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A Model of Success: UNO-Western Hills Partnership Thrives at Six Years

by Tim Kaldahl

They think big at Western Hills Elementary and they sure like UNO.

The full name for the school near 66th Street and Western Avenue is, in fact, Western Hills University Partnership Magnet Center. ...continue

UNO Chancellor Installation Set for Oct. 9

John E. Christensen will be officially installed as Chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) during a ceremony set for 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, in the Strauss Performing Arts Center on the UNO campus in Omaha.  University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken will preside over the event, which is open to the public.

"John Christensen is exactly the right leader for UNO," Milliken said.  "As the first Omahan and UNO graduate to serve as Chancellor, he brings a connection with and love for both community and campus.   More importantly, he is focused on the future of this remarkable institution and will provide strong and able leadership." 

The installation of a chancellor is a long-standing tradition in the academic community, and is rich with history and symbolism.  The event is intended to bring together the academy and the public, creating an opportunity for reflection and celebration of the institution and of higher education.

The theme for the event, "Living the Future; Understanding the Past," is based on a quotation from Danish philosopher and theologian Soren Kierkegaard who said, "Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards."  John Langan, dean of the UNO College of Education, and chairman of the installation planning committee, said the theme was selected to celebrate Dr. Christensen's Danish heritage and to focus attention on UNO's past accomplishments and bright future.  The institution will soon celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding.

"John Christensen knows both the university and the city of Omaha from a long-term relationship, and he cares deeply about both," Dr. Langan said. "The University of Nebraska at Omaha has had a long-standing position captured in a short statement which says, 'UNO is a part of the community, not apart from the community.' This tradition will become even more apparent under the leadership of John Christensen."

Robert Hemenway, chancellor of the University of Kansas, will deliver featured remarks at the installation ceremony.  Dr. Hemenway received his bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1963 – and Dr. Christensen received his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in 1980. 

Others speaking at the event include Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey, NU Board of Regents Chairman Chuck Wilson, UNO Student Regent Alex Williams, UNO Professor Scott Tarry, staff member Jennifer Forbes-Baily and alumna Deb McLarney.  The installation ceremony will begin with a procession of representatives from Nebraska's public and private colleges and universities and faculty in academic regalia and will feature musical performances by UNO faculty and students.

Dr. Christensen has spent his entire academic career at UNO, beginning in 1978 as a faculty member in the College of Education's Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders.  He served as chair of that department for 12 years.  He went on to become dean of the College of Education and vice chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs before being named interim chancellor in September, 2006, and chancellor in April, 2007, following a national search.

Dr. Christensen received his bachelor's degree in speech and communication from Dana College in Blair, his master's degree in speech-language pathology from UNO and his doctorate in speech-language pathology from KU.  He is the first UNO graduate to serve as its chancellor.  Dr. Christensen has been active in Omaha community affairs as well as national professional organizations relating to his academic field.   He and his wife, Jan, have three adult sons.

The installation ceremony is open to the public and the campus community and will be followed by a reception at the Milo Bail Student Center.  The ceremony also will be available online as streaming video at, and will be broadcast live by UNO-TV on the "The Knowledge Network," Cox cable channel 17 and Qwest Choice channel 74.  The ceremony will be re-broadcast at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, on both channels.  On campus, the event will also be broadcast live on UNO Closed Circuit channel 9.

Missouri Valley Reading Series Continues Tonight with Poet and Translator Joshua Beckman

Nationally acclaimed poet and translator Joshua Beckman will read from his new collection tonight, Oct. 3, in the UNO Art Gallery. The event, which runs from 7:30 to 9 p.m., is free and open to the public.

An open discussion will follow Beckman's reading from Shake (Wave Books, 2006). The UNO Art Gallery is located on the first floor of the Weber Fine Arts Building.

For more information, contact Miles Waggener, assistant professor in the UNO Writer's Workshop, at 554.2151.

Drive By and Donate to KVNO Oct. 8

Celebrating its 35th year of service, Classical 90.7 KVNO kicks off its Fall Pledge Drive today, Oct. 3. The station, located in 100 Engineering, will be fundraising live on-air for seven days in an effort to reach its $80,00 pledge drive.

Highlights of the drive will include the premier of the "KVNO Idols," community members who auditioned and were selected to share the microphone with KVNO announcers during the drive. Also, donors can drive by and donate on Monday, Oct. 8, from 7 to 9 a.m., at the William H. and Dorothy Thompson Alumni Center portico. Drivers who stop can make a mobile express pledge or pick up an information packet on the station and grab a doughnut for breakfast. 

To top it all off, "Mozart" will be skating by and conducting commuters onto campus at 66th and Dodge streets. (Mozart's costume is provided by Sharon Sobel, chair of the UNO Theatre Department.)

For more information on KVNO's Drive by and Donate event, contact Cheril Lee, KVNO news director, or Kim Balkovec, KVNO membership manager, at 559.5866.

Campus Researchers Featured in Showcase

The University Committee on Research and Creative Activity (UCRCA) will feature faculty members who have received UCRCA funding in the display case on the second floor of the Eppley Administration Building during October. Faculty from across campus will showcase the results of their UCRCA-funded activities.

For the week of Oct. 1-7, the following faculty will be highlighted:

- Lisa Boucher, biology;

- Gary Day, art & art history;

- Janice Rech, mathematics; and

- Steven Shultz, economics.

A new set of faculty members will be showcased each week. The displays include posters and other research artifacts. 

The mission of the UCRCA is to encourage research and creative activity by UNO faculty.  The committee places special emphasis on seed grant funding for projects potentially leading to external funding, and on grants to new faculty to help them establish programs of research/creative activity.  To learn more about the UCRCA, visit

The UCRCA is administered by the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research. For more information, call 554.2286.

