Faculty/Staff

September 8, 2017

John Desjarlais spends a part of his time in the classroom at Kishwaukee College where he is an Assistant Professor of English, teaching literature and writing classes. But when he is not in the classroom, he is at a computer working on his next novel. This summer, he fine-tuned his crime-writing skills at a unique workshop for writers: The 9th Annual Writers’ Police Academy.

The WPA, as it is known, offers writers of police procedurals and other crime-solving genres an opportunity to get the kind of insider knowledge that lends their prose authenticity in its descriptions of police and detective work. Held August 10 – 13 in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the WPA this year included nearly 50 sessions on everything from antique firearms to bloodstain patterns/spatter to constitutional law.

Desjarlais’ early novels were historical fiction. Then he wrote Bleeder, a murder mystery set in northern Illinois with Professor Reed Stubblefield. He followed it up with two sequels – Viper and Specter – featuring Stubblefield’s DEA Special Agent colleague, Selena De La Cruz. With three solid mysteries to his credit, honing his crime-writing skills at a police procedure workshop seemed a natural thing to do over the summer. The WPA did not disappoint.

Desjarlais explained, “Writers of crime fiction who have no background in law enforcement cannot depend on television news or entertainment programming in order to understand the officers’ perspective on such events. But at the WPA, ordinary women and men enter a cop’s world and experience the discipline and dread involved in split-second decisions.”

He noted that he, like most crime fiction writers, attend these workshops to get the details correct so the police and events in a novel are credible. Sometimes it’s little details, for example, there should be no smell of cordite after modern gunfire in a novel because cordite stopped being used in making bullets after World War II.

So, Desjarlais and his fellow crime fiction writers willingly stepped into the real world of law enforcement. They wore Kevlar vests and duty belts (Desjarlais noted, “The duty belt is about 10 pounds and those tactical vests are heavy and hot!”). They participated in controlled high-speed car chases, mock traffic stops, live fire gun ranges, shoot-don’t-shoot simulations, and blood spatter analysis. Desjarlais stated, “I have done research on crime scene processing, evidence handling and other procedural things, but I needed to know – I needed to feel – what’s it like to BE a cop? To THINK like one? To leave the driveway every day and be ‘on the air’ for a 12-hour shift not truly knowing if I’ll come home that night?”

The one detail that struck nearly all of the writers? The law enforcement personnel themselves.  “Nearly every writer I spoke with said their deepest impression was the humanity of the officers,” he said. “Sure, it was important to know how a Taser works, and how a cop stands and talks to an EDP (Emotionally Disturbed Person) who is wielding a knife in a public space. But more important was to listen to these men and women talk warmly about their families, hopefully about their communities, and frankly about their anxieties.”

Desjarlais is currently working on a new novel, featuring Detective Francis Gordon, a small-town cop who has been in the background of his previous three crime novels. He said, “My goal is to make Detective Gordon fully human because that is what every cop is.”

John Desjarlais is teaching Composition I and Creative Writing: Fiction this fall at Kishwaukee College. For more information on Kishwaukee College, visit www.kish.edu. To learn more about John Desjarlais’ novels and short stories, visit www.johndesjarlais.com.

Categories: Faculty/Staff
September 8, 2017

Three administrators at Kishwaukee College have assumed new roles on campus. Each began serving in their new positions on July 1.

Dr. M. Joanne Kantner has been named the Vice President of Instruction. As VPI, Dr. Kantner is the chief academic officer responsible for leadership, oversight, outcomes, and compliance of the educational mission of the College. All academic programs, workforce programs, and academic support departments report to the VPI.  Dr. Kantner holds a B.S. in Mathematics from Rockford University, an M.S.Ed. and Ed.D. in Adult and Higher Education, both from Northern Illinois University. Dr. Kantner has been with the College for 15 years beginning as an adjunct mathematics instructor and then as Dean of Adult and Transition Programs, prior to assuming the interim duties at the Executive Dean of Learning Services in 2016 - 17.

