Longtime professor set to retire in May

By Cory Lesniak

March 19, 2014

After 20 years of teaching at Dominican University, Director of Pastoral Ministry Kathy Heskin will be retiring at the end of the spring semester.

Heskin’s career ranges from being a secretary to working in politics, business, consulting, church and teaching.

“I came here with an idea,” Heskin said about her time at Dominican. “I kept meeting adults who wanted to study ministry but couldn’t because they didn’t have a bachelor’s degree, so I met up with Hugh McElwain, the dean at the time, and told him he should start a bachelor’s program and hire me and he did.”

Heskin went on to be director of the pastoral ministry department of theology and the major was approved in the late 1990s.

“Kathy has extensive experience, as well as a doctoral degree in ministry, and as a lay theologian, wife and mother represents insights into pastoral issues and challenges that are indeed unique,” McElwain said. “Her ability to tap the interest and abilities of students is special.”

Heskin has been recognized at Dominican numerous times for her academic efforts, most recently having been the recipient of the 2013 Sr. Clemente Davlin Diversity Leadership Award.

She had a vision for pastoral ministry and her enthusiasm convinced us to introduce the program,” President Donna Carroll explained. “Her intellect, compassion and accessibility were magnets for students. There is goodness and optimism about Kathy Heskin that brings out the best in students. She exemplifies caritas et veritas.”

Students and staff love the passion from Heskin and remark that her devotion to God is one that students won’t forget.

“She brought great passion to the classroom with her love for challenging and conversing with the institutional and spiritual church,” senior Brent Smith said.  “She has taught me that there are far too few courses that show students the importance of compassion and human dignity. Her love for Native American spirituality will be missed.”

Heskin brought a first hand account of Native American spirituality because after having so deeply been involved in bringing students to Native American reservations, she discovered that she herself was from native heritage.

“She really reminds the institution of the importance of native culture,” Theology Department Chair William George said. “There’s something she brings that nobody else brings to that degree.”

Heskin didn’t have to teach for some students to feel the joy she brought to the campus each and every day.

“Kathy is an amazing teacher who brought so much energy and excitement to every class,” senior Dana Nolan said. “She was so passionate about any topic that was discussed and made the class excited to learn. I will miss seeing her throughout the halls, always laughing, and smiling.”

Although Heskin is moving to Wisconsin to spend more time to spend with her grandchildren, she has been asked to teach native studies once a semester at Edgewood College. Heskin says her teaching at Dominican is not over either, since she has also been asked to teach her marriage and family course online.

“I will miss the kids, I love them,” Heskin said. “I have been blessed. When they walk across the stage, I will miss that terribly.”