Meet the UW-Rock Community

Dr. Timothy Holian

Dr. Timothy Holian

UW-Rock County Senior Lecturer of German

“I like being in a program in which there is a lot of individual interaction with the students.  It is a joy to see them grow from that initial phase of not knowing a foreign language and feeling somewhat intimidated by it, to developing a comfort zone and feeling an inner confidence that they are gaining a skill that they can use for the rest of their lives.  In the German program, we think of ourselves being klein aber fein – small enough in size that everyone gets the practice and attention that they need, but rigorous in order to ensure that they are prepared to take advantage of the opportunities to come,” says Dr. Timothy Holian, UW-Rock County senior lecturer of German.

Holian was honored with a 2015 Kaplan Award for his work in establishing the German program on campus and his success in recruiting and retaining program students as well as increasing awareness in the community.

Holian taught German language classes at UW-Waukesha and Beloit College before coming to UW-Rock County in 2013. He teaches German courses to students on the campus as well as throughout the UW Colleges through distance education technology. He became the advisor of the German Club on campus and has created opportunities not only for students taking his courses, but all students, to learn about German culture through activities such as guest speakers, field trips and meetings.

"The students are phenomenal and have been involved in planning such activities as a Limburger cheese-eating contest and trips to the Chicago Chriskindlmarket and area German restaurants, so we’ve had great word-of-mouth advertising and the program has grown,” says Holian.

Holian has a bachelor’s degree in German studies as well as master’s and doctorate degrees in German language and literature from the University of Cincinnati. He and his wife live in Janesville.

Crystal Stone

Crystal Stone

UW-Rock County Alum

“My advice for today’s students: take advantage of the luck that comes your way, figure out your motivations for going to school and then realize what you can do because of your education,” says Crystal (Marshek) Stone, a UW-Rock County graduate who received the 2015 TRIO Distinguished Alumnus Award.

 “Realizing when opportunities are made available to you and then taking advantage of them of them is what I call luck,” says Stone who was admittedly intimidated about starting college as a 23-year-old with a rocky high school record who had worked at factory jobs for a few years. Her lucky break was finding UW-Rock County and its TRIO program that provides extra advising and academic assistance to some of the first-generation, low-income and disabled college students on campus. As she became a successful college student, she also became a peer mentor in TRIO and a math tutor in the Learning Support Center, spreading her enthusiasm for education.

 What motivated Stone to pursue higher education was a desire to obtain a well-paying job after growing up poor and on welfare. This experience, in addition to a healthy competition with her husband in which she didn’t want to necessarily be the one making less money, led her to pursue biomedical engineering as a career field. After graduating with her associate degree in 2000, she transferred from UW-Rock County to UW-Madison where she earned a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering. She then landed a job in her field in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Through continuing education and motivation to continuously improve herself, she’s gone on to subsequent jobs working with medical devices and clinical trials where she enjoys traveling and meeting interesting people -- experiences that opened the door for her current position as director for new technology implementation for BioClinica, an international clinical research company.

 “School isn’t always easy and careers aren’t always easy, but do remember why you are doing what you are doing,” recommends Stone. She often looked back and remembered what got her to where she was on her journey and let that drive her to the next goal.

 Because of her education, Stone also realized she had an impact on others. “Remember, you are a potential mentor and a role model,” she says. Her decision to go back to school was influenced by a woman she met at work who made education sound interesting. Further evidence: Stone’s own mother was motivated by her daughter’s success and decided at age 50 to go to UW-Manitowoc so she could leave her administrative assistant job and become a nurse.  

Greg Linder

Greg Linder

Chemical Engineer & Site Manager, Air Products

“Go forward with confidence, for if you have done well at UW-Rock County, you will do well wherever you go if you are committed to it,” says Greg Linder to current UW-Rock County students and those considering attending the campus. Linder is UW-Rock County’s 2014 Outstanding Alumni Award recipient.

 Linder is a chemical engineer and site manager of Air Products in Milton, a company that supplies more than a hundred chemical products found in things you may use every day, from the gasoline, paint and steel in your car to the cleaning agents in your home.    

What stands out about Linder is he is committed. Committed to education. Committed to his career. Committed to his wife Nancy of 40 years. Committed to community service. And committed to UW-Rock County.

 Every student has a unique story of how and why they ended up at UW-Rock County and where they will go after they leave here. Linder’s story is somewhat familiar in that he was one of the many students that did not go to college directly out of high school. His not-so-great high school grades led him to start work after graduation. A year of working minimum-wage jobs was an eye-opener, however, and he realized he needed to commit to his education if he wanted a different life for himself and his young bride.

 Linder enrolled at UW-Rock County because it was affordable, he didn’t have to relocate and it had a great reputation even back in the 1970s. He continued to work part-time while attending college and earned a 4.0 grade point average. He intended to go into electrical engineering, but he fell in love with chemistry thanks to professors Lloyd Goding and Marty Stabb and he decided to go into chemical engineering instead.

 After graduating from UW-Rock County, Greg went on to UW-Madison where he earned his degree in chemical engineering and then held jobs at DuPont in North Carolina and Delaware. He ended up back in Wisconsin when a contact he met through a UW-Rock County internship called him about a position available at what is now ABITEC in Janesville. He managed that facility for five years and then went to Tomah Products in Milton, which was bought out by Air Products in 2006 and currently employs 54 people. He’s been there for 21 years and now manages the plant’s maintenance, production, laboratory and warehousing operations. Along the way, he also earned a master’s degree in business administration from UW-Whitewater.

 He’s been actively involved on the board of the Milton YMCA and with the Milton Area Chamber of Commerce and has been a friend to the UW-Rock County campus as well.

Kevin Reilly

UW-Rock County Alumnus

"Believe in yourself and surround yourself with people who believe in you. Talk to your professors. Get the help you need to succeed – it’s right there on the campus.” That’s advice to students from UW-Rock County alumnus Kevin Reilly of Janesville, the 2014 TRIO Alumni Award recipient.

Kevin Reilly earned an Associate of Arts and Sciences degree from UW-Rock County in 1992 and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from UW-Whitewater in 1995. He is currently Child Protective Services Supervisor for Jefferson County Human Services where he supervises a staff of eight social workers and two family development staff members who have a caseload of more than 150 abused or neglected children. He’s also been active in the Rock Trail Coalition, Friends of Rockport Park and the City of Janesville Leisure Services Advisory Committee

“In high school, I wasn’t a great student and I was told growing up that college just wasn’t going to happen because we didn’t have the money,” says Reilly. He did enroll at UW-Whitewater, but lacking preparation and motivation, he didn’t do well, left school and spent the next few years in low-paying jobs. He credits his wife, Amy, who also attended UW-Rock County, for encouraging him to go back to school and believing he could be successful at it.

Reilly found the smaller classes, the mix of people and the extra tutoring available on the UW-Rock campus made for a more comfortable environment. He also notes that the guidance of a UW-Rock County instructor, the late Julia Hornbostel, was what put him on the path to success. “She changed my life,” he says of his former Composition instructor.  “She taught me how to write and how to study and, even when I wasn’t in her class anymore, she still checked in with me. I’m sure she did that with other students, but it made me feel special,” says Reilly.

That solid foundation helped him enjoy his other classes in history and sociology and he went on to major in sociology at UW-Whitewater with the idea of going on to law school. When he graduated in 1995 with his bachelor’s degree, however, he found an opportunity in the human services field working with troubled youth, which he found rewarding and he continued in the field in various positions for the next two decades because he liked the work and the hours fit well with raising a family. He became a supervisor in 2010 and is involved in recruiting, training and retaining employees and overseeing the budget all while striving for the safety and well-being of the children that make up the department’s case load.

“Whether you are a returning adult student, a first-generation student or 50-plus and just want to take a class, you’ll find other people like you at UW-Rock County – and, if you have any motivation at all, you’ll find the individual attention you need to be successful,” says Reilly. 


Dr. Kristin Plessel

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

“I don’t even lecture. The students guide their own learning in a collaborative classroom environment facilitated by me,” explains Dr. Kristin Plessel, a recipient of a 2014 Gil Sedor Excellence in Teaching Award. 

A UW-Rock County assistant professor of chemistry since 2010, Plessel was nominated for her outstanding instruction in the chemistry program based largely on her use of the Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) method. Plessel learned of this teaching approach through workshops as a graduate student and she became so passionate about it that she now is a certified trainer who facilitates workshops for high school and collegiate educators across the country.

This different style of teaching takes some students a month or so to get used to, but by the end of the semester even the students who didn’t like it at first are receptive to it and can see the benefit, according to Plessel. 

"The POGIL method helps with retention of material and, because it is modeled on the scientific method, it is applicable for most science classrooms," says Plessel. "For example, students may be working on an activity with certain information given to them, but they must then come up with their own definitions for the results or trends they observe. Then, after they’ve taken ownership of the information, they will learn from the instructor what the actual definition for that phenomenon is."

Plessel earned her doctorate and master’s degree in chemistry from UW-Madison and her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 

Associate Professor, Erin Ellison

Erin Ellison

Associate Lecturer of English

"I think that it's important to acknowledge our students' previous knowledge of, and experience with, technology when designing curriculum; for many incoming students, incorporating new technologies into the writing process makes that process exciting and relevant," says UW-Rock County lecturer of English Erin Ellison.

