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northern kentucky university


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You are a


Don't think so? The proof is on page 12


p y-ste b p e St e r n e ss s wild ip va l t s u r v i t To d d Y o u n g ! from ex



Norse nuptials: FALLING IN LOVE AT NKU

Q&A WITH NKU'S NEW ATHLETIC DIRECTOR fa l l - w i n t e r 2 0 1 3 - 1 4



volume 11, no. 3 Editor Brent Donaldson ’05


designer Dionne Laycock ’90

copy Editor Tira Rogers ’01, ’05

photographer Timothy D. Sofranko

EDITORIAL INTERN Caitlin Centner ’13

publisher Deidra S. Fajack Director of Alumni Programs Eric Gentry Vice President for University Advancement

CONTRIBUTORS Carol Beirne Josh Blair ’05 Caitlin Centner ’13 Ryan Clark ’10 Chris Cole ’99, ’04, ’09 Juli Hale ’96

Alicia Lawrence ’08 Maggie Pund ’14 Kevin Schultz ’14 Rich Shivener ’06, ’10 Chris Varias Molly Williamson

Alumni association executive committee Tracy Schwegmann ’95, President Jim Cutter ’81, President-elect David McClure ’83, ’08, Immediate Past President Frank Birkenhauer ’92, ’95, Vice President Deidra S. Fajack, Secretary/Treasurer

CORRESPONDENCE Northern Kentucky University Office of Alumni Programs 421 Old Johns Hill Road Highland Heights, KY 41099 phone: (859) 572-5486 web: email: NORTHERN magazine is published three times a year by the Office of Alumni Programs at Northern Kentucky University for its graduates, donors, and friends. Copyright 2013 Northern Kentucky University.

Comments, questions, concerns? We want to hear from you! Email us at n o rth e r n

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A message from the president


Welcome to the fall 2013 issue of Northern Magazine. As I write this letter, our students are back at a beautiful campus that is full of the sights and sounds of progress. We are completing a major beautification project on the north end of the central plaza that will include more green space, a second outdoor amphitheater, and ground-level fountains. Later this year, we will begin the renovation and expansion of our Campus Recreation Center—an undertaking that will double its current size and create a modern recreation and fitness facility. We have also purchased Lakeside Terrace and will convert it into our newest residence hall. This fall, we welcomed the most academically prepared freshman class in the history of the university. This achievement is due, in part, to a deliberate enrollment strategy and is being further aided by other successes. For example, NKU was recently named as the top university in the commonwealth of Kentucky for lifetime return on investment. We are extremely proud of this distinction. This kind of recognition is only possible if NKU remains a hub of innovation and creativity. Creativity and innovation happen to be the cover feature themes of this issue of Northern Magazine—themes that closely align with the spirit and trajectory of the university. In this issue, you will find numerous examples of alumni who, like their alma mater, embody that same innovative spirit. Innovation and creativity are also driving forces behind the formulation of a new strategic plan that will guide NKU for the foreseeable future. Over the past year, I have met with a wide range of faculty, staff, students, community partners, and alumni to learn about your aspirations for NKU. A committee of 10 outstanding individuals who represent many segments of the greater university community has worked diligently to draft the plan. I encourage you to review the draft plan at and provide your feedback. Our Board of Regents will consider the plan at its upcoming November meeting. Of course, the plan’s most vital component is its implementation, which means our work is only beginning. We are working to develop metrics that will demonstrate our progress in meeting the goals set forth in the plan. I look forward to sharing updates about our progress with you on a regular basis. Until then, thank you for your commitment to our university and for your continued support. I hope to see you at one of the many academic, athletic, and cultural events taking place on campus this semester. Go, Norse!

Geoffrey S. Mearns President

n o rth e r n

This month’s striking cover illustration is the work of NKU student Naryb Wasylycia, a senior majoring in visual communication. We asked Naryb about his unique artistic perspective, his inspiration, and his thoughts on this month's cover feature theme— creativity. Where were you born and raised? I was born in Ontario, Canada, and raised in Northern Kentucky. What degree are you seeking and when do you hope to graduate? I am a senior graduating in spring 2014 with a B.F.A. in visual communication What inspires your work? With all of my work, I draw on non-objective and metaphysical themes to help understand my own personal experiences. Daily life inspires me. I've always felt connected to the idea of timelessness, and it's important to me that my work reflects that. What were you trying to convey/get across in this illustration? I'm always trying to build a narrative with everything I do, and with the idea of creativity especially, I wanted to show its gift and impact to society throughout time as well as its driving force to transform and progress humanity itself. I also wanted to convey that creativity isn't just solely related to art; it should be embraced by every imaginable subject. complete this sentence: "Creativity is…" Creativity is our only chance to get this thing right.


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president’s page


norse nuggets




You Are Not Creative

Creativity is not a character trait. Creativity is not something you learn from a TED Talk or a seminar. Creativity is within us all, but most of us don’t realize it until our backs are against the wall. From a rock club owner to a CEO, we bring you 14 examples of creativity at its finest.


Branching Out

alumni journal



class notes

Reflecting a national trend, the number of NKU students graduating with degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has increased 114 percent in just the past five years. We caught up with a few of these prestigious grads to talk about their postgraduate plans and, of course, their alma mater.




Stay focused; don’t panic; assess your materials; and be prepared. Four wilderness survival skills brought to you courtesy of survival expert Todd Young (’01). The first piece of advice? Cut out this article and carry it with you!



Alumni Award Winners!

Several of NKU’s best and brightest receive our top honors. Let us introduce you.

Northern magazine is online! Check us out at northernmagazine.nku.

edu, and then write us at to share your story!


NORSE nuggets

Norse Nuggets “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not.” -Dr. Seuss, The Lorax


Doing the Right Thing If it seems that this issue has a slightly different look and feel, you’re not imagining things. Through our printing service provider at Watkins Printing, Northern Magazine has made the switch to 100 percent postconsumer recycled paper. That means that for every ton produced, we’re saving 2,092 pounds of waste, 17 trees, 16,546 gallons of water, and other savings too numerous to list here.

n o rth e r n

Here Comes the Sun

Norse Up!

Studio Musicians

Dan Geers (’13) recently helped secure a grant from the Duke Energy Foundation to create a solar energy lab for engineering technology students and local K-12 schools for research and renewable energy awareness. With the help of Icon Solar, these unique solar panel systems are mounted on the roof of NKU’s CEAD building with three different systems that allow students to conduct comparative research. www. mainFr.php?siteId=2201

One of the great things about being a Norse is that with a simple gesture (see above) you can show the world your Norse pride. After collecting photos of NKU alumni and friends giving the “Norse Up” sign from around the globe, NKU is creating a website to share all of these fantastic images. Send your norse-up photos to, and keep your eyes open for the new website!

Did you know NKU has its own version of the hit live-music show Austin City Limits? WNKU's Studio 89 features local and national musicians and bands performing live on the air and in front of a studio audience. Conducted in the digitorium of NKU’s Griffin Hall, seating is limited though reservations are accepted online the Tuesday before each show. For more information or to reserve seats, visit www. and search for “Studio 89.”

nku buzz

—From a column by University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds that appeared in USA Today this past August. The column discussed the complex social and monetary considerations for getting the most out of higher education and avoiding pitfalls often associated with young students experiencing the world on their own for the first time.

Raise the Curtains!

Best Investment, Ever

It's Full of Stars

NKU theatre is in full swing! The 2013–14 season includes South Pacific— the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein tale of love, prejudice, and war that garnered 10 Tony awards and a Pulitzer Prize for drama. Up next is As You Like It— a gender-bending tale of unrequited love that many critics consider to be Shakespeare’s finest comedy. For more info, visit departments/theatre/ boxoffice.html or call (859) 572-5464.

When a recent online study looked into the college or university with the best return on investment in the state of Kentucky, it analyzed 114 colleges across a number of measurement categories. In case you haven’t heard, Northern Kentucky University was found to have the greatest lifetime ROI among all colleges and universities in all of Kentucky. For the full list, visit www. affordablecollegesonline. org/online-colleges/ kentucky.

Looking to stargaze on your lunch hour? Free shows at NKU’s Haile Digital Planetarium are offered every Monday through April! Sit back and take in a fully immersive trip through our solar system with a stop at each planet and a look at our biggest comets. Shows are familyfriendly and open to the public. For a full lineup visit departments/pget/planetarium.html or call (859) 572-1432.

‘He is still fighting his own demons,’ filmmaker Corrente said of Cadet. ‘He has this intense need to keep going back to Haiti, just to save one more child. He is such a sweet guy. What's really remarkable is that he has maintained so much humanity.’ —Comments from a recent Cincinnati Enquirer and USA Today article made by Michael Corrente, a filmmaker who is slated to direct a feature biopic about Jean-Robert Cadet. Cadet is a former Haitian child slave and the founder of the Jean R. Cadet Restavek Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works to end the stillcommon practice of slavery in Haiti. Cadet teamed with specialists at Northern Kentucky University and UC-Blue Ash to develop programs for Haitian schoolteachers. Learn more at

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These schools—the Northern Kentucky Universities of the world—focus more on teaching, and are often more oriented toward student success, frequently in a less party-oriented atmosphere.




Dionne Laycock

Big Data, Big Potential NKU’s new data science program is one of three in the U.S. If you haven’t heard the term “big data” yet, you will soon—even if you stop reading at the end of this sentence. But you don’t want to do that. Why? Because the study of big data increasingly affects everything from disaster relief to global food supplies, to healthcare, to tracking terrorists around the globe, to how much you pay for car insurance. Analyzing massive data sets—computer company IBM estimates that humans create 2.4 quintillion bytes of data every day—is the next frontier in data science. The field is being called “new oil” for its sheer scope and market potential. And this semester, Northern Kentucky University is launching an undergraduate data science program, one of only three in the entire country. Welcome to the new frontier. This “ultimate informatics degree” links together computer science, business informatics, and communication—along with mathematics and statistics—for students to develop in-demand skills to take on big data’s growing role in society. “Data is increasingly defining our society,” says James Walden, lead author of the program’s proposal and NKU computer science professor. Computers and sensors are built into more and more devices to track data about our location, our interactions, and our purchases. “We’re going from a society where the environment around us is essentially dumb to one where it is essentially smart. We are living in this world of data, and that is a trend that is going to keep increasing.” “Because big data is both interesting and scary,” says NKU’s dean of informatics Kevin Kirby, “it makes for a very exciting program. The government and businesses are interested [in the field], but it is also a huge n o rt h e r n

part of science and healthcare. It represents information across everything. It captures the essence of informatics.” At a time when data is continuously being created and shared across the world (it has been estimated that YouTube users upload 48 hours of new video every minute), this interdisciplinary program aims to train students in both ethics and analytics as they learn how to effectively interpret and communicate patterns extracted from trillions of pieces of data. The curriculum covers the component skills of statistics, programming, and information systems. It then moves on to deal with specific subject-matter skills in data mining, business analytics, simulation, and scientific visualization. Business analytics and computation-intensive tracks are offered in addition to a customized plan. Worldwide, companies already face shortages of workers able to interpret the inconceivable amounts of information constantly pulsating through cables and airwaves. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, the shortage of workers who have the skills to effectively use big data could rise as high as 190,000 by 2018 in the United States. Locally, Procter & Gamble, Toyota, and dunnhumbyUSA demonstrated their interest in data science through their continued involvement with designing NKU’s big data program to meet the job market’s demand. Kenneth Cukier, data editor for The Economist magazine and coauthor of Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think, says the fact that NKU has an undergraduate big data program “is absolutely a game changer.” “The more [NKU] can delve into this and develop it, the more competitive its students will be as employees and [Kentucky will be] as a state. It’s going to change everything.” —Maggie Pund

