The annual Chadron State College Faculty and Staff Recognition Luncheon Thursday included special acknowledgment of eight employees who have retired or will retire during the 2014-2015 academic year.
Professor of English and Humanities
After 21 years as an English professor at Chadron State College, Dr. Kathy Bahr says one of her first impressions when she arrived for the interview in 1994 was right on target.
“I accepted the position because I liked the people in the department,” she recalls. “They included Andy Elkins, George Griffith, Mike Cartwright, Bob Doxtator, Bob McEwen and the Dickinsons—Zane and LaVida. They seemed like nice people who would be fun to work with. Although all but Bob McEwen have left or retired, their replacements have continued the tradition of exceptional collegiality. It’s been a great department and a great gig.”
Bahr calls herself an “Army brat” who lived in various places as a youth. When her father retired from the military in 1965, the family settled in Augusta, Georgia, her mother’s home town. She earned both her bachelor’s degree and her doctorate from the University of Georgia and her master’s degree from Valdosta State.
In recent years, two family members have joined her in Chadron. They are her mother, Myra Omelanuk, who is still doing well at 91, and sister Joy Omelanuk, a project coordinator for CSC’s academic vice president, Dr. Charles Snare.
During her tenure at CSC, Bahr notes that she’s taught “lots of literature, ethics and composition.”
A highlight occurred in the spring of 2000. That’s when she and the 19 students in her Composition II class interviewed nearly 50 World War II veterans and others who had been involved in the war effort. The stories they produced were a kind of sequel to Tom Brokaw’s best-seller, “The Greatest Generation.”
“It was a great learning process for the students,” she says. “Before we started the interviews, the students did lots of research about the war so they would know what questions to ask. They became engrossed by the project. One of them who had never written more than a one-page paper before, wrote 10 about the veteran he interviewed.”
At the end of the semester after the stories had been completed, she had the students write another paper on what they had learned from the project.
Bahr believes one student’s reaction to his experience is a touching, rather humorous tribute to the veterans. He said, “From now on, if I get stuck behind some old man poking along in his car, I’ll stop and think that he might have been at Guadalcanal, and maybe I won’t be so impatient.”
The project produced what is now a legacy for Bahr and her students. Thirty frames hanging on the walls of a large room in the lower level of Crites Hall contain the stories and photos of many of those who were interviewed. The display was taken to several western Nebraska locations and exhibited in the rotundas of both the State Capitol in Lincoln and the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.
In 2004, Bahr took on another special project. At the urging of the author, she helped rewrite and expand the book that Virginia Kain Lautenschlager of Hot Springs, South Dakota, had written about Cuny Table in the western portion of the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1984. They received a grant from the South Dakota Humanities Council to print the new edition.
Bahr also received the Frederick C. Luebke Award given annually for the best article published in the Great Plains Quarterly in 2010. The essay is titled “Collateral Damage: Veterans and Domestic Violence in Mari Sandoz’s ‘The Tom-Walker’.”
Even though she’s retiring from teaching, Bahr plans to continue writing. She has agreed to spearhead the technical writing as Chadron State prepares the Assurance Argument for its next Higher Learning Commission accreditation visit in 2017.
She also hopes to do some creative writing and has been asked to judge the short fiction portion of a writing contest based in Utah this summer.
But it won’t be all work and no play for Bahr and her husband, Rick. He recently semi-retired after operating a foreign car repair business in Chadron for about 20 years. Their plans include bicycle riding, jet skiing and riding snowmobiles in the winters.
Bahr also will visit her two daughters, her sons-in-law and two grandchildren who live in the Washington, D.C., area, more frequently.
Professor of Art
Art professor Richard Bird is retiring after 28 years at Chadron State College.
When Bird was hired as a CSC art faculty member in 1977, he was the youngest person in Memorial Hall. Now, at 67, he is the senior art faculty member. He has spent all but six years of his college teaching career at CSC.
Bird developed an appreciation for art by visiting galleries and museums he toured during his childhood in numerous states and foreign countries because his father was in the Air Force.
After college, Bird also joined the Air Force and was fortunate enough to become a film director for NASA recording documentary footage of missile launches and weapons testing. He also once traveled to Okinawa to document the return of the island, occupied by U.S. forces, to Japan.
His mother was an accomplished seamstress, so he and his siblings grew up with scissors and other readily available craft supplies.
Creating with his hands is something he still enjoys.
“Glass is my favorite. When I was a college student, I never wanted to spend all my time in one media. I always knew I wanted to teach in a small college so I worked in a wide variety of media including ceramics, glass, fiber arts, photography, jewelry and screen printing,” he said.
Bird considers himself lucky because his profession coincides with his hobby.
“It never seems like a job. I’m still playing in the sandbox,” he said.
Bird started at CSC in 1977, but he was lured away by Hastings College’s well-funded program in 1978. He taught there for six years before he and his wife, Patty, herself an art teacher, moved to Colorado to work in a foundry to gain experience with bronze casting.
They then moved to California where Bird managed a manufacturing plant overseeing the production and distribution of drywall, ceiling textures and other related materials.
Through a message from a friend, Bird learned that there was once again an open position in the CSC art department. He was hired to teach art at CSC for the second time in January 1988.
In the early days of the glass program, the school only had one furnace, in the middle of the ceramics room. Later a primitive, outside structure was built, but it was in need of upgrades for a growing program. Over the summers of 1988 and 1989, Bird and two work-study students improved the building just south of Memorial Hall that currently serves as the program’s glass blowing studio.
Bird keeps in contact with former students like Rod Clause, who is currently an adjunct in the department, and Brice Turnbull, a glass blower who was recently highlighted on a Colorado television station.
“Sometimes you wonder if you’re making an impression on your students and then an occasional email or Christmas card from someone you taught years ago provides the confirmation that you are having an effect,” he said.
After retiring from full-time status, Bird plans to stay in Chadron until his wife Patty retires from her art teaching position with the Chadron Public Schools. He plans to pursue his hobbies of stamp collecting and refinishing antique furniture and cars. He also wants to continue his involvement with the Dawes County Historical Museum.
He intends to remain as an adjunct CSC faculty member for at least one year, teaching Crafts I and II in a recently designated space for art classes in Burkhiser. He will teach weaving, batik, tie-dye, making paper and glass beads, and weaving on looms donated by a former student of Bird’s when the program he directed at the University of Nebraska-Kearney ended.
The Birds’ oldest daughter Kelly lives in Loveland, Colorado, and is the marketing director for Hensel Phelps, one of the nations’ top government construction contractors. Their youngest daughter, Ryan, works in Chicago for CAPCO, a company that pairs high school seniors with college scholarship programs.
Dean of Education, Health, Physical Education, Recreation/Sports Management, Psychology, Counseling & Social Work; Dean of Assessment & Accreditation
Dr. Margaret Crouse is retiring after 36 years of service to Chadron State College. Crouse was hired as a home economics instructor in the fall of 1979 and served as dean in various areas since 1993.
Although the Kansas native’s original goal was to move on to a position at a research university after one year, she soon found she enjoyed supervising student teachers and teaching home economics at CSC.
“My first love is teaching. The outcomes are immediate. It is very rewarding when you see the lights go on for students,” Crouse said.
For five summers, she worked on her doctorate in home economics education from Oklahoma State University, completing it during a sabbatical in 1984.
In the late 1980s, she was involved with securing a multimillion dollar Higher Education Act Grant for CSC. Funds from the grant accomplished four major goals: Establishment of CSC offices in Scottsbluff and North Platte, starting the Interactive Television System to deliver courses to outlying areas, bringing enhancement to computer services on campus and providing the first adult student services offered by the college.
Between 1984 and 1990, Crouse and her colleagues in applied sciences wrote numerous mini state flow-through grants for Vocational Education projects, including school-to-work job shadowing programs, in the Panhandle.
This work resulted in Crouse receiving the 1993 Special Service to Nebraska Home Economics Teachers award and the 1994 Outstanding Vocational Educator award from the Nebraska Family and Consumer Science Association.
Additionally, Crouse was honored with the 2001 Family and Consumer Science Leadership award from the Nebraska Family and Consumer Science Association.
