08:06 AM

Bellevue University Celebrates 50 Years

Bellevue University Celebrates 50 Years

By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager

50thThe University kicked off its 50th Anniversary with an all-campus meeting on Friday, June 24 in the Criss Auditorium of the Hitchcock Humanities Center. The event featured several veterans of the University reminiscing about the ‘good ole days,’ a video recounting the University’s first 40 years as well as faculty and longevity awards.

Rita Sanders, Mayor of the City of Bellevue, read a proclamation declaring it Bellevue University Day throughout the city.

University President Dr. Mary Hawkins and Chief Operating Officer Matt Davis wrapped up the meeting by addressing where the University will be moving in the future.

Jim Maxwell, Director of Public Relations, hosted the event.

Hawkins emphasized the University’s goal to become the premier open access institution in the United States.

“Open access means opportunity,” Hawkins said. “We believe that there should be an equality of opportunity. It’s not that everyone is going to get to the same level. We really believe that people should have the opportunity for a better life and to pass that on.”

The University will accomplish that goal by focusing on a number of key areas including offering relevant degrees, embedding skills to performance in all programs, and developing an engaged citizenry. High graduation rates and affordable tuition rates will also be keys.

“We are about growth. Our strategic plan has a lot of spelled out about why and how we’re going to grow going forward,” Hawkins said.

Davis offered a glimpse of how the University will be presenting those ideals to the public.

The University is working with Entangled Solutions, a San Francisco-based company that markets itself as an innovation agency for Higher Education. The organization will be collaborating with the University’s Marketing Department to produce a website that details how the University is defining “Premier Open Access Institution” and how it intends to become just that.

“Selective institutions can only have selective impacts,” Davis said. “We take folks no matter where they’re at. We can meet them where they are, no matter where they’re at.  If they walk through our doors and work with you, they have an equal chance of walking off our stage no matter where they came from.”

Other highlights included faculty awards.

A group of 11 professors earned the John R. Maenner Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching for their role in teaching, coaching and nurturing students from Guangzhou College of Commerce. Those professors are: Drs. Ed Haynes, Tony Jasnowski, David Levy, Jena Shafai as well as Professors Charles Benish, Gloria Lessmann, Kristin Lynch, Laurel Mitchell, Sheryl Okash, and Mark Stevens.

Dr. Julia Cronin-Gilmore earned the John R. Maenner Excellence in Graduate Teaching Award.

“I’m fortunate she created an exceptional, innovative marketing program. No other program in the area is comparable,” said one nominator.

Dr. Emad Rahim won the faculty award for Excellence in Innovation.

“He has redesigned the MPM program adding up to date course materials and creating templates students could use professionally,” said one nominator. “He’s also designed the assignments and content to be more applied learning thus balancing theory and real-world application.”

SONY DSCThe fireside chat (minus the fire) featured long-time University employees Robin Bernstein, Senior Director of Library Services; Jerry Blasig, Vice President of Administration, and Dr. Jon Kayne, Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. The group reminisced about some of the unique aspects of the University in its earlier days.

“I had been here two weeks when President Muller told me ‘we have a bit of a problem. The Board is going to talk about whether to close the doors,” Kayne said. “I’m thinking I’ve been here two weeks my family is coming I’ve burned my bridges. I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to do with myself. That was the beginning where everything had to happen tomorrow. It wasn’t like my previous experience in academia where you had a year or two to make things happen. I guess I was kind of socialized into the whole process that way.”

Blasig explained some of the unique wild life that frequented campus in the early days.

“The west part of the campus there was a farm to the west of us,” he said. “They had some horses. Every once in a while the horses got loose and ran through campus.”