Missouri State University will grant its 22nd and 23rd honorary doctorates to Roseann Bentley and Dr. Stephen Kleinsmith. They will receive the Doctor of Public Affairs (A.P.D.) degree during the May 2018 commencement ceremonies.
Greene County leader and child advocate
Bentley is a longtime public servant and education champion. She has been an agent for change in our region and state.
In 1995, she was the first woman from southwest Missouri elected to the Missouri Senate, where she served two terms. Bentley chaired the Children’s Services Commission and sponsored a bill that allocated $30 million for early childhood education. Following her Senate service, she served two terms as Greene County Commissioner from 2004-2016.
Bentley has also advanced education by serving on the Springfield R-12 School Board, the Missouri Board of Education and the National Association of State Boards of Education.
She helped found several organizations and programs that have improved the quality of life in the Ozarks. They include Female Leaders in Philanthropy, “Day of Caring,” Junior League of Springfield, Parents as Teachers and Ozarks Public Television.
She received the Springfieldian of the Year Award in 2003 and the 22nd annual Humanitarian Award in 2011.
“Bentley is the consummate public servant and humanitarian,” Dr. Margaret Weaver, selection committee chair, said.
Public education leader and advocate
Kleinsmith has dedicated his life to public education, serving as a teacher, coach or school leader for the past 40 years.
Under his leadership as superintendent of Nixa Public Schools (NPS) for 17 years, NPS received the state’s top accreditation standard for 12 consecutive years. Its leadership team also won eight Education Leadership Team – Program of Excellence Awards from the Missouri School Boards’ Association.
He has been an outspoken advocate for public education in Missouri, serving on the Principals/Site Administrators National Committee and as legislative co-chair for the Association of School Administrators.
Kleinsmith has advanced teacher preparation in the region through MSU’s Teaching Academy for Pre-Service Teachers and MSU’s Internship Academy for Future Teachers, as well as the Ozarks Educational Research Institute.
His impact in the community as a leader is far reaching. Over the years, he has served as chair of several organizations, such as Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Nixa Community Foundation.
Kleinsmith has won many awards for his commitment to education and the community. Among them are Missouri Association of School Administrators’ Superintendent of the Year in 2017 and Springfield Business Journal’s Inaugural “Men of the Year” in 2011.
“It’s not an understatement to say that Dr. Kleinsmith’s visionary leadership in public education has resulted in a level of excellence unsurpassed for both teachers and students here in the region,” Weaver said.
About the honorary doctorate
Missouri State awarded its first honorary doctorate in 2003. The purpose of the award is to recognize extraordinary achievements by distinguished citizens in hope of encouraging others.
Previous recipients are Shawn Askinosie, Calvin Allen, Harold Bengsch, Dr. John Bentley, Sister Lorraine Biebel, Annie Busch, Jim Craig, Elise Crain, Nancy Brown Dornan, John Goodman, David Harrison, Jan Horton, Gordon McCann, Dr. Bert Park, Pattie Penny, John Rush, Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, Tom Strong, James Tatum, Pat Walker and Sara Lampe.
A.P.D. degrees are granted in recognition of the recipient’s extraordinary achievements in the area of public affairs.