reporting pixel for marketing campaign

Approximately 100 RPS 205 middle school students engaged in interactive workshops that included building paper rockets, and more with the assistance of RU students.

ROCKFORD, Ill. — Rockford University hosted about 60 students from Lincoln and Marshall Middle Schools in Rockford on Thursday, April 6, for its Second Annual STEM Day. 

During the event, middle school students engaged in multiple interactive workshops about electricity, probability, building a paper rocket, oxidation, and more in the Starr Science Center, 5050 E. State St, Rockford, IL. 61108. Rockford University students, including some from the Education Department, were able to get hands-on experience leading the workshops with the assistance of RU professors in STEM. 

 Workshops included:

“Fun with and Learning about Electricity”

“Stimulation in Probability – How many chocolate chips are there in a cookie?”

“Exploring an Unseen World”

“Daphnia Magna and the Effect of Energy Drinks on their Heart Rates”

“Signs of Spring”

“Oxidation – Light, Heat, and Carrots!”

“Building a Paper Rocket”

“Marker Magic!”

Students took a lunch break and toured the campus before resuming their afternoon workshops. 

“We had our education and math, physics, biology and chemistry students, who aspire to work as teachers one day,” said Rockford University Interim Dean of the College of Science, Math, and Nursing Professor of Mathematics Filiz Dik.

“This will provide an opportunity for them to interact with middle school students and practice their teaching.

“Our goal is that this would be an opportunity for us to connect with the community through middle school students and sparked their interest in STEM activities and STEM fields,” she said.

Last year, STEM Day started with just Lincoln Middle School, but expanded to Marshall Middle School as well. 

Find photos from today here

Presidential Search Extended

04/05/2023 12:11 pm

In an effort to ensure exceptional long-term leadership for our esteemed and beloved institution, the Board has made the decision to extend our search for a new university president. As the process to date has not produced what the committee feels would be the best-fit candidate, we will be undertaking additional efforts to locate our permanent president. We will not compromise; there is too much at stake.

Fortunately, Dr. Patricia Lynott, our qualified, talented, and dedicated interim president, will remain at the helm through June 30, 2024. This affords us time in which to complete the rigorous search necessary, and gives Dr. Lynott time to lay a foundation that positions the University to meet its new challenges and position us for additional and exciting opportunities. Evolving demographics have complicated the financial and operational landscape for all upper educational institutions. With effective strategy, flexibility, and hard work, however, Rockford University will implement the essential changes to move boldly into the future. But make no mistake, we will steadfastly preserve what sets us apart. 

Though this process may be a longer journey than we anticipated, we can all look forward to emerging even stronger. The gravity of this decision demands relentless effort. And that’s just what we’ll give it.

Please check back for updates as we advance this vital process. We intend to include all Rockford University stakeholders as we navigate our way through the important work of building on our 175-year legacy of excellence.  

By Sara Myers

We’ve been speaking to Rockford University students and alumni about Black History Month. Throughout the month of February, the university will highlight different individuals and their thoughts about the historic month and its importance.

We spoke with 2017 RU graduate Dominique Campbell on what Black History Month means to him and how he celebrates. Campbell received his Bachelor of Science degree from RU in physical education with a minor in health. He later received his Master’s in Business Communications from the University of Dubuque in Dubuque, Iowa.

Campbell, who currently lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and works as a Commercial Underwriter at United Fire Group.

Here are Campbell’s thoughts on Black History Month.

Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

How do you honor or celebrate Black History Month? 

Oftentimes, I attend an African American Gala in Waterloo, Iowa or Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I also try to post a fun African American history fact on social media every day during the month of February. I take my kids to the African American Museum where we participate in fun activities and learn about our culture and what makes this month so significant.

Name a Black figure – past or present –that you admire. Why?

Muhammad Ali because he stood for something that he believed in and was not afraid to speak his mind. He did not spew out nonsense. He stated facts and wanted to be treated equal. During a time when Black men and women were treated so unfairly, he gave our people hope, he let it be known that he was Black and proud.

I also admire rappers Jay-Z and Rick Ross. They continue to surprise me, not only by their music but by their actions in between the lines. They are both marketing geniuses and changed not only Hip-Hop culture but Black entrepreneur culture. Whether it is real estate, art, building a brand and music, they continue to show Black men and women that you can come from a tough background and rise above. 

Why is Black History Month relevant today? 

Black history has always been relevant and will never stop being relevant. America was made on our ancestors’ backs and I hope one day we realize that. Today, we live during a time where Black History Month is not talked about in the schools as much. Black History Month affords us the chance to challenge what we learned in history, dig deeper, and find out the actual events of the past that were not taught in schools or portrayed in the media. 

The media tends to showcase the negatives of the Black community, such as poverty, drugs, incarceration, lack of education, etc. These portrayals paint a biased and unfair stereotype in our minds. Black History Month allows us to learn about, celebrate, and honor Black leaders. Many of these leaders who contributed to the world in the name of science, innovation, and economy were never acknowledged and/or received their honor. Black History Month celebrates and puts their achievements in recognition and mitigates the damage caused by the unfair depiction of Black Americans in the media.

By Sara Myers

We’ve been speaking to Rockford University students and alumni about Black History Month. Throughout the month of February, the university will highlight different individuals and their thoughts about the historic month and its importance.

We spoke with RU’s Black Student Union President Mykal Brown on what Black History Month means to him and how he celebrates. Brown is a business administration major with a focus in marketing. He plans to enroll in RU’s MBA program after graduating in spring 2023.

Brown and BSU are planning multiple events to engage and educate the campus all month long.

At 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, BSU will hold a Black History Month Movie Night in Scarborough Auditorium to watch Judas and the Black Messiah. Food and drinks will be available.

Other events include:

  • Bowling Night Feb. 21 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Don Carter Lanes, 4007 E. State St., Rockford.
  • The Third Annual Juke Jam Feb. 24 starting at 9 p.m. in Scarborough Hall.

Here’s Brown’s thoughts on Black History Month.

Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

How do you celebrate Black History Month?

Brown: A lot of the celebrating is done through BSU. I also like to immerse myself in history. There are so many different stories and things to learn just on why the world is the way it is.

I also love being more outspoken throughout the year, but especially around this time of year. It is really just a big month for me to be myself. Just show everybody that as a group of people, we come in all different shades, and we’re different just like anybody else.

Just showing off who I am as a person, I think that really honors and celebrates Black History Month.

Name a Black figure that you admire, and why?

Brown: I’m going to go with Madam CJ Walker. Walker has been super impactful on my life. Just hearing her story of how she came through her struggles and overcame everything to be the first, not only woman millionaire but also African American. She did that through her beauty (product) lines. She was really big in hair. (Her story) was really impactful for me because I’m a business administration major, so I really love everything that surrounds business, all the intricacies and how people handle money.

Why do you think Black History Month is still relevant today?

Brown: Black History Month is still relevant today. If we don’t know our history, history tends to repeat itself so it’s nice to have the education side of Black History. I feel like when you learn more about another culture, you’re less likely to be discriminative toward them because you understand them from a person-to-person standpoint. 

Anyone with questions can email Brown at

For more on Rockford University’s Black History Month Celebration, head to You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, on Instagram, and on LinkedIn.


By Sara Myers | January 24, 2023

Jenna Goldsmith, a Rockford University English-Literature Lecturer, has been named Rockford’s 2nd Poet Laureate. Goldsmith was sworn in to her role at Rockford City Hall at 425 E. State St. in Rockford on Jan. 23 at 5:30 p.m. by Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara. 

In her role as Rockford’s 2nd Poet Laureate, Goldsmith will be an ambassador for poetry in Rockford for the next two years and also gets to work on a special project.

“The theme for my two years is poetry in new places,” Goldsmith said. “One of my hopes is that I can enlist the literary community in Rockford to create poetry that can end up in some very unexpected places. The DMV, the dump… places that you’ve wound up at and are not feeling very inspired, but maybe a poem on the wall that you discover can be inspirational.”

The Poet Laureate role is quite new for the City of Rockford, Goldsmith is just the second person in this role. Goldsmith applied for the position by submitting multiple materials and doing a reading for the committee. The committee is in conjunction with the Rockford Area Arts Council and the Rockford Public Library. 

“This is very on brand for me,” Goldsmith said. “I applied sort of on a whim. I really didn’t think it was going to be possible for me given the fact that I just moved back to the area. Though, I very much consider this place home.”

It was hard for Goldsmith to choose what reading to perform for the committee. She’s released four chapbooks of poetry in her career so far. In 2022 alone, she released the chapbooks “TITLE NINE” and “CRUSH.” “CRUSH” was the winner of the 2022 Baltic Writing Residency Chapbook. 

“My poetry tends to be intense, kind of journalistic, and even experimental,” she said. “The poetry that I felt would be best to share with the committee would probably be narrative, tell a story and maybe have some kind of hopefulness in it.”

Goldsmith ultimately decided to submit two different writings that showed her range to the committee, and ultimately, earned her the position.

Goldsmith moved back to the Rockford area in the summer of 2022 and started as a lecturer in the English Department at RU in August 2022 where she teaches Rhetoric 101 and 102. This fall she will teach a graduate poetry class for teachers finishing their coursework at RU.

She previously attended high school in Belvidere, Illinois, and received her associate’s degree from Rock Valley College. Goldsmith received her bachelor and master’s degree from Illinois State University, and later got her Ph.D. at the University of Kentucky. 

Goldsmith previously worked at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, for five years and then worked at Illinois State University for around a year before joining the RU English Department. 

“I was telling a colleague in the English department yesterday, I don’t think this role is above birthday parties,” she said. “I think being able to bring poetry where it’s wanted is part of this role. That’s what I’m most excited about.”

More about Goldsmith and her work can be found at her website,


By Sara Myers | January 20, 2023

Many things have changed in Dr. Kara Wada’s life since graduating from Rockford University (then Rockford College) in 2006.

For one, her last name has changed. Dr. Wada (formerly Simonson) met her husband, Dr. Akira Wada, on the first day of medical school. Dr. Akira Wada is an advanced imaging cardiologist.

The Wadas now have three children together: seven year-old Charlotte; four year-old Josephine; and one year-old Oliver. Home is now in Columbus, Ohio, where both doctors were placed during their residency in medical school at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. 

“The programs put their top applicants in rank order and the computer decides where you end up,” Dr. Kara Wada said. “That’s how my husband and I ended up in Columbus, Ohio. It was where we matched.”

Since that match 12 years ago, the couple have made Columbus their home, despite having no family connections. Dr. Wada works at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center as an allergist and immunologist. In 2017, Dr. Wada was brought on as faculty at the university. 

However, just a year later, Dr. Wada started feeling burnout which was in addition to some health issues she began experiencing.

“I ended up being diagnosed with an autoimmune condition and got pretty sick and I ended up cutting my hours in the office and re-evaluating things,” Dr. Wada said. 

She was diagnosed with the autoimmune condition Sjogren’s syndrome, a disorder of your immune system which can commonly cause dry eyes and a dry mouth, according to

Her diagnosis was a turning point for Dr. Wada. Following this, she created her own online business the Crunchy Allergist, became certified in lifestyle medicine and as a life coach, and started a podcast in 2022. 

In 2022, Wada has also revisited a passion of hers that started during her years at RU: competing in pageants. During her studies, she competed in the Winnebago County Queen competition. Dr. Wada was always a fan of getting dressed up and thought it would be great to earn another scholarship to pay for her education (Dr. Wada was awarded one of the Presidential Scholarships during her time at RU). 

Wada entered and received runner up at the Winnebago County Queen Pageant. Her RU classmate and fellow pageant competitor Stephanie Sharp and another mentor of her’s encouraged her to continue competing. 

Wada won the Miss Freeport competition and competed at the Miss Illinois competition on two occasions during her undergraduate years. 

“I figured this is great,” she said. “I won some scholarship money. It was really fun and I met some amazing women who I still keep in touch with and are doing really cool things in the world.”

Cut to 2022, Dr. Wada figured the pageant life was far behind her as a mother of three and doctor. Then, on social media she found out about the Dr. America pageant competitions. 

“It essentially had a lot of the same values and opportunities as Miss America,” she said. “I thought it’ll be a fun experience to share with my daughters and it’ll be a great way to get involved with the Columbus and Central Ohio community and a platform to really bring my passion for invisible illnesses.”

She explained that invisible illnesses are health conditions that the world cannot see outward. These conditions include autoimmune conditions, long COVID-19 or mental health conditions. The condition that Dr. Wada has, Sjogrens, affects up to one in 100 people and 90% are women.

“I figured if I could show people that I can make Sjogrens sparkle that this would be a really fun, experience and opportunity,” she said. “So, I competed for Dr. America in October and got first runner-up. I will be completing this October as Dr. Midwest and trying to take the crown.”

Her work as an allergist and immunologist is always at the forefront of her mind. Her education at RU is something she has been revisiting and grateful for in the last few years.

“When I first toured (RU), I met Dr. (Deborah) Breiter,” Wada said.  I thought this is a really incredible woman who is doing great work in her field and also succeeding in family life too. It would have been probably my junior year. She and her husband collaborated and offered an immunology course and that was my absolute favorite class.”

Wada said she is now re-learning that same material in a slightly different context for much of the work she has done in the last couple years during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Having that background and knowing how certain lab tests are run and some of the nuances of the science and the technology continued to be really helpful.” she said. 

For more on Dr. Wada, visit her website at

By Sara Myers | January 18, 2023

This past Tuesday, January 17, was the start of the spring 2023 semester and a chance for students and staff to once again eat at the new and improved Burpee Dining Hall. Over winter break, the food service team at Fresh Ideas worked to implement phase one of the new and enhanced dining experience. 

Phase one included a new pizza, salad and deli station in the dining room; a new dessert and breakfast station; new flooring in the dining room; and new seating and tables. 

“(The renovation) took three and a half weeks,” said Chad Nawrocki, director of dining services at Rockford University. “We got rid of all the furniture and all the flooring. It was a big, wide open space and we got rid of every cabinet and countertop that was in here. It was down to just the walls.”

The Fresh Ideas team was hard at work repainting the walls and replacing all the flags in the hall with plaques instead to give the hall a sleeker look over winter break. The plaques, which represent all the countries students are from on campus, shows how far the country is from campus, its population and also includes the country’s flag. 

The brand new center station in the middle of the hall includes a pizza station, hot pasta station, salad bar, build your own panini station, sub sandwich station and a soup station.

Nawrocki also noted that the company has brought in new technology which includes QR codes. Over at the Epic Eats station, students can scan the QR code on the station’s plaque and it will launch the station menu on your phone and you can order their meal directly from your phone. Students can type in their email address and they will be emailed once their order is ready. 

The hall also has a charging station with USB ports so students or staff can charge any device while eating. The hall also has seating for about 190 students, Nawrocki said.

RU students are enjoying the change for the new semester. A group of freshmen including Lorena Perez, Jazmyne Mastin and Katie Parades said they all enjoy the new look of the hall and the new flooring. Perez said she especially enjoyed the mac and cheese this Tuesday.

Senior Jessie Rathbum said she enjoyed the new layout and the multiple meal options the hall has, adding that she is a vegetarian and has found enough options for herself. Rathbum also said she liked the new online app.

Junior Piper Burney said she has liked what she’s seen so far from the new chef at Fresh Ideas who started this semester. Burney adds that she’s a picky eater, so it can be hard for her to find something she really enjoys. 

Junior Robbie Stradder agrees that the new look of the dining hall is enjoyable and especially likes that they replaced the country flags with plaques since the flags took up a lot of space before. 

Fresh Ideas currently has five student workers on staff, who Nawrocki is still working on assigning to different stations. All of his student workers are international students. He encourages people to reach out and start with the paperwork process if they’re interested in working in campus food service. 

Fresh Ideas took over from food service company Sodexo last year in July 2022. Nawrocki said they were in a “bidding war” with other food service companies for the gig, but received an excellent review from Judson University President Dr. Gene Crume, who is friends with former president Dr. Eric Fulcomer.

“(Dr. Crume) said, if you don’t hire Fresh Ideas, that would be a mistake,” Nawrocki said. “The programs they run are phenomenal. Everything we cook from the ground up is fresh.”

Fresh Ideas currently does food service for five universities in Illinois and around ten in Missouri, he said.

Phase two of the dining hall renovation will be completed this August 2023 and will start this summer break. The phase updates include a new entrance and new cashier station; new serving station and Epic Eats stations; new windows between the serving line and hallways; and new lighting.

More information on Fresh Ideas at RU can be found at 

ASI Rockford University President Profile PDF

Rockford University Names Dr. Patricia Lynott Interim President

Lynott to lead Rockford University until Dr. Fulcomer’s successor begins

ROCKFORD, Ill. (October 19, 2022) – Rockford University, the region’s leading private four-year educational institution, has announced that Dr. Patricia Lynott will serve as interim president beginning December 12, 2022 as the search for the successor to current Rockford University President Dr. Eric Fulcomer moves forward.  Lynott will be on campus beginning November 14 to spend several weeks with Fulcomer before his departure to get to know faculty, staff, and students and becoming acquainted with the wider Rockford community. 

Lynott served as president of University College at Southern New Hampshire University. She is a trusted leader with more than 20 years of service advancing the missions of nationally ranked colleges and universities, with more than a decade of experience at the executive level.

She has an established record of success in strategic planning, organizational change, operations, and community outreach. She played a critical leadership role in transitioning Southern New Hampshire University from a regional business college into a national, multi-faceted University. She successfully managed the impact of rapid and significant growth during a period of transformation.

Lynott also served many years in the classroom as an associate professor at Elmhurst College before becoming Dean of Graduate and Continuing Education and eventually executive director of Elmhurst Partners.

She earned a Doctor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Loyola University Chicago and her Master of Arts degree in communication studies from Northern Illinois University as well as a bachelor’s degree in communication from Trinity College.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Lynott leading the University through this transition,” said Board of Trustees Chair Rebecca Epperson. “We look forward to her leadership; her commitment to Rockford University’s students, staff, and faculty; and the stability she will provide as our search for the permanent leader is underway.”

The Rockford University Board of Trustees carefully evaluated applicants for the interim position, specifically looking for a candidate with experience supporting a smooth continuity of operations for students, faculty, and staff through periods of transition.

“Rockford University has done an incredible job of remaining financially stable while continuing to provide the best of what makes small private institutions so important: a close-knit campus community; more one-on-one interaction with caring professors; greater curriculum flexibility, less bureaucracy, and so much more. Throughout its evolution from a women’s seminary, to a co-ed college, to a regional university, Rockford has always adapted to the changes and challenges of the times,” said Lynott. “I am extremely pleased to be joining the Rockford University community as it continues to evolve in meeting the needs of today’s students.”



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.


For more information: Graeme Gallagher, Rockford University, 815.226.4140,

The Presidential Search Committee wants your input and invites you to participate in the search process by sharing your feedback.

Our consultant, Academic Search Inc., will be compiling the results from these anonymous surveys and sharing them with members of the search committee to help identify needs, wants, and themes.

We ask that you take a few minutes to fill out this survey by 7 p.m. on Monday, September 19.

If you are a student, please click on this link:

If you are faculty, staff, or alum, please use this link:

Additionally, in the upcoming weeks, we will be hosting in-person listening sessions to gain firsthand insight from you as well. Stay tuned to this page for more details.

Your insight matters to ensure Rockford University continues to move forward into the next 175 years so we ask that you complete the six questions in this linked survey.

With RU Pride,

Rebecca Epperson
Chair, Rockford University Board of Trustees
Chair, Rockford University Presidential Search Committee