Annual Report

Student Success

National Winners

SkillsUSA National WinnersThe Additive Manufacturing Team from Central Community College-Hastings placed first in the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference, which was held June 25-29 in Louisville, Ky.

Team members were Alex Kemnitz (pictured right) of Grand Island and Adolfo Vargas (pictured left) of Hastings.

Two other teams from CCC-Hastings also earned awards at the competition.

Placing sixth was the Teamworks Team of Pedro Nunez of Gibbon, Keenan Lienemann and Jerrod Puncochar of Grand Island and Dakota Franks of Kearney. Placing 12th was the Automated Manufacturing Team of DJ Criswell and Johnathan Leitschuck of Grand Island and Denna Stewart of Hastings.

The CCC students earned the right to compete at the national level by placing first at the state competition in April. More than 6,000 students competed at the national conference.

SkillsUSA is a national organization that provides secondary and post-secondary students in trade, industrial, technical, technology and health occupations with leadership, citizenship and character development programs and activities.

PTK All-State Team

Three Central Community College students were named to the 2018 Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Nebraska All-State Academic Team April 25 in a ceremony at the Embassy Suites in Lincoln.

The all-state academic team is an effort sponsored by PTK, an international honor society for two-year colleges, and the Nebraska Community College Association to honor students for academic achievement, leadership and community service. 

The team included the following CCC students:

Alisa HrbekAlisa Hrbek of Verdigre was in the academic transfer program at the Columbus Campus where she served as vice president of the Phi Theta Kappa Chi Sigma chapter. She was also a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, a math tutor and blood drive volunteer. She received the campus’ Exceptional Student Award in Mathematics and the TRiO Leadership Award and has been named to the Dean’s List all four semesters. She transferred to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha to work toward a bachelor’s degree in radiography.

Stacy Persson

Stacy Persson of Creston was an early childhood education major at the Hastings Campus where she served as vice president of the Phi Theta Kappa Beta Alpha Delta chapter. She also received the PTK Five Star Competitive Edge Award and was named to the college’s Dean’s List for earning a GPA between 3.5 and 3.99 and the President’s List for achieving a perfect 4.0 GPA. She plans to transfer into the early childhood inclusive online program at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

Jailene Ramirez

Jailene Ramirez of Schuyler was enrolled in the academic transfer program at the Columbus Campus. She plans to transfer to the University of Nebraska-Omaha to earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. While at CCC, was active in the Phi Theta Kappa Chi Sigma chapter, TRiO and the Multicultural Club. She was named to the 2017 All-USA Community College Academic Team, received the TRiO Leadership Award and was named to the Dean’s and President’s lists. 


Students Learn Interview Skills

Interview SkillsStudents in the certified nursing assistant (CNA) classes at Grand Island Senior High School (GISH) got some lessons in December about interviewing for a job.

Central Community College offers the CNA program at GISH and provides the instructors. Also involved with the program is Chris Miotke, Project HELP career coach and recruiter. She has given presentations to the CNA students and she regularly lines up employers to talk to them as well.

That’s what Miotke was doing when she arranged for Laurie Paup, executive director of Edgewood, and Pamela Taylor, executive director of Heritage at Sagewood, to discuss the job interviewing process and to conduct mock interviews with the students.

Both facilities are located in Grand Island and provide memory care and assisted living services.

Helping Others by Helping Out

Dental DayJordan Dassinger of Heartwell and Sara Krueger of Hastings were among the Central Community College dental hygiene students who provided services at Dental Day Feb. 2 at the University of Nebraska Medical Center Dental School in Lincoln. The students provided 41 prophylactic teeth cleanings, 41 fluoride varnish applications, and 71 sealants for low-income children. CCC’s dental hygiene program has worked with UNMC dental students and dental hygiene students since 2001 to provide dental care at this event.

Centers help increase veterans graduation rate

Veterans at CCCSince CCC established the Veterans and Military Resource Center (VMRC) in 2011, the graduation rate for veteran students has increased from 21 percent to 55 percent — part of the reason the program has garnered top honors nationally. CCC’s four-star rankings for staff support and extracurricular activities reflect its commitment to veteran and military students.

In addition, Military Advanced Education named CCC a Top School in its 2018 guide to colleges and universities, an award received since 2014.

G.I. Jobs has listed CCC as a Top Military Friendly School for its seventh year, an award given since 2012.  These guides measure the best practices in military and veteran education through a questionnaire on military-supportive policies at more than 600 colleges.

No More

Marcus Horwood-No MoreMarcus Horwood from Chesham, United Kingdom, was among the CCC-Columbus National Society for Leadership and Success (NSLS) members who filled out NO More signs to raise awareness about sexual assault and domestic violence. NSLS frequently works with the Center for Survivors on both campus and community projects. Horwood was one of the co-captains of the CCC Raiders men's soccer team during his freshman and sophomore seasons.

TRiO Field Trip

TRiO Field Trip to KLKN-TVTRiO students from Central Community College pose in the KLKN-TV station in Lincoln, which they toured as part of a recent career field trip. Pictured from left to right are Montserrat Sanchez Ferrer, Emely Martin, sponsor AJ Hodtwalker, Amy Barragan and Anali Galarza.



Alternative Spring Break

Twenty-eight CCC students from two campuses opted for an alternative spring break this year.

CCC-Columbus Students at Hurricane Harvey CleanupSix CCC-Columbus students and three advisors traveled to Houston to help with Hurricane Harvey cleanup. They worked on a house with water damage and discovered a lot of deferred maintenance, which also will be fixed. They gutted walls, ripped out the kitchen and bathroom, killed a lot of bugs, chipped away at floor tiles and hauled a ton of trash. The CCC group was fed and housed by Break a Difference, and their project was managed by Rebuilding Together Houston.

