May 2019 Central Connection

May 1, 2019







Students make all-state team

Four Central Community College students were named to the 2019 Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Nebraska All-State Academic Team April 23 in a ceremony at the Embassy Suites in Lincoln.

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

The team included the following CCC students:

Marcus Horwood of Chesham, England, is an exercise physiology and sports management major at the Columbus Campus where he is a member of the PTK Chi Sigma chapter. He also is a member of the Raiders soccer team and is a P.A.S.S. tutor. He’s been named to the President’s List and has received the Athletic Academic Achievement and Exceptional Student in Sociology awards. After graduating in May with an associate of arts degree, he plans to transfer to Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.

Alexis Moss of Hastings is a fisheries and wildlife major at the Hastings Campus where she is vice president of scholarship for the PTK Beta Alpha Delta chapter. She has received a regional PTK 5-Star Competitive Edge Award and Distinguished Officer honorable mention, been named to the President’s List and has volunteered for the campus blood drive and Kids Against Hunger project. She will graduate in May with an associate of arts degree and then transfer to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Cassandra Seckel of Columbus is an elementary education major at the Columbus Campus where she is Chi Sigma president. She also is president of the National Society of Leadership and Success, a Student Ambassador, resident assistant, volleyball manager and math lab assistant. She has been named to the President’s Honor List and received the regional PTK Distinguished Officer Award. She will graduate in May with an associate of arts degree and transfer to Peru State College to complete bachelor’s degrees in elementary and special education.

Eli Sidders of Kenesaw is an academic transfer major at the Hastings Campus where he is a member of the PTK Beta Alpha Delta chapter. He has volunteered for the Red Cross blood drive and recently addressed the CCC Foundation Board of Directors about how the scholarship he received has helped him. His future plans include transferring to the University of Nebraska at Kearney to obtain a bachelor’s degree in social work and then working in a rehabilitation center for the blind.

Young earns recognition

Mary Young, has been awarded the John and Suanne Roueche Excellence Award by the League for Innovation in the Community College. The award honors outstanding contributions and leadership by faculty and staff in member institutions.

As head volleyball coach at Central Community College-Columbus, Young led the Raiders to 17 Nebraska Community College Athletic Conference (NCCAC) championships and compiled a 720-362 record.

She has coached 91 All-Conference players, 79 All-Region performers and 25 All-Americans. Sixty-three of her athletes have earned NJCAA academic awards since 1997.

Young was named NCCAC Coach of the Year 14 times and Region IX Coach of the Year 13 times and selected as the American Volleyball Coaches Association West Region Coach of the Year in 2002, 2008 and 2011.

She is an inaugural member of the NJCAA Board of Regents for Region IX and has been a NJCAA region director for four years. She also served as NJCAA assistant region director for 10 years and NJCAA Coaches Association president from 2012 to 2015. She has been vice president of the coaches association since 2017.

She just completed terms as a member of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Board of Directors and chair of the AVCA Head Coaches Committee.

She also was instrumental in the legislation that added beach volleyball to the NJCAA as well as AVCA/NJCAA signing a dual partnership agreement for NJCAA volleyball coaches in 2018. 

A native of Arcadia, Young earned an associate of arts degree from CCC-Columbus, a bachelor’s degree in recreation from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion and a master’s degree in counseling-student affairs from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

She also was a full-time physical education instructor, but is now shifting into the position of interim athletic director.


Party to celebrate Hitesman retirement

A retirement party for Bill Hitesman, president of Central Community College-Hastings, will be held from 1 to 3:30 p.m. on May 10 in the campus’ Hall Student Union.

Hitesman, who will retire June 3, became CCC-Hastings president in 2002. He also has served as vice president over the skilled and technical sciences and the business and entrepreneurship/incubator divisions.

In recent years, he has overseen the groundbreaking for the Hamilton Building expansion; the installation of an on-campus 1.7-megawatt wind turbine; and the creation of the heavy equipment operator technician, truck driving, diesel technology and energy technology programs.

