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October & November 2015

AlumniTimes Clarkson College Alumni Magazine

Sharing the memories & showing college pride


Our hope is that every student who pursues an education at Clarkson College can feel a lasting sense of pride in that decision. We understand—and take seriously—the trust instilled in us to as educators and mentors to shape our students into well-prepared, compassionate health care providers.


October & November 2015

Contents volume 7 / issue 2



From the Alumni President



Alumni News 5

Thank You: Alumni Donations & Support A thankful year full of generous support.


Features 6

Enjoying a Rich Past Soaking in the school pride, successful careers and inspiring lives of our graduates during Alumni Weekend.


Alumni Spotlight: Jeanette Kassmeier Highlighting her journey in health care.

The Alumni Times is a quarterly publication that is distributed by the Alumni Association of Clarkson College. Direct all story and photo submissions, changes of address or publication inquiries to Rita VanFleet, Alumni Coordinator,

From Students to Alumni & Proud Faculty Clarkson College alumni reflect on what drives them as current faculty members.

Proud to Serve Clarkson College Honing in on the College pride of our employees and staff.


Awards & Recognition 28

Extraordinary Service: A Career of Leadership & Mentorship Aubray OrduĂąa reflects on 40 years of dedicated service.


Wishing the Best in Retirement for Two LongStanding Employees Honoring Linda Nieto and Larry Vinson.


Honorary Alumni Awarded Celebrating this year’s recipient, Natalie Vrbka.

Campus News 24

Campus Updates: Picnic Tables & Lobby A preview into what has been updated on campus thanks to your donations.


Capstone Project Summary


August 2015 Graduates A listing of our newest alumni.

On the Cover Alumnae listen to their campus tour guide during Alumni Weekend. 6

at, via phone at 402.552.3516 or via mail at 101 South 42nd


Todd Snover

Street, Omaha, Neb. 68131.

Alumni Times


From the Alumni President

Though change is in the air, I am proud to use the skills I learned long ago. For years, the health care industry has led change focused on patient safety and quality care. Today, the change is also focused on the impeding pressure for health care organizations to prepare for population-based care and increasing productivity while using limited resources. It is during these challenging times I am proud to be a Clarkson College graduate. I know the educational foundation Clarkson College instills in students resonates for a lifetime—a lifetime of learning, integrity, excellence and commitment. Now more than ever, health care organizations need leaders. No matter what your title or daily tasks, you can be a leader each day by demonstrating the core Values learned at Clarkson College. I work for a leader at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center who says, “Lead, follow or get out of the way.” I can remember the same phrase going through my head the first time I was involved in a code situation: “Do I lead, follow or get out of the way?” I don’t think there is a wrong answer. Acute or otherwise, you should step into the role that benefits the situation at hand. You follow the expert, you lead when you are the expert and you get out of the way when you can’t add value. This means sharing what we know and what we don’t know so that excellent, collaborative care happens.

Clarkson College gives students the unique opportunity to practice in a safe environment, fail and try again. I have tried to mirror that environment for the team I currently lead. One of the accomplishments I am so proud of is my development of an educator position, as well as an employee-lead Area Action Council for the Children’s Radiology department. This structure allows our department to function in a teaching/ learning type environment that feels somewhat like a college structure. This transparent, collaborative approach has allowed us to break down communication barriers and decrease errors in our department.

Nickki Hardin, M.S., R.T.(R)(M) (CIIP) (‘95, ‘97), Alumni Association President

Transparency in the health care environment is also giving patients access to industry information that has never before been available to the public. Quality measurement transparency— coupled with value-based medicine and high deductible health care plans—allow the patient to “shop” for health care in a way that is much like shopping for a car. Comparative benchmark and rank data is available for all aspects of health care that we seek. Organizations want to know that employees are committed to lifelong learning and can adapt to whatever changes patients and accrediting bodies are demanding with integrity and a willingness to excel. It makes me proud to know that all alumni are well prepared for any challenge and can seek continuing education opportunities through our alumni network to strengthen our commitment to caring.

Noteworthy The annual Alumni Bowling Tournament and Holiday Lights Tour are just around the corner! Registration and event details are listed on the back of this issue.


October & November 2015

Alumni News

Thank You: Alumni Donations & Support A listing of contributions from Sept. 1, 2014 through Aug. 31, 2015 A warm thank you to the following donors who have graciously given to the Alumni Scholarship Fund this past year. These contributions assist the Alumni Association in the goal of giving yearly scholarships and are greatly appreciated.

Donations up to $99 Kathleen M. Ball (‘92) Susan Bristol (‘78), in memory of James Canedy Sr. and in honor of Pat Perry Louann Jahde Coatsworth (‘77, ‘88) Carla Dirkschneider (‘07) Colleen Dummer (‘95) Nadine Dunker (‘54), in memory of Kate Higgins (‘54) Debra Floreani (‘75), in honor of all nurses—dedicated souls to the profession Angela Hemminger (‘67, ‘91) Norma A. Hintz (‘87, ‘88), in memory of Donald Hintz Sr. and Donald Hintz Jr. Anne Hippe (‘91) Shirley Hunziker (‘51), in memory of Phyllis Gorden Griggs (‘46) Jeanette Kassmeier (‘72, ‘86) Maureen Kelpe (‘72, ‘83) Adele Kieffer (‘75) Cecilia Kiefer (‘77) Minna Krumland (‘93) Lea Kuper (‘75), in memory of Arno H. Schriefer Rosemary Lebeda (‘00)

Mary Marler (‘65) Carol Tvrdik McCall (‘68), in memory of Marcia Green Stoller Patricia Morgan (‘49) Tish Naprstek (‘65), in memory of Sharlene Hansen Sandra Nolting Newman (‘65), in memory of Bonny Hansen Lester (‘65) Cheryl Olomon (‘71) Jackie Parmenter (‘93, ‘09) Jane Ralston, in memory of Myrna Schroeder Nowers (‘44) Marcia Ranney, in memory of Evelyn J. (Basel) Sklenar Vicki Burr Sweet (‘65) Chera Tremblay (‘08) Rita VanFleet (‘67), in memory of Ronda Bradman Simpson (‘67) Marcia Weeks (‘65), in memory of her grandmother, Virda Fitzgerald Dorothy Zeplin (‘55) Donations of $100 to $499 Rita Armendariz (‘86), in memory of parents Aelred and Roslyn Hugo Agnes Dunoh (‘01) Carole Engquist (‘83) Annette J. LeRoy, Honorary Alumna Norma Weber Gillingham (‘50) Ruth Briggs Siefert (‘66), in memory of parents Emory and Frieda Briggs Irene Gustafson Studenberg (‘55), in memory of night supervisor Mrs. Lena Wendell

Donations of $500 & greater Ann VanHoff, Honorary Alumna Making your contribution Donations to the Alumni Scholarship Fund can be made at any time throughout the year. It is an excellent way to recognize or memorialize someone while helping students meet the financial challenges of their Clarkson College experience. Donations can be sent to: Alumni Coordinator, Clarkson College, 101 South 42nd Street, Omaha, NE 68131. Please make checks payable to Alumni Association Scholarship Fund. The Alumni Association is very grateful to all who have so generously donated. If any errors have occurred in the listings, please notify Rita VanFleet via e-mail at All attempts have been made to correctly acknowledge all donations made within this time period.

