sometimes talk to,” he recalls. When President Dwight


Eisenhower came to Iowa, Lillethorup watched him enter a trailer in a cornfield, and waited on its step while other photographers wandered off. “Ike came out and said hello, and I shot footage while backing away.”

where we walked, then fill in again” as they filmed “Voyage to Raza.” That outing ended with a flight to Los Angeles, where they changed gull-splattered togs for tuxedos to receive one of the many Emmys won by Wild Kingdom. Lillethorup also shares stories about shooting the Union Pacific spots to raise morale of the railroad employees after AMTRAK brought an end to passenger service, and working with Bill Fries who wrote and sang the Old Home bread songs before turning the C.W. McCall character into a No. 1 hit song, “Convoy.”

Making his mark His first of two alumni achievement awards cited his coverage of Nikita Khruschev’s visit to the Hawkeye state. A second such honor came from the advertising career that began when he was hired by Omaha’s biggest ad agency, Bozell and Jacobs, to be the commercial writer-producer for Mutual of Transitions Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. As a copywriter and account supervisor, he had the help of The offer from B&J came after he’d proven himself as “absolutely the best art director I’d ever run into,” nellie macKMTV’s promotion man by publicizing what may be the sincallum, known not only for artistic talent, but for lowercasing gle most successful one-day public health effort ever. SOS — Sabin Oral Sunday — was publicized by 40 or 50 promotional her name. “Any idea I had, she’d improve on it.” spots a day and climaxed with daylong live coverage. More When a Des Moines ad agency tried to hire them as a team, they didn’t want to leave Omaha so decided to than 80 percent of the metro population received start their own agency, Galen the oral polio vaccine in that & nellie, in 1980. Before single day. “We knew it was long, they were winning a successful,” Lillethorup big share of annual awards, recalls, “but you don’t know blending his writing and you’re making history at the business skills with her freetime.” wheeling visual creativity. His promotions weren’t all One of their more interestflawless. He hired planes (naturally) to celebrate the station’s ing successes during a 12-year 10th anniversary by dropping run introduced KPTM, Channel balloons with gift certificates. It 42, by mailing a circular antenna didn’t turn out as badly as the to every home. At a time when fictional WKRP-Cincinnati turkey independent UHF channels didn’t do very well, “We signed on with drop, but when the wind blew the the biggest audience of any indy.” wrong way over Wahoo, “people They did an identical mailing for destroyed a soybean field going Ad pros put Lillethorup’s Mutual of Omaha’s Wild another Harry Pappas station in after the prizes,” and one Iowa Kingdom advertisements atop its list of Omaha’s Top South Carolina. neighbor sued another who ran in 10 Moments in a century of advertising campaigns. Their agency became part of a his yard and snatched the top prize. downtown landmark when they When Bozell hired him in 1964, bought the five-story Riley buildhe went to work immediately on the Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom account, a job that ing, famous for the signs painted on its brick wall next to the required a quick trip to Chicago to meet the show’s star, Gene Leahy Mall. Nellie’s cats lounged on office desks and Marlin Perkins, who’d gone from the indoor “Zoo Parade” to she fed the neighborhood pigeons. Business didn’t keep Lillethorup from the pleasure of flying the outdoor “Wild Kingdom.” Soon viewers heard Perkins his own Cessna 172 for 30 years, and he continues to fly model delivering Lillethorup’s sales pitches: “When winter comes planes constructed in his Raven Oaks home. The largest is an and food gets scarce, bears sleep, ducks and geese fly away, 8-foot gas model known as the Gull Wing Stinson. He flies and the fox hunts for food every day in his fight for survival.” more indoor electrics now such as a replica of the Bleriot Viewers saw the bear and the others before Perkins asked, “How long could you provide food and shelter without a payplane, the first to fly the English Channel A frail-looking bi-plane, the Wright Flyer that launched avicheck? You can’t sleep hardship away, you can’t fly away from trouble. Don’t wait until sickness or accident forces you to face ation history at Kitty Hawk, hangs from his ceiling, but it isn’t mere decoration. Galen built it, and others like it, and flew it a financial winter. Get the facts on paycheck protection.” in the North High gymnasium. Lillethorup flew into the wild with Perkins on a trip that At 77, he stays close to advertising as the Galen Group, and also traveled by cab, row boat, tugboat and World War I through such organizations as Quad Club and the Omaha minesweeper before landing on an island west of Mexico, where they slept on the beach, the tide lapping at their feet Federation of Advertising. And he played an appreciative part and sombreros protecting their faces from gull dropping. Gulls in the recent posthumous induction of his classmate, Gautier, into the Omaha Press Club’s journalism Hall of Fame. and terns covered every inch of rock. “They’d move slightly

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Summer 2009 • 27

So insatiable is Geppert’s curiosity that he refuses to have an Internet connection at home — “I would be addicted to it,” he says.

Just T Curious

“Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous mind.”

From harnessing the sun to forecasting S&P 500 winners and losers, John Geppert remains ever-inquisitive

By Eric Olson Photo by Shannon Lauber

28 • Summer 2009

hose are the words — written by 18th-century poet Samuel Johnson — that John Geppert has lived by since he was dissecting bugs and tinkering with other projects in his backyard in Omaha in the 1970s. The credo is at the heart of his eclectic existence, from the kid who messed around with solar panels to the point of winning a prestigious science award, to the man who now studies and teaches the nuances of the business world as a University of Nebraska-Lincoln associate professor of finance. So insatiable is Geppert’s curiosity that he refuses to have an Internet connection at home — he fears he would spend too much time researching whatever comes to mind. “I would be addicted to it,” he says, laughing.

Where he is now

Had Geppert Googled his name he would have found it popping up on the Scientific American magazine Web site in March. Its “Where are they now?” department featured the one-time wunderkind’s work that made him a 1981 Westinghouse Science Talent Search finalist. His invention, of course, was borne of necessity — and his


never-satiated sense of wonderment. The necessity was provided by the energy crisis of the 1970s, an era marked by images of cars lined up at gas stations and fears that it would not be long before we tapped out fossil fuels. Geppert, then a teenager, went to work and invented a device called the “Solar-C.” His worked earned him the Westinghouse honor — and a patent. Shaped as an elongated C, the panel could remain stationary while capturing the sun’s rays from all angles throughout the day. Up to that point, solar panels had to be moved in order to capture maximum sunlight, a more expensive proposition. But the Solar-C, from a practical standpoint, went nowhere. The patent expired about 10 years ago. Geppert says interest in solar energy is fickle and usually dependent on the price of a barrel of oil. If oil prices stay high, folks will clamor for solar power. Still, he has no regrets that Solar-C didn’t gain much traction. “From my standpoint, what came of it was scholarships, basically,” he says. He used a Westinghouse scholarship to study engineering at Washington University (St. Louis) for a couple years, but his curiosity got the best of him. He developed an interest in economics and wanted to specialize in it. His scholarship at Washington wouldn’t allow him to change majors, so he transferred to UNO to complete his bachelor’s degree. Graduate work followed at Purdue. He took his position at UNL in 1989.

Very clever research

His professional life is but an extension of his childhood curiosity. “If something interests me, I’ll start working on it,” Geppert says. “That’s one of the great things in academics. You can be paid to follow your curiosity.” One of Geppert’s latest fancies is the language CEOs use when they address shareholders in annual letters. He and UNL colleague Janice Lawrence published a paper that analyzed linguistic patterns head honchos use when they look back at or predict their company’s financial performance. Geppert and Lawrence discovered that CEOs of companies acknowledged to have the best reputations typically used con-

crete and definitive terminology. CEOs of companies with lesser reputations tended to use clichés as a crutch, dotting their letters with meaningless phrases such as “thinking outside the box” or “pillars of excellence.” The professors also used computer software that homed in on words that have positive and negative connotations and on various sentence structures. After running a sample of annual letters through the computer, Geppert and Lawrence had a person read the same letters and analyze them from a human perspective in a number of different ways. The human response matched the computer’s more often than not. UNL Finance Department Chairman Gordon Karels, former chair of the UNO economics department, says Geppert has a knack for uncovering patterns, whether in mathematics or speech. The paper on CEO language, he says, can be a valuable tool for investors who are seeking background on companies. “Very clever research,” Karels calls it.

Economic tool bag

Geppert also has worked on a rather cerebral project using what’s known as neural networks to forecast which companies appear to be on the way out of the Standard & Poor 500. The S&P 500 is a group of stocks, selected by a committee, whose performance is an indicator of the American economy. Neural networks identify complicated patterns in a way that would be comparable to the way a brain would identify them rather than how it would be done through computer logic. Accurately forecasting which companies may be on the way out of the S&P 500 could represent a money-making opportunity for those who venture to trade on such predictions. “John has a tool bag that’s quite different from the average financial economist,” Karels says. “We all have the standard math tools, but his curiosity about neural networks leads him to acquire skills in those areas that many of us wouldn’t take the time to invest in.” Characteristic of a vigorous mind, one might say.

Remembering recessions past — and sizing up today’s


ohn Geppert pulls no punches when it comes to his politics. The UNL associate professor of finance is a conservative, and he’s a believer in letting a struggling economy work out kinks on its own. Geppert says government intervention should be limited to making sure America’s banking system holds up. Beyond that, he says, let the free market run its course. “ We’ve had recessions before. They serve the purpose of correcting inefficiency, correcting overindulgence, ” he says.

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Geppert is worth a listen given his past research during tough economic times similar to today. He was in the process of earning his Ph. D. in economics at Purdue when the stock market crashed in October 1987. That led him to study whether government intervention can stabilize the stock market. He says the market recovered within a couple years, largely because of action initiated by the Federal Reserve, which increased money supply and reduced short-term market interest rates.

