Hopwood Continues Rebound As Georgetown Professor

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

The Federal Bureau of Prisons is just a little more than a block away from his office. It serves as a reminder for Shon Hopwood of a distant, past life, but Hopwood has other things on his mind these days. Rather than occupying a cell in the prison system, Hopwood is just getting comfortable in his new office at the Georgetown University Law Center.

Hopwood, after serving 11 years in prison for a series of bank robberies in Nebraska, earned his bachelor’s degree in Pre-Law Studies from Bellevue University in 2011. He earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Washington in 2014, his Master of Laws from Georgetown in 2017 and is now an Associate Professor of Law at Georgetown. He started teaching his first classes this fall.

Hopwood, from David City, Nebraska, was first profiled by Bill Wax on the Bellevue University Alumni Blog back in September of 2012. His continuing journey was documented in the Washington Post in April of this year.

“I can’t believe this is really happening. It’s real,” Hopwood said. “I wake up most days thinking how blessed I am that I have been given all these second chances from various people.”

HopwoodAn early stop on Hopwood’s journey back from prison was Bellevue University. His wife, Ann Marie, had earned her Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling from the University in 2009 and raved about the school. A liberal credit transfer policy helped seal the deal.

“I had credits that I had accumulated while in prison from five or six different universities. Bellevue was one of the schools that were willing to take on those credits. They worked with me on that, transferring those credits over,” Hopwood explained.

Once on campus, Professor emeritus Dr. Judd Patton helped guide him.

“He had a big impact on my time at Bellevue and I really enjoyed getting to know him,” Hopwood said, “He’s one of the other reasons that I chose Bellevue.”

Patton recalled a Hopwood as an engaged student eager to learn.

“Shon was in my Biblical Economics class. He was excited about the material, devoured it–so to speak–and participated in the online discussions with vigor.  Given his prison experience, he quickly grasped one of the organic precepts of the course: the moral realm and economic realm are inexorably tied together,” Patton said. “It’s always a joy for professors to have students who are enthusiastic, hard workers who read and study the material as assigned, participate in lively class discussions, and share their questions and insights with their classmates. Shon had and has those qualities.  No wonder he became a college professor! It was an honor to have him in class.”

Hopwood also praised his academic advisors who helped set him up for success not only at Bellevue University, but for his next step into law school as well.

“They were instrumental in figuring out what I needed to do to be successful and finish my undergrad degree,” he said. “Then they gave me a plan that allowed me to pull it all off, right before I went to law school. I graduated in July in the summer of 2011. Then I moved to Seattle in August and started law school in September 2011. Bellevue really worked with me to design a plan that would get me into law school as quickly as possible.”

Hopwood felt well prepared for law school by his Bellevue University education as well as the hard work he had put in while behind bars.

“Many of the things that we covered the first year at law school were things that we had covered at Bellevue,” he said. “My experience with law school is so different from anybody else. I mean I had ten years of being a practicing lawyer in prison that prepared me for law school and so I knew a lot more coming in.”

Shon HopwoodHopwood is on the other side of the table this fall teaching students the ins and outs of law. In addition to his teaching duties, Hopwood will be working on criminal justice reform issues.

“I’ve been on Capitol Hill a few times to talk to lawmakers up there about the criminal justice system, he said. “Part of the problem is the punishment never really ends even when someone walks out of prison. In fact, sometimes, the punishment can be worse once people are out. No one will rent them a place to live and no one will hire them. I’m working on papers specifically about people with serious misdemeanor convictions, felony convictions, or sobriety issues that have gone to law school and having to go through the various character and fitness tests.”

It was actually a historic day when Hopwood was hired at Georgetown. He came on board the same day as the new basketball coach, Patrick Ewing. One could get into a healthy debate about who is the better rebounder between Ewing and Hopwood.

Going forward, Hopwood hopes to be the best teacher he can be.

“I want to be a good a good scholar and a good teacher and to have an impact on criminal justice reform,” he said. “The best thing about working at Georgetown is if I have an issue either in litigation or my policy work there is an expert in just about every legal specialty you can think of here. I work with some incredibly talented people.”

