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winter 2015

The Magazine of Rockhurst University

Women Rock the Sciences STEM disciplines attract female faculty, students

leading the way

“Success is a horrible teacher… I believe we learn more from our mistakes than from our successes. Overcoming failure, learning from it and pressing on is all part of the journey. Don’t be afraid to take a risk — the lessons you learn may take you to places you never imagined.” Rick Dreiling, ’75 Chairman and CEO of Dollar General

Winter 2015

The Magazine of Rockhurst University

Features departments Leading the Way Rick Dreiling, ‘75

Rock Report From the President


Fr. Weiss Honored


Faculty Kudos


Condoleezza Rice


Sports News


For Alumni Class Notes


Alumni Q&A


Career Center


Retro Rockhurst


From the Chapters


Everyday Leaders


In Memoriam


page Bucking the Trend


At RU, there is no shortage of female role models in the STEM disciplines.

In Closing Steve Schneck, ’76


Time and Place Friday, Sept. 5, 2014


Front Cover Nancy Donaldson, Ph.D., professor and chair of the physics department, and Allison Seck, ’15. Photo by Mark McDonald



Ever wanted to join the circus?

Meet Brett Van Fleet, ’98



Holy Hawks

Hear from RU alumni who have answered the call.


winter 2015

From the president

So, What Do You Think?


’d like your opinion; I will get to that later. First, I use the question, “What Do You Think?” to provide the framework for our Jesuit enterprise in higher education: how we think. I often encounter alumni who credit their Jesuit education at Rockhurst University for training them how to think and act accordingly. We call this critical thinking. It has been part of the enterprise since the first Jesuit institution was established in 1548, in Messina, Italy. Today, there is growing concern about higher education and its direction, cost and effectiveness. Many parents and students are asking: what kind of job will be available for this major or course of study? Will there be a return on this investment (ROI)? Why even bother with college? Perhaps it’s time to recall that the purpose of a college education is not just about getting a good job but it’s also about helping to provide a meaningful life. A college education is an investment in your life and nourishment for your mind and soul, not simply a commodity to gain more resources. In his book, Excellent Sheep William Deresiewicz faults many institutions of higher education for being too focused upon credentialism, affluence, and prestige. He fears that students are being led as “excellent sheep” without any idea as to what they want to do with their lives, no sense of purpose and no clue as to how to find one. He calls for a habit of reflection, which he defines as the capacity to change. One of our Jesuit core values is contemplation in action. It offers needed rest but also helps us move into the next stage. I think it’s helpful to consider it as a chance to stop by the well and refuel. Introspection, solitude, and reflection are essential elements of our program at Rockhurst. We’re about students pursuing good jobs and a meaningful life. Now, I ask for your opinion. Consider taking a few moments to let us know what you think. I’d like to know how Rockhurst equipped you to think, reflect and act accordingly. Send your thoughts to We may use your story in an upcoming issue or when talking with future Rockhurst students. Rev. Thomas B. Curran President, Rockhurst University


Winter 2015

the Magazine of rockhurst university

Women Rock the ScienceS steM disciplines attract female faculty, students

The Magazine of Rockhurst University Winter 2015 RU, the magazine of Rockhurst University, is published by the Office of Public Relations and Marketing. Staff Sharon Alexander, ’11 Jeremiah Barber Alicia Douglas Katherine Frohoff, ’09 EMBA Estuardo Garcia Lauren Hannawald Tim Linn Jennifer Price Melissa Thompson Angela Verhulst Editor Katherine Frohoff Design JJB Creative Design Contributing Writers Rev. Thomas B. Curran, Estuardo Garcia, Tim Linn, Jennifer Price, Steve Schneck, ’76 Photography Jenna Belinski, Estuardo Garcia, Tim Linn, Mark McDonald, Jennifer Price, Morgan Spiehs, Dan Videtich, Geoff Vontz, Deanna Westhoff Send letters to: Katherine Frohoff Rockhurst University 1100 Rockhurst Road Kansas City, MO 64110-2561 or Printed on recycled paper.

Rock Report

Second Magis Award Honors Weiss


ockhurst University recently honored one of its longstanding leaders, presenting the Rev. Robert F. Weiss, S.J., with the second Magis Award.

Named for one of the Jesuit core values, the Magis Award began in 2013 as a way for St. Louis alumni to honor outstanding Rockhurst University leaders who live in or are from the St. Louis area. The 2014 award was presented by Rockhurst, the Jesuits of the Central and Southern Province and Saint Louis University High School communities. Fr. Weiss served as the 10th president of Rockhurst from 1977 to 1988, presiding over a period of University growth. During that time, the University saw the creation of the Executive Fellows MBA program and the school of management, the establishment of the partnership with Research College of Nursing, and numerous campus expansion and improvement projects. But Weiss was also recognized for his extraordinary warmth. A decorated World War II veteran, Fr. Weiss continues his life of service to this day with his involvement in a number of organizations, such as St. Louis-based Our Little Haven, a home for abused and neglected children.

Former Rockhurst President the Rev. Robert F. Weiss, S.J. (seated), with family.

To view the video tribute to Fr. Weiss shown at the Magis Award dinner, visit

Newest Jesuit Brings Wealth of Experience to Job


or the newest Jesuit on the Rockhurst University campus, religious life was not always an obvious option. In fact, the Rev. Raul Navarro, S.J., said it took a job in the ID office at Loyola University-New Orleans to prompt him to think about it. “I would take pictures of all the Jesuit novices as they came in to get IDs,” he said. “As I got to know a lot of them they kept saying ‘You should be a Jesuit’ and I said ‘no way,’ until I started to reconsider.”

The Rev. Raul Navarro, S.J.

Born in Mexico City to a Filipino family (his father was a diplomat), Fr. Navarro has always been welltraveled, visiting 49 of the 50 U.S. states. But it was through the Jesuits that he was finally able to travel to the

Philippines, where his family is from. It’s through that same Jesuit network that he was asked to interview to be the assistant dean of Rockhurst’s School of Graduate and Professional Studies, a position he’s held since July. For most of Fr. Navarro’s life, he’s balanced different jobs and interests. He’s a Jesuit priest with an undergraduate degree in geology and master’s degrees in business, education and divinity. In addition to his duties with GPS, he regularly celebrates Mass as part of the Jesuit rotation and is the coordinator for the University’s study abroad programs. And he smiles as he says he also enjoys eating with students. “I really do like to multitask,” he said.


Letters to the Editor The RU summer 2014 issue sparked memories. Beatlemania did indeed strike Kansas City in September of 1964, my freshman year. When the word got around that Charlie Finley (remember him?) was looking for Rockhurst students to keep young ladies from hurling themselves over railings at the old Municipal Stadium during the Beatles’ concert, we were only too glad to volunteer for community service. Ed McKee made the stalwart group as he said in the article. Of course, if I remember right, he played center for the basketball team, was about 6 foot 7 inches tall and was quite solid. I, on the other hand, was 5 foot 8 inches tall and about 140 pounds. I didn’t even make the first cut. Sometimes life is unfair. Joe Pierron, ‘68 I was involved with KRC Radio in its first years at Sedgwick (198182). We were set up in this dingy basement room. Someone asked our faculty moderator/adviser, Bill Ryan, if we could spruce up the place and maybe paint it to look brighter. He commented that he thought we could, within budget constraints. I asked him how we should get approval for the color, and he said it didn’t really matter what color. A bit skeptical, I sarcastically said, “So, it would be okay if we painted it bright orange, right?” He reiterated that the color choice didn’t matter. I don’t know if it’s still there today, but the old pipes running across the ceiling really brightened things up in their bright orange paint along with the panoramic beach scene wallpaper provided by fellow student and ’84 grad Ross Passantino. Mark Meisel, ’83 BSBA, ’88 MBA

Prosperity Center Exceeds First-year Goals

Prosperity Center Staff (From left) Anwar Jones, Kourtney Woodbury and Tiffany Brown.


ne hundred thirty-five and counting. That’s how many people have taken advantage of two or more services provided through Rockhurst’s Prosperity Center for Financial Opportunity. These services, from career guidance to financial coaching to income-support assistance, have helped 19 clients improve their credit scores an average of 26.4 points. “That’s a big deal,” said Kourtney Woodbury, director of the center. “As a team, we work smart and we work hard each day to assist clients in identifying goals and being accountable for taking the necessary steps toward reaching them.” One main goal is job placement. In its first year, the center has helped 42 clients find jobs paying more than the defined livable wage in Jackson County, Missouri.