Crouse has seen several academic restructurings from eight academic divisions when she started to the current configuration of three deans.
Following 14 years in the classroom, Crouse served as a dean in Business and Applied Sciences from 1993 to 2002. In this position she worked with colleagues Dr. Merlyn Gramberg and Dr. Jim O’Rourke to establish CSC’s range management program.
“We wanted to keep the program sharply focused on range, soils and cow/calf operations. We built a solid academic foundation and then Chuck Butterfield came in and really promoted the program,” she said.
Another work group including Crouse, Butterfield and Dr. Georgia Younglove raised money for the initial program statement for the new Rangeland Complex.
Creation of the Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degree was another major development led by Crouse along with Steve Taylor in Extended Campus Programs during the late 1990s.
The BAS degree allows Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree holders in a technical field such as transportation or veterinary technology to use the AAS degree as a major at CSC and then complete general education requirements, now called the Essential Studies.
Over the decades, Crouse has supervised the process leading up to two accreditation visits in education, two in social work, two in business and one currently in progress for music. She said her role has been to build rapport and organize each team’s efforts.
After returning to the classroom for two years from 2002-2004, Crouse began a second term as dean in 2004.
Professor of Business, Director of NBDC
When Dr. Tim Donahue arrived at Chadron State College in the fall of 2005 as a marketing/entrepreneurship professor, he already had a wealth of experience in those fields. Since then, he has expanded on those activities and says he has thoroughly enjoyed his 10 years at CSC.
Although he and his identical twin brother Tom were born in the hospital at Panama City Air Force Base in Florida just before their father began his tour of duty in Korea nearly 65 years ago, he has spent most of his life in the Upper Midwest. He received his master’s degree from St. Thomas College in St. Paul, Minn., and earned his doctorate at the University of South Dakota.
Donahue has owned and operated small businesses and has received five district, three regional and two national awards from the Small Business Administration for outstanding consulting work. In addition, the Independent Business Association of Minnesota selected him its “Small Business Champion” in 1983.
With this background that includes serving as director of the Minnesota SBA Center and district director of the SCORE program for SBA Counselors in South Dakota, it makes sense that he has been the director of the Nebraska Business Development Center at CSC since arriving on campus. In that position, he has worked with dozens of small business owners and those considering going into business along Highway 20 from Valentine to the Wyoming state line.
Teaching is another of his passions.
“I try to push and stretch my students. I tell them I want them to ‘dare to be great.’ Since 2008, I have mostly taught graduate courses online. Those students are already motivated. The undergraduate students, maybe not so much. A few of them need some jacking up. But once you get through to them, they’ll fix it,” he said.
Donahue is proud to have been a part of the great growth that has taken place in the MBA program while he’s been at CSC. He says there are around 150 students enrolled now, more than 10 times the number of 10 years ago.
Another highlight occurred in the spring of 2009, when he spent nearly three weeks discussing American business practices and observing the lifestyle in Russia. While there, he spoke 16 times to students in business and economics classes at Voronezh State University and met with numerous business and community leaders. His article, “Horizons of an American Economy,” that had been published in the Nebraska Decisions Journal by the UNL School of Journalism in 2008 was translated and published in a magazine by Voronezh State the following year.
Although he’s leaving Chadron State, Donahue will remain active in his specialties. He is building a home along the Yellowstone River in Billings, Mont., so he can live near his twin brother, a retired chiropractor. He also has been added to the staff of the Billings Small Business Center. While his duties have not been fully determined, he has written a grant that, if approved, would allow him to direct a program to assist military veterans in business decisions in a six-state area.
During the past 20 years, Donahue and Tom have been involved in a unique study being conducted by Harvard University on post-traumatic stress disorders involving identical twins who are veterans. While Tom served in the Coast Guard, Donahue was on the front lines for a year (1970-71) with the Army during the Vietnam War and knows he’s fortunate to have survived.
The Donahues have gone to Boston three times for extensive physical and psychological examinations that Tim notes were quite grueling at times.
“I had to let them know I’d had enough the last time they put me in a tube for a magnetic residency experience,” he said.
Besides Tom, Donahue’s family includes two daughters and five grandchildren.
Project Coordinator - Marketing Development
During her 25 years at Chadron State College, Annette Langford assisted hundreds of students she never met. That’s because she was the “go between” who helped students register for the college’s various off-campus offerings and often was in contact with them while they studied and completed the coursework. A portion of her work involved helping the students connect with the professors who developed, taught and graded the courses.
“I was really busy most of the time,” Langford said. “I pretty well stayed at my desk because I never knew when someone would be calling on the phone with a variety of questions. I got so I could answer most of them. I tried to be as helpful as possible.”
Annette noted that, although the delivery system changed through the years, she worked with students who were enrolled in CSC courses from coast-to-coast and border-to-border as well as some foreign locations.
“I never saw most of them, but surely talked to a lot of them by telephone or exchanged e-mails with them,” she added.
Langford is a native of Hay Springs and returned to live there in 1988 after following her husband to Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and Puerto Rico while he served in the Coast Guard. She began working at Chadron State in the summer of 1989. For a short time, she worked under Dr. Rod Fleeman, who, as assistant to the president, was beginning efforts to expand the college’s off-campus offerings.
When Fleeman left the college, her supervisor became Dr. Bill Taylor, who was directing the college’s off-campus, alternate learning and directed independent study programs. When he retired in 1994, Langford helped “break in” her new boss, Dowell Smith, who was appointed director of regional programs. Since the early 2000s until she retired in November 2014, her supervisor was Steve Taylor, who was the assistant vice president for extended campus programs.
During the early years of her tenure, a majority of the students she worked with were taking what she calls “paper” correspondence courses. Generally, both the courses and the work produced by the students were handled by the U.S. Mail. She recalls that as many as 500 courses were in progress at one time, and no student could take more than two at a time. Chadron State ended its long association with correspondence courses via the post office last summer, a few months before she retired.
Langford also was involved, particularly with the registrations, when Chadron State faculty members traveled throughout western Nebraska and even to bordering states on occasion to offer courses off-campus. The pace quickened more during the 1990s when CSC was a pioneer and eventually became a national leader in developing distance learning courses that were beamed from the campus to numerous western Nebraska sites. By the fall of 2010, the college was offering 161 separate courses totally or partially online and many others that were enhanced by online components.
Also in this era, what Langford calls “online” correspondence courses emerged and the exchanges of materials between the faculty members and the students took place over the Internet. CSC continues to offer these courses. There was less paperwork involved, but often more communication was needed between the students and her office on how to access and send the information via the computer.
“It was busy, but I absolutely enjoyed my job,” Langford said. “I got along well with all four of my supervisors and had very few problems working with the faculty or the students.”
Langford is proud to say that she’s among the Chadron State graduates. She had earned an associate’s degree while living in North Carolina and completed the courses to earn her bachelor’s degree from CSC in 1994.
This past winter, she and her significant other for the past 25 years, Greg Walgren, had fun ice fishing and they are looking forward to trying their luck on the open water and camping this summer. She also has much more time to spend with her son Everette Langford and his two children in Hay Springs, and her daughter Windy, her husband Jason Perkins and their three children in Scottsbluff.
Maintenance Repair Worker IV
Lewis Myers came to work at CSC as a maintenance worker in October 2000. From 2010 until his retirement in September 2014, he was the lead boiler operator.
Dale Grant, vice president of administration and finance, said Myers had a high level of ownership of the operation and made several improvements that reduced expenses.
Human Resources Coordinator
Gayle Stetson retired as Human Resources Coordinator in January 2015, capping nearly a 25 year career at Chadron State College.
Stetson was a friendly and helpful employee for more than two decades in a variety of positions at Chadron State. Luckily, for the human resources office and the rest of the CSC staff, those traits will continue in the foreseeable future because she’s still working at the college in a part-time capacity.
Stetson began working at the college in August 1990 as an Accounting Clerk I in the Machines Room, formerly located in the basement of Old Admin. She quickly moved up the stairs to the Business Office as an Accounting Clerk II in September 1991 and became the Business Office Manager in 1996.
For the next 13 years, Stetson was instrumental in developing business office procedures and programs. She also played a pivotal role in the implementation of PeopleSoft to the Chadron State campus.
