Dennis Potthoff featured speaker at UNK Last Lecture

Title: Associate dean, College of Education
Years at UNK: 19
Personal: Wife, Patricia, communications disorders lecturer at UNK; Daughter, Summer, scuba diving instructor in Virgin Islands; Daughter Nicole, third-year student at UNK; Son, Robbie, first-year cadet at U.S. Air Force Academy.
Research/Teaching Interests: Purposes for education in a democratic society, school/university partnerships, community service learning, online education.

UNK Communications

KEARNEY – Dennis Potthoff is the featured speaker at the annual Last Lecture event presented by the Xi Phi Chapter of Mortar Board at University of Nebraska at Kearney.

The event, which is open to the public, is at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 17 in Copeland Hall 142. Potthoff’s talk is titled “Life Lessons: What Teaching Teachers Taught Me.”

Dennis Potthoff
Dennis Potthoff

“I will present and reflect about four to six premises for life and living that came to me during the past 23 years of working in university settings,” said Potthoff, associate dean of the College of Education. “Truly, they are lessons learned while teaching teachers.”

The purpose of the Last Lecture is to honor a member of the UNK faculty, staff or administration by inviting them to give a lecture on any topic of their choosing, said Mortar Board Senior Adviser Amber Messersmith.

Last Lecturers are instructed to think about insights and wisdom they would like to share if given just one chance to address an audience. The Last Lecture concept is billed by Mortar Board as an uplifting and inspirational message delivered to the campus community.

Potthoff joined UNK in 1996, becoming chair of teacher education in 1998 and associate dean in 2012. Previously he was an assistant professor at Wichita State University and instructor at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He also taught and coached grades 7-12 at high schools and middle schools in Nebraska and Ontario, Canada.

Potthoff has published dozens of articles and works with national and international education organizations. He is director of the American Democracy Project at UNK, which promotes student engagement with current issues.

Potthoff regularly writes articles for the National Network for Education Renewal’s journal, blogs and gives presentations at NNER conferences.

Established in 1918, Mortar Board is a national honor society recognizing college seniors for their exemplary scholarship, leadership and service. UNK’s Xi Phi Chapter is one of 230 chartered chapters nationwide.

The Last Lecture event is hosted in conjunction with Mortar Board Week, which runs Feb. 15-21 and recognizes the group’s 97th anniversary this year. The Last Lecture series has occurred at UNK for almost 20 years.


Writer: Todd Gottula, Director of Communications, 308.865.8454,

Contact: Amber Messersmith, 308.865.8966,

2 thoughts on “Dennis Potthoff featured speaker at UNK Last Lecture

  1. Hi Dennis. Was just in palisade and saw your sisters at a funeral. I talked to several old baseball players i coached and never have told you how much i appreciated you and your dad for coaching me. It was awesome and remember the times we worked on the field and you let us take extra groundballs. Thank you soo much for taking the time to coach me. You were the best coach i ever had. And i wish you the best. I am retired from a Kck community college and am still in Olathe Kansas. Thank you for everything.

    1. Cliff,

      It was great to find this note from you. Congratulations on your retirement. I appreciate the kind words. I remember the summers spent coaching baseball in Palisade. I had as much fun as the “kids!” I am also retired as of July 1, 2023. Patti and I are still living in Henderson, Nevada. I worked at a college out here for the past 8 years. We are exploring “where we want to live when we grow up!” Our kids are all over the place. A daughter in Wilmington, North Carolina (married last week). A daughter, son-in-law, and grandbaby in Grand Island, NE, and our son is a helicopter pilot currently stationed at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Georgia. I know that you have a solid understanding of MILITARY LIFE. He is set to deploy to Jordan in a few weeks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *