Photo Exhibit Captures Sobering Impressions of Auschwitz

Renowned photographer Örjan Henriksson offered a sobering exhibit of photography taken at a concentration camp during an exhibit held Feb. 20-March 17 in Spiva Art Gallery.


The black and white photos featured in “Auschwitz KZ I-II” were a meditative study of light, texture and composition at the camp. Henriksson, who has had a longstanding relationship with Missouri Southern’s Art Department via the Summer in Sweden program, felt it was important to approach the subject in a manner that would speak to those viewing the exhibit in a way that they might not expect.

“My father told me when I was young that he wanted me to learn about the time period before World War II to see if the signs ever came up again,” says Henriksson. “Later, I saw a BBC documentary on another concentration camp, and it was so beautifully photographed.

“I thought maybe my approach could be to make beautiful black and white prints that people would be attracted to. There are no swastikas or signs … just my impressions. (My pictures) speak with a soft voice … more of a whisper. People need to get close for the context.”

Henriksson has lectured and taught photography at Mullsjö Folkhögskola, University of Jönköping and at Missouri Southern. His works include both fine art and commercial photography. He compares his approach to photography – the art of capturing a “magic moment” – to penning a beautiful letter.

“If the handwriting is beautiful but there’s no message, you just enjoy the handwriting,” he says. “If the handwriting is less good but there’s a good story, it’s more interesting. If you can combine nice writing with a nice story … then you have a good photograph.”

School of Arts & Sciences Spring 2017

Shakespeare Festival Offers Second Production

The annual Missouri Shakespeare Festival will add a second production to the mix when it is presented June 19-24 in the Bud Walton Theatre.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will be staged along with “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).” The latter is a comic take on the Bard that zips through 37 plays in 97 minutes, says Dr. Jim Lile, theater professor and coordinator of the festival.

Twelfth Night Shakespeare Play

2016 MoShakes Festival

“That has always been our goal … to have two productions running in repertoire during the summer,” says Lile. “‘The Complete Works’ eases us into that, and there are only three actors in that show. Ultimately, we want to have two shows – a comedy and a tragedy – every year.”

Fundraising efforts are underway to offer visiting actors a stipend for their participation. Visit for more information.

“The Complete Works” will open the festival and trade off nights with “Midsummer.” Tickets for each production is $10. For more information, visit

School of Arts & Sciences Spring 2017

Groundbreaking Held for Nixon Hall

Former Missouri Gov. Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon was the special guest at a late November groundbreaking ceremony for a new building that will bear his name at Missouri Southern.

Last fall, Missouri Southern’s Board of Governors voted unanimously to name the new building for Nixon, citing his efforts to garner bipartisan support for the project as well as his support for Joplin following the 2011 tornado.

Jay Nixon Hall ground-breaking ceremony

In June, the governor signed two bills providing more than $16 million in funding for the current renovation of Reynolds Hall as well as a new building.

Located on the south side of Reynolds Hall, Nixon Hall will be connected via a skywalk off the main hall of Reynolds’ second floor. Designed by Paragon Architecture, the three-story, nearly 20,000-square-foot building will feature classrooms and offices, primarily for STEM-field programs.

School of Arts & Sciences Spring 2017

Keeping an Ion Progress Reynolds Renovations Bring Big Improvements to Chemistry, Physical Science Programs

With renovations to the third floor of Reynolds Hall completed, students returning for the Spring 2017 semester finally got a look at the new classrooms and lab areas.

“As one of the Lab preppers for the General Chemistry classes, I see how much better the new labs are,” said Cole Corlett, senior biochemistry major. “We have more counter space and the new hoods are fantastic.

“The student lounge is also a big plus because if I’m working on homework, my professors are just down the hall.”

Reynolds became the second campus building ready for occupancy when it was completed in May of 1967. An expansion in 1988 nearly doubled its size.

Last year, former Gov. Jay Nixon announced funding to allow for much needed renovations to the building, which houses the biology, environmental health, physical science and mathematics programs. House Bill 19 provided $5.2 million for the project, while House Bill 17 contained an additional $1.5 million, which was matched by private contributions from alumni and other sources.

Reynolds Hall Update

The newly renovated third floor features physics, chemistry and geology labs, a study area equipped with Wi-Fi and hard-wired data drops, a tiered lecture hall and faculty offices, as well as new equipment.

Dr. Marsi Archer, chair of the Chemical and Physical Sciences Department, said the new labs provide a safer environment and one that is more conducive to learning.

“Before, we provided a really good education in spite of our surroundings,” said Archer. “Now our surroundings enhance the learning experience.”

She and Corlett both cited the new DSR Raman spectrometer as one of the more exciting additions to the building. The device is used in chemistry to provide a fingerprint by which molecules can be identified.

