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Dr. John Langan, Former UNO College of Education Dean, Dies at 68

John Langan, former dean of the UNO College of Education, died today, July 27.  Dr. Langan, 68, had been diagnosed with cancer in 2009.  His 44-year connection to the college began as an undergraduate student, continued in the graduate program, and included roles as a graduate assistant, professor and department chair before his five years as dean.         

“John was a great friend to the state’s education community, to our metropolitan area teachers, to every student he ever met and to me,” said UNO Chancellor John Christensen.  “He was like a brother to me.  He was a great man, and I will miss him.”

Dr. John Langan

Dr. Langan was in the final graduating class of the Municipal University of Omaha on June 1, 1968. The institution officially became the University of Nebraska at Omaha one month later. After earning an MS in education at UNO in 1969 he began his career as a faculty member in the college. He later earned his doctorate in education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.          

Dr. Langan became the first coordinator of the Office of Student Services for the college when the office began in 1984. He was coordinator of the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) visitations to the college for many years, beginning in 1971, and he served as chair of the Department of Teacher Education from 1992 to 2003. Dr. Langan also served as president of the UNO Faculty Senate and was a member of numerous campus and college committees.

Services for Dr. Langan

MEMORIAL SERVICE Friday, 10:30am, UNO Sapp Fieldhouse. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to University of Nebraska Foundation for the John T. Langan Professorship Fund, 2285 So. 67 St., Suite 200, Omaha, NE 68106. HEAFEY-HEAFEY-HOFFMANN DWORAK-CUTLER
78th & West Center

Tapped for the role of acting dean in the summer of 2003 when Dr. Christensen became acting vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, Dr. Langan was officially appointed dean a year later. He served in that post until July 1, 2008. In 2008-2009, Dr. Langan worked half time in the College of Education as it prepared for NCATE re-accreditation and half-time in the Office of Academic and Student Affairs. During the past year he had been on phased retirement but still carried out a set of responsibilities for Academic and Student Affairs.

Two of the legacies of which he had said he was most proud include the development of the Office of Student Services in the college and the Career Advancement and Development for Recruits and Experienced Teachers (CADRE) project.

The College of Education prepares many of Nebraska’s educators, having prepared more than 3,000 of the teachers in the state and more than 60 percent of the professionals in the metro area.

“John Langan led this college into what it has become,” said David Conway, associate dean in the College of Education.  “I can’t imagine where we would be without his work.”

Dr. Langan’s campus involvement went beyond the classroom. He was a volunteer assistant coach for Connie Claussen with the first women’s softball team, which marked the beginning of varsity athletics for women at UNO.

“John Langan understood how important athletics are to the life of a university,” said Connie Clausen, who went on to become the first woman associate athletic director at UNO.  “Many, many of our athletes were education majors, and they were lucky to have a terrific man like Dr. Langan in their corner.”

Dr. Langan also has been extensively involved in community activities, including working with youth athletic teams and serving 14 years as a member of the Omaha Public Schools Board of Education. He was president of the board for seven years.

“John Langan made everyone feel welcome and important,” said Nancy Edick, current dean of the UNO College of Education.  “His legacy in our college and in our school districts is huge.  In the classroom and in the community, his service has touched the lives of thousand and thousands of people.  He lived a great life.”

A New Jersey native, Dr. Langan was selected for the Perth Amboy (New Jersey) High School Hall of Fame in 2005.

Dr. Langan’s family includes his wife Carole, a retired OPS assistant principal and teacher.  The Langans have two sons--Tim, an attorney for Fidelity National Title Group in Omaha, and Michael, who works for Ecolabs in Texas.  The Langans became grandparents last year with the birth of Tim’s son, Conor.  

Dr. Langan received care at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where his nephew, Andrew Wall, M.D., worked on his treatment team over the past year. The Langan family has asked that memorials be directed to the University of Nebraska Foundation’s John T. Langan Professorship fund. The website for more information is

Date Published: Tuesday, July 27, 2010.

