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RU Business Summit

ROCKFORD, Ill. (September 25, 2023) – After a successful inaugural business summit in June, Rockford University is delighted to announce its first post-Business Summit networking event, set to take place on Tuesday, September 26, 2023, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The event, titled “Investing in Rockford’s Talent,” aims to foster meaningful discussions about the importance of nurturing local talent and the positive impact it has on the community, businesses, and individuals.

As showcased in the inspiring video “Rockford University Graduate Helping Students Get Ahead” (view HERE), Rockford University firmly believes that investing in the development of local talent creates a beneficial feedback loop for all stakeholders. By focusing on education, upskilling, internships, and placements, we can not only strengthen our workforce but also contribute to the overall prosperity of the region.

The event will feature a distinguished panel of local business executives who will share their insights and expertise on various topics related to talent development, including employee retention, upskilling initiatives, internship programs, and more. Attendees will have the unique opportunity to engage in open discussions, ask questions, and gain valuable perspectives from these industry leaders.

Event Details:

  • Event: Investing in Rockford’s Talent, a Networking Conversation
  • Date and Time: Tuesday, September 26, 2023, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • Venue: Rockford University
  • RSVP: Business leaders can RSVP for the event by visiting


Rockford University is committed to strengthening the ties between education and industry, and this networking event serves as a testament to that commitment. We encourage business professionals, educators, students, and community members to join us in this pivotal conversation and help shape the future of talent development in Rockford.

About Rockford University:

Rockford University, a private four-year institution in Rockford, Illinois, is dedicated to providing a quality education rooted in liberal arts and professional studies. With a rich history dating back to 1847, RU is committed to preparing students for rewarding careers, responsible citizenship, and lifelong learning. To learn more about Rockford University, visit our website at


Media should RSVP by 12 p.m. Tuesday, September 26, by email at


Sept. 18, 2023

Rev. Nontombi Naomi Tutu

ROCKFORD, Ill. — Speaker, race and gender activist, educator, and Episcopal priest Rev. Nontombi Naomi Tutu will visit Rockford University Thursday, Sept. 21, in celebration of the International Day of Peace. 

The university will take part in honoring the annual global observation of the United Nations to call for all humanity to commit to peace above all differences and build a culture of peace. Rev. Tutu’s visit is also part of the Rockford University Forum Series.

Her forum “Striving for Justice: Searching for Common Ground,” will take place at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Maddox Theatre in the Clark Arts Center, 5050 E. State St. in Rockford.

Rev. Tutu’s lecture will be followed at 5:30 p.m. by a community event in Regent’s Hall, Burpee Center, to celebrate the Declarations and Interdependence– Rockford Series and commemorate International Day of Peace.


About Rev. Tutu

Rev. Tutu is the third child of Archbishop Desmond and Nomalizo Leah Tutu. She was born in South Africa, but lived in many communities and countries growing up. Educated in Swaziland, the U.S., and England, she has divided her adult life between the US and South Africa. 

She started speaking out publicly as a college student at Berea College in Kentucky in the 1970s when she was invited to speak at churches, community groups, colleges, and universities about her experiences growing up in apartheid South Africa.

After years spent as a development consultant, educator, and race and gender activist, she accepted her call to the ordained ministry in her 50s. Today, her consulting business is based on learning from and celebrating our differences—experience gained from her work with truth and reconciliation programs around the world.

More on Rev. Tutu can be found on her website


Forum Series

The Rockford University Forum Series presents speakers in a variety of disciplines who have achieved success both nationally and locally, and performers of stature in the arts. The Forum Series’ central programming focus is geared toward students, while also seeking to connect campus to the local community. Lectures and performances are concerned with intellectual, social, and cultural matters of general interest to deepen and broaden students’ education at Rockford University and enhance the rich culture of Rockford.

Forum Series presenters and events cover a broad spectrum of scope and genre. Events have included the Tibetan lamas from Drepung Loseling Monastery and their creation of a mandala—a sacred sand painting; Holocaust survivor Zev Kedem, the compelling speaker who worked with Steven Spielberg on the movie Schindler’s List; Oscar Arias, former president of Costa Rica and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on a Central American Peace Plan; quadriplegic Olympic bronze medal rugby player Mark Zupan; film documentarian Barbara Martinez Jitner, who produced “La Frontera;” Davar Ardalan, author of “My Name is Iran;” and traditional University events like the President’s Opening Convocation, Charter Day Convocation, and theater productions.


Local media is invited to the Rockford University campus at 1:45 p.m. at Fisher Chapel where Rev. Tutu will be having an open session with RU students from 2 to 3:15 p.m. 

To RSVP, please contact the Communications Department at by Thursday, September 21 at 1 p.m.


Sara Myers

RU Marketing & Communications 


Day of Service 2022

Rockford, Ill. (Sept. 11, 2023)- The students, faculty, staff, and alumni of Rockford University — the region’s leading private four-year institution — will spend Wednesday, September 13, 2023, giving back to the Rockford community during its annual Day of Service.

In celebration of Rockford University’s most famous alumna, Jane Addams — and her September birthday — the campus is joining together as a community to celebrate her legacy and our institutional commitment to her values. 

“Jane Addams Day of Service recognizes the birthday and the enduring legacy of Addams and her commitment to working for the common good,” said Mary Weaks-Baxter, Ph.D., Director of the Jane Addams Center for Civic Engagement at Rockford University. “Our hope is that this Day of Service can be an opportunity for us to consider ways we can reach out to communities in need and recognize how community engagement and activism can unite us in the common goal of working for the betterment of our society and world.”  

The 2023 Day of Service will benefit local organizations, including Noah’s Ark Animal Shelter, Kids Around the World, Miss Carly’s, the Discovery Center, Tinker Swiss Cottage, Burpee Museum of Natural History, Veterans Drop-In  Center, and more.

Students, faculty and staff will also include on-campus projects to improve Clark Arts Center, Starr Science Center, Lang Wellness Center for Health and Wellness, and Seaver Physical Education Center. 

Students, faculty, and staff will be spending the day volunteering not only on campus, but across the city of Rockford.

Photo and B-roll Opportunities:

  • Students, staff and faculty will be working on projects at Clark Arts Center, Starr Science Center and Lang Wellness Center for Wellness on the RU Campus. Media can come to any of these buildings at 10 a.m. to noon to take photos and/or b-roll and chat with Weaks-Baxter about the event.
  • Media can also go to Miss Carly’s, located at 1125 5th Ave. in Rockford at 10 a.m. to noon to meet with RU Marketing/Communications to take b-roll, as well.

RSVP to RU Marketing/Communications by emailing us at by 8 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13.



Rockford University is a private four-year, co-educational institution founded in 1847 offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in traditional liberal arts and professional fields. The University offers more than 80 majors, minors and concentrations, including the bachelor’s 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), Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), and Master of Education in Urban Education, (M.Ed.). 

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 is a U.S. News & World Report Best Midwest Regional University, Rockford University currently serves approximately 1,250 full-and part-time students.

Congrats to Staff/Faculty Emily Webb and Ian Seivert who won the Rockford University President’s Opening Convocation 2023 drawing!

Emily Webb (Assistant Professor of Biology) won a $50 Starbucks gift card. Ian Seivert (Assistant Director of Information Technology) won the 10 free meals in the Rockford University dining hall. Staff and/or faculty who attended the Friday, Aug. 25, event were eligible for the prizes. 

Director of University Events Tara Vanden Branden can be seen in the below video picking the winners.

By Sara Myers, Digital Media & Communications Specialist 

Rockford University hosted Friday, Aug. 25, 2023, the President’s Opening Convocation in the Maddox Theatre in the Clark Arts building.

Opening Convocation is a longstanding tradition at Rockford University. The ceremony was initiated in 1851, four years after RU’s founding, and is attended by faculty, staff and students. 

The ceremony is the symbolic beginning of another school year and a tradition that reinforces our identity as a University. 

The first principal of Rockford Female Seminary, Anna Peck Sill (1852-1884), would ring her “bell” at the start of each school day. This tradition carries on at convocation where the bell is run by our president. This year President Patricia Lynott rang the 171- year-old bell.

This event on Friday included a Prelude and Academic Procession by Pianist Lisa Miller followed by an Invocation by Elaine M. Sharpe ‘75, Associate Professor of Psychology and Faculty Chair. The Rockford University Board of Trustees Chair, Rebecca Epperson, gave the Welcome. 

President Lynott gave the Address on “Unlocking Futures: The Enduring Value of a College Education.” Students who attended Friday’s President’s Opening Convocation had a chance to win free books for a semester (up to $500) sponsored by President Lynott. The two book scholarship winners are Owen Dunseth and Katelyn Paredes.

President Lynott rings the Rockford University bell

By Sara Myers, Digital Media & Communications Specialist   

First day of classes at Rockford University start Wednesday, Aug. 23. To help make sure new first-year students are prepared, we gathered some quick tips and advice to ensure you start the new school year right.

Big thanks to staff from Admissions, Housing and Student Life. If we have missed anything, please comment below! 

Katie Wolfgram, RU Assistant Director of Admissions:  

#1. Send your final high school transcript to admissions.  

  • Make sure your high school transcript is sent directly to the Admissions Office (anytime during the fall semester is acceptable, but late transcripts will affect your financial aid so don’t delay!)

#2. Chat with Student Administrative Services ASAP.  

  • Make time to chat with Student Administrative Services (SAS) as early as possible. They can address financial aid questions and determine if you need to fill out any forms.

#3. Sign up for the Spring semester in October!  

  • October may seem early to plan for spring, but that’s when class registration opens up. Before you can register you will need to make sure your transcripts are submitted to SAS by the first half of the Fall semester. You can check the Portal for updates. 

Director of Student Life Alex Johnson Recommends Upcoming Events 

Orientation was the first opportunity to learn more about Rockford University. If you attended, you were able to meet your entire first-year class and get to know your first-year advisor.

Throughout your time at Rockford University, you will have other opportunities to get involved and meet people.

“There are a lot of things happening in August,” said Alex Johnson, Director of Student Life. 

“You may be nervous about just attending college and not knowing anyone. These events are a perfect time for anyone to attend to get connected to all the students on campus. If I had to emphasize two things it would be the fall kickoff and the activities fair to attend.”  

Make sure to check announcements and social media for updates on events. Here is a list of upcoming Student Life Events:

Fall Kick Off  

  • When: Friday, Aug. 25  
  • Time: 5 to 8 p.m.  
  • Where: Burpee Commons  
  • What: Enjoy inflatables, games, make-and-take items, and great food. This event is open to Rockford University Students, Staff, Faculty, and their families. Make sure you stay till 8 p.m. when we end the night with fireworks!  

Caffeine Cart  

  • When: Monday, Aug. 28  
  • Time: 9 to 11:30 a.m.  
  • Where: Around campus  
  • What: Join the Commuter Council as they help you wake up. Make sure you flag down the purple golf cart on your way to class to snag a caffeinated beverage!  

Activities Fair  

  • When: Wednesday, Aug. 30  
  • Time: 2 to 4 p.m.  
  • Where: Library Patio  
  • What: Want to get involved on campus? Stop by the activities fair and meet all the clubs that Rockford University has to offer.  

Water Festival  

  • When: Thursday, Aug. 31  
  • Time: Tentatively 3-6 pm  
  • What: Burpee Commons  
  • Info: Join CAB as they throw the first-ever water festival. Join us for tons of water-inspired games including slide-and-slide kickball, a water balloon fight, and more!  

College Success from Scott Mitchell, Assistant Dean and Director of Residence Life:  

#1. Sit in the “T” zone one class. The front rows and down the center aisles are important to maintain contact with faculty and be notified to participate in class discussions.  

 #2. Although new to campus, set up a routine for hours of sleep and study. Maintain a schedule for success. It is easy to get distracted and setting a routine right away helps maintain focus on academic goals.  

We wish everyone a safe and happy semester! Students can find major university news here at 

A Thrilling Recap of Unforgettable Performances

RU Performing Arts students perform in Maddox Theatre

by Lindsey Giardino 

It’s always an exciting time within Rockford University’s performing arts program.

Each academic year, the department produces a collection of theater productions open to the campus community and general public. This past fall, those productions included a 1960s themed cabaret show directed by RU Performing Arts Professor Timm Adams entitled, “Good Vibrations: Songs of the 60s!”

Complementary tickets were sent to Rockford University alumni who graduated in the 1960s and 1970s, and many attended a performance.

Another performance, “These Shining Lives,” was directed by Professor Deborah Mogford in November 2022. The heart-wrenching play is based on the true story of Catherine Donahue and her friends who worked for the Radium Dial Company and how women’s lives were changed between 1922 and 1938 by the right to vote and new job opportunities.

In addition, Rockford University’s choirs and special guest Camerata Emanon put on a choral concert in November, performing “And the Angels Sang.” 

The fall season came to a close with a dance performance, “Orchesis: New Beginnings,” co-directed by Performing Arts Department Chair and Technical Director Beth Drog and graduating senior Marissa Ott. Not only did this feature Rockford University dancers, but it also  featured dancers from Rockford Dance Company, Evolve Dance Company, Auburn High School and South Beloit High School.

“Rockford University Performing Arts truly produces excellence in the realm of performing arts here in Rockford,” said Margaret McGraw, administrative and marketing assistant for the visual and performing arts program at RU. “The rigorous program provided by our hardworking faculty produces in our students the skills they need to progress in their artistic career.”

Although guided by faculty, each show is the collective hard work of every student in the program, McGraw said.

While there are many highlights of the overall program to call out, one pressing event is the retirement of Professor Jeff Hendry, who retired at the end of the spring semester after 41 years. He created the majority of the costumes seen on stage at Rockford University.

To purchase tickets to a future Rockford University production or to learn more about all the happenings, call 815-226-4100 or visit

Rockford University Performing Arts students performing

This story was originally published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of Catalyst

by Kyle Fritz, Assistant Director of Athletic Communications 

Kevin Diemer playing basketball

Rockford University’s junior and Men’s Basketball forward Kevin Diemer surpassed another career milestone this past season, when he scored his 1,000th career point in the Regents’ 74-64 win at Benedictine University. Kevin is no stranger to achieving career milestones however, as he is also in the men’s basketball record book for grabbing his 500th career rebound in the 2021 Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference Tournament (NACC) Championship game at Wisconsin Lutheran College. 

Currently, Kevin is one of only 17 RU men’s basketball players with 500 career rebounds, one of only 26 players with 1,000 points and one of only 15 players in program history with both 1,000 points and 500 rebounds. All of these accomplishments put him among some of Rockford’s best players, as he currently sits 21st on the all-time scoring list with 1,081 points and 12th in the all-time rebounding list with 659 boards.

“It was a really awesome experience to be able to reach that milestone, and what made it even more special was that it came in the most important win of our season thus far,” Kevin said, when asked about reaching 1,000 points. “My teammates truly are the best, and I want to thank them for helping me along the way. They really made it a special night for me, and I could not be more grateful for them.”

Kevin is not the only Diemer to make both of these lists. His older brother Tony accomplished both of those feats just a few years prior. Tony joined the 1,000 point club with a 26-point effort at Edgewood College back on January 23, 2018. Tony then joined the 500 rebound club ten months later with 10 rebounds in the Regents’ opening game of the 2018-19 season at Carroll University. Both of these were special moments for the Diemer family, as Kevin played alongside his brother during each of those seasons and was able to watch him hit both career milestones.

Tony finished his career fourth on Rockford’s all-time scoring list with 1,650 points and tenth in program history with 679 rebounds. However, Kevin is close to surpassing both of Tony’s marks and still has another year of eligibility remaining. Kevin currently needs just 569 points and 21 rebounds to vault ahead of his older brother on Rockford’s career scoring and rebounding lists. No matter who ends up on top though, Kevin and Tony have already made history as the first pair of brothers to score 1,000 points and grab 500 rebounds at Rockford University.

“Our entire childhood we competed in any way we could, which really helped both of us get better in the long run,” Kevin said. “I know I would not be the competitor I am today without him.” 

The 2022-23 men’s basketball team qualified for the NACC Tournament by winning their final four NACC games of the regular season against Benedictine, Lakeland, Aurora and Illinois Tech. Those four wins sent the Regents to the conference tournament for the third straight year and for the fourth time in the last five years. 

The Regents entered the 2023 NACC Tournament as the number six seed, but unfortunately came up short in their first round game at third seed Marian University. Despite the postseason loss, Rockford still had an outstanding season. Rockford finished with a 13-11 overall record, marking the third straight year the Regents have posted a winning record, which is the longest such streak in 20 years. 

Tony Diemer Regents Basketball

This story was originally published the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of Catalyst

Thriving on the Digital Battlefield

Rockford University Esports lab

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 growing and thriving as another attraction for new students. The Esports program, formally called Regent’s Esports, formed in the fall of 2019.

The 2022-23 season was especially exciting. The program received generous funding to purchase new gaming computers and launched scholarships specifically for students in Esports. Regent’s Esports also has its own state-of-the-art facility located in the heart of the Burpee Student Center, which features two dedicated streaming/content creation desktops, 16 MSI gaming stations, and top tier gaming peripherals.

“Students from all aspects of the university get involved with our program for the chance to compete in the games they are passionate about,” said Alex Johnson, director of student involvement and orientation and Esports coordinator. 

Esports students play on teams in competitive matches. 

Rockford University Esports Director and Graduate Hall Director, Tanner Elliott, has been with the program since 2019, but officially began his new role in 2023.

“This program has developed me professionally, socially, and academically just as much as my education has here at RU,” he said. 

“My goal is to make students on the teams feel like they found where they belong at RU and give them the best experience possible.”

Rockford University Esports team

This story was originally published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of Catalyst

Rockford University Costume Designer Takes Last Bow

Jeff Hendry between two model forms

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 on plaques. Newly retired professor of theater arts and costume designer, Jeff Hendry’s name is captured on many.

Hendry retired at the end of the 2023 spring semester after 41 years.  During his time here, Hendry has worn many different hats due to his diverse background. He has directed shows and has even taught Rockford University theater history and Shakespeare courses.

Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Hendry received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater Production from the University of Arizona, and Master of Fine Arts in Costume Design from University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

When he left graduate school, Hendry said he was searching for jobs primarily in the Midwest. Rockford University was where he ended up and stayed.

“I kind of bounced around a lot,” he said.

actors perform wearing Jeff Hendry's design in The Importance of Being Earnest in Spring 2023.
Actors perform wearing Jeff Hendry’s designs in The Importance of Being Earnest in Spring 2023.

Designer of Many Hats

“I have an odd skill set compared to most costume designers,” he said. “Most design people have a secondary emphasis in graduate school in another design area. I didn’t. I had directing as my secondary emphasis. I guess that’s always interested me.”

In the early 1990’s, the faculty from the theater department came together to create a musical theater major, Hendry said. Since then, Hendry has taught both performance and history/literature. He is now the only professor left of the program’s original creators.

“Professor Mogford likes to refer to me as a ‘Renaissance Man,’” he said. “I wear a lot of hats, and quite frankly, that’s part of the reason why I’ve stayed here for so long. If I had gone to a larger university, I’d end up in the costume shop and that’s all I’d be doing, because I wouldn’t have the opportunity to work in these other areas that I really enjoy.”  

Besides teaching, costume designing, and directing, on top of his extensive freelancing career, Hendry said Rockford University has given him opportunities beyond what he ever expected. Back when the university was connected to Regents College in London, England, Hendry said he was sent to London to oversee and operate the program.

“Living in London for a year and a half totally changed my outlook on life,” he said.

When Rockford University applied for and received a grant from the American and Japanese Foundation of Education, three professors were chosen to work on a communications effort with 9 other schools in the country and travel to Japan for research of their choosing. 

“I was researching Kabuki Theater and came back and produced a play in traditional Kabuki style, which was really exciting for me and the students. I could have never imagined doing that sort of thing when I came here”

For those future Rockford University students and next generation of costume designers who will not get to experience Jeff Hendry, the professor, he had one piece of advice:

“Don’t be afraid to take a risk. If any place, this is the place you can take a risk,” he said. “When I was starting here, my God, I made so many mistakes when I look back on it. But I learned from every single one of them, and it made me a better teacher and a better designer.”

This story was originally published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of Catalyst