Alumni Times




Rita VanFleet


Todd Snover



October & November 2015


“WOW, you haven’t changed a bit.” “How could 50 years have passed since our graduation?” “It seems like yesterday—not 40 years ago—that we were moving out of the dorms.” “Did you think we would make it to our 60 year reunion?” These were some of the many similar comments heard throughout Sept. 17– 18 as the anniversary classes of 1955, 1965, 1975, 1985 and 1995 gathered for their alumni reunion events. It all started with our traditional brunch in Howard Hall on the Clarkson College campus. What fun everyone had reuniting with classmates and renewing old friendships. Listening to their adventures triggered a medley of so many fond, college memories. Imagine packing eight girls into a cab to ride to class at OU (currently UNO) with the fare being less than 50 cents a person. The 60–year anniversary class spoke with pride for being the last class in the last hospital. To honor this turning point in history, the students in the class were presented with a lei flown straight in from Hawaii on their final day of classes. 1


One alumna remembered a time as a freshman in her OB rotation hearing a woman asking for help while in the restroom. A senior student went in to check on the woman but froze after seeing she had delivered a baby in the toilet. “As she stood in shock, I scooped the baby out of the toilet and assisted with it—what a lifesaving moment to remember!” she said.

1 / Debra Banark Floreani, Mary Snead Leblond, Jean Rezac Summers, Adele Kieffer, Shirley Mondero and Victoria Harper Haney share a laugh in the on-campus Simulation Lab. 2 / Radiologic Technology ‘95 class members Ann Hagenau, Nicole Hardin, Shirley Mondero and Trish Weber celebrate their 20-year class reunion. 3 / Memorabilia shared by Diane Erdmann (‘75). 4 / Mary Frerichs Marler (‘65) receives a warm welcome from Sharon Meyer Genners (‘65) and Dorothy Benson Christenson (‘65).

Alumni Times



Some memories were more sobering, such as the first experience when a Radiologic Technology alumna interacted with a patient. While wheeling the patient in for an X-Ray, she asked him several times for his name and birth date but never received an answer. When she leaned down to see if he had heard her, she noticed he had passed away. Another alumna recalled a time when she had a sore throat during OB rotations. She reported her symptoms to her instructor both at the beginning and later when they worsened. Finally, she consulted the OB nurse who quickly diagnosed her as having mumps. She was immediately quarantined and


October & November 2015

remained in isolation for two weeks as she recovered. Several of the anniversary classes commented collectively on some of their more prized memories, one being the traditional signing of the student’s uniforms by the hospital staff on their last day of clinical rotations. The class of 1975 also mentioned how much they appreciated all Dean of Nursing Dr. Patricia Perry did to make their educational experience so wonderful. Clarkson College President Dr. Louis Burgher updated the anniversary classes on the progress of the College. Alumni Association President Nicole


Hardin gave an overview of the various activities hosted or sponsored by the Alumni Association in the past year and congratulated the anniversary classes on their milestones. While the Alumni Association Board conducted its annual meeting, many of the brunch attendees were taken on a tour of the College by the student ambassadors. One particular point of interest was the high-fidelity Simulation Lab that features the latest models of tetherless and wireless maternal/fetal simulators. This was the first time many of the alumni had been on the 42nd and Dodge Streets campus and compared it to the time they spent at Kiewit Hall.





HERITAGE GARDEN WALK & TROLLEY TOUR After a rainy morning, the sun came out just in time for the afternoon Garden Walk. There were four new bricks dedicated this year. Nicole Hardin welcomed the alumni, faculty, staff and students in attendance and iterated how the funds provided by those who purchased bricks will go directly toward the Alumni Endowed Scholarship Fund. Ollie the Trolley greeted the alumni following the Garden Walk and took them on a three-hour tour of historic Clarkson School of

Nursing and Omaha sites and landmarks. While visiting Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Dean Loya gave the group an excellent history of the founding, construction and families that helped to establish the Cathedral. Many were amazed that most of the church maintains its original construction and furnishings, with only minor enhancements made to improve the quality of church services, such as installing an air conditioner and PA system. The courtyard surrounding the north side of the church is beautifully landscaped and holds

1 / The class of 1965 celebrating 50 years. Seated: Marcia Fitzgerald Weeks, Sandra Nolting Newman, Victoria Harper Haney, Jane Hoesly Conley, Sharon Meyer Genners. Standing: Mary Frerichs Marler, Karen Jungquist Chambers, Beth Ann McIntosh Ellis, Vicki Burr Sweet, Bonnie Strouse Roth, Dorothy Benson Christensen, Laura Mitchell Hill, Mary Morgan Saxton, Pat Kerkman Young. 2 / Alumnae from ‘55 Irene Gustafson Studenberg, Dorothy Myers Zeplin and Helen Wolken Silva in front of their dorm. 3 / The class of 1955 celebrating 60 years. Helen Wolken Silva, Irene Gustafson Studenberg, Bertina Beins Anderson, Dorothy Myers Zeplin. 4 / Bonnie Strouse Roth reminisces with her ‘65 classmates Marcia Fitzgerald Weeks and Sandra Nolting Newman. 5 / Dr. Louis Burgher addresses the Heritage Garden Walk attendees. 6 / A close-up of the brick donations.

Alumni Times





the burial site of both Bishop Robert Harper Clarkson and his wife, Meliora.

didn’t know about several points of interest that were covered on the tour.


At Joslyn Art Museum, the stop included a walk through the serene Sculpture Garden. One tour attendee has lived in Omaha three times since graduation and usually visits multiple times a year. Despite her time spent in Omaha, she

This was the second year the Alumni Association organized the tour, and it appeared to be just as well-received as the first. The Trolley driver, Gary Ogden Harper, was also a terrific historian and added great value to the trolley tour.