Today, Geppert is suspicious of scare tactics promulgated by the media and the federal government. He says the situation is not close to resembling the Great Depression of the 1930s, when unemployment was more than 20 percent. “ Did they forget the Carter years?” Geppert asks. “ We had high unemployment, high inflation, a 21-percent prime rate.” And while saving banks with the Troubled Relief Asset Program is one thing, using the same philosophy to save the auto industry, and others, is quite

another. “ My gut feeling is that there is a dual agenda where the current administration and congressional leadership are using this financial crisis as an opportunity to expand the government’s role, ” he says He fears nationalizing big industries, as well as increasing taxes on people who are most successful, will compromise the principles of capitalism. “ The problem with spreading the wealth,” he said, “ is that you can spread too much and don’t create it.”

Summer 2009 • 29

Tall Tales

Mom was a UNO star in the early 1980s — and the school’s tallest women’s basketball player ever. Jake Anderson hopes to top her when he begins his Mav career this year

By Tom McMahon

30 • Summer 2009

Photos by Ed Carlson



ary Henke’s father refused to drive her to her Hudson Junior High School cheerleading practice. Undeterred — and perhaps a bit rebellious — the teen rode her bike into town instead. But dad’s tough stance eventually led Mary to trade in her pompoms for a basketball. That, in turn, set in motion a chain of events that will bring UNO one of its tallest basketball players ever. Perhaps its tallest once Henke’s 7foot-son and Maverick basketball recruit stops growing. A bit of explanation, perhaps. ... “Dad was all an all-state basketball player in Minnesota in 1941,” explains Henke. “When I decided to be a cheerleader in seventh grade, it broke his heart.” Dad dreamed that his daughter would hit the hardwood in Iowa’s nationally renown half-court girl’s program. She chose the court, though only to cheer. But after a year of biking to Hudson, the then-6-foot tall Henke had pedaled enough. She decided to join the junior high basketball team. Good choice. Henke became a high school all-stater in Iowa and then a UNO standout as the tallest women’s basketball player ever at 6-foot-6. She remains among the school’s record leaders, though fans might remember her as Mary Henke Anderson. She married Dennis Anderson during the summer of 1982, just

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before her senior year. Their son, Jake Anderson, hopes to set a few records of his own when he launches his Maverick basketball career this season. At 7 feet and growing, the recent Council Bluffs St. Albert High School graduate helped his team to a 204 2008 season that ended with a trip to the state tournament. Anderson averaged 9.7 points a game, snagged 122 rebounds and blocked 65 shots during his senior year. Anderson says he is still adding inches — seven of them during high school — and as his height and coordination stabilize, he believes his best basketball lies ahead. Mom and Maverick men’s basketball Coach Derrin Hansen agree. “Jake obviously has size,” Hansen says. “But he also runs well and has good touch from 10 to 12 feet. You don’t always get that in a big man.”

Mom’s path The adjustment to growth spurts is not a minor consideration. Henke Anderson remembers her own awkwardness when she started playing. “I didn’t even play the first half of my first year,” she says. But the potential was obvious. She says Hudson High School Coach Connie Schafer had a “come-to-Jesus talk” with the junior high coach. “Connie told him, ‘She will play for me. Find her a spot.’” Henke Anderson credits Schafer with teaching her the game and navigating her through the “uncoordinated years.” Henke Anderson led Hudson to the state tournament, where it lost to a much larger Des Moines school. “They had more people in the school than we had in our whole town,” Henke Anderson says with a laugh. “The day of our game, there were only four people left in town. Two firefighters and two shut-ins. Everyone else was at the game.” Henke Anderson then enrolled at UNO, where she played four years for coach Cherri Mankenberg. UNO went 84-41 during her career, winning three North Central Conference titles while competing in two regional tournaments and one national tourney. Henke Anderson led the team in scoring in 1979-80 and 1982-83. She ranks third in career rebounds with 1,024 and fourth in career points with 1,629. She also owns the career record for blocked shots with 291, more than double No. 2 Laura J. Anderson at 129. In 1998 she was inducted into the UNO Athletics Hall of Fame.

Mater’s alma mater Though she graduated in 1983, Henke Anderson remains a wellknown figure at UNO. “I was amazed at how many people knew her as we toured the campus,” Hansen says, referring to Jake’s recruiting visit. Mary Henke Anderson was a standout for the Mavericks That visit impressed the new from 1979 to 1983, twice leading UNO in scoring and set- recruit. He liked the facilities and ting the career record for blocked shots. She also was says UNO’s geology program – his the school’s tallest women’s player ever. Her son, 7-foot planned major – was a strong Jake Anderson, will play for UNO beginning this fall.

Summer 2009 • 31

attraction. Playing for his mother’s alma mater is an added bonus. “We grew up around UNO basketball,” Anderson recalls. The family attended many games together as Jake and his older sister Sarah were growing up. Jake will be only the second 7-footer to don a Maverick uniform. Phillip von Backstrom, a 7-foot-1 USC transfer, played one season for UNO. Other Mavs came close to 7 feet, but were just short (see sidebar). Anderson’s arrival is part of an upgrade in height. He joins fellow recruits 6-8 John Karhoff from Omaha Creighton Prep and 6-7 Matt Hargerbaumer from Lincoln Southeast. Also on the way are Eugene Bain, a 6foot-5 second-team All-American from North Platte Community College, and 6foot Jamel LeBranch, from Central

Community College in Columbus, Neb. Hansen doesn’t know how much playing time his tallest recruit will see this coming season. “If Jake feels ready to play and can contribute enough minutes, he’ll play.” Anderson would love to play his freshman year, but says if Hansen decided to redshirt him that would be fine. Henke Anderson says she would be surprised if Jake saw much playing time his first year. That’s partly because he’s still getting used to his still-growing body. “He grew one-quarter inch in less than a month,” says his mom, who recalls shooting up 3 inches one summer. Anderson expects to grow taller. He wouldn’t mind passing his uncle, who at 7-foot-3 is one of the few people he knows taller than him. Anderson’s father, Dennis, is 6-3 and his sister

Big Men


ake Anderson will not be reaching new heights the first time he dons a Mavericks uniform. Not yet, at least. The still-growing UNO basketball recruit stands 7 feet tall just prior to the start of his Maverick career. That’s 1 inch shy of the Mavs’ tallest player ever, 7-foot-1 Phillip von Backstrom. A one-time USC player and junior college transfer, von Backstrom played just 20 games and one season for the Mavs (19992000), leading the team with 24 blocks but averaging just 3 points per game. A look at some other notable big men in UNO basketball history. Phil Cartwright, 6foot-11, 1988-1992. Perhaps the most complete big man ever to play for the Mavericks, Cartwright (pictured

32 • Summer 2009

Sarah, who played at Army, is 6-4. Not exactly a family of cheerleaders. But tall also comes with talent. Sarah says Jake possesses some of his mother’s speed and ability to shoot away from the basket. Perhaps more importantly, she says he also has their mother’s determination and willingness to master the fundamentals. Henke Anderson knows that firsthand. Mom and son often can be found at Boys Town’s gym on Sundays playing pick-up games with other hoopsters. Henke Anderson coaches for Boys Town, where she is the assistant high school principal. Mom is impressed. “Athletically, I think he’s got it,” Henke Anderson says of her son. “In two years, I think he’ll be a dynamic player.” And he won’t have to ride his bike to practice.

blocking shot) finished his career in 1992 with the third most points scored in school history (1,457). He ranks second in career rebounds (946) and third in blocked shots (143) and was named an NCAA Division II All-American. Cartwright played eight seasons of professional basketball, including time in Europe, the Continental Basketball Association and International Basketball League. John Skokan, 6-foot-10, 1992-1996. An Omaha Creighton Prep graduate, Skokan was a menace on the boards, finishing with a school- and North Central Conference-record 1,022 career rebounds when he played his last game in 1996. He also ranks first in school history in blocked shots with 185 (including a single-game best 9 against South Dakota State in 1995). He later signed a professional contract to play for Nitia-Bettembourg in Luxembourg. John Eriksen, 6-foot-11, 1975-1980. Eriksen finished his career in 1980, when he led the Mavs in points (373) and rebounds (213). He also led the team in rebounds the previous season with 209. He teamed with Steve Criss (below) to give the Mavericks a “twin towers” combination for three seasons. Steve Criss, 6-foot-11, 1975-1979. Criss played four seasons for UNO, finishing his career in 1979 with 1,022 points. A Gateway article soon after his last game reported that he had signed to play for a Venezuelan team in a South American league. Merlin Renner, 6-foot-10, 1971-1972. A junior college transfer, Renner played two seasons for UNO before closing his career in 1972. His 303 rebounds in 1971-72 still rank third most at UNO for a single season. Levy Jones, 6-foot-11, 2004-2005. A transfer from Minneapolis Community/Technical College, Jones played two seasons for the Mavericks, completing his career in 2005 with 83 career blocked shots, fifth most in UNO history.


College of

Communication, Fine Arts and Media

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Summer 2009 • 33

College of

Photo by Tim Fitzgerald/University Relations

Information Science and Technology

From left, Nian Yan, Chi Zhang, Alanah Davis, Abdel Abdelaal and Mehruz Kamal.