Olushola’s Texas Hometown Hit by Hurricane Harvey

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

Images coming out of Houston have been frightening in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Even more so for those who have friends and family in the area. Tola Olushola, a Student Financial Counselor at the University as well as a former member of the men’s basketball squad, hails from Missouri City, Texas, a suburb of Houston.

OlusholaOlutola_1415Olushola’s parents, siblings, and many members of his extended family and friends still live in Missouri City, Houston, and surrounding communities. Fortunately, Olushola’s old neighborhood has escaped the most severe damage from the storm although flooding has closed a number of streets in the area.

“My immediate family was stuck in the neighborhood for a little over a day due to certain roads flooding in the neighborhood,” Olushola said. “The water has now receded to where cars can pass back and forward. There was also a reported tornado early Friday (Aug. 25) morning that passed through the area only a couple of minutes from our neighborhood that caused a great deal of damage to the businesses and properties. For the most part, most of my family is fine and safe which great to hear. Everyone is in good graces and I am thankful to God for that.”

Neighborhood streetOlushola said that Houston and the surrounding communities have a long road ahead in recovering from the storm.

“Long term outlook for the Missouri City and the surrounding Houston communities will be a long rebuilding process. Homes will need to be repaired, buildings will need construction work, and so many other improvements will need to be made to the water system in the city to help prevent flooding like this to happen in the future,” he said. “A lot of people lost everything during this hurricane. One thing I know for sure is that we will rebuild and Houston and the surrounding communities will be better than ever. I have always taken pride in the city I grew up in and by looking at the news and through social media anyone can see the exemplary character of the people of the city. It’s amazing!”

Olushola’s family is volunteering at his alma mater, Thurgood Marshall High School, which was opened as a shelter on August 28. Olushola will be traveling back to Houston on Thursday, Sept. 14. The trip was originally designed as celebration of his birthday the following day, but he’ll be logging some volunteer hours instead.

“I will be looking to spend the few days of my vacation lending a helping hand to the communities affected by Hurricane Harvey,” Olushola said. “I love my city and I love the people and it was really heartbreaking watching the events unfold. I am looking forward to getting back seeing my family and friends, in addition to helping rebuild the community I grew up in for 18+ years.”


Squiers Lives Up To Bruin Setter Standards

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

Trish Siedlik, Bellevue University’s Head Volleyball Coach, doesn’t ask much of her freshman setters. Just replace the All-American that came before you.

Maddie Squiers was up to the task last season, earning second-team NAIA All-American honors from the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) in addition to being named the AVCA NAIA National Freshman of the Year. Squiers stepped into the setting role vacated by the graduation of thee-year starter Beth Walker, a third-team All-American herself.

“I was pretty nervous. I knew I had big shoes to fill,” Squiers said. “The first few weeks of practice were pretty rough, but then I got into the rhythm and I knew that they chose me for a reason.”

SquiersSquiers came into the Bruin program with a pedigree. She is the daughter of Rick Squiers, the head volleyball coach at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, a highly accomplished program at the NCAA Division II level.

Squiers may have been under-recruited with many coaches assuming she would go to UNK.

“I think some coaches did believe she would come to UNK, but she was also a bit of a late bloomer as a setter,” Rick Squiers said. “By the spring of her club season she was starting to play at a pretty high level.  We had a freshman setter in our program, so the timing wasn’t ideal for Maddie to come here. It did feel strange seeing her go elsewhere.”

Siedlik was among the coaches assuming Maddie Squiers was out of reach, but the younger Squiers reached out to her to open up the recruiting process.

“I thought there’s no way. There’s no way we’re gonna get this kid,” Siedlik said. “So we just happen to get an email one day and I wrote (Assistant Coach Steve Field) and I’m like ‘Oh, my gosh! Maddie Squiers wrote us.’ ”

Papa Squiers was able to keep tabs on his daughter’s progress throughout last season while leading his own squad to a 35-2 record.