His 47 years in higher education also includes serving as dean of the Boone campus of Des Moines Area Community College and in various capacities at three other Iowa community colleges. He is the recipient of the Iowa Community College Student Services Association’s Distinguished Service and Dedicated Service awards.

An Iowa native, Hitesman earned a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from Winona State University, where he was on the wrestling team. In 2002, he was inducted into the Winona State University’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He later graduated with a master’s degree in leadership and community college administration from Iowa State University. He also holds a welding diploma from Northeast Iowa Community College.

In addition to his campus duties, he was active in the Hastings community, He is a member of the Hastings Rotary Club, the Hastings Area Education Consortium and the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce. He serves as a board member for the Hastings Economic Development Corporation, the Hastings Utilities Advisory Board, the Hastings Noon Rotary Club, the South Central Economic Development District, Inc. and SkillsUSA Nebraska. In 2009, he was appointed to the Judicial Nominating Commission for the Nebraska Court of Appeals Fifth District.

Hitesman and his wife, Jody, have six daughters and 11 grandchildren.

Association honors McDowall

Susan McDowall, an English instructor at Central Community College-Grand Island, has received the Dale P. Parnell Distinguished Faculty designation from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

Medallions were presented to the 21 recipients at a luncheon held in their honor during the AACC annual convention April 13-16 in Orlando, Fla.

The AACC established the designation in honor of its former president and CEO as a way to recognize individuals who are making a difference for students, both inside and outside of the classroom.

McDowall joined the CCC staff in 2005 as an English instructor at the Hastings Campus. She later transferred to the Grand Island Campus where she’s also a sponsor for the FOCUS multicultural club.

As a Fulbright Scholar, she spent the 2015-16 academic year in Russia as a lecturer at Moscow Timiryazev Academy.

She is president of the CCC Faculty Senate and a graduate of the college’s Leading with Excellence course.

PTK awards

The Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) chapters in the Kansas/Nebraska region received two Regional Awards for Excellence at the international convention April 4-6 in Orlando, Fla.

The awards are designed to highlight the work in PTK’s 29 regions in the areas of scholarship; leadership; service; fellowship; college completion; transfer readiness; career readiness; diversity, equity and inclusion; membership recruitment; and chapter engagement.

The Kansas/Nebraska region received career readiness and transfer readiness awards.

Commencement 2019

Central Community College’s commencements will be at 7 p.m. on May 3 in the Physical Education Center at the Columbus Campus, at 10 a.m. on May 4 at the Heartland Events Center for Grand Island Campus graduates and at 3 p.m. on May 4 in the Dawson Building Gymnasium at the Hastings Campus.

The keynote speakers will be:

Columbus Campus

As chief operating officer of the Nebraska Community Foundation (NCF), K.C. Belitz works with NCF staff, volunteers, donors and organizational partners to impact the future of Nebraska He’s based in Columbus but spends part of his time at the Lincoln office and travels regularly to work with Nebraskans across the state.

He is a past president of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce and a former member of the NCF Board of Directors and the Fund Advisory Committee of the Columbus Area Future Fund.

Belitz is a Columbus native and graduate of Columbus High School and Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman University). He and his wife, Colleen, have a daughter, Emerson, who is a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Grand Island Campus

Educator Tracy Jakubowski began her career in 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 honored as the Nebraska History Teacher of the Year by the Nebraska Department of Education and the Gilder Lehrman Institute.

In addition to her CCC degree, Jakubowski holds a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Doane College. She will complete her educational administration 7-12 endorsement through UNK this fall.

Jaukubowski, a 2007 graduate of CCC-Grand Island, also will be recognized as its 2019 Outstanding Alumni Award recipient.

Hastings Campus

Craig Kautz, superintendent of Hastings Public Schools, had also served as principal of Hastings Senior High School and as assistant superintendent of human resources and curriculum for HPS. He will retire on June 30.

