‘Set the Mark High’ Consultant Greg Arend, ’82, delivers Spring Commencement address

Greg Arend is no stranger to crisis.

A 1982 Missouri Southern graduate who now lives in Tulsa, Okla., Arend works for Deloitte, a global network of business consulting firms that provide audit, financial advisory, risk management, tax and related services to clients.

He was Deloitte’s lead client service partner during the housing and mortgage crisis that began in 2008-09. He worked with client executives and members of the legislative and executive branches to address complex issues facing the banking and housing industries.

“The banking crisis was very chaotic,” Arend says. “The government was out of money. Had Uncle Sam not stepped in and raised ceilings and taken actions to provide liquidity to the marketplace, it could have been far worse.”

Other catastrophes addressed by Arend, on behalf of Deloitte clients, were California’s Northridge earthquake, hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and Joplin’s 2011 tornado. All of those disasters, he says, possessed one major commonality.

“Whenever there is significant financial loss, there will be lots of money coming in at incredible speed in incredible amounts,” he says. “Visualize it like a rainstorm. The money is raining down. The chance for waste, fraud and abuse skyrockets. Our job is to get the money out the door in a controlled atmosphere and make sure it gets to the people who need it.”

Arend, who graduated from Missouri Southern magna cum laude with an accounting degree, returned to campus to deliver the keynote address during Spring 2017 Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 13. Over the last decade, Arend has also become a recognized leader and advocate on the importance of diversity and inclusion in creating high-performance teams.

“It’s become a big part of who I am personally,” he says. “For the first couple of decades, I was fairly oblivious to the whole topic of diversity. Then I moved from Tulsa, one of the least diverse areas of the nation, to Washington, D.C., arguably one of the most diverse cities in the U.S., if not the world.”

He says a move across the country expanded his perspective.

“When I got there, I saw that my teams consisted of all different types of people, just a melting pot of folks. I absolutely personally grew. It helped me to understand their perspectives, their journeys … It evolved me as a person, as well as a professional.”

Having since returned to Tulsa, Arend was recognized in 2015 as a Man of Distinction by Tulsa Business and Legal News. He was also given special recognition by Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao for the Labor Department’s American Heroes at Work Initiative, and received a 2012 Outstanding Leaders Award from the federal Audit and Enterprise Risk Services organization.

Arend, who grew up in the Southwest Missouri community of Monett, married his wife, Linda, during his senior year of college at Missouri Southern. The two are parents of a grown daughter, Lacey.

“My world pretty much revolves around Linda and Lacey,” he says.

If a young person came to Arend and said he or she wanted to be a leader, what would his advice be?

“No. 1, be true to yourself,” he says. “No. 2, follow your passions. Decide what you want to lead and how you want to lead it, and remember to set the mark high. Some people are great managers but not great leaders. You need to make people want to follow you. That’s what it takes to be a leader.”

Spring 2017

Celebration of Korean Culture Planned for Fall 2017

Missouri Southern will celebrate the 20th anniversary of our nationally recognized themed semester program in Fall 2017 with the Korea Semester.

A faculty and student committee has been planning the events throughout the spring semester. The committee includes two Korean faculty members, Dr. Hyunjung Kim (communication) and Dr. Kyung Joe (management), and a student, Lauren Lant, who spent a semester at Sangmyung University in Seoul.

While the semester’s focus will be on South Korea (the Republic of Korea), we do not want to overlook the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). It’s hardly a Democratic nation; its totalitarian dictatorship and human rights abuses make it one of the most repressive nations that ever existed. Still, we cannot ignore the slightly larger, northern half of the Korean Peninsula and its impact on the Asia-Pacific Region and the U.S.-Chinese relationship.

We will celebrate the visual and music culture of South Korea, its innovative technology, the Korean martial art of taekwondo, Korea’s unique alphabet (Hangul), and certainly the wonderful culture of Korean cuisine. The chef from Jin’s Korean Grill in Springfield, Mo., will provide a cooking demonstration and share samples of his specialties. We’ll also show some of the most popular Korean films throughout the semester.

We’ll tackle some serious issues, too, such as the prospects of reunification with North Korea (One Korea), life near the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), defectors from North Korea and the religions and spirituality of the Korean Peninsula.

The English Department is in the process of selecting a “common reader,” a book that will be read by students enrolled in composition classes. If it can be arranged, the author will be brought to campus in November to give presentations and to sign copies.

The Southern Symphony Orchestra’s contribution to the Korea Semester will be to provide an original arrangement, for string orchestra and piano, of “Arirang” – the Korean folk melody (recognized in both Koreas) as roughly the equivalent of “America, the Beautiful.” Dr. Jeffrey Macomber, orchestra director, is completing the arrangement.