Reader Comments:

Bob and Martha Bruckner comments:

John's legacy will live on into future generations. The tremendous picture of John accompanying the sad announcement shows his warmth, friendliness and consistent sense of humor. While we join family, friends and colleagues in mourning his loss, we also join them and hundreds of others in celebrating his life.

Tim Kaldahl comments:

Dr. Langan was a great man. He always had time to talk (and tell a story). And he always, always wanted the best for the university and its people. I'll miss him.

Elizabeth Kraemer comments:

It was a privilege to know Dr. Langan. As a graduate assistant I was on several committees with him and he always brightened the room and livened up the meetings with his presence. His passion for the University was evident everyday and he will be greatly missed.

BJ Reed comments:

Who cared more about the children of Omaha community than John Langan?

Who cared more about UNO than John?

Having a hard time coming up with an answer? Don't try too hard, really no one will come to mind.

John was a great citizen of UNO and of Omaha. He cared deeply about people, and particularly about kids. He was a wonderful mentor, friend and colleague. Won't be many who walk this way who can stand in the circle with him - My condolences go out to Carol, Tim, Michael and the entire Langan family.

B.J Reed

Ron Burmood comments:

John will long be remembered for his leadership and for his compassion and caring for all persons. He was an informal leader in the college before he assumed his various leadership assignments. His leadership on the Omaha Public Schools Board of Education made an impact on tens of thousands of students and families. He brought harmony to a board mired in conflict, and his focus was on the students. He had little patience for persons who had personal agendas. He will be missed, but long remembered.

Neal Grandgenett comments:

Dr. Langan, or John to all of us, was one of the most impressive leaders that many of us have ever had the honor to witness in action. I know that was the case with me. I was blessed to have seen him in action for nearly 20 years, and I am still truly amazed at the incredible energy, compassion, spirit and vision that John employed to encourage good works from all of us. We will miss you John, and we will try hard to earn the faith that you placed in all of us who worked under your special guidance.

Harrison Means comments:

I had the pleasure of working with John for nearly 22 years. He could always be trusted. Also, in the case of intellectual or personal differences he always sought common ground and forward movement. Those traits, and many others, made him a highly valued colleague.

Nick Stergiou comments:

I lost a friend, a buddy, a mentor, a piece of myself. I will never forget him. We did so many things together since I came here for my masters in 1989. He was one of the reasons I came back in 1996. I knew that if I have people like him around me everything will be fine. I was 100% correct. He was always there for me at every level. I will miss him so much!
With respect to the piece above and besides CADRE and OSS, John was also instrumental for the development of the Nebraska Biomechanics Core Facility. The first Motion Analysis system we got was because he made it happen!

Carol Lloyd Rozansky comments:

John was both a special colleague and friend. He looked for and knew the strengths of those of us who worked with (not for) him. He nurtured those strengths, connected us with projects that matched our interests, respected us as individuals and colleagues, and encouraged our personal and professional development. I just uncovered an article he sent me with a personal note, written while he persevered throughout his chemo, "Thought you'd enjoy this article..."

With others, we collaborated on many projects that always focused on the most important people - young people, especially those in PreK-12.

As a friend, we traded updates about those we cherished most - our families, especially our kids.

John will be missed and, more importantly, remembered.

Kris Berg comments:

John was a "giver" to so many people in his career at UNO. I always realized that but in relection of the 39 years I knew him, I marvel today at his accomplishments and the way he lived his life. I learned his name in my first year ar UNO in 1971 because he already had established a reputation as a "doer" and a friendly colleague; he was a person you wanted to get to know. You had to be impressed with his desire and enthusiasm to make things better. He loved a good challenge be it a marathon or 10 k run, an accrediation report, developing CADRE, and so on. It's amazing what he accomplished professionally and he did it in such a caring way. He obviously loved helping people: teachers in the field, students, alumni, parents and students in OPS, etc.

Folks such as he don't come along very often, and we need to reflect on them and appreciate what they've done. We who knew him are indeed fortunate. The community of Omaha is a better place to live because of him. Thanks, John. We needed you and you made a real difference.

