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Winter 2016–2017 • Rockford University


Inside this issue Catalyst is published by the Communications & Alumni offices within the Institutional Advancement division. Letters to the editor, feedback and feature suggestions are welcome. Deadline for correspondence to be considered for the next issue of Catalyst is March 15, 2017. Contact information: Office of Communications, 815.394.5041 or Cover. President Eric W. Fulcomer, Ph.D., on the campus of Rockford University on the day we celebrated his inauguration as our 18th president. (For more, see inauguration story on Page 4.) Editor: Rita Elliott Designer: Monna Ohme

Greeting from President Eric W. Fulcomer, Ph.D. p3 Inauguration of Dr. Fulcomer, 18th President p4 Alumni Reunion 2016 p6 Faculty & student news p8 University Archives p12 Campaign & development news p14 Athletics p18 Alumni news & class notes p22


Greetings from President Fulcomer It is a great honor to serve as Rockford University’s 18th president. As I assume the mantle of leadership, I am keenly aware that I follow in the footsteps of the nine women and eight men who have served as president before me. Individuals who have, in partnership with students, alumni, faculty, staff, trustees, and friends, moved our institution forward. Over our first 169 years, we’ve faced many challenges. Just think about some of the national and global crises that have occurred during this period – the Civil War, the Spanish American War, two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, and the War on Terror, just to name a few. We also have survived the Great Depression, numerous recessions, and many periods of low enrollment. Through every challenge, even in dire times, the University’s loyal supporters have come forth and made sure that the college survived because they believe, as I do, that this institution is important to Rockford, and to the landscape of higher education. We stand on a foundation that has been laid and strengthened by others. Rockford University today is a strong and vibrant institution. This fall, we enrolled a record number of undergraduate students and hit a new high in our graduate business (MBA) enrollment. Our net assets are strong, our endowment is growing, and we’re making great progress on our Rock Solid and Ready capital campaign (see Page 14). But we know that numbers alone don’t tell the story. Our story is told through the lives

of our students, the work of our faculty and staff, and the success of our alumni. In this issue of Catalyst, you’ll see coverage from the inauguration and a recap of our homecoming/ reunion activities. Both provided a wonderful opportunity to highlight the past, present, and future of Rockford University. Personally, I enjoyed the many opportunities that reunion and the inauguration provided me to visit with alumni and friends of the University and to hear some fantastic and engaging stories about how Rockford University has impacted lives. I look forward to continue working with our various constituencies, collectively building the future of Rockford University. As we embrace our 170th year, we will undoubtedly have challenges to face and successes to celebrate. I am confident our future holds great promise and that we will, as we have throughout our history, educate students who will go out into the world and make a positive difference.

President Eric W. Fulcomer, Ph.D.


‘Under good omens’ Celebrating the Inauguration of Eric W. Fulcomer as the 18th President of Rockford University

There have been just 12 times in Rockford University’s history when an inauguration or installation of a president has taken place. So, with the occurrence being such a rarity, ensuring that it is special becomes a high priority. An Inaugural Planning Committee set into motion plans for this important task but wondered, what does it really mean to host an inauguration? Turning to etymology for some insight, the answer turned out to be surprisingly apropos: Inauguration - c.1560, directly from Latin inaugurationem (nominative inauguratio) “consecration, installment under good omens.1 With good omens in mind, the following words read by Vice President for Institutional Advancement Bern Sundstedt ’77 marked the start of the ceremony to officially inaugurate Eric W. Fulcomer, Ph.D., as Rockford University’s 18th president; marking Friday, November 4, 2016, as a date to be proudly noted in the annals of Rockford’s history. “The inauguration of a university president offers an opportunity for reflection, as we see ourselves heir to a rich tradition of intellectual endeavor. In our case, we reach back 170 years to invoke the spirit of our pioneer founders whose remarkable vision laid the groundwork for what we are fortunate to celebrate here today.” The day was indeed a day to celebrate. Dr. Fulcomer and family: Anna, Andrea and Noah.


As Joy Winkie Viola writes in her book “Presidential Inaugurations,” colleges and universities hold inaugurations for their new presidents for many important reasons. Those include, among others, a reason to celebrate an institution’s history and reaffirm its mission; provide an environment for the celebration of the tradition of learning; and provide an opportunity to showcase the importance of the institution to its community – in all the various ways an institution’s leaders may choose to define the term “community.” Echoing those very sentiments, Dr. Fulcomer set an early tone that November 4 was to be a day that would celebrate both a new presidency and the University’s rich history of liberal arts learning. As a result, along with the formal ceremony, the idea to host academic showcases evolved and grew into a comprehensive offering of sessions that highlighted the scholarship and creative activities of the RU community. Thirty showcases took place across campus during the morning, providing opportunities to share academic work with colleagues, students, and inaugural guests. The impressive array of offerings included scholarly paper and poster presentations, panel discussions, performances, talks on academic topics, poetry readings, and book talks by authors – namely a wide variety of the academic work of our faculty, staff, and students. The showcases involved more than 100 participants and were immensely successfully in engaging the entire community. Led by a bagpiper, a procession of flags carried by students representing their home countries signaled the start of the inaugural ceremony to the capacity crowd in Maddox Theatre. Several special guests also participated in the ceremony, including United States Air Force Chaplain (Brigadier General) Steven A. Schaick, who provided the invocation, and long-time colleague and mentor to Dr. Fulcomer, Interim President of Eastern Mennonite University Dr. Lee Snyder, who shared remarks from a mentor. President Emeritus Robert L. Head also was in attendance, bringing with him the President’s Chain of Office medallion for presentation to the University’s 18th president. Approximately 20 institutions represented by delegates were in attendance, with dozens more well-wishes and correspondences sent by colleges and universities from across the country and the world. The complete ceremony is available to view online, along with Dr. Fulcomer’s Inaugural Address and photos from the day. Visit president/inauguration/ to see more from this special day. 1

Above: Dr. Fulcomer and President Emeritus Dr. Robert L. Head catch a moment before the ceremony. Below: Dr. Fulcomer during his inaugural remarks.

“inauguration”. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. 22 Dec. 2016. <>


reunion Reggie reawakens RU pride for Reunion @ Homecoming Alumni werenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the only ones who returned to Rockford University for Reunion @ Homecoming â&#x20AC;&#x201C; longtime mascot Reggie the Regent made his regal reappearance on the campus scene during the festivities on Oct. 7 and 8, 2016. Reggie, a lion, was born with a 1980s student body vote, and has come and gone over the years. He was back to welcome about 50 alumni for a weekend of fun and nostalgia at the homecoming and alumni reunion held each fall semester. Activities included campus and classroom tours, musical and theater performances, a walk/run and other sporting events, crowning of the homecoming king and queen, award presentations, and opportunities to meet with President Fulcomer, faculty, students, and other alumni. Special events revolved around the classes of 1991 and 1966, who celebrated milestone 25th and 50th anniversaries, respectively. 6

Congratulations to the 2016 alumni award recipients Awards of Distinction • Shannon Kessler Anderson ’00. Associate Executive Director at Place of Hope, West Palm Beach, Florida, providing traditional and family-style foster care, maternity care, safety for victims of sex trafficking, along with outreach support for children and young adults who have been abandoned, abused, or neglected. • Dr. Steven Manson ’78. Named Wisconsin Medical Society’s 2015 Physician Citizen of the Year; recognizing 23 years of work outside his practice to provide pediatric services for the underinsured and uninsured at St. Clare Health Mission, La Crosse, Wis., and for the Oglala Sioux at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. • Mara H. Steinhour ’98. With a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, this recipient opened her own bi-lingual counseling practice in 2009, specializing in the treatment of traumatic brain injury, traumatic stress, and anxiety disorders. She translates Homeland Security publications to Spanish, and dedicates time to sports psychotherapy. Talcott Cross Award • Cavaliere Shirley Martignoni Fedeli ’57. A champion of Italian culture for which she was recently named Cavaliere of the Ordine della Stella d’Italia, this RU Award of Distinction recipient consistently channels her passion for the University and liberal learning, which makes her a driving force in class communications and alumni networking in the Rockford area. Karl C. Williams Award • Thomas Muldowney ’74. Joining the RU Board of Trustees in 2010, and serving as its Chairman from 2014–2016, this renowned financial advisor has served as an active mentor for students, providing internships at his company, SAVANT Capital Management. He is a quiet driver of many RU initiatives, including the annual Gala. Outstanding Young Alumna/Alumnus • Damir S. Utržan ’11. After coming to the United States as an immigrant at age 12, he enrolled at Rockford University to start his journey toward helping others. Damir currently is a doctoral candidate at the University of Minnesota, a behavioral health provider at the University of Minnesota Physicians, and a member of the Rockford University Alumni Association Board. Mary Ashby Cheek Award • Jules Gleicher, Ph.D. A legend in his classroom and beyond, this beloved political scientist has served on more than 20 RU committees over his forty-year career, and has represented the University across the nation and throughout the region as an advocate for its education and as a mentor to his students. Alumna/Alumnus of the Year • Susan Ouchterloney ’79. Joining the Alumni Association Board in 2013, this banking executive and current vice president of the Alumni Association brings an “all in” attitude with her commitment to the University, by spearheading regional gatherings, her own class reunions and maintaining a private network of engaged alumni.


faculty notes & student news Department Chair and Professor of History Catherine Forslund, Ph.D., has published a chapter on Edith Kermit Roosevelt in “A Companion to First Ladies,” Katherine A. S. Sibley, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2016. ESL Instructors Jessica Williams and Mirela Papandreou had news articles published in the Illinois Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages’ (ITBE) quarterly newsletter in the fall. Department Chair and Associate Professor of Psychology Joel Lynch, Ph.D., recently was featured in an October news spot on DeKalb, Ill., public radio station WNIJ. His commentary on why people don clown costumes to scare others touched on the psychological motivations for one of the creepiest trends of 2016. Robert Evans, an associate professor of political science, department chair and associate professor of economics, business and accounting, was featured in an October 2016 “Perspectives” spot on DeKalb, Ill., public radio station WNIJ, sharing his thoughts on the issues presented by early voting in a general election. 8

Dean of the College of Arts & Humanities, Associate Professor of English and Faculty Athletic Representative Michael Perry, Ph.D., was featured in a November 2016 “Perspectives” spot on DeKalb, Ill., public radio station WNIJ for his insights on superstition and the finallybroken Chicago Cubs curse, which he posits may never have existed in the first place. Perry and some of his students also hosted a panel discussion at Geek’d Con in Rockford, Ill., in October 2016 on what is entailed in inviting graphic novels into the greater literary tradition. Department Chair and Associate Professor of Modern and Classical Languages & Religion John Burns, Ph.D., presented his poetry book titled “El mismo río” (Ediciones El Quirófano, 2016) at the Festival de poesía Ileana Espinel in Guayaquil, Ecuador, in November. Burns also contributed the essay “From Manifiesto to Manifestation: The Infrarrealista Movement on the Margins of Mexican Literary Culture” to the volume “Alternative Communities in Hispanic Literature and Culture” (Luis H. Castañeda and Javier González eds.), published by Cambridge Scholars in September 2016. Additionally, he presented on the poetry of Mario Santiago at the Andean Conference of Latin American Literature in La Paz, Bolivia, in

Research by faculty, students published in noted peer-reviewed journal The work of two Rockford University professors and three alumnae has been published in a prominent, peerreviewed journal of photobiology. Matthew Bork, Ph.D. (assistant professor of chemistry) and Troy Skwor, Ph.D. (associate professor of biology), along (Bork) (Skwor) with alumnae Stephanie Klemm ’16, Brianna Schardt ’14, and Stephanie Blaszczyk ’13, have collaborated on several years of research that focuses on alternative treatments against multiple drug-resistant strains of bacteria. Klemm, Schardt and Blaszczyk also co-authored the study. The group’s findings were published in the December volume of the “Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology, B” in the research articles titled: “Photodynamic inactivation of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli: A metalloporphyrin comparison.” Considering the exponential rise in antibiotic resistance amongst bacteria, this study identifies a novel way to kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria using chemicals excited by light as an alternative treatment.