Friday morning had an early start with an educational event titled “Are the Bugs Winning” provided for alumni, faculty, staff and students. Presenters were Shelly Schwedhelm, M.S.N., R.N., NEA-BC, Executive Director, Emergency

October & November 2015



“The lessons taught by the staff at the school and hospital have stayed with me to present day.” Irene Studenberg (‘55) “Always had good jobs, and I learned many things students don’t know today, such as basic TLC.” Vicki Harper Haney (‘65) “I feel very privileged to have attended Clarkson School of Nursing from 1972-75. It gave me a solid foundation for an incredibly successful 38-year nursing career.” Alumna of ‘75


“I was so well prepared to practice nursing thanks to the excellence of the Clarkson School of Nursing staff and delivery of stellar patient care.” Pat Kirkman Young (‘65) “We had great training and learned so much.” Helen Silva (‘55) “I am proud to be a graduate of Clarkson School of Nursing. I have moved several times with my husband and always had a job on day one of applying.” Sandy Nolting Newman (‘65) “It gives me pride to see graduates working in the community. It also is rewarding to watch the Alumni Association support the students via scholarships.” Alumna of ‘95 “Fun, closeness, good education.” Beth Ann McIntosh Ellis (‘65) “I am so proud that Clarkson School of Nursing stayed open. So many three year programs closed! Clarkson College has a great vision toward the future.” Alumna of ‘75


5 “The outstanding training we received!” Bertina Anderson (‘55) “Always proud of our training at Clarkson School of Nursing.” Alumna of ‘55

1 / Dean Loya shares historical tidbits with trolley tour guests in the north courtyard of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. 2 / Dorothy Benson Christensen (‘65) and Jane Hoesly Conley (‘65) wear their 14K gold Kiewit Hall graduation bracelets. 3 / Continuing educational event participants in Howard Hall. 4 / Shelly Schwedhelm, M.S.N., R.N., NEA-BC. 5 / Dr. Kari Simonsen.

“Excellent education with an emphasis on patient care.” Marcia Weeks (‘65) “Just how good it was. It has taken me far in life. I’ve felt comfortable working in any area of nursing and am still working 40 years later. So proud of my Clarkson College education.” Deb Floreani (‘75)

Alumni Times




Alumni Weekend—what a special two days! Fourteen of our 26 Clarkson School of Nursing classmates came to relive the memories and celebrate our 50-year anniversary. We just began talking—exactly where we left off in 1965. Not all of us were easily recognizable, but once the stories began, we did not skip a beat. Clarkson College wined, dined and toured us for two days. Oh, the changes, but the knowledge that we were trained with the best and they are still at it! Thank you to Rita VanFleet and her team for organizing this event. Rita’s attention to detail made it all work so smoothly. And Todd, the professional photographer— who else would follow us around for two days? We encourage you to attend your reunions and reconnect. What fun! What memories! The Clarkson School of Nursing Class of 1965 3 14

October & November 2015

Preparedness & Infection Prevention at Nebraska Medicine, Omaha, Neb. and Dr. Kari Simonsen, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Chief Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Neb. Shelly shared the workings of the Nebraska Medicine Biocontainment Unit and the care of the patients who had Ebola. Dr. Simonsen updated the group on the prevalence and prevention of the major childhood diseases with interesting case presentations. The overall morning presentations were very interesting and enlightening. Many great questions were asked of both presenters.


The events concluded with a dinner on Friday evening at The Players Club. Once again, the anniversary class attendees had a great time continuing their sharing and stories. The atmosphere was perfect for the final event. A delicious dinner was enjoyed and select songs from the repertoire of the Q Street Quartet were greeted with spontaneous dancing, clapping and sing alongs. Natalie Vrbka, Undergraduate Nursing Student Advising Coordinator, was in attendance to accept her award as this year’s honorary alumni member (full story on pg. 31).

A SINCERE THANK YOU A special thank you to all who assisted with Alumni Weekend and especially those who traveled to partake in reuniting with their classmates. Without a doubt, the events were thoroughly enjoyed by those present to represent this year’s anniversary classes.


1 / The Q Street Quartet serenade H.W. and Sandra Newman for their 50th wedding anniversary. 2 / The class of 1975 celebrating 40 years. Lea Kuper, Adele Kieffer, Jean Summers, Diane Erdman, Rosemary Hodgson, Mary Leblond and Debra Floreani. 3 / Jean Summers (‘75) and Adele Kieffer (‘75) dance the night away as dinner guests enjoy the sounds of the Q Street Quartet. 4 / Alumnae from ‘65, Sharon Meyer Genners and Laura Mitchell Hill, listen attentively to classmate Vicki Burr Sweet.

4 Alumni Times


Alumni Spotlight

Jeanette Kassmeier ARTICLE BY

Mikaela Yeager


JJ Kassmeier & Nebraska Medicine

Jeanette Kassmeier, B.S.N., R.N., ONC


October & November 2015

We would love to hear about your adventures in health care. Contact Rita VanFleet for details on how to keep in touch with your alma mater.

staying connected with your alma mater is not always easy. As a newly minted graduate, you’re focused on finding a suitable job where you can put that prized college degree to good use. Once that’s secure, your concentration shifts to all of those other bucket list items: traveling, getting married, starting a family, buying a home, and the list trickles on and on. Before you know it, 10 years fly by. You’re on your third job out of college, you live in a different state, your family of three is about to become four, and any bit of spare time you have is spent running errands and toying with the idea of returning to school. Partaking in alumni activities—even just one— seems implausible. Understanding that time is both precious and limited, Clarkson College take immense pride in its ever-growing alumni base and is sincerely grateful to those who have maintained a strong connection with the College. One such graduate who fits this mold is Nursing alumna Jeanette (JJ) Kassmeier. Since enrolling in the Nursing diploma program in the late 60s, JJ has upheld an unwavering loyalty to Clarkson College that is well worth recognizing. Growing up as a small-town Nebraska girl in the 50s and 60s, young Jeanette Jackson was adamant she would someday attain a career as one of the three primary professions for women of her era: a secretary, teacher or nurse. “My interest tests all leaned toward nursing,” JJ shares, “but I didn’t know if I would be smart enough for the profession.” Unknown to her at the time, the latter half of that statement would be proven rigidly wrong.

Alumni Times


In winter 1969, JJ applied to and interviewed at a nursing school in Lincoln. A month or so later, she went through the same process with Clarkson School of Nursing in Omaha. “The Lincoln school sent me a letter and stated I would not be successful in the nursing profession,” says JJ. Clarkson School of Nursing, however, accepted her immediately. “I was excited they felt I could and would be successful. That’s all I needed to know—‘I will be successful.’” To her astonishment, the nursing school in Lincoln discontinued its program by the time JJ received her Nursing diploma in May 1972.

her to assistant head nurse—a position she maintained for the next two-and-a-half years before assuming the role of head nurse. That same year, she also became a manager on the floor. The 80s brought several exciting milestones for JJ. As a manager on the Ortho Med/Surg Unit, she interviewed and hired numerous nursing assistants and RNs who graduated from the Clarkson [School of Nursing] Diploma in Nursing and [Clarkson] College BSN programs and was always impressed by their stature. Seeing them in action inspired her to further her own education. With some additional encouragement from her grandmother and Clarkson College Nursing instructor Winnie Davenport, JJ enrolled in the BSN program in August 1982.

