2022 Annual Report

Student Success

Guinness Book of World Records Includes CCC Grad and Intern

Katy Ayers, a 2021 graduate of the Columbus Campus, and Nebraska Mushroom LLC owner William “Ash” Gordon hold the record for creating the world’s longest fungal mycelium boat. The 7 ft. 6 in. mushroom boat was constructed by Ayers and Gordon in 2019. 

“Being named as Guinness World Record holder is a forgotten dream-come-true for me,” said Ayers. “I used to try and fail to break Guinness World Records as a child, and I cannot begin to express the elation of earning one as an adult.”

Gordon, who serves as an intern in the CCC environmental sustainability office, is also listed as a record holder for his role in the mycelium boat’s creation.

"Being recognized for our accomplishment by an iconic publication like Guinness is super exciting,” said Gordon.

After graduating from CCC, Ayers transferred to Washington State University (WSU) which is one of the foremost institutions in mycology research. During her first semester, Ayers served as a chemistry teaching assistant and a technical research assistant for the WSU department of crop and soil sciences.

Inaugural Winter Commencement

Central Community College held its first winter commencement on Dec. 10 at the Aurora Cooperative Pavilion at the Fonner Park Campus.

A total 336 graduates were honored with 90 attending the commencement ceremony, which encompassed the Columbus, Grand Island and Hastings campuses. In past years, each of the three CCC campuses hosted informal midyear graduation receptions with all participants being invited to take part in spring commencement.

The keynote speaker was Chandra Anderson, a 2009 graduate of the nursing program at Central Community College-Kearney. She began her remarks by describing her CCC degree as her “golden ticket” and like her, all of the graduates have their own golden tickets.

“It has the ability to get you that job, provide for your family, open the door for you and is the opportunity for you to also to continue your academic journey,” said Anderson, who serves as the chief nursing and quality officer at Cozad Community Health System. 

Spectrum, the select choir from the Columbus Campus, performed the national anthem and the ROTC color guard from Grand Island Senior High presented the colors. CCC President Dr. Matt Gotschall conducted the ceremony while each of the three campus presidents played a role. CCC-Grand Island President Dr. Marcie Kemnitz introduced the keynote speaker, CCC-Columbus President Dr. Kathy Fuchser read the names of the graduates and CCC-Hastings President Dr. Jerry Wallace gave a final moment of reflection and encouraged the audience to give a resounding round of applause to the graduates.

In total, 336 CCC students earned awards following the fall 2021 semester.

Spring Graduation Celebration

Eight-hundred and fifty-five graduates were honored and more than 400 received their degrees during three commencement ceremonies on May 6. The Grand Island Campus totaled the most graduates with 385, followed by the Hastings Campus with 320 and the Columbus Campus with 150. Heartland Arena hosted both the Grand Island and Hastings campus graduations while the Raider Fieldhouse hosted the Columbus Campus commencement. A recap of each ceremony is below.

Keynote addresses at the Columbus and Grand Island campuses were respectively delivered by CCC’s Outstanding Alumni Award recipients, Karen P. Pesek and Cody M. Gulbrandson. Troy and Kelsey Hofmann, Hastings Campus alumni award recipients, were recognized at the Hastings Campus graduation while the keynote address was given by Dr. Candace Walton, CCC vice president of innovation and instruction. For complete biographical information on each Outstanding Alumni Award recipient, please see the Alumni section of this report.


Pesak addressed 94 graduates and shared her story of enrolling at CCC nearly two decades ago as a newly arrived Mexican immigrant with very limited English language skills. However, with hard work and determination she earned a Phi Theta Kappa scholarship and transferred to Wayne State College and earned a public accounting degree, which opened a huge door.

“I got a job offer in my senior year from an international corporation and I found myself jet-setting all over the United States and the world,” said Pesek. “My work sent me to assignments in Spain, Mexico City, New York and Chicago. I was living the dream.”

In 2013, Pesek and her husband, Ross, whom she met at CCC, founded the True Potential Scholarship, which focuses on opportunities for immigrants to pursue an education at any community college in Nebraska. To date, True Potential has granted more than 150 scholarships.

Grand Island

A record 203 graduates of CCC-Grand Island attended commencement at Heartland Arena.

Gulbrandson, a 2000 graduate of Central City High School and a nontraditional student at CCC, went onto earn a doctor of veterinary medicine degree from Iowa State University. Today, he is the owner and veterinarian at Beaver Creek Veterinarian Services in Albion.

“Be yourself, be persistent, be committed, love what you do,” said Gulbrandson. “There is no doubt that with the relationships you have made, the education that you have received and the tuition that you have saved, that you are poised to be successful.”


Get back and give back was the theme of Walton’s keynote address, which was delivered to the 133 CCC-Hastings graduates in attendance.

“Eventually, you’re going to have to get back home,” said Walton, who explained that getting back even applied to the students who lived at home during their CCC years. “Your community and your family need your skill set back in your hometown. Please get back to your hometown and make a difference.”

The Hofmanns own After Hours Grafix and Urban Chic Boutique in Aurora and both are 2011 graduates of CCC-Hastings. Kelsey earned a business administration degree and an entrepreneurship certificate while Troy graduated with a dual degree in machine tool technology and drafting and design technology.


The SkillsUSA Nebraska State Leadership and Skills Conference returned to Fonner Park for the first time since 2019. Skilled and technical science students from all over the state, including CCC, took part in more than 100 competitions. Additionally, a few CCC staffers served as judges. This is a list of the CCC-Hastings students who placed in various competitions:


  • 2nd Place – Thomas Harling


  • 2nd Place – Jok Lewis

CNC Milling Specialist

  • 1st Place – Stefany Chavez Gomez


  • 1st Place – Grace Ballou
  • 2nd Place – Delia Miles

Diesel Equipment Technology

  • 2nd Place – Adam Reinhard
  • 3rd Place – Trey Schultz

Diesel Equipment – Construction/Ag

  • 3rd Place – Jacob Gaffney

Technical Team Problem Solving

  • 3rd Place – Grace Ballou, Dawson Mattson, Delia Miles, Austin Schleicher and Addison Simmerman

Technical Drafting

  • 3rd Place – Landon Nelson


Townhouse Project

Forty-four Central Community College-Hastings students had a hand in building a townhouse in Hastings.

The students came from the construction technology; electrical technology; and heating, air conditioning and refrigeration programs. The townhouse has two units. Each 3,103-square-foot unit includes two bedrooms, three baths, a laundry room with a washbasin sink and a full basement. Other features include an attached 728-squarefoot garage and 83-square-foot deck in the back.

In past years, a house was constructed at the Hastings Campus and auctioned off. The house was then transported to the buyer's property.

