The annual Chadron State College Faculty and Staff Recognition Luncheon Thursday included special acknowledgment of six employees who have or will retire during the 2013-2014 academic year.
They are Dr. George Griffith, Dr. James Wright, Dr. Ann Peterson, Robyn Foral, Lynda Krejci and Audrey White.
Professor of Language and Literature
Dr. George Griffith has been one of Chadron State College’s most revered professors for nearly four decades.
This is his 38th year as a professor of language and literature at CSC. Griffith came to Chadron State as an assistant professor in August 1975. His tenure at the college is one of the four longest by a faculty member. His entire academic career since he earned his doctorate has been at CSC.
He attained the rank of full professor in 1985 and was chairman of the CSC Department of English and Humanities 1991-94 and 2008-11.
Griffith has a reputation for challenging students while teaching courses in English literature, composition and ethics. He was a founder and the director of the CSC honors program from 1988 through 2001, has led three study tours to Europe and was among the first CSC professors to embrace online learning at CSC.
In 2002, five years after his ethics course went online, he was presented the award for innovative excellence in teaching at the International Conference on College Teaching and Learning. Griffith also was selected CSC’s Outstanding Educator in 1989 and received the prestigious Burlington Northern Outstanding Teaching Award in 1991.
Griffith also has completed post-doctoral programs at Yale, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and three University of California institutions – Los Angeles, San Diego and Santa Cruz. Those experiences included institutes and seminars supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
As a professor, he developed about 40 scholarly articles, presentations and research projects, many of them related to Victorian studies and George Eliot. He has served as vice president and president of the Victorian Interdisciplinary Studies Association of the Western United States.
He also narrated a series of “This Day in Literature” podcasts that are available on the CSC English and Humanities website.
He was born and raised in Philadelphia. He earned a bachelor’s degree from LaSalle College in his hometown in 1969 and a master’s and doctorate from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1971 and 1975, respectively. He completed the examinations for his doctorate “with distinction.”
While in graduate school, Griffith met and married Maggie Knights, a native of New York who also was working on her master’s degree in English at SIU. They have two sons, Brian and Mark, both of whom earned bachelor’s degrees from Chadron State.
For years, Griffith has boasted that he’s had “one wife, one house and one job.” For the first 32 years the family lived in Chadron he also said he had one car, a Volkswagen bug. But he finally traded it off. More will soon be changing. He and Maggie plan to move to the Boise, Idaho, area shortly after he wraps up the current semester.
Professor of Business
Dr. James “Jim” Wright was a member of the faculty of Chadron State College from the fall of 1983 through the first summer session of 2013.
Wright joined the faculty as an assistant professor of Computer Science in the Department of Business and remained in that position until a school-wide reorganization set the stage for him to become the Chairman of the Computer Science Department in the School of Mathematics and Science.
In this position, he managed both the scientific and business facets of the computer education program. In 1989, he became dean of Graduate Studies and Research. He supervised all graduate programs, helped standardize the data gathering process between the four Nebraska State Colleges, and approved all grant proposals submitted by the college.
Wright was a “Reader” for the U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C. and evaluated scores of TRiO grant applications.
After four years, and following another reorganization, Wright reentered the classroom. He completed his full-time career as a full tenured professor teaching the following courses: Business and Economic Statistics, Quantitative Methods, Production and Operation Management and Professional Ethics.
He has served as president of the Chadron State College Educational Association and as a negotiator, representing the CSC faculty in contract negotiations. He served as president of Faculty Senate and continued as Chairperson and Co-chairperson of the Scholastic Contest Committee until his retirement.
Wright was born in Dayton, Ohio and is one of the last members of the “Silent Generation”. His wife often reminds him that he did not make the cut-off (as she did) for the “Baby Boomers”. He was raised in Central Indiana and remained there until 30 years of age. At that time, his wife, children and he moved to western Nebraska.
In western Nebraska, prior to joining CSC, Wright held several positions which included regional fiscal supervisor for Nebraska Rehabilitation Services, director of Panhandle Daycare Center (Sunshine Corner) in Scottsbluff, and two years as the principal of Gering Valley School, Gering, Neb.
He has served as president of the Chadron Kiwanis Club and was a 10-year veteran on the Chadron Public Schools Board of Education serving two terms as president.
He and his wife, Carol, are active in the Episcopal Church where Jim has served as lay reader, chalice bearer, worship leader, vestry member, senior warden and church choir member. Carol, a licensed mental health counselor, is the owner of “Contemplation, LLC, a counseling and coaching service.
They have three children. Greg is a software engineering manager at Kepware Technologies in Portland, Maine. Stacia is a registered nurse at Dr.’s Medical Center, Modesto, Calif. and Alicia, is a yoga instructor in Madison, Wisc. Each has three children.
Jim and Carol love to sing and have been long-time members of the CSC Community Choir.
Professor of Education
Dr. Ann Petersen, a western Nebraska native, became a faculty member in the Chadron State College education department in 2000 following 24 years of elementary teaching in rural Cherry, Sheridan and Dawes counties. She holds three degrees from Chadron State and her Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska. You could say she literally went from blackboards to Blackboard (an online course platform) and beyond.
Over the years, seeing her former students walk across the CSC stage with diplomas in hand and become young professionals has been rewarding for Ann. These have ranged from former elementary students to her current graduate students.
“Knowing that I had a small part in their success has been fun. Helping people grow is hard work, but it is exciting. It has been my honor to work with some fantastic young people who make positive impacts in their communities and schools,” she said.
Petersen said the Peace Corps quote, “it’s the toughest job I’ve ever loved,” could describe her teaching career.
