College of Allied Health Professions

Karen Honeycutt named Gilg Professor

From left, Msgr. James Gilg, son of Clarence and Nelle Gilg; Dr. Gerry Christensen, husband of Mary Clare Haven; Mary Clare Haven, daughter of Clarence and Nelle Gilg; Karen Honeycutt, inaugural Gilg Professor; Kyle Meyer, Ph.D., dean of the UNMC College of Allied Health Professions. From left, Msgr. James Gilg, son of Clarence and Nelle Gilg; Dr. Gerry Christensen, husband of Mary Clare Haven; Mary Clare Haven, daughter of Clarence and Nelle Gilg; Karen Honeycutt, inaugural Gilg Professor; Kyle Meyer, Ph.D., dean of the UNMC College of Allied Health Professions.

Karen Honeycutt, associate professor and program director of medical laboratory science education, has been named the inaugural Clarence and Nelle Gilg Professor for Teaching Excellence and Innovation in Allied Health.

Kyle Meyer, Ph.D., dean of the College of Allied Health Professions (CAHP), said Honeycutt was an ideal choice for the post.

“Karen is the quintessential innovator,” Dr. Meyer said. “She has literally changed the way medical laboratory science students are educated throughout the region.”

The Gilg professorship has been several years in the making.

Two years ago in April of 2014, Mary Clare Haven, retired associate dean of the then School of Allied Health Professions, was honored for her contribution in starting this professorship.

“We are here to celebrate!” said Mary. “To celebrate the funding of another allied health professorship. To celebrate educational excellence, to celebrate family and to celebrate what we have done together. This isn’t about me, this is about us.”

Spoken in humble Mary Haven fashion.

Mary made the initial gift to this professorship meant to honor the outstanding educators in the CAHP.  It was her intention that it be held by awardees for a limited period of time and that all allied health programs be eligible, to maximize the number of recipients and programs that would benefit. Initially, she declined the naming rights, anticipating a future donor might wish to claim them.

Following the initial donation, CAHP administrators, faculty, and members of the Campaign Committee added their own gifts to this fund. When the O’Malley Charitable Lead Trust of New York gave their transformative gift to match five endowed professorships, Mary decided to add to her initial gift in order to complete the endowment. At this time, she decided to name the gift in memory of her parents, Clarence and Nelle Gilg.

Gilg family at the 2014 reception.
Gilg family at the 2014 reception. Back row (relationship to Mary): Monsignor James Gilg (brother); Jeff Brown (son-in-law); Marge Chapman (sister); Zach Haven (grandson); Guy Haven (son) Front row: Douglas Brown (grandson); Evelyn Brown (granddaughter); Mary Haven; Jerry Christensen (husband)

The following bio about her parents was from Mary’s remarks in 2014:

Clarence and Nelle Gilg are typical parents of the allied health faculty, students and staff.  Born of German, Bohemian, and Irish immigrants, they spent their entire lives in the Nebraska county (Holt) in which they were born.  As young adults in the ‘30s, they understood hard work and lean times.  “I’ve seen it worse,” was Clarence’s response to the petty complaints of his children. And he had.  They were accustomed to surviving on the Sandhills prairie, working with the marginal soil to produce sculptured hay stacks, healthy cattle, bountiful gardens and beautiful flowers.  They were first responders to a neighbor’s illness or family crisis, understanding that together a community thrives and everyone needs a helping hand at times.

They were also unique.  Clarence never touched a tractor he couldn’t fix, a windmill he couldn’t climb, a child he couldn’t soothe or a geometry problem he couldn’t solve.  Nelle never met a 4-H club she couldn’t lead or feed, a cellar she couldn’t fill with canned goods, a story she couldn’t write, or a student to whom she couldn’t teach the 3Rs.

Clarence and Nelle had six children, the first-born dying in childbirth.  Clarence worked as a mechanic until he purchased the family homestead near Atkinson.  He also did extra work as a mechanic, a grain bin measurer and a dispatcher at the Atkinson Livestock Market.  Nelle taught in one-room schools before she married and after the youngest child started high school.  Nelle even rewrote an 8th grade history to help one of her students pass the county’s 8th grade exam.

Education was extremely important to Nelle and Clarence.  Indoor plumbing was delayed in order to pay college tuition.  Nelle wore the same winter coat for over twenty years.  The result was five college graduates.  Their children can not thank them enough for the lessons they demonstrated with their lives.  They both died in their 90s, two weeks apart.  Their work was complete.

This endowed professorship honors the Gilgs and all the parents of those who contributed to this professorship.  Thanks to ALL the donors, especially the Charles R. O’Malley Lead Charitable Trust for their matching gift.

Article in UNMC Today

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