New VP of advancement finds a home at NKU Eric C. Gentry traveled a fairly circuitous route only to find himself back in his former Kentucky home. Gentry began serving as vice president for university advancement October 1. As vice president, Gentry leads an NKU advancement division that includes fundraising, alumni programs, marketing and communications, media relations, the NKU Foundation and special events. He advises

Norse Nuptials Love in the time of college

For many Norse graduates, NKU is where you met the love of your life. We want to thank all of you who responded to the call to share your stories about falling in love at NKU. The following story is one of our favorite Norse Nuptial submissions so far, presented to you in advance of a new website and event we’re creating to honor Norse amore. Stay tuned! —Brent Donaldson Jennifer Vasseur (’00) writes: I met Daniel Vasseur August 19, 1997—the second day of our freshman year. As luck would have it, we were from the same town in southwestern Kentucky called Paducah. Going to college was a very scary endeavor for me. Having been a foster child, I was unlike other college kids. On move-in day at the dorm, my best friend moved me in, not my parents. I was alone. I woke up around 7 o’clock the following morning and walked to Norse Commons to grab breakfast. As I walked back to my dorm, I looked up and saw a guy wearing a purple “Evansville Aces” shirt. In passing I said, “Oh, I have a friend who goes to school there,” but his response was “Oh, hey, you’re Jennifer Shaffer!” I was speechless. But as we talked I realized that while moving through the foster system I had indeed gone to his high school for a brief four months during my sophomore year. I shared more with Daniel in those first few minutes than I share with most strangers. Just two weeks later Daniel stood next to my baby blue Ford Taurus and told me he loved me. I laughed. How in the world did this person think he actually loved me? But he followed it by telling me he never wanted to see me alone and he wanted to love me as long as I would let him. He couldn’t comprehend the hurt and abuse that I had gone through in life. While at NKU, we walked to classes together hand in hand; we

ate all meals together; and, yes, Daniel even did my laundry for me most weeks. We were president and vice president of Phi Beta Lambda, and I was a member of the APB and Norse Leadership Society. I worked at the NKU information center and was on Homecoming court. We made the most out of college, taking advantage of everything on campus. I graduated in 2000, and Daniel graduated in 2001. The next year Daniel asked me to marry him, wearing the same purple shirt he was wearing the day we met. We married in 2003, and we now have three beautiful children: Morgan, Alec, and Nolan. I could write forever about the kind of person Daniel is. Kind, humble, smart, sincere, reserved, patient—the list could go on. For 16 years this man has loved me unconditionally. Last summer we traveled to Northern Kentucky to visit our friends—most of whom we met while at NKU. While in town we also drove back to campus, sat under the same tree where we met, and shared our story with our three children. I am forever grateful to NKU. I got so much more than a great education. If you’d like to submit your own story for the upcoming Norse Nuptials website, email it to Please note that stories may be edited for grammar, style, and space considerations!

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Welcome, Eric Gentry

NKU President Geoffrey Mearns on all aspects of advancement and resource development and serves on the NKU executive team and on the executive committee of the NKU Foundation. During Gentry’s tenure at UT San Antonio, the school reached a $120 million capital campaign goal nearly three years ahead of schedule. The university averaged more than $30 million per year—a 400 percent increase compared with the three years prior to his arrival. Gentry has also served as director of development for the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Texas at Dallas. Prior to Dallas, he was director of development for the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University’s College of Engineering. The Leitchfield, Ky., native earned his B.S. in political science from Murray State University. He has a Master of Applied Politics from the University of Akron. Gentry and his wife, Loni, are the proud parents of toddler-aged twins, Parker and Emery Lynn.


NORTHERN athletics


Meet the New AD! Ken Bothof brings servant leadership to NKU athletics

New athletic director Ken Bothof comes to NKU from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, where his long tenure (2002–13) was marked by great success for athletes both on the field and in the classroom. We had a chance to talk to the new AD about growing up, his advice for athletes, and the shifting landscape of the NCAA. —Alicia Lawrence Northern: Where did you grow up? Bothof: I grew up in a small town in Minnesota called Slayton, a small farming community, and I had the most wonderful parents a young child could have. My father had his own business, and my mother was a part of it as well. They were both just wonderful parents, and they instilled in me a lot of the values that I have today. Northern: You played baseball and basketball growing up. Did you have serious ambitions in either of those sports? Bothof: Certainly serious ambitions in baseball. Not in basketball. I had a chance to walk on at the University of Minnesota n o rt h e r n

to play baseball but chose instead to go to a small, private school in Storm Lake, Iowa, on a baseball scholarship and was fortunate to play both baseball and basketball there. But I figured out by the time I was a senior in college that the next level in baseball would not be a possibility for me. Northern: What specifically about NKU drew your interest? Bothof: The move to Division I was a big part of it, and then finding that it was a large, growing, vibrant, diverse, metropolitan school was a big part of it as well. But really the vision of President Mearns—his energy level and what he hopes to accomplish from a university and

an athletic standpoint—really drew me here. Northern: What is your overall leadership philosophy? Bothof: I once got to meet Jim Hunter, the author of a book [about leadership] called The Servant. For the first time [the book] gave a name to the leadership style I had used through the years but really didn’t have a name for. It’s a wonderful leadership style that helps empower people within your department and shows a good example of how people want to be led. Northern: The Cincinnati region is known for its sports teams, its symphony, and its bustling music scene, chili, ice cream, and goetta. What are you looking forward to experiencing the most? Bothof: Ice cream and what? Northern: Goetta. Bothof: What’s that? Northern: It’s a variation on sausage. Sort of. Bothof: You know I’ll say I haven’t had Skyline since I was at St. Louis University in Conference USA, so I’m kind of anxious to get another taste of it. Northern: What is the greatest challenge facing Division I college athletics today? Bothof: Obviously the biggest challenge at our level is the changing landscape of the different conferences and leagues. That’s probably going to be with us for another couple of years. Northern: What advice can you give to student-athletes here at NKU? Bothof: Get involved as much as you possibly can. We all recognize their lives are busy with studying and practicing and traveling, but get involved on campus and in the community because that’s where you really develop as a person, and that’s what’s going to carry you forward after graduation when you’re looking for new opportunities.


versus ats

in Lexington Sun., Nov 10

2013-14 NKU Women’s Basketball Home Schedule Sat. Wed. Sat. Sat. Sat. Thu. Sat. Sat. Thu. Sat. Thu. Sat. Thu. Sat.

7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 2:30 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. TBA 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m.

Nov. 9 Nov. 13 Nov. 23 Dec. 7 Dec. 21 Jan. 9 Jan. 11 Jan. 25 Jan. 30 Feb. 1 Feb. 13 Feb. 15 Mar. 6 Mar. 8

Cincinnati Illinois State Western Kentucky Miami (Ohio) Ball State Mercer Kennesaw State Lipscomb Florida Gulf Coast Stetson North Florida Jacksonville USC Upstate East Tennessee State

Start times subject to change. 2013-14 NKU Men’s Basketball Home Schedule

D-I Season Tickets Are Here It's time to take it to the hoop! We are taking Norse basketball to a new level! Join us at The Bank of Kentucky Center—and at alumni events for away games around the country—as your men’s and women’s Norse basketball teams ramp up the competition.

Sat. Tue. Sun. Wed. Sat. Sat. Mon. Thu. Sat. Fri. Thu. Sat. Thu. Sat.

7 p.m. 7 p.m. noon 7 p.m. noon 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 1 p.m.

Nov. 16 Nov. 19 Dec. 15 Dec. 18 Dec. 21 Jan. 4 Jan. 6 Jan. 16 Jan. 18 Jan. 24 Feb. 6 Feb. 8 Feb. 27 Mar. 1

San Diego Morehead State UT Chattanooga Hampton Navy Jacksonville North Florida Mercer Kennesaw State Lipscomb East Tennessee State USC Upstate Stetson Florida Gulf Coast (NKU Homecoming)

the Hall of Famers

Introducing the 2013 inductees into the NKU Athletics Hall of Fame Back Row (left to right) • Jason Martin (1999-2002), baseball • Nancy Winstel (1983-2012), women’s basketball head coach • Shannon Smith Lewandowski (1995-99), women’s basketball • Craig Sanders (1998-2002), men’s basketball • Dr. James Votruba (1997-2012), NKU president Front Row (left to right) • Dr. James Claypool (1968-2002), administrator • Stephanie Leimbach James (2002-05), softball • Kristin Koralewski Perkins (2002-04), volleyball • Kim Keyer-Scott (2001-05), women’s golf To read more about the 2013 class of HOF inductees, visit

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NORTHERN NORTHERN athletics athletics

uK wildc

11 11

12 12

Josh Blair, Ryan Clark, Chris Cole, Brent Donaldson, Juli Hale, Maggie Pund, Kevin Schultz, Rich Shivener, and Chris Varias

nnoort rth h eerrnn

You are

a creative force, and it’s important that you know. You are creative in a way that is pragmatic and real. You are not creative because of an overly sincere TED Talk. You are creative in a way that bespeaks human ingenuity. You are the elementary school teacher who fashioned her own bookmobile to fight illiteracy. The social worker who struggles to assist families in need. The library director who saved a system from devastation. It’s important that you know this, because chances are good that the next problem in search of your solution is right around the corner. And creativity— as evidenced by the 14 extraordinary exemplars of that spirit found on the next nine pages—will be key when that problem resists traditional solutions. As they often do. Just take it from the CEO, the teacher, the author, the hairdresser, the artist, the entrepreneur, and the university president who all share their stories: Creativity is not a skill set. Creativity doesn’t belong to a class. Creativity isn’t mystical. It’s innovation.


