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Articles on this Page
- 06/21/18--07:43: _CSC academic school...
- 06/19/18--06:54: _Chadron State entri...
- 06/22/18--13:31: _Board of Trustees a...
- 06/25/18--09:31: _Students study vide...
- 06/23/18--08:10: _Information session...
- 06/28/18--06:54: _Assessment efforts ...
- 07/02/18--14:08: _Neuharth scores poi...
- 07/05/18--07:58: _Six PBL members pla...
- 07/10/18--10:57: _CSC adds several em...
- 07/11/18--07:14: _Getting to Know: In...
- 07/20/18--06:47: _'Unity through Comm...
- 07/23/18--13:48: _Higher education la...
- 07/25/18--10:12: _Plant specimen coll...
- 07/25/18--15:00: _Burk sees IoT, VR i...
- 08/01/18--06:47: _Computer Replacemen...
- 08/06/18--12:21: _Getting to Know: St...
- 08/09/18--09:48: _Sandoz Symposium se...
- 06/21/18--07:43: CSC academic schools, department chairs reorganizing
- 06/19/18--06:54: Chadron State entries had tough go at finals rodeo
- 06/25/18--09:31: Students study video gamers brain waves, fruit fly concussions
- 06/23/18--08:10: Information session about Cuba course set for Wednesday
- 06/28/18--06:54: Assessment efforts focus on improvement
- 07/02/18--14:08: Neuharth scores points killing dragons
- 07/05/18--07:58: Six PBL members place in top 10 at national competition
- 07/10/18--10:57: CSC adds several employees
- 07/11/18--07:14: Getting to Know: Information Technology
- 07/20/18--06:47: 'Unity through Community' open through Aug. 3
- 07/25/18--10:12: Plant specimen collection donated by former student
- 07/25/18--15:00: Burk sees IoT, VR in CSC's future
- 08/01/18--06:47: Computer Replacement Plan shows sustainability and efficiency
- 08/06/18--12:21: Getting to Know: Student Transition And Registration Team (START)
- 08/09/18--09:48: Sandoz Symposium set for Sept. 20-22
CHADRON – The Chadron State College academic departments will look different in 2018-19. Beginning in the upcoming academic year, Academic Affairs has reorganized from 12 to six departments within three academic schools, and the names of two of the three academic schools have been fine-tuned.
There were four purposes for the reorganization of departments, according to Chadron State’s Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Charles Snare. The purposes include a more equitable distribution of labor for academic staff, chairs and deans, the advancement of synergies across academic units to promote learner-centered environments, increased professional development of department chairs, and cost savings.
Snare said chairs will rotate on a three-year cycle to assist with continuity, with each year two chairs rotating off and two new chairs rotating on. Initially, the chair positions will begin with two chairs serving for four years, two chairs serving for three years, and two chairs serving for two years.
Two of CSC’s three academic schools have changed their names. The school currently known as Business, Entrepreneurship, Applied and Mathematical Sciences, and Sciences (BEAMSS) will become Business, Mathematics, and Science (BMS). The school currently known as Education, Human Performance, Psychology, Counseling, and Social Work (EHPCPSW) will become Professional Studies and Applied Sciences (PSAS). The School of Liberal Arts retains its name.
Snare emphasized the programs are not changing and the academic programs will still offer the quality instruction that is the hallmark of CSC. The three deans responsible for the schools are Dr. Joel Hyer (BMS), Dr. Jim Powell (PSAS) and Dr. Jim Margetts (Liberal Arts).
Snare said the idea of reorganization began in the 2011 plan: “Re-Imagining Education at CSC: A Plan of the 21st Century.” The 2011 plan resulted in reorganizing various areas, including the functional duties of the deans. That was followed with redeployment of Academic Office Assistants and Professional Staff. Subsequently, the library became the Library Learning Commons and was combined with the newly formed Teaching and Learning Center into the Teaching and Learning Technologies (TLT) unit.
“The changes in higher education accelerated in 2014 with the addition of additional compliance requirements from a variety of entities, including Title IX, state authorization, the United States Department of Education, the Higher Learning Commission, and others,” Snare said. “By 2016 many of these requirements had taken shape and budget reductions in 2016 added another factor.”
Snare indicated that the reorganization was not without its critics. However, Academic Affairs sought out the opinions of students, faculty and staff through a 12-month process.
“I do understand change seldom makes everyone happy and it is difficult. I appreciate the feedback and involvement of so many people,” Snare said.
Snare added the timeline of the reorganization included the opportunity of the Higher Learning Commission’s (HLC) review. HLC’s visiting team gave positive feedback on the reorganization because it fit well with the direction of the Master Academic Plan, assists with meeting the demands of higher education, and positions CSC for the future.
The six chairs for the upcoming academic year are: Dr. Wendy Jamison, Associate Professor and Chair of Mathematical and Natural Sciences; Dr. Wendy Waugh, Professor and Chair of Business; Dr. Shaunda French-Collins, Associate Professor and Chair of Communication, Music, Art, and Theatre; Dr. David Nesheim, Associate Professor and Chair of Justice Studies, Social Sciences, and English; Dr. Don King, Professor and Chair of Professional Studies: Education, Counseling, Psychological Sciences, and Social Work; and Dr. Scott Ritzen, Professor and Chair of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, Family and Consumer Sciences, Range Management, and Military and Science Leadership.
In addition to serving as the lead faculty member and coordinator for departments, the chair is involved with curriculum planning, student retention and recruitment, fostering communication between faculty and administration, financial matters, and professional development.
The department chair serves as the lead faculty member and coordinator on departmental matters. This position organizes department meetings to discuss and assist in implementing initiatives in curricular assessment and catalog revisions, scholarship selections, budget allocations, student retention and recruitment, academic year and summer class schedules, faculty assignments, and strategic plans. The department chair meets regularly with the academic dean and provides input regarding personnel, curricula, equipment, budgets, student and faculty issues, and strategic plans as requested by the dean. The chair also participates in the institution’s communities of learners to foster a culture of inquiry and collegiality, critical self-reflection, evidence based decision making, and a learner-centered environment, in order to forward the mission of the college. The new chair term begins July 1, while the previous chair assists with onboarding until July 30.