She recalled with gratitude the encouragement she received from colleagues, administrators and staff through stressful times such as pursuing and completing her doctoral work, NCATE accreditation team work, and finals weeks.
When challenged by the CSC administration to grow both undergraduate and graduate education programs, she and her colleagues took the challenge and the programs grew exponentially.
Additionally, she credits her family with positive support while she prepared lessons, graded papers, worked with students, and fielded student questions sometimes during evenings and weekends.
Petersen’s most memorable adventure as a CSC faculty member was accompanying the 2013 CSC student and faculty group to Alaska for the Iditarod. Others included attending and sometimes presenting at regional, state, national, and international professional conferences. Her new learning positively impacted her CSC classes and her students’ learning experiences.
Some of her other professional involvements included teaching courses off-campus and ITV classes from distance sites as well as supervising student teachers. She often borrowed progressive ideas from schools where CSC teacher interns were placed.
She also participated in the local Educational Service Unit’s Sharing Opportunities Achieving Results initiative and professional cadres for both reading coaches and English Language Learner teachers.
She and her husband, Herb, have three adult sons. They are stepson Jim as well as Matt and David “Boo.” They have two daughters-in-law, and three grandsons. One grandson, Ian, is currently a CSC student. Herb, Matt, and Boo are mountain bike enthusiasts who worked untiringly to build the Pine Ridge area’s reputation for world-class mountain biking.
Petersen and her husband, Herb, note that "the tin tent awaits” for travel and camping adventures following the end of the current semester. Ann also hopes to stay in touch with education through CSC adjunct work.
Ann feels her career is embodied in the quote made famous by the late Christa McAuliffe: “I touch the future. I teach.”
Like many people, Robyn Foral moved to Chadron in 1997 with the intent to stay three years.
Her original plans were to live in Chadron while her husband, Tom, earned his teaching degree and then they would return with their daughters, Jenna and Leslie, to Gypsum, Colo. where their adult sons, Todd and Raymond, lived at that time.
The three years turned into four and when Tom graduated, he acquired a teaching position near Chadron and the four years turned into 15.
“It was very easy to raise a good kid in Chadron, where our girls were very involved in all activities at Chadron High School,” she said.
Jenna graduated from CSC in 2009 with a Family and Consumer Sciences degree and in 2011 with an elementary education degree. Todd attended CSC for one semester and Leslie took online classes for one semester.
Robyn began her CSC career in the Admissions Office, then worked in the Alumni and Foundation Office for 10 years and returned to Admissions before retiring in June of 2013.
“Each office provided unique experiences, either working with the alumni or helping the current students so they would become alumni. I really enjoyed both opportunities immensely and made so many friends. Friends that I really miss,” she said.
While at CSC, she served as president of the support staff association for one year, was a campus representative at the Newman House for five years and served on the scholarship appeals committee for several years.
In the community, she volunteered to be a backstage mom for the Miss Chadron/Miss Northwest pageant and even helped Mariah Cook who went on to become Miss Nebraska 2012.
Robyn is a self-taught cake decorator which led to baking and decorating gingerbread houses and wedding cakes. She also made jewelry and participated in the campus Christmas art show and sale for a couple of years.
Tom, an accomplished wood craftsman, showed Robyn some basics and she has joined him at several craft fairs selling serving trays and candle holders as well as painting toddler stools.
Now, living in Greenville, S.C. Robyn works at Proaxis Therapy as a medical records custodian and enjoys time with Ray and his family. Her office is right across the street from her grandchildren’s school so she can attend their activities and have an occasional lunch with them.
She just completed her first ½ marathon in 2:11:18 in March with Chadron friend Robin Foulk. The race took place on an abandoned rail system that has been groomed and paved for walking, jogging or biking.
Robyn is eager to try her gardening skills in the new climate and has already started some cool weather crops like spinach, lettuce, radishes, carrots and beets.
Raymond is owner of Ridgeline Construction Group, where Tom is working for him as a construction superintendent. Todd is a lineman with Holy Cross Electric in Gypsum, Colo. Leslie is a finance assistance for a law firm in Sioux City, Iowa, as well as an assistant basketball coach for Morningside College. Jenna is a third grade teacher at Longfellow Elementary in Scottsbluff, Neb.
Lynda Krejci was a member of the Chadron State College custodial maintenance department from 1999 until she retired in March of 2014. She speaks with fond regard of Old Admin and the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center, the two buildings in which she worked.
She started in Old Admin at the beginning of her employment and then added the Sandoz Center when it was remodeled in 2002, after which she worked equally in both buildings. In Sandoz, she helped set up tables and chairs and other items for events and gatherings in addition to cleaning.
“These two buildings have a lot of history in them. I enjoyed seeing the traveling exhibits in Sandoz. It is a really beautiful space and new things are happening there all the time,” she said.
Krejci feels that the large black-and-white photos mounted on the walls in Old Admin in 2012 added greatly to the building’s historical significance.
An Alliance area native, Lynda moved to Chadron as an adult and plans to stay in Chadron as she enters into retirement.
Krejci’s wide variety of interests include gardening, photography, sewing and crafts. Although she has no family in Chadron, she plans to spend some of her newly-found free time visiting her two sisters who live in Mitchell and Alliance.
Audrey White served as a member of the Chadron State College custodial maintenance staff from May of 1974 until April of 2013. She worked in all of the CSC residence halls throughout this time. She understood the importance of student retention and looked forward to organizing for the annual “move in” week in August when she and her co-workers greeted families and assisted students as they settled into their residence hall rooms.
—CSC Information Services