This spring marks the retirement of eight of our colleagues at Metropolitan State University. Join President Ginny Arthur and the Metropolitan State community in thanking them for their years of service.
The celebration is 2:30 to 5 p.m., Tuesday, April 24. Program will begin at 3:30 p.m. in the Founders Hall Auditorium, St. Paul Campus.
Honorees will include:
- Daniel Abebe, professor; College of Individualized Studies
- Rose Wan-Mui Chu, professor; School of Urban Education
- Valerie Geaither, professor; Human Services College of Community Studies and Public Affairs
- Leah Harvey, professor; College of Individualized Studies
- Paul Hesterman, director of Advising; College of Management
- Kat Lui, dean; College of Management
- Nancy Miller, associate professor; Human Services College of Community Studies and Public Affairs
- Joyce Paxton, director; AQIP Academic and Student Affairs
Professor, College of Individualized Studies
Daniel Abebe joined Metropolitan State University in the fall of 1989. Since then, he has taught and advised students in the College of Individualized Studies and the College of Arts and Sciences (now College of Liberal Arts). Abebe earned his masters and PhD degrees in adult education from the University of Minnesota and holds a BA in economics from Hamline University.
In the last 29 years, Abebe coordinated the Perspectives Center, served as the first dean of Metropolitan State University’s First College (now, the College of Individualized Studies), founded and served as the first co-chair of the Ethnic Studies Department, served as acting dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, assumed a permanent dean position in First College where he served for 10 years and, while he was there, was appointed simultaneously as the acting dean of the College of Professional Studies for one year. He also served in a leadership roles on the Inter-Faculty Organization (IFO), Internal Multicultural Advisory Committee, The Anti Racism Leadership Team (ARLT), Diversity Learning Task Force, and the International Exchange and Study Committee, to name a few. He was nominated for excellence in teaching and advising numerous times. In addition to being a recipient of the Legacy Award in 2013, Abebe was honored with the Carol Ryan Excellence in Advising Award in 2017, and in 2018 he received IFO’s Statewide Multicultural Issues Committee Award.
As a representative of our university externally, he served on the International Committee of the Metropolitan YMCA (now YMCA of Greater Twin Cities), co-founded and later chaired Ethiopians in Minnesota, Incorporated which proudly served Ethiopian refugees for 23 years, founded and served as a board member and trustee of Global Citizens Network — an organization which has sent over 2,000 volunteers to villages in 20 countries around the globe, Joined the first “Voices of Ethiopia” program on KFAI Fresh Air Radio, and served as a board member for many non-profit organizations locally, regionally and nationally. In 2005, at a celebration of Hamline University’s 150 year anniversary, he was honored and recognized as “One Hundred and Fifty Lives That Make A Difference” for his life’s work.
As a faculty advisor and Volunteer, Abebe has guided hundreds of college students, faculty peers and other U.S. professionals on trips to Kenya, Tanzania, Jamaica, Botswana, Western Samoa, Ghana, Liberia and other destinations for over 25 years.
Rose Wan-Mui Chu
Professor, School of Urban Education
Dr. Rose Wan-Mui Chu has dedicated her professional life to the tireless pursuit of education equity and excellence for children and youth, especially those from communities of color and American Indian communities. Chu is a practical dreamer and brings her passion, vision and creative problem solving to “making change happen” in service of equity and justice. Her diverse and rich cross-sector experiences and perspectives continue to inform her life’s work.
Chu is eternally grateful for her professional journey at Metropolitan State that began “accidentally” 14 years ago in 2004 through a chance encounter with a fellow faculty member. Chu joined the Urban Teacher Program after an eight-year career in Minneapolis Public Schools, where she began as a middle school math teacher, later becoming a district instructional leader mentoring and supporting teachers and staff. Previously, she had been a research engineer with Honeywell, participating in the transfer of technology.
At Metropolitan State, Chu served as a resident faculty and department chair of the Urban Teacher Program. She took a two-year leave of absence from the university when she had the honor to be appointed assistant commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Education. Upon her return, Chu took on the role of interim dean for the School of Urban Education. In recent years as faculty, Rose provided leadership and worked alongside her colleagues to ensure the university would be state accredited for teacher preparation.