“I hope more alumni become involved to help sustain the reputation that we are the best.” “College life on the third floor of the Kiewit Tower was like a sorority,” shares JJ of her student housing experience. “The friends I made, the fun times in the dorm, hanging around with my classmates, getting to know the future Clarkson Nurses are all very memorable moments. We also played sports and even sponsored a College World Series Team.” A few months before graduating, Clarkson Hospital hired JJ to work as a nursing assistant on 8 North—the Orthopedic Med/ Surg Unit. Once she passed Boards, received her registered nurse license and worked as a nurse for awhile, the unit promoted

JJ became an alumna of the College in 1986.


October & November 2015

While in the program, JJ urged the 8 North nursing staff to follow her suit. “We did a lot of unique scheduling to cover the unit and complete our BSN education [together],” she says. Nearly one year into her studies, JJ married Dale Kassmeier. Another major celebration came in August 1986, when Clarkson College conferred her BSN degree. After graduating, JJ continued to manage the Orthopedic Med/Surg staff, but she did so with a newfound sentiment. “The BSN program really ‘rounded’ me out,” she says. “For years as a manager, I cared for my staff because they cared for the patients; I learned to rebuild my connection to the patients again.” The post-grad happiness spread into JJ’s personal life. She and Dale became parents to their first child, Michele, in 1987 and welcomed their second daughter, Megan, a few years later. In 1996/97, JJ made one final transition in her Nursing career when she became a case manager for Ortho/Neuro patients at Nebraska Medicine. “I coordinated their

care, identified their discharge needs and served as a patient advocate.” By the early 2000s, JJ’s children were grown and off to college, and she felt it was time to open her door to new opportunities. She pondered over her days as a Nursing student and relished the idea of reconnecting with her former classmates. The answer was simple—she would become a committed member of the Clarkson College Alumni Association. That decision to reconnect with her alma mater has brought more joyous memories to JJs life than she could have imagined. Speaking now as an official Alumni Association Board Member, JJ says she is honored to play an active role in upholding the Clarkson College reputation and helping build pride among students. “I am happy to be involved in making decisions and supporting the improvement of students’ education,” she says. “The annual September events and class reunions

are also so fun and enlightening, and I enjoy attending the Board meetings and seeing how we can make a difference.” While being an active alumna enables JJ to stay connected with Clarkson College as it progresses over time, it also provides a link to her past and the immense pride she has in her education. “I am a Clarkson Nurse,” she passionately states. “I am and have been proud of that my whole career. Clarkson College grads excel, and I hope more alumni become involved to help sustain the reputation that we are the best.” After more than 43 years of service at Nebraska Medicine, JJ retired this past August. She looks forward to vacationing with the family, going on cruises and taking road trips across the country to visit friends and relatives.

The Kassmeier family, Michele, JJ, Dale and Megan.

Alumni Times


From Students to Alumni & Proud Faculty

“I felt well prepared to work as a floor nurse after graduating from Clarkson College. Knowing the excellent education I received from Clarkson College, I knew that is where I wanted to teach.”

“When I was a student, I was so inspired by my instructors. They were so passionate! I came back to education to be that inspiration for future health care providers.” Katie Fulton (’04) Assistant Professor, Radiologic Technology & Medical Imaging

Kate Fuller (’05, ‘11) Instructor, Nursing

“My instructors inspired me to think not only about the day to day tasks of working in health care, but also to think about the big picture. I want to pass on that inspiration and knowledge to future generations of health care professionals.” Carla Dirkschneider (’07) Director, Health Care Business & Health Information Management Programs

Before they were Clarkson College faculty, dozens of instructors and professors were once our students. With a great deal of pride, many share what compelled them to pursue teaching and return to their alma mater.

“I have come to know and understand much more of the College since working here, but from being a student, I knew Clarkson College valued each and every student, had a reputation for being the best, and I loved the family feel of the smaller campus community!” Karen Abboud (’05, ‘12) Assistant Professor, PTA

“I was a clinical liaison for the Clarkson College RT program at another facility when I was approached by Ellen Collins, RT Program Director, to teach a course as an adjunct faculty. I had always wanted to teach, but it was her passion for the radiology profession and the Clarkson College RT students that inspired me to teach here. After some experience teaching, I decided to complete my bachelor’s degree and then, several years later, my master’s degree— both at Clarkson College.” Shelli Weddum (’05, ‘11) Assistant Director, Radiologic Technology & Medical Imaging

“The caring support I received from Dr. Pat Perry, and my Academic Advisor, Dr. Jane Smith, was life-changing for me. It was their academic interactions with students that led me towards the faculty role.”

“I was drawn to return to Clarkson College because of the faculty and staff members who showed me that anything is possible. During my time as a student, I learned what I needed to succeed as an acute care nurse and also as a professional representing the field. I am lucky to be working with many of the instructors and leaders who taught me, and I am excited to be a part of the Clarkson College family!”

Dr. Patricia Coyle-Rogers (’85) Director, M.S.N. & Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs

Jennifer Renken (’09) Instructor, Nursing

“I think I always knew I wanted to teach someday, hoping to be half as good as the faculty that inspired me during my Clarkson College education. The satisfaction and joy I’ve had over the years along with the nursing accomplishments I experienced were because of where I started from. For me there was no other place to teach except Clarkson College.”

“By December 2005, I had completed both my BSN and MSN degrees at Clarkson College. The knowledgeable faculty, staff and mentoring along the way has made this a great place to teach.” Layna Himmelberg (’03, ‘05) Associate Professor, Nursing

Joan Blum (’81, ‘86, ‘98) Assistant Professor, Nursing

“The quality of the professors who also served as mentors.” Jody Scebold (’09) Assistant Professor, Nursing

“I came to Clarkson College for my own education because of the reputation and the sense of family. This is also why I wanted to become a faculty member and am proud to teach here.”

“I felt I received an excellent education and was thoroughly prepared to start my nursing career. I was not a great student in high school and felt I needed a little more help and support from my instructors and would receive that more in a smaller classroom setting. I feel blessed to be teaching at my alma mater. It is truly a job I love, and I hope to retire here.”

“The compassion that was shown to me as a student to be successful and grow in my profession was the reason I wanted to teach at Clarkson College. I wanted to show students that they were supported by someone who sat in their very shoes and made it!”

