Event, ticket info announced for Sept. 25-26 alumni homecoming festivities

Distinguished Alumni Awards, Athletic Hall of Fame banquets among highlights

KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney Alumni Association has announced eight alumni awards and five Athletic Hall of Fame inductees who will be recognized during homecoming festivities, and the schedule of homecoming activities Sept. 25-26.

The 36th Annual Distinguished Alumni Awards will be given out at a luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 25 in the Ponderosa Room inside the Nebraskan Student Union. Tickets are $25 per person and can be purchased at www.unkalumni.org/homecoming or by calling the UNK Alumni Association at 308-698-5271.

The Athletic Hall of Fame Banquet begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Ponderosa Room with a social hour. A dinner follows at 6:30 p.m. with four former student-athletes and one staff member being inducted into the UNK Athletic Hall of Fame. To purchase a ticket for the Athletic Hall of Fame Banquet, visit www.unkalumni.org/homecoming. Tickets are $40 per person.

Those being inducted are Erin (Arnold) Kay – volleyball (2004), Carrie (Hoehner) Gotl – track & field (1990), Mike Keehn – baseball (1985), Burt Muehling – football (1984) and former equipment manager Dick Collins (1976). More information on the award winners can be found at www.lopers.com.

On Sept. 26, the day kicks off with the annual homecoming parade in downtown Kearney on the bricks at 10 a.m. Following the parade, alumni and community members are invited to attend the Loper Luncheon at the Alumni House. The Loper luncheon starts at 11:30 a.m. and tickets are $10, available at www.unkalumni.org/homecoming or at the door.

The Loperville tailgate is open to the community at Cope Stadium prior to the 3 p.m. UNK football game against the University of Central Missouri. For questions or to purchase tickets, contact the UNK Alumni Association at 308-698-5271 or visit www.unkalumni.org/homecoming.

UNK Alumni Association Award Winners


Julie Speirs
Julie Speirs

Julie (Ignowski) Speirs (1978)

Speirs is publisher of the Kearney Hub. Prior to becoming the Kearney Hub’s publisher, Speirs was its general manager and advertising director. She also has worked as publisher for the Columbus Telegram.

While spending late nights in the Antelope newspaper office as a student, Speirs developed a passion for journalism. She learned under the tutelage of teachers and mentors such as Jim Rundstrom, Bobbie McKenzie and Glennis Nagel.

Speirs currently serves on the boards of the Kearney Area Community Foundation, Nebraska Press Association Foundation and Kearney Family YMCA, and she is actively involved with Kearney Noon Rotary and UNK Newman Center.

Her husband, Dan, who is also a Kearney State College graduate, is the assistant managing editor at the Kearney Hub.


Chuck Schwartz
Chuck Schwartz

Chuck Schwartz (1972)

Schwartz has one of the most recognizable voices in western Nebraska. The station manager of KNEB-AM and FM in Scottsbluff, Schwartz broadcasts the “Area Game of the Week” for football and basketball.

Schwartz started his broadcasting career as a student at Kearney State College at KOVF, the campus radio station, where he served as sports director. He also was sports director of KRNY in college.

Since doing his first radio play-by-play broadcast on KOVF, Schwartz has called more than 3,000 games in 260 facilities and in six different states. In 2014, Schwartz was named Media Person of the Year by the Nebraska Coaches Association.

Before he came to Scottsbluff, Schwartz worked for a number of stations in North Platte as a sales representative and sports director.



Sharron Altmaier
Sharron Altmaier

Sharron (Jacobson) Altmaier (1955)

Altmaier taught home economics at Wilcox Public Schools from 1955-57 and high school home economics at Pleasanton Public Schools from 1957-70.

She married Harvey Altmaier, a farmer and livestock producer in the rural area north of Kearney. They lived in the Haven’s Chapel church area for many years. Following her husband’s death in 1978, Altmaier ran the agricultural operations on their family farm until 2011.

Altmaier is involved in a number of volunteer activities at First United Methodist Church of Kearney. For the past 30 years, she has organized and coordinated Alpha Xi Delta and Zeta sorority reunion luncheons. Altmaier is an avid Loper volleyball and basketball fan.



Andrea Miller
Travis Miller
Travis Miller

Travis Miller (2001) and Andrea (Walton) Miller (2002)

The Millers will receive the Young Alumnus awards. Travis and Andrea live in Bayard, where he is the superintendent for Bayard Public Schools, and she is an attorney with Simmons Olsen Law Firm.

After graduating from UNK, Travis taught and coached for Leyton Public Schools and at Gretna High School. During this time, he received his Master of Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Prior to being named superintendent of Bayard Public Schools in 2011, he was principal of Banner County School and worked for ESU#13. In 2010, he was selected Outstanding New Principal by Nebraska State Association of Secondary School Principals.

Andrea received her Juris Doctor from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2006. Since passing the bar exam, she’s worked as an attorney and partner practicing family law and general civil litigation at Simmons Olsen Law Firm in Bayard. She has been a board member and president for the UNK Alumni Association and was recently appointed to the Board of Directors of the Nebraska Humanities Council.



Chuck Sizer
Chuck Sizer

Dr. Chuck Sizer (1971)

Sizer is CEO of Dairyvative Technologies, a Lincoln, Mass., company that licenses intellectual property for the concentration of milk into a shelf-stable form. Sizer received his master’s degree in 1973 and Ph.D. from Colorado State University in food science and nutrition.

Throughout his career, Sizer has had stops in higher education, spending time on the faculty at Iowa State University and Illinois Institute of Technology. Sizer began his career in food processing at Tetra Pak, where he worked on the first chemically sterilized aseptic packages, filter sterilized food products and aseptic food containing particles.

Prior to joining Dairyvative, Sizer held numerous positions in the industry, most recently as chief science officer at Cambrooke Therapeutics in Boston.



Polina Khatsko
Polina Khatsko

Polina Khatsko (2002)

Khatsko is an accomplished pianist, having played and taught around the world. A native of Belarus, Khatsko received her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Michigan.

As a collaborative pianist, Khatsko has appeared as an annual staff accompanist for the prestigious Sphinx International Competition, was on the Collaborative Piano faculty of the International Music Academy in Pilsen, Czech Republic and the Cambridge International String Academy in Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Some of Khatsko’s accomplishments include the performance and recording of complete works for cello and piano by Beethoven with Anthony Elliot, as well as being a key participant in the acclaimed “Complete Solo Piano Works by Chopin” project organized by the studio of Arthur Greene. She is currently an adjunct instructor of piano at University of Northern Iowa.

The College of Education Distinguished Educator of the Year will also be recognized at the awards luncheon and will be announced in September.

2015 Alumni Homecoming Schedule

Friday, Sept. 25
11:30 a.m. – Distinguished Alumni Awards Luncheon (Nebraskan Student Union, Ponderosa)
2:30 p.m. – Chemistry Department’s Don Fox Lecture (Copeland Hall 131)
3:30 p.m. – One Room One Teacher ceremony (College of Education Atrium)
5:30 p.m. – Athletic Hall of Fame Banquet (Nebraskan Student Union – Ponderosa)
Saturday, Sept. 26
10 a.m. – Homecoming Parade (Downtown Kearney)
11:30 a.m. – Loper Luncheon (Alumni House)
1:30 p.m. – Loperville Tailgate (Cope Stadium)
3:00 p.m. – UNK Football vs. Central Missouri (Foster Field)


Contact: Tricia Danburg, 308-698-5271, tricia.danburg@unkalumni.org

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