Alumni Enews Fall 2018

In our grit our glory with Oldfather Hall

The College of Arts and Sciences is proud to support the university’s new theme, “In our grit, our glory”. If you haven’t heard about the new brand that connects us all, watch the video and read the story. We are Nebraska!


CAS Leadership Team

The new academic year brings change to college leadership. As some folks headed off for adventures elsewhere, the Dean’s Office welcomed new faces and fresh perspectives to keep us moving onward and upward.

Meet our new team:

Oldfather Hall
Beth Theiss-Morse

Elizabeth Theiss-Morse, Willa Cather Professor of political science, was named interim dean of the college effective July 1, 2018. She served in the college as Associate Dean for Faculty since 2015 and in the Department of Political Science as chair from 2008 to 2013. “I’m excited to help the college continue to reach for its goals in teaching, research and engagement through this transition in leadership,” she said. She recently celebrated 30 years of service at Nebraska and succeeded Joseph S. Francisco.

Priscilla Hayden-Roy

Priscilla Hayden-Roy is our new Associate Dean for Faculty, succeeding Theiss-Morse. Hayden-Roy is professor of German in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and recently celebrated 30 years at Nebraska. She previously served as interim chair of the Department of Anthropology. Hayden-Roy specializes in 16th and 18th century German literature, Friedrich Hölderlin, German children's literature, and second language acquisition. Her work has been recognized by the Nebraska Department of Education and the university’s Parents Association.

Dan Hoyt

Dan Hoyt, professor in the Department of Sociology, was named Interim Associate Dean for Research and Partnerships effective July 1. He previously served as Associate Dean for Faculty in the college from 2012 to 2015 and succeeded Matthew L. Jockers. Hoyt specializes in substance use and abuse, homeless and runaway youth, and victimization. He directs the Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Consortium. An internal search for this position is in process.

John Osterman

John Osterman, an associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences, joined as Associate Dean for Academic Programs effective July 1. He has previously served as interim director of the School of Biological Sciences and succeeded Diana Pilson. Osterman has served at Nebraska for 35 years, specializing in gene structure and function in plants.

June Griffin

June Griffin, professor of English, has served as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education since 2016. Griffin specializes in pedagogy, teaching with technology, and learning transfer. She has previously been recognized with the college’s Distinguished Teaching Award.

Alecia Kimbrough

Alecia Kimbrough, Assistant Dean for Business and Finance, has been on the college’s leadership team since 2008. She recently received her doctorate and has been previously recognized with the Carl A. Donaldson Award for Excellence in Management.

Dean search

The university has launched a national search for our next dean. The 16-member search committee includes faculty, staff, students and college stakeholders to represent the mission, interests and priorities of the college. The group is chaired by Richard Moberly, dean and Schmoker Professor of Law. He will be assisted by Paul Chou, a consultant with the executive search firm Korn Ferry.

Have someone in mind for the next leader of the college? Please email

Dean search web page


Alumni and Friends Supporting Students through “Ovation Award”

Ovation Award graphic

For some students, receiving a college education requires not only dedication to their studies but also the need to take extra measures to afford their tuition. The College of Arts and Sciences and many of its departments employ a number student workers each year, helping them to offset their college tuition. These students also graduate with professional experiences and skills that are valuable to prospective employers.

Each month of the academic year, the college recognizes student workers who excel above and beyond the call of duty through the Ovation Award.

This special recognition of outstanding student workers is made possible by alumni and friends who support of the College of Arts and Sciences N - Fund.

Nominations for this award are made by faculty or staff members of the college, and awardees receive a surprise visit from college leadership with a small reception in the student’s honor at their workplace. Awardees receive a cash award, along with publication of their achievements on the college website and on social media channels.

Carson Post

This past year, recipients of this award include Carson Post, a Communications Studies major from the class of 2018. Prior to graduating, Post served the department for three years and took on numerous responsibilities. Nominators wrote of Carson: “We have called on his knowledge and expertise for tasks related to the web to help update and keep our website current and to help with the tasks associated with self-publishing our departmental newsletter.”