20160902 - VB Bellevue v Rocky“I was able to see one match live and several others online.  Bellevue does a great job with the livestream and radio broadcast.  I watch as many as I can – including some of the road matches.  Very nerve wracking!” he said. “I don’t think her first year could have gone much better.  It’s very hard to play any position as a freshman, let alone set for a program like Bellevue and follow in the shoes of an All-American like Beth.  I think the coaching staff did a great job of bringing her along and allowing her to gain some confidence.  It was fun to watch her progress.”

After Squiers’ standout freshman season, Siedlik is receiving calls and emails from other potential recruits who want to play with a setter who can get them the ball.

“When we have recruits, we always mention her,” Siedlik said. “She’s our ambassador right now. Who would not want to play with a setter that’s already all-American, that’s already one of the best in the country?”

The Bruins posted a 32-12 record in 2016 including a 13-3 mark in the North Star Athletic Conference.  The team also advanced to the NAIA National Tournament last year. This year’s team is ranked 20th in the preseason poll, but behind NSAA rivals Viterbo (No. 6) and Jamestown (No. 17).

After opening the season on the road at the Big Sky Challenge in Butte, Montana, the Bruins will host the Premier Labor Day Classic, Sept. 1 and 2, at the Lied Center in Bellevue. With 22 teams competing, the tournament is the largest gathering of teams in the NAIA outside of the national tournament.

Siedlik said the squad will be looking to make it back to the national tournament this season.

“We got a taste of going back to the national tournament last year,” Siedlik said.  “Our goal is to return to the tournament this season and advance out of pool play. We have 10 returning players which helps. Our conference is very competitive, which should set us up well.”


Bellevue University’s Signature Event 2017

Alumni are invited to attend Bellevue University’s invitation-only Signature Event Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, in the Witherspoon Concert Hall at the Josyln Art Museum located at 24th and Dodge Streets in downtown Omaha.

This year’s keynote speaker will be Doris Kearns Goodwin speaking on “A History of Presidential Leadership in Turbulent Times.”

For more information click the e-invitation link below:

DKG E-invitation

Scholarships Smooth the Transition for Transfer Students


By Cris Hay-Merchant, Director of Strategic Communications

For Linda Lopez Dillon, life is all about forward motion.

The mother of 12 made a decision in 2016 to return to college to obtain the career preparation needed to become a certified couples counselor, and started her educational journey at Buena Vista University, taking courses at the Iowa Western Community College campus. After a couple of terms there, the Carson, Iowa, native transferred to Bellevue University, where she’s now enjoying the flexibility and convenience of Bellevue University’s accelerated online cohort program.

Fueling her progress is a financial support in the form of a DREAM Scholarship from Bellevue University. “Unfortunately, our family finances aren’t enough to fund a college education,” explained Linda, “so I rely on financial aid and scholarships, while my husband provides our family income.” The American Dream Scholarship program brings together support from caring Bellevue University donors. According to Johnna Hargens-Brown, Director of Scholarships and Grants, “The awards play a vital role in assisting motivated students, like Linda, who are pursuing their own dreams of a better life for themselves and their families.”

Linda Lopez-Dillon family photoThat better life Linda is seeking expanded exponentially when she and her husband brought five young children into their already blended family home in 2005. Linda and her husband fostered the children, three of whom have special needs, for two years before ultimately adopting them. “These children were neglected and abused before being placed into our home,” she said. “It has taken years of support from social services workers, family and friends to help them thrive and flourish into the people they are today.”

Today, the Dillon brood ranges in age from 13 all the way to a 21-year-old son who will soon graduate from Navy boot camp with his sights set on a military career. “Me going to school shows my children that higher education is important,” said Linda, who also helps to care for and nurture 10 grandchildren. Linda hopes to complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Science next spring, a goal aided by the fact that her credits from Buena Vista transferred seamlessly into her degree program at Bellevue University. The University has been recognized as among the nation’s best for transfer students. In fact, 88 percent of recent Bellevue University graduates were able to successfully transfer college credit to help complete their bachelor’s degrees. Students may enter with associate degrees from a community college or previous four-year college credit hours or work experience and build on those to achieve their bachelor’s degree in less time and for less cost.

