July 2024 Central Connection

July 3, 2024

Whitney Hank, fine arts coordinator at Ƶ-Columbus, helps students in the inaugural Fine Arts Camp get started with their abstract sculptures.

The fine, fun art of learning

“Process not product, practice not perfection” was the theme of the first-ever Fine Arts Camp June 17-20 at Ƶ-Columbus. The event drew about a dozen participants in the fifth through 12th grades.

“This camp was designed to help address a need that I have heard and witnessed throughout our community,” said visual arts instructor Chadric Harms who ran the camp along with fine arts coordinator Whitney Hank. “There simply are not many visual arts-based opportunities for youth, especially outside of what they are already learning in classrooms.”

This camp addressed that lack, giving participants a chance to explore multiple techniques and processes in art making and creative ideation with fun things like Japanese paper marbling, monoprinting, historical photographic processes, mark making and drawing exercises, sculpture and book binding.

Harms said he hoped the students had fun and that they learned about the “many different ways a person can explore art and/or be an artist. I want them to find value in trial and error, experimentation, adaptation, flexibility and creative problem solving.”

The camp also served as a learning experience for Harms and Hank, who will evaluate what went well and what they may want to do differently for next year’s camp.

Many people contributed to the camp’s success. Harms said having the support of the community and workforce education department and other Ƶ-Columbus staff members and administrators “to pursue these things on behalf of the college is a wonderful thing. The most exciting part is knowing that we are offering opportunities for children who love art, something that they can feel is for them.”

New alliance aims for seamless transfer

A new alliance between Ƶ and Arizona State University will provide students with a seamless transfer experience through the university’s MyPath2ASU program.

The program allows students to take the steps needed at the start of their college experience to successfully plan their transfer to ASU, ensuring a smooth transition process and student success.

MyPath2ASU is a set of customized tools available to transfer students from accredited U.S. regional institutions. These tools ensure a seamless transfer to ASU after earning credits or an associate degree from a U.S. community college or university and shortening the time to degree completion.

“I am pleased Ƶ students have another option for pursuing their degrees through a leader in online and in-person degree programs,” said Ƶ President Dr. Matt Gotschall. “Their recent expansion into artificial intelligence-enhanced offerings is innovative and already creating exciting opportunities for learners and educators alike.”

Through this partnership, students will have access to personalized benefits, including:

  • Assistance with choosing courses that apply to their ASU bachelor’s degree.
  • Guaranteed general admission to ASU and admission into MyPath2ASU major choice if all requirements are satisfied.
  • More than 400 course-by-course guided pathways into on-campus and online ASU degree programs.
  • Self-service, degree-progress tracking to minimize loss of credit.
  • Connected experience through personalized ASU communications to prepare academically and build a connection to ASU.

Training the teachers

Several students make trainers during one of four professional development workshops being offered this summer at Ƶ-Columbus in partnership with the National Center for Next Generation Manufacturing. The 12 Nebraska high school instructors and 10 out-of-state attendees from eight different states gain the knowledge they need to expose more high school students to mechatronics careers.

Long-time instructor begins retirement

Laura Bulas of Hastings is retiring as a business administration instructor at Ƶ-Hastings, a position she has held since joining the staff in 1985.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion and a master’s degree from Hastings College. After completing her graduate degree, she accepted an adjunct teaching position at Hastings College.

Throughout her career, Bulas has been actively involved in professional development. She earned an Edge Entrepreneurship Certification and wrote a successful grant proposal to the Coleman Foundation that she presented at the Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education National Conference in Florida. She also presented at the National Marketing Education Conclave, Nebraska State Student Senate Leadership Conference and the Nebraska State Tech Prep Conference and served as the Ƶ-Hastings, faculty representative on the Nebraska Entrepreneurship Task Force.

She served as an adviser for the Phi Theta Kappa Society and the Hastings Campus Business Club as well as integrated service-learning projects to enhance student leadership exposure at various community organizations such as the Hastings Crossroads Mission Avenue, Hastings Museum of Natural and Cultural History, and Hearts and Hands Against Hunger. Her teaching strategies were published in three editions of SouthWestern’s Great Ideas for Teaching Marketing. In 2004, Bulas received the Ƶ Spirit Award in recognition of her dedication and commitment to the Hastings Campus.

In the community, she is an active member of Faith Lutheran Church where she serves on the Education Board and Faith Church Council. 

She and her husband, Blaine, have two sons and six grandchildren.

