Peru, NE - Danny Hayes, Peru State College Criminal Justice Instructor, was awarded the Barb Lewellen Award at the Student Senate Banquet on April 16, 2023. The Barb Lewellen Award is presented to a faculty, staff member, or administrator who has distinguished themself through the betterment of students and student life at Peru State College. 

“I am honored and humbled to receive the Barb Lewellen Award,” said Hayes. “There are a lot of amazing faculty and staff at Peru State College, and to be thought of as one of them is incredibly special. I feel lucky that I get to work with our wonderful students. Thank you to everyone involved in this process.” 

Chaney Weiss, Student Senate Public Relations Secretary, had the following to say when introducing Hayes as an award finalist at the banquet. 

“Mr. Danny Hayes is a professor of Sociology at Peru and is heavily involved in the community and clubs on campus. He’s the current advisor for the PRIDE club and a sponsor for Kappa Omicron Rho. He has a way of connecting with just a short conversation with a student. Most every student knows Mr. Hayes and always has some sort of story to tell about him (usually it involves his bees). He’s helped previously with conference presentations, goes to almost every Peru event that is on campus, and loves to support students he knows or has had classes with. Mr. Hayes is a huge inspiration as he’s so easy to talk to and will give you perhaps some of the best advice of your life.” 

Hayes graduated from Peru State with a double major in criminal justice and psychology. After graduation, he spent ten years working for the Nebraska Department of Corrections at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution and Nebraska State Penitentiary. While at Tecumseh, Hayes began teaching training courses while serving as the Emergency Preparedness Specialist. He discovered a passion for teaching and became an adjunct criminal justice professor at Peru State in 2007. Hayes completed his master’s degree in forensic science with an emphasis in behavioral sciences from Nebraska Wesleyan University while working for the department of corrections and then accepted a position as a full-time instructor at Peru State in 2012. He recently completed his eleventh year at the College.

Hayes has taught nearly every criminal justice course during his career at Peru State, including Survey of Criminal Justice Juvenile Delinquency, Criminology, Homeland Security, Seminar in Criminal Justice, Community-Based Corrections, Introduction to Corrections, and College 101. He currently teaches all Sociology courses at the College, including Principles of Sociology, Contemporary Social Problems, Diversity Issues in the United States, The Family, Worlds Religions, and a Study Abroad Course. Hayes is the advisor of PRIDE, Kappa Omicron Rho, and the Golf Club, and has taken students to many regional and national conferences. He also has led Study Abroad trips to Europe in 2016, 2018, and 2022 where students have engaged in historical, cultural, and social experiences in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Florence, Rome, Pompeii, and Vienna. 

Hayes commended Peru State as a place where student needs are kept at the forefront, and they can receive an exceptional education from talented, highly accomplished faculty members.

“We have so many outstanding faculty helping students and enriching their lives,” said Hayes. “I know that the award can only go to one person, but I don’t do this alone; everybody deserves recognition. There are numerous people (at Peru State College) who get up every day and ask, ‘Today, how do we help students be more successful?” 

Nestled in the hills of historic southeast Nebraska, Peru State College offers a mix of innovative online and traditional classroom undergraduate and graduate programs, including online graduate degrees in education and organizational management.

Established in 1867 as Nebraska’s first college, Peru State has transformed over the past century and a half into a state-of-the-art institution offering diverse, multifaceted educational programs annually to nearly 2,000 students.