The legacy of a Nebraska alumnae is providing recognition for the continued service and ongoing research of university retirees.
Organized by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Emeriti and Retirees Association, the honors are supported by the Maude E. Wisherd Fund. Wisherd was a librarian at the University of Nebraska from 1916 to 1965.
The inaugural Wisherd Award for Outstanding Service to the university has been awarded to John Bernthal, emeriti professor of special education and communication disorders. The Wisherd Award for Outstanding Community Service has been presented to Dick Dienstbier, emeriti professor of psychology.
Research awards were awarded to Donald Weeks, professor emeritus in biochemistry, and Donald Johnson, professor emeritus in mechanical and materials engineering.
Bernthal’s received the service honor for his: leadership in Nebraska’s and Big Ten’s retirees associations; ushering at the Lied Center for Performing Arts; leading guest lectures in campus courses; continued service on doctoral committees; representing the university in professional associations; and making accreditation visits for the American Speech-Language and Audiology Association.
Dienstbier’s volunteer service in the Lincoln community includes: a decade of teaching and planning courses in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute; organizing the free Winter Lecture Series offered annually by OLLI and the Unitarian Church of Lincoln; planning an annual one-day symposium that reflects the previous topic of the Winter Lecture Series; and serving as a lecturer in the university’s Speaker’s Bureau.
Dienstbier said many retired people serve to provide something of value and as a way to continue learning.
“Serving can serve us, too,” Dienstbier said.
Weeks, professor emeritus in biochemistry, received $2,000 from the Maude E. Wisherd Fund to be used for research to develop improved methods for gene editing in algal cells and viruses.
Weeks’ grant application said such improvements will be of broad use in the world of algal research. Perhaps the longest-term commercial application will allow for improvement of oil-rich algae for biofuel production. Read more about Weeks’ research.
Johnson received a $1,500 Wisherd award for a project related to preservation of the USS Arizona, one of the ships struck in the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack. Read more about Johnson’s research.
Johnson’s research is designed to provide science-based evidence for the long-term stability of the ship. That evidence will help the National Park Service determine the eventual timeline to sequential structural collapse and the associated release of oil into Pearl Harbor.
“We are very proud to recognize these very deserving individuals for their contributions to the community, university and research fields,” said Rita Kean, president of the emeriti and retirees association.
The awards committee was chaired by Al Seagren and Patricia Crews.