The Southern Jazz Combo, under the direction of Dr. Phillip Wise, will perform an original composition for jazz ensemble based on traditional Korean folk music. The work will be premiered during the fall concert.

Spring 2017 Study Abroad

Institutional Memory Dr. Conrad Gubera Reflects on 50 Years at Missouri Southern

Fifty years in the classroom … that’s quite an accomplishment.

“Is it?” asks Dr. Conrad Gubera, professor of sociology. “I guess I’m undervaluing it, or taking it for granted. You get up, do what you’re supposed to do and then go home every day. The days blend into weeks, the weeks into months, months into semesters, semesters into years and years into decades. To me, you just do it.

“An accomplishment … well, I can say that I still get the same thrill I did when I first started teaching.”

Gubera, a professor of sociology, is marking his 50th year of teaching at Missouri Southern, having come to the new campus in 1967 as it was getting off the ground. Engage him in conversation about his time at Southern, and it’s easy to get caught up in the sweep of history – both on campus and nationally.

Below are excerpts from a recent conversation with Dr. Gubera.

The ‘60s
A graduate of Pierce City High School, he studied at Joplin Junior College before completing his bachelor’s degree in 1962. It was while teaching at Mount Vernon High School that he was first approached by Dr. Leon Billingsly about a teaching position at Joplin Junior College, which was on the verge of transitioning into a four-year program on a new campus.

“I first met Dr. Billingsly during a pickup basketball game in Mount Vernon. He took his shoes off, loosened his tie and took off his coat. I decked him the first time, and I could tell he didn’t like it. He was very competitive. I didn’t see the light of day from there on out.”

Gubera taught history and sociology from 1963-65 at Joplin High School and then took Billingsly up on his offer to help launch the sociology program at Missouri Southern.

“The ‘60s were such an exciting time, when we were beginning to ask some real questions. Sociology was the No. 1 course on college campuses in the mid-‘60s. We looked at other college catalogs to see the courses they offered in sociology. We wanted to offer courses that could transfer to our sister schools in the state and build our accreditation on that.”

“As president, Dr. Billingsly could make a decision and was really good at handling people. He was able to get things done with the Missouri Legislature … he had an informal relationship with them that I’ve never seen another college president have.”

“There was a consciousness among students in the 1960s that we don’t quite have today. We first came onto this campus right before (the Tet Offensive) in 1968. At the heart of 1967 was the draft. They didn’t have a lottery yet, so there were students trying to do anything they could to keep out of the draft.”

“Everybody remembered where they were when they heard about Kennedy’s assassination. We were still fresh in the memory of that, then there were the two assassinations in ’68 (Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.), and certainly that awful Democratic National Convention in 1968.”

The ‘70s
“The war was still driving everything. Students on campus did a bit of demonstrating. We held a public forum here to debate the war, with two of the youngest professors on campus (including myself) and two of the oldest.”

“In 1975, there were rumors that the college would be closed and be made into a state prison. That was right before the state system took over and we began to rise from the ashes, so to speak.”

The ‘80s
Following the death of Dr. Billingsly in 1978, Dr. Donald C. Darnton became Missouri Southern’s president. After his three-year tenure, the campus would look closer to home when it came time to select a new president – Dr. Julio León, a faculty member from the School of Business who later served as its dean.

“(León) was fun, he was inventive and creative and he was listening. We’d grown up with him, and he ran a damn good ship. Everyone wanted him to succeed and he did a great job. He and I didn’t agree on some things, but he always supported me.”

The ‘90s
By the end of the 1980s, many on campus had started looking outward to gain an international perspective, says Gubera.

“I got my first international grant to go to Jordan and Egypt. We started a summer in Oxford program that lasted for about a dozen years. In 1991, I visited the Palestinian territories, Jerusalem, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.”

“In 1990, the Social Sciences Department had a colloquial on the fall of the Berlin Wall. In ’91, there was another on the death of the Soviet Union, and in ’93 it was about the peace accords between Israel and Palestine. Dr. León watched those very carefully and the coverage that they received.

“The state of Missouri had announced that each college should have a specialized mission, and Dr. León announced that ours would be global. He thought it was a really good match for our campus and would give us distinction. The International Piano Competition … looking back, that was a marvelous thing. It was outstanding for this campus to have that kind of recognition.”

The 2000s
While students in the 1960s were deeply affected by Kennedy’s assassination, the events of Sept. 11, 2001, rocked the world view of a new generation.

