09:59 AM

Education Important to Artz Since Childhood

Pat Artz, a Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, recently sat down  to share some information in a Q&A.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  I was a “North End kid,” which is a neighborhood in the older part of town in the shadow of St. Joseph’s Cathedral and near the meatpacking plant.  Many of my older Irish Catholic and Norwegian Lutheran relatives worked at the meatpacking plant back in those Baby Boom years.

Tell me a little bit about your background.

I was the middle child in a family of seven children.  My father’s family had lost the farm during the Great Depression and then moved to Sioux Falls.  My mother’s family had lost the farm in the same way and also moved to Sioux Falls.  They met in school and got married in 1950.  We lived in a large, old house overlooking downtown.  I spent a lot of free time playing sports in the streets and hanging out at the Sioux Falls Boys Club.

I did not have any clear ideas about careers other than not wanting to work at the meatpacking plant.  My father died relatively young from wounds suffered in the Korean War, and so I did not want to enlist in the military.  At that time, there was something called G.I. Bill Survivors Benefits, which meant that the federal government would pay my way to college.  That was my career decision; go to college and figure out something from there.

Was education important to you growing up?

Yes.  I walked to school every day to Lincoln Elementary even on the coldest days of a South Dakota winter (the superintendent was not a big fan of snow days or cold days, and my mom wanted us out of the house).  I remember the bookmobile coming to our school each month.  It was a large van filled with library books.  Each class would line up and go through the bookmobile to check out a few books to read.  My family had very little money, but we always had books to read and teachers who cared.

What is your current profession? What are your past professions?

I teach in the College of Arts and Sciences.  I am the Program Director for History.  I also help out in Communication Studies with classes in business and digital communication.

Back in the day, I worked various jobs including dishwasher, pizza maker, prep cook, camp counselor, and canoeing guide.  Perhaps my worst job was in a cardboard box factory.  I put sheets of cardboard into a machine and then took the stamped cardboard and folded them into boxes for customers.  My hands would swell up and ache.  It was good motivation to stay in school.

After college, I started out as a high school social studies teacher and athletic coach.  Over the years, I picked up more technology skills until I became a systems administrator for an educational institution.  I was hired here at Bellevue University in the College of Business as an Assistant Professor of Computer Information Systems, but then over the years I returned to my original teaching area of history.

What subject(s) do you teach?

This year, I have taught the Holocaust, Baseball and the American Experience, History of Nebraska, Communication Technologies, and Foundations of Eastern Civilizations.  I design and maintain many other courses for our adjunct instructors.

How do you work with students?

My classes are online.  So, most of my work with students is on the front end.  I try to design interesting, engaging learning experiences while still maintaining the academic integrity of the topics which need to be covered.  In education-ese, I aim for the affective domain, as well as the cognitive domain.

Once students are enrolled in my classes, then my style shifts to communication.  I give prompt feedback on assignments, I answer student questions as they come up, and I share my own experiences via the discussion boards.

How would you describe your teaching style?

I would describe my style as empathetic.  I can remember being a scared, working-class kid and then suddenly being expected how to succeed in a foreign land called college.  It was a puzzling struggle to succeed.  If my students are willing to work, then I am willing to help guide their efforts.  Together, we can make it happen.

What are some of the professional accomplishments that you’re most proud of?

I am not sure if they count as accomplishments, but I studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem for a summer and stood on the wall around the city and watched prayers ending at the Great Mosque.  I presented a paper in Hangzhou, China, and then visited the Forbidden City the next day.  I escorted a group of middle school students through the grounds of the Kremlin in Moscow.  My love of education has taken this North End kid to the far corners of the earth.  I dreamed of those kinds of things as a child, but I never thought they would come true.

What are some of your passions or hobbies?

I am learning a bit of Norwegian for my trip to Norway this summer.  I found the village called Veggli where my great-grandfather came from and the farm called Lagargaard where he was born and raised.  My third cousin lives there now and he will show me around the village and farm.  Similarly, my great- grandmother came from an area called Nes and a farm called Biskoplien, and I will visit third cousins there.

I know that my Irish great-grandfather came from Augaboy, Killoe, County Longford, but I am still trying to figure out if I still have any distant cousins in Ireland or if everyone came to America.

On the English branch of my family, I discovered that Rebecca Steele Greensmith, my 9th great grandmother, was hanged for witchcraft in Hartford, Connecticut.  Perhaps I will visit Gallows Hill there someday to pay my respects.