Kautz is a board member, executive board member and past chair of the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce; past president of the Hastings Rotary Club, Greater Nebraska Superintendents, Nebraska Association of School Personnel Administrators, Nebraska Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development and Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals Region I. He also served as past chair of the Hastings Head Start Board of Directors.

He is a member of the American Association of School Administrators and Nebraska Council of School Administrators (NCSA) and a past member of the International Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), ASCD International Board of Directors and Leadership Hastings Board of Directors.

Kautz received the Chamber of Commerce Recognition Award in 1996, the NCSA Distinguished Service Award in 2017 and the Hastings Noon Rotary Club’s Rotarian of the Year Award in 2017.

In tribute

James D. Johnson, 75, of Lincoln died April 17, 2019.

Services were April 22 at Wyuka Funeral Home in Lincoln and April 23 at the United Methodist Church in Bladen. Burial with military honors was in Eastlawn Cemetery in Bladen.

He was born Sept. 3, 1943, in Fort Collins, Colo., to Robert F. and Viola (Carlson) Johnson.

He graduated from Bladen High School and earned an associate of applied science degree in diesel technology from Southeast Community College in Milford and a bachelor’s degree in business management from Bellevue University. He also held ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) and Hunter Alignment certifications.

He was a U.S. Navy veteran serving from 1961-66. He previously had worked as a mechanic for the John Deere dealership in Shelton and Hastings Motor Truck in Hastings. He also had worked on the big stationary gas pumping engines and fleet vehicles for Kansas-Nebraska Gas in Big Springs.

In 1978, he joined the Central Community College-Hastings staff as a diesel technology instructor and eventually became an automotive technology instructor. He retired in 2007.

Johnson was post commander of V.F.W. Post No. 9984 in Bladen for 12 years and was a member of American Legion Post 176 in Blue Hill. He also was active in the United Methodist churches in Shelton and Blue Hill, serving as a Sunday school teacher, youth fellowship leader and usher.

Survivors include his wife of 55 years, LeAnn (Vance) Johnson of Lincoln; two daughters, Renee Sayer of Schuyler and Alicia Cruce of Lincoln; a sister, Jacque Hueftle Stroup of Holdrege; and five grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Stephen; and two grandchildren.

Memorials may be given to the family for a later determination.

Employee news

Administrative Office

Joni Ransom, communications assistant to the college president, has received a first-place award from the National Federation of Press Women for her news story on Math Paths and the Nebraska Math Readiness Project. The story qualified for national competition by placing first in the Nebraska Press Women communications contest. She also received first-place awards at the state level for editing and design of the Community Connection alumni magazine and for a feature story about the partnership between two Hastings Campus programs to make chocolate bars.

Columbus Campus

Mary Young has shifted positions from physical education instructor and head women’s volleyball coach to interim athletic director.

Hastings Campus

Four short plays by Robin Buckallew, biological sciences instructor, have been accepted for the First Flight Festival in Lincoln this summer.

Buckallew’s plays will be part of the youth portion of the festival. They are:

  • “A Good Plan.” Friends come up with a novel solution to a problem, but it leads them all into trouble.
  • “Tax Evasion in Dog Town.” Mayor Rover must persuade a local citizen to pay taxes.
  • "Blue Screen of Death." Two computers want an existence free of tasks too easy for their immense power.
  • "@StudlySuperhero." Neil and Valerie are pulled into a computer and must figure out how to get home.

Wanda Cloet, dental hygiene program director, was part of a panel presenting a program, “Propelling the Profession,” April 12 at the Nebraska Dental Hygienists’ Association meeting April 12 in Lincoln.

Dental hygiene instructor Cindy Gaskill has been appointed to the Bylaws and Governance Committee for the Central Regional Dental Testing Service. She has been CRDTS DH Team Leader and Examiner for many years and is a current active member of the Nebraska Board of Dentistry.

Corrine Huthoefer has resigned as assistant environmental health and safety specialist.