They came from near and far

Doctorate Class, 2009 he five people came from near

Tand far to study together at the

College of Information Science & Technology and will part ways with something remarkable in common: each is a member of the doctorate class of 2009, earning a Ph.D. in Information Technology. “We have a quality program and this happens to be a very good group of students,” says Yong Shi, Ph.D., Charles W. and Margre H. Durham Distinguished Professor of Information Technology of Information Systems and Quantitative Analysis (ISQA) and Doctoral Program Director. The graduates are Abdel N. Abdelaal, Alanah Davis, Mehruz Kamal, Nian Yan and Chi Zhang. As part of their doctoral work, the students collaborated on research,

34 • Summer 2009

service-learning and outreach projects. They also worked closely with IS&T faculty members and administrators on research and subsequent journal articles and book chapters. Abdel N. Abdelaal Abdelaal, who has accepted a teaching position at the College of Applied Science in Oman, worked closely with IS&T Dean Hesham Ali in researching the role of community wireless networks in achieving digital inclusion. “This is a unique program in a unique environment,” Abdelaal says. “The college is home to high-quality, team-environment educational opportunities that benefit directly from partnerships with the business community. I am very proud to have my degree from this organization.”

Mehruz Kamal Kamal worked on several projects with her dissertation advisor, Sajda Qureshi, Ph.D., ISQA associate professor. “Dr. Qureshi really kept me in check,” Kamal said during a luncheon honoring the five. “She gave me support in academics as well as emotional support.” This fall, Kamal will become an assistant professor of information systems in the Department of Computer Science at The State University of New York at Brockport. Qureshi says Kamal was highly sought by academic institutions “because of her research in IT and how IT furthers development in micro-businesses,” one of many service-learning opportunities sponsored by the college and the UNO Service Learning Academy. As assistant professor, Kamal will create an IT for development course and research program in which students work with small businesses in the Brockport/Rochester area. “The service-learning component is an UNOALUM

integral part of our Information Technology for Development program in which students pursue a Ph.D. in IT,” Qureshi says. “Enabling students to conduct research within the community really sets them apart, as it provides them with opportunities for conducting innovative research that makes a difference.” Alanah Davis Davis accepted a position as assistant professor of computer information systems in the John A. Walker College of Business at Appalachian State University. Her research has focused on collaboration through the use of technology, and best practices for managing and using collaboration technologies in virtual and face-to-

face teams. “This has been a wonderful experience,” Davis says. “I am sad to be leaving, but very excited about the future and what lies ahead.” Nian Yan Yan has taught for three semesters at IS&T and this year received the Outstanding Ph.D. Student Teaching Award from the college. He also has participated in a variety of research projects, including credit card risk analysis and network intrusion detection. During the May luncheon, Yan expressed his gratitude to fellow IS&T faculty members “for their help and inspiration. I got a lot of ideas from different fields.”

Chi Zhang Zhang worked closely with Ilze Zigurs, Ph.D., ISQA department chair. An instructor in computer science at IS&T whose research interests include virtual world learning environments and virtual collaboration, Zhang says she appreciated the support Zigurs and other faculty provided in overcoming the many “pressures and challenges” of the Ph.D. program. During the luncheon, Zigurs said that the graduates worked so closely with each other and with IS&T faculty that they became part of the “academic family” at the college. “The five of you are like cousins, growing up at the same time,” she said. “So, stay in touch with your family!”

Photo by Tim Fitzgerald/University Relations

Making algebra ... fun Y

oung students often balk at learning algebra. After all, they contend, what use does it have in the real world? This spring, 75 eighth-grade students at LaVista Junior High School discovered many real-world applications for algebra, thanks to a course designed and presented by Gerald Wagner, Ph.D., distinguished research fellow at UNO’s College of Information Science & Technology (IS&T). The students participated in an applied algebra/entrepreneur project using Planners Lab™, a simulation and visualization software program. “It is the same software that I use in my university course on applied consulting,” Wagner explains. “It is sophisticated financial planning and budgeting software, but is very intuitive and easy to learn. Everything is in plain English.” Peg Alexander, High Ability Learner (HAL) facilitator at the school, agrees with Wagner’s assessment. “Planner’s Lab equations used natural language, and it was easy for the students to pick up and manipulate the equations,” she says. “They could grasp how it was relevant to them personally and how real businesses operate.” Each pair of students in three algebra classes designed a student business, then created a mock Web site for it. John Allen, Papillion/LaVista School District technology specialist, assisted algebra teachers Andy Loch and Kendi Fraser on the development of the Web sites. In the entrepreneurial phase that followed, participants could make their financial models as simple or complex as they wished by adding or deleting variables such as expenses and revenues and graphing the modifications. The students proposed a wide variety of businesses, from a “homework robot” to an electronic device that makes buying clothes easier by telling you how an article of clothing would look on you. Students unveiled their projects to their classmates in March. In April, five students – Emily Erikson, Jackie Florick, Anuja Godbole, Abby Kelly and Kasey Trouba – attended the Nebraska Educational Technology Association Conference with Wagner and presented their projects at a break-out session. The works opened students’ eyes to the challenges of business. “I learned that making a profit is a difficult process,” says Abby.

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Looking over their work are, clockwise from top, Wagner, Alexander and students Bryce Sheard and Ashley Patras.

“There are many variables that can affect a profit, and the slightest change can cause a business to go into debt.” Anuja says that if she ever starts her own business, “I know that I have to apply a plan for expenses, income, and profit.” Wagner hopes to develop teaching materials that would allow the financial planning and budgeting course to be incorporated at middle and high schools around the nation. “There is a growing need for personal finance instruction in Kthrough-12 schools,” he says. “Over the past five years, 17 states have added personal finance requirements to school curriculums. “Through the successful project this spring at LaVista Junior High, we’ve proved there is a way to get the students excited about learning the subject.”

Summer 2009 • 35

College of

Good advice: CPACS advisors he wealth of teaching awards bestowed upon instructors

Tin the College of Public Affairs and Community Service

(CPACS) indicates the high standards and dedication of the faculty. Beyond the classroom, however, the one-on-one interaction of faculty members as student advisors makes a significant difference in students’ lives. Whether it’s advice regarding study habits, course selection, workload or career path, advisors act as mentors, confidants, supporters – and often as friends. “We have so many faculty who are leaders in student service,” says CPACS Dean B.J. Reed. “The excellence of teaching is often recognized, but the role of advisor also has a profound impact upon our students’ success, long after the caps and gowns are put away.” It’s a role many faculty say they savor. “Advising allows you to get to know the students more than just seeing them in the classroom,” says Karen Rolf, Ph.D., assistant professor in the School of Social Work. “This interaction enables us to see them as complete individuals.” Acting as advisor reveals the external demands placed on many students, from family commitments to the stress of working a full-time job. “It’s always a challenge making sure a student stays on track academically, and as advisors we also try to focus on their needs,” says Rolf, who earned her doctorate at Karen Rolf the University of Chicago. “Getting them to prioritize their lives is a challenge. Sometimes we have to slow them down, get them to be more realistic, or encourage them to increase their commitment. “Sometimes advisors just have to say, ‘We understand.’” Christopher Kelly, assistant professor in the department of gerontology, earned his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in 2004 and spent two years as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina Institute on Aging in Chapel Hill. He advises graduate students, serves on the thesis committee and acts as a mentor for honors projects. “Being a fairly recent graduate myself, I’ve learned a lot from those who have taken a nontradiChristopher Kelly tional path,” Kelly says. “I enjoy

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being here, and I communicate well with my students. This is not a job for me. This is truly what I love to do.” Kelly says he, too, finds advising to be challenging at times. “Each student is different and has different needs. Some find it difficult adjusting to the rigors of studies, but others, especially the international students, must struggle to adapt to a new culture as well. “The biggest challenge is helping students find their own voice.” For Ethel Williams, often that voice comes via long distance — or in an email. Williams, Ph.D., serves as associate professor in the School of Public Administration, which offers courses at UNO and at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). As director of the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program, Williams also is the assigned advisor for approximately 100 students in the school’s online MPA degree program. “I have students in all 50 states and many overseas, some in Iraq,” Williams says. “Balancing time Ethel Williams zones and being available to them when you’ve got students everywhere can be difficult.” Williams, who received her Ph.D. from UNL, says it may be surprising to learn that her online students often require less guidance than those who take PA courses in Omaha or Lincoln. “Online students have to be more disciplined,” she says. “You have to make yourself read and study because you don’t have a set time to be in the classroom.” The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice also serves students at both the Omaha and Lincoln campuses. The director, Candice Batton, received her Ph.D. in sociology from Vanderbilt and is an associate professor. Besides undergraduates, the school has approximately 50 students working on their master’s degrees and 25 doctoral students. In addition to advising regarding classroom work, Batton says CJ faculty encourage students to take advantage of the many internship opportunities available to them. Candice Batton “It’s up to us as advisors to get the students to realize the value of taking on an internship,” she says. “From the public defend-

Photos by Tim Fitzgerald/University Relations

Public Affairs & Community Service


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Photo by Tim Fitzgerald/University Relations

er’s office and the U.S. Marshalls, to the courts, corrections and juvenile services, there are so many agencies that are delighted to work with our students. “The challenge is getting them to understand that it goes beyond on-the-job experience to providing contacts and references after graduation.” Karen Garver, Ph.D., is an academic advisor in the College of Continuing Studies. “I received my Ph.D. in history from UCLA in 1974 to face a bad job market for history professors,” she says. “I was delighted to discover that it was possible to train for student service positions.” So Garver earned a master’s degree in counseling from UNO in 1981. “I have spent the last 25-plus years enjoying the opportunity to help adult students complete degree programs and help set Karen Garver future directions,” says Garver, who will retire from UNO in December. “It has been a continuing special pleasure to work with so many wonderful students.” Michael Carroll, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Goodrich Scholarship Program. Funded by the state, the Goodrich Program offers scholarships and an intensive multicultural curriculum coupled with support services designed to yield the confidence to succeed. In 2001 the program earned the national Theodore M. Hesburgh Award Certificate of Excellence for Faculty Development to Enhance Undergraduate Teaching and Learning. Carroll has been a part of the program since 1978. Each of the program’s faculty has about two dozen Goodrich scholars spread from freshmen through seniors. Michael Carroll “Because one of the requirements of the program is financial need,” Carroll says, “money is often an issue for our students.” He says faculty advisors keep students aware of other scholarships or paid internships that can supplement the funding they receive through the Goodrich program. “We try to treat our students holistically,” Carroll says. “We offer a course in student survival skills, and we do some financial counseling. We try to teach them that a credit card is not forever boundless, and that the number of checks they have does not equate to the money they have in the bank.” For many faculty members, teaching and advising go hand-in-hand.

