Last Lecture: Jane Ziebarth-Bovill presenting ‘Inviting Hope During Difficult Times’

KEARNEY – Jane Ziebarth-Bovill will share a much-needed message of hope and resiliency when she addresses the University of Nebraska at Kearney community next week.

“We are living in challenging times right now, and people need hope and courage to keep on going when life looks dark and difficult,” said Ziebarth-Bovill, the featured speaker for this year’s installment of the Last Lecture series.

The longtime UNK faculty member will present “Inviting Hope During Difficult Times: Lessons on Living a Loper Legacy” at 7 p.m. Wednesday during a virtual event hosted live on Zoom. Guests can use the meeting ID 977 1318 0329 or this link to view the presentation.

Reid Bednar
Reid Bednar

Sponsored by UNK’s Xi Phi chapter of Mortar Board, the Last Lecture series honors members of the UNK faculty, staff or administration by inviting them to give a lecture on a topic of their choosing. Lecturers are asked to think about insights and wisdom they would share if they had one final opportunity to address an audience.

“When our committee was searching for an experienced faculty member to speak, the first person I thought of was Dr. ZB,” said Reid Bednar, vice president of Mortar Board and co-chair of the Last Lecture committee.

Bednar called Ziebarth-Bovill a “caring, kind and compassionate educator” who has spent countless hours mentoring students and sharing her knowledge. She’s taught at UNK for 36 years and currently serves as a professor in the department of teacher education.

A central Nebraska native, Ziebarth-Bovill received her Bachelor of Arts in Education and Master of Arts in Education degrees from UNK (then Kearney State College) and went on to earn a doctorate in administration, curriculum and instruction from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Part of the Last Lecture presentation will focus on her experiences at Kearney State and UNK.

“I am blessed with a lot of institutional history. My perspectives of UNK are somewhat unique because they begin with a child’s view and then continue with observations of Kearney as an undergraduate student, graduate student and faculty member,” she said.

“It has been a longtime dream for me to share my story about the educators I had as a student and the colleagues I worked with in the College of Education at KSC/UNK.”

Jane Ziebarth-Bovill
Jane Ziebarth-Bovill

One of those colleagues is her late husband Ron, a former faculty member in the College of Education who passed away in 2015 after a nearly three-year battle with cancer. Ziebarth-Bovill called his death “one of my greatest challenges.”

“He was not only my husband, but also my partner in teaching, research and speaking events. We did so many things together and had very similar interests in life,” she said. “My family, friends, colleagues and students rallied around us when life was incredibly difficult. They helped me get through the rough times, especially after losing my husband.”

Ziebarth-Bovill will share Ron’s poem, “Life is Good,” during her presentation.

“His poem encourages us to be hopeful and to be gentle with ourselves and others. It also urges us to perceive life as a way to transcend personal struggles and serve a greater purpose,” she said.

Ron also inspired Ziebarth-Bovill to pursue research related to Invitational Education, an educational framework emphasizing human potential, value and responsibility.

“My lesson is one of hope and also of reverence for educators at UNK who exemplified an invitational stance to the human potential of their students,” said Ziebarth-Bovill, whose research interests include field-based education, democratic teaching strategies and civic engagement.

Ziebarth-Bovill serves on several UNK committees, including the American Democracy Project, College of Education Student Success Committee and Teacher Education Leadership Advisory Group to the Chair. She’s also a member of the Nebraska Council on Developmental Disabilities.

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 more than 200 chartered chapters nationwide.