“9/11 was almost like ‘Star Wars.’ The massiveness of it was incomprehensible. How can you imagine those buildings falling? If you stood beside them and looked up as I did any number of times, you think, ‘They have to be one of the wonders of the world.’ And then they collapse in a day? When students talk about it, it’s like they’re talking about a giant disaster film.”

In December 2016, Gubera was invited to give the commencement address for Missouri Southern’s 67th graduating class. In his speech, he touched on his years of teaching, memorable faculty members, his pride in having all four of his children attend MSSU and his hopes for them in the future.

Looking back, Gubera says he’s pleased with how the university has developed over the years.

“In our first 10 years, we played it pretty fast and loose as we piecemealed the program together. Our students are far better than they were then, and our classes are far better now.

“We have some of the very best students I’ve seen in my entire life at Missouri Southern today. I just got out of my Sociology of Death and Dying class. I got one sentence on the board and the students were already elaborating on that and taking it to new levels.”

And then comes the inevitable question … What next?

“I’m beginning to think about retirement. I set my goal to retire with the first 50-year class here, in 2019. I think that would be a good time to exit.”

Featured Spring 2017

Alumni Gather for Joplin Junior College Reunion

More than 150 former students and guests gathered for the first-ever Joplin Junior College reunion, held March 31.

The reunion kicked off with visitors becoming reacquainted with what is now Memorial Education Center at 310 W. Eighth St., before a historical presentation by Brad Belk, director of the Joplin Museum Complex.

JJC reunion Spring 2017

Initially housed in 1937 at that location (then Joplin High School), the junior college found a new home at Fourth Street and Byers Avenue in 1938. It would later move back to its original building. The college remained at that location until transitioning into a four-year school in 1967 at the former Mission Hills estate (now Missouri Southern State University).

Reunion activities resumed at the Scottish Rite Cathedral, with a social hour, dinner and special program.

“The Joplin Junior College reunion was a terrific opportunity to gather our alumni from our first graduating class of 1939 to the late 1960s,” said Lee Elliff Pound, Director of Alumni and Constituent Relations. “Everyone had a great time reminiscing and we had a wonderful response to this event. We look forward to having more reunions for this special group of alumni.”

Featured Spring 2017

Junior Aaron Smith Attends Pure Idea Generator Event

It all started with an idea … and then a Tweet.

Junior Aaron Smith was selected last fall as a finalist for St. Louis University’s Pure Idea Generator Challenge, spending an afternoon atop the City Museum with 23 others as they pitched ideas to local entrepreneurs. The accounting major is a member of Missouri Southern’s Entrepreneurship Club.

“I heard about the contest through the club,” says Smith. “You had to tweet them and pitch an idea to St. Louis University’s entrepreneurship center. They picked the most original and creative ideas.” The parameters of the contest were to combine two existing technologies to create “the next big thing.”

“My idea was a water bottle that tracks how much water you drink and then syncs with your personal fitness device,” says Smith.

The finalists gathered on the museum rooftop and were given a new challenge by the mayor of St. Louis: Develop ideas for how the city can attract and retain graduates into the local job market. To get the creative juices flowing, the finalists developed ideas while riding in the museum’s three-story Ferris wheel.

“Our group came up with a work-for-tuition incentive program,” says Smith. “It would help reduce tuition rates while connecting students with local businesses. It would give them more of a connection to the city … more than just the place where they go to school.

“It was really cool, and the thing I took away was the importance of the pitch. We met with business leaders to find out what they’re looking for when they hear your pitch. It can be nerve-wracking, but if your idea is good enough, it’s a lot easier to stand behind it.”
Missouri Southern’s Entrepreneurship Club is now in its second year on campus.

“The club was created to promote entrepreneurship and what that means in today’s society,” says Ken Surbrugg who, along with Karen Bradshaw, serves as a staff advisor to the group.

Spring 2017 The Robert W. Plaster School of Business

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

Vincent Kiprop Breaks Records, Secures National Championship

Sophomore Vincent Kiprop kept up his winning pace during the 2016-17 year, breaking records in the process.

The distance runner from Kericho, Kenya, won his third national championship in March by taking the top spot in the 5,000 meters during the 2017 NCAA Division II Indoor National Championships in Birmingham, Ala. His time of 13:42:42 broke not only his Missouri Southern record by nine seconds, but the Division II National Championship meet record by two seconds.

Just a few short weeks later, he set a new facility record – and broke his own outdoor 5k record by 22 seconds – during the Washington University Invite. Kiprop finished the race in an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 13:53.74, 34 seconds in front of the second-place finisher in the race. The time is the fastest overall in Division II this year, and is the second-fastest time in the NCAA in all divisions.

He also holds national championship rankings in the indoor 5k, the outdoor 10k and cross country. His success comes hot on the heels of a successful 2015-16 track and field season.

During his freshman year, the nursing major won the Division II National Championship in the 10,000 meter at the 2016 Division II Outdoor Championships. He was also a repeat champion at the MIAA and NCAA Division II meets.

“We are all getting to witness first-hand one of the most dominating distance runners the NCAA and Division II has seen,” said Jared Bruggeman, Director of Athletics. “I think I speak for everyone here at Missouri Southern by saying we are very proud to have him wear the Green and Gold.”

Athletics Spring 2017

New Practicum Gives Education Majors an Early Start in the Classroom

A new practicum at Missouri Southern is moving future elementary school teachers into the classroom earlier.

Education 415 takes place the semester before student teaching. Students spend all day in an elementary school classroom on Wednesdays. They attend classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays but get a substitute certificate and are free to substitute on Mondays and Fridays.

Sheila Damer, director of Clinical Field Experiences, says students are taking part in elementary school classes in Joplin, Webb City and Carthage. One student has also been placed into an elementary school in Grove, Okla.

“This practicum will better prepare our future teachers by giving them an earlier authentic experience in a school setting,” says Dr. Deborah Brown, dean of the School of Education. “It combines several smaller practicums into a more integrated experience.”

“It is important to get candidates out in the field early to begin the connections between theory and practice,” says Lorinda Hackett,
Teacher Education department chair.

Damer says Education 415 candidates can be placed in grades 1 through 6 (although most schools only offer classes through the fifth grade). During the spring semester, a total of 18 teacher candidates are taking part in Education 415. Currently, the practicum is only
being offered to Elementary Education majors.

“We plan on reviewing the results and we hope to expand the concept to middle schools in the future,” Damer says.

School of Education Spring 2017

Sophomore Emily Presley Setting a High Bar for Success

A sophomore at Missouri Southern State University is soaring to new heights as a member of the women’s track and field team.

Emily Presley, a pole vaulter from St. Clair, Mo., won her event five meets in a row this spring and was named MIAA Co-Field Athlete of the Week three times. At the Pittsburg State track meet, she won the pole vault by clearing 14-00.00, which solidified her spot as the top pole vaulter in Division II.

Presley has been pole vaulting since seventh grade, when she attended a camp at Missouri Southern. She says her experience with the MSSU track and field team has been amazing.

“I am just super happy that we have the coaches and staff that we do here in the athletics department overall,” she says. “I still have a lot of room to grow and I have a lot of goals that I have set for myself.”

She says she has thought about going pro, and that she feels that she is on track to get there.

“I just need to stay on task because I have a set of tasks that I need to accomplish every season.”

Presley says her favorite part about pole vaulting is the rush of adrenaline that comes along with it. “I can practice all week and then I get to the meet and it’s a whole new ball game,” she says.

“The adrenaline I get from clearing a big bar is like nothing else.”

Athletics Spring 2017

Frazier, Santiago Inducted into MIAA Hall of Fame

Former Missouri Southern point guard Eddin Santiago and former MSSU athletic director and football coach Jim Frazier have been inducted into the MIAA Hall of Fame.

Frazier led MSSU to the NAIA National Football Title during the 1972 season and is the school’s all-time winningest football coach. Frazier would then serve as the director of athletics, where under his tenure, the school won 23 conference championships and one NCAA Division II National Championship. He helped in the development and improvement of several MSSU facilities including Young Gymnasium, Fred G. Hughes Stadium and the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
He was inducted into the MSSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1986.

Santiago was the Lions’ starting point guard from 1998-2002 where he helped the team to MIAA and NCAA regional titles. The 1999-2000 season saw the Lions go 30-3 and advance to the NCAA Elite Eight, falling in the semifinals.

Santiago holds the MIAA career record in both steals and assists. His 383 career steals rank second all-time in Division II. He was a three-time first-team All-MIAA selection and was twice named an All-American earning MVP of the 2000 NCAA Division II Central Regional Tournament. Santiago is one of just 19 men’s basketball players at Missouri Southern to score 1,000 points and is 16th all-time in MSSU history with 1,108 points. Santiago was selected to the MSSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.

The pair join five other individuals (Sallie Beard, Pat Lipira, Rod Smith, Tom Rutledge and Warren Turner) as well as the 1992 NCAA National Champion Softball Team as MSSU members of the MIAA Hall of Fame.

Athletics Spring 2017