Three UNK alumni honored for career achievements

KEARNEY – Three alumni will be honored for their career achievements by their departments and the University of Nebraska at Kearney Alumni Association during homecoming festivities at UNK this week.

Dr. Alan Luedtke, class of 1974, of Woodstock, Ga., will be honored by the Department of Chemistry as the 35th Dr. Don Fox Lecturer.

Dr. Anne (Slattery) Nielsen, class of 1973, of Manhattan, Kans., will receive the College of Education Distinguished Educator of the Year award.

Christa (Witt) Speed, class of 1978, of Grand Island will receive the Gary Thomas Distinguished Music Alumna Award.

All three will be recognized at the 35th annual Homecoming Awards luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Friday.

Tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased at or contact the UNK Alumni Office at 308.865.8474. The program will start at noon.


Luedtke, who later earned a Ph.D. from the University of New Orleans in 1983, spent almost 20 years with DuPont Fibers at the Seaford, Del., nylon manufacturing facility. His early research efforts were on new product development and physical chemistry of stain resistant agents for polyamide fibers. In subsequent years, he was actively involved in indoor air quality research related to textiles.

After the spinoff of DuPont Nylon and Lycra business units and consolidation with Kosa into Invista by Koch Industries in 2004, he took on the global product stewardship role for the performance materials business unit. In 2009, he joined the R&D group at Innovative Chemical Technologies, a small chemical manufacturer. Since then, he has been active in expanding the analytical capabilities of the company and developing new specialty coatings and novel fluorosurfactants.

The Chemistry Department will honor Luedtke with a social and dinner on Friday at the UNK Alumni House. A program will follow the dinner, at which time the department will present the awards for the lecture, the Don Fox Chair and Don Fox Scholarship winners.

Luedtke’s Don Fox Lecture, “Commercial Chemistry – is there anything interesting in it … other than money?” will be at 2:15 p.m. Friday in the Bruner Hall of Science room 268/269. There will be a reception following the seminar lecture.

The Don Fox Lecture was established in 1980 to honor the long-time chemistry professor and department chair.


Nielsen has been a teacher of the blind and visually impaired for 30 years, beginning in 1984 at the North Dakota School for the Blind. Her career has included positions as vision education services coordinator for Eastern Washington, outreach/vision specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and statewide vision impairment support project coordinator for the Kansas School for the Blind.

Internationally, Nielsen, who earned her Ph.D. from the University of North Dakota, has traveled to Peru and Nigeria to work with youth, babies and others in need of vision services.

She has written extensively and has received grants in her work with the visually impaired.

Prior to embarking on her career in special Education, she first worked in the Office of Housing at UNK.

Along with Nielsen’s recognition at the alumni luncheon, she will also be introduced at a reception with Teacher Education faculty and will make a presentation to future special education teachers while on campus.


Speed, who later received her masters of music in cello performance in 1997, served as an orchestra/string specialist in the Grand Island Public Schools for 37 years. She is a member of Nebraska State Education Association, Nebraska Music Educators Association and the American String Teachers Association.

Speed’s musical achievements include Nebraska ASTA Teacher of the Year, American String Teacher’s Citation for Exceptional Leadership and Merit, Moonshell Arts and Humanities Council “Larry Maupin Education Award,” Hastings Symphony Orchestra James Johnson Memorial Chair, Nebraska Music Educators Distinguished Service Award and Kim West Dinsdale Excellence in Teaching Award. She was inducted into the Nebraska Music Educators Hall of Fame in 2008.

Speed has been active in both statewide and national strings associations and music educators associations. She has also served in several offices.

Speed was founder and coordinator of “Strictly Strings Middle School Festival,” conductor at the Tri-City Junior Symphony and principal cellist at Hastings Symphony Orchestra.


Source Contact: Brette Ensz, UNK Alumni Association, 308.865.8474 or
Media Contact: Todd Gottula, Director of Communications, 308.865.8454,

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