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northern kentucky university


winter 2013 volume 11, no. 1

YOU ARE HERE NKU Goes International

We Love the '70s —a Retrospective

Teaching Cyber War Games

The Sculptor Who Stayed All Night winter 2013



volume 11, no. 1 Editor


Brent Donaldson ’05

designer Dionne Laycock ’90

copy Editor Tira Rogers ’01, ’05

photographer Timothy D. Sofranko


publisher Deidra S. Fajack Director of Alumni Programs Gerard A. St. Amand Vice President for University Advancement

CONTRIBUTORS Carol Beirne Casey Binder ’13 Chris Cole ’99, ’04, ’09 Juli Hale ’95

Don Owen Kevin Schultz ’14 Molly Williamson

Alumni association executive committee David McClure ’83, President Tracy Schwegmann ’95, ’08, President-elect Gregory L. Cole ’82, Immediate Past President Jim Cutter ’82, Vice President Deidra S. Fajack, Secretary/Treasurer

CORRESPONDENCE Northern Kentucky University Office of Alumni Programs 421 Johns Hill Road Highland Heights, Kentucky 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 2012 Northern Kentucky University.

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

wi n t e r 2 0 1 3

Before We Get Started

A m e s s ag e f ro m t h e p re s i d e n t The beginning of a new year is a time for look-


Over the past several months I’ve met with many

ing forward—a time for making plans and resolu-

of NKU’s dedicated faculty, staff, students, alumni,

tions, and a time of promise for new friends and new

and community partners. Many of you have shared

adventures. It’s also a time to take stock of the recent

the deep commitment to student success we all have

past, to reflect on our experiences, and to be thankful

at this great university. To sustain our momentum,

for the opportunities we’ve been given.

I will be leading a new Strategic Planning Com-

Last summer, my family embarked on an exciting

mittee that will tackle the process of developing a

journey here to Northern Kentucky University. In just

comprehensive strategic plan for 2013–18. When you

the past few months, my wife, Jennifer, and I have

hear and read about what today’s NKU students are

met hundreds of members of the university commu-

accomplishing, from winning cyber-security com-

nity—alumni, civic and business leaders, NKU staff

petitions to competing in the first season of NCAA

and faculty, and, of course, the inspiring students

Division I athletics, I think you’ll agree that now is the

who make this institution such a great place to be.

perfect time to design a roadmap for the future. I am

It’s exciting to imagine the new adventures and new

grateful for your support of this effort and your com-

faces that will greet us throughout 2013.

mitment to your alma mater—NKU.

As we reflect on friendships old and new, two stories from this issue of Northern Magazine come to


mind. The first—“NKU and the Whole World Window” on page 12—is a testament to the positive impact that

Geoffrey S. Mearns

international students and alumni have on this uni-


versity and on the entire Northern Kentucky region. From China to South Africa to Saudi Arabia, international students play a vital role in bringing the world to our campus. In the past three years, the number of international students studying for undergraduate degrees at NKU has increased approximately 150 percent. François LeRoy, NKU’s director of international programs, observes that the growth in this vital area is extraordinary. The second story that speaks to the vitality of our shared community is a retrospective look at the groundbreaking first generation of NKU students. In “Welcome Back!” on page 20, we learn about life at NKU from the original student body—the graduates from the 1970s—and witness a campus in full transition from an old corn farm to today’s dynamic metropolitan university.

n o rth e r n


Winter 2013






president’s page



northern news/ athletics

The number of students traveling from around the world for an American college education is exploding. But rather than simply becoming part of the latest metrics about globalization, we want to share a few stories from international students and alumni who chose NKU. You’ll be glad they came.



norse nuggets


alumni journal


class notes



Dear alumni who graduated in the 1970s: We miss you. So instead of sending you a postcard, we decided to share a few photos, and a few laughs, and invite you to join us on a trip back to a simpler time. We hope you enjoy it. Love, Us.



Sculptor Matt Langford has created art that just about anyone—and we mean anyone—under the age of 35 has probably seen. We’re talking Star Wars and Harry Potter toys. He’s also the artist behind some of the region’s most iconic sculptures. Here’s Langford’s unconventional path to success.


On the cover:

Fan Song, Masood Almalki, and Solange Dos Reis Correia, NKU students from China, Saudi Arabia, and London (by way of Portugal), are part of the international student boom the university has experienced in recent years. previous page:

Women's coach Dawn Plitzuweit and her bench erupt after the team earned its first Division–I victory in a buzzer-beater against Youngstown State in late November.

Northern magazine is online! Check us out at,

and then write us at to share your story!


NORSE nuggets

Norse Nuggets


And the Winner is...

Bend and Snap!

Our Honor

NKU Day at the Reds

We’re rolling out the red carpet for our annual alumni awards celebration March 21 in the James C. and Rachel M. Votruba Student Union. This important event honors a diverse array of NKU alumni for their inspiring achievements. A reception kicks off the evening, which concludes with a silent auction and dessert. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased at or by calling (859) 572-5486.

NKU’s theatre department is bringing some new and stylish flair to the stage with the musical Legally Blonde and others at the Y.E.S. Festival. Legally Blonde follows sorority girl fashionista Elle Woods as she enrolls at Harvard Law to spy on her boyfriend but ends up finding unlikely success as a law student. Y.E.S. Festival is a compilation of new plays, so save the date—even if you are fashionably late. April 1828. Call (859)-572-5464 for more info.

Hailing NKU’s veterancentered programs that focus on making a successful transition from the military to college life, G.I. Jobs magazine has named NKU one of America’s most militaryfriendly schools. NKU is ranked in the top 15 percent of universities across the country and has ranked there for three consecutive years.

Get your baseball gloves ready as NKU hits Great American Ball Park for a day at the Reds. On April 19, head over to GABP to represent the black and gold in support of the Reds. Your half-price tickets can be purchased through the alumni office for $17. Feel free to call (859) 572-5486 or purchase online at Go Reds!

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NKU political science professor Michael Baranowski, quoted on, regarding petitions submitted by numerous states to secede from the United States after the 2012 reelection of President Barack Obama.

From the Darkroom

It’s Chili Inside

Toot That Horn!

NKU professor emeritus Barry Andersen has been named the winner of the Spirit of Light Award for his outstanding commitment to the art of photography. It’s a fitting award for the professor, who’s been sharing his photography talents with NKU students since 1975. Andersen’s work can be found in numerous collections including the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Does your chili recipe make the coldest winter days feel like spring? Then sign up for the annual Alumni Chili Cook-off Jan. 26 at 3:30 p.m. in The Bank of Kentucky Center. Even if you don’t bring chili, feel free to stop by and taste the competition. The cook-off will be followed by NKU’s first Homecoming game as a D-I school in the Atlantic Sun Conference. After the game, stop by our blowout party at The Vault at The BOKC.

We usually don’t openly brag, but this magazine was just named Grand Champion (top prize) of all university alumni magazines for the entire state of Kentucky! In total, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education named NKU winner of 31 awards, including Grands for overall alumni relations and the redesigned website. This is the second year in a row Northern Magazine has been named Grand Champion.

In the Petraeus situation, there was this notion of a private versus governmental or corporate email account, but Gmail accounts and public accounts are not very private, and investigators have a fair amount of access to them. Director of the Northern Kentucky University Chase Law + Informatics Institute Jon Garon, quoted on, about the difficulty of maintaining privacy in the digital age.

nku buzz wi n t e r 2 0 1 3


Proponents of secession often point to the Declaration of Independence, but it’s the Constitution, not the Declaration, that matters legally. Justice Scalia, when asked about secession, was very clear and blunt in stating that the question of whether secession is permissible was definitively answered by the Civil War.