Jeannette Seaberry comments:

I was saddened immensely to hear of John's death and will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. He was a giant among educators and a dear mentor to me. I will treasure my experiences with him as my Dean. Jeannette Seaberry

Margaret Tinnes comments:

If it wasn't for John, I don't know where I would be today. He believed in me when almost no one else did. I know there are hundreds of people out there who could say exactly the same thing. For the many, many ways that he was special, I will forever miss him.

We always knew John was on his way in to the office whenever we would hear whistling in the hallway. Usually it was some Broadway tune; more than half the time it was "New York, New York." If there really is a heaven, and if getting there is measured by the good one does in one's life, John should have been able to walk right in, no questions asked! And hopefully he was greeted by a chorus line kicking up its heels to the tune of "New York, New York," led by none other than the Dad, brothers, and sisters he loved so much.

Leonard Skov comments:

John hit the deck running when he arrived on the scene in the Nebraska Colleges of Teacher Education. He had a great perception of the role of the metropolitan schools, but was also equally dedicated to the schools throughout the state and region.

He replaced me as the "kid on the block", but soon returned me to the benefactor of his understanding and vision of schools and schooling.

Omaha and Nebraska will miss him.

Julie Delkamiller comments:

As a new faculty member, I remember feeling so welcomed in each encounter with John whether in the halls or at the holiday party. It seemed that at every COE meeting he mentioned how he had the best job in the world and it made me feel so grateful to be in education & to be at UNO. His spirit will live on in all of those that he has inspired in this way.

Mikki Goulette comments:

what a sad day when I heard ,so deaply missed he will be , god bless his family at home and uno

Phani Tej Adidam comments:

John was a pure soul. Through his actions and energy, he generated lots of positive karma. UNO was blessed to have him as a family member. More than anything, UNO athletics lost a great friend and booster. We were privileged that he called Roskens Hall as his last home at UNO. It was a pleasure meeting him almost every day in the corridors of the third floor. God Bless you John. Enjoy the warmth of His embrace forever.

Tej Adidam.

Gigi Brignoni comments:

Three memories stand out for me. I first met John when I was being interviewed for the faculty position I now have. I remember thinking, "Wow! He really knows me and is genuinely interested in what I can contribute to the college." John made me feel welcome before I was even hired. The second memory that stands out is that he lent me his air mattress for 3 1/2 weeks. When he heard that my furniture was still in storage in California, he offered his really high quality, doesn't leak air mattress. Because of John's generosity, I was able to sleep well until my furniture arrived. The third memory that stands out is that he supported the idea of a bilingual education supplemental endorsement. I have a copy of the letter he sent to NDE, and I remember his strong advocacy at the meeting held on campus. I will miss his presence, his genuine nature, and his smile.

Kathy Danielson comments:

John was a friend, colleague, and so much more. His positive attitude, his passion for helping kids, and his endless energy --- these are the things I will remember most about him. Whenever I knew that he was speaking at some public event, I brought Kleenex along because his heartfelt words always made me cry. I will miss this dear, sweet man who was a tremendous leader, mentor, friend, and person.

Angela Sargus comments:

John Langan was the most kindest, genuine person that I have ever met. I loved him dearly and feel blessed to have known him.

Deborah Smith-Howell comments:

John was an inspiration and role model for me personally and so many others. It is overwhelming to think about the impact of his life and how he lives on in people, projects, and institutions. I admired his passion and absolute integrity. There are special people whose voices I try to hear as I go about my personal and professional life. John Langan has been and will continue to be one of those voices. My heart goes out to Carole, all of his family, and his many, many friends.

Brandy Klipfel comments:

As many have said, Dr. Langan always made you feel part of his team, not as though you were simply a secretary. The last time I saw him, four or five weeks ago, he asked about my children, as he always did, and had a laugh and a grin when sharing his own grandson's photo. He was a champion for doing the RIGHT thing and I was lucky enough to witness his fire when he was advocating for it. Above all, he loved kids. This world is dimmer without him.