Clients are coming in from Kansas and Missouri, within 36 different ZIP codes and 16 cities across the Kansas City metropolitan area. And inspiring testimonials are starting to pour in. “This experience has been a driving force that gave me my confidence back,” said Michael, a Prosperity Center client who secured a position in line with his skillset. “I’ve recommended the center’s services to friends and family. I don’t have words to say how much I appreciate all they’ve done for me.” The Prosperity Center is a partnership among Rockhurst University, the Greater Kansas City Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Greater Kansas City United Way, Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph and the Full Employment Council.

Learn more at



Rock Report

Longtime Chemistry Professor Honored in Display


on E. Gibbs, Ph.D., left his mark on a lot of places and a lot of people.

Gibbs joined the faculty of Rockhurst University in 1979, serving as a professor of chemistry and for many years as the chair of the chemistry department. Beloved for a collegial spirit and a broad interest in many subjects, Gibbs died in 2008, and has since had both a multidisciplinary lecture series and a chemistry scholarship named in his honor. Recently, members of the University community and Gibbs’ family and loved ones honored him in a new way — with a display in the hallway of the St. Ignatius Science Center where he spent so much time. The display, established by the Rockhurst chemistry department, features a hand-stitched image of the 1976 U.S. postage stamp honoring chemistry that Gibbs’ wife, Linda, said she originally intended as a gift for her husband; an antique chemistry balance donated by friend Robert Stanfill; and a framed photo of Gibbs in the Linda Hall Library, another favorite spot. “Don just had a way of making everyone feel special,” Linda said. “So we were just so happy that the memorial display is up there. We know we will always remember him and now it seems everyone else will, too.”

A display in the St. Ignatius Science Center honors Don E. Gibbs, Ph.D.

Chemistry Department Earns ACS Designation The Rockhurst University chemistry department is celebrating the program’s approval by the American Chemical Society. According to Annie Lee, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry and chair of the chemistry department, Rockhurst is now one of only 14 institutions in Missouri to have earned ACS approval. ACS-approved programs are known for attracting top high-school students and preparing students well for their careers.

Applied Mathematics Degree Draws on Real Life


he U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is forecasting better-than-average growth for careers in mathematics-related fields until at least 2022. Thanks to the recently launched Bachelor of Science in applied mathematics, Rockhurst alumni could fill many of those positions. Guided by an advisory board of representatives from companies such as VeriShip, Lockton and Cerner, the new degree path is designed to teach students the advanced mathematics concepts used every day by engineers, analysts and those in other career fields. “That focus on working with real problems from industry is what makes this major different from pure math-focused programs,” said Zdeňka Guadarrama, Ph.D., associate professor of mathematics and chair of the math department. Guadarrama said the degree also features an experiential learning component that aims to pair students with those firms using applied mathematics, and the problems-in-industry seminar, a course during which an industry expert will present to the students a relevant, real-life problem and will help them along the way as they work to solve it. “We want the students to think critically and independently, to problem solve, to do mathematics, and to communicate very clearly what they have done,” Guadarrama said. “Even if they don’t pursue a career in mathematics, these are skills that complement other disciplines well.”


Mission Work in Haiti Inspires Sophomore


oming to Rockhurst, Andrea Heinemann, ’17, knew one thing that she absolutely wanted to do: serve others to make their lives better.

As a sophomore nursing student, Heinemann is enjoying taking her prerequisite classes before moving over to Research College of Nursing, but it’s what she has found outside of class that has changed her life forever. During her freshman year, Heinemann got involved with several organizations on campus, including CLC (Christian Life Community) and the women’s lacrosse team.

“It was exhausting work but I left with so much joy from all of the people and the families I worked with.” — Andrea Heinemann, ’17 Through these connections, and the added encouragement of upperclassmen, she decided to serve abroad for a week in Miragoane, Haiti, during the summer of 2013. The experience was so powerful that in the summer of 2014, she returned to Miragoane not for a week, but for three months to live in solidarity with the people. “It was exhausting work but I left with so much joy from all of the people and the families I worked with,” she said. Heinemann traveled to the Caribbean country with Life Teen International, a youth ministry organization. She was the youngest in a small group of long- and short-term missionaries to the country. As part of their mission, Heinemann would try to bring the Haitian youth

Andrea Heinemann, ’17

back to the church after long lapses or those who were practicing Haitian Voodoo. She would also minister to the orphans in the country as well as area prisoners. “The most memorable thing for me was singing with the teens,” she said. “There is no barrier between us even though we come from different worlds — they just accepted me for me.”

Tasty Change Revives Campus Dining Students indicated in surveys they wanted better dining options and the University listened. In August 2014 they saw the big reveal: a makeover for the Thomas More Dining Room, an Einstein Brothers Bagels in the Pub location, a new Subway in the Rock Room and an expanded Starbucks with a grab-and-go section. Students, faculty and staff gave the new eats a thumbs-up with a 25 percent increase in meal plan purchases.



Rock Report

Nursing Professor’s Research Targets Time, Safety

Faculty Kudos Pam Hart, Ph.D., associate professor of communication sciences and disorders, and four graduate CSD students established a camp to help children improve their language and literacy skills. Sudhakar Raju, Ph.D., professor of finance, presented “Nobel Ideas” to the Global Association of Risk Professionals and “What do Global Financial Sector Reforms Mean for the Bahraini Economy?” at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Rebecca Saxton, ’00, Ph.D., RN


here are few more critical times in the daily life of a nurse then when it comes to the administration of medicine.

But during that time, like much of the rest of a nurse’s typical day, everyone from hospital staff to family members might also be vying for their attention. It’s because of how valuable that time is that Rebecca Saxton, ’00, Ph.D., RN, associate professor at Research College of Nursing, wanted to research just how distractions and interruptions can affect how well and how quickly nurses perform their duties. “Administering medication is like take off and landing for a pilot — it’s really a critical event,” she said. “I think of the new nurses who we teach and train each year and I want to be able to give them the tools to avoid mistakes associated with that as much as possible.” Her research led to a trial run involving five different hospitals. Each of the sites designated “interruption-free zones,” in which the phone calls, pages and conversations that a nurse might normally experience while making rounds were minimized or suspended during the administration of medication. The preliminary results, Saxton said, indicated that eliminating or minimizing distractions resulted in apparent improvements to efficiency and safety. Two of the hospitals involved in the study have already adopted the “no-interruption zone” as hospital-wide policy, and Saxton presented her findings at the Ruth K. Palmer Symposium in Rome in May 2014.

Brendan Sweetman, Ph.D., (Right) professor of philosophy, met with the president of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, as part of a small-panel based seminar to discuss business ethics. Charles Kovich, Ph.D., professor of English, and Curtis Hancock, Ph.D., professor of philosophy, are the authors of a newly published book: The Case of the Owl of Minerva.

For more faculty news, visit


RULC to Bring Condoleezza Rice for Leadership Luncheon


n March, the Rockhurst University Leaders Council and the Association for Corporate Growth will present Condoleezza Rice, the featured speaker for the Rockhurst University Leadership Series luncheon. Like previous speakers George Will and Dan Rather, Rice will address the subject of leadership in the keynote address of the luncheon, drawing on her life as a leader in global affairs and national security, an authority in education and an advocate for women’s empowerment. From 2005 to 2009, Rice served as the U.S. Secretary of State, becoming the second woman and the first African-American woman named to the post. Rice is a professor of political science at Stanford University and author of two New York Times bestsellers. She is also an accomplished pianist and an avid golfer, one of only two women to be admitted as members to the Augusta National Golf Course.

The luncheon is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, in the Muehlebach Tower of the Downtown Marriott. For more information, visit

Second Bone Marrow Drive Highlighted by Success Story


n Nov. 10, 2014, the Rockhurst University community again lined up for a chance to save the life of someone they’ve likely never met.

John Murry, ’55 (Left) and Dustin Schroeder,’15



With some simple paperwork and a cheek swab, approximately 200 students, faculty and staff joined the national bone marrow donor registry. The drive, organized by Student Senate and John Murry, ’55, follows a similar effort in 2012. Murry has four grandsons, all of whom have been diagnosed with Diamond-Blackfan anemia, a rare blood disorder that requires them to undergo regular blood transfusions. Since the diagnosis, he and his family have been organizing drives for Delete Blood Cancer to help their own family members and others across the U.S.

who need lifesaving bone marrow donations. Senior Dustin Schroeder registered during the October 2012 drive. When he received an email telling him he was a match, he said his decision was easy. “As soon as I saw that, I knew I wanted to do it,” he said. “You don’t get many chances to do something like this.” During the summer of 2014, Schroeder donated in what he said was a painless process. Now, he said he encourages others to do the same. “It’s so easy and you get to save someone’s life and you barely do anything,” he said.

Rock Report

Francis’ Message of Mercy Subject of Symposium


ince a plume of white smoke arose from the Vatican chimney to signal his election in March 2013, Pope Francis and his teachings have been the topic of much conversation and analysis.

The Rev. Thomas B.Curran and the Rev. Thomas J. Resse, S.J., were featured speakers at a symposium on Pope Francis.

On Nov. 1, 2014, Rockhurst University partnered with National Catholic Reporter for “Becoming a Church of Mercy,” a daylong symposium centered on Francis’ impact on the church. Experts from the University and National Catholic Reporter discussed the Pope’s transformative papacy from a number

of perspectives. The Rev. Thomas J. Reese, S.J., the former editor of America magazine and analyst for National Catholic Reporter who delivered the symposium’s keynote address, said Francis has helped redefine the Catholic Church by emphasizing the role of mercy — both the mercy that comes from God and the mercy we give to each other. “It all goes back to what our image of God is,” he said. “What Pope Francis is saying is that God is someone who never tires of forgiving us.”

Professor Launches STEAM Studio


ttrition rates are high among STEM fields — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — leading to a national need for more students, teachers and practitioners with a passion in these areas. One theory suggests adding art to the mix, turning STEM into STEAM. “This is because it is through art and design that innovative products and solutions are formed,” said Mandi Sonnenberg, Ed.D., assistant professor of education. “Studies show that students who are involved in the arts achieve higher grades and perform better in standardized measures of academic performance.” Sonnenberg put her belief in STEAM into action by creating the STEAM Studio — an initiative she founded in collaboration with Kansas City-based architecture firm Gould Evans. “The studio is an after-school learning environment where K-12 students complete a wide range of activities to foster their analytical, creative and critical thinking skills,” said Sonnenberg. “It’s also a space for pre-service and classroom teachers to learn more about design thinking and how to teach children in different ways.”


Mandi Sonnenberg, Ed.D., leads activities to promote creative thinking.

Learn more at

“It’s about playing sports and having student athletes engage in the educational experience to help them be successful in life. This has got to be about providing young men and women opportunities to do things that they might not be able to do otherwise.” – Mark Emmert, Ph.D., president of the NCAA, on the aim of collegiate sports Visiting Scholar Lecture Series, Sept. 23, 2014


Leading the Pack

Kathy Strecker, assistant director of athletics and women’s cross country coach


hen you walk into the office of Kathy Strecker, assistant director of athletics and women’s cross country coach, one of the first things you notice is the team photo on her computer’s desktop background.

During her time in high school athletics, Strecker became accustomed to working with athletes who operated at a high level physically and scholastically. That is why making the switch to NCAA Division II athletics at Rockhurst was perfect.

This is Strecker’s second season as head coach for the Hawks. Before her move to Division II athletics, Strecker spent 23 years as the head cross country coach for Hayden Catholic High School where she guided the Wildcats to six Kansas state titles and three runner-up finishes.

“If you look at the mission of Rockhurst and the mission of Division II athletics, you really see it’s about enriching the whole person,” she said. “Rockhurst has this philosophy of supporting students socially, emotionally, physically and spiritually. We’re trying to make them winners in all aspects of life.”

Hawks Take

Top Spot



Her team this year reflects that. The 17 women on her roster not only carry a full class load with an average 3.6 GPA, many are enrolled in premedicine and pre-physical therapy, taking active roles in student leadership activities such as student senate and student ambassadors, while continuing to build the cross country program. “We’re getting better and better with every meet. We’re working on being more strategic and improving our standings in the conference. We hope that we’ll beat our records from last year.”

With the latest academic success rankings from the NCAA, RU athletes have again proven themselves winners both on the field and in the classroom. Rockhurst posted a University record 96 percent academic success rate, a measure of student-athlete graduation rates that takes transfer students into account. In addition to being a University record, RU’s ASR was also best in the Great Lakes Valley Conference schools and seventh overall in NCAA Division II.

Rock Report

Former Soccer Standouts Enter Hall of Fame

RU Launches New Athletics Booster Club


oin the club. R Club, that is. This new booster club provides essential support to enhance the athletic programs at RU. “Our programs are growing, and with that comes increased need,” said Gary Burns, director of athletics. “Rockhurst student-athletes are charged with achieving excellence on and off the field, and every little bit of extra support we can give them makes a big difference in their experience here. R Club will do just that.” Membership contributions begin at $100. Funds raised will support the nearly 400 student-athletes within the University’s 14 varsity programs, helping to cover expenses such as scholarships, equipment and travel. Members who join by June 30, 2015, will be recognized as founding members with their names etched onto a plaque to be displayed in the Convocation Center. They will also receive a custom R Club license plate frame. To join or learn more, visit

(From left) Ellie, Drew, Jeff, ’96, Jessica, Paige and Tyler Klusman.


n conjunction with Family and Alumni Weekend, Rockhurst University inducted the 2014 Athletic Hall of Fame members at halftime of the women’s soccer game on Sept. 19, 2014.

First up was the 1964 men’s soccer team – the first intercollegiate soccer team at RU. This trailblazing team achieved a 7-0 regular season record and bid to participate in the 1964 NAIA national tournament. Other inductees included Katie Kammerer Haffield, ’99, Jeff Klusman, ’96, Robyn Colvin McCullem, M.D., ’99, Jim McMullen, ’93, and Joe Stephens, ’84. Kammerer’s name dominates Rockhurst’s women’s soccer record book. She finished her career as an all-time leader in goals, taking the Hawks to their first national tournament appearance. Klusman ranks among the top offensive players in RU history. As a three-time NSCAA and NAIA All-American midfielder, his leadership helped the team earn three trips to the NAIA national tournament. McCullem was one of RU’s top defenders in the 1990s. She earned NAIA All-American and All-Tournament honors, and was also named RU’s first NCAA Division II CoSIDA Academic All-American in 1999 and again in 2000. Known as an “offensive machine,” McMullen received NSCAA and NAIA All-American honors, leading the team to three NAIA national tournament appearances, including a Final Four finish in 1990. Stephens is regarded as one of the top defenders in Rockhurst soccer history. He was named an NSCAA All-American in 1984, and went on to serve as an assistant coach for the Hawks. Inductees were also honored at a banquet on Sept. 20, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the men’s soccer program and 25th year of the women’s program.

For athletics news, visit


Bucking the Trend

By Katherine Frohoff, ’09 EMBA

RU Women Fill Leadership Roles in STEM Disciplines

Anita Salem (Left), and her daughter, Laura Salem, Ph.D.

At Rockhurst, there is no shortage of women role models in the STEM disciplines — those focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Alumna STEM Story


hen Anita Salem joined the Rockhurst College mathematics department in the mid 1970s, her office was on the fourth floor of Conway Hall and the only women’s restroom in the building was located in the basement. There were a handful of female faculty members collegewide and few, if any, held leadership positions. The picture at Rockhurst University today is vastly different. There is no shortage of women role models in the STEM disciplines — those focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. All of the current department or program chairs in the primary STEM fields are women. And that, according to a brief published by the U.S. Department of Commerce in August 2011, is one key to attracting more women to careers in these lucrative fields.

A Mother and Daughter Story Anita Salem recalls sitting in a faculty meeting during her early years at Rockhurst when the discussion turned to a sociological study that had been conducted to profile prospective students and aid in recruiting. The administrator giving the presentation noted the “problem of latchkey children” with no parent home to greet them after school. “I suddenly thought, they are talking about me,” Salem said. Having a working mother did have an impact on Salem’s children but her daughter, Laura, says it was a positive one.

Kristin (Woo) Aillon, Ph.D., ’02 Chemistry major ’07 Ph.D. in analytical chemistry, University of Kansas Senior chemist, MRIGlobal Aillon manages studies providing analytical chemistry support for chemical characterization, formulation, and biological sample analysis for a diverse array of chemicals including pharmaceuticals, compounds of toxicological interest, pesticides and natural products. Aillon advises students interested in science to stick with it. “Science-related careers can be challenging, but very rewarding too. Also, networking is key. No matter how big the pool seems to be, it is a small world.”

Laura Salem, Ph.D., ’94, associate professor of biology, later became a Rockhurst student and today chairs the University’s biology department. Observing her mother’s career helped her see that women could balance work with being a wife and mother, she says. Today, Laura says, most of her students enter college “career oriented from day one” and she believes many of them are choosing careers that will allow them to have more balance in their lives. Laura also says she emphasizes that philosophy with faculty.

Continued on page 14


Alumna STEM Story Wendy Alvarez, ’12 Double major in biochemistry and mathematics Second-year Ph.D. student, Integrated Biomedical Sciences Program University of Notre Dame Alvarez is researching the characteristics of metastatic cancer cells at Notre Dame’s Harper Cancer Research Institute. “Science is a wonderful career for personal and professional growth. But even more than that, it gives me confidence that through my work I can contribute — even if in a very small way — to make a difference in this world and in the lives of cancer patients and their families.”

Continued from page 13

“The first thing I did after becoming department chair was to set up a sabbatical rotation. Some faculty had never taken one in more than 30 years and it was a culture shift.” Anita Salem, who retired in 2007 as professor emerita of mathematics after serving as department chair and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, says any obstacles to women entering the sciences need to be addressed well before the university level. “The grade school level is where they decide ‘I’m good at this and not good at that.’ If there’s any intervention, it needs to happen there.”

The Sciences at Rockhurst The Department of Commerce brief mentioned earlier, “Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation,” states that a disproportionately low share of STEM undergraduate degrees are earned by women, and that is especially true for engineering. Nancy Donaldson, Ph.D.

Rockhurst students are largely bucking that trend, with nearly 70 percent of the 2014 graduates in biochemistry, biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics being female. For comparison, the Rockhurst undergraduate population was 60 percent female in the fall of 2013. The engineering, computing and information technology program, launched in 2012, is too new to have a graduating class but so far is attracting mostly male students, reflecting the national trend. The study of physics traditionally attracts more males than females and Nancy Donaldson, Ph.D., professor of physics and department chair of physics, says she believes that has much to do with the way the curriculum is taught starting well before college. Research in physics education has shown that an active learning environment is more effective than a traditional lecturing approach, according to Donaldson. Donaldson says she has seen the population of women choosing to take physics grow as Rockhurst’s physics curriculum is taught using a hands-on, inquiry-based approach that focuses on the relevance of physics to students’ lives and career interests. The growing academic track of physics of medicine bears this out with a female population that has grown to be more in line with the University’s undergraduate female population.


winter 2015

Zdeˇnka Guadarrama, Ph.D.

Modeling the Way

Alumna STEM Story

In an office filled with class-project pyramids and a white board overflowing with equations, Zdeňka Guadarrama, Ph.D., associate professor of mathematics and department chair of mathematics, exudes an infectious excitement about her field.

Maureen Whalen, ’11

“One day I found a problem I really fell in love with,” she says. “Math had always been close to my heart, but I didn’t expect to fall in love to the extent that I’d go into pure mathematics.” That type of enthusiasm in a high school teacher first got Annie Lee, Ph.D., ’94, thinking about pursuing science. Lee is associate professor of chemistry, department chair of chemistry and co-director of the biochemistry program. She recalls a teacher who was “young, fun and smart” and whose way of teaching physics and chemistry inspired her. Lee says her mentoring relationships with male students are just as important as those with female students. “There is just as much value for me to mentor men and show them that there are women in science and that your boss could be a woman.”

Shaping the Workplace The Department of Commerce brief reports that women hold half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, but less than 25 percent of STEM jobs. One reason to grow the percentage of women in STEM fields is that these positions give them more earning power. Women employed in STEM fields earned 33 percent more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs.

Mathematics major Software developer, TD Ameritrade Whalen is part of a team that works on client monthly and quarterly statements and processing mutual fund transactions. “Technology is a great industry to get into because it is growing so rapidly. I think for young women we need to change the conversation and show them how big of an impact we can have in this industry. If we can change the stigma around software development as being nerdy or a man thing then I think women, especially those interested in math, science and technology, can really be the great minds of the future.”

Another reason to more aggressively even the gender balance in STEM fields has nothing to do with economics and everything to do with advancing knowledge. “It brings diversity of thinking to the field,” says Lee. “You want all voices to be heard to push science forward. To shut a whole sector out is never good for the whole.”



winter 2015

Theater Interest Leads Business Major to

By Jennifer Price

Greatest Show on Earth


here’s no business like show business. Just ask Brett Van Fleet, ’98, who has worked in entertainment since his days as a Rockhurst student majoring in finance and economics. From Disney World productions to Cirque du Soleil to his current role as manager of circus operations and production at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Van Fleet has loved his career every step of the way. And it all started at Rockhurst. Van Fleet remembers seeing an ad from RU’s theater program, asking for any kind of assistance. “I thought, why not?” he said. “Despite having no theater experience, they asked me to be the assistant stage manager of a show called Quilters. I fell in love with it, and from that point on I was a stage manager or technician for any show I could get my hands on.” Following graduation, Van Fleet jumped into community theater operations, eventually making it a full-time gig. “I worked at Disney World for nine months, completing their college program as well as an advanced internship as a production assistant in their entertainment department. Then, it was time to think about a master’s degree.” Van Fleet earned his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa and, as he says, the rest is history.

“I started a job at Feld Entertainment and have loved every minute of it.” He began as a tour business manager for productions such as the circus, Doodlebops Live, Disney on Ice and Disney Live. Van Fleet then served as company manager for four years, before moving into his current role with the circus two years ago. “There’s no such thing as a typical work day for me,” he said. “I come in and am immediately working on some project. I travel to about half of the shows, managing stage operations, props and overall show promotions.” As for his favorite part of the job? Watching the show is great, but watching the audience is better. “I love seeing the kids ooh and ahh,” he said. “I love being part of a team that brings these magical shows to families across America. Every day is a new adventure.” Van Fleet also loves the close-knit sense of community he feels at work each day. “Many of our performers are generational, which means their parents and, often, grandparents were performers.” Van Fleet credits Rockhurst with his leadership style.

Circus Stats

1 mile

Length of the train taking performers and equipment from town to town

144 Years the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus has been around


Weeks performers typically have to rehearse a new show


Total number of official ringmasters since the first show in 1871

“I lead by example,” he said. “I think it’s important to ask questions, be attentive and never stop being curious.”

(From left) Lindsey Merryfield, Brett Van Fleet, ’98, and Chase Culp

Visit to watch a video about Brett Van Fleet and the circus.


HOLY HAWKS Alumni Share What It’s Like to Follow the Call

By Tim Linn


ven among most devoted Catholics, joining a religious order is an uncommon choice. But each year, young people still find themselves attracted to the religious life and opportunities to serve and grow closer to God. Meet three Rockhurst alumni who have chosen the religious life. Hearing the Call The first time Emily Kopff, ’13, thought about religious life was at a retreat during her freshman year in high school. She said she came away from the experience wanting to forge a deeper understanding of her own faith.

“I needed to be in a place where I was certain that this is what I wanted to do and what I was being called to do.” — Br. Simon (Carl) Baker, ’07

During college, she did that primarily through campus ministry programs such as Eucharistic adoration in Mabee Chapel and daily Mass. In her junior year at Rockhurst, Kopff said she discovered St. Ignatius of Loyola’s method of contemplation, and used that as a model for her own reflection. She began visiting various orders and talking about her decision, first with friends and then with members of her family. “They were all so supportive and that was a huge blessing,” she said. Br. Simon (Carl) Baker, ’07, a member of the St. Benedict’s Abbey community in Atchison, Kansas, had a ready example to look to when he started contemplating a vocation during college — his brother, Luke, who was then in his own ordination process. But it would be several more years before Baker would announce his decision to his family and friends. “I needed to be in a place where I was certain that this is what I wanted to do and what I was being called to do,” he said. Continued on page 20


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“Run to Christ with whatever doubts and fears you have. He’s ready to help you with whatever you need.” —Emily Kopff, ’13


“Earlier in my life I definitely would not have thought being a priest was something I would have been doing, but I was guided through what I recognize now as a discernment process by some of the Jesuits here at Rockhurst.” — Rev. William Oulvey, S.J., ’74

Continued from page 19

A member of the Rockhurst soccer team at the time, Baker said he remembers revealing his vocation to his teammates on a trip to Drury University in Springfield, Missouri, leading to a bus ride of conversations and expressions of support. The Rev. William Oulvey, S.J., ’74, the rector of the Jesuit community at Rockhurst, member of the Office of Mission and Ministry and a former vocation director for the Missouri Province, said receiving that affirmation is crucial. “I think one of the strongest supports of a vocation is a supportive family,” he said.

A Lifelong Commitment to Service The religious life means following the vocation wherever it may lead. For some, like Kopff, the mission is obvious. Kopff will likely join her School Sisters of Christ the King peers in the Catholic schools of Lincoln, Nebraska. “I’ve spent a lot of time in the classroom during my postulancy,” she said. “I’m hoping to teach second grade, where they’re excited no matter what you’re doing, or fifth grade, where the students are more open to deeper conversations.” Members of some orders can be assigned to any number of jobs. Baker, who graduated with math and physics undergraduate degrees and a master’s degree in education, said he is looking forward to his ministry wherever it may take him when he completes his formation process. “It’s all based on what the needs of the community are, and it’s an ongoing conversation with the abbot,” he said. “The beauty of where I’m at right now is wherever the abbot tells me to go, that’s what God wants me to do.” Since joining the Jesuits, Fr. Oulvey said his experience as a Jesuit, particularly an 11-year assignment to Belize, helped make him a well-rounded person.


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“One thing has always dovetailed into the next, but that experience in particular opened me to new avenues. I started realizing that the world is a whole lot bigger than the U.S.,” he said.

A Community of Faith and Friendship Like many of the other paths that young adults can follow — through marriage or career, for instance — joining a religious community means committing to relationships with a new group of people. Though disciplined silence is still important to the monastic way of life, Br. Baker said he’s also forged and appreciated new, intergenerational friendships. “Benedictines are very mindful of community,” he said. “I’ve met some of my favorite people at the monastery.” Kopff said she also found warm, kindred spirits during her visit to the mother house itself. “When I visited other religious orders, I thought I had to present this perfect image of myself,” she said. “But everything felt so natural here, and I had conversations with the sisters about our favorite math classes.” That doesn’t mean that that life is always an easy adjustment. The multistep, multiyear process to join a religious order, with significant time spent away from family and friends, can also be difficult. Baker said he experienced the difficulties of being away during his seminary years. Kopff said she, too, has had to adjust. “But I remembered a piece of advice that someone gave me: ‘don’t run from Christ,’” she said. “Run to him with whatever doubts and fears you have. He’s ready to help you with whatever you need.” Fr. Oulvey said following a vocation is no different than approaching any commitment, such as marriage — it involves some ongoing examination and reaffirmation, but is ultimately rewarding.

New Novices, New Perspectives While today’s religious men and women share traits with those who came before them, their profile is changing with the times, according to the Rev. Kevin Cullen, S.J., provincial assistant on formation for the Jesuits of the Central and Southern Province.

Late Starters Fr. Cullen said today’s novices tend to have experience in the workplace or in college, instead of entering straight from high school.

Digital Natives In addition to real-world experience, Fr. Cullen said the young Jesuits he works with are comfortable using new technology in their vocation and in their ministry.

Global Viewpoints Fr. Cullen said young people have a more global perspective on issues in the world today.

“Earlier in my life I definitely would not have thought being a priest was something I would have been doing, but I was guided through what I recognize now as a discernment process by some of the Jesuits here at Rockhurst,” Oulvey said. “That discernment lasts your whole life. But the bottom line is from the moment I said yes, I’ve woken every morning and can say yes again. And I do mean that deeply.”


Monica Fanning and Catie Fanning, ’18, took time out for a photo at Family and Alumni Weekend.

for alumni ’56 Bill Lehman retired from teaching and school administration after 53 years. He taught English at Rockhurst High School from 1968 to 1972.

’60 Hank McHale opened Hank McHale & Associates, a management consulting business, which specializes in sales growth, cost improvement and helping executives set and reach their goals. McHale is the author of Actual Experiences of a CEO: How to Make Continuous Improvement in Manufacturing Succeed for Your Company and is an adjunct faculty member at Averett University in Roanoke, Virginia.

’65 Sam Enna was elected to a four-year term as president of the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (IUPHAR) at the organization’s meeting in Cape Town, South Africa. Sam is associate dean for research and graduate training, and professor of pharmacology and of physiology at the University of Kansas Medical Center. He has for the past eight years been secretarygeneral of IUPHAR, an organization composed of over 70 national societies of pharmacology representing approximately 80,000

pharmacologists worldwide. The mission of IUPHAR is to foster research and education in all aspects of the pharmacological sciences.

Stay Connected You’re part of the Rockhurst University community. That means you belong to an organization that’s changing the world one leader at a time. Don’t miss out on news meant for you. Go to and update your information today. Be sure to share your email address to receive the latest University and alumni news.

Donald Homan was elected chairman of the Kansas Credit Union Association League at the annual league meeting held in April 2014. John P. Lepetit completed a series of 21 feature articles for the Greeley Tribune on living in Malta, Europe. These articles include a comparison of international education and education in the United States and the culture and heritage of Malta. His final article was an interview with Suha Arafat, wife of the late Yasser Arafat, and her daughter, Zahwa, a student at Quality Schools International, where Lepetit served as founding director from 2007 to 2010.

including the 116-page official match program, and served as host for the media day held prior to the competition and was official photographer for the match. Robert Lynch retired in December 2011. On a vacation in Boston he visited with a first-year graduate student at Boston College. He asked her what undergraduate college she had attended. She replied, “Rockhurst University. Go, Hawks!” Lynch writes, “a small world indeed!”

’67 Dennis Owens has joined the law firm of Wyrsch, Hobbs & Mirakian as Of Counsel. He is working in a members consultative group on the restatement of torts, focusing on the law of damages for economic harm.

’69 James F. “Jim” Healy served as media and public relations director for the Curtis Cup Match held at St. Louis Country Club. He designed all media material for the event,

’69 Lawrence J. “Larry” Marnett, Ph.D., the Mary Geddes Stahlman professor of cancer research and university professor of biochemistry and chemistry, was named Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s associate vice chancellor for research and senior associate dean for biomedical sciences, effective Sept. 1, 2014.

Connect with Rockhurst University through your favorite social networks.


’71 Gifford “Giff” Hallam retired after 43 years in business. He spent his corporate life in the energy, utility and investment banking fields.

’71, ’89 EMBA John L. Davis and his wife Sandy celebrated their 50th anniversary in the 50th state by renting a home on Hawaii's Big Island for the month of July 2014. Their children and grandchildren joined them. This trip completed their bucket list of visiting all 50 states. (In 2013 they went to Alaska on a cruise and celebrated their 49th anniversary in the 49th state.)

’73 Michael A. Bowen has been recognized as a leading lawyer in his field in the 2014 edition of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business. Bowen specializes in litigation: general commercial law. He is a partner at Foley & Lardner LLP’s Milwaukee office and is a resident of Fox Point, Wisconsin.


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’80 MBA


John Moenius joined Kennedy and Coe LLC in October 2014 as a manager in the Lenexa, Kansas, office. Moenius teaches corporate finance as an adjunct professor at Rockhurst University.

Susan Bratcher was recently honored with the “Personal Family Lawyer” designation.

’88 EMBA Betsy Vander Velde retired as president and CEO from The Family Conservancy in December 2014.

’82 Phillip Warren Johnson wrote a book about President Obama that was published in May 2014.

’82 MBA Karen Haren received Chapman University’s Albert Schweitzer Award of Excellence for 2014 in recognition for her leadership as president and CEO of Harvesters Community Food Network.

’86 Michael Gant married Shannon Boehman on Sept. 12, 2014.

’92 Jeff Johnson is the executive producer of the musical drama Rudderless, a film starring Billy Crudup, Anton Yelchin, Selena Gomez, Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy, and Laurence Fishburne. The film premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival in January, garnering the coveted “Closing Night Film” slot at the prestigious event. Johnson and his wife, Susan, live in the Kansas City area with their four children: Samantha, Jessica, Alexis and Nicholas.



Byron Pendleton was named president of The ALC Group in July 2014. The ALC Group is a provider of design-toprint services and graphic solutions located in the Crossroads district of Kansas City, Missouri.

Mollie Owens Connolly is the social services director for a skilled nursing facility that recently won recognition as one of the best in the U.S. She and her husband, Steve, live in Seattle. They have two sons, Jameson Dennis Owens Connolly and Sawyer Owens Connolly. Campbell Owens was married during the summer to Vivienne Mayhill, an international flight attendant for Delta. Owens is a sales manager for FedEx for Alaska and the state of Washington.

’87 MBA

’01, ’05 MBA Susan Karnes retired Mark and Rachel (Miller) Steinlage, ’02,’05 M.P.T., Sept. 12, 2014, from welcomed their son Eli who was born Jan. 11, 2014. William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri. She had been the director of financial aid and scholarship We’d love to hear from you. Submit a class services since 1983 and had note online at worked at William Jewell College since 1978.

Submit a Class Note

for alumni


With Bonnie Heenan

’93 MBA, Director of Supply Chain Planning, Hallmark Cards Q: How did you come to your current position? A: I have spent a majority of my corporate career working in key areas of operations and materials management and learning from people, at all levels, with diverse backgrounds. These experiences, along with my formal education, the sponsorship of great mentors, and delivering results enabled the progression to this role. Bonnie Heenan, ’93 MBA

“The best leaders set themselves apart by being self-aware, understanding the importance of a perspective broader than our own and recognizing top talent.”

Q: What does a typical day in your position look like? A: My role is a nice balance between strategic planning and execution. My team is responsible for the planning activities that utilize Hallmark’s multi-supply chain network to deliver our products. I collaborate with functions across the entire enterprise to drive strategic direction and establish an executable supply plan that supports our corporate, financial and marketplace objectives. Q: Hallmark is one of the world’s most well-known brands. How does it feel to be a leader in its production? A: In a word — awesome! It is so exciting to be part of a company that stands for quality and delights customers around the world with the best personal expression products and services in the industry. I am so proud to work at Hallmark because we attract exceptional talent and live in an environment where we learn from each other, truly work together, and are committed to Hallmark’s continued success. Q: How did Rockhurst University help prepare you for your career? A: The MBA program at Rockhurst served as a springboard for my career advancement. Engaging with motivated professionals from different companies across Kansas City, hearing about real world business challenges and working together to develop robust solutions created an exciting way to problem solve. The group study approach values differences, fosters strategic thought leadership, highlights the importance of end-to-end business acumen and nurtures innovative thinking. Rockhurst sharpened my critical and strategic thinking and also helped me to better understand how to leverage the expertise around me to develop and apply effective, sustainable solutions in my own workplace. Q: What do you believe are the qualities of a good leader? A: Qualities like critical thinking, mental toughness, the ability to communicate a clear vision and a drive for results are essential attributes for effective leadership. That said, the best leaders set themselves apart by being selfaware, understanding the importance of a perspective broader than our own and recognizing top talent.


’07, ’13 MBA ’03 Annie Fischer was awarded a nine-month Fulbright fellowship to work on Disambiguation, a book about the life of a Hungarian classic pianist born in 1914, who also is named Annie Fischer. Fischer’s sisters, all Rockhurst alumnae, visited her in Budapest in October. (From left) Jenny Rinella, ’93, ’99 M.I.H.E.; Annie Fischer, ’03; Katie Fischer Clune, ’98; and Liz Schroeder, ’99.

’05 MBA Colleen Gerke was named to the Agri-Pulse 50 Under 50 list, which featured men and women under 50 from across the nation who are involved in all types of crop and livestock operations and are stepping into leadership roles. She and her husband own Jowler Creek Vineyard & Winery in Platte City, Missouri, the site of a young alumni wine tasting event in fall 2013.

’05 EMBA Jane Chu was confirmed in June 2014 by the U.S. Senate as chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

’07 Jed Donaldson, married Megan Darby, ’08, on July 12, 2014, at Queen of the Holy Rosary Wea in Bucyrus, Kan. The groom is the son of Nancy Donaldson, Ph.D., who is a professor of physics at Rockhurst University. Rockhurst alumni wedding guests gathered for a photograph.


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Matthew Koch and Taylor Koch, ’08, baptized their daughter Madeline Marie Koch on May 10, 2014. The Rev. Thomas B. Curran, president of Rockhurst University, presided over the baptism. Godparents are Dr. Tucker Lienhop, ’03, and Laura Wood, ’11.

’08 Tamara Dancheva is a human rights officer at Liberal International in London, England. Jenny (Mulligan) Martin and Patrick Martin welcomed their first child, James Matthew Martin, on April 16, 2014.


for alumni

Career Center


1 2 3

for Working in Nonprofit


You will often be asked to help with something outside your job description. Nonprofit organizations count on employees to go above and beyond because, typically, they are working off a leaner budget and smaller staff numbers. This is a great opportunity to embrace an entrepreneurial spirit.


Every dollar counts. Even if you’re at a larger nonprofit with more funding, you still need to be conscious about your expenses. The less you spend on administration and fundraising, the more you can put toward operations and serving others. Embrace a budget that’s in solidarity with those served by the organization.


In my experience, working at a nonprofit organization is incredibly rewarding. At the end of the day, you leave knowing you made a real difference for someone somewhere. It’s not about hitting huge profits. It’s about being more connected to the world. There’s a real sense of adventure and inspiration in that.


Be prepared to learn new skills from your coworkers, and to be enlightened by the people your organization serves. Approach work as a humble and passionate student.


Clarity of vision and excellence in operational performance are critical in today’s crowded nonprofit world. Great causes attract employees, but a great organizational culture retains them. Get ready to stretch your skills and learn new ones.

Meet the Expert

In 1997, Paul Pearce, ’84, ’00 MBA, made a life-changing decision. He took a sabbatical from his career with a major international health care technology corporation and volunteered in Guatemala through Unbound – a nonprofit organization that offers sponsorship opportunities for elderly adults and children living throughout the world, helping them with resources needed to find a way out of poverty. This experience inspired Pearce to join the Unbound staff. As director of global strategy, he is responsible for monitoring, supporting and supervising Unbound’s international efforts. Pearce and his wife, Kris, live in Kansas City.


Hawk Hangout

A group of Rockhurst alumni volunteered at the St. Therese Body, Mind and Spirit 5K in Kansas City, Missouri, on Sept. 1, 2014. The event supported Nick Hibbeler, son of Gregg Hibbeler, ’86, in his fight against testicular cancer. After six rounds of chemotherapy and six surgeries, Nick is cancer free. (Clockwise from top left) Eric Schmidt, ’95, Brian Burns, ’93, Tom McKeon, Rock E. Hawk, Jim Bryant, ’95, Michelle Bryant, ’95, Gregg Hibbeler, ’86, Mary Mooney Burns, ’93, Christi Schmidt, ’95, and Jo Toigo, ’86. Send your Hawk Hangout pictures to alumni@ and you may see one in a future issue.

Chris Jennewein graduated from Saint Louis University School of Law in May 2013 and is a member of the Missouri Bar. He lives in St. Louis and represents Edward Jones in commercial real estate matters.

’08, ’10 MS Jennifer (Lawrence) and David Welder welcomed a baby girl, Olivia Paige, on Aug. 20, 2014. The baby was born in Kansas City, Missouri.

Alex Seier and Elizabeth (Beckmann) Seier announce the birth of their daughter Ava Marie Seier. Ava arrived on March 16, 2014, weighing 8 lbs. 1 oz. and measuring 20 inches.

’10 Christina Battocletti married Joseph Croll on June 28, 2014, in St. Louis. Christina graduated with a Bachelor of Science in nursing and Joe graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, accounting. They live in St. Louis. Josh Church married Kaiti Quigley on June 14, 2014, in Weston, Missouri. They reside in St. Louis, where he is a senior analyst for the Laclede Group. Caitlin Hoag married Andrew Daubman, ’11, Oct. 19, 2013, in Des Moines, Iowa.

’09 Jesse Evans married Camden Civello, ’10, on July 5, 2014, in St. Louis. The Rev. Thomas B. Curran, president of Rockhurst University, presided at the wedding. Rockhurst alumni wedding guests gathered for a photograph.


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’10, ’11 MBA Chris Hasse married Katie McCune, ’12, ’14 M.O.T., at St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 12, 2014. Other Rockhurst alumni or current students in the wedding party were Molly McCune, ’15, Maggie McCune, ’18, Jake Meyer, ’10, Megan Holm, ’12, Kayla Thomas, ’12, and Katie Muller, ’12. The couple now resides in Florida where McCune is an occupational therapist and Hasse works in health care administration.



Abby Davidson married Dominic Zanaboni on May 31, 2014, in Omaha, Nebraska. The Rev. Thomas B. Curran, president of Rockhurst University, presided at the wedding.

Ethan Harak earned a spot on a U.S. national team by claiming two silver medals and a bronze at the USA Weightlifting National Championships held in Salt Lake City in July 2014. Harak is currently a graduate student at Indiana University in chemistry and materials science. His father, Dale Harak, Ph.D., is associate professor of chemistry at Rockhurst University.

Alex Clark married Emily Mitchell, ’12, on Nov. 28, 2013, in Kansas City, Kansas. The Rev. Thomas B. Curran, president of Rockhurst University, presided at the wedding.

Allison Werkmeister was accepted as part of the Jesuitsponsored Alum Service Corps and has spent the 2014-15 academic year working with students at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colorado.



James Fister was accepted as part of the Jesuit-sponsored Alum Service Corps and has spent the 2014-15 academic year working with students at Loyola Academy Middle School in St. Louis.

Erin Scott married Brian Talbert, ’12, on Saturday, May 17, 2014. Fellow Rockhurst graduates Emily Kahm, ’09, Chris Rundle, ’11, and Rachel Warman, ’11, were included in the wedding party.

Josh Goralski received the Young Philanthropist of the Year award from the American Fundraising Professionals Mid-America Chapter at its National Philanthropy Day celebration Nov. 19, 2014.

’11, ’12 MBA Gabe Jones became the community relations specialist for the Archdiocese of St. Louis in May 2014.

Andrew Meyer was accepted as part of the Jesuit-sponsored Alum Service Corps and has spent the 2014-15 academic year working with students at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Missouri.

2014 Family and Alumni Weekend
 From Hawk Fest to class reunions to alumni awards, this year’s Family and Alumni Weekend was a huge success. View photos from all of our 2014 festivities at rockhurst. edu/weekend. (From left) Alexandria Rushing, ’17, Chelsea Zacharias, ’16, Trinity Gleason, ’16, and Alex Stockard, ’16.


Remembering the Jesuit Martyrs O

ne student’s moving encounter with the tragic story of the Jesuit martyrs killed in El Salvador in 1989 resulted years later in the focal point for the 25th anniversary of their deaths. Mary Pimmel, ’07, was first introduced to the story of the Jesuits from the Universidad Centroamericana during her time with VOICES for Justice, the University’s social justice organization. After learning about the story, she spent a semester in 2006 researching the social and political context of the martyrs for her honors thesis. This research also included a trip to the UCA during a spring break service trip to El Salvador. “All of that information went into painting the portraits,” Pimmel said. “The overall goal was to learn more about them and to share their story with more people with the hope they would be inspired by who they were and what they did.” Before starting on each of the portraits, she did extensive research on the person. She would then choose a color palette that would reflect the characteristics of the individual. For example, she learned that the Rev. Segundo Montes, S.J., was thought of as a fiery and passionate individual, so red was the primary color. In contrast, the Rev. Joaquín López y López, S.J., was much more tranquil, thus he was painted with cooler tones.

Mary Pimmel, ’07, created artwork depicting the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador.

With the help of Rockhurst University’s campus ministry, the Ignatian Solidarity Network, an organization that promotes leadership and advocacy among Jesuit schools, has used Pimmel’s paintings as a way to honor the memories of the six Jesuits and two Salvadorans who were murdered on that terrible day, Nov. 16, 1989.

retro1984 rockhurst On May 12, 1984, 87 seniors received their nursing pins signifying the end of their undergraduate nursing education. This was the first graduating class from the joint Rockhurst University and Research College of Nursing program.

Faculty Memory “Dr. Joe Cirincione greatly expanded my intellectual horizons. He introduced me to the glories of 18th and 19th century English literature, which has enriched my life immeasurably.” — Patrick Neas, ’86 30

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for alumni

from the chapters

After you leave the Rockhurst University campus, you remain a Hawk for life. Connect with Hawks in your hometown by checking the calendar at Looking to organize a Rockhurst gathering where you live? Contact Mary Mooney Burns, ’93, at

Alumni Hike in Boulder, Colorado On June 7, 2014, the Denver Alumni Advisory Council hosted a hike for all area alumni, families and friends. The group hiked the Mt. Sanitas Trail in Boulder, Colorado. (From left) Monish Sunku Prabhaker, Katie Wood, ’09, Steven Garcia, ’09, Eric Budd, ’04, Mary Mooney Burns, ’93, William Latimer, ’87 MBA, Danielle Latimer and Carmen Latimer.

Omaha Storm Chasers

Toast at the Roast RU’s Young Alumni Council hosted the annual An Alumni Affair: A Toast at the Roast event on Sept. 20, 2014, during Family and Alumni Weekend. Attendees enjoyed an evening of dancing, casino games, and more in the beautiful Bean Hangar space at The Roasterie. (From left) Rachel Webster, ’11, Clare Holahan, ’11, Marina Daldalian, ’09, and Liz Daldalian, ’13.

On Aug. 3, 2014, alumni, parents and family members in the Omaha, Nebraska, area spent the evening at Werner Park to watch the Omaha Storm Chasers take on the Iowa Cubs. (From left) Ryan, ’09, Elena, Andrea (Luna) Biga, ’09.

Cubs vs. Cardinals at Beyond the Ivy The summer tradition continued with the University’s annual Cubs vs. Cardinals game in Chicago on July 26, 2014. Attendees watched the game from the historic Beyond the Ivy venue overlooking Wrigley Field. (From left) Kyle Rudloff, ’02, Dan Brunnert, ’00, Troy Rudloff, ’98.


Rockhurst Recognizes Exemplary Alumni UPCOMING


Alumni Night at the Ballgame Join fellow Hawks for dinner and enjoy women’s and men’s basketball vs. Wisconsin-Parkside.

March 4 Rockhurst University Leadership Series Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Ph.D., shares her thoughts on leadership.

April 7
 Business Leadership and Ethics Day Local business leaders present to Helzberg School of Management classes throughout the day.

April 9 Fr. Nick Rashford, S.J., Award for Leadership and Ethics Rockhurst honors Chris Gentile, ’99 EMBA, president of Honeywell FM&T. For more information, visit

(From left) Patrick Wank, ’05, ’06 MBA; James R. Owens Jr., ’72; Betsy Vander Velde, ’88 EMBA; and Pasquale Trozzolo, ’75


uring Family and Alumni Weekend, Rockhurst University recognized James R. Owens Jr., ’72; Pasquale Trozzolo, ’75; Betsy Vander Velde, ’88 EMBA; and Patrick Wank, ’05, ’06 MBA, for outstanding achievements in service and their professional lives. One of two recipients of the St. Ignatius Award, Owens graduated from Rockhurst with a degree in history and spent his career working in both the public and private sectors in health care development in the U.S. and abroad. Trozzolo, the second St. Ignatius Award winner, is the founder and executive chairman of Kansas City-based Trozzolo Communications Group. With more than 35 years of experience in his field, Trozzolo has helped his company gain a reputation as one of the Midwest’s most accomplished independent public relations and marketing firms. Vander Velde, the recently retired president and CEO of The Family Conservancy, one of Kansas City’s oldest family service providers, received the Xavier Medal of Honor. Vander Velde has also served the community as a member of a number of nonprofit boards and has been recognized as a pre-eminent leader in the Kansas City community. Wank, the winner of the Faber Young Alumni Award, has been a leader since his years as a student. He continues to serve his alma mater following graduation as a member of the Kansas City Young Alumni Council and as a former member of the University’s Board of Trustees. Wank is a project accounting manager at Black & Veatch.

Hire a Hawk 32

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Looking for the perfect addition to your team? Contact Rockhurst University’s Career Services to connect with RU alumni and students looking to start their careers and secure internships.

for alumni

Five New Trustees Join Board Rockhurst University’s Board of Trustees has elected five new members. The board, made up of top leaders and Jesuit-educated executives, comprises a maximum of 30 members, along with two recent graduates.

Don Alexander Don Alexander is president and owner of Alexander and Associates — a private investment company. Don earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Nyenrode University, and a Bachelor of Arts in marketing and finance from Washburn University. He serves on boards at the Bank of Blue Valley, Real Power LLC and more.

Ken Garrett, ’79 MBA Ken Garrett retired as executive vice president and chief human resources officer with FMC Corporation in 2013. Prior to that, he worked for Trans World Airlines in New York and Kansas City for 13 years, holding management positions in finance and human resources. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri–Kansas City and an MBA from Rockhurst. Garrett lives in Ambler, Pennsylvania.

Marc Hahn, D.O. After serving as provost and executive vice president for academic and medical affairs for Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences (KCUMB), Marc Hahn became its 14th president and CEO in 2013. He also has served as the dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine since 2012. Hahn earned a Bachelor of Science from Syracuse University, and a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Des Moines University.

Michael Ragsdale, ’07 BSBA, ’09 MBA Michael Ragsdale is currently the senior accountant for the Kansas City Chiefs Football Club Inc. — a position he has held since 2007. He also serves as a volunteer coach for Rockhurst’s men’s soccer team. Ragsdale earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and MBA at Rockhurst.

Carol Grimaldi, ’89 MBA Carol Grimaldi currently serves as the manager of community engagement and advocacy for Cornerstones of Care. Her previous role, from 1996 to 2013, was executive director for Brush Creek Community Partners. From 1989 to 1996 she served as vice president, public and membership relations, for the Kansas City Area Hospital Association. She earned her MBA from Rockhurst.




are they now Catching up with former athletes


laying professional soccer has turned into more than a lifelong dream for Tom Heinemann, ’09. The St. Louis native said when he graduated from high school, an ACL injury had sidelined him from playing varsity soccer, making a spot on the Rockhurst University squad far from a sure thing. He credited the Hawks' coaching team, including head coach Tony Tocco, for helping him develop from a walkon into an All-American forward at Rockhurst. The Columbus Crew invited Heinemann to the preseason in his senior year at Rockhurst. He currently plays for the Ottawa Fury FC in the North American Soccer League.

Tom Heinemann, ’09

But Heinemann said he gained a lot more than skills on the field during his time at RU.

“I am grateful to this day for my time at Rockhurst. I was able to grow in my relationship with God, develop my soccer game, and receive an outstanding education,” he said. In 2013, Heinemann joined the Ambassadors Football Club tour of Chile. The team, comprising professional soccer players, visited a town ravaged by a tsunami and cramped prisons, playing and visiting with people along the way. Traveling with his wife Katrina (Mancuso), ’10, Heinemann said the tour was a perfect fit for him. “Many of the people imprisoned were shunned by their families as is customary in Chilean culture,” he said. “Our goal was to bring hope through Christ and when they realized we came all that way to Chile just to share this incredible gospel message with them, you could see how much it meant.”

Everyday Leaders

Changing Lives, One House at a Time


ifteen years ago, Dave Biersmith, ’58, was having a hard time selling the building that housed one of his relocated medical facilities, located in the urban core of Kansas City, Missouri.


“I drove around the neighborhood and saw extreme poverty,” he said. “I knew I could help.” And just like that, the Truman Road Corridor Association was born — a nonprofit organization that serves hardworking people who are down on their luck, helping them become homeowners.


“In short, banks donate foreclosed homes they can’t sell,” said Biersmith. “From there, we make them livable with updates to the heating, cooling, electric and plumbing systems. Clients are charged with making additional updates like painting, basic carpentry, and others as their skills allow.” This process, called sweat equity, allows clients to eventually own the home they are working on.

Biersmith in front of a current TRCA home.

“We assign them one room at a time, give them deadlines and observe their workmanship. As they work, they pay us a small rent. After six months, these payments are put toward their principal.” Typically, clients pay off their homes in about seven years. “This process is a life-changer for people,” he said. “Many come to us homeless, living out of their cars in some cases. Our goal is not to flip a house. We bring it to neighborhood standards so that, down the road, it is easier for them to sell.” Biersmith credits this idea to his Jesuit education. “Rockhurst taught me to always try to do the right thing. It’s that simple.”


winter 2015

for alumni

In Memoriam Rev. Walter Nesbit, S.J. The Rev. Walter G. Nesbit, S.J., former professor of theology at Rockhurst University, died May 12, 2014. Fr. Nesbit was born in Belleville, Illinois, and entered the Society of Jesus in 1946. He completed a bachelor’s degree in Greek and a licentiate in philosophy at Saint Louis University in 1953. He taught Latin at Rockhurst High School and served on the editorial staff of America magazine before becoming a member of the Rockhurst University community. He taught for more than 30 years after joining the theology faculty in 1966, following the completion of his doctoral degree in scriptural theology.

Janet Sheeran, Ph.D. Janet Anne Watson Sheeran, Ph.D., former professor of communication, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and interim president of Rockhurst University, died Sept. 25, 2014. Born in Verga, New Jersey, Sheeran earned a doctoral degree in English literature from the University of Nebraska. Sheeran taught for more than 30 years, joining the Rockhurst communication faculty in 1975. In 1991, Sheeran was named the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. She also helped found the Center for Arts and Letters in 1989 and served as the interim president of Rockhurst during the 1997-98 academic year.

Laurence J. Gottesburen, ’72 — May 25

Thomas A. Schwartz, ’35 — June 28

Thomas V. Fennesy, ’58 — Oct. 3

Bernard J. Imming, ’41 — Sept. 22

Michael A. Cole, ’59 — April 5

Bernard J. Ruysser, ’41 — June 10

Thomas M. Raimo, ’59 — Aug. 17

William G. Wren, ’46 — April 25

John R. Baker, ’60 — Aug. 7

Thomas F. Rowan, ’47 — June 28

Terence E. Downer, ’60 — April 25

John J. Riscoe, ’49 — July 21

Marion A. Reno Jr., ’60 — June 16

Robert A. Kilgore, ’50 — Aug. 31

John C. McClurg, ’61 — Sept. 16

Frank M. Mullen Jr., ’51 — April 27

Joseph A. Merz, ’62 — May 18

William J. Berg, ’52 — Sept. 25

David E. Sachen, ’63 — May 16

James A Bolin, ’54 — July 3

Charles J. Glaeser Jr., ’64 — Oct. 2

Thomas B. Martin, ’83 MBA — Sept. 23

Thomas F. Tierney, ’55 — July 19

Ted J. Morhart, ’64 — May 27

Dawn Y. Isa, ’85 — May 19

John E. Wahlstedt, ’55 — Sept. 18

Jerold T. Nelson, ’64 — Sept. 15

Scott N. Wright, ’86 MBA — May 19

Wallace E. Johnston, ’57 — April 28

Alex H. Flemington, ’67 — May 4

Christian J. Watson, ’89 — May 17

Michael J. Kellerman, ’57 — June 10

Jack V. Lewis, ’67 — May 24

Joseph P. Teasdale, ’57 — May 8

James P. Shannon, ’71 — Sept. 1

Dr. Michael Brostocki, ’02, ’06 DO/MBA — May 29

John R. Aufenkamp, ’76 — Sept. 16 Thomas R. Carter, ’76 — April 19 William E. Lewis Jr., ’76 — Sept. 30 Robert C. Cox, ’80 MBA — Aug. 18 Michelle J. McQuillen, ’81 — June 20 John T. Wood, ’81 MBA — May 8 Elizabeth C. Browning, ’83 — May 24


in closing

Religion and Politics Do Mix By Steve Schneck, ’76


alking about religion and politics is what I do. In an old “Peanuts” TV special, Linus once observed, “There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin.” While the philosopher probably has a point about the mythical orange vegetable, I believe it is critically important as citizens and believers, for the country and for our churches, to talk richly and often about religion and politics. I’m a political philosopher by training. Leaving Rockhurst in 1976, next was a doctorate at Notre Dame, then 30 years teaching at The Catholic University of America in Washington. Somehow Catholic thought was always in the mix. Whether lecturing about Jefferson or Marx, Thoreau or Burke, Catholic ideas like the preferential option for the poor, natural law, sanctity of life, or the universal destination of all goods were touchstones against which to compare and test. Rockhurst Jesuits like Frs. Joe Freeman, Wilfred LaCroix and Vincent Daues taught such principles in our classes in the early ’70s. For me, they became pivotal not only for personal formation, but for my work as a scholar and teacher.

Such principles also became foundational for my engagement in public life. I’m privileged to be part of a broad conversation advocating Catholic social thought — the Church’s social magisterium — in American politics. The Church’s teachings do not tell us for whom to vote or provide details for laws. Instead they illuminate the moral purpose of political life. They insist that the common good should guide us, not our narrow interests, that neither our possessions nor the earth are ours but are God’s, that the measure of a country’s greatness is not GDP or technology, but rather is the life and dignity of the poor, the imprisoned, the elderly, the sick, the immigrant, and the unborn. For an America so wounded by self-serving ideologies, the social magisterium advises the balm of solidarity, reminding us that before and after our rights and liberties, we are brothers and sisters of an encompassing community of pilgrims. Great stuff, right? Maybe just what America needs to hear? Sorry Linus, but how can we not discuss religion and politics? Join the conversation.

Steve Schneck incessantly talks about religion and politics in Washington, D.C. He’s the director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America.


winter 2015

time and place

Friday, Sept. 5, 2014

Steven Ladd, ’99, and his brother William, opened an exhibit of their artwork at the Belger Crane Yard Studios in Kansas City, Misso uri.

1100 Rockhurst Road Kansas City, MO 64110-2561


Kansas City, M0. Permit No. 782

Nonprofit Org. U.S. Postage

Faculty, staff and students signed their names on a beam before it was hoisted into place during an October 2014 “topping ceremony� for Pedro Arrupe, S.J., Hall.

RU: Winter 2015  

The magazine for Rockhurst University.

RU: Winter 2015  

The magazine for Rockhurst University.