University receives $1 million grant     
Missouri Western, the St. Joseph Metro Chamber and several other education and business partners were awarded a $1 million grant to establish an Innovation Campus, which will help employees and potential employees in high-demand business and industries complete post-secondary degrees. The Missouri Western project is one of nine Innovation Campuses funded throughout the state.

Beginning this fall, the MWSU Innovation Campus program will enroll adults and high school students in relevant educational tracks, with financial aid of up to $7,500 to pursue college degrees. Partners include Missouri Western, the St. Joseph Metro Chamber, the Community Alliance of St. Joseph, Metropolitan Community College, the St. Joseph School District, the Northwest Workforce Investment Board and eight business partners: Heartland Health, Hillyard Industries, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Gray Manufacturing, Lifeline Foods, Altec Industries, Blue Sun Biodiesel and Albaugh.

As their in-kind donation to the initiative, the partnering businesses will provide substantial and targeted on-site training and mentoring for participants beyond what would otherwise occur within the company. Participants may receive college credit for these applied learning experiences.

A committee with representatives from all the partners will select participants for the program and track their progress. The initiative will also direct high school students toward courses and programs specifically designed to prepare them for careers in science and technology.

SGA aids disabled
Disability Services Coordinator Mike Ritter ’02, said his role is to create a culture on campus where everyone understands that when disabled students enroll, Missouri Western is going to create opportunities for them. So Mike was thrilled when the Student Government Association this past spring allocated almost $100,000 for new tables and chairs in 14 classrooms, in an effort to make classrooms more flexible and accessible. The furniture was in place by the time the fall semester started.

“SGA is doing the right thing,” Mike says. “They didn’t hesitate a bit to pass the bill.” 

Baker Family Fitness Center renovations 
Renovations began on the Baker Family Fitness Center this past summer at a cost of approximately $220,000.

Some walls were taken down to expand the crowded cardio area and give the whole fitness center a more open appearance. Space that housed the football coaches’ offices until the Griffon Indoor Sports Complex opened in 2010 was gutted for a large multi-purpose room that can be used for fitness or other classes.

New restrooms and a larger reception area are at the front of the building. The current locker rooms were refurbished with new fixtures and flooring.

A former training room was made into a locker room for the women’s soccer team. This is the first time in the program’s seven-year history that the team has a locker room to call its own. What used to be the home football locker room and a laundry room was renovated into a new training room and visitors’ locker room.

Contractor for the project was Brooner & Associates Construction Inc. The project was funded by Max Experience student fees and money in the university’s auxiliary budget that was set aside for renovation projects.

University on service honor roll   
For the fifth straight time, Missouri Western has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and community engagement.

The Corporation for National and Community Service and the U.S. Department of Education honored 642 colleges and universities for their commitment to bettering their communities through university and service learning by including them in the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

Missouri Western submitted three exemplary community service projects in the 2010-11 school year for consideration: Griffon Edge new student orientation, where more than 950 students logged over 2,000 hours of community service as part of their orientation; the student chapter of The Wildlife Society, which performed countless hours of service for the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge; and Murals for Minds, a Student Government Association project where students spent a day painting murals at a local elementary school.

Agreement with Xidian University in China 
Missouri Western signed an agreement with Xidian University of Xi’an, People’s Republic of China, to cooperate in academic research and exchange.

Tiantian Zou, a professor of English at Xidian University, spent the past academic year at  Missouri Western as a Fulbright scholar, teaching Chinese. The five-year agreement grew out of Missouri Western’s desire to continue Chinese language instruction and awareness of the Chinese culture after Tiantian leaves, said Dr. Jeanne Daffron, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

The agreement calls on both universities to explore opportunities for cooperation in the exchange of faculty and scholars for the purposes of research, teaching and development; the exchange of students for the purposes of training, internship, degree-pursuing and other activities; the exchange of information, experience and knowledge of academic fields including research publications, teaching materials and library materials; and other exchange activities to which both universities agree.

Campus Kudos  
Outstanding Students                 
The Griffon News earned 22 awards and its editor-in-chief was named the top college journalist in the state at the Missouri College Media Association convention, which was hosted by Missouri Western.

David Hon, a junior convergent media major from Platte City, Mo., and president of Missouri College Media Association, beat out eight other nominees to be named Journalist of the Year, Missouri Western’s first recipient since 1998. David also took home first and second place in-depth reporting, third place and honorable mention in editorial writing, third place in investigative reporting and first place in section front page design.   

Brooke Carter swept the top three places in the editorial cartoon category and won the information graphic and advertising categories. She also shared the top honors with other staff members in the section front page design category, with David; sports page category, with Thomas Huitt-Johnson and Jason Brown; and feature page category with Christian Mengel, Jesse Bilderback, Blair Stalder and Jason Brown.

The Griffon Yearbook won second place in the main category, theme development. Jeff Meyer earned first and third in sports photography and second place in feature photography. 

Outstanding professors
David Tushaus, professor of legal studies and chair of the department of criminal justice, legal studies and social work, was selected for a Fulbright award to do research and teach at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India, this fall. He is one of about 800 Fulbright U.S. Scholars sent abroad for a semester. Dave is working at the Indian university’s legal clinic and teaching a class, with a focus on access to justice.

Dr. Eduardo Castilla-Ortiz, assistant professor of Spanish, has been selected as Outstanding JayDoc Interpreter-Volunteer for 2011-12. JayDoc Free Clinic is operated by University of Kansas medical students under the supervision of attending licensed physicians.

Dr. Nathanael May, assistant professor of music, is the winner of The American Prize in Piano Performance-Solo Division in the professional category for 2012. He was selected from applications from across the country. The American Prize is a series of non-profit national competitions designed to recognize and reward the very best performing artists and ensembles in the country based on recorded performances.

Dr. Melissa Daggett, associate professor of biology, was selected to participate in a National Science Foundation-funded faculty development workshop, C.R.E.A.T.E. (Consider, Read, Elucidate the hypotheses, Analyze and interpret the data, and Think of the next Experiment) at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York this past summer. Participants learned how to challenge students to think and act as scientists using the C.R.E.A.T.E. strategy.

MWSU Foundation Awards
Jesse Lee Myers Excellence in Teaching Awards:
Dr. Mary Still, psychology; Dr. Daniel Trifan, history; and Dr. Cary Chevalier, biology
Dr. James V. Mehl Outstanding Faculty Scholarship Award:
Dr. Shensheng Tang, engineering technology and Dr. Matthew Edwards, music

Presidential Citation Awards
Service to Western Students: Elaine Bryant, student success
Service to Campus Colleagues: Cindy Spotts-Conrad, financial aid
Service to the University: Peggy Ellis, Western Institute
James J. Scanlon Service-Leader Award: Chad Elifrits, WRDCC diagnostic education; and Dr. Nathanael May, music

Congratulations to the 2011-12 retirees: Mona Bledsoe, Rhonda Brewington, Dr. Kenneth Dagel, Dr. Nancy Edwards, Judy Fields, Ramona Finley, Dr. Jane Frick, Rosalie Guyer, Alice Harless, Ken Lewis, Dan Nicoson, Sandra Phillips, Dr. John Rushin, Dr. David Steiniche, Dr. Ann Thorne, Roger Voelkel, Dr. Phillip Wann, and Beth Wheeler.

Personnel Changes   
Dr. Brian Cronk assumed the position of chair of the department of psychology June 1, following the retirement of Dr. Phil Wann. Brian will also serve as faculty assistant to the provost and will continue to work with grants and assessment projects through the office of the provost. Recently, Brian had been an associate provost and dean of the graduate school. He has been at Missouri Western since 1993, serving as a faculty member in the department of psychology until 2011. He was interim dean of the graduate school 2010-11.

Dr. Ben Caldwell is the new dean of the graduate school. Ben served as chair of the department of chemistry since 2007, where he has been a faculty member since 1998.

Dr. Mike Ducey is the new chair of the department of chemistry. He has been a faculty member since 2001 and was tenured and promoted in 1996.

Dr. Teddi Deka, professor of psychology, is the new director of the honors program. She will replace Dr. Elizabeth Latosi Sawin, who will return to teaching English.   

Wish list
Would you like to have your donation fund a particular item or support a specific department? Check out and click on “Other Funding Priorities.” There you will find several departments’ wish lists.

     Some items included on lists:

  • Patrol vehicle – University Police Department
  • New desks and chairs for Popplewell Hall 102 – department of history, philosophy and geography
  • New Macintosh computers – department of music. The current computers will not accommodate the latest version of software needed for course work, music interpretation and practice

     Please contact the development office at 816-271-5648 if you can help with these wish list items. Thank you!  

The extra edge 
Every year, Missouri Western works to raise undesignated funds, also known as the Annual Fund, to help support its mission and provide students an educational experience of the highest quality.

“The Annual Fund is the very foundation of the university’s fundraising efforts,” said Laura Buhman ’94, development officer. She said funds are raised through regular mailing appeals, email appeals, and the fall and spring phone campaign.

Laura noted that annual, undesignated gifts provide that “extra edge,” funds for programs and priorities on campus that do not receive regular designated support, such as classroom equipment, internships, and experience-enriching programs like special lectures and visiting professors.

Because the gifts to the Annual Fund are undesignated, they can provide flexible resources where the need is greatest, such as specific funding requests from academic departments or campus groups.

“Every student that has ever attended Missouri Western probably has benefited from the Annual Fund in some way,” Laura said. 

For fiscal year 2013, the Foundation authorized a special grant of $370,000 from the Annual Fund to the university. Of that amount, $120,000 was to support scholarships for students and $250,000 was to assist with the university’s operating budget challenges.

“At Missouri Western, our students come first,” Laura said. “The Annual Fund helps make it possible for us to set the standard for excellence in student development and community leadership.”

Contact Laura at 816-271-5920 or for questions.

We can’t wait to talk to you! When you answer the phone this fall, it may be a Missouri Western student calling to ask you to support the 2012 Annual Fund. Thank you in advance for accepting our call! Calls will be made for two weeks at the end of October.