PeopleSoft, a management system for student information, was a major undertaking for several Chadron State College staff members when it replaced Student Information System (SIS) Plus in late 2008 at the governor’s discretion. Stetson and other CSC cohorts traveled to Lincoln every week for training from the beginning of 2009 to June 2010.
Stetson said she and others would leave Monday and return to Chadron Thursday afternoon.
In June of 2009, Stetson transitioned to Human Resources and worked, in her own words, “with a little bit of everything.”
“My time at Chadron State College was special,” she said. “I really enjoyed the work and the people. I liked accounting and working with numbers, so I enjoyed that part the most. I had the opportunity to meet some good people and work for them, as well.”
Stetson was also grateful for the professional development she received at Chadron State.
“Some of the trips we went on for conferences were helpful. We went to Atlanta and I had never been to the East Coast, so that was a good experience,” she said. “We also went to Anaheim, Dallas, Denver and Nashville, which gave me the opportunity to see places I’ve never really seen. They were fun. You learned a lot and met a lot of people.”
Stetson has lived in Dawes County for nearly her entire life. She was born in Chadron and grew up in Crawford and Whitney. Her first work experience came at her parents’ café, D&W Service, in Whitney.
“When worse got to worse, the kids were roped into doing dishes,” she said.
She graduated from Crawford High School in 1966 and her first “real job” was at Kansas-Nebraska Natural Gas.
She and her husband, Danny, lived in Montana, Illinois and South Dakota before returning to Chadron in 1986, which was the same year Stetson began taking night classes at National Business College in Rapid City. After she and her family moved to Chadron, she transferred her credits to Chadron State and began taking courses full time, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and real estate in 1990.
“I wanted my kids to go to school and I thought if I showed them I can do it at my age, then that would show them to do that same thing,” Stetson said.
Stetson and her husband Danny, who has worked for Harris Sales in Chadron since 1985, will celebrate their 44th wedding anniversary in August. The Stetsons have two adult children.
Stetson said she hopes to travel during her retirement and has a trip planned this summer with her family to Arizona and Las Vegas.
Associate Vice President of Market Development
Steve Taylor is retiring after 20 years of service to Chadron State College. He was hired in 1995 as the Director of Extended Campus Programs meaning he was responsible for coordinating academic offerings at CSC’s Scottsbluff office and sites in North Platte, McCook, Alliance and Sidney.
Taylor came to his position with 24 years of experience in retail. He and his brother owned and operated several men’s and women’s clothing stores in Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming.
In 2000, after earning his Master of Business Administration from CSC, Taylor was promoted to assistant vice president for Extended Campus Programs.
In 2011, Taylor was promoted to associate vice president of market development. In these roles, he has been charged with summer school, early entry, study abroad, Interactive Television distance learning, online learning, economic development, correspondence courses, College Level Examination Program (CLEP), professional development and continuing education courses, specialized training courses, and development of new market opportunities for CSC.
One of Taylor’s major accomplishments was a joint venture with Dr. Margaret Crouse. They developed the Bachelor of Applied Science degree in the late 1990s in response to a need among regional railroad employees and others who have technical-based associate of applied science degrees that formerly would not transfer to CSC or elsewhere.
“Working at CSC has been a great experience. I’ve enjoyed it a great deal, met some great people, and have appreciated the opportunities I’ve had here,” he said.
Attracting international students to CSC has been a main focus for Taylor in recent years.
In the past three years, international enrollment has steadily increased with the development of an international agent-partner network. Taylor expects international enrollment to continue to grow with the recent development of several transfer articulation agreements with universities in China.
Taylor thoroughly enjoys international travel. Since he and his wife vacationed in China about six years ago, he returned four times on behalf of CSC. Taylor also has traveled internationally in Austria, several locations in the Caribbean, England, France, Greece, Germany, Italy, Russia, Korea, Scotland, Czech Republic, Canada, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. About one-third of the trips were for CSC. Following his retirement, Taylor and his wife plan to travel to France this fall.
He and his wife, who is a vice president at Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff, have one daughter, who is an electrical engineer in Iowa, and one granddaughter.
—CSC College Relations