Published Wednesday, April 26th, 2023
The graduate student ceremony will be at 10 a.m., and the undergraduate ceremony will be at 1:30 p.m. Both ceremonies will take place in Rice Auditorium due to inclement weather.
Wayne State College will hold commencement ceremonies for graduate and undergraduate students Saturday, May 6. The graduate student ceremony will be at 10 a.m., and the undergraduate ceremony will be at 1:30 p.m.
PLEASE NOTE: As of Thursday, May 4, both ceremonies will take place in Rice Auditorium due to lightning in the weather forecast, which poses an unacceptable level of risk for our graduates and guests.
While wristbands are NOT required for the graduate ceremony at 10 a.m., please note that wristbands WILL BE required for guests attending the 1:30 p.m. undergraduate ceremony. Guests will not be admitted without a wristband. Overflow seating will be available in Ramsey Theatre in the Peterson Fine Arts Building and in Gardner Auditorium in Gardner Hall. The ceremony will be livestreamed on big screens in both locations.
The livestream can also be viewed at www.wsc.edu/watch-live.
A total of 603 degrees will be conferred by Wayne State President Marysz Rames. Those students receiving their degrees include 429 undergraduates and 174 graduate students. Graduate students are earning their degrees from the college’s Master of Science in Education, Master of Science in Organizational Management, Master of Business Administration, Counseling, and Education Specialist programs.
The graduate ceremony will feature an invocation by master’s candidate Kentavis Goodwin-Brice of Bloomfield, Conn.; Carter “Cap” Peterson, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Nebraska State College System, will bring greetings from the board; and master’s candidate Kari Lynn Tunink of Columbus will deliver graduation remarks.
The undergraduate ceremony will feature an invocation by bachelor’s candidate Isabelle Vacek of Ankeny, Iowa; Carter “Cap” Peterson, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Nebraska State College System, will bring greetings from the board; seven retiring faculty will be recognized; Dr. Randa Garden, professor of communication arts, will receive the State Nebraska Bank & Trust Teaching Excellence Award; and Dr. Paul Turman, chancellor of the Nebraska State College System, will deliver remarks.
Graduate Invocation: Kentavis Goodwin-Brice
Kentavis Goodwin-Brice of Bloomfield, Conn., will deliver the invocation for the graduate commencement ceremony. He is graduating with a Master of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies in Sociological Studies and Organizational Leadership and Management. Originally from Norfolk, Neb., he graduated from Wayne State in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology with a minor in Public Administration.
As an undergraduate at WSC, he was an Honors Colloquium student, earning Scholar in the Major honors. He was named WSC Sociology Student of the Year in 2013 and was a member of Alpha Kappa Delta Sociological Honor Society and Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society.
Goodwin-Brice works for the State of Connecticut Department of Children and Families as the multidisciplinary evaluation program and contract manager. He oversees 12 foster care health care clinics across the state that screen the physical, dental, developmental, behavioral, and emotional health of children who enter into the Connecticut DCF foster care system.
In addition to his work, he serves on the State of Connecticut DCF Central Office Diversity Action Team, the State of Connecticut Health Management and Oversight Division Racial Justice Committee, Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Chamber (CTGLC) board vice president, Hartford Stage Company board member, and as a MixxedFit Dance Fitness National Trainer.
Goodwin-Brice is the son of Delisa Brice Monroe of Norfolk, Neb., and is married to the Rev. Darrell Goodwin, executive conference minister and president of the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ.
He is the third in his family to earn a Wayne State degree. His sister, Sakena Brice Jones, graduated with him in 2013, and his cousin, Marcellus Brice, also holds a WSC degree.
Graduate Speaker: Kari L. Tunink
Kari L. Tunink of Columbus, Neb., will deliver the student remarks for the graduate commencement ceremony. She is graduating with a Master of Business Administration degree with an Accounting focus.
Tunink teaches business at Columbus High School. She is active with Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) as a professional division member and high school division adviser.
She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2008.
She is originally from Osmond, Neb. She is married to Tyler Tunink, with whom she has two children, Bre and Baylee.
Baccalaureate Invocation: Isabelle Vacek
Isabelle Vacek of Ankeny, Iowa, will deliver the invocation for the undergraduate ceremony. She is graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with a minor in Human Services. Vacek is the daughter of Ken and Katie Vacek of Ankeny, Iowa.