In addition to six chairs, some programs will have assistance from program liaisons for annual program assessment reports. Six chairs will also serve as program liaisons, but the remaining program liaisons for the 2018-19 academic year are: Laura Bentz, Art; Scott Cavin, Theatre; Dr. Mary Jo Carnot, Psychological Sciences; Dr. Josh Ellis, Family and Consumer Sciences; Rich Kenney, Social Work; Dr. Mike Leite, Physical Sciences; Dr. Anthony Perlinski, Rangeland; Dr. Robert Stack, Math; and Dr. Katy Woods, Counseling.
The Chadron State College cowboys who qualified for the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper last week didn’t fare well there. CSC coach Dustin Luper said he was disappointed, not with their effort but with the results.
Neither bull rider Dakota Rice nor steer wrestler Kalane Anders received a score during any of their three runs. The third contestant, Rowdy Moon, rode all three of his barebacks, but his 198.5 cumulative point total left him 24 points behind the 12th and final qualifier for Saturday night’s championship go-round.
“Things just didn’t work out for us,” Luper noted.
Rice certainly wasn’t the only bull rider to hit the arena floor early. Nineteen of the remaining 37 national qualifiers also came up empty all three go-rounds. Just four bull riders, including national champion Will Centoni of Cuesta College in California, rode two bulls. Thirteen others stayed aboard just one bull. No one made it to the eight second buzzer Saturday night.
Centoni emerged as the rodeo’s all-around cowboy by also placing seventh in saddle bronc riding.
Luper said Anders “was a touch late” leaving the box on his three steer wrestling runs and “kind of went over the top” when he caught up with the steers.
The coach said he’s glad Anders has another year of college eligibility and believes if the Bayard cowboy keeps working he will someday qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
“He has a lot of potential,” Luper said. “He’s the best bulldogger I’ve ever coached. Sometimes maybe he tries too hard and he needs to improve his horsemanship, but he’s got all the other things going for him.”
This is the third year in row that Moon has ridden all three of his barebacks at the college finals. He also qualified as a freshman and a sophomore at Mid-Plains College in North Platte before joining the CSC team last fall. But he’s never scored enough points to be among the 12 finalists at Casper.
“Rowdy made a really good ride in the second go-round,” said Luper, who also was a bareback rider in college and still competes several times each summer. “He earned 71 points and I thought the judges could have given him a few more.”
Luper added that Moon was “a little too straight-legged” while spurring during his other two rides.
The CSC coach said the bronc Moon drew in the third go-round is named “Strike Fire,” and the horse Luper won first place on at a rodeo eight years ago.
Despite his age, Luper said “Strike Fire” is still going strong.
Moon, a native of Sargent, also has another year of eligibility. With his three successful rides in Casper, Moon scored on 22 of the 23 broncs he drew at college rodeos during the 2017-18 season.
The all-around cowgirl at the CNFR was Mia Manzanares from McNeese State in Louisiana. She won both the breakaway roping and the goat tying. She was on fire during Saturday night’s finals, catching her calf in 1.7 seconds and setting an arena record of 5.9 seconds in goat tying.
Kellen Johnson of Gillette College and Trey Yates of Casper College won the team roping, making their four runs in 30 seconds flat. The second place team’s times totaled 54.6 seconds. None of the other teams had successful runs in all four go-rounds.
Johnson and Yates also were the team roping champions in the Central Rocky Mountain Region this year.
LINCOLN – The Nebraska State College System Board of Trustees had its final meeting of the fiscal year at Hillcrest Country Club in Lincoln Tuesday, June 19.
Items approved during the meeting included adding two Chadron State College academic options and one academic minor, as well as acceptance of employee salary recommendations, construction contracts, Board of Trustees’ policy changes, and preliminary operating budgets for the three state colleges and System Office.
The academic minor beginning in Fall 2018 at Chadron State College is Environmental Geoscience (Physical Sciences). The new options, also beginning in Fall 2018, are Environmental Geoscience (Physical Sciences) and Athletic Training Preparation (Sport and Recreation Management).
The Board approved three construction projects for CSC. Those projects include replacing the windows and updating restrooms in King Library, as well as re-roofing Armstrong Gymnasium.
Several revisions to Board policies were also approved. Board Policy 3100 further clarified temporary suspension. Board Policies 5030, 5103 and 5104 detailed how to process and pay earned wages, accumulated sick leave, and vacation pay to the estate of a deceased employee. Revisions to Board Policies 3401, 4830 and 6021 were approved to update criteria for the Non-Resident Scholars Program and expand opportunities for out-of-state and international students. The title also changed from Non-Resident Scholars to the Nebraska Access Program.
Several informational items were also presented to the Board, including reports on promotion and tenure, employee and student demographics, construction, spring student occupancy, contracts and change orders, grant applications and awards, and personnel reports.
CSC was awarded a grant from the Mari Sandoz Heritage Society in the amount of $888 to study axillary bud responses to defoliation at different growth stages in the rhizomatous grass, Bromus inermis.
Additionally, operating budgets for all of the state colleges and System Office were approved. Chadron State’s general fund appropriation for 2018-19 is $17,508,452.
The meeting closed with reports from each of the three state colleges and the Chancellor.
The 2018-19 schedule for Board meetings is as follows: Sept. 14-15 at Chadron State College, Nov. 15-16 at Wayne State College, Jan. 15 in Lincoln, March 21-22 at Peru State College, and June 18 in Lincoln.
CHADRON – The pursuit of scientific knowledge can lead researchers to try measuring things that seem a bit far fetched, like brain changes in people playing an online game, or the effect of concussions on fruit flies.
But creating experiments involving those measurements was an important part of what several Chadron State College students learned from independent research projects they completed last semester, and the implications of their work generated interest from other young scientists at the annual Nebraska Academy of Sciences conference in Lincoln last April.
An audience of about 20 people showed up to hear the presentation that Gabrielle Brumfield and Brittany Soukup made at the conference about research they and Greggory Peterson conducted on the brains of people learning to play the online game League of Legends, according to Dr. Johnica Morrow, CSC assistant science professor and adviser for the project. That might be because League of Legends is played worldwide and has its own professional league with sponsored teams and multi-million dollar tournaments, said Morrow.