CCC-Grand Island Students at Ghost RanchTwenty-two CCC-Grand Island students ventured to Ghost Ranch, an education and retreat center in Abiquiu, New Mexico. In addition to learning about environmental issues and sustainability strategies, the group also offered 25 hours of service at the ranch.

Teaching and Learning

A Total Eclipse of CCC

Great American Eclipse at CCC

Central Community College was literally right in the middle of the Great American Eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017. CCC-Grand Island was at the center along the path of totality and as a result, thousands of eclipse enthusiasts converged on south central Nebraska. Some 8,000 people watched the moon pass in front of the sun across the street from CCC-GI at Stuhr Museum. A good number of motorists that didn’t want to battle the long line of cars at Stuhr, both coming and going, parked at CCC, where there were plenty of educational opportunities.

Jim Greenhouse, director of space science at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History, presented an informational public session before the eclipse. Several members of the New Mexico-based Rio Rancho Astronomical Society set up powerful telescopes and allowed the public to take a look at the moon’s progress. In the weeks leading up to the eclipse, Dr. Kate Russo, an internationally recognized researcher on the social impact of solar eclipses, presented multiple presentations in the region.

Some of the guests at CCC traveled from Japan, Canada and Germany, and joined American guests from California to New York.

Kearney Center Opens for Business

Kearney Center Ribbon CuttingOn Aug. 17, ribbon-cutting ceremonies were held at the new Kearney Center less than 18 months after ground was broken on the 63,000-square-foot facility. In addition to a large crowd in attendance, thousands more viewed the ceremony via Facebook Live.

The expansion of the Kearney Center provides an expansion of educational opportunities, which is huge for students and employers of Kearney, Buffalo County and beyond.

“A big addition to the Kearney center will be our skilled and technical science programming – advanced manufacturing, mechatronics and information technology,” said Dr. Kelly Christensen, Kearney Center administrator, on Nebraska Television.

Automotive technology and welding technology are the two other new skilled and technical programs. Additional academic programs are forthcoming.

The new Kearney Center and what it offers is going to have a huge impact according to Darren Robinson, president of the Economic Development Council of Buffalo County.

“CCC’s new Kearney Center represents a shot in the arm for skilled and technical training in Buffalo County,” said Robinson. “Buffalo County employers will officially have access to trades training that helps address their workforce needs. This facility is a welcome addition to the community and helps attract new opportunities in economic development by providing a skilled labor force.”

CCC Gets National Science Foundation Grant

National Science Foundation logoCentral Community College received a $648,844 grant from the National Science Foundation. The five-year award will fund “Growing Pathways to STEM: Project GPS” at CCC’s Columbus Campus. The project is designed to help students succeed in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) so they’ll be prepared to transfer into a baccalaureate degree program or enter the workforce.

Project GPS is focused on enhancing student engagement, enrollment and persistence in STEM, more specifically science and engineering, said biology instructor Dr. Lauren Gillespie, who manages the project along with biological sciences instructor Steve Heinisch.

One way the project accomplishes this is by using a cohort model, which means students take the same courses together, allowing them to support each other as they learn in the classroom and explore service, research and workplace activities.

Project GPS also works to build the links between secondary and postsecondary STEM programs.

A final and integral key to the program are the scholarships available through the grant. Sixty percent of the money is dedicated to scholarships and will fully fund 25 students over the grant’s lifetime.

CCC and Doane Sign Articulation Agreements

Central Community College and Doane University signed a pair of articulation agreements that give CCC students the opportunity to complete their bachelor’s degree at Doane University in two different programs – agribusiness and RN to BSN.

CCC President Dr. Matt Gotschall and Doane President Dr. Jacque CarterThe newest articulation agreement, signed by CCC President Dr. Matt Gotschall (left) and Doane President Dr. Jacque Carter (right), ensures a smooth transition from CCC’s agricultural sciences program into Doane’s agribusiness program, which launched in August.

Under the terms of the agreement, CCC’s program will offer the 100-and-200-level courses, while Doane will offer the 300-and-400-level courses.

The second agreement is an update of an existing articulation agreement between nursing programs at CCC and Doane. The revised agreement comes at a critical time as a new hospital is being constructed in Grand Island and as the Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting the number of nursing jobs to increase by 15 percent through 2026.

Additionally, CCC nursing students that transfer to Doane will have the unique ability to design their own personalized clinical learning experience. 

CCC-Hastings Ag Program Recognized

Successful FarmingSuccessful Farming magazine placed CCC-Hastings among its list of five top community college ag programs to be aware of. Author Gene Johnston cited the program’s agribusiness as its strength. In particular, Johnston pointed out CCC students’ background in farm management, ag economics, accounting and sales and service. As a result, CCC graduates are in high demand with some 40 percent securing employment on a farm.

Employee Success

John and Suanne Roueche Excellence Award

English instructor Susan McDowall and veteran and military services director Travis Karr received the John and Suanne Roueche Excellence Award for 2017, which was presented at the league’s Innovations Conference in March.

According to the League’s website, “the award celebrates outstanding contributions and leadership by community college faculty and staff.”

Dr. Susan McDowallMcDowall has been with CCC since 2005 and is the only faculty member to have been named as a Fulbright Scholar. She spent the 2015-16 academic year as a lecturer at the Russian State Agrarian University in Moscow. McDowall is a sponsor for the FOCUS multi-cultural group and last month’s New Mexico alternative spring break learning trip. She is also enrolled in the CCC Leading with Excellence course.

Travis KarrOriginally hired in 2011 on a grant-funded position to develop CCC’s veterans and military services, Karr was named as the director of veterans and military services three years later. Under his direction, the VMRC has been ranked no. 1 as “Best for Vets” for five consecutive years by Military Times magazine. In 2016, the VMRC was named as a Bellwether Award winner at the Community College Futures Assembly. The VRMC won the Planning, Governance and Finance category for its presentation, “GRADES – Guiding Reintegration and Directing Educational Success for Veterans.