Glass storefronts echo transparency


aptivating, art glass storefronts have been installed in the new CPACS building. The glass panels, one for each of the college’s various units, echo the building’s themes of transparency and openness, yet also contain images that help convey to the viewer the particular unit’s mission, purpose and values. The artist, selected by a college committee, was Kathy Bradford of Lyons, Colo., and each of the 11 units (CPACS plus radio/TV) has glass designed specifically for it. All were paid for by Nebraska’s One Percent for the Arts law. In effect since 1978, the One Percent law has generated more than $2.2 million dollars in artwork for Nebraska’s state buildings, state colleges and the University of Nebraska system.

“I really enjoy seeing some of these students mature,” says Batton. “To see those I met as sophomores decide by seniors on careers or graduate school, I like witnessing that development and maturation, and I appreciate my role as teacher and advisor in helping them get there.” Whether it’s teaching or advising, Carroll says, “I am always learning. “Even though I hope to impart information upon my students,” he says, “I am aware that I am getting a reflection back which reminds me that everybody knows something, and nobody knows everything.” Rolf says inspiration can be found in the words of W.B. Yeats: “Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.” “I hope to be an example through my enthusiasm,” she says. “Even if they don’t remember exactly what I taught them or every word of advice I gave, I hope they remember my eagerness and pick up that learning is exciting.” And can be as rewarding for those who give good advice as for those who receive it.

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College of

Arts & Sciences

Award winners E

ach year the college honors six people for Excellence in Teaching from among more than 300 individuals who teach for Arts and Sciences programs. Three of the teachers are chosen from among the full-time faculty and three from among the adjunct faculty. The UNO Alumni Association sponsors the full-time awards and the college sponsors the adjunct awards. All recipients receive a plaque and a cash award of $1,000. Nominations and support for those nominations come from colleagues and students. This year’s recipients represent the departments of English, History, and Math. Nora Bacon’s contributions to teaching at UNO are multifaceted but always at the heart of her work is her philosophy: “What gives my professional life meaning is a belief that our work at UNO can serve the cause of human freedom. It can do so if we teach our students to think for themselves, to be both skillful enough and bold enough to champion their convictions while remaining receptive to new ideas, and to recognize their common purpose with others in the community.” Bacon’s leadership of the first-year writing program has guided the learning of some 1,500 students each year for eight years. Her efforts on behalf of the Service Learning program and the Writing Across the Curriculum initiative have extended that influence to hundreds more. As she continues to teach the teachers, her philosophy and her passion will serve and inspire tens of thousands. One of her teacher-students, Kim Schwab, writes, “I have always felt that Dr. Bacon has been a champion of my success and an asset to my education and career; she has been a careful, engaging, delightful and inspiring leader. I can’t thank her enough for the great example she has provided, and I consider myself fortunate to think of her as a friend, as well as a mentor.” Maria Isabel Barros provides a shining example of the special and critical roles adjunct faculty can play at UNO. As a graduate of UNO’s masters in English program with a specialization in linguistics and a graduate certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL), and as an experienced teacher of Portuguese and English in Brazil, Barros brings precious expertise and understanding to her ESL students and her colleagues in the ESL program. Barros has taught ESL students in the classroom and in the Writing Center. Dori Richards, director of the Writing Center, says, “Our multi-language clients face not only word-choice and sentence-level challenges, but they also confront the writing expectations of our culture, such as our emphasis on concise and direct prose, that vastly differ from their own culture’s writing priorities. As a non-native speaker herself, Isabel readily empathizes with our international clients and offers them the support and training they need to succeed at the university level.” Frank Bramlett teaches linguistics, the study of language, and, traditionally, the most challenging classes for English majors. Bramlett’s students speak consistently to that challenge in their letters of support and how Bramlett helped them to meet it. As Carole Quass, one former student put it,

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“He was inspiring, open-minded, gloriously enthusiastic, and a guiding force….” Linguistics traditionally has been considered the dry and technical side of English studies, but Bramlett’s philosophy and practice of teaching bring the truth to light. He writes, “It is easy to believe that language is the most powerful tool commonly available to all humans. At the same time, language is also the most immediate, the most intimate aspect of our lives. We accomplish our relationships through language: experiencing and expressing joy, grief, conflict, bereavement, poetry, song and love.” Bramlett’s students are also educated on the larger social significance of language study. As former student Bobbi Olson writes, “Perhaps one of the greatest lessons I took away from his African-American English course is the necessity of social justice both within our educational systems and our society at large. While instructing this course, Dr. Bramlett demonstrated not only his knowledge of the subject, but also his personal commitment to the idea of equal access.” Patrick Kennedy is lauded by his colleagues in the history department for his commitment to teaching and passion for learning. Sharon Wood, history department chair, writes, “Around the department, Mr. Kennedy is well-known for his long office hours, open door, and abundant patience and good humor. He genuinely enjoys working with students one-on-one, and they respond by beating a path to his door.” Students describe Kennedy as one of those rare teachers who can transform students and their opinions about history. Zuhra Sahaq writes, “History had always been a challenging subject for me because I am not a native English speaker and because, frankly, I thought it was a boring subject. At the end of my first semester with Professor Kennedy, history had become my favorite class. After two more semesters with Professor Kennedy, I learned much about history and gained an interest which aided in my decision to pursue a career as a social studies teacher.” Kennedy earned his master’s degree in history from UNO in 2004, the same year he retired from a distinguished teaching career with the Omaha Public Schools. He has been an adjunct instructor for UNO since 2005. In addition to celebrating June Mecham, the history department must also grieve her loss. Mecham passed away March 1, 2009, at the age of 35 after battling breast cancer for several years. Sharon Wood, chair of UNO’s history department, wrote in her nomination letter, “Dr. Mecham combines a natural gift for the classroom with extraordinarily hard work, and her students recognize that they are in the presence of something special: deep intellectual rigor and sparkling imagination combined with humor, warmth and generosity.” “In four years of teaching at UNO, Dr. Mecham has developed and taught six upper-division courses new to the history department curriculum. This is a remarkable accomplishment for a junior faculty member, but the most impressive thing is that every course appears to be a gem. “One of Mecham’s students, responding to the request, ‘Please describe how much you learned in this class,’ simply wrote: ‘bucketloads.’ Students used words like ‘fantastic,’


‘excellent,’ ‘lively,’ ‘exceptional,’ ‘fascinating’ and ‘You Rock!!’ to describe Dr. Mecham’s teaching. ‘She out-taught my Education professors. Truly an amazing teacher,’ commented one student. Another wrote, ‘I took this class for fun, and I’m really glad I did.’ From another, ‘I did so much outside work for this class because the lectures lead me to want to investigate the topics more.’” Mecham received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Kansas in 2004. Her research and teaching interests included women’s history and gender history, especially female spirituality and monasticism, as well as the interaction between material culture and devotional practices, space and performance in late medieval Germany. Her monograph “Performance Piety and Female Monastic Devotion in Late Medieval Germany” has been contracted by Brepols for publication soon.

The Math department celebrates Darren Holley. As an adjunct instructor, Holley has taught calculus, differential equations, and intermediate algebra for UNO’s math department for many years. Letters of support from students and colleagues speak with one voice about his unique ability and commitment to teach even the most complex concepts to every student. Janice Rech, coordinator of part-time faculty for the math department, writes, “Every student who has had the privilege of taking a class from Dr. Holley has benefited from his compassion as an individual and his breadth and depth of knowledge as an instructor.” Holley earned a master of science in mathematics from UNO and a Ph.D. in mathematics from UNL. He is chair of the mathematics department at North High School and, in addition to his many other duties, teaches UNO’s dual enrollment calculus class to North High students.

Former Dean Flocken remembered as ‘decent man’


n May 12, 2009, John Flocken, retired professor of physics and former dean of arts and sciences passed away at the age of 69. Flocken touched the lives of hundreds of faculty and staff and thousands of students at UNO. His work as a teacher, researcher, and administrator was distinguished by excellence, compassion and humility. Robert Woody, professor of psychology, writes of his colleague and fellow administrator, “In all of our years together at UNO, I consistently found John to be the epitome of competency as a professional and goodness as a person. “ His qualities brought out the best in others, and his contributions to the stability and development of UNO will endure.” Flocken’s teaching career at UNO began in 1969, the same year he earned his Ph.D. in physics from the University of NebraskaLincoln. Over the years, he taught theoretical physics, mechanics, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics, and solid state physics. He earned promotion to full professor in 1975 and served as chair of the physics department from 1980 to 1982. Even before he earned his Ph.D., his research career was distinguished by his first publication in Physical Review. While at UNO he published more than 40 articles in similarly prestigious journals and was recognized by appointment to the Milo Bail Chair of Physics in 1988, by UNO’s Award for Distinguished Research or Creative Activity in 1990, and by appointment to the Isaacson Professorship in 1991. In much of his research, Flocken worked with the Materials Science Program, a collaborative endeavor of scientists from UNO and

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UNL. The Materials Science Program works to model, test and develop novel materials, such as high-temperature superconductors. In 19971998 Flocken co-authored proposals that earned more than $800,000 in funding from the University of Nebraska Foundation, the Nebraska Research Initiative and the National Science Foundation-EPSCoR to establish a computational facility that would serve faculty and students engaged in research requiring high-end processors and graphics, such as those required for simulating a variety of complex systems for the Materials Science Program. Flocken served in a variety of leadership positions at UNO beyond the physics department. He served as: assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, 1975-1976; acting dean for Graduate Studies and Research, 1978-1980; interim associate vice chancellor of Academic Affairs and interim associate dean for Graduate Studies and Research, 19941995; interim dean of Arts and Sciences, 19951996; and, dean of Arts and Sciences from 1997 to 2001. Among his accomplishments as dean was an expansion of diversity in the curriculum. The Native American Studies Program and the Women’s Studies Program both recognized him for his support. Karen Falconer Al-Hindi, director of Women’s Studies, says, “UNO’s Women’s Studies program was transformed by John Flocken’s support and advocacy. He created the director of Women’s Studies position, increased the program’s operating budget, and saw the proposal for a major in Women’s Studies through the approval process. His vision and efforts were instrumental in making the program what it is today.” Former dean of Arts and Sciences Shelton Hendricks, Flocken’s successor, remembers him as “a decent man, a talented and productive physicist, and a caring and effective dean. One could always trust his judgment and his

good intentions.” One of the qualities in Flocken that made him an effective leader in all areas of the university was his passion for learning in all areas of the sciences and the humanities. His passion for learning and books, specifically, led him to be a volunteer for UNO Library Friends, a non-profit organization whose primary purpose is to support the Criss Library at UNO. Flocken had been a member of the organization since 2002 and, at the time of his death, was serving as vice president of its education committee. Marie Hiykel, president of UNO Library Friends and grants manager for the AIM Institute, writes, “John worked diligently for ULF. Something that runs through my mind is that John always ‘showed up.’ He came to all the Libraries Scholastic Book Fairs that ULF sponsored and ran the sales table. He was there for all the book discussions and events/activities sponsored by ULF and/or Criss Library. Last winter John had been fighting a nasty cold, yet there he was for our December board meeting, bundled up, shaking off snow and cold temperatures because he always ‘showed up.’ “When I would chair a ULF Board meeting, I always knew I was on the right track when making decisions or offering suggestions for leading a project when I looked over and saw John nodding in agreement. His support for ULF was invaluable to me, our board members and our membership at large.” At his retirement reception in 2003, Flocken spoke with pride of the history and growth of UNO as a “ living institution made up of supportive people.” As to his own role in that growth, 34 years of teaching, research and service, he offered, “ I am grateful for the opportunity.”

Photo by Glen Sowell

Summer 2009 • 39

College of


Coaches in the classroom ou know them as coaches, but did you know they also teach? Mike Denney is well known as the coach of championship wrestling teams. Patty Shearer and Rose Shires also receive considerable press stemming from their successes in basketball and volleyball, respectively. But all three coaches — and many others beside them — also are teachers in the classroom. Prospective coaches are learning how to coach wrestling in Denney’s classroom. Students also can learn self-defense or Judo in two of his other classes. Shires provides instruction in how to coach volleyball. In another course, Games II, she covers golf, badminton, racquetball, table tennis, tennis and even pickle ball. Shearer’s coaching skills on the court are passed on to future basketball coaches in the metro area; she also teaches fitness students the important skills they can pass on to others or adapt for their personal use. These three aren’t the only coaches involved on the UNO campus, but their teaching responsibilities are unique among universities of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association in which Mav teams play. Coaches who teach in the College of Education also include: Theodore Anderson, assistant coach, women’s soccer; Pat Behrns, head coach, football; Jason Flores, assistant coach, women’s basketball; Christopher Gadsden, assistant coach, baseball; Derrin Hansen, head coach, men’s basketball; Randall Herbst, assistant coach; Robert Herold, head coach, baseball; Aaron Keen, assistant coach, football; Donald Klosterman, head coach, women’s soccer; Brad McCaslin, assistant coach, football; Russell McKune, athletic trainer; Nathan Neuhaus, assistant coach, football; Karen Povondra, assistant


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coach, volleyball; Christopher Richardson, assistant coach, women’s cross country/track; Conor Riley, assistant coach, football; Michael Roberts, assistant athletic trainer; Todd Samland, head coach, women’s swimming and diving; Lisa Schniepp, assistant athletic trainer; Christopher Simpson, assistant coach, football; and Stephen Smith, head coach, track. Rose Shires Many coaches began their careers as teachers. Shires prepared to be a teacher and coach while a student at the University of Texas El Paso. She spent the early years of her career in Texas, where she taught physical education classes and coached volleyball. At UNO she teaches Theory of Coaching Volleyball and Games II. Shires “Teaching gives me the opportunity to reach the general student population, as well as the athletes on the volleyball team,” she says. “I enjoy teaching. I’m sharing my passion with students. And, I might be able to influence one of them into being a coach who might be in my place in the years to come.” She feels that when she explains a concept to a student in the classroom, it helps make her a better educator of that theory when she works with the athletes on her team. Shires says students take her class on the Theory of Volleyball essentially for three reasons: 1. They want to coach volleyball; 2. They are fulfilling the requirement to take two theory courses if they want to coach; or, 3.

They are general students interested in learning the sport for personal reasons or because they want to work with young people at some level. Mike Denney Mike Denney actually began his post-college career first as a teacher, not a coach. After graduating from Dakota Wesleyan he came to Omaha to play for the Omaha Mustangs and to teach mathematics at Omaha South High School. He wasn’t officially a coach the first year, but he did volunteer his time with wrestling. Later, he became the head wrestling coach and taught math- Denney ematics at Omaha Bryan before coming to UNO as head wrestling coach in 1979. Since then his teams have won five national titles, including the 2009 crown. He’s also molded champions in the classroom. His Judo and self defense classes are held both semesters. His wrestling theory class is during the second semester at the same time that the wrestling season is underway. “I love it,’ Denney says. “I try to get students in coaching theory involved in our sport. They assist at the meets. We will host the national tourney next year and my students will be trained as official scorers and timers for the meet. “When you are coaching, you are teaching. I think teaching benefits me as a coach. I am more rounded. I also love being involved in the department. My goal is to be a positive force on campus.”


Patty Shearer Patty Shearer prepared to be a teacher and coach at Northern Arizona University and at Rocky Mountain College. She earned her master’s degree at the University of Arizona, a school that was close to home for the Marana, Ariz., native. Like her mother, her father and two of her three sisters, she became a teacher. She taught humanities Shearer and world history while coaching in high school

for seven years before moving to the college level. Shearer teaches Fitness for Living Lab and Theory of Coaching Basketball. She will also have an independent study course in the fall. She says she teaches how to coach first, then teaches the basic skills of the sport. A majority of the students in her theory class are male who may or may not plan to become coaches. Shearer, the daughter of a coach, grew up in gymnasiums and so is comfortable on the court. But she also is comfortable in the classroom. “Teaching enhances my relationships with students who are not athletes, and also makes me a better coach,” she says. “Coaching is teaching.” When asked if teaching interferes with her coaching, Shearer says,

“Nothing in your life should interfere with the other things you do. I concentrate on what I am doing at the moment.” Dr. Michael Messerole, assistant director of the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, establishes the teaching assignments in the school, and also reviews faculty performance in the classroom. “The Joint Appointment Faculty teach approximately 48 courses per semester,” Messerole says. “The courses range from physical education activity courses, first aid, coaching theory, fitness for living and theory and practice of teaching resistance training. The instructor ratings are consistently below 1.5, which is excellent (on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the highest).”

John Langan: a teacher who coached retires D r. John Langan retired from the College of Education on Dec. 31, ending a 44-year connection to the college that began as an undergraduate student, continued in the graduate program, and included roles as a graduate assistant, professor and department chair before concluding as dean. Langan recalls joining the faculty after the unexpected invitation of another dean, Paul Kennedy, during his time as a grad assistant. “ I was teaching a summer class and Paul Kennedy and Hollie Bethel walked in the classroom,” says Langan. “ And Kennedy, in his gruff voice, and in front of the class, said, ‘Langan, do you want to teach?’” Langan didn’t see Kennedy’s bigger point. “ I thought that was what I was doing,” he responded. Langan was in the final graduating class of the Municipal University of Omaha on June 1, 1968. The institution officially became the University of Nebraska at Omaha one month later. After earning an MS in education at UNO in 1969 he began his career as a faculty member in the college. He later earned his doctorate in education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. But Langan’s campus involvement went beyond classroom walls. He was a volunteer assistant coach for Connie Claussen with the first women’s softball team, which marked the beginning of varsity athletics for women at UNO. He also served as the UNO Athletic Committee chair and chaired two search committees formed to appoint an athletic director. Langan became the first coordinator of the Office of Student Services for the college when the office began in the 1984-85 school year. He was coordinator of the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) visitations to the college for many years, beginning in 1971, and he served as chair of the Department of Teacher Education from 1992 to 2003. Langan also served as president of the Faculty Senate and was a member of numerous campus and college committees. Tapped for the role of acting dean in the summer of 2003 when

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From left, Interim COE Dean David Conway, HPER School Director Dan Blanke, John Langan and UNO Chancellor John Christensen. Photo by Tim Fitzgerald/University Relations.

