Chadron State College
Chadron State College

Winter commencement plans set, 217 to graduate

December 12, 2013

Steve and Janice Erwin
Steve and Janice Erwin

Chadron State College commencement speakers this semester include current CSC English professor Kathy Bahr and former Chadron resident and distinguished service award recipient Steve Erwin.

Over 200 Chadron State College students will receive their diplomas Dec. 13 in two separate ceremonies.

At 2 p.m., 79 graduate students will receive their diplomas in the Memorial Hall Auditorium while later the same afternoon, at 4 p.m., 138 undergraduates will receive their diplomas in a ceremony scheduled at the Armstrong Physical Education Building.

All commencement exercises can be viewed online at, and on local cable channel 20.

Steve Erwin

Undergraduate Commencement Speaker

Steve and Janice Erwin

Distinguished Service Award Recipients

Steve and Janice Erwin, of Lincoln, have been friends and supporters of Chadron State College for nearly three decades and are receiving the college’s Distinguished Service Award.  Steve is also serving as commencement speaker.

The Erwin’s began their involvement with the college shortly after Steve became president of the First National Bank of Chadron in 1983.  He remained in that position until 1990 and was closely associated with numerous college endeavors during that time.  This included his election to the board of directors of the Chadron State Foundation and the couple’s willingness to lead or assist with numerous campus and community projects.

After leaving Chadron to assume executive positions with other banks, the Erwins stayed in close contact with the college and continued to be staunch supporters.  Both serve as Chadron State Foundation trustees and were vital members of the National Campaign Leadership Committee for the Vision 2011 campaign that was successful in raising almost $17 million to strengthen the college. 

The Erwins opened doors to several foundations and businesses in eastern Nebraska that made gifts that were vital to the campaign’s success. The couple also hosted many alumni gatherings and other Chadron State events in Lincoln.

They both received their degrees from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.  Janice taught at Papillion Middle School, Norfolk Catholic and Yutan High School.  Steve has been in banking for 37 years, serving at several Nebraska locations including Omaha, Chadron and Lincoln.  

In addition to their devotion to CSC, Janice and Steve have served on several boards.  Janice is currently working on committees with South Gate Methodist.  Steve is the past chairman of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce.  He currently serves on the Bryan Health Board and is a member of the Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Bankers Association, and Nebraska N Club.

The Erwins have two daughters, Megan and Lindsay.  Megan and her husband, Greg Kvols, farm at Laurel, Neb.  They have a four-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, and twin two-year-old boys, Jake and Grant.  Megan is a former teacher and now has an in-house business.

A decade after the family had moved nearly 400 miles from Chadron, Lindsay enrolled at Chadron State and was a member of the women’s basketball team. She graduated in 2005. Lindsay is married to Scott McLaughlin, a football coach at Wayne State College. They are parents of a three-month-old son, Cooper. Lindsay works for the Wayne Community Schools Foundation.

Dr. Katherine Bahr

Professor of English

Graduate Commencement Speaker

Dr. Katherine Bahr came to Chadron State College in 1994 as an assistant professor of English. In 2000, she was promoted to associate professor, a rank she held until 2007 when she advanced to professor. In the past, she has served as department chair and as interim Dean of Arts and Sciences for one year.

In a unique approach to a writing project in 2000, Bahr, assigned her Composition II students interviews with local veterans in an attempt to capture the poignant stories they brought back from overseas as well as the experiences of “unsung” heroes who remained on the home front.

Black-and-white photographs of the veterans were taken or digitally enhanced by CSC art students and framed with the biographical passages written by Bahr’s students. The 31-piece display traveled to a number of Nebraska Panhandle communities, and individual pieces have been exhibited at distant locations, including the U.S. Library of Congress, the Senate Russell Office Building in Washington, D. C., and the Nebraska State Capitol building.

The collection is permanently housed in the garden level of Crites Hall and can be seen online at:

Being raised an Army Brat made Bahr more acquainted with all aspects of the military life, including veterans' affairs. Her father was a WW II veteran.  One of his friends, as well as her high school math teacher, were Bataan Death March survivors, so she has always been aware of what is now known as PTSD.   She is currently a member of the American Legion Auxiliary.

Bahr taught a First Year Inquiry course this fall entitled "Virtue and the Warrior Spirit" with Dr. Brad Wilburn.  It is an exploration of the attributes and character associated with warriors past and present, using the “Iliad” and Jonathan Shay's “Achilles in Vietnam,” among other readings.  The students also listen to veterans who visit the class and conduct personal interviews with CSC veterans on campus.

Bahr earned her A.B. degree with honors in Philosophy and Religion from the University of Georgia where she received the Horace B. Russell Award in Ethics as an underclass student. Her M.A. was earned at Valdosta State University and her Ph.D. in English is from the University of Georgia.

She completed her doctoral dissertation about maternal objects in the writing of Matthew Arnold, a British poet and cultural critic, who died in 1888. Two of her published journal articles, one in 1998 and one in 2007, address other topics related to Arnold and his writings.

One of Bahr’s articles, related to Mari Sandoz, has also been published in the “Great Plains Quarterly.” She was honored with the Frederick C. Luebke Award for outstanding regional scholarship for the best article in that journal in 2011.

Kathy Bahr
Kathy Bahr