Hack Attack

Dionne Laycock

Teaching the art of cyber war Spam emails had been rolling into the NKU network all morning. At the same time, the network was grinding to a halt under a barrage of requests in what appeared to be a classic denial-of-service attack. To make things worse, it appeared that key-logging software was tracking the keystrokes of everyone on the network. Every bit of classified information on the network could be compromised. Game over. Or not. In reality, exercises like these are practice for games— specifically, a recent intercollegiate phenomenon known as cyber defense competitions. The eight student members of NKU’s Cyber Defense Team have a valuable reputation to uphold. The team, along with team advisor and computer information technology n o rt h e r n

professor Yi Hu, has consistently placed highly. They placed third last year in the southeast division, defeating Clemson and University of Louisville along the way. The competitions are three-day endurance contests. After each team is given a hypothetical company to protect, the first step is to “harden” the network to make it more resistant to vulnerabilities. When the attacks start to roll in, teams are judged on how well they defend the network. They’re also judged on their ability to keep critical business services running and complete specific business operations, such as launching a new website for a product. Team management is crucial since each team member is given a server to defend. One member may defend the webmail

server while another defends the database server. It’s the second and third day of competition when defenses are put to the test. Hackers—hired specifically for the competitions— test each team’s network for vulnerabilities. To make things even tougher, some computers are preinstalled with key loggers so hackers can easily bypass security roadblocks by recording the keystrokes of users. Once they’re in the system, hackers can wipe out computer contents or break networks completely. “The competition is really intense,” Hu says. “It’s essentially two weeks of work compressed into three days.” Teams have a separate room they work in as each daily competition typically lasts 10 hours.


Team advisors are not allowed in the room. Students are selected for the competitions on a voluntary basis. Training sessions begin in September even though competitions aren’t held until March. Hu says students must be dedicated and be interested in this field because it is such a big commitment. For now, the cyber competitions are held at Kennesaw State in Atlanta, though the Rieveschl Digitorium in Griffin Hall will eventually host them as well. NKU competes in the southeast division with anywhere from nine to 11 other teams. In addition to placing third last year, NKU also received the division’s “Best in Business” award for completing the most business tasks in a competition. The College of Informatics may receive another nod of success this fall. COI is currently applying for designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The application is a twostep process, with the first step having already received approval for meeting coursework requirements. The second step is to map out teaching and research activities. If final approval is granted, NKU will be the first university in Kentucky and one of only 140 universities nationwide to receive it. Hu says COI students will have more scholarship opportunities and a better job outlook, as employers are already looking for IT professionals who graduated from schools certified as NACE in IAE. Hu also notes that NKU has more computer information technology and computer science majors than ever, a trend that is expected to continue. According the U.S. Dept. of Labor, the field of network security is projected to increase 22 percent between now and 2020, a stat that brings new meaning to the phrase “job security.” —Casey Binder ’13


Future, Meet Past

Introducing high-tech historical tours Starting a unique high-tech company was probably the last thing Sean Thomas and Steve Oldfield thought they’d find themselves doing when they enrolled in the Master of Arts in public history program at NKU. But when the two began working on a class project together, they quickly realized there was a niche, not just for their expertise but also for their passion for history. “We have lots of small towns in this area that have interesting historical value,” Thomas says. “But they don’t have the money or manpower to have guided tours. People just pass right through them without any chance of learning about the remarkable things that happened there.” Thomas and Oldfield decided their capstone project would put a new spin on traditional walking tours. They teamed up with Brian Sauer, a graduate student in the NKU computer science department, to develop a high-tech historical experience. Their class project became Instant Access Tours, and these history students became entrepreneurs. The two brought the right combination of experience to the venture. Thomas has spent years as a videographer and editor while Oldfield is an award-winning journalist. Add their love for history and the new company was a no-brainer. Instant Access Tours selects local historical sites, collects existing information and research, and develops engaging web pages with narrative text, photos, and video interviews. The company recently launched its first tour, which celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Augusta (Ky.). The tour, available at, provides the rich history of this critical Civil War battle. “There is so much interesting information out there,” Oldfield says. “It just takes some digging. Residents of the communities flesh out the stories in a very personal way. Imagine driving through a small town and seeing a QR code on a building. Point your cell phone at the code and suddenly you are transported back to some historical event. Or log onto a website to get a full story of something that happened in that town. That’s what Instant Access Tours is all about.” —Chris Cole ’99, ’04, ’09 winter 2013


Bring on the Science A new scholarship will aid STEM students


The Trouble with Sprawl

Two words: emergency response Thirty-six minutes. That’s how long it could take a local fire department to reach your house during an emergency if you live in the outer suburbs. If you think that sounds like a long time to be waiting around while a fire engulfs your home, you’re not alone. New research by NKU assistant professor suggests that the emergency response time in these "fringe" neighborhoods—sometimes as long as 36 minutes—could be twice the response time experienced in denser, urban areas. Lambert also found higher death rates due to fire incidents in fringe neighborhoods. His study, titled “Ex-Urban Sprawl and Fire Response in the United States,” is now officially part of the library and archives of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The study was coauthored by two professors from Indiana University Southeast and West Chester University. So what’s behind the disparity? Lambert and his team found an overall lag time between the construction of new neighborhoods in fringe areas and the construction of new fire departments to serve them. Building new departments to support the outer suburbs is simply expensive, Lambert says, and all three authors recommend more thorough local planning for public services. “One of the main things people need to take from this is that sprawl is expensive,” Lambert says. “While having new homes and giving people choices as to where they live is nice, people have to remember that developing these new areas is not as cheap or as easy as they may think.” —Kevin Schultz ’14 n o rt h e r n

NKU has received a $600,000 National Science Foundation Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics grant to establish a program that seeks to recruit, retain, and graduate academically talented lowerincome students who will enter graduate school or the workforce in a STEM discipline. The program, called Project SOAR, is a collaboration that involves five NKU academic departments: biological sciences, chemistry, physics and geology, mathematics and statistics, and computer science. It will award a four-year scholarship to 17 incoming freshmen in each of four years (68 total full scholarships). The first two years are paid from grant funds, and the university will pay the last two. Gail Mackin, a professor in the NKU Department of Mathematics and Statistics, is the principal investigator for the grant. She said Project SOAR is about more than just educating students. “This under-tapped pool of talented students has the potential to meet the expected local and national need for highly skilled scientists and technically trained employees,” she says.


Well Played, Bill Aker Legendary Norse coach joins the Hall of Fame

All Hart

NKU volleyball spikes in its first D-I season The “interim head coach” title can be interpreted many different ways in college athletics. Just ask football fans in the state of Arkansas, where things have gone from bizarre to downright comical during the past few months. But who in the name of John L. Smith remembers that Liz Holmes started off as an interim head coach for the volleyball program at NKU? Yes, the same Liz Holmes who made a name for herself as an All-America middle hitter for NKU 2004–07. The Cincinnati Mother of Mercy High School product who set Norse records with her thunderous, missile-like attacks. Two-plus seasons later, and now officially Liz Hart (she married this past summer), the one-time interim head coach of NKU has established herself as a top-notch leader on the sideline. The interim tag has long since been removed. But the success has continued. Hart guided NKU to a 20-win season and a berth in the NCAA Division II Tournament during her first season. Last year, her squad posted a 26-6 record and advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional. That marked the 19th consecutive season the Norse reached the 20-win plateau. “I don’t know if we thought we were going to [win 20 matches] in the beginning of the year,” Hart admits. Another season, another 20 victories—even against ramped-up competition in Division I. “The girls have done a good job of playing together,” Hart says. “We might not be the biggest team or the strongest team out there, but we have a big heart and the girls have done a nice job this season.” The NKU volleyball team indeed has a big heart. The Norse are also fortunate to have another kind of Hart, the one-time interim head coach who authored a remarkable story for the first-year Division I volleyball team. —Don Owen