Michelle Rothmeyer has been named Vice President of Student Services. As VPSS, Rothmeyer is responsible for providing leadership, vision and direction for the College’s Student Services division. The departments reporting to her are Student Involvement, Athletics, Dean of Students, Early Childhood Center, TRiO Student Support Services and Upward Bound, Financial Aid, Student Outreach, Counseling, Academic Advising, and Admissions, Registration and Records. Rothmeyer holds a B.A. from Judson University and an M.S.Ed. in Adult and Higher Education from Northern Illinois University. She is currently pursuing her Ed.D. in Community College Leadership at NIU. Rothmeyer has been with the College for two years as the Director of Admissions, Registration and Records prior to assuming interim VP of Student Services duties in early 2017.

Kevin Fuss has been named the Vice President of Administration. The VPA is responsible for overseeing College facilities (custodial, maintenance, and grounds), Business Office (including finance and purchasing), management of Institutional Research activities and oversees new grant applications and all accreditation activities. Fuss also serves as the College's Treasurer and Freedom of Information Officer. Fuss holds a B.S. in Economics and M.B.A., both from Northern Illinois University. Fuss has been with the College for 18 years, serving as the Director of Institutional Research, Associate VP of Institutional Effectiveness and VP of Institutional Effectiveness prior to assuming his new duties.

For more information on Kishwaukee College, visit www.kish.edu .


Pictured L to R are Michelle Rothmeyer, Vice President of Student Services; Kevin Fuss, Vice President of Administration; and Dr. M. Joanne Kantner, Vice President of Instruction.

Categories: Faculty/Staff
May 17, 2017

Kishwaukee College announced the annual Award of Excellence recipients at the End of Year Employee Event held at the Terrace Room at Hopkins Park on May 5. The Awards of Excellence program is sponsored by the Kishwaukee College Board of Trustees to recognize outstanding employees and their contributions to the College. Awards are given in four categories: Full-Time Faculty, Professional Staff, Support Staff, and Adjunct Faculty. College faculty and staff members were nominated by community members, faculty/staff of the College, students and alumni.

The nominees for Full-Time Faculty (includes faculty, counselors, and reference library personnel) were Pernevlon Ellis, Sociology; Nadine Franklin, Theatre; Janet Gallagher, Horticulture – Floral Design; and Ami Irmen, English. The recipient of the 2017 Award of Excellence was Pernevlon Ellis. Ellis was recognized for his commitment to engaging and challenging students. Ellis holds brown bag lunch seminars on Sociology topics, is the advisor of the Sociology Club, and is a member of the Sexual Assault Awareness Task Force, Black Student Caucus, and the KCEA negotiating team.

The nominees for Professional Staff were: Joe Dahm, Coordinator of Truck Driver Training; Allison von Ende, Coordinator of Student Activities; and Connie Kessen, Manager of the Copy Center/Printing Services. The recipient of the 2017 Award of Excellence was Joe Dahm. Under Dahm’s leadership the CDL/Truck Driver Training program has had an increase in both contractual and non-contractual enrollment. Dahm has done a great job in anticipating changes in circumstances and business needs. Dahm is regularly at community events spreading the word about the program and recruiting students.

The nominees for Support Staff were: Tracy Komadina, Information Center Receptionist; Richard Fenton, Copy Center Operator; Kim Jordal, Admissions Assistant; and Linda Smith, Administrative Assistant - Enrollment Services. The recipient of the 2017 Award of Excellence was Tracy Komadina. In her role as Information Center receptionist, Tracy is often the first person who greets visitors to campus. She was recognized for her professionalism, excellent customer service, and willingness to step up to assist wherever extra help is needed on campus.

The nominees for the Adjunct Faculty Award were Dr. David Paulson, Modern Languages; Samantha Arbogast, Office Systems; and Jim Robar, Criminal Justice Sciences. The recipient of the 2017 Award of Excellence was Dr. David Paulson. Dr. Paulson teaches Spanish language courses for the College and also serves as an instructor and translator in the Adult Education department.  He has worked on aligning curricula for Spanish, French and German to the new sequencing at Northern Illinois University and other universities in Illinois and also serves as recruitment and retention specialist for the Adult Education department.        

In addition to certificates, each recipient received a monetary award and will have their names added to the BOT Award of Excellence plaque permanently on display at Kishwaukee College.


Pictured are this year’s recipients, L to R:  Bob Johnson, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Tracy Komadina, Support Staff award recipient; Pernevlon Ellis, Full-Time Faculty award recipient; Dr. David Paulson, Adjunct Faculty award recipient; and Dr. Laurie Borowicz, President of Kishwaukee College. Not pictured is Joe Dahm, Professional Staff award recipient.

