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From the Inside Out HR Master’s Degree Resonates

Posted on September 21st, 2016 by

From the Inside Out HR Master’s Degree Resonates

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

If you’re looking to make an impact on your organization – an impact that resonates from the inside out – there may be no better place to do that from than Human Resources. Bellevue University’s Master of Science in Human Resources Strategic Management has already had an impact on the University itself having been rated as one of the highest performing programs during an internal study.

Just two years old, the program produced its first crop of graduates in June 2016.

SONY DSCProfessor Angela Longe, director for both the graduate and undergraduate Human Resources programs, said the master’s degree program sprang rather naturally from the bachelor’s program.

“There was just so much more that I wanted to do,” she said. “There was a lot of opportunity to incorporate different subjects or go deeper. We can expand into global HR. We can focus more on the strategic nature of HR.”

The program examines the responsibilities of a human resources leader, with emphasis on becoming a strategic partner with executives and departments within an organization. You will learn how analytics can be developed, analyzed, and utilized to support and promote human capital and other organizational initiatives and investments.

Areas of study include:

  • Apply employment law and “best practices” to human resource related activities.
  • Assess internal and external organizational environments from a Human Resource perspective.
  • Develop Human Resource policies and practices that align with business objectives.
  • Construct a Professional Development Plan.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in oral and written communication.

Longe was quick to praise her adjuncts and course designers who helped put the program together and keep it running on all cylinders.

“Megan Berry Barlow is the Director of Human Resources at Nebraska Furniture Mart. She’s spent a lot of time in compensations and benefits and wrote the curriculum for those courses,” Longe said.

Adjunct instructor Robin Van Hove, who just completed a global integration of Human Resources Information Systems for Valmont, designed MSHR 620 Contemporary Issues. Katrina Collum, a Senior Organizational Development Specialist for HCA, developed the MSHR 645 Human Resource Metrics, Evaluation, and Action Planning and MSHR 650 Strategic Business Partnerships.

Adjunct Carol Bartholet helped with MSR 630 Human Capital Management and Development, while Professor John Patterson, who holds a law degree from Taft Law School in Santa Ana, California, wrote MSHR 605 Human Resource Law.

Longe also singled out Course Designer Marshall Peterson for special praise.

“Marshall Peterson is just phenomenal,” she said. “He is a dream to work with. He’s very consistent. He made my job so much easier.”

Longe is partial to the Capstone course MSHR 655. In that course, all the previous information comes together as students prepare a strategic plan for an HR department.

“They’ll have a very robust knowledge in each one of the functional areas like recruitment and selection, employee and labor relations, compensation and benefits, metrics. It all comes together,” Longe said. “They’ve had this very detailed look at all the functions within their organization. Armed with this knowledge they apply it to a business challenge and determine what HR initiatives they recommend.”

The program was developed to meet all the specifications of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

“Bellevue University actually became an education partner with SHRM.” Longe said. “I had this wonderful opportunity to really go in and do that double check to make sure that our program and what we taught, what we thought was important, was in line and consistent with what SHERM thought was important.”


Internship Exposes Student To Real-World Investigations

Posted on September 13th, 2016 by

Internship Exposes Student To Real-World Investigations

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

An internship with National Security Consulting and Investigations this summer helped Aaron Garland advance toward his degree in International Security and Intelligence Studies. Garland, one of about 10 people to be selected for the internship from a group of 3,000 applicants, received the kind of real world experience one always hopes for with an internship opportunity including assessing information from some of the more infamous events of the past summer.

Currently a Field Service Rep for Advanced Technology Services in East Peoria, Illinois, Garland is considering a career with the FBI, CIA, or NSA in which he can combine his Information Technology and Intelligence experience.

Garland discussed the internship and his Bellevue University experience in a recent interview.

What type of work did you do for the internship?

I worked on a few different cases and projects. Projects ranged from researching the darknet, GPS, car, ATM — anything really connected to the internet and their vulnerabilities. I personally worked with teams on the Orlando shooting, Nice/Paris attacks, and active counter terrorism efforts prior to the stabbing in France as well.

We actively go out using ‘google hacks’ to data mine, literally thousands of pages of data to sift through in a matter of hours to get what data we can on active terrorism efforts. We used social media (Twitter) a lot to find their accounts, and watch their communications. There was loads of information that I found, not all I can mention, but it saved lives and I’m proud of that.

How difficult was it to juggle the internship along with other responsibilities (family/job)?

aaronThe nature of the (internship) helped, because it was online. My wife is also going to Bellevue online and she needs her own time to do her work. We welcomed my daughter a little over a year and a half ago. We had to balance who would watch our daughter while the other did their work.

This created issues because sometimes, during the day, holidays such as July 4th are active times for terrorists and we have lots of projects during that time. Right after or in between family festivities, I would work on the projects or ‘Red Cells.’ It can be very distracting given the ‘norm’ that is going around you while thwarting terrorism.

How did you first learn about Bellevue University and what prompted you to pursue your degree here?

My daughter being born prompted me to go back to school and better myself. I had a few co-workers go through the program here and they mentioned that it worked well for them, so I decided to take a look. I honestly was not seeking out the International Security and Intelligence Studies program, I just clicked on it and it looked like it would be rewarding. I wanted something exciting and dynamic that I could be proud of.

What have you enjoyed the most about your Bellevue University experience?

Bellevue offers the flexibility that was required to maintain my responsibilities as a father and a husband. I started to work with Dr. Darius Watson the most out of necessity, see… he’s the kind of teacher that pushes you to the very limit, but not over. So it required a lot of communication and phone calls. Over time I gained a lot of respect for him as a person and as an instructor.

You earned an Associate’s at Illinois Central. What was the credit transfer process like?

The transfer process was extremely easy–just send over your transcripts and a few calls between the two schools and it was over with relative ease. Majority of my credits transferred that otherwise would not have to other competitive colleges, even locally.

Who have been your biggest supporters in your academic and career endeavors?

My wife without a doubt, without her taking care of my family while I was working 6+ hours at a time on projects or the internship I would have never succeeded. She took on a lot of responsibility and workload to help pick up the slack that I would have to drop. I admit it’s not been equal by any means and she’s handled it in stride.

My father for always telling me I could do more than him in life, and pushed me to do more. He saw what I was capable of even when I did not.

And Dr. Watson for being understanding, yet for realizing my talent and sculpting it to what it is today. He stuck his neck out for me at the start of the internship when we had some paperwork mishaps that could have resulted in me losing my spot (6 months in the making). He’s been a great supporter and mentor.


Know the Words to the BU Fight Song? You Soon Will!

Posted on September 9th, 2016 by

Know the Words to the BU Fight Song? You Soon Will!

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

How many of you know the words to the Bellevue University Fight Song? If you raised your hand do not pass go, do not collect $200, and go directly to jail! There is no Bellevue University Fight Song!

At least, there wasn’t until last Tuesday when the new ditty was unveiled at the all-athlete meeting in the Criss Auditorium.

With lyrics by Joshua Narofsky (son of Athletics Administrative Assistant Dorene and Thom Narofsky), an experienced advertiser/marketer at Shoptology in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and music by Jimmy Weber, an accomplished musician who has played with Kenny Rogers, Tim McGraw, and Rascal Flatts among others, the duo collaborated on the song and presented it to the Athletic Department.

The spark for the fight song emerged from a conversation between Dorene Narofsky and University President Dr. Mary Hawkins at the College World Series this past summer.

“My first passion was writing lyrics. Two months ago, when my Mom approached me about writing a fight song, I was very excited,” Joshua Narofsky said.

Weber warmed up the crowd with a rendition of Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline before performing the fight song. Then he introduced the new fight song:


Bruins Battle March

All behold the purple and gold

We play with all our MIGHT—

for Victory! (ONE, TWO, THREE)…


B-U stands true in all we do,

We never give up the FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT!


Be True! BE WHAT? B-U!!


“It’s an honor to be a small part of this,” Weber said after his performance.

To view a video of our fight song launch, click here.

A more formal recording featuring traditional band instruments is in the works.


First Data’s Blake Capitalizes on BU Education

Posted on September 8th, 2016 by

First Data’s Blake Capitalizes on BU Education

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

An easily accessible campus, equally accessible professors, and small class sizes were among the many attributes that attracted Cathy Blake to Bellevue University in 1986. A lot has changed since then, but those attributes remain the same.

Blake earned her degree in 1990 double-majoring in Business and Communication. Her education has helped her advance during an 18-year career at First Data where she is currently the Vice President of Strategic Financial Services.

SONY DSC“I’m in our Global Financial Services business, so I call on some of the top financial institutions, retailers, and lenders in the US and convince them of the ways that First Data can help them grow their business,” Blake said.  “I love learning about the clients, listening to them, understanding their problems. It’s especially exciting when we find that First Data can solve a challenge through some of our capabilities. The best part is bringing solutions to a client that helps them solve their business challenges.”

Blake started her career at First National Bank of Omaha shortly after earning her degree.

“I started their in a management trainee position. I got to rotate around all different divisions of the bank and learn about banking,” she said “I became interested in our merchant acquiring function within First National, which led me to First Data. First Data is all about payments and payments processing.”

Understanding business and being able to communicate in a sales role has paid dividends for Blake.

“That double major has been really great for me in terms of my career path and progression here at First Data,” she said. “I have an understanding of the business side of everything that we do, but also the communication, which plays really well into the sales side of the equation. For me that double major was really important in terms of where I’ve ended up in my career.”

First Data champions higher education for its employees with no better example than its relationship with Bellevue University. First Data partners with the University to provide accessible, affordable, and relevant bachelor’s and master’s degree programs to First Data’s employees. In some cases, classes are offered right on the First Data campus.

“We have tuition reimbursement programs that are really robust. We have these great outreach programs,” Blake said. “I’ve seen some employees who I work with on a day-to-day basis take advantage of the Bellevue University outreach to enhance their career skills.”

Blake had a few options to weigh when making her college choice after graduating from Papillion-LaVista High School in Eastern Nebraska.

“I had a lot of options in the Omaha area in terms of places I could go to pursue my degree.  I did look at other Universities. I even took some classes at other Universities,” she said. “What I found about Bellevue University and why I selected it was the smaller class size — the smaller environment as a whole. You could get in and park quickly and easily get to your classes. The professors had a much more hands-on approach. For me personally that was a great experience.”

Blake encouraged her colleagues at First Data to take advantage of the higher education opportunities offered to them.

“If you’re looking to pursue higher education opportunities what better place to do it than right at your work place where you can step out of your office, walk to class and get that done and with a University that is as flexible as Bellevue, that can work through issues you might have like major travel schedule challenges and those sorts of things.”


Builders of Bellevue University: Cliff Nelsen Hands-on Leadership and Involvement When It Really Counted

Posted on September 7th, 2016 by

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 the many individuals and organizations that have helped to build it into Nebraska’s largest private college or university. The late C. Clifton Nelsen, a long-time Board member, helped improve campus facilities and steer a successful path for Bellevue College to become Bellevue University in 1994. His son, Andrew “Andy” Nelsen, continues that legacy on the Board.

Cliff Nelsen: Hands-on Leadership and Involvement When It Really Counted

Cliff Nelsen When C. Clifton “Cliff” Nelsen was asked to join the Board of Directors in 1973, his first inclination was to decline. “I had served on perhaps 25 or 30 boards in my lifetime and swore I would never serve on another one, yet I did,” Nelsen recalled years later, saying he accepted, because “…the potential of this college was a challenge.” Nelsen was longtime President of Omaha-based A.C. Nelsen RV World, a company which was founded by his father, A.C. Nelsen, in 1919. Today it has operations in three Midwestern states and lays claim to being “The oldest RV dealership in the world.”

Cliff Nelsen served on multiple committees during his time on the University’s Board of Directors and was part of the search committee that hired John B. Muller as President of the College in 1985.  His most enjoyable committee assignment was the Buildings and Grounds Committee, which he chaired for several years. “Being a realist and liking the tangible rather than the intangible, I think that (Buildings and Grounds) is what I am best suited to do,” he said. A new Student Center, the Dennis Learning Center and expansion of the Lozier Athletic Center were completed during his time on the committee. The original Science Center and Computer Center on the main campus was named for Cliff’s father, A.C. Nelsen.

Andrew Nelsen Clifton NelsenFor his leadership, support, and service to the University and many other beneficial organizations in the community and beyond, Cliff Nelsen was presented an honorary Doctor of Commerce degree in 1986. Nelsen, who died in 2002, was inducted into the Recreational Vehicle/Manufactured Housing Hall of Fame, located near Elkhart, Indiana.

Andrew C. “Andy” Nelsen is President of A.C. Nelsen Enterprises, Inc. and Arrow Distributing, Inc. He has served on the Bellevue University Board of Directors since 1997. He also is a Bellevue University alumnus, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1981 followed by a master’s degree 1994.

MBA Alum Manning Earns OPPD Award

Posted on August 25th, 2016 by

MBA Alum Manning Earns OPPD Award

 By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

Laura Manning, who earned her Master of Business Administration from the University in 2004, was recently named the 2016 Engineer of the Year by the Omaha Public Power Districts’ (OPPD) Society of Engineers. Manning is the first woman to win the award.

“Although being the first woman to win is wonderful, I’m more proud of the fact that I won because I am a professional in my discipline that competed against other professionals for the award,” she said.

Manning, a graduate of Lincoln High School in Lincoln, Nebraska, has been at OPPD for close to 15 years. As a Senior Distribution Engineer, she deals with OPPD’s electrical transmission, distribution, and interconnection facility expansions to ensure an adequate electrical system that meets existing and anticipated customer requirements.

SONY DSC“What I enjoy most about my job is the opportunity to continue learning from one day to the next, and apply the latest technological advancements when they provide cost-effective solutions,” she said. The biggest challenges are forecasting future needs and timing the installation of infrastructure to meet those needs at the right time.  I write business cases and justify money spent based on anticipated returns.  Trying to meet the needs without overbuilding, and therefore overspending, is a constant challenge in this position.”

A long-standing relationship between OPPD and Bellevue University first prompted Manning to look into the possibility of earning her MBA.

“OPPD has had a long relationship with Bellevue University through a partnership that takes advantage of our employee education program,” Manning said “I learned about the opportunity to pursue an MBA at Bellevue University through a career fair at an OPPD event. The tuition reimbursement and deferred billing were important to me, as was the ability to take classes online and work around my work/family schedules.”

Manning took her first class on campus before switching to the online format for the rest of the program.

“When I switched to all online classes, I did so for the scheduling flexibility. I was soon surprised that I learned a lot more online than in class. The required essays, questions and responses challenged me to research more thoroughly. I also was able to read what other students were contributing and respond back and forth with them,” she said. “I was exposed to many more perspectives than what I see in a more traditional (in-class) experience where a few people do most of the talking while many don’t contribute as much.  The online experience was more flexible with respect to when I did the work, but required more overall time from me. I didn’t mind the trade-off of flexibility for more total time spent. I really benefitted educationally from the additional research and correspondence.”

Manning credited a strong support system for helping her achieve her academic and career goals.

“My husband and my kids help me get through the days when school and work get in the way and I need a hand.  They are my biggest supporters.  My parents have always encouraged me to have goals and do what it takes to achieve them.  Of course, OPPD helped with financial and flexible work scheduling support that helped make achieving my MBA possible,” she said. “I think most, if not all, of the people who have touched my life know that to be successful in the engineering profession, the OPPD company and the community one person can’t do it alone.  It takes a village.  Many people have helped me get to where I am today and I am grateful to be blessed with the successes we’ve obtained together.  Thanks to all my fellow villagers who helped me become the 2016 OPPD Society of Engineers Engineer of the Year.”

Manning pays that support forward through involvement with several groups.

“Community service is important to me,” she said. “Knowing I might make a difference to one or more of the young people I’ve mentored in the Partnership 4 Kids program is encouraging.  I am actively involved as a leader in the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and a couple OPPD employee resource groups as well.”


Crosston, Kyndt to Lead Nebraska Academic Decathlon

Posted on August 25th, 2016 by

Crosston, Kyndt to Lead Nebraska Academic Decathlon

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

Drs. Matt Crosston and John Kyndt have been named the co-Executive Directors of the Nebraska Academic Decathlon.  Crosston and Kyndt will succeed Dr. John Anstey, a retired professor from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

“We’re excited because we think it has a lot of opportunity for growth as an event. We see it as potentially the scholastic endeavor for Nebraska high schools,” Crosston said. “It is a little bit daunting trying to figure all this stuff out. We are, thankfully, still having the help of the outgoing executive director.”

nedecThe Nebraska Academic Decathlon is an educational growth program for high school students. The program requires participating students to develop an understanding of a specific curriculum and take tests in the areas of Art, Economics, Language & Literature, Math, Music, Science, and Social Science. In addition, they must write an essay, present both a planned and impromptu speech and complete an interview.

Bellevue University’s involvement with the event sprung largely from academic events sponsored by Dr. Rod Hewlett as part of his responsibilities as Grewcock Chair. Examples include recent programs on India and BRICS (an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). The events, which served as prep for the Decathlon, brought high school students to the Bellevue University campus and had the students interacting with faculty members such as Crosston and Kyndt.

Crosston said he and Kyndt are excited about the opportunity and intend to be great caretakers for the event. By doing so, they can help high school students look at Bellevue University in a different light.

“If we can be great stewards of that process, people will just naturally see us in a way they didn’t see us before,” he said. “I don’t see how that just can’t end up being a great benefit for us. I see it as the greatest high school outreach we’ve ever done. It certainly should have at least something of a positive impact on the Drive to 2000. These are the people who are the key for the future of the Drive to 2000 campaign. It’s getting students of the traditional high school age to see Bellevue University as a legitimate potential destination.”

The Regional competition for the Decathlon is held on the third Saturday in January. The Regionals are based on the enrollment level of the schools. The State Final is held on the third full weekend in February at Creighton University.


MPA Grad Boynton Earns PMF Appointment

Posted on August 10th, 2016 by

MPA Grad Boynton Earns PMF Appointment

 By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

Emerging from a field of 6,700 applicants, David Boynton is one of 400 Presidential Management Fellows program finalists. Boynton, who earned his Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Bellevue University in 2014, survived a rigorous application process to earn the appointment.

DSC_2987-Edit-2The U.S. Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program is a prestigious two-year training and development program at a United States government agency, administered by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), for U.S. citizens with a recent graduate degree. Applicants undergo an arduous multistage assessment and testing process. After completing the program, agencies may place PMFs as permanent federal civilian employees.

The testing and application process are considered sensitive, thus Boynton could only share a few details about the journey.

“After making it through to the 2nd round of selection, I had to fly to DC to do in-person assessments.  That was an amazing experience as I got to go head-to-head against some of the best and brightest from Yale, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, Harvard… you name it!” he said. “It was a great feeling coming away from that day feeling great and knowing that Bellevue had set me up right for the future.”

Boynton credited Dr. William P. Kittredge for helping him through the process.

“He discovered that I was selected as Bellevue University’s only 2016 PMF Finalist and immediately reached out to me.  He has been a fierce advocate and kept me on target throughout the whole Appointment process,” Boynton said. “Because just being selected as a finalist is not the end, it is only the beginning; and without a doubt, it was his mentorship, experience within the federal government and wisdom that helped me achieve my appointment within National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).”

As part of the program, Boynton, a retired 21-year veteran of the United States Air Force, has been assigned to NOAA in the Department of Commerce. He’ll be working with the fisheries budgets, which could lead to an appearance on Capitol Hill to defend the budget.

“I have worked very hard in my academic and military career to be able to continue to make a difference in the world once I took the uniform off,” Boynton said. “Until this program came my way, I was not really sure how I would be able to do that… city or state government… but I never dreamed I would be able to contribute to our future to this degree.”

Originally from St. Augustine, Florida, Boynton is an avid scuba diver and is looking forward to the opportunities the NOAA presents.

“The ability to work in NOAA is an amazing one and I believe I will stay with them for quite some time,” he said.

Prior to earning his MPA, Boynton completed his Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management at the University.

“I first heard about Bellevue University from an education briefing at Offutt Air Force Base,” Boynton said. “My education plan took a back seat when I volunteered to become a Military Training Instructor at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio Texas. Once I was done in San Antonio, I somehow managed to find my way back to Offutt and almost immediately enrolled in the Healthcare Management program.  The process was incredibly easy.  I brought all my transcripts and Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) grad certs and was in class the next semester!”

Standout professors highlighted Boynton’s time at the University.IMG_3395

“Every single professor that I had during my time at Bellevue University was nothing short of outstanding.  The two who had the biggest impact on me however and still do to this day are Dr. Adrian Petrescu and Professor Denny Wilson,” Boynton said. “Those two professors challenged me to be more than I was and to always strive for excellence within myself.  They never let me lose sight of what I could accomplish or what I was capable of becoming.  For that, I will be eternally thankful to them.”

In addition to his professors, Boynton credited his wife, Allana, who completed her Master of Science in Human Resources Strategic Management on August 31 at Bellevue University, and their family, with motivating him throughout the program.

“There were days in my MPA class where I felt completely out of my depth and she kept me grounded and always moving forward to achieve the goal,” he said. “My children, though they may not realize it, are why I work so hard as I want them to understand that nothing is ever free and everything worth having must be worked for.”

Barahona helps Proseeds grow roots

Posted on August 10th, 2016 by

Barahona helps Proseeds grow roots

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

If you’re going to grow a start-up business, it’s important to have a good root system.

With software developer Gio Barahona laying out a solid root structure, a new fundraising endeavor, Proseeds is ready to sprout in Omaha. Proseeds ( works like AmazonSmile, but on a local level. You sign up, indicate what causes you wish to support, and register your credit card. Whenever you go to a participating merchant, they’ll donate five percent of your purchase to the cause that you care about.

“The idea is that you’re going to choose merchant A over merchant B because they give back to your community,” Barahona explained.

SONY DSCBarahona, who earned his bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from Bellevue University in 2011, receives rave reviews from his fellow partners in the Proseeds venture, Jared Bakewell and Josh Kelley.

“When we took the idea to Gio, he got it instantly. He understood the technical challenges that we’d be facing to make our idea a reality. He joined the team as a partner in our venture and helped us build it into what it is now,” said Bakewell. “Gio built the system from the ground up. Without him we would not have been able to do it.”

Kelley echoed those thoughts.

“Gio is an amazing person to work with and just a really genuine guy all around. He really cares about people and making good quality work,” Kelley said. “We would tell him ideas for building the system. He was not only able to execute those ideas perfectly He would add things on that we didn’t even think about.”

Originally from El Salvador, Barahona immigrated to Los Angeles with his family when he was around nine years old. The family moved to Omaha when he was about 15 to take advantage of the lower cost of living. Barahona graduated from Omaha Bryan High School before earning an associate’s degree in graphic design at Metro Community College.

A friendly credit transfer policy made Barahona’s decision on where to pursue his bachelor’s degree an easy one.

“By going to Bellevue I wouldn’t lose the credits that I had already earned. It made a lot of sense,” he said.

While he is passionate about Proseeds, Barahona works full-time as a programmer for Nelnet. He helps write and maintain the cashiering system.

“When students go up to pay their tuition or pay for books. The person behind the counter, the system they’re using, that’s what I build,” he said.

At both Nelnet and Proseeds, Barahona’s Bellevue University education is paying off.

“It’s changed my life. Without that degree…,” Barahona said. “Without getting the degree I’m not sure Proseeds would necessarily be a thing. We’re going to reach the point where it is going to be a game changer for a lot of people.”


Mallory Kountze: A Pioneer Builder of Bellevue University

Posted on August 8th, 2016 by

Builders of Bellevue University: Across the Years and Generations

In celebration of Bellevue University’s 50th Anniversary, we take time to recognize the many individuals and organizations that have helped to build the University into Nebraska’s largest private college or university. Early in its history, Bellevue University received stalwart support and involvement from Mallory Kountze, a key Board member and philanthropist. His son Neely Kountze continues that legacy as President and Trustee of the Gilbert M. and Martha H. Hitchcock Foundation.

Mallory Kountze: A Pioneer Builder of Bellevue University

M Kountze AdditionIn 1969, the late Mallory Kountze became the first “non-founder” member of Bellevue College’s Board of Directors. He was one of several Omaha business leaders recruited to the Board in an effort to attract both students and support from the greater Omaha area. Kountze was a Trustee of the Omaha-based Gilbert M. and Martha H. Hitchcock Foundation, named for Omaha World-Herald newspaper founder and former U.S. Senator Gilbert M. Hitchcock.

According to Mallory Kountze’s son, Neely, current Hitchcock Foundation President, his father initially learned about Bellevue College from his longtime friend, Joe Dennis of Bellevue. “It was through that keen friendship that he came to know and love what was at the time Bellevue College,” Neely Kountze recalled. “Joe introduced dad to (Bellevue College President) Dick Winchell, who convinced him to get the Hitchcock Foundation involved through a key “loan” made to the school in the early 1970’s.  That loan would be forgiven over a number of years at our Hitchcock annual meetings.  I was told that loan helped keep the doors open at the school at a time when there was not enough cash to pay the payroll taxes due.”

After joining the Board, Mallory Kountze immediately threw the Hitchcock Foundation’s support behind the College’s capital campaign, including the first large classroom building, the 20,000 square-foot Gilbert M. and Martha H. Hitchcock Humanities Center. When a key donor withdrew pledge support for the $1.3 million project, Kountze encouraged the foundation to increase its support, which kept the project on track for completion in 1981.

Hitchcock Humanities Center SmallMallory Kountze died in 1984. In 1991, a major addition to the Hitchcock Humanities Center was named the Mallory Kountze Addition. The University’s Mallory Kountze Award is presented periodically to charitable foundations and corporate donors who have provided long-standing major support to Bellevue University.

Today, the Hitchcock Foundation, under the leadership of Neely Kountze, supports a variety of non-profit organizations in Nebraska and western Iowa, with special emphasis on the Greater Omaha-Council Bluffs area. In recent years, the Foundation has provided grant support to Bellevue University for the expansion of campus facilities and outreach initiatives that increase the impact and values that characterize the University’s Undergraduate Kirkpatrick Signature Series courses.

“At the Hitchcock Foundation we believe the Kirkpatrick Signature Series is very worthy of our support, and I personally look forward annually to attending the fall Signature Event speaker presentation,” Neely Kountze said. “I also feel the fact that the American Values courses are a requirement for every undergraduate degree candidate of Bellevue University is an excellent standard.  I only wish more universities and colleges would make the same commitment to teaching about the importance of democracy and free economies, and American values.  My father would be very proud to see these high standards upheld at Bellevue University.

“To this day, Bellevue University is our 2nd largest recipient of total Hitchcock Funds, with over $2.5 million Hitchcock dollars granted since 1970.  We continue to support Bellevue University because we see it as an outstanding investment,” Neely Kountze said.