Janie Herrick comments:

John Langan hired me as office assistant in this college almost 17 years ago, and from the time of my first meeting with him, he always made me feel welcomed and valued. No matter what the situation, he always showed that he cared and that he supported me. One of my favorite memories of him was our Christmas parties, when he always brought in his favorite Christmas cake, which he made entirely by himself. That was a highlight, and he loved it! I also will never forget the time he came out of his office just to greet my then 2-year old granddaughter. He stooped down so that he could talk at her level and played silly games with her for a good 5-10 minutes. With his whole being, he celebrated and believed in people. I firmly believe that, with respect to both programs and people, this College would not be what it is today without the imprint that John has left upon us. I will miss him so very much. You were loved, John.

Paul Barnes comments:

I understand the incredible contributions John Langan made to UNO and the larger community, yet it's hard for me not to think about the little things that we all enjoyed when we got to be around him. The stories John shared over the years were often hilarious, yet frequently illustrated a little wisdom he knew was important to the moment. It seemed he was always wise, confident, approachable, supportive, kind, and overflowing with energy and enthusiasm. It just felt good to be around John Langan. People mattered to John Langan and he mattered to us. He was one of a kind and simply can't be replaced.

Jason Schlesiger comments:

My first memory of John was an encounter I had with him as a student worker at the College. I stopped in his office to install a new computer and when I addressed him as Dr. Langan he said, "First things first, I don't want to hear any of that Dr. Langan crap. Just call me John." We both got a chuckle and ended up having a great conversation. From that moment, I knew I had gained a true friend in the College. I will never forget this because it exemplifies the type of person John was.

John was the one who encouraged me to enter the teaching profession. I remember struggling with the decision as to what I wanted to do for a career. I came to John because I knew he was a straight shooter and he would be willing to offer advice. He talked to me about the importance of a career in education and I decided to enter the TAP program as a result. I earned my Master's Degree and am now proud to say that I work in education as an Instructional Technology Specialist. John was the one who gave me the push I needed and for that, I am ever grateful.

John was a great man and an even better friend. He will be missed but his legacy will live on.

Wilma Kuhlman comments:

I remember meeting John the night I arrived for my interview, and I immediately knew I'd want to work with him. And that was his MO from day one - we worked with him, not just for him. I also remember that I could trust John to tell ME if something I did or didn't do was a concern. He was honest and forthright, so I could proceed without fear of an unknown disapproval. He would tell me first. I also fondly recall:

His ready smile and laughter.
His great hugs and genuine warm personality.
His willingness to share - time, hospitality, friendship and energy.
His concern for young people of all ages and consequent willingness to put forth the pressure and time to see that valid programs were advanced.

Many of us felt special to John because he knew us well and took the time to show he cared. I, with many others, will miss him a lot!

Jack McKay comments:

A pleasure and honor to have been a colleague. A great sense of humor while at the same time a "common sense" educator and leader as chair and as the dean of the college.

William Austin comments:

We are all blessed because we had the opportunity to know and work with John. He will live on here at UNO and in the community which he so dearly loved. We miss you my friend.

Sandra Deitel comments:

I have known Jackie all but three years of my life having grown up around the corner from him. I looked forward every five years to seeing him at our High School reunion. I am so saddened by this news. He is a heart friend and will be sadly missed by all of us in the class of 1960. My heart goes out to Jackie's family. I will always remember him and love him.

Sarah Edwards comments:

Dr. John Langan personally and professionally advocated for kids.
After the birth of my daughter, John Langan was the first visitor to our hospital room. He quickly swapped his present of a piggy bank for my 5 lb daughter. With a smile that lit up the room, he sighed and said, "Isn't this great!" Of course, he then told me to open a 529 account for her college tuition! John was a friend to both of my kids as they grew. Whether it was a high five or a hug he knew just how to make kids happy. Our last visit with him was at a Mavericks wrestling meet where he was still smiling as the kids ran into his embrace.
This spirit of personal attention extended into his professional career. Years ago Dr. Langan was talking to the COE faculty and staff at the beginning of a new school year and challenged us to "play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back."
John led by this example and his leadership has profoundly impacted both those who knew him as well as the thousands of kids who have benefited from the professionals he has trained.
Although he will be missed, his impact lives on.

Mona Lisa King-Ward comments:

John always had kind things to say to me. He genuinely listened and cared what you talked about. When he spoke passionately about something his eyes would light up! Every now and then my husband and I would run into him out in the community hanging out with us down home folks watching football. We loved John and will definately miss him. Caring, Compassionate and Committed is how I would describe him.

Jan Christensen comments:

John has personally impacted our lives in so many ways, I cannot begin to express the void we feel in our hearts. He was the brother that John never had, his family welcomed my danish husband into their family, and my sons look to him as one of the greatest men who ever touched our lives. He reached out to so many people in his life. On a lighter note, John and I laughed that I will deeply miss him at hockey games where John L. would be yelling at the referees and I would all the time be encouraging him. Carole would scold both of us! He was a "great friend." Life will be different without him, but we can only hope that the thousands of students he impacted over his life, will continue his mission of always being student centered. I know, my family is better because of John, and to Carole, Tim, and Michael, I thank you for sharing him with so many of us. His legacy will live on for decades to come.

Christine Reed comments:

I first got to know John well when I was interim graduate dean beginning in 1995. My goal was to raise awareness of the quality of our graduate professional programs. At that time, it was a tough fight, but John was one of my strongest allies. His smile could light up a room, but when he was on a mission boy could he get fired up!

Jody Neathery-Castro comments:

John's spirit will be irreplaceable at UNO. From the moment I met him (asking him to help my husband-to-be find a job), no request was too large or small for him to help. I enjoyed serving with him on task forces and committees, as he led with integrity, kindness and humor. Always quick with a kind remark, a joke, and a hug, his omnipresence will be well-missed at UNO.

Mary Sweaney comments:

John had a light and understanding heart. He appreciated other's attempts at humor and laughted easily with others, always making them feel special. He understood the complicated lives people led and helped me understand some of the trials we all face in dealing with those addicted to power or to substances. He was a practical man and a source of solace when all practicality seemed to go out the window. I am thankful every day for having known just a little bit of him. I wish I could have absorbed some of his pain, and I wish his family love and peace.

Rev. Isaac Luk comments:

We shall really missed Dr. John contribution to the community, and the world. We are praying that his family may find comfort and peace during this hard times of mourning.
Dr. John, may your soul rest in peace, as we shall missed your Good work, and support to our community, nation, and the world as a whole.
Rev. Isaac Luk

Jim Akers comments:

A dear and good friend of forty-one years is gone but never never forgotten. His kind and perceptive manner always put people at ease. John helped many people and really enjoyed doing it. He lived to help. He will be very missed. UNO is much the better for his many many contributions.

Ginny Elston comments:

What I remember best about John is that whenever I ran into him on campus, he always said "Well, hello friend," and would stop to chat a bit. That is what John was--a friend to many. The world was a better place because Dr. Langan was in it. He will be greatly missed.

Ann Stergiou comments:

The sparkle in John's eye is what I will remember the most about him. It spoke volumes of his love of life and of what was in his heart...pure joy. Whenever I walked into a UNO function, whether at UNO or at someone's home...if I saw John there, I knew it was going to be a funfilled evening. He left us way too soon but his spirit will always be felt. May his memory be eternal.

Bob Goeman comments:

John was truly a "voice of reason" for me. I met both Carole and John many years ago during an education project and since then, I have had the privilege to be a colleague, friend, an even being bossed around by John. He helped me "talk" through the good times and bad and the decisions were life changing. As I painted some interior of my house this weekend, I kept thinking about John and how his influence on me made me think about how I can help other people and contribute to the community around us. He truly is inspiring and the Langan family will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

Sonia Green comments:

How do you put into words what a great person John was - as a true friend, an educator, and a leader at both The College of Education and the Omaha Public Schools. What a loss this is for everyone who knew John and for the University. I will never forget John as a great, loyal, and caring friend! He will be missed.

Rachel Endo comments:

Dr. John Langan was a tireless advocate for students, particularly young women and men from underserved populations. He was genuinely committed to both equity and excellence in education, and under his leadership, the College of Education underwent significant transformations to better serve the needs of all students. Although I was terribly saddened to learn of John's passing, I now feel inspired to pass on his legacy of compassionate and purposeful service to others. Thank you, John, for touching the hearts and lives of so many ordinary people. Your generous mentorship and support led me to fantastic opportunities that I once never thought were even within my reach. My deepest sympathy goes out to the Langan family.

Marilyn Hadley comments:

I have fond memories of John at the NCTE meetings we attended together from 1992-2006. He was a a gifted orator, good at persuasion, and once he took a position on and issue he was never in doubt of it. He was a delightful educator and friend, and I was saddened to learn of his passing.

Stacy Sliva comments:

When I was first hired at UNO, I was walked over to meet the people in the COE. I was talking to the secretaries when in walked a friendly looking guy. I sneezed before I could be introduced and we started talking in detail about the fact that we both had head colds. He seemed to be such a "regular" guy that I felt free to share all the icky details. He shared too. Then he went into an office with the label, "Dean John Langan" on the door! I was horrified that the first impression on my boss included "snot stories". I was reassured that there could not be a more likeable, down-to-earth guy and not to worry. They were right. That's how I met Dean Langan, my boss! May his sweet soul rest in peace.

Carol Davis comments:

While working with the CADRE Project, I could always count on Dr. Langan's support and guidance. Thanks to his vision, dedication and passion, CADRE lives on as a symbol of excellence in teaching and learning. I will keep John and his family in my prayers.

Melodee Landis comments:

When I worked at the Nebraska Department of Education, I was visiting with the then Commissioner of Education, Doug Christensen, about the Teacher Education programs in Nebraska. He said something like "Well, the best in my view is John Langan's crew." After checking into it, I had to agree with him. I've learned so much from watching his genuine character and leadership - about vision, about appreciation, about life. I'm working now on tucking it all deep inside me to help me pull out my own better nature.

Dick Christie comments:

After initially meeting and conversing with John Langan, I felt as if I had known him for a decade. His sincerity, compassion, and energy not only drew me into that first conversation with him but were a part of every interaction we had over the years. So, when we discussed the possibility of me becoming the Executive Director of MOEC, I was honored and excited about the opportunity to work with him. I also found that even though I had a long history with MOEC and the College of Education, his wise counsel was critical for me to successfully transition to Executive Director. Of course, his impact is far-reaching: each one of the MOEC signature programs, CADRE, TAP, NBPTS, and the Mentor Project, bears his imprint. I will miss him tremendously.

Jim Wolfe comments:

I met Dr. Langan when I worked at UNO as a work study in the College of Education's Teacher Education Department for two and 1/2 years. Before I graduated, he told me that I could call him any time to talk and catch up. After graduation I began applying for High School Social Studies positions, but was unable to secure one. My father suggested I call Dr. Langan and ask for his advice on what I should do.

After calling him, Dr. Langan suggested I go back to graduate school and work on my Masters Degree in Education. Knowing this would be expensive, I asked, "How do I pay for this?" He replied, "Become a graduate assistant." I was a graduate assistant for two years before becoming a full time staff member of the college. On the night of his retirement party I thanked Dr. Langan for helping me when I needed it the most. He said, "No thank you."

Dr. Langan was a friend and a mentor and on behalf of my family, I offer my condolences to his family and friends.

Kathy Bittner comments:

How do I put into words how incredibly wonderful John was and how very much I miss him? A lot has been written and rightfully so about John's many qualities and I could add numerous more. Instead I would like to share a favorite memory of mine.

It was in August of 1997 when I spoke to John for the first time. I was working at UNO-Facilities and he called to ask me to come in that afternoon to interview for a staff position in TED. When I explained that I couldn't because the office was being renovated and I was wearing jeans he responded "That's okay I'm wearing shorts. That was the reason I took the position, after all you gotta love a guy that wears shorts to work.