Dale P. Parnell Faculty Recognition Award

Wade HilkerWake Hilker, agriculture instructor at CCC-Columbus, was the recipient of an inaugural award presented by the American Association of Community Colleges. The Dale P. Parnell Faculty Recognition Award is given to community college educators who demonstrate passion for the student and the classroom and go above and beyond what is required to ensure that students are successful in their academic endeavors.

Hilker is regularly sought out, both regionally and nationally, for his expertise and he is known prominently in the agriculture community having been involved in livestock judging for more than two decades. CCC has benefitted greatly as Hilker is able to bring to his students and the program the latest advances in agriculture and implement them into his instruction and the many community projects he is involved in.

The Future Farmers of America (FFA) has also given him numerous honors including the Nebraska FFA Helping Hand Award and the Advisor of the Year three times. Nationally, Hilker was awarded with the prestigious Honorary American FFA degree.

CCC-Hastings Outstanding Service Award

Michelle SchroerMichele Schroer received the 34th Annual Outstanding Service Award at Central Community College-Hastings.

The award is presented annually to a Hastings Campus employee who demonstrates exemplary service to the college.

Schroer joined the CCC-Hastings staff in 1987 and worked in the registration office. She was cross-trained to work in both registration and financial aid in 1989 and served in that capacity until 1994 when she became a full-time financial aid technician. She was promoted to her current position as financial aid director in 2016.

Nominators cited her leadership skills, positive disposition, deep knowledge of financial aid and ability to create connections with students that bring them back to her offi ce with questions or concerns or just to say hello.

CCC-Columbus Employee of the Year

Joan WilkinsJoan Wilkins of Columbus was named the Employee of the Year at Central Community College-Columbus.

The award is presented annually to a Columbus Campus employee who demonstrates dedication, enthusiasm and innovation as well as a rapport with students and other staff members and a willingness to go the extra mile.

Wilkins began working at CCC-Columbus in 1999 as a switchboard operator. From there, she served as the admissions/athletics secretary and later as the assistant to the associate dean of students before assuming the role of administrative assistant over the student center in 2010.

Described as an “individual who is willing to help in any department with any event,” Wilkins has assisted with many endeavors including the Columbus Days Parade, the CCC Athletics Hall of Fame banquet, and designed the invitations and brochures for the annual graduation appreciation luncheon as well as the outstanding student awards convocation.

CCC-Columbus Faculty Member of the Year

Allen StenzelAllen Stenzel was named as the CCC-Columbus Faculty Member of the Year.

The award is given annually to a Columbus Campus faculty member who displays excellence and innovation in teaching; rapport with students; and institutional, professional and community involvement.

Stenzel is a mechatronics instructor and a CCC graduate, earning an associate of applied science degree in industrial technology in 2001.

“He is the best teacher I have ever had,” a student nominator said. “He will drop whatever he is doing to help. He is knowledgeable in everything he teaches and gives real-life applications.”

Stenzel not only helps students, he also provides assistance to other faculty members, mentoring new instructors and making himself available to answer questions or help find solutions.

Keasling Receives Patriotic Employer Award

Keasling Receives Patriotic Employer AwardThe Nebraska Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) presented CCC associate dean of business and skills and technical sciences Bradley Keasling (center) with a Patriot Award. The award was presented in recognition of Keasling’s extraordinary support of Sgt. First Class Jared Pettit (second from right), a member of Company B, 734th Brigade Support Battalion, a Kearney-based unit. Pettit is a mechatronics instructor at the Kearney Center.

In his nomination, Pettit stated Central Community College and specifically Mr. Keasling, deserves great recognition for supporting service member employees and students. He further stated they go above-and-beyond in showing their support to him.

Keasling also signed an ESGR statement of support publicly acknowledging the Kearney Center’s support of all National Guard and Reserve service members.

Smith Honored Twice at NCCA Awards

NCCA Administrator AwardCentral Community College President Dr. Greg Smith was a dual-award recipient at the Nebraska Community College Association (NCCA) awards ceremony.

Smith was first presented with the Administrator Award (right), which is given to an administrator in recognition of innovative leadership, outstanding administrative judgment and lasting commitment to the growth and development of community colleges. This is the first time since 2001 that a CCC staff member has won the Administrator Award.The now-retired Central Community College President Dr. Greg Smith was a dual-award recipient at the Nebraska Community College Association (NCCA) awards ceremony.

Smith was later presented with the Friend of Community Colleges Award, which is the highest award that the NCCA may bestow on a non-trustee. The recipient must have demonstrated through their actions over a period of time, a commitment to the community college system and who has significantly advanced the cause of community college education. The Friend of Community Colleges Award is not given out each year and this is the first time that a CCC representative has been given the award.

Leading with Excellence: The Next Class

leading with excellence graphic with gearsCCC's Leading with Excellence Program graduated its second class in June.

The nine-month program introduces participants to the programs and services available through the college, help them build relationships across departments and campuses and provide them with personal and professional development activities.

The program runs from October to June and includes a day-long session each month at a different CCC location.

Any full-time or part-time employee who worked 600 hours in previous last year or taught six credit hours is eligible to apply for the program.

Employees that participated in the 2017-18 program were:

2017-18 Leading with ExcellenceArea Administration Office: Shelia Kiiker, payroll accounting specialist; Leah Paulsen, executive assistant to VP of human resources; and Jessica Rohan, grants manager.

Columbus Campus: Kristin Hoesing, admissions director.

Grand Island Campus: Michael Garretson, media producer; Denise Kingery, occupational therapy administrative assistant; Erin Lesiak, admissions director; Susan McDowall, English instructor; and Christina Miotke, career coach/recruiter Project HELP.

