Inaugural President’s Medal awarded to John F. Kotouc

Inaugural President’s Medal awarded to John F. Kotouc

MedalWe celebrate Bellevue University’s 50th Anniversary by starting a new tradition. The President’s Medal will recognize individuals who have made a singular contribution to furthering the University’s mission and culture. John F. Kotouc, the senior member of our Board of Directors, is a fitting recipient. He is married to Wende Kotouc, his executive Co- chair of American National Bank, and they are the parents of two children.

Bellevue College had only 687 alumni when John joined the Board of Directors in 1976. Today, the University will confer its fifty thousandth degree! For four decades, John has made his presence felt. His leadership, business acumen and analytical approach have been invaluable. His quiet determination to ask the right questions and find the best answers has helped the University to plan and allocate resources well, navigate challenges, benefit from opportunities, and become Nebraska’s largest private college.

A fourth-generation Nebraskan, John upholds a family tradition of community service and advocacy for education. As Executive Co-Chairman of Omaha-based American National Bank, John oversees an organization which, under his watch has grown to 39 full-service banks in three states totaling more than $3 billion in assets.

Medal2As someone who has benefited from his own education as a cum laude graduate of Harvard University who earned a Law degree at the University of Nebraska, John has continued to work tirelessly to help others to benefit from education, including the older working students who are so typical of Bellevue University. He has attended hundreds of Bellevue University Board meetings, including a term as Board Chair. He has supported the University financially, and asked others to support it. With his parents, the late Otto and Mid Kotouc, John established the Kotouc Family Professorship Award, which recognizes and rewards outstanding teaching by University faculty members.

John is broadly recognized as a leader in his profession and his support and involvement on behalf of numerous non-profit causes including Brownell Talbott School, Omaha community foundation’s “Omaha Gives!” through American National Bank’s Title Sponsorships, Schools and Scholarship Chair, Harvard; Leadership for Life;  The Stephen’s Center, The Hope Center, Youth for Christ, and numerous community and missional causes. . In 1996 he received an honorary Doctor of Commerce degree from Bellevue University. He commented at the time: “It has been gratifying to serve on Bellevue University’s Board for the last 20 years and to watch its mission to the non-traditional student emerge and flourish.”

Today, two decades later, in recognition of his professional accomplishments, his support and service to the community and Bellevue University, the University is honored to present its inaugural President’s Medal to John F. Kotouc.


McCabe Leads Sanford Institute

McCabe Leads Sanford Institute

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

SONY DSCA dedicated life-long learner, Nancy McCabe is embracing new experiences as the director of the University’s Sanford Institute of Philanthropy. The Institute already has a successful event under its belt having hosted an event that attracted 200 people to Happy Hollow Country Club on December 13 to discuss nonprofit sustainability, building capacity, and developing strategic/business plans.

The University’s Sanford Institute of Philanthropy is dedicated to helping nonprofits significantly increase their fundraising capabilities and positive impact in the Nebraska and Western Iowa region. Based on the vision of philanthropist and entrepreneur T. Denny Sanford, the University’s partnership is part of a growing nationwide network of Institutes that offers proven curricula presented by recognized nonprofit leaders, members of academia, and renowned philanthropists.

The national initiative is led by California-based National University, home to the founding Sanford Institute of Philanthropy, which was launched in 2014. National University, which has developed the core curriculum based on Mr. Sanford’s vision, is overseeing the creation of a network of affiliate Institutes. A foundational element of each Institute is the Cause Selling approach, which blends the passion of philanthropy with an emphasis on business principles.

McCabe is embracing the opportunity.

“There is so much to learn. We have a great opportunity having the partnership with the Sanford Institute in San Diego,” McCabe said. “They have the curriculum. We just need how to apply that curriculum to our communities.”

On the agenda will be seminars addressing a number of issues from a non-profit perspective including use of social media, strategic planning, and fund raising.

“We’re also working on bringing like-minded non-profits together to talk about their specific issues such as non-profits that work on military issues, or children’s issues,” McCabe said. “We’re looking at bringing those groups together to see how they can collaborate.”

McCabe comes to the University after serving as the executive assistant for current Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts. She worked for Ricketts, while both were at TD Ameritrade and left with him to help run his campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2006.

McCabe earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts from the University in 2013, which capped a four-decade-plus journey to her degree which began in 1969. In addition, both her son, Tyler, and daughter, Melissa, have earned degrees at Bellevue University.

“It was fun having all ages of students in my classes, and the professors all brought interesting life experiences to the classroom,” McCabe said in the Fall 2013 issue of the View. “The first class I took was the Kirkpatrick Signature Series and the best part was that my son, Tyler, was also in the class. We really enjoyed being in it together, since we have similar views on the founding fathers, government and politics. We had a great time.”


