2020 Annual Report

Student Success

International Recognition

Katy Ayers in Mushroom CanoeCentral Community College received unprecedented national and international mentions thanks to Katy Ayers, the Columbus Campus student who constructed a canoe made entirely out of mushrooms.

It began when a local newspaper produced a feature story before the 2019 Nebraska State Fair where Ayers was scheduled to give a presentation. A few months later, Ayers’ story went viral when she joined a fungal materials and bio-fabrication Facebook page. Her story was shared 5,000 times within a few days.

In February, CCC was contacted by a Denver-based freelance writer who wanted to interview Ayers for a story to be posted on one of the digital platforms of NBC News. The story was posted on the main NBC News website in late April.

Almost immediately, CCC was contacted by Toronto-based Cottage Life magazine, which published an article on April 29. London-based Daily Mail produced a story about Ayers and her canoe, which was a compilation of articles from Nebraska-based newspapers.

Ayers was also contacted by various companies to be a guest speaker as part of staff enrichment activities.

Whether she spoke on media platforms or the guest speaker circuit, Ayers used each opportunity as scientific communication tool to show people what they can do. Specifically, she hopes to inspire young people to get involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.


New York City Response

Cheyenne Massey, Ava Arlt, Desiree LutesWhen the COVID-19 pandemic broke, the world watched as the number of cases reached epic proportions. New York City was the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. Three CCC paramedicine students – Ava Arlt (center), Desiree Lutes (right) and Cheyenne Massey (left) – traveled to New York City as part of a Federal Emergency Management Agency deployment through their employer. The trio assisted the New York Fire Department in responding to the high numbers of 911 calls.

All three said that when the opportunity to go to New York City was made available, they had about five minutes to decide if they were going. That’s because a caravan of 15 ambulances was leaving in less than 24 hours.

“I knew right away that I wanted to go, but I needed to call my mom first,” Arlt said with a laugh.

What was supposed to be a 24-hour drive straight through to New York turned out to be a 36-hour venture with all the starts and stops. As the old saying goes, there was no rest for the weary as the caravan pulled into the Bronx Zoo staging area at 5 a.m. to fill out paperwork. The group checked into the New York Hilton, but less than four hours later, they had to report to the Fort Totten Park staging area for a very quick orientation.

“We received a 10-week orientation in like 20 minutes,” said Massey. “I went to work right away and was on duty until 2 a.m.”

Massey and her partner were initially sent to North Brooklyn for the first week covering 911 calls. They were then assigned to a task force that moved around the city relieving other task forces to give them the day off.

“My partner only stayed for two weeks and I stayed for a month, so she had already gone home by the time we got a day off,” said Massey.

In addition to 911 call response, Massey assisted with transporting COVID patients, which at times was challenging because even though the destinations were just a few blocks away, the travel time was much longer than expected.

“Transporting COVID patients made us nervous, but it went OK,” said Massey. “It was horrible being in the gown, the mask, the gloves and everything because it was so hot.”

Arlt and Lutes were paired up and dispatched to South Bronx. The calls they responded to went beyond COVID situations.

“We responded to overdoses, stabbings, shootings and psychiatric episodes,” recalled Arlt. “It was kind of scary the first two days, but then we just got used to it.”

Arlt, Lutes and Massey all said that even though the work was demanding and the hours long, the experience they gained was invaluable, and they glean from their New York experience here at home.

“It was just a great learning opportunity to see all of the different medical emergencies that people had and incorporate in with what we were studying,” said Lutes, who recently earned her paramedic certificate and will complete her associate degree next spring.

“It gave me more confidence when I run 911 calls here,” said Massey, who graduated in May from CCC. “You make all of your own decisions and it taught you how to be a leader.”

“It gave me a lot of confidence coming back, especially now with internships when we have to do team leads with the fire department,” said Arlt, who also earned her paramedic certificate and plans to complete the associate degree requirements.

In a city that often is portrayed as tough and unfeeling, Lutes got to see the gracious side of New York residents on her final night in the city.

“The residents came out and cheered for the first responders,” Lutes recalled. “People came out on their patios, their decks and rooftops, and were banging on pans, clapping and cheering for us. That was one of the most memorable moments.”

National SkillsUSA Awards

The Teamworks Team from Central Community College-Hastings placed third in the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference, which was held June 24-28 in Louisville, Ky.

Team members were: Pedro Nunez of Gibbon; Keenan Lienemann and Jerrod Punchochar, both of Grand Island; and Dakota Franks of Kearney.

Also competing at the national competition were the additive manufacturing team of Mackenzy Nelson of Albion and Dillon Burns of Oxford as well as individual competitors Laurel Bain of Grand Island in masonry and Samantha Ponce-Hernandez of Grand Island in CNC milling.

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.

Jim R. DeBord Scholarship Awarded

Donaven Nolze, Anthony Bauman and Jim R. DeBordThe inaugural Jim R. DeBord Scholarship was awarded to two students in the heavy equipment operator technology program at the Hastings Campus.

Anthony Bauman (center) of Blue Hill and Donaven Nolze (left) of O’Neill each received $1,000 to help cover educational expenses.

Ron and Tammy DeBord established the scholarship in honor of Ron’s father, Jim (right), who worked in the heavy equipment field for more than three decades. During that time, the elder DeBord gained a high level of hands-on proficiency with several types of machinery such as motor graders, dozers and front-end loaders. Operating heavy equipment allowed Jim to perfect his craft while basking in his love for the outdoors.

Two scholarships will be given each year to students in the heavy equipment operator technology program. A plaque containing the names of scholarship recipients is on display in the Howard Building, which houses the program.


National Science Foundation Scholars

2019-20 GPS ScholarsEight Central Community College-Columbus students were recognized as Project GPS scholars for the 2019-20 academic year at a ceremony on Aug. 22 at the campus’ Fine Arts Building.

GPS stands for Growing Pathways to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), a scholarship-awarding program sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The scholarship program targets high-achieving students with financial needs and who represent underserved populations in the STEM fields. Project GPS scholars receive two years of educational costs paid in full, including tuition and fees and room and board. The NSF is a federally operated organization that funds the majority of scientific research and science education research in the United States.

Scholarship recipients also have access to experiences that are rare in community college settings and even at four-year institutions. This includes conducting research and presenting at professional meetings. Local companies such as Behlen Manufacturing, DNA Genetics, Loup Power District, Nebraska Public Power District and Pillen Family Farms provided tours, job shadowing and internship opportunities.

The Project GPS scholars for 2019-20 were: Katy Ayers, Hanva Bassembat, Aiden Cromwell, Shayla Douthit, Donovan Egger, Samantha Martinez, Lisset Oropesa and Cynthia Sanchez-Contreras.


PTK All-State Team

Evelyn Binder Sydnie Budde
Mallory Gotschall Taryn Patterson

Four Central Community College students were named to the 2020 Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Nebraska All-State Academic Team.

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 includes the following CCC students:

Evelyn Binder

Evelyn Binder (top left) of Clay Center is working toward an associate of applied science degree in human services at the Hastings Campus where she is a member of the PTK Beta Alpha Delta chapter. She also is involved with local church activities and the Harvard Cleft Club, which is the parent organization for the fine arts program at Harvard Public Schools.

Sydnie Budde

Sydnie Budde (top right) of Cairo is graduating this spring from the Grand Island Campus with an associate of arts degree. She is a member of the PTK Alpha Tau Tau chapter and has been named to the President’s Honor List for achieving a perfect 4.0 GPA. She plans to transfer to the University of Nebraska Medical Center to work toward a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Mallory Gotschall

Mallory Gotschall (bottom left) of Columbus graduated from the Columbus Campus in December 2019 with associate of science and associate of arts degrees. While at CCC, she was a member of the PTK Chi Sigma chapter and the National Society of Leadership and Success. She also served as secretary of the Judicial Board, earned NJCAA 1st Team All-Academic honors as a member of the volleyball team and was named to the President’s Honor List. She is working toward an occupational therapy degree at the College of St. Mary in Omaha.

Taryn Patterson

Taryn Patterson (bottom right) of Loomis is graduating with an associate of arts degree from the Hastings Campus this spring. She is a member of the PTK Beta Alpha Delta chapter and TRiO Student Success Club and has been named to the Dean’s Honor List. She plans to transfer to the University of Nebraska-Kearney to earn a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and special education.

Fall Play

In October, the theatre department presented the play, "Leading Ladies."

Leading Ladies Leading Ladies
Leading Ladies Leading Ladies
Teaching and Learning

Keep Teaching and Keep Learning

When the CCC administration made the move to remote instruction due to COVID-19, there were numerous concerns for the students and faculty. The spring semester had some six weeks remaining and plans had to be quickly put in place that would help them be successful. That’s when the “Keep Teaching and Keep Learning” initiative was implemented. The plan involved posting a list of available resources to students and faculty to assist them in concluding the semester successfully.

Study Habits and Strategies for LearningLinks for the students were posted on WebCentral to CCC’s COVID-19 response plan, community resources, changes to the last day to withdraw and other information. One of the most important sections, “Study Habits and Strategies for Learning (pictured),” was key for many who were new to remote instruction. Information about advising, online tutoring and counseling services was also posted.

According to Krynn Larsen, director of the Columbus Campus Academic Success Center, online tutoring took off with the move to remote instruction. Before the pandemic, online tutoring was only offered through Moodle. Students could ask a question or leave a paper to be revised. Once the pandemic hit, in-person tutoring stopped, and live virtual tutoring took its place.

“We had schedules for different subjects and students could log into a WebEx link and meet with that tutor virtually face-to-face so that they could immediately get the help that they needed,” said Larsen. “We had it scheduled consistently throughout the week and covered quite a few subjects that we knew students would have issues with, such as math and writing, as well as Moodle navigation, since many students were using Moodle for the first time.”

Larsen credits Lydia Lough, the director of the Hastings Campus Academic Success Center, for spearheading the virtual face-to-face tutoring.

From late March through early May, Larsen’s staff provided some 190 hours of online tutoring, which equals about 40 hours of tutoring per week.

Meanwhile, the faculty resource center (FRC) had to quickly turn around plans to support the faculty through a fast transition to remote instruction. A document, “Moving Online QuickStart,” was shared with faculty on March 10, and six days later, a full site of instructional resources was rolled out. The “Keep Teaching” site originally housed records of administrative communication related to pandemic planning, syllabus amendment information, quick access for instructional support, considerations for remote learning, FAQs, and information about online instructional support sessions.

The FRC and learning support services joined forces to meet with faculty individually and in online sessions to answer questions about moving content from face-to-face delivery to online or hybrid formats. The teams also facilitated conversations about less familiar instructional technology tools and best practices for an online learning environment.

These efforts had a positive impact on both students and faculty.

Kyle Finecy, automotive technology instructor at CCC-Hastings, said that because of online technology, he was able to give his students the best chance to succeed in challenging times.

“I had a couple of students where attendance was kind of an issue when we were still on campus and actually those students shined (because of WebEx recordings),” Finecy said.

Rachel Brown, math instructor at the Grand Island Campus, hadn’t used things like WebEx and VidGrid (video software) before the pandemic. Because of the instruction she received on, she plans to implement both programs going forward.

“Having the option for students to be able to meet me online for office hours is not something that I really promoted before,” said Brown. “Now I’m going to have the confidence to promote that because I know how to do it well because of this experience.”


Gateways to Completion

Central Community College has joined the Gardner Institute’s Gateways to Completion initiative. The goal, according to Gardner’s website, is to create an institute plan for improving student learning and success in high-enrollment courses that have historically resulted in high rates of Ds, Fs, withdrawals and incompletes. Initially, CCC has identified three courses to focus potential improvement strategies – Elementary Algebra, English Composition and Introduction to Business. After looking at the initial data, CCC faculty, staff and administrators are studying the gaps between success and failure and determining how best to address the roadblocks. The initiative is ongoing and CCC is hopeful that success in fundamental courses will result in student retention and ultimately, degree completion.

CCC's Beck Plays Key Role in Early Learning Initiative

Barb BeckGrand Island and five other Nebraska communities – Gothenburg, Norfolk, Red Cloud, Schuyler and Wood River – are now part of a national effort to prioritize programs and policies that will improve the well-being of children. Except for Norfolk, the selected communities are located within Central Community College’s 25-county service area.

The effort involves the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation working with the National League of Cities (NLC) as part of the City Leadership for Building an Early Learning Nation initiative.

In Grand Island, the initiative will build on efforts already being made by H3C, which stands for the Hall County Community Collaborative. The organization’s diverse membership consists of people who work with kids from birth to 20 years old, such as educators, social workers, juvenile workers and representatives from businesses, nonprofit organizations and the health department.

As part of the initiative, two members from the H3C Early Childhood Education Subcommittee – Barb Beck (pictured), an early childhood education instructor at CCC-Grand Island, and Celine Swan, youth and family services librarian at the Grand Island Public Library – have been selected to attend the Early Childhood Success Summit Nov. 18-19 in San Antonio, Texas. They’ll have the opportunity to share what is happening in Grand Island and to learn about what other cities are doing to build an equitable early care and education system.

Both Beck and Swan said that an engaged community will lead to a Grand Island where all children can reach their potential in a safe and healthy environment.

Investing in early childhood learning also is an investment in economic development because it helps build a better workforce. “For every $1 invested in high-quality early care and education programs, there is a return of 7 to $10,” Beck said.

The City Leadership for Building an Early Learning Nation initiative is supported by the Bezos Family Foundation and is part of the Bezos Family Foundation’s vision to create an Early Learning Nation by 2025. It builds on previous work within the National League of Cities’ YEF Institute to strengthen and build local early learning systems.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies

In February, the advanced manufacturing design technology wing of the Hamilton Building was officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony. It was standing room only as community members and partners took part and toured the facility. The Gene Haas Foundation also donated $24,000 for scholarships.

Ribbon Cutting by AMDT Student Demonstration Given by AMDT Student
GH Foundation Donates $24,000 for Scholarships AMDT Wing Tour
Partnerships and Community Service

Award Winning Partnership

Doug PauleyA partnership between CCC’s Lexington Center, the City of Lexington and Tyson Foods garnered a Contract Training Award from the Learning Resources Network. The award recognizes LERN member contract training teams that demonstrate exemplary best practices.

Under the partnership arrangement, nine Tyson employees received classroom instruction in the newly remodeled workforce training space in the Dawson County Opportunity Center, where the Lexington Center is located. From 8 a.m. until noon, the employees learned all the different types of mechanical and electrical processes which are utilized at Tyson Foods. The afternoon was spent applying the information at the plant. Once the employees completed the training, they were then able to earn the top rate for technicians at Tyson.

Doug Pauley (pictured), associate dean of training and development, and the training and development division received the award.

“The tri-partnership and the training center will not only benefit Tyson for many years to come, but other employers in the region which are interested in growing a technically skilled workforce,” said Pauley.

Heeding the Call

The three campuses of Central Community College served the community in a big way during the COVID pandemic by supplying headgear frames for face shields.

Headgear in 3D PrinterIt began in April when the Amateur Radio Association of Nebraska proposed the idea of 3D printing plastic headgear frames (pictured). The association contacted Gene Friesen, drafting and design technology instructor at the Hastings Campus, who enlisted the help of Amy Stuart, drafting and design instructor at the Grand Island Campus. Between the two of them, some 30 headgear pieces were printed each day.

The finished frames were then delivered to various health departments and agencies to be affixed to transparent shields. The completed face shields were given to Mary Lanning Healthcare in Hastings, CHI Health St. Francis in Grand Island and medical clinics in central Nebraska.

Ben Wilshusen and Headgear PiecesOnce the plastic injection molding program at CCC-Columbus got involved, the effort moved to a whole new level. Utilizing on-campus plastic injection molding machines, program director Ben Wilshusen (pictured) was able to produce 550 pieces of headgear in the same time it took to produce one on a 3D printer.

CCC partnered locally with Jimko Machine for the project, as well as Majors Plastics of Omaha. Wilshusen produced the headgear pieces on two machines, which were donated on consignment from the manufacturers.

Once the headgear pieces were created, 100 were boxed along with shields, elastic bands and assembly instructions. CCC staffers and even a couple of student-athletes helped pack the boxes, which were then shipped to various health departments in Nebraska. More than 17,000 completed face shields were donated for use throughout Nebraska and 2,000 were given to Columbus Community Hospital.

CCC and BCHS Sign Articulation Agreement

Dr. Matt Gotschall and Dr. Richard LloydCCC President Dr. Matt Gotschall and Bryan College of Health Sciences President Dr. Richard Lloyd (pictured) formally signed a new dual admission agreement. The articulation agreement allows CCC students to seamlessly matriculate at Bryan to finish their four-year degree.

Students applying for and accepted under the dual admissions process are admitted to both colleges upon acceptance into a science or health professions program at Central Community College. CCC students desiring dual admissions must apply for dual admissions status by the completion of their first year of enrollment at CCC.

CCC’s nursing curriculum provides a comprehensive, rigorous and individualized education that prepares the student nurse for success in a variety of nursing roles. In addition to Bryan, CCC has collaborated with several four-year nursing programs throughout Nebraska that allows all credits to be transferred from the ADN program into a BSN program.

“With our RN-BSN completion program now being offered completely online, it made sense for us to connect with CCC to provide seamless opportunities for degree completion to their graduates who would certainly be seeking employment at the new hospital in addition to surrounding communities,” said Bryan College of Health Sciences Provost Dr. Kelsi Anderson.

NWU Renews Degree Completion Partnership With CCC

Dr. Darrin Good and Dr. Matt GotschallNebraska Wesleyan University (NWU) renewed its agreement with Central Community College to help strengthen students’ paths to degree completion. NWU President Dr. Darrin Good met CCC President Dr. Matt Gotschall at the Columbus Campus in February to sign the revamped agreement (pictured).

The Pathways Scholarship provides two paths to degree completion at Nebraska Wesleyan with financial benefits including a $20,000 scholarship to every admitted CCC student to NWU’s traditional undergraduate program or a reduced tuition rate of $25 per credit hour to those who enroll in the accelerated bachelor’s degree-completion program for working adults in Lincoln or Omaha.

Since establishing the Pathways Scholarship agreements in 2017, 288 CCC students transferred nearly 6,000 credit hours and maintained at 3.4 GPA at NWU.

In renewing the agreement, NWU created scholarships for students who are members of Phi Theta Kappa, an academic honorary for community college students. NWU offers a $21,000 scholarship to Phi Theta Kappa members. PTK students also have the opportunity to compete for one full tuition scholarship awarded annually.

Employee Success

League Excellence Award

Bruce Bartos Becky Fausett Lauren Gillespie Steve Heinisch Jeff Schulz


The League for Innovation in the Community College presented the League Excellence Award to (pictured l-r) Bruce Bartos, advanced manufacturing design technology instructor at the Hastings Campus; Becky Fausett, Project HELP director; Lauren Gillespie and Steve Heinisch, biological sciences instructors at the Columbus Campus; and Jeff Schulz, sociology instructor at the Grand Island Campus.

“It was a privilege to select these recipients for the League for Innovation in Community College’s League Excellence Award,” said College President Dr. Matt Gotschall.

“They have each demonstrated leadership and excellence in their programming, research, grants, teaching and/or support for students,” he added. “Although located in central Nebraska, their innovative approaches have provided positive national exposure for Central Community College.

The League for Innovation has been dedicated to informing, inspiring, and celebrating innovation in learning, teaching, staff development, and student success for over 50 years.


Dale P. Parnell Faculty Recognition

Lacritia SpanelLacritia Spanel, an English instructor at the Hastings Campus, has received Dale P. Parnell Faculty Distinction Recognition for 2020.

Named in honor of former AACC President and CEO Dale P. Parnell, this designation was established to recognize individuals making a difference in the classroom.

The recipients demonstrate passion for and support students inside and outside the classroom, participate in college committees, and go above and beyond what is required to ensure students are successful in their academic endeavors.

NDHA Recognizes Gaskill

Cindy GaskillDental hygiene instructor Cindy Gaskill received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nebraska Dental Hygienist Association (NDHA) at its annual session April 24-25, which was held as a webinar.

Gaskill has been a member of the NDHA her entire career and is a past president. She has served on the local, component and state levels in many areas, including as president of the Greater Nebraska Dental Hygiene Component.

A founding member and past president of the Central Community College Dental Hygiene Alumni Association, Gaskill recently completed a 10-year term as one of two registered dental hygienists on the Nebraska Board of Dentistry. She also serves as a coordinator, team captain and examiner for the Central Regional Dental Testing Service.

Columbus Instructor Receives Teacher of the Year Honors

Kim OstdiekEnglish instructor Kim Ostdiek was named as Teacher of the Year by the Nebraska Developmental Education Consortium (NDEC).

Ostdiek was selected among nominees by college vice presidents from across the state. Some of the criteria for the award include inspiring all students to learn; making materials accessible to all students; working for the best interests of the students; and empowering students to advocate for themselves while modeling and encouraging success strategies. 

Her nomination letter included one example of her work. “She was instrumental in the transition to integrated reading and writing courses and was a participant in statewide PFI grant committee work to align competencies and placement cut scores for the community colleges.”

NDEC is a collaboration of English and math teachers and learning support staff who strive to improve two-year college student success in Nebraska.


Columbus Campus Employee of the Year

Kathryn BallobinThe Employee of the Year 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.

Kathryn Ballobin joined the Columbus Campus staff in 1984 as a community education coordinator.

She went on to serve as a business instructor and associate dean of students before becoming an associate dean of instruction in 2010. She currently supervises academic education but previously handled business administration, business technology, information technology and agribusiness. She also served as interim dean of academic education in 2018.

At CCC, she is budget officer for the National Science Foundation/GPS Grant and previously served as co-chair of the General Education Committee, chair of the Area Diversity Committee and chair of the College Strategic Goal for Retention. She was involved with the National Endowment of Humanities Grant focusing on Nebraska Plains Native Americans in 2010 and 2012; North Central Association College Accreditation Leadership Team; and various professional state association boards. She also has been active in the Platte Valley Literacy Association and the Columbus Public Library Board, including serving as president in 2018-19.

CCC-Columbus Faculty Member of the Year

Lisa BrestelThe Faculty Member of the Year 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.

Lisa Brestel began work at CCC as an adjunct early childhood education instructor in about 2011 and was promoted to a full-time position in 2013.

She has widened her students’ diversity horizons with field trips that required students to complete lesson plans and then teach those plans at schools in Omaha and on the Nebraska Winnebago Indian Reservation. In the last two years she was part of the team supervising two early childhood education students completing their program while living and teaching in Dubai.

Brestel is a graduate of Wayne State College with a master’s degree in early childhood education. She also is a member of the First Step board, Peace Lutheran Church, Columbus Collaborative Team for Early Childhood Education and the Nebraska T.E.A.C.H. Advisory Committee.


Grand Island Campus Spirit Award

Denise KingeryDenise Kingery, administrative assistant for Project HELP and the occupational therapy assistant (OTA) program has received the 2019-20 Spirit Award at CCC-Grand Island.

The award recognizes employees who make a significant contribution to CCC. It focuses on service above and beyond what is considered a normal or expected part of the recipient’s job description.

Nominators describe her as a diligent hard worker who gives students the focus and time they need.

“When you meet Denise Kingery, you know you have encountered someone special,” said one nominator. “She has a way of putting others at ease that makes them feel completely safe and taken care of.”

Kingery began work at CCC in 2014 as a part-time OTA administrative assistant and was promoted to her current full-time position in 2019.

She is a graduate of Greeley High School who went on to earn an associate of applied science degree from CCC-Grand Island and a bachelor’s degree from Bellevue University. Both degrees were in business administration.


Hastings Campus Outstanding Service Award

Ronnie O'BrienRonnie O’Brien received the 36th Annual Outstanding Service Award at CCC-Hastings.

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

Prior to coming to CCC in 2014, O’Brien was education director of the Great Platte River Road Archway in Kearney. While there, she started a Native American educational program, which led her to become involved in a corn revival project with the Pawnee Nation.

The project has its roots in the 1870s when the Pawnee were forcibly moved from Nebraska to a reservation in Oklahoma. They brought the corn they used in their diet, rituals and ceremonies, but the crops didn’t thrive in Oklahoma. By 2003, when O’Brien contacted them, the Pawnee only had 50 kernels of their most prized variety left. Although it was a difficult decision to share their corn with an outsider, the tribal leaders gave the seeds to O’Brien to plant in Nebraska. The crops thrived in their native soil and climate so, thanks to O’Brien and the other Nebraska gardeners involved in this project, the Pawnee now have a sizable store of seeds.

Nominators describe O’Brien, a hospitality management and culinary arts instructor, as an entrepreneur, visionary and quiet giant in her field. They noted her positive and constructive interactions with coworkers, her ability to handle multiple duties smoothly and efficiently and her willingness to try new things.


Additional Employee Highlights

  • Wanda Cloet, dental hygiene program director, was elected as the 2020-21 chair of the American Dental Education Association’s Council of Allied Dental Program Directors. Also, Cloet’s research abstract, “Dental Hygiene Students’ Preferences of Ultrasonic Instruments,” was published in the October edition of the Journal of Dental Hygiene.

  • Jordan Eisenmenger, associate director of financial aid, was one of the 25 members of the 2019-20 Leadership Kearney class.

  • Yunteng He, chemistry instructor, had a paper, “Constructive Error Climate: A Classroom Assessment Technique in Science Classes,” in the March/April 2020 issue of The Journal of College Science Teaching, a peer-reviewed publication. The article describes the use of errors as integral elements of the learning process in CCC classrooms.

  • Kristin Hoesing, Columbus Campus admissions director, was elected to the Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska Board of Directors.

  • Melissa Kosch, math instructor at CCC-Columbus, was inducted into the Mount Marty College’s Lancer Athletic Hall of Fame.

  • Vicki Kucera, area director of student financial aid services, received the NeASFAA Distinguished Service Award from the Nebraska Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. The award recognizes her service to the financial aid industry at the state, regional and national levels.

  • Doris Lux, retired business administration instructor at the Columbus Campus, was recognized at the SCORE National Leadership Conference in August. She received the SCORE Service Award for 25 years and the Outstanding Client Relationship Award.


Leading with Excellence, Fourth Class

The fourth Leading with Excellence class commenced in October and wrapped up 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 experience 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 2019-20 program were:

Columbus Campus: Carrielynn Peace, admissions specialist.

Grand Island Campus: Maria Flores, enrollment specialist; Paige Gibreal, college accountant; Tami Jones, simulation coordinator; Shelly Mendez, executive assistant; Danielle Schwinn, technology specialist; and Jennifer Walker, service center supervisor.

Hastings Campus: Laura Cline, administrative assistant; Troy Davis, AMDT instructor; Tanner Jenkins, biology/chemistry instructor; Jamie Logue, associate dean of instruction; Sandra Samuelson; ELS regional director; Sara Stroman, Project HELP success coach; and Margaret Treffer, registration technician.

Holdrege Center: Katherine Cooley, administrative assistant/GED instructor.

Kearney Center-Area Wide: Catrina Gray, early college success coach.


CCC's Virtual Graduation

From alumni director Cheri Beda: What an interesting year this has been to allow all of us to show perseverance and resilience. COVID-19 stopped us from operating as usual and affected numerous in-person events, including graduation. We are looking forward to being together again in the future. However, I personally enjoyed learning new ways to celebrate and connect.

One of these ways was virtual graduation, a concept you might not have thought about before 2020. Graduation is a time to celebrate all the accomplishments and sacrifices that have taken place throughout one’s educational journey. With the onset of the pandemic, it became clear that an in-person graduation would not go on as normal. Nine CCC staffers were assembled to organize a memorable virtual commencement. Joining me on the commencement organizing committee were:

  • Dr. Beth Przymus, dean of student success
  • Mike Garretson, media producer
  • Emily Gildersleeve, Grand Island Campus assessment coordinator
  • Amanda Groff, director of marketing
  • Andrea Hays, Hastings Campus activities director
  • Brenda Preister, Columbus Campus academic success center coordinator
  • Tiffany Seybold, web content specialist
  • Margret Treffer, registration technician

A great deal of time, effort and planning goes into each commencement ceremony so redirecting that into a memorable online experience was the goal. We decided to send celebration boxes to each of our graduates who were receiving a degree or diploma. Inside the boxes were a letter of congratulations, an alumni T-shirt, a sticker and a gift card. Any earned recognitions, such as honor medallions and cords, were also placed inside. Exactly 1,100 boxes were assembled at the Columbus Campus, and each one was a surprise to the graduates.

I also want to give special recognition to the 2020 outstanding alumni recipients for stepping up and creating videos for the virtual graduation and being very flexible throughout the entire process.

As always, thanks so much for keeping in touch and please encourage other CCC alums to connect and share their stories with me. I can be reached at 308-398-7437 or send an email.


2020 Outstanding Alumni

Jake Dilsaver - Columbus Campus

Jake DilsaverJake Dilsaver of Lincoln earned an associate of applied science degree from CCC-Columbus in 2005, graduating with honors. He then transferred to Wayne State College to study criminal justice.

Dilsaver is captain of the Lincoln Police Department (LPD). He previously had worked as a uniformed street patrol officer, a criminal investigations unit investigator and a sergeant before being promoted to his current position.

Other ways he served the LPD was as a field training officer, Recruit Academy instructor, internal resource officer chairperson, chaplain liaison, and as a member of the Field Force Team, Policy Review Committee, Labor-Management Committee, Hiring Panel, Wellness Committee and Awards Committee.

His law enforcement career began with an LPD Recruit Academy Top Scholar Award in the fall of 2007. Since then, he has received numerous commendations.

Throughout his career, Dilsaver has been involved in a variety of community activities, including the Friendship Home Board of Directors, Special Olympics, Child Advocacy Center Board of Directors and Teammates Mentoring Program. He also has coached Lincoln Youth Football, volunteered for the Santa Cop Auction and served as a high school and collegiate basketball official. He was selected by coaches as an official for the Nebraska Coaches Association All-Star Basketball Game in 2016 and 2019 and as an official in multiple Nebraska School Activities Association state basketball tournaments. Through his referee activities, he said he works to maintain standards of sportsmanship and fair competition in interscholastic athletics.

He and his wife, Carrie Mullendore-Dilsaver, are donors and supporters of the True Potential Scholarship program, which focuses on creating opportunities for young immigrants to attend community colleges in Nebraska.

Nia Karmann - Grand Island Campus

Nia KarmannNia Karmann of Omaha is the owner of Nye Street Studio in Omaha and is an award-winning, professional photographer who specializes in fine art and portrait photography. She’s been featured on NET’s Nebraska Stories, Nebraska Public Radio and NTV’s The Good Life, and her work has been showcased in art galleries, magazines, online publications, books and calendars.

Karmann started taking pictures on film cameras when she was 9 years old in Hall County 4-H. She had her first professional photography show as a senior in high school and then went on to polish her business skills at CCC’s Grand Island and Hastings campuses.

As a student with a disability, she had to overcome adversity and convince naysayers to pursue her passion for photography, but she continues to build her career by submitting her work in a variety of venues throughout the Midwest. She also continues traveling throughout the country and overseas capturing moments in her unique style to build her portfolio.

Her photography has received local and national awards and been published in an international magazine. Her 2019 recognitions include winning second place at the Grand Island Art in the Park for a banyan tree photo from Hawaii; being selected as the featured artist at the Sump Memorial Library in Papillion from June 1 through July 31, and getting published in the Summer 2019 Fine Lines Book as an honorable mention winner. She received that last award as a part of the Omaha Artists Inc.’s Chillin Winter Art Show, and it was her photo featured on the wraparound cover of the Fine Lines Autumn 2018 issue.

Karmann is the current president and adult representative of the Nebraska Spina Bifida Organization. In 2019 she was the 4-H photography judge for the Nebraska State Fair.

Carol Welke - Hastings Campus

Carol WelkeCarol Welke of Hastings earned a two-year diploma in dental assisting in 1976, becoming the first member of her family to graduate from a postsecondary school.

When she started classes at CCC-Hastings in 1974, she walked onto the Rams volleyball team and was selected in 1975 as the team’s co-captain. She also was on the drill team her first year and a cheerleader in her second year.

Welke has been employed by Landgren Family Dental for more than 35 years. She worked for many years as a chairside assistant to Dr. George Landgren before being promoted to running the front desk and training incoming dental assistants. When Dr. David Landgren joined his father in his practice, she was promoted to office manager. She had planned to retire in March, but COVID-19 led Landgren and Uden Family Dentistry to ask her to stay longer because of her experience and expertise.

Her community activities have included serving as vice president and president of The Arc of Adams and Clay counties and as a member of the ESU #9 Parents Advisory Board and the Mid-State Dental Assistants Society. She also has been an asset to the CCC Dental Assisting Advisory Board and has helped dental assisting instructor Marie Desmarais place CCC students in clinicals. Desmarais was Welke’s instructor when she was attending CCC.

She has been active in the Methodist Church, including working with its youth group, Sunday school and children’s choir. Over the years, she has played on community sports teams and coached youth sports such as volleyball, softball and baseball. She also was a coach for Special Olympics bowling and the Special Olympics Alumni Group.


Jakubowski Receives NCCA Alumni Award

Tracy Jakubowski and Dr. Matt GotschallTracy Jakubowski received a 2019 Nebraska Community College Association (NCCA) Distinguished Alumni Award at the NCCA annual conference in Lincoln. She was one of five individuals to receive the award.

Following her graduation from CCC-Grand Island in 2007, Jakubowski (left) went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) in 2009 and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Doane College in 2012. Last year, she completed her educational administration 7-12 endorsement through UNK.

Jakubowski began her career with Grand Island Public Schools at Walnut Middle School and then was an integration specialist at West Lawn Elementary School before accepting her current position as a history teacher at Grand Island Senior High School.

In 2018, she was named the Nebraska History Teacher of the Year by the Nebraska Department of Education and the Gilder Lehrman Institute.

In 2019, Jakubowski received the CCC-Grand Island Outstanding Alumni Award and was named Grand Island High School Teacher of the Year.


CCC Earns AASHE STARS Silver Rating

STARS Silver EmblemCentral Community College earned a STARS Silver rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education. With more than 900 participants in 40 countries, AASHE’s STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in academics, engagement, operations, planning and administration, and innovation and leadership.

CCC’s STARS report is publicly available on the STARS website.

Central Community College has been a Cum Laude leader since 2011 and signatories of the Second Nature Climate Commitment as part of the Climate Leadership Network (previously the ACUPCC), and the Sustainability Education and Economic Development (SEED) initiative. CCC has made a commitment to educate, implement and model the practices needed for a sustainable future. For central Nebraska and beyond, we believe environmental sustainability is important and necessary for a healthy ecosystem, communities and economic sustainability.

The overall sustainability performance of the college has improved tremendously since its first STARS Bronze rating in 2017, by committing to a climate action plan with target goals. Ben Newton, CCC sustainability director, collaborates with CCC staff, campuses, and centers in achieving these goals and shares best practices regularly with local, state, regional and national audiences.

Nebraska State Fair

Fair PavillionCentral Community College students hosted projects at the 2019 Nebraska State Fair’s J-Tech Solar Sustainability Pavilion for the second year. Projects were funded through a collaboration with the Nebraska State Fair and a CCC mini grant for tools.

New 2019 Projects included:

  • Solar Charger – A small solar charger that recharges the lithium AA batteries used in CCC's Bike Share stations.
  • Myconoe – An eight-foot canoe (below left) grown from fungal mycelium, the main body of a fungus. In dormancy from being dried in the Nebraska sun, the Myconoe flourishes back to life after a float, growing colorful fruit bodies.
  • Miniature Wind Turbine – A small-scale wind turbine with a base made from PVC pipe and propeller made from a model airplane's propeller.
  • Upcycled into Treasures – Assortment of homemade projects made from discarded materials.
  • Sustainaspace –A display room featuring household furniture and décor made from repurposed materials: reupholstered stool, tire ottoman, cardboard chair (below right), TV stand, miniature window greenhouse and mosaic garden table. 
  • Homemade Solutions – Household cleaning supplies and personal care items made from organic ingredients.
  • Hydroponic System – A small system made from plastic totes where herbs are grown in a water system with clay pebbles used as a growing media.

    Myconoe Sustainaspace

Pollinator Festival

The Extended Learning Services and the Environmental Sustainability offices jointly hosted CCC’s Second Annual Pollinator Festival in September on the Grand Island Campus with approximately 230 attendees. The free event featured children’s activities, including stories from the garden, pollinator costume parade, honey extraction, and monarch tag and release. There were also presentations on the Nebraska Bumble Bee Atlas, converting lawns to a pollinator gardens and diverse insect pollinators. Featured speakers included Dr. Doug Golick, assistant professor of entomology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Katie Lamke, Xerces Society; Pete Berthelsen, Conservation Blueprint LLC; and Dr. Benjamin Vogt, Monarch Gardens LLC.


New Pollinator Gardens in Ord, Hastings; New Pergola in Columbus

Ord Pollinator GardenThe Ord Learning Center officially joined the CCC campus-wide pollinator garden program in September. A site was selected and approved by the city after a bloom box was purchased from the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum. Installation oversight was provided by Ben Newton and his staff with local oversight, site preparation and coordination provided by Dr. Crystal Ramm and community volunteers.

The Hastings Campus also added a new pollinator garden on the east side of the Platte Building in June with CCC staffers assisting. It is a great addition as it is adjacent to the existing herb and vegetable garden. Many of the native plants are edible or can be used by the CCC hospitality management and culinary arts program. 

Pergola at Columbus CampusA pergola was installed in the Columbus Campus pollinator garden to provide shade and a structure for trumpet vines to climb. Additionally, since CCC has collected over 500 pounds of plastic film college-wide for recycling, Trex donated a bench made from recycled plastic to be placed under the pergola to provide seating.  A message board made from recycled bags was also installed to display a map of the plants for garden visitors.

Students 4 Sustainability

Students 4 Sustainability (S4S) designed a tree for the 2019-2020 Stuhr Museum Fantasy of Trees exhibit. The upcycled and reused ornaments were environmentally themed and featured photos of native Nebraska pollinator flowers and grasses. Because it also included solar-powered lights, the tree was placed near sunlight from the roof. 

An upcycled tree skirt was made with stacked aluminum cans and the 2019 Pollinator Fest flag. The skirt won the 2019 Best Tree Skirt award.

Other S4S projects included a highway cleanup, homemade valentines and candles, and participation in events conducted by the environmental sustainability office.

America Recycles Day

America Recycles Day EmblemCCC celebrated America Recycles Day in collaboration with Project GPS scholars in Columbus. The event kicked off for a new recycling partnership with Green Fiber, which buys CCC cardboard and paper waste and transforms the items into cellulose insulation. There were fun recycling games, a scavenger hunt with the winners receiving reusable and bamboo straws, and a live presentation of the Styrofoam-eating mealworm farm.

New Community Involvement eBadge

The Community Involvement eBadge was officially approved and open for registration in 2020. It gives students the opportunity to grow academically, pre-professionally, personally and civically by applying knowledge from their courses to meet real needs in the community. They complete eight hours of volunteer work, pre-assessment, post community involvement experiences, and meet regularly with an assigned faculty or staff member.

Earth Month

CCC hosted its fourth annual celebration of Earth Day in April 2020. However, due to COVID restrictions, it was virtual. Events included a composting workshop by Conservation Nebraska and a tour of the Grand Island Campus pollinator garden to see the early spring blooms and learn about the benefits of keeping dormant plants all winter.

In collaboration with the environmental science class and Project Growing Pathways to Stem, CCC students showcased their sustainability projects through 10-minute presentations. Topics included upcycled sword in stone, recycling e-waste, certified arboretums, composting, solar globes, rain chains, algae biofuels, solar farms, reuse thrift stores, and mycelium bee hotels.

Eighth Year of Sustainability Leadership Presentation Series

Central Community College continued the Sustainability Leadership Presentation Series for 2019-20. Series partners include the Creighton University Office of Sustainability Programs, Hastings College Student Environmental Action Coalition, Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities, Metropolitan Community College, Nebraska Recycling Council, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Environmental Studies, and University of Nebraska at Omaha Sustainability Office. SLPS hosts a monthly live broadcast featuring experts in the field of environmental sustainability and climate change. Programs included:

  • Nebraska EV Charging Rebate Program presented by Randy Smith, program specialist with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.
  • RegeNErate Nebraska: Growing Nebraska Communities from the Soil Up presented by Graham Christensen, founder and president of GC Resolve and GC ReVOLT.
  • Project Drawdown: How Education Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions presented by Crystal Chissell, vice president of operations and engagement at Project Drawdown.
  • Model Composting Regulations in the United States presented by Frank Franciosi, United States Composting Council executive director.  
  • Pollinators: The Glue that Connects Sustainability Issues presented by Peter Berthelsen, partnership director for The Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund.
  • The Impacts of Invasive Species on Ecosystems with a Focus on Ants presented by Jason Carbaugh, visiting assistant professor of biology at Hastings College.

Region IX Supremacy

Women's Basketball Wins Region IX Men's Basketball Wins Region IX 

The 2019-20 women's basketball team (left) won the first Region IX championship in program history with a thrilling 63-61 victory over Southeast Community College in the title game at Raider Fieldhouse. An SCC turnover with 18 seconds left sealed the deal. The Raiders advanced to the NJCAA Division II North Plains District Championship, where they lost at United Tribes Technical College in North Dakota.

The men's basketball team (right) won the 2019-20 Region IX championship with a 94-79 win over Southeast Community College in the title game at Raider Fieldhouse. Tre'vion Crawford led all scorers with 31 points. The Raiders advanced to the NJCAA Division II North Plains District Championship, where they lost to Dakota County Technical College out of Minnesota.

NABC Recognizes Ritzdorf

John Ritzdorf, CCC men's basketball coachCCC men's basketball coach John Ritzdorf was named to the 2020 Under Armour 30-Under-30 Team, representing 30 of the most outstanding men's college basketball coaches under the age of 30.

The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) assembled the team based on nominations from its membership, which totals nearly 5,000 members consisting primarily of university and college men's basketball coaches.

Ritzdorf is the only community college coach to make the team and is only one of five head coaches on the squad. In 2019-20, he led CCC to a 20-11 record, a Region IX title and an appearance in the NJCAA Division II Basketball North Plains District Championship.

Women’s Soccer Makes Its Debut

Women's Soccer 20192019 marked a new era in CCC athletics as women’s soccer made its debut. Coach Jamie Bennett led 20 players from throughout Nebraska and one from The Netherlands to a 7-10 record.

The inaugural season got off to a great start with a 2-0 win over the College of St. Mary (pictured). The Raiders scored victories over Garden City Community College, 3-2, and York College JV, 3-1, for a 3-0 record. CCC closed out the season with a pair of shutout wins over Doane University JV and Midland University JV.

Kaylee Grieser was the leading goal scorer for the Raiders as she logged six goals throughout the season. Mei Hou and Madison Hurst each logged five goals. Hou tallied the most assists with six.

“Overall, I was very pleased with the season both on and off the field,” said Bennett. “On the field, we improved every game and had fun doing it. More importantly, off the field we had six players received NJCAA Academic All-American honors and a team GPA of 3.19.”

Fall Sports Honors

Men's Soccer

  • Luis Tovar: All-Region IX Honorable Mention
  • Jeremiah Vidale: All-Region IX First Team


  • Shania Borchers, Lydia Permenter and Jordan Wegner: All-Region IX Team
  • Bailey Lehr and Abbe Mancuso: Region IX All-Tournament Team


Winter Sports Honors

Men’s Basketball

  • Roman Behrens: NJCAA Division II All-America Third Team
  • Roman Behrens, Tre’vion Crawford and Nathan Frost: Region IX First Team
  • Roman Behrens, Tre'vion Crawford: NCCAC All-Conference Team
  • Nathan Frost: NCCAC Honorable Mention
  • Coach John Ritzdorf: Region IX Coach of the Year and NCCAC Coach of the Year

Women’s Basketball

  • Monica Brooks: NJCAA Division II All-America Third Team
  • Monica Brooks, Isabel Diaz and Jasmine Williams: All-Region IX Team and NCCAC All-Conference Team
  • Allanah Beller, Monica Brooks and Jasmine Williams: Region IX All-Tournament Team

NJCAA Academic All-Americans

A record 36 CCC student-athletes were recognized by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) for academic achievement during 2019-20.

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 CCC softball team led the way with 10 student-athletes earning NJCAA academic honors, followed by volleyball with eight. Women’s basketball and women’s soccer each had six players receive honors, while men’s basketball and men’s soccer each had three. Golf had two players earn honors.

The Raiders had four teams that earned NJCAA Academic Team of the Year honors for posting a combined 3.0 GPA or better. Volleyball posted a 3.55 GPA, while women’s basketball sported a 3.5 GPA. Softball posted a 3.42 GPA and women’s soccer posted a 3.19 GPA.

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


Christian Jewell, First Team; and Joel Poland, First Team.

Men's Basketball

Cooper Pratt, First Team; Jack Mohr, First Team; and Chase Ruzicka, Second Team.

Men's Soccer

Ethan Bonaparte, Second Team; Guilherme Balestra Demhougi, Third Team; and Roberto Pedro, Third Team.


Grace Cargill, Second Team; Lily Cast, Second Team; McKinley Josoff, Third Team; Kaitlyn Kleinheksel, Third Team; Morgan Pinkelman, First Team; Larisa Rother, Third Team; Kassidy Soulliere, First Team; Macee Trotta, Third Team; Michaela Wegner, First Team; and Ragan Wood, First Team.


Kamri Adler, Third Team; Devyn Erickson, First Team; Mallory Gotschall, First Team; Katelynn Halstead, Third Team; Abbe Mancuso, Second Team; Lydia Permenter, Third Team; Susan Vavra, First Team; and Madison Walkowiak, Second Team.

Women's Basketball

Gabrielle Baack, Third Team; Allanah Beller, Second Team; Jayden Haag, Third Team; Bailey Keller, Second Team; Sarah Monahan, First Team; and Sydni Whitted, Third Team.

Women's Soccer

Courtney Aldrich, Second Team; Reagan Folda, First Team; Kaylee Grieser, Second Team; Bailey Keller, Second Team; Macee Trotta, Third Team; and Sanne Van Gorp, Third Team.

Athletic Hall of Fame Induction

2019 CCC Athletic Hall of Fame InducteesOne individual, one team and one business were inducted into the CCC Athletic Hall of Fame in November at its ninth annual induction ceremony  The inductees were:

Monica (Caspar) Chamberlain - Chamberlain was a standout on the CCC volleyball team in 1997 and 1998, leading the Raiders to a third-place finish in the NJCAA Division I region tournament in the latter year. The Grand Island native was an All-Region IX selection in 1998 and made the Region IX All-Tournament team as a freshman and sophomore. Chamberlain logged 793 kills, 874 digs, 109 blocks and sported a .327 hitting efficiency during her CCC career. She was also named All-NCCAC in 1997 and 1998.

1972 Cross Country Team - The Raiders were the Nebraska Junior College Conference champions, claimed the Region IX title and finished 20th at nationals.

Ron Suggs coached the team, which was comprised of Dave Aden, Bill Bryant, Fred Carnahan, Bill Doney, Leroy Korus, Greg Morgensen and Dave Petro.

Columbus Screen Printing - For more than 35 years, Columbus Screen Printing (CSP) has been a major contributor and supporter of Central Community College athletics. Owners Tom and Jenny Schwank go above and beyond to make sure the CCC teams look the best in Raider apparel with quality designs on team gear. CSP has been a tremendous partner with generous support to Raider fundraisers to assist the needy or special causes such as cancer screenings and awareness.

Kuhl Named Golf Coach

Warren Kuhl, CCC golf head coachWarren Kuhl was named head coach of the CCC golf team in May, succeeding Joe "Britt" Blackwell, who stepped down to focus on his role as an accounting instructor.

Kuhl possesses a wealth of collegiate head coaching experience. Most recently, he skippered the women's golf program at Midland University from 2010 to 2018. In his first season, Midland qualified for the NAIA national tournament.

From 2004 to 2010, Kuhl served as the head women's golf coach at Dana College in Blair. There, he also led the Vikings to the NAIA national tournament.

Kuhl is a retired high school educator who spent 38 years as a teacher, counselor and administrator at schools in Nebraska and Iowa.


Lucky Seven 

2020 Best for Vets logoThe Veterans and Military Resource Center (VMRC) at Central Community College again placed No. 1 on Military Times Best: Colleges 2020 rankings.

It marked the seventh consecutive year that the VMRC has taken the top spot. CCC was the only Nebraska community college to make the list and finished ahead of community colleges in Michigan, Florida, Texas and Minnesota.

According to Military Times, the process to make the list begins with each school filling out a 150-question survey about operations involving current and former service members and their families. The institutions were evaluated in five categories: university/college culture, student support, academic policies, academic outcomes and quality, cost and financial aid. University/college culture and student support carried the greatest weight in the evaluation, and many other factors not listed were also considered.

BCV Gives to SVA

BCV Check PresentationA check presentation was held in October at the Veterans and Military Resource Center at the Grand Island Campus. Chef Anthony Allen (right) with the Business Coalition for Veterans (BCV) presents a check for $1,000 to Michael Rothe (left), president of the Student Veterans Association at CCC-Grand Island. The money was raised in September at Husker Party in the Park II. The BCV raised $471 at inaugural party in 2018 and had a 2019 goal to double that amount. The money is used to cover emergency situations of student veterans to keep their education and career goals on target.

“Education is just one of many ways BCV helps veterans,” said Chef Anthony. “I look forward to our continued partnership with CCC’s Student Veterans Association for the benefit of our local veterans.”

SVA National Conference

The 12th Annual Student Veterans Association (SVA) National Conference was held in Los Angeles in early January. Eight SVA members and one adviser joined more than 2,500 attendees from around the country for the three-day conference. Participants heard prominent featured speakers and attended breakout sessions where they learned innovative ways of improving their campus SVAs and leadership skills.

SVA National Conference Attendees

Top row (l-r): Erich Goldstein, Keith Tinnell, Michael Rothe, Anthony Allen.
Bottom row (l-r): Aaron Sands, Jeff Lewis, Rebecca Maring, Ashley Allen, Mikayla Havins

SVA Events

The SVA took part in the 2019 Nebraska State Fair (upper left) and Veterans Day ceremonies at the Columbus Campus (upper right), the Grand Island Campus (lower left) and the Hastings Campus (lower right).

SVA at 2019 Nebraska State Fair Veterans Day at Columbus Campus
Veterans Day at Grand Island Campus Veterans Day at Hastings Campus


Fare Thee Well and Welcome

Travis Karr Barry Horner

Travis Karr (left), veterans and military services director, left Central Community College after nine years. He was instrumental in establishing of CCC's Veterans and Military Resource Centers (VMRC), which started as one center funded through grant dollars. Under Karr’s leadership, the numbers of VMRCs increased to four and the program has received national awards and accolades for several years. 

Succeeding Karr to lead the VMRC is 1st Sgt. Barry Horner (right), who previously spent 25 years in the CCC’s information technology department. Horner has been in a U.S. Army uniform for 40 years.

CCC Women Veterans Scholarship

The annual Salute to Women Warriors banquet, which honors women of military service, was postponed due to COVID-19.

What was not postponed was the presentation of the CCC Women Veterans Scholarship, given in honor of Wilma Kellogg 1st Lt., U.S. Army veteran. Krista Osantowski was the recipient of the $1,000 scholarship. Awardees are scored on academic growth, campus leadership and participation and community service.   

Kellogg served in the U.S. Army during World War II as a nurse and traveled to England with the General Hospital Unit, which followed their soldiers to France, Belgium and Germany. She was decorated with EAME Theatre Ribbon, a Bronze Battle Star, two Overseas Bars and the Victory Medal. Kellogg retired as VA hospital nurse after 20 years.

CCC Foundation

From CCC Foundation Executive Director Dean Moors

CCC Foundation Executive Director Dean MoorsThe CCC Foundation moved forward despite market turbulence and COVID-19. Our team understood the importance of keeping the CCC Foundation on task with respect to completing campaigns and meeting deadlines. Although there was some interruption, the CCC Foundation Board and committees, along with the staff, achieved some strong results.

Here is a short list:

  • The $4 million Columbus campaign will finish on time with construction commencing in the fall of 2020. I thank all the donors who saw the vision for this project and its importance to the Columbus community and surrounding area.

  • Assets of the CCC Foundation have grown to nearly $40 million with successful fundraising events such as the inaugural community appreciation event in Columbus, the employee and year-end campaigns, and the annual pro-am golf event at Riverside Country Club in Grand Island.

  • Scholarships awarded for the 2020-21 academic year exceeded $900,000. If a CCC student applies for a scholarship, the chance they’ll receive one is around 80 percent.

  • The Hastings Campus Major Gifts Campaign met its goal of $5 million for the renovation of the Hamilton Building. The $500,000 endowed scholarship fund will be concluded by the end of 2020. The advanced manufacturing design technology wing was completed, and ribbon-cutting ceremonies were held in February. The welding technology wing was completed in the fall and will be open to students for the spring 2021 semester.

  • The Kearney campaign successfully reached its $10 million goal with 99 percent of the pledges received as agreed. Since the Kearney Center opened in 2017, enrollment has met expectations and new and expanded partnerships and collaborative efforts have come about.

  • An upgraded system has paved the way for a ramped-up alumni effort in the next fiscal year. Our targeting efforts will be more efficient as we look to connect and reconnect with CCC alums.

  • Great strides have been made in planned giving and, as this continues to be a daily focus for the CCC Foundation, the effort will become even stronger as we move into 2021.

Indeed, there is a lot of momentum as we move into another fiscal year. Help us keep it going.


New Development Director Named

Jessica RohanIn February, the CCC Foundation welcomed Jessica Rohan as development director. She previously served as CCC’s grants manager, working closely with the CCC Foundation on numerous fundraising projects. That interaction made for a smooth transition with both internal and external constituents as well as donors and students. Rohan is involved with numerous endeavors, including fundraising, special events, campaigns, marketing and planned giving.

"Jessica joined the team at an important time for the future and growth of the CCC Foundation," said Moors. "In order to meet the demand for student needs in the future, her experience in identifying of a pipeline of donors is critical and we are so fortunate to utilize her skills and abilities."  


New Name, Same Great Service

Entrepreneurship Center Logo

When you hear the name “Central Community College Entrepreneurship Center,” it may sound like something new. It is not. In fact, it’s been around for quite a while.

In 1990, the CCC Foundation opened what was known as the Small Business Institute “to encourage the formation of new, small businesses and to assist existing small businesses with growth opportunities.” In addition to the Hastings location, the Columbus Campus recently moved its Small Business Incubator operations from the Nebraska Public Power District headquarters to space leased from BigIron Realty. The new location is much closer to CCC-Columbus. The new name and logo will create a consistent brand across the college.

What hasn’t changed are the services the CCC Entrepreneurship Center provides for students and community members – business planning and coaching, startup funding and space for new businesses. Finding opportunities is accomplished through appropriate methods for each constituent. For student entrepreneurs, the center seeks to collaborate with local and state agencies, activities and competitions to connect the community with the campuses. For community entrepreneurs, the center aims to coordinate with chamber and economic development organizations to identify needs and opportunities to enhance community outreach.

Low-interest loans of up to $20,000 are available to entrepreneurs who need financial assistance. Loans are available for new and existing businesses at an interest rate of 4 to 5 percent and are amortized over five years. The capital loan fund is overseen by the CCC Foundation and all loans are reviewed and approved by a board of directors.

The director of the Entrepreneurship Center in Hastings is Maggie Esch, who previously served as director of talent solutions for the Hastings Economic Development Corporation. She is well-versed in assisting entrepreneurs as she organized startup events like Big Idea Hastings, Pitch Your Biz, Brews and Brainstorming and the EntrepreTOUR.

Doris Lux is the director of the Entrepreneurship Center in Columbus. She is a retired business administration instructor at the Columbus Campus and continues to operate her own business.

To find out more about the services offered by the CCC Entrepreneurship Center, please click here.

Leading for Success

2020 Board of Governors Officers

Sam Cowan Sandra Borden John A. Novotny
Sam Cowan of Stromsburg
Board Chair
Sandra Borden of Gibbon
Vice Chair/Alternate NCCA Rep.
John A. Novotny of Columbus


Rita Skiles

Diane Keller Austin Miller
Rita Skiles of Huntley
Diane Keller of Harvard
NCCA Representative
Austin Miller of Grand Island
NCCA Representative

CCC Mourns Board Member's Death

David StubbsLongtime CCC Board of Governors member David Stubbs died on Feb. 5.

Stubbs was first elected to the board in 1980 and represented District 2. He served as board chair in 1987 and 2007. He also served as vice chair in 1985 and 1986, secretary in 1984 and treasurer in 1983.

Stubbs also served as vice president and president of the Nebraska Community College Association Board of Directors. He was a past member of the Central Community College Foundation.

A member of the U.S. Army in the Vietnam War, Stubbs was a member of the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans. He was a past board chair of the Selective Service System and a member of the Nebraska Veterans First Committee.

Active in the community, Stubbs was a member of the Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business and the Kearney Airport Authority.

Heiden Returns to CCC Board of Governors

Linda HeidenIn March, Linda Heiden of Bertrand was sworn in as a new member of the CCC Board of Governors to fill the unexpired term of David Stubbs.

Heiden’s appointment marked a return to the CCC board as she was a member in the early 2000s.

She also has a wealth of experience from serving on other boards, including her current role as a member and past president of the Bertrand Board of Education.

Heiden also has spent more than 20 years of serving the State of Nebraska as a public member on several health boards. She is a past member of the State Board of Health, Board of Cosmetology and Board of Veterinary Medicine and a current member of the Board of Optometry.

A graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Heiden works as an account executive for the GTA Insurance Group.  

She and her husband, Greg, have two grown children.

Presidential Service

In addition to their responsibilities at CCC, the college president and campus presidents all served on various community boards during 2019-20.

Dr. Matt Gotschall Dr. Kathy Fuchser  Dr. Marcie Kemnitz Dr. Jerry Wallace 

CCC President Dr. Matt Gotschall: Heartland United Way Board of Directors First Vice Chair.

CCC-Columbus President Dr. Kathy Fuchser: Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce Board.

CCC-Grand Island President Dr. Marcie Kemnitz: CHI Health St. Francis Community and Grand Island Chamber of Commerce Boards.

CCC-Hastings President Dr. Jerry Wallace: Hastings Economic Development Corporation and Hastings Noon Rotary Boards.
Budget and Finances

Tax Relief

The Central Community College Board of Governors approved an operating budget for 2019-20, which included a decrease in the property tax levy for the 25 counties served by CCC.

The property tax levy was set at 9.3117 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, down from 9.5956 cents in 2018-19. The decrease resulted in a $2 million tax savings across the 25-county service area. The decrease came at a critical time following massive flooding in several Nebraska counties and lower agriculture commodity prices. CCC covered the difference through cash reserves, additional state aid and tuition sources.

The total tax supported budget for 2019-20 was $72,360,913 which was $377,628 less than 2018-19.

Budget Report

The college operating budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year was $58,755,998. Funding sources were:

  • State aid in support of the operating budget increased from $9,264,576 in 2018-19 to $9,623,041 in 2019-20, which provided 16.38 percent of the total.
  • Local property tax for 2019-20 contributed $37,656,274 to the operating budget, compared with $37,055,923 in 2018-19, which provided 64.09 percent of the total.
  • Tuition provided $10,269,401 in 2019-20, which amounted to 17.48 percent of the total.

Operating budget breakdown:

  • 59.59 percent went toward instruction and academic support.
  • 21.10 percent went to institutional support.
  • 9.41 percent went to physical plant support.
  • 8.10 percent went to student services.
  • 1.79 percent went to student aid.

The capital improvement budget for 2019-20 was $9,490,525 and the budget for the hazardous materials/handicapped fund was $4,114,390.

19-20 Budget Charts


During 2019-20, there were a number of facilities project completed at various CCC campuses and centers. Here is a pictorial sample:

Facilities Gallery

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