University of Evansville

AceNotes Today

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

* UE awarded grant for High School Theology Institute

The University of Evansville has received a grant of $545,107 to establish Open Table, a summer theology institute for high school youth. It is part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s High School Youth Theology Institutes initiative, which seeks to encourage young people to explore theological traditions, ask questions about the moral dimensions of contemporary issues, and examine how their faith calls them to lives of service.

“As an institution of higher education grounded in the United Methodist tradition, the University of Evansville, since its founding, has labored to help young people think critically and theologically about their faith,” said university chaplain, Tamara Gieselman. “Our proposal avows that now, more than ever, the world needs theologically astute young people who aspire to be responsible leaders in a global society.”

The vision of Open Table is to empower a new generation of theologically judicious young people who can serve in their communities as those who "went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad, so the wedding hall was filled with guests." (Matthew 22:10)

Designed by Gieselman, Open Table will begin in the summer of 2017 and intends to model Christian community on campus for up to 30 rising sophomore, junior, and senior high school students while they study key texts related to hospitality, wrestle with the theological meaning and complexity of the Eucharist, and participate in daily Christian worship with Holy Communion.

Ultimately, Open Table hopes to ignite the passions of high school youth who desire to understand the dramatic narrative of the Christian tradition and its affirmation of God’s call on their lives. Though ecumenical in nature, Open Table will recruit significantly from United Methodist churches, reinforcing UE’s United Methodist affiliation and strengthening its valued church-relatedness.

“The goals of the Lilly Endowment and the mission of the University of Evansville are complementary, and we are extremely grateful for the generosity of the endowment,” said Tom Kazee, president of the University of Evansville. “We have been fortunate to partner with Lilly in other initiatives at UE. As a Methodist-related institution, we much appreciate their support of our proposed theology institute for high school students.”

UE will draw on strong, well-established, diverse partnerships to launch Open Table, including the Southwest District and the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church, UE’s Neu Chapel Society, Temple Adath B’nai Israel, and the Islamic Society of Evansville.

The University of Evansville is one of 92 schools participating in the initiative.  The schools are located in 30 states and the District of Columbia.  Although some schools are independent, many reflect the religious heritage of their founding traditions. These traditions include Baptist, Brethren, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Reformed churches, as well as Roman Catholic, non-denominational, Pentecostal, and historic African American Christian communities.

“These colleges and universities are well-positioned to reach out to high school students in this way,” says Christopher L. Coble, vice president for religion at Lilly Endowment. “They have outstanding faculty in theology and religion who know how to help young people explore the wisdom of religious traditions and apply these insights to contemporary challenges.”

The endowment is giving $50 million in grants to help a select group of private four-year colleges and universities around the nation to create the institutes. The grants are part of the endowment’s commitment to identify and cultivate a cadre of theologically minded youth who will become leaders in church and society. 

An additional grant to the Forum for Theological Exploration will establish a program that will bring together leaders of the high school youth theology institutes to foster mutual learning and support.

* UE's accreditation reaffirmed by Higher Learning Commission

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) has reaffirmed the accreditation of the University of Evansville (UE), with the next scheduled comprehensive evaluation in the 2025-2026 academic year. No interim reports or monitoring are required during the 10-year cycle. The HLC is one of the six federally recognized regional accrediting agencies designated by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit degree granting colleges and universities. The HLC serves the common good by assuring and advancing the quality of higher learning.

After an intense four-year period of self-study and comprehensive internal evaluation, which culminated in documents describing the scope of UE’s mission and showing evidence of its quality, UE hosted a site visit with a HLC peer review team in February 2016. The site visit team reviewed UE’s reports and interviewed a cross-section of students, faculty, staff, administrators, members of the Board, and Evansville community leaders to evaluate and verify the institution’s ongoing ability to meet the commission’s Criteria for Accreditation.

The Criteria for Accreditation are as follows:
• Clarity of mission in guiding the institution
• The integrity and responsible conduct of the university
• Quality, resources, and support for teaching and learning
• Evaluation of and improvement in teaching and learning
• Evidence of the resources and planning needed to carry out the institution’s mission into the future

“For the committees working on the reports to demonstrate that UE meets the criteria, we wanted to honestly tell UE’s story,” said Mark Valenzuela, associate professor of civil engineering and chair of the HLC steering committee at UE. “Our reports detailed our strengths and areas that need attention, the value of UE for our students and for our community today, what we have learned from our past, and how we plan for the future and act to ensure that our graduates will continue to know how to live and work and serve in the world around them.  It was an easy story to tell because of the fundamental strengths that we could point to in faculty-student connections, in leadership in global education, and in the good that UE brings to the Evansville community.”

“Institutions of higher learning are challenged to document to an increasingly wary public and government – not to mention prospective students and parents – that student’s lives will be transformed by the time they spend in college,” said UE president, Tom Kazee. “HLC’s reaffirmation of accreditation is external validation of the quality of the University and our students, faculty, staff, and administrators.  In the end, accreditation affirms what we already know -- that a UE degree matters in the lives of its students and alumni, now and into the future.”


Upcoming Events

* Ice Cream Farewell Reception for Elizabeth Anderson

Stop by the UE Bookstore on Thursday, July 21, from 1:00-2:30 p.m. for some ice cream and to wish Elizabeth Anderson farewell as she leaves the University.

* Rethink Diversity Through Mindshifting Dialogue

This week the Rethink Diversity dialogue will continue with a session today titled, "What does that mean and what should I call you?" This session will explore trending terminology. The session will be in Room 253 in the Schroeder School of Business Building from noon-1:00 p.m.

All participants should feel free to bring their lunch.

For more information, or if you have questions, please contact LaNeeca Williams at or call ext. 2413.

The sessions are sponsored by the Office of Diversity Initiatives.

* Farmers market on Wednesday, July 13

UE gardeners will hold a farmers market on Wednesday, July 13, at 8:00 a.m., in Ridgway University Center. (Please note the time difference, as this market is one hour earlier than usual.)  We should have tomatoes as well as potatoes and a host of squash and greens.  Hope to see you there.

* Save the date for Jennifer Graban's retirement reception!

Jennifer Graban will be retiring after 20 years of dedicated service to the University of Evansville. A reception will be held in her honor on July 20, 2:30-4:00 p.m. in Dunigan Lounge in the Schroeder School of Business Building. Please mark your calendars.


Info You Should Know

* Looking for some help during the fall book rush

The UE Bookstore is looking for individuals to help in the store for approximately two weeks during fall book rush. Activities include operating the register and stocking textbooks. If anyone is interested or knows of anyone who is looking for a little extra cash, please contact the Bookstore. 

* Thursday afternoon golf outings

Employees at the University of Evansville are invited to play golf with other UE employees on Thursday afternoons at 3:00 Frendrich. You can reserve you tee time by contacting Debbie Kassenbrock in the Center for Academic Advising at by 4:30 p.m. on the Wednesday prior to the outing.

* Report of discoveries from the 2016 season at Jezreel

The fourth season of excavation at Jezreel has just wrapped up and the team headed by Jennie Ebeling, associate professor of archaeology, and Norma Franklin (University of Haifa) made some terrific discoveries! Read about them in this blog post on Bible History Daily: Jezreel Through Time



* Krista Williams publishes guest post for Munsell Color

Krista Williams, assistant professor of French, has been invited by the Munsell Color Company to write a guest blog post about some of her research. She studies color defining and translating, and her blog post shows one way this is done in dictionaries. It also offers the opportunity to test one's knowledge of color names. The blog can be found here.

* Lisa Kretz has article published

Assistant professor of philosophy Lisa Kretz has had her invited contribution to the Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration and Public Policy published by Springer International Publishing. The title of the article is “The Cost of Ethics.”



* Egidijus Mockevicius opens summer league for Brooklyn Nets

Following his record-breaking career at the University of Evansville, center Egidijus Mockevicius will continue his career as he inked a partially guaranteed one-year deal with the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and shined in his professional debut.

In his first contest, Mockevicius posted eight points and five rebounds as the Nets defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers by a 79-73 final in Saturday’s Las Vegas Summer League Opener. The squad’s third contest is set for today at 3:00 p.m., against the Washington Wizards. The championship tournament runs from July 13-18.

“We are so proud of Egidijus. His work ethic helped him get better each year with our program,” UE head coach Marty Simmons said. “This is a well-deserved opportunity for him and we know he will represent the University of Evansville very well at the next level.”

He began his tenure with the squad in league, which goes from July 9-18. Brooklyn has the chance to be a great opportunity for Mockevicius as the team is looking for frontcourt depth following a trade and potential free agents.

The all-time leading rebounder in Purple Aces history finished as the national leader in that category last season, posting 14.0 rebounds per game. Mockevicius recorded 15.7 points per game while hitting 63.7% of his attempts.

Mockevicius was named the 2016 Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year and garnered his third berth on the MVC All-Defensive Team. With 27 double-doubles, he finished as the nation’s leader in that category.


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