CHADRON – 2020 began as usual, but by March, COVID-19 began to dominate conversations and plans at Chadron State College.
While students were on spring break, the Nebraska State College System suspended face-to-face classes and students were notified they would finish the spring semester through remote delivery. Room and board refunds quickly followed, and Custodial, Residence Life staff and students adjusted to the quickly changing circumstances. Admissions also re-worked its approach to providing campus tours to prospective students.
Faculty pivoted in fine form and taught remotely to students. About 125 students remained in the residence halls and food service was scaled down to meet their needs. Dr. Joel Schreuder offered a creative solution for students in his concert choir class, virtual choir, after giving himself a crash course in use of music mixing software. Art Professor Laura Bentz incorporated designs submitted from her students scattered across several states to create a collaborative print in the Memorial Hall print lab, and Pathogenic Microbiology students analyzed COVID-19 in their class with Dr. Ann Buchmann.
Aware that K-12 teachers were also scrambling to meet school districts’ demands to teach remotely, administrators in the Education department quickly constructed a course to help educators adapt to online teaching.
Student services personnel worked rapidly to distribute $540,638 in CARES Act funds to students who faced hardships because of the pandemic. The Chadron State Foundation staff observed that some students’ needs might not qualify for CARES funds, so they created the Eagles Rise fund. In spite of unprecedented conditions, international students felt supported during a tumultuous time. Counseling was available for students via video conference to help them navigate the dynamics of trying to attend courses, stay healthy, work, and, for some, living back at home.
Campus leaders began to plan the institution’s first virtual commencement which debuted on YouTube May 9. In the summer, it was determined that the three state colleges would begin the fall semester a week early, forego fall break, and complete finals before Thanksgiving. A second virtual commencement took place at CSC Dec. 18.
College Relations and Information Technology collaborated to create a section of the website to convey information about closed buildings, active cases, and expectations of the administration regarding wearing masks, social distancing and hand washing to curb the spread of the virus on campus. College Relations also surveyed students and employees to assess their concerns and coordinated the information so Cabinet members could address issues during regular all-campus video conference meetings.
Progress with the Math Science renovation and expansion project was welcome news. The $32 million dollar Math Science Center of Innovative Learning (COIL) was officially named in June and the groundbreaking was Sept. 11, a day after the new Track and Field facility was dedicated.
Other CSC highlights from 2020 include, a new bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics receiving initial approval and the Range Management program honoring alumna Marji Patz of Powell, Wyoming, for her work in the profession.
Omaha area potter Wes Galusha combined a six-week Artist-in-Residence with a show of his work in Memorial Hall.
In February, some Super Bowl ads included a Budweiser design by CSC graduate Marty Lastovica.
Dr. Mckay Tebbs taught several sessions at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM).
The Dine With Us series was short-lived in 2020 due to the pandemic. It consisted of one program in February with sisters Swairie Fernando, an MBA student, and Swaranga Fernando, talking about their home country of Sri Lanka.
Artist-in-Residence Jenn Poarch taught two Theatre courses but only one production was completed before campus closed to the public. The Agriculture Department hosted a practitioner in residence, Dr. Rick Baydack, from Canada, and officials from Kenya who were planning the Joint 24th International Grassland Congress and 11th International Rangeland Congress.
Dr. Deanne Tucker, Humanities Professor, published a book about walking in film. The first of several pop-up food pantries took place in February. Dr. Tawny Tibbits also had her research about Belize granite published.
One of many firsts was the Western District Virtual History Day. The theme, “Breaking Barriers,” was exemplified by students from Chadron, Crawford, and Sioux County who quickly adapted to the virtual format.
Marjean Terrell was appointed to the NCSC Board of Trustees. She and her husband own and operate a family farm and ranch near Hay Springs, Nebraska.
Faculty receiving honors included Dr. Tony Perlinski who was recognized for his dedication and excellence in the field range management education, and Dr. Beth Wentworth, a Mathematics Professor, who received the CSC and NSCS Teaching Excellence Awards.
Dr. Susan Schaeffer, a Professor of Counseling since 2003, died from complications of diabetes in April. The campus community also mourned the death of Erica Morgan, a sophomore from Gibbon, Nebraska, who died in an automobile accident in central Nebraska, in September.
In an effort to provide additional opportunities for area students, CSC and Western Nebraska Community College established the Panhandle Advantage program which awards qualified transfers in Elementary Education or Business Administration from WNCC with scholarships to CSC. The two institutions plan to expand the list of academic programs offered through the Panhandle Advantage.
In June, the Story Catcher was presented online to reach audiences and respect public health guidelines restricting gatherings.
CSC alumna Lindsey Boardman of Medicine Bow, Wyoming, received the Maitland P. Simmons Memorial Award from the National Science Teaching Association and CSC employees and students led a peaceful march from campus to the Dawes County Courthouse to draw attention to social injustice.
Former Business professor Dr. Wendy Waugh was named a Dean in July. She was joined as a Dean by Dr. Alaric Williams, who came to CSC from Arkansas Tech University. New faculty members were welcomed in August.
Student accomplishments included three cadets in the ROTC program finishing in the top 25 percent in a training exercise at Camp Ripley Training Center in Minnesota, and Kevin Zhang of Alliance, Nebraska, completing an internship at the United Nations.
The NSCS announced the Career Scholarships program with a total of $1 million in scholarships to Chadron State College, Peru State College, or Wayne State College students pursuing careers in critical workforce areas.
In September, two new options were approved by the NCSC Board of Trustees. The Bachelor of Arts option in Musical Theatre is intended for students who plan to pursue a performance career in musical theatre. The Strength and Conditioning option within the Bachelor of Arts in Sports and Recreation Management will provide students an opportunity to qualify as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist from the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
Volunteers helped move rocks from the exterior of the Math Science building to a labyrinth planned by Art students west of C-Hill.
Alumna Chelsea Turner earned the Champion Award from the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska, Monique Fair utilized her knowledge as a CSC graduate in ecology and wildlife management to lead nature discovery classes in Denver, and alumnus Broc Anderson received the Mari Sandoz Research Award. Anderson, Dr. Kurt Kinbacher, and alumnus Dr. Marty Ramirez participated in the first virtual Pilster Lecture and Sandoz Symposium.
Music Professor Dr. Brooks Hafey designed a series of concerts to honor the 250th birthday of Beethoven. Thirty-two of the composer’s sonatas will be played by CSC musicians and guest performers throughout the 2020-21 academic year. Another music faculty member, Dr. John Wojcik, made two presentations for Nebraska Music Education Associations’ virtual conference in October and December.
Social Work seniors devised a plan to reach audiences with their educational information about LGBTQ+ in lieu of a conference. They distributed flash drives to school, counselors and other agencies. The Big Event Staff co-hosted a national video conference with Texas A&M in October.
CSC Live streaming extended the audience for the Theatre Department’s production of “I Love You, You’re Perfect. Now Change.”
Four students presented their writing during a virtual Sigma Tau Delta conference. They are Ashtyn Blacksheep of Fort Collins, Colo., Johnny Gill of Auburn, Neb., Julissa Gomez of Alliance, Neb., and Abigail Swanson of Grand Island, Neb.
As the campus continued to adapt traditional events to a new environment, CSC health professions students designed a series of videos to take the place of the usual in-person Health Professions Showcase.
Alumna Jordan Tierney, Miss Rodeo America 2020, was in the spotlight during the National Finals Rodeo.
—CSC College Relations