Difficult Dialogues Proposals Sought

The UNO Difficult Dialogues project, which promotes open inquiry into highly charged topics, has mini-grants available to university faculty, staff and student organizations planning public dialogues on race, religion or sexual orientation.

"Breaking Silence: Difficult Dialogues at the University of Nebraska at Omaha" is a two-year project funded by the Ford Foundation. Nora Bacon, associate professor of English, Shereen Bingham, professor of communication, and Cynthia Robinson Moore, assistant professor of communication, direct the project

"The mini-grant program is a response to requests from students," Dr. Robinson Moore said.

Last year, the project hosted a campus-wide dialogue on race and identity called "What Omaha Do You Live In?" Participants requested more opportunities for dialogue during the 2007-08 academic year. 

UNO faculty, staff, and student organizations can receive mini-grants of up to $500.  Funding can be used for expenses like publicity, speakers' honoraria, rental of facilities and refreshments. Applicants must consult with a member of the Difficult Dialogues core group, which is made up of 30 UNO faculty and staff members who have been trained in dialogue facilitation.  The project directors especially encourage dialogues organized in collaboration with community groups.

For more information, contact one of the project directors:

- Dr. Bacon at 554.3318 or;

- Dr. Bingham at 554.4857 or; or

- Dr. Robinson Moore at 554.4879 or

Proposals will be accepted after Monday, Oct. 15, and will be reviewed monthly throughout the academic year or until all available funds have been spent.  The proposal form is available on the School of Communications web page:

Help for Grant-Writers to Find Funding

The Office of Sponsored Programs and Research (SPR) will host a Community of Science (COS) open lab demonstration on Friday, Oct. 12, at 11 a.m. in 207 Criss Library.

The monthly hour-long sessions demonstrate the various COS "finding funding" resources available to faculty, staff and students who will be writing grant proposals during this academic year. Reservations are not required.

For more information, contact Nancy Schlesiger, assistant director of SPR, at 554.2286.

Intergenerational Water Aerobics at HPER Pool

Campus Recreation and the Mav-Rec Wellness Stampede are teaming up to host Intergenerational Water Aerobics this semester. All classes will be held in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER) Building pool.

The fall session runs through Thursday, Dec. 13, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. All sessions are free to UNO activity cardholders and $50 for the general public.

Dave Daniels, assistant director for fitness/wellness at UNO, will serve as the instructor. The classes emphasize proper body mechanics and sound exercise technique, as well as provide strength, endurance and flexibility.

No classes will be held Tuesday, Oct. 23, Thursday, Oct. 25, and Thursday, Nov. 22.

For more information, call Daniels at 554.2008.

14th Annual Bell Tower Challenge Oct. 17

Eta Sigma Gamma, a health education honorary organization at UNO, will host the 14th Annual Bell Tower Challenge Wednesday, Oct. 17, at the Henningson Memorial Campanile. Teams of UNO students, faculty and staff will compete to stack as many food cans as possible while the bells toll at noon. All the food donated during this event will go to the Omaha Food Bank.

Awards will be presented to the team that stacks the most cans, the most creative team and the most enthusiastic team. More than 18 tons of food has been donated in the first 13 years of the event.

Due to higher energy prices the past few years, more working families have sought assistance from Omaha's food pantries, according to the Omaha Food Bank. The organization distributes food to approximately 360 agencies in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa.

"The Bell Tower Challenge has become a UNO tradition," said David E. Corbin, Bell Tower Challenge founder and organizer. "It is a day when we can socialize, have fun and benefit a very worthy organization."

For more details about the Bell Tower Challenge or to access an entry form, visit

For more information, contact Dr. Corbin or Shandy Ramet, Eta Sigma Gamma representative, at 554.2670 or

Call for 2007-08 UCAT Conference Travel Grant Proposals

The University Committee for the Advancement of Teaching (UCAT) announces the availability of travel grants designed to increase capacity building in teaching and learning. Applications are encouraged for interdisciplinary conferences focusing on teaching and learning, as well as for disciplinary conferences with tracks or sessions focusing on several themes. Visit for a list of links to designated conferences.

Travel grant applications should reflect UCAT's mission for enhancement of teaching and student learning processes at UNO and focus on one or more of the following designated themes:

- Active learning;

- Assessment and e-Portfolios;

- Graduate instruction/mentoring;

- Interdisciplinary integration; and

- Promoting critical thinking.

The committee will accept proposals on a monthly basis through April or until funds are expended, and will fund grants up to $800 for each award. Proposals are due by the 21st of each month. Application forms are available on the Center for Faculty Development (CFD) Web site,

Applicants should submit one hard copy and an electronic submission of the application, in "rtf" or "MS Word" document formats, as an e-mail attachment to Alice Woll at Hard copy submissions should be sent to the CFD in 220 Arts and Sciences Hall. Two examples of successful applications are available on the CFD/UCAT Web site at

For more information, contact Wayne Harrison, professor of psychology and the 2007-08 UCAT chair, at 554.2452 or

Toner Recycling Program Benefits Campus

All campus departments are encouraged to recycle their printer and toner cartridges in support of the ongoing recycling program conducted by the Staff Advisory Council (SAC) and UNO Mail Services. Two-thirds of the monies received from this project go to student scholarships and one-third goes to SAC for ongoing projects.

All used toner/ink jet cartridges can be sent to Mail Services, 106 Eppley Administration Building, and addressed as follows:

UNO Mail Services - Toner Recycling Project

For more information, contact Rhonda Sheibal-Carver, public administration, at 554.2625.