Big Fat Brain Meet the ad exec whose creative mind is a chronic condition When Troy Hitch woke up one day to discover that the first episode of “You Suck at Photoshop” had notched more than 400,000 views, he knew that his fictionalized web series had reached some odd corner of the zeitgeist where digital tutorials and dark comedy intersect. Scrolling through the comments section, he discovered something more unthinkable: conjecture that “You Suck at Photoshop” was the creation of Dane Cook. Hitch used the speculation as an opportunity. Through a friend he reached out to the superstar comedian, who was a fan of the series. For the final episode of the second season, Hitch cast Cook in the only onscreen appearance of lead character Donnie Hoyle. Cook appears onscreen for a single moment and is immediately shot and killed. “We had no intention that this character had anything to do with Dane Cook, but as soon as we found out that our audience wanted him to be a part of it, we made him a part of it, so much so that we ended an entire season around him,” explains Hitch. “We discovered the more you let the audience play and be a part of the story and mold it and shape it, the more they’re gonna come along for the ride.” Hitch, 41, is the proprietor of a brain that won’t stop manufacturing ideas and ways to put them in motion. When his day job as executive creative director at the advertising agency EnergyBBDO/Xi Chicago isn’t enough of an outlet, he’ll spend down time writing a novel or inventing a game for a mobile device. “I am chronically conditioned to try to create things, so much so that it has become unhealthy at certain points in my life,” he laments. “I’m never satiated.” On the job, Hitch is more of an ideas gatherer than creator. He works within teams—as he did on a recent business trip to Beijing to brainstorm ways to sustain a successful ad campaign for Volkswagen in China—as well as groupleading, using his company’s proprietary collaboration-session methodology. “I’ve always believed that the best creative director doesn’t come up with a single idea,” he says. “A great creative director knows how to identify a great idea and inspires a team of people to come up with that idea. That gets me more excited than anything. My job is to build an environment in which people can be as optimally creative as possible and help them find the greatness in the thinking that they’re coming up with.” —Chris Varias

—Brent donaldson

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Getting Loud at the Library 14

How a grassroots call to action saved the Ohio library system In 2009 when then-Ohio governor Ted Strickland announced a massive, last-minute reduction to funding for the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, library director Kim Fender (’81) knew that only drastic action could stave off a cut that would have devastated the entire system. In Fender’s own words, here’s how creative thinking turned into a full-on blitz that saved the day. —Brent Donaldson In 2009, our budget was almost completely done, and for some unknown reason the governor announced a 30 percent reduction in library funding. It was June 29, and the budget was supposed to be done on July 1. None of us had any idea that this was coming. A 30 percent reduction on top of what we had already lost would have been absolutely unsustainable.

I think there was some expectation in Columbus that making an announcement like that at the last minute meant it would be all weekend before we would respond. But [the Ohio library metro directors] got on a call together and said, “No! We’re going to fight this, and we’re going to start that fight now, not Monday morning.” Some things are just urgent. We all knew we had to do something collectively. Each [director] came up with an idea: “I can put this on our website, and we’ll all copy it; we’ll get something out with press releases, and we’ll put signs on doors.” And we just got off the phone and did it. We worked all night and weekend. We had signs up on all of our doors and messages on our websites and messages out to all of our cardholders. “There is a proposed 30 percent reduction in state funding. Contact Columbus today.” We had tools online to help people know which [representative] was theirs. Within a few hours of hearing the news, they had shut down the statehouse phone and email systems. The cut went away. After shutting down their phones and email systems, the cut got changed back to what it had been in the budget before the announcement. It was a huge relief because a cut of that size would have completely wiped out the metropolitan libraries in the state. Now when we go to Columbus and talk about funding, the legislators who were in office at that time will say, “You really know how to do grassroots. We understand that people really love their library.”


Original Creativity Following Mother Nature’s lead to save the environment Sometimes it’s easy to forget that some of the most creative and innovative environmental solutions are Mother Nature’s own. There was a time when many of us believed that the best way to handle rainwater that poured off of our rooftops and parking lots was to channel it into a pipe and send it off to a stream or river as quickly as possible— after before an approach that increasingly has led to river erosion, pollution, and flooding. That’s why Scott Fennell, director of NKU’s Center for Environmental Restoration, says that the better solution for dealing with development projects is to restore a “green infrastructure” to protect and use the region’s natural resources. “Really, what we do is an alternative to the conventional solutions to stream restoration,” Fennell says. “What people used to do with streams is now being undone. We’re trying to regard our streams and rivers as resources not to carry off waste or carry off nuisance rainwater, but as assets. What we’re trying to do is restore natural functions to streams.” The CER contracts with the Army Corps of Engineers to help private landowners, government agencies, and nonprofits improve environmental stewardship in the region and provide hands-on training for NKU students in applied research through environmental restoration projects. These before-and-after photos depict a stream restoration project the CER has undertaken in Boone Woods Park in Burlington, Ky. To learn more about the CER, visit www.appliedecology.nku. edu. —BD


n o rt h e r n

Engineering a Hero Author Tina Closser IS Paige Daniels (and Shea Kelly)

Bring the Noise How rock ’n’ roll can save the world (one neighborhood at a time) “I love the look on people’s faces when you say rock ’n’ roll can save your neighborhood,” says Chris Schadler. As co-owner of MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine and, now, the new Woodward Theater across the street, Schadler knows exactly what he’s talking about. He plays in a popular local band called Fists of Love, and when he speaks about how music can improve an area, he does so from experience. “The idea came about over years of discussions about how the ‘rough’ arts, as we called it, should be funded more than the fine arts because more people participate in the former,” says Schadler, a 43-year-old urban planner and ’98 NKU grad. “The connection between live music culture and community was obvious to me because I was knee deep in both, and I intentionally tried to articulate this connection.” His idea took the form of an academic paper, which in 2012 he presented to an audience in Prague. “The paper coalesced around my own experiences in the music scene, in particular of how participation within the music scene made urban areas where music culture and nightlife take place better,” he says. “The most recent experience I had with seeing this transformation was opening MOTR in Over-the-Rhine. The area around MOTR has changed for the better since we opened, and very little effort would need to be made to find evidence of this fact.” Other examples can be seen in his own neighborhood— Northside—Schadler says, after the Northside Tavern opened. “Very simply stated, music culture and nightlife bring people, and their eyes, out onto the streets, and in the words of Jane Jacobs, ‘Eyes on the street make streets safer,’” he says. “And of course bringing more people into a particular area also increases opportunities for economic growth.” —Ryan Clark

By day, Tina Closser (’07) is a mild-mannered electrical engineer with the Naval Surface Warfare Center near Bloomington, Ind. She introduces area K–12 students to science, technology, engineering, and math programs by showcasing Navy technologies. But at night, Tina Closser transforms into Paige Daniels, a budding science fiction and butt-kicking super-hero novelist. Closser—and by Closser we mean Daniels—is the author of Non-Compliance: The Sector (Kristell-Ink Publishing), in which the hero protagonist Shea Kelly turns junk and discarded items into ingenious crime-fighting tools. As a lifelong fan of science fiction, Closser was determined to create her own strong female lead—someone “smart with a sense of humor,” she says. Thus was born Shea, a technological genius who, as punishment for refusing to have a government-issued computer chip inserted into her body, has been outcast to a lawless community in a dystopian world overrun by crime. Eventually, Shea has no choice but to fight back against her oppressors. “When your back’s against the wall,” Closser says, “you have to do something.” Closser likens Shea to the iconic 1980s TV characters MacGyver and members of The A-Team—over the top but ordinary heroes who relied on creativity and guts to bring bad guys to justice. “I see a lot of myself in Shea,” Closser says. “Engineering is a lot more creative than people give it credit for. It’s creative in a different way. I like to have free rein when solving problems.” Closser, who started writing Non-Compliance while still a physics student at NKU, is currently wrapping up the second volume of the trilogy, Non-Compliance: The Transition, which she expects to be released this fall. —Josh Blair

“I believe deeply in something I call ‘contemplative creativity.’ For the past six years, I’ve retreated to Trappist monasteries—especially Gethsemani Abbey where the famous monk Thomas Merton lived. Trappists take vows of silence, and while I visit I stay silent too. When the external noise is gone and the chatter in my head has died down, I am able to observe the world through a vulnerable, compassionate, and attentive center.” Kelly Moffett Assistant Professor, Department of English

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Wigging Out Engulfed in the Chaos of Saturday Night Live

16 The panic has set in. About 20 feet away, Fred Armisen sits on a white sofa before a studio of about 300 spectators and a live television audience of almost 9 million. Playing the popular Saturday Night Live character Manuel Ortiz, he has just invited Maya Rudolph to the stage. It’s May 8, 2010, and tonight is a big one for SNL. Along with Rudolph, several of the show’s beloved alumni have returned, including Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Molly Shannon, Rachel Dratch, and Ana Gasteyer. JayZ is the musical guest, and Betty White is hosting. But none of that matters right now. Because in about 30 seconds, Manuel Ortiz will invite Gasteyer to the stage, and she’s not ready. Her hair, a giant pouf of wigged brown curls, is perfect. Her makeup, just right. But she is wearing only pantyhose, heels, and a bra. Sometime between dress rehearsal and this moment, her brown mini skirt got tangled. And it just won’t come undone. Wardrobe passes it to makeup, makeup hands it to hair. “Oh, my gosh, it’s time to go on!” the frantic actress tells the crew. In a moment of desperation every bit as funny as the skit about to go live, SNL hairdresser Cara Hannah Sullivan (’00) rips off her own shirt and hands it to Gasteyer. “Here, take this!” Sullivan says. “And I’m standing there in my bra and a pair of pants handing this to her. And she’s like, ‘OK, fine, fine.’” At the last second, the dress untangles and the actress throws it on—inside out—as she makes her grand entrance onto The Manuel Ortiz Show. Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night. Sullivan is at her creative best in these unscripted moments of chaos. Her moment of Zen happens 30 seconds before the cast goes live and she has to get one wig off and another on while the wardrobe person is doing a full costume change and makeup isn’t finished. “Can’t stop,” she

says. “You can’t think about it. You’ve just got to go! Go! Go!” Each SNL cast member has a designated hair stylist (currently Sullivan works with Nasim Pedrad), wardrobe designer, and makeup artist. With a cast of about 14, that’s more than 50 people running around the small studio each Saturday night. “It surprises me that no one ever seems to get hurt,” she says. Each Saturday begins with a technical walk-through at noon. Afterward, Sullivan and the hair crew spend all day making adjustments before the formal dress rehearsal with full cast at 8 p.m. “They’re changing things all the way up until the last moment,” she says. “So the show has already started and they’re like, ‘No, wait. We want to change wigs; we want to change costumes.’ It’s a crazy house on Saturday.” Sullivan wouldn’t have it any other way. “This is my dream job,” she says. “It’s got a little bit of theater and a little bit of TV, and the whole world gets to see it on one night. And that’s pretty exciting.” In the six years Sullivan has spent at SNL she’s garnered four Emmy nominations. Last year, she and her coworkers won for Outstanding Hairstyling for a Multi-Camera Series or Special for their work on the Zooey Deschanel episode. Fittingly, Sullivan wasn’t on the red carpet that night. She was back in New York preparing for a dress rehearsal of the Joseph Gordon-Levitt episode when she found out she’d won the Emmy via Twitter. “There was something to be said for being with all my girls at the place that you love and winning the Emmy for that. We were so happy, and that was the best show on the face of the planet that night.” —Chris Cole


******************************************************************** “When I think of creativity, I think of taking a risk and not being afraid to fail.” "Creativity is the ability to generate thoughts and ideas in a fashion that is unique.” Dr. Dana Harley Assistant Professor, Department of Counseling, Social Work, and Leadership

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House of Science A life-science incubator in the unlikeliest of places In the heart of Northern Kentucky there sits a centuryold building that differs from its neighbors in one way: by being the home to leading medical research companies seeking cures for cancer and creating original surgical products to repair tissue. By carving out a new creative niche in Northern Kentucky with its unique mix of resources and expertise, bioLOGIC is giving life-science startups throughout the area a chance to grow. Headquartered in Covington, Ky., this 5-year-old incubator and accelerator company is, as company representatives state, “the hub for life sciences for all of