The flexibility of Bellevue University’s approach means the world to adult learners like Linda and Cathy Curtis. Cathy started college straight after high school, but then took a break to marry and raise a family. In 2012, she began pursuing an associate’s degree in culinary arts at Metropolitan Community College. After completing that program in 2014, Cathy was able to transfer those credits to Bellevue University, and earn her Bachelor’s Degree in Adult Education. Cathy CurtisToday, Cathy is on the staff of Metro’s Institute for the Culinary Arts as the Culinary Outreach Coordinator. “It’s the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done,” she said, “and going to work is a joy every day,” Cathy credits her success to the family and co-workers who encouraged her, and also is grateful for the Peter Kiewit Scholarship she received at Bellevue University. “It’s made a huge difference in (meeting) the financial challenge that exists for us,” said the mother of two.

Linda, whose ultimate goal is to keep moving forward toward a Master’s Degree in Clinical Counseling, says “I’ve been so pleased with Bellevue University,” said Linda, citing the University’s “very supportive atmosphere” for transfer students like herself. “I can’t thank the donors enough for the difference they’re making for me and for my family. It means I don’t have to worry and that I can focus on my education.”

Bellevue University’s American Dream Scholarship program provides more than $1.25 million in support for students who are close to obtaining their degrees each year. Many recipients are first-generation college students, returning older students, or single parents with financial constraints. For more information about Bellevue University’s Scholarships & Grants program, please contact scholarships@bellevue.edu.

Bellevue MBA Part of Kahn’s CEO Toolbox

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

Avi Kahn believes that with the right tools, you can build a better future. That’s part of the mission statement at Hilti North America, a multinational company that develops, manufactures, and markets products for the construction industry.

KHANKahn cites a Bellevue University Master of Business Administration (MBA), which he earned in 2009, as one of the tools that helped him rise from an Account Manager position with Hilti in 2006 to President and CEO of the company in January 2017.

“While I was an Account Manager, I identified the need to broaden my skill sets and get immersed in big business issues. My leaders and mentors at the time saw that getting an MBA showed a level of commitment to become a better manager; and at the same time, Hilti supported me with our education reimbursement program which is even more robust today,” Kahn said. “Getting an MBA isn’t an end. My Bellevue MBA was a great foundation for the continuous learning and executive education programs I’ve taken since then.”

During his MBA program, Kahn absorbed the knowledge from his professors, as well as his fellow students.

“I loved the group work – working with students from across the country and around the world who had different points of view and ways to look at things,” he said. “I also enjoyed the virtual discussions.”

During his days as an Account Manager, Kahn did aspire to a management position and was encouraged by mentors within the organization.

“Everyone who wants be in leadership has a vision to work toward. I was no different,” he said. “When I started as an Account Manager in San Francisco, driving a Hilti car, visiting customers and demonstrating products, I looked up to my managers and mentors who encouraged me to challenge myself and further my education. As I moved up through the organization in continuously more challenging roles, becoming General Manager of our Canadian organization for six years was a fantastic opportunity to learn what it takes to be President and CEO for Hilti North America.”

Listening to his employees, the way his mentors and managers listened to him, has been a key component in Kahn’s success.

“I get a lot of satisfaction from working with Hilti team members across North America, listening to their ideas and acting on them when possible,” he said. “For instance, based on employee input, we recently launched several new employee benefits including flexible working arrangements, sabbatical leave and increased education reimbursement.”

Kahn knows firsthand the difficulties that come with juggling work, family, and other obligations, while pursuing a degree. He also knows the benefits.

“It’s worth the effort to manage a full-time career and family while seeking further education.  It helps to work for a company, like Hilti, that appreciates and supports personal development with tuition reimbursement, flexible time to attend classes and workshops, and mentoring support.”

