Kingfisher Institute for the Liberal Arts and Professions

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Narratives of Health and Illness

Race in America: 1919-2019

For the first years of operation, the Institute will organize itself around these broad themes of critical social importance. Future themes will be determined through community input.

Statue of St. Ignatius on Creighton campus


The Kingfisher Institute is founded on a bold vision for the future of higher education, and Jesuit and Catholic higher education, in particular: a vision that liberal arts and professional education complement and reinforce one another.

Moreover, through the formation of faculty and staff, the Institute aims to influence every single student, in all of Creighton's nine schools and colleges. It will be instrumental in developing and articulating what makes a Creighton graduate distinctive - shaping the student as a Creighton lawyer, a Creighton accountant, a Creighton dentist, a Creighton occupational therapist - unifying heart, hands and minds.

About the Kingfisher Institute



The Kingfisher Institute is inspired by the Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, “As Kingfishers Catch Fire,” which Creighton President the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD, highlighted in his inaugural presidential address. In doing so, he challenged all members of the Creighton community to seek more and to find God in all things.

Establishing the Institute

Establishing the Institute

The Kingfisher Institute represents more than two years of foundational work by faculty and administrators across Creighton University as part of the University-wide strategic planning process. As part of the "Leading with the Liberal Arts" strategic planning goal, the Institute is aligned with the University's priorities, goals and strengths. 

The Institute was approved in 2018. Its offices are now housed in the state-of-the-art School of Dentistry building. This arrangement symbolizes the relationship between the professions and the humanities at Creighton.

The Institute will continue to expand through a phased approach, which will incorporate feedback from the campus community on ways to best achieve the vision. In this way, it will intentionally build on each successive year while also growing organically through affiliated faculty and staff who embed the spirit of of the Institute in their teaching, research and other endeavors.



Fall 2018: Soft Launch

  • Reading Groups Initiated - associated with the two inaugural themes:
    • Nicole Piemonte, Afflicted: How Vulnerability Can Heal Medical Education and Practice
    • Ted Wheeler, Kings of Broken Things
  • Curricular and accreditation requirement audit for all nine schools and colleges
  • Search for director
  • Advisory board identified and invited
  • Call for and review of applications for faculty curriculum fellows and research scholars
  • Event planning for 1919 race riots commemoration

Spring 2019: Formal Launch

  • Director appointed
  • First cohort of faculty curriculum fellows named
  • First cohort of research scholars named
  • Reading groups continue
  • Programming marking the centenary of the 1919 Omaha race riots:
    • Theming the Magis Core Curriculum for undergraduate students
    • Reading by Ted Wheeler
    • Lecture/seminar for 1919 centenary
  • Collaboration with Creighton's Diversity and Inclusion Goal group, Nebraska Humanities Council and Omaha community for events and activities throughout 2019



Tracy Leavelle, PhD, has been named the inaugural director of the Kingfisher
Institute by Creighton President Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD.

Currently, Leavelle is the associate dean for the humanities and fine arts in the College of Arts and Sciences and an associate professor in the Department of History.

Read the press release


2019 Events

2019 Events


"Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love, A Pastoral Letter Against Racism" by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
Breakfast Discussion
8 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.
Skutt Student Center 104

Co-sponsored by the Kenefick Chair and the Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, the Vice Provost for Mission and Ministry, the Kingfisher Institute for the Liberal Arts and Professions, the Collaborative Ministry Office, the Schlegel Center for Service and Justice, and the Justice and Peace Studies Program. 


Read the letter and more at

Lecture: Richard Rothstein, author of "The Color of Law: The Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America"

Monday, March 25, 2019 | 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Harper Center - Hixson-Lied Auditorium
Approved for 1.0 hours of Continuing Legal Education Credit (CLE) in Nebraska and Iowa.

RSVP today

1919 Centenary Events

In collaboration with community partners, more events are being planned to observe the centenary of the brutal 1919 lynching of an African-American man, Will Brown, and the accompanying riots in Omaha. Watch this video to learn more about the history.

"You are Here" Conference

The Kingfisher Institute is a proud sponsor of the 2019 "You are Here" conference, an annual interdisciplinary conference on space, place and embodiment.

Faculty & Staff Formation Opportunities

Faculty & Staff Formation Opportunities

The Institute offers opportunities for faculty and staff from across the disciplines to connect under a shared mission of transforming and integrating the paradigms and pedagogies of liberal arts and the professions - and, ultimately, higher education as a whole. Faculty and staff can make these connections through:

  • participating in reading groups,
  • participating in lectures, seminars and events,
  • applying for upcoming teaching and research fellowships,
  • attending professional development opportunities,

and much more to come as the Institute continues to take shape.

Spring 2019 Faculty/Staff Reading Groups

Attending: Medicine, Mindfulness, and Humanity by Ronald Epstein, MD
8:30-9:30 a.m., January 25, Feb. 15 and March 22 (Fridays)
DHHC 214 (2nd floor conference room in the Humanities building, outside the History Department), or online via Zoom
Facilitated by Andrew Hogan, PhD, Assistant Professor of History

The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein
9-10 a.m., Feb. 13, March 20 and April 17 (Wednesdays)
HARP 3027
Facilitated by Patrick Murray, PhD, Professor of Philosophy

Readings on Race: "What does it mean to be white?"

Explore race in America through Scene On Radio's podcast series "Seeing White." At each session, we will discuss issues arising out of the episodes assigned for that week. 

Facilitated by Palma Strand, JD, LLM, and Kathy Gonzales, JD, PhD, of the Negotiation & Conflict Resolution Program, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies

First session: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 (Episodes 1-5)
3:30-4:30 p.m., Harper 3027
Second session: TBD (Episodes 6-10)
Third Session: TBD (Episodes 11-14)

Hear what is being said about the Seeing White series:

Access the podcast at:



Undergraduate students and advisors, find a course within one of our themes with this list of spring 2019 courses on race.

2018 Events

2018 Events

Frankenweek: Oct. 23-31, 2018
In celebration of the bicentenary of the publication of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
Dates and times are tentative.

View "Frankenweek" events

"What Med School Never Taught You: Confronting Vulnerability and Suffering in Medical Practice"
Wednesday, Oct. 3, from noon to 1 p.m.
CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center-Bergan Mercy
Room 11661 A, B and C
1 continuing education credit

View recording

"Humanities and the Health Professions: What Medicine Can Teach Us about Being Human," by Nicole Piemonte, PhD
Author of Afflicted: How Vulnerability can Heal Medical Education and Practice
Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018 | 7 p.m.
Harper Center, Hixson-Lied Auditorium
Free and open to the public

View recording

"A Thousand Mile Walk - Reason, Altruism, William James and Blisters," by Tom Kirsch
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018 | 2:30-4 p.m.
Mike and Josie Harper Center, Room 3028

View recording