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FALL 2011 VOLUME 9, NO. 3

A Quantum Leap The Griffin Hall Revolution





A m e s s ag e f ro m t h e p re s i d e n t “This fall we welcomed nearly 16,000 students to campus. They represented 52 countries, 42 states, and 109 Kentucky counties. The most important story at NKU this fall is the quality of our incoming freshman class.” What better time than the holiday season to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going? A quick look around the Northern Kentucky University campus gives a pretty good idea of what has been happening here over the past decade. The energy at NKU has never been stronger and the future has never been brighter. This fall we welcomed nearly 16,000 students to campus. They represented 52 countries, 42 states, and 109 Kentucky counties. Probably the most important story at NKU this fall—even eclipsing the opening of Griffin Hall—is the quality of our incoming freshman class. We continue to work with local P-12 educators to ensure that their students are prepared for the rigors of college or technical training after graduation; and we have strengthened our admission standards to identify and enroll those students who are most likely to persist, graduate, and succeed at NKU and beyond. This fall’s class is by far the most academically prepared in our history. Better than 65 percent of our incoming freshman had no academic deficiencies (based on high school performance and ACT/SAT scores), and a full 90 percent had fewer than two deficiencies. We received more than 7,000 applications this fall. Compare that to just 10 years ago, when we received about 3,000 applications. From those 7,000 applicants, about 2,200 were accepted and enrolled at NKU. Their average ACT score, 21.4, is higher than both the Kentucky and national averages. It is little wonder why this university has been named one of “America’s Top Colleges” by Forbes magazine for the third consecutive year.

Many of those incoming students are fortunate enough to study inside Griffin Hall, our new high-tech informatics center. I still get asked quite often what “informatics” means. If you’re wondering that yourself, I encourage you read the cover story of this edition of Northern Magazine. It does an excellent job of explaining the field of informatics and the significance of both the college and the facility to our campus, our curriculum and our region. When I walk through Griffin Hall and see our students designing life-saving mobile applications through our Center for Applied Informatics or developing digital content for our two-story Digitorium, I can’t help but get excited. There is an energy in this building that is stronger even than the technology it is noted for. Thanks to extensive private fundraising, our students have the opportunity to work with the kind of equipment simply unfound at most undergraduate institutions. And they are using that technology to strengthen their skills and employability while solving real-world problems. We’re continuing to work toward reclassification of our intercollegiate athletics program to NCAA Division I status without negatively impacting other priorities. Before we can reclassify, we must secure an invitation to join a Division I conference. We’re currently evaluating our options, considering such factors as geography, institutional profiles, academic emphasis, and the opportunity for natural rivalries. We hope to make an announcement before the end of the calendar year. I believe that this move will support institutional progress across all dimensions and this move is supported by other campuses that have recently made this transition. Finally, in case you haven’t heard, I announced at our annual Fall Convocation in August that this will be my final year as president of NKU. The university is strongly positioned both academically and financially, and the timing is good for a transition. This is my 15th year at the university and Rachel and I are ready to achieve a little better balance in our lives. I’m looking forward to spending more time with our grandchildren. I’ll take a year off and then return to teach educational leadership at NKU. From the faculty, staff and student body of Northern Kentucky University, thank you for your continued support. President James Votruba

Co nt en t s

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A pioneering college like informatics required a complete rethink of what a classroom should look like. The result—a collaborative effort years in the making—is a building unlike anything you’ve seen. Time to meet Griffin Hall.




Artist Mike Maydak calls himself a “failed comic book artist.” Lucky for him, his fallback talent is taking him farther than he could’ve imagined.




Attorney, educator, entrepreneur, and potential future governor Candace Klein is a one-woman force of nature. She’s also the definitive Bad Girl, and darn proud of it.



Griffin Hall, NKU’s new home for the College of Informatics, is revolutionary in concept and design. The brainchild of nationally recognized pioneers in the fields of information technology, communications, arts, business, and healthcare, the building has been dubbed “the physical manifestation of The Information Age.” NORTHERN MAGAZINE IS NOW ONLINE! Check out web-only features at There you’ll find updates to these articles and additional information exclusive to the web.

VOLUME 9, NO. 3 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 Mark Chalifoux Ryan Clark ’10 Chris Cole ’99, ’04, ’09 Rich Shivener ’06, ’11 Molly Williamson

ALUMNI ASSOCIATION EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Gregory L. Cole ’82, President David McClure ’83, ’08, President-elect Lee Rose ’96, Immediate Past President Tracy Schwegmann ’95, Vice President Deidra S. Fajack, Secretary/Treasurer

CORRESPONDENCE Northern Kentucky University Office of Alumni Programs 421 Johns Hill Road Highland Heights, Kentucky 41099 phone: web:

(859) 572-5486


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 2011 Northern Kentucky University.

Comments, questions, concerns? We want to hear from you! Email us at N O RT H E R N


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True (NKU) Blood

Hard to be Humble

O His Soul

The Metamorphosis

Meet Joyce Watney, founder of the Living Dead Student Alliance at her school and host of the “Just Say No to Hate” festival—a multimedia extravaganza meant to foster togetherness between humans and, um, the un…dead. You know. Vampires. Which makes sense on a smash-hit show like HBO’s True Blood, which is exactly where you can find alum Galadriel Stineman (’07) starring as the “bleedingheart” young Joyce this season.

Once again, NKU is ranked among the nation’s top higher education institutions in Forbes magazine’s America’s Top Colleges 2011 list. Only 20 percent of America’s undergraduate institutions make the rankings, which include 650 public and private universities. Rankings are based on student satisfaction, postgraduate success, student debt, four-year graduation rate and competitive awards. View the complete list at

It would be difficult for Parenthood, NBC’s serial drama based on the 1989 hit movie of the same name, to be as dramatic as real parenthood. Which is why the show’s producers enlisted singer-songwriter Daniel Martin Moore and his haunting song “O My Soul” in a recent episode. The 2004 graduate originally released the song on his latest album, In the Cool of the Day, early this year on Sub Pop records. Check him out on

If NKU was one big stage, the mise-en-scène would be hard to recognize from just a few years ago (see page 12). Accenting this prismatic transformation are two new mosaic designs that flank the front entrance to Greaves Concert Hall. Completed this past June by Brownstone Design in honor of NKU patron Rosemary Stauss, the abstract tile mosaics pay homage to dance, music, theater, and the visual arts.


his voice cracking even once! Terry Mann, chairman of the NKU Board of Regents, commenting just after Dr. Votruba announced his retirement as president of NKU during the fall convocation speech on August 19, 2011. Dr. Votruba will retire after the 2011–2012 academic year— his 15th as president of the university, making him the longest-serving president in NKU’s history. After a year off, Dr. Votruba intends to return to NKU as a professor of educational leadership.

For the first month or so, I went through this depression. Then something triggered in my mind and I said there is nothing I can do about this, so I might as well make the best of it.

Amped Generation In another sign of NKU’s technological domination within higher education, the university is the first in the country to install cell phone charging stations for students to use throughout campus. Currently, 17 goCharge kiosks are housed within most of NKU’s academic buildings, with orders in for a dozen more to be added in the coming months.

Our digital playground If we could, we would like you on Facebook. And if you’d like, you can do the same for us on our NKU Alumni Association Facebook page—the best place to keep up with alumni news and activities, plus view photos and read comments from recent events. Check us out! We promise we won’t load up your feed with Farmville updates.

CH-CH-CH-CHANGES Anyone visiting NKU’s campus after an extended absence is in for some big surprises. In addition to the technological wonderland that is the new Griffin Hall, several plaza areas around campus were demolished and renovated this summer, including the iconic central campus plaza. The result is 60 percent less concrete(!), more lighting, more landscaping and greenery, and a much improved “plaza experience” for all.

Jason Bright (’96), as quoted in The Cincinnati Enquirer about learning that he’d been diagnosed with insulin-dependent diabetes in the early ’90s. After taking time off to reassess his goals (Bright had planned to become a fighter pilot), he transferred from Ohio State to NKU and changed majors. Bright is now a vice president with PNC Bank and rode in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Ride for a Cure in Death Valley, Calif. this October.

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And he did it without



There’s an App for That And that, and that, and that


Dionne Laycock

Freestore Foodbank The Freestore Foodbank application connects users with Foodbank services as well as the locations of 325 member agencies in the 20-county Cincinnati tri-state region. Users can stay connected with the agency’s latest news, event information, advocacy opportunities, and volunteer opportunities. Alerts4me Alerts4me allows users to stay aware of public notifications from FEMA, The National Weather Service, and the Department of Homeland Security. The application pushes alerts to users that utilize the current GPS location and up to 25 other additional locations specified in the device. The application also includes a traffic function that is integrated with Google Maps. NKU FlashCard NKU FlashCard is an official NKU mobile study tool that allows users to download digital flashcards for courses. The application features a user-friendly design architecture for instructors to easily create card decks for classes. Once cards are created they can be searched for and downloaded to devices for offline access. This application is available in the Android Market and iTunes. iNKU iNKU—first developed by the Center for Applied Informatics and improved by the Office of Information Technology—includes a campus map, trivia game, live audio feeds from NKU radio stations, grades, and class schedules via myNKU integration. It also includes course evaluations, a calendar, the campus directory, and many more features.


Apparently, humans can no longer walk down the street without running into things. All eyes are on our phones, always. The apps have landed, and they’ve taken over. So who are the creators of these mobile apps, and when they take over the world, will they be nice? If they’re anything like College of Informatics students at NKU, who, through our Center for Applied Informatics, created all of the apps you see on this page (and then some), rest assured they will be benevolent overlords. And they will feed us apps, forever. —Brent Donaldson (’05)

Memberscan Memberscan is an easy-to-use barcode scanning tool to reduce the number of reward cards an individual keeps in his or her wallet or purse. The application has a simple interface to allow easy barcode creation from a variety of vendors. Barcodes are ordered by frequency of use to facilitate a quicker, hassle-free experience with favorite vendors. Fire Department Fire Department was first released as a tool for San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District to disseminate information about its services to citizens under its protection. In January 2011, an update was released that is revolutionizing responses to events of sudden cardiac arrest. To learn more about the details of this application visit myTANK myTANK mobile provides on-demand, location-aware bus route information, arrival times, and trip-planning tools for Northern Kentucky. Users can easily plan routes without paper schedules and enjoy the integration of Google Transit. myTANK is only one piece of an extensive project with TANK that includes enabling wireless Internet on select buses, the creation of an alert system, and scalable solutions for an improved transit system. TargetReflex TargetReflex is the first game developed by the Mobile Academy in the College of Informatics’ CAI. It comes with three game modes, tests your reflexes, and integrates with the iPhone’s iOS Game Center. Additionally, the app features seamless Facebook integration.

NORTHERN: You grabbed a fire extinguisher from the cement truck and tried to put out some of the fire as paramedics came to take the woman to the hospital. What was going through your head at that moment? BRULPORT: I was a little freaked out, to be honest with you. I went back over to the lady and saw she was breathing irregularly. We lifted her on to the wood gurney and put her in the ambulance. Then I left. It scared me to death. I didn’t sleep for two days. Dionne Laycock

Real American Hero How one brave rescue became two

On Feb. 9, NKU alumnus and current student Bryan Brulport, 37, of Southgate, was driving back to campus after running errands in Florence. Brulport, who earned an associate degree in business administration in 1995, is back in school working on a bachelor’s in construction management. As he made his way east on I-275, he saw a car crash through the overpass on Taylor Mill Road and land upside down on the highway below. Here’s what happened next. —Ryan Clark (’10) NORTHERN: How did that day start for you? BRULPORT: It started with a workout at NKU, and then I was on my way back to campus to get tutored. I needed some help from the math lab in statistics. I had recently lost my job, and I came back to school for a degree I could possibly use to retire. I was feeling a little down, really, a little useless. So I was coming up 275 back to NKU and I looked way up the hill and I saw a car come off the bridge—I saw it flip upside down, Dukes of Hazzard style, and land on its roof. I saw it all go down right in front of me. A dump truck pulled over, and there were two other people standing around. I pulled over, went across the highway and dialed 911 and asked if everyone was all right. But the people said no; they said there was

NORTHERN: How did you find out if the woman was okay? BRULPORT: I came home and my phone started blowing up with news people calling. My aunt actually works at the hospital where the woman was taken, so I found out the woman had a busted spleen, broken ribs, a broken collarbone, a broken arm. The doctors said she was lucky to be alive. I was able to sneak in and see her—she was still unconscious. In the hospital room her mom was crying and shaking, and she said [to me], ‘Oh, my God. Thank you so much.’ I felt weird. I didn’t do it to get recognized; I didn’t even think about it. It was just reaction. It was adrenaline. NORTHERN: Did you meet her? And what did that mean to you? BRULPORT: Oh, yeah. I met her. It was really cool. Look, this was a strange time in my life. I was looking for some meaning—as I said, I’d lost my job and I was going back to school and I was kind of down a little bit. I didn’t feel very useful. So I was praying a lot, and sometimes you have to be careful what you pray for. Instead of a burning bush I got a burning car. Obviously the woman was very thankful. I walked into her hospital room, and her husband was there. I told them who I was and gave them my number. They called me and sent a card. They were obviously very grateful. To this day it still makes me feel good. I’ll never forget it. To me it was a God thing. I feel like God put me there at the right time and the right place. I just went into automatic mode. I’m not a religious person, but it was a spiritual type of experience. And my life has turned around—I feel a lot better about myself. It was a turning point in my life.

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someone inside and they couldn’t get them out. There was a small engine fire so I went over to the passenger side and punched the back window out and stuck my head in the car. It was starting to fill up with smoke. I saw there was no one in the back but someone was in the front and they were not responding. So I stepped back and kicked in the passenger window like I was kicking a football. I climbed in the car and saw a woman crunched up under the dashboard unconscious. There was blood everywhere, and she looked like a pretzel. I had to get in the car, grab her underneath the shoulders and drag her out. The smoke was starting to choke me and my eyes were burning. Another guy was there and he grabbed her legs. We dragged her a couple feet away and BLAM!—the whole car blew up.





Not going to the Yankees was the best thing that ever happened to Dave Middendorf It was 2 a.m., and the team was in the middle of an 11-hour bus trip, coming home from a game in Arkadelphia, Ark., when David Middendorf had a realization. His teammates were all asleep, or dozing with their headphones on, and he looked around and had one thought. Enjoy it, he thought. Enjoy it because I may never be here again. It wasn’t really supposed to go that way, after all. There was a very good chance that Middendorf, a hardthrowing senior lefthander for the Norse baseball team, could have been in the minor leagues last season. During his junior season last year he was drafted in the 44th round by none other than the New York Yankees. Unfortunately for Middendorf, he was drafted—but not signed. And after some soreness in his elbow forced him to stop pitching for about two weeks, instead of starting off somewhere in the minors, the Yankees told him to go back to his senior year at NKU. “When I got drafted I had a lot of thinking to do,” says Middendorf, a 22-year-old LaSalle High product. “I wanted to get into the system, to show them what I’ve got. I wanted to show them I’m just as good as a Division I player. So I thought I needed to get into the system— that’s the chance I had to take.”


But that would have meant saying goodbye to college baseball, and saying goodbye to some of his goals, like being captain of his senior year squad. And although he is not one to dwell on individual statistics, Middendorf was on pace to break NKU’s career strikeout total. “It would have been hard,” he says of leaving. “I was disappointed, but I’m more of a positive guy.” His choice was made for him—he had to stay. And what a senior year he had. At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, the pitcher earned a slew of honors. He was named captain of the team. He earned first-team All-America honors. He set a new singleseason record for strikeouts at NKU­—127—and he also set the career mark for strikeouts over his four years at 349. For his efforts he was again drafted into the major leagues, this time by the Kansas City Royals in the 22nd round. It was an amazing season. And, just like those long bus rides, he says he enjoyed every minute of it. “I know I need to give it my all, because I’m just one injury or one slip away from my career being over,” Middendorf says. “I just want to enjoy every minute of it.” —RC

This story ran, in part, in The Kentucky Enquirer in spring 2011.


A Debate for the Ages Voices of the White House at NKU While Americans deal with unprecedented levels of political hyper-partisanship in Washington, hundreds of guests had a chance to see, hear, and question Dana Perino, former press secretary for George W. Bush, and Robert Gibbs, former press secretary for Barack Obama, as they debated toe-to-toe at NKU’s annual Alumni Lecture Series in October. Perino and Gibbs sparred over the long-term debt crisis and the general public frustration that’s led to the formation of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. “It’s a fair point to go back over the last decade and say that median household incomes didn’t increase,” Perino said. “But let’s go back and look at why. That’s the question that nobody is answering. Not a single presidential candidate is giving the answers that we all feel we can get behind.” Gibbs aimed a thinly veiled condemnation at Republican leadership by means of a stern warning to the opposition party of the next president. “Let’s have an election, and then let’s play government,” he said. “Let’s not have somebody give an interview one or two months after whoever occupies the White House in 2013 and say, ‘Our job is to make sure that life is hell for this president for the next four years.’ Because that’s not going to address any problem we have from whatever perspective you want to address it.” Both speakers touched on the general public unrest that has resulted in record low approval ratings for the President and Congress. Gibbs noted that the uncertainty is not just an American phenomenon. “It’s not just Occupy Wall Street, and it’s not just the Tea Party,” he said. “The biggest rallies in Israel this year have been about the cost of living. We watched the Arab Spring. There is a frustration and anxiety that is going on in this country and around the world that we haven’t seen in quite some time.” —BD

For a guy who isn’t a fan of professional wrestling and doesn’t happen to be gay, Ryan Clark ’10 has coauthored what may prove to be the definitive book about homosexuality within professional wrestling. But Clark couldn’t have predicted the tragedy that would befall one of the sport’s greatest superstars, Chris Kanyon. Three years ago, Clark was on assignment for The Kentucky Enquirer when Kanyon, who suffered from bipolar disorder and kept his homosexuality secret from almost everyone during the height of his wrestling years, was at NKU giving a speech about the perils of hiding your true identity. The two struck up a conversation about a possible book based on Kanyon’s life, and he and Clark were soon working full steam ahead on the project, conducting interviews over the phone and in person on a weekly basis. Then, shockingly, Kanyon took his own life only weeks before he and Clark were scheduled to finish the book. After speaking with the former superstar’s family and friends, the decision was made to complete the work, and Wrestling Reality—The Life and Mind of Chris Kanyon, Wrestling’s Gay Superstar (ECW Press), is due on bookshelves this November. —BD

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Kanyon Land



THE PHYSICAL SOCIAL STORY: BRENT DONALDSON (’05) Let’s just say it: Amid Griffin Hall’s shining steel and wood and walls of glass that reflect Day-Glo stripes of color, there lives a level of technology almost unheard of in a Midwest university. Think Disneyland’s House of the Future meets NASA’s Mission Control Center filled with students destined to become this nation’s leaders. Put simply, Griffin Hall is a physical manifestation of the Information Age. Inside this building, healthcare workers will learn to use electronic medical records that are vital to the sustainability of our healthcare system. Future business leaders will learn the communication and social media skills that will allow them to meet the needs of a tech-savvy consumer. In custom-designed media labs, journalists will learn to create multiplatN O RT H E R N


L NETWORK form stories for print, broadcast, and the web. Lest we forget, Griffin Hall is also the $53 million brainchild of scores of pioneers in the fields of information technology, communications, art, business, and healthcare. Before Griffin Hall’s grand opening reception that took place in October, Northern Magazine sat down with founding informatics dean DR. DOUGLAS PERRY; interim dean DR. KEVIN KIRBY; associate professor of electronic media and broadcasting and vice chair of communication CHRIS STROBEL; and informatics student JOHN MORGAN to talk about Griffin Hall, the informatics program, and the technological and educational leap that together they represent. Houston, we are go for launch.

IT WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING (IT WILL) IT’S A SOCIAL NETWORK IT’S NOT A MOVIE IT’S A BUZZWORD IT’S A CONCEPT IT’S REAL IT GLOWS! IT’S STARTING IT WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING (IT WILL) NORTHERN: Let’s get this out of the way: There is a certain skepticism from some who say that “informatics” is just another higher-ed buzzword that holds meaning to university faculty but not the general public. So let’s talk about informatics, what it means, and whether the doubters have a point. DOUGLAS PERRY: I wouldn’t say they’re necessarily wrong. That certainly has been part of the challenge that we’ve all experienced—answering the question over and over and over again: What is informatics? What I’ve found that works is giving example after example after example that relate to the person I’m talking with. KEVIN KIRBY: I guess what’s interesting is that five years ago it wasn’t even a buzzword. That’s forward moFA L L 2 0 1 1



ARIANA LOPEZ AGE: 23 Major: Computer Science MINOR: Information Technology, Mathematics GRAD YEAR: 2011 JOB TITLE: Engineering Data Warehouse Performance Leader, General Electric ORIGINALLY I WANTED to do animation, but I felt the market was inundated with people so I finally settled on computer science because not many people enter that field and they will always be needed. I AM IN the Information Management Leadership Program with GE Aviation. They will be training me for two years in four jobs, each six months. Right now I am working in data warehousing. I think my technical skills had a major impact on me being offered the job, because being technical means you have to evolve with the different technologies that are constantly being introduced, [and] that illustrates you have the willingness to adapt and learn. TO BE REALLY SUCCESSFUL, I believe you need not only the technical skills but also the social skills to interact with others. You can only go so far with either of those traits, but when those are combined they are a lethal combination when in the workforce. WHEN PEOPLE HEAR you are a computer science major they think of a nerd that lives and breathes code. This is far from the truth. Yes, there are people who live and breathe code, but there are many of us who would rather be socializing and hanging out with our friends, too.


tion, if it becomes that. It’s a word we need now, in the 21st century, because we’re organizing things differently, thinking about things differently. The digital world is motivating that, but it’s the information—as in journalism, information dissemination, information analysis, information processing in computer science, business intelligence, and so on. We need an umbrella term. It’s not information technology. That’s the interesting thing about this college— we want it to go beyond a narrow IT perspective. So then, what do you call that? You call that informatics. It is awkward to define in an elevator, but then ask a dean of a science college to define science in an elevator. NORTHERN: But it’s a bit untested, isn’t it? We’ve heard that NKU is one of only six universities in the country to have a comprehensive informatics program. How—and why—did NKU decide to focus its time and resources on this field? DP: We were nimble enough and able to do it. It was the vision of the president, the vision of the provost, the vision of key faculty members who were here before I was here. They started thinking about this and putting it together. That’s how it happened. NORTHERN: On Dr. Perry’s point, can anyone comment on when the ball started rolling? DP: Was it ’04 or ’05? KK: The college was created in 2005, but the initial discussions were triggered by a study commissioned by the university about what areas

we should build out. We thought about having a statistics department in the college, because that’s information in some way. That didn’t happen. A big change came when communications became part of the college. That, more than anything in terms of structure, broke us out of the narrow IT mold because they brought over not only new media like electronic media and broadcasting but also journalism, communication studies, PR, and that opened it wide to be something truly innovative. CHRIS STROBEL: I think that really did. When communications was added, we started talking about the part that’s most obvious: the media part. But then it was like, “Is it just the media, or is it everything?” And that was a long discussion about how we see informatics and what our flavor is here. We think we’ve got it right because we were able to start with the question of “What really should [informatics] be?” DP: These are three very different departments with different histories—long histories that are well established with different cultures. But key people got together at a table and met regularly and asked, “Who are we? What do we do? What do we think informatics is and how do we fit into it, and where do we want to go?” We spent many, many, many months asking and answering these questions. And then we came up with a functional specification document that was used to put out bids for architects for this building. So the heart and soul of what this building


Just inside the entrance to Griffin Hall’s east front—the building’s main entrance—an open lobby features a series of risers located just outside the two-story George and Ellen Rieveschl Digitorium. The risers, which contain multiple electrical outlets for portable electronic devices, are part of a contiguous area known as the Eva G. and Oakley Farris Commons that also includes the digitorium, an espresso bar, and research flex space.

is precedes the building. NORTHERN: Dr. Perry mentioned the “blue-sky” dreaming that took place in the early discussions. Let’s talk about some of the components or aspects of Griffin Hall that began that way, as “It would be so cool if we could do this”-sorts of ideas that manifested themselves within Griffin Hall. [ALL]: Sure! KK: Spin the bottle! One overarching thing, separate from any particular feature of the building, is the overall impression of having a dynamic, organic, social building. Just like in the design of the college itself, of how we tried to get away from this IT stereotype that’s all about a geek at a cubicle writing code or configuring a router. Informatics now is social. When you think of social networking, or even the movie The Social Network, you think of the interactions with media. This is informatics in a broad way. It is out in the open; it’s organic; it’s growing; it’s social. That’s why when you walk into Griffin Hall you see a wide-open space with people that sit on risers by the steps or on a sofa or in these sunlit rooms. There’s sunlight, a green roof, lots of wood—from your

first second in the building that immediately says, “This is not some IT college.” It’s a modern, 21st-century view of social, dynamic informatics. NORTHERN: And these were aspects of Griffin Hall that were thought of in an ideal-world view? KK: In the brainstorming sessions that Dean Perry was talking about, that was clear. And when the architects from Boston were sitting around the table, that’s what we told them, and they clearly got it. CS: That was a big part of why this design was selected. The obvious example is the digitorium. We were asking, “How can we best envision this multidiscipline aspect of informatics, where it’s a flexible space, where it can be a theater, or it can be a network operations center, or it can be a large lecture hall where you can have breakout sessions in the opera boxes?” One idea is the cyber security competitions, where you’ve got computers and students in an opera box on one side defending against students who are launching viruses from their computers on another side, and in the center you can see what’s happening on the screen. So there’s the media aspect; there’s the performance aspect. FA L L 2 0 1 1



KK: The digitorium is a little bit like our own holodeck. DP: And the newsroom! It wasn’t going to be just like a journalism workspace. We had to work with creating a convergence newsroom. Why? Because of the convergence of information through all of the things that can go on in there. Like informatics itself, there was an impetus to coin words, but not as buzzwords or taglines or something like that, but because we’re doing things in a new way, and they have new concepts— KK: And we needed some funky new words for that. Digitorium. Collaboratory. I think it demonstrates that you’re ahead of the curve when you have to invent your own lexicon. NORTHERN: So let’s talk about reality for a moment, about what people will see when Griffin Hall is going full tilt and is full of students. JOHN MORGAN: Communication. That’s the whole idea. The thing I’m most happy about is that we’re not going to be split in half. We’re not going to be both in Landrum and ST [Applied Science and Technology Center]. We’re like-minded people who are all going to be in one place. We’re going to be able to work with each other and form new ideas based on that. A social network in a physical form, basically. DP: Computer science and IT majors, journalists, visually creative people, the storytellers, the business informatics folks, health informatics folks, they’ll all be in this creative soup— KK: And that’s so important. You mentioned that the communication is not split in half. In the colN O RT H E R N

lege it’s not split in thirds anymore with three departments. You’ll see that. Even the faculty offices are all interleaved. There’s no communication wing, computer science wing, or business informatics wing. The faculty offices are all together. NORTHERN: OK, softball question down the middle of the plate: Where does Griffin Hall and the College of Informatics place NKU in terms of the cross training between technology, art, business, and healthcare, as compared with other regional universities? DP: How do you even begin without sounding like we’re just...? NORTHERN: That’s OK. This is where you’re allowed to brag. JM: I can answer; I’m a student—I don’t think I can get fired for this. We are the best. I was looking at going to film school, and now there’s no need for that. The only advantage I’d have, if I went to the right one, is maybe contacts in the industry. But I can get that here, too. But the stuff that we create here, at least visually, is at least up to par with big-name schools like the Vancouver Film School and places like that. It’s all about what you put into it. I want to work on movies, so I’ve combined two majors essentially to make [my degree] do what I want. KK: There are interesting programs with some interesting spaces, but there’s nothing like the integration you see here. What’s interesting is that we’re taking concepts that you might see at a Carnegie Mellon University or MIT’s Media Lab, and we’re translating them here and planting them here at a metropolitan

university and giving students in our region extraordinary opportunities. DP: And then to drop other names, I visited the David Letterman building at Ball State University, which is a very cool building, and it does all kinds of great things. But Griffin Hall, when we get all of the equipment up and running, will truly leapfrog what that building has. KK: And Doug mentioned the Center for Applied Informatics; maybe that’s worth mentioning in conjunction with your question—what will people see when the building is up to full speed and there are students walking through? I mean, you go in the lobby; you’ll see students sitting around, their laptops or tablets open, [socializing], but they’re also working on projects, undergraduate research, working for student media, maybe The Northerner. But then you walk up to the third floor and around the


View from the Macy’s Digital Media Lab.

corner and into the Center for Applied Informatics, and there they are writing iPhone and Android apps and developing websites. They’re often getting co-op credit for that; they’re getting paid for contract work with local companies, so you’ll see that— work, learning, and play—all in the same building. NORTHERN: While I was getting a tour of Griffin Hall, I heard lots of people saying “coooool” over and over again as different features of the building were being pointed out. What’s your favorite aspect or component of GH? KK: Certainly the space, the light, the room for social interaction is great. But I would also say the whole understanding of what a “lab” is, is different. We’ve broken away from a traditional computer lab where you might expect to see a corridor of labs with monitors and desktop

computers going on and on down the corridor one after another. It reflects the modern reality of informatics in the scale of the screens—so much is going on in this building where you’re developing for the screen of a tablet or a phone—students writing Android apps, for example. Then you cross the hall and they’re writing code for a screen that’s two stories tall, the size of the digitorium. NORTHERN: All right, one last question. I was hoping to talk a little about the different responsibilities of the professionals that will emerge from this building and from its programs—the sort of Frankenstudents of the future. What ranges of skills will the journalist or programmer or PR professional need? JM: Everything. I’m learning how to program, and I’m learning the web aspects of that. I’m learning design. I’m into films, so I’m learning better

AGE: 25 MAJOR: Computer Science MINOR: Computer Information Technology, Mathematics GRAD YEAR: Fall 2012 I CHOSE COMPUTER SCIENCE because I love the endless potential and diversity of working with computers. The field is always changing and can be as challenging as you want it to be. It is relevant to the future of our economy because the computer industry is involved in every level of it. A well-developed program can make a company more efficient and profitable while a badly developed program can ruin one. GRIFFIN HALL WILL definitely impact my studies, because having the mostcurrent equipment at hand is essential to studying anything in the computer industry since it is always changing. Without the cutting-edge technology, it is easy to get left behind. I BELIEVE THAT it takes a person with a love of technology and a desire to learn new things to be successful in the field. Since the industry is always changing, it requires the people working in it to be willing to change also. ONE OF THE stereotypes that I feel is wrong is that you have to be extremely smart to work with computers. It just takes the desire to learn and patience. Also, women love computers just as much as men! THE COOLEST THING I’ve done at NKU so far has been meeting other people who are interested in pursuing the same type of career I am and who I can look to for guidance. I have had great experiences that I will carry with me for the rest of my life!

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JOYCE GRIFFIN, former member of the NKU Board of Regents I was on the board when the idea of a College of Informatics came up and Dr. Perry gave a presentation at one of our meetings. Of course, it sounded like he was talking in French to me because it was so high tech, but the general idea just made me think that that’s what the future of our world is going to be—the gathering of all this information and how to use it. I thought, “What a brilliant idea.” BOB GRIFFIN, president, Griffin Industries When I think about the excitement of Griffin Hall and the College of Informatics, I think back to three years ago when I received a phone call from Dr. Votruba requesting a meeting to discuss an opportunity the Griffin family may be interested in. I knew right off the bat that when Dr. Votruba called, he wasn’t just checking to see how I was feeling that day. DENNIS GRIFFIN, former president, Griffin Industries [My wife Joyce and I] had a chance to meet for breakfast with Dr. Jim Votruba at Bob Evans, just down the street from our office. I asked him about [the College of Informatics], and he said yes, it was developing, and he was ready to hire someone to start out with it. By that time, I’d talked to my brothers about doing something with NKU, and that was the start of it. What they were doing was truly unique. We made a decision to make a donation, and Jim said, “Well, being as you’re going to be the first one, why don’t we name it Griffin Hall?” And so that’s how it all got started. JOYCE GRIFFIN I am really, really proud for our family to be able to lend our name to that building and to be a part of our country’s development. It’s just amazing to me that we have something like this available for kids close by to be able to take advantage of and to make a contribution to our world. DENNIS GRIFFIN We thought long and hard about having it named Griffin Hall because we’re kind of a low-profile company as a whole. But I’ve got brothers and we’ve got grandkids who’ve graduated from NKU. With the new healthcare laws starting, I think informatics is going to be one of our more popular places. All of the information that all of the hospitals and doctors work with is all on a computer, and I’m telling you the timing is perfect. I would bet you in the next 10 years we will see major expansion, and it won’t be long before they use every square inch of the building. N O RT H E R N



visual techniques to achieve what I want. I’m learning the special effects side of it. I know how to edit and I’m a better writer because of the journalism I’m doing. I’m going to be able to do anything related to technology that I want so that I can go get a job wherever it may be. KK: But the second level is what you were talking about—these interesting combinations that you didn’t get a chance to see together—media and computing. Computer scientists need to think about interfaces, human-factor issues, and moving into communications issues is essential. We could see scholarships, for example, that reward the journalism major [who is] minoring in computer science or vice versa, to take advantage of this space in maximal ways. Dean Perry and I’ve both talked to employers in the area who are clearly in need of that. DP: I can give another example—public relations. It isn’t my field, but PR—not only is it all about the digital world and what they’re doing with the digital world, but also the tools that PR professionals have, the analytical tools that they have to study penetrations, impact, following threads of stories they’ve created. That’s just one example. Health informatics, the health professionals that come in here and learn about electronic medical records. I could go on and on and on. Maybe it’s just me, but I predict that the number of students we have in this college, which is already pretty decent—about nine percent of the total student body of the university—I think it’ll double in two years. The building itself will be a Pied Piper for students.

(Above, from top down): A student walks past the R.C. Durr Graduate Seminar Suite; the Macy’s Digital Media Lab, encased partially in glass, features 21 top-of-the-line MacPro workstations; a rooftop garden covers 23 percent of the building’s roof area; the Scripps News Laboratory has been called a “convergence” newsroom because of the multimedia platforms contained within; President Votruba is joined by members of the Griffin family and other NKU patrons as they partake in the “wire cutting” on the building’s dedication day. (Above right): The George and Ellen Rieveschl Digitorium glows from within; students study and lounge in the Eva G. and Oakley Farris Commons. FA L L 2 0 1 1









apartment has the accoutrements of someone with creative energies. There’s the antique diving suit helmet. Two black cats. The framed pictures of local cityscapes and naked people that he painted. Humanities books. And lots (and lots) of Conan the Barbarian comics. “Conan’s my hero,” says Maydak, painter, teacher, and self-described “failed comic book artist.” The 29-year-old, who lives in Covington, Ky., and completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at NKU, is actually anything but a failed artist. In addition to his parttime teaching job at Cincinnati State, Maydak’s original works of art are how he pays the bills—a claim very, very few artists can make. The self-deprecating “failed” moniker doesn’t make much sense, either. Maydak’s last foray into comics was 1782: The Year of Blood, published by Bluewater Productions in 2008, about a year after the company published his seaside series The Blackbeard Legacy. Before that, his Slimbone comic strip was published in NKU’s student newspaper, The Northerner. It’s a Saturday morning and we’re sitting in his studio, a small room in the corner of his second-story apartment. He was finishing up a “fan art” painting of a certain school that trains wizards (that’s the only hint we’ll give you).


As I look at this painting and your other work, I’m starting to get a sense of what your artistic style is, but I’ll ask you anyway… I do these sketches of places and people in a comic book style. People really like that they recognize a building or something and it’s twisted into this exaggerated comic book style. My joke is “I’m a failed comic book artist and I had to apply it to something.” With a comic book, you put a ton of work into it and it’s really small, but when you slap it on a canvas real big, people start paying attention to it. A painting is more like an object. BROADWAY & 28TH

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I was interested in doing comics, and one (visual art) professor at the time knew I was really interested, and he said he wouldn’t get in my way. I knew I wanted to go in that direction, and my education complemented that. I had drawing classes and open studios. Figure drawing and gesture drawing helped increase my speed. One aspect of drawing that I like is visual problemsolving, thinking out a problem on paper. It’s like brainstorming with some drawings and some imagery. Drawing is a process. It’s funny, even with comic book stories, I really don’t know what I want until I sketch it out. It almost comes to life.

The muse comes out when you start drawing? Yeah, you start reacting to your drawings, so your imagination starts to create other things with it. See (points to a sketch), this is a Native American, and wouldn’t it be cool if he was a werewolf?


SO WHAT IS MIKE MAYDAK’S WORK SCHEDULE IN TERMS OF PAINTING AND CREATING? I can get pretty lazy (laughs). I do a lot of shows, so when I get into a show schedule, I don’t have a lot of time to paint. Maybe a day or two to knock out some paintings. But you also have to pay your bills, clean your apartment and other things. Especially during the show schedule, I get some sketching done, but it takes a few days to get into the groove of painting.




S U MFA M ELR L 2011

YOU’VE CALLED YOURSELF A FAILED COMIC BOOK ARTIST. ARE YOU STILL INTERESTED IN CREATING COMICS? Oh yeah, if I’m feeling burnt out on painting, I’ll just make love to my sketchbook and work on comic ideas! I’m working on some projects and I would like to see them as comics, but my paintings prevent me from working on comics. I love comics, but I don’t work on them sensibly. I like painting—I don’t love painting—but it’s easier to have a business model, and it’s a little more efficient.

It’s easier to control a painting?


Well, you let it do what it does, so it’s almost like I have less control. I slap the paint on the canvas and just see what it looks like. I have a bag of tricks, and I can manipulate it in some ways, but there’s a certain energy about it I can’t control. It’d be interesting to show how what I’ve learned from this works into my next comics project. If I work on another comics project, it won’t be so serious— maybe a little more kitsch.

HOW MANY SHOWS DO YOU DO A YEAR? I think 20, maybe 25? Sometimes I set up at shows in another city, or I have a gallery show. You need cash flows for gallery shows, but there’s something about being at a show as an artist. There’s a term for it—point of sale. You build a lot of relationships. I sign my name as Maydak. Who cares if my name is Mike? These cartoon houses and things are my brand. It’s funny how around Christmastime a lot of orders come in. TANK #5


I just subscribed to National Geographic, and I read certain comic books. There are a lot of good comics in Vertigo (imprint of DC Comics). Northlanders. American Vampire. I recently read a slew of Cormac McCarthy books. I really like authors with sentence structures that are very short and non-descriptive. He’s very open with that type of style. Maybe that’s what I’ve learned from painting. I don’t need to fill in all the details. People’s imaginations will come with the story.


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Some people take half a lifetime to find their calling. Others are 12 years old when they decide that someday they’ll run for governor. Lawyer-turned-business entrepreneur Candace Klein—a two-time cancer survivor—fits in that second camp, and to meet her is to believe she’ll follow through. Klein, who earned multiple degrees from NKU (including her Chase law degree), started her own nonprofit business last year and hasn’t looked back. Though she practices at Cincinnati law firm Ulmer & Berne, LLP, it’s Klein’s micro-lending business, Bad Girl Ventures, that has become a full-time job (and then some). Klein’s also secured funding for a new venture, SoMoLend—a “highly localized web and mobile based peer-to-peer lending technology.” Here Klein talks about entrepreneurs, bad girls, and what it’s like to live life running 100 miles an hour.


D O O G G N I MAK D A B e ith th ein’s w

e Kl c a d n a C world, e h t g n changi ne woman o e at a tim ) O RENT D STORY: B



N (’05

-NORTHERN: First, some background, please. How did you come up with the idea for Bad Girl Ventures? -KLEIN: I was practicing corporate law for Greenebaum Doll & McDonald, and all of my clients were women-owned businesses at the time. I was laid off in 2008–09, and all of my clients came with me. Because I was laid off, they were very open with me and were saying that they were having trouble getting financing. So I studied all of the different ways to get financing to them, hoping that I could just find someone else. There wasn’t anyone else who provided training and financing who focused on women-owned businesses. So I launched Bad Girl Ventures as a way of getting money into the hands of my legal clients. -NORTHERN: In one of the videos on your website you talk about a woman who helped you through law school. -KLEIN: There were two motivating factors for BGV. One is my mom. She had me very young and worked

very hard when I was a kid. She’s now at Procter & Gamble, without a college education, and she worked her way up the hard way. She’s amazing. My second big influence in my life is Alice Sparks, who was on the Board of Regents at NKU when I was there as an undergrad. I met her in 2003 and told her my life story. She asked what I wanted to do with my life, and I said I wanted to change the world, and she said that she’d pay for me to go to law school. Alice spent thousands of dollars on my law school education, and when I asked her how I could ever repay her, she said “Find a way to invest in women.” -NORTHERN: OK, so why the name? Why call it Bad Girl Ventures? -KLEIN: When I was launching BGV, I launched it at Ignite Cincinnati, and you’re not allowed to pick a business at Ignite, so I made my presentation about The Bad Girl’s Guide to Getting What You Want, which is a book I’d read in college that taught women how to be women in today’s world. How to get out of doing the stuff girls get stuck doing—taking minutes at meetings, making copies for your boss, those kinds of things. I said that sometimes you don’t have a boss who will let you get away with the stuff I’m telling you to do, and if that’s true, then quit your job and start your own business. I’m starting mine, and it’s called Bad Girl Ventures, and it’s based on that book. Bad girls are bold, brave, and willing to take risks and fight for what they believe in. Not every woman can be a successful business owner, and not every woman is a bad girl. -NORTHERN: So how do your loans work? What are the requirements? -KLEIN: We offer $25,000 verylow-interest loans. In order to be eligible, a business has to be 51 percent owned and controlled by a woman, and the woman has to have a personal credit score above 550. But that woman has to complete an eight-week curriculum where we teach her how to draft her business

plan, her marketing plan. We teach her legal structuring, and Chase law students provide free legal services to these women. We teach accounting from startup to cash flow, pricing the product or service, and there’s homework every week. They have to turn in a business plan, a marketing plan, a financial statement, and an SBA loan application. By the time they graduate, they could probably go out and get a traditional loan because we’ve helped them package themselves appropriately, and that’s kind of the goal. -NORTHERN: What’s your favorite BGV client success story? -KLEIN: There are so many, but I’ll tell you the most recent one, Robin Gentry. Robin Gentry was a four-star chef in Dayton, Ohio. Her father had a severe head injury and was sent to hospice in her home. So she got home from work one night and was feeding him through a feeding tube with formula, and she recognized that it was high in sugar and it was making her dad aggressive. She said, “Oh, my gosh. I’m killing my own father.” And so she went to bed that night and said, “I refuse to feed total strangers better than I’m feeding my own father in his dying days.” So she quit her job at the restaurant, got her master’s in holistic healing, and designed an entire line of feeding tube formulas for her father’s symptoms. She extended his life by three years. She came to BGV with nothing but a recipe, and an article that had been written about her in the newspaper. Eight weeks later, after entering our program, she had a 70-page business plan; she had been endorsed by the Block Cancer Research Center in Chicago; she had a co-packing agreement with Dorothy Lane Markets; and her product just hit the market on June 1 as a competitor to Ensure. That gives me chills. What amazing progress in eight weeks. -NORTHERN: Let’s address the obvious: Why is it harder for women to

get loans than men? -KLEIN: I think that women have a fear of debt. They don’t understand what business debt is, so they automatically turn to what they do know—their personal credit cards and their home equity line of credit. But by doing that, they screw themselves because by maxing those out, they screw up their FICA score—their credit score—and then they become ineligible for a business loan. -NORTHERN: Hearing your story and about your drive and accomplishments, it sounds like the story of someone who’s quite ambitious. Do you have ambitions outside of your current work? Are you interested in politics? -KLEIN: Yep. I don’t think of myself as ambitious. I think of myself as having a fire in my belly. But I do have goals, and when I met Alice Sparks and she asked me what my plan was to change the world, she said, specifically, “How are you going to do that?” I said, “Well, I have a plan. First, I’m going to understand the law. Second, I’m going to run a successful business, and third, I will run for governor in 2027.” -NORTHERN: OK, so why choose NKU, and what made you come back? -KLEIN: First of all, my professors from NKU are still personal friends of mine and have taken a personal interest in my success. Second, because of my connections at NKU, doors have been opened to me in the Greater Cincinnati community that wouldn’t have been opened to me if I’d come from an out-of-town school. Third, there is something very magical about NKU. I go back all the time. I teach classes now, and there is just a sense of pride that comes from the faculty and from the students and everyone on the campus—not only for NKU but for our region. I think that because of NKU I’ve become a civic servant and probably would not have been that way if I had not gone to NKU. FA L L 2 0 1 1




ALUMNI JOURNAL Gatherings Fall Reflections During the fall season, it’s impossible to be at NKU and not be swept along with the excitement of a new college year. But as the parent of a first-time college student, I can tell you firsthand that watching your own child leave the nest can be a bittersweet experience. This year, my oldest child, Dane, headed off to college. Most of us can recall the first friend we had on campus, the dorm room and the smell of ramen noodles that someone always seems to be cooking, or just the feelings we had as we first experienced life away from home. I know each and every one of you has a great story about your experience as an NKU student, and we would love to hear them. As always, please feel free to contact us and share your memories. As we begin this school year, our office has just completed a very successful retreat with the 24-member alumni council—our all-volunteer board who works to provide opportunities to you as a graduate of NKU. The many hours the council devotes to the university as the voice of more than 50,000 alumni are commendable, and I would like to personally thank all of the current and past board members for their continued support of NKU. You should be proud of your tremendous impact on the success of the university. If you’d like to become involved, we are always looking for great volunteers, so drop me a note and let me know how you’d like to assist your university. As you can see on these pages, our alumni events are getting bigger and better each year. We have some big events coming up, including our annual chili cook-off and Homecoming celebration January 21. I hope to see you there—stop me and say hello!





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







1. NKU alumni, family, and friends at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., for a day at the races. 2. Carrie Judd ’99, ’07, and son Dylan, NKU freshman, visit the NKU Alumni Association tent at a Florence Freedom game. 3. NKU alumni and family gather at a Columbus Clippers game in late July. 4. Alumni Programs director Deidra Fajack, alumni Sean L. Donnelly and Christopher J. Yungbluth, and major gift officer for NKU Development Dan Emsicke at an NKU alumni dinner in Chicago. 5. Cincinnati Clear Channel AM promotion director Sherry Rowland, NKU alumni council member Crystal Kendrick, and Gena Bell pose with former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs at the Alumni Lecture Series reception. 6. Brian Personett with former White House press secretary Dana Perino at the ALS reception. 7. Larry Roth, Karen Roth, Susie Nowling (’93), Harold Nowling (’91), Nancy Malan, and Wayne Malan show off a copy of Northern Magazine while aboard an Alaskan cruise ship. This and other international vacations are part of the NKU Alumni Travel Program sponsored by the Alumni Association. 8. President Votruba and Vice President for University Advancement Gerard St. Amand join NKU alumni and staff for an event at Maggiano’s Little Italy in Atlanta. FA L L 2 0 1 1



CLASS NOTES 1978 Sheri Rolf (biological science) authored a paper, “Developing an Anatomically Sound Hand Position for Playing the Clarinet,” that was selected as a finalist in the International Clarinet Association 2011 Research Competition. She will be presenting the paper at the International Clarinet Association ClarFest in Los Angeles in August. Sheri has also been selected to play clarinet in the World Civic Orchestra.

1981 Tom Groeschen (journalism) has been a full-time sports reporter at The Cincinnati Enquirer since 1982. He has won several awards, including national Top 10 recognition by the Associated Press Sports Editors in 2010. Tom’s National APSE honor was in the Project Reporting category on the topic of football concussions. Tom and his wife, Lynda, have three children.

1985 Dave Faeth (accounting) has been promoted to vice president at Great American Insurance Group, where he has worked his entire career. Faeth’s responsibilities include analysis of acquisition and divestiture business opportunities and serving on the steering committees for enterprise risk management and enterprise-wide SarbanesOxley compliance.

1986 Steve Brokamp (marketing) was recently named interim principal at the School for Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati. SCPA is the only K-12 public performing arts school in the country. Steve’s father, Ray, was a former superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools, and his brother Jeff is principal at Walnut Hills High School.



Peak Performance HI-DIDDLE-DEE-DEE, AN ACTOR’S LIFE FOR SHE Most nights, Sarah Peak prepares for her wedding. A princess pining for her Prince Charming, she waits, trapped in a tower guarded by a long-lashed dragon. When he arrives, she morphs into a dancing duck. Such is the life of the 2006 musical theater graduate, who plays the dual role of Teen Fiona and the Ugly Duckling in the Broadway national tour of Shrek: The Musical. It is a dream job that brings her closer to her ultimate goal—starring on Broadway. “Shrek is the biggest thing I have ever been in,” Peak says. “I am so glad to be a part of it, and I have enjoyed every minute of it.” When Peak left NKU, she moved to

New York City and worked in regional and children’s theater. Before long she was cast as Holly and chosen as the dance captain in the first national tour of The Wedding Singer. Peak’s success did not surprise her former director and NKU professor Ken Jones, who attributes her success to raw talent “backed by an unwavering work ethic.” Jones may have been referring to Peak’s 3.9 grade-point average she maintained while starring


in numerous shows, working as a nanny and theater department secretary, choreographing musicals, and fulfilling her scholarship community-service obligations. “Sarah took NKU by storm,” Jones says. “Her dance skills got her noticed, but her warmth and personality made her a departmental star. None of the directors at NKU even considered doing a musical without her, and whenever possible they wanted her to choreograph their shows.” Peak’s skills also caught the eye of the Shrek national tour directors. She originally auditioned for the Broadway production. A year later, when the directors were casting the national tour, they pulled Peak’s file. Starting in May 2010, the cast began rehearsing the show. For six weeks, they learned the steps and songs in New York and then relocated to Chicago for two weeks of intense dress rehearsals. “I grew

up dancing, so that is what comes most naturally to me,” Peak says. “Putting the singing and dancing together can be tough. You have to build your stamina. It takes a lot of rehearsal, and you just breathe really deeply.” While touring the open road has been transformative for Peak, it has its lonely moments for the 27-year-old, who will wed her own real-life Prince Charming in September. She and Mark Raumaker, now touring in 9 to 5: The Musical, met on The Wedding Singer. They’re eloping via separate tour buses, as it were. “With Skype, you can keep in touch,” Peak says. “You have to make it work and stay in touch with the important people, the people back home, because they keep you grounded.” They also keep her nervous. The only time Peak stresses about her performance is when she knows someone in the audience. This year, she played in her hometown of Louisville, Ky., and in her college town, Cincinnati, in front of Ken Jones. “Ken Jones was one of my favorite teachers and a great mentor to me,” Peak says. “He built my confidence and gave me a lot of experience by casting me in a lot of shows. He is always in the back of my mind when I am performing.” Of course, part of the “performing life” involves growing the proverbial thick skin, something her NKU professors told her was vital for surviving the competitive acting world. She also relies on the support of her parents, who, she said, are even more excited when she gets a job than she is. “Constantly auditioning can wear you down,” Peak admits. “That aspect of the business is harder than acting. It is a learning process, but I am enjoying what I am doing and living in the moment.” For now, that means performing at night and using her days to flip through bridal magazines with Princess Fiona (the real-life Haven Burton), who married Peter Pan (Denny Paschall) June 25. Peak is, after all, planning her own wedding fit for a princess. “I don’t think I’ll burst into song, but there will be lots of dancing.” —Molly Williamson

Cynthia L. Verst (biology) is the new global head of late-phase operations for Quintiles—the only fully integrated biopharmaceutical services company offering clinical, commercial, consulting and capital solutions worldwide. The company is located in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

1993 Amber Decker (journalism) has been named the New Horizons outstanding administrator in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. Amber currently serves as the director of grants and contracts at Gateway Community and Technical College in Northern Kentucky and was nominated by her peers for excellence in her role in charge of grants and contracts.

1997 Gary Ruschman (voice, outstanding graduate in music) recently sang solos in the world premiere of Nico Muhly’s new oratorio Luminous Body with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and debuted with the international baroque ensemble Consortium Carissimi. Gary also just released a new holiday album with Cantus (, his ninth with the ensemble, which features two of his choral arrangements. A mixed-voice version of his Run On (God’s Gonna Cut You Down) was commissioned and recorded by the South Dakota Chorale this summer, and the male voice version will be performed by the men’s ensemble at Wartburg College.

1999 Chris Huening (Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Music Education) and Kristyn (Chase 2008) were married in March 2010 and are expecting their first child in October 2011.

2001 Gina Hemsath Bath (radio/television) recently married Denny Bath. Gina is the program coordinator in the Office of Alumni Programs at NKU. Four NKU alumni celebrated her wedding with her and can be seen in this picture. Erin PatFA L L 2 0 1 1



terson Meyer ’01, Amy Hacker Meyer ’93, Gina Hemsath Bath ’01, Jessica Martini Johnston ’99, Tiffany Siemen Hemsath ’05. Ann (Holstein) Boyer (communications) and husband, David, of Ft. Wright announced the birth of their beautiful baby girl, Alexa Marie, March 11.


Kelly Ramsey Chirumbolo (speech) is the new program manager in alumni and external affairs for the colleges of allied health science and nursing and the James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy at the University of Cincinnati Foundation. Kelly is married to Mike Chirumbolo ’01.


2003 Brandi Buchenau (political science and law) has joined the Dayton-based law firm of Joseph C. Lucas and Associates, LLC, as the firm’s anchor for the new Cincinnati office. Lucas is expanding into the Cincinnati market and will use Brandi’s background in property management to practice in the areas of real estate, small business, probate, and estate planning.

2004 Mark Nadobny (Master of Arts in secondary education social studies) was recently awarded a two-week study-abroad scholarship with the Goethe-Institute Transatlantic Outreach Program to Germany. The objective of the study tour is to travel to Germany and experience what Germany is today.

2005 Andrew Kennedy (speech-communication-radio) became a TV news reporter for two years following an internship with WCPO in Cincinnati. He then was in Yakima, Wash., at KNDO and later in Evansville, Ind., at WEHT news. Currently Andrew is a marketing multimedia specialist for Cincinnati-based Total Quality Logistics. Grace Vander Laan and her husband, Chris, welcomed their first daughter to the world February 11. Chris and Grace moved to the Northern Kentucky area in February 2009. Grace is currently completing her Master of Science in human resource development at Xavier University. N O RT H E R N


NOTABLE NORSE Dave Waite (’01) has made a joke of his NKU education. Lots of them, actually. And you can hear them all on Waite’s first comedy album Kaboom, set for release on Stand-Up Records early this fall. As a nationally touring stand-up comedian, Waite draws heavily on the skills and experiences he gained at NKU—first as a theatre major, then as a graduate with a degree in geography. “I’m performing live, and I actually have some jokes about geography, so I did sort of combine the two,” Waite says. “When I chose geography, I didn’t realize the world was already mapped out.” After starting his comedy career in Cincinnati a few years ago, Waite has put those maps to good use by working clubs throughout the Midwest. “You can always tell how good a comedy club is by how many comedians are hanging out there,” Waite says, “and Go Bananas (in Cincinnati) is one of the best in the country.” Waite’s career has been on the rise since making his TV debut in 2009 when he taped an episode of Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham. The next step for Waite was Kaboom, his debut album, which had Waite collaborating with Grammywinning producer Dan Schissel. “I think people will really dig it,” Waite says. “It has a good energy, and a friend of mine did the artwork. I feel good releasing it. I’ll feel even better if it gets some good reviews.” Of course, unless it’s the early 1980s and your name is Eddie Murphy, comedy albums aren’t going to make you rich and famous. That’s especially true if you’re from the Midwest, which is why the logical next step in Waite’s career was a move to The City. “I feel like you can get only so far in the Midwest before you hit a glass ceiling and have to make a move,” he says. “There are more opportunities for me in New York. Now my goals are to headline clubs across the country and do more TV.” (By the way, TV execs, Waite wants you to know that he isn’t particularly...choosy. “Basically, if someone wants me to do something, I’ll do it,” he says.) National television, touring the country, releasing a comedy album—it’s all a long way from Waite’s old job as a substitute teacher. While it didn’t last long, his teaching gig—backup teaching gig—offered plenty of joke fodder. To wit: “My kids would come up to me and say, ‘Mr. Waite, you’re going to die from smoking!’” he says. “I’d reply, ‘No, Timmy, more like drinking!’” All jokes aside, Waite talks freely about his fond memories of being at NKU and has no regrets about his path. “Comedy has afforded me the opportunity to meet amazing people and travel the country. It’s a wild life, and every day is an adventure. Even when stand-up is bad, it still beats working in a regular job.” —Mark Chalifoux

Get info about Waite and his debut album, Kaboom, at

2008 David Johnson (Master of Public Administration) was promoted to lieutenant in the Cincinnati Police department July 6. Lt. Johnson began a career in law enforcement following his father, who was an auxiliary officer with the Fairfax County Police Department. Johnson is married to Jessica Martini Johnson ’99, and the couple has a daughter, Kaitlyn.



2009 Gageby Hill (Hillie) Gaither (master’s in counseling) has accepted a position with Catholic Health Partners as application coordinator implementing the inpatient Epic applications. This application allows doctors to electronically chart patient information, and Hillie will be part of the training team. Parker LaBoiteaux (leadership) recently accepted a position at PublicSchoolWORKS as a customer support representative. PublicSchoolWORKS is the only comprehensive, fully automated risk management system for public schools. He joins four other NKU alumni at PublicSchoolWORKS. Kevin Wood (mathematics) has recently joined the Bethesda Foundation at the Bethesda North Hospital as a systems administrator. The foundation supports the work of the hospital. Kevin is married to Joy Feichtner Wood ’09 and is the father of Hailey.

2010 Brett Benton (criminal justice), a Richmond, Ky., native, was killed in Afghanistan where he was helping the troubled nation establish a police force. Benton, a former police officer for Kenton County and Nicholasville, was working for a private contractor in Afghanistan. He had planned to return to Richmond after working in Afghanistan. His funeral services were held June 8 in Richmond.

Graphic Adaptations DAVID MACK IS ON YOUR SYLLABUS A young former government and media operative, scarred physically and psychologically by her work, embarks on a new life. She steps out of the shadows of espionage determined to fulfill her dreams and change the world for the better. When told through an exquisite mix of collage, graphic design, and painting, it’s the kind of story any college student could relate to—a graphic novel that chronicles the philosophy and principles of self-transformation. And it just happens to be the product of one of NKU’s most celebrated artists and writers, David Mack. Kabuki: The Alchemy, a New York Times bestseller, is part of NKU’s 2011 Book Connection program, a common reading experience for first-year students. A 1995 graduate, Mack is the writer and artist of Daredevil (Marvel Comics), Dexter: Early Cuts (Showtime), and graphic adaptations of Phillip K. Dick’s short story Electric Ant, among other works. Mack’s Kabuki books have been the subject of undergraduate and graduate university courses in art and literature. His work has been studied in graduate seminars at the University of Southern California and displayed in the Los Angeles Museum of Art. He has lectured at universities and taught classes in writing, drawing, and painting all over the world, including the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, and Japan’s School of Communication Arts of Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka. Mack was also an invited speaker and guest of honor at Harvard’s annual Science Fiction Writing convention for 2005. Special Collections and Archives, located on the first floor of Steely Library on NKU’s campus, has a variety of David Mack works on exhibit through December 9, including large paintings, graphic novels and early works that he created as a student at NKU, plus his Daredevil work for Marvel Comics. Chapter 9 of The Alchemy is available in the NKU Fine Arts Center. “When I was a student at NKU I spent a lot of time in the library writing and drawing the pages of Kabuki: Circle of Blood, the very first Kabuki volume,” Mack said. “It is enchanting now seeing the newest Kabuki volume, The Alchemy, on display in that very library many years later.” —Chris Cole ’99, ’04, ’09 FA L L 2 0 1 1



Mystery Solved! Wow! And, thank you. We received an unprecedented number of responses to the Mystery Photo! from our summer 2011 issue and are happy to identify the young martial artists pictured (from L to R): Tom Brunson, Marc Sanders, Rick Harvey, Rick Shuh, and David Lemaster. Here’s a small sampling of the many responses we received about the photo: NO WHEATIES FOR YOU As I recall, this photo was probably taken during karate class in 1977 or 1978. The location was the Norse Gymnasium (original basketball court) where we worked out, practiced our kata’s and sparred. We all had a lot more hair back then! The photo was taken before class to promote one of the national karate tournaments, hosted and held at NKU each year in the same gym location at NKU. Martial artists came from as far away as California, Mississippi, Georgia, and all over the country to compete. The top NKU instructor was Sensei William Dometrich, seventh-degree black belt and charmain of the United States Chito-Kai Karate Federation and All Japan KarateDo Federation. As I recall, he was a Covington police captain and a World War II U.S. Army Ranger veteran. After the war, while still a young man, he stayed in Japan (Okinawa) and studied karate under Dr. Chitose, a medical doctor who founded the style of karate we practiced, Chito-Ryu, based upon medical principles. Dr. Chitose adopted Sensei Dometrich, and he eventually returned to the USA a black belt where he started the U.S. Chito-Kai Karate Federation. He had his own dojo (karate school) in Covington for many decades. There was brief talk of some us on the so-called “NKU karate team” going to compete in the U.S. Olympic trials for the then-upcoming Russian Olympics. But very soon after, President Carter famously boycotted the Russian Olympics, so that put an end if anyone had dreams of a possible future Wheaties cereal box cover for any of us or NKU. The NKU karate experience instilled great discipline and focus in me that I still find helpful in many areas of my personal and professional life yet today, 35 years later. —Dennis Grothaus (’79) YES, SENSEI Dear Editor: You will probably get a lot of responses regarding the mystery photo of karate students because there are a lot of us Chito-Ryu karate practitioners still out there; some are NKU alumni. You really did not need to go too far to obtain identifications for those shown in the picture because I, Don Schmidt, teach Chito-Ryu karate on campus. The courses are PHE 114 and 214, and I will be teaching


PHE 114 this fall. My teacher is Sensei William Dometrich, Hanshi. He currently operates a karate school that opened in 1971 on Martin Street, Covington, Ky. In fact, this year is his and his wife’s 50th anniversary of operating the karate school. In Janaury 1973, Sensei Dometrich began teaching karate at NKU as a credited course. The mystery picture of the karate students was taken in 1977 and was part of the Chito-Ryu karate club as they continued training after taking the credited courses. Sensei Dometrich initially began teaching karate on college as a credited course in August 1972, at Thomas More College, which is when I started training in Chito-Ryu. I hope this explanation is interesting to you. By the way, the students are not in renoji-dachi. —Sensei Don Schmidt, Shihan DEATH REHEARSAL In this issue’s mystery photo, Marc Sanders is second from the left. Marc was a fellow theater major whose emphasis was acting. He had an incredible presence on stage, in part due to his training in karate and dance. My most vivid memory of Marc is from the final dress rehearsal of Rimers of Eldrich, which was my senior lighting and set design project. The character he played is murdered with a shotgun in the final moments. It was staged in-the-round in the black box theatre, so it was a very intimate production where the audience was very close to the actors. Prior to the rehearsal, we had carefully prepared and tested the shotgun outside in the daylight. We also prepared a balloon with stage blood that he was to pierce with a thumbtack during the shooting. At the final moment, with the lights dimmed, the actress let loose with both barrels and the flames from the powder charge extended about four feet in front of the barrel and just a short distance further to Marc. We were all stunned by the flash, which we had not seen in our tests, and by the blood that soaked his costume. Marc’s performance was so good that I thought we had somehow screwed up and actually killed him. I was close to ripping off my headset and rushing to the stage. Thanks for bringing up some fond memories. —Mark McGinnis (’80)

Creating Legacies In five years, Andrew Bergman hopes to blow things up for a living as a mine engineer. Meanwhile, his classmate, Catherine Sosso, will be awakening young minds as an educator. Evan Otte may be traveling the world for the U.S. Department of State, while Connor Maschinot could be a local law enforcement officer. All four members of NKU’s Class of 2015 are recipients of the full-tuition Lucas Kunz Scholarship, awarded by Burlington’s Maurice Kunz to four Catholic high school students planning to attend NKU. The scholarship is named for Maurice’s mother, Clara Lucas, and father, Dustin Kunz. “I was thrilled,” Sosso says of when she learned of her scholarship a few weeks before her high school graduation. “We had been praying for a way to pay for college because we knew it was going to be difficult.” Provided they maintain good grades, the scholarship is renewable for one year, which works out perfectly for Bergman, who will log two years in NKU’s pre-engineering program under program director and mine reclamation specialist C. Dale Elifrits. “I was always interested in going to NKU,” Bergman says. “I was not ready

to leave home quite yet, and now I can keep my job at the Erlanger library.” Leaving home, however, is all Otte has thought about. Passionate about languages, he plans to major in international studies, learn five languages, and study abroad as much as possible to expand his world view. He already watches international news each morning and says he knows education is the key to improving one’s country and solving the world’s problems. While undecided about his career path, Maschinot says the scholarship gives him an incentive to work harder in school to honor people like Kunz who believed in him and invested in his education. “I will never let him down,” Maschinot says. “I am determined to succeed and to have the good reputation he would want from a scholarship student. I just cannot thank him enough.”


Northern Kentucky University freshmen Connor Maschinot, Andrew Bergman, and Catherine Sosso are the first recipients of the full-tuition Lucas Kunz Scholarship, given to four Northern Kentucky Catholic high school students attending NKU.


Learn more about planned giving and the ways you can benefit NKU and forever change students’ lives by contacting Nancy Perry (’73) at (859) 572-5722 or

Tell us what you’re up to! NAME: __________________________________________________________________________ADDRESS: __________________________________________________________________________________________________ TELEPHONE: (________)________________________________________________________E-MAIL: _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ 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? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Send to: NORTHERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY Office of Alumni Programs 421 Johns Hill Road Highland Heights, KY 41099

Are you firmly planted in the digital age? Then fill out our online form to let us know what’s new with you. If you’ve got a new baby, we’ll send a gift for your baby!

N EW L E A F PA P E R environmental benefits statement Northern Kentucky University saved the following resources by using New Leaf Reincarnation made with 100% recycled fiber, 50% post-consumer waste, and processed chlorine free.





fully grown



solid waste

greenhouse gases




million BTUs



Calculation based on research by Environmental Defense and other members of the Paper Task Force.

©2006 New Leaf Paper


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Mystery Photo! Someday, a child fumbling through his or her grandparents’ attic will come across this magazine and laugh. It’s just how it goes—what seems so advanced today (see page 12) will seem endearingly trite decades from now. Like this luggable, green-screened Kaypro II—a 30-pound computing sloth that featured a 2.5 MHz processor and 64 KB of RAM. Thing is, if these students have stayed current with technology, they’re probably laughing all the way to the bank today. Can you identify anyone in the picture? Email us at and let us know! Photo credit: Schlachter Archives

Northern Magazine Fall 2011  

Northern Magazine Fall 2011

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