Year in Review: 2015 at Newman University

Dec 29, 2015

The Newman University community has experienced acts of incredible faith, feelings of extreme joy and the sorrow of tragic loss this year. Take a look back at our Year in Review with the most popular stories from students, athletics, alumni and more.


The most viewed stories of 2015 at Newman University range from introducing new education programs and welcoming new scholarship recipients to remembering student, athlete and friend Reece-Wright Conklin.

Newman community coping with loss of student athlete Reece Wright-Conklin >>

Reece Wright-Conklin

“He was a competitor. He only knew one thing and that was to win,” said Newman Wrestling Head Coach Ryan Smith. “And that’s the way he was in life. He did everything to the fullest. There was no half in with that kid. He was all in.”

Ten high school students received Fall 2015 Cardinal Newman Scholarships.
Ten high school students receive Fall 2015 Cardinal Newman Scholarships.

Ten high school seniors receive Cardinal Newman scholarships worth $1.1M >>

“It’s the highest award we give, full tuition for four years,” said Newman University President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D.

“I refer to them as leaven for a class. They will provide the intellectual leadership and the service leadership for the incoming  group of freshmen. We’re excited to welcome all 10 to campus,” she said.

feature education
District Licensure Program

Newman University announces new program to train educators for district positions >>

“I wanted to give students across the state of Kansas the opportunity to access a high quality, five course program that would lead to them getting district level licensure,” said Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Education John Burke, Ph.D.


Jet Days orientation begins Aug. 21 >>

Jet Days 2015
Jet Days 2015

On Aug. 21, 2015, Newman University welcomed students to campus with a new orientation known as “Jet Days,” a two-day orientation process for freshmen and transfer students.

The event began in St. John’s Chapel, where students were greeted by Newman University faculty and staff members. Students were then given an in-depth tour by a team of orientation leaders – all the while learning what it means to be a “Jet.”

Newman student explains how changing others’ lives has changed her own >>

Blair Benton with the International Children’s Heart Foundation (ICHF)

“Joel was just one of 19 patients on whom we operated during our two week stay in Guayaquil, Ecuador,” Benton said. Seeing new patients could be frustrating, especially when we found a child beyond our capabilities, but at the same time, those patients reaffirmed the reason for [International Children’s Heart Foundation] missions. We were there not only to operate on these children, but also to educate the community about early recognition and treatment of the congenital defects. This was the epitome of the mission—two different worlds coming together, learning and teaching, all with the goal to help children.”


Newman University started the year with its first Heritage Month celebration and filled the rest of 2015 with concerts, expert lectures and baseball.

Looking Back: Newman University’s first Heritage Month >>

“[It] has been a great success,” said Director of Mission and Archives Charlotte Rohrbach, ASC. “With more people helping organize the many events, and more people from off campus as well as on campus attending them, I think our new tradition is off to a wonderful start.”

Rush of Fools rocked the campus >>

Rush of Fools Rock Newman University
Rush of Fools concert

Christian rock band, Rush of Fools, rocked the campus March 27. The response from attendees was overwhelmingly positive despite the brisk weather. The cold was overcome by dancing and head bobbing as the crowd surrounded the stage.

David Beckmann addresses members of the Newman freshman class Oct. 6
David Beckmann

Hunger expert talks with students, community >>

“The World Bank estimates that in 1990 there were 2 billion people in extreme poverty, by which they mean people living on less than a dollar and quarter a day,” said David Beckmann, author of Exodus from Hunger. “That number has now dropped to 1 billion people. That’s still too many people, but there has never in the history of the world been this kind of progress against poverty.”

Dean of Students Levi Esses saves Provost’s life >>

Dean of Students Levi Esses
Dean of Students Levi Esses

Dean of Students Levi Esses’ rise to hero status began when Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Austin, Ph.D. was walking to a committee meeting in the Dugan Campus Center and began to choke on a piece of candy.

“I said, ‘Dr. Austin, are you choking?’ and when he shook his head (yes) that’s when I reacted to do the Heimlich maneuver,” Esses said.

Father Fog throws first pitch right down the middle >>

Fr. Fogliasso
Fr. Fogliasso

Newman University Chaplain Fr. John Fogliasso trained all summer long. He received last-minute instruction from Head Softball Coach Janice Esses.

And despite being nominally nervous, Padre made all Jets proud when he tossed out the first pitch before the Wichita Wingnuts game Aug. 21, the opening evening social event of the university’s orientation weekend known as “Jet Days.”


From Priesthood and Bishop Gerber to the Pope, Newman University students, alumni, faculty and staff have experienced a year of service, joy and faith.

Bishop Gerber visits campus, talks about important role Newman University plays >>

The Most Rev. Eugene J. Gerber, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Wichita

“The hope I have comes from this historical pattern that when a society declines there is always a remnant of people who remain faithful,” said the Most Rev. Eugene J. Gerber, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Wichita. “And, the whole new growth takes place on the backs of those who remain faithful.”

Father Sam Brand: From Newman University to Priesthood >>

Father Sam Brand
Father Sam Brand

Some kids want to be doctors. Others want to be teachers. At 9, Wichita native Sam Brand knew he wanted to be a priest.

“The life appealed to me,” Brand said. “I loved the prayer and the self-sacrifice.”


Volunteers show strong support for Habitat for Humanity Pope Francis build >>

Pope Francis build
Pope Francis build

An anonymous donor gave $60,000 to Wichita Habitat for Humanity and challenged the Catholic community of Wichita to build a home in honor of Pope Francis, she said.

They were able to build two.


Pope Mania! >>

Students watch Pope Francis Speech
Watching the papal address

When Pope Francis was on American soil, there was no shortage of interest being generated for his first U.S. visit. Campus Ministries hosted a doughnut and coffee watch party in the Alumni Center for students, faculty and staff who wanted to view the papal address to the United States Congress – a first for a leader of the Catholic Church.


Newman University Theology trip highlighted by visit with Pope Francis >>

Angie and Brent Albright with Pope Francis

Associate Professor of Theology and Coordinator of the Graduate Theology Program Father Joe Gile took a group of theology graduate students to Rome for an annual program trip.

During their time in Rome, two from the group met His Holiness Pope Francis.


Earning state and national awards, going to med school and popping the question, Newman University students have had an exciting year.

Journalism students grab state awards >>

Matt Riedl

The Vantage student newspaper won 21 awards at the Kansas Collegiate Media conference April 11. The paper won a silver medal for overall publication in the four-year private newspaper category. The Vantage website,, also won a silver medal.

Former editor-in-chief Matt Riedl was the runner-up for Journalist of the Year.


Newman University senior earns national award for playwriting >>

C.L. Smet
C.L. Smet

“Fair Departure” is about a college student who commits suicide. The play focuses on relationships and interactions between his surviving sister and roommates.

“When I write plays I try to make sure that every role is worth playing. I try to make sure that any actor that reads it would say each of these characters has a really interesting arc,” C.L. Smet said.



Five seniors, two juniors gain early acceptance into medical programs >>

Caduceus-2All five Newman University pre-med students who interviewed with the University of Kansas School of Medicine for early admittance were notified that they had been accepted, including Starla Dugan, Ben Gerber, Justin Reiswig, Jared Ojile and Andrew Nahr.




Newman University Theatre sees first graduate >>

Rusty Carbaugh

“I am extremely proud to be the first theatre major and that is a thing I think I’ll probably tell people for the rest of my life,” said Rusty Carbaugh. “I’m the first pure-blood theatre major that we’ve ever had, and it’s a really old university, so it means a lot to me to be able to say I’m the first.”


Game ball helps Newman University soccer player pop the question >>

Newman University soccer player Kevin Crafton proposing to girlfriend Rachael Schoonover.
Newman University soccer player Kevin Crafton proposing to girlfriend Rachael Schoonover.

Soccer player Kevin Crafton set up a fake raffle for a game ball to take place before the game so that his girlfriend would have the winning ticket. To her surprise, however, it wasn’t just any soccer ball. The ball had the words “Will you marry me?” painted on it. She said “yes.”


From volleyball to tennis to wrestling, Newman University athletes have shown amazing strengths in 2015.