Greater Cincinnati.” Their mission is to find, incubate, and help these innovative startups expand and become independent. Keith Schneider (’97) serves as the managing director for the entire bioLOGIC organization. Hired in 2011, Schneider’s job is to help the organization stay relevant and provide value to the community through the 16 companies whose work impacts human health. Schneider formerly served as NKU’s innovation director and Northern Kentucky ezone’s commercialization director. The bioLOGIC building, located in a 150-year-old building on Russell Street since 2009, houses 16 companies that focus on pharmaceuticals, diagnostic equipment, and other medical technologies. The building’s old-meets-new environment is a big part of the culture for its startups and existing clients, and it offers amenities that include a 4,000-square-foot research lab. The shared lab allows for creative collaborations between all of bioLOGIC’s startups. “We have the whole ecosystem,” Schneider says. “We have the space. We have the people. We have the funding and the support of the community. Wherever they need to be, we can support them through the structure we have put together.” —Maggie Pund


Let the Games Begin! How to make a city sing When the timing is right, great things can happen. Summers are notoriously bad for theatre business. It wasn’t a new problem for Todd Duesing (’01), director of operations for the Aronoff Center for the Arts, but in 2007 he believed he had found a creative solution: hosting the largest international arts and cultural event Cincinnati had ever seen. Somewhat untraditional but not completely out of the box, the idea was to host an international choral competition. If successful, the competition could present a lucrative opportunity for the Aronoff and the Cincinnati region as a whole. After all, choirs come with families, a built-in audience, and a large participant base. Duesing mulled through several possibilities, including the World Choir Games—the Holy Grail of choral contention. The timing was right. Interkultur, the choral organization responsible for producing the World Choir Games and other choral events around the world, was seeking bids for the 2012 games. With a participant base alone of more than 15,000, the World Choir Games was more than the 3,300-seat Aronoff could handle. But rather than a problem, Duesing saw it as an answer to a bigger issue. “It did run through my mind that it was too big for the Aronoff, but my [theatre] neighbors were dealing with similar situations,” Duesing says. “This was an opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime event for Cincinnati.” The bid process, both lengthy and tedious, would need to demonstrate the region’s hospitality industry and show a true citywide commitment to the games. Duesing called upon the Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau, and together they created and led the bid that ultimately won the 2012 World Choir Games for Cincinnati. “The timing was spectacular to give the entire market a boost, and it incorporated a less-exposed type of arts and culture,” he says. Residual benefits from the games include the creation of a volunteer network for arts and tourism that continues to today. It’s music to our ears. —Juli Hale

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The Book Blazer Fighting illiteracy with creativity, a silver Chevy, and a kind heart


Perhaps she was a bit naïve, the way people can be when they’re young and ideological. As a young girl growing up in Ludlow, Ky., Lisa Lokesak (’02, ’07) fell in love with books. Deeply, madly, head-overheels in love with them. In love with the smell of the pages. In love with their promise of new adventures. In love with setting out a blanket and reading in a warm summer breeze. But most of all she was in love with the bookmobile that parked on Elm Street. Its hum and cool air and the smell of shelves stacked high with stories. So when Lokesak became a teacher at New Haven Elementary in Union, Ky., it was easy to assume that all children shared her love of books. Everyone loved to read. Everyone read to their children and every home was full of literacy just like hers. Right? What she quickly learned was that many students couldn’t read at their grade level. Some had never been to a library. Some of her students’ parents were themselves barely literate. “It just broke my heart,” Lokesak says. “I thought, ‘I am going to have to fix that.’” One day after school Lokesak walked across the hall to talk to her friend and fellow New Haven teacher Heather Jones (’03). They talked about tutoring and engaging parents in literacy programs and other ideas that sounded good on paper. And then Lokesak told the tale of her old love, the bookmobile. “I said we need something where we are driving into nearby trailer parks and saying ‘Here we are!’ Just throwing open the back door, setting up shelves and saying ‘Here are some books! Take them! Keep them!’” Lokesak recalled an article she’d read about retail magnate Sam Walton’s wife being a major literacy advocate. So she wrote a letter to the Sam’s Club in Florence, Ky., and two weeks later they wrote back telling Lokesak she’d won a $1,000 grant. After New Haven’s PTA chipped in another $500, she called Scholastic Books and told them that she wanted to make a large purchase—$1,500. But she sure would appreciate it if they’d double her money. “I thought

they’d laugh,” Lokesak says. They didn’t. Instead they told her to come on over, anytime. “Heather and I left Scholastic with four carts of books—$3,000 worth. And that’s how it started.” The two set up shelving in the back of Lokesak’s silver Chevy Blazer, stacked them with books, and in 2005 launched the first voyage of the newly christened Book Blazer, replete with balloons and a horn and decorations of all kinds. “Our very first trip was to three of the most at-risk neighborhoods,” she remembers. “The parents were skeptical and the kids were scared. We also visited rural kids way down off of Beaver Road and by Big Bone Baptist Church.” Lokesak didn’t want the kids to have to worry about getting in trouble if they lost or damaged the books, so she gave them away by the hundreds. To date that number has grown by the thousands. Today, the Book Blazer program has evolved—in no small part because the Blazer’s been necessarily replaced by a more dependable but less bookshelf-friendly Toyota Camry. A new concept called Book Blazer and More has grown to include an adult literacy facet that partners with the Boone County Adult Education Program. They’ve started a food pantry and other opportunities for at-risk families to provide their children with clothing, holiday gifts, school supplies, and emergency aid funding. The program now receives continuous support from the school’s staff and administration and grants from local businesses, the PTA, and generous families. One day shortly after the Book Blazer program started back in 2005, a little boy walked up to Lokesak clutching the classic children’s book Where the Wild Things Are. “One of those books that everybody’s seen, everybody’s got,” she says. “I thought, ‘This is not a big deal; this is a $1.99 Scholastic paperback that I ordered with points and didn’t cost me a penny.’ But the look on his face...This child is going to treasure it. For that moment, the look on his face was worth everything I’d done.” —BD

******************************************************************** “A student faced a very challenging personal situation in a course I was teaching. The student was forthright about her problem and decided to share with the rest of the class as part of her final presentation. This decision was risky but appropriate for the assignment. The student was able to raise awareness regarding her issue and used her experience as a teaching tool for classmates.” Dr. Dana Harley Assistant Professor, Department of Counseling, Social Work, and Leadership

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The Creative CEO Mary Zalla’s eight principles of creativity

When we decided to put together a feature article that approached creativity from a universal perspective, Mary Zalla (’87) was one of the first people we called. Not only is Zalla the president and CEO of Landor Associates—one of the most creative global branding companies in the world— she’s also a leading authority on the creative process and its importance to human progress on a global scale. —BD

By Mary Zalla ****************** 1. Creativity is in everyone Forget titles, job descriptions, and hierarchy—creativity is not a skill set;

it’s a mindset, an orientation that resists habitual thinking and invites courageous exploration. To be human is to be creative.

2. Creativity is paradoxical The contradictions of creativity contribute to the mystery surrounding it.

perception is individual and interpretive. Highly creative people have a welldeveloped ability to perceive things in new ways, detect patterns, and make connections that others may miss. 6. Creativity can be inspired or suppressed Environments that allow freedom to explore, exposure to stimulus, and time

to reflect inspire individual and collective creativity. Imaginative thinking Creativity is intelligent yet requires a willingness to ask questions and be can be suppressed by excessive rules and regulations, siloed thinking, open to possibilities. It is inspired by playfulness but disciplined toward an stigmatization of failure, hyper-focus on efficiency, and the elevation of end. Passionate but objective, energetic but reflective, individual as well as conformity over originality. collaborative—these are just a few of creativity’s paradoxes. 7. Creativity is childlike 3. Creativity is constructive Children tend to be less self-conscious than adults, and this natural Creativity is generative, productive, and open to many alternatives. But naïveté leads them to ask more questions and think more laterally. Adults’ at its heart, it seeks to make a difference. Creativity values and celebrates experience and expertise can lead them to prematurely shut down new imagination and mandates the practical application of its output. routes of thinking. Creativity is often served when we “think like a kid,” 4. Creativity is courageous unfettered by all the reasons something might not work but inspired by Creativity values imagination over image. It requires a willingness to let what could be. go of certainties and think expansively; it also demands a strong dose of 8. Creativity accepts ambiguity determination and self-belief. History proves that new ideas and concepts Most human beings do not like ambiguity; it makes them uncomfortable. The are often met with apathy, ridicule, or even hostility. This is why courage hallmark of a creative thinker is a willingness to accept ambiguity, embrace and creativity are brothers. discomfort, and focus on the promise of possibility. Rather than rush back to 5. Creativity is perceptive Seeing and perceiving are two different things. Sight is visual and concrete;

What a Character An author’s take on writing, music, and keeping away from distractions Lorraine Zago Rosenthal (’10) wasn’t intending to write one of the most popular young adult fiction books in recent memory. In fact, when Other Words for Love (Random House) hit bookshelves back in 2011, Rosenthal says that her awareness of the young adult market was limited at best. But with her latest novel, New Money (St. Martin’s Press), Rosenthal has expanded into the women's fiction genre. We caught up with Rosenthal to talk about the writing process, the music that inspires her, and the art of character development. —BD Northern: What was your inspiration to write the first novel? Rosenthal: I’m a character-driven writer, and the characters were what came to me first. Ari Mitchell (the main character in Other Words for Love) and her family were in my mind for

what is familiar, the creative mind lingers, trading comfort for potential.

quite a while before I fully understood Ari’s story and began to write it. Northern: Can you talk about your writing process a bit? Do you outline the story from beginning to end before you begin writing, or do you let some elements unfold as you go? Rosenthal: I always have my characters in mind first. I believe that if you understand your characters, you’ll know what they’re going to do and say. I don’t create an extensive outline, but before I begin writing I always have a firm idea of the storyline and the major scenes. I never jump around in the manuscript because I get to know my characters better if I start from the beginning. Northern: Describe a typical day when you’re in the process of writing. Rosenthal: When I’m working on a novel, I treat it like a job—which is what it is. I write during regular business hours, but I often work overtime—nights and weekends. The best way to maintain focus and energy is to stay isolated from distractions like the phone, TV, email, and Internet. Northern: What environmental conditions best suit your productivity? Do you listen to music while writing? Rosenthal: I can’t concentrate if I listen to music while writing, but I often listen to it before I start writing to get into the mood of a particular scene. I listened to a lot of 1980s music while writing Other Words for Love because the story takes place between 1985 and 1989. Some of the artists on the “playlist” for that novel were New Order, Spandau Ballet, Genesis, The Pet Shop Boys, and The Psychedelic Furs. When writing New Money, I listened to classic jazz (especially Ella Fitzgerald), contemporary country, and New York-themed songs like Alicia Keys/JayZ’s “Empire State of Mind.” fa l l - w i n t e r 2 0 1 3 - 1 4