Nicole Benker

Also honored was Nicole Benker, a senior majoring in Physics and Mathematics. Faculty and staff explained: “Ms. Benker worked on our solar neutron detection project, taking on a leadership role in getting our package ready for the international space station. Her work has been praised by the funding agency and NASA officials.” Nominators credit Benker with the project’s overall success. “Without her, I do not think we would have been able to get as far as we have.”

Alexis Voges-Moore

Awardee Alexis (Lexi) Voges-Moore, a senior Global Studies and French major also impressed her nominators: “Lexi has literally been a life-saver for the Department of Modern Languages and Literature. She has stepped in at a time of extreme understaffing, and has shouldered the kind of work normally given to a regular staff worker. She is efficient, always willing to take care of problems, professional, friendly, and richly deserving of recognition!”

A highlight of the Ovation Award – now in its 13th year – is the presentation itself. “The hard-working student workers in our college are often caught by surprise when we present them the Ovation Award,” Assistant Dean for Business and Finance Alecia Kimbrough explains. “These students take their student worker responsibilities seriously, and manage to excel at their work along with managing the pressures of being full-time students. Recognizing their hard work with the Ovation Award shows to them how much they mean to the departments where they work and how much we value them in the college.”


The Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Nebraska Celebrates 50 Years of Excellence

Computer Science students with Dr. Humberston, June 20, 1069

Computer Science students with Dr. Humberston, June 20, 1969.
Photo courtesy University Archive and Special Collections.

Computer Science and Engineering Resource Center in Avery Hall

Computer Science and Engineering Resource Center in Avery Hall.
Photo by Greg Nathan, University Communications.

More than 200 alumni, faculty students and friends of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) attended one or more events at the recent celebration of the department’s 50th anniversary held September 6-8, 2018. The 3-day event held on Innovation Campus featured a lively panel of several former chairs of CSE who together took a walk down the “digital” memory lane to share the story of the past 50 years of computer science at Nebraska.

Kicking off the anniversary was a welcome luncheon where alumnus Brian Vaske, CEO and Chairman of ITI Data, a New York based data and information management system company, presented the inaugural ITI Data Scholarship to two deserving students. Vaske, class of 1999, established the scholarship to support students who excel both in their academics and in a desire to serve their communities.

Originally named the Department of Computer Science, CSE was established in 1968 with five part-time instructors and began with three students – two male and one female. In a humorous nod to the ongoing effort to increase the number of women in STEM, Dr. Lester Lipsky, the department’s first chair, quipped: “At that point, we could say that one-third of our student body was female.” A total of 15 undergraduates enrolled that first year, and the first bachelor’s degree in computer science was confirmed a year later.

“It was a very rocky beginning,” Lipsky notes. “But we had two graduate students who knew operating systems, which really helped. Our biggest challenge was to maintain research while becoming a teaching department.” The Department of Computer Science became part of the College of Arts and Sciences in 1970.

In 1972, Dr. George Nagy took the reigns as chair for the next several years. The department flourished under his tenure as he is credited with helping solidify the research base of CSE at Nebraska. Dr. Nagy was inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Computing in 2010 in recognition of his role in establishing and growing the program.

Over the next few decades, the department grew and also underwent many monumental challenges in terms of enrollment growth, experiencing both the pressure of rapid growth at points as well as the negative impact of the internet or dot-com bubble burst in 2000. “We looked at this as an opportunity to rejuvenate our department,” former chair Dr. Steve Reichenbach says.

During the rebuilding years, Dr. Steve Goddard, who is both past chair from 2008 to 2013 and current chair, recalled the drop in enrollment from the dot-com crash, and the values he held dear in the effort to once again grow the department. “Hiring good people who cared about their students was the highlight of my tenure,” he reflects.

Today, CSE is at its highest enrollment yet, with 40 faculty, 891 undergraduate and 66 graduate students, and 81 enrolled in its doctorate program. Looking to the future, Dr. Goddard adds: “I see many great opportunities for [CSE] ahead.”

“I never dreamed how well the experience at University of Nebraska would prepare me for life. A job yes; a career, maybe. But instead, I received the foundation for every major decision and opportunity that would come my way.”

W. Kim Austen, ‘77