The Missouri State University Board of Governors recently awarded its Staff and Faculty Excellence in Public Affairs awards to five faculty and staff who excel at carrying out the public affairs mission. The recipients were recognized for successfully inspiring and motivating students in diverse and meaningful civic engagement, developing new and creative community partnerships and for their leadership roles in seeking solutions to important social and community issues.
“We had several highly qualified nominations this year and the selection process was not easy,” said Dr. Rachelle Darabi, associate provost for student development and public affairs. “We are very proud of this year’s recipients as each of them exemplifies creativity and passion in connecting our students to the public affairs mission in significant and meaningful ways.”
Kathy Nordyke, director of citizenship and service learning, created new community partnerships and projects that will have sustainable effects in addressing community problems and social justice issues for years to come. Such new projects include Walkable Springfield, the Safe and Sanitary Homes project, Youth and Seniors: An American Partnership, the programs of the American Democracy Project, and Focus First, a program in partnership with the University of Alabama to provide free vision care screening, using specialized equipment, to children from birth to age 5 in low-income daycare centers by MSU nursing students.
Dr. Herbert Lunday, dean of student services at the West Plains campus, worked with local teens to create a dedicated skate park and helped create student opportunities through Grizzly Athletics. Lunday’s focus and passion for Missouri State students is evident in the creative ways he fosters citizenship, community service and campus involvement.
Dr. James Baumlin, Distinguished Professor of English, has integrated the ideals of public affairs into all aspects of his research, teaching and service since his arrival at Missouri State in 1989. His leadership has connected hundreds of students to civically engaged scholarship through classroom study, archival research, community partnerships and extensive mentoring at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Dr. Anson Elliott, director of the Darr School of Agriculture, has tirelessly contributed to and facilitated student and faculty participation in public affairs engagement. In a response to active recruitment of outstanding high school seniors, he began a Leadership course for incoming freshmen, many of whom became Agricultural Ambassadors. He also initiated the Collegiate Farm Bureau Club associated with the largest farm organization in Missouri as a way for students to be immersed in state and national public policy issues.
Lora Hobbs, senior instructor of religious studies, was recognized for her public affairs accomplishments, including supporting the creation of an interfaith student organization, serving on the Common Reader Committee, developing the religious studies internship program, connecting students to local and international projects and developing The Religious Lives of Ozarks Women, where she trains students to document women’s impact on religious life in the Ozarks.