In tribute: Mary Lou Elder, Jim Strayer

Mary Lou Elder

Mary Lou Elder, 95, died May 22.

Services were May 31 at Culbertson-Smith Mortuary in Wichita, Kan.

She was born on June 5, 1928, in Sedgwick County, Kan., to John Elden Dick and Mary Jane (Massey) Dick.

After graduating from Lebanon High School in Kansas, she earned a teaching certificate from Wichita State University and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Fort Hays State College.

She began her career teaching in one-room schools in Kansas and Nebraska. She taught elementary school for nearly 20 years before deciding to enter the nursing profession. She was an LPN and RN who earned a master’s degree and doctorate in nursing.

She worked for a few years at Smith County Memorial Hospital, in Smith Center, Kan. before returning to teaching, first at Mary Lanning School of Nursing in Hastings and then at Ƶ-Grand Island. She retired in 2003.

She married Orin William Elder on Aug. 6, 1947.

Survivors include her daughter, Carol Morris; her son, Robert Elder; a sister; five grandchildren; and several great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband; parents; two sisters; son, Bill; daughter, Betty; and a grandson.

Memorials may be made to One Room One Teacher, University of Nebraska-Kearney.

Jim Strayer

Jim Strayer, 74, died on June 20 at his home in Littleton, Colo.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. on July 20 at the United Methodist Church in Aurora. A meal will follow the service.

He was born on Oct. 8, 1949, in Fairbury to Marge and Ernie Strayer. He was an avid Boy Scout who received his Eagle Scout award in 1967.

He graduated from Fairbury High School in 1967 and Fairbury Junior College in 1969. While attending college, he worked for the Fairbury Journal-News as a photographer and printing assistant. In 1969, he transferred to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and worked part-time for the Nebraska Department of Economic Development as a writer and photographer.

He married his high school sweetheart, Kay (Roskilly) Strayer on Oct. 30, 1970.

He joined the U.S. Marines Corps in 1970 and served as the public affairs NCO for the Marine Air Reserve Training Detachment in Memphis. After his release from active duty in 1973, he returned to UNL, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1974 and a master’s degree in 1987.

He was editor of the Albion News and the Wayne Herald before joining Ƶ in 1977, first as the Columbus Campus public information officer and then as college-wide marketing and public relations director. He retired in 2016.

He was an active member of the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations and served for five years as a district director and national board member.

He received multiple state and national awards for his work both at the newspapers and Ƶ.

Survivors include his wife; son, Matt Strayer of Littleton, Colo.; Darcy Strayer of Richmond, Va; and two grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, sister and brother.

Condolences may be sent to KayStrayer73@gmail.com. Donations are suggested to the American Civil Liberties Union or the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Employee news

Administrative Office

Justice Silver has joined the staff as an information technology services specialist.

Ƶ Foundation

Alumni Director Cheri Beda was one of this year’s Grand Island Leadership Tomorrow graduates.

Columbus Campus

Tyler Francis has joined the staff as head basketball coach.

Early College adjunct instructor Adam Whitmore received the 10/11 Golden Apple Award for the impact he has at Columbus High School in his full-time position as its electronics, mechatronics and robotics teacher.

Grand Island Campus

Taylor Brase, early childhood education program director, was named to the Grand Island Area Chamber of Commerce Top 35 under 35 list.

Jesse Garcia has been promoted from part-time adult education computer lab aide to full-time adult education assessment technician.

Kim Ottman, disability services director, has been elected president of the Western Iowa and Nebraska Association of Higher Education and Disability. She will serve a four-year term on the executive board.

Michelle Setlik, associate dean of business, received the 2024 Grand Island Inspire Community Partner Award and was a finalist for 2024 Grand Island Inspire Woman of the Year.

Hastings Campus

New employees include Cesar Arroyo Jr., admissions recruiting coordinator; Ernest Blanchard, business administration instructor; Abigail Cully, residence life coordinator; Thomas Freeman, biology instructor; and Michael Saint, clay target shooting head coach.

Eron Baker has resigned as director of the hospitality management and culinary arts program.

Jessica Johnson has been promoted from part-time to full-time adult education coordinator.

Laci Reiners has shifted positions from career and technical sciences administrative assistant to TRIO/SSS project coordinator.

Kearney Center

Stephanie Berry has joined the staff as Entrepreneurship Center director.

Ben Musick has joined the information technology services department as a client systems team member. Although he will be based at the Kearney Center, he will have college-wide responsibilities.