Morningside honors distinguished arts faculty and alumni with CODA Legacy Award

Oct 01, 2019 • Art, Music, Theatre

Sioux City, IA – Morningside College’s School of Visual and Performing Arts presented four distinguished arts faculty and alumni with the Culmination of Distinguished Achievement (CODA) Legacy Award on Sunday, September 22 during Morningside’s 125th Homecoming. The 2019 honorees were John Bowitz, Herbert Koerselman ‘63, Betty Skewis-Arnett ‘83, and Leo Kucinski ‘36.

Bowitz has been with Morningside College since 1977 and served as the Chair of the art department for 17 years. Before coming to Morningside, Bowitz served as the Chair of the Division of Fine Arts at Ottumwa Heights College. Now Professor Emeritus, he earned his bachelor’s from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and master’s from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. An accomplished artist, Bowitz’s work is known for bringing together different ideas and challenging the viewer to create their own stories.

Koerselman received his Bachelor of Music Education from Morningside College and went on to earn his Master of Music at Indiana University and Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of Iowa. A renowned trumpeter, Koerselman has performed with the Sioux City Symphony, Portland Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Kansas City Philharmonic, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra, and more. As an educator, he served at Central Missouri State University, Illinois State University, Sam Houston State University, and retired in 2014 after over two decades as a professor of music and Dean Emeritus at the University of Louisville.

Skewis-Arnett earned her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre at Morningside and completed her Master of Fine Arts in Costume Design at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She has worked with the Penn State Festival Theatre, Santa Fe Opera, American Players Theatre, Nebraska Caravan, and the Nebraska Repertory Theatre. Skewis-Arnett returned to Morningside in 1987 as an assistant professor of theatre, and served as department chair and director of the Academic Honors Program during her tenure. She directed over 70 college productions and has designed, fit, and sewn countless costumes. Though she still teaches the occasional class, Skewis-Arnett retired in 2017 and was named Professor Emerita. Outside of her work at Morningside, she is an accomplished painter and serves area professionals as a vocal coach.

A legendary Sioux City conductor, educator, and musician, Leo Kucinski’s legacy left an indelible impact on Morningside and the Siouxland community. Born in Warsaw, Poland in 1904, Kucinski came to the United States as a child to study music at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio. He came to Sioux City in 1923 to teach violin at the Morningside Conservatory of Music, now known as the School of Visual and Performing Arts. His impact in the music community was immediate, and he quickly established himself as not only a gifted violinist but also an inspiring teacher. Kucinski began conducting the Morningside Orchestra, now the Sioux City Symphony, in 1925 and did so until 1977. His community efforts included working with Sioux City Schools to bring music curriculum to the public schools and helping lead the effort to build the bandshell in Grandview Park. Kucinski passed away in 1998, and his CODA Legacy award was accepted by former student Ty Grieve.

The Morningside College School of Visual and Performing Arts CODA Legacy Award is an annual award bestowed upon outstanding music, theatre, and arts alumni and faculty nominated by their peers. The School of Visual and Performing Arts is proud to offer opportunities for Morningside students to experience the fine arts on campus, regardless of major. With four choral ensembles, six instrumental groups, multiple art shows, and countless visiting performers and artists, the arts are alive and well at Morningside. Learn more at