Chu has a long history of service through her volunteerism and leadership in the community. She co-founded the Dragon Festival at Lake Phalen and is currently a founding board member of the Coalition of Asian American Leaders. Chu is also a member of the Civic Engagement Steering Committee facilitated by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and is a parks and recreation commissioner for the city of Little Canada, among many of the boards and committees she has served on (and many more declined).
While she may have retired from Metropolitan State University, her life’s work is far from complete. For now, she has ramped up her work on two projects. First, Chu leads a statewide TeachMN2020 campaign through MnEEP (MN Education Equity Partnership) to increase the number of teachers of color and American Indian teachers by elevating the teaching profession and facilitating a different way to collaborate towards collective action and impact. Second, she works with Youthprise to support six community-based organizations on a federally funded initiative to re-engage “opportunity youth” through education and work.
A native of Hong Kong, Chu grew up in Malaysia before coming to the United States almost 39 years ago. As with the majority of non-traditional students served at this university, Chu came from humble beginnings and was the first in her family to go to college. She holds a PhD in industrial and systems engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and earned her teaching credentials through an alternative licensure program between Minneapolis Public Schools and St. Cloud State University. Chu is forever indebted to her late mother, Ruby, and her father, Ching-Lau (who still lives in Hong Kong) for their incredible sacrifices both financially and emotionally that contributed to all that she is and does.
Professor, College of Community Studies and Public Affairs
Dr. Valerie Geaither, small in stature, but large in impact; this wife, mother, auntie, sister, grandmother, great grandmother, nature and arts enthusiast is a true educator activist. Before coming to Metropolitan State University she taught; advised; developed, organized, and consulted on educational programming at the University of Minnesota, Augsburg College, Malcolm X City College, Minneapolis Public Schools, and more.
Over the past 26-plus years, Geaither’s involvement and contributions have spanned several units, including two colleges, one school, and four departments. In addition, she has been a faculty leader, having served as a member or chair of numerous committees both university-wide and statewide, as a faculty administrator within the Center for Community-Based Learning, now the Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship, chair of the Human Services Department, and member of the state IFO Board of Directors.
Geaither joined the university as a member of the Educational Planning and Philosophy Department, and became one of the founding faculty members of the First College. She led in organizing the structure and development of the college, now the College of Individualized Studies.
After First College was formed, Geaither became a member of the College of Community and Professional Studies, now the College of Community Studies and Public Affairs, where she set up a college-specific advising unit as part of a move to decentralize student advising, while teaching courses in Psychology and Social Sciences Departments. She went on to join the Human Services Department, eventually becoming its chairperson. In this capacity, she contributed to strengthening the integrity of the Human Services Bachelor of Sciences degree curriculum by developing three critical professional skills courses, Research Skills for the Human Services Practitioner, Working With/In the Community, and Spirituality and Helping.
A high point of Geaither’s career was her time as co-chair of the Urban Teacher Education Program Task Force. She engaged with many in academic and legislative circles, on the local and national level, to lead the establishment of the Urban Teacher Program, chairing the first education faculty searches, working with new faculty to gain initial Minnesota Department of Education’s program and institutional approvals, and serving on the program’s advisory committee. She has continued to be involved in supporting faculty in the now School of Urban Education.
A significant moment in Geaither’s career was when she was selected to be the faculty administrator of a Center for Community-Based Learning civic engagement grant. The grant was intended to expand university infrastructure in order to sustain the university’s commitment to community involvement. Her worked resulted in several important outcomes, one of which was the establishment of a faculty community-based research fellowships.
An underlying thread throughout Geaither’s career at Metropolitan State has been her leadership in challenging institutional racism. She has been a steadfast member of the Anti-Racism Leadership Team and is now serving as faculty co-chair. She was part of the Campus Climate Work Group designing surveys, analyzing survey data, facilitating discussions and focus groups, and making campus climate study presentations. She was also a member of the Racial Issues Graduation Requirement Task Force whose work resulted in a new graduation requirement for Metropolitan State students and criteria for approval of courses that satisfy the requirement. Geaither was honored last year with the Anti-Racism Legacy Award in recognition of her cumulative work in this arena.