John Christensen became acting vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, Langan was officially appointed dean a year later. He served in that post until July 1, 2008, then served various administrative functions for the college until retiring. Two of the legacies of which he is most proud include the development of the Office of Student Services in the college and the Career Advancement and Development for Recruits and Experienced Teachers (CADRE) project. Langan also has been extensively involved in community activities, including working with youth athletic teams and serving 14 years as a member of the Omaha Public Schools Board of Education. He was president of the board for seven years. Langan continues to be connected to the university by working in the Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs on various university-wide projects, some tied to athletics. “ It’s crazy,” he says when reflecting upon his career. “ Where did the time go?”

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College of

Business Administration

CBA honors three as Distinguished Alumni hree talented and successful busi-

Tness people were honored as 2009

Distinguished Alumni by the College of Business Administration at a luncheon on May 14. Their career tracks reflect the diverse opportunities in business, from new product and process innovation to automobile manufacturing and fastfood service and franchising. “A total of 76 graduates of CBA have been officially recognized as distinguished alumni from a base of over 18,000 persons,” said Dean Louis Pol. “Their success is a great source of pride to the students, faculty, staff, and other alumni of the UNO College of Business Administration.”

Susan Brennan Vice President, Manufacturing Nissan North America, Inc. Susan Brennan is vice president, Manufacturing-Smyrna and Decherd for Nissan North America, Inc. Brennan oversees the operation of Nissan’s two Tennessee-based plants. As senior executive onsite, she is responsible for safety, quality, operations, productivity and environmental compliance. She also oversees new model introduction for Nissan’s key North American products. Before joining Nissan, Brennan spent 16 years in various manufacturing management roles, first at Douglas & Lomason Co. then at Ford Motor Company. Before leaving Ford she was director of the automaker’s global manufacturing business office. In 2005, Brennan was named by Automotive News as one of the Top 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry. She is vice president of Automotive Women’s 42 • Summer 2009

Alliance, a resource group formed to support women in the automotive industry. Brennan has served on the board of directors of the Clara B. Ford Academy in Dearborn, Mich. Brennan holds a master’s in business administration from UNO and a bachelor of science degree in microbiology from the University of Illinois. She lives in Brentwood, Tenn., with her husband and two children. Robert A. Edwards President, Edwards Investments McDonald’s Franchise Organization Bob Edwards spent 26 years as owner/operator of 18 McDonald’s restaurants in the Omaha area. He and his wife, Charlene, opened their first restaurant in Bellevue, Neb. in 1976. During the development and growth of their McDonald’s franchises, they employed more than 1,000 people. Edwards also started Keno Casino at AkSar-Ben, which he sold shortly after opening. Edwards’ career has been diverse. He began in a family dry-cleaning business, which transitioned into a consumer packaged-goods business. The firm later was sold to Armour & Co, where he worked as director of marketing. Edwards has served on boards of directors for the American Cancer Society, Boys Town and Boys Town National Institute, Mid-America Council of the Boy Scouts, Nebraska Special Olympics, and the Ronald McDonald House of Omaha. He has served on committees and advisory boards for Midlands Community Hospital and for the Bellevue and Papillion Chambers of Commerce. Edwards earned his executive MBA

from UNO in 1985 and is a graduate of the University of Miami. He and Charlene retired to Florida in 2002 and make frequent trips back to Omaha to spend time with their family. Marshall Widman Founder and Partner BallStars Marshall Widman has been coming up with innovative ideas and inventing products since the seventh grade. His most successful invention is BallStars Heat Transfer Process, a technique for printing full-color images without distortion onto objects curved in multiple directions, such as Christmas ornaments, baseballs, footballs, hockey pucks, etc. Widman has been awarded three U.S. patents and numerous international patents, copyrights and trademarks for his process. His company, Star Innovations, dba BallStars, licenses the printing process and sells the specialized printing equipment all over the world. Widman enjoys lecturing about the process of inventing and about being an entrepreneur. Of special interest to Widman is working with young entrepreneurs and students. He was born in Omaha and attended Harrison Elementary School, Dundee School and Central High School. He earned a bachelor of science in business administration degree from UNO. He joined the Air Force in 1968, then made his way to the Kansas City area, where he met his wife, Sherry, and where he still lives. Widman has an extensive collection of baseball memorabilia that he shares and enjoys with his sons Andrew and Jay and with his grandson Reece. UNOALUM



Joe Hefti, BA, wrote in response to a Spring 2009 UNO Alum article on his brother, 1940 graduate John Hefti. Excerpts from his letter: “Thank you for writing such an excellent article on my brother, John, including also a little about Neal. Both were nationally prominent musicians, but so was our brother, James (UNO, ’??), who played sax and clarinet with Lawrence Welk, Sammy Kaye and others. John was also an excellent photographer, having had displays of his work at Joslyn Memorial. He started high school at Technical High because at that time he was more interested in electricity and science than in music. As for Neal, I could write forever about his musical accomplishments. It was a little difficult for me having three brothers who were so musically talented, as everyone expected me to also have musical talent. Alas, no talent here, only a music appreciation. I knew by the time I was 12 I needed another way to make a living, so I majored in chemistry and graduated in 1951. I worked in aerospace for more than 40 years in the Los Angeles area. For the past 20 years I have been interested in writing poetry and short stories (almost 200 poems and 25 short stories).”


Harlan E. Petersen, BFA, lives in Sherman Oaks, Calif., and sends this email: “After graduating, two years were spent in the U.S. Army, most being in Germany. I worked for about nine months as the first full-time artist for the University of Omaha media department. Two more years at the L.A. Art Center School for the commercial art field indirectly led me into aerospace publications for seven years. My first wife and I had two daughters. Married to my second wife since 1978 and acquired a stepson and stepdaughter. Worked for the L.A. U.S.D. from 1967 to 1994, when I retired. Since then I have been active in three art clubs and art shows, choirs, choruses, lyric theater, traveling, volunteering, Braille Institute, Sierra Club, St. Jo Hospital and, of course, family Would enjoy hearing from anyone whom I knew back in those days of yore.” Send Harlan email at Larry Boersma, BA, is a photographer (professional name Larry Allan) and lives in Sarasota, Fla. He recently completed his second DVD, “Little

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Class Notes

Lost Mountain Lion,” a children’s story about a baby cougar who accidentally gets left behind when its mother moves her den. He photographed this true story and narrates the story. He was on the UNO campus in late April meeting with a couple of classes. To see more, visit

To see his books, visit


Thomas Majeski, BFA, was among three inductees into the Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson High School Hall of Fame in March. Majeski was born in Council Bluffs in 1933 and graduated from Thomas Jefferson in 1951. After graduating from UNO he earned a master's degree in fine arts at the University of Iowa in 1963. He was a member of UNO’s art and art history faculty for more than 35 years and now is a professor emeritus. His teaching fields include printmaking, intaglio, lithography, relief, papermaking and drawing. His work has been featured in exhibitions in the United States and abroad.


John D. Coy, BGS, lives in San Antonio and writes: “Upon receiving my BGS I retired from the U.S. Air Force with over 20 years of service, most of which was spent in computer

SUBMIT A CLASS NOTE ON THE WEB: automation within the intelligence network. I moved to Austin, Texas. I worked for the Texas State Auditor’s Office in the systems automation division for 17 years auditing colleges, universities and state agencies in all aspects of accounting and automate systems. I became director of automation at the Texas Commission for the Blind and retired from Texas state government in 1994. Since our three children were grown and on their own, my wife and I sold the homestead, purchased a 40-foot RV and traveled the United States full time from Key West to Alaska, from San Diego to Maine and all across the U.S. and Canada. Gave up that great lifestyle in 2004 and returned to the childhood hometown, San Antonio, where my wife and I are enjoying the twilight of our years in a no-maintenance townhouse, enjoying good food and lots of Margaritas. God bless America!”


Larry Moore, BS, lives in Knoxville, Tenn., where he retired as a major, military police corps in 1978. He then worked as a certified emergency manager, a certified protection professional, and a certified business

manager. He also became a certified lifetime member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police while employed at a Y-12 Nuclear Plant, where he retired again in 1997. He received his MS in criminal justice in 1976 from Jacksonville State University in Alabama. He has authored 16 feature articles in national magazines and received 23 book reviews published in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. Seven years ago he and his wife established a home-based distributorship in 16 east Tennessee counties where 68 stores carry their Big Game Jerky products.


Richard Stanley Wadleigh, BGS, lives in Turnersville, N.J., and takes email at


Zane Schauer, MS, lives in Palm Coast, Fla., and writes: “I retired from the Federal Senior Executive Service in 2004, completing my career as the HR director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). I’m blessed with a wonderful wife, four adult children, and a grandson on the way, as well as a success-


Cracking up with Carlin, 1971 From the Fall 1971 Breakaway yearbook


eorge Carlin was first to perform for the 2,000 students present for the UNO Homecoming Concert, and the concert was a first for Carlin. A recent change in appearance — he now sports long hair, a beard and casual clothing like the flared blue-jeans, t-shirt and denim jacket worn during the Student Programming Organizationsponsored concert — has also meant a change in his act and where he performs. The 34-year-old native of New York City has quit the “club and Las Vegas route” and cut down on his TV appearances (Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin, Flip Wilson and Ed Sullivan shows), which he plans to quit completely “for at least a year.” He is now concentrating on campus circuits, which, until UNO, his first officially invited appearance, consisted of filling in for last-minute cancellations. His act is now “more personal” although he still does mimicry and characters—his “Hippie Dippy Weatherman” reporting “the present temperature is 68 degrees at the airport, which is stupid because I don't know anybody who lives at the airport”— he also works as himself, offering personal observations and interpretations on just about anything from daytime television to population control. It was this kind of informal performance, more like an informal conversation, which typifies Carlin's act and unveils his personality. His act is himself, and both are enjoyable. His performance lasted over an hour and was well received and liked by the audience, who gave him a well-deserved standing ovation.