Hastings Campus: Keith Dubas, construction technology instructor; Lydia Lough, academic success center director; Lauren Slaughter, success coach Project HELP; Travis Songster, building and Brandon Stalvey, electrical maintenance technician.

Kearney Center: Helen Kirkland, learning center manager; and Jamie Reitz, success coach Project HELP.


Position Transition

The position of alumni relations director underwent a transition in 2017-18. Cheri Beda continues to serve as full-time director as she has since 2014 when the role was created. Originally, a college-wide position under institutional advancement, it now is under the direction of the Central Community College Foundation and includes development and fundraising responsibilities. The addition of the fundraising element puts the CCC alumni director role in line with other institutions, both two-year and four-year. What has not changed is Beda’s charge to grow the connection between CCC and its alumni.


Diploma InsertWhen CCC graduates receive their diploma covers at commencement, they also receive a special greeting courtesy of CCC alumni relations. The special placeholder congratulates the graduate and welcomes them to the CCC alumni family. Though a small piece of paper, it shows the sentiment that they are important and CCC wants them to stay connected, share their story and serve as an inspiration to others.



2018 Outstanding Alumni

Denise Kracl – Columbus Campus

Denise KraclDenise Kracl attended CCC-Columbus from 1991 to 1993 before transferring to Wayne State College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. Kracl returned to CCC in 1999 as a residence hall supervisor at the Hastings Campus. She worked as a state probation officer from 2001 to 2004. 

For the next three years, Kracl attended law school at the University of South Dakota. After receiving her juris doctorate, she entered private law practice in Columbus for one year before serving as deputy Colfax and Butler county attorney from 2008 to 2010. In 2010, she was appointed as the Colfax County attorney, the position she holds today.Denise Kracl attended CCC-Columbus from 1991 to 1993 before transferring to Wayne State College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. Kracl returned to CCC in 1999 as a residence hall supervisor at the Hastings Campus. She worked as a state probation officer from 2001 to 2004.

In addition to her legal work, Kracl is a member of the Nebraska Juvenile Justice Association, Regional Human Trafficking Committee and Nebraska Coalition of Juvenile Justice. In 2015, Georgetown University selected her as a Center for Juvenile Justice fellow.

She is an advocate for education. For Schuyler Community Schools, she secured funds for an afterschool program, started an intervention and truancy program, received a grant to provide a full-time truancy officer and helped create a program that replaces community service with employment training for first-time, nonviolent juvenile offenders. She is a member of the local Behavioral Health Coalition, which brings a licensed mental health practitioner to the high school and middle school. She is also an adjunct instructor at CCC-Columbus, teaching U.S. government.

In the community, Kracl is a member of the Schuyler Chamber of Commerce and was selected as its Member of the Year in 2016. She also serves on the Schuyler Economic Development Council and the Columbus Business Technology Advisory Committee. She has been the chair of the food and toy drive in Schuyler for eight years, led three mission trips to Alaska and served as a disaster committee member for the American Red Cross.

Kracl is the daughter of Twila Wallace who taught at CCC-Columbus from the day it opened in 1969 until her retirement in 2010. She also has a daughter, Kodie.

Danita Johnson-Beadle – Grand Island Campus

Danita Johnson-BeadleDanita Johnson-Beadle is a 1977 graduate of CCC’s Kearney practical nursing program. She later earned a bachelor of fi ne arts degree in graphic design from the University of Nebraska-Kearney.

An instructor at CCC’s Kearney Center, her dedication has helped grow the certified nursing assistant program. In a pilot off ering for the 2017-18 school year, high school students have the opportunity to earn dual credit in a prerequisite class for pursuing a career in health care.Danita Johnson-Beadle of Kearney is a 1977 graduate of CCC’s Kearney practical nursing program. She later earned a bachelor of fi ne arts degree in graphic design from the University of Nebraska-Kearney.

Johnson-Beadle’s nursing experience is broad and includes elder care, assisted living, long-term care, medical/surgical staff nurse and experience in several specialty clinics, including ob-gyn, colorectal, plastic-reconstructive, surgical and with the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. She has also worked with Easter Seals of Nebraska, serving disabled and financially disadvantaged individuals.

In the community, she serves on the Master Trauma Foundation Board providing council to clients and their families for PTSD, addiction and traumatic events when court-mandated probation and counseling have ended. She also serves others by offering support, counsel and comfort to persons dealing with a cancer diagnosis. Johnson-Beadle has personal experience living through her own diagnosis and treatment of Stage IV ovarian cancer. She and her husband, Kern, have been married since 1991. They have five children and have 10 grandchildren.

Rob Collett – Hastings Campus

Rob CollettRob Collett majored in media arts at CCC-Hastings and earned his associate’s degree in 2000.

Entering the world of television broadcast news, Collett first worked for KHAS-TV in Hastings. He then had stints at KSNW-TV in Wichita, Kan., and KTUL-TV in Tulsa, Okla. before moving on to KARE-TV in Minneapolis, where he is currently employed. This past February, Collett covered Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots.Rob Collett majored in media arts at CCC-Hastings and earned his associate’s degree in 2000.

While in Tulsa, he followed the story of five-year-old Ryder Herring, who had brain cancer. For almost two years, he helped viewers experience what Ryder and his family faced and followed the struggle until Ryder died in 2013. Collett’s stories raised money for the family and awareness of the disease.

Throughout his career, Collett has earned 18 regional Emmy Awards, two national Edward R. Murrow Awards, and the 2016 National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) Ernie Crisp National Photographer of the Year. In November 2017, he was recognized as the CCC Alumni of the Year by the Nebraska Community College Association.

Collett volunteers with the NPPA by adjudicating competitions and critiquing student work. He meets with the photography and video classes at CCC whenever he returns to the area. He also gives back by sharing his work with CCC students, keeping in touch with the media arts program and providing input as the industry evolves.

Collett and his wife, Brianna, have a son, William.

