Our Town Seward: Concordia University

Published: Jul. 2, 2021 at 10:00 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - There’s quite a bit of pride surrounding the Dunklau Center on the Concordia University campus. It offers a great space for students to further their education.

The Dunklau Center is home to a number of disciplines. “We have biology, chemistry, physics, environmental science, agricultural science, computer science, mathematics, and business all under one roof,” associate professor of chemistry Kristy Jurchen said. The center is a $26 million project funded by generous supporters. It’s a solution to a need for more space. “Around 2009 and 2010, the science program started growing dramatically,” Jurchen said. “We got to where we could not cram any more students or professors into our old building. One of the main things we wanted was space to do the work we were already doing. We were just doing it very cramped.”

Now, students are finding plenty of room and opportunity at the Dunklau Center. For example, the university features a comprehensive ag program there. “It is a bachelor of science degree in agricultural science,” ag sciences professor Dennis Brink said. “But we also offer at Concordia a degree in business administration with an agri-business concentration. So, we have ag students with an interest in ag, coming to Concordia, and they can decide on an ag sciences degree, a business degree with an agri-business concentration, or a minor in agricultural science.”

The agriculture degree puts an emphasis on hands-on learning. “In college, we have that two-hour lab period,” Brink said. “We are 10 minutes away from a lot of agriculture located around Seward. So that’s the reason we’ve tried to base the program around experiential and project-based learning.” The ag program utilizes local producers and ag businesses to provide that real-world experience. “We have a farmer that has allocated 60 acres for crop production,” Brink said. “We go out there, and again it’s 10 minutes from campus. If we want to take soil samples, we’ll go out and take soil samples, and bring them back.”

It’s not just agriculture featured at the Dunklau Center. This building also features a top-notch chemistry program. “Chemistry is one of those neat sciences because it relates to everything else,” Jurchen said. “In fact, most of our chemistry majors double-major in biology, physics or even agricultural science or exercise science, because they see how it connects to what they are interested in doing in the future.” Business majors have found a home at the Dunklau Center, too. “We are super excited to have a space where all of the business students can come to take classes in one area,” business professor Todd Johnson said. “What we have found is it’s really connected the business students together.”

One reason why students feel connected is the collaborative space sprinkled throughout the building where they can meet and gather. “Another thing we wanted was, we wanted to upgrade our technology to empower our teaching. That is something you especially see in the labs. We’ve added all sorts of new state-of-the-art equipment that students can use in their lab classes. We have research classes this year using chemistry instrumentation.”

All of that technology and collaborative space at the Dunklau Center adds up to continued quality educational opportunities at Concordia. “It’s a beautiful building,” Jurchen said.

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