Summer 2009 • 43

Class Notes ful second career as a personal trainer.” Send him email at John W. Wilke, BS, is owner of Wilke Law Office in Omaha and handles cases involving personal injury, domestic relations and criminal defense. He and his wife of 36 years, Marilyn, have two adult children, both of whom live in San Diego. Send him email at


Rebecca S. Fahrlander, MA, is a visiting assistant professor at UNO. She traveled to Patagonia, Chile, and Antarctica with the National Geographic Society and the Explorers Club in January. She now has traveled to all seven continents.

Jan Pinaire, MS, lives in Bethlehem, Pa., and is employed with Penn State University. She also is owner of Images by Jan. She writes: “After leaving Omaha a few years ago to be closer to my son and his family, I now teach and supervise student teachers for Penn State, the Lehigh Valley location. I also have a small photography business and do photos for Lehigh University, Sands Casino and local visitor centers. I would love to connect with some Omaha folks out here.” Send her email at


Mark Bappe, BSIT, lives in Pavillion, Wyo., and writes: “After 30 years in industry and healthcare, I have retired to our farm/ranch in Wyoming. My wife of 23 years continues to work in healthcare in order to afford fuel for the tractors. I enjoy hearing from football and wrestling teammates of the ’74 to ’78 era.” Send him email at


William (Father Jonah) Wharff, MS, lives in Peosta, Iowa, and is a Trappist Monk. He writes, “I have been appointed sub-prior of the abbey community. In addition to administrative duties I will be teaching classes to new members and giving conferences at other abbeys throughout North America.” Send him email at


Michael J. Geppert, BSBA, joined HDR as its new chief information officer. Geppert has more than 27 years of experience in business manage-

44 • Summer 2009

ment, applied technology, product and solution development and strategic planning centering on the use of technology to address business opportunities and challenges. Prior to joining HDR, Geppert was senior vice president at First Data Information Services, and president of First Data Solutions, both divisions of First Data Corporation, a $9 billion payment processing company. Geppert was with the Omaha World-Herald from 2000 to 2007, serving as president of World Media Company, an independent operating company of the Omaha World-Herald. From 1998 to 2000 he served as president of, a wholly owned subsidiary of infoUSA. HDR is an employee-owned architectural, engineering and consulting firm with more than 7,700 professionals in more than 165 locations worldwide. Geppert’s brother, John, is featured on Page 28 of this Alum.


James Temme, MPA, was elected president-elect of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT), the largest radiologic science association in the world. Temme is an associate professor and associate director of radiation science technology education at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. As president-elect, Temme will work with ASRT’s seven-member board to represent the association’s 131,000 members and govern the organization’s strategic initiatives. He has more than 35 years of experience working in the radiologic sciences. He has served as a practicing radiologic technologist at Children’s Hospital in Omaha and a radiologic science professor at UNMC. He also is serving a second term as a member of the UNO Alumni Association Board of Directors. Richard Zpevak, BGS, lives in Papillion, Neb. Zpevak completed 14 years with the U.S. Coast Guard and 17 years with the Federal Aviation Administration. He retired in 2006 after 20 years with the Omaha Airport Authority. He has been an adjunct associate professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) since 1991. He also has been an instructor with the UNO Aviation Institute. He earned his master’s degree in aeronautical science from ERAU in 2006. He is married with seven children and 25 grandchildren. Send him email at


Dean Olson, BS, has published a book, “Perfect Enemy: The Law Enforcement Manual of Islamist Terrorism,” Charles C. Thomas Publishing. Olson formerly commanded the Criminal Investigation Bureau of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department in Omaha, including the department’s participation in the regional Joint Terrorism Task Force. He retired in 2008 after 30 years of law enforcement service. He also earned a master’s degree in public administration from UNO and an MA in Homeland Defense and Security from the Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Homeland Defense and Security, in Monterey, Calif. He is researching his second book, “Tactical Counter-terrorism.” See more at Duane Williams, BSBA, lives in Woodbridge, Va., and writes: “I am very saddened to hear that Harold Young, a key member of the UNO football team in the mid ’70's, passed away. He was an outstanding football player as well as an outstanding person. You will be missed, my friend. I am very proud of my UNO experience and I love the new ‘0’ logo.” Send him email at


Philip C. Howze, BS, was named an outstanding faculty member by Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Library Affairs. Howze, a research/reference librarian whose specialties include anthropology, black American studies, economics, psychology, social work and sociology, teaches one course each semester in the black American studies program as well as sections of the library information literacy course. A full professor since 2005, he also is a popular mentor for younger faculty throughout the library. He also serves on the Faculty Senate and the Judicial Review Board. Howze has been at SIUC since 2000. He also has a master’s degree from UNO (1989) and a library degree (1990) from the University of Iowa.


Michael John Divoky, BSBA, lives in Memphis, Tenn., and in October 2008 accepted a senior accounting research analyst position at FedEx Express Worldwide Headquarters. He also serves as president of the Lake Village Home Owners Association and treasurer for the Mystic Krewe of

Pegasus Memphis, a volunteer community service organization that raises money for charitable purposes. Send him email at Mark Manhart, BS, writes that he “returned from the best dental conference ever attended all these 47 years as a dentist, the ConsEuro 09 in Seville, Spain. Dentists from Russia to London, Istanbul to Seoul, Granada to Belgium. None that I could find from U.S. It was real dental science, with real research. While presenting a small portion at it, I was struck again how advanced Europe is in my own field. They understand our work with calcium and are drawn to it easily, esp. when I mentioned how we see European patients. Our CTI methods and products are directly related to dozens of the researchers I met. Our plans are to work with them and return as soon as possible. In three hours I learned more than years here. In the 1950s I worked for a couple Omaha dentists who were ridiculed by my schools for going to Europe to learn more in their fields. Now, Omaha patients finally get what those two knew 40 years ago.” Toni Condon, BA, was appointed vice president for institutional advancement with Maryland Science Center in Baltimore. She previously was senior director of development for the Walters Art Museum, where she led fundraising efforts to support the current free admission initiative, allowing equal access to the museum for all members of the community. She previously held positions in the fundraising departments of McDaniel College, the Johns Hopkins University Kreiger School of Arts and Sciences, and the National Aquarium in Baltimore. She also has a master’s degree in technical and scientific communication from Miami University of Ohio.


William Ostlund, BGS, lives in Fort Benning, Ga., and is a colonel in the U.S. Army, serving as deputy commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment. He has participated in Operation Desert Shield/Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He also has traveled to the Balkans 12 times and served or trained in more than 30 countries. He also has earned a master of arts degree in law and diplomacy from Tufts University, the Fletcher School of Law and


S U M M E R Diplomacy. He is married with three sons. Send him email at


Cindy Burchett, MS, was named 2009 Shelby County Mother of the Year by the Shelby County Mother's Association (Iowa). Burchett and her husband, Rick, have three children: Sara, Ryan and Garrett, and four grandchildren. From 1987 to 1992 she was the media specialist and special education coordinator at New Park Elementary School. She served as elementary principal and special education coordinator for Harlan Community Schools from 1992 to 2007. Burchett has been involved in many community activities, including Concerned Foundation Board, P.E.O., MMC Wellness Center Fund Drive Committee, Loess Hills Area Education Agency, Harlan Community Library Board, Nishnabotna Girl Scout Council Board and others. She also has received the Chamber of Commerce Leadership Award and has been named Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year and Southwest Iowa Elementary Principal of the Year. Betty Cernech, MS, was awarded the Exceptional Merit Award at the 2009 Nebraska Public Health Conference in April. The award honors a significant, positive impact on public health, particularly among underserved popula-

tions. Cernech is vice president of Community Health Services and Development at the Visiting Nurse Association. She oversees the VNA's community/public health programs, which serve more than 44,000 individuals through services for families with infants and small children to services for older adults.


Phil Farr, BS, wrote the following Class Note in late May: “I thought a note ... might be of interest in light of my current position and the fact UNO has such a comprehensive center for Afghanistan Studies. I am a lieutenant colonel in the United States Marine Corps Reserve attached to MARCENT, Tampa, Fla. I am currently mobilized and serving as the Deputy Chief CJ-9 Regional Outreach at Headquarters International Security Assistance Force Kabul, Afghanistan. This is the NATO command headquarters and I lead the department in charge of reporting on Stability and Governance within each of the provinces throughout the country of Afghanistan. We also work with the Regional Commands and Provisional Reconstruction Teams to ensure unity of effort in the stability operations throughout the country. I met with the governor of the Wardak Province at the Turkish Provincial Reconstruction Team Headquarters located in the city of Maydanshahr, Wardak Province.

Future Alums Grace Cameron Reeves, daughter of Stephanie (Lewis, ’03) and Joshua (’04) Reeves of Papillion, Neb. Sean Daniel Manning, son of Lisa (Tosoni, ’96) and David (’90) Manning of Omaha and grandson of James Tosoni (’73) of Omaha. Beatrice Kate Herreman, daughter of Scarlett (’98) Fisher-Herreman and Cale (’00) Herreman of Topeka, Kansas.

Send Farr emails at


Kevin Lunt, BA, has been a Spanish interpreter for the Nebraska Medical Center for six years and recently became coordinator of interpreters for Douglas County’s Department of Probation. Lunt will oversee the language needs of adult and juvenile programs. Lunt also recently was awarded the EPLE Diploma from Mexico’s UNAM university for proficiency in Spanish.


