Wayne State College


Alumni eNewsletter | Fall 2008


Wayne State College in U.S. News & World Report 2009 College Rankings
Wayne State defines its mission as learning excellence, student success and regional service. The college’s students, faculty and staff measure themselves against these ideals each day in the classroom, at conferences and in laboratories, in the community, at work, and in many levels of athletics. The 2009 college rankings by U.S. News & World Report aim to quantify certain aspects of colleges’ success as well. An examination of the data presented in the annual survey reveals several key categories in which Wayne State continues to live up to the ideals of its mission.


Some highlights of this year’s rankings:

  • Wayne State has the 4th highest retention rate (75%) among Tier Three Master’s colleges and universities
  • 2nd highest alumni giving rate among Tier Three Master’s colleges and universities and the 26th highest alumni giving rate among all 146 Midwestern Master’s colleges and universities
  • Top half of all Tier Three Master’s colleges and universities for the number of freshmen who graduated in the top 25% of their high school graduating class
  • Among the top 3 most affordable schools for all Midwestern Master’s colleges and universities
  • We are listed under the subcategory of average retention rates for all Midwestern Master’s colleges and universities as having an average of 70% for proportion of freshmen entering between 2002 and 2005 who returned the following fall semester
  • We are also listed in the subcategory of economic diversity among Midwestern Master’s colleges and universities…we are in the top 10% of that group (criteria: number of students with Pell grants)

These points hold exceptional significance when balanced against the fact that Wayne State College is an open-enrollment institution, accepting 100% of the students who apply, yet challenging them to do the hard work necessary to complete their degrees. The college community is proud to receive recognition for its efforts to not only attract students but to retain them and ensure their success.


“Of course, students should not choose a college based solely upon any ranking system,” said Wayne State President Richard Collings. “Rankings can never replace a visit to a college to determine if it is the right fit for you. Prospective students visiting Wayne State can easily see that students get a hands-on education at the college. Thanks to research grants and innovative programs, Wayne State students have the opportunity to conduct biomedical and environmental research, travel to conferences across the country, and, in some instances, around the world.”


Wayne State invites students and parents to take a look at the rankings, then make an appointment to visit the campus or attend an off-campus informational event to learn how the college helps students succeed while playing a leading role in the landscape of higher education in Nebraska.




WSC Honors Student Presents at National Honors Conference
Wayne State College Honors student Kimberly Vrooman presented the results of her honors project at the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) convention held Oct. 22-26 in San Antonio, Texas. Vrooman was the only Nebraska honors student invited to present at the 2008 conference.


Two hundred honors students from around the nation were invited to present at the conference via a competitive process that included applications from the honors programs at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, Elmhurst College, Capital University, University of Maine, University of New Mexico, California State University, College of Notre Dame, of Alabama, University of San Diego and others.


 Vrooman’s honors project, supervised by Dr. Tim Sharer, WSC professor of education, was titled “The Effects of the Closings of Class I Schools in Nebraska.” Historically, Class I schools have played a major role in the educational process for Nebraska’s youth. A large number of these schools were rural, one-room schoolhouses with small enrollments that later became known as Class I schools. Faced with changing demographics, many of these rural schools are being forced to reorganize, consolidate or close. Before they were officially dissolved June 15, 2006, Class I schools averaged 3.84 students per grade and 3.62 teachers per school. Vrooman’s study closely examined the community and societal effects of the closings of these rural K-8 schools in Nebraska.


“I am delighted that Kimberly had this opportunity to present her work and meet honors students from throughout the U.S.,” said James O’Donnell, Dean of the WSC School of Arts and Humanities and Director of the WSC Honors Program. The Honors Program at Wayne State College has been a member of the NCHC since 2005, seeking to provide students with an in-depth learning environment focusing on discussion, exploration, experimentation and active learning. 


Vrooman is the daughter of Jim and Terri Vrooman of Atkinson, Neb. A graduate of a rural K-8 school and 2004 graduate of Atkinson West Holt High School, Kimberly is majoring in elementary education and early childhood education at Wayne State College.  While at WSC, Vrooman has been involved in Phi Kappa Phi National Honors Society, Northeast Nebraska Teacher Academy, Habitat for Humanity, the WSC Wind Ensemble, and has served as vice president of the Wayne State College Navigators. Vrooman will graduate in December after completing her student teaching.


The National Collegiate Honors Council, made up of 900 institutional members, is the primary organization supporting honors programs at colleges and universities nationwide.  The NCHC supports and furthers honors education through its publications, workshops, and conferences.