PTK All-State Academic Team

Havna Bassembat   Julie Harris   Sarah Sudi  

Three Central Community College students were named to the 2022 Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Nebraska All-State Academic Team, which is sponsored by PTK and the Nebraska Community College Association to honor students for academic achievement, leadership and community service. CCC members were:

  • Hanva Bassembat majored in mechatronics at the Columbus Campus. 
  • Jennifer Harris majored in health information management major at the Hastings Campus.
  • Sara Sudi majored in business administration at the Columbus Campus.


2021-22 Project GPS Scholars

Ashley Brown   Erin Cannaday   Hali Eddy  
Ashley Brown   Erin Cannaday   Hali Eddy  
Elizabeth Hamilton   Cirilo Mejia   Therese Yates  
Elizabeth Hamilton   Cirilo Mejia   Therese Yates  


Seven CCC-Columbus students were recognized as Project GPS scholars for 2021-22. They were Ashley Brown, Erin Cannaday, Hali Eddy, Elizabeth Hamilton, Cirilo Mejia, Jacob Plugge (not pictured) and Therese Yates.

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 most of the scientific research and science education research in the United States.


Student Scholarships Awarded

Ag Society scholarship recipientsThree students in the agricultural sciences program received scholarships at the Rural Recognition Banquet which was held in March at Ag Park in Columbus. Dalton Jerabek (left), Kaylei Kemper (center) and Hunter Pickworth (right) each accepted the Platte County Ag Society Scholarships, which covers tuition. The banquet is hosted by the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce and celebrates agriculture and its impact on the Columbus economy.

DeBord Scholarship recipientsThe Jim R. DeBord Scholarship was presented to two students in the heavy equipment operator technician program at the Hastings Campus. Lane Fuller (left) and Tren Nunns (right) each received a $1,000 scholarship to assist them financially in their educational pursuits. Ron and Tammy DeBord established the scholarship in 2020 in honor of Ron’s father, Jim, who worked in the heavy equipment field for more than three decades.

Fall and Spring Plays

The theater department at CCC-Columbus presented plays in the fall and the spring. Appropriately, “A Night of Halloween One Acts” was staged in the fall while “Dearly Departed” was the spring presentation.

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Teaching and Learning

Human Relations Awareness Course Recognized

Central Community College is one of 32 winners of the 2021-22 Innovation of the Year Award by the League for Innovation in the Community College.

CCC won the award for the creation of an accelerated Human Relations Awareness course, a required course for Nebraskans wanting to be a substitute teacher. The course had been available at other Nebraska colleges and universities as a three-credit semester-long course. In 2020, when the need for substitute teachers reached a critical level, CCC’s faculty resource center (FRC) responded by quickly creating a two-week, one-credit course with an online delivery. Since the course was first offered, more than 1,000 people have taken it.

In announcing the awards, the League for Innovation in the Community College cited Abie Ott, FRC director; Dr. Amy Mancini, CCC dean of academic education; Lauren Slaughter, CCC equity and compliance manager; and FRC instructional design consultants Elizabeth Anson, Danielle Schwinn and Tracy Watts, for creating and implementing the project.

Elizabeth Anson   Dr. Amy Mancini   Abie Ott  
Danielle Schwinn   Lauren Slaughter   Tracy Watts  


Metallica Scholars Initiative

Central Community College was selected from a competitive field of community colleges across the country to receive $100,000 to transform the future of students in the community. Funded by Metallica’s All Within My Hands Foundation and led by the American Association of Community Colleges, the Metallica Scholars Initiative was designed to directly support students while also elevating the importance of career and technical education. This work is highlighted at a global level by leveraging the influence of Metallica who continue to speak out on the dignity of professional trades and community colleges that prepare students.

CCC earmarked the funds for its growing criminal justice program and prioritizes underrepresented female and minority groups. Metallica Scholars are showcased to promote varying skilled trade pathways as a means to economic development.

Project HELP: A Successful Legacy

The closing of 2021 marked an end to Project HELP at CCC, but its legacy will live on in the people it shaped.

Project HELP – which stands for Health Education Laddering Program – was the product of a $9.5 million Health Profession Opportunity Grant (HPOG) Central Community College received from the federal Health and Human Services Department in 2010 and was re-awarded as a $12 million grant in 2015. It was designed to educate and train low-income individuals for well-paying, in-demand careers in the health care field.

Through the program, students could enroll in the nursing assistant, medication aide, medical assisting, medical laboratory technician, occupational therapy assistant, health information management systems, emergency medical technician/paramedicine, licensed practical nursing and registered nursing programs at CCC.

“The most important aspect of Project HELP was its impact on families and how it changed their lives,” said Becky Fausett, who served as its director. “The Project HELP team was fantastic and worked together so well and cared so much.”

The team worked with students from different backgrounds but who tended to be single female parents ranging in age from their early 20s to mid-30s. Their previous college education was none, some or a class or two.

Supportive services included personal and career counseling, tutoring, scholarships, laptops, scrubs and stethoscopes, school supplies, gas cards and emergency assistance.

Partnerships and Community Service

GI Entrepreneurship Center Opens for Business

CCC-Grand Island’s new Entrepreneurship Center in downtown Grand Island opened for business in February. Would-be entrepreneurs who purchase a membership will have access to business coaching, workspace, a conference room and even a production studio for video or audio podcasts. While the entrepreneurship center in Grand Island is new, CCC has operated entrepreneurship centers at its Columbus and Hastings campuses for many years.

Sara Bennett was selected to serve as the center’s director and brought several years of experience to the position. She came to CCC after more than a decade of service as the associate director of the Nebraska Business Development Center at the University of Nebraska-Kearney. Bennett’s expertise is in small business development and innovation. Both areas are valuable to CCC students as Bennett is also a business instructor.

CCC-Grand Island President Dr. Marcie Kemnitz cut the ribbon during the open house, marking the official opening of the center. It was standing room only as several community members attended the open house.


Arboretum Recognizes Green Infrastructure

Central Community College received the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum’s Community Landscape Award, which recognizes significant improvement to campus green infrastructure.

CCC environmental sustainability director Ben Newton and students and staff members from the Columbus, Grand Island and Hastings campuses and the Ord Center accepted the award in Lincoln.

At the Grand Island Campus, planting started in 2017 with a pollinator garden that continues to expand. It is maintained by students and interns without the use of chemicals and has served as a showcase for the annual pollinator and groundwater festival. Newton and Kazia Marquez, a CCC graduate and part-time sustainability intern, were instrumental to its success.