A Matter of Principle President Mearns and the case of creative defense


Among the well-worn clichés about creativity there are certain titans that loom large in our collective consciousness. Many of us conjure the image of a young child lost in playful fantasy, or an artist studying her canvas at 3 a.m. while the world sleeps, or a jazz pianist riffing syncopated blasts with his band in the back of a nightclub. In the hierarchy of these clichéd examples of creativity in action, toward the bottom of the list you might find a lawyer. Specifically, a defense lawyer in a criminal case who exonerates his client by citing a principle of contract law. Pretty creative, right? Actually, it is. In fact, we submit to you that the lawyer’s victory is as creative as the artist’s painting. Here’s why. In September 1999, a prominent foreign leader came to the United States seeking medical treatment at the Cleveland Clinic. Accompanying the man was an entourage that included his son and other members the extended family. At some point during their stay, two members of the entourage convinced a Sudanese national named Gabshawi Kamal El-Sadig—a Case Western Reserve University law graduate whom the entourage had hired to serve as a taxi driver and translator—to act as a straw purchaser for hunting rifles. It wasn’t long after El-Sadig made the purchases that the activity was discovered by law enforcement. According to the case summary, a representative of the U.S. State Department, after consulting with the U.S. Justice Department, assured the leader that the United States would “close the matter”

if the guns were returned, which they were. Later, however, the purchaser—El-Sadig—was charged by the Justice Department with 25 felony counts. NKU President Geoffrey Mearns, then a partner with the Cleveland law firm Thompson Hine LLP, was assigned as El-Sadig’s defense lawyer as part of the firm’s pro bono work. Mearns says that the case hinged on the State Department representative’s promise to close the matter if the guns were returned, even if El-Sadig was not a party to the agreement. As he teased out the facts, Mearns realized that since his client’s exoneration would benefit the party with whom the State Department deal was struck—in this case by saving the leader’s government from public embarrassment—his client should be considered a thirdparty beneficiary. This is where creative thinking was key: the thirdparty beneficiary principle of contract law Mearns cited had rarely—if ever—been applied to plea agreements in a criminal case. “You’ve probably heard people say that law school teaches people to think like a lawyer,” Mearns says. “What that means is to take fact patterns and principles from one particular case and apply those principles to an entirely new set of facts. And so it actually came to me just thinking creatively as a lawyer that plea agreements are contracts, and the third-party beneficiary is a contract principle. Why shouldn’t that apply in this particular case?” Of course, we now know that it did apply. Mearns’ motion to dismiss the federal indictment was granted. —BD


“As a scientist, I sometimes try to solve problems by taking the road less traveled to see if there is a better solution by looking at something from a completely unique perspective. More often than not, it turns out to be a dead end and I have to backtrack. But I keep trying in the hope that one day it will lead to a novel and important discovery.” Dr. Mark Bardgett Regents Professor, Department of Psychological Science

“As “[When a scientist, I hear I sometimes the word try ‘creativity,’] to solve Iproblems think that by someone taking the found road aless relationship traveled to that seewas if there unexpected is a better but solution made complete by looking sense atafter something it wasfrom discovered. a completely I think unique this is perspective. true of art, More film, often literature, than not, [and] it turns music, out as to well be aas dead science.” end and I have to backtrack. But I keep trying in the hope that one day it will lead to a novel and important discovery.” Dr. Mark Bardgett Dr. Regents Mark Bardgett Professor, Department of Psychological Science Regents Professor, Department of Psychological Science

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Meet Them Where They Are The art of serving those in need Most of us link creativity to artistry—the painter choosing her next color; the musician his next note; the writer her next word. But there are times when creativity means much more. Sometimes, creative thinking determines whether a child will eat tonight or whether an elderly neighbor will stay warm through the winter. For the past 47 years, one innovative Northern Kentucky organization, the Brighton Center, has been helping members of the local community who have faced these bitter realities. And with limited staff and resources, they’ve relied on vast quantities of creative thinking. Located in Newport, Ky., the Brighton Center has more than 30 programs designed to help facilitate a higher quality of life for members of the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati community. The Brighton Center has worked with NKU on numerous community-based projects including the Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project and Project Hope. Just within the past year alone, the center helped serve nearly 75,000 people.

no off Switch David Mack gives order to chaos David Mack (’95) doesn’t get in creative funks. The award-winning writer, illustrator, and painter has so many ideas in his head, in notebooks, on napkins, on Post-It notes, and in his office, that he spends a significant amount of time simply processing these thoughts. “There’s no off switch,” he says. “I never feel any kind of block. I have a whole legion of ideas that I know I’ll never have time to do. “You might have 400 little pieces of paper that you completely forgot you’ve ever written,” Mack says. “The previous version of you has given the current version of you this incredible gift because you don’t remember any of the ideas you came up with.” Mack will then take these ideas and chip away at them like a sculptor. Whether it’s writing and illustrating his creator-owned comic book series Kabuki, working on a Daredevil comic book for Marvel Comics, storyboarding a music video, designing an album cover, outlining an animated episode of Dexter, or creating a children’s book,

Think about that. One center. One year. An average of 205 moms, dads, kids, and neighbors assisted per day. As the integrative learning supervisor for Brighton’s center for employment training, Amanda Peters (’06, ’10) plays an essential role assisting parents, their children, and the diverse array of community members who find themselves in need of Brighton’s services. “A lot of times we are seeing people on their worst day,” Peters says. “So we first focus on stabilization and then look for what we can ‘fix’ for them or improve. They are the drivers of their ship.” Brighton employs outreach workers to scour the streets in search of homeless children and then invites them to the center’s unique shelters. Brighton established a drug recovery center for women long before the media picked up on the need for it. Brighton also established a savings and loan program aimed at protecting families from predatory lending. In short, Peters says that the Brighton Center’s staff is made up of people whose creativity stems from a deep and radiating passion—promoting positive change through helping people in the local community. “We have to ask ourselves at the end of the day what it is that we are still lacking,” Peters says. “We are able to be creative through immersing ourselves in the community and learning from supporting the families.” We call that creativity at its finest. —Kevin Schultz

Mack finds a way to devote his full attention to each project. Though his methods can be—as he admits­ —a bit peculiar. David Mack has a different daily routine for each stage of his process: brainstorming, scripting, page layout, drawing, painting, lettering, editing. For instance, he might sleep for three hours, then work 12 hours, in order to control his REM cycles. Mack admits that this will last about two weeks before he needs to get back to a normal sleep schedule. Mack describes his work as “giving order to the chaos within”—a theme most evident in his popular Kabuki series that revolves around a futuristic Japanese assassin. Now at seven volumes, Mack completed the first Kabuki story while still a student at NKU. Years later, it has become the subject of numerous college courses, theses, and dissertations. As varied as all of Mack’s projects are, each medium contains his meticulous, almost obsessive level of detail. Andrew Miller, an NKU associate professor of English and coordinator of the creative writing program, says Mack’s work “makes you a more active reader.” “It’s an involved process reading some of his books,” he says. “Sometimes you have to physically turn the page [upside-down]. You can’t skim his work or you would miss a lot.” —Josh Blair fa l l - w i n t e r 2 0 1 3 - 1 4


Catching up with top graduates from t By Brent Donaldson and Caitlin Centner


In just the past five years, the number of NKU students graduating with degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics has increased 114 percent. The increase signifies an important fact: occupations that employ top STEM graduates are among the fastest growing and highest paying in the entire U.S. economy, according to a 2011 report issued by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. As evidenced by prestigious graduate and doctoral programs now training our alumni, NKU is producing top talent in the STEM fields. We caught up with a few of our top recent graduates—including Ryan Baldridge (’07), now in a postdoctoral fellowship program at Harvard—to talk about their current studies and, of course, their alma mater.


B.S. in biological sciences, B.S. in chemistry GRADUATE/PH.D. STUDIES: Ph.D., biological sciences, Vanderbilt University, 2013; postdoctoral research, Harvard Medical School (current) FOCUS OF GRADUATE STUDIES: “I’m researching a process called endoplasmic reticulum associated protein degradation, trying to work out the mechanism of how this process happens using (mostly) biochemistry.” CAREER PLAN: “My plan is to start my own research lab in academia. I will continue to focus on research, but I also want to teach the next generation of students about science.” ON LIFE AT NKU: “It all changed when I joined Patrick Schultheis’s lab. This was when I really became interested in scientific research. I learned many research techniques, and he taught me how to approach a problem and work toward a solution. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out Diana McGill, because she was absolutely the best teacher in the classroom I’ve had in all of the places I’ve been. I had her for biochemistry, and she was always

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enthusiastic, willing to help, and very challenging to her students. She was someone who really wanted to make sure you learned the topic and not just memorized it—something I remember today.”



B.S. in physics, B.S. in mathematics GRADUATE/PH.D. STUDIES: Doctoral program in the field of highenergy nuclear physics at University of Kansas GRANTS/SCHOLARSHIPS: U.S. Department of Energy’s Nuclear Science Program grant FOCUS OF GRADUATE STUDIES: “My specific focus is on elliptic flow measurements in heavy ion collisions at the large hadron collider.” CAREER PLAN: “After finishing my doctoral work at University of Kansas, I hope to get a postdoctoral position at a leading institution in my field. After the postdoctoral position I hope to find a tenure-track position at a research university. I am passionate about my research and passionate about teaching physics at the collegiate level, so my ultimate career goal is to be a professor at a prestigious university.”

ON LIFE AT NKU: “Matthew Zacate was both my undergraduate and research advisor, and I learned so much from him about physics, applying for graduate school, and life itself. Gail Mackin is another professor who heavily influenced me as an undergraduate. During my senior year she took me on as a research student in the mathematics department. I didn’t know it at the time, but the research I did with Dr. Mackin was immediately applicable to my graduate studies. I can’t begin to count the times that the numerical techniques I studied with her have popped up in my coursework at KU. Lastly, statistics professors Brooke Buckley and Jackie Wroughton taught me methods that I use in almost all aspects of my graduate studies. I also met my fiancée in Dr. Buckley’s statistics course!”


B.S. in chemistry GRADUATE/PH.D. STUDIES: Doctoral studies in chemistry at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill GRANTS/SCHOLARSHIPS: UNC supports tuition and provides a stipend

the STEM fields FOCUS OF GRADUATE STUDIES: “For the first half of my graduate career, I was developing nanoparticles that could potentially carry anticancer chemotherapeutics directly to the tumor site. By selectively targeting the tumor, the adverse side effects from chemotherapy would hopefully be avoided. Recently, I switched into another research group where I am working to break down the sugars found in plants into valuable chemicals and fuels.” CAREER PLAN: “I have not pinpointed what I want to do after I finish at UNC, but my next step will be to pursue an academic post-doc. I am passionate about chemistry outreach, but I am still figuring out the best career choice where I can maximize my contributions to science.” ON LIFE AT NKU: “NKU more than prepared me to take on getting my Ph.D. in chemistry! The inorganic chemistry course taught by Dr. [Keith] Walters led me to focus my Ph.D. career on inorganic chemistry; the chemistry writing course taught by Dr. [Diana] McGill helped me to become an efficient scientific writer; and the environmental chemistry course taught by Dr. [Heather] Bullen sparked an interest in learning more about the fate of chemicals in the environment. But the most beneficial experience at NKU was conducting research under the direction of Dr. Walters. I also met my boyfriend, Dennis [pictured with Ashley and featured in the next column], in an organic chemistry course taught by Dr. [K.C.] Russell at NKU”

DENNIS ASHFORD ’10 B.S. in chemistry GRADUATE/PH.D. STUDIES: Chemistry, UNC-Chapel Hill GRANTS/SCHOLARSHIPS: National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship; Department of Energy Office of Science Graduate Fellowship FOCUS OF GRADUATE STUDIES: “My research is specially focused on using solar energy to break down water and use that energy to convert atmospheric carbon dioxide to a usable fuel. I work in an energy frontier research center centered at UNC (UNC-EFRC) that is called “Solar Fuels.” This is a large collaboration among six universities that has more than 70 researchers working toward a single goal—artificial photosynthesis.” CAREER PLAN: “Following my postdoctoral studies, I plan on applying for an American Association for the Advancement of Science policy fellowship that will hopefully lead to a position at the Department of Energy in energy policy.” ON LIFE AT NKU: “My time at NKU was one of the best experiences of my life. The professors in the chemistry department truly care about being the best teachers possible and want to prepare their students for their careers. The courses in the NKU chemistry department were as difficult as or more difficult than the courses I have taken in my graduate work, and the research opportunities were a valuable asset. Because there are no graduate students in the chemistry department, undergraduates are relied on to conduct independent research and overcome challenges without having a graduate student help them.”


