“Welcome to the kickoff of a new year!”

With that quick introduction, Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs Pat Lipira greeted those in attendance to the annual all-faculty meeting, held Friday, Aug. 14, in Corley Auditorium.

The meeting served as a chance to meet the 24 new faculty members who have joined Missouri Southern, as well as honoring current faculty for their years of service. Three award recipients were also announced.

Dr. Alan Marble stressed to Southern's faculty members the importance of their contributions when it comes to educating students.

Dr. Alan Marble stressed to Southern’s faculty members the importance of their contributions when it comes to educating students.

New faculty members for the School of Arts and Sciences are: Dr. Megan Bever, assistant professor of history; Jean Coltharp, instructor of mathematics; Dr. Anna Cunningham, assistant professor of biology; Michelle Espinosa, instructor of music; Dr. Ricardo Espinosa, associate professor of music and the new director of bands; Dr. Dustin Faulstick, assistant professor of English; Frederick Green, assistant professor of music; Kevin Keller, instructor of international English; Kyle McKenzie, assistant professor of art; Amber Mintert, assistant professor of art; Dr. Rebecca Mouser, assistant professor of English; Dr. Anna Rinner, assistant professor of biology;  Dr. Ruben