The Hastings Campus began with a plant grant in 2020 and added a Bloom Box planting in 2021. Plants were selected for their ability to attract pollinating insects to the adjacent culinary program vegetable garden and the Pawnee corn garden. It is also chemical-free and maintained by the Students 4 Sustainability club and interns Madison Hajek a University of Nebraska-Kearney student and William Gordon, a CCC student.

In Columbus, a large pollinator garden was planted by the facilities department and sustainability staff members in 2017. Facilities management director Kim Garretson and College President Dr. Matt Gotschall, who was Columbus Campus president at the time, were instrumental in supporting the project. The garden serves as a research site for a mushroom bee hotel trial planned by a student and funded by UNL Extension and the National Science Foundation.

In Ord, CCC regional director Dr. Crystal Ramm worked with the City of Ord to approve and prepare for a garden located near the hike and bike trail. Ramm maintains the garden and Students 4 Sustainability members have installed three separate Bloom Box gardens as they keep expanding and adding more native plants.

RAP Program Takes Off

Central Community College launched the Registered Apprentice Program (RAP) in 2021 with CNH Industrial in Grand Island signing the agreement on Aug. 6 (pictured) while Hastings-based A&E Electric made it official four days later. By the end of the year, Lindsay Corporation of Lindsay, Neb. joined Chief Building, Chief Fab, Heartland Electrical, and Standard Iron, all of Grand Island, and Protex Central of Hastings in the RAP program.

RAP follows the “earn while you learn” model, which provides apprentices the opportunity to further their education and skills development while supporting themselves through employment. The combination of schooling and mentorship provided by the business means apprentices will learn all the skills needed to be successful in their chosen field. Upon graduating from CCC with an associate of applied science degree, the apprentices commit to working for their respective companies for two years.

CCC and UNMC Join Forces in Nursing

Central Community College and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) signed an education partnership that allows CCC nursing graduates to complete a bachelor of nursing (BSN) degree through UNMC.

The RN to BSN program is an online advancement program for registered nurses (RN) with an associate degree of nursing. Curriculum is presented through distance education, with courses available on-demand, anytime, to best fit the student’s schedule. All courses are offered in 16-week sessions and eight-week sessions.

All clinical requirements may be satisfied in the student’s local community or one nearby. UNMC has relationships with more than 100 health care institutions across Nebraska and in select other states to provide students a convenient, diverse range of clinical learning.

Under the agreement, UNMC recruits and admits students to the program in collaboration with University of Nebraska Online and offer advising and send instructors to CCC for on-site facilitation. Instructors also will connect with students on a daily or weekly basis via remote technology to respond to questions or provide advisement.

CCC and UNK Sign Three Agreements

CCC and the University of Nebraska-Kearney inked three agreements during 2021-22.

The first is a criminal justice pathway that creates a seamless transition between the two schools and provides flexibility for transfer students and working professionals. The first 60 hours are earned at CCC, which offers an associate of applied science degree in criminal justice through its three campuses as well as some online. After graduating from CCC, students can complete a bachelor’s degree through UNK in just two years. This option is also available to working professionals with a CCC associate degree who want to advance their careers. Under the Nebraska Law Enforcement Education Act, sworn officers may be eligible for a waiver covering 30 percent of their resident tuition costs. To expand access to the program, select UNK criminal justice courses are also offered at College Park, which is located just west of CCC-Grand Island.

Next was a partnership that makes it easier for students to earn stackable degrees in a variety of business fields. The business pathway program creates a seamless transition for students, allowing them to complete one of three associate degree options at CCC before transferring those credits toward a bachelor’s degree at UNK. The three degree options are business administration, accounting and academic transfer. Students would take the first 60 hours at CCC and the final 60 hours at UNK, where there are five emphasis areas to choose from. They are accounting, finance, management, marketing and supply chain management. The UNK business programs are accredited by AACSB International, the highest standard of achievement for business schools. Students enrolled in the business pathway program can apply for scholarships and other financial aid at UNK, which is already the most affordable university in the state.

Finally, the CCC/UNK Residential Housing Program will allow CCC students studying at the Kearney Center to live in UNK’s Randall/Mantor hall or Centennial Towers. Kearney Center students must be enrolled in 12 or more credit hours for both the fall and spring semesters and be age 25 or younger on the first day of classes. In addition to affordable housing and a safe environment, CCC-Kearney students can opt into such UNK services as health and counseling, student events, the wellness center and student parking.

CCC and WSC Sign New Agreement

Central Community College and Wayne State College have signed a new agreement that provides expanded educational opportunities for CCC students.

The new degree partnership allows graduates who complete their associate of applied science degrees at CCC to transfer all of their completed academic credits to Wayne State to earn a bachelor’s degree in technology. The agreement allows WSC to accept up to 80 credit hours for the 120-credit hour program.

CCC and WSC will collaborate on recruitment, advising, and retention efforts that are mutually beneficial to both institutions. To assist prospective transfer students enrolled in the program with their academic planning, students from CCC are strongly encouraged to work with an academic advisor at WSC and an academic advisor at CCC. Students transferring from CCC must meet WSC’s admission standards and will have the opportunity to apply for WSC transfer student scholarships.

The five-year agreement between WSC and CCC requires administrators from both institutions to meet annually to review it.

Leapfrog Village

Fun and educational activities drew 150 to 175 participants to Stolley Park in Grand Island in late June. Kimberly Milovac, early childhood education coordinator at Central Community College, said this first big community event hosted by Leapfrog Village, gave families a chance to enjoy time together while participating in sensory, craft and building projects that can easily be replicated at home. About 25 current and former CCC students and employees helped at the event, which was held in collaboration with Hall County Community Collaborative, Home Depot, Hy-Vee and Super Saver. Leapfrog Village is the result of a CCC mini-grant and is aimed at giving students opportunities to help plan and host community-wide family engagement programming.

Employee Success

Dale P. Parnell Faculty Recognition

Dr. Lauren Gillespie, biological sciences instructor at the Columbus Campus, received the 2022 Dale P. Parnell Faculty Recognition from the American Association of Community College. Named in honor of former AACC President and CEO Dale P. Parnell, the award was established to recognize individuals making a difference in the classroom.

Gillespie is a first-generation student from rural Maine and was recruited into the Federal TRIO programs at age 11. She attended the University of Massachusetts-Amherst on an NCAA Division I field hockey scholarship and was a nationally ranked scorer. Gillespie graduated from UMass-Amherst with a degree in animal behavior ad neuroendocrine mechanisms. She later earned a doctorate in biology at the University of Southern Mississippi.

As a graduate student, Gillespie mentored and trained 17 undergraduate students in research and secured $15,000 in funding from the Department of Defense, North American Bluebird Society, and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Before coming to CCC, Gillespie was awarded a NSF fellowship in Taipei, Taiwan, studying the impacts of herbicides on the hormones and behavior of hermaphroditic fish, and then was an adjunct biology professor at Central Maine Community College.

League Excellence Awards

Nine Central Community College employees received the 2021-22 League Excellence Award from The League for Innovation in the Community College:

Marni Danhauer   Michael David   Sherry Desel  
Randy Manning   Jerry Muller   Ben Newton  
Ronnie O'Brien   Keith Vincik   Diana Watson  
  • Marni Danhauer, college grants manager, for her innovation in writing and managing grants for several million dollars from private, state and national funding organizations. These include the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and U.S. Department of Education.
  • Michael David, criminal justice instructor at the Grand Island Campus, for demonstrating innovation in the classroom and community engagement. This includes several new courses, job placements and instructional expansion as well as national recognition through the Metallica Scholars program, and the new 2+2 criminal justice agreement with the University of Nebraska-Kearney as part of the Equity Transfer Initiative.
  • Sherry Desel, college Enterprise Systems Services director, for consistently keeping CCC’s database systems updated and leading the collegewide team through a major upgrade from onsite to cloud-based services.
  • Randy Manning, diesel technology instructor at the Hastings Campus, for playing an instrumental role in creating and providing ongoing support for work-based learning and scholarships for diesel technology students. The innovative partnerships with Nebraska Machinery and other scholarship sponsors have served as a template for other CCC programs.
  • Jerry Muller, industrial technology coordinator and trainer at the Columbus Campus, for his involvement with the Advanced Technological Education Program grant and the National Science Foundation’s first National Center for Next Generation Manufacturing.
  • Ben Newton, environmental sustainability director, for leading CCC’s sustainability efforts while serving on several state and national boards and associations. His efforts have resulted in CCC being ranked fourth of all Associate Colleges in the United States, and a silver status through the AASHE.
  • Ronnie O’Brien, hospitality management and culinary arts instructor at the Hastings Campus, for dedicating significant time, talent and expertise in building relationships and implementing the nationally recognized Pawnee corn project.
  • Keith Vincik, college network and infrastructure services director, for leading the networking and infrastructure team that has prepared CCC to pivot more seamlessly to remote learning and providing work and student support during the initial and ongoing pandemic.
  • Diana Watson, extended learning services regional director and international studies coordinator, has led international education experiences for students, faculty and staff members to such places as Australia, New Zealand and Italy.

30 Under 30-ish Awardees

Three Central Community College staff members were among the recipients of the 30 Under 30-ish Award, presented by the Hastings Young Professionals (HYP). The award recognizes leaders in the Hastings area who are between 21 and 40 years old. CCC’s recipients were:

Kimberly Milovac, early childhood education coordinator.

Milovac works to strengthen community relationships and introduced the Leapfrog Village program to give students community-building and networking opportunities along with their learning experiences. She also has optimized background check processes and assists with assigning practicum partnerships.

Her diverse work experience includes being a youth program manager, activities staff and Captain’s Club host for Celebrity Cruises; youth program manager and human resources manager at the Boca Raton Resort and Club in Boca Raton, Fla.; and admissions counselor and director of first-year experience at Hastings College.

Milovac is a member of Communities For Kids, Community IMPACT Network Resource Action Team, Hall County Community Collaborative’s Birth-11 Subcommittee and Creating Inclusive Communities Team; and Hastings Young Professionals and is a Hastings College Honors Program assistant.

At CCC, she serves as the Equity Action Committee’s Poverty Committee co-chair and on the New Student Orientation Planning Committee.

Jessica Rohan, development director for the CCC Foundation.

She previously served as creative services manager at David and Associates in Hastings, worked with personnel and grants at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center; and was employed by CCC in the collegewide position of grants manager.

Rohan became a member of the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce Board in 2021. She is a 14-year member of the Kool-Aid Days Festival Board and spent three years helping with the annual event.

She is a graduate of Hastings High School who went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master’s degree in management from Doane University.

Aaron Thiessen, groundskeeping supervisor at CCC-Hastings.

The 160-acre Hastings Campus is home to more than 1,000 trees that need to be pruned, three acres of landscaping beds that need to be maintained and 70 acres of grass that needs to be mowed. Other duties include planting new trees, designing new landscape beds and supervising his staff, which includes one full-time worker all year and around eight part-time and full-time workers in the summer.

Thiessen is a graduate of CCC-Hastings and was excited to come back to the campus, although the two associate of applied science degrees he earned – one in hospitality management and culinary arts and the other in business administration – have little or nothing to do with his current job. His bachelor’s degree from Bellevue University is in management of human resources.

But his interest in groundskeeping is tied to higher education. It began with a job scooping snow and that morphed into a summer job that led him to groundskeeping. He has worked in facilities in higher education since 2014. His last groundskeeping jobs before coming to CCC were at the University of Kansas in Lawrence and the City of Lawrence.

Under his leadership, CCC-Hastings was named a 2020 Tree Campus USA and received 2020 Tree Campus Higher Education recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forestry management.

Thiessen worked with agriculture instructor Dirk Charlson on a successful grant application, “Utilizing Unmanned Aerial System-Acquired Aerial Imagery,” from NE EPSCoR (Nebraska Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. Co-Principle Investigator). The $5,000 grant will pay for drones that can estimate the heights of trees on campus. It also will support an undergraduate intern to conduct research.

His community activities include marching with Out Nebraska in the Star City Pride Parade in Lincoln and volunteering with Heartland Pride to help with the event. He recently was voted to the board of Out Nebraska, an organization supporting the members of the LGBTQIA+ community in the state.

CCC-Columbus Employee of the Year

Glen Wiemer was named the Employee of the Year.

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.

Wiemer has been a building maintenance technician at the campus since 2004. Prior to CCC, he farmed, did rough construction and finer custom cabinetry.

Nominators cited his strong work ethic, commitment to the college, precision and careful attention to detail.

Wiemer is a graduate of Leigh High school and attended CCC. He is a member of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Creston where he served on the church council for 15 years. He has been on the Creston Rural Fire District for 39 years.

He and his wife, Gloria, have four children and eight grandchildren.

CCC-Columbus Faculty Member of the Year

Psychology instructor Emily Mach received the 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.

Mach earned an associate degree from Kaskaskia College in Centralia, Ill.; a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston; and a master’s degree in higher education and psychology from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Prior to joining the CCC staff in 2015, she worked at the Community Resource Center in Centralia, Ill., as a prevention specialist and school counselor, and at Rend Lake College in Ina, Ill., and at Kaskaskia College in Centralia, Ill., as an adjunct psychology instructor.