Bill Aker began NKU’s baseball program from scratch in 1971 when the school was known as Northern Kentucky State College. During his 29-year career, Aker compiled 807 victories, four regional championships, two Great Lakes Valley Conference Coach of the Year awards, and two World Series appearances. For his efforts, the popular coach was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame early this year. Aker’s 1979 squad finished with a 36-15 record and advanced to the NCAA Division II World Series for the first time in program history. He also led the Norse to the NAIA World Series in 1985. During his career, 10 players were selected in the Major League Baseball draft before Aker retired in 2000 with an 807-572-1 record. His teams won at least 30 games in 11 seasons, including four 40-win seasons. The 1977 squad’s 49 victories still remain a school record. In 2001, NKU’s on-campus baseball field was renamed the Bill Aker Baseball Complex in his honor. He was inducted into the David Lee Holt NKU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003. Aker became an ambassador for the Envoy Program after retiring, and he held coaches’ clinics and kids’ baseball camps throughout Europe. —Don Owen winter 2013

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nku and the wh le w rld wind w

Brent Donaldson

International students, alumni, and the stories they share

According to recent reports, the number of international students at colleges and universities has increased 32 percent over the past decade to more than 723,000. As François LeRoy, NKU’s director of international programs, says, “One thing we have to understand is that when international students wish to study in the United States, they have about 4,000 universities to choose from. We are actively competing with other schools.” But so often lost in these kinds of statistics are the people behind them and the incredible stories they bring. Indeed, the numbers and statistics about increased international “student mobility” are amazing. But we think that if you truly want to understand the global educational trend at work here, you need to hear a few stories first. Because these students and alumni traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to NKU for the same reason you did, and it wasn’t to become a statistic about globalization. It was for a better life. n o rth rt h e r n

Masood Almalki

fan song

Masood Almalki brought many things with him to the United States. He brought optimism for the future of his wife and children back home. He brought his disarming sense of humor and a 10,000-watt smile. And, not surprisingly, he brought his own anxiety. Masood hailed from the city of Bani Malik, Saudi Arabia, and shared the same worries expressed by many of his friends who had come to study at American universities. How would American students treat a young Muslim from the Middle East? With fear? Contempt? Or—perhaps worse—blatant disregard? “I thought I may face that as a Muslim,” he says. “I thought people would say, ‘He is trouble; stay away from him.’” Of course, as anyone who’s spent time at NKU can attest, that attitude is rare here. Masood found acceptance in longtime NKU history professor Katya Belhabib, who emphasized appreciating differences in other cultures. And he found it among his peers, especially the more than 400 Saudi students currently attending NKU. In fact, Masood found so much acceptance that they made him president of the student Saudi organization at NKU. “They drive me crazy,” he says with a smile. Masood also brought with him an associate degree in engineering from Jubail Industrial College. He began working toward his bachelor’s in mechanical and manufacturing engineering technology at NKU in 2011, and, using credits from his associate degree, just graduated this past December. “I have two plans,” he says of his life after graduation. “My first plan is that I go back and find a job [at home]. If there is nothing, I will come back here for a master’s. When I came here, people here were helpful. When I came here I didn’t know anything. There was a girl I met here, and she gave me two blankets and I still have them today. Most people here are very friendly. We love the way of living here. You have everything.”

winter 2013 wi


MaYa Brlecic


It wasn’t long ago that Maya Brlecic was touring the world as a professional singer. The Croatian native was showcasing her classical vocal talent all over Asia, Australia, Europe, and South America when a friend—former Yugoslavian pop star Tatiana Cameron, now based in Cincinnati— invited Maya to tour the United States with Cameron’s band. Maya accepted. “We were touring all over the U.S. and at one point it dawned on me: I never graduated from college and I’m already 26,” she recalls. “I better do something about it.” In 2009 Maya realized she had a choice: return to Croatia to attend a school close to her family and friends, or heed the pleas of her new American friends and attend school in the States. “From my point of view that was completely impossible,” Maya says. “All of my family is over there, and who is going to pay for school?” It was then that Maya learned about scholarships available for prospective international students, and she took a leap of faith. She applied to music programs at Xavier, University of Cincinnati (where she was accepted to its College Conservatory of Music), Miami, and NKU. The rest is history. “When I did a campus tour here, I visited the music department and was really, really blown away by the voice teachers and by Dr. Sander, the chair of the music department,” Maya says. On track to graduate in December of this year, Maya is weighing her options. “I would really like to get my master’s in vocal performance here in the States,” she says. “I really should stay in school because so far I am doing well. My GPA isn’t 4.0, but it is close. I do get homesick so I don’t know whether I’m going to stay or not. I mean, I was just visiting friends and traveling and just happened to stay here. I don’t know how this all happened, but everything fell into place. For me it was an adventure, and I’m still living it.”

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Fan song If you need direct evidence of the importance of personal outreach efforts in attracting international students, meet Fan Song. Fan set aside her job in Shenzhen, China, to travel eight thousand miles to Highland Heights, Ky., to study computer science. Now a junior, Fan simply wouldn’t be here if an international officer representing NKU hadn’t met with her near her home. “I had a face-to-face conversation with the NKU international officer in China, and they introduced me to this university,” Fan says. “They also talked about how I can transfer credits from my diploma in China so I wouldn’t need to spend too much time to get a bachelor’s degree.” According to Fan, the ease of transferring credits was issue number one when it came to selecting an American university. “Another reason is the weather,” she says. “The weather is kind of the same but there’s no snow in my city. And the other reason is that there are not too many Chinese here so I can practice my English.” Fan’s current career goal is to be a software testing manager—a goal she believes more easily obtained with a bachelor’s degree, some work experience, and possibly a master’s. On top of that, for nearly a year she’s been enrolled in the English language program taught in Campbell Hall. “We learned English when we were young,” she says, “but you know in China the [English] speaking is not the same.” Currently a junior, Fan says that the upper-level courses are starting to present more challenges due to the language barrier. “I was taking calculus II and an operating systems class and it was hard for me,” she explains. “But I explained the reasons to professor Holden, and she helped me a lot. I went to her office every time after class to ask her questions.” Also helpful? Simply relaxing with friends. “There are a lot of events here,” she says. “When I first went to a party here it was just friends celebrating—not the same way that I think about parties. We just have meetings in China or we’ll go to karaoke, but here we can talk to each other. I’m also vice president of the Norse Badminton Club. We always ask people to come to our club to play and have fun.”


Debra Nestadt-Hertz Debra Nestadt-Hertz had to wait a bit for the world to catch up. After growing up in Durban, South Africa, Debra has experienced a successful career as a licensed pharmacist and consultant in the pharmaceutical industry. Debra met her husband and started a family (four children), and both have been successful in their careers throughout Europe and, indeed, around the world. Always interested in both computer science and health issues, she became interested in the convergence of the two fields years ago. “When I finished my undergrad and I was looking for this type of thing, it wasn’t available,” she says. “As for ‘health informatics,’ no one knew the term.” So Debra waited. She searched “the whole of the United States” on the Internet trying to find a master’s program in health informatics, she says. She knew she could choose anywhere she wanted, but there simply weren’t many programs available that offered exactly what she was looking for. Biomedical informatics? No. Programs in departments of health sciences? Nope. “So I sort of narrowed down my search and had two or three schools that I was keen on, and I was accepted to all of them,” she continues. “And the reason that we chose NKU was because there was a very good feeling on campus. Northern Kentucky to me epitomized the real America. It’s not L.A. and it’s not New York—it’s something real. We liked the laidback feeling and the feeling of safety. We looked all over, and I came to Kentucky with family and we looked at schools and places to live and ways to get to the university and all these factors, and we chose NKU.” Debra expects to graduate in May. After that, she and her husband, who works in a similar field, will talk about the next step. Having traveled extensively, Debra feels that the world is wide open for her and her family. It’s also why NKU was an easier transition for her than perhaps other international students. “NKU has a fantastic international department. They are always available and can always help,” she says. “But I’m not an undergraduate student who has come out of their home country into a totally different environment for the first time. I have been exposed to different environments all over the world.” For now, Debra and her family are taking this opportunity to explore this part of the world. On weekends, they simply get in the family car and drive. winter 2013

