Degree Spotlight: University on Cyber’s Cutting Edge

Degree Spotlight: University on Cyber’s Cutting Edge

By Dan Silvia

From your personal cellphone all the way up to the servers at the highest level of government, the importance of cybersecurity seems to be part of the news cycle on a daily basis. Keeping those servers safe has become an in-demand skill set.

Where to get those skills? Bellevue University, of course.

The University first introduced its Cybersecurity programs in 2011 after being encouraged to do so by its Military Advisory Board. Offering both a Graduate and Undergraduate degree, the program has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cybersecurity by the National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since 2012.

The Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity boasted 180 enrolled students as of March 2017, while the Master of Science in Cybersecurity had 182 enrolled students.

“President Mary Hawkins and the Military Advisory Board saw the future of cyber technologies and were proactive in funding, supporting, and creating the program,” said Professor Ron Woerner, who served as the program’s first director and still works as an adjunct. “We based the program on industry needs, since not many academic programs existed at that time.  Since then, we continue to enhance and update the program to meet changing needs.”

CyberCroppedCreated with the input of professionals in the field, the course work includes subjects such as Database Security, Cyber Investigations and Forensics, and Cybersecurity Governance and Compliance. The programs remain on the cutting edge by continuously updating the coursework.

“You’re coming out with a cybersecurity degree where you can say I really have some special task knowledge in boundary defense or forensic analysis or penetration testing. That really lines up so much better with not only what the industry is asking for, but what the student wants to do when they grow up,” said Professor Doug Rausch, the current director of the Cybersecurity programs.

Obtaining the recognition as a National Center of Excellence from the NSA and the DHS was a key milestone for the program.

“What are the right institutions to look at? Homeland Security and NSA have said this program meets their requirements,” Rausch said. “That’s a really huge stamp of approval and gets folks interested.”

A robust job market also attracts a lot of interested potential students.  A recent article on estimated that there are more than 200,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the United States.

“The academic institutions cannot produce enough students to fill that,” Rausch said. “The biggest things that are missing in terms of the skills gap are the ability to understand the business, technical skills and communication skills.”

Communications skills and business knowledge are an often overlooked, but a necessary part of the equation, Rausch explained.

“You have to be able to communicate what you’re finding.  The other aspect is can you apply it to the business? Can you balance that security with the objectives of the business? Take a look at the mission, the business objectives, and how security blends with it,” he said.

Those skills are integrated throughout the Bellevue University Cybersecurity programs through its Skills-to-Performance initiative.

“The program itself is not static,” Rausch said. “It’s literally changing constantly. It’s challenging me to be learning all the time. The flexibility that we’re offered — (Dean of the College of Science and Technology) Mary Dobransky, Mary Hawkins have both been great. There’s a flexibility we get in how we are going to present that, how are we going to work with that material. It’s not easy material. It’s not something that you can learn just from a book you have to learn by doing it.

“We always continue to update the program in terms of the tasks we’re able to train. We’re doing even more expansion of our virtualized environment. The idea is to be able to immerse the student in an organizational network.”


Perry E. “Bill” Esping Made His Mark on a Growing University

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 some of the many individuals and organizations that have helped to build the University into Nebraska’s largest private college or university. A spirit of entrepreneurship made the late Perry E. “Bill” Esping a prototypical Builder of Bellevue University. His son William P. “Bill” Esping, continues that legacy of support and entrepreneurship.”


Perry E. “Bill” Esping Made His Mark on a Growing University

Bill EspingPerry E. “Bill” Esping joined Bellevue College’s Board of Directors in 1980. One of several new directors recruited from the greater Omaha area to broaden the College’s support base, Esping brought business acumen and a strong entrepreneurial track record—valuable assets for a young college seeking to develop new program offerings to grow enrollment.

Esping is best known in business circles as the principal founder of First Data Resources of Omaha. A true entrepreneur, he left IBM in 1968 to manage a charge-card system called Mid-America Bancard Association, a regional bank cooperative. In 1970, he and several colleagues asked member banks for permission to launch their own company, First Data Resources, which was the first company to process both VISA (then called BankAmericard) and Master Card (formerly Master Charge) transactions. The company broke even in its first year and within a decade reached $50 million in annual income and 2,000 employees. It was purchased by American Express Co. of New York in 1980. Now headquartered in Atlanta, First Data Resources is a business unit of First Data Corporation, a separately traded company and the largest credit card processor in the world.

Esping served on the Bellevue University Board of Directors from 1980 to 1988 and was one of three influential directors involved in the search committee which hired John B. Muller as the third president of Bellevue University in 1985.  A strong believer and advocate for free enterprise, he was an early supporter of the Esping Center for Free Enterprise at Bellevue University, which was later renamed the Entrepreneurial Leadership Center, publishing the Bottom Line newsletter. He also was a founding member of the Bellevue University Foundation Board.

After selling First Data Resources, Esping launched BRC Holdings, a Dallas-based information technology services and data processing company. In 1994, the family established the Esping Family Foundation, which is philosophically rooted in free-enterprise and strives “to help others help themselves by supporting active programs with strong leadership and entrepreneurial activity.” At the time of his death in 1998, he was chairman and CEO of BRC Holdings. In 2001, he was inducted posthumously into the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s Business Hall of Fame.

Perry Esping’s son, William P. Esping, is Managing Director of EFO and joined the Bellevue University Board of Directors in 2001. The Esping family established the Perry E. “Bill” Esping Endowed Scholarship in honor of their father’s involvement in Bellevue University.


Deryl F. Hamann: Using His Success to Help Others Succeed

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 key individuals and organizations that have helped the University become Nebraska’s largest private college or university. The University’s founders were Bellevue businessmen who saw the need to expand and strengthen its Board of Directors to tap leadership and support from the greater Omaha area. Deryl F. Hamann personifies that leadership and support as Builders of Bellevue University.

Deryl F. Hamann:  Using His Success to Help Others Succeed

From humble beginnings, Omahan Deryl F. Hamann used his experience, ability, determination and work ethic to build a successful legal and finance career that has enabled him to help many others including the students of Bellevue University, to succeed.

Deryl F. HamannIn his youth on an Iowa farm during the 1930’s Depression Era, his family lived on a dirt road, in a house without electricity or indoor plumbing. His first paid job, at age 11, was cutting cockleburs from corn fields. He went on to graduate high school and worked his way through the Fort Dodge Junior College, followed by the University of Nebraska College of Law, where he graduated Cum Laude in 1958, passing the Nebraska State Bar exam that year.

After a year as a law clerk for the US District Judge, Robert Van Pelt, he joined the Omaha-based Baird Holm, LLP, law firm in 1959 and built a distinguished career in corporate, tax, trust and estate law.  A former managing partner, he is now “of counsel” to the firm.   His name appears in the directory, Best Lawyers in America, which in 2011 rated him Corporate Lawyer of the Year in Omaha.

In 1971, Hamann embarked on a second career in banking, purchasing a small southern Iowa bank. The enterprise grew and he eventually became Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Great Western Bancorporation, Inc., one of Nebraska’s largest bank holding companies, which, at the time it was sold in 2008, included more than 100 bank locations in six states.

Deryl2During his career, Mr. Hamann has received numerous awards and been recognized for professional and business achievement, civic service, and philanthropy. A long-time advocate of higher education, he joined the Bellevue University Board in 1990 and served actively for 22 years, including a two-year term as Board Chair. He has been an Emeritus director since 2012. He generously supported capital facilities expansion, outreach scholarships for minority and financially needy students, and the University’s American Vision and Values initiatives. Bellevue University presented him an honorary Doctor of Commerce Degree in 2003.  In 2012, he was named King of Ak-Sar-Ben.  Then, in 2014, he was inducted into the Nebraska Business Hall of Fame by the Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce.  In 2016, he was inducted into the Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame of Iowa Central Community College (successor to Fort Dodge Junior College.)

Deryl Hamann and his wife, Ramona, whose names are on the University’s Donor Wall of Recognition.

Carrying on the next generation of service and support to the community and Bellevue University is Deryl’s son, Dan Hamann, who joined the University Board of Directors in 2013 and currently serves as Secretary.  Dan is Chairman of Spectrum Financial Services, Inc., an insurance and investment business, and he previously spent 15 years working for Great Western Bancorporation, Inc., including time as the company’s President.  He earned a B.A. degree from Iowa State University and an M.B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School.

Engagement Key for Malnove’s Narduzzo

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

With responsibilities covering employee relations, compensation and benefits, talent management, learning and development, talent acquisition, risk management, and engagement (we’ll get back to that later), Kari Narduzzo is the total package for Malnove, a packaging solutions company headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska.

Narduzzo2Narduzzo, who earned her bachelor’s degree in business from Bellevue University in 2002, is the Vice President of Human Resources at Malnove.

What drives Narduzzo?

“The ability to make a difference in people’s lives and the opportunity that I have been given to help run a company like I own it,” she said. “This ability allows me to do what we need to do to continue to drive Malnove as a differentiated employer of choice.”

Narduzzo started her college career at Moorhead State in Minnesota, where she excelled as a member of the women’s basketball team from 1989-93.

“College athletics forces a discipline at such a high level — time management, giving your all when you may be sick or feel like you just want to sleep, always driving to be the best,” she said. “Having a lot of success in college basketball is something that I carried with me into my first professional job- it gave me the confidence to know that I worked hard for something and received the awards and recognition because of it.”

She left Moorhead as a two-time NCAA Division II All-American, is a member of the school’s Hall of Fame, and still holds the school record with 1,634 career points. However, she did not leave with her bachelor’s degree.

“I changed my degree many times because I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do,” she said.  “It was always a big regret that I hadn’t walked away from Moorhead with my bachelor’s.”

Enter Bellevue University.

“Hearing the advertisements for Bellevue and the accelerated degree program really struck a chord with me because it sounded like something that I would be able to handle while I was working and raising a family,” she said.

Narduzzo was working as a District Manager for Simmonds Restaurant Management and the late Mike Simmonds, a longtime board member and contributor to Bellevue University.

“Mike had a HUGE role in my career- I learned so much from him.  He had such a high expectation of operations and people that it was a perfect training ground for me to understand what great looked like,” Narduzzo said. “He developed such a strong group of people, with such high expectations and consequently was extremely successful as a franchisee.  In addition, he had such a heart for giving back and a responsibility for community, I learned at a young age how important it was to be socially responsible and connected through giving back.  Being part of his group meant always pushing for improvement and setting the standard- this really cultivated a drive in me to continue to push myself to more, which lead me to Bellevue.”

In addition to picking up career-relevant skills, Narduzzo took pride in earning her degree.

“The confidence of completing my degree was huge,” she said. “I feel like I don’t have that hanging over my head anymore and it provided me the ability to advance my career in a way that wouldn’t have happened without it.”

Family, including her parents, children, and husband, has played a big role in supporting Narduzzo through her academic and career endeavors.

“I have a very strong family network and parents that paved the way with hard work and business skills,” she said. “My kids have always been there too. I have always put a lot into each job I have and frequently go in on my days off to get something done, which meant often times; the kids were along for the ride.  They tell stories of what they used to do at Burger King to help out behind the scenes and I am proud that they were excited to come along for the journey of the day.”

While Narduzzo works on employee engagement at work, she is focused on a different type of engagement at home. Daughter Jaylyn Odermann, a standout on the University of Nebraska women’s soccer team from 2012-16, is engaged to Tommy Armstrong, also a former student-athlete at Nebraska.

Fortunately, Narduzzo has plenty of time to assist with wedding plans, which will probably be in 2018 as both Odermann and Armstrong focus on continuing their athletic careers at the professional level.

“While working at United Way this summer, (Jaylyn) regretted her decision to not play at the next level and is currently training to try and make a professional team.  She was invited to Houston Dash’s training camp in March with the goal of making a roster spot.  Tommy is focusing hard on doing everything he can to play at the next level, working with the wide receiver coach and focusing on doing everything he can to earn a spot at the pro level,” Narduzzo said. “Both of them know that there are no guarantees that they will play, but they are determined and focused on these next steps.  They will set a wedding date after this spring, when they know how their sport careers will play out for the next year.”

Life’s a Beach for Kyle Highberg

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

When the beach beckons, it’s pretty tough not to answer.

KH2In May of 2016, Kyle Highberg accepted a position as General Manager at the Courtyard Marriot in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, just a few months prior to earning his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Bellevue University.

Highberg, who graduated from Papillion-LaVista High School just down the road from the University, had a long career in the Omaha hotel industry before pulling up stakes for some beachfront property.

“When it came down to it… I wanted to be warm and near a beach!” Highberg said. “I grew up in Omaha.  I operated a strong hotel in downtown (Residence Inn in Omaha) and it was such a great experience for me. The decision to leave came with some very bittersweet feelings, and I will always have a place in my heart for Omaha.”

Highberg, who completed his degree in August 2016, manages the hotel that features 144 rooms and direct access to the beach and boardwalk. As General Manager, he holds a number of responsibilities.

“My job entails a very proactive and consistent approach to managing and leading the efforts behind (1) Revenue Generation, (2) Guest Satisfaction, (3) Profit Delivery to Owners, (4) Brand Accountability – or how effective the hotel operates as a Marriott, and (5) Ensuring Associate Engagement shows strong performance and growth,” he said. “The thing I enjoy the most is running a successful business – especially training our team members as well as being financially savvy to deliver great results.”

KH1Highberg completed his degree in August 2016, but had already begun making use of the knowledge gained during his studies.

“Everything I do has been relatable to the classes I’ve taken.  Human Resources, Legal Environments of Business, DOL standards, Marketing, Forecasting, Writing Reports, Communicating with Higher Level VPs, they’ve all been very useful,” Highberg said. “Thing is, I have become much better at my field of work due to the degree earned, that I’ve been able to be promoted and given further tasks that lead toward further success.  I think, at the end of the day, I’ve gone from a good manager to a great leader due to this learning.”

A military brat, Highberg bounced around a bit in his youth, but spent much of his formative years in the Omaha area and was familiar with Bellevue University when he decided it was time to earn his bachelor’s degree.

“Knowing I could complete many of my classes online was a huge determining factor in choosing Bellevue.  After my first two classes, I was hooked on the learning,” he said. “The professors in the program are very sharp teachers and made it easy for me to relate my field of work into the business models they were teaching.”

Highberg gave special mention to Professor Emeritus Dr. Judd Patton.

“I got hooked on the program in Dr. Patton’s economics classes, but they were all fantastic,” he said. “The classes were all very interesting.  While some were ‘drier’ than others, they all served a great purpose for me.”

Highberg’s family provided motivation and inspiration during his studies and his career.

“I think there were many times I felt like giving up. Real learning for real life still takes commitment!” he said. “But I wanted to make sure my kids knew the value of a good education.  And my wife knew it would lead to enrichment for us both financially and even culturally.

“Bellevue University definitely enhanced my life in ways I didn’t think possible when I first began.  I went into it very combative, having had 10 or so years in the workforce.  It was really a ‘what can they possibly teach me’ mentality.  As I continued classes, I was definitely challenged to expand out of my comfort zones and do some real learning.  There are many out there that would be on the fence about going back to school or starting a degree.  I would tell them it has led to success for me.  And I do attribute much of that success to my education.  In that regard…do it!”


Dr. Spivack Recounts 30+ years of History

By Dan Silvia

Dr. John Spivack has seen it all. Well, most of it anyway, when it comes to Bellevue University. Spivack is retiring following the spring term after almost 37 years at the University.

Spivack came to then-Bellevue College in August of 1979 with an East Coast pedigree and a Ph.D. from the University of Florida. So what brought him west?

“In 1979, I would guess 90 percent of the people who had gotten History Ph.D.s were driving cabs or selling insurance,” he said. “The prospects of a job brought me here.”

Spivack2He confesses to having some pre-conceived notions about what he was in for with this Midwestern town and the young college he had signed on with.

“I had this image of Omaha in my mind. I thought Omaha was going to be sort of this flat cow town. I was prepared for all sorts of ‘well, you’ll make do’ and so on and so forth,” he said. “The fact is it’s a lovely city. It was nothing like what I expected. There were features of Omaha that reminded me of New York. There’s an incredible ethnic diversity. It wasn’t at all what I expected of a Midwestern city. I was very favorably impressed.”

Bellevue College, in its awkward adolescence, was another story – at least aesthetically.

“When I came here Bellevue probably had the ugliest campus in America. We had a former car dealership as our main building,” Spivack said.

Two Quonset huts, lightweight prefabricated structures made of corrugated galvanized steel, served as campus buildings – one housing the student center and the other the geography and art departments. An open field where the Hitchcock Humanities Center now stands served as host for occasional softball games for students, faculty, and staff. Spivack shared a 12-foot by 12-foot office with three other professors.

While the accommodations left something to be desired, the enthusiasm of the students did not.

“Students then, for the most part, were really hungry for learning of all kinds,” Spivack said. “The numbers then were huge. I averaged 40 students a class. I had some courses with 50 students.”

Spivack said the faculty bonded during that time as they sought to enhance the academic reputation of the young school.

“We felt we were doing a pretty good job here. We developed a kind of pugnacious attitude toward people,” he said. “I think we are much more establishment than we were then, although we are still very innovative in a lot of ways. We’re more settled.”

Students were coming to the University for two reasons: one rather typical, the other a little less so.

“The No. 1 selling point then was parking. And the fact that it was inexpensive,” Spivack said. “The first year I was here the tuition was $28 dollars a credit. You did a lot of things. We had 33 full-time faculty and 28 other employees. It was exciting.”

Despite that enthusiasm, the University found itself in financial straits in the mid-80s and tough decisions needed to be made. Dr. John Muller, the new President brought in in 1985 to help right the ship, did his best to insulate the faculty from the financial issues.

“I don’t think any of us felt the kind of pressure one would expect,” Spivack said. “President Muller did a really good job of not sharing some of that difficulty with us. I think that would have been pretty terrifying.”

Spivack credited Muller with making some tough decisions and introducing some innovative ideas that helped move the University out of financial difficulties.

“Under Dr. Muller, I think we became much more business savvy, much more aware of the requirements of the marketplace. As a result, changes were made. The largest single one was when the College of Professional Studies was added. That became the largest source of new income that probably saved the institution,” he said. “People like me, who are sort of old fashioned and really conservative in terms of education, we raised the dickens. We came to see that this was necessary and started down a very different path. John Muller changed things here – significantly.”

Spivack lauds the University for its commitment to the student.

“The faculty at Bellevue and most of the staff are more invested in the students than at any other place I’ve been,” he said. “I can remember when I wanted to go talk to my advisor I would take a lunch and a book to read while I sat outside his office waiting because you got to see your advisor maybe twice a semester. At Bellevue, you put your home phone number on the course hand outs and you expect students to use it. I think it’s that sense that we really are here for you.”

Commitment to one another will also be what carries the University forward, he said.

“Be honest with one another,” he advised. “Be transparent. Be forgiving. I think one of the most useful things that people can do is admit their mistakes.

“I think one of the really nice things about Bellevue is, regardless of how large it gets in terms of the number of students we have online, it’s an atmosphere where you can really make a difference. I can think of several instances where I have been lucky enough to have made a difference in someone’s life. I don’t think there’s a greater reward than that.”

Spivack may still serve as an adjunct during retirement, but will relocate from Omaha to Des Moines, Iowa.

“That’s where our daughter and granddaughter live,” he said. “The older you get the more time you want to spend with those folks.”


Faculty Spotlight: Pat Artz

Meet Pat Artz, Bellevue University Professor

How long have you been at Bellevue University? Since July of 2000.

PatArtzWhat programs/ classes do you teach?  I teach business and professional communication. I also am the Program Director for the Secondary Education Teaching Endorsement in History.

Tell us about your previous work/schools?  I taught social studies and coached cross-country, basketball, and track at the high school level for 18 years before coming to Bellevue University.

Degrees/awards: B.A. Social Science, M.A. History, M.S. in Computer Information Systems, M.B.A.

What do you love most about teaching at Bellevue University?  I love it when my students say things like, “I wasn’t sure that I was going to make it, but now I am the first college graduate in my family. Thanks for your help.”

What motivates or inspires you?  I am inspired by African and Hispanic immigrants who I see on my walks through south and central Omaha.  They work amazingly hard, they sacrifice to help their kids gain better lives, and yet they still have time to celebrate with family and friends.  It is like watching the American dream unfold before my eyes each day.

What experiences or people had the most influence on you?  Meeting a beautiful young woman 26 years ago and raising four children together would be tops on the list.  After that, I had the opportunity to study in Jerusalem for a summer and visit various sites with my classmates and professors as part of our studies. It was a life-changing experience.

What interests you outside the classroom? What are you passionate about?  I make tables and picture frames from reclaimed wood and other materials, I like taking off-beat photographs, I write an occasional creative piece, and I enjoy going to events with my wife to watch our children play sports and participate in activities.  As I get older, I get less passionate about the big issues of the world and more passionate about shared experiences of daily life.

What is your favorite teaching experience or memory?  I remember drawing up a play during a time out at the state basketball tournament with 30 seconds left in triple overtime. The players went out on the court and executed it perfectly except for the last step, which was to make the shot. The experience taught me a valuable lesson: Prepare for success, and then hope for a little bit of luck, too.

What career did you dream of when you were a child?  As a child, I wanted to be either a time traveler or play center for the Boston Celtics.  It was hard to decide.

Where did you grow up?  Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in a working-class neighborhood near the meat-packing plant known as the North End.

What is your favorite book?  Giants in the Earth, by Ole Edvart Rølvaag.  It is a novel about Norwegian immigrant homesteaders near my hometown of Sioux Falls. The book was my first inkling that important stories are not just far away; they are all around us.

What is the most important piece of advice you give to your students?  The mere existence of a problem is not evidence of a solution. Sometimes, the best we can hope for is to reduce a problem to a more manageable level and then learn to live with it.

Inaugural President’s Medal awarded to John F. Kotouc

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

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

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

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

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

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


McCabe Leads Sanford Institute

McCabe Leads Sanford Institute

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

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

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

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

McCabe is embracing the opportunity.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Staff Spotlight: Johnny Farnen

Staff Spotlight: Johnny Farnen


Meet Johnny Farnen, Science Lab Assistant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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