Alum Kathy Hug Takes on All Challenges
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Kathy (Kent) Hug is not afraid of a challenge.
Those challenges include Associates, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, marriage and motherhood, as well as Nittany Lions, Hoosiers, and Wolverines among other things.
Currently an Assistant Athletic Director at the University of Illinois, Hug transferred into Bellevue University from Iowa Western Community College in 1994. She played volleyball for the Bruins while pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, but she quickly expanded her role within the athletic department.
“I had a non-traditional athletic path at Bellevue,” she explained. “The first two years at BU, I played volleyball. In my third year, I played both softball and soccer. The crazy thing about it is that I was trying to stay in shape by playing indoor soccer with some of the women’s players from Bellevue and then the coach asked me if I would like to use my fifth year of eligibility and play for them. This was also the year that softball started at Bellevue, so I was able to jump right on that team also.”
She was named Athlete of the Year for the 1996-97 academic year.
“I loved every bit of it,” she said. “I loved the rivalries and the friendships best. Athletics is family and that is what these coaches and teammates were to me.”
She began pursuit of her Master of Business Administration during the fifth year, completing that degree in January of 2000.
“I honestly didn’t consider an MBA program until I decided to use my fifth year of athletic eligibility,” she said. “That may have been the best decision I made as I know it would have been harder to go back to school once I had been out.”
That MBA is a differentiator for Hug.
“Many people who work in athletics tend to have a sport administration degree,” she said. “Although that might be helpful in some ways, I am happy that I have the business background and a degree that helped set me up to be well rounded in my field. I would say that the ability to manage people and organizational skills to multi-task and work budgets are my biggest assets.”
Hug worked for five years in event management at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln before becoming part of the University of Illinois Athletic Department in 2002. She has been a sport administrator for men’s and women’s gymnastics, women’s basketball, women’s swimming and diving, baseball and softball and has served in event management for many sports. She has served as the NCAA Representative for tournament sites in soccer, volleyball, and softball. Hug is currently involved in management of some of the athletic facilities and some of their construction projects.
“I have been part of some really exciting NCAA championships that I directed,” Hug said. “You don’t always get to see something from start to finish, but I have had the opportunity to do that many times. The other thing I am most proud of is seeing some of the coaches that I helped hire and/or guide being successful and even win Big Ten or National Championships. It’s the behind the scenes things that I am most proud of.”
Despite those accomplishments, it isn’t victories over Badgers or Boilermakers that Hug counts as her biggest wins. She has beaten breast cancer. Twice.
First diagnosed in 2006, and then again in 2009, Hug finished her last treatment in October of 2010 and has received good reports ever since. Her background as an athlete was among several factors that helped pull her through.
“I think I am a competitor in all facets. When I was faced with breast cancer the first time in 2006, I felt that I needed to not skip a beat,” Hug said. “I had just gotten more responsibility at work, was a wife to a husband for two and a half years and a mom to a one-year old. That in itself is a challenge, but throw in breast cancer and I tried to be superwoman and conquer it all. I learned quickly that I couldn’t do it all, but I still tried.
“I guess the way I approached things was that I was given an obstacle in life – how I was to handle it was up to me. I think that I didn’t lie down and quit, I was aggressive in my treatment plan and my job was to get well for my family. So, I guess that is a good analogy – I approached my breast cancer diagnosis like an athlete would. I worked hard, and didn’t give up.”
Hillcrest’s Bishop Earns Spot On MBJ’s 40 Under 40 List
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Enhancing the Lives of Aging Adults — As Chief Operating Officer for Hillcrest Health Services in Bellevue, Brendan Bishop ascribes to that motto. That commitment to service has earned him a spot on the Midland Business Journal’s annual 40 Under 40 list of promising business and professional leaders.
Bishop, who earned both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree at Bellevue University, was honored at the MBJ’s awards breakfast on November 14. As COO at Hillcrest, Bishop is responsible for leading the successful operating performance of all service lines owned and managed by Hillcrest Health Services.
“The job requires an in-depth understanding of how various healthcare service lines interface as a post-acute integrated system while providing leadership that results in optimization of the entire system in the aggregate,” Bishop said.
Bishop first came to Bellevue University to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Management, earning that degree in 2006. He was able to transfer in credits from several schools prior to enrollment.
“The process of transferring credits was quick and seamless,” Bishop said.