She is secretary of the Faculty Senate, has served as Phi Theta Kappa Honor’s Society adviser and has been involved with a wide variety of college committees.

She is a member of the American Psychological Association and the Society for the Teaching of Psychology. An article, “Stress and Coping Strategies Among Community College Students,” written by her and M.C. Keim was published in 2007 by the Community College Journal of Research and Practice.

Community activities include the American Heart Association-Go Red Planning Committee, Platte Valley Playhouse Board, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention-Out of the Darkness Walk chair and being an active member of St. Bonaventure Church. She also is a fitness instructor at the Columbus YMCA.

She and her husband, Ross, have two sons.

NeASFAA Recognizes Gdowski

Lisa Gdowski, CCC-Columbus financial aid director, received the Nebraska Association of Student Financial Aid Directors (NeASFAA) Distinguished Service Award in March. Gdowski received the award at the NeASFAA Conference in Norfolk in recognition of her service as the organization’s treasurer.

She also was recognized by the national chairperson as one of only three aid administrators in Nebraska to achieve national certification.

Grand Island Campus Spirit Award

Maria Flores received the 2021-22 Campus Spirit Award at CCC-Grand Island.

The award recognizes employees who make a significant contribution to CCC. The focus is on service above and beyond what is considered a normal or expected part of their job description.

Flores has been an enrollment specialist at the Grand Island Campus for seven year, but she was recognized for the excellent college-wide service she provides. She was also cited for her love of her job, which comes with a broad smile and signature laugh.

Despite a full workload, Flores makes time to be involved with the FOCUS multicultural group and the Multicultural Resource Center and to help other clubs.

Hastings Campus Outstanding Service Award

Ken Gompert and Reba Skalka received the 38th Annual Outstanding Service Award at CCC-Hastings in honor of their exemplary service to the college.

Nominators said Ken Gompert, an information technology services specialist, always looks for solutions to problems with a positive attitude; works overtime to ensure staff and faculty members have what they need to do their jobs effectively; is selfless, reliable, loyal and patient; and puts others’ needs before his own.

Gompert began his employment at CCC in 2000. Prior to joining the CCC staff, he was a foreman for Industrial Contractors during the construction of the Calamus Reservoir.

He earned an associate of applied science degree in electronics technology in 2000 after traveling from Burwell to Hastings for night classes and was hired by CCC-Hastings shortly after graduating as an electronics/AV technician. 

He also became a paramedic by continuing his education at CCC and now works part time for South Central Emergency Services He is an avid ham radio operator and has contacts in hundreds of countries around the world.

He and his wife, Laticia, have three children and nine grandchildren.

Nominators said Skalka, administrative assistant for the skilled and technical sciences division, is always willing to help other departments with projects; works great with students, supporting staff, and representing CCC; makes certain everyone in the department knows exactly what’s going on.

Skalka joined the CCC staff in 1996, first serving as secretary to the college president until 1999. She then took a five-year hiatus from CCC but returned in 2004 to start in her current position.

She grew up in Nelson and graduated from Nelson High School in 1990. Skalka then attended Southeast Community College where she graduated with an associate of applied science degree in office technology in 1994. 

Skalka also has served as a SkillsUSA adviser for 12 years and received the State of Nebraska Adviser of the Year award in 2014. She is a 2018 graduate of Leadership Hastings and serves the campus as a Notary Public.

Skalka has three children.

Leading with Excellence

Fourteen CCC employees completed the 2021-22 Leading with Excellence program.

Since its inception during the 2016-17 academic year, the program is designed to help CCC employees identify opportunities within the college for growth or advancement.

The nine-month program gives participants exposure to every CCC location and access to current leadership. They also learn about college operations and departments, build relationships across departments and locations, and gain from personal and professional development activities.

Employees that participated in the 2021-22 program were:

Administrative Office: Beth Anson, instructional design consultant; Joe Black, grants development coordinator; Andrew Fausett, systems administrator; and Andrea Persampieri, innovation and instruction administrative coordinator.

Columbus: Dan Gettinger, associate dean of extended learning services and training; and Alyssa Nickolite, recruiting coordinator.

Grand Island: Jaycee Carroll, community education coordinator; and Amy Santos, paramedicine program director.

Hastings: Valeria Denman, admissions recruiter; Brad Dobesh, facilities management director; Sherri Dux-Ideus, resource center library supervisor; Alison Feeney, associate dean of skilled and technical sciences; Brian Hoffman, associate dean of business and entrepreneurship; and Aaron Thiessen, groundskeeping supervisor.


Anderson Receives NCCA Distinguished Alumni Award

CCC alumnus Chandra Anderson received the Nebraska Community College Association Distinguished Alumni Award.

Anderson is a 2009 graduate of the nursing program at CCC’s Kearney Center. At the time, she was a single mother. Anderson later earned a BSN followed by dual master’s degrees in health care leadership and business, all through Grand Canyon (Ariz.) University’s online program.

After graduating from CCC, Anderson began her career as a critical care nurse at CHI Health Good Samartian Hospital in Kearney. This was unique because most new nursing graduates do not immediately go into critical care. In 2011, she won the hospital’s Clinical Coach of the Year for Nursing Award.

Anderson then relocated with her family to Pahrump, Nev., where she worked in hospice care for two years before moving on to the emergency department at Desert View Hospital. While there, Anderson was nominated for and won the 40 Under 40 Up and Coming Nurse Leader Award for the State of Nevada.

In 2017, Anderson returned to CHI Health Good Samaritan in Kearney where she served as the RN professional practice/magnet coordinator. After three and a half years, she was named chief nursing and quality officer at Cozad Community Health System where she remains.

Anderson and her husband, Justin, are the parents of two children.

2022 Outstanding Alumni

Four CCC graduates were named Outstanding Alumni Award recipients for 2022. They are:

Columbus Campus – Karen P. Pesek

Karen P. Pesek earned an associate degree from CCC-Columbus and then a public accounting degree from Wayne State College.

She is the director of finance and community liaison at Pesek Law LLC. Her main responsibility as director of finance is to ensure funds received for personal injury cases are correctly distributed to all interested parties on a timely basis. As community liaison, she serves as volunteer coordinator for the South Omaha Business Improvement District, which is where her offices are located. Since 2017, she has helped organize planting days every spring to beautify the streetscape and public spaces of her community.

She serves on several nonprofit boards, including the Metropolitan Community College Foundation, Matters On Tomorrow, Urban Abbey, Centro Comunitario del Pueblo, and Girls Inc. Nebraska.