Sue Leutzinger (’89, ‘09) Associate Professor, Nursing

Sherri Vrabel (’93, ‘09) Associate Professor, Nursing

“The PTA program had a family feel to it with a lot of pride and integrity. I am proud to be a Clarkson College alumna and now excited to be part of the PTA program faculty.” Jessica Niemann (’99) Assistant Instructor, PTA

“The compassion the College and the PTA program have for the students and for serving others brought me back to Clarkson College. I enjoy the small community to allow us the opportunity to focus on students’ strengths to maximize their potential in providing high-quality patient care.” Chera Tremblay (’08) Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education, PTA Former Administrative Assistant, Admissions

Kelly Jackson (’05) Associate Professor, PTA

“I started my education at Clarkson College only two weeks before I started my job here. It did not take long to realize that everyone at Clarkson College was part of the ‘family.’” Renee Ruhkamp (’08) Assistant Professor, Nursing Alumni Times




October & November 2015

College pride extends to the many dedicated faculty and staff who pervade the Clarkson College campus. They teach, strengthen and inspire students to be the best in their chosen field of health care. They are proud of the purposes they serve as leaders, supporters, mentors and teachers. They operate on a high set of standards, expecting nothing less than the best from their students and peers. And we are thankful for this group of role models who truly seek to prepare the best health care professionals.

The College held its annual fall Welcome Back Lunch for faculty and staff on Aug. 26 and coupled the event with an Employee Pride Day. Those who wore a Clarkson College logoed shirt gathered in the Courtyard for group photo to capture the pride that gleamed across campus that day.

Alumni Times


Campus News

Campus Updates: Picnic Tables & Lobby ARTICLE BY

Rita VanFleet

The patio area of the College is a busy place for students, especially in the summer. The two picnic tables previously, purchased by the Alumni Association, are in regular use. This summer, the Alumni Association added a third table to accommodate the growing need for outdoor seating. The students were very appreciative of the extra picnic table. The main lobby of the College was in need of a change. With the help of the Facilities and Marketing departments, in cooperation with the Alumni Association, this area is in the process of being updated. The Alumni Association has purchased new furniture to highlight the College logo on the interior windows and a newly installed feature wall with a welcoming message that overlays the back wall. Watch for pictures in the January/February Alumni Times issue showing the completed updated space.


October & November 2015

Summer Capstone Project Summary The master’s degree-seeking students presented their Capstone projects on Aug. 7 at Storz Pavilion on the Nebraska Medicine campus. The Alumni Association Board awarded first, second and third place certificates based on an evaluation according to an established rubric for the abstracts. Carla Dirkschneider, Health Care Business Director and Clarkson College alumna, presented the winning certificates. Katie Sterns was awarded first place for her abstract Urinary Catheter Removal Algorithm Implementation to Decrease Complications (advisor Dr. Layna Himmelberg). Trampas Hutches’ abstract Specialty Medicine Service Line Growth at Middle Park Medical Center (advisor Carla Dirkschneider) was selected for second place. Third place was awarded to Jackie Bailey for her abstract Effects of Birth Plans on Patient Satisfaction Rates for Women After Giving Birth to a Viable Infant (advisor Dr. Linda Jensen).

Urinary Catheter Removal Algorithm Implementation to Decrease Complications by Katie Sterns Catheter associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) often occur in hospitalized adult patients with indwelling urinary catheters. This study investigates the use of a nursing algorithm for urinary catheter removal and the effects on urinary catheter indwelling time and CAUTI rates of hospitalized adults. The goal of this study was to investigate the effects of urinary catheter indwelling days and CAUTI rates after the implementation of a nursing urinary catheter removal algorithm. Data collected provided evidence of the potential of a nursing urinary catheter removal algorithm to provide a significant decrease in catheter indwelling time and CAUTI rates. This proposed study described a quasi-experimental, interrupted time series design that was employed at the Huron Regional Medical Center in Huron, S.D. A convenience sample of all catheterized adult patients within a four month time

frame was utilized in order to study indwelling catheter days and CAUTI rates before and after the implementation of a nurse-driven algorithm. Data discovered in the study will hope to enhance the previous understanding regarding the need to decrease indwelling catheter days and CAUTI rates within health care facilities. This information will prove invaluable to the nursing profession and will provide evidence-based practice research to promote change in a nursedriven environment.

Specialty Medicine Service Line Growth at Middle Park Medical Center by Trampas Hutches In 2012, Middle Park Medical Center (MPMC) opened its new hospital in Granby, Colo. Haapla, B. (2015) from Stroudwater Consulting performed an organizational assessment and pro forma showing that in three years revenues would be positive. As of December 2014, these revenues had yet to be realized. The author of this paper performed student t-test’s that correlated revenue’s to the MPMC specialty medicine service line (SMC) growth. This indicated that the poor performance of revenue was linked to the substandard SMC service line growth. Once it was determined that MPMC was not profitable due to this poor growth, an MPMC market analysis was undertaken to determine what areas needed to be focused on to grow. In order to determine where MPMC needed to grow the SMC service line, studies by Solucient (2003) and the 2010 National Ambulatory Medical Survey by the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid were used. These studies were then converted to the MPMC market area, and this showed that the service lines of: OB/ GYN, psychiatry, ophthalmology, cardiology, orthopedics and general surgery would be the most successful service lines to implement and/or grow to increase profitability and patient access to health care. In order to determine profitability, a five-year pro forma was completed showing

a gross net present value profit of $24 million. This shows that this business plan is a viable option that should be undertaken to increase patient access and MPMC organizational profitability.

Effects of Birth Plans on Patient Satisfaction Rates for Women After Giving Birth to a Viable Infant by Jackie Bailey Despite recent improvement measures implemented to address patient satisfaction, Press Ganey scores continued to fall at a county Midwest hospital that serves mostly low income women. Patient satisfaction is important because satisfied patients tend to trust

health care providers more, adhere to discharge instructions better and it is linked to reimbursement levels. To improve patient satisfaction rates in the obstetrical department, staff encouraged patients receiving prenatal care in the women’s health clinic connected to the hospital to complete a birth plan. Although evidence has shown birth plans improve communication between the patient and the health care team, a lack of research exists on a birth plan’s effect on patient satisfaction. This study for health care professionals evaluated if completion of a birth plan during the prenatal period affects patient satisfaction rates. Patients completed an anonymous questionnaire after delivery before they discharged home. Of 45 surveys distributed, 14

surveys were returned giving a response rate of 31 percent. There were no statistically significant differences in the satisfaction ratings on the questionnaires between the patients who completed a birth plan compared to the patients who did not complete a birth plan. Reasons for the non-significant results could include the low response rate and the fact that some subjects may not have received a questionnaire. However, the questionnaires revealed an overall satisfaction with the hospital rating of 4.9 on a 5-point scale. This positive patient rating could be due to nurses improving their own customer service skills and implementing skin-to-skin mother-infant care with all deliveries.


