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Wayne State College Recognizes Seven Retiring Faculty Members

Published Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

Wayne State's retiring faculty members served the college in a variety of academic and service roles for more than 215 years combined.

Wayne State will recognize seven faculty members retiring at the conclusion of the 2016-17 academic year at the May 6, 2017, graduation ceremony. Gerald Conway, associate professor of business, Dr. Kathleen Conway, professor of counseling, Dr. Meenakshi Dalal, professor of economics, Dr. Judith Lindberg, professor of family and consumer sciences, Dr. John Paxton, professor of business, Dr. Gretchen Ronnow, professor of English, and Dr. Catherine Rudin, professor of humanities, have a combined total of 216 years of teaching at Wayne State.

Gerald Conway

Gerald Conway began teaching at Wayne State College in 1975, with a hiatus from 1991 to 1997 to serve as a Nebraska legislator. He earned his master’s degree in business from Chadron State College in 1974 and his bachelor’s in business from University of South Dakota in 1973. Conway taught finance, law and international business.

Conway is a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War and a former state senator. He served as chair of the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee; vice chair of Banking Commerce and Insurance; chair of the Intergovernmental Cooperation; and chair of the Special Committee on Economic Development while he was a member of the Nebraska Legislature.

He served as a member of the Nebraska State College System Board of Trustees; Nebraska State Economic Forecasting Board; more than 25 years as chair of Wayne State’s Academic Policies Committee; and director of International Education.

“I am proud of my service related to teaching, representing us in the legislature (bringing to fruition the Gardner Business Building), serving on the Nebraska State College System Board of Trustees and the state Economic Forecasting Board,” Conway said. “I am equally proud of my leadership as the long-term chair of the Academic Policies Committee and the Executive in Residence program. I am particularly proud of my role in international education. I was able to share my experiences of travel and education in a way that was life changing for more than 150 students within the first seven years. The program was built on the tenets of quality education, security of local faculty, and affordability for students.”

Dr. Kathleen Conway

Dr. Kathleen Conway began teaching at Wayne State College in 1981. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1986, her master’s degree from University of South Dakota in 1973, and her bachelor’s degree from University of South Dakota in 1969. Dr. Conway taught human services counseling, theories of counseling, professional identity and ethics, marriage and family counseling, organization and administration of counseling programs, peace studies and international studies.

During her time at Wayne State, she served as interim dean of graduate studies; interim Division Head of Education and Counseling; as a member of Faculty Senate; and as a faculty member for Nebraska Semester Abroad and Wayne State Semester Abroad programs.

“Wayne State College has been a great place to spend a professional life,” Conway said. “I have valued my teaching experiences and supportive colleagues and administrators who provided opportunities for personal and professional growth. I valued being able to think about ways to learn and teach, and I valued having those people in decision-making positions who seriously listened to them. I am particularly proud of offering an experimental class in peace studies that evolved into a general education opportunity for our students. I am proud of my persistence in raising the issues of shared governance. I valued the opportunities, the trust, in giving birth to the Wayne State Semester Abroad in Greece. I am proud to have had a role in the quality academic experience it involved and am thankful to have had the opportunity to share the growth students experienced.”

Dr. Meenakshi Dalal

Dr. Meenakshi Dalal came to Wayne State College in 1985 from Boston, Mass. She earned her Ph. D. in economics in 1984 and master’s degree in economics in 1974 from Northeastern University, Boston. She earned her bachelor of commerce (Honors) degree from Calcutta University, Calcutta in 1970.  Before coming to Wayne State, Dalal was an assistant professor at Northeastern University for five years. She taught various courses at WSC: macroeconomic and microeconomic theories, international economics, international business, global economics, economic development, money and banking, managerial economics for MBA, economic education courses, Neihardt Scholars Colloquium (Interdisciplinary Honors course) and other EPS courses.

Wayne State College granted Dalal two sabbatical leaves, which allowed her to do research as a visiting scholar at the Institute of East Asian Studies at University of California – Berkeley in 1996 and to spend a year as a visiting scholar at the Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis. She also taught microeconomic theory, economic development and international economics at UC Berkeley, during 2001 and 2002 summer as a visiting professor.

Dalal served on the college’s Strategic Enrollment Planning Council; Faculty Senate; the Nebraska State College System Diversity Task Force; was a charter member and chair of the President’s Council for Diversity at Wayne State; served on the national board of the American Association of University Women as international director; and served on the board of the Nebraska Business and Economic Association, with a term as president of the board.

Dalal took two groups to India Study Tour programs in 2005 and 2012.  Wayne State College supported her field research on Rural Women’s Work in India in 1989.

