By Bill Wax
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. The late Roy A. Smith and his wife, Macaela, are long-term Builders of Bellevue University.
Roy Smith: Supporting Bellevue University from Its Beginnings
Community leader Roy A. Smith was one of the first to respond when Bellevue civic leaders asked for support to launch Bellevue College. Smith, a longtime resident of Bellevue and a legendary auto dealer in the Omaha area, owned H.P. Smith Ford in South Omaha in the mid-1960s, when Bellevue College began. Founding Bellevue College Board member William V. “Bill” Brooks recalled that Smith’s rapid response to support a bond issue to start the college was a great encouragement to the fund raisers who canvased their fellow Bellevue residents.
Smith, who also owned Old Mill Toyota, was a longtime resident of Bellevue, Nebraska. He served on the Board of Directors (1984-2007), including a term as Board Chair, and remained an Emeritus Director until his death in 2010. He joined the Board at a critical period when the institution was facing financial difficulty and declining enrollment. Along with other key Directors, he provided financial support and steady leadership for the administration to get the University on a sound footing. He also served on the Bellevue University Foundation Board, including two terms as Chair.
Roy was heavily involved in giving back to many worthy causes in the community and beyond, including charitable and non-profit boards such as The Salvation Army, Boy Scouts of America Mid-America Council, and United Way of the Midlands. He was chairman of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce in 1991 and spearheaded efforts to combat racism and racial discrimination. He also was a strong supporter of South Omaha and gave generously to efforts to develop it.
Roy received an honorary doctoral degree from Bellevue College in 1990.
In 2013, Macaela Smith established the Roy and Macaela Smith Community Scholarship Fund at Bellevue University, an endowed fund to assist deserving students in earning their degrees.
Carl Mammel: Helping Others Succeed
By Bill Wax
The support of thousands of individuals, corporations, and charitable foundations has helped make Bellevue University Nebraska’s largest private college or university. As the University celebrates its 50th anniversary, we look at a few of the key individuals and organizations whose financial support helped make it happen. Carl Mammel of Omaha wanted to help make a college degree more accessible for Latino and other minority and low-income students from South Omaha.
Carl G. Mammel Jr. of Omaha combined talent, entrepreneurship, and a steady focus on lofty goals to become a visionary leader in the insurance and employee benefit sales industry. His highly successful career enabled him to give back, helping many others be more successful, including minority and financially needy students at Bellevue University.
Working part-time while a college student in the 1950’s, Mammel learned he had a knack for sales and an interest in the insurance business. After completing his degree in University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business Administration, he began his career with Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company in Omaha in 1955.
In 1959, Mammel and business partners launched what eventually would become Mammel, Schropp, Swartzbaugh, Engler and Jones, Inc., an innovative consulting firm providing services in executive and employee benefits and wealth-transfer planning. The company grew and became the top employee benefits firm in the region. Mammel retired in 1991 after the company merged with Redland Group, a diversified national property and casualty insurance firm, which was renamed SilverStone Group in 2001.
Mammel has a strong track record of supporting and serving numerous non-profit organizations and causes in the area, and is a long-time supporter of Bellevue University’s outreach scholarship program benefiting Latino and other minority and low-income students from South Omaha and beyond. “Contributing to that scholarship program was probably one of the most rewarding contributions we ever made, because we have an opportunity to see what we’ve done,” he said during the University’s annual luncheon where scholarship donors and recipients meet.
“I look at the students, and I know we made a difference for them. Every year, we come and have lunch with some of them and learn about them, and the surprising thing to me is that they are not students just out of high school. Many are in there 20’s or even early 30’s, and they were going back to get their degree. And I could see what had been accomplished with these students.”
In 1995 he established the Mammel Family Foundation, which has been a major benefactor of the Omaha Symphony Orchestra, Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, and many others. He is a past member and Chairman of the Board of the Omaha Community Foundation. In 2015, he was inducted into the Aksarben Court of Honor for his extensive service and contributions to philanthropic causes over the years.
Bellevue University conferred an honorary Doctor of Commerce degree on Mammel in 2008, in recognition of his professional accomplishments as well as his contributions of time and philanthropy.
Science! New Labs a Successful Experiment
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
A timed experiment – that’s what you could call the renovation of the science labs in the R. Joe Dennis Learning Center. The desired outcome was the best equipped small science department in the state ready to serve students at the start of the fall term on August 29.
You can also call it a successful experiment. Spearheaded by Drs. John Kyndt, Tyler Moore, and Scott Pinkerton, the labs were ready to go as students rolled in. Built by Hawkins Construction and designed by HDR, the project broke ground on May 15.
“The construction crew did a heck of a job getting done on time. They really put in the work,” Pinkerton said.
The three professors put together a wants and needs list and developed a business plan to explain how the upgrades would impact the University. University President Dr. Mary Hawkins pushed the group to think big.
“The University made the decision to go with a much more intensive upgrade. What we ended up with was a facility that is really top notch,” Pinkerton said. “We were given cart blanche to just make a wish list and start to look at what we really wanted and needed to kind of be modern in our science education. What should we have to educate these students to a level that would really make them competent and competitive in the science arena?”
Examples of the new equipment include:
Spectrophotometers — an instrument that measures the amount of photons (the intensity of light) absorbed after it passes through sample solution.
Compound microscopes – a microscope which uses a lens close to the object being viewed to collect light (called the objective lens) which focuses a real image of the object inside the microscope. That image is then magnified by a second lens or group of lenses (called the eyepiece) that gives the viewer an enlarged inverted virtual image of the object.
DNA sequencer — used to determine the order of the four bases: G (guanine), C (cytosine), A (adenine) and T (thymine). This is then reported as a text string, called a read. Some DNA sequencers can be also considered optical instruments as they analyze light signals originating from fluorochromes attached to nucleotides.
The end results will be a student base that will be exposed to the latest and greatest in order to make them competitive in the marketplace.
“You can already see that when they’re coming in. They feel like they’re a part of a real modern lab a state of the art lab,” Kyndt said.
One of the goals of the project was to make science more accessible, Kyndt explained.
“The biggest thing we set forward was ‘Science on Display’,” he said. “So having science more visible to students — showing what we’re doing and getting people curious. Breaking down the idea that science is in some ivory tower and nobody can watch it or touch it. Science is not a scary thing. It’s something that we have fun with and you can come join us.”
A hands-on approach with a greater emphasis on research will benefit students.
“We want to integrate more research into our teaching activates and more research into our extra-curricular activates,” Moore said. “We wanted to build a space in which we were able to do that.”
In addition to the new science equipment, each one of the labs is outfitted with technology to enhance the academic experience. Each of the classrooms has a standard projector and each lab will have four drop-down monitors. Each station will function as its own computer is actually its own computer with Apple TV.
“It’s really a pretty well integrated system,” Pinkerton said. “A student could take an image off the microscope and put it on the TV and share it with the entire class.”
While the labs and open and available to students, there is still more work to be done.
“We’re still in the purchasing phase for a lot of our equipment,” Pinkerton said. “A lot of the more expensive equipment we still haven’t purchased yet just because they are major capital items. A DNA sequencer is not a cheap piece of equipment.”
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.
“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 into the various functional areas of HR. With the Master’s Program, we also had the opportunity to expand into global HR as well as focus more on the strategic aspects 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:
- Organizational Effectiveness
- HR Metrics and Evaluation
- Diversity and Inclusion
- Globalization of our Workforce
- Talent Management
- Total Rewards
- Strategic Business Partnerships
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 compensation and benefit 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 the curriculum MSHR 620 Contemporary Issues. Katrina Collum, a Senior Organizational Development Specialist for HCA, co-developed the MSHR 645 Human Resource Metrics, Evaluation course, and April Strong, a VP of HR at National Pharmaceutical Services (now a VP of Operations at the same organization) co-developed MSHR 650 Strategic Business Partnerships. Professor John Patterson, who holds a law degree from Taft Law School in Santa Ana, California, wrote the curriculum for MSHR 605 Human Resource Law.
Longe also singled out Course Designer Marshall Peterson for special praise.
“Marshall Peterson is just phenomenal,” she said. “He’s creative, very efficient and overall, just a pleasure to work with. He made my job so much easier and we have a strong program because of him.”
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 and how they will evaluate how successful their initiatives were.”
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 aligned and consistent with what SHRM thought was important.”
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)?
The 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!
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)…
BEWARE, OUR BRUINS MAY BITE!
B-U stands true in all we do,
We never give up the FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT!
ONCE A BRUIN, ALWAYS A BRUIN
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
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.
“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
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
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.
For 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
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.
“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.”