Clinical Counseling Program Earns CACREP Accreditation

By Dan Silvia

After a three-year effort with contributions from across the University, the Master of Science in Clinical Counseling program has earned accreditation though the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

Cacrep_cm_CMYKCACREP accreditation is an affirmation of the quality of our program. The CACREP (Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs) board consists of counselor educators and practitioners, as well as public members. The standards of CACREP are considered to be markers of high quality counselor education. CACREP accreditation provides recognition that the content and quality of the program has been evaluated and meets standards set by the profession. The Bellevue University program is one of the nation’s few that is fully online and according to President Mary Hawkins, “We are so pleased that our Master of Science in Clinical Counseling (MSCC) program was accredited by CACREP because beginning January 1, 2018 licensure requirements change. We would have had to stop offering the program without the accreditation,” she said. “Now, we can not only offer an accredited program, but we are able to expand it. We’ve hired new faculty members and invested in scholarships and are looking at new technology to improve students’ experience.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists – careers which clinical counseling graduates are prepared for – is growing at a rate of 19 percent, compared to the 7 percent average occupational growth rate.

“CACREP accreditation is an affirmation of the quality of our program,” said Bellevue University Program Director Barb Daubenspeck. She added that “graduating from a CACREP-accredited program provides an easier path for licensure for students entering into counseling practice.” According to CACREP, research shows that CACREP graduates perform better on the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE). A number of states and some government entities, such as the U.S. Department of Veterans  Affairs, now require CACREP-accredited education of the counselors they employ.

Daubenspeck added that all Bellevue University students who began the Master of Clinical Counseling degree program on or after June 1, 2016 (when the program standards were implemented), and new students, will be able to say they graduated from a CACREP-accredited program.

Jason Swain, a student in the Clinical Counseling program, is ecstatic about the new accreditation.

“The CACREP accreditation, from my perspective, means being part of a nationally recognized program that is recognized and understood by employers and licensing boards in all 50 States,” said Swain.  “In terms of applying for licensure, the CACREP accreditation means I won’t have to justify or defend my coursework to the state board.”

Swain praised the efforts of the faculty he has encountered during his program and in the accreditation process.

“The faculty that I have worked with in the Clinical Counseling program simply amazing,” he said. “The CACREP accreditation is further proof of the high standards and quality associated with the Clinical Counseling Program. The professors that work each and every day ensure that graduates of the program will be an asset to the field of counseling and that they have the foundation necessary to build successful careers.”

The accreditation is the culmination of an effort that started three years ago, Daubenspeck said.

“The MSCC faculty were all an integral part of the process as they worked tirelessly to revise curriculum, update Blackboard shells, and focus on ways to improve student success,” she said. “Dr. Theresa O’Halloran (CACREP liason during the accreditation process) and myself (Program Director) along with Dr. Clif Mason and Jessica Couture (Administrative Assistant) were the primary players in writing the self-study and managing the accreditation site visit. The program could not have met its goal of CACREP accreditation without the support of the University administration – particularly President Hawkins, Matt Davis, and Dr. Rod Hewlett.”


Faculty Spotlight: Kimberly Brehm

Meet Kimberly Brehm, Bellevue University Math Professor

IMG_3022 (2) How long have you been at Bellevue University? On August 1st I celebrated my 3-year anniversary!

What programs/ classes do you teach? I’ve been hard at work creating the new BS in Mathematics and have taught all of the math courses we currently offer.

Tell us about your previous work/schools? I began my career teaching at the middle level (8th grade) and did so for 4 years.  I then moved up to the high school level and began working on my master’s degree.  When I completed my MAT, I enjoyed teaching high school AP courses, coaching varsity volleyball and teaching adjunct courses for several different institutions, including BU.  When the full-time position opened up here, I applied immediately, and the rest is history!