“I have travelled a lot presenting papers in different countries and brought those diverse and multicultural perspectives to my students,” Dalal said. “I get emails or letters from my students when they see an article, or hear news about me. This brings me great joy to hear from them. I have taken students to professional conferences where they present, and it is a pleasure to see their academic and professional growth. I have worked diligently with the President’s Council for Diversity at WSC to open up the mind of my students and my colleagues. I have always enjoyed working with colleagues across the campus who keep their mind open and have unbiased discussion on various issues.”

After retirement, Dalal said she plans to write about her life’s journey for her children and grandchildren.

Dr. Judith Lindberg

Dr. Judith Lindberg began teaching at Wayne State College in 1995. She earned her Ph.D. in human environmental sciences, textile and apparel management, from University of Missouri-Columbia, and her master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Kansas State University. Lindberg taught fashion retailing, textiles, consumer economics, historic costume, and fitting and alteration.

Lindberg served as chair of the Technology and Applied Science Department; Scholarship, Honors, and Financial Aid Committee, including 2 years as chair; Rank and Professional Development Committee; adviser to Alpha Lambda Delta freshman honorary society for 20 years; adviser to Vogue Fashion Association; co-adviser to Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Professionals; and co-adviser to the Wayne State Interior Design Club.

“The best memories I have at Wayne State are working with the students: as they grow from year to year, as they return to let you know they are using information from classes, as they take on leadership responsibilities in the classroom and in student organizations,” Lindberg said. “I also have fond memories of working with and learning from a wide variety of faculty and staff.” 

Dr. John Paxton

Dr. John Paxton began teaching at Wayne State College in 1978, with a hiatus to teach at Missouri State University from 1987 to 1992, when he returned to Wayne State to finish his teaching career. He earned his Ph.D. in management science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1988, his MBA from University of Oklahoma in 1977, and his bachelor’s degree from Northeastern State College (Oklahoma) in 1973. He taught business and business management.

Paxton is a U.S. Navy veteran of the Vietnam War. In addition to teaching at Wayne State, he served as the director of the Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) at the college, a center he founded and organized, which still exists and helps small businesses throughout northeast Nebraska.

“Probably my proudest achievements are the accomplishments of my students over the last 40 years,” Paxton said. “One has even graduated with a Ph.D. from Stanford and is now an Ivy League ‘endowed’ professor at Cornell; several are bank presidents, and so on. By far, my best memories are of my faculty colleagues, going back to former Wayne State president Dr. Lyle Seymour’s days, and my students stretching back over four decades. Professionally, both groups have given me a very rich life, and they have taught me far more than I taught them.”

Dr. Gretchen Ronnow

Dr. Gretchen Ronnow began teaching at Wayne State College in 1992. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona, and her master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Utah State University. She taught American literature and composition.

During her Wayne State career, Ronnow served as the English program coordinator; was a member of the Graduate Council, General Education Committee, Faculty Senate, the President’s Athletic Advisory Council, the President’s Diversity Council, and the Online Assessment Advisory Committee; and she was adviser to WSC’s student chapter of NORML, the Native American Student Association, and Minorities Coming Together.

Ronnow was a Fulbright Foreign Scholar at the Barnaul State Pedagogical University (BSPU) in Siberia; received the Balsley-Whitmore Award, WSC Faculty Renewal Grant and several Instructional Improvement grants; and was a founding member of the WSC chapter of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.

“WSC has been particularly supportive in helping me form an official ‘agreement’ between BSPU and WSC to facilitate educational and cultural exchanges between our students and professors; bring ‘visiting American minority scholars’ to campus to lecture on African-American and Native American art, politics, and culture; host a contingent of Russian Afghan war veterans; and host other Russian Fulbright visiting lecturers and scholars,” Ronnow said. “WSC has also been generous in its support of my travel to and presentations at conferences and seminars world- wide, and I hope such diversity of information and international perspective has benefitted my students!”

Dr. Catherine Rudin

Dr. Catherine Rudin began teaching at Wayne State College in 1986. She earned her Ph.D. in linguistics and Slavic studies from Indiana University, Bloomington, in 1982, her master’s in linguistics from Indiana University, Bloomington, in 1977, and her bachelor’s degree in linguistics from University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1975. She taught linguistics, languages, foreign language methods, and dance. She is also an avid international folk dancer. She performs and teaches Balkan singing and East European music and dance.

She has received major grants from: the International Research and Exchanges Board for travel and study in the Balkans, the National Science Foundation, Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the Jacobs Fund for Omaha-Ponca fieldwork, and from the National Science Foundation and National Endowment for the Humanities Documenting Endangered Languages program for her work compiling and maintaining the Digital Dictionary of Omaha and Ponca languages.

Rudin noted that she will miss students and colleagues but will still be pursuing many aspects of her work and research even though she is retiring from Wayne State.