Capstone Projects

ASHLEY HUNT Nausea and


JILL VAWTER Continuing


Vomiting Protocol in the Emergency Room, advisor Dr. Pat Coyle-Rogers

Resident Satisfaction with their Stay at a Long-Term Care Facility through Activity in Long-Term Care Facilities, advisor Carla Dirkschneider

Education Methods and Nurses’ Confidence in Evidence-Based Practice Change, advisor Dr. Stephen Hardiman



of In-Hospital Formula Supplementation on Breastfeeding Success at Six Months Postpartum, advisor Dr. Pat Coyle-Rogers

Assessment of a Hospital Nursing Organization for Pathways to Excellence Application, advisor Dr. Linda Jensen



of Life in Adult Hypothroid Patients: Comparing T4 Therapy with T3/T4 Therapy, advisor Dr. Pat Coyle-Rogers

Effects of a Nurse Led Educational Seminar on Exercise Usage in Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes, advisor Dr. Stephen Hardiman

Birth after Cesarean Section: Success Rate of Spontaneous Labor Compared to NonSpontaneous Labor, advisor Dr. Pat Coyle-Rogers

CHASE LUTHER Difficulty of

Patient Assignments of Staff Nurses versus Float Pool Nurses: A Comparative Study, advisor Dr. Linda Jensen


of Dementia Education in Long-Term Care Facilities in the State of Nebraska Business Plan, advisor Carla Dirkschneider




Literacy in a Rural Primary Care Setting, advisor Dr. Pat Coyle-Rogers

Educational Intervention Study to Examine Medical Surgical Nurses’ Knowledge of Palliative and End-of-Life Care, advisor Dr. Deborah Boucher-Payne


Will a Formalized Patient Flow Process Decrease Patient Transition Times in a Hospital?, advisor Dr. Linda Jensen

Concussion Syndrome: Gender Differences in Time Needed to Return to Daily Activities, advisor Dr. Pat Coyle-Rogers


Failure Education: Decreasing Hospital and Emergency Room Visits, advisor Dr. Pat Coyle-Rogers


Plan: A Family Focused Program for Childhood Obesity Prevention in the Omaha Community, advisor Carla Dirkschneider


Extra-Nasal Decolonization for Staphylococcus Aureus in Preventing Orthopedic Surgical Site Infections: Is It Justified?, advisor Dr. Linda Jensen

Alumni Times


August 2015 Graduates

Academic Honors Academic honors are conferred on Bachelor of Science and Associate of Science degree candidates who, upon graduation, distinguish themselves by maintaining a high cumulative grade point average. To qualify for academic honors, a student must have completed the minimum required residency hours. Honors are distinguished as follows: **** Summa Cum Laude 3.85 and above *** Magna Cum Laude 3.75 through 3.84 ** Cum Laude 3.65 through 3.74 * With Distinction 3.50 through 3.64 Honor Societies Honor societies at Clarkson College include: λ Member of Delta Chapter Lambda Nu National Honor Society for the Radiologic and Imaging Sciences † Member of Omicron Epsilon Chapter Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing Σ Member of National Society of Leadership and Success Sigma Alpha Pi Interdisciplinary Honor Society

Note: Honors designations were based upon current information at press time. Clarkson College apologizes for any errors or omissions.


October & November 2015

Certificate in Imaging Informatics Susan Marie Rollman λΣ*** Brooke MaDonna Spencer Cristina Marie Weaver λΣ*** Lauren Elizabeth Young λ Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assistant Leslee Bothof Daniel Brockevelt**** Alisha Ann Coleman Christopher Thomas Derozier Rebecca J.H. Groot**** Karen Estelle Hanrahan Jessica Lynn McMahon Kristin Lynn Parker Σ Jennifer Lynn Rose**** Brittany Anne Slingwine Stephon Markeese Smiley Vincent Jacob Terrell Σ Christopher A. Tomasek Associate of Science in Radiologic Technology Jamie Lee Alder λΣ Marisa Ann Bardell λΣ Sere Joy Bauer Abbie Boyda λ**** Kaelia Joy Carlsen λΣ**** Nicole Carlson λΣ*** Kaylee Margret Dewald λΣ Stephanie Marie Drees λΣ Randi M. Grandgenett λΣ**** Shelby Rae Kohl λΣ** Natalia Paige λΣ**** Lindy Marie McDowell λ Jamie Lynn Miller Taylor Kathleen Niemann λ*** Emily Jean Oster λΣ*** Ashley Marie Paulson λ* Douglas Raymond λ* Susan Marie Rollman λΣ*** Shae Brianne Switzer λ Nicole M. Uram λΣ*** Cristina Marie Weaver λΣ*** Catherine Elizabeth Wieczorek λ Bachelor of Science in Medical Imaging Patrick Gregory Bendlin λ Randi M. Grandgenett λΣ**** Shelby Rae Kohl λΣ** Anne Elizabeth Riha

Susan Marie Rollman λΣ*** Brooke MaDonna Spencer Cristina Marie Weaver λΣ*** Lauren Elizabeth Young λ Bachelor of Science in Nursing Michaela Rose Abbott Venus Renee Anderson**** Kalee Bockmann †Σ*** Linda Sonemany Bouasym*** Breanne Joyce Marie Denton Katherine Ann Eggers*** Elizabeth Erin Hamata Σ Brianna Shola Hankins Rebecca Marie Herchenbach †Σ** Tyler Hoffmann**** Jade Corrine Hoschar Σ Rebecca M. Hynes Σ Kourtney Ann Janata** Colton Jonathon Johnson Lydia M. Johnson Σ Tawni Rae Jones Mary Anastasia Kalisek*** Erica Dawn Kemery*** Jaclyn E. Kreikemeier †Σ*** Karen Ann Lawler*** Tamara S. Little †*** Rachel Manning Jessica Anne Martin*** Jeffrey Eugene Nemetz Brianna Nicole Norris †Σ*** Jordan Talon Cathleen Northcutt Σ Lucas Joseph Olmer Ashley Ordway Ashley Phillips †Σ** Kristin Nicole Richter Σ Megan Marie Shadden Tara Ann Tipton Lisa Marie Tostenson †Σ*** Brad Utterback Lisa Ann Wiig Σ Tracy Ann Zumwalt Bachelor of Science in Health Care Business in Health Information Administration Laura Jones * Bachelor of Science in Health Care Business in Management Angela Christine Culbertson Σ