BS in Middle Level Education with Emphasis in Mathematics, University of Nebraska – Lincoln (2000)

MAT in Mathematics, University of Nebraska – Omaha (2011)

Innovation in Teaching Award – Bellevue University – July 2017

OliverWhat do you love most about teaching at Bellevue University? Bellevue University has been very supportive of every innovation I have implemented to improve the math program at Bellevue University.  The MathX lab is an amazing learning environment that is rich in technology that enhances the educational experience for our students.  They have also supported the inclusion of Oliver, the “Mathcot”.  He is my Morkie puppy who accompanies me to class to reduce math anxiety.

What motivates or inspires you? I teach a subject that many students don’t like or are even afraid of.  It is very inspiring when that same student emails me at the end of the term to tell me how much they enjoyed my class or that they finally had that “A-ha” moment.  It is even more inspiring to see it happen in person in the classroom!  I save all of those emails and Reflection Forum posts.  When I’m feeling frustrated or need a pick-me-up, I read over them again.

What experiences or people had the most influence on you? My mom taught me to be the strong woman I am today, and I am so thankful for that.  I had to be strong growing up in a family outnumbered by boys!  I have three brothers, and of course, my dad.  There was a lot of shooting hoops in my upbringing!

What interests you outside the classroom? What are you passionate about? I have always had a passion for playing and coaching volleyball.  When I began working for Bellevue University, I had to give away the coaching aspect of my job.  However, I still find time to play!

What is your favorite teaching experience or memory? When I was teaching middle school at Millard North Middle School, I was a second-year teacher.  I had a great, but tough, group of students that year, and my principal wasn’t a fan of mine.  One day, the principal walks into my room in the middle of a lesson and told me that a student of mine (who was serving in-school-suspension that day) was having a fit and they needed me to calm him down.  My principal offered to cover my class while I helped the other student.  When I got back to my classroom, my students had decorated my classroom with streamers and balloons and brought in a cake to celebrate my birthday with me.  It was fantastic and I will never forget it!

What career did you dream of when you were a child? To be honest, I always knew I was meant to be an educator.  When I was young, I would hold “school” for my stuffed animals.  I would put them in little rows and read to them or teach them math. 😊

Where did you grow up? I was born in Omaha, NE, but my family moved to Elkhorn, Nebraska just before I entered the 1st grade.  That is where I spent the remainder of my childhood.

What is your favorite book? I have so many!  My most recent favorite read was “The Girl on The Train”.

What is the most important piece of advice you give to your students? Don’t give up!  Anything worth doing is going to be a struggle at some point, but you can succeed if you just keep trying.

What do you think distinguishes the BU experience/education? The University is student-centered, and everyone goes above and beyond to help students succeed.


Faculty Spotlight: Bob Hankin

Meet Bob Hankin, Bellevue University Graphic Design Professor

Bob Hankin

How long have you been at Bellevue University? I believe this will be my 15th year at BU.

What programs/ classes do you teach? I am the program director for the Graphic Design program – I teach/have taught all of the graphic design classes.

Tell us about your previous work/schools? I joke that I’m a non-academic academic since I don’t have a traditional academic background. I’ve been a graphic designer since 1994.

Degrees/awards: AA from Metro, BS from UNO, MA from BU and I’m looking to finish my MFA at UNL.

What do you love most about teaching at Bellevue University? The flexibility I’m allowed in developing and teaching my courses. Smaller class sizes allows me to know my students and for them to know me.

What motivates or inspires you? Everything. I’m inspired by art, design, music, photography, lettering, graffiti, woodworking, food, sewing, skate culture, etc., etc.

What experiences or people had the most influence on you? I have had a few teachers that have really influenced me in how I teach and how I look at the world. But I think I’m influenced mostly by everyday things and events. Being aware of life can be a big influence if you allow it.

What is your favorite teaching experience or memory? When I can see the glow of understanding brighten in a student’s eyes. Or when a student ends up someplace completely different because they took an idea and ran with it.

What career did you dream of when you were a child? When I was very young, I wanted to fly jets. But my first pair of glasses doused that dream. In high school, I wanted to be an architect. I loved it, and still do. But I struggled horribly in math, so that dream became graphic design.

Where did you grow up? New Jersey, Fremont, and Omaha.