Bringing the World to Campus


Here’s the only statistic you need if you want to understand the success of NKU’s student recruitment efforts around the world: In the past three years alone, the number of international students studying for undergraduate degrees at NKU has increased approximately 150 percent. “It’s absolutely stunning,” says François LeRoy, NKU’s director of international programs and associate professor of history. “This is something that the university has anticipated, though no one was quite prepared for how sudden the growth would be.” As a native of Brittany, France, LeRoy understands well the benefits that international students bring to a university. He also understands the challenges these students will face and the preparations NKU must make to ensure a positive experience for all. “Recruiting international students is a way to bring the world to campus,” he says. “All it takes is a walk from one end of campus to another to realize how very different the demographics of the university are today than they were just five or 10 years ago.” The Saudi Arabian student growth coincides with that country’s recent push of what it calls a “Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission.” The mission is a part of new Saudi national educational policies that provide financial assistance to students wishing to study abroad. LeRoy, along with Elizabeth Chaulk, the manager for international recruitment and marketing, travels abroad frequently to recruit students and to work with international partners across the globe. In addition to bringing a global perspective to NKU students, international students also help provide financial stability to the university. “One thing we have to understand is that when international students wish to study in the United States, they have about 4,000 universities to choose from,” he says. “We are actively competing with other schools. It’s about getting our name out and getting ourselves known.”

masood almalki

Northern kentucky university total international enrollment 2005-2012

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 140 180 220 260 300 340 380 420 460

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Northern Kentucky University had 622 students from 70 different countries enrolled in the fall 2012 Albania (AL) Australia (AU) Bahamas (BS) Benin (BJ) Brazil (BR) Bulgaria (BG) Canada (CA) Chile (CL) China (CN) Colombia (CO) Croatia (HR) Ecuador (EC) Egypt (EG) El Salvador (SV) France (FR) Germany (DE) Ghana (GH) Hungary (HU) India (IN)

1 4 3 2 3 2 5 2 21 2 1 1 2 1 2 9 7 1 8

Ireland (IE) 5 Israel (IL) 1 Jamaica (JM) 1 Japan (JP) 5 Jordan (JO) 1 Kenya (KE) 3 Kuwait (KW) 10 Kyrgyzstan (KG) 1 Latvia (LV) 1 Mali (ML) 1 Morocco (MA) 1 Mauritania (MR) 2 Nepal (NP) 3 Nigeria (NG) 5 Panama (PA) 1 Peru (PE) 1 Portugal (PT) 1 Russia (RU) 5 Saudi Arabia (SA) 425

Senegal (SN) 2 South Africa (ZA) 2 South Korea (KR) 30 Spain (ES) 3 Taiwan (TW) 2 Tanzania (TZ) 2 Thailand (TH) 4 Turkey (TR) 2 Ukraine (UA) 4 United Arab Emirates (AE) 2 United Kingdom (GB) 3 Venezuela (VE) 8 Vietnam (VN) 1 Yemen (YE) 2 Zambia (ZM) 2 Zimbabwe (ZW) 3

winter 2013 wi

International Alumni Catching up with grads around the globe

huiping ding 18

NAME: Edmund Shah Tambi FROM: Kuching, Malaysia DEGREE: Master of Education in instructional leadership, 2010 LIFE AFTER NKU: Lecturer at National Institute of Educational Management and Leadership under the Malaysian Ministry of Education edmund writes: “Kuching is the capital city of Sarawak, Malaysia’s largest state situated on the island of Borneo. For many tourists, riding a sampan along the Sarawak River is an unforgettable experience. From the river you can get a spectacular view of the Malay Kampungs [villages] with a gorgeous mountainous background. You also get to see a far distant view of the 19th-century Chinese shop houses, the Malay mosque, the square tower, the attractive Margherita Fort, and the recently completed, beautifully built majestic State Legislative Council building. “I first heard of NKU from the Sarawak state education director who at that time knew about the university from a visit he made a few years before. Prior to coming to NKU I had an idea of how life in the United States was like, and I had a good idea of how college life was like. However, this time around I was coming to the USA with my wife and 3-year-old son. They were the ones who had a bit of a culture shock upon arrival! Prior to flying into the USA, we heard so many things about USA and Muslims, but upon arrival all those misconceptions that we heard were just not true since we were welcomed warmly by everyone whom we met. “My son had the best times of his life. He had only heard and read about the four seasons, Halloween, Disneyland, cowboys, and all that stuff prior to coming to the USA. But upon arrival he was so excited to see and touch snow and for the first time making a snowman. He was also happy to celebrate Halloween the first

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Frederick Odame

time and was involved in the Halloween-related events organized by the university. It was the time of his life when we brought him to Disney World and Universal Studios in Florida. Nowadays he always asks us when we are going to go back to the USA. “There are so many favorite memories and experiences that I had. I remember the day of commencement when I graduated and received my [diploma] from the NKU president himself on that cold winter’s day in 2010. Not many people in Malaysia can boast and say that they walked up the stage in their moment of glory while it was snowing outside. I had that experience and pictures to prove how wonderful it felt to wear the graduation attire with the snow falling around and my family next to me. Priceless. “Many people ask me, ‘Of all places, why come to Highland Heights?’ My answer, as usual, is ‘Because one of the best universities in the Midwest is located there. It’s called Northern Kentucky University. Ever heard of it?’ I never regretted my decision to come, live, and study at NKU. Not a moment of regret. In fact, it was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life.”

NAME: Huiping Ding. “‘Hui’ means ‘wisdom’ and ‘ping’ means ‘duckweed.’ In China, usually we put our last name/family name first, so I am called ‘Ding Huiping’ in China.” FROM: Jinjiang, Fujian, China DEGREE: Master of Arts in school counseling LIFE AFTER NKU: Living in Xiamen, China huiping writes: “Jinjiang is a small-sized city in southeast China, but it is said to be in charge of more than 90 percent of the shoe production in China. I went to high school in Quanzhou, which is a nearby bigger-sized ancient city with a history of about 1,800 years. Then I went to Xiamen for college, located about one hour away. When I was a senior in college, I met NKU professor Daryl Harris, a visiting lecturer during summer session. When he knew I was applying for graduate schools in the United States, he told me about NKU and suggested that I check to see if there were major areas I was interested. I applied and was admitted. “The United States seemed to me a very diverse and unconventional country ready to accept all kinds of new ideas and different people. I didn’t expect small class sizes, always thinking I would have attended a class of at least 100 students. The most important thing was that people were mostly nice to me, and most of them were curious about me coming from a different culture and country. “The major adjustment was catching up with classes, readings, and all the other assignments. Being the only international, and I believe the first international, student in my department, I had to overcome English-not-being-my-first-language difficulty (even though I majored in English in college). Also, joining in the discussion with professors and classmates was hard too, mostly the cultural part. I understood the language part most of the time, but it was the cultural part that got me the most. For example, I was never in an American school system before, so when people discussing educational systems in class, it was hard for me to catch. But then I gradually got to learn some of it as time went by and as I did my internships in local schools. “I have never regretted going and spending almost four years there. It was the best time of my life. I grew up a lot from facing all the challenges of being in a different country. What’s more, I now see Kentucky as my second hometown because I met great people there. I know I would want to go back again. I am living in Xiamen, southeast China. My apartment is just 15 minutes away from the ocean. (Don’t be jealous!) It’s a very beautiful city. I would recommend my friends come visit here and know that China is not just about Beijing and Shanghai.”