Vacek was a student-athlete at Wayne State, playing volleyball and beach volleyball for the nationally ranked Wildcats. She is graduating with high honors. Academically, she participated in the Wildcat Academy of Leadership and Knowledge (WALK) and served as co-president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, student senator for Behavioral Sciences, and senate representative for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
Vacek also served as president of the Psychology/Sociology Club, vice president of Pi Gamma Mu, the social sciences honor society, president of Psi Chi, the international honor society for psychology, and was a member of Phi Kappa Phi honor society and an active member of the Philomathean President’s Honor Society.
Vacek said she plans to attend the University of Kansas to pursue a master’s degree in counseling psychology after graduation.
Guest Speaker: Nebraska State College System Chancellor Paul Turman
Dr. Paul Turman began as Chancellor of the Nebraska State College System (NSCS) in January 2019. Since joining the NSCS, Turman has worked with the Governor and Legislature on an impressive array of initiatives that directly benefit the students, staff, and faculty of the state colleges while also building effective pathways to careers in support of Nebraska’s workforce.
These projects and initiatives have included the Career Scholarship initiative, with leadership and support from Aksarben and Wayne State College; funding for Chadron State’s Math-Science Addition and Renovation; a partnership with the Department of Corrections and Peru State to create the Corrections Pathway; bond funding to address maintenance and repair needs at the Colleges; a bold Strategic Plan for the state college system; and leadership for the state colleges through historic flooding in 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to his time with the NSCS, Turman served the South Dakota Board of Regents from 2006 to 2018, where he most recently served as the System Vice President for Academic Affairs. He provided leadership for the academic and research functions of the South Dakota Regental system by managing system initiatives targeted at improving student preparation, progression, and completion through efforts to improve time to degree, increase affordability, and foster collaborative programs.
During his tenure with the Board of Regents, Turman also served as the Director of Academic Assessment, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, and System Vice President for Research and Economic Development where he worked closely with state government leaders, including the Governor, Executive Branch Agencies, and legislators.
Turman earned his Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Interpersonal Communication; his master’s degree from South Dakota State University in Communication; and his bachelor’s degree from South Dakota State University in General Studies/Art Minor.
Honored Retiring Faculty
Dr. Katherine MacMullan Butler
Dr. Katherine MacMullan Butler began teaching at Wayne State College in 1966. She earned her Ph.D. in English Literature (specialization in Shakespeare) from Bryn Mawr College in 1960, her master’s degree in English (specialization in the Romantic period) from Bryn Mawr College in 1958, and her bachelor’s degree in English and History from Westhampton College, University of Richmond, Virginia, in 1956. She earned Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Alpha Theta honors.
Butler taught British literature, world literature, and philosophy at colleges in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Maryland before coming to WSC in 1966. During her 57 years at WSC, she developed and taught more than 30 courses in English literature and philosophy.
In addition to teaching at WSC, she served on the Library Committee, Graduate Committee, and chaired the English Graduate Committee.
“It has been a pleasure to work with many fine students, faculty, and staff at WSC over the years,” Butler said.
Dr. Sally Harms
Dr. Sally Harms began teaching at Wayne State in 2000. She earned her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction at University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1999, her master’s degree in Biology at Millersville University of Pennsylvania (formerly Millersville State College) in 1984, and her bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education Biological Sciences at Millersville State College in 1979.
During her time at Wayne State, Harms taught sciences for students majoring in Elementary Education, as well as chemistry, physical science, scientific communications, and methods of teaching science. She also served as the adviser for the Science Education Club. Harms also served on the Professional Progress Committee, Student Admission and Retention Committee, and the Rank, Promotion, and Tenure Committee.
“My tenure at WSC has provided many pleasant memories with great colleagues and students,” Harms said. “The greatest reward has been watching students as they mature, graduate, and later return to share their success stories.”
Dr. Gloria Lawrence
Dr. Gloria Lawrence began teaching at Wayne State in 1988. She earned her Ph.D. and master’s degree in Psychology in 1986 and 1984 from Kansas State University, and her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Kearney State College (now the University of Nebraska-Kearney) in 1981.
During her 35 years at Wayne State, Lawrence taught courses in general psychology, physiological psychology, death and dying, abnormal psychology, evolutionary psychology, personality, life span, forensic psychology, social psychology, psychopharmacology, human sexuality, experimental psychology, and health psychology.
In addition to teaching, Lawrence served as the adviser for the Red Cross Club, Active Minds, and Psi Chi, the international honor society in psychology at WSC. She also served on the Academic Policy Committee and the Student Admission and Retention Committee.
“The most rewarding part of my work has been the students,” Lawrence said. “They come to college wanting to learn. It has been a pleasure to work with the students.”
Greg Vander Weil
Greg Vander Weil began teaching at Wayne State as a graduate assistant in 1980. He earned his master’s degree in Education from Wayne State in 1981 and his bachelor’s degree in Education in 1979. During his decades at WSC, he taught courses in industrial technology education, skilled and technical sciences, small engines, automotive mechanics, construction, cabinet making, and manufacturing.
Vander Weil served as an interim instructor of industrial technology at WSC 1981-82, adjunct industrial technology instructor 1982-83, and assistant professor of industrial education and teacher educator for skilled and technical sciences 1988-2023. He worked as a vocational automotive instructor and wrestling coach for West Point Public Schools in West Point, Neb., 1983-88.
In addition to teaching, Vander Weil served as adviser for the Technology and Engineering Education Collegiate Association and SkillsUSA. He also served as head coach of the Wayne State College Wildcat Wrestling club. He was a 34-year member of the Student Admissions and Retention Committee at WSC, serving as chair for three years.
“The most rewarding part of my time at Wayne State College has been the opportunity to help prepare around 300 future industrial technology teachers who gained the knowledge and skills to facilitate their students learning knowledge and skills in the content areas of industrial technology,” Vander Weil said. “The opportunity to advise student organizations related to industrial technology and the success of those students in state and national competitions has been very rewarding. Bringing back college wrestling to Wayne State College has also been a highlight. The lifetime relationships with students/athletes have been the best takeaway from my years here at Wayne State College.”
Dr. Chris Tee Weixelman
Dr. Chris Tee Weixelman began teaching at Wayne State in 2008. She earned her Ed.D. at the University of South Dakota in 2015, her master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University in 2001, and her bachelor’s degree from University of Northern Colorado in 1976.
During her 15 years at WSC, she taught courses in foundations of education and early and intermediate reading and language arts. She served as the adviser for the Interfaith Action Group and served on the President’s Council for Diversity and Professional Progress Committee.
“Working with our education students has been very exciting,” Weixelman said. “Watching them grow from timid freshmen to competent first-year teachers ready to take their places in a classroom is very rewarding. They inspire me and give me hope for the future — it is in good hands.”
Dr. Joseph Weixelman
Dr. Joseph Weixelman began teaching at Wayne State in 2007. He earned his Ph.D. in History from the University of New Mexico in 2004, his master’s degree in History from Montana State University in 1992, and his bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from University of Colorado in 1981.
During his career at Wayne State, Weixelman taught courses in U.S. history, the history of the American West, American Indian history, the Civil War era, and the history of the civil rights movement.
In addition to teaching, Weixelman served as the adviser for Phi Alpha Theta (the history honorary society) and the Interfaith Action Group. He served on several committees as a faculty member at Wayne State: General Education and Rank, Promotion, and Tenure.
“I touched the future at Wayne State by inspiring the next generation of historians,” Weixelman said in reflecting on his time spent teaching history at Wayne State.
Dr. Deb Whitt
Dr. Deb Whitt began teaching at Wayne State in 1985. She began her teaching career in O’Neill, Neb., at St. Mary’s Junior High and High School in 1979. Whitt earned her Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1993, her master’s degree at University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1985, and her bachelor’s degree at Wayne State in 1979.
During her tenure at Wayne State, Whitt taught courses in intercultural communication, family communication, communication theory, instructional communication, and principles of human communication. She served as the Communication Arts department chair for 21 years from 2002 to 2023; director of the Honors Program for five years from 2013 to 2018; developed the Missouri National River Experience with colleague Dr. Gwen Jensen for honors students through the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC); and served on the National Advisory Board for NCHC for Partners in the Park for four years from 2014 to 2018.
In addition to her teaching responsibilities and roles with external organizations, Whitt served as the adviser to Lambda Pi Eta, the communication honor society, for 23 years. She began the society at WSC in 2000. She served on the national Lambda Pi Eta advisory board for the National Communication Association for 18 years, receiving the National Advisor of the Year award in 2004, 2011, and 2014. Whitt also served as the adviser to Cardinal Key, the WSC Women’s Honor Society, for 35 years and adviser to Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow for four years.
Whitt received the State Nebraska Bank Teaching Excellence Award and the Nebraska State Colleges Board of Trustees Teaching Excellence award in 2001. She was named Educator of the Year from the Wayne Area Chamber of Commerce in 2004 and was the recipient of the John Thurber Outstanding Teacher Award in Speech Communication for the Nebraska Speech and Theatre Association in 2001.
“I have enjoyed working with hundreds of communication majors over the years,” Whitt said.