David Hartman, MBE, was appointed by Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman to serve on the Nebraska Real Property Appraiser Board (NRPAB). Since 1991 NRPAB has served as the state government agency that administers and regulates the credentialing programs for prospective and qualified appraisers in Nebraska. Hartman, one of five NRPAB board members, is senior vice president and director of real estate lending for TierOne Bank. He has worked for TierOne since 1995 and has served the real estate industry in various capacities for 26 years. He serves on the board of the Metropolitan Omaha Builders Association (MOBA) and is a past president of the Nebraska Mortgage Association.

Laurel Lynn Boster, daughter of David and Janet (Walker, ’05) of Omaha Emilia Rose, Grace Marie and Quinn Andrew Lavia Bagley, triplet daughters and son of Kate Lavia Bagley (’99;’03) and Daniel Bagley (’98;’03) of Raleigh, N.C., and grandchildren of Ronald Mimick (’96) of Omaha. Jaclyn Elizabeth Weland, daughter of Jaime (Erkes, ’98) and John ’98 Weland of Omaha Kyle Lucas Fletcher, son of Brian and Jami (’01) Fletcher of Grand Junction, Colo.

Luke Joseph Cieslik, son of Patrick and Brietta (Cacioppo, ’98) Cieslik of Papillion, Neb.

Logan William Ramaekers, son of Anjanette (Glismann, ’96) and Nick (’94) Ramaekers of Omaha.

Alexander Johnson, son of Tara (Coughlin, ’06) and Joseph (’06) Johnson of David City, Neb.

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David Kortje, BS, lives in Benton, Kansas, and writes that he has published a book, “The Unseen War, Winning the Fight for Life” (Parson Place Press, 2009). “It looks at our lives and struggles in the context of the spiritual,” he writes. “I am also president and founder of Knight Vision Ministries.” See more at Matthew Streett, BFA, lives in San Antonio and notes that he successfully defended his dissertation and earned a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. “I will continue to serve as an active-duty military chaplain at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. I will use the knowledge gained through the Ph.D. program to write and publish.” Send him email at Jason Plourde, BS, was one of 70 recipients of a $25,000 Milken Educator Award honoring outstanding K-12 teachers across the nation. Plourde, principal of Washington Elementary School in Council Bluffs, Iowa, received his award in April at a ceremony in LA. First presented in 1987, the Milken Educator Awards represent the largest teacher recognition program in the United States, having bestowed more than $60 million in unrestricted cash awards.

Sons & Daughters of UNO Alumni

Merrit Dean Smeal, son of Eric and Abby (Westphalen, ’05) Smeal of Cedar Bluffs, Neb.

Garrett William Henderson, son of Karen and Seth (’01) Henderson of Westminster, Colo.

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Roselyn Daniella Sanchez, daughter of Gerardo and Tara (Jackson, ’01) Sanchez of Omaha and granddaughter of Sharon Jackson of Omaha.

Submit a Future Alum on the Web

Provide a birth announcement (within 1 year of birth) and we’ll send a T-shirt and certificate, plus publish the good news in an ensuing issue of the UNO Alum. Do so safely and securelyonline at Mail announcements to: Future Alums, UNO Alumni Association, 60th & Dodge, Omaha, NE 68182. FAX info to: (402) 554-3787. Include address, baby’s name, date of birth, parents’ or grandparents’ names and graduation year(s).

Samuel Christopher and Dominic Joseph Baggiani, sons of Spencer and Paula (Caruso, ’02) Baggiani of Omaha and grandsons of Sharon (Edgar-Baggiani (’82) of Omaha.

Summer 2009 • 45

Class Notes 1997

Jimmy Yeck Jr., BGS, lives in Council Bluffs and is a peer specialist for Alegent Peer Connection. “I lead, advocate, mentor, teach and work on goals with people who have mental health struggles. I have been told by many professionals I have found my ‘niche.’” send him email at


Scott Thor, BS, lives in Bakersfield, Calif., where he is on the senior management team at Lortz Manufacturing Company. He earned an MBA in 2001 from the University of Sioux Falls and recently began work on a doctoral degree in executive management at George Fox University in Newberg, Ore. Send him email at


Paula Caruso Baggiani, BA, lives in Omaha and writes: “Since graduating I have gone on to earn an MS. Ed from Drake University. I got married and now I have two young boys that are 19 months and 3 months. Now I work part time as an online college professor for the University of Phoenix and as an instructor for Metropolitan Community College.” Send email to


Michelle Hruska, MS, lives in Omaha and is married to fellow UNO alum John Hruska (2000). She is a therapist working with adolescents in a

Class Notes


residential treatment center. Their first child, Addison Grace, was born in February.


Janet Walker Boster, MBA, lives in Omaha. She and her husband, David, welcomed a daughter, Laurel Lynn Boster, on April 2. Send her email at


Tara Renee Johnson, MSW, lives in David City, Neb., and notes that she and her husband, Joseph (UNO, ’06) welcomed a son, Alexander Michael, on March 30. Send her email at

Beth Flynn, BS, lives in Omaha and recently started a business with her sister, Maggie Cannon. Capture the Moment specializes in portrait photography, all-occasion DVDs, photo restoration, and card collages/announcements. “All of which are perfect for graduations, weddings and family functions,” she writes. More information about her business can be found at Send Flynn email at


Nicak A. Semander, BS, lives in Lincoln, Calif., and is employed with CalTrans as an area bridge maintenance engineer. Send him email at



Adam Bazer, BA, lives in Omaha and writes: “Signs-N-Designs is a family owned and operated business that specializes in t-shirts, custom artwork and vinyl signs and graphics. We offer reasonable rates and take great care in making sure you are 100 percent satisfied with your finished product.” Send him email at

In Memoriam 1941 1944 1947 1948 1950 1952

1954 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964

C. Meade Chamberlin Jane Griffith Lindsey Paul B. Ackerson Robert Stitt Lester E. “Les” Andrews Helen Matulka Karl E. Dankof Roger Orr Jean C. Miller Charles J. Prachensky Jr. Alvin E. “Al” Kohler Eleanor Marie Stroebele Harold D. Courtney Carl Hornor Theron G. Ladner Leonard K. Ewers Philip D. Grimm Harold B. VanDyken Lucile A. Sandy Raymond Rade Karl V. Lofstrand George Balog Walter R. Dawes Frederick E. Schwab Robert A. Swadell Henry Szychowski

1966 1968 1970 1971

1972 1973

1974 1976 1978 1981 1982 1986 1988 1996 1961

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Edward John Hughes Louis L. James Edward John Hughes Raymond A. Siebert Goldie M. Ladner David D. Kidd Howard E. Yoder Robert Poshard Cheryl Lantz Hover William G. Riggs Elmer R. Lockett Elmer R. Lockett Maynard R. Dulak James Ruddle Dennis A. Pueppka Clifford M. Thomas William L. Boling Robert C. Elias Sr. Robert S. Scherr Elizabeth A. Kentopp David C. Warburton Mary K. Bennett Larry Dean Fox Pamela A. Herron Steve Colabello Jacquelyn B. Cairns James M. Gaughan David B. Goddard Carla A. Rasmussen Virginia “Ginny” Wiley Harold A. Mosenthin

Submit your class note over the web at What have you been doing since graduating from UNO? Your fellow alumni would like to know! Give us an update by filling out the form below. We’ll publish the news in a future issue of the UNO Alum and on our website. Send the news to Class Notes Editor, UNO Alum, 67th & Dodge, Omaha, NE 68182-0010, or Fax to (402) 554-3787.


Employer ___________________________________

Class Year_______Degree________



Career/Personal News__________________________

City ___________________________ State, Zip______________________ Phone_____________________________

Is this a new address?

❑ Yes ❑ No

E-mail_________________________________________ May we post your email address in the next Alum?

❑ Yes ❑ No

46 • Summer 2009

May we include your name in our website’s email directory? (Email addresses do not display)

❑ Yes ❑ No


_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________


Join fellow alumni at the annual

Shakespeare on the Green Alumni Picnic Wednesday, June 24

Picnic: 6 to 7:15 p.m. Alumni Center Performance: 8 p.m The Green

Join the UNO Alumni Association Wednesday, June 24 (rain or shine), for the Shakespeare on the Green Alumni Picnic followed by a performance of “Macbeth.” Cost is $12 per person, featuring: • Picnic Buffet (Chicken, BBQ pork, potato salad, baked beans, cole slaw, cookie, beverages). • Reserved spot “down front” at the play. • Reserved parking near the Green. • “Macbeth” preview by UNO Professor Cindy Melby Phaneuf, co-founder/artistic director of Nebraska Shakespeare Festival (NSF). • Satisfaction knowing part of your fee helps underwrite a donation to the NSF. To Register, complete form and remit with payment. Questions? Call Julie Kaminski at 554-4887 or email








❑ I (we) will attend “Macbeth” AND the picnic! ❑ I (we) will only attend the picnic. I have enclosed $ Charge my:


people to attend at $12 each. (Make checks payable to UNO Alumni Association).

❑ Visa ❑ MasterCard ❑ Discover.

Exp. Date ___ / ___

Send to: Shakespeare Picnic UNO Alumni Association 6705 Dodge St. Omaha, NE 68182-0010

Card No.


Names for Name Tags

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Summer 2009 • 47

New in 2009: 25% first-time customer business discount!

The Thompson Center at UNO Your corporate event partner

Planning a conference, retreat, seminar or other business event? Host it at the Thompson Center! • Convenient, midtown location • Affordable rates • Versatile meeting spaces • State-of-the-art A/V • Free high-speed Wi-Fi • Free parking Also available for Wedding Receptions, Breakfasts, Brunches, Lunches, Dinners and all socials!

67th & Dodge

Ask about our multiple booking discounts! 554-3368 Book your next event online —


University of Nebraska at Omaha Alumni Association 6705 Dodge St. Omaha, NE 68182-0010 Address Service Requested