23 B.S. in psychology GRADUATE/PH.D. STUDIES: Applied experimental psychology, Old Dominion University FOCUS OF GRADUATE STUDIES: “My specific research focus will be alcohol and addiction, and the grant I will be working on will involve alcohol interventions in non-college emerging adults. My own research projects will include examining the behavioral effects of combining alcohol with other substances and understanding alcohol-related cognitions such as expectancy, motivation, and drinking and driving.” CAREER PLAN: “Ultimately I would like to work as a professor who is involved in both teaching and research.” ON LIFE AT NKU: “There are professors at NKU who truly care about your career, and there are so many ways to be involved in active research. I’ve had opportunities to present research at regional and national conferences, mentor undergraduates, design studies, collect and analyze data, and write manuscripts that ended up in publications. Of course, I worked hard to achieve these accomplishments, but I would not have been provided the same experience without my mentor, Dr. Cecile Marczinski. I can’t possibly thank her enough for taking me as her student while also treating me as a colleague.”

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Todd Young’s guide to wilderness survival

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Keep it simple; do not panic; use what you have; and be prepared. This is the overarching advice that wilderness survival expert Todd Young has for people who find themselves unwittingly thrust into a wilderness survival situation. After earning degrees in anthropology and philosophy at NKU, Young fulfilled a childhood dream by becoming a naturalist at Big Bone Lick State Park in Boone County, Ky., where each year he hosts the park’s annual “Lick the Wild: Survival Skills Weekend.” During the program all classes are taught in a primitive manner with no modern tools to help. Until you can attend his courses for yourself, here are a few basic survival skills demonstrated during this year’s event. In the meantime, we advise that you tear out this article and stow it with your camping gear. If the knowledge doesn’t help you survive the wild, the paper will make for great kindling. —Maggie Pund

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Skill #1:

The fire plow firestarting technique: In most survival situations, starting a fire is a top priority. Using the primitive fire plow method, friction can be used to heat up an ember to start a fire.

MATERIALS NEEDED: • A piece of softwood (willow, cedar, cottonwood) a foot long and roughly two inches wide. • Sharpened stick. • Shelf fungus (pounded into a powder form), milk thistle (flower fuzz), punk wood (decayed wood), or cattail fluff. • Dry grass, leaves, cedar bark, and other dry and fibrous material.

STEP 1: Intertwine the fibers of dry grass, leaves, bark, etc. into a tight bundle shaped like a bird’s nest. The bundle should be at least the size of your palm. In the center of the bundle, place the milk thistle flower fuzz, cattail fluff, punk wood, or shelf fungus powder. The ember will be placed in the center on top of this kindling material. Place the tinder bundle off to the side but close at hand. STEP 2: Remove the bark from your piece of softwood on one side. Place the softwood on a flat surface. Secure the wood between two rocks or between your knees and use your sharp stick to grind a groove in the middle of the piece of softwood.

STEP 3: Place the sharpened stick into the groove on the board. Angle the stick at about 45 degrees and begin to plough the stick up and down the grooved channel continuously in a straight line. Continue to build speed and pressure. The friction will create dust that will begin to ignite into an ember as the temperature increases.

STEP 4: Once the groove turns a darker brown and smoke begins to rise, keep working using more speed and pressure. When the amount of smoke increases, check to see if there is a glowing ember inside of the grooved channel. When found, place the ember in the center of the tinder bundle and gently fold the fibers to touch the ember without crushing it. Steadily blow onto the ember until the bundle begins to smoke and a flame ignites. Place the flaming bundle onto your other firewood. fa l l - wi fall winter 2013-14

Skill #2:

MATERIALS NEEDED: Trapping fish for food:

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In a survival situation, it is critical to procure food with minimum energy expenditure. Using only what you have to easily and effectively trap fish for food can turn out to be a vital survival skill.

• Numerous sticks that are long enough to reach the bottom of the body of water and strong enough to withstand fish knocking against them. • (Optional) Medium-sized rocks and other heavier materials. • For bait, collect insects such as crickets. Better yet, catch minnows by digging a hole in a sandy or muddy area of the bank to stir up the nutrients and close off the hole with a rock after the minnows enter to investigate. While crickets, minnows, worms, mice, or even animal guts can be ground up to attract fish, anything that will entice the fish to enter your trap can be used as bait.

STEP 1: Using the river or lakeshore as a back wall, construct the fish trap by inserting the sticks into the ground so that they are high enough out of the water and close enough together to capture fish inside. The walls of the trap should be parallel and assembled far enough apart to hold the amount of fish you wish to catch. If necessary you can reinforce the base of the stick walls with rocks or other sturdy materials.

STEP 2: Position sticks at the opening of the trap to face upstream or downstream as conditions dictate in a wide “V” shape angle pointing toward the shore. Build the V-shaped opening at least a foot into the center of the trap. Leave the bottom of the “V” open to allow the fish to enter. Reeds and stems can be assembled to cross at the opening to allow fish to swim in easily while trapping them from getting back out. The small opening will make it difficult for the fish to escape. The entire trap should roughly resemble the shape of an “M.”

STEP 3: Once the trap is complete, place the bait underwater far back in the trap in order to force the fish to swim all the way inside to earn any food. Bait can be anything that the fish would eat or investigate. Periodically check the fish trap to make sure your bait is still inside and to see if any fish have been trapped. Once you see that fish have been trapped, simply reach in and grab them.

Skill #3:

MATERIALS NEEDED: Making a coal-burnt bowl: This simple technique can be used to make a bowl of any size given a little time and the ability to start a fire. You can even make a bowl large enough to boil water for purification as described next.

• Wood of the desired size. Minimum size should be around 6 inches long, wide and deep for smaller bowls and anything bigger than that for larger bowls.

• a foot-long stick that has a small fork. • A fire. This stick is used to remove the coal from • (Optional) A hollow reed to direct the the fire and hold the coal down onto the burning of the coal. wood so the coal doesn’t fall off.

STEP 1: Find a dead tree branch or fallen tree trunk of the desired size. If the trunk you want to use is close to your camp but too large to move, you don’t need to move it. You can burn the bowl directly into the fallen tree trunk.

STEP 2: Start a camp fire. As the fire burns down, use your forked stick to select a small piece or two of red-hot coals from the fire and place them directly onto the top and center of the wood you want to burn into a bowl.

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STEP 3: Hold down the coal with your stick so it does not fall off. (Note: hold the wood away from your body so the coal doesn’t drop into your lap.) Gently blow on the coal to keep it glowing. In a short time you will notice it burning down into the wood. Once it burns down into the wood a bit you no longer need the stick to hold the coal in place.

Skill #4:

Purifying water: Without water, your chances for survival are greatly diminished. Water found in the wild needs to be purified.

In a primitive survival situation, clay, charcoal, rocks, and leaves can be used to filter and purify water for consumption. The following method is to be used if you have no vessel in which to hold and boil water.

MATERIALS NEEDED: • Rocks, clay, leaves (if necessary), and various pronged sticks. • A fire. Notes: Try to find rocks made up of quartz, basalt, or granite; avoid rocks made of limestone as they will shatter when placed in a fire. Clay can be found at the bottom of a creek or riverbed. Locate long sticks that fork and are strong enough to help transport rocks from a fire.

STEP 1: Locate a water source. Avoid drinking any stagnant water if possible. Look for natural streams or other flowing bodies of water. Once you have located a water source, find a suitable place close by in soft mud or sand to dig a hole about a foot deep and a foot or greater wide. Gather clay and begin to tightly pack it down into the hole to form a bowl. This clay bowl will hold your water for boiling. STEP 2: If no small bowl or container is available, make another small bowl out of clay. If no more clay is available, gather a pile of leaves or anything else handy and thoroughly soak it in the water source. Place the soaked material above the basin and squeeze the water out into the basin.

STEP 4: Replace coals as needed when old pieces burn out. Once the bowl burns down enough you can set the bowl down and the coals it creates on its own will do the rest of the work. Keep checking until the bowl has reached the desired depth and width. From time to time you can scrape out the burnt wood from the bowl and add another hot coal.

STEP 3: Place the quartz, basalt, or granite rocks into the center of your fire. Heat enough rocks to fill the bottom of your clay bowl. Once the rocks are heated, use pronged sticks to lift the rocks and place them into the water. Steaming and sizzling will indicate that the water has begun to boil. To be safe, keep the water boiling for at least 10 minutes to kill bacteria and microbes. If you don’t have enough rocks you can reheat the rocks already used. Let the clay settle at the bottom of the water after it has boiled. After it has settled, water can be skimmed out of the bowl to drink.

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Faculty/Staff Distinguished Outstanding Strongest Service Young Larry T. Owen ’98, ’06 Influence Alumnus Frederick Odame ’07 Serena R. Owen ’98, ’04 Award Jonathan T. Reynolds


ALUMNI AWARDS n o rt h e r n

Before coming to NKU, Jonathan Reynolds taught at Livingstone College in North Carolina, where he received the Aggrey Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1998. He received the Outstanding Junior Faculty Award at NKU in 2001, and in 2012 he received the NKU Faculty Excellence Award for Sustained Excellence in Scholarly Activity. At NKU, Reynolds teaches courses in African and world history as well historical methods and various courses in the honors program— including “World History through a Dozen Meals.” He has the honor of advising the history department’s Phi Alpha Theta chapter. In 2005 he was elected to the executive board of the World History Association. In 2010 he was elected to the executive board of Phi Alpha Theta. Reynolds has published in numerous journals. His “bookertation” The Time of Politics (Zamanin Siyasa): Islam and the Politics of Legitimacy in Northern Nigeria, 1950-66 was published in its second edition in spring 2001. In 2012 Reynolds (along with coauthor Dr. Erik Gilbert) published the third edition of Africa in World History. The Gilbert and Reynolds team has also published Trading Tastes: Culture and Commodity to 1750. When not teaching or writing, Reynolds enjoys the company of his dear wife and children, fishing, and playing music with the blues/Americana duo 46 Long.

Larry and Serena Owen met 20 years ago and were married on NKU’s campus on their graduation day in 1998. Larry graduated cum laude and received his Bachelor of Arts in elementary education, followed by his Master of Science in education in 2006. Serena Owen graduated with bachelor’s degrees in communication and English and an associate degree in business administration. She earned her Master of Arts in teaching in 2004. Larry is a U.S. Marine veteran who has served in the Covington Independent Schools as a teacher and basketball coach since 1999. He’s earned several awards including two military promotions, the 2006 Delta Sigma Theta Most Academic Man, and others. Serena is an educator who also teaches in youth ministry. She created a mentoring program for girls called Beauty and completed The Arc of Kentucky Advocates in Action training to advocate for individuals with disabilities. Serena has earned several awards including the 2011 Cincinnati Herald Nefertiti Award, 2008 National City Bank and WizFM Unsung Hero Award, and 2006 Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.

Frederick Odame was born in a small, remote village in Ghana, Africa, called Afram Plains. After growing up without most of the basic life amenities—at age 13 he didn’t know how to read or write—Odame traveled a long road to becoming a proud 2007 graduate of NKU. As an NKU student, Odame was a member of the International Student Union and a recipient of the Fidelity scholarship for outstanding finance and a Black Faculty and Staff Association award for academic excellence. Odame is the vice president and manager of PNC’s Western Hills office and has earned accolades all over the banking industry, including PNC’s Achievement Award, Circle of Excellence Award, Chairman’s Circle Award, and, recently, PNC’s highest honor—the Performance Award, given to only eight out of 60,000 PNC employees across the United States. Odame is the founder of Afram Plains Foundation, a foundation that provides literacy funding for children in the area where he was born and reared. He’s married to NKU alumna Zeinab Ellis, and the two are blessed with two boys and a girl—Peyton, Zoe, and Joel.

Outstanding Alumna Chase College of Law Susan J. Court ’80 Susan J. Court joined the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 1982 after clerking for the Hon. Robert O. Lukowsky, Kentucky Supreme Court Justice, upon graduation from NKU Chase College of Law. At FERC, Court served as associate general counsel for gas and oil (1987-92), deputy solicitor (1993-2000), associate general counsel for general and administrative law and designated agency ethics official (2001-03), and chief of staff (2004). In 2006, Court became the first director of enforcement and established and organized FERC’s investigation and enforcement capabilities, initiating prosecutions that resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties for violations of federal energy laws—in particular, laws prohibiting the manipulation of energy markets. After leaving FERC in 2009, Court was a partner at Hogan Lovells LLP in Washington, D.C. She is currently principal of SJC Energy Consultants, LLC, and also serves as a hearing officer for ReliabilityFirst Corporation. She is a frequent speaker on federal energy topics and issues. Court lives with her husband, Kenneth J. Beirne, in Arlington, Va., and enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren.

Outstanding Alumna College of Arts and Sciences

Outstanding Alumnus Haile/U.S. Bank College of Business

Ginny L. Robke ’92

Timothy P. Rawe ’86

Ginny Robke graduated from NKU in May 1992 with a B.A. in teaching English and Spanish, and four years later she received a Master of Education at Xavier University. Robke began her teaching career shortly after graduation in 1992 as a Spanish teacher at Conner Middle School. In 1998 she moved to Conner High School where she continued to teach mainly Spanish and served as the sponsor of the Hispanic Honor Society. Throughout Robke’s teaching career she has had the pleasure of taking her students on various trips to Mexico, Spain, France, and Costa Rica to practice their language skills and to experience their cultures. From 2008 to 2012, Robke served as a master teacher for the Intensive Summer Institute for World Language Teachers at NKU and Thomas More College. In May 2012, Robke retired as a teacher for the Boone County School District. Presently she is a substitute Spanish teacher and continues to travel whenever she can with family and friends. Robke and her husband of 40 years, Jim, live in Ft. Wright, Ky. They have two adult children, Monica and Tony, and five grandchildren, Hailey, Drew, Chloe, Luke, and Kate.

Timothy Rawe received his Bachelor of Science in management from NKU. He served 12 years on the board of advisors for the Haile/U.S. Bank College of Business and eight years on the board of advisors for both the NKU Fifth Third Bank Entrepreneurship Institute and the NKU Foundation. In 1975, Rawe began his banking career as teller for American National Bank. In 1986, American National was acquired by Fifth Third Bank, where he remained until his retirement in October 2008. Rawe held various positions during his tenure at Fifth Third, and in November 1999 he was promoted to president of Fifth Third’s Northern Kentucky market. Throughout his career, Rawe served on several economic development boards, including the Northern Kentucky Chamber, Tri-County Economic Development Corporation, Tri-Ed Foundation, and Vision 2015 Regional Stewardship Council. He has also served on various nonprofit boards, including the Brighton Center, Catholic Social Services, Healthpoint, and numerous others Rawe and his wife, Barb, have been married for 35 years and live in Ft. Thomas, Ky. They have two grown children, Jeff and Sara. Barb has 37 years of experience as a schoolteacher with the Diocese of Covington.

Outstanding Alumnus College of Education and Human Services Randolph J. Poe ’83, ’85 Randolph J. “Randy” Poe became superintendent of Boone County Schools in July 2008 after serving six years as deputy superintendent. Poe’s focus as superintendent revolves around academic rigor, real-world relevance, and focused partnerships with students, parents, and the community. These concepts help Poe and the district take the appropriate steps toward the success of the nearly 20,000 students in Boone County Schools. Poe’s education career spans 30 years in Boone County. He has been a teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal, executive director, assistant superintendent, deputy superintendent, and superintendent. As a result of his dedicated service to students, Poe has been recognized at both the state and national levels for his accomplishments. He was recently selected as the 2013 Kentucky Superintendent of the Year. Poe was also selected for the Northern Kentucky Education Council One-toOne Literacy Award in 2011, serves on Kentucky Leads the Nation Roundtable, and was inducted into the Northern Kentucky High School Soccer Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007. Poe is married to Melinda and has four children—Jessica (a graduate of NKU), Alysha, Katherine, and Nicholas.

Outstanding Alumnus College of Informatics Steven P. Hinkel ’87, ’93 Steve Hinkel earned two degrees from Northern Kentucky University: one in business processing and one in information systems. He also obtained his Master of Business Administration from Thomas More College. Upon graduating, Hinkel began his professional career as a software engineer with multiple consulting firms. He later entered the medical field working for four different Johnson & Johnson companies. Hinkel is currently the director of advanced technology with Duke Energy. In this capacity, he evaluates “smart grid” technology including smart grid communication, home automation, vehicle electrification, renewable energy, and energy storage. Hinkel has held several executive leadership positions within information technology and the technology, strategy, and policy team. Hinkel actively serves on several boards, including the academic advisory board and Center for Applied Informatics outreach board of NKU. Additionally, he advises smart grid curriculum to various community colleges. Hinkel resides in California, Ky.

Outstanding Alumna College of Health Professions Joan M. Ziegelmeyer ’77, ’96, ’98 Joan Ziegelmeyer is a family nurse practitioner who is proud to be a three-time graduate of NKU. Ziegelmeyer has associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees from the university in nursing. She also has a Bachelor of Arts from the College of Mount St. Joseph in history and secondary education. Upon completion of her associate degree, Ziegelmeyer was employed by Bethesda Oak Hospital where she started and managed the first lithotripsy unit in Cincinnati, working with 65 physicians from the tri-state area. Upon leaving Bethesda, Ziegelmeyer completed her master’s degree in the specialty area of family practice. Ziegelmeyer worked at a private family practice in Northern Kentucky for 12 years. Presently she is working in three free clinics for the underserved in this area. Ziegelmeyer lives with her husband, Jerry, in Wilder, Ky., and has two sons, two stepdaughters, and one stepson. Three live in the area, one in Arizona, and one in New York City. She also has seven grandchildren—six boys and one girl—of whom she is very proud. In her spare time she spends lots of time with her grandchildren, plays golf, and sails with her husband.

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alumni journal Gatherings Mark Your Calendars! It’s hard to believe summer is over and campus is once again buzzing with students. While the new school year is always an exciting time, your alumni programs office is busy planning a year full of alumni events, and we look forward to meeting more of you than ever. Until then I know you will truly enjoy this issue of Northern Magazine that will enlighten you to the amazing creativity and accomplishments of our graduates. And the feature story about NKU graduates from the STEM fields (page 22) who have gone on to seek advanced degrees is an amazing testament to this university. As you can see, these alumni give a great deal of credit to their experiences at NKU and that of our tremendous faculty mentors for their success. I would like to welcome our new vice president for advancement, Eric Gentry. Eric is a native Kentuckian who returned home from the University of Texas at San Antonio just a few weeks ago. I am sure you will enjoy meeting Eric and his wife, Loni, at an upcoming alumni or university function. He will be a great addition to NKU as he brings his experiences from UT San Antonio, UT Dallas, and Purdue. Of course, you’ve probably heard about another recent staff addition—Ken Bothof, NKU’s new athletic director (page 10). Ken’s experience at the University of WisconsinGreen Bay will be a tremendous asset for NKU as we embark on our second year within the NCAA Division I program Your alumni association will be sponsoring several alumni receptions this year both here and around the country. Make sure you check out the full schedule of upcoming events at! Each one of you is welcome to attend and bring along a friend, colleague, former classmate, and your family to show your Norse Pride. Don’t forget to wear your Norse gear!





Go, Norse! Deidra S. Fajack Director Alumni Programs and Licensing 4 3

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1. Steven Graessle, Matt Graessle, Julie Graessle, Kelly Vogt, Amanda Emmons, Travis Brueggemann, and Kyle Shumate enjoy Black and Gold Bash at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. 2. Members of the Young Alumni Council hang out at the NKU Soccer Stadium. 3. Approximately 100 alumni and friends enjoy a beautiful day at Kings Island with Victor E. Viking. 4. Last year's alumni award winners pose with winners from years past at the Alumni Award celebration this spring. 5. May 2013 international graduates celebrate their upcoming commencement. 6. Alumni council member Michelle Class talks with President Mearns while serving guests at the annual Spring Fling event for NKU employees who are alumni. 7. Frank Birkenhauer and his family are ready to cheer on the Reds at the NKU Night at the Cincinnati Reds game. 8. Alumni and friends enjoy the Alaskan Adventures cruise aboard a luxury ship provided through the NKU alumni travel program.

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CLASS NOTES 1979 Joseph U. Meyer (Chase College of Law) announced his retirement June 30 from his post as secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. Meyer, a Covington resident, retired after more than 30 years of public service.

1982 John T. Finch, Ph.D. (Master of Education), retired from the Kentucky school system after 15 years in the classroom and 20 years as an elementary principal. Finch is presently teaching at the University of Louisville in the College of Education.

1985 Mark A. Wagner (marketing) is one of the tri-presidents in charge of operations and community management for Walgreens. In this position he is responsible for bringing together all Walgreens services in markets and communities across the country. He also oversees Walgreens real estate, construction, and facilities as well as the company’s supply chain and distribution.

