reporting pixel for marketing campaign

Rockford University has named Stephen Kull as its next vice president for advancement, President Eric W. Fulcomer, Ph.D., announced today. Kull will start in his new role at Rockford University on August 5. He is currently serving as Associate Vice President for Advancement at Central Michigan University, located in Mount Pleasant, Mich. Kull will serve as Rockford University’s senior development officer and strategist for the Advancement Division, and as chief development adviser to the President, the Trustees, and other University officials on all matters involving current or potential philanthropic support.

“Stephen’s impressive background in all areas of donor engagement and development, specifically within higher education, will be of tremendous benefit to Rockford University,” said Fulcomer. “His proven experience in growing and deepening relationships with alumni, outside donors and the greater community will enhance the University’s ability to provide additional resources that support a stronger educational experience for our students. I am extremely pleased to welcome Stephen to our leadership team and look forward to working with him in growing our philanthropic efforts.”

As Vice President for Advancement, Kull will oversee all areas of Advancement which includes Alumni Relations, Planned Giving, Major Gifts, Corporate and Foundation Gifts, Data and Gift Management, Prospect and Grant Research, and Marketing & Communications. He brings nearly 15-years of higher education experience to his new role. At Central Michigan, he successfully managed fundraising efforts for the “Fire up for Excellence” $100 million campaign, the largest in the institution’s history. Kull previously served director of development – gift planning, senior director of development and interim assistant vice president for advancement at Eastern Illinois University, as well as in other development roles at Blackburn College and Concordia Seminary in St. Louis.

“I immediately related to President Fulcomer’s focus on the importance of supporting students’ success inside and outside of the classroom,” Kull said. “Employers today are not just looking for academically prepared graduates, but more importantly those graduates who represent character and the culture of their organizations. The University has an impressive and engaged alumni base from all corners of the globe and I look forward to working closely with them, along with parents and friends, to foster Rockford University’s remarkable legacy so that we can continue to change lives today and for years to come.”

A native of Texas, Kull earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Texas A&M University and has completed several advanced leadership and management certifications from University of Notre Dame, University of Michigan, Purdue University and Texas A& M University. He and his wife, Angela, have four young children and look forward to relocating to the Rockford area.

eSports generic news imageRockford University will be one of the first colleges in the area to offer a competitive eSports team beginning with the start of the 2019-2020 academic year. According to NCSA (Next College Student Athlete) there are currently only 12 colleges and Universities in Illinois offering eSports teams.

To support the new team, a dedicated eSports arena will be located in the center of the Burpee Student Center.  The arena will feature 16 dedicated gaming consoles powered by popular and well-known gaming system company MSI.

According to Vice President for Student Life, Dr. Randy Worden, “Completive eSports gaming is growing exponentially in our region and the across the country.  Many area high-schools have teams and the local school district is considering the creation of a joint gaming center where their students can train and compete.  Prospective and current students have shown substantial interest in being able to compete at the collegiate level. We’re incredibly excited to add eSports to our campus and provide yet another way for students to have access to diverse opportunities that enhance their overall collegiate experience.”

Rockford University plans to establish and maintain collegiate level competitive teams across a variety of games. eSports at Rockford University will compete initially in the CS Starleague. This is the premier platform for collegiate level League of Legends competition. As the program continues grow, the University is committed to developing additional teams for other competitive eSports (i.e. Rocket League, Overwatch, Counter-Strike). eSports teams and players at Rockford University will have the opportunity to stream gameplay, compete inter-collegiately, and play against athletes from across the world, all under the official banner of the Rockford University eSports team.

For more information about eSports at Rockford University, contact eSports Coordinator Clay Duffy, 815-394-4287.

Rockford University’s will hold its 165th commencement on Sunday, May 19, 2 p.m. at the Coronado Performing Arts Center, 314 N. Main St. in downtown Rockford. Approximately 350 students from 22 states and 12 countries will be awarded degrees and recognized for their significant achievements.