Ellison recently received an Arthur M. Kaplan Award, which recognizes innovative improvements in instruction or service to students by UW Colleges faculty and academic staff. Ellison was recognized for her dedication to providing a new format for a remedial composition course for students to help them prosper in all courses requiring a writing component. Students in Ellison’s English 099 course benefit from intimate, four-student sessions and the innovative use of digital technology as they learned the writing and revision process.

"When I started teaching composition, I noticed that many of my students wanted to use their phones or computers in class. That observation inspired me to harness that energy in a positive way," explains Ellison. "I started introducing writing-relevant iPad and iPhone apps, and teaching technology-driven writing strategies that would help students catalogue their ideas both inside and outside of the classroom."

For example, students aren't always excited to brainstorm ideas in their notebooks, according to Ellison, but, given the opportunity to document those same ideas in an app like iBrainstorm, the mood and productivity in the classroom changes dramatically.

"I think that as composition instructors, it's important that we not only produce students who are clear and effective writers, but students who are technology literate and know how to use technology in productive, professional ways," says Ellison.

Ellison has a bachelor’s degree in English from UW-Madison and a master’s degree in English and Irish literature from Boston College. She’s been an instructor at UW-Rock County since 2012. She and her husband live in Madison where she plays in the Irish folk band Rising Gael. 

Dr. Elizabeth Jozwiak

Dr. Elizabeth Jozwiak

Associate Professor of History

“I like approaching topics in a variety of ways. I work with students on going to the original sources as well as doing simulations and other activities to help them get a handle on the actions and motivations of people in the past. History is not a list of 'one darn thing after the other,' but an exercise in analysis and interpretation. It’s great when students say, 'I hadn’t thought of it that way' and start making their own interpretations and inferences and carry those skills along with them," says Dr. Elizabeth Jozwiak, UW-Rock County associate professor of history.

Dr. Jozwiak was honored with a 2014-2015 Arthur M. Kaplan Award, which recognizes innovative improvements in instruction or service to students by UW Colleges faculty and academic staff.

By incorporating active learning strategies both inside and outside of the classroom Dr. Jozwiak gives students opportunities to connect concepts and better understand the context for certain events. For example, students in her introductory American history class were asked to perform competing versions of historical events to better understand context and assess reliability of witness accounts. In her Work and Workers in US History class she took her students on field trips to Beckman Mill and Mercy Hospital to help them better understand the way the nature of work has changed in the last 150 years and its implications for society.

“These trips had the added benefit of providing food for thought regarding career choices,” Jozwiak says. She also designed practical, hands- on exercises designed to deepen students’ understanding of historical eras and circumstances.

“In such practical exercises students find they can understand the concerns and motivations of people in the past by putting themselves in their places,” Jozwiak says. "I believe that studying history is important to students because it requires them to think critically in ways that ultimately serve them in all endeavors.”

Jozwiak has a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from UW-Milwaukee and master’s and doctorate degrees in history from UW-Madison. She joined the faculty at UW-Rock County in 1998 and lives in Janesville. 



Dr. Tom Klubertanz

Professor of Biological Sciences

“Sometimes, by the time you have the data to prove what’s happening, it’s too late,” says Dr. Tom Klubertanz, a UW-Rock County professor of biological sciences who is nine years into a 20-year study of what could be the best bird habitat in Rock County, if not all of Wisconsin.

Klubertanz and his colleague Quentin Yoerger of Evansville are studying the bird population of the Robert O. Cook Memorial Arboretum, a 160-acre park on Janesville’s northwest side that also is home to the Janesville Schools Outdoor Laboratory. “There are birds there you don’t often find elsewhere in Wisconsin,” says Klubertanz, who has personally recorded sightings of 139 of the 152 species reportedly living in this area.

His research focus is on the cerulean warbler, the hooded warbler and the Acadian flycatcher – all species on Wisconsin’s threatened species list.

While Klubertanz is in the classroom most of the year teaching such courses as Animal Biology and Anatomy & Physiology, he’s busy in the spring and summer doing field work. This includes counts of the three targeted threatened species in certain areas of the park in April, May and June and a larger count  throughout the park involving dozens of community volunteers and students in July. Through this work, he documents changes to the park, the bird populations and breeding records – and will do so until 2025 through this study funded in part by a Steenbock Award from the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology.

This kind of long-term research is relatively rare, but the data will be valuable to determine patterns over time. “Changes to the park, as well as the natural inherent structure of the park, make the birds vulnerable, so this makes it a great place to do a study like this,” says Klubertanz. “We’ve seen a lot of changes during this first phase of the study, some from human interventions such as prairie burns and nearby housing developments, and some from invasive plant species,” says Klubertanz.

While the study will continue for many years, the preliminary data already are showing some disturbing trends.

“The large group counts show a downward trend for the cerulean warblers,” according to Klubertanz. In fact, not one sighting of these tiny, blue songbirds who like to hang out in the treetops has been recorded officially on a count day for the last three years. In previous years, as many as nine were spotted in the park.

“We look at the data and have to ask if maybe we’ve documented the last cerulean warbler, but we won’t know until we have all the data,” says Klubertanz.

A few years ago, the hooded warblers, bright yellow birds that look like they’re wearing a black ski mask, moved to the east side of the park from their normal territory on the west side of the park, possibly due to changes in patterns of use along the park’s western border. For the last two years, none of these birds were spotted at all.

Klubertanz is the chair of the UW Colleges Biology Department has a bachelor’s degree in biology from UW Oshkosh, a master’s degree in entomology as well as his doctorate in entomology and ecology & environmental biology from Iowa State University.

Scott Bordwell

Outstanding Alumni Award Winner

"As a new high school graduate, I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to do. When I was offered a scholarship to attend UW-Rock County, the decision was easier to make," says Scott Bordwell. UW-Rock County’s 2015 Outstanding Alumni Award recipient, Bordwell is senior vice president and senior relationship manager for BMO Harris Bank in Janesville -- and he's been paying it forward by helping UW-Rock County students with scholarships for the past 17 years through service to the UW-Rock County Foundation.  

A Craig High School graduate, Bordwell attended UW-Rock County where he was a student ambassador and an award-winning scholar and basketball player, receiving Dean’s list honors all four semesters he attended and the Scholar-Athlete Award and all-conference designation his sophomore year. After graduating from UW-Rock County, Bordwell went on to earn a bachelor’s of business administration in finance from UW-Whitewater and returned to Janesville to take a position with Valley Bank. For the next 26 years, he held several positions within the institution, which is now BMO Harris Bank. Today, as a senior vice president and senior relationship manager, he works as the banking partner for many businesses throughout the area and supports strong community relationships.

Bordwell has also built strong community relationships for UW-Rock County. As a board member of the UW-Rock County Foundation for the past 17 years, he has raised money and been part of a leadership team that has supported scholarships for students, professional development for faculty and building projects that have changed the face of the campus.

His community involvement also extends to his current roles on the boards of Forward Janesville, The Exchange Family Resource Center, City of Janesville Police & Fire commission and, especially dear to his heart, the Chasing Chad Corporation, a non-profit that offers assistance to brain cancer patients and their families in memory of his brother Chad who passed away from a brain tumor almost six years ago. Past community involvement includes the boards of Janesville Area Crime Stoppers, South Central Wisconsin Builders Association, Downtown Development Alliance and City of Janesville Alcohol & Licensing Committee. He also has been a United Way volunteer, youth sports coach, and the Personal Economics Program presenter that educates children about banking.

The UW-Rock County Outstanding Alumni Award is presented annually to a former student who has earned at least 30 UW-Rock County credits and has distinguished himself or herself in the areas of community involvement; campus involvement and support; and leadership in employment or personal development. Nominations for this award can be sent to Carrie Hermanson, 2909 Kellogg Ave., Janesville, WI 53546 or e-mailed to

Sara Koch

Sara Juarez Koch

UW-Rock County Advisor

"As a UW-Rock County student, I really got to know people. Some of my professors even came to my wedding and I am still friends with classmates I met here -- that's why I was excited to come back here to work," says Sara Juarez Koch.

Koch started out as a UW-Platteville student after high school, but found that it wasn't a good fit for her at the time. After taking a break for a year and working, she enrolled at UW-Rock County after a friend recommended it. Soon, she was enjoying her classes, meeting new people and recommending the campus to her friends, one of which later became her husband.

She was involved in the Multicultural Student Union on the campus and enjoyed taking classes from such professors as George Jones, Robert Storch and the late Julia Hornbostel. She ended up earning not just her Associate of Arts and Science degree, but also an English Department award at her graduation ceremony.

Koch transferred to UW-Whitewater after graduation and earned a bachelor's degree in Spanish with a minor in teaching English as a second language to adults. She worked at Blackhawk Technical College and the Job Center before landing a position at UW-Rock County Student Affairs as an advisor in 2003. She's been helping students one-on-one to meet their educational goals  since then. Some of her advice to students comes from her own experiences as a student here.

"Go to your classes," she tells students often. "That's how you get to know your professors and how they get to know you. It's a small school, so when you don't show up, they notice. But, remember, your instructors are people, too. Don't be afraid to get to know them and to ask for help when you need it."

In December, Koch earned a Master of Science in Education in adult education with an emphasis in counseling from UW-Platteville. She's already found that this education has enhanced her work as an advisor. "I'm more aware of different issues that can affect students and know what I can help them with, such as study skills and relationship or anxiety issues, and when I need to refer a student to other resources, such as the mental health counseling we have on campus."