What is your favorite book? Just one? On the Road by Jack Kerouac, Ruling your World by Sakyong Mipham, and Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss are a few of my favorites.

What is the most important piece of advice you give to your students? Make your education a priority in life. Work. Work. Work. Ask as many questions as you need and never give up. There is always a way.

What do you think distinguishes the BU experience/education? Professors know their students and students know their professors. We really push learning, and apply a good dose of reality to what and how we teach. Doors are always open.

Hugh and Bonnie Campbell Boosted Bellevue and Bellevue University

By Bill Wax

Builders of Bellevue University: Across the Years and Generations

Hugh CampbellThe 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. Known as a booster of the Bellevue, Nebraska, community, the late Hugh W. Campbell was a founder and long-time supporter of Bellevue University.


Hugh and Bonnie Campbell Boosted Bellevue and Bellevue University

Hugh and Bonnie CampbellClay Center, Nebraska, native Hugh W. Campbell was among the first local business and community leaders who put their names, reputations and money on the line to launch Bellevue College. For three decades, he and his wife, Bonnie, were stalwart supporters of the College, which became Bellevue University in 1994. Their family has established a permanent scholarship fund at the University in their honor.

In 1966, Campbell and fellow members of the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce went door-to-door in the community to raise start-up funding of $280,000 for the College. One of two bank presidents who served on the College’s founding Board of Directors, he was Board Treasurer from its shaky, sometimes insolvent, beginnings to an era of budget surpluses. In its early years, emergency Board meetings sometimes were necessary to resolve fiscal crises. “We had a rough time. If we had known what we knew later on, we never would have started it. We went through some really lean years,” Campbell said in a 1985 interview, looking back at the College’s first two decades.

Hugh and Bonnie Campbell 2Service was always a big part of Campbell’s life. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, receiving the Bronze Star Medal for “meritorious achievement as a Commanding Officer” during the Allied assault on Okinawa 1945.  After the war, he returned to Nebraska and co-founded the Bank of Bellevue in 1951. He was known as a driving force and booster of education and economic development in Bellevue, a small, Omaha suburb of 15,000 when the College was founded. Today the population is more than 50,000. He was President of the Bellevue Industrial Foundation and served on the Bellevue City Council and the Bellevue Public Schools Board of Education.

He received the Bellevue Junior Chamber of Commerce’s “Boss of the Year Award” in 1960. In 1975, the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce awarded him the Chamber’s highest honor, the Harlan Lewis Memorial Award for Distinguished Service for “outstanding contributions to the Bellevue community.” He received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Bellevue College in 1985 in recognition and gratitude for his efforts on behalf of the College and community. Campbell, who also served a term as Chairman of the Board of the College, remained an Emeritus Director until his death in 1996.

Dr. Bart and Audrey Campbell
Dr. Bart and Audrey Campbell

Hugh’s wife Bonnie was equally supportive of the University and community and the two quietly made an impact on both. The University’s Hugh and Bonnie Campbell Language Lab in the Dennis Learning Center is named in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Campbell. Their son, Dr. Bart Campbell, and his wife, Audrey, of Nashville, Tennessee, and their son, Steve, and his wife, Claudia, of New Orleans, contributed to a permanent Hugh and Bonnie Campbell Memorial Scholarship Fund in their honor, to provide ongoing support for the University’s students. “My mother and father believed strongly in education and would be quite pleased with this endowment,” Bart Campbell said when the fund was established in 2010.

Steve and Claudia Campbell
Steve and Claudia Campbell during campus visit in Summer 2016

In summer 2016, after a long absence from the area, Steve and Claudia Campbell visited the Bellevue University campus during a family vacation. “We were both incredibly impressed not only by the physical growth that has occurred since we last saw the school but also by the tremendous breadth of course offerings and in the size of your student body,” Steve said. “It is impressive that the University now serves over 13,000 students each year, many of whom are first-generation college students. I truly believe that mom and dad would be amazed at what has been accomplished since their initial involvement in its founding in 1966!”