When Chadron State College’s recently hired dean of teaching and learning and liberal arts, Dr. Joanna Forstrom of Mobile, Ala., assumes her duties Aug. 1, it won’t be her first time taking care of business on the CSC campus.
Forstrom became familiar with the CSC campus while attending St. Martin’s Academy of the Black Hills in the 1980s. While representing the school, since closed, she earned two first-place medals in the CSC Scholastic Contest -- one in world history and another in consumer science and home economics. She also was chosen by the school to compete in typing, chemistry, geometry, American history and English during the annual event.
Forstrom said she has loved her 12 years as a faculty member at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., but was lured to Chadron by the opportunity to enter an administrative role and move closer to family. Forstrom’s family moved to Rapid City, S.D., from California during her childhood when her father was stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base. She has relatives in western South Dakota and central and southwest Nebraska.
At CSC, Forstrom will take part in a wide range of institutional efforts, being called upon to assist in developing the curriculum, enhancing student engagement, implementing strategic initiatives and assuming an active role in the Teaching and Learning Center.
“I love Chadron State’s mission, which I see as being very open and inclusive,” she said. “I like that we are going to be giving students an opportunity to be successful. And I love that I will be working with a group of colleagues who are focused on student success.”
Forstrom, who has been a professor of philosophy at Spring Hill since 2000, said she values quality administration, and that many of the features she loves about teaching will carry over to her role as an administrator.
“I like working with people, and I like working with people over the long-term,” she said. “I like to think in five-year chunks of time. With students, that’s worked very well. I like to see students as freshmen and when they graduate.”
Forstrom said she has been involved in hiring many Spring Hill faculty members, and has enjoyed becoming their mentor and watching them become tenured professors.
“There is a joy in hiring a colleague and working with them to develop,” she said. “People mentored me, and they are happy to see me becoming a dean.”
Forstrom, whose moniker ranges from the formal Dr. K. Joanna Seberger Forstrom to the informal “Dr. Jo,” has had many accomplishments since her test-taking days on the CSC campus.
She was active in many campus organizations, committees and initiatives at Spring Hill, a private Jesuit liberal arts institution with an enrollment of more than 1,400.
The new dean served as chairwoman of Spring Hill’s philosophy department and directed the college honors program for five years. She also led the faculty assembly for two years.
Forstrom’s honors include the Father Fagot S.J. Service Award, the Life Long Learning Teacher of the Year, Spring Hill College Teacher of the Year, twice Student Organization Advisor of the Year, and the Delta Gamma Foundation National Award for Teaching Excellence.
Forstrom earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1991 and 1994, respectively. Her doctorate in philosophy was earned at Washington University at St. Louis, Mo., in 1999.
Forstrom has developed numerous presentations and authored material for a variety of journals. Much of her research has been about John Locke, the English philosopher and physician who became a highly influential thinker in the 1600s. She considers her most significant writing to be “John Locke and Personal Identity: Immortality and Bodily Resurrection in the 17th Century Philosophy.” It was published in 2010 as part of the Continuum Studies in British Philosophy.
The new dean is married to Jerry Forstrom, a registered nurse who has accepted a job at for the Black Hills Special Services Cooperative. They have two rescue dogs, Moe and Lily.
The dean of teaching and learning position, which is one of three dean titles at CSC, became vacant when Dr. Charles Snare elevated from that rank to take the job of vice president for academic affairs. He officially began those duties July 1.
—Justin Haag, CSC Information Services