Let’s all be servant leaders and get involved

Dear colleagues –

I hope everyone is off to a great start this semester. It’s always an exciting time as students return to class and things kick into high gear.

My purpose in writing to you today is to stress two things that have been on my mind of late – the idea of serving others and the importance of campus involvement.

Teamwork couple climbing helping hand

We can all be servant leaders

You have heard me talk before about the concept of servant leadership. It’s a challenge to the traditional ideas of what it means to be a leader in that anyone – in any position – can lead by helping others “be their best selves” (see link below).

For me, these are not mere words. Rather, it’s a philosophy that I firmly embrace and do my best to follow, because each of you play a vital role in our mission and I want you to be as happy, fulfilled and effective as possible in that role. It’s a model that encourages selflessness, persistence, respect and empowerment, and I can already see it taking root on our campus.

In the higher-education setting, servant leadership requires that we not only need to care about getting students into the system, but also dedicate ourselves to guiding them successfully through the system. By helping our students achieve their goals, each of us can serve as an example of what it means to be a servant leader.

If you were not at the recent Faculty/Staff Welcome, or did not receive an information packet, you can find out more about the importance and role of servant leaders by clicking here.

Dr. Jean Hobbs
Dr. Jean Hobbs

Three members of our Lion family were recently honored for demonstrating these ideals both in and out of the classroom.

During the Faculty/Staff Welcome, we honored Dr. Jean Hobbs, professor of kinesiology, and Dr. Joy Dworkin, professor of English, as Outstanding Teachers. Hobbs was also announced as Outstanding Advisor.

Nominations for these awards come from our students, who take the time to share how these individuals have made a positive impact on their lives.

And, earlier this month, Dr. Jennifer Dennis, associate professor of biology and environmental health, was selected by the Joplin Regional Business Journal as one of this year’s “Fifteen Under 40” honorees.

Congratulations to all three for the outstanding work they do to serve our students!

Get involved

“Tell me and I forget; teach me and I may remember; involve me and I learn.”

It’s a quote attributed to either Benjamin Franklin or Chinese philosopher Xun Kuang … Google has yet to settle the argument. Either way, it’s one that I hope you’ll take to heart.

This is an exciting time here at Missouri Southern. Enrollment is up, we’re expanding our education offerings and building projects continue. Signs of growth abound.

We want all of you to become deeply involved with what is happening all around us, to help take charge and shape the legacy of this university for generations to come.

Whether it’s serving on a committee, advising a student group, volunteering at an event or even sitting in the stands to cheer on our student athletes, you will feel more a part of the campus community … an active participant as we continue to move forward. It’s a chance to connect with colleagues and students, learn more about an institution that continues to make a tremendous difference for the region, and an opportunity to be a part of something much bigger than ourselves.

Let’s all commit to being servant leaders, to become more involved, and to be Lions through and through.

Get in the game

The Great Game of Education is perhaps the ideal way to get involved and I’d like to encourage everyone on campus to take part. The first campuswide mini-game has also been rolled out. Just log in to Blackboard to get started.

A big thanks to Dr. Scott Cragin and the members of the GGOE Culture Committee and subcommittees for the work they have put into launching this initiative. (And let’s not forget the dulcet tones of Dr. Brad Hodson covering Willie Nelson!) By working together, we can help ensure that this university continues moving in a positive direction, both academically and financially.

Self-insurance

As you may have already heard, last month the Board of Governors approved a recommendation from the Insurance Committee to move from “premium based” health insurance with Aetna to a partially self-insured group plan with Cigna.

Under this plan, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2017, Missouri Southern will establish an account to pay out claims, which Cigna will manage for us. We will also carry a separate “umbrella” policy – also known as a stop loss insurance policy – which will be triggered when employee claims reach a certain threshold.

Paying for each out-of-pocket claim as they are incurred rather than paying a fixed premium to the insurance carrier will save the university and employees a significant amount of money. And, it will help stem the rapid rise in insurance costs for everyone in our system.

Kevin Greim
Kevin Greim

Welcome, Kevin Greim

He’s had a while to settle into the position, but I’d like to welcome Kevin Greim back to campus as our new Associate Vice President for Development.

Kevin is a familiar face to many of you, as he previously worked here as Associate Athletics Director-External Operations and later as Development Officer-Major Gifts, from 1999-2012. The voice is familiar as well, as he offered play-by-play for the Lions on the radio.

In his new role, his focus is on the day-to-day operations of the Missouri Southern Foundation, the Office of Development and the Alumni Association.

We should also recognize those members of campus who have recently stepped into new leadership roles:

  • Chris Moos, interim dean of the School of Business
  • Rick Schooler, dean of the School of Health Sciences
  • Alex Gandy, director of Career Services
  • John Hogue, assessment coordinator for the Office of Institutional Effectiveness

Enrollment

While definitive enrollment figures will not be released until Sept. 16 (the 20th day of classes), it is safe to say that we will see a substantial increase over last year’s numbers. At a time when many of our friends across the state and nation are seeing enrollment trending downward, this is cause for celebration.

Moving in!
Moving in!

Increases like we are seeing do not happen by accident. It takes a team effort to move enrollment totals in a positive direction and we have clearly benefited from pushing forward with the number of visits to area schools by our admissions counselors, the willingness of Academic Affairs to open more classes, the growing effectiveness of our student retention efforts, a clear and robust marketing plan, and working to meet the needs of students wishing to reside on campus. We are grateful to each of you!

Nothing creates energy like growth, and this campus is thriving. Thank you for all you do for our students, day after day and semester after semester. You should all take great pride in the work you are doing because you are changing lives for the better… helping students “be their best selves!”