Master in Health Care Administration Natalie Rae Gettler Trampas D. Hutches Ashlee Eileen Theisen Master of Science in Nursing Katie Michele Antpack † Jackie Lynn Bailey †Σ Kristin Dawn Busse Amanda Lee Collicott †Σ Maggie Conley Anna Marie Dolezal Brenda Jo Eller Jeanne Marie Freeburg Elizabeth Garcia Jessica Ann Gering Abby Lynn Greenlee Molly Marie Gunter † Hayley Elizabeth Heimes Katrina V. Hotka-Truempler Ashley Michelle Hunt Tiffany Marie Kalin Hillary Ann Kolar Chase Colby Luther Sydnie Zoe Luther Jenessa Morgan McKray Rachael Leigh Mooberry † Rosemarie Lynn Neal Emily Ann Phillips-Thams Connie Sue Radke † Alice Roy Melanie Kay Ruz-Nuglo † Amanda Marie Shaw † Melissa Rae Smith Katie Annette Stearns † Rachelle Ann Tappe † Jill Kimmberly Vawter Sarah Elizabeth Walker-Loring † Andrea N. Ward Lekeithia D. Wilkes Jessica Jane Williamsen Post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing Lindee Jan Abe Katherine Jean Bowersox Melanie J. Denny-Schiltz Angela Yvonne FeltonColeman † Patricia A. Monroe Ashley Rose Urbanski

Mystery Photo A snapshot of the people, ideas and events shaping our history Collegiate pride extends further than the classroom and our campus. Give it the ol’ college try to guess the proud students pictured here. Send your responses to Rita VanFleet at


In Memoriam

Movin’ on In

Doris Y. Stithem Christensen (’49) Died Aug. 4, 2015 at Risen Son Christian Village in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

There’s no warmer welcome than a smile—especially on arrival day! Caring for others makes a lasting impression, making moments like this memorable long after first stepping foot onto campus.

Sharon Schuett (‘71, ‘86) Kathy Rothermund Riley is behind the car door. Next to her is Linda Speece and then Carol Bartek. All of the last names were maiden names. Marueen Kelpe (‘72, ‘83) The two new students in the photo are Stephanie Hintz and Marilyn Vieregger. The “Big Sisters” are either class of ‘70 or ‘71.

Mary Hansen McDermott (‘72) Died Nov. 17, 2014 in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. Janet Bacon (‘73) Looks like Stephanie Hintz coming out of the car. She was my Big Sister and would have graduated in 1972.

Estella E. Nordmeyer Mortensen (‘44) Died Aug. 16, 2015 in Columbus, Neb.

Sandy Doering (‘72, ‘91) The girl getting out of the car is Stephanie Hintz, and the one holding the suitcase is Marilyn Vierregger, both of the class of 1972. The photo was taken on arrival day in 1969. I know because I was in their class.

Joan K. Wingert Died July 21, 2015 in Sterling, Neb. She was a former Nursing instructor at Clarkson School of Nursing.

Alumni Times


Awards & Recognition

Extraordinary Service: A Career of Leadership & Mentorship Aubray Orduña Reflects on 40 Years at Clarkson College & Nebraska Medicine ARTICLE BY

Kara Haworth Nebraska Medicine


She enjoys a beautiful view outside her office window, located on the sixth floor of the Clarkson College main building. Much of the view is the Nebraska Medicine campus and the tower cranes that don the skyline. It served as the perfect setting to reflect on a dynamic career that involved both campuses at different times. Aubray Orduña, Ed.D., Clarkson College Dean of Nursing, marked her 40th service anniversary in July. It’s a career that amazingly enough began as she drove down 42nd Street in 1975 looking for the VA Hospital. Instead, she pulled into Clarkson Hospital’s parking lot and was hired the next day. It’s a long way away from rural Arkansas, where Dr. Orduña was born. As a young child her mother made the decision to escape the discrimination that existed in Arkansas for better opportunities in Omaha, where they had family. “She decided ‘we have to get out of here,’” says Dr. Orduña. After graduating from Central High School—and despite knowing she had a love for teaching—Dr. Orduña followed family friends’ advice and attended nursing school at Murray State University in Murray, Ky., where she got married and had her first child while earning her BSN.


October & November 2015

Dr. Orduña arrived back in Omaha after living in Pittsburgh, Pa., where she worked at Allegheny General Hospital. She was a single parent with a young daughter. After being hired at Clarkson Hospital, she began working in the float pool, then went to work on 8 North and later became an assistant head nurse. In 1979, she accepted a part-time faculty position at Clarkson College teaching the fundamentals of nursing while working part-time on 8 North. She later became a full-time faculty member, but still enjoyed patient contact with her students. “At my first job in Pittsburgh, people told me ‘you know, you’re really good at teaching,’” Dr. Orduña remembers. “I really fell in love with teaching and as a single parent, it was important to be home in the evenings.” After earning her master’s degree in 1987 from Creighton University, Dr. Orduña went back to Clarkson Hospital as a clinical nurse specialist, a newly created position where she worked with staff to teach about new equipment and new procedures and also worked on performance improvement projects. In 1994, she helped implement Clarkson Hospital’s new patient-

“I’ve had a wonderful opportunity not only to advance in my profession, but to help people become successful.”

focused care model and went on to develop “critical pathways,” which supplemented a patient’s care plan to reduce length of stay in areas such as orthopaedics and congestive heart failure. As the focus on outcomes grew stronger, then president of Clarkson Hospital, Louis Burgher, M.D., Ph.D., created a Director of Outcomes position and hired Dr. Orduña to work with physicians on ways to reduce cost and length of stay. After the merger, Dr. Orduña came back to Clarkson College in 1999 as a faculty member and took on another newly created role of Director of Diversity Services and Nursing faculty member with a goal of attracting more minorities into nursing. Here, she worked with then president of Clarkson College, Dr. J.W. Upright, and Dr. Burgher to implement the Gateway to Success Scholarships, a program that’s near and dear to her heart. The scholarships, paid for by the Clarkson Regional Health Services, are given to five new students each year. One summer internship at Nebraska Medicine is required, which is funded by Nebraska Medicine. “Students love to see the real world of nursing and health care,” she says. “It’s a life-changing thing for these students. They’re now out there working as professional nurses, and it’s all because of this scholarship.” Another career change happened in 2003, when she was asked to launch an LPN program for the college. “We wanted to meet the need that was out there,” Dr. Orduña says. “CNAs who want to become an LPN, but can’t quit

their job to go to school. They needed something like this.” That program is ending in 2016. “It was a program that worked well. There’s still a need for LPNs in health care, but more hospitals are requiring nurses to have their BSN,” she says. Five years later, Dr. Orduña became the Director of Undergraduate Nursing and just as she earned her Doctorate in Education, she was offered the Dean of Nursing position in October 2009. “Dr. Orduña embodies all of the values of Clarkson College and the nursing profession,” says Dr. Andreia Nebel, Clarkson College Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs. “Her 40 years of service alone demonstrates her loyalty and commitment to this organization. She has excellent rapport with everyone she works with, the integrity to always do what is right and truly cares about the students and faculty. She never stops learning, is still cited in research for her dissertation work during her Ed.D., and as dean, continually works to develop the best nursing curriculums from beginning nurse education through the doctorate in nursing degree program. Her advocacy work to others in the community, her various nursing board commitments and her assistance provided to many arenas at Nebraska Medicine, is second to none.” “I love this college. I love teaching,” she says. “It’s been a great opportunity for me to connect with faculty and to share my leadership,” Dr. Orduña reflects. “Clarkson College is a caring institution that provides quality education—two things you don’t always get together. That’s the epitome of where I want to be.”

Alumni Times


Awards & Recognition

Wishing the Best in Retirement for Two Long-Standing Clarkson College Employees ARTICLE & PHOTOGRAPHY BY

Mikaela Yeager

Nieto retires after 32 years of service Less than a handful of current employees can recall when the College appointed its first president or when the Baccalaureate Nursing program gained national accreditation, but Linda Nieto is among the few who can. After nearly 32 years of service, and taking on a diversity of roles and responsibilities, Linda bid an emotional goodbye to her colleagues as she entered retirement in August. Linda started her career with Clarkson College in November 1983 as a part-time front desk representative, answering phone calls from prospective students and their parents. Less than a year later, she tacked on a second role as the evening resident supervisor at Kiewit Tower—the student housing facility located one block west of the Clarkson College campus. From 1992–97, Linda served as a registration secretary in the office of Professional Development. Then, during the 1997-98 school year, she accepted a full-time academic administration coordinator position. The following year, the College instituted online course delivery, and Linda’s title changed

Linda Nieto


October & November 2015

to Distance (more recently, Online) Education Coordinator. She remained in this position, housed within the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) department, for the duration of her career. Some of Linda’s main responsibilities in CTE included initiating and verifying clinical affiliation agreements, requesting clinical/preceptor placement and processing documentation for Nurse Practitioner students, sending exam instructions and passwords to the test proctors for online students and maintaining the database where all such information is stored. One of Linda’s proudest moments came in 2011 when the College received a top ranking from U.S. News & World Report in the category of Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs. “I felt I played an important part in that achievement,” Linda shares. With a tissue in hand and several of her closest relatives to celebrate with her, Linda exchanged goodbyes with dozens of faculty and staff at her retirement party on Aug. 5. “I will immensely miss the assistance, kindness and friendship they have shown me over the years,” Linda says of her colleagues.

Vinson retires after 23 years of service As Larry Vinson steps into retirement, his friends and colleagues at Clarkson College will remember him for

far more than just his 17-year-long role as Director of Information Technology and Computer Services. Employees also came to know Larry for his many other idiosyncrasies—his role as the official tornado and fire drill facilitator; the stash of mini chocolate bars he handed out on random Friday afternoons; his weekly Don & Millie’s lunch ritual; and, of course, the myriad of wolf-inspired décor and collectibles that adorned his office. But Larry spent several weeks this past summer gradually packing up his beloved office belongings. Friday, Aug. 28 marked his final day at Clarkson College, and an open house retirement celebration was held on campus to commemorate his 23 years of service. After serving more than 22 years in the U.S. Air Force and earning two associate’s degrees—one in Instructional Technology; the other in Administrative Management—the College hired Larry in January 1992 as an Educational Resources Assistant. A few months later, he was promoted to Coordinator of Instructional Technology and maintained that role until assuming his most recent director position in January 1998. As Director of IT and Computer Services, Larry was responsible for the design, direction and administration of all functions of College technology, including, computer services, instructional media services, the Educational Resources Center, Network Services, World Wide Web usage and Intranet services. He was also in charge of the configuration, maintenance and repair of all College servers, desktops and laptops.

Larry’s dedication to his work did not go unnoticed, especially not by those nearest to him. Pam Seward, Database Engineer, worked alongside Larry for 16 years and commends him for the strong sense of loyalty he displayed for the IT department and the College as a whole. “It was inspiring to watch his frequent interaction with students in a sincere desire to assist them however he could,” Pam shared. “He often took on extra responsibilities when needed. His absence will be noticed.” That viewpoint is reciprocated by Larry. “My biggest gain has been being a part of the fantastic growth and development at the College and working with many of our outstanding faculty, staff and students,” he said. “I thank everyone for making my second career such a wonderful experience. Your many kindnesses and support have made a huge difference in moving the College forward as a team of caring professionals.”

Karen and Larry Vinson

Alumni Association President Nickki Hardin (‘95, ‘97), Honorary Alumni recipient Natalie Vrbka and her mother, Polly Vrbka.

Honorary Alumni Awarded ARTICLE BY

Rita VanFleet


Todd Snover

Each year, the Alumni Association Board selects an Honorary Alumni, an individual who displays strong support and commitment to the Clarkson College, makes significant contributions and is a great supporter of the Alumni Association. This year’s recipient is Natalie Vrbka.

Natalie is very active in various College committees and is also involved with student activities. She enjoys participating in alumni events and encouraging others to do so, as well. It was with great honor and appreciation that the Alumni Board presented this award to Natalie.

After graduating from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, Natalie became a full-time employee for more than five years, falling in love with academia and higher education. She transitioned into an admissions recruiter role for the College of St. Mary, where she stayed for seven years. In 2007, Natalie began working in the Registrar’s office at Clarkson College, recently shifting to her current role as the Undergraduate Nursing Student Advising Coordinator. “I love the students, faculty and staff here at Clarkson College,” Natalie says. “The staff and faculty are truly here to help our students succeed, and I feel the students know we are here for them to provide the best service and education possible. It’s great to see graduates come back as faculty or for additional degrees.”

Comments on Natalie’s nominations show how readily she met the criteria for this award. “Professionally, she demonstrates excellence, integrity and commitment by providing high quality customer service to students and their families as the Assistant to the Registrar” (her prior position). “Even though she has exemplified astonishing professional and volunteer contributions to the College, she also demonstrates her dedication by supporting the College Alumni Association.” ”Although I will never become a health care provider myself, I love helping in the education of those students who will. This award is so fulfilling,” Natalie says. “Clarkson College has not only helped me learn and grow professionally, but I have made life-long friends here as well.”

Alumni Times


101 South 42 Street Omaha, NE 68131-2739

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Omaha, NE Permit No. 749



Alumni Bowling Tournament

Holiday Lights Tour

Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016

Thursday, Dec. 10

6-9 p.m.

7-9:30 p.m.

$22.50 per person for three games

$10 per person

RSVP or 402.552.3516

RSVP 402.552.3516

Calling all fun enthusiasts! Join us for the sixth annual Bowling Tournament at Scorz Sports Center in Ralston, Neb. Teams of four will enjoy pizza and a fun evening of bowling. Participants are encouraged to get creative with their team names and costumes.

Ring in the season with a holiday lights display tour! Participants and their adult guests will enjoy light snacks and festive light displays during 2.5 hour motor coach tour. Save your seat(s) by contacting Rita VanFleet by Nov. 23. Call soon—seats are limited.

October & November 2015

Alumni Times October/November 2015