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Grand Island Pollinator Garden

Grand Island Pollinator GardenThe Grand Island Campus’ 6,000-square-foot pollinator garden was completed in October 2017 and is located to the east of the Center for Industry and Technology. Central Community College received a grant from the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum for the project, which involved interdisciplinary collaboration from the campus Green Team of administration, grants, facilities and extended learning services personnel, and faculty. The garden was designed by Big Muddy Workshop and installed by Tilley’s Landscaping. 

The pollinator garden is planted with more than 25 different types of native flowers, perennials and deciduous shrubs that provide nectar or pollen for a wide range of pollinating insects and animals, including monarch butterflies, bees, moths, birds and many more. Diverse plants were selected to survive the wind, cold and drought and to provide food and shelter resources for pollinators in three seasons. This garden will do more than just feed pollinators; it also will ensure an ecologically-friendly habitat that supports their health and safety through water-wise practices, soil health and sustainable landscape management.  A winding crushed stone path and a northwind switchgrass protective berm provide an outdoor walking space for students, staff and faculty. 

The garden builds upon the Bee Campus USA designation and beekeeping program in Grand Island. The garden also serves as an educational opportunity where students have the chance to enhance their knowledge through hands-on projects and earn e-badge proficiencies.

America Recycles Day

The second annual America Recycles Day was held in November 2017 at the Columbus Campus. Representatives from Keep Columbus Beautiful, Green Fiber, ADM, the Columbus campus Environmental Science class and CCC’s Environmental Sustainability Office were on hand to celebrate the Keep America Beautiful national initiative. Attendees received educational information on ways to reduce, reuse and recycle through playing games and winning prizes made from recycled materials.

The Columbus Campus Environmental Science class also hosted a competition between the west and south residence halls to see who could recycle the most bottles and cans by weight. Pounds of cans and bottles were collected in the span of about a month prior to America Recycles Day.

The west residence hall won the competition and a trophy made from recycled materials was presented. Each resident received a gift card and a water bottle.

Plastic Bag Recycling Challenge

Plastic Bag Recycling BinThe three CCC campuses and the Kearney Center began the Plastic Bag Kickoff Recycling challenge in November 2017. 

The goal is to collect 500 pounds of plastic and Central Community College will be awarded a Trex® bench that is made out of the collected plastic grocery bags, plastic film and wood fiber.

Trex® is hosting the recycling challenge with the objective of educating the public on the importance of plastic film recycling through school and community recycling programs. 

CCC Plastic Bag Recycling Locations:

  • Columbus: Near the bookstore
  • Grand Island: In the cafeteria
  • Hastings: Outside the cafeteria
  • Kearney: Across from the vending machines

Resilience Committee

As part of the Second Nature climate commitment, the CCC environmental sustainability office facilitated campus-community resilience committees for the Columbus, Grand Island and Hastings campuses and the Kearney Center. The campus/center collaborates with the community in which it is located.

The committees consist of staff from the CCC environmental sustainability office as well as members from local organizations within the community. The committees met in January to discuss strengths and vulnerabilities between the campuses and communities and to identify initial steps that can be taken to strengthen the campus-community resilience.

Second Nature defines resilience as the ability of a system or community to survive disruption and to anticipate, adapt and flourish in the face of change. It is important to note that it incorporates both short-term and long-term trends, and being able to thrive and adapt.

Characteristics of climate resilience for campuses and communities include:

  • Flexibility
  • Inclusiveness
  • Learning
  • Prevention and management

Welcome Green Machine

Green MachineThe Grand Island campus and Kearney Center break rooms both added the Green Machine, a compact eco-friendly food recycler that processes food into rich soil fertilizer.

Leftover food scraps are placed into designated refuse buckets and the environmental sustainability office feeds the Green Machine and a few hours later, voila, fertilizer.

Earth Week

Earth Week leaf graphicBuilding on the inaugural Earth Week events, CCC hosted Earth Week events in April at each campus. New this year, the Kearney Center hosted its first Earth Week event. All events were free and open to the public.

For full details of the events for 2019, please visit the CCC Earth Month web page.



Hastings Pawnee Corn Event

Hunter LovinsEnvironmental sustainability and students in Event Planning/Management classes joined forces for the Hastings Pawnee Corn Event.

Last summer, a crop of sacred Pawnee Corn was grown on the Hastings campus with the help of Deb Echo-Hawk, Ronnie O’Brien, Pawnee and student interns. This sprouted the idea that the annual Earth Week event should focus on native corn and zero waste.

In addition to a variety of activities and workshops, the event featured two keynote speakers – Deb Echo-Hawk of the Pawnee Tribe and Hunter Lovins (pictured) from Colorado-based Natural Capitalism Solutions.

Kearney Community Solar Project

The Kearney Center entered into an agreement to purchase 100 percent of its projected annual electricity use from the largest community solar array project in Nebraska at Tech One Crossing. The community solar service agreement between Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) and Central Community College was entered into and effective in May 2018. 

CCC purchased 350 solar energy shares in the community solar project. Each share is equal to 150 kWh/month, which equals 100 percent of the average monthly electricity usage at the Kearney Center. CCC locks in a utility rate along with a purchase power agreement between NPPD and solar developer SoCore Energy.

The Kearney Center received the first GreenPower certificate associated with the Kearney Community Solar Project. CCC retains the environmental attributes associated with the purchased carbon free energy shares.   

Because of the agreement, CCC’s commitment to become carbon neutral by 2034 is ahead of schedule at all campuses and centers. Additionally, with the energy produced by the 1.7-megawatt wind turbine in Hastings, CCC is nearly 50 percent carbon free in electricity usage.

