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2017 Summer Issue



Rockford University Esports Program Ascends to New Heights

Rockford University Esports Program Ascends to New Heights

Thriving on the Digital Battlefield by Lindsey Giardino  When Rockford Female Seminary was chartered on February 25, 1847, playing games on a computer was not imaginable. It did not exist. Fast forward 176 years later, and Rockford University’s Esports program is...

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Farewell to the Needle and Thread

Farewell to the Needle and Thread

Rockford University Costume Designer Takes Last Bow By Aris Sherwood Walk into the lobby of Maddox Theatre in the Clark Arts Center at Rockford University, and you will find mannequins dressed in costumes of shows past. Underneath them are the designers’ names...

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Class of 2013: Reminisce on Heartfelt Memories 

Class of 2013: Reminisce on Heartfelt Memories 

By Sara Myers, Digital Media & Communications Specialist The year 2013 became the start of a new chapter for Rockford University. It was the year that the institution announced its name change from Rockford College to Rockford University.  In honor of ten...

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Where Are They now? ‘Golden Grads’ Celebrate 50 Years

Where Are They now? ‘Golden Grads’ Celebrate 50 Years

By Sara Myers, Digital Media & Communications Specialist  This year celebrates fifty years since the class of 1973 graduated from Rockford College (now Rockford University). Graduates from this golden grad class shared stories with us on why they are proud to...

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Cherie Poole Townsend ’73

Cherie Poole Townsend ’73 retired from public service leadership and is now serving as executive director for the International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology and for IACFP Europe, a public interest foundation in Belgium. Cherie also has her own...

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Joyce Williams Warren ’71

Joyce Williams Warren ’71 retired after 31 and a half years as Circuit/Chancery Judge for the Sixth Judicial District in Pulaski and Perry counties in Arkansas. Catalyst...

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Carolyn Sweasy Hedin ’71

Carolyn Sweasy Hedin ’71 remains busy and committed to her studies, teaching yoga and Vedic Chant, and by supporting the Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Red Wing, Minn., a nonprofit center that offers residencies for writers and artists of all genres...

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Catalyst is published by the Communications & Alumni offices within the Institutional
Advancement division.

Letters to the editor, feedback and feature suggestions are welcome. Deadline for correspondence to be considered for the next issue of Catalyst is March 15, 2017.

Contact information: Office of Communications, 815.394.5041 or

Editor: Rita Elliott
Designer: Paul Hecker

Share your GOOD NEWS with us!
Please send updates to
Pictures also welcome!





Laura Monahan
Andrea Anderson
Deborah Breiter
Kimberly McCullough
Elaine Sharpe

Led by Assistant Professor and Nursing Department Chair Dr. Laura Monahan, nursing students participated in the Interprofessional Education (IPE) Day at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford on January 18. The yearly event involves team building, health care scenario analysis and simulation. The event hosted approximately 200 students composed of 60 UIC Medical students, 60 UIC Pharmacy students, 10 UIC Nurse Practitioner students, 37 RU Nursing students, and 30 OSF Saint Anthony Nursing students. Additionally, six Performing Arts students took part in the Hospital Discharge simulation. There were 20 Group Facilitators leading groups of 10 students each, composed of Medical, Pharmacy and Nursing students. The five Group Facilitators from RU were: Professor Andrea Anderson, Dr. Deb Breiter, Professor Kim McCullough, Dr. Laura Monahan, and Professor Elaine Sharpe. Group Facilitators were at training sessions on January 11 or 12, and the IPE Day event occurred on January 18.

(The RU team of students and faculty who participated in the IPE Day held at University of Illinois Chicago Rockford.)

Rockford University and the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford are participating in a Bioterrorism Preparedness Project in conjunction with the Winnebago County Health Department, the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office, the Winnebago County Coroner’s Office, and the Rockford Police and Fire departments. This experience will include the RU Nursing, Psychology and Performing Arts departments and the UIC Medical and Pharmacy schools. The planners from RU consist of Nursing Department Chair Dr. Laura Monahan and Associate Professor of Psychology Elaine Sharpe. 




Tara Wood, Ph.D.


Tara Wood

Assistant Professor of English and Writing Program Administrator Tara Wood, Ph.D., was awarded the Community Based Learning (CBL) Innovation Grant for Spring 2017 as part of Rockford University’s commitment to providing students the opportunity to apply skills learned in the classroom to address the needs of the Rockford Community. Dr. Wood incorporated CBL into her RHET 102 Intermediate Rhetoric course by partnering students with The Literacy Council in Rockford, a nonprofit organization that aims to improve the literacy levels and educational/employment opportunities for the Rockford region. Students worked on a project aimed at promoting the council’s fundraising efforts for the 14th annual Rockford Literacy Races marathon held in early May. The project consisted of researching literacy in the Rockford region and drafting research based profiles of adult learners associated with The Literacy Council that were used for promoting the sponsorship of runners for the marathon. Dr. Tara Wood was the lead author on an article published in the May 25 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education. Dr. Wood’s piece, “Why We Dread Disability Myths” is a critical response to an article published in April by Gail Hornstein titled “Why I Dread the Accommodations Talk.” Dr. Wood critiques Hornstein for perpetuating dangerous and ableism myths about disability and disabled students. Dr. Wood donated the publication stipend for the article to the Society for Disability Studies.




Sean Beckmann, Ph.D.


In an article published May 30 titled “Ticked off: Lyme disease to be an issue this season,” Assistant Professor of Biology Sean Beckmann, Ph.D., shares with the Rockford Register Star | that he expects an increase in the local tick population this season after winter’s brevity and warmth. Pictured above, Dr. Beckmann and Taggart Venegas, biology major, trap a ground squirrel at the Distillery Road conservation Area in Belvidere, Ill., Dr. Beckmann and students collected rodent specimens to test for Lyme disease. Photo courtesy of the Rockford Register Star and photographer Arturo Fernandez.



Kearstin Findley


Kearstin Findley, a senior biology major concentrating in evolution and ecology, was selected for The Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory’s 2017 Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Scholarship Program. Eight outstanding undergraduate students, four Ohio State students and four students from other Midwestern colleges were selected. The five week program is a competitive, comprehensive research internship that gives students the chance to conduct scientific research in the field alongside top scientists throughout a month, at Stone Laboratory, located on OSU’s island campus on Lake Erie. Students receive a full scholarship to Stone Lab, including lab fee, room and meals and in-state tuition for the 2 credit research experience and 4-credit, five-week course. The program runs concurrently with Stone Lab’s five-week summer term. Students spend their non-class days focused on research, working closely with their supervisors to design an experiment, collect samples and analyze data. At the end of the program, they give a final present ation to their peers and the public.



Dr. Troy Skwor


Dr. Troy Skwor, associate professor of Biology, assisted with expert commentary for two extensive media stories airing in May. WREX, Ch. 13 (NBC), aired “Digging Deeper: Drinking water contamination and the government study that was never released,”an investigative report by Evening Anchor Kristin Crowley about a superfund site located in Rockford and its resulting groundwater contamination concerns. Based on Dr. Skwor’s expertise and research in the field, he also provided comment for the WIFR, Ch. 23 (CBS), story “Superbug Syndrome and the threat of antibiotic resistance.”




Steven Hicks, Ph.D.


Stephen Hicks

Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship Steven Hicks, Ph.D., contributed opinion to the Toronto feature, “Debate: Who should get to speak on campus,” which published online May 1, 2017.




Ron Lee, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor and Political Science Department Chair Ron Lee, Ph.D., led three small-group breakout sessions on the topic of the politics of universalism versus the politics of multiculturalism at the “Welcoming Diversity: Building Bridges of Understanding” community collaborative program, sponsored by the Unity in Diversity and the Unity, Pride and Culture committee of Transform Rockford and held on April 23 at the Midway Village and Museum in Rockford.



Mirela Papandreou

Mirela Papandreou’s article “How to Develop the Interdisciplinary Literacy of English Language Learners” was published in the Illinois Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages – Bilingual Education newsletter in April. Mirela is an instructor in the University’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program.



Roxana Idu, Ph.D.


Roxana Idu

Roxana Idu, Ph.D., assistant professor of Economics, Puri School of Business, attended the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education’s (IACBE) annual conference and assembly meeting held in San Francisco, Calif., on April 18- 21. Dr. Idu represented Rockford University, which was recognized as a 20-year charter member of the organization.



Gary Lubbert


Late Associate Professor of Economics, Business and Accounting Gary Lubbert was nominated for the IACBE’s Education Leader of the Year Award. Prof. Lubbert was selected for this prestigious recognition and honored posthumously at Rockford University’s commencement ceremony held on May 13. Prof. Lubbert also was recognized with Emeritus status in honor of his dedicated and meritorious service to Rockford University. Members of Prof. Lubbert’s family were in attendance to accept the awards on his behalf.





Dr. Catherine Forslund


Catherine Forslund

Dr. Catherine Forslund, professor of History, and dean of academic administration presented “John F. Kennedy 1917-2017” to the University Club’s Forbes University Discussion/Lecture Series on Thursday Feb, 9. She also shared “The Legacy of John F. Kennedy in the 100th Year of his Birth,” with the Rockford Downtown Rotary Club on March 30, including in both presentations remarks about JFK’s connections to Rockford with his two visits to the city.




President Eric Fulcomer


Eric Fulcomer

President Eric Fulcomer attended the U.S.-Mexico Higher Education Summit in Guadalajara, Mexico on March 29-31, joining a delegation of 24 presidents from independent colleges across the U.S. According to the organizers of the summit, the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and the Mexican Federation of Private Higher Education Institutions (FIMPES), the purpose of the meetings is to explore partnership opportunities between Mexican and U.S. colleges and universities. The summit, “Reaffirming the North American Spirit of Collaboration in Higher Education: Creating Bridges for Communication” aimed to strengthen relationships for shared opportunities in research and development, exchanges with students and faculty, and crossborder internships.



Dr. Jules Gleicher


Jules Gleicher

Dr. Jules Gleicher, professor of Political Science, attended a lecture on genealogical research techniques, by Steven Flack, of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois, at Temple Beth-El, in Northbrook, Ill., on January 22.



Jeff Hendry


Jeff Hendry Rock Solid

For the second year in a row, Professor of Performing Arts Jeff Hendry has received the award for Best Costume Design from for his work on Mamma Mia! which ran Aug. 10–27, 2016. The show was a production of Maine State Music Theatre, a professional musical theater organization located on the Bowdoin College campus in Brunswick, Maine. Professor Hendry won the 2015 Best Costume Design award for Sister Act and The Music Man.



Giving made simple.


With a little preparation, planned gifts can be made now to immediately support Rockford University’s needs or they can take effect in the future as a way to leave your legacy.
Anyone can make a planned gift. Consider these three popular options:

A gift in your will or revocable living trust.

Work with your attorney to include a few simple sentences in your will or living trust. Plus, you can change your mind at any time because this gift doesn’t go into effect until after your lifetime.

A gift of your retirement plan assets.

By naming us as the primary beneficiary on the designation form for a percentage (1–100) of your account’s final value, you can make a tax-wise gift to support Rockford University.

A gift of your bank or brokerage account.*

By placing a payable on death or transfer on death designation on your bank or brokerage account, you can name our organization to receive the funds.

Leave a Lasting Legacy


Contact us today at 815.394.3756 or to learn more about the benefits of planned gifts.
*State laws govern payable on death accounts and transfer on death accounts. Please consult with your bank representative or investment advisor if you are considering these gifts.