“The pro gaming circuit people would be interested in things that enhance performance, just like you would see in any type of sports,” she said.
The research paper that students Shyanna Neu and Kinsley Mason presented on the effect of concussions on fruit flies with a particular genetic makeup also attracted interest at the conference, and could be relevant to sports, where the long term effects of concussions on brain function has become a topic of concern, according to Dr. Ann Buchmann, the CSC science professor who advised that project.
Humans have the same version of the genetic material as the fruit flies that the students studied and scientists would like to know if that genetic factor could be associated with worse concussions, said Buchmann.
“It might be important to have genetic testing done on athletes or others who have suffered from multiple concussions,” she said. “It might change the way that certain sports are played or the way the military treats personnel that have been exposed to head trauma.”
Just setting up and conducting the research was a challenging part of the students’ projects. For their research Neu and Mason had to create a device that could deliver a precise amount of force to the head of a fruit fly, without killing it, said Buchmann. They used an aquarium flow regulator and a laboratory air pump to propel a tiny sponge at a fly that was sedated in the tip of a plastic pipet, she said, but then had to experiment to determine the amount of force needed.
“The first time they tried it the fruit fly was propelled across the room,” she said. “After that they calibrated the air flow so the hit was more subtle.”
Determining the effect of the blow on the fly was the next step, and involved putting the concussed flies, and a control group that was not hit on the head, into a long tube and observing them climb up its sides, which is a normal fruit fly behavior.
“They discovered that most of the concussed flies had difficulty reaching the top of the tube, while the control flies did not,” Buchmann said.
For the gaming research, Brumfield, Soukup and Peterson had to find representative subjects who had video game experience, but hadn’t played League of Legends, said Morrow.
“It was valuable to go through the process of ‘How do I design this survey that is going to exclude the kind of things that will complicate our study,’” she said.
The students also had to determine which brain waves to measure and how to correlate game activity with the measurements, a problem they solved by taking notes of what was happening on the screen as the electrodes attached to the subjects’ heads registered spikes in brain activity.
“They spent a lot of time deciding how to collect data in the best possible way,” Morrow said. “The students got a lot out of that process and essentially developing the project themselves.”
Watching subjects’ brain waves change with the play of the game was fascinating, the students said.
“There was always a huge fluctuation when their avatar (game character) died or whenever they became extremely frustrated,” Soukup said.
“Seeing spikes in (brain wave) activity when a player died, cursed or fought enemies was really interesting to me,” Brumfield said.
Preliminary results from the gaming project showed promise, but more work would be needed to reach definite conclusions, according to Morrow.
“What we were seeing was that some of the brain wave patterns differed while watching a video about the game, playing a tutorial and actually playing the game,” Morrow said. “We would predict that different patterns of brain waves develop as people became more proficient.”
Additional research would also be needed to draw firm answers from the fruit fly experiments, but preliminary results indicate that a specific genetic variation may make flies more susceptible to brain damage from concussions, said Buchmann. Another part of the project suggests that multiple low level concussions may be worse than one larger blow.
Both studies could be topics for future research at CSC.
“I would love to expand to different types of video games and see the difference in effects on the brain,” agreed Soukup.
Even though the students only scratched the surface of potential work on their topics, they gained a lot from the projects, Buchmann said.
“They learned to make good observations and troubleshoot problems,” Buchmann said. “They also learned how to build off the scientific literature, determining what others have done and what gaps there are in our scientific understanding.”
CHADRON – Area residents and students interested in Cuba Libre, a Fall 2018 Chadron State College course that will include travel to Cuba in January 2019, are invited to attend an information session Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Bean Broker.
The information session, hosted by course instructors Dr. T. Smith and Dr. Deane Tucker, will cover the travel itinerary, course schedule, financial obligations and the application process. Community residents can enroll for one credit hour, receive all of the educational material covered in the class and participate in travel to Cuba.
“The informational session is a place where interested residents can ask any questions about Cuba Libre and gain a comfort level,” said Smith.
Smith, Tucker, and a group of 10 students traveled to Cuba in 2014, marking the first time a group of Nebraska State College System students pursued academic endeavors on the island of Cuba. Smith followed up in 2016 taking 16 students to Cuba.
“We feel the educational value of the course is enhanced by the real world experience of seeing the many changes taking place in Cuba and, also, to feel the ebb of daily life that continues despite these changes. This educational experience offers an opportunity to witness a different society and people, which can promote both cultural and intellectual growth,” Smith said.
CHADRON – Assessment, a common term in higher education, involves the collection, analysis and evaluation of student learning data. At Chadron State College, assessment is driven by two factors: improving student learning and satisfying external authorities, according to Dr. Dave Nesheim, who has served as the Interim Director of Assessment for two years.
While the second factor can seem like a threatening element, both are done for the public good, Nesheim said.
“I’m confident assessment efforts can comply with both the letter and the spirit of the policies in the least coercive and invasive way, in a way that works best for CSC,” Nesheim said.
Assessment at CSC the past few years centered on the Higher Learning Commission’s (HLC) reaffirmation of the institution’s accreditation culminating in a team of HLC peer reviewers visiting campus in April 2017.
“With the positive response to the documents we submitted and following the site visit, we’ve earned HLC’s trust. That gives us some freedom in how we go about our assessment work,” Nesheim said.
Since 2013, newly adopted HLC standards have dramatically increased the role of assessment.
“It moved gathering data beyond academics and explicitly required it of other areas,” Nesheim said.
As a result, assessment is now organized into three categories: academics, co-curricular and operational.
“We have systems in places for all three. They are not perfect. However, we will keep adjusting them to meet external requirements, incorporating changes while continuing to focus on student and institutional improvement. We also have departments and units thinking about different ways they could approach assessment and getting excited about it,” Nesheim said.
Nesheim said although there is little research to prove that application of the business model of key performance indicators works in education, the idea of improvement is valued in higher education.
“It’s difficult, if not impossible, to reduce a complicated human being, a student, to a data point. Understandably, the prospect makes some bristle,” Nesheim said. “We are much more like a small community than a business. We’re not analyzing widgets in a factory, we are working with people.”
As a key player tasked with coordinating the collection of data both useful within CSC and capable of satisfying outside entities, Nesheim sees himself as a kind of ecologist for the complex campus environment.
“An ecologist doesn’t measure everything, but instead measures meaningful proxies,” he said.
Speaking as a former faculty member, Nesheim said he knows his students benefitted from assessment questions that helped him identify what he wanted them to learn and how to help them.
“When students and faculty engage in systematic reflection and articulate their goals, we have useful information for improvement,” Nesheim said.
This fall, Nesheim will return to the classroom, as well as take on department chair responsibilities. He will also continue working with assessment in his new role of Assessment Coordinator.
June 27, 2018
Neuharth scores points killing dragons
By George Ledbetter
CHADRON – There probably aren’t many people pushing 80 years of age who deserve a title of dragon slayer, but long-time Chadron State College adjunct faculty member Marv Neuharth could well be one.
That’s because regular workouts on the stationary bicycles at CSC’s Nelson Physical Activity Center (NPAC) have netted Neuharth more than one billion points in a game that requires hard pedaling and controlled steering to run down brightly colored dragons that pop up randomly in various places on the cycling machine’s video screen.
Neuharth, an avid cyclist for years, said he started riding the NPAC’s Expresso Bikes shortly after they were installed in 2013 because weather conditions often restricted his outdoor riding time and it was easy to fit the indoor rides into his teaching schedule.
Like many of the machines at the NPAC, the Expresso Bikes have electronic controls with a variety of workout options. The bikes allow cyclists to choose from a variety of riding scenarios of varying lengths and degrees of difficulty shown on a monitor complete with scenery as the user pedals.
Network connections on the Expressos allow riders to compete on a course with a user in the adjacent machine, or compare results with people who are pedaling in gyms around the world, said Neuharth.
“The machine is really neat,” he said. “You can compete on a global basis. There are all age groups.”
The bikes, made by Interactive Fitness, allow users to create personal online accounts and use them to track workouts.
“It tells you the number of calories you have burned. It tells you the amount of power you are utilizing. It’s a challenge in itself,” Neuharth said.
Rather than riding one of the more than 40 race courses in the Expresso program for his workouts, Neuharth chose the machine’s Animal Adventures game. The game involves steering toward and hitting colored tokens on the monitor and then racking up points by hitting the like-colored dragons that appear and flit about the screen. Neuharth said his initial aim in the game was to earn three or four million points on each of the three or four rides he takes per week.
“That was the goal, but you couldn’t do it every day,” he said. “My legs couldn’t take it.”
The machines also keep a cumulative total of each individual’s points and Neuharth said it was only after watching his score climb that he decided to try hitting the one billion mark.
“I had no intention of trying to ride this many points, but I got to the point where I said ‘Hey, I can do this,’” he said.
Neuharth isn’t specific about when the billion point threshold was crossed and said the milestone didn’t trigger any particular notice from the machine itself.
“I was kind of in a daze when I reached that,” he said. “It was just a good feeling.”
Riding stationary bikes isn’t the only way Neuharth takes advantage of the many exercise opportunities available at the NPAC, which has 23 pieces of cardio-workout equipment and several other exercise options. Playing racquetball was a passion for years, Neuharth said, and he sometimes uses the weight machines, stair steppers and rowing machine.
While acknowledging the health and psychological benefits of an exercise regiment, Neuharth said those aren’t his motivation for the regular workouts.
“I don’t mind the benefit of health. I don’t do it because I think I’m going to live longer,” he said. “I do it because I enjoy it.”
And that enjoyment is readily available to CSC students, faculty and staff, as well as Chadron residents, said Neuharth.
“We are so fortunate to have that cardio room, and the arena and track where individuals can walk,” he said.
Crossing the billion point mark in the cycling game won’t bring an end to riding on the Expresso Bikes, said Neuharth, who laughed about all the dragons he’s killed in earning the huge score.
“It must be working,” he said. “I haven’t talked to anybody who has seen any dragons about.”
CHADRON – Six Chadron State College students placed in the top 10 at Phi Beta Lambda’s (PBL) National Leadership Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, June 23-26.
Dawson Brunswick of McCook, Neb., placed first in Network Design and third in Sales Presentation, Leyna Brummels of Ewing, Neb., placed second in Accounting Analysis and Decision Making, Cody Cooper of Gothenburg, Neb., placed seventh in Project Management, Tierra Snyder of Beatrice, Neb., and Kelsey Brummels of Ewing, Neb., placed eighth in Hospitality Management, Jennifer Campos of Alliance, Neb., placed 10th in Financial Analysis and Decision Making, and Kelsey Brummels placed 10th in Retail Management.
Faculty adviser Todd Jamison was pleased with the team’s performance.
“Our team represented well at this year’s conference. Almost everyone who competed placed in the top 10 in the nation for their respective events. I’m proud of what they’ve accomplished,” Jamison said.
In addition to the competition, students participated in professional development workshops, state chapter meetings, and took part in business tours and career networking.
“Participants were able to not only network with each other, but were also encouraged to take advantage of learning from seasoned business professionals,” Jamison said.
Brunswick is the Nebraska PBL chapter president and Cooper is the Nebraska chapter vice president of membership.
“The national leadership conference is always exciting and very competitive, and this year was no exception. I was very proud of how our members competed and I thought we did well as a chapter,” Brunswick said.
CHADRON – Chadron State College recently announced nine full time employees were hired and three others have received title changes. The title changes and new hirings all occurred in the spring and early summer.
The new employees are Bonne Eleson, Warfield High Hawk, Darla Mohan, George Simmons, Roxann McCusker, Bridget Ackerman, Michael Steube, Anthony Zimny, and Megan Northrup.
Eleson is a Custodian at Math Science, High Hawk and Simmons are both Custodians at the Student Center, and Mohan is a Custodian at High Rise. Steube and Zimny are both Assistant Directors of Residence Life. Steube is stationed at Eagle Ridge and Zimny is at Andrews Hall.
Other new hires include McCusker, an Office Assistant II for the Dean of Liberal Arts, Northrup, a Student Activities Coordinator, and Ackerman, an Admissions Representative.
Three CSC employees recently received title changes. They are Harold Mowry, Morgan Cullan, and Craig Conway. Mowry, formerly Maintenance Supervisor, is now the Director of Facilities. Cullan, formerly a Project Coordinator for Administration and Finance, is now a Project Coordinator for Housing and Residence Life. Conway, formerly a Publication Technician in the Print Shop, is now a Publications Specialist in College Relations. Conway will also operate the Print Shop.
July 9, 2018
College Relations publishes a monthly series of news articles, features and Q&A interviews highlighting various departments on campus in an effort to assist the faculty and staff in gaining an increased awareness about and understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities.
The July Q&A is with Ann Burk, Chief Information Officer at Chadron State College. Burk has worked in the IT department at CSC for more than 30 years.
As the Chief Information Officer of Information Technology, how do you see the role of your department?
The role of the department is to provide reliable, responsive technology resources and support services that are access focused, cost effective, and enable students and employees to successfully achieve their academic and professional goals. The level of effort of every IT employee impacts the quality of instruction provided to students by faculty, the quality of support provided to students and employees by the administrative offices, and the quality of the learning, living and work spaces across campus.
What are some of the main services IT provides students and employees?
Basic primary services that every user expects include reliable wired and wireless network connections, effective acquisition and support of classroom, office, and lab technologies, management of servers that run a variety of software and databases, administration of efficient software applications, and ensuring that we implement best practices to protect student and employee data. Providing these services in a professional and reliable manner is key to enabling students and employees to meet their goals.
How does your department stay on top of new technologies?
This process has evolved over the years. What used to require travel to conferences and meetings as well as reference to paper publications, can now be accomplished daily utilizing the Internet by attending web conferences and meetings and by reviewing online white papers provided by vendors and professional associations. Specific to IT, CSC is a member of Educause, MHEC and WCET and we leverage resources provided by these professional organizations. In addition, Microsoft provides a web based resource library through our Premier Services subscription that the IT staff tap for current publications and training. We also rely on our vendors such as Cisco to provide information on emerging technologies in specific areas.
Expertise across Nebraska is an exceptional resource to leverage and CSC collaborates with colleagues across the state to advance our environments. We are a member of a seven institution group that shares the PeopleSoft student information system and SAP Finance and Human Resources applications. We participate in conversations around enhancements to these systems, information security initiatives, and development of authentication systems.
What are some of the challenges IT faces?
Compliance is the current challenge. We are faced with ensuring that policies and procedures adhere to information security standards, specifically NIST and PCI as expected by auditors and Board Policy. This can involve modifying the backend technical environment, adjusting user access privileges to computers and software applications, and ensuring that faculty and staff are provided current training on how to protect information technology resources.
For example, during the past year, we researched, implemented and customized SANS Information Security Training for all employees. Not only was the training complete for current employees, but we have embedded training in the on-boarding process for new employees, a requirement that must be fulfilled before the individual is provided access to any CSC technology resource. Information security is a vital and growing responsibility and we are making progress despite holding staffing and funding at current and reduced levels, respectively.
Another challenge is to continuously improve campus efficiency through the use of current or low to no-cost technology solutions. CSC uses a number of enterprise applications including PeopleSoft, SAP, Sakai and Microsoft Office 365. When IT is approached with a project proposal, we always look to our current applications first to ensure that they are used to the highest degree possible. Our staff is small and well trained on these applications, so it is important to leverage our current resources.
What has changed in your department since you began working at CSC?
As I look back on the implementation of technology across campus, advancement has been phenomenal. This has been a collaborative process that has included many individuals who have helped to champion change, implement technical solutions, provide funding, and support the development of technical skills of staff across the campus.
First, and probably most important is that Information Technology is now considered a strategic business partner rather than a reactive service unit. We hold seats on the President’s Cabinet and Executive Council, and participate in the institutional planning process with positions on the Academic Strategic Planning Committee and Master Academic Plan Committee.
The department’s structure has changed from a group of computer programmers and operators headed by a director that reported to a vice president, to a three-team structure reporting to a Chief Information Officer under the President. Designated team leads manage workload and meet regularly with the CIO to plan and prioritize, discuss project status, share challenges and resolve issues. IT team members hold a diverse set of skills, and are responsible for project and support success.
And, of course, the use of technology has changed dramatically. When I started working in what was the Computer Center in the 1980s, data entry was accomplished through the use of an IBM key punch machine and card reader. This was the process for entering grades to a mainframe program that resulted in the printing of semester grade labels which were peeled off and applied to the paper transcripts in the Registrar’s Office.
Likewise, financial transactions were punched onto cards, and the Business Manager would bring decks of cards to the basement and run them through the reader which resulted in a financial report printed on green bar paper by a large and very loud line printer. The Computer Center employed COBOL programmers responsible for developing these applications, and yes, each line of programming code was punched on a card. You didn’t dare drop your deck.
Now, of course, faculty enter the grades from any connected Internet device in any location and the student sees the result in real time. Data entry can now be accomplished by scanning QR codes with a cell phone, ID cards to gain entry into buildings, etc. and over wireless networks.
The network has evolved from a few limited connections between dumb terminals and mainframe computers connected over silver satin cable, to dial-up modems and fax machines, to mobile enabled web pages accessible over wireless networks from cell phones.
I have seen storage technology develop from those key punch cards, to magnetic drum drives that stored a stack of platters. These were quickly replaced by 5 ¼ and 3 ½ floppy disks and on to thumb drives and server based storage. Now, we have the benefit of cloud based storage provided by our vendors, allowing us to quickly and securely store our data without the need to invest in premise based technology. Likewise, server technology has progressed from individual servers to virtual servers. In other words, our data center footprint is shrinking despite the increase in dependency and use of technology.
There are technology dependencies across all departments of the campus. Facilities monitors HVAC systems across the network, light bulbs are controlled by the electricians, emergency alerts are generated by the College Relations department and pushed out to student and employee cell phones and e-mail accounts, the panning of classroom cameras are voice activated, reference to historical documents such as academic transcripts are online, and video conferencing has replaced the dependency on travel and voice conference bridges.
What are some goals of IT?