Sixth Year of the Sustainability Leadership Presentation Series

SLPS logoCentral Community College continued its partnership with the Sustainability Leadership Presentation Series (SLPS) for 2017-18. Other partners include the Hastings College Student Environmental Action Coalition; the Center for Urban Sustainability at the University of Nebraska at Omaha; the Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities; Metropolitan Community College; the Nebraska Recycling Council; and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Environmental Studies. SLPS hosts a monthly live broadcast featuring experts in the field of environmental sustainability and climate change. Programs included:

  • Attracting pollinators: Gardens for Bees and Butterflies presented by Rachael Anderson, community landscape specialist with the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum.
  • A New Garden Ethic: Cultivating Defiant Compassion for an Uncertain Future presented by Dr. Benjamin Vogt, owner of Monarch Gardens, LLC, a Lincoln-based prairie garden design firm.
  • The Role and Need for Sustainability Planning in Small and Midsize Cities: Exploring Challenges, Solutions, and the Role of Leadership and Activism presented by W. Cecil Stewart, president and CEO of the Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities.
  • Social Solutions for Communities presented by Jeff Berggren, project manager at GenPro Energy Solutions.
  • Sustainable Leadership presented by Daniel Lawse, co-owner of Verdis Group, an Omaha-based sustainability consulting firm.
  • Organizing for a Sustainable Future presented by Joe Higgs, executive director of the Institute for Public Leadership and an organizer for Omaha Together Community One.

NJCAA Academic All-Americans

The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) recognized 22 Central Community College student-athletes for their academic achievement during 2017-18.

Student-athletes who earned a 4.0 GPA were named NJCAA All-Academic First team, while those who posted a GPA of 3.80-3.99 were named NJCAA All-Academic Second Team. The NJCAA All-Academic Third Team is comprised of student-athletes who finished with a GPA of 3.60-3.79.

The following is a list of each sport and each team members’ specific honor:

Men’s Soccer

Lucas Apolinario, 2nd team; Guilherme Balestra-Demhougi, 2nd team; Peterson Costa, 3rd team; Lucas Gama de Mattos, 2nd team; Marcus Horwood, 3rd team; Tulio Magalhaes, 2nd team; Riolan Mello, 1st team; and Italo Vichiatto, 2nd team.


MacKenzie Eller, 3rd team; Taylor Griffith, 1st team; and Danica Schaefer, 2nd team.


Amber Anderson, 2nd team; Maddie Davis, 2nd team; Jessica Eurek, 2nd team; Alexis Howard, 2nd team; Sheridan Holcomb, 1st team; Jordee Korte, 1st team; Jacie Laetsch, 1st team; Maeghan Pieper, 2nd team; and Paxton Throne, 3rd team.

Women’s Basketball

Alexis Ramaekers, 2nd team; Paxton Throne, 3rd team; and Shanelle Wong-Sang, 2nd team.

Athletic Hall of Fame Induction

Hall of Fame Inductees

Five individuals and a team were inducted into the Central Community College Athletic Hall of Fame. The inductees were:

Steve Buckner – A standout hurdler on the 1973 CCC track team, Buckner finished third in the 60-yard high hurdles at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCCA) national indoor meet. He finished seventh in the 120-yard high hurdles at the NJCAA national outdoor meet.

Jenny Kosch Sander – An outstanding athlete in both basketball and volleyball, Sander was an All-Region IX selection in basketball in 1991.

Mary Whetstone Santin – An All-Region IX selection in volleyball in 1975, Santin led Platte College to its first NJCAA national tournament appearance. She was also a member of the first Platte College women’s basketball team.

Dennis VanFossen – An outstanding coach for the CCC women’s basketball program from 1978 to 1988. VanFossen’s 1983 team won the National Little College Athletic Association (NLCAA) district championship and placed sixth at the NLCAA national tournament.

Tim Williams – A standout player on the 1973 CCC men’s basketball team that qualified for the NJCAA national tournament, Williams was an All-Region IX selection in 1974.

1992 Volleyball Team – Winners of the Region IX championship team and finished seventh at the NJCAA national tournament in 1992.

Fall Sports

Men's Soccer

  • Dedication of new soccer field in September.
  • Team included 22 players from foreign countries.

Soccer field ribbon cutting


  • Region IX champions
  • District G champions
  • Ninth place finished at the NJCAA Division II National Tournament in Charleston, West Virginia
  • Maeghan Pieper – NJCAA Division II First Team All-America
  • Amber Anderson, Jacie Laetsch, Maeghan Pieper and Chainey Tompkin – All-Region IX team
  • Amber Anderson, Lacie Laetsch, Paxton Throne and Chainey Tompkin – Region IX All-Tournament team
  • Amber Anderson, Jacie Laetsch, Maeghan Pieper and Chainey Tompkin – All-NCCAC Volleyball team
  • Jacie Laetsch, Maeghan Pieper (honorary captain) and Chainey Tompkin – Omaha World Herald All-Nebraska team
  • Coach Mary Young – Reached the 700-win plateau

Winter Sports

Men’s Basketball

  • Won the Region IX championship.
  • Runner-up in the District VII championship game.
  • Freshmen Malik Mooving and Latrell Talley were named to the NCCAC All-Conference team, while sophomore Bennett Nelson was named Honorable Mention.

Women’s Basketball

  • Runner-up in the Region IX championship game.
  • Sophomores Payton Blanke, Quenshae Love and Maddy Wolfe were named to the Nebraska Community College Athletic Conference All-Conference team, while head coach Billy Perkins was named Coach of the Year.

Spring Sports


Finished seventh out of 13 teams at the Nebraska Intercollegiate Tournament with a team score of 312. It was the best finish and score for CCC at the event. Freshman Colten Remm earned a medal for placing among the top 10 scorers.