Pesek and her husband, Ross, who is also a CCC graduate, established the True Potential Scholarship to help young immigrants reach their True Potential through quality, affordable education. Since its establishment, the scholarship has helped more than 100 immigrant students attend classes at several community colleges in Nebraska and Iowa.

The couple has three children.

Grand Island Campus – Cody M. Gulbrandson

Dr. Cody M. Gulbrandson of St. Edward is owner of and veterinarian at Beaver Creek Veterinarian Services in Albion.

Gulbrandson grew up in a rural setting south of Central City. He graduated from Central City Public School in 2000 and started his college career at CCC-Grand Island in 2002 with the intent of getting a degree in veterinary medicine.

Upon completing his prerequisites, he was accepted into the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2005. He graduated from both Iowa State and CCC in 2009, then moved to Fullerton for his first professional position as a doctor in veterinary medicine.

He went on to accept a position at Town and Country Veterinary Clinic in Albion and became co-owner in 2012. In October 2021, he left the clinic to start Beaver Creek Veterinary Services in Albion.

Gulbrandson is president of the Boone County Agricultural Society and director at large for the Nebraska Veterinary Medicine Association.

He and his wife, Amanda, have three children.

Hastings Campus – Troy and Kelsey Hoffman

Troy and Kelsey Hofmann are owners of After Hours Grafix and Urban Chic Boutique in Aurora.

After Hours Grafix designs, prints and installs wraps on ambulances, semitrucks, charter buses and commercial vehicles and trailers. Urban Chic Boutique is a size-inclusive women’s clothing boutique.

They attended CCC-Hastings at the same time and graduated in 2011 with associate of applied science degrees. Troy’s degrees are in machine tool technology and drafting and design technology and Kelsey’s degree is in business administration.

Troy started After Hours Grafix in 2009 as a side business while in college. He stayed with it after graduation even though he also had a full-time drafting job.

Meanwhile, Kelsey finished cosmetology school in 2012 and opened Urban Creations hair salon in Aurora.

In 2014, Troy decided to quit his drafting job and go full-time with After Hours Grafix.

The couple opened their first storefront in 2015 in downtown Aurora. In 2019, they moved into a new 7,000-square-foot shop near the I-80 and Highway 14 interchange.

After COVID restrictions shut down hair salons, Kelsey decided to close hers and start Urban Chic Boutique. It opened in February 2021 as a size-inclusive, online-only women’s clothing boutique, but when local demand skyrocketed, she converted her salon space for once-a-week, in-store shopping. After a year, crowded space led her to move in with a local shop on the downtown square. She continues to also sell products online.

Troy’s work can be seen on the vehicles of local business owners as well as on the CCC truck driving program’s semitrucks. His graphics and custom wraps for the three main Nebraska ambulance and emergency equipment dealers and just acquired two charter bus dealers.

Both Hofmann businesses are members of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce. After Hours Grafix was spotlighted as a Member of the Month in January 2020 and won the Aurora Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year for 2021.

Kelsey became an Aurora Chamber of Commerce Board Member in 2022.

Community Connection

If you would like to keep up on what other CCC alumni are doing and how they are making a difference in their community, please take a look at the Community Connection. The magazine is published twice a year and an electronic version is always available here


Sustainable Recognition

Central Community College received three recognitions during 2021-22:

The 2021 Sustainable Campus Index named CCC an overall 3rd Top Performer of all two-year institutions in the U.S. and 7th in North America. The publication by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education recognizes top performing colleges and universities in 17 sustainability impact areas, as measured by the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS). CCC STARS highlights include 100 percent of the Hastings electricity from wind and 100 percent of Kearney power is from a local solar farm, pollinator gardens on all campuses, and a detailed environmental sustainability action plan with measurable objectives that address diversity, equity and inclusion.   

CCC received a #3 ranking among community colleges nationwide in Sierra Magazine’s “Cool School” list. The magazine has been tracking sustainable schools in the U.S. for more than 15 years.

Participation in Sierra magazine's Cool Schools ranking is open to all four-year, degree-granting undergraduate colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada, along with two-year community colleges. More than 300 qualified schools took part.

Finally, CCC’s Columbus, Grand Island and Hastings campuses and the Ord Center received a Community Landscape Award from the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum. The award recognizes organizations for implementing landscape projects that have significantly improved the green infrastructure of a community. The pollinator gardens on each campus started as a Bloom Box grant and evolved into showcase gardens in central Nebraska. The recipients for each CCC garden include:

Grand Island – Ben Newton, Kazia Marquez, Joseph Black and Scott Miller

Hastings – Madison Hajek, Dan Deffenbaugh and William Gordon

Columbus – Kim Garretson and CCC President Dr. Matt Gotschall

Ord – Dr. Crystal Ramm

Bloom Box: Gardening for Everyone

CCC welcomed Sarah Buckley from the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum to host a pollinator workshop and planting day at the Hastings Campus with a focus on native plants. The workshop was part of the award-wining Bloom Box program, which makes beneficial landscaping accessible to all Nebraskans through a hand selection of plants chosen for pollinators, wildlife, soil-health and water resources. This included a layout plan designed to help gardeners incorporate native plants into urban landscapes. The Bloom Box program provided additional space for native plants in the Ord pollinator garden.

Butterfly Garden at CCC-Hastings

A new butterfly garden was installed on the Hastings campus. Groundskeeping supervisor Aaron Thiessen took the lead on installing the garden utilizing the “hill culture” method which involves the burial of logs beneath the soil, acting as a source of nutrients for the plants as it breaks down. The technique encourages plant diversity, assisting in water retention and heat conservation during the growing seasons. Many of the native plants that were incorporated serve as great host plants for local butterfly species, as well as other pollinators.

America Recycles Day

CCC-Columbus held an America Recycles Day workshop that included making fashionable and reusable tote bags that can be reused for groceries, class, fashion, etc. Information about growing native Nebraskan plants and seed collection sales to support Students 4 Sustainability along with knowledge about winter sowing and cold stratification techniques were offered. Some of the plants species in the seed packets included Prairie Coneflower, False Indigo, Swamp Milkweed, Wild Senna and Blue Star. 

Earth Month at CCC

Earth Month festivities began at the Kearney Center with a tour of the sustainability features followed by a demonstration of the electric vehicle charging station. The Hastings Campus held a student exhibition of state fair projects along with a bike ride to the wind turbine. In addition to the partner organization booths, the Grand Island Campus hosted a sustainable jewelry making table made where students were invited to create earth charms and baubles made from real plants. To end Earth Month festivities, the Columbus Campus held a hands-on pollinator planting demo with Sarah Buckley, of the Statewide Arboretum. Sustainability intern Ash Gordon also gave a composting demonstration in the afternoon. Earth Month events were accompanied by an Arbor Day celebration at the Hastings Campus by adding more trees around campus.

Groundwater Festival

Sustainability interns participated in the annual Groundwater Festival at the Grand Island Campus. The event teaches fifth graders about the importance of soil health and water systems through activities, presentations and a tour of the pollinator garden. Other organizations from across Nebraska took part.


Esports Launch

CCC athletics entered the rapidly growing esports arena during 2021-22. Unlike CCC’s other sports which are located on the Columbus Campus, the esports team is open to all students at each CCC location.

Lucas Lumbra was appointed as the head coach of the Raiders inaugural esports team. Lumbra came to CCC from Ohio State Esports where he served as an analyst and manager of the Premier Overwatch team. He guided Premier Overwatch to national rankings and top 16 finishes in both 2019 and 2021. In 2018, he founded Buckeye Gaming Collective, a student organization at The Ohio State University (OSU) that provides recreational videogaming and entertainment activities to both students and community members.

Established as an officially sanctioned sport by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) in fall 2019, NJCAA Esports has grown from 12 original members to 81. According to the NJCAA, the 81 member institutions are comprised of more than 600 specific teams, more than 150 coaches and administrators and more than 1,500 student-athletes nationwide. The NJCAA provides two-year college esports teams with governance, competition and official national championships.

Pulido Returns to CCC

Luis Pulido, an assistant coach for the CCC men’s soccer squad in 2017 and 2018, was named head coach.

Pulido returned to Columbus after serving as head men’s soccer coach at Dakota Wesleyan University (DWU) in Mitchell, South Dakota. In one season, he led the Tigers to post-season play for the first time since 2015. Before DWU, Pulido led the girls soccer team at Columbus High School, where he compiled a record of 43-23 and led the Discoverers to two district championships and a Greater Nebraska Athletic Conference title.

In 2017, Pulido founded Mind’s Eye Soccer Academy, which provides affordable soccer instruction for players of all levels.

A native of Fremont, Pulido earned a bachelor’s degree and education certification in math and history education from York College. He also earned a master’s degree in educational policy and administration from Dakota Wesleyan University.

NJCAA Academic All-Americans

The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) recognized a record 37 Central Community College student-athletes for academic achievement during 2021-22. The 37 CCC honorees surpasses last year’s record of 27.

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 volleyball team led the way with nine student-athletes earning NJCAA academic honors followed by softball with eight. Golf and women’s soccer each had six honorees while women’s basketball sported five. Men’s soccer had two and men’s basketball had one.

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 3.6 GPA while golf sported a 3.51 GPA. Women’s soccer posted a 3.36 GPA and softball posted a 3.43 GPA.

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


Blake Barner, 1st Team; Brett Downing, 3rd Team; Wyatt Hegemann, 3rd Team; Darian Hutto, 1st Team; Dalton Jerabek, 3rd Team; and Christian Jewell, 2nd Team.

Men’s Basketball

Gavin Lipovsky, 3rd Team.

Men’s Soccer

Chris Izaguirre, 3rd Team and David Jimenez, 3rd Team.


Jadalyn Berry, 3rd Team; Elle Douglas, 2nd Team; Andrea Fernandez, 1st Team; Payten Gibson, 2nd Team; Alli Hartman, 1st Team; Emma Lees, 1st Team; Kailee Pollard, 3rd Team; and Caroline Riffer, 1st Team.


Katrina Beel, 3rd Team; Ashley Brown, 3rd Team; Kamryn Chohon, 2nd Team; Abby Elstermeier, 3rd Team; Khloe Felker, 2nd Team; Chloe Odbert, 1st Team; Emily Otten, 2nd Team; Rachel Otten, 1st Team; and Josie Richards, 2nd Team.

Women’s Basketball

Morgan Boldt, 1st Team; Madisen Jelinek, 1st Team; Julia Jurek, 3rd Team; Macey Thege, 2nd Team; and Brettney Veik, 1st Team.

Women’s Soccer

Natalie Crouse, 1st Team; Emily Fisher, 1st Team; Laura Jovanovic, 2nd Team; Alison Loseke, 3rd Team; Clara Reis, 1st Team; and Sydney Weiler, 1st Team.


Military Friendly

Central Community College earned the 2022-23 Military Friendly School designation, ranking nationally in the top 10 gold level for small colleges.

Institutions earning the Military Friendly School designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey. More than 1,800 schools participated in the 2022-23 survey with 665 earning special awards for going above the standard.

Final ratings were determined by combining the institution’s survey scores with the assessment of the institution’s ability to meet thresholds for student retention, graduation, job placement, loan repayment, persistence (degree advancement or transfer) and loan default rates for all students and, specifically, for student veterans.

CCC’s veteran and military resource centers (VMRC) – located at the Columbus, Grand Island and Hastings campuses and the Kearney Center – provide support to active duty, reservist and National Guard members; veterans; and their family members. In addition to military education benefits, the VMRC assists with transferring military credit; scholarships; career planning; registration and direct access to state and national veterans; and military benefits, resources and programs.

SVA Donations

A pair of tri-cities businesses made generous donations to CCC’s Student Veterans Association (SVA).

Mark Omtvedt (right), project manager for Christenson Cleaning & Restoration, presents a $500 donation. The donation is part of an effort to support local veterans called Christenson Cares. Elijah Swantkoski (center), 2021-22 SVA president accepted the check along with Barry Horner (left), CCC director of veterans and military services. The funds will provide seed money for SVA fundraising projects and SVA-sponsored campus events.

Flatwater Smokers, a veteran owned and operated smoked meats food truck based in Kearney, hosted a luncheon at the Kearney Center. Owner Owen Krueger (pictured left) made a generous donation of $250 to the combined Grand Island and Kearney chapter of the SVA. Pictured with Krueger (l-r) is U.S. Navy veteran Morgan Burr, who also served as an SVA work study at the Kearney Center Veterans and Military Resource Center; U.S. Air Force veteran Shawn Patsios, CCC veterans and military services coordinator; and U.S. Army veteran Tim Harper.

Veterans Day

Veterans Day ceremonies were held at the Columbus Campus (upper left), the Grand Island Campus (upper right), the Hastings Campus (lower left) and the Kearney Center (lower right).


CCC Foundation

Change at the Top

2021-22 marked a change in leadership for the Central Community College Foundation as former executive director Dean Moors announced his retirement. Traci Skalberg, the former head of the Grand Island Public Schools (GIPS) Foundation, was selected to succeed Moors.

Skalberg led the GIPS Founation for nearly two decades and in that time, she increased the annual average revenue from $200,000 to $3.5 million. She also raised, managed and granted $25 million over her last five years at the GIPS Foundation. Skalberg also developed a nationally renowned employee giving program with 90-percent participation.