In retirement, Geaither plans to fully enjoy her interests in the out-of-doors and the arts with family and friends, while spending most of her time building a permaculture homestead with her husband. She is also eagerly looking forward to opportunities to use her professional skills and scholarly interests for Black Think Tank organizing and organizations. So, she will have a full plate as she hopes to continue to grow, bring value, and create impact.
Professor, College of Individualized Studies
Leah Harvey has been at Metropolitan State University (originally Minnesota Metropolitan State College) longer than anyone else in the history of the university, save for founding faculty member Susan Rydell. Harvey was hired as a research assistant in 1974 and as a faculty member in 1975. She moved on to administrative positions in 1984.
She served as dean and interim dean, heading more units than anyone: dean for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment; the College of Liberal Arts; and Interim Dean for the School of Urban Education; the College of Health, Community and Professional Studies; and First College.
As Academic Vice President from 1990 to 2001 (excluding the nine months she was dean of Liberal Arts and including a semester as Interim President), her tenure was longer than that of any of the ten academic vice presidents/provosts and the many interim academic vice presidents/provosts who have served at the university.
When not serving as an administrator, Harvey has been on the faculty teaching in the Business and Public Administration Center, the Mathematics Department and the College of Individualized Studies (First College).
In addition to her life at Metropolitan State, Harvey has been active in the community and served on numerous boards; has served as a consultant and evaluator for various programs as well as the Higher Learning Commission and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education; and has made numerous local, national and international presentations, including a television appearance on the Home Show.
Harvey met, married and divorced Bob Fox while at Metropolitan State; they have two wonderful children. She is now happily married to Steve Rosholt and looks forward to retirement and living happily ever after.
Director of Advising, College of Management
Born in Litchfield, Illinois, Paul Hesterman called many places home in his youth, including Kettering, Ohio; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (where his father, a Lutheran pastor, served as a missionary); Gibsonburg, Ohio; and Edina, Minn., where he graduated from Edina High School as a National Merit Scholar. He received his BA summa cum laude from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. and MA and PhD in History from the University of Minnesota. His book, From Settlement to Suburb: The History of Edina, Minnesota, was published in 1988 and remains in print.
While working on his PhD, Hesterman started working in 1979 as a graduate assistant academic advisor in the College of Liberal Arts Premajor Advising program at U of M. He then moved into several full-time positions in premajor advising, most importantly a senior advisor position where he led an advising office serving more than 6,000 students, with a staff of over 20 advisors. He worked particularly with pre-business, liberal arts, and undecided students, but also with pre-engineering, pre-health science, pre-education, and students interested in other programs as well. He worked in academic advising at U of M for 21 years, receiving a John Tate Award for Excellence in Academic Advising, and the Gordon L. Starr Award for outstanding contribution to students. Among many service activities at U of M, he represented the undergraduate colleges on the project team to replace the university’s student records system with PeopleSoft.
At Metropolitan State, in addition to serving as director of advising in the College of Management, Hesterman served for a year as interim dean of Student Services and a year as interim vice president of Student Affairs. He received two Metropolitan State Outstanding Staff Awards, the “Behind the Scenes” award in 2003 and the “Metromorphosis” Award, along with other team members, for implementation of the DARS system in 2008. He also received the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) national “NACADA Outstanding Advising Administrator Award.” Hesterman served for many years as a special assistant to the Provost’s Office for Academic Standing and Advising, and co-chaired the Advising Council.
Over the years, Hesterman presented at about 20 national and regional conferences for NACADA and other organizations.
He has been married to Colleen McLaughlin for over 30 years. They live in the house she grew up in, in Roseville. Their daughter, Meghan, is a junior at Mounds View High School, where she plays softball and plays cello in the symphony orchestra.
Dean, College of Management
Kat Lui, PhD, joined Metropolitan State University in 2014 following three years as Associate Dean for the College of Management at University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Before that, she held several positions at University of Wisconsin-Stout as professor in the Department of Operations and Management, graduate program director of the Training and Human Resource Development program, and Cervenka-endowed chair in People Process Culture.