Wayne State College Honors Alumni at Homecoming
Wayne State alumni, faculty, staff, students and community members celebrated Homecoming Oct. 9-12 at the college. Alumni honored classes included 1943, '48, '58, '68, '78, '83, '88 and '98. Homecoming festivities included a parade, award banquets for outstanding alumni and inductees into the Wayne State Athletic Hall of Fame, and several informal reunions.


Outstanding alumni from Wayne State College academic schools were honored Oct. 10. They included Christopher G. Amundson '97; Carra Simmons '84; David L. Hawkins MSE '86, EdS '00; and Rex E. Murray '75.


 Amundson worked his way through college at Wayne State as a commercial pilot and upon graduation began work as a newspaper writer and editor. After joining Nebraska Life magazine, first as an advertising sales representative, he became involved with all aspects of the magazine's operations as general manager and associate publisher. Amundson purchased Nebraska Life magazine in 2004, a diversified media company that additionally publishes books and specialty magazines.


Simmons taught school in Iowa and Arizona for several years prior to beginning a career with State Farm Insurance. Simmons earned a master's degree in education from Northern Arizona University in 1992. He has been promoted numerous times within the State Farm organization.


Hawkins began his career as an educator in 1969 in Sioux City, Iowa. He has taught and coached at the elementary, junior high and high school levels. While enrolled in the graduate program at WSC in 1984, he began teaching, coaching and served as a guidance counselor at South Sioux City Community Schools. Hawkins is the assistant superintendent of schools at the South Sioux City.


 Murray grew up and received his education in Wayne. After completing his degree in chemistry from WSC, he pursued graduate studies in organic chemistry at the University of California, Davis and completed his Ph.D. in 1980. Murray began his industrial career as a catalyst chemist at Union Carbide Corporation's technical center in South Charleston, W. Va. He has worked at Chevron Phillips Chemical Company in Bartlesville, Okla., as a research fellow since 2006.




Athletic Hall of Fame inductees were honored at the WSC Homecoming and Hall of Fame banquet Oct. 11. They include Emeritus President Dr. Donald Mash; former coach Al Svenningson; and athletes James McGown '98; Eric Henderson '00; and Sarah Herrick Wagenfuhr '02.


Gene Willmott received the alumni service award during the WSC Homecoming and Hall of Fame banquet Oct. 11. The award recognizes alumni who have enhanced the college through dedicated service, promotion and financial support. Willmott graduated from Wayne State College in 1950 with a bachelor of arts degree in education majoring in sociology and economics.


While at Wayne State, he was a member of the track team and Sigma Tau Delta. He also played baseball for the Wayne town team. After a two-year stint in the U.S. Army, Willmott was a salesman for Palmer Food Company in Sioux City and then became the manager for Larsen Kuhn Clothing Store in Columbus.


 Willmott returned to Wayne State College and received his master's degree in administration K-12 in 1961. He spent 33 years in education teaching a variety of subjects before retiring in 1990. He and his late wife, Joan, have been involved with and supportive of Wayne State College in a variety of ways, including scholarship support. Willmott lives in Dakota Dunes, S.D.


Al Svenningson (Coach):  Al Svenningson has the most wins of any men’s basketball coach in Wayne State College history, compiling a 121-73 record in his eight seasons as head coach of the Wildcats from 1959 to 1967. He never had a losing season as head coach, posting a top record of 19-7 during the 1959-60 season and finishing 18-8 in 1961-62. His eight years as head coach matches Rico Burkett and Charles Obye as the longest tenured coaches in school history. Svenningson coached 18 years at Alaska-Fairbanks and has more than 30 years of coaching experience. He is a native of Winona, Minn., where he starred in football and basketball at Winona High School and then Winona State.


Eric Henderson '00 (Athlete): Hard work made blue-collar player Eric Henderson one of the school’s all-time rebounding leaders under coach Greg McDermott during his playing career from 1996 to 2000. Henderson ranks fourth in career rebounds (876) and second in a single season with 352 rebounds during his senior season when WSC went 26-6 and made the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division II National Tournament. In his senior season, Henderson scored 373 points (11.7 ppg) and grabbed 352 rebounds (11.0 rpg) to nearly double his career numbers in one season. Henderson also ranks second in career steals with 160. Henderson currently is in his third season as an assistant coach at Iowa State University under former WSC head coach Greg McDermott.


Sarah Herrick Wagenfuhr '02 (Athlete): Sarah Herrick was an outstanding two-sport star at Wayne State College from 1998 to 2002, excelling in soccer and softball. The native of Elkhorn was a four-time All-Northern Sun Conference performer in softball and a three-time All-NSIC selection in soccer. Herrick is the school’s all-time leader in soccer goals with 72, including a school-record 23 goals in the 2001 season. She also is the career leader in assists in soccer with 51. Herrick also holds numerous school records in softball and leads in career hits with 201 while ranking second in career at-bats with 606. She had 62 hits in the 2002 season, a school record until this past season. 


James McGown '98 (Athlete):  James McGown was Wayne State’s first NCAA All-American in cross country and second in track and field during a stellar running career from 1994 to 1998. He was a two-time NCAA national qualifier in cross country (1995 and 1997) and finished third at the 1995 NCAA Regional meet with a new school record time of 31:41 on the 10,000 meter course. In 1997, McGown placed 28th at NCAA National Meet to become Wayne State’s first All-American in cross country since AD Benson was NAIA All-American in 1966. In track and field, McGown was an NCAA All-American in the 1998 indoor season with a fourth-place finish in the 5,000 meter run (14:34.19). Since graduating from WSC, McGown has competed in marathons at the Olympic Trials in 2004 and 2008. He recently won the USATF Marathon Trails Championships in Deadwood, S.D. McGown currently serves as head cross country coach and assistant track and field coach at Sidney High School in Sidney, Neb.


Dr. Donald Mash (Contributor): Dr. Donald Mash served as president at Wayne State College from 1988 to 1998 and promoted the school’s transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II athletics. Under Mash’s tenure, Wayne State experienced record growth in enrollment, going from 2,875 students in 1988 to 4,000 students in 1991. The school underwent numerous improvements during Mash’s tenure, including the modernization of the school’s on-campus physical plant, transformation of campus technology and construction of the Gardner Business Building, the first new academic building constructed on the WSC campus in more than 20 years, just to name a few of the many projects. He provided leadership for such programs at WSC as the Rural Health Opportunities Program, started in 1991, and formed partnerships with numerous area institutions to provide more academic opportunities for students in northeast Nebraska. Mash worked for nearly 40 years in higher education. 




Alumni Notes
(Towns and cities listed on these pages are in Nebraska unless noted or generally understood. All events occurred in 2008 unless indicated otherwise. Efforts are made to keep our news current.)


Shirley (Wilkerson) Weihing resides in Gering. She has retired from teaching but is still an active volunteer in her community. She volunteers at the restored Midwest Theatre doing concessions and at the theater at Nebraska Western College.


Angie (Dowling) Neuharth hosted the eighth meeting of Wayne State Gals at the Wisner Yacht Club on July 18. Many of those in attendance were Pile Hall residents while at WSC. Pictured front row, Joan Schweers, Barbara (Danze) Peters, Pat (Shoemaker) Wollenhaupt ’59, Lucille (Rehbein) Wattermann ’60, Jeanette (Jaeger) Vahle ’65, Jean (Dalton) Lutt ’63. Back row, Angie (Dowling) Neuharth’61, Judy (Bartak) Eggerling ’60, Emogene (Isom) Andrews ’59, Lonnie (Schmid) Dinslage ’60, Kathleen (Ott) Haber ’61, Carol (Dibbert) Whipple ’62, Doris (Leiding) Kuester ’59, Theola (Sadler) Peck ’94. A cream can dinner was served by the hosts. Entertainment was a singalong, which concluded with the singing of the Wayne State Alma Mater.


Dr. James Budde retired from the University of Kansas on June 30. In 1980 he founded the Research and Training Center on Independent Living, serving as director until 2003 when he began phased retirement. He retired with the rank of Senior Scientist Emeritus.


Dawn (Lerch) Hawk retired in May after teaching reading and English for 41 years. She taught teenagers in Nebraska, Iowa and Arizona. The past 22 years she taught at San Manuel Jr./Sr. High School in a small community north of Tucson. Dawn has completed graduate study at Harvard, Vanderbilt, Duquesne and the University of Arizona through the winning of four National Endowment for the Humanities Grants. In September, the Arizona Reading Association awarded her the Celebrate Literacy Award for the teacher who had contributed the most to literacy at the state level.