Staff Spotlight: Johnny Farnen

Staff Spotlight: Johnny Farnen


Meet Johnny Farnen, Science Lab Assistant

How long have you been at Bellevue University? In various capacities, for three years.

What programs/ classes do you teach? I am the laboratory manager/technician/resident science nerd for Natural Sciences in the CST.

Tell us about your previous work/schools? I’m a retired US Navy Gunfire Controlman. I worked in defense contracting, industrial engineering, and electronics. I attended a number of  fine art and technology related institutions around the planet. I also am somewhat active in the fine arts scene.

Degrees/awards: B.S. in Biology, Stationary Engineer 3rd Degree,

What do you love most about teaching at Bellevue University? While I’m not a teacher per se, I provide real time support for our professors and students here in the labs. With the multi-million dollar laboratory classrooms, state-of-the-art equipment, and what is likely one of the most independent positions on campus I greatly enjoy seeing people gaining exposure to stuff they otherwise would never think about.

What motivates or inspires you? I do not have to specialize. In the course of an average day I get to be a chemist, a biologist, a zoo keeper and a gardener. Sometimes I have to do some paperwork too, but I don’t let that get me down. My previous career was equally exciting, but I worked extreme hours and odd shifts. I never had time to live or have hobbies. Now I get paid to do my hobbies.

What experiences or people had the most influence on you? That is a tough question. I guess simply put, I have always been the kid with a bug in a jar and muddy feet.

What interests you outside the classroom? What are you passionate about? I enjoy native landscaping, wrenching on my 1958 VW Bug, fossil hunting, and sculpting. If I have time I like to read, paint and draw.

What is your favorite teaching experience or memory? Introducing Biology 101 students to field collecting specimens for class. I had forgotten that not everyone got to run around with a backpack full of jars, bags, and field guides.

What career did you dream of when you were a child? I wanted to be a paleontologist or a special effects make-up artist. (Comically, those are some of my hobbies now!)

Where did you grow up? Summit Township, Erie County, Pennsylvania

What is your favorite book? I have a list. First place is a tie between The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and Steel Beach by John Varley.

What is the most important piece of advice you give to your students? Never rush out of a lab. If you get done early, hang out and chat with everyone. That is where you get your most valuable education in the sciences.


Project Management Programs Earn GAC Accreditation

Office of Public Relations

Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

Phone: (402) 557-7372


For Immediate Release

Contact:           Dan Silvia

October 28, 2016

Bellevue University

(402) 557-7372

Project Management Programs Earn GAC Accreditation

(October 28, 2016 – Bellevue, Neb.) The Project Management Institute’s Global Accreditation Center (GAC) Directors voted in October 2016 to confer GAC Accreditation status upon two additional Bellevue University programs, the Master of Project Management program and the Master of Science in Management of Information Systems, Information Technology Project Management Concentration.  In doing so, the GAC Directors recognize the strong commitment to project management educational excellence that has been demonstrated by Bellevue University.  The accreditation of these two graduate programs will complement the Bachelor of Science in Project Management program which has been accredited by GAC since 2014.

“Earning accreditation from GAC is a remarkable achievement,” said Mary Dobransky, Dean of the College of Science and Technology at Bellevue University. “This accreditation recognizes the hard work and dedication of the faculty and staff, and confirms to our students that they are receiving a quality education in line with all the standards set forth by PMI, the industry’s recognized leader.”

The Bellevue University Master of Project Management (MPM) is an advanced professional program that is academically recognized as a terminal degree.  Bellevue University offers one of only three GAC accredited MPM programs in the U.S.

The Master of Science in Management Information Systems (MS-MIS) is a program that provides students both technical competencies and management techniques needed for management positions in Information Systems and related industries.  This program offers students the opportunity to specialize in several areas, including the Information Technology Project Management Concentration.

Bellevue University is a recognized national leader in providing post-secondary education opportunities for working adults. A private, non-profit institution, Bellevue University serves students at learning sites in three states, as well as worldwide through its award-winning online learning platform. Bellevue University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. For more information, visit

— Office of Marketing and Public Relations —

Faculty Spotlight: Tony Jasnowski

Faculty Spotlight: Tony Jasnowski

Jasnowski, Antoni

Meet Tony Jasnowski, Bellevue University English Professor

How long have you been at Bellevue University? 23 years; started in the fall of 1993

What programs/ classes do you teach? English composition primarily

Tell us about your previous work/schools? BU is my first full time job. I taught half time and part time at UNO from 1981 to 1993. I also taught part-time at the College of St. Mary from 1980 to 1983

Degrees/awards: I have a PhD in Rhetoric and Composition from UNL. I have an MA in English from UNL, and I have a BA in English from the University of Dallas.

What do you love most about teaching at Bellevue University?  It’s hard to identify what I love “most” since there are so many things I love about teaching at BU—my students, the freedom and encouragement we are given to innovate, my cool office, so many kind and considerate colleagues in all the offices at the University—the Library, the Writing and Tutoring  and Testing Centers, advising, Student Support Services, the coaches, security, financial aid, the registrar, marketing, computer services, the administrative staff for all the colleges at the University. After 23 years, I have had the opportunity to develop relationships with so many on campus, but I guess what I love most of all would have to be my fellow faculty. It is such an honor to be counted among their ranks. Students come and go, but my fellow faculty remain for a little longer at least to support and inspire and delight.

What motivates or inspires you? My fellow faculty. I am surrounded by so many smart and dedicated and skilled colleagues, people who really know how to teach and create an environment for authentic student learning. I probably shouldn’t mention names since there is no way that I can name all the inspirational faculty at BU, but if I could be more like Kate Joeckel and Pat Artz and Karla Carter and Bob Hankin and Gloria Lessmann and Roxanne Sullivan, my students would be so much better off in my classes.

What experiences or people had the most influence on you? Mr. Richard Schanou, my high school English teacher at Aurora High School, was a tremendous influence on me. He truly had a gift for encouraging and challenging you and helping you achieve more than you thought you were capable of.  There were probably two experiences that influenced me the most. One was being part of a family with immigrant parents. My parents and oldest sister and brother emigrated from Poland to America following WWII. Three more children, including me, were born in America. So I grew up with a strong respect and appreciation for my Polish ancestry. The second most influential experience in my life had to be the five years I spent studying to be a priest for the Lincoln, NE Diocese at Holy Trinity Seminary in Dallas, TX. Although I never became a priest, I did earn my BA in English while in the seminary and I discovered and embraced the many riches and splendors of my Roman Catholic faith.

What interests you outside the classroom? What are you passionate about? I enjoy theater very much. My wife and I try to see as many good plays as we can whether those are at the Omaha Community Playhouse or at some other professional or community theater in town or at a local college, high school, or even elementary school. And I’ve become an avid watcher of The Walking Dead television series.

What is your favorite teaching experience or memory? I guess I would have to say my favorite memory is the short story class that I taught at UNO just before I became full time at BU. Most of the courses that I have taught in my career have been courses that students are required to take in order to graduate—first year composition courses or the Signature Series. But that short story class was an elective, and having students in class who have freely elected to take the class because of their interest in the topic and their desire to learn makes all the difference in the world. I looked forward to coming to class each week. Everyone contributed to our discussions as we laughed and argued and learned while the time flew by.

What career did you dream of when you were a child? Like many English majors, I suppose, my fantasy was to be a famous writer.

Where did you grow up? Aurora, NE, the county seat of Hamilton County. It is also the hometown of Dr. Harold Edgerton, the inventor of the strobe light and high-speed flash photography.

What is your favorite book? The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

What is the most important piece of advice you give to your students? I guess it’s advice based on a quote from novelist and short story writer Flannery O’Connor: “There’s a certain grain of stupidity that the writer . . .  cannot do without, and that’s the quality of having to stare, of not getting the point at once.” So I advise my students not to be so smart. Take a second look at what they think they already understand or know so well and risk discovering just how much they may have missed or misunderstood.

Prochaska Ready for Student Speaker Duties

Prochaska Ready for Student Speaker Duties

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

Thrift, hard work, and community spirit are a few of the attributes that helped power Genoveva Prochaska through her bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Science. She’ll embed those attributes into her address as student speaker at the January Commencement Ceremony Saturday, January 28 at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs.

Genoveva“How will you apply what you’ve learned at Bellevue University?  Something must spring from it,” Prochaska said. “I’d like to encourage each graduate to follow your passion!  Strive to become your best through education, developing your skills, volunteering and sharing your talents.”

Prochaska is originally from Hidalgo del Parral, Chichuahua, Mexico, and settled in Wahoo, Nebraska shortly after finishing high school. She currently works for Region V Services in Wahoo as a Community Support Professional (CSP) helping take care of people with mental disabilities. She also coaches the group’s Special Olympics bowling teams.

“I hope to utilize my degree by helping people and by serving my community,” Prochaska said. “It gives me great satisfaction being able to help anyone that needs my help without worrying about their race or religion.  When you help people in need, it means you must have commitment, love, respect, it also means understanding and putting other’s needs before your own.  Being kind and positive can change attitudes for someone facing loneliness and fear.  One must love and respect people to better understand and care for them.”

Prochaska came to Bellevue University after first taking classes at Metropolitan Community College.

My wonderful college counselor, Vicky Bolen at Metro Community College in Elkhorn, told me about Bellevue University and about all the great programs you offer here,” Prochaska said. “I sure love how the colleges and universities work together for the best interest of their students.”

The Multicultural Perspectives in Human Services was among the stand-out courses for Prochaska during her time at the University.

This class has taught me about the many different cultures and prepared me to better help people,” she said. “I enjoyed communicating with my professors. Thank you for being there for me and for your fast response to any of my questions. I also enjoyed very much communicating with my classmates through our discussions.”


Grotrian Set to Lead Premier Partnerships

Grotrian Set to Lead Premier Partnerships

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

SONY DSCJim Grotrian has joined the University as Vice President of Strategic Partnerships. Grotrian, who started December 1, comes to the University after a 17-year career at Metropolitan Community College including the last seven years as Executive Vice President.

Grotrian is excited about the challenges that Bellevue University offers and is looking forward to leading the Premier Partnerships team.

“I am fortunate to have a role here at the University that will primarily focus on leading the Premier Partnership area of the University that is experiencing and has experienced tremendous and positive growth,” Grotrian said. “I am looking forward to getting to know the team and the University in my first few weeks. Then, I’ll be leveraging my existing network of friends and colleagues around the country at many community colleges and helping to build a network of students that can experience the Bellevue University curriculum.”

Grotrian said the unique requirements of adult learners have challenged higher education institutions to stay ahead of the curve.

“Adult learners approach to furthering their education has challenged higher education to really make sure we are staying current,” he said. “We constantly rethink our academic programs and making sure people see them as affordable and relevant to what they want to achieve in their lives. I’m confident that Bellevue is on the right track and thinks about that every day.”

Grotrian’s role at Metro put him in charge of day-to-day operations for the college and had him wearing multiple hats. One of the achievements he is most proud of is the development and implementation of the school’s master building plan which included the $90 million development of the Fort Omaha campus most of which will be completed this summer.

Grotrian earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He also got his start in the administrative side of higher education at the school. He credits Dr. Wayne Samuelson for kick starting his career.

“He was a pioneer in our business,” Grotrian said. “He first gave me an opportunity when I was an undergraduate in college and I needed a job. I was really fortunate in that he helped shape my perspective on how to work with people.”

Grotrian hails from Johnson, Nebraska, about 65 miles south of Bellevue. His family has lived there since pre-Civil War days.

“My roots run really deep in the state of Nebraska,” he said. “I’m involved in the family farm operation. I hunt. I fish. I’m a bird watcher. I consider myself a practicing conservationist.”


Marge and Chuck Durham: A Legacy of Giving and Involvement

Builders of Bellevue University: Across the Years and Generations

By Bill Wax

In celebration of Bellevue University’s 50th Anniversary, we take time to recognize individuals and organizations that have helped to build it into Nebraska’s largest private college or university. The late Marge and Chuck Durham and their daughter, Lynne Durham Boyer, personify strong qualities of leadership, involvement and support that made them Builders of Bellevue University.

Marge and Chuck Durham: A Legacy of Giving and Involvement

In 1985, when she became the first female to serve on Bellevue College’s Board of Directors, Margre H. “Marge” Durham and her husband, the late Charles “Chuck” Durham, already were well-established as regional leaders in civic involvement and philanthropy. Charles Durham was a principal in the Henningson, Durham and Richardson (now HDR, Inc.) architectural, engineering and consulting company. Throughout their married life, Chuck and Marge worked shoulder-to-shoulder and individually to make a success of their business, growing it from 15 employees into one of the largest firms of its type in the world.

Charles and Marge Durham at the dedication of the University’s Durham Center in 1994.

The Durhams also devoted time and substance to many other worthy endeavors. Today their name is displayed on numerous buildings and donor walls of non-profit organizations and educational and medical facilities in Nebraska, Iowa and beyond, including two buildings on Bellevue University’s main campus.

The Durhams funded the 1993 renovation of the former I.T.&T. warehouse that initially housed the entire college, which was then renamed the Durham Center. The building exterior received a major facelift and the interior was gutted, opened up and space completely reallocated to provide a one-stop shop for student support services. The project included the addition of executive offices with a bell tower with clock and carillon with Westminster Chimes funded by the Durhams. The Margre H. Durham Student Center, originally built in 1986, underwent a major remodeling in 2004 with the help of funding from the Durhams.

Marge Durham served more than a decade on the Bellevue College and Bellevue University Board of Directors and was an Emeritus director until 1999. In addition to the Durhams’ many philanthropic contributions over the years, both served on and led a range non-profit boards to benefit the community and causes they believed in. Marge received many accolades and awards for her decades of devoted service, including an honorary Doctoral degree from Bellevue College in 1992. Her longtime friend Eppie Lederer, better known as advice columnist Ann Landers, also received an honorary Doctorate and was the Commencement Speaker that year.

Lynne Boyer, right, with her father, Charles “Chuck” Durham inside Bellevue University’s Margre H. Durham Student Center.

Chuck and Marge’s daughter, Lynne Durham Boyer, joined the Bellevue University Board of Directors in 2002 and serves on the Board’s Executive Committee. She and her husband, John, live in Omaha and are heavily involved in serving the community and society through volunteer commitments and support of numerous causes through the John K. and Lynne D. Boyer Foundation they established.

Freel Facilitates Session For Iowa Hospital Group

Freel Facilitates Session For Iowa Hospital Group

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

Dr. Mike Freel (Associate Professor and Program Director in the College of Arts and Sciences) facilitated a session for the Executive Academy of the Iowa Hospital Association in Pella, Iowa for the College of Continuing and Professional Education (CPE). The full-day workshop covered practical leadership skills such as moving from transactional to transformational leadership, analyzing performance, executing results-oriented leadership, and leveraging incentives and consequences to align individual behaviors with the overall strategic objectives of an organization.

The 19 participants and four administrators were joined over lunch by Pella Regional Health Center CEO, Bob Kroese. For 45 minutes, he spoke and took questions, covering a range of topics from learning culture to recruitment and hiring. With over 20 years tenure, Mr. Kroese far exceeds the staying power of the average CEO. His dedication to investing in the professional development of his personnel was the perfect testament to the value of the program at hand.

CPE delivers the entirety of Nebraska Hospital Association’s Leadership Institute, an initiative going on its 14th year beginning this January. The potential to expand this success to our neighboring states is great, and this first session with the Iowa Hospital Association is a step in the right direction!

Pictured from left to right are Dr. Freel, Joah Hogan (Senior Director of Education Services at IHA), Representative Joel Fry (Iowa Legislator, and Assistant Majority Leader), and Jon Titus (Continuing Education Director at Bellevue University).


Art Grads Work Invokes…

Art Grads Work Invokes…

 By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

What kind of feelings does walking into Phil Hawkins’ art studio below 16th Street in the Old Market invoke? That’s pretty much up to you.

“I want the viewer to experience feelings they have never felt before and a moment they’ll never forget,” said Hawkins, who earned his Bachelor of Arts in Art Management from the University in 2012.

phil-copyHawkins will have a solo exhibition at the Lux Center for the Arts in Lincoln on February 2 where he will “exhibit an art installation that will transform the space.”

Hawkins works in a variety of different mediums depending on the goals of the piece he is creating.

“I appreciate certain mediums for different purposes.  Like, for instance, cardboard, which is a lightweight, easy to acquire, and can easily absorb any type of application,” he said. “Metal happens to be the most durable and permanent which I appreciate, but it’s heavy and more difficult to apply paints, etc.  PVC plastics are lighter weight than metal, but receive paint well with a consistent smooth surface.  I tend to find different purposes for these materials based on my vision and the possibilities, so when choosing a favorite it all depends on the art project.”

A favorable credit transfer policy was one of the key factors that attracted Hawkins to Bellevue University.

“I was looking for local collage art programs that award you a degree rather than a certificate,” he said. “The deciding factor was that Bellevue was able to transfer most my Metro credit hours.”

Egyptian Tombs and Treasures was among the standout courses for Hawkins during his time at the University, while Ceramics was another favorite.

“Ceramics gave me the chance to realize how therapeutic clay is while sculpting,” he said. “That’s how I met my professor Les Bruning, an exceptional teacher and friend, and eventually started working with him on public art projects.”

Hawkins, a 2001 graduate of Westside High School in Omaha, credits Bruning with supporting him during his college career and beyond.

“He has been an extremely good mentor to me and let me work on several large scale public art projects with him in the community,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins work is getting noticed outside of the local area as well.

“I also have a few friends from Los Angeles who discovered me and have introduced and shared my art and jewelry with many great people from the west coast,” he said. “It has led to some great ongoing relationships that continue to grow and opened the door for my jewelry to go international and make it into the Vogue Spain magazine November 2016 issue.”