The Chadron State College Faculty and Staff Recognition Luncheon on Tuesday, April 10, included special acknowledgment of two employees who plan to retire this year.
They are Dr. Lois Veath and Deborah Stewart. Information about each follows.
Deborah Stewart learned about making positive impacts on people’s lives at an early age.
Being raised with two sisters, one of whom had a developmental disability, had a positive and profound influence on her life, she said. In the family living room near Golden, Colo., her parents created the Colorado Association for Retarded Children, an effort that led to many opportunities for special needs children. She said her parents’ active approach to her sister’s life provided a great example.
“It produced an awareness of the reality that a small group of dedicated people can join together to create significant social change and provide access to education and opportunity for others,” she said.
Stewart has made a career out of helping others. Prior to coming to CSC, she had counseling positions at more than a half dozen businesses and organizations throughout the West.
Stewart has served as the director of CSC’s social work program since 2006. She joined the faculty in 2003 and was the social work field director 2004-2006. Her favorite courses include diversity in the rural environment, and upper-level methods courses about individuals, families and groups.
“I started as an adjunct in the social work program at a time when we were without full-time faculty and the program was greatly diminished,” she said. “When I evaluated what I should do with the remaining years of my career, it seemed that I could best serve our veterans and other underserved populations by sharing my experience to educate the next generation of professional social workers.”
She takes pride in building CSC’s strong social work program, and its many graduates who serve the diverse populations of the High Plains. Also, an online collaboration with Florida State University has resulted in 21 CSC students receiving Master’s of Social Work degrees.
Stewart’s efforts to assure inclusion of CSC students in activities of the National Association of Social Workers led to her being selected as Western Region Social Worker of the Year in 2008.
Similar to many professions, she said social workers are being expected to do more with less. She said students must gain knowledge in an increasing number of responsibilities. At the same time, she said numerous advances have enabled social workers to better serve the public.
Stewart, a graduate of Arvada West High School, earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Metropolitan State College in Denver in 1987 and a master’s degree in social work from Colorado State University in Fort Collins in 1989.
When Stewart’s service ends in June, she plans to move to Thermopolis, Wyo., with her husband, Bill Lewandowski. She looks forward to visiting family and friends, swimming, fishing and creating artwork. Her long list of hobbies includes painting, sculpting, fabric art, sewing, dollhouse restoration and making marionettes.
She has four adult children and four grandchildren. The family includes daughter Melissa Bolthouse and her husband John, son John Swift and his wife Stephanie, son Caleb, daughter Rose, granddaughter Miranda McGuire, grandsons Ian and Henry McGuire, and grandson Li Valenzuela.
Dr. Lois Veath is retiring at the end of this academic year after more than 30 years at Chadron State College.
Veath is looking forward to more time with family and recreational activities as she leaves CSC.
“Nationally, the average academic shelf life for a provost or academic vice president is five years,” said Veath, who recently married Don Podobnik. “I am two years past that. It is time for me to go fishing in Montana, watch sunsets with my husband and bounce grandchildren on my knees.”
Veath, who served as a science faculty member, chair of the department of science, and dean of the former School of Arts and Science before becoming vice president, said one of her greatest challenges will be “leaving while the party is still going on,” a reference to CSC’s “innovative and unusual initiatives that are not happening on other campuses.”
This spring, after announcing her planned retirement last September, she relocated to Lincoln’s Nebraska State College System Office to work on special partnership projects at the system level, and to assist Dean Charles Snare with his transition to the VPAA position.
Under Veath’s leadership, Academic Affairs has initiated a number of intentional initiatives as part of the college’s Red Balloon strategic planning process. These initiatives have included the use of “faculty learning communities” to head up planning and implementation. Projects include the design and implementation of a high impact practices Essential Learning Program to replace the current General Studies core curriculum; the creation of a Teaching and Learning Center to assist faculty members with innovative high impact practices; the reorganization of the academic dean structure to create champions for important functions; and a new higher visibility role for academic computing, including such things as mobile devices, which were purchased for all faculty members this year. She is also working closely with the director of library and learning resources on the inception of the new Library Information Commons at the Reta King Library.
She used a quote attributed to Antoine Saint-Exupery to explain the approach: “If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the [people] to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
Veath also guided the successful effort of CSC’s accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission in 2007, and oversaw the college’s work in the pioneer cohort of the HLC Academy for the Assessment of Student Learning.
“As I commence my seventh year as academic vice president, or, as I like to call it, the cheerleader with money, I am really gratified by the amazing initiatives that our faculty, students and staff have undertaken and to keep Chadron State College a step ahead, as described by the Higher Learning Commission in Chicago,” she said.
Veath, who moved to Chadron with her late husband, David, in 1979, has had much advancement since being hired as part-time adjunct faculty member in 1981. After earning a doctorate in 1988, she was promoted to assistant professor and tenured in 1989. She continued through the academic ranks, and, at one time, was the only female full professor teaching at CSC.
Lois and Don own a home in Butte, Mont., where they will retire on July 1 and where he is teaching her to fly fish. Between them they have six children and two grandchildren: Jisella Dolan, general counsel and vice president of Home Instead Inc. in Omaha and daughter, Amelia; Logan Veath, major in the U.S. Army and first-year dental student in Lincoln and son, Warren; Blake Veath, major in the U.S. Marine Corps in Iwakuni, Japan; Bruce Podobnik, associate professor of sociology at Lewis & Clark University in Portland, Ore.; Kim McCarl, director of public relations and economic development in Wilson, N.C.; and Kerri Podobnik, director of results analysis for ICSS of American Express in London, England.
—Justin Haag, CSC Information Services