Phi Sigma Epsilon Alumni Golf Outing was held for the 25th consecutive year. This event was held July 26 at Spring Brook Golf Course in South Sioux City. Attending were Chris Nielsen ’71, Shenandoah, Iowa, Denny Galloway ’70, Royal, Iowa, Connie Smith ’71, Lake View, Iowa, Deb Oleson ’72, Laurens, Iowa, Sandy ’76 and Vince Hammerl ’76, Emporia, Kan., Dave Wilson ’70, Omaha, John Smith, Lake View, Iowa, Bob ’71 and Nancy Berg ’72, O’Neill, Ron ’73 and Richelle Larson ’74, Mallard, Iowa, Dean Oleson ’72, Laurens, Iowa, Carol Nielsen ’73, Shenandoah, Iowa, Pat and Diane Driscoll ’71, Sioux City, Iowa, Diane and Ed Hansler ’74, Ralston.


James J. Larsen is assigned and working in southeastern Yemen as the Deputy Manager on a LNG refinery construction project. His spouse, Susan (Blatchford-Thompson ’88), is a retired major from the Army and resides in Laramie, Wyo.


Brenda (Kowalke) Russell has been residing in Nashville, Tenn., for the past 21 years. She is a professional singer/songwriter/performer. She has produced and independently recorded two CDs. She has an ensemble, Brenda Russell and Rock and Roll Royalty that is composed of Rock and Roll Legendary Musicians. She states that her music resonates Americana music at its best.


Mike Nissen (’07) and his wife, Kathy Mohlfeld, announce the birth of second daughter, Mackenzie Mae on December 3. She is welcomed to their home in Wayne by sister Brianna (3). Mike is employed at Nissen Farms and Kathy is a counselor and advisor at WSC.


A group of WSC communication arts graduates gathered at the Wayne Country Club in late July for an afternoon of golf. Attending were Craig Dahlen’90, Iowa City, Iowa; Chad Francis ’90, Sioux Falls S.D.; Tom Skinner ’91, Lincoln; Mike Duarte ’91, Onawa, Iowa; Gregg Moeller ’91, Wisner.


Michelle (Mellick) and Greg Moeller reside in Wisner. Michelle is a para-professional for the Wisner-Pilger Schools. Gregg teaches English and speech communication at Wisner-Pilger High School. He has directed the speech and drama programs since 2000. They are parents of two daughters, Liz (13) and Paige (10).


William (MSE ’08) and Jennifer (Schuele ’90, MSE ’06) Trenhaile announce the birth of daughter Madeline Christine, on June 20. She joins sisters Heather (17), Emily (13), Sidney (11) and brothers Eathan (15) and Noah (9). They reside in Emerson. Jennifer is the PreK-2 music teacher and 5-12 band director at Emerson-Hubbard Community Schools. Bill is the band director at Wakefield Community Schools.


Bruce and Sarah (Flood ’97) Wieseler, Lincoln, announce the birth of son, Jack Ryan, on May 16. Bruce is assistant vice president at I-Tech Corp. Sarah is in sales at Information Technology, Inc. Jack is welcomed home by two sisters, Katherine and Caroline.


Angel (Baumert) Gaspers, and her husband, Bill, announce the birth of their first child, Isabella Therese, on Feb. 8. Angel is in her eleventh year of teaching. She is instructing third-graders at Schuyler Community Schools. They reside on a farm near Lindsay.


Sheri (Nelson) Cunningham and her husband, Robert, are proud to announce the birth of their daughter, Lola Faith, April. 14. They live in Urbandale, Iowa, where Sheri is a senior sales professional with Sanofi-aventis Pharmaceuticals in their specialty therapeutics division.


Justy Weston and Pete Bernardy were united in marriage August 16. They reside in Tiffin, Iowa.


Maria (Eaton) Michaelis and her husband Mark, announce the birth of daughter, Alaina “Laini” Brett on June 11. They reside in Omaha. Maria works as an anesthesiologist at the Nebraska Medical Center.


Jacob Back and Jennifer Briese ’96 were united in marriage. They reside in Plano, Texas. Jacob is employed with JP Morgan Chase, Dallas. Jennifer works in the compliance department at Metro Medical Credit Union, Dallas, while working towards a master’s degree in urban and regional planning.


Michaela Clifford and Andrew Comstock were united in marriage Sept. 6. They reside in Prairie Village, Kan.


Colby and Nichole (Siebrandt) Vesely announce the birth of Soren Amira on Oct. 8, 2007. Soren is joined in their Lincoln home by siblings Dade (9), Brody (5) and Evelyn (3). Colby is the human resource manager at Farmland Foods, Crete. Nichole is a stay-at-home mom.


Eric and Angela (Schaeffer) Dwight announce the birth of daughter Janika Lee, on May 21. She joins her parents and big sister Lenka (2) at their home in Omaha. Eric is a process analyst at PayPal and Angela is a business analyst at Hewlett Packard.


Regina (Kallhoff) Finch and husband, Jason, announce the birth of daughter, Alayna Joy Ann, June 17. They reside in Tecumseh.
Scott Peters has been promoted to assistant principal of Northwest High School within Omaha Public Schools. Scott has been with the Omaha district for six years. Scott resides in Omaha with his wife, Abby (Corcoran’02) and children, Gwen (6) and AJ (2).


Mark and Crystal (Toman ’07) Ernst announce the birth of son, Briggs Joseph, June 19. Mark is a secondary social science teacher and coach at Clarkson Public Schools. Crystal is substitute teaching in the Clarkson area. They reside in Clarkson.


Kari (Brown) and Joseph “JJ” Schueth announce the birth of daughter, Jacy Lynn on Dec. 6. They reside in Blair. Kari works as a high school art teacher for Blair Community Schools. JJ works for Valley Corp., Valley, as a project manager.


Tiffany (Crom) Olson and her husband, Mark, announce the birth of daughter, Justice Jean, June 13. She is welcomed to their home in Concord by brothers Dillon(4) and Tyler (2).


Becky (Woelfel) McClanathan and her husband Jason, are proud to announce the birth of daughter, Jaycelyn Marie on June 29. They reside in Omaha.


Joe Wall is deputy assistant to Vice President Dick Cheney for legislative affairs. In this capacity, he primarily serves as the vice president’s liaison to the U.S. House of Representatives. Prior to joining the vice president’s staff, he was assistant national field director on Governor Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and a floor assistant to U.S. House Republican Whip, Roy Blunt. Joe and his wife, Mandy (Hansen ’04), reside in Arlington, Va.


Gregra Williamson and Nick Derby were united in marriage May 23. They reside in Omaha. Gregra is an advertising coordinator at TheKnot.com, Omaha.


Marie Raffety and Warren Kurcera were united in marriage on May 24. They reside in Lincoln. Marie is a manager at Sign Now, Lincoln.


Rob Runion (MSE’07) and Tonya Boss (’07) were united in marriage April 5. They reside in Columbus. Rob is a therapist at Meadows Behavioral Health Inc. Tonya is the buyout tech at Behlen Mfg. Co.


Jennifer Beer announces the birth of son, Caden James, on July 29. She is enjoying being a mom and working part-time as a server at Applebee’s in Omaha.



Dorothy M. (Hines) Hartung ’40, (88), Coleridge; Sept. 16.
Bonnie (Farner) Evans ’40, (87), Joplin, Mo.; Nov. 22.
Marjorie (Hook) Whitmore ’42, (88), Media, Pa.; Aug. 30.
Gleva A. (Binger) Kronlokken ’45, Renville, Minn.; May 19.
Myrtle Izola (Schwab) Stovall ’47, (90), Midland, Texas; July 19.
Marie (Graham) Moyer ’48, June 14; Boone, Iowa.
Jack W. Dale ’50, (82), Fort Collins, Colo.; Oct. 4.
Marilyn (Tomason) Creamer ’52, Hartington; June 16.
Gladys M. Laursen ’54, Sioux Falls, S.D.; July 19.
Eleanor (Madison) Fuhrman ’61 (MAE ’66), (91), Norfolk; Aug. 20
Richard D. Chochon ’62, (67), Palmer; Aug. 4.
Nellie Darlene (Brooks) Robinson ’62 (MSE ’64), (87), Norfolk; Aug. 1.
Louise (Hanson) Weber ’69, (89), Oakdale; Aug. 14.
Mildred (Janssen) Schrieber ’73, (84), Coleridge; Aug. 24.
Ernest “Mac” McMurtry ’75, (77), Oakland; Oct. 1.
Carole (Hill) Kohmetscher ’75, (61), Lawrence; July 22.
Anne Briese ’76, (86), Portland, Ore.; July 10.
Betty Farrar ’78, (78), Newman Grove; Aug. 23.
Susan (Reeves) Betten ’89, (41), Fremont; July 20.
Therese D. (Steffl) Schleppenbach ’98, (52), Norfolk; June 25.
Friends we will miss
Allen O’Donnell (77), Wayne; Sept. 29. O’Donnell was an associate professor of political science at Wayne State College from 1971 to 1994.