Highlights Winter 2017

Concordia University, Nebraska was blessed with many successes this year. The following list includes some of the many accomplishments achieved by our faculty, staff and students. 

Student Highlights

Megan Boye, graphic design major, is working with Dr. Jen Janousek, program director of Master of Public Health, and the PHAN (Public Health Association of Nebraska) board to develop an infographic of Public Health in Nebraska over the past 150 years. 

Carly Bueltmann, Jeremy Rodriguez, Rebecca Schiffer and Caleb Witt participated in a “Business as Mission” trip to Cambodia, led by Dr. Curt Beck, associate professor of business administration, and Dr. Shannon Leinen, master of business administration program director.

Maria Carabantes, Rachel Duhachek, Sabrina Hayter, Rachel Hoarty, Kathie Nguyen, Elizabeth Plasek, and Hannah Rose presented at the annual meeting of the Nebraska Psychological Society in York, Nebraska in November. 

The following Concordia students traveled to Shenzhen, China, during the summer of 2017 in order to teach English, art, music, dance, science, and robotics at 5 weeks of Buena Vista Concordia International Schools camps "Imagination Station" and "Crazy About Science!":  David Epperson, Britnee Fear, Madalynn Fousek, Jadyn High, Jacy Johnston, Sarah Krause, Susie Moll, Zachary Moll and Andrea Wiese. 

Laura Hedstrom won the chapter-level competition (which is the first round of competition) in the Regional Competition for Young Organists.  The competition is sponsored by the American Guild of Organists.  This first round was on Saturday, March 11 at St. Paul United Methodist in Lincoln.  She performed three major works and a hymn arrangement, totaling about 40 minutes.  Because she won the chapter-level competition, she now advances to the next round of competition which will be held during the regional convention of the American Guild of Organists in Iowa City.

Rachel Hoarty presented her research at the Nebraska Psychological Society conference in York in November.

​Concordia students Cadence Klemp, Jessica Lewis and Toria Turner took part in a visit to Mill Neck School for the Deaf in Long Island, New York, from May 7-12 as participant observers in education and ministry opportunities to the students there.  They are continuing to meet on campus this fall as a "think tank" to develop ideas for partnership opportunities between Concordia and Mill Neck School for the Deaf.

Mason Koeritz obtained a highly competitive REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) internship at Oklahoma University in Chemistry, funded by the National Science Foundation.

D’Mauria Martin and Justus Thompson attended the first Black Student Leadership Summit at Concordia University in Chicago, Illinois, with Dr. Laurie Zum Hofe. Students and professors from our sister schools in Selma, Chicago, Bronxville, Mequon and Ann Arbor shared their stories and experiences during the weekend conference. 

Aidan Moon, theology student, was enrolled at Westfield House, Cambridge for Fall 2017.

Mark Schmidt, an English and Computer Science double major, published a poem on the web journal, “Cutting Through the Fat.” Starting November 8, 2017, Mark’s poem, “Partisan Politics,” was the site’s featured poem of the week.

Faculty Highlights 

Dr. Vicki Anderson, associate professor of education, led a selected group of undergraduates on a trip to Shenzhen, China, where the students taught English, art, dance, music, science, and robotics in a day camp setting to K-8 grade Chinese students at the Buena Vista Concordia International School.   

Dr. Vicki Anderson served as Conference Chair for MIDTESOL 2017 in Kansas City, the annual conference of the MidAmerica TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) affiliate; MidAmerica TESOL serves ESL professionals in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas.  Dr. Anderson will serve as MIDTESOL's president in 2018.

On November 16 and 17, Dr. Vicki Anderso led professional development workshops for teachers of schools run by the Lutheran Church--Hong Kong Synod in Shenzhen, China, at Buena Vista Concordia International School.

Dr. Jeffrey Blersch, professor of music, published two new works with Concordia Publishing House: The seventh volume in his series “Hymn Introductions, Harmonizations, Interpretations, and Accompaniments” and a partita for organ on the hymn tune THAXTED (“We Praise You And Acknowledge You”). Two of his compositions, a hymn concerto on “A Mighty Fortress” and a choral anthem “There Is A Green Hill Far Away” were selected as “Editor’s Choice” pieces by J.W. Pepper.

Dr. Jeffrey Blersch recently performed Reformation 500 Hymn Festivals at St. John Lutheran Church, Seward, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Des Peres, Illinois, and two sold-out performances at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City.

Seth Boggs, assistant professor of art, designed the identity marks (logos) for the 2017 Nebraska District Convention. 

Seth Boggs painted a 12' by 30' mural in a classroom at the ROCK Lutheran Church in Seward in August.

Dr. Anna Boriack, director of master of education in curriculum and instruction, presented at the Focus on Teaching and Technology Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, in September on “Online Faculty Expectations” with Angie Wassenmiller, director of online education and classroom innovation, JoAnne Garrison, core faculty member and Angela Walston, core faculty member.

Dr. Sara Brady, assistant professor of psychology, accompanied three students from the department to the Great Plains Psychology Conference held March 10-11, 2017 in Hays, Kansas. One student presented a poster of his capstone research at the conference.

Sara Brady co-presented a poster on academic entitlement at the annual meeting for the Society of Personality and Social Psychology in San Antonio, Texas.

Dr. Damien Byas, MPH adjunct instructor, was a keynote speaker at the World Heart Congress Cardiology Conference in Japan this past May.

TESOL adjuncts Carrie CunninghamRebecca MussackVeronica Hill and Suzanne Hult presented at and helped organize and run the annual fall ESL conference hosted by Omaha Public Schools.

Dr. Nancy Elwell, Dr. Rob Hermann, Jonathon Moberly, Dr. Brent Royuk and Dr. Kathleen Wheeler attended the Higher Learning Commission annual meeting in Chicago April 1-4, 2017.

Rev. Dr. Brian Friedrich and education professors Beth PesterKen Sankey and Dr. Bernie Tonjes attended the Association for Lutheran Secondary School’s annual conference in Houston, Texas

Dr. Amanda Geidel, assistant professor of education, and Dr. Lorinda Sankey, associate dean of the college of education, health and human services, represented Concordia at the June 8 meeting of Nebraska Association for College of Teacher Education held at Concordia’s Fallbrook campus

Dr. Amanda Geidel was accepted to present at the AACTE National Convention in Baltimore in March 2018.  She will be presenting her dissertation research on “The Effects of Student Teaching on Student Teacher Perceptions toward Inclusion.” Dr. Geidel also presented “The ABCs of Classroom Adaptations” at Concordia’s Early Childhood Education Conference in June 2017.

Dr. Elizabeth Grimpo, associate professor of music, has played “Das Jahr” by Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (a full-length piano cycle) at Hastings College (Nebraska), Adams State University (Colorado), Wayland Baptist University (Texas) and Christ Lutheran (Lincoln). 

Dr. Elizabeth Grimpo performed in the “Lisztomania” recital held in UNL’s Kimball Hall on October 22nd, in honor of Franz Liszt’s 206th birthday. The recital was divided into three sections, highlighting Liszt as poet, pianist, and priest. and Grace Lutheran (Lincoln) – in addition to CUNE, as part of the yearlong celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Justin Groth, assistant professor of art, was selected to participate in and received an Honorable Mention in the Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale 2017 hosted by the Korea Ceramic Foundation. The exhibition was held at the Icheon World Ceramic Center from April 22-October 9, 2017 in South Korea.

Professor Emeritus Joe Gubanyi gave an invited presentation at the American Kestrel Symposium at Wilmington, DE, titled, “Integrating a Kestrel Nest Box Program in Undergraduate Biology Courses at Concordia University, Seward, Nebraska.” The presentation was based on work that Prof. Gubanyi and his senior biology students did in a biology research course.

Dr. Gabriel Haley, assistant professor of English, had an essay, “The Re-Enchantment of Education: C. S. Lewis’s Idea of the Holy,” accepted for publication in The Journal of Scriptural Reasoning. Haley also had a paper, “Contemplative Ductus,” accepted to be presented at the 21st Biennial Congress of the New Chaucer Society, to be held in Toronto, Ontario, July 2018.

Adjunct Professor Cheryl Haun presented to the CUNE Joshua Workshop in January. She was also the co-chair for the Missouri District Early Childhood Conference in March. 

