Dr. Welter Continues Teaching At UNK Summer Commencement
Paul R. Welter, professor emeritus, author and counselor, is the keynote speaker slated for the Summer Commencement ceremony at the University of Nebraska, Kearney on Friday, Aug. 1.
Nearly 200 graduates will receive their degrees and diplomas from the university beginning at 10 a.m. in the Ponderosa Room of the Nebraskan Student Union (NSU). Family and friends are encouraged to arrive early. The doors of NSU open at 7:30 a.m.
Dr. Welter will surely entertain, educate and enlighten students and the audience with his words of wisdom, many of which he gathered from children. Welter says he realized children were very wise in his early years of parenthood. One day his son came to him and told his dad that he didn’t like to walk to school. Welter automatically began reciting the cliché response to such a complaint by saying something to the effect of “Why, when I was a kid, I had to walk two miles to school!” but his son interrupted him before he finished his sentence, with “Dad, back in your day, the schools were built first—then all the houses were built on a two-mile radius; every kid walked two miles to school.”
“That’s when I stopped talking,” Welter reveals, “and started listening.”
Welter often shares with his listeners an interesting philosophy of Albert Einstein. When asked by the Saturday Review what he had learned about life, Einstein submitted his top three thoughts, the first being, ” Play close attention to the curiosities of a child (as) this is where the search for knowledge is freshest and most valuable.”
“We adults,” Welter surmises, “usually are busy trying to teach children something, such as ‘Act your age.’ One dad said to his six-year-old son, ‘Grow Up!’ His son started to cry and said, ‘But Dad, all my friends are my age.’”
Welter will do one of the things he does best—that is, tell wonderful stories, to UNK’s Class of 2008 in his presentation titled “What College Graduates Can Learn from Children.”
He taught a course of a similar title—”Learning from Children”—in the Department of Counseling and School Psychology for many of his years at UNK, up to his retirement in 1992. He has hosted a radio program of the same title in the last 14 years that has aired 1200 programs on two stations in six states throughout the Midwest.
Welter has a Diplomate from the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy, a psycholotherapy approach that helps people find healing and growth through the search for meaning. As a licensed psychologist, he practices as a Life Transitions Counselor at the Lighthouse Counseling Center in Kearney, specializing in “sudden turns in life” counseling—like dramatic changes in health, loss of a loved one or a change in career. Welter also continues conducting seminars at UNK.
The main and precious resource Welter uses in all of his professional endeavors are the more than 4,000—and growing—stories he has collected over the last quarter-century from adults about the wisdom of children. “One of my goals in these initiatives,” he says, “is to help adults value and respect children more. Another is to assist people to enrich their lives by becoming aware of an overlooked resource.”
Certainly, it is the perspective and approach of children that Welter always find inspirational. He loves the lessons to begotten from the story of when he stood out in his front yard, comparing his landscape to that of the other five yards on his block. His son came out and asked of his father what he was contemplating so seriously. Welter answered, “Well, I have to report, somewhat to my disappointment, son, that there are three better yards than ours in the neighborhood, and two worse. Ours is Number four out of six.” Welter’s son, who loved baseball, saw things differently and exclaimed affirmatively to his dad, “Well then, I’d say we’re leading the second division!”
“Nothing else had changed,” Welter concludes. “Just attitude.”
Welter, who has lived in Kearney for 40 years, grew up on a Kansas farm. He received his first bachelor’s degree, Phi Kappa Phi, in humanities with an emphasis in English from Kansas State University in Manhattan and his second in divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. He obtained his Master of Education with an emphasis in school counseling from Wichita (Kansas) State University and his doctorate in counselor education from the University of South Dakota. His career has taken him through a stint in the U.S. Army, and years as a high school English teacher, school counselor and school psychologist.
He has written six books, including the award-winning How to Help a Friend, and also, Counseling and the Search for Meaning, and The Nursing Home: A Caring Community. And, of course, his book Learning from Children, for which he’s always collecting.
Dr. Welter and his wife Lillian have four children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He plans to never stop learning from them all.
For more information about the UNK 2008 Summer Commencement, call the Office of University Relations at 308.865.8529.