NAME: Frederick Odame FROM: Afram Plains (Adeemmra) Ghana, a small remote island in Ghana DEGREE: Finance major with minor in business administration, 2007 LIFE AFTER NKU: Assistant vice president and manager at PNC Bank, Cincinnati edmund writes: “To be honest, I didn’t know [anything about] NKU; my aunt’s boss told me NKU was a good school and that her children loved the school. As for the United States, my gosh, it was the land of opportunities. I thought I could pick gold and dollars from the street. “Leaving my home for the first time was nervewracking. However, I knew I was embarking on a journey of hope with a dream to one day give my family what I never had as a child. “I arrived at NKU in August 2002 and met similar students like me: Africans, Asians, Europeans, Middle East, South Americans, and North Americans. These students became my family, the NKU family. “NKU gave me skills, education, and a passport to corporate America. I gained these skills from the best friendships, best teachers, best academic advisors, and the best support from the international student office. International student potlucks were my favorite events. I shared food and experiences with fellow international students. Our American friends were always there to enjoy with us. “My biggest challenge was communication; I had to get used to the American accent and similarly, my professors had to get used to my accent. Dr. François LeRoy’s passion and support for students were remarkable. He made me love history and NKU. Dr. Young Kim related to foreign students and taught us finance in the simplest way. Leslie Kyle was my academic advisor from day one. She was the only advisor I ever had. I took her class (career enhancement) in my final year and landed my first banking job as a result of that class. Every student in the class was asked to attend a campus career fair, and that was why I have my job today. Thank you, Leslie! “I am a banker at PNC; I manage a banking center with six employees. I used the skills I gained from my finance classes each day to assist both my 1,800 consumers and business customers. I am married to a 2009 NKU graduate, Z. Ellis. We are blessed with two sons and one daughter.”

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Dear first-generation of NKU graduates, When you read stories about today’s NKU students winning cyber-security competitions against the likes of Clemson and UofL (see pg. 8), or stories about the exponential growth of students who travel from Asia and Europe and Africa and the Middle East to seek advanced degrees here (pg. 12), we know that it can be easy to forget how young this university really is. But here’s the truth: many of you—the graduates of the 1970s—are in the prime of your professional careers. You are the pioneers who remember NKU when it was just two buildings and a blur of construction; when no one lived on campus and your meal between classes was a vending-machine sandwich served in a smoky, crowded corridor. But you persevered, and you innovated, and your success is a foundation for the generations who followed. Please consider the next six pages our ode to you—the student vanguard of NKU, the dreamers who grew up right alongside your alma mater. For this project, Northern Magazine hit the Schlachter University Archives, whose staff works tirelessly to document the history of NKU through its collection of photos, documents, and memorabilia. We then invited a group of 1970s alumni back to campus to talk to us. To remember. To conjure the joys and challenges of being pioneers in a grand experiment. Thanks for being bold and dreaming big. Because of you, the experiment worked. —Brent Donaldson

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Meet the Panel

NAME: Tom Donnelly (TD) GRAD YEAR: 1978 DEGREE: Anthropology CURRENT JOB: Athletic Director at Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati NAME: Helen Bailey (HB) GRAD YEAR: 1979 DEGREE: Nursing CURRENT JOB: Nurse at St. Joseph’s School in Cold Spring, Ky.


NAME: Robert (Bob) James Brennan (BB) GRAD YEAR: 1978 DEGREE: Accounting CURRENT JOB: CPA, consultant NAME: David M. Smith (DS) GRAD YEAR: 1974 DEGREE: Business Administration CURRENT JOB: Recently retired after a nearly 50-year career at U.S. Bank NAME: Rebecca Schultz (RS) GRAD YEAR: 1979, 2001 DEGREE: Mass Communications, English Literature CURRENT JOB: Owner, Schultz Marketing Communications NAME: Andrew Neagle (AN) GRAD YEAR: 1973 DEGREE: Psychology CURRENT JOB: Sales and consulting NAME: John M. Lucas (JL) GRAD YEAR: 1973 DEGREE: Political Science CURRENT JOB: Vice President, General Counsel, The Union Central Life Insurance Co. NAME: Diane Sticklen-Jordan (DSJ) GRAD YEAR: 1975 DEGREE: Business CURRENT JOB: Human resources consultant and coach at HRC Consulting Services


DS: When I started, and I was one of the first students here along with Andy, there were two buildings here: Nunn Hall and Regents. All of the classes, the administration offices—everything was held in one place. But the bottom line was, it gave me what I needed. There weren’t a lot of students; they didn’t have a lot of buildings; there weren’t a lot of professors, but it still worked. BB: The cafeteria was in a trailer wasn’t it? AN: Yeah, you couldn’t even get in there for lunch, so basically I packed my lunch. TD: The bottom floor of Nunn was sort of like the social area. AN: Like a student union. AN: You could smoke in there, and I remember you’d open the door in the winter and the smoke would just roll out! RS: And all of the vending machines... winter 2013 wi


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BB: There was a lot of euchre being played. RS: Oh, my gosh, that’s what we did all of the time; we played euchre. When the student center opened up, I remember they had pinball down there, but we played euchre ALL of the time. BB: The first floor of Nunn Hall was euchre town. AN: I have a nephew who graduated from Covington Catholic who, when I was a senior here, he was a freshman. He basically bombed out of here after a year because he majored in euchre. RS: One thing I remember is that when I first got here there was no social life at all. BB: That’s right, there wasn’t. RS: Because I worked on campus in the media center, I was able to get to know people that way. But my junior year I joined a sorority, and every Wednesday night all of the sororities and fraternities would meet on the first floor of the student center. And then we’d have mixers off campus or whatever. BB: I think the Pikes had a house toward when I graduated. RS: The ADGs had one, too, down in Newport. AN: Yes, in ’72 and ’73 there wasn’t much social life here. You would just sort of come and go. TD: But I was amazed at how quickly the campus expanded. The facts could be different from how I remember, but I remember the two buildings—in high school I remember going to a Dave Mason concert at Regents, which was my first introduction to NKU. I think our car got towed. But anyway, there was Nunn, and then there was the science building, and by the time I graduated, there was Landrum, because that’s where the anthropology department was, and I spent all of my time there. The campus rapidly expanded. AN: When we used to park over here there was a pit, and you basically used to park in the pit. BB: And right above the pit was where they made all of the pottery and sculpture. That was kind of like the hippie hangout. AN: That’s right. BB: You’d go up there and it was like, “OK, yeahhh.” It was kind of mellow. AN: I didn’t cut my hair my whole senior year, but I had real curly hair so you couldn’t tell. TD: I started as a psych major, and there was a gentleman there who was in the Navy for four years. And I don’t remember his name, but he told me that for four years someone told him when he had to cut his hair and when he had to shave. And so he said that for four years he wasn’t going to cut any of it. His hair was down to his elbows and his beard was like ZZ Top. But he fit in pretty well; there was hair everywhere. RS: I also remember when they tried to add some art presence to the campus with the big box. There was a lot of, “What the hell is that?” You know? Because it was, like, a box.