He began his career at Hillcrest in 2006 and was confident a Master of Healthcare Administration degree would help enhance his performance in the workplace and boost his career. He earned his MHA from Bellevue University in 2008.
“Bellevue University offers rigorous course content that is timely and specific to healthcare leadership,” he said. “The education also prepares individuals to have a strategic understanding of health care issues and challenges, and then positioned me for effective leadership of multidisciplinary teams.”
Balancing his education with other obligations such as work and family was challenging, but Bishop credits his support system with making it all possible.
“Balancing education and other responsibilities (e.g. family) require support, an organized schedule, managing interruptions, and learning as much as I could during the process,” he said. “Pursuit of higher education requires a dedicated, concerted effort to stay focused. I think pursuit of higher education also sends a powerful message that education is valued, encouraged, and certainly a wise investment.”
Justin Anderson Delivers Veterans Day Message
By Bill Wax, Director of Communications
In his own words, retired U.S. Army Sergeant Justin R. Anderson has “been down a pretty dark road.” But he’s not dwelling on the past. “When you get knocked down eight times, you get up nine times,” Anderson told a Veterans Day 2014 audience at Bellevue University’s Military-Veterans Service Center Tuesday.
Anderson, a Bellevue native and 2002 graduate of Bellevue West High School, said he agreed to keynote the University’s Veterans Day observance, because he wants active-duty and former members of all branches of the military to be remembered and recognized and to know they are valued for their service to the country and their fellow citizens.
As a youth, Anderson said his dream and life plan was to “serve a 20-plus-year career in the U.S. Army…I never planned to have a wife and family. I figured if the Army wanted me to have one, they’d issue me one,” he quipped.
“He took the first step in 2001, enlisting through the Army’s delayed-entry program while still in high school. He was trained as an infantryman and his unit, the 41st Infantry Regiment, was deployed to Iraq in March 2003. In June he received a bullet wound to his left knee in combat in Bagdad. He returned to his unit but had to take a medical retirement from the military after returning home in 2004.
During the following decade, he completed B.S. in Project Management program classes from Bellevue University in 2010 and graduated from the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute, Phoenix, AZ, in 2012. He contracted and was treated for brain cancer in 2013. The cancer went into remission but recently returned. In June 2014, his left leg was amputated at the knee due to complications from the 2003 wound. Recently the cancer returned.
But Anderson, a highly decorated soldier, recipient of the Bronze Star with Valor, the Purple Heart, and numerous service ribbons, didn’t talk much about himself. Instead he focused on Veterans Day, its origin on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, the end of World War I, and he talked about other veterans, those who have served in the military in war and peacetime.
In 2013 he married to his wife, Kristen, and they have a daughter, Lylah. Now permanently disabled from his war wounds, Anderson devotes much of his free time to family, friends and motorcycles. He also accepts requests public speaking engagements at various organizations and talking to high school students. “I’m trying to pick up where our older veterans have left off, because there are not enough younger veterans willing to talk about what they’ve been through. As recently as three years ago, I wouldn’t talk about it either,” he said.
Former South Omaha Star Leads Bruin Soccer Squad
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Manuel Lira experienced a matrix moment on the soccer field earlier this year.
“I brought down a ball and in the moment before the pass I literally talked to myself — last year or even six months ago I would have just brought that ball down and tried to take it on my own,” he said. “I’ve improved my decision making. It was at that moment that I thought to myself I would not have done this a few years ago.”
Lira came to Bellevue University after a standout prep career at South High School in Omaha. That translated to part-time starter status as a freshman and sophomore at Bellevue. Lira enjoyed a breakout season as a junior in the 2013 season. He scored eight goals and recorded five assists en route to a first team spot on the all-Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference squad.
He hasn’t missed a beat this season with eight goals and six assists through 17 matches. The Bruins are off to a 14-2-1 record in that same span.
“He’s exciting to watch because when he picks the ball up good things happen. He causes issues and everyone is worried about him defensively,” said Bruin Head Coach Matt Briggs. “He’s refined his technique a lot and really improved his decision making. You just let him express himself on the pitch and he’ll do good things for you.”
As a midfielder, Lira helps blend an eclectic group of players from all over the world into a futbol force. Lira himself originally hails from Guadalajara, Mexico. The team also features players from England, Scotland, Germany, and Columbia as well as players from the local area. So is communication difficult?
“Maybe at the beginning,” Lira said. “When some of the new guys come in and their accent is really strong – you can’t understand what they’re saying, but we spend so much time together it becomes understandable. We all bring different styles and different things we can learn from one another. That makes us even stronger as a team. The chemistry just develops as the year goes by.”
“It has been a major challenge for me,” he said. “Even though (the professors) are always hard on me, that teaches me more about life. I don’t want somebody doing half their job and not be on my case about turning in an assignment. It has helped me develop as a student.”
In addition to soccer and school, Lira also squeezes in time to work as a waiter at La Mesa, the Mexican restaurant located at 1405 Fort Crook Road in Bellevue, and handle family responsibilities.
“He’s wearing many hats,” Briggs said. “It’s so impressive that he’s able to be at school and be an athlete and carry on with all these other responsibilities.”
Following graduation, Lira has several options mapped out including pursuing his master’s degree and helping out at his father’s business, Deportes La Amistad, located at 4109 South L Street.
However, soccer is still at the top of his list. That means combines after the season trying to catch the eye of professional teams. While Major League Soccer is the top league in the United States, other professional leagues such as the North American Soccer League (distantly related to the NASL that featured players like Pelé and Giorgio Chinaglia in the 1970s), USL Pro, and USL Premier Development League are also options.
“I think he has a chance to go and play,” Briggs said. “If I was a coach at that level I would sign him.”
However, graduation is first and foremost.
“He’s faced many difficulties along the way,” Briggs said. “When we get him to walk for his graduation that will be better than any conference championship we can win. He’s stuck to it and he’s worked hard.”
Signature Event Speaker David Brooks Reflects on Character
By Bill Wax, Director of Communications
Columnist and news commentator David Brooks brought a thoughtful treatise to the podium at Bellevue University’s sixth annual Signature Event, October 9 at Omaha’s Joslyn Art Museum.
It was an appropriate topic for the annual Signature Event, which showcases “American Vision and Values,” the heart of the University’s Kirkpatrick Signature Series courses, which all bachelor’s degree students must complete.
Before giving Brooks the floor, University Board member and former Chair George Little welcomed the more than 400 guests and introduced some of the key event sponsors, other Board members, and three current Bellevue University students in the audience.
Dr. Mary Hawkins, University President, talked briefly about the University and set the tone for Brooks’ remarks with a look ahead and looking back. “Bellevue University is adapting to the learner instead of asking the learner to adapt to the University. We’re very excited about the future of education,” Hawkins said. “We believe strongly that our American heritage won’t last if we don’t pass it on,” Hawkins said before showing a brief video in which each of the three students told their stories, and the impact the University and the Signature Series courses have made on them and their families.
Keynoter Brooks began by listing “four crises” facing the country. While he spoke of many things, including politics, the economy, history, education—he focuses most on character. “We’ve got a higher education problem in which people are graduating with too much loan debt,” he said. “We’ve got an entrepreneurship problem. The rate of new business start-ups is slowing compared to what it was 20 years ago. We’ve got a political problem. And we’ve got a values problem in the culture, especially in the culture of the young people.”
“In many ways, we are a great culture, but we’re a little too much into ourselves. We are a very over-confident country,” Brooks said, citing several polls and surveys indicating Americans today have unrealistically high self-confidence and self-esteem, when compared with previous generations. Other polls have shown that we are more isolated than in the past, with fewer close friends. We’re less truthful and less trusting of others, and less “morally articulate.” One study of college students showed that 70% could not give an example of a “moral dilemma.”
He delineated two kinds of virtues: “There are resume virtues—things we would put on our resumes. And there are eulogy virtues—things that are discussed in your eulogy, who you were. Were you honest? Were you courageous? What was the nature of your relationships?
“The resume virtues are your nine-to-five skills. The eulogy qualities are deeper. And I think that we all would say that the eulogy virtues are more important than the resume virtues—who we are and who we want to be. But we happen to live in a culture that encourages us to spend more time on resume virtues than on eulogy virtues. So I’ve come to think that we need to step back from the pressures of the moment and get very specific about what it takes to have good eulogy virtues and to have good character.”
Brooks cited the memoirs of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who overcome personal anger and rage issues. “He disciplined himself and made himself into a good General and a very good President by fighting against his anger. And this idea that you are fighting against yourself, which was once very prominent in our culture, is now much less prominent. It is based on the idea that we are fallen creatures, but we are also splendidly endowed. We sin, but we have the capacity to recognize our sin and fight against it. And character is what we build when we struggle against our own weakness. And in this struggle, humility is our greatest virtue, the humility to act against our own nature. And pride is the central vice. It blinds you to your own weakness. It makes you think you are better than you are, that you can do it on your own.
Polls indicate that prior generations were more humble than today, possibly because our culture has been so successful in so many ways, he said. “Success leads to the greatest failure, which is pride. And failure leads to the greatest success, which is humility.
“Finally, no one can achieve self-mastery on his or her own. We all need redemptive assistance from outside. That’s the final thing I think would all say that a person with deep character is capable of, and that is receiving grace,” he said. “Grace is, of course, a religious word, but I’m using it in a secular mindset…It’s having that ability to allow yourself to be admitted into a community of people, so that community can surround you and support you.
“In the end, we’re not just out for money, we’re not just out for even happiness. Even if you’re living in the shallow culture, even if you are watching the Kardashians, we all have a moral imagination, we all have a longing to lead a good life…And the reward in not necessarily money and fame. Sometimes a good person does become rich and famous–but it’s self-respect. Success is competition with other people, but self-respect is competition with yourself.”
Concluding his formal remarks, Brooks said, “I used to think that a lot of the problems of society could be cured by laws and reforms, and I still believe that. But when I think about the polarization of the country, some of the failures in Wall Street, some of the failures in values in the country, I’ve come to think that the laws will only get you so far, and much of the problem has to do with values and attitudes. Not the values and attitudes of other people, but of each of us trying to discover the values and virtues that have been left to us as an inheritance.”
Brooks then fielded audience questions on a variety of topics, including political polarization, the likelihood Hillary Clinton and several potential Republican candidates could be elected the next President, and what President Barack Obama is really like.
Initial Pratt Student Entrepreneurial Award Recipients Selected
By Bill Wax, Director of Communications
Three Bellevue University students are building their dream businesses with help from an innovative new program funded by Tom and Anne “Annie” Pratt of Omaha.
Supporting startup enterprises comes naturally for the Pratts, who are longtime entrepreneurs and supporters of the University. Annie’s father, the late Clifton Batchelder, a successful entrepreneur in the printing business, was an early supporter of then Bellevue College and a longtime member of the College’s Board of Directors. Annie served several years on the Bellevue University Foundation Board.
The Pratts created the Tom and Annie Pratt Student Entrepreneurial Award to help student-entrepreneurs turn great product and service ideas into viable businesses. The three Award recipients will receive seed-money grants sponsored by the Pratts, longtime owner-operators of a successful travel business, who wanted to help budding entrepreneurs take the next step toward the dream.
Award funds of up to $5,000 per year may be applied to a variety of expenses to advance a product or service to the marketplace, including (but not limited to) patent application costs, building a prototype, and market or product research.
Two of the three initial Award recipients, Lori Beck and Stacy Maddux, both of Omaha, met and thanked the Pratts during an informal luncheon on the University campus October 3. The third recipient is Ben Kirkland, also of Omaha.
A panel of University faculty members and college deans selected the three recipients through a two-stage process. Award panelists included Prof. Linda Fettig, adjunct instructor, Master of Fine Arts in Creativity program; Dr. Lucy Franks, Professor, College of Business (COB); and Dr. John Kyndt, Assistant Professor, College of Science and Technology (CST); and Dr. Pamela Imperato, Dean, COB; Dr. Clif Mason, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences; and Mary Dobransky, Dean, CST;
In all, 24 Pratt Award applications were received this spring, including three proposals seeking funds to develop non-profit service organizations. Seven MBA students applied, along with four B.S. in Business majors, two Supply Chain Management, and majors in Management, Health Service, Human Resources, Computer Information Systems, Project Management, Human and Social Services Administration, and Clinical Counseling.
The Winning Business Proposals:
E3 Tours – Lori Beck, a wife and mother of two, envisioned a travel agency catering to busy single parents and others who are seeking economical, educational, and entertaining family oriented vacation opportunities ranging from day trips to extended-stay venues. Lori has extensive contacts in the non-profit world and travel business, including seven years working for Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo. She has B.S. in Management, and Master of Arts in Leadership degrees from Bellevue University and was completing the M.S. in Clinical Counseling program at the time she applied. She enrolled in Graphic Design classes this fall. She will use her Pratt Award Funds to develop marketing materials.
Fix That – Ben Kirkland’s business concept is a smart phone application for tagging, viewing, and reporting pot holes, traffic hazards and other fixable issues to state or municipal street and road maintenance departments as well as other motorists using the Fix That app. Pratt Award funding will help with design and development costs to provide the app across multiple platforms.
The Bereavement Team – When Stacy Maddux’s elderly mother died in Palm Springs, California, Stacy saw the need for a variety of concierge services ranging from preparing her mother’s house for sale, to legal details, accounting issues, and dividing up cherished family belongings, all while grieving for a lost loved one. She has assembled contacts in a wide range of related fields, including potential future funding sources to grow her business. Maddux envisions developing a franchise business model focused initially on providing concierge services in upscale retirement markets such as Palm Springs, which are popular with retirees. Her Pratt Award funding will help pay for website development and printed marketing materials.
A second round of applications is planned later this fall, with winners to be selected early in 2015. Previous Award applicants and winners can reapply for funding, as long as they are enrolled in the University.
Alumnus David Bernard-Stevens, Out to Change the World
By Bill Wax, Director of Communications
At age 63, many are thinking about retiring (or already there), but Bellevue University alumnus David Bernard-Stevens is just getting started. His goal? Change the world (at least some of it) by helping change individual lives. His M.S. in Leadership degree, earned in 2005, is helping him accomplish more than ever by passing along what he has learned to others in a place he feels he should be.
But it hasn’t always been that way for Bernard-Stevens, who grew up in Cozad, Nebraska, where his father published the town newspaper. The refrain of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” might be an appropriate soundtrack for much of the impressive resume highlighted on his LinkedIn page.
“I always have loved what I was doing at the time, but I also wondered if I should be doing something else,” he said. His current address is Nairobi, Kenya, where he helps teach Kenyans to think differently and change their lives by leading themselves and aligning their thoughts and actions to their own core values.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in Political Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and working as a Senatorial aide in Washington, D.C., for a while, he returned to Nebraska and completed a teaching certificate, even though he previously had told his mother, a UN-L math and computer science teacher, that he “would rather die than teach.” His teaching career included five years at Papillion-LaVista High School, during which he was named Nebraska Teacher of the Year and one of Five National Teachers of the Year.
In 1985, when a Nebraska State Senator retired at mid-term, a friend recommended Bernard Stevens to complete the term. Governor Kay Orr appointed him on condition he would run for re-election. He agreed, thinking he probably wouldn’t win. But as the election approached, the likely front-runner, Bill Hord of Lincoln, unexpectedly called him. After the two men talked, Hord called a press conference in North Platte, Nebraska. Members of the media came expecting him to announce his own candidacy, but instead, Hord announced he would be Bernard-Stevens’s campaign manager.
After serving as a State Senator from 1986 to 1997, Bernard-Stevens was hired as President of the North Platte Chamber of Commerce, holding that position for an additional decade, during which he learned about Bellevue University’s M.S. in Leadership program through contacts at Great Plains Community College in North Platte, which has an educational partnership with University. He completed the program online, finding that could know and interact more with students online than he had in his traditional classroom setting undergrad classes.
In 2007, the Chamber’s Board of Directors decided to take a new tack, which meant hiring a new President. Losing his job turned out to be a watershed moment for Bernard-Stevens. “Looking back, it was a real blessing,” he said. “I was in my 50’s, and for the first time in my life, I asked myself ‘What do I want to do?’ I figured I had maybe 25 years to do it.”
He decided to launch a leader development company, where he could tap into his own abilities and experience as well as the leadership lessons he’d learned. “Taking Bellevue University’s Leadership program did a lot to form and develop my thinking on what a leader really is. I loved teaching but I also enjoyed helping people grow and accomplish things by learning to think differently so they could be empowered to accomplish things. You have to think differently if you want to create a different future. That’s not necessarily the traditional model of leadership.”
Long story short, he launched North Platte-based Leader Development Group, LLC, followed by an initiative to develop leaders among Jamaican youth, and finally he made contacts in Kenya, where he and four Kenyan nationals have formed Effective Change Consultants, LLC, a for-profit venture which provides leader training for businesses and organizations. Bernard-Stevens is C.E.O. of the company, which uses 40% of its profits in providing similar training at no cost to young men and women in rural areas.
It isn’t always easy to change the world, even part of it. “There are times I feel like I’m beating my head against a wall, and times it almost feels like the wall is chasing me,” he quipped. But he remains hopeful. Despite daunting cultural, economic, political, and behavioral challenges, he believes in people. He believes that by helping them change how they think, he can help them to lead themselves, and move from “reacting and repeating” to “responding and creating.”
“We want to help them move from reacting to their current circumstances and repeating the same behavior they’ve always done, which produces the same outcomes as before, to responding in new ways and creating a different reality that opens up a different path. If we can help people align their thoughts and actions with who they are in their heart–their individual core values and purpose—then they will be happier and their lives will change.”
Along the way, he has learned he is not alone in his quest. His travels and social media contacts have helped build a network of like-minded people. When there was no money to provide leader training for 80 impoverished Kenyan women from Nairobi’s Kibera neighborhood (Africa’s largest urban slum), a Twitter acquaintance in California provided helpful advice and encouragement. She told him to “Take a leap of faith,” by setting up a website, telling his story, and including a “donate” button linked to PayPal. “In two weeks, the money came in from all over the world. I remember thinking, ‘Wow! How did that happen?’” he said.
The adventure continues for Bernard-Stevens. Four years ago, his path crossed that of Ruth, a Kenyan woman, now his wife. In October he returned to Africa to join her and continue the work he is confident he was made to do.
David Bernard-Stevens can be found on Facebook and would be more than happy to connect. He also is on LinkedIn. He currently is using crowdfunding (gofundme.com/dkadqg) to raise support for a dairy herd project benefiting women and families in rural Kenya.
MBA Produces For FedEx Employee
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Bellevue University delivers!
Just ask Jerrica Cook. As a Senior Solutions Specialist at FedEx Services, she knows a little bit about what it takes to deliver the goods. Cook recently earned her MBA with a concentration in Supply Chain Management.
“Throughout the 2- year program, I learned far more than ever thought I could while still being able to be a good mom, wife and employee,” she said. “Going through this program not only taught me concepts that I could apply in the workplace, but it gave me the sense of accomplishment and empowered me to continue to strive for the best out of life, ultimately resulting in my move into the Solutions organization.”
Cook said the MBA program brought real world knowledge to the classroom — information that she was able to immediately apply on the job.
“The biggest change in me is the way I viewed the organization. Prior to completing my Masters, everything I did was on a departmental level. I saw the work that I produced and its direct effect on the customer,” she said. “But after completing this program, I started seeing the vision of the company and how my role fit into the overall strategic objectives of FedEx and how my work indirectly affected those things. I stopped thinking like an individual contributor (IC) and starting thinking like an Executive.”
Since completing her degree, Cook has become a staunch advocate of higher education.
“When employees are given the right education and tools to assist them with putting the pieces together, the results are phenomenal not only for you, but for the organization,” she said. “Bellevue University can help you get to the next level and is the key to your success – I am living proof.”
Who’s Hungry? We’re All Hungry!
So Let’s Eat! – at Alum’s Salt 88
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
Well, that’s just not John Horvatinovich’s style. Instead of mixing up some lemon juice, water and sugar, Horvatinovich grated some lemon zest over calamari. That’s just one of the many dishes you’ll find at Horvatinovich’s restaurant, Salt 88.
A busted-up knee and a job opportunity that wasn’t are a couple of the bad breaks Horvatinovich suffered before opening the restaurant. Even his alma mater, Bellevue University, handed him a bit of a lemon when the new Culinary Arts degree he had initially registered for never fully materialized.
However, Horvatinovich persevered at the University, earning his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2010. He opened Salt 88, located at 3623 N. 129th Street in Omaha, in May 2013.
“He’s able to speak in front of a crowd, he’s able to really draw up some great ideas, he’s able to organize things from people to projects — that’s what a degree at Bellevue University means,” Horvatinovich said. “Bellevue was able to prove to me that it was worth staying and finishing even when the degree of choice that brought me there was no longer available.”
Dr. Julia Cronin-Gilmore’s marketing classes stood out for Horatinovich. Cronin-Gilmore and other professors were able to capitalize on Horvatinovich’s real-world restaurant experience as well as his experience as an adjunct faculty member at Metropolitan Community College.
“They recognized that ‘hey, this is a resource that we can tap into so other students can see some real-world experience’,” he said. “There was definitely more engagement. I think that was the best part of it.”
Horvatinovich, who came to the University with an Associate’s degree in Culinary Arts from the Art Institute of Colorado, describes the cuisine at Salt 88 as modern American with Italian influences.
“We didn’t want to put ourselves into a corner. We wanted something different. We wanted something unique,” Horvatinovich said. “Omaha is very big city when they want to be and small town when they want to be. We like to change those hats often.”
Among the highlights at Salt 88 is the sweet and spicy pizza, made with spicy sausage, bell peppers, mozzarella cheese and a sweet and spicy sauce. The pizza won both the judges and people’s choice award from Omaha’s Food & Spirits magazine.
Horvatinovich also recommends the plank-fired salmon.
“We put it on a cedar wood plank and grill it right on top of an open grill,” Horvatinovich explained. “We top it with a tomato basil sauce and some fresh grilled vegetables.”
The attention to detail the helped Horvatinovich through college is evident in the interior design at Salt 88 as well. In addition to the main dining room and bar, the restaurant features a private dining room and a patio overlooking Eagle Run Golf Course. Lighting along the toe kicks and back benches help illuminate the restaurant without being overwhelming.
The Salt 88 experience is not complete without a little cotton candy. That’s right, cotton candy. The sugary treat is served as a free dessert at the end of every meal.
“I don’t think it is possible to eat cotton candy angry,” Horvatinovich explained. “It’s shareable. It’s fun. It allows people to let down their guard a little bit.”
Kyndt’s Combinations Lead To New Degree Offerings
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Combining elements is second nature to Dr. John Kyndt. That’s probably no surprise from someone who holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry.
But rather than combining potassium chlorate and gummy bears (which is pretty darn cool), Kyndt is hoping to create just as much energy combining cool things like technology innovation and entrepreneurship or sustainability and project management. Kyndt leads the University’s Master of Professional Science in Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MPS) program as well as the Bachelor of Science in Sustainability Management.
Kyndt believes these combinations will help launch students into burgeoning job markets.
“It’s not the traditional track where you have a science degree or an entrepreneurship degree or a management degree,” he said. “Bring the two together and make it something people can use. That’s what attracts me. It’s a challenge because you have to explain to people that this is a new type of degree and people have to get used to it. Once they go through the program and see the benefits it will be interesting to see (what develops), but I’m confident that graduates from these programs will come out well-rounded and well prepared for the modern workplace.”
Kyndt came to the University two years ago from the University of Arizona where he was a research professor experimenting with algae biofuels. Originally from Belgium, Kyndt earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. at the University of Ghent. Well over 100 years old and with enrollments of close to 40,000 students each, both Arizona and Ghent offer a different experience than Bellevue University.
“There are pluses and minuses to both,” Kyndt said. “(At Bellevue University), you can easily get new programs off the ground that you could not do at a large institution. Being smaller, being a private non-profit helps with turning things around faster, being more innovative in a more timely manner.”
Initially attracted to the permanent summer offered in Arizona, Kyndt began to miss the seasons after almost eight years in Tucson, so he came to Bellevue along with his wife Heather, and three children; twins Diego and Sebastian (10) and youngest Elliot (7). “Coming here, it’s more like Belgium. You have the seasons again. I see the culture here is more like Belgium than it was in Arizona,” he said. “I like having some roots in both Europe and the U.S. It makes me more diverse and I can see things from different angles.”
Kyndt’s Sustainability program launched last spring with 13 students. Another section is due to start in October.
“The students come from different backgrounds. Some are from waste water management, some are from energy companies, some are just interested in sustainability,” he said. “I think it is a good group to start with. It’s not too big, but it gives enough interaction.”
The combination of the science of sustainability with project management is what gives the program its electricity.
“I think that merger is unique and talking to some of the students before they entered the program they liked that. Some of them had looked at environmental sciences degrees, but they liked the project management part on top of it,” he said. “It gives them enough tools to implement a project and stand it up.”
For more from Dr. Kyndt, check out his TEDxOmaha talk on YouTube.