CSC Recounts Successful 2021


Math Science Center of Innovative Learning (Photo by Tena L. Cook/Chadron State College)

CHADRON – Progress in the construction of the Math Science Center of Innovative Learning (COIL) and achievements of Chadron State College students, employees, and alumni were highlights of 2021.

In June, the COIL project received a $483,500 Nebraska Environmental Trust grant.

Interior work is progressing on schedule, furniture is expected in April, and the $32 million building should be ready to host classes for the Fall 2022 semester.

Student achievements were numerous and varied.

Ruth Mencia of Grand Island, Nebraska, was appointed to serve as CSC’s student trustee on the Nebraska State College System Board of Trustees

The student newspaper, The Eagle, won its 10th consecutive Best Overall Newspaper in the Northern Plains Collegiate Media Association’s annual Golden Leaf Awards in May. In August, The Eagle tied for first place in the General Excellence-College Division in the 2021 Better Newspaper Contest sponsored by the National Newspaper Association.

In an unusual turn of events, there were two CSC Homecoming coronation ceremonies in 2021, one in April due to the fall 2020 event being postponed because of COVID-19, and another in October.

Emily Hansen and Konery Klueber were crowned Ivy Day Queen and King before Spring Commencement when more than 300 graduates were honored during in-person ceremonies after virtual ceremonies the previous two semesters.

Winter Commencement featured a combined ceremony honoring both bachelor’s and master’s degree recipients. Another in-person ceremony occurred when the college recognized a cohort of master’s education degree recipients in a first-time graduation ceremony in Alaska.

Undergraduate students Isioma Akwanamnye and Joshua Kruse conducted scientific research with the Nebraska IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence INBRE program.

Lelisse “Lily” Umeta of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, earned a full fellowship to UNMC doctoral program. Her career goal is to become a cancer researcher and work in a translational clinical laboratory where laboratory experiments are carried through clinical trials to the point-of-care for patients.

Seniors in the Social Work program planned and conducted a virtual conference about Forgiveness that also featured an in-person panel discussion among local legal, law enforcement, and healthcare professionals.

Other student achievements included, six students placing in the top 10 of the national Phi Beta Lambda online competition, four Army ROTC cadets completing Advanced Camp at Fort Knox and one completing Cadet Troup Leader Training, and several students presented during the virtual Sigma Tau Delta High Plains Regional Conference.

Students also attended a virtual Meet the Pros conference hosted by the Omaha division of the American Advertising Federation and participated in a wide variety of events to celebrate Week of the Young Child.

Chancellor Paul Turman traveled to Chadron in April to participate in the ninth annual day of service known as The Big Event. In November, students completed eight service projects for Chadron schools, churches and other organizations during the fourth annual The Mini Big Event.

The college’s annual Rising Sophomore ceremony acknowledged the efforts of students in their academic fields as well as extracurricular activities.

Project Strive TRiO recognized individuals for outstanding effort in the classroom, in athletics, and serving their fellow students with Student of the Month awards.

Faculty, staff, and alumni were also in the news.

During Homecoming, the track press box was named in honor of Dr. Frank Ferguson. Alumni Stephanie (Olson) Dantzler and Mack Rawhouser received the Distinguished Alumni Award, while Hilary A. CatronWhitney Campbell, and Dr. Jennifer Green were recognized with the Distinguished Young Alumni Award. The Hanks and Burkhiser-Madsen families were honored with the Family Tree Award.

The Sandoz Center showcased a variety of two-dimensional, three-dimensional art, as well as writing and photography and other creative endeavors by CSC employees in an After Hours Artists exhibit.

CSC’s Director of College Relations Alex Helmbrecht received the national Blue Key Outstanding Advisor Award for 2021 during the organization’s virtual conference.

Grounds Supervisor Lucinda Mays received the Natural Resources Education Award.

Dr. Brittany Helmbrecht’s research on first gen students was published, as were two articles by Dr. Matt Brust, one about regal fritillaries, and a co-authored journal article about sagebrush buck moth. Additionally, Dr. Tawny Tibbits’ archaeological data about granite outcroppings in Belize was published.

Adviser to The Eagle, Michael Kennedy, was invited to part of a Publishers Auxiliary series and Dr. Ann Buchmann celebrated several successful cases of reconnecting biological relatives through her volunteer DNA research.

CSC students and faculty presented at the Nebraska Academy of Sciences and Dr. Mike Leite discussed the geology of Black Elk Peak during the Chadron Public Library’s film festival. High Plains Herbarium volunteer Susan Rolfsmeier gave a presentation about Native American medicinal plants.

High school events hosted on campus included the Fourth Annual Best of the West Virtual Business Invitational and a virtual version of Western District History Day. Although the Scholastic Contest, an annual competition among regional high school students was canceled, plans are to host the event on campus in March 2022.

To keep audiences safe from COVID-19, the Theatre Department presented the comedy drama, Seventy Scenes of Halloween and To Die For via live stream only. In the fall, after vaccinations were widely available for the public, Little Shop of Horrors and The Whale returned to the stage.

The Graves Lecture Series returned during the fall semester after a break during the pandemic. Dr. Brittany Helmbrecht shared dissertation findings, Marketing Coordinator Tena Cook, Dr. Dave Nesheim and Dr. Kim Madsen presented a panel discussion about a commemorative 1938 quilt, and alumni Mary Traphagan presented about the Holocaust.

A summer exhibit in the Sandoz Center featured Lakota constellation stories and the Music department’s Celebrating Women in Music series highlighted female composers and performers throughout the fall and will include continue during the spring semester.

Among other campus news, new administrators included Vice President for Enrollment Management Dr. Tami Selby and Associate Vice President for Teaching and Learning Dr. Bruce Mackh.

Chadron State College finalized several new academic partnerships in 2021.

CSC is partnering with Nebraska Methodist College (NMC) to offer a new program in which students can earn a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Health Sciences from CSC and an Associate’s of Science degree in Respiratory Care from NMC.

A streamlined transfer process for Laramie County Community College’s Exercise Science students seeking any of CSC’s five Sport, Fitness, and Recreation Management degree options was launched.

Following the theme of Find Your Story, a variety of new courses and a new major, Advanced English Studies, was added. Future evolution of the program will likely include courses on professional and technical writing and writing for new genres such as social media and gaming.

In welcomed news, CSC’s freshman class recorded an enrollment increase.

The college announced a number of services and initiatives to benefit students including expanding its Tuition Guarantee to include out-of-state students and introduced a robust, interactive, online orientation.

The Nebraska State College System announced that students who are Pell Grant eligible or have an expected family contribution of $10,000 or less were eligible to receive an additional $3,000 in Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III financial assistance during the 2021-22 academic year.

The NSCS froze tuition and fees as an initiative to continue access and affordability to higher education and approved the following new programs: MBA certificates in Healthcare Management and Digital Marketing, a Media Production minor and option, a Natural Science concentration, a Political Science minor, and a Pre-Art Therapy Option.

The Chadron State Foundation established an online crowdfunding platform intended to benefit student-driven projects and volunteers from campus and the community conducted an especially successful Fall Fund Drive.

Among the nature attractions on campus, CSC’s labyrinth, a walking path established last year west of C-Hill, was featured in an international index, and the Briggs Pond clean up revealed a possible state champion tree.

The student food pantry took on new aspects with fresh garden produce, and options for ala carte shopping as well pre-packaged bags.

Note: Photos of recent CSC events can be seen in the online gallery.

—CSC College Relations