HB: I think a lot of us are first-generation college students. I don’t think our children today understand that concept. To us, education was a priority; it was a challenge that we sought, something we really wanted and desired. Today I think the kids take it a bit more for granted. Essentially it’s just kind of a given that you probably will go to college. College, the military, or an entry-level job. TD: If you had student debt back then, it just means you made some very poor decisions, at least if you went to NKU. There was no reason to have student debt here. RS: I think it was harder, too, to write papers and do the work because you didn’t have the technology tools that you have now. Even when I started in business in the early ’80s, using typewriters with carbon, you know? So when you wrote a paper, it took a long time! BB: You were more careful. AN: If you made a mistake, you were in trouble. DS: Thank God for Wite Out. RS: Another thing that was different is that, even though this was a commuter college, it was tough to get a car. I remember my mom having to juggle dropping me off and taking my brothers to different places. Kids nowadays tend to have a car right after high school, and we didn’t have then. We were always trying to bum rides from somebody or taking the bus. It was difficult. BB: The other thing was, kids today aren’t necessarily trying to get out in four years. Back in the day, you wanted to get out and get a job. AN: It was a priority. RS: I think their perspective is broader, too. My daughter is much more globally focused. She’s studied abroad and all of that. We didn’t have that. It’s like you said: you got your degree because you had to get a job. BB: I’ve got four kids, and in the ’70s we were focused on real life. You go to college to further yourself and get a job. In the ’70s there were very few jobs. You basically went into what you thought you could get a job in. Most people did. And you tried to get out as quick as you could. TD: My experience was a little bit different. I graduated from high school in ’74. The war was basically over and that wasn’t an issue. And honestly, for me, to look back candidly, college was prolonged adolescence. And I enjoyed it. I was a pretty good student, and I was in an environment in which everything was going well. It was very rewarding, very satisfying. It was a lot of fun and I didn’t want it to end, and I think that’s why I went to graduate school and why I went to law school. Because it was a different experience for me. Plus my wife was employed and that was a blessing as well. I didn’t have to rush out and get a job, and I wasn’t supporting a family, which would have been a completely different situation. JL: The students seem younger today. Back then, there were a lot of veterans coming back on the GI Bill getting their education. So the students seemed a little older. Maturity I think is the wrong word, but there is a difference in the students then; their backgrounds were a little edgier in our age group because most of us were paying for [our own education] because our parents didn’t have a lot of money. And you didn’t have the ability to get loans. We started to realize back then that a college education is really important. I think today it’s just assumed. winter 2013 wi





[John Lucas joins the conversation] JL: I think the key for a lot of people was that this was an opportunity that hadn’t been there before. It wasn’t there when I was a sophomore in high school. I went to Holmes, and my family never even finished high school. So I had no idea what college was all about. I couldn’t have afforded the other regional schools. And then just by magic, one day this place materializes. And you sit down and say, “I can get a college degree in four years.” But when I was a sophomore at Holmes, that wasn’t a reality. It just wasn’t available to a lot of people. And that, to me, was the magic. It was the newness of that opportunity, as opposed to the buildings or anything else.

[Diane Sticklen-Jordan joins the conversation] JL: I spent six out of seven years on [the Covington Campus]. I had one year here, and that was in 1973. I had three years there, one year here, and then I went to law school for three years over in Park Hills. So I was in that building on Mount Adam road—I think was the name of it—for six long years in the trailers that were over there. RS: I remember the communications classes because it was a new major. They were very small. So by the time you got into your junior or senior year, you would be with the same six people for every class. But it was a tight community, and we still keep in contact. But we also had some exceptional teachers. Al Salvato, who used to be at the Kentucky Post, he died a couple of years ago. He taught communications law and ethics. And Ben Kaufman, who used to be a writer at the Enquirer—I’ll never forget his class because I was just terrified. I walked in and there were like 21 kids in the class and he said, “I’m telling you now that by the time this class is over, two-thirds of you are going to be gone.” And sure enough, by the end of the semester there were only seven of us left. It was the best education you could get, because they brought in professionals. It wasn’t just people with book learning; it was people who had real-world experience. And that’s what helped us get jobs. AN: The first staff that they had here, they brought in the best. I’m still really good friends with Dr. Tesseneer. I had him for classes, and it’s just remarkable the people that they brought here. BB: Did anybody ever have Dr. Carpenter? RS: Dr. Carpenter! AN: I had him for biology. BB: Wasn’t he the best? RS: Yes! He used to let his boa constrictors loose in the class! They were called Captain Crunch and General Eisenhower, and we’d all be sitting with our feet up on the desk because he’d let them slither around the room during class! It was awesome! BB: He was a great teacher. Now Dr. Hicks was the class I remember. I got in there and thought I’d be in good shape because I’d had chemistry for two years at Cov Cath, and I came in there and I think he covered those two years in three weeks. Then my daughter had him, and I said, “You’ve got Hicks? I wonder if he’s changed.” Well, he hadn’t. When I had him, one person got an “A” out of the class. Three got “B’s.” I had a 79.98, and an 80 was a “B.” I remember going up to him and saying, “What do I have to do to get a ‘B’?” He looked at his calculator and goes, “You’ve got a ‘C.’” I said, “I’ll do any type of extra credit, anything.” And he said, “You know what? I’ll give you a ‘B’ if you just go away for awhile.” I think I wore him down. But he was tough. DS: One of the classes that had a really huge impact on me was the history class I took. I don’t remember the professor, but it was a Civil War class, and the final exam was spoken, and you had to talk about a battle. So people were choosing battles, and like a dumbass I chose Gettysburg, which was a three-day battle! What it did was it turned me into a Civil War fanatic. I have studied, read. I have been to numerous battle sites; it just had that kind of an impact on me. AN: He was a really neat guy. Drove a little Volkswagen Bug. JL: I remember Professor Thomas was tough. I had him for Civil War and will never forget that. AN: He was tough as nails. JL: He gave us a quiz the very first class. We were in there for 10 minutes and he’s like, “Pull out a sheet of paper.” He asked us 10 questions, and of course if you knew two you were lucky. He said, “This is for all of the people who think they know the Civil War. You don’t.” He was a character. RS: I think overall we remember a lot of our professors because they were good and they cared about us as individuals. Even the big classes were small compared to classes at UC or UK in big lecture halls. We really benefited from that. DSJ: I had hoped to get into human resources, and the professor who taught me introduced me to the person who was in charge of the human resource association. He told me that he had a job opening, and I talked my way into it. I got it because of the professor here. It was wonderful. TD: We needed the personal touch. Even when you just look at the folks around this table—one person took 12 years to get their B.A.; one person didn’t want to burden their family with tuition costs—a lot of us are first-generation students who needed a personal touch to stay connected, and this place offered it.

Dr. Carpenter and his boa constrictor. n no o rth rt h e er rn n


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By Molly Williamson

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The artful dodging and iconic sculpture of Matt Langford

M att L angford

has many

talents. He’s had a hand in crafting some of the world’s most recognizable toys. On a larger scale, he brings historical figures to life through his iconic statues that are scattered throughout Northern Kentucky. He’s also skilled at veiling himself in shadows, of being invisible when he needs to be. You see, Matt Langford is the phantom of the NKU Fine Arts Center. One day he saw a group of art students examining the Frank Duveneck statue in Covington. “They said they went to Northern [Kentucky University],” Langford recalls. “We started talking about Northern and the art program. They said they could no longer stay all night working in the art building because some idiot lived there for three years.” Langford was that idiot. But at the time, he thought of it more as surviving. Langford entered Northern Kentucky University in 1979 as a graphic design major. During his sophomore year he dropped out of school to care for his ailing mother, living on his own and working manual labor jobs. But Langford, the skilled artist who still has a wooden duck that he carved when he was 12, knew he was destined for more. In his mid-20s, Langford resumed his education at NKU but essentially fell through the cracks. When a housing subsidy didn’t come through, he knew he couldn’t afford his own apartment. But then it dawned on Langford that he could save lots of money—and completely eliminate his daily commute—by living in the Fine Arts Center. “It became a cat-and-mouse game,” Langford says. “I knew every little place in that building, and I had the ability to open a door if I had to. I never did anything nefarious. I just had an overblown sense of entitlement. Looking back, I know I wasn’t respecting the authority of the school like I should have. Time changes your perspective, but I can definitely say I got a lot of work done in those three years.” It was during this time that Langford discovered sculpting. “[Professor] Michael Skop first got me into classical sculpture,” Langford says. “He allowed me to study independently and gave me guidance as I developed.” Langford began building his skill base as well as his portfolio, though he began to grow restless about starting a career. Anxious to work and tired of his studies, Langford visited Kenner Products, now Hasbro, and asked if the toy winter 2013




“It became a cat-and-mouse game. I knew every little place in that building, and I had the ability to open a door if I had to. I never did anything nefarious. I just had an overblown sense of entitlement. Looking back, I know I wasn’t respecting the authority of the school like I should have. Time changes your perspective, but I can definitely say I got a lot of work done in those three years.” Matt Langford

maker needed any sculptors. It did. For four years, Langford learned the basics of commercial sculpting. He learned how to interpret other people’s artistic visions, how to pour himself into another artist’s style and mindset. He learned how to be adaptable and flexible in his vision while making an aesthetically pleasing product that had mass appeal. Langford’s toy creations rank as some of the most popular the world has known. He helped create Star Wars and Harry Potter figurines, and 101 Dalmatians flip cars for McDonald’s. “If you are under the age of 35,” he says, “you have probably played with something I made.” Langford’s commercial training also opened him up to new opportunities. His friend and fellow sculptor Douwe Blumberg asked Langford to assist in creating the statue that was unveiled at Ground Zero for the 10th anniversary of September 11. The sculpture—a modern American soldier on horseback—commemorates U.S. Special Operations soldiers who rode horses into combat during the first stages of the war in Afghanistan. Langford was able to interpret Blumberg’s vision and use his own skills to enhance the piece. It is fitting that Langford worked on a sculpture installed at Ground Zero. Like so many others, Langford says that September 11, 2001, changed his life. That was the year Langford turned 40, an occasion that was shortly followed by the two planes slamming into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center. “It was a gut check,” Langford says. “It made me think, ‘What am I doing with my life, and what is the bigger picture?’” Langford realized that there was a piece of unfinished business to attend to—completing his degree. He returned to school and, 22 years after abandoning his post as the phantom of the Fine Arts Center, Langford walked across the commencement stage in May 2002, clutching his bachelor’s degree in studio art.

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Today, Langford and his family live in a log cabin in Boone County, Ky. The home itself probably had something to do with Langford’s decision to create his first Abraham Lincoln statue. It would be a commemorative piece, he thought, a fitting tribute that would grace his own log cabin. As he began sculpting the model, Langford’s wife, Allison (Westlund) Langford, a 1989 NKU graphic design alumna, suggested he depict Lincoln as a young man. Not long after Langford finished the quarter-scale Lincoln model, he entered it into a Covington Cathedral Gallery show. The gallery director liked it so much that she encouraged him to enter it in a contest where the winner would get to create a permanent sculpture for the Covington branch of the Kenton County Public Library. Langford won. “It was having the right piece at the right time,” he says. “It was much more than I had hoped for and much quicker than I hoped for.” Since then, Langford has completed several pieces for NKU donor and Covington philanthropist Oakley Farris, including the full-scale Abe Lincoln located on NKU’s campus, the Duveneck sculpture in the Covington Arts District, and the General Covington statue that guards the Covington Latin School. Langford’s favorite work is his statue of Mary Ingles in front of the Boone County Library. The library board wanted a statue of Daniel Boone, but Langford suggested Ingles because her story was so unique to the county. Ingles was a pioneer kidnapped by Native Americans from her Virginia home. She escaped her captors and trekked hundreds of miles home, at one point crossing into what was then part of Ohio in Boone County. “I have had more good blessings in the last 10 years than I thought I would have,” Langford says. “I have had doors opened, and I have met good people. I never thought I would be doing statues by now. I thought it would take me five or six years to get on the map, but it happened in my first year.” “I’m not the poster child for efficiency, but I got a good broad education at NKU,” Langford says. “I improved my writing ability and learned design ethic and the necessity of your craft to communicate an idea. For the most part, I am self-taught, but NKU gave me the foundation.”

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30 30

alumni journal Gatherings It was an honor. By now most of you have heard that NKU’s fifth president—Geoffrey S. Mearns— was formally installed this past October. The event was full of all of the pomp and circumstance you’d expect, with representatives from colleges and universities from across the U.S. joining members of the NKU faculty and the president’s cabinet in a grand processional. When I was asked to be a member of the cabinet, I knew it would allow me to do something I’ve always dreamed of doing. You see, even as a college grad twice over, I never had the chance to don my college regalia and walk in a formal processional. And now that I’ve done it, I know how special it must have felt to each and every one of you. I was honored to be a part of this auspicious occasion. In other news, the Norse have taken to D-I athletics and participation in the Atlantic Sun Conference with outstanding success so far. With the basketball season fully underway, we hope to see our Southern friends when we host alumni events at two upcoming games: at Lipscomb in Nashville (February 8), and at Kennesaw State in Atlanta (February 19). Put on your NKU gear and cheer the Norse! For anyone who’s graduated in the past 10 years, we also have news for you: NKU’s Young Alumni Council is up and running. The YAC hosted a happy hour event at Jerzee’s Pub in Newport, Ky., and council leadership is planning many other special events. Stay tuned! Finally, we hope to see you at the Homecoming events January 26, starting with the 11th annual chili cook-off at 3:30 p.m. at The Bank of Kentucky Center. The women’s and men’s basketball games follow, topped off by our blowout Homecoming party sponsored by the YAC. All alumni are welcome to join the fun!




GO NORSE! Deidra S. Fajack Director Alumni Programs and Licensing 4 3

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1. Thom Roose’s (’95) daughter Makayla gets her face painted by SAA member Samantha Morris. 2. David McClure (’83), president of NKU Alumni Council, checks out the horses at Keeneland with his son and daughterin-law Joe (’12) and Ashley McClure (’05). All three are NKU alums! 3. David Bender (’76) celebrates a great shot at the Alumni Golf Outing. 4. Will Johnson (’07), Rich Shivener (’06), and Josh Blair (’05) at the Alumni Happy Hour at Jerzee’s. 5. Tim Yacks (’94) watches Travis Turner (’97) sink a putt at this year’s Alumni Golf Outing. 6. Bryan Martini and Kaitlyn Johnston pose with Victor at the NKU Alumni Family Day at Norse Soccer. 7. Stephanie West (’10), Molly Roy (’08), Jen Thiem (’07), Natalie Howard (’07), Amber Evans (’08), and Kelly Conway (’08) catch up at the Alumni Happy Hour sponsored by the Young Alumni Council at Jerzee’s. 8. The Keeneland group pose after getting off the bus, ready to enjoy a great day at the races.


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CLASS NOTES 1966 David Wade Peck (Chase) has accepted his invitation into the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals. This organization is composed of law professionals who have worked in civil and commercial conflict resolution. Peck is the only Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky member of NADN.

1975 Howard Richshafer (Chase) has been selected as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” and as the “2013 Cincinnati Litigation and Controversy Tax Lawyer of the Year.” These honors are based on extensive peer review surveys. Richshafer’s been consistently listed as a Best Lawyer since 1999.

1976 Keith Thompson (history) had his novel Scoundrel! The Secret Memoirs of General James Wilkinson nominated for the Alexandre Dumas Historical Fiction Award. It was recently published by NorLights Press.

1981 Kevin L. Murphy (Chase) published his award-winning book titled Surviving Cancer after Surviving Cancer. The book won at the International Book Festival and received an honorable mention at the New York Book Festival. His book can be found at and at local Joseph Beth bookstores.

1987 Greg Edwards (political science) has been appointed deputy director of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Edwards holds two master’s degrees, one in library and information science and another in public administration. Stephen J. Olding (journalism, political science) has been appointed by Gov. n o rth rt h e r n

Steve Beshear to the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Advisory Council. Olding currently serves as the communication director of the Alzheimer’s Association and will serve on the council until May 2015.

1991 Denise Stoner-Barone (Chase) recently signed a contract with Sweet Cravings Publishing to release a young adult novel called Perfect Girls. Stoner-Barone is also the author of several other novels including Fantasy Follies, formerly known as Fantasy Daze, and House of Wacks. Stoner-Barone recently regained the literary rights for these two novels.

1997 Kristi Ward (M.B.A.) is in the running for CFO of the year. Ward serves as the executive vice president of finance at FRCH Design Worldwide.

1998 Sarah Dunning (Master of Education) has joined CR Architecture in downtown Cincinnati as the local business development director. Dunning will work with new clients to ensure quality service and products.

1999 Ed McMasters (M.B.A.) represented the Flottman Company and Printing Industries of Ohio/Northern Kentucky at the GRAPH EXPO with his presentation called “Putting the ME in Media.” His session focused on self-marketing in the digital age.

2001 Jill Dunne (English) has been recognized in Mass Transit Magazine’s 2012 Top 40 Under 40 for her role as the public affairs manager at Cincinnati Metro. Shannon Minor (education) recently earned a Rank I as a teacher. Currently, Minor teaches physical education and health at Summit View Middle School.

2003 Joanne Becker Griffin (fine arts) recently enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and serves as a vocalist for Band of Mid-America’s rock band, Starlifter. Prior to this endeavor, Griffin performed in numerous

venues such as Dollywood and Carnival Cruise Lines.

2004 Becky Walz (finance) is one of five Fifth Third employees who were promoted as officers. Walz began her career at Fifth Third in 2009 and currently serves as the retail direct sales manager. Heather Henderson (economics) has been hired as a senior associate, client leadership, at dunnhumbyUSA’s Cincinnati office. Henderson will be responsible for creating data-based media solutions for dunnhumbyUSA clientele. Louis W. Lucas III (speech) and Theresa Smith Lucas (’06 social work) are the parents of three children – Louis IV (5), Darleen (2), and Olivia (1). Jennifer Vaccaro Robbers (psychology) and her husband, Michael, welcomed William Miyazaki Robbers into their family May 6, 2012. He weighed in at 7 pounds 4 ounces and was 20.1 inches long.

2005 Jennifer Sneed (public relations) has been named the projects and events coordinator for the Haile/U.S. Bank College of Business at NKU. Sneed will manage and promote events within the college of business

2006 Carol L. Risk (Chase) recently opened her own law practice called The Risk Law Firm in Covington, Ky. Her firm will practice civil litigation, criminal defense, and family law.

2009 Jessica Flake (psychology) has been awarded a full ride to the University of Connecticut where she will pursue a Ph.D. in educational psychology. Flake came to NKU with her GED and left here to attend James Madison University, where she received her master’s degree. Brian Steffen (criminal justice) recently earned his master’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Cincinnati. He is also a recent graduate of the FBI National Academy. This academy is for

notable norse

Tracy Weiler’s not just a fan in the stands Tracy Weiler (’05) may not be a household name, but if you’re a baseball fan, or a fan of subs and snack chips, or ice cream, or shopping, odds are you’ve seen her work. The actress is featured in several national commercials, including those for Subway, Frito Lay, Kmart, Klondike, and, most notably, the Head and Shoulders Fan in the Stands ad with Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer. The commercial, which saw the naturally blonde Weiler dyeing her hair a catcher’s-mitt brown, has been in regular rotation nationally. It was also the lead-in ad to the first pitch of the 2012 World Series. You may also recognize her from her print work, which has appeared in Babies R Us ads and Cosmopolitan, among other magazines. After a few years

of holding multiple jobs, Weiler is now finding much success through her acting and modeling. “I had the intent to do only musical theatre; that’s why I moved to New York City instead of Los Angeles,” says Weiler of her career ambition after graduating with a degree in musical theatre. “But my ambition has changed over the years. I really love TV and film.” Though the Batesville, Ind., native still does some print work and modeling, her résumé is quickly filling with more television and film credits. Among them are roles in a promo for Psych, regular appearances in sketches on The Late Show with David Letterman, and the upcoming feature film Split. Written and directed by fellow NKU graduate Jamie Buckner, the romantic comedy is scheduled to be filmed in Louisville and will feature Weiler in the lead female role. “I’m really, really excited,” Weiler says. “I’m also really nervous. I’ve done a few other films but only in supporting roles. This is my first really big role.” Weiler met Buckner briefly while the two were both in the theatre program. It was there that Weiler also met Ken Jones, chair of the theatre and dance department, whom she calls her mentor. Weiler acted in multiple productions produced by Jones and was a four-year member of the improv team that he leads. “I owe him everything,” she says. “I’m living my dream. Of course, I want to do more. I want to do a sitcom regularly. I want to film all the time. NKU helped me make my dreams come true,” she says. “It feels great to be doing what I love. I cannot imagine doing anything else.” Jones is equally enamored of Weiler, with whom he remains in contact. He follows her success and keeps magazine clips and theatre programs to share with students and staff. “There was no doubt in our minds in the theatre department that Tracy would be a success,” Jones says. “She was a success when she was here. She has all the qualities of a Lucille Ball-type of actress. She’s beautiful and funny. She isn’t afraid to make the funny faces.” — Juli Hale ’95 winter 2013 wi



for leaders in law enforcement and is by invitation only.


notable norse

Ralph Landrum (organizational leadership) has been inducted into the Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame. Landrum has long been involved in golf in the Northern Kentucky area, serving currently as general manager and head pro at World of Golf in Florence. He also held that same position at the Devou Park Golf Course. Landrum was on the pro tour for several years but returned home to Northern Kentucky when his oldest son was born.

2010 Tim Maloney (Chase) has been named vice president of payor relations at University of Cincinnati Health. His role will be to oversee all negotiations with commercial and governmental managed care payors.

2011 Patricia Peta Niehaus (art) knows persistence makes the difference because her co-op at VSA partners in Chicago, Ill., led her to a full-time position as a digital designer. Niehaus works on developing concepts for tablet tools, mobile applications, and website design. She was offered this position after staying in contact with VSA once her co-op ended. Daniel T. Carter (Chase) has recently joined the law firm of McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie, and Kirkland. The firm has offices in Greenup, Lexington, Frankfort, and Louisville. Carter will serve in the Greenup office.

2012 Kevin Graham (business administration) has been appointed to the professional staff at the CPA and advisory firm of Louis T. Roth and Co. Graham will serve as a staff accountant. Geoff Kinney (management) is the owner of Dunkers, a new restaurant near the NKU campus. Dunkers has a sportsthemed atmosphere with traditional sports bar-cuisine.

nnoort rth h eerrnn

New York State of Mind Aaron Lavigne dreams big in NYC Seven years ago, Aaron LaVigne (’05) moved from Cincinnati to the Astoria neighborhood of Queens in New York City with the hopes of transitioning from a starving artist to one that’s well fed. Since then, the actor and musician has independently produced two albums, has a third on the way, and recently made his Broadway debut in the musical Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark. In the play, LaVigne performs in an ensemble role that utilizes both his acting and singing—talents he also used in a Broadway national tour for the musical RENT. For someone attempting to live solely on the fruits of his creative talent, these are huge accomplishments. But pursuing his dreams has also led LaVigne to multiple mundane jobs like bartending and catering to make ends meet. He admits that moving to New York City with the goal of making it big is about as clichéd as it gets. But with his thick blonde curls, baby blue eyes, and a certain Jason Mraz sound, LaVigne is already set to release a third album titled Call Your Mom, and the title track will be featured on the Broadway Cares charity album, a compilation of Broadway music. Broadway Cares is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to raise AIDS awareness. LaVigne’s time at NKU helped to narrow and define his artistic abilities to the point where he independently produces and writes all of his music. In 2007, LaVigne was selected as the winner of’s $10,000 singer/songwriter competition for his “Detroit Song,” which he says feels like a lifetime ago. “That is what made me realize that I was a singer/songwriter. It made me think ‘oh yeah, I can do this.’” —Casey Binder ’13

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Mystery Photo! Brace yourself, Northern readers, because we’re about to knock “Mystery Photo!” on its heels. For this installment we already know the names of these terrifying Norse alumni gladiators (and they’re neither Manny, Moe, and Jack, nor Bobby, Peter, and Greg). We want to know where they are and what they are doing. What is the backstory here? Does their champion-caliber pose really mean that these three young men just won a tournament? And what does that say behind them? Scantic? ScNtk? What? Obviously, we need your help. Please email your answers to Photo credit: Schlachter Archives

Northern Magazine Winter 2013