1988 John Becker (business management) was elected to the office of state representative for Ohio's 65th house district.

1991 Denise Barone (Chase College of Law) recently signed her 10th book contract for a sweet romance called Molly’s Folly to be released by Astraea Press. Nick Brake (history/social studies) was named superintendent of the Owensboro Public Schools. He previously worked as a teacher and administrator in the Daviess County Public Schools, vice president of the Owensboro Community and Technical College, and nnoorth rt rth h eerrnn

Achieving Normalcy notable norse Three nurse-midwives seek to change how we think about pregnancy One of the most common questions about nurse-midwives is about as fundamental as it gets: What are they? Certified nurse-midwives are advanced practice nurses who have obtained board certification in nurse-midwifery and who specialize in caring for women with low-risk pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum issues. In short, nurse-midwives provide general well-women care from a woman’s teens through menopause. Literally speaking, midwifery means “with woman.” But for three NKU alumnae who are a part of the new Christ Hospital Obstetrics, Gynecology and Nurse-Midwives group in Crestview Hills, it means something more. Robin Centner, Elisabeth Erdman, and Mandy Hagy all share an alma mater and their belief in a holistic approach to childbirth. Although their views were formed from different experiences, they believe that there is a normalcy about pregnancy and birth. Centner (’90, ’98), a certified nurse-midwife of 11 years, doesn’t have a senior class picture because she claimed she was too busy studying for final exams. Not much has changed, as evidenced by a classic line she’s used on her family over the years: “I’m sorry. I can’t do that. I’m on call.” (Full disclosure: more often than not, that line’s been used on her daughter, who happens to be the writer of this article.) Erdman (’90, ’98) has been a practicing midwife for three years. To her, midwifery is a relationship-based practice focused on knowledge, honesty, and truth. “Even as a little girl I would tell people that I wanted to be a baby doctor. I just didn’t know the literal translation of my fate was ‘midwife.’” Hagy (’95, ’00), a recent graduate, is the newest midwife to join the practice. She fell in love with midwifery in her first obstetrics nursing class at NKU, and her love for midwifery only grew after the birth of her first child. Interestingly enough, Centner acted as Hagy’s midwife during her pregnancy. In fact, it wasn’t long afterward that Hagy went back to school seeking her M.S.N. All three nurse-midwives say that they seek to be advocates for not only pregnancy and the birth process but also for women. Unlike the midwifery approach, Hagy points out, doctors all too often use a medical approach to pregnancy that likens it to an illness. Not so with midwifery, she says. Moreover, Hagy points out that the nurses’ new practice consists of four midwives and five female doctors, making it an all-women practice. —Caitlin Centner

president of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp.

1992 Tricia Macke (electronic media and broadcasting) is celebrating her 20th anniversary at FOX19 this year. She is also coaching her children’s basketball teams and one of the teams, the Kentucky Royals fifth-grade girls, made it to the championship game of the Division I AAU national tournament. The Royals were the Division I Kentucky State Champions in 2012 and 2013 and the national runner-up both years. David Hatter (information systems) reported that his company of 11 years, Libertas Technologies LLC, was acquired by Definity Partners in October. In this new partnership Hatter will be the solution architect. Hatter was also appointed to the Cincinnati Better Business Bureau Board of Directors in June 2013.

1993 Mark Baird (industrial relations) became the assistant fire chief for Milford Community Fire Department after serving the Village of New Richmond Fire and EMA for 25 years.

1995 Colleen Kaufman-Dunn (nursing) was honored with the University of Cincinnati Florence Nightingale Award. Kaufman-Dunn was one of two representatives out of the 240 nominees who represented a health insurer.

1996 Michael Rick (management) purchased an industrial paint business in 2011 and has increased revenues by 55 percent. He is currently in the process of purchasing a second production line with higher-quality capabilities. Jeff Bohr (journalism) recently earned his Apple Certified Support Professional Certificate for OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. Since 2004 he has been providing Apple assistance to users in Naples, Fla.

1997 Nicole Ball (marketing) was hired as the new director of Cincinnati BrandHUB, as announced by the Cincinnati USA

Regional Chamber. Ball will promote the region’s consumer products and brand development cluster of businesses.

1999 Garrick Horton (construction management) is an award-winning realtor with Comey & Shepherd Realtors. He is also on the board of directors for the Associates Council of the Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati.

2000 Elizabeth Dalton (psychology) was recently hired by Kentucky Community and Technical College System as a Direct2Degree instructional designer and was also elected to serve as vice president of membership for Kentuckian Chapter of ASTD.

2004 Matt Frey joined construction and development network Skanska USA as senior director of business development in Houston, Texas. Frey was also recently named to the 2012 “Top 20 Under 40” in the Texas and Louisiana region by Engineering News-Record.

2005 Jason Tate (electronic media and broadcasting) recently became the E.W. Scripps Company’s first digital account manager, focusing on the company’s largest and key digital accounts from all aspects of the sales and marketing process. Tate and his wife, Erin, live in Crestview Hills, Ky.

2007 Sherita Scott (speech) is currently a category manager for the Kroger Company’s natural foods department. In this position she manages items including natural coffee and tea items. Recently she was recognized by Rohan Marley for her assistance in introducing Marley Coffee K-Cups into Kroger stores.

2008 Travis Rasso (business) and Karen Cope Rasso (nursing) welcomed their son, Avery James, July 24. Avery weighed in at 8 pounds 15 ounces and is 21.5 inches long.

2009 Sean Wagner (Master of Public Administration) earned the certified association executive credential from the American Society of Association Executives. Wagner currently serves as associate executive vice president of Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity where he oversees the operations, strategic plan, and programing for the fraternity. Terence Harrison (criminal justice) received his master’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Cincinnati and has accepted the position of assistant director of the Veterans Upward Bound program at Cincinnati State Community and Technical College.

2011 Deifilice Diaz (Chase College of Law) joined the law firm of Valencia and Diaz as a partner representing primarily the Hispanic community defending victims’ rights and juveniles traveling to the U.S. unaccompanied. Diaz and her husband were married in 2012 and live in Mason, Ohio. Micha Finnie (public relations) accepted a position as consultant at the Cincinnati branch of The Nielsen Company, a leading global measurement company.

2012 Lisa Briggs (elementary education) works at Gray Middle School, but more importantly she welcomed a baby boy, Nolan Alexander Briggs who was born March 8, 2013.

2013 Stephanie Davis Webster (biology) received a Woodrow Wilson Ohio Teaching Fellow, which includes a $30,000 stipend to complete a special master’s program at the University of Cincinnati that will prepare her to teach math and science in a high-need Ohio school. Mary Osbourne (psychology) was selected to serve as an educational leadership consultant for Delta Zeta sorority. Mary was one of five women selected for this prestigious position.

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The Education of Mrs. Sarge A teacher’s lesson in lifelong learning Bonnie Sarge was just out for a trip with her friends. On vacation from boarding school in Mount Vernon, Ohio, they headed to a local pool. And her life was never the same. Bonnie met her husband that day. Soon the couple moved to Kentucky and got married, and she began substitute teaching—eventually finding her way to Northern Kentucky State College where she began a love affair with learning. Bonnie was a member of NKU’s first graduating class in 1973. The class is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. She completed her master’s in education at NKU in 1981. Now a retired elementary school teacher living in a Newport home with a spectacular view of Cincinnati, Bonnie wants to help many more students discover a love of learning through her planned gift to NKU. “I believe to whom much is given, much is expected,” Bonnie said. “My life was improved beyond all my nnoort rth h eerrnn

wildest expectations at NKU. I was given so much, and I want to give something in return.” When Bonnie came to NKU, it was the first time she had looked through a microscope, attended an opera, or learned the intricacies of Kentucky history. “We looked at the cell from a plant, and my mind was blown away,” Bonnie said. “I had never seen anything so beautiful. I felt like a sponge. I absorbed everything I was learning like someone who was dying of thirst.” Thrilled by her new knowledge, Bonnie wanted to keep furthering her education and share her discoveries with her students, like Campbell County District Court Judge Karen Thomas. “My most vivid memory of Mrs. Sarge is that she was an animated teacher,” Judge Thomas said. “She didn’t lecture from a desk but moved around the room to keep her students involved and motivated. That’s not an easy

task to accomplish with a bunch of third-graders anxious for the final bell, but accomplish it she did.” Bonnie also knew the struggles many students went through in school. She was never a strong math student, but she knew the difference a teacher could make. “Math was always a struggle for me, but Dr. Joe Smith had a way of introducing concepts and material on the chalkboard so that I just ‘got it.’ I understood it for the first time,” Bonnie said. “Because of what he taught me, I was able to pass statistics with an ‘A’ in my master’s program.” Bonnie chose NKU because it was convenient and the most affordable. However, she said the cost belied the true value of the education she received. Demanding teachers like Bill Byron taught her how to write so that she excelled in English, literature, sociology, and history classes. Kent Curtis challenged her in her master’s program, but she emerged as a better, more disciplined teacher. She used the skills she learned in Robert Knauf’s music courses to teach her church congregation new songs. “I don’t think I had one teacher that was below outstanding,” Bonnie said. “I was so thrilled to be getting an education, and for practically nothing. “They cared about the students,” Bonnie said. “They weren’t just there taking up space. They wanted to impart on me what they knew and what they wanted me to know, and I wanted to do the same for my students.” Tricia Macke, now an anchor on FOX19 news, remembers how Bonnie encouraged the class to make a difference. Together, the class constructed a model of a park they wanted to build on vacated property near their school. “Unfortunately, to this day, that area in Newport has never been utilized,” Macke said. “I go past that land a couple of times a week and still think about what could have been. And I always think about the way Mrs. Sarge pushed all of us to make a difference.” Like her students, Bonnie lived in the neighborhood where she taught. Her students got to know her in and out

Tell us what you’re up to!

35 35 of the classroom. Macke’s parents still live near Bonnie, so she still sees her former teacher. “As an adult, I have come to admire her quick wit and energy,” Macke said. “She always has an opinion on something and is never shy about sharing it. I love that in people! She is always one to laugh loudly.” Living in the area made Bonnie more knowledgeable about her students and the challenges they faced. “I knew the parents didn’t have a lot of money, and some were hard pressed to pay the tuition,” Bonnie said. “By golly, I wanted to make sure they got their money’s worth.” She was strict but fair and tried to incorporate everyday situations into the classroom to make the material more relatable to her young students. “A teacher that can bring into the classroom experiences as well as an understanding of the local community is a very valuable thing,” Judge Thomas said. “Mrs. Sarge was a big part of our community, and her students were better for it. I have tried to emulate both of the above, as an adjunct professor at NKU and as a judge. If I do half as well as Mrs. Sarge, I will be very lucky.” —Molly Williamson

n o rth e r n

Name: __________________________________________________________________________Address: __________________________________________________________________________________________________ Telephone: (___________)_____________________________________________________Email: ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ Grad year/major: _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ What’s new with you? New baby? Spouse an NKU grad? New job or a promotion? Earn another degree since you left Northern? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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NKU Schlacter Archives presents...

Mystery Photo!

Long, long ago, around this time of year, NKU’s otherwise benign “administrative computing” department transformed into a bizarre, ritualistic coven of the sadistic and grotesque. It’s been told that each year this evil consort would roam the halls wreaking unimaginable horror upon unassuming colleagues. Either that, or these folks were just getting dressed up for Halloween. Hard to say! Do you recognize these groovy ghouls and Fritos-loving masters of disguise? Any guesses as to the year of this strange assemblage?

Solve the mystery for NKU history!

Send your answers—or, even better, Photo credit: NKU Schlachter Archives

send us pics of your own Halloween adventures (don’t forget to Norse Up!)—to northernmagazine@nku. edu. Happy Halloween, everybody!

Northern Magazine Fall-Winter 2013-14  

The Fall-Winter 2013-14 edition of Northern Magazine includes dramatic tales of everyday people who were forced to get seriously creative wh...

Northern Magazine Fall-Winter 2013-14  

The Fall-Winter 2013-14 edition of Northern Magazine includes dramatic tales of everyday people who were forced to get seriously creative wh...