award winners and retireesMay 1, 2023–Missouri Western State University presented nine faculty and staff members with awards and recognized 17 retirees at the 2022-2023 Faculty and Staff Awards and Retirement Reception on April 28.

Award winners include:

Outstanding Academic Advisor: Dr. Lane DesAutels, associate professor of philosophy. “He is willing to go above and beyond to make sure the students understand their future academic path.”

Missouri Western Award for Staff Service to the University: Jessica Frogge, administrative coordinator in the Department of Chemistry and the Griffon Office of Applied Learning. “Jessica’s institutional knowledge, technical skills, and commitment to MWSU are definite strengths and keys to her success.”

Missouri Western Award for Staff Service to Students: Dane Eckert, senior manager in Technology Services. “Dane has been consistently involved, responsive, competent, and reliable in addressing a broad range of technical challenges.”

Missouri Western Award for Staff Service to Colleagues: Amber Halstead, math coordinator in the Center for Academic Support and Staff Association president. “Amber is a team player in every sense of the word and … sees herself as a steward for the University and its employees.”

Missouri Western Award for Teaching Excellence:

  • Dr. Aracely Newton, assistant professor of biology. “She cares deeply about the success of her students and provides multiple opportunities for them to get feedback and learn the materials.”
  • Dr. Elizabeth Thorne Wallington, assistant professor of education. “Dr. Thorne Wallington forms deep connections with her students, both as a faculty member and an advisor.”

Missouri Western Foundation Dr. James V. Mehl Award for Outstanding Faculty Scholarship: Dr. James Okapal, professor of philosophy. “Marrying science fiction and fantasy literature with the philosophers’ study of ethics, Dr. Okapal published six peer-reviewed articles, offered three scholarly presentations, and delivered two invited lectures last year.”

Missouri Western Foundation Dr. James J. Scanlon Award for Staff Service to Community: Jeremy Acton, grounds supervisor for Physical Plant. “Jeremy has through his example and leadership made a positive contribution to the University.”

Missouri Western Foundation Dr. James J. Scanlon Award for Faculty Service to the Community: Dr. Jennifer Jackson, associate professor of communication. “Jennifer has used applied learning in her classes to serve our community…helping teach her students while giving back to community clients.”

The reception also honored 17 employees who have or will soon retire with a combined 269 years of service to Missouri Western. Honored retirees include:

  • Roger Adams, Physical Plant
  • Dr. Susan Bashinski, Graduate Studies
  • Shelle Browning, Physical Plant
  • Greg Dillon, Athletics
  • Janice Dillon, Business Office
  • Dr. Crystal Harris, College of Science and Health
  • Karma Hartong, School of Nursing and Health Professions
  • Robin Kelly, Department of Education
  • Dr. Steve Klassen, Department of Computer Science, Math & Physics
  • Greg Kriewitz, Department of Health, Sport and Exercise Science
  • Dr. David McIntire, School of Fine Arts
  • Peggy Payne, Admissions
  • Deb Singleton, Department of Communication
  • Cindy Spotts-Conrad, Financial Aid
  • Dan Stevens, Academic Advising
  • Buzz Verduzco, Athletics
  • Deana Wennihan, Financial Aid

Missouri Western State University is a student-centered learning community preparing individuals for lives of excellence through applied learning. Missouri Western is located in St. Joseph, Mo., and is committed to the educational, economic, cultural and social development of the region it serves. Visit