May 11, 2017

Allison von Ende, Coordinator of Student Activities at Kishwaukee College, was named a recipient of the For the Good of the Community Award by the National Society of Leadership and Success. The award was announced at the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education National Conference held in San Antonio, Texas in March.

Von Ende chartered the Kishwaukee College chapter of NSLS in 2014 with then Coordinator of Student Success, SyLinda Menafee. As current advisor to the chapter, von Ende has provided the leadership that has resulted in increasing student membership and engagement in the chapter and has emphasized community outreach and volunteerism. She has been joined this year by co-advisors Pernevlon Ellis and Nadine Franklin.

NSLS National President, Charles Knippen was the keynote speaker at the Kish chapter’s Spring 2016 induction ceremony and was impressed with the growth and activity of the chapter. After the Fall 2016 semester, the Kishwaukee Chapter received the Order of Sigma Award, the Society’s highest honor indicating achievement of meeting the standards of the ten Pillars of Leadership.

At NSLS national headquarters, Mallory Galbreath, Society Event Manager, and Virginia Parker, Chapter Support Manager, created the Award to honor von Ende and future advisors who emphasize volunteerism and service. Von Ende stated, “I was so surprised. I had no idea I was going to receive any type of recognition. I am grateful to NSLS for the honor. NSLS is such a great organization and our chapter members are just awesome. I love doing things with our chapter!”

The mission of NSLS is to help students discover and achieve their goals. The Society, founded by Gary Tuerack, emphasizes the six steps of leadership: clarification of purpose, creation of a shared vision, challenge of the status quo, inspiration of positive action, empowerment of others, and continuous improvement.  The society was founded in 2001 and current has nearly 500,000 members at 478 colleges across the United States.

For more information on the National Society of Leadership and Success, visit www.societyleadership.org. For more information on the Kishwaukee College chapter of NSLS, contact Allison von Ende at 815-825-9527 or at allison.vonende@kishwaukeecollege.edu.

Categories: Faculty/Staff
March 10, 2017

Keith Wise has joined Kishwaukee College as the Director of TRiO/Student Support Services. He assumed his new duties on March 1. “I am excited to be part of the SSS program and the opportunity to positively impact students at Kishwaukee College,” he said.

Keith Wise holds a B.A. in History from Eastern Illinois University and a M.L.S. in Liberal Studies from the University of Southern Indiana.

He comes to Kish from Lake Forest College where he was the Program Coordinator for Intercultural Programs. Prior to Lake Forest, he was a Residence Hall Director at the Illinois Institute of Technology and has also served as a Residence Hall Director at Carthage College. His past positions give him a wide range of experience with diverse student populations, program development, and overall student development.

Kishwaukee College was awarded its first TRiO/Student Support Services grant in September 2015. The grant is in effect for five years. TRiO/Student Support Services is a federally funded program to provide additional academic and personal support to college students who meet one of the three eligibility criteria: first-generation college student; low-income student; or learning or physical disability evidencing academic need.

Keith participated in the Upward Bound Program, another TRiO program, at his high school and credits the program with helping him develop his own skills as a student. While at EIU, he was in the Gateway Program, an academic program that provides support similar to Student Support Services.

“Programs like SSS provide the support students need to move forward,” he said. “I want to create experiences and programs that will help students improve their academic skills but also take part in cultural enhancement activities. Participating in SSS initiates a growth process for students.”

Keith brings a unique perspective to his new role having worked with students at small liberal arts colleges as well as technical schools. Kishwaukee College is his first experience with a community college. “There is such a great variety of students here,” he said. “I want the students in SSS to know that we are here for them to help them be better college students and to be whoever they want to be, to help them find what they enjoy and pursue it.”

After a short period of time in his new position, Keith has found that the foundation created by SSS after only one year on campus is one that is rock solid. “I am looking forward to building on what is here and moving it forward. I want to really impact students,” he stated.

Keith Wise resides in Aurora with his fiancé Maritere, an early childhood education teacher.

For more information on TRiO/Student Support Services at Kishwaukee College, contact Keith Wise at 815-825-2950 or at keith.wise@kishwaukeecollege.edu.

Categories: Faculty/Staff