Speaker update:


The University is pleased to welcome Bern Sundstedt, alumnus from the class of 1977, former Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Rockford University to address the 2019 class of graduates. Through his more than four decades relationship with the University, Sundstedt has been an integral connector to individuals who represent 11 decades of University life.

Sundstedt holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in acting from Rockford University and went on to attend Yale University’s Drama School, from which he graduated in 1981 with a Master of Fine Arts degree. Upon graduation he set off on a national tour of Othello which culminated in a four month run on Broadway. The years following, led to stints off-off-Broadway and in regional theatre and television.

Returning to Rockford in the early 90s, Sundstedt joined his alma mater in 1994 as Director of Grants, while also periodically teaching the advanced acting sequence as an adjunct instructor. Having taken on positions of increasing responsibility in Alumni and Development he served as Vice President for Institutional Advancement and most recently as Senior Project Specialist. In this, his 25th year working at the University, he is retiring in June.

Due to an unforeseen and unavoidable scheduling conflict, originally scheduled speaker Heather Nauert is no longer able to attend.

Honorary Degree Recipient:

Dr. Eugene Braunwald Honorary Doctorate_2019Rockford University will also award world-renowned cardiologist, pioneer in the pathophysiology of heart failure, and special friend of the University, Eugene Braunwald, M.D., with an Honorary Doctor of Science. Dr. Braunwald is the distinguished Hersey Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and the founding Chair of the Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction Study Group (TIMI) at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.

Dr. Braunwald trained at New York University School of Medicine. At the age of 25 he gained recognition through his published works; six years later he was named Chief of Cardiology and Clinical Director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. He soon became founding Chair of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. From 1972 to 1996 he was Chairman of the Department of Medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

As chairman of TIMI, Dr. Braunwald joined with Rockford University alumni from the class of 1969, Drs. Marc and Janice Pfeffer to provide significant insight into the treatment of patients who suffer from acute myocardial infarction and unstable angina.

Tickets are required to attend the ceremony and are limited to degree candidates and their guests. Tickets must be secured in advance are not be available at the door of the Coronado.

Fulcomer_Eric 4x5_2016President Eric W. Fulcomer, Ph.D., will be attending the second U.S.-Mexico Higher Education Summit in Chicago, Ill., on April 24–27. The summit is hosted by the Council of Independent Colleges in collaboration with the Mexican Federation of Private Higher Education Institutions (FIMPES) and Santander Universidades and Universia. A delegation of 23 Mexican rectors and senior campus colleagues will participate, as will 31 college presidents and senior leaders from 23 CIC member colleges and universities. The summit will emphasize the importance of international exchange in today’s “America First” political climate.

Summit events will take place at five CIC member institutions in the Chicago area: DePaul University, Dominican University, North Central College, North Park University and Rockford University. Rockford University will host summit participants for a campus visit on Saturday, April 27.

CIC President Richard Ekman noted, “In the current climate of constrained international cooperation, CIC reaffirms the importance of international exchange for the preparation of informed citizens and responsible global participants. Our Mexican neighbors have a special relationship to colleges in the U.S.”

The Summit follows five years during which delegations of Mexican rectors participated in CIC’s annual Presidents Institute, the largest annual gathering of college and university presidents in the U.S., and an inaugural Summit held in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2017. Roberta S. Jacobson, former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico; Antonio Cuesta, acting consul general of Mexico in Chicago; Margaret B. Hug, director of regional education initiatives for the U.S. Department of State; and Rebeca Vargas, president and CEO of U.S.-Mexico Leaders Network, are expected to address the summit.

Session topics include innovation in internationalization, the status of student and faculty exchange programs, cross-border articulation agreements, the nature of global leadership and the situation of undocumented students. Participants will also explore joint summer programs and other forms of educational and scholarly partnership and possibilities for association-to-association partnerships. As a result of the summit, participants intend to provide enhanced exchange opportunities for students and faculty members in both countries; provide students with increased access to internships in Mexico and the United States; and allow faculty members and students to collaborate in shared research projects and development programs.

Anissa KuharRockford University is pleased to announce the appointment of Anissa Kuhar of Rockford, Ill., as Director of Adult & Graduate Admission, effective March 6, 2019. This is a new position for the University created to provide leadership and management for a newly formed department responsible for the recruitment of students to existing and future adult accelerated and graduate degree programs across the University. Kuhar will focus on developing and executing recruitment and marketing strategies designed to attract graduate-level and adult degree completion program students, as well as working to grow existing and new relationships with corporations, community organizations and governmental agencies.  

Kuhar has served Northern Illinois University for 24-years, most recently as Assistant Director for the Division of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development. She has a strong background in project management, communications, marketing, strategy development and community outreach. Previously, she served Rock Valley College as an instructor teaching on–site classes at United Parcel Service’s Air Hub location.

Active in the region, Kuhar serves on the Alignment Rockford Operating Board, where she evaluated projects that fulfill high-priority strategic needs in the RPS system. She also serves as coordinator for the Parents of Gifted Education’s Auburn High School Power Professional Speakers Forum. Kuhar earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing from Illinois State University and a master’s in business administration from Northern Illinois University. 

New York City based musical theater songwriting team Sam Carner and Derek Gregor have chosen Rockford University and its students to workshop a brand new musical. Carner and Gregor are in residence here through the end of February to bring their musical comedy “Techies” to life. The debut of this new production will run February 21 – 23 in Maddox Theatre, before heading to the Duplex Theater in New York City in March with students from Rockford University. This presents a unique opportunity for performing arts students to work with professionals in the industry and to learn more about the process of how a new production moves from concept to reality. It also presents a unique opportunity for the community to be able to see and participate in a brand new musical production.

Techies rehearsal

“Techies” is described as a fourth-wall shattering pop-rock musical comedy about being weird and fighting for respect in one of the most judgmental places on earth – high school. The show opens on Thursday February 21 and runs through Saturday, February 23. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Single ticket admission for adults $12, seniors age 55 and up, and students $9 unless otherwise noted. Group rates are available. For tickets, contact the Box Office at 815-226-4100 or Visit for more about Techies and the University’s performing arts season.

What it means to “workshop” a show: When playwrights and songwriters/composers of musicals create new work, it is very important to give the play a voice (other than the creators’ own voices) in order to see what works and what doesn’t. This happens with virtually every composed theater piece that exists. The process usually begins with a “reading,” in which actors are chosen just to sit around in a group, perhaps with an audience or maybe not, to read the play or musical. The next level is often a “stage reading” in which the actors have actually rehearsed with the script, and perhaps there’s a director that guides the performance. There may be some simple blocking and movement, but usually the actors stand behind a music stand or read it with script in hand. Eventually a new work is given a “workshop,” in which the actors have spent several weeks rehearsing, memorizing, and staging the new work. In all of these iterations, the work is discussed at length by actors and audience alike, and many edits are made to the work. When it gets to the workshopping stage, there are often several performances so the creators can get a lot of needed feedback.

Techies_Sam CarnerPerforming Arts Chair and Professor of Performing Arts Deborah Mogford explains, “The production of Carner & Gregor’s Techies is part staged reading, part workshop. The performances in Rockford will be ‘lightly staged,’ and the performances in NYC will truly be a staged reading. The joy of this process is the special collaboration that goes into creating a work of art in the theater. Sam and Derek have trusted Rockford University Performing Arts students with their newest work, and the two of them have been amazingly gracious in their desire for feedback and collaboration with our department.”

More about the writers as noted on their website – Sam Carner and Derek Gregor, among’s 12 Contemporary Musical Theatre Songwriters You Should Know, won the Richard Rodgers Award and the John Wallowitch Award for songwriters under 40, and Sam won the Kleban Prize for “Most Promising Librettist.” Their songs, which have garnered 11

Techies_ Derek GregorMAC nominations for “Best Song” / “Best Comedic Song” with one win, are performed in hundreds of venues around the world every year and have been sung on all seven continents (including Antarctica).

“Techies” cast list

Adams hall arch covered in snowEmergency Weather Alert

01/29/2019 2:07 pm

Due to the extreme and dangerous weather conditions the Rockford region will experience over the next 48 hours, Rockford University will close the campus at 5 pm on Tuesday, January 29 through 5 p.m., Thursday, January 31.

  • Tuesday evening classes are cancelled.
  • No classes will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 30.
  • Classes will resume on Thursday evening as scheduled.
  • Offices will be closed both Wednesday and Thursday.

All campus facilities will be closed during this time with exception of the residence halls and the University Police & Department of Public Safety. Dining Services will operate on a modified schedule. Students should refer to for complete details. 

Students are encouraged to reach out to their faculty to manage class assignments and responsibilities during this time.

Essential personnel should check with their supervisor for specific instructions.

Conditions will cause frostbite in a matter of minutes. Students, please take this seriously and do not plan on being out in the snow or leaving campus unnecessarily. It is highly recommended that students stay inside their residences and venture out only if absolutely necessary.

Please refer to these important safety tips from the national weather service to protect yourself, your pets and your property.

  • Do not go outside unless you must.
  • Cover exposed skin to reduce your risk of frostbite or hypothermia. Try to seek shelter from the wind as much as possible while outside. Once inside again, change into dry clothing immediately if you are wet.
  • Understand and watch for frostbite and hypothermia. Areas most prone to frostbite are uncovered skin and the extremities, such as hands and feet. Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce.
  • If you have pets, make sure they have plenty of food and water, and are not overly exposed to extreme cold.
  • Take precautions to ensure your water pipes do not freeze.  Let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes and opening cabinet doors will help.
  • Get any necessary groceries ahead of time.
  • Fill up the tank: Make sure your car or vehicle has at least a half a tank of gas during extreme cold situations so that you can stay warm if you become stranded.

Rockford Park District and Rockford University announced plans for an expanded partnership today, January 17, 2019, at a joint press conference that will provide even more opportunities for area collegiate athletes. Rockford University Athletics, an NCAA Division III institution, will call Mercyhealth Sportscore Two campus, 8800 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park, home for all its field sports, practices, and local competitions. Collegiate athletes were already utilizing Mercyhealth Sportscore Two to play soccer, but now all men’s and women’s soccer games will also be played at the facility.  Softball, baseball, and indoor football will also be played at the venue. “Rockford University is excited to be able to build an even stronger relationship with the Park District. The Mercyhealth Sportscore Two campus is exceptional and provides our student-athletes access to world-class practice and competition space. I look forward to cheering on our teams here and to welcoming families and fans from near and far to experience all that these facilities have to offer,” said Eric Fulcomer, Ph.D., Rockford University President.

Throughout 2018 community engagement sessions, the Rockford Park District heard from taxpayers about how important it is to align with organizations that share the vision, mission, and values of the Park District, and to make sure partnerships are mutually beneficial. “We are very excited to expand our relationship with such an outstanding organization, and support the success of area collegiate athletes.  This is an example of how District assets and resources can be leveraged to enhance and strengthen achievement of District priorities. Equal efforts and outcomes will have a positive impact on our community,” said Rockford Park District Executive Director Jay Sandine.

Photos from the announcement made at the Mercyhealth Sportscore Two facility are posted on the University’s Facebook page.


About Rockford University
Rockford University is a four-year, co-educational institution founded in 1847 offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in traditional liberal arts and professional fields. The University offers approximately 80 majors, minors, and concentrations, including the adult accelerated degree completion program for a B.S. in Management Studies. Through its Graduate Studies department, degrees are extended to include the Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT). Rockford University is home to one of only 11 Phi Beta Kappa (PBK) chapters in Illinois, the most prestigious honor society in the United States. Named by The Princeton Review as a Best Midwestern College and as a US News & World Report Best Midwest Regional University. Rockford University currently serves approximately 1,200 full-and part-time students.

About Rockford Park District

The Rockford Park District was proudly citizen-created in 1909, and is the third largest park and recreation system in Illinois, with more than 180 parks and facilities.  The Rockford Park District improves the quality of life for citizens by providing a vibrant and relevant park system that increases property values, stimulates economic development, decreases juvenile crime, and improves our community’s health. A vibrant and relevant park system also protects the environment, employs hundreds of area teens, and brings our diverse community together in unity through the common love of play.

Lisa Custardo VP for Finance and CFORockford University President Eric W. Fulcomer, Ph.D., announces the appointment of Lisa Custardo, CPA, CGMA, MBA, CC-SEI, as Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer. Ms. Custardo brings more than 20-years of finance and management experience within the health and education services and non-profit industries.

A native of Illinois, Ms. Custardo currently serves as Chief Financial Officer of Alliance for a Healthier Generation headquartered in New York, NY. She has also served as Vice President, Finance and Operations at Greenheart International in Chicago, Ill., as well as in increasing leadership roles including Chief Financial Officer and Executive Director for Marklund, a non-profit organization headquarter in Geneva, Ill., that serves infants, children, teens and adults with severe and profound developmental disabilities and special healthcare needs.

Ms. Custardo earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting and economics from Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, Ill., and a master’s in business administration from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Ill. Additionally, she is credentialed as a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) and holds certificates as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Coach (CC-SEI), Trainer & Facilitator – Social + Emotional Intelligence focused for business leaders, and as a Certified Mentor Coach (CC).

President Fulcomer notes, “I’m excited to welcome Lisa to our campus and to the community. Lisa is a seasoned and proven leader who is well-versed in managing the complex financial needs specific to non-profit organizations. Her expertise will serve Rockford University well in our efforts to grow all aspects the University while maintaining strong fiscal disciplines and practices.”

Ms. Custardo adds, “These are such extraordinary times in higher education. We are presented with a very challenging landscape which consistently calls for more innovative business approaches, unique leveraging of resources and creative student engagement, while continuing to hold strong demand for traditional offerings and programs. I’m deeply inspired by that call to action. When I couple that with the chance to join Rockford University – an institution rich in history and steeped in academic excellence, honor and value – I see that I have been given a very special opportunity. Even further, after meeting Dr. Fulcomer and the talented group of professionals that I will have the distinct pleasure of collaborating with, I know I’ve also found my new home. This is a profound moment in my career, and I look forward to the future with excitement about our work together and the impact we’ll make on the field of higher education.”

Ms. Custardo was part of a nation-wide search to replace Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Tina Anderson who transitioned to full-time teaching at the University for the spring 2019 semester. Anderson is now Assistant Professor of Accounting in the Puri School of Business. Campus visits for finalists were conducted in December 2018. Custardo will officially begin her duties with Rockford University on February 4, 2019.

The Rockford Urban Education Research Symposium will highlight the culminating work of the first cohort of teachers who are students in the Master’s in Education, Urban Education Pathways program at Rockford University, a partnership with Rockford Public School District 205. The public is welcome to attend the symposium on Thursday, December 6, 2018 from 6:00 P.M. – 8:15 P.M. at Rockford University’s Burpee Center in Regents Hall, 5050 East State Street, Rockford.

Research projects and poster presentations will be on display. RPS 205 Superintendent Ehren Jarrett, Ed.D., will provide a key note address. Dr. Jarrett and Rockford University President Eric Fulcomer will also recognize teacher leaders and special recognition will be awarded for Outstanding Action Research, Honorable Mention Action Research and People’s Choice Action Research.

For more information about the symposium, contact