A 1994 CCC-Columbus academic transfer graduate, Skalberg went on to earn a bachelor of arts degree in Spanish and international studies from Doane University in 1997, graduating cum laude. She is also a certified education foundation leader and holds a certificate in fundraising management.

Moors led the CCC Foundation for 14 years and in that time, he oversaw major gift campaigns for the new Kearney Center, the Hamilton Building renovation at CCC-Hastings and the Columbus Community Hospital Center for Science and Technology at CCC-Columbus. Moors also helped the CCC Foundation’s growth in alumni efforts, the annual CCC employee giving campaign and planned giving.

Moors has agreed to stay with the CCC Foundation until 2024 on a part-time basis. He will lead Generations of Impact a $25 million campaign to fund the foundation’s operating expenses so that every dollar raised goes to scholarships and program support.

Inclusive Park Named for CCC Board Member

The Grand Island City Council approved the naming of a $1.5 million multi-generational inclusive playground to be constructed at Ryder Park. Thanks to the generosity of Grand Island business owners Tom and Sue Pirnie (pictured), the 27,000-square-foot facility will be known as the “Pirnie Inclusive Playground.” The project was conceptualized by occupational therapy assistant (OTA) program students at Central Community College-Grand Island and a fundraising campaign is being led by a group of community members.

“We are excited to support a project created by CCC students for children of all abilities within Grand Island,” said Tom Pirnie, a member of the CCC Board of Governors since 1994. “Opportunities for area youth and families are vital for the betterment of the community.”

Owners of Grand Island Express and GIX Logistics, the Pirnie family is well known as strong supporters of many community efforts.

“We truly appreciate Tom and Sue Pirnie and others who have pledged their support of this project,” said Cheri Beda, CCC alumni director and community group co-chair. “We are also proud of the OTA students, whose passion drove the inclusive design and led to approval from community leaders and the Grand Island City Council. We are confident that the community will step up to support this inclusive playground and make it a reality for Grand Island.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than three million children under the age of 18 have some type of disability (physical, auditory, visual, cognitive or ambulatory), meaning nearly one out of every 25 children face some challenge as they learn, play, and interact with others.

The CCC Foundation is overseeing the fundraising for the Pirnie Inclusive Playground. If you would like to learn more about the park and how to make a donation, please click here.

CCC Foundation Hall of Fame Inductees

The Central Community College Foundation Hall of Fame welcomed five new members in 2021.

Rhonda Pauley (left), Gale and Paula Beirow (center), and Beth and Terry Millard (right) were recognized for demonstrating exceptional support for Central Community College and/or the CCC Foundation and their missions over the years. Gale Beirow has been a member of the CCC Foundation Board of Directors since 1999, Terry Millard since 2010 and Pauley since 2011.

Leading for Success

2022 Board of Governors Officers

John A. Novotny

Rita Skiles

Tom Pirnie

Diane Keller

John A. Novotny (Columbus)
Board Chair
Rita Skiles (Huntley)
Vice Chair/NCCA Representative
Tom Pirnie (Grand Island)
Diane Keller of Harvard
NCCA Representative


NCCA Recognizes Keller

Diane Keller received the Nebraska Community College Association (NCCA) Governor’s Award at the annual conference. The award is given to a college board member for outstanding leadership, both at the institution and in the community, and support of two-year colleges.

Keller has been a member of the CCC Board of Governors since 2000 and served in numerous leadership positions, including two terms as chair. In 2022, she retired as the CEO of Memorial Community Health, Inc. in Aurora.

Keller has championed CCC’s efforts to expand RN-BSN completion agreements, most recently in 2021 with the University of Nebraska Medical Center. She has been instrumental in advocating at the local, state and national level for the competence of two-year registered nursing programs when faced with opposition to make programs bachelor-of-nursing-level only.

Keller was very supportive of Nebraska’s first occupational therapy assistant program, Nebraska’s first and only heavy equipment operator program, and supportive of Nebraska’s only two-year dental hygiene clinic and program. She has supported initiatives in entrepreneurship, mechatronics, precision agriculture and student support services including TRiO, federal health grants and aid to students, AACC’s Equity Transfer Initiative and AACC’s Metallica Scholars Initiative.

Keller strongly supports CCC’s lead role in the statewide Nebraska Math Readiness Project. Under the program the state’s community colleges and high schools work together to ensure more students have improved math competencies to prevent enrollment in developmental math courses during the first year of college. Results to date have shown a three-fold increase over national averages of those no longer needing developmental math education post-graduation.

Wittstruck Heads NCCA

The NCCA Board of Directors appointed Courtney Wittstruck, Esq. as executive director. Wittstruck succeeded Greg Adams, who retired following a five-year tenure as NCCA executive director.

Prior to her appointment to lead the NCCA, Wittstruck served as plant manager for Continental Tire and Rubber’s industrial belt plant in Lincoln. A Nebraska native, she grew up on a farm outside of Lincoln and is the fifth generation of her family to be born in the state.

Budget and Finances

Budget Report

The college operating budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year was $59,985,471. Funding sources were:

  • State aid in support of the operating budget increased from $10,144,145 in 2020-21 to $10,693,566 in 2021-22, which provided 17.83 percent of the total.
  • Local property tax for 2021-22 contributed $37,660,326 to the operating budget, compared with $37,313,271 in 2020-21, which provided 62.78 percent of the total.
  • Tuition provided $9,631,577 in 2021-22, which amounted to 16.06 percent of the total.

Operating budget breakdown:

  • 60.26 percent went toward instruction and academic support.
  • 20.20 percent went to institutional support.
  • 9.32 percent went to physical plant support.
  • 8.41 percent went to student services.
  • 1.81 percent went to student aid.

The capital improvement budget for 2021-22 was $10,502,422 and the budget for the hazardous materials/handicapped fund was $2,091,088.

American Rescue Plan Final Report

More than $4.9 million in grants were disbursed to Central Community College students as part of the American Rescue Plan.

More than 6,000 CCC students received the funds, with awards ranging from $350 to $2,000. The amount received is based on enrollment and financial aid status. Students may use the dollars to pay outstanding tuition balances or other educational expenses.

During the pandemic, our students faced several challenges, including loss of employment, impact on family child care and illness,” said Janel Walton, dean of enrollment management. “These grants will help thousands of CCC full-time, part-time and early college students, recover from the economic fallout of the pandemic and focus on their courses.”

In the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters, CCC students also received federal relief dollars under the U.S. CARES Act/Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.


During 2021-22, there were a number of facilities projects completed at various CCC campuses and centers. Here is a pictorial sample:

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