Dr. Joel Helmer, professor of geography and social sciences department chair, took 14 students in his Introduction to Geographic Information Systems and Advanced Geographic Information Systems courses to the Nebraska GIS/LIS Symposium in La Vista, NE on April 25th.  The students shared their original GIS research projects via oral poster presentations.

Dr. Joel Helmer published “The Shotgun State,” in the May 2017 edition of NEBRASKAland Magazine.

Dr. Joel Helmer presented “A Boot Leather Geography of the Nebraska Sandhills” for the Department of Geography’s Colloquium series at Oklahoma State University on April 21st.

Julie Johnston Hermann, director of global opportunities, and Kristen Nugent, assistant professor of education, served alongside nine CUNE students in Amatitlan, Guatemala with CALMS.

Dr. Jen Janousek, program director of Master of Public Health, is working with student graphic design major, Megan Boye, and the PHAN (Public Health Association of Nebraska) board to develop an infographic of Public Health in Nebraska over the past 150 years. 

 Dr. Jen Janousek is serving on the Seward Public Schools Wellness Committee and has been attending the Coordinated School Health Institutes put on by the Nebraska Department of Education and the East Central District Health Department.  The institutes focus on developing a school-wide infrastructure to promote and implement healthy school environments.  She was also asked to serve on Four Corners Health Department’s Community Health Advisory Group.  This group works on community health assessment and community health improvement projects.

Dr. Jen Janousek judged the poster presentations at the Public Health Association of Nebraska Conference in Lincoln, Nebraska September 21-22. 

Dr. Jen Janousek along with Dr. Christian Albano from Concordia University, Wisconsin presented “Lutheran Public Health Programs and Consortium: A Call for Action” at the 2017 ALCF (Association of Lutheran College Faculties) conference September 29th-30th.

Dr. Jen Janousek was selected to receive the Health Education Teacher of the Year Award at the college/university level from the Nebraska Society for Health and Physical Education (SHAPE). She will be recognized at their fall conference on November 6.

Jessica Kite, Concordia’s Director of Handbell Choirs and adjunct professor of music, collaborated with William Wolfram, professor emeritus of art, and Concordia art student Taylor Workman ’17, to create the layout and design of Concordia Handbell Choir’s first CD, “Faithful.” The 14-track CD was released April 2017 and is available through the Concordia University Book Store.​

Dr. Doug Kuhlmann, Athletics Administration program director, presented at the Missouri Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA) conference April 8-11 in Ozark, MO. His presentations were titled, “Ethics in Athletic Administration” and “Strategic Planning and Funding.”

Dr. Erica Lamm, assistant professor of communication, edited and published a Special Issue of Listening Education, about methods for teaching listening in the classroom using a metacognitive perspective. It is published online for members of the International Listening Association.

Dr. Erica Lamm presented a paper at the International Listening Association conference in June about students as listening leaders.

Dr. Andrew Langewisch, professor of business administration, completed peer reviewing a submission for the journal “IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics.”

Dr. Torri Lienemann, program director for Special Education and Early Childhood Special Education, met with researchers at Vanderbilt University in February to continue collaborations on The IRIS Center for Faculty Enhancement online modules.  Dr. Lienemann is serving as a content expert in the area of written expression and students with learning difficulties. 

Dr. Shannon Leinen, program director for the MBA, and Dr. Kathleen Wheeler, literacy program director, presented at the International Listening Association conference in Omaha.

Dr. Shannon LeinenDr. Curt Beck and four students participated in the CUNE Business Department trip to Cambodia to serve with an organization called CAPAX World from May 15-22, 2017. 

Dr. Shannon Leinen co-authored a paper with Dr. Kathleen Wheeler on Bibliotherapy and Children’s Book Use in the classroom submitted for publication in late summer.

Dr. Matt McNiff, adjunct professor for Special Education and Early Childhood Special Education, was named as Director of Special Education at ESU 5.   

Dr. Kathy Miller, professor of sociology, her Cultural Anthropology class and several other students, faculty and staff members served at Project Homeless on October 11th at Pinnacle Arena. 

Matt Myers, ESL coordinator, taught a special course for Vietnamese EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teachers in Viet Nam that is crafted to be part of the TESOL Program (i.e., it can lead to graduate credit for the introductory course of the MEd in TESOL).

Bryan Moore, associate professor of theatre, participated as a guest theatre artist at Region VIII’s Festival 49 in Mesa, Arizona, as part of the national Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. He adjudicated the student dramaturgy regional competition, participated in a new play development panel and led a dramaturgy workshop session.

Dr. Kristen Nugent, assistant professor of education, presented at the Central States Conference for Foreign Languages in Chicago in March, 2017.  The topic was based on her dissertation study on intercultural communicative competence. Dr. Nugent also led professional development for Omaha Public School World Language teachers, “Creating Integrated Performance Assessments” in August, 2017, and two professional development workshops for Parkview Christian School, Lincoln, faculty in February and March on the topics of “Building Relationships with Students” and “Differentiated Instruction for Engagement.” In October 2017, Dr. Nugent presented at the Nebraska International Language Association annual conference in Millard, Nebraska, to 63 world language educators.  Her presentation was titled “Build Student Excitement About Culture While Using the Target Language.”

Dr. Annette Oliver, assistant professor of education, completed and successfully defended her dissertation “Examining Characteristics of Early Childhood Teachers in Relationship to Their Perceived Value of Visual Arts in the Classroom” in January, 2017. Dr. Oliver chaired Concordia University’s June 14, 2017, Early Childhood Conference featuring Ellen Booth Church and ten additional break-out sessions with over 180 participants attending. Dr. Annette Oliver also presented a two-hour workshop for the staff at St. John Child Development Center in Seward.  The topic was “Approaches to Learning.”

Education professors Shanna Opfer, Beth Pester and Dr. Lorinda Sankey attended the LEA National Administrator’s conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

Beth Pester, assistant professor of education, traveled to Belize this summer to work with the Ministry of Education of Belize, in partnership with CALMS (Central American Lutheran Mission Society), presenting workshops to secondary educators in Belize.  These workshops were part of the collective effort to provide professional development to the teachers in Belize for improved education in the country.  She presented with fellow alum, Katie Bockelman ’92  GR ’16. Pester also presented “Crash Course on Teaching Young Adolescents…and Loving Them!” at the Iowa Districts East and West Teachers' Conference on October 26 and 27, 2017, and spoke at the Conference Banquet about church work recruitment. 

Don Robson, professor of art and art department chair, was awarded the Nebraska Art Teachers Association “Higher Education Art Educator of the Year” award for 2017.

Don Robson will curate the Annual Juried Art Exhibition at the Norfolk Art Center in spring 2018.

Ken Sankey, director of educational administration and liaison to LCMS School Leadership Education Program, helped facilitate a session titled “LISsT: Leadership Institute Small School Training” at the 6 PACK: Regional Lutheran Education Executive Conference.

Dr. Lorinda Sankey, associate dean for College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, presented “A Genesis Model for Christian Faculty and Classrooms” to the LC-MS Missouri District Administrator Conference in Springfield, Missouri, in July, 2017. Dr. Sankey presented “Professional Growth: Focus on Teaching and Learning” and “A Genesis Model for Christian Faculty and Classrooms” at Iowa Districts East and West Teachers Conference, October 26 and 27, 2017. She also contributed an article titled, “A Genesis Model for Christian Faculty and Classrooms” for the Spring 2017 edition of Issues in Christian Education.  

Bill Schranz, director of synodical placement and education career specialist, will begin a second consecutive two-year term as chair of CONFEDEX. As chair, Schranz’s role is to organize an agenda for the annual synodical placement meeting, oversee and direct annual meeting, report to LC-MS district education executives, project synodical placement candidates available and provide annual request and placement statistics from Concordia University System data at the annual CONFEDEX meeting. Schranz also presented a webinar to the LC-MS Northwest District Administrators in December, 2017, regarding the process for requesting a candidate from the Concordia University System and the shortage of candidates. 

Andrew Schultz, assistant professor of music, and Kurt von Kampen, professor of music reviewed nearly 300 auditions for Musical Arts Day – Honor Band and Honor Choir. The 202 chosen high school participants (77 honor band, 125 honor choir) were on campus Friday, October 27 to work with Concordia's music department students and faculty in clinics and rehearsals.

Dylan Teut, interim professor of education, delivered several professional presentations: “Strategies for Engaging Young Readers in Non-fiction and The Best New Books for Primary Readers,” at the 2017 Mid Nebraska Early Childhood Summit in York in March 2017; "When Worlds Collide: Powerful Integration of Reading and Writing Instruction" at the Nebraska District Professional Church Workers Conference in October 2017; "Engaging Young Children in Nonfiction" and "Planting Seeds of Love and Kindness: Building Empathy through Picture Books" at the Iowa District East and West Teachers Conference, October 2017; and “Breathing Life into Nonfiction Read-Alouds” at the Read Aloud Nebraska Conference in November, 2017. Teut also moderated two panels at the International Literacy Association Conference in Orlando, Florida, in July 2017. The panels featured seven award-winning authors and focused on non-fiction writing strategies and diversity in children's book illustrations. Additionally, Teut was invited to write the classroom discussion guide for Lindsay Eager’s “Race to the Bottom of the Sea,” published by Candlewick Press.

Dr. Dan Thurber, professor of English, presented a paper at an international humanities conference in London. This accepted paper grew out of the special topics course on the novelist Joyce Carol Oates that Dr. Thurber developed and taught for students on our campus. The conference had over 3,000 attendances from forty-five countries.

Dr. Bernard Tonjes, associate professor of education, presented “Your Teaching and Your Brain” and “A Cognitive Approach to Faith Integration” at Iowa Districts East and West Teachers Conference, October 2017. Dr. Tonjes presented “A Cognitive Approach to Faith Integration” and “Domestic Violence and Child Sexual Abuse: Implications for Policy and Practice” at Best Practices for Ministry-Heartland, St. Peters Lutheran Church, Columbus, Indiana, on October 12, 2017. He also presented “A Cognitive Approach to Faith Integration”, “Domestic Violence and Child Sexual Abuse: Implications for Policy and Practice” and “Your Teaching-Your Brain” at Nebraska District Professional Church Workers Conference, Lincoln, Nebraska, October 2017. Dr. Tonjes delivered the keynote address, “Supporting the On-going Legacy of Lutheran Education,” at the Blue Cross Celebration at Heartland Lutheran High School, Grand Island, November 12, 2017.

Angie Wassenmiller, director of classroom innovation and online education, along with the core faculty members, submitted four conference proposals, which were all accepted.  They presented the following sessions at the Focus on Teaching and Technology Conference in September: Beyond the Helpdesk: Supporting and Mentoring Online Instructors; Overcoming Isolation in Online Education Teams;

Faculty Expectations for Online Instructors; and Faculty Learning Communities for Online Learning

Dr. Kathleen Wheeler, program director of master’s of education literacy, presented at the International Listening Association in Omaha, Nebraska, and Plum Creek Literacy Festival in Seward, Nebraska.

Dr. Laurie Zum Hofe, associate professor of English, attended the first Black Student Leadership Summit at Concordia University in Chicago, Illinois, with two junior sudents, D’Mauria Martin and Justus Thompson. Students and professors from our sister schools in Selma, Chicago, Bronxville, Mequon and Ann Arbor shared their stories and experiences during the weekend conference.

Laurie Zum Hofe and Von Thomas, Multiculteral Profram Specialist, will be working together to host the 2nd Annual Black Student Leadership Summit in February. Last year, about 35 Concordians from Chicago, Wisconsin, Bronxville, Alabama and Ann Arbor met for conversation, encouragement and learning experiences at Concordia, Chicago.

Dr. Laurie Zum Hofe, with the help of coaches Patrick DaberkowCorby OstenWes Coomes and Thomas Byrd, has created a mentoring program for incoming football student-athletes for the 2017-18 academic year. Faculty and staff mentors include Corrie Johnon, Jon Moberly, Chris Luther, Don Robson, Aaron Nix, Billy Moore, Von Thomas and Laurie Zum Hofe

The Department of Art faculty will be featured in a group art exhibition at the Norfolk Art Center April – May 2018.