The students may be away, but it's a very active time on campus and I wanted to update you on a number of things that have been happening. We have plenty of good news to share!
You probably heard that we had a fire at Hill House. If there is any good news to come out of the fire it's that our insurance company is covering it at replacement value. We're already talking about plans to rebuild, and even improve, Hill House. The response from our campus and the surrounding community — donations of clothes, food, bathroom items and cash — has been heartwarming, and exactly what you'd expect at Lakeland.
Some other good news: We have had one of the most successful non-capital campaign year fundraising efforts in recent memory (data is a bit sketchy the farther we go back). For 2014-2015 we raised over $1.5 million dollars for our annual fund — about $2.4 million when you include the Feldmann gift for the sciences division. Thanks to all of you who made a gift this year, and for believing in the college! We appreciate that you are willing to invest in our efforts.
Regarding the Feldmann gift, construction started on June 15 in the Chase Science Center to renovate approximately 600 square feet of lab space into our new cell laboratory. The cell lab will give hands-on experiences to natural science students working with cell cultures and stem cells. It will make our program unique among smaller, liberal arts colleges. The project is expected to be completed just in time for classes this fall.
We landed a great hire for our instructor of hospitality management – Britanni Meinnert, a Lakeland graduate and veteran teacher and employee in the hospitality industry. In addition to teaching courses, she will serve a 12-month position and manage the partnership between the college and Blue Harbor Resort & Spa, The Osthoff Resort and Destination Kohler. She will also develop new internships for students. Since 2012, she has been an instructor in Lakeshore Technical College's supervisory management and hotel/hospitality programs. That has allowed her to build significant relationships in the industry in this region. Prior to teaching, she worked more than a decade at The American Club, spending most of her tenure as manager of the front desk and Carriage House operations. She has both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Lakeland. We are excited to see what she does with our hospitality program, and she is eager to get started!
Due to the popularity of the aviation program, we've hired our second aviation instructor. Steven Vaught has joined our faculty as assistant chief flight instructor, joining chief flight instructor Brandon Molina in our fast-growing aviation program. We have a large incoming class for aviation, and we expect to be at 27 students in this minor this fall.
We also have a new communication instructor starting this August. Casey Schmitt brings eight years of experience teaching composition and communication at the college level, including lead instruction/course design and experience designing blended learning courses which used digital technology in and out of the classroom. He comes to us from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where, since the fall of 2009, he has been serving as a lecturer and graduate teaching assistant.
We're also welcoming this fall a new assistant professor of mathematics — John Wallbaum. He comes to us from Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., where he has worked in a similar role since the fall of 2012.
Finally, we will welcome Andrew Karls to join Lakeland's faculty this fall as assistant professor of biology. He received a Ph.D. in 2014 from Marquette University's biological sciences program and has been working there as a postdoctoral associate. He has worked as a graduate teaching assistant for four years and has taught a mix of introductory and upper-level courses.
There have been a number of staff hires that you should also know about.
Rick Herian, a recent Lakeland graduate, will be joining Lakeland's Student Success & Engagement Team as a success coach. Rick completed his master of arts in counseling degree this past May at Lakeland, and he was working as prospective student events coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Last year he completed an internship with Lakeland's career development office, and in this new role will be heavily involved in career services, including resume review, internships, job fairs, etc. He also worked a year and a half as a residence hall director at South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D., so he has great higher education experience already.
Athletics is excited to welcome Aaron Nester as our head women's basketball coach. Aaron has more than a decade of Division III coaching experience, including three seasons as head coach at Oglethorpe University near Atlanta, Ga. This past year he was top assistant coach at Central College in Pella, Iowa, and he has been an assistant coach at Wartburg College and at his alma mater, Rockford College in Illinois. At each of his stops the programs have steadily improved, so he understands building a program. He's also had leadership positions on the NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Championship Committee.
Dillon Bera has been named interim head wrestling coach, after serving as an assistant coach for the Muskies the past year. Bera has served as an assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. He competed collegiately at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside from 2010-13, where he was a four-time NCAA Division II All-American. He brings quite a bit of energy and excitement to his first job as a head coach.
Linda Bosman took over as director of alumni & church relations on July 1. Linda will coordinate the college's annual fund strategy and appeals and will facilitate meetings to support church relations and the Mission House Center. She has been a member of the advancement team for the past two years in an administrative assistant role, and we are searching for a replacement for this key role.
Dawn Guell, a 1991 Lakeland graduate, has joined our finance department as a general accountant. She has a CPA license and a diverse background in accounting, including jobs in both the public and private accounting sectors. She has also taught accounting classes in our Evening, Weekend and Online program.
Finally, the interim tag has been lifted and David Simon has been named our director of campus security & safety. David has been serving in an interim role in that position the last several months and has done an outstanding job and is very deserving of this promotion. He is a 1999 Lakeland graduate and returned to the college to join our staff in 2010.
Last summer, the college, ACUITY and Sheboygan South High School introduced an Information Technology (IT) Pathway community partnership which allows South High students to take classes that earn both high school and college credit while getting valuable work-based learning opportunities. There were 99 students enrolled in the nine courses last fall, and enrollment has surged to 226 students for this fall. Even better, three South High students will be attend Lakeland as computer science majors this fall. Students have the opportunity to earn up to 30 college credits with little cost to parents, thereby making college more affordable.
In May, we announced a partnership with the Sheboygan Area School District to form a Teacher Development Institute that provides additional professional development training for Sheboygan teachers. Public school budgets in Wisconsin are very tight, and districts are looking for creative ways to provide services not only for students but for their employees. The district had to use a lottery system to select the teachers that will be part of the first cohort of 30 due to the popularity of the program. The classes directly relate to the district's academic goals and ties in with the district's teacher evaluations. When teachers successfully complete these classes they'll also have earned credit toward a Lakeland master's degree. We are actively discussing this model with other districts in the region as a way we can assist them with focused employee development.
We hosted the college's first Blue & Gold Days on June 12-13. This event is the former summer orientation and has been overhauled by our Student Success & Engagement team to deliver to our newest students an on-campus experience that offers the opportunity to learn about campus, share in good food and start making college memories from the onset. One highlight will be a cookout that we've asked all our employees to consider attending with their families. We'll do this again with another group of new students in July.
We recently celebrated the opening of Tiede Plaza behind the Wehr Center. If you're in the area, drop by and see this beautiful outdoor space. Family and friends of former Dean of Students Loren Tiede and his wife, Rosemary, the former college nurse, funded the construction of the plaza and some new scholarships for students.
I hope your summer is going well, and I hope to see you at the inaugural Big Fish Festival as part of Homecoming on Sept. 26!