Lui is the author of numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals focused on teaching and learning, healthy workplaces, organizational change, and ethics education. Her career spans more than 15 years in higher education teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in human resource development. In 2004, she was selected as a Wisconsin Teaching Fellow for the University of Wisconsin System. She currently serves as an evaluator for the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
Lui holds a BS in recreation therapy and an MA in rehabilitation counseling from University of Northern Colorado where she was awarded the Graduate Dean’s Citation for Excellence. She also holds an MA in organizational development and a PhD in human and organizational systems from the Fielding Graduate University.
She considers herself a “lucky dean” to have worked with such a fantastic group of colleagues in the College of Management and will miss them all dearly. She looks forward to moving to Montana to live close to her family.
Associate Professor, College of Community Studies and Public Affairs
Nancy Miller, MS, LPC, HS-BCP is an associate professor of Human Services. Miller joined Metropolitan State University in August 2005. She created and implemented the Bachelor of Human Services—Disability Studies major and minor at the university and was also involved in Gerontology and Human Services core curricula. Miller holds a MS in rehabilitation counseling from University of Wisconsin-Madison and is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Board Certified Human Services Practitioner.
Miller’s background includes many areas of disability study and work which led to the development of curricula in Disabilities Studies. She considers the Disability Studies concentration to be the culmination of exciting experiences in multiple professional areas. Miller received the Carol C. Ryan Excellence in Advising Award for the 2015-2016 academic year. She significantly increased the online course offerings of the Human Services department, provided technical support for online learning to faculty as needed and received quality approval for Disability Studies and Human Services curricula from the Center for Online Learning.
Miller’s professional career began as many Metropolitan State University students have, as a full-time working single mother of two young children. She returned to college to seek an advanced education and professional opportunities that can make a difference in the lives of others. These experiences affected the design of all curricula including promoting student centered learning with attention to accessibility, flexibility, motivation, and the excitement to continue life-long learning, as Metropolitan State emphasizes.
A significant component of Miller’s background that was an asset to her work at Metropolitan State University was a position as a Rehabilitation Counselor and Employment Specialist for University of Wisconsin—Stout’s Project with Industry Center (PWI). In this capacity, she worked with individuals with blind, deaf, mobility disabilities, work injuries, mental health challenges, and invisible disabilities. The experiences obtained in this position proved particularly beneficial for the development of the Human Services Disability Studies major and minor at Metropolitan State.
Miller has taught and created curricula at Metropolitan State University in 11 subject areas since August 2005. These included Human Services core curricula, Disability Studies, and Gerontology. In addition to teaching, she coordinated the first Human Services Career Fair, was an advisor for the Human Services Association, reviewer for Quality Matters online curricula and involved in university committees and special projects.
In Minnesota, Miller networked with disability agencies and organizations, most notably the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities. She is highly interested in disability rights, having had an opportunity to go to Washington, D.C. and meet with representatives advocating for better employment options for people with disabilities.
This is a snap shot of Miller’s professional background and work at Metropolitan State University. There have been many relationships with students, staff and faculty at the university that have been an asset in her journey and all her accomplishments could not have been done without them. Thank you.
Director, AQIP, Academic and Student Affairs
For the last decade, Joyce Paxton championed the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) accreditation and continuous improvement (CI) efforts at Metropolitan State University. She orchestrated the delivery of two AQIP Systems Portfolios and the requisite federal compliance reports, coordinated or facilitated multiple university-wide CI projects, and undergirded the AQIP and CI Council Steering Committee and all of its predecessor groups.
In retirement, Paxton continues to serve as the president of the Kundalini Collective and recently led the its initiative to become a 501(c)(3) tax exempt, nonprofit organization with a Minnesota State Private School License. Paxton is a healing touch apprentice and is finishing her requirements for certification. Joyce is an active and vital teacher of yoga and meditation, mom to Casey and Nirmal, stepmom to Kait, Deidre and Weston, grandmother to 11, and wife and life explorer with Wes Cutter. Future travel plans include Florida, Mexico and India.