September 2016 and “Manifestations of Cultural Identity in Latin American Literature and Culture” at the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association’s annual convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, in October 2016. Assistant Professor of Education Lydia Gerzel-Short, Ed.D., has given presentations at several recent conferences, including two presentations at the Convention of the Illinois Council for Exceptional Children in Lisle, Ill., in November 2016; a panel discussion with two students and individual presentation at the International Council for Learning Disabilities Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas, in October 2016; and a caucus panel discussion and separate individual presentation at the TED Division of the Council for Exceptional Children 2016 National

“Bacteria are continuing to demonstrate antibiotic resistance at a speed that has physicians and the science community seriously worried,” Skwor says. “With more than two million infections a year in the United States, demonstrating antibiotic resistance as an alternative treatment is critical. Our research demonstrated the use of LED lights with a slightly modified natural chemical could kill over a million MRSA bacteria in less than 15 seconds. This type of treatment would be localized, so minimal side effects unlike other antibiotics.” According to the study, antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections result in 23,000 deaths and an economic burden of $20 billion in healthcare-associated costs a year. Additionally, an estimated $35 billion is lost due to decreased productivity. The last half century has seen an alarming increase of anti-microbial resistance in both humans and animals. It’s believed the rise in resistance can be traced back to inappropriate use, closer proximity of humans and animals, and the improper disposal of antibacterial drugs. The students who co-authored the study continue to pursue careers in the scientific community. Stephanie Klemm, RN, BSN, is applying to a doctorate nursing program; Brianna Schardt is pursing graduate programs in opthalmology; and Stephanie Blaszczyk is a pharmacy doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Conference in Lexington, Ky., in April 2016. GerzelShort also recently co-authored an article on strategies for working with paraprofessionals for “New Teacher Advocate” magazine with Northern Illinois University Chair and Professor of Special Education Greg Conderman. Assistant Professor of Accounting Brian Huels was recognized by the Rockford (Ill.) Chamber of Commerce as one of the 40 Leaders under 40 at a celebration in November.

(continued on next page)


faculty notes & student news continued Chair and Professor of Political Science Jules Gleicher, Ph.D., chaired and was discussant for a panel on “Politics and Rhetoric” at the annual meeting of the Illinois Political Science (Gleicher) (Lee) (Quinn) Association in Chicago in November 2016. Presenting papers for this panel were faculty colleagues Chair and Assistant Professor of Political Science Ron Lee and Associate Professor of Modern & Classical Languages Stephanie Quinn, Ph.D. Chair and Associate Professor of Physical Education Tammy Schiek presented “Give Me a Break: Integrating Activity into the Classroom” at the Illinois Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development Conference in Schaumburg, Ill., in March 2016, and at the Raising Student Achievement Conference in St. Charles, Ill, in December 2016.

Spain Immersion In May 2016, seven of Rockford University’s upper-level Spanish students accompanied their professor, Marilén Loyola, Ph.D., on a two-week theater/art-themed trip to Spain. The trip was an extension of Dr. Loyola’s Spanish & Transatlantic Theater class, and each student had played a major role in the acting and/or production of Animales nocturnos by Spanish playwright Juan Mayorga, performed in Severson Auditorium in April 2016. While in Spain, students met Mayorga in person, went to see various plays, comedy shows, and museum art in Madrid, and went on excursions to both Seville and Toledo. It was an unforgettable experience! Pictured in Toledo, Spain, (l–r): Jasmene Montoya, Francisco Orenday, Dr. Marilén Loyola, Britton Seivert, Andrés Guerrero, Bianca Martínez-Franco, José Álvarez, Andie (Andrea) Bent.


Research led by Sean Beckmann, Ph.D., assistant biology professor at Rockford University, has yielded two previously unknown carriers of Lyme disease – thirteen-lined ground squirrels and meadow jumping mice. In more than three years, Beckmann and his students have trapped and examined about 700 rodents within Distillery Road Conservation Area’s 70 acres of restored prairie in Boone County. About 20 percent have tested positive for Lyme-causing bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, perhaps an indication of how the disease known for its woodland origins is spreading in Midwestern grasslands. Beckmann had been working with the Boone County Conservation District to study the effects of prairie restoration and controlled burns on small mammals, and thanks to interest from his students, the professor’s field research has expanded to focus on the abundance of several diseases in rodents, including Lyme, Bartonella, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, and Tularemia. “There are a few layers to it that have evolved over the last few years,” Beckmann says. Like prairie and meadow voles and the whitefooted deer mouse, jumping mice and ground squirrels – also known as striped gophers – can harbor Lyme after being bitten by an infected deer tick. The disease can be transmitted to humans and other animals by ticks feeding from the rodents and then moving on to another host. What’s still unclear is whether Beckmann’s two newly discovered carriers are reservoir animals, which would make them capable of carrying the Lyme bacteria without getting sick from it.

faculty&student news

RU researchers find previously unknown carriers of Lyme disease

Sixteen of Beckmann’s students have received Faculty-Student Summer Research grants, and several have presented their findings to the Midwest Ecology and Evolution Conference and nationally at the American Society of Mammalogists’ annual meeting. The researchers are collecting more data and plan to give presentations again at the Midwest Ecology and Evolution Conference in March in Champaign, Ill., as well as at the Ecological Society of America’s annual meeting in August in Portland, Ore.


Old campus â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Tallmadge & Watson Architects.

A Peek into the University Archives By Joanna Bares â&#x20AC;&#x2122;13, MLIS, Electronic Resources Librarian, Archivist

As we leave Inaugural events behind and prepare to enter into a new year, the 170th year of Rockford University, it is important to take time to reflect on where we have been and where we intend to go. Archives can be a wonderful place to explore both the past and present and to predict where the future may be going. As the University has grown and changed over the past 170 years so to have the abilities of archives and archivists to better preserve documents for future generations. The Rockford University Archives was approved by the Executive Committee on March 12, 1940, through a proposal by the College Library to make the library a depository for local historical records. Upon approval, it was suggested that an acceptance committee be established to pass on materials to the Library directly related to the history of the institution. Up until this point, a collective repository of the history of the institution was lacking. In July 1973, the Rockford University Archives took another step towards preserving institutional history through some of the most up-to-date preservation methods available in the 1970s. Joan B. Surrey, Public Services Librarian, proposed the revamp of the archival program to provide protection for the materials such as non-acid file folders and window filterfilm to reduce light that may be injurious to the documents. She also suggested the microfilming of early historical documents to preserve the originals and prevent them from being damaged by over-handling.


Old campus dining dishes.

With the technological evolution, many archives, including those at Rockford University, have chosen to make an increasing number of their collections available online to allow visitors, who may not be able to visit the archives in person, to conduct research. In the past three years, the Rockford University Archives has digitized the entirety of its yearbooks collection, which spans nearly 100 years of the institution’s history. The yearbook collection can be found online at library/archives. The Archives also has created a webpage associated with the Howard Colman Library webpage to make available finding aids that assist researchers in understanding the documents in the collection. The Rockford University Archives is looking forward to more digitization projects in the future. Archives are a wonderful way to maintain institutional memory and remember how far we have come from Ms. Anna Peck Sill, the first principal, teaching classes in the old courthouse building to a vibrant campus with the spaces needed to provide students, faculty, and staff with the ability to learn and grow in their academic endeavors. Archives also provide an aura of mystery of past events and people yet to be discovered in the institution’s history. You never know what interesting tidbit, such as a student writing to a soldier in WWII, you might learn from a past professor, president, or alumna in the next letter or folder! The Rockford University Archives is open by appointment, and we are here to serve you. For inquiries, questions, or to make an appointment, please email

In Memoriam Wilma Frailey Hoesly ’39, June 8, 2016 Betty Idtse Reynolds ’43, Sept. 10, 2016 Marian Weisenberger Alexander ’44, Sept. 2, 2016 Carolyn “Connie” Stolz Bennett ’45, Oct. 24, 2016 Clara Wilkinson Robinson ’47, Aug. 7, 2016 Rosemary Trelease Day ’47, Sept. 7, 2016 Maureen Harden Herd ’51, Oct. 4, 2016 Lois Sachs Johnson ’55, Sept. 1, 2016 Florence Bute Lenox ’55, Oct. 5, 2016 Dr. Jane Roscoe Thomas ’56, Nov. 28, 2016 Beverly O’Brien Capone ’58, Sept. 29, 2016 Sanatkumar Shah ’62, Oct. 21, 2016 Marlow Lee Dodge ’64, Oct. 3, 2016 Jerry D. Stevens ’65, Nov. 1, 2016 Gertrude E. Kiegel ’66, June 9, 2016 Martha Emily Desmond ’66, Aug. 18, 2016 Peter Suits ’67, Jan. 7, 2016 Donald Victor Faith ’68, Aug. 9, 2016 Barbara Feeney Powers ’69, Aug. 2, 2016 Robert Earl Petersen ’70, Aug. 7, 2016 Mary E. Gonzales ’71, Oct. 30, 2016 Geraldine Scott Malone ’73, Oct. 8, 2016 Elizabeth McGregor Deason ’74, Aug. 24, 2016 Thomas Doran ’74, Sept. 1, 2016 Jay Howard Stiteley ’76, July 23, 2016 Joan Fry Becknell ’78, Oct. 10, 2016 Melvin L. Schallberg ’80, Aug. 16, 2016 Patrick D. McCarren ’80, Aug. 31, 2016 Kathryn Clark Wilhelm ’89, Oct. 12, 2016 David Lee Ross ’91, Sept. 15, 2016 Sonal Kapur Puri ’06, Aug. 2, 2016

Bonnet of Miss Mary Irby Kent, daughter of Germanicus Kent.


Significant gifts continue momentum toward $17.3M goal On October 8, 2015, with $10.7 million in gifts and pledges collected during its quiet phase ($6.5 million from the Board of Trustees alone), “Rock Solid & Ready – The Campaign for Rockford University” went public. This comprehensive campaign, the first of its kind conducted in more than two decades, builds on the recent measured progress of a resilient and determined Rockford University. Three primary elements (listed below), designed to enhance the student experience, shape the $17.3 million campaign’s focus. Compete: Shaping Modern Facilities, $7.2M total • Starr Science Center modernizations and acquisition of select scientific equipment, $1.2M • Construction of a new Athletic and Event Center adjacent to Seaver Center, $6M Create: Enhancing the Student Experience, $6.1M total • Endowed Student Opportunity Fund, $1M • Expendable Student Opportunity Fund, $1M • Academic Program Enhancement through the creation of Puri School of Business, $4.1M Commit: Providing for Current Needs, $4M total • Extended and ongoing support of the annual Charter Fund, the lifeblood of any institution The campaign has just crossed the $13 million threshold, with more than $5 million of that amount given unrestricted to support any of the campaign’s elements. While that is exciting, more work must take place and more active support must be secured in order for us to successfully cross the finish line in November of 2018. To sustain our progress, we take this space to provide an overview of a few organizations with long connections to Rockford University that have made noteworthy gifts and pledges in our recent push. We hope it demonstrates our progress while we begin to publicly acknowledge all of our individual and organizational supporters more broadly, generating excitement and piquing interest from those who have yet had the opportunity to join in. The Starr Science Building, constructed in 1967, consists of several teaching and research laboratories, large and

rock solid & READY.



