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The Newman University community celebrated several outstanding student-athletes, coaches and supporters Feb. 5 at a banquet and induction ceremony for the Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2011.
The hall was created to honor student-athletes, coaches, administrators and patrons who have made significant contributions to the university’s athletic programs. This year’s class was no exception, according to Newman Director of Athletics Vic Trilli.
“All of our inductees were more than worthy of induction,” Trilli said. “Even today, these individuals exemplify the Newman University student-athlete, and add to the rich history of the Newman Athletic Department.”
The NCAA Division II recently launched an initiative called “Life in the Balance,” which is designed to give student-athletes a full college experience by focusing on academics and community service as well as sports (see “Life in the Balance” story). While the program did not exist when the Class of 2011 inductees were students, many felt that the principles of Life in the Balance were integral to their Newman experience.
“I feel that my athletic involvement was very balanced as far as time. There was plenty of time for homework and social events,” said inductee Eileen Adams, a 1987 graduate and women’s basketball standout. “I lived on campus for two years, and I think those students get the total college experience and are more involved with activities and different groups of people.”
“It was a huge focus for my coach that we were successful in the classroom as well as on the field,” added Eddie Andreo, a 1998 graduate and member of the 1996 Men’s Soccer Team. “I always knew there was a level of care and concern with faculty and coaches to help us succeed.”
Four individuals and two teams were inducted into the Newman University Athletics Hall of Fame as the Class of 2011. The inductees were honored at the Hall of Fame Banquet and Induction Ceremony, Feb. 5 in the Dugan-Gorges Conference Center on the Newman campus.
Bart and Melissa Grelinger have strong feelings about the Newman University mission and its “purpose of empowering graduates to transform society” — so much so that they are in the process of establishing an endowment to support a scholarship for students who hope to attend Newman University.
But then, the Grelingers have first-hand experience of that empowerment and transformation, at both the professional and personal levels.
Professionally, Bart earned bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and biology from Newman in 1983 before going on to earn a medical degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 1987. He is now senior partner of Neurology Consultants of Kansas, a participant in a multidisciplinary outpatient clinic, an active staff member of several Wichita hospitals, and assistant clinical professor of medicine with the KU School of Medicine-Wichita. He is also a member of the Newman Board of Trustees.
Melissa (Ewald) earned a degree in management from Newman in 1982. She is now an active volunteer or board member in several organizations at the local, state and national level.
On a personal level, Bart’s mother Mary (Winters) Grelinger and Melissa’s mother Ellie (Bieberle) Ewald are both Sacred Heart Academy alums (1951 and 1955, respectively). Bart’s sister Mary (Grelinger) Jones is a 1984 graduate, and a niece, Erin (Fuller) Stewart, earned a radiologic technology degree at Newman in 2004. Last but not least, the Grelingers’ daughter Katie is a 2009 graduate now studying at the KU School of Medicine, while their son Adam will graduate in May with a degree in IT.
Given these experiences and connections, it’s perhaps not surprising that the Grelingers believe it’s important to give back.
“Newman University was instrumental in preparing me to continue higher education, start a family and ultimately join the workforce with the tools needed to be successful,” Bart said. “Our faith asks us to provide time, talent and treasure to help improve the lives of others and society as a whole. This endowment is just one more way to give back to the community and the university that helped me so many years ago.”
“Our hope is that this will allow a student an opportunity they may not have otherwise had,” Melissa added, “and allow Newman to continue what it does best, empowering graduates to transform society.”
Bart added that he would encourage others to create an endowment, even if they don’t have similar ties to Newman.
“It is only through the education of our children that we can hope to achieve the wisdom, personal responsibility, and respect for others that will allow us to plan for a better tomorrow,” he said. “If this endowment allows a leg up to someone’s education and ultimately their career or profession, it will be money very wisely spent, as we believe it will be returned many times over.”
The Council for Aid to Education’s Voluntary Support of Education 2009 Survey showed that the rate of alumni giving for that year declined from 11 percent to 10 percent, the lowest level ever recorded by the survey.
While the fact that only one alum in 10 nationwide gives annually to his or her alma mater sounds pretty dismal, the giving rate for Newman University is even worse. Between 2007 and 2009, the rate for alumni with undergraduate degrees stagnated at around 6 percent, a significant decline compared to 2004 and 2006. The giving rate for alumni with graduate degrees is even lower — just 2.2 percent for the 2009-10 academic year.
As a private institution, Newman relies on charitable giving to remain accessible and affordable to as many students as possible. Alumni giving plays an important role by supporting student scholarships, maintaining facilities and ensuring future growth, but it is crucial in other ways.
“Many people may not know that the rate of alumni giving is as important as the amount given,” said Newman Director of Development Molly Fox. “A higher rate helps the university when we apply for grants or other charitable giving, because funding organizations consider that when making their decisions. Savvy students or parents will also ask about the giving rate when looking for a college, to see how committed alumni are to the university.”
Fox also noted that a low giving rate places an unfair burden on alumni who are regular donors, especially when the university must seek gifts for important projects.
“Small gifts really do add up,” Fox said, “and pledging to give regularly through our annual appeals or other programs can make a big difference. I urge all alumni to remember that your gifts can help future students and your alma mater much more than you may realize.”
NCAA DII initiative designed to ensure more complete college experience for student-athletes
For many students at NCAA Division II institutions, college is now about all these ideas — and more — thanks to an initiative called “Life in the Balance.”
Life in the Balance is designed to encourage student-athletes to have a comprehensive and broad-based college experience by providing, as described by Division II, “growth opportunities through academic achievement, learning in high-level athletics competition and development of positive societal attitudes in service to community.”
The initiative was driven by college and university presidents within DII — with the support of faculty, student-athletes and athletics administrators — to address concerns about the number of hours student-athletes devote to sports, and how it can affect other aspects of their total college experience. Phase I of the program, which began in fall 2010, seeks to limit missed class time and allow more time for community involvement through a shorter playing season, fewer competitions during the school year, and a seven-day no-games, no-practice break during the Christmas holiday.
Newman administrators said the initiative will bring benefits to everyone involved.
“The Life in the Balance initiative is congruent with our mission of helping students to become well-rounded citizens who will transform society,” said Newman President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D. “The college years are an important period of a student’s intellectual, social and spiritual development, and we have long believed that students should have a well-balanced experience during their time at Newman University.”
“This really redefines what Division II is — it’s an education association that puts the student first,” added Athletics Director Vic Trilli. “That’s always been important to the Athletics Department at Newman, as shown by the community service projects and top G.P.A. scores our student-athletes consistently achieve. We see Life in the Balance as a perfect fit for our community.”
Reflecting Newman’s values
The plan grew from an effort by DII officials to build a strategic positioning platform to help define its core values and guiding principles. Officials later worked to align the platform with the division’s strategic plan through five goals:
- • Help student-athletes cultivate academic and life skills, and develop positive societal attitudes through community service;
- • Ensure compliance with NCAA regulations;
- • Provide fair and equitable competition that results in positive and rewarding game day, conference and national championship experiences;
- • Utilize the uniqueness of the DII model to attract new members and ensure long-term stability, and
- • Promote diversity and an environment of inclusion.
Carrocci noted that many aspects of the DII strategic plan, core values and guiding principles reflect the ideals and ethical tenets that are part of the educational experience at Newman. In fact, the values developed during one former student’s Newman experience
played a role in how Life in the Balance was created (see interview with Drew Bogner, Ph.D.).
As noted in the five goals, Life in the Balance is also part of an effort by DII to distinguish itself from other NCAA divisions — particularly Division I, which has increasingly lengthened playing seasons and placed a major emphasis on athletics. In a Jan. 29, 2010 article posted on the NCAA Division II website, University of Indianapolis President and former Vice Chair of the Division II Presidents Council Beverley Pitts put it this way:
“Division II defines itself not as a steppingstone to Division I but rather as a destination for exceptional athletes to compete at the highest level and also have fully integrated collegiate experiences…. The Division II philosophy is that we expect our students to go pro in life, not sports.”
The President’s Council recently approved several measures that make up Phase II of the initiative, including further adjustments to the start dates for out-of-season or pre-season activities and competition in all winter sports. Phase II also includes changes to the start date of non-championship and out-of-season activities for spring sports to give student-athletes time to acclimate to new semesters, as well as changes to practice and other activity during regular season and championship segments.
Newman officials said they are happy with the Phase II changes, and believe they will further support the university’s mission and core values.
“The Life in the Balance initiative strengthens what the university already does to give students a full, rich educational and collegiate experience,” Carrocci said. “This can only improve things not only for our student-athletes, but the entire Newman community.”
Under the Life in the Balance initiative, the nearly 300 sports-playing NCAA DII member institutions will:
- • Schedule the first game of all fall sports a week later than in previous years, and move the date student-athletes report for fall sports back 17 to 21 days from the first contest, depending on the sport. These rules also apply to golf and tennis for schools that conduct most of their conference matches or championships in the fall.
- • Reduce the number of soccer games from 20 to 18.
- • Reduce the number of volleyball matches from 28 to 26.
- • Reduce the number of baseball games from 56 to 50.
- • Reduce the dates of golf competitions from 24 to 21.
- • Eliminate the tournament exception in softball (i.e., multiple games played in a single day no longer count as one game).
- • Reduce the maximum number of basketball games from 27 to 26.
- • Make Dec. 20 through 26 a dead period of no contests, practice or other athletic activity for winter sports.
For more information on Life in the Balance, visit www.ncaa.org/divisionii.
When Associate Professor of Nursing Amy Siple learned that several children in Wichita needed glasses but couldn’t afford them, she began looking for people who had the ability to meet that need.
Later, when she learned that the Newman School of Nursing had several hospital beds it no longer needed, she began looking for people who needed the beds but couldn’t afford them.
As a result of her efforts, at least a dozen children have the glasses they need today at no cost to their parents, and 17 people have the beds they need at no cost to them or their families.
In the process, several Newman students also received something valuable – first-hand experience in providing service to those in need.
“I’m just excited to see the students get involved,” Siple said. “It’s so wonderful to see God’s work being done.”
Siple first learned about the children who needed eyeglasses when she led a group of nursing students performing vision and blood screenings at Wichita Catholic schools. While screenings such as these are designed to catch problems, the students found something they didn’t expect – some children had the same problems every year because they were going untreated.
After talking to a school nurse, Siple found the students were indeed lacking the eye exams and glasses they needed because of financial constraints or lack of insurance.
“She [the nurse] elaborated on the situation and the need,” Siple said. “She pointed out one particularly heartbreaking story of a little girl who borrows the secretary’s glasses to take her exams.”
Siple and her husband first called their optometrist, who provided a free exam and pair of glasses for the student. Siple then called other optometrists who each offered one free exam. The project has received a great amount of support from Newman 2006 graduate Emily Becker, O.D., who has provided many free exams to children and pledged to continue offering her services.
While free exams can be a huge benefit to children and their parents, the cost of glasses can quickly add up. To address that problem, respiratory therapy student Patty Roberts approached her parish about organizing a fundraiser to buy glasses for the children. Roberts also secured four vouchers for free glasses from local eyewear retailer SPECS.
The vision service project soon gained the attention and support of other Newman students. Siple said a group of nursing students she had not told about the project heard about it through the grapevine and took up a collection. Siple came to her office one day and found an envelope containing $144 that had been slipped under her door.
“This is about the price of three pair of glasses,” Siple said. “I just love our students.”
Today, several students help manage the project, which continues to provide children with exams and glasses and has even expanded to include dental care.
Siple discovered another service opportunity last fall when Via Christi Health donated 17 hospital beds to the School of Nursing skills laboratory. The school used the beds to replace ones that had been in use for several years. Because those beds were still in good condition, however, Siple set out to donate them to people with special needs who lacked the resources to obtain beds themselves.
With the help of respiratory therapy student Bridget Boyum and other students, Siple contacted social workers, home health agencies and Wichita’s Medical Equipment Recycling Network to identify people with demonstrated need for the beds.
“We found a 16-year-old boy who has severe cerebral palsy and requires total care that is provided by his mother and 60-year-old grandmother,” Siple said. “Because of the boy’s size, they are having difficulty managing this task, and said a hospital bed would be a blessing beyond words.”
Siple and the students soon found 16 others in need of beds, and enlisted the help of several Newman Wrestling Team members to deliver them to recipients’ homes. One recipient, Sara Cawood, lives in Bentley, Kan., with her 14-year-old son Cody, who has cerebral palsy and a rare seizure disorder.
“I’m thrilled,” Cawood said. “We were looking for twin mattresses to stack on the bed to raise it up so we could dress him and care for him more easily, but we didn’t know how that would be for Cody. This is really the answer to our prayers. We’re very grateful.”
Siple said she is happy she could help people get what they need, but is even happier for what the experiences have taught her students.
“I told students, ‘I’m excited to see the people who need them get the beds, but I’m more excited for you. By doing this kind of work, volunteering and helping others, you’re gaining a better understanding of what nursing is all about.’”
By Stephen V. Poulter, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of English/Composition, Director of the Math and Writing Center
Here at Newman, many have suggested changing the name of the Math and Writing Center to something more accurately descriptive, like The Study Place or The Center for Student Learning. Other suggestions include Academic Learning Center, Tutoring Center, Homework Support Lab, Literacy Center, Center for Learning Studies, Safe Learning Zone, and Academic Outreach Program. More recently, I have heard Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, Academic Skills Center, and Academic Support Center.
The trouble is, none of these monikers accurately describes what happens in the center.
Sure, we have tutors: traditional tutors who schedule regular hours inside the center and handle appointments and walk-ins; tutors who work “on call” outside regular hours; tutors for math or writing; tutors who work with specific courses or disciplines; ESL tutors; tutors who work with classes or study halls, and tutors who do all of the above. All of our tutors are outstanding Newman students.
Yes, we have resources. We developed a popular online plagiarism tutorial used by many other schools. We have access to BlackBoard and online scheduling. We keep current textbooks and reference books on file for student use. We have calculators. We have software to accommodate different learning styles and online tutorials and printed handouts for discipline-specific writing styles. We even have comfy couches and apples for healthy snacking.
Like any progressive center, we have a number of outreach services as well. For example, students may send in papers by e-mail for review and faculty and staff may request professional editing for letters, articles, book chapters, or anything they wish to be proofread. At various places around campus, tutors regularly conduct study sessions for individual classes, groups, and labs. We are now “embedding” tutors in classes for instructors who request them so that they may conduct regular study sessions outside the class.
Tutors also provide presentations to classes about what is available in the center, help sponsor faculty workshops on teaching and learning, and participate in training to improve tutoring techniques. And all of this is free to Newman students, staff, and faculty.
The trouble is, there is no title that describes all of the above. Nor does any title describe what happens to students on a personal level at our center.
Some improve skills dramatically; others just come to ask questions in an accepting environment or do homework in a quiet place with help available; some meet their future mates; quite a few students come desperate and harried, but leave comforted and wiser; some choose to use the center as a way to volunteer their own services; some even claim to have found attending or working in the center to be a life-changing experience. Many students later become one of our 25 tutors themselves when they discover skills of their own to share.
From my observations, I would describe the center as a real and virtual space within the Newman community that integrates learning, teaching, curriculum, and co-curricular activities, and that for many students becomes the academic heart of an institution dedicated to equipping them with the tools, the desire, and the wisdom to transform the world as they know it. Maybe we should change the name of the place to that description, starting with “A Real and Virtual Space within the Newman Community…”
Or maybe we should call it, simply, the Center.
‘Life in the Balance’
In the interview that follows, Bogner speaks on the rationale and value of the DII “Life in the Balance” initiative, and his role in its creation.
Q: How did the Life in the Balance initiative come about?
A: We, as the presidents of DII schools, met to discuss what makes DII distinctive from DI or DIII. From that emerged the Strategic Platform (see page 6) and the knowledge that what separates us from other divisions is balance. We want our students to maintain a balance between athletic, academic and rich collegiate experiences, which can include participation in campus clubs or community service. We talked about those ideas, then referred it to legislative committees to define the specifics of Life in the Balance, and from that we developed this program.
Q: What role did you play in that process?
A: I was part of the discussion about Life in the Balance, and met with the constituent groups within DII — the coaches, athletic staff, student-athletes, administrators, and others — to build support for the program and see what changes needed to be made. Once we arrived at consensus, we then looked at the program and decided how to implement it.
Q: Why did you and other university presidents push for this? Why was it important to you?
A: As I said this is how we define what DII is and how we help students have balance in their lives. There are also economic factors to save schools money. But the main thing is we wanted to be proactive and say this is who we are, this is what we expect from students, these are our values, and this is how we do things. And, we will hold ourselves accountable for these things.
Q: Do you think your experience at Newman University and the institution’s mission and values had an influence on the initiative and your role in it?
A: I was there four years as a student, and 13 years as faculty and administrator, so I truly developed a large sense of my values and commitment to service at Newman. As chair of the council I wasn’t shy about talking about values and the ideas behind the program. I think these values are in my bones.
Q: What role do you play now regarding Life in the Balance?
A: We’re now in Phase II of the program. I spoke with all the groups again to build support. Now we’re looking at how we measure the program’s success and continue to refine it to help support our Strategic Platform.
Q: Other than promoting balance for students in terms of their athletic, academic and community engagement, does the program offer other benefits to students?
A: In DII, students have the opportunity for athletic financial aid so they can come to our schools, but the aid they receive based on athletic ability doesn’t have to get in the way of their academics. And, we know that many of those students blossom when they come to our institutions, so Life in the Balance gives them an opportunity to become better students and to succeed in life.
Q: Does the program offer other benefits to Newman?
A: Newman is still new in DII, so in some ways this is melding the value system Newman already has with the values of DII. I think this helps Newman, in that the university can use Life in the Balance to further the Newman mission and the impact the university has on students and the community.
Newman senior Taylore Nguyen has worked as a tutor in the center for the past four years. Nguyen is an education major, who has already completed a paralegal and history degree and a math minor. She is now finishing an English minor, and plans to earn a graduate degree in composition and rhetoric to teach at the college level.
Nguyen said she came to the center to gain teaching experience. She got that, she said, and more.
“I’ve learned to communicate better with others, and to listen better to what the student needs,” she said. “We work with different types of students — young people, adults, people whose first language in not English. As a tutor I have to put myself in their shoes and see how they’re approaching things.”
Her biggest challenge, she said, is when she feels she’s not getting through to a student.
“But that’s a good thing,” she added. “It allows you to re-think what you’re doing. Learning is an ongoing process, for everyone.”