Having completed work on the third floor, renovation work proceeded to the first floor, which will primarily house biology labs, classrooms and offices. Those classes were moved to a temporary home in the nearly 13,000-square-foot Reynolds Annex building, located on the southwest side of campus.

School of Arts & Sciences Spring 2017

Bringing It Home Jimmy Noriega, ’05, stages acclaimed production of ‘Women of Ciudad Juárez’ to MSSU

When Teatro Travieso presented its acclaimed production of “Women of Ciudad Juárez” in January, it marked a homecoming for director Jimmy Noriega.

While he had been involved in theater as far back as an elementary student, it was at Missouri Southern that he realized his potential as a director.

“I started out (at Missouri Southern) as an actor,” he says. “But I took a directing class and realized I had a strength. It gave me the confidence to do it and the awareness of something I was good at.”

“Women of Ciudad Juárez” gives voice to the voiceless – the countless female murder victims from Juárez, Mexico. From mothers and daughters, factory workers and prostitutes, family members and police investigators, the play speaks out against what the production notes call “a gross display of injustice.”

The original production – written by Mexican actress Cristina Michaus – was staged in monologue form as a one-woman show. It ran for more than six months and toured throughout Mexico over the next decade.

“I directed it originally in Spanish in 2011,” says Noriega. “With the theater company I founded, Teatro Travieso (Troublemaker Theatre), I debuted the English version in 2014.”

When adapting it into English, Noriega fleshed the work out to feature four actresses.

“Each actress plays two or three characters,” he says. “I worked to connect the dots between which roles they play. I had the option the first time of using professional actresses, but I wanted to use women young enough for them to relate to the audience.”

Women of Ciudad Juarez

Since the English version’s debut, the play has been performed 28 times in the U.S., Canada and Belgium, including shows at Dartmouth College, Yale University and Cornell University. In 2015, Teatro Travieso received an award for Making Theatre an Important Catalyst for Sociopolitical Change during the Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival.

“The performance at Southern started our fourth year of the tour,” says Noriega. “I never imagined it would be such a long-term production.”

In addition to serving as director of the theater company, Noriega serves as an associate professor of theater at the College of Wooster in Ohio. He received his Ph.D. in theater arts in 2011 from Cornell University.

The level of success he has found with the production comes as little surprise to his former professors, says Anne Jaros – associate professor of theater at Missouri Southern and current chair of the department.

“Jimmy was an outstanding student, and we knew he was going to do something wonderful,” she says. “He was always driven to success. “He was very good at finding a way to do the things he wanted to get done. We always trusted him to do a good job, and he never disappointed. He was the kind of student every teacher wants to have in class.”

Noriega says he was excited to return to Southern, and for the opportunity to meet with current theater students to talk about his experiences.

“Southern is where I started learning about direction,” he says. “The last production I directed there would have been in 2005. It was kind of exciting to bring my most successful show to the place where I started.”

Alumni School of Arts & Sciences Spring 2017

Garoutte Joins Team to Develop Lab Experiments

Dr. Michael Garoutte has been approved for a sabbatical in the spring of 2018 as part of an effort that will help create learning tools that can be utilized by students around the United States.

As one of the co-principal investigators on a multi-university team, Garoutte applied for the sabbatical to help develop laboratory experiments (such as how to determine the melting point of solids) that can be used to teach general chemistry.

“We’ve submitted a proposal to the National Science Foundation and applied for a grant,” Garoutte says. “The idea is to create inquiry-based experiments and fully develop them with a set of instructions and teacher notes so that others can use it.”

School of Arts & Sciences Spring 2017

Trumpet Ensemble Included in National Competition

When you have just one shot at impressing the judges, every note counts.

That’s why the eight members of Missouri Southern’s trumpet ensemble spent the spring semester focusing on the finer details of Erik Morales’ “Infinite Ascent” – the selection they performed during the 2017 National Trumpet Competition.

The ensemble was selected as one of 16 from around the country to compete at the event, held March 23-25 in Denver, Colo. They competed against peers from Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas Tech, Southern Methodist University and others, and reached the semifinal round.
The focus of their intense rehearsal schedule leading up to the competition was to create a pristine performance.

“The song has a lot of highs and lows,” says freshman Valentin Vizcaino. “It starts out very beautifully, and about a third of the way through it picks up the pace. Everyone is doing their own thing before coming together at the end. It’s an intricate piece … very complicated.”

Trumpet professor Freddie Green says the eight students – including Jemetrius Brown, Tyler Jones, William Roach, Oliver Smith, Austin Kinard, Jalen Ybarra, Tony Sfortunato and Vizcaino – were extremely dedicated to performing at an elite level.

“They did a wonderful job in pushing and motivating themselves,” says Green. “I was proud to see their progress and maturity through
this process.”

The competition also provided students a chance to attend master classes and clinics, attend concerts by international artists and visit with representatives from potential graduate schools.

School of Arts & Sciences Spring 2017