small lecture halls, and a suite of five primary classrooms, with each of those primary classrooms seating up to 30 students. A $200,000 pledge from Woodward Charitable Trust goes directly to support the project’s $1.2 million price tag to revive those spaces, integrating technology that is responsive and supports current industry standards, as well as helping us acquire select scientific equipment for laboratories. To date, just more than $525,000 has been secured specific to the project. Another recent gift with sentimental ties to RU’s history came from the Vera Maureen Fisher (RC ’31) Fund of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois’ (CFNIL) Community Grants Program. The $22,200 grant directly meets our need to secure science equipment. Fisher Memorial Chapel bears Miss Fisher’s family name, with her father, Arthur Fisher, as benefactor. Rockford University President Dr. Fulcomer explains, “Enrollments and interest in the sciences at Rockford University are growing, and nationally, these fields are projected to continue that trajectory. In order to meet this demand and appropriately prepare students for careers in these dynamic disciplines, modernizations to our teaching spaces are needed. We are extremely grateful for these generous gifts from Woodward Charitable Trust and CFNIL, along with others.” The Smith Charitable Foundation has awarded the University $50,000. The two-year grant will not only support Starr Science Center modernizations, but also the construction of the new Athletic and Event Center. The Foundation, an organization grounded in Rockford, whose family has long been intimately connected to the University’s efforts in making the community a better place, applauds our efforts. Final plans for the Athletic and Event Center will be executed once all dedicated funds are in hand. Rock Solid and Ready – The Campaign for Rockford University concludes in 2018. More information about the University’s ongoing progress and how you can engage in our success can be found at We hope you reach out and respond when contacted to provide support for this vital project.

Rubin Education Challenge has immediate impact on area students On December 21, 2015, Rockford University and the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois (CFNIL) announced the University’s participation in the Rubin Education Challenge, a challenge grant offered by CFNIL to build scholarship endowments. The resulting scholarships benefit local students with financial need who attend local post-secondary institutions. Together, Rockford University and CFNIL will build a $3 million endowment, with CFNIL matching every dollar contributed by the University and its donors. The program is named after Dr. Louis and Violet Rubin whose gifts to CFNIL made the Rubin Education Challenge possible.

Barber Colman Management Fund and Rubin Education Challenge scholarship recipients at the 2016 Scholarship Day. Both funds are permanently endowment at CFNIL. Pictured above (l–r): Taggert Venegas, Megan Hendrickson, Sterlen Johnson, Heather O’Connor, Lewis Bochette, Alante Stigler, CFNIL President Jon Bates, Trae Blumhorst, Diana Espinosa, Joshua Baez, Damian Helser, John Finley, Jacob Hilliker, Nathaniel Lowery.

Rockford University has already received more than $945,000 toward its $1.5 million Rubin Education Challenge goal, thanks to the Ethel Jane Lyons scholarship endowment ($650k) and the Timothy Bederka scholarship endowment ($295k). The new endowment is already working for the University and its students. This fall, Rockford University awarded $73,000 in scholarships for the 2016-2017 academic year to seven exceptional students. While the University is off to a great start, we need your help to complete the Rubin Education Challenge by the January 4, 2018 deadline. To make a lasting contribution to Rockford University students, visit Your gift will be doubled. To learn more about CFNIL and its commitment to education, visit

*Editor’s note: Rockford University works with local organizations to build scholarships for our students. An article on page 4 of the Summer 2016 issue of Catalyst incorrectly combined independent opportunities offered by the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois (CFNIL) and Rockford Promise. CFNIL is providing a $1.5 million endowment-matching opportunity to the University through the Rubin Education Challenge. When fulfilled, the permanent endowment held at CFNIL will provide scholarships from an initial corpus of $3 million. We apologize for the error.


Giving made simple.

Three ways to leave your legacy With a little preparation, planned gifts can be made now to immediately support Rockford University’s needs or they can take effect in the future as a way to leave your legacy. Anyone can make a planned gift. Consider these three popular options:

A gift in your will or revocable living trust. Work with your attorney to include a few simple sentences in your will or living trust. Plus, you can change your mind at any time because this gift doesn’t go into effect until after your lifetime.

A gift of your retirement plan assets. By naming us as the primary beneficiary on the designation form for a percentage (1–100) of your account’s final value, you can make a tax-wise gift to support Rockford University.

A gift of your bank or brokerage account.* By placing a payable on death or transfer on death designation on your bank or brokerage account, you can name our organization to receive the funds.

Leave a Lasting Legacy Contact us today at 815.394.3756 or to learn more about the benefits of planned gifts. *State laws govern payable on death accounts and transfer on death accounts. Please consult with your bank representative or investment advisor if you are considering these gifts.


Rockford University alumni directory project Rockford University strives to keep our alumni connected to the school and to each other. In order to do this, RU has authorized Publishing Concepts (PCI) to launch a project to update contact information for all of Rockford University and to create an alumni directory. Alumni will receive emails, postcards, and phone calls from PCI requesting that you update your contact information. We encourage you to respond to these communications. Once PCI has collected the information, the company will compile the data and create a new alumni directory. PCI is a trusted partner of Rockford University. We hope you will participate in our alumni directory project! If you have any questions, please contact Denise Noe, Assistant VP for Advancement, at or 815-394-3756.

rel·e·vé [rel-uh-vey] noun 1. A rise to the toes from the flat foot in dancing.

On Saturday, February 18, 2017, Rockford University hosted its annual gala entitled, “relevé: a rising up.” Proceeds will be used to provide capital improvements to the dance studio, adding to our region’s cultural enrichment.