Volleyball team heads to Heartland Conference Tournament >>

Newman volleyball coach Destiny Clark, left, and middle hitter Ashley Gonzalez at Newman’s Fugate Gymnasium. Photo credit: Fernando Salazar - The Wichita Eagle
Newman volleyball coach Destiny Clark, left, and middle hitter Ashley Gonzalez at Newman’s Fugate Gymnasium. Photo credit: Fernando Salazar – The Wichita Eagle

The Lady Jets, led by new Head Coach Destiny Clark, broke three regular season records this year. Aside from having the best record, the team also had the longest winning streak and most conference wins.

Eduardo Santos
Eduardo Dos Santos

Junior tennis player makes Newman University history >>

“I was focusing on each match… Each match was a different challenge,” said Eduardo Dos Santo.

“For Eduardo to have the opportunity to represent Newman, the Heartland Conference, and the South-Central Region on the national stage is very exciting,” said Kevin Klein, Men’s Tennis Head Coach.

Newman University wrestler advances to nationals >>

Dustin Reed
Dustin Reed

Newman University wrestler Dustin Reed went to the NCAA Division II National Tournament, March 13-14 in St. Louis, Mo.

Reed, a sophomore from Colby, Kan., qualified for nationals after finishing fourth at the NCAA Division II West Super Regional hosted by Colorado State-Pueblo.

‘Jetspy’ awards to kick off Athletics tradition >>

Kesha Buckner
Kesha Buckner

Sports fans know all about ESPN’s ESPY Awards, the all-sports cable network’s year-end honors saluting athletic excellence from the professional and collegiate playing fields.

Not to be outdone, Newman University held its first-ever Jetspy Awards May 3. Marking the the conclusion of the 2014-15 Newman Athletic year, 25 Jetspy Awards were presented.

Newman University to start triathlon program in 2016 >>

Newman University Trijets
Newman University Trijets

Newman University will soon be the first university in Kansas to have a triathlon team.

A triathlon program is set to start in the fall of the 2016-2017 academic year. Newman officials are now putting plans into place in order for the program to run smoothly.

A triathlon is a three-part race that includes swimming, biking and running.


Newman University’s top alumni stories of 2015 could have gone on and on. We could only use five.

Graduate and family travel 5,000 miles to visit Newman University >>

Andrew and Ivona Danielski and family
Andrew Danielski and family

Newman University alum Andrew Danielski from Warsaw, Poland, made a special 5,219-mile trip back to campus to show his family around his alma mater.

Susan Pool

Newman University alumna Susan Pool recognized by Wichita Business Journal >> 

The Wichita Business Journal highlights 20 women in the Wichita community who have made a significant contribution to the community in the list.

Pool is a founding member of TrueNorth, a wealth management and retirement plan consultation provider.

Three alums named Best Docs >>

Dr. Bart Grelinger
Dr. Bart Grelinger

Congratulations to three Newman University alumni, Bart Grelinger, Larry Hund and Patrick George Wolf, who were placed on the Best Doctors in America List for 2015.

The list is an online resource created by Best Doctors, Inc, who believes that the best physicians are picked by other physicians.

Paris Attacks: French native and Newman University
alum asks ‘why?’ >>

Robin Allard '14
Robin Allard

Newman University alumnus Robin Allard ’14 was just one hour away from being another victim of the recent Paris terrorist attacks.

“I live in Boulogne-Billancourt which is 15 minutes away from the Stade de France where the soccer game was being played,” Allard said. “I was one hour away [from being] at the wrong place at the wrong moment.”

Fighting fore his life with faith >>

Jeremy Grant
Jeremy Grant

Jeremy Grant was 19 when he received news that his heart was functioning at only 10 percent and that he needed a heart transplant to live.

He was a bodybuilder and the picture of health externally as a member of the Newman University men’s golf team.

However, he could hardly climb a flight of stairs without sweating or wheezing from shortness of breath.


Record-setting fundraising and generous donors have made 2015 a year to remember at Newman University.

Party on the Plaza sets fundraising record >>

Party on the Plaza
Party on the Plaza 2015

The Newman University Party on the Plaza scholarship fundraising event has always been successful. Despite a slightly lower number of attendees in 2015, donors helped set a new new record of $140,000 to go toward the Newman University scholarship fund.

2015 Jet Open
2015 Jet Open

Annual Jet Open Golf Tournament draws 212 golfers >>

The 31st Annual Laurie Bell Memorial Jet Open Charity Golf Tournament was a big success by anyone’s standards, drawing 212 golfers and raising approximately $100,000 to support Newman University Athletics.

The 2015 Jet Open winning team included Darren Copp, Joey Todd, Cody Robinson and Mark Jolliffe, pictured to the left.


Black Hills Energy donates $18K to support nursing science at Newman University >>

Black Hills Energy

“Black Hills Energy recognizes the important role that Newman University plays in educating members of the Wichita community, especially the focus on the sciences and producing a workforce in the community that will have STEM skills and contribute to the economic development of the community,” said Sr. Manager, Economic Development, Gabe Schlickau. “We are pleased to be in this partnership with Newman University.”


BBB_dr carrocci awards
Beata Benefactors Banquet

Second annual Beata Benefactors Banquet honors Newman University donors >>

More than 120 guests gathered in the Dugan-Gorges Conference Center Oct. 27 to be honored for their support of Newman University at the second annual Beata Benefactors Banquet, a special event designed to recognize and thank major donors to the university.


Fran and Geri Jabara, seated, enjoyed meeting recipients of the Ablah Awards and learning of their plans for the future. This photo from 2010 shows the Jabaras with, standing, l-r: former Vice President for University Advancement Tom Borrego; Professor Emeritus (Biology) Surrendra Singh, Ph.D.; award recipient Joseph Baalmann; Newman President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D.; former Professor of Chemistry John Leyba, Ph.D., and award recipient Barbara Nguyen.
Fran & Geri Jabara (seated)

Fran Jabara significant benefactor, friend to Newman University >>

Newman University lost a generous benefactor and a longstanding friend with the passing of Fran Jabara. The well-known and widely respected entrepreneur, professor and philanthropist died July 25.

He was 90 years old.


Awards from Newman University and from local media have rewarded faculty, staff and alumni in 2015.

Annual awards banquet wraps up Cardinal Newman Week >>

Newman Board of Trustees Chair Linda Davison and President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D. present the Cardinal Newman Medal and Proclamation to Monsignor Robert Hemberger.
Newman Board of Trustees Chair Linda Davison, Monsignor Robert Hemberger and President Noreen M. Carrocci

A successful and tradition-filled Cardinal Newman Week drew to a close with the Cardinal Newman Banquet and Awards Ceremony Feb. 21. The ceremony is one of the key events of Cardinal Newman Week, an annual week-long celebration of the life and teachings of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman.

Monsignor Robert Hemberger awarded >>

Monsignor Robert Hemberger
Rev. Monsignor Robert Hemberger

Newman University bestowed the Cardinal Newman Medal to Reverend Monsignor Robert Hemberger at the 2015 Cardinal Newman Banquet and Awards Ceremony.

The medal is conferred upon those who demonstrate in their daily life an appreciation of the spirit and ideals of Cardinal Newman, and who have been instrumental in the growth and development of the university.


Niedens named scholar for HLC >>

Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Rosemary Niedens
Rosemary Niedens

“It’s nice to feel like the work I’ve done with retention or assessment at Newman and throughout my career is going to be pushed out and help other people as well,” said Rosemary Niedens, associate vice president of academic affairs.

“Helping these schools achieve their own destiny or accomplish their own school missions and goals, it’s really fun. It’s very fulfilling.”


Augspurger receives 2015 Staff Excellence Award >>

Shella Augspurger
Shella Augspurger

Every year, Newman University Staff Assembly presents theStaff Excellence Award to acknowledge a staff member’s self-sacrificing hard work and dedication to the Newman University mission.

Women’s Tennis Head Coach Shella Augspurger was awarded the 2015 , but was unable to participate in her ceremony because she had left to pick up an international student-athlete from the airport.


Icer Vaughn receives CIO award from WBJ >>

Icer Vaughan

Newman University Chief Information Officer Icer Vaughan was among those who received a Wichita Business Journal 2015 CIO Award. Vaughan was among 17 other Information Technology professionals to be honored.

“It is very nice to get the opportunity to be acknowledged for the behind-the-scenes work that I perform,” Vaughan said.


To our students, faculty and staff – to our donors, givers and alumni – thank you for a wonderful 2015. We look forward to another exciting New Year in 2016!