Our department has four areas of focus: Customer Service, Operational Effectiveness, Strong Technical Infrastructure, and Sound Security Policies and Practices. Each IT team has defined priorities and under each of the priorities are defined projects. As we progress with our planning process, we tie the priorities to the Campus Master Academic Plan (MAP) and the MAP generates IT projects. One of our current priorities is to upgrade the campus network infrastructure, critical to operations and academic functions.
Another important goal is to continue to enhance our information security position. This involves progressing with the implementation of recommendations provided by an information security risk assessment conducted last year and touches nearly every technology used on campus. A current project is to extend our SANS security training program to our fall term student body. This program, referred to as Securing the Human, focuses on building awareness of information security best practices and provides tips to help individuals better protect their professional and personal identity and technology devices.
What do you like best about working at CSC?
I have been so fortunate and blessed to have a career at CSC. I’ve observed the transformation of the campus, not only technically, but also the physical plant and landscape, the capabilities of an outstanding staff, and the professional organizations and work relationships that have developed. It is truly the people that make the place.
CHADRON -- “Unity through Community,” a free, public photography exhibit at the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center, will close Aug. 4. Photos in the exhibit feature Nebraska landscapes.
The Center is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.
For more information, contact Laure Sinn at 308-430-6401 or Stephanie Alfred at 308-430-6359.
LINCOLN -- Last week the Nebraska State College System (NSCS) hosted higher education law and Title IX expert, Peter Lake, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Seventy-five area college and university staff and faculty attended the forum to hear from Lake as well as a policy discussion panel with Senator Adam Morfeld, Nebraska ACLU Director Danielle Conrad and Lake.
“Having an expert in Title IX, like Peter Lake in Nebraska is an invaluable resource for the State Colleges as we continue to work to ensure safer campuses and more inclusive places for students and employees,” said NSCS Chancellor Stan Carpenter. “Providing an environment in which all students and employees who participate in our programs and activities can work together in an atmosphere free from unlawful discrimination, harassment, or violence is a top priority for the State Colleges.”
Lake and the panel discussed rapidly changing landscape of higher education including topics like Title IX compliance and recent changes in federal guidance, the state’s role in Title IX efforts, free speech, and best practices in higher education.
CHADRON – The seed of an idea planted more than 40 years ago came to fruition July 13 when Larry Young donated his plant collection of more than 1,000 specimens to the High Plains Herbarium at Chadron State College.
Herbarium Director Steve Rolfsmeier said a conversation a year ago in which he updated another CSC alumni, Larry Trout, about progress at the herbarium prompted a discussion between Trout and Young that eventually led to the donation.
“It’s a huge boost to the collection. The areas represented in Larry’s collection are regions we are particularly interested in for our digitizing project we’ll be starting this fall,” Rolfsmeier said.
Young said based on his conversations with Rolfsmeier, he is excited about plans for the herbarium.
Young, a Kimball native, came to Chadron in 1975 to work in a farm and ranch real estate business after earning his bachelor’s degree in range management from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and six years of active service in the Army.
During his free time, he took several classes at CSC, including one with the late Dr. Ron Weedon. Through that course, Young realized real estate was not the profession for him.
“I was fortunate to become very good friends with Dr. Weedon. He became a mentor to me and encouraged me to go back to school for a master’s degree. We became good friends and he got me interested in collecting plants,” Young said. “He always said, ‘Whenever you decide to retire, I hope to get your collection.’ I’m so happy to donate it to the herbarium here and fulfill his request. I think it’s something that is really important to the college and the state of Nebraska.”
Young followed Weedon’s advice, earning his master’s degree in range management from the University of Wyoming.
In addition to starting his plant collection, Young said he helped Weedon write Appendix IV of former CSC professor Dr. Larry Agenbroad’s publication, “The Hudson-Meng Site: an Alberta Bison Kill in the Nebraska High Plains.” The site is now named the Hudson-Meng Education & Research Center.
Young’s specimens, collected from 1975 until 2018, represent about 72 plant families from western Nebraska, South Dakota, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Wyoming. The collection covers a good portion of the Sagebrush ecosystem also known as the Sagebrush Steppe.
The specimens were collected while Young conducted preliminary site investigations for uranium mining operations and provided plant samples for companies to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act. He said his work helped record ecosystem impacts from mining, as well as identify native species to use in reclamation work.
Young was also an environmental scientist with several environmental consulting companies where he used his knowledge of plant communities and ecosystems to prepare permits and environmental impact statements for projects on federal lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and the Federal Highway Administration. He also prepared Corps of Engineers 404 permits for Union Pacific railroad and other state and local government agencies.
CHADRON – When Ann Burk started her career as a Computer Operator for Chadron State College she worked with punch cards and main frame computers. A few years later, she was part of a networking team that initiated the college’s first internet connection through a state modem pool.
Fast forward to today’s quickly changing information technology world, and Burk, now Chief Information Officer at CSC, can visualize many new developments coming to computing and networking on campus, including more cloud computing, virtual reality (VR) and implementation of the technology called the Internet of Things (IoT).
Before those futuristic developments can happen, however, CSC’s Information Technology department has to make sure there is adequate infrastructure to securely handle huge volumes of digital data, and that requires constant effort.
“We are continually upgrading,” Burk said.
The first legs of IT infrastructure, fiber optic cable connections to the internet and into campus buildings, are already in place. The college has two separate fiber optic connections that follow different routes across the state, each connecting to the internet, which provide redundancy in case one is disrupted, Burk said. Fiber optic cables also connect all campus buildings to the data center in Miller Hall.
“I think we have all the fiber we need,” said Burk, an advocate of physical connections for all critical functions.
An upgrade currently keeping the IT team busy involves replacing older switches that supply network connections in campus buildings.
“We have two, 10 gigabyte fiber connections to each building. They connect to two switches so that if one goes down, the other can take over,” Burk said.
The new switches, which have already been installed in residence halls, the Student Center, Crites Hall, and Miller Hall, and are incorporated in all new construction, will improve network speeds and bring fast reliable service to wired connections and to the wireless infrastructure, Burk said.
Connection speeds that previously topped out at 100 megabytes will now be able to reach one gigabyte, according to Burk. That in turn will allow faster speeds through the wireless access points that deliver internet connections to mobile devices like cell phones and tablet computers.
Departments such as CSC Facilities are beginning to adopt the Internet of Things, said Burk. With IoT, a cellphone or other internet connected device can be used to monitor and control smart appliances. The technology has been implemented for controlling lights in Sparks Hall and will likely be used in other buildings, Burk said.
Another technology Burk expects to expand at CSC is cloud based computing, the use of software hosted on internet provisioned versus on campus servers. The technology isn’t new on campus, where cloud applications like the Office 365 software suite and the Sakai learning management system are already well established, but will be used even more in the future, she said.
“Services will continue to move to the cloud,” she said. “If a certain service is desired, we look to cloud-based services first.”
That has benefits in terms of cost, data center footprint, and staffing.
“(With cloud computing) our staff can focus on helping the users rather than keeping servers up and running within our data center,” Burk said. “That already works well for us.”
One new web-based service currently being tested for classroom use is Zoom, a teleconferencing application which could replace the older video-conferencing equipment that has been part of CSC’s distance learning centers for several years. Zoom has been used for administrative meetings for more than a year, and has recently been extended to academic use.
“As faculty develop expertise, the students previously going to classrooms in North Platte or Scottsbluff will be able to attend from their internet connected home,” she said. “That’s advantageous for students who may live several miles away from our distance learning classroom locations.”
Virtual Reality, the technology that gives users a realistic three-dimensional experience of a particular place or thing, is also being tested at CSC, and brings exciting prospects for enhanced learning, said Burk.
“Virtual Reality has been piloted on campus for the past year and development is moving forward,” she said.
Potential uses include allowing anatomy students to observe directly how the body functions.
“It enables you to explore the body, to watch the heartbeat, to observe normal and abnormal functions,” Burk said.
Incorporating VR into classroom activities and assignments will enhance students’ active learning, according to Burk.
“Once faculty see the impact of this active learning technology and students get really excited about it, VRwill become a popular academic tool in many different disciplines,” she said.
Though not currently under development, facial recognition technology could also come to CSC in the future, according to Burk. Students currently use their ID cards to access residence halls and for other services, but that could change, according to Burk.
“I imagine we’ll get to a point where they will be scanning retinas or using facial recognition for identity (verification),” she said.
While the possibilities opened by new technology are almost endless, concern for security remains a top priority for Burk and her staff.
“One of our primary responsibilities is to insure protection of data, whether that is applied to applications, to the desktop environment or to the network servers,” she said. “That’s always one of the first things we look at when we are implementing changes and balancing security with meeting the needs of faculty and students is a challenge.”
To assist with meeting compliance requirements and develop mechanisms to guard against and respond to security incidents, CSC and the other colleges in the Nebraska State College System are collaborating to create a Virtual Chief Information Security Officer position, said Burk.
“We are trying to be very intentional about insuring we have a common plans in place,” she said. “Prevention is the priority via sound policies and procedures. Likewise, you have to have plans in place, in case you have to quickly react.”
CHADRON – With an increasing emphasis on continuous improvement and budget efficiencies, the Computer Replacement Plan at Chadron State College is an example of both. The Plan has its roots in a fall 2013 conversation between Chief Information Officer Ann Burk and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Charles Snare.
As the two discussed challenges, they focused on solutions for funding and managing computer replacements.
“The deans and chairs, as well as other department directors, were spending a considerable amount of time determining who needed new computers and how they would pay for them,” Burk said. “Employees were questioning when they would receive new equipment. The entire process was no longer sustainable.”
After administrators decided how many systems to order, the nature of the budget cycle resulted in a flurry of purchasing activity at the end of each fiscal year.
“Information Technology was unable to predict workload as purchase requests were occurring throughout the year and often during the summer, our peak upgrade period, and when faculty were off campus. New systems frequently sat in storage waiting for off contract employees to return for the fall term, with warranties ticking away,” Burk said.
Snare and Burk agreed a streamlined model for lifecycle management was needed to relieve strain across all units, starting with a business process analysis.
During fall 2014, a draft plan was presented to the campus. In December 2014, the plan was finalized and the first bulk orders were submitted in January 2015 to Apple and Dell with funding provided by Cabinet members for their respective units. A second order was submitted in the spring, reducing the number of orders to four compared to 73 for a similar time period before the CRP.
Burk said she refers to the organizational chart to determine the positions scheduled for primary computer replacement. Laptops or desktops still in good working order are issued to work study or graduate students. Older units are designated asnon-supportable and sent to auction or destroyed.
Employees select their primary computer by responding to an electronic survey that reflects a standard configuration for desktops and laptops, alleviating undue stress on IT support services, Burk said.
With replacement ordering and deployment processes streamlined, funding of orders was still dependent on IT collecting individual budget codes from unit heads. In the spring of 2016, Burk presented a funding analysis estimating the five-year prorated amounts from each unit for the CRP. With Cabinet approval, the Vice President for Finance and Administration created a centralized Computer Replacement Fund with Burk designated as fund controller.
After four years of implementation, outdated equipment has been almost completely removed from campus, according to Burk. She said there is a long list of benefits from implementing the CRP.
“Employees now know when to expect their primary computer replacement. Bulk ordering drives costs down 1-3 percent. IT has very focused, predictable periods dedicated to system deployments, releasing time throughout the remainder of the year to focus efforts elsewhere, and fund controllers are free of decisions around replacement timing and funding,” Burk said.
Burk said there has been a dramatic reduction of paperwork by all involved offices, academic, finance and IT: four orders in 2017-18 compared to 73 in 2012-13, and 36 document touch points in 2017-18 compared to 949 touch points in 2012-13.
Snare said the Computer Replacement Plan is a good illustration of campus collaboration as well as commitment to continuous improvement.
“The Computer Replacement Plan is an example to support unfunded mandates by reducing costs, utilize faculty and staff time more effectively, and align with planning efforts. The Computer Replacement Plan built a sustainable model to assist with supporting key Master Academic Plan priorities,” Snare said.
The focus of the Computer Replacement Plan in 2018-19 will be classroom and laboratory spaces, according to Burk.
College Relations publishes a monthly series of news articles, features and Q&A interviews highlighting various departments on campus in an effort to assist the faculty and staff in gaining an increased awareness about and understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities.
The August Q&A is with Danielle Lecher, Director of Market Development and START.
Q: What is the concept behind the START office?
About seven or eight years ago, there was an opportunity to really look at how Student Services was structured at CSC. At that time we were in the early stages of using PeopleSoft and we began to evaluate other ways we could make the student experience more efficient and customer-friendly. Prior to START, it was determined that a student might need to interact with three to five different offices to accomplish one task. START allowed for a one-stop-shop atmosphere where students could take care of a variety of questions in one place. START works primarily with enrollment, registration and financial aid, however START advisers are trained to answer basic questions pertaining to a student’s admissions status, bill, housing, etc. Behind the scenes, we have processors in financial aid and enrollment. The intention is that START handles the student questions and issues, allowing the processing teams to continue working to maintain overall efficiency for the student.
Q: What services does START offer incoming and current students?
For incoming students, START serves as the main contact once the student is beyond the admissions stage and has a “Ready to Register” status, meaning he or she is are ready to enroll in courses. We assist students with enrolling in classes, provide preliminary academic advising and work as the student’s financial aid counselor to help them navigate the process of applying for financial aid and having their balances paid on time.
For current students, we continue to assist with course registration, with guidance from the student’s faculty adviser, which they are assigned to about a month after the student begins classes. We remain the sole contact for financial aid related questions throughout a student’s time at CSC.
We also help with submitting change of major, change of adviser, and help students work on course substitutions, navigate their MyCSC account, and read and understand their degree audit.
Q: How does the START office coordinate with academic departments when helping students?
This question is really timely as we have implemented a more formal process for this, which will begin Fall 2018. As a part of the Strategic Enrollment Management Plan and the Advising Model embedded within, we have assigned a START Liaison to each of the six academic departments. The liaison will be the point person for helping faculty and students in that program with changing majors, changing advisers, substitution requests and understanding the ins and outs of the programs within the department. Also, the liaison will attend department meetings and be responsible for helping make sure the advising tools are up-to-date such as the four-year course rotations and advising templates. They are also responsible for bringing back pertinent advising information from the department to the START team.
One thing that is not changing is that any START team member can assist any student with registration. All the START team members will have the training necessary to assist a student in building a schedule. If a START team member has a question about a particular program or department, they can visit with the assigned liaison. It allows for an extra layer of knowledge and we hope it helps to further connect the academic departments and Student Services to ensure a positive experience for the student.
Q: What success stories come to mind when you think of students helped in the START office?
I think one of the most rewarding things we see is when students reach the end of their program and we are able to help them graduate. We have become more intimately involved in this process recently in helping the Records Office complete graduation checks. We look at the students who have applied for graduation, contact them if they are missing anything, and help them tie up loose ends so they still hopefully graduate on time. It really helps us close the loop and is gratifying to see students who started with us four to five years ago, finishing their degree, and we have seen them through START to finish.
Other stories are related to the everyday successes, from finally seeing a student’s financial aid post to their account after we have helped them through some of the many federal aid hoops to having a substitution approved so they can graduate sooner, to helping them find a major they truly love. The best thing is when a student comes in to take care of something simple like adding a class, but as the conversation moves forward, we discover something else we need to address. When that happens we often get comments like, ‘I am so glad I came in to see you,’ or ‘You were so helpful, I never could have figured that out.’ That’s what keeps us coming back to work every day.
CHADRON – Indian Activism will be the theme of the 2018 Mari Sandoz Symposium hosted at Chadron State College Sept. 20-22. Registration information is available online.
In keeping with Sandoz’s “Love Song to the Plains,” CSC Art faculty Laura Bentz and Mary Donahue will exhibit photographs and paintings of the Pine Ridge region. David Christensen, who taught history at CSC, will speak about 20th century Lakota history.
According to Dr. Kurt Kinbacher, associate professor, who helps coordinate the symposium, the Pilster Lecturer will be Susan Power, an author and enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Power lives near Saint Paul, Minnesota, where she teaches at Hamline University.
Her presentation will be Sept. 20 at 7:30 p.m. at the CSC Student Center. A question and answer session, reception, and book signing will follow her lecture.
Power graduated from Harvard Law School in 1986, changed career paths and graduated from University of Iowa with a master’s degree in Fine Arts in 1992. Later, she completed a fellowship and a writer-in-residency at Princeton University.
In 1996, she received the PEN/Hemingway Award for her 1994 debut novel, “The Grass Dancer.” In 2014, Power won the Electa Quinney Award for “Sacred Wilderness.”
Ernestine Hayes, author of “Blonde Indian: An Alaska Native Memoir” said in a review thatPower's “Sacred Wilderness” characters “laugh, shout, whisper, and speak to readers long after the page has been turned and the book has been closed.”
Kinbacher said he is pleased the schedule also includes Judi M. gaiashkibos, executive director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs. An enrolled member of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, she received the distinguished Nebraskalander award at the 2017 Statehood Dinner.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications professor Joe Starita will also speak. He spent 13 years at the “Miami Herald” and wrote an article, “The Dull Knifes of Pine Ridge - A Lakota Odyssey,” a Pulitzer Prize finalist in local reporting that has been translated into six foreign languages.
Starita’s book, “I Am a Man: Chief Standing Bear's Journey for Justice,” on the life and death of Ponca Chief Standing Bear was chosen for One Book One Lincoln in 2011 and the 2012 One Book One Nebraska.
Kinbacher said other speakers include Dr. Kimberli Lee who is returning to campus to participate in the conference for the sixth time since 1998. She is the author of “I Do Not Apologize for the Length of this Letter,” a book about the Mari Sandoz letters on Native American rights. It won the Nebraska Book Award in 2010. Lee has published numerous reviews, articles and book chapters and presented lectures related to Sandoz and Native American culture and rights.
Dr. Beth Castle and Madonna Thunder Hawk will also present at the conference.
Castle is the producer and director of the documentary “Warrior Women,” about American Indian Movement activists in the 1970s including Thunder Hawk, who is a first cousin to AIM leader Russell Means.