Kingfisher Institute

Kingfisher Institute for the Liberal Arts and Professions

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.



Current Themes:

  • 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.



Dr. Tracy Neal LeavelleTracy 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



Spring 2019: Formal Launch

  • Director appointed
  • First cohort of faculty curriculum fellows named
  • First cohort of research scholars named
  • Reading/discussion groups
    • Scene On Radio's podcast series Seeing White
    • Ronald Epstein, MD, Attending: Medicine, Mindfulness, and Humanity
    • Richard Rothstein, The Color of Law

Summer/Fall 2019 

  • 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

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

NEW: Kingfisher Award

NEW: Kingfisher Award

Nominations are now open for the inaugural Kingfisher Award.

The Kingfisher Award recognizes outstanding Creighton faculty and staff who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the enduring values, principles, and practices of the humanities.


Nominees for this award will have demonstrated:

  • creative application of humanities principles and practices
  • integration of the humanities and other disciplines or professions in their teaching and scholarship; and/or
  • participation in publicly engaged teaching and scholarship

Nomination Process

Nominations are due Friday, May 17, 2019.

Required nomination materials include letter(s) of nomination and support, as well as the nominee's curriculum vitae (CV) or résumé. Please submit to the President's Office via the form linked below, or in hard copy care of David Barnum.

Nomination Form