Doctor of Letters Degree

The Doctor of Letters degree is conferred for the accomplishment of distinguished and creative contributions to the world of learning and service. During his life, Dr. Delwyn Harnisch demonstrated both innovation and Christian character through his leadership and service in education.

A respected scholar, church leader and Concordia University, Nebraska alumnus, Harnisch began his career in Hong Kong as a professional educator and continued his career in the United States until his unexpected death in 2016. His extensive research in education, continuing education, adult education, mathematics and student achievement demonstrate his passion for international students and education. His expansive work in the field of assessment and instruction at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln is evident in the more than 150 research articles and five books he authored and with the $30 million in secured grants he received to study the use of computers to improve educational benefits, enhancing mathematics performance of junior high students, the evaluation of national youth sports programs, and many more.

Harnisch was co-director of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Assessment and Leadership for Learning professional development program for Nebraska superintendents and principals and he was affiliated with the Teaching Excellence and Achievement program (TEA) which provides opportunities to develop the expertise of outstanding secondary school teachers from around the world.

In bestowing this degree on Dr. Delwyn Harnisch, Concordia University, Nebraska praises God for those who use their unique gifts in service and leadership. We are pleased to confer upon Dr. Delwyn Harnisch the Doctor of Letters degree, honoris causa, in memoriam.

Photo of Dr. Frederick Schamber
Dr. Delwyn Harnisch
(in memoriam)

Lincoln, NE

Delwyn Harnisch received a Bachelor of Science degree from Concordia Teacher’s College now Concordia University, Nebraska in 1971. He received a Master of Education and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1977 and 1981 respectively. Following graduation, he accepted a call as science department chair at the Hong King International School where he served from 1971-1975.

While studying for his advanced degrees, Harnisch joined the faculty at the University of Illinois where he later became an associate professor of educational psychology. In 2000, he moved to Nebraska and joined the faculty at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln where he served as professor of educational psychology and teaching, learning and teacher education in the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln until his death.

His numerous national and international honors include a Fulbright Scholarship for 2011-2012 spent at the University of Georgia, Tbilisi, located on the borderlands of the European and Asian continents. He received outstanding teaching awards at both Illinois and Nebraska and received multiple research fellowships and grants both nationally and internationally.

An active member of Messiah Lutheran Church in Lincoln, he brought many of his international students to church, calling it a cultural experience. His faith was always demonstrated in the work he did and his leadership positions at his church were something that brought him great pleasure. He lived his life with a Christ-driven passion for his family, friends, students and colleagues.

He is survived by his wife, Patricia and their four children, Harlan Harnisch, Heather Witzel, Heidi Means, and Hans Harnisch, as well as 11 grandchildren.

The Doctor of Letters degree is conferred for the accomplishment of distinguished and creative contributions to the world of learning and service. Joel Sartore is a photographer, speaker, author, teacher and conservationist who believes that every species is important and if they are not documented, they will disappear.

He is the founder of the “Photo Ark” project, a multi-year “National Geographic” project where he plans to photographically document every animal species in captivity around the world. His goal is to document all 12,000 captive species using consistent photographic techniques to highlight the uniqueness and wonder of each of God’s creations.

Sartore’s photographs have been projected on the Vatican, the United Nations building and on the Empire State building. His photographs establish a visual connection between imperiled animals and people around the world who can help protect them.

In bestowing this degree on Joel Sartore today, Concordia University, Nebraska praises God for those who use their unique gifts and talents in service to the world. We are pleased to confer upon Joel Sartore the Doctor of Letters degree, honoris causa. Mr. Sartore is unable to attend today’s commencement ceremony.

Photo of Dr. Frederick Schamber
Joel Sartore

Lincoln, NE

Joel Sartore received a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, in 1985. Originally from Ralston, Nebraska, he has traveled to every continent and specializes in documenting endangered species and landscapes.

He believes, “It is folly to think that we can destroy one species and ecosystem after another and not affect humanity. When we save species, we’re actually saving ourselves.”

Sartore is a National Geographic Fellow and has been a contributor to “National Geographic Magazine” for 27 years with 37 published stories including 15 covers. In addition to the work he has done for “National Geographic,” he has contributed his photography expertise to “Audubon Magazine,” “Time,” “Life,” “Newsweek,” “Sports Illustrated” and numerous book projects.

He has written eight books including: “The Company We Keep: America’s Endangered Species,” “Nebraska: Under a Big Red Sky,” “Photographing Your Family,” “Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species,” “Let’s Be Reasonable,” “Fundamentals of Photography,” “Fundamentals of Photography II” and “The Photo Ark.”

Sartore and his work have been the subjects of several national broadcasts including National Geographic’s Explorer, the NBC Nightly News, NPR’s Weekend Edition and an hour-long PBS documentary, “At Close Range.” He is also a regular contributor on the CBS Sunday Moring Show with Charles Osgood. He recently appeared in the documentary film, “Racing Extinction” and will soon be featured in a three-part series on PBS titled, “Rare: Portraits of the Photo Ark.”

He holds membership in the National Press Photographers Association, is a founding member of The Photo Society, past member of the “National Geographic” Photo Advisory Board and founding fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers.

An active member of his community, Sartore serves as trustee and fundraiser for the Lincoln Children’s Zoo, member of Preservation Association of Lincoln, member of Wachiska Audubon Society and member of Round Table in Lincoln, Nebraska. Additionally, Sartore is an Eagle Scout.

He and his wife, Kathy, live in Lincoln and have three children, Cole, Ellen, and Spencer.