Matt Seimears’ journey since graduating from Newman University has been as fulfilling as it has been busy.
The 2002 elementary education graduate first started teaching eighth-grade biology at Pleasant Valley Middle School in Wichita, Kansas, a time during which he also earned an English as a second language endorsement. He also served as a high school wrestling coach and cross-country coach there as well.
One fond memory from that time was when Surendra Singh, Ph.D., Matt’s science methods professor at Newman, contacted him to see if he could take pictures of how Matt was teaching hands-on science to urban students and English language learners, as Singh wanted to present his work at an international conference in India.
During that time, Matt also served as an anatomy and physiology adjunct instructor at Cowley Community College.
Matt’s wife, Lindsey, also graduated from Newman as a nursing student in 2005. Lindsey started her career as a labor and delivery nurse in Wichita, followed by IV therapy and pre/post and infusion at Stormont Vail in Topeka.
Both Seimears were eventually hired by Emporia State University. Matt was hired as a science education instructor, while Lindsey took on a teaching role in the nursing program.
Matt’s time at ESU resulted in a climb up the ladder.
“I transitioned from instructor to assistant professor, to associate professor, to professor, to associate department chair and then department chair,” he explained. “While at Emporia State University, I started the university rugby team, created a robotics competition, mentored nearly 1,500 preservice teacher candidates and led the department to obtain the NAPDS Award for Exemplary Professional Development School Achievement.”
In 2019, Matt was selected as the dean of the College of Education position at Eastern Oregon University.
For Lindsey, working on her master’s in nursing administration from Fort Hays State University was challenging, but the couple’s move to Oregon eventually resulted in another teaching opportunity at Oregon Health and Science University, where she presently works.
“I love it,” Lindsey said. “It’s different from Kansas, but I feel like I have found my home. It’s been a journey, but I am happy where I landed.”
Today, Matt serves as interim provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, meaning he’s second in charge at the university.
Set up for success
Perhaps the accomplishment Matt is most proud of, though, is receiving Newman’s Leon A. McNeill Distinguished Alumni Award in education.
“Newman is THE open door that will lead you to many opportunities,” he wrote in an email.
The same experience was true for Lindsey, who chose Newman for the small classroom size and 1:1 attention.
She added, “My cohort at Newman gave me the support I needed to succeed. We had several study sessions where we practiced our skills and depended on each other for guidance and support.”
Although Matt’s had a highly successful career in academia, he wasn’t initially interested in the field.
“I was told in high school that I would not be successful as a college student,” he said. “I did not take that advice and did it anyway. I left Kice Industries in the summer of 1990 as a welder and headed into academia. I wanted academics to shape me to be a master at maintaining focus while suffering.”
Matt explained that after high school graduation, he attended Butler Community College at McConnell Air Force Base and then transferred to Pittsburg State University and Wichita State University. He also entered into an AmeriCorps program, went through USD 259’s Grow Your Own Teacher program, and then entered into Newman’s education/initial licensure program before pursuing a doctorate at Kansas State University.
Matt shared his favorite quotes that have inspired him through his journey.
“I often told my preservice teacher candidates, ‘Doubt is a great motivator,’ ‘What you permit, you promote,’ and ‘Children are like a flood; if you do not provide them structure and guidance, they will wreck everything in their path,’” he said.
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Newman University was founded in 1933 with the purpose of training future teachers. The School of Education and Social Work is continuing the legacy of preparing students to transform society in the Wichita area, throughout Kansas and across the nation.