Midland University Recognizes Eight Retiring Faculty and Staff Members
Midland University would like to recognize and congratulate eight outstanding members of the Midland family who will be retiring this year. We are grateful for all they have done for our students and our entire Midland community. We wish them the best in any future endeavors!
Rex Barker – Director of Instrumental Music
Rex has spent the past seven years as Director of Instrumental Music and served as Director of Performing Arts for two years during that time. He will cherish many memories of great performances, great students, and the innovation and approach to music education that was embraced during his time at Midland. Rex said he appreciates all of the other faculty members he’s worked with during that time, including people like George Conrad and Dan Hays, whom Rex had known through previous experiences which impacted his decision to come to Midland. With six grandchildren, and a seventh on the way, Rex is looking forward to spending more time watching them grow up during retirement. His wife is also retiring this year and Rex says he owes her “lots of evenings and Saturdays that have been spent at band activities for 40 years.”
“I look forward to following Midland activities in the future. I am excited to watch the continued development of the program and our students.”
George Conrad – Associate Professor Walker School of Education
George has been at Midland for 10 years as either an adjunct or full time professor. He also served as the interim Co-Dean for the Walker School of Education this past year. George has always appreciated the day-to-day interactions with students and his impact on them was recognized this year when he was awarded the student elected Excellence in Teaching Award for the 2021-22 school year. He is most proud when he talks with graduates who are now successful teachers and began their journey at Midland University. He’s grateful for the time spent with his many colleagues at Midland, as well as being able to attend athletic and arts activities that his students were involved in. In retirement, George’s goal is to perfect the art of fly fishing near his cabin in Colorado, as well as sneak in a few rounds of golf. He also plans to volunteer for organizations in Grand Lake, Colorado.
“I’m happy to know that I have been a part of our department’s work to select new faculty members who will continue the great work and service we provide to our students. My work at Midland has allowed me to fulfill my lifelong passion for making a difference for my students.”
Theresa Ferg – Associate Professor Walker School Education
Theresa has been at Midland for seven years, the last six of those as a full time instructor. During her time at Midland, Theresa helped develop partnerships with Grant Elementary School and Roots to Wings, a nonprofit organization in Arlington, Nebraska that promotes independence for young adults with disabilities. She was also a member of a Strategic Initiative team that helped establish the Warrior Open cupboard on campus. Theresa has plans to spend more time with her grandchildren in retirement.
“I am going to miss my fellow faculty members and our students the most.”
Kathy Hays – Director of Arts Student Achievement
Kathy has held many titles in her eight years at Midland, most recently Director of Arts Student Achievement. She has embraced seeing students turn their lives around and earn their degree and has also enjoyed being a part of many outstanding performances over the years. She wants to stay busy by taking on volunteer opportunities, as well as immersing herself into a lot of good books. She plans to continue to attend Midland Arts performances in her retirement.
“I am so grateful for Midland giving me the opportunity to have this job that I never really knew I wanted. It has been rewarding, exciting, and a fun second career for me. It has been so rewarding to see the growth and success of students from the time they come in as 18-year olds to their graduation and into professional careers.”
Connie Kreikemeier – Executive Director Career Studio
Connie has helped develop the Midland University Career Studio into a valuable resource for students and employers during her 9 years at Midland. Connie’s excitement for her role skyrocketed each time she was able to witness a student land a job, an internship, or be accepted into a graduate program. During her time with the Career Studio, a peer career coach model was instituted that allowed students to help guide and mentor other students. “Some of the best moments came as I listened to these peer career coaches grow in their confidence and work with other students, pouring their hearts into helping their peers be successful. These were beautiful moments to hear and see.” Her interactions with students and fellow staff members, especially Brenda Wilberding (Assistant Director of the Career Studio) provided many memories as well. Retirement will give Connie more time to spend with her family, which includes three grandchildren, as well as more travel and adventures!
“I am so grateful for the nine years I have spent at Midland and to everyone here who has made it such a special place. Great things have happened over the past decade, and I know that will continue for Midland and our students.”
Susan Kruml – Chief Academic Officer
Susan has spent nearly seven years at Midland, beginning as Vice President for Academic Affairs before transitioning to her role as Chief Academic Officer. During her tenure, she has played a major role in orchestrating changes in structure and curriculum at Midland, most notably overseeing the implementation of the DRIVE framework and the iPad 1:1 initiative. Kruml is looking forward to being able to spend more time with family, as well as investing her time into new projects.
“When I think about Midland, three words come to mind: Resilience, community and innovation. I can’t begin to express the gratitude I have for the gift of being able to work with the most incredible faculty and academic staff. My heart is warm as I reflect with pride on what this team has accomplished. It’s been a wonderful place for me to grow and connect with excellent people.”
Jean Phelan – Associate Professor of Nursing
In her nine years at Midland, Jean has taught and mentored numerous students who entered into the nursing profession. She looks back fondly on Nurse Pinning and Graduation ceremonies as some of her best memories at Midland, and is also proud of the Red Cross blood drives that were sponsored by the SNA. Retirement will afford Jean more time to travel, read, work around the yard, and get her dog out for more walks.
“I’m going to miss all the students, faculty, and staff. Midland is a great place to work and I will miss it!”
Tom Reilly – Director of Athletic Training
Tom has had two different stints at Midland covering 14 years total. While that entire time has been spent as Director of Athletic Training, he considers himself someone who has worn many hats at Midland, giving himself the unofficial title of counselor, confidant, father/grandfather figure, friend, mentor, instructor, caregiver, insurance analyst, liaison, comedian, and stress reliever. Highlights for him have featured road trips to places like Miami, Las Vegas, and Chicago with various athletic teams, but the memories he holds closest are the countless times he helped an injured athlete return safely to their sport. He plans to spend more time with his grandchildren in retirement, as well as fishing, golfing, and traveling.
“The things I will miss most about Midland are the beginning of fall camp, the student-athletes, and the people of Midland.”