Go Regents

Walter Payton’s family highlight of fall student-athlete programs Student-athletes heard from the family of the NFL’s No. 2 all-time leading running back and learned how to keep their relationships and diets healthy in three special programs last semester. The athletics department sponsored the fall sessions with partial funding provided by the National Collegiate Athletic Association through the Strategic Initiatives Grant: Social Responsibility and Integration. Topics were based on suggestions student-athletes made in a 2015–2016 satisfaction survey, and supported their development toward a well-balanced lifestyle and personal growth, emotional well-being, and solid decision-making. In cooperation with the Rockford University Forum Series and the Office of Student Success and Retention, athletics hosted the wife and son of legendary Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton, Connie and Jarrett Payton, in September during a Rock Solid Success Seminar for student-athletes. The presenting duo from the Payton Family Foundation spoke about how the late NFL great’s vision, intense determination, and “never die easy” motto allowed Walter Payton to prosper personally and professionally. Jarrett Payton talked candidly about the mistakes he made as an entitled young man, and strongly encouraged our student-athletes to show up in life, remain on task and not follow a path of mediocrity in athletics and academics. “You’ve got to be present for your opportunity, for your greatness,” he said. Being prepared with a backup plan – and “backup of the backup plan” – that doesn’t include sports was Connie Payton’s advice, and she detailed some of the setbacks her husband faced in his post-football career. Connie and Jarrett Payton.

One Love, ‘Eat to Compete’ round out offerings Also in September, the Rockford-based Amanda Reed Foundation provided a workshop to studentathletes from national nonprofit One Love Foundation on the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, warning signs of violence, and the tools to recognize and assist others in tenuous situations. Participants viewed a film, took part in a guided discussion, and learned about an app called “My Plan” that quizzes users about their relationship health and offers tips and other resources. Lastly for the fall semester’s lineup, the “Eat to Compete” program taught student-athletes to make healthier choices, with pre-competition meal planning, dining hall tips and nutrition ideas for traveling to away games. The presentation was well-received, as participants learned how their choices affect their success on the court or field as well as in the classroom. As a member of NCAA Division III, Rockford University athletics continues to provide opportunities for student-athletes to learn, compete, and succeed! As stated in the Division III positioning platform, studentathletes are encouraged to pursue the full spectrum of opportunities available during their time in college. In this way, Division III provides an integrated environment for student-athletes to take responsibility for their own paths, follow their passions and learn their potential through a comprehensive educational experience.


In memory of Jane Roscoe Thomas ’56 Rockford University lost a true friend and ardent supporter who gave generously of her time, talent and treasure on behalf of her alma mater. Jane Roscoe Thomas passed away on Monday, November 28, 2016, at the age of 81. Jane earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1956 from Rockford College. She went on to have a distinguished career in higher education with Wayne State University School of Medicine. Dr. Thomas served as a Board of Trustee member for RU since 1993, including roles as secretary and vice chair. Jane leaves a remarkable legacy of a lifetime of dedication to education, her community and family. She will be deeply missed. Dr. Thomas’ full obituary, Published in The Detroit News & Detroit Free Press on Dec. 3, 2016, reads as follows: THOMAS JANE ROSCOE, Ph.D., age 81, of Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, passed away on Monday, November 28, 2016. Raised in Detroit, Dr. Thomas earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Rockford College, Illinois, and the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. She held a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Michigan and a doctorate in Developmental Psychology from Wayne State University. In 1974, Dr. Thomas joined the Department of Student Affairs at Wayne State University School of Medicine as a counselor, and ultimately was appointed Assistant Dean for Student Affairs. At the time of her death, Dr. Thomas was a member of the School of Medicine’s Board of Visitors and Admissions Committee. A committed civic volunteer, Dr. Thomas served on the boards of several non-profit health, education and community organizations. She was a trustee of Rockford College, Karmanos Cancer Institute, St. John Providence Care Continuum, The Skillman Foundation, Michigan Women’s Foundation, Michigan’s Children, ARISE Detroit!, and was a Life Trustee of the Southeast Michigan Chapter of the American Red Cross. A memorial service will be held at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, 4800 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, on Saturday, January 7, 2017, at 11.00 a.m. Dr. Thomas is survived by her daughter Rebecca Thomas Melbye (Peter) and grandson Carsten Melbye. Her husband, Edward S. Thomas, died in 2015. Memorial tributes may be made to The Cathedral Church of St. Paul (4800 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201) and will be used to support The Cathedral Music Society and the Cathedral Choir School of Metropolitan Detroit. Please add “In memory of Jane Thomas” to the memo line.

Around the Corner is an e-newsletter that is sent monthly or bi-monthly to keep alumni aware of what is happening on- and off-campus. It’s a great way to stay in contact with all things RU! If you are not receiving the newsletter, please provide your email address. Please visit to register.


Matt Phillips ’04/’06 named VP for Enrollment Management President Eric W. Fulcomer, Ph.D., named Matthew D. Phillips as Vice President for Enrollment Management in late December, effective immediately. In this role Phillips will oversee Undergraduate Admission, Student Administrative Services, Global Affairs, Student Success and Retention, and Athletics. Phillips was previously serving as Interim Vice President for Enrollment Management, filling the position previously held by Dr. Fulcomer. Dr. Fulcomer says, “Since Matt’s appointment as Interim Vice President on June 1, 2016, he has proven himself to be a capable enrollment manager who is passionate about serving the institution he loves. Matt is eager to take on new challenges and to continue to move our recruitment efforts forward.” Phillips has served as a member of Rockford University’s Enrollment Management Leadership Team since his appointment as Associate Vice President for Global Affairs in October of 2012. In this role, he was responsible for guiding the University’s globalization efforts to both increase the international student population on campus and to enhance opportunities for students traveling abroad for short- and long-term study. Of taking on the Vice President for Enrollment Management position permanently, Phillips adds, “I’m honored to have the opportunity to continue to advance the enrollment work at Rockford University. It’s exciting and challenging work that when done well, reaps the ultimate reward of seeing students reach their goal of not just earning a degree, but growing in their experiences to become engaged and productive citizens.” Phillips has been associated with Rockford University for more than a decade. He received his undergraduate degree from Rockford in 2004 and his MBA in 2006. He’s served in a variety of positions including Graduate Assistant, Special Assistant to the President, Director of Operations, Contracts, and Services; Associate Vice President of Operations; and Associate Vice President for Global Affairs and Operations.

Alumni Association Board Welcome and congratulations to our new board members: Mitchell Faith ’16, Elizabeth Mundy-Hemmerich ’05, Jenifer Swanson-Shelton ’11, Mara Steinhour ’98, Tom Wojewodzki ’14 and Anthony Scandroli ’02.


Other board members: Carlos Fulcher ’96 Courtney Geiger ’02, Secretary Dawn Niehaus Gile ’02 Kerstin Grey ’03/’11 Robin Hartsell ’93 Jamie Jones ’01 John LiCausi ’04 Tom Lifvendahl ’70 Tom Massari ’98

Joel Moore ’00, Alumni Trustee Kirk Mueller ’01 Susan Ouchterloney ’79, Vice President Bettyann Pappenfus ’81 Brooke Peterson ’07 Jim Reynolds ’95 Joe Siok ’90 Scott Stoll ’01, President Kristin Ketchum Tews ’97 Damir Utrzan ’11

Alumni Trustee search The purpose of this message is to solicit recommendations for an alumna or alumnus to serve as the alumni representative on the Rockford University Board of Trustees. Names of candidates reviewed by the Alumni Association Board will be presented for consideration at the May 2017 board of trustee meeting. The three-year term will start in October 2017. Any alumna or alumnus who has demonstrated a commitment to Rockford University through volunteerism and/or philanthropy shall be eligible for nomination as a candidate with the following exceptions: A nominee cannot be the spouse / partner of a member of the faculty or staff of the university, the board of trustees, or the Alumni Association’s nominating committee. An officer of the alumni association may be nominated provided he/she agrees to resign his or her office if selected.

A visit from Coach Bromley (RU 1962–1998) brings alumni and friends together Coach Dick Bromley made a trip back to his old stomping grounds. The visit was the perfect occasion to invite former colleagues and athletes back to campus for a gathering in his honor. The gathering took place on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016, in the renovated Johnson Alumni Center, new home to the Advancement offices. Coach is doing well and shares that he had a wonderful time catching up with former students and colleagues.

Serving on the Board of Trustees requires a strong commitment to stewardship and volunteerism, two qualities that are integral to the university’s mission and vision. The responsibilities are demanding but rewarding. If you want to take a more active part in the future and direction of Rockford University and would like to nominate a candidate or selfnominate (of if you have additional questions), contact the alumni office at 815.394.5111 or Deadline for submission is March 8, 2017. General responsibilities of the alumni trustee: • To become familiar with and committed to the major responsibilities of the governing board. • To carefully prepare for, regularly attend and actively participate in board meetings and committee assignments, as well as attend important campus events. • To accept and abide by the legal and fiscal responsibilities of the board as specified by the Rockford University Charter, bylaws, and state statutes and regulations. • To support RU fundraising efforts through personal giving and the solicitation of others. • To make judgments always on the basis of what is best for Rockford University as a whole and for the advancement of higher education.

Above center. Members of the Swimming Team with Coach: (l–r) Chip Geiger ’76, Dave Tanaglia ’73, Janet Mathison Culloton ’90, Paul Harder ’81, Coach Dick Bromley, David Szyp ’79, Gary Geiger ’73, Ron Balsam ’65/’67. Above. Members of the 1969–1970 Basketball Team: (l–r) Jim Peterson ’71, Steve Homewood ’70, Ray Eissens ’70, Tom Clinton ’70/’76, Jack Cook ’71, Bob Cuppini ’71.


class notes

Director of Alumni Affairs named On October 24, 2016, Kristyn King began shifting from her responsibilities as Director of Athletics to become Director of Alumni Affairs at Rockford University. An alumna from the class of 1989, Kristyn has worked at the University for nearly 25 years, 22 years as head women’s softball coach, during Director of Alumni which time she became Affairs Kristyn King ’89. the winningest coach in University history, earned the employee of the year award in 2003, and in 2014, received the Talcott Cross, the highest award that can be presented to an alumna of Rockford University. For more than 30 years, both in her personal and professional lives, Kristyn has developed an extensive Rockford University Alumni network. That network will serve us well as she focuses her unbounded energies, talents and organizational skills in new directions, especially as we work to nurture stronger, more lasting synergies between the University and its Alumni, while putting the finishing touches on our current capital campaign and its athletic component. Over the next two months, Kristyn will assist Vice President Phillips with some department oversight as he develops long-term plans for the administration of our athletic programs.

Cavaliere Shirley Martignoni Fedeli ’57 received the Talcott Cross award at Reunion 2016. * Charlene Jones, Ph.D, ’69 received the 2016 Lifetime Achiever in Education award Oct. 1, 2016, at the St. Louis American Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Scholarship and Awards Gala. Her current position is assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Harris-Stowe State University. Peter Aylward ’73 is in the cast of the film “My Blind Brother,” which opened on Sept. 23, 2016. Gino Cox ’73 has three novels (“The Black Pill,” “Presumed Guilty” and “A Stylish Frame”) now available in paperback and eBook formats. Thomas Muldowney ’74 received the Karl C. Williams award at Reunion 2016. * Claudia Smith Anderson ’76 retired as a judge for Vermilion County in Illinois effective Nov. 30, 2016. Dr. Steven Manson ’78 received an Award of Distinction at Reunion 2016. * (Manson)


Susan Ouchterloney ’79 was named Alumna of the Year at Reunion 2016. *

Holly Hanson ’81 has been named the director of Roane State Community College’s Cumberland County Center campus in Crossville, Tenn. Rev. Tanya (TJ) Tyler ’81 has accepted a call to serve as interim minister at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Sterling, Ill. She invites all Rockford University friends to visit. David Cascio ’82 was named the chief financial officer at Milwaukee Electronics, Milwaukee, in July 2016. He also was married to Debra Peretz later in the month. The couple resides in Franklin, Wis. Michele Mueller ’85 has spent the last three years as treasurer for the nonprofit group Harvard HARMONY. Michele also has been the lighting designer for the local high school for six years. This past year, Michele and


her husband celebrated their son’s graduation from college as an aerospace engineer and their daughter’s acceptance into a well-known college of music. Thomas Sandquist ’85 was appointed as president of the board of directors for the Rockford (Ill.) Symphony Orchestra. He has served on the RSO board since 2009. Paula Carynski ’87 was named to Becker’s Hospital Review’s annual list of 130 women leaders to know in hospitals and health systems across the nation. Julie Cook Ramirez ’94 has been named interim director of Handbell Ministries at Second Congregational/First Presbyterian Church of Rockford, Ill.. Her role oversees the church’s entire handbell program, including managing two other directors and three handbell ensembles. In November 2016, Nara Goldman Dedrick ’95 and her family had dinner with Angel Tucker Fitzpatrick ’95 while in Dallas, Texas. Angel and Nara have maintained contact through social media and been living in the same state for more than 4 years, but had not seen each other since graduation from RC. When they finally met in person, they shared so many stories of their time at RC and the people they still keep in contact with. They agreed that they are not going to let so much time pass by before meeting up again. Kris Bartkiewicz ’98, former captain of the Regents men’s basketball team, was named 2016 Physical Education Teacher of the Year in Hillsborough County School District, Florida’s eighth-largest district consisting of more than 250 schools in Tampa and surrounding cities. Bartkiewicz, who teaches physical education at Lowry Elementary School in Tampa, was honored to win such a prestigious award. Mara H. Steinhour ’98 received an Award of Distinction at Reunion 2016. *

Robyn Serge ’99/’02 was named the head coach for women’s soccer and compliance officer for the athletics department at Maritime College, State University of New York.

Shannon Kessler Anderson ’00 received an Award of Distinction at Reunion 2016. * Marcus Hill ’03 joined the Rockford (Ill.) Housing Authority as the community development manager.

Mary Beth Peterson ’03 has been named vice president of the Laurent House Foundation Board. The Frank Lloyd Wright home in Rockford, Ill., is the only building ever designed by the famed architect for a person with a disability. Matthew D. Phillips ’04/’06/’07 was named the interim vice president for enrollment management at Rockford University for the 2016–17 year. Damir S. Utržan ’11 was named an Outstanding Young Alumnus at Reunion 2016. * Tom Lee ’13 was in this summer’s ensemble for Starlight Theatre’s 50th year anniversary season. He also is entering his tenth year of assisting Midway Village with theatrical and educational programs. Currently, Tom is developing his dissertations and poetry into a book for Page Publishing, New York. The book is inspired by his brush with cancer and injuries to his legs. Tom has received interest from three talent agents and is being considered as an extra in the TV series “Chicago P.D.” Adey Khader ’15 completed the requirements to become a Microsoft-certified professional. Adey currently is employed at Entré Computer Solutions, Rockford, Ill. Kaela Gardner ’16 is the business attraction coordinator at the Rockford (Ill.) Area Economic Development Council.

* See Page 7 for more information.

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170th Charter Day

Rockford University will celebrate the 170th year of the signing of its charter on Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, at 4 p.m., during the Charter Day Convocation at Maddox Theatre, Clark Arts Center. The event includes a special speaker and an academic procession of faculty in traditional robes

depicting their rank, with stoles representing their respective alma maters and degrees.

Performing Arts Spring 2017

For tickets or information, please call the RU Box Office at 815.226.4100, or visit rockford. edu. Dates and locations are subject to change.

“Action / (Re)action: Orchesis Dance Company in Concert,” Jan. 26–28, Maddox Theatre, Clark Arts Center, The Rockford University Orchesis Dance Company presents their annual concert of classical and contemporary dance.

bawdy, mischievous, and dysfunctional Florida community set to music.

14 Traits of Leadership: Chris Czarnik, Feb. 8, Severson Auditorium, Scarborough Hall, Leadership is hard to define but easy to see. This seminar analyzes the

fourteen traits that leaders must demonstrate on a daily basis in order for others to follow them and for you to lead your own life.

use positions of leverage to address issues of police brutality, systematic biases, and lack of services.

Priceless: Robert Wittman, March 20, Maddox Theatre, Clark Arts Center, Called “the most famous art detective in the world,” Robert Wittman founded the FBI’s National Art Crime Team and served for 20 years as the FBI’s investigative expert in this field. He is responsible for recovering more than $300 million in stolen art and cultural property around the world. Astrobiology: Penelope J. Boston, April 6, Severson Auditorium, Scarborough Hall, Dr. Penelope Boston is the director of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute. Prior to joining NASA,

“A Flea in Her Ear,” April 27–30, Maddox Theatre, Clark Arts Center, Paranoia, infidelity, and lechery take center stage in this raucous bedroom farce.


For more information, please visit For tickets, please call the RU Box Office at 815.226.4100. Dates and locations are subject to change.

Breaking Down Walls & Building Bridges: Che “Rhymefest” Smith, March 14, Maddox Theatre, Clark Arts Center, Che “Rhymefest” Smith discusses how to citizens can

“The Great American Trailer Park Musical,” Feb. 23–26, Maddox Theatre, Clark Arts Center, A naughty,

Orchesis Dance Company

Forum Series Spring 2017


Boston founded and directed the Cave and Karst Studies Program at New Mexico Tech, where she also served as a professor and led their Earth and environmental sciences department as chair.

A Flea in Her Ear




Boston 17-0098 Catalyst 2-FY17

Catalyst Winter 2016-17  

2018 Bronze ADDY award winner

Catalyst Winter 2016-17  

2018 Bronze ADDY award winner