  • Won the Region IX championship.
  • Runner-up in the District G championship game.
  • Danica Shaefer – NJCAA Division II Second Team All-America
  • Mackenzie Eller, Ashten Gibson, Katelyn Keene, Jenna Robinson and Danica Schaefer – All-Region IX team
  • Shelby Behnk, Mackenzie Eller, Katelynn Keene, Jenna Robinson and Danica Schaefer – All-Region IX Tournament team
  • Mackenzie Eller – Region IX Defensive Player of the Year
  • Katelyn Keene – Region IX Outstanding Pitcher
  • Ashten Gibson – Region IX Freshman of the Year
  • Danica Schaefer – Region IX Offensive Player of the Year
  • Jack Gutierrez – Region IX Coach of the Year

Awards and Accolades

Best for Vets Five Straight Years

Military Times ShieldIn 2017-18, for the fifth year in a row, Central Community College was ranked first in the nation as “Best for Vets” for two-year colleges by Military Times, the main news source for the military community.

Military Times – comprising the Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times – used a detailed survey to evaluate a wide array of factors that make an organization a good fit for service members, military veterans and their families.

The survey requires schools to meticulously document the services, special rules, accommodations and financial incentives offered to military and veteran students and to describe many aspects of veteran culture.

CCC Named a Top Veteran-Friendly School

Central Community College made the list of U.S. Veterans Magazine’s (USVM) 2018 evaluation of the nation’s Best of the Best Top Veteran-Friendly Schools.

CCC is one of only three community colleges to make the list of 178 veteran-friendly schools.

USVM polled hundreds of Fortune 1000 companies. The annual review is an evaluation of the nation’s employers, initiatives, government agencies and educational institutions. The non-biased studies are valuable resources for job-seekers, business owners, students, consumers, senior management, business associations, employment agencies and consumer groups.

New Kearney Center Veterans and Military Resource Center

Kearney Center VMRC Ribbon CuttingCommunity members, veterans and service members gathered to celebrate the dedication of CCC’s fourth VMRC. During the ceremony, Dr. Gregg Smith and Travis Karr signed the 8 Keys to Student Veteran Success, a national commitment from the U.S. Department of Education and Veterans Affairs focused on pillars of Veteran services in higher education. Current and former students, Ashley Allen, Ashley Fugazi, and Tony Chualk shared their experiences on campus and how has the VMRC directed affected their educational success. This event also included a resource fair on Veterans Administration Benefits and local organizations that focus on supporting Veterans. 


Salute to Women Warriors Banquet

Salute to Women Warriors Banquet

In March 2018, the VMRC hosted the fourth annual Salute to Women Warriors Banquet. Women veterans and service members had the opportunity to come together for an elegant dinner and silent auction to honor women who have served or currently serving in the U.S. armed forces. Keynote speaker and author Tracy Crow shared stories of the courageous history of women serving our nation. Three students were awarded the Women Veterans Scholarship in Honor of Wilma Kellogg – Regina Forbes, Kellie Lonneman and Melina Wire. Funds raised during the banquet and silent auction contributed to the scholarship fund.

Veteran’s Day at the 2017 Nebraska State Fair 

CCC Veterans at the Nebraska State FairThe VMRC hosted the Veteran’s Day ceremony, which honored all veterans, service members, and their families. More than 500 fairgoers attended the event, which featured members from CCC’s Student Veterans Associations from Grand Island and Hastings campuses banding together to display maps from around the world and connect with veterans as they pinned locations where they served.

Additionally, they created a photo display of Nebraska’s fallen service members to honor their sacrifices. This event was created in part to provide learning opportunities for veterans and the community throughout Nebraska.

Brad Paisley with CCC VeteransTopping the day off, three of CCC’s student veterans were honored by country music star Brad Paisley for their sacrifices as veterans.  Jeremy Hammers, U.S. Army veteran; Jennifer Kerkman, U.S. Navy veteran; and Daniel Garies, U.S. Army Veteran were personally thanked by Paisley on stage.


SVA at National ConferenceMembers of CCC’s Student Veterans Association (SVA) attended the 10th Annual Student Veterans of America National Conference in Anaheim, Calif. More than 2,000 student veterans from across the nation attended the conference, where they learned new ways of enhancing their personal leadership skills, as well as ways to improve the SVA. 

Memorable Memorial Day Salute

Memorial Day Salute

The SVA hosted the public Memorial Day Salute at Hall County Park. The event allowed the SVA to interact with donors throughout the community, promote and host the event for guests to enjoy the day while learning about the true meaning of Memorial Day. 

Balloon Found in South DakotaA unique episode occurred after the event. SVA vice president Zack Lampshire had asked the attendees to dedicate a balloon for those on the Nebraska’s Fallen Wall. One of the names written on a balloon was that of Dustin Lukasiewicz, a local fallen marine. The following day, Lukasiewicz’ widow made the following social media post after being contacted by a family that had found the balloon.

“A nice family in South Dakota contacted me to let me know this balloon was found in their front yard the day after Memorial Day,” Lukasiewicz wrote. “I said ‘it no doubt came from somewhere in Nebraska, but I don’t know where specifically.’ Anyone know who or where the balloon originated from? I’d love to let them know.”

This single symbol of patriotism gained attention when the post was shared and had comments from all around the country, until it was finally traced back to the SVA Memorial Day Salute in Hall County.

Community Support

Everything is AOK

Check Presentation for Student VeteransGrand Island’s Act of Kindness group, or AOK, donated $2,200 to CCC-Grand Island student veterans. The funds were deposited into the accounts of 22 of our student veterans to assist them with educational supplies, books, and fees.

Vietnam Veterans Legacy Veterans Motorcycle Club Scholarship

VVLVMC DonationThe Vietnam Veterans Legacy Veterans Motorcycle Club (VVLVMC) donated more than $4,000 to student veterans in desperate situations and financial crisis. Through the club’s generosity, eight students have been able to focus on their coursework and ultimately remain enrolled without the financial strains surrounding their personal situations.  The VVLVMC has funded the scholarship for four years with more than $20,000 given to date.


Hastings Campaign Hits Milestone Mark

Hastings Campaign News ConferenceThe Central Community College Foundation surpassed the $4.5 million mark in funding for the Hastings Campus Major Gifts Campaign. A news conference announcing the accomplishment was held in May (pictured right).

The funds from the campaign are earmarked for the expansion and renovation of the Hamilton Building, which houses the advanced manufacturing design technology program and the welding technology program.

The Hamilton Building will undergo a 17,000-square-foot-expansion on the south side and a 15,000-square-foot-renovation of the existing facility. The advanced manufacturing design technology program will move to the expanded area, while the welding program will remain in the renovated area. The project will allow for programmatic growth and modernization, as well as the ability to partner with schools and industries to help fill the workforce voice facing industries in the community. The total project cost is $10.3 million, of which $5.3 million will come from college reserves with the intention of no long-term debt after the project’s completion.

“We received very strong support in the campaign, not only from the Hastings community and region, but throughout the state,” said CCC Foundation Executive Director Dean Moors.

CCC Foundation Hall of Fame Adds Smiths

CCC Foundation Hall of Fame Induction
In November, Dr. Greg (left) and Marilee (right) Smith were inducted into the Central Community College Foundation Hall of Fame in recognition and appreciation of their ongoing support of CCC students through the establishment of two endowed scholarships and for Dr. Smith's dedicated service as CCC President.


Scholarship Dollars

The CCC Foundation awarded over $750,000 in scholarships for the 2018-19 school year. In addition, CCC has implemented a year-round scholarship program that will award at three different times during a year. The CCC Foundation identified funds to meet the demand of this new program and during the second round of scholarships, it awarded more than 50 scholarships. Combined with 30 scholarships from CCC, an greater number of deserving students received an award. 

New Address

In an effort to be more visible and accessible, the CCC Foundation moved to a new location in May. The office is located at 201 Foundation Place in Hastings, which is just north of the Lochland Country Club on Highway 281. Under the terms of the arrangement, the CCC Foundation will have no rent payment moving forward and an endowment fund will help meet future maintenance costs. This option will allow the CCC Foundation’s assets to grow significantly, which ultimately will allow more scholarships.

CCC Foundation Found on Facebook

If you are on Facebook, you can receive notices about CCC Foundation events and help spread the word about fundraising opportunities throughout the year. You also can see and post pictures from numerous CCC Foundation events.

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Leading for Success

2018 Board of Governors Officers

Austin Miller

In January, Austin Miller of Grand Island was elected by the college Board of Governors to serve as board chair for 2018.









Roger Davis Sam Cowan Sandra Borden
Also elected as board officers for 2018 were Roger Davis (left) of Kearney, vice chairman; Sam Cowan (center) of Stromsburg, secretary; and Sandra Borden (right) of Gibbon, treasurer.

Diane Keller Austin Miller  
Diane Keller (left) of Harvard and Austin Miller (right) of Grand Island were elected as representatives of the college on the board of the Nebraska Community College Association.

Presidential Transition

Dr. Greg Smith, Dr. Kathy Fuchser and Dr. Matt GotschallIn January, Dr. Matt Gotschall (right) succeeded Dr. Greg Smith (left) as college president. Gotschall had been appointed by the CCC Board of Governors in June 2017.

Gotschall previously served as the president of CCC-Columbus and Dr. Kathy Fuchser (center) was appointed to fill the vacancy.

Fuchser had been serving as dean of instruction for academic education, overseeing college-wide academic programming and instruction, serving as the liaison between CCC and other institutions in developing transfer opportunities and agreements and overseeing the coordination of the library resource center across the college. 

Fuchser served as an education professor and secondary program coordinator at Midland University from 2005-2014, which included time as an undergraduate program coordinator.  In her roles, she represented the program on various state teacher education committees and councils. Additionally, Fuchser assisted in developing, marketing and launching Midland’s master of education degree in leadership in teaching and learning. She also has teaching experience at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Central Community College and high schools in Nebraska and Missouri.

Walton Named as Chief Academic Officer

Candace WaltonDr. Candace Walton was appointed as vice president of innovation and instruction, succeeding retired Executive Vice President Dr. Deborah Brennan.

Walton previously served as the associate vice president of the virtual campus and business division.

Prior to her arrival at CCC in 2016, Walton worked closely with adult and veteran students as the assistant dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at Bellevue University in Bellevue. This followed work as the chief academic officer at the University of Phoenix’s Nebraska campus, where she oversaw diversity efforts as well as ethics and compliance. Walton was also an assistant professor at Kansas State University and the University of South Dakota.

Walton earned a Ph.D. in counseling and student development from Kansas State University where she also graduated with a master’s degree in mass communications. She earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and criminal justice from the University of Nebraska-Kearney. Walton has authored more than 20 academic presentations and papers.

Budget and Finances

Budget Report

The college operating budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year was $57,532,561. Funding sources were:

  • State aid in support of the operating budget decreased from $9,623,104 in 2016-17 to $9,576,908 in 2017-18, which provided 16.65 percent of the total.
  • Local property tax for 2017-18 contributed $37,174,119 to the operating budget, compared with $35,302,288 in 2016-17, which provided 64.61 percent of the total.
  • Tuition provided $10,381,534 in 2017-18, which amounted to 18.04 percent of the total.

Operating budget breakdown:

  • 60.86 percent went toward instruction and academic support.
  • 21.88 percent went to institutional support.
  • 8.88 percent went to physical plant support.
  • 6.88 percent went to student services.
  • 1.50 percent went to student aid.

The capital improvement budget for 2017-18 was $11,129,616 and the budget for the hazardous materials/handicapped fund was $4,173,606.


Operating Budget Charts

Facilities Gallery

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During 2017-18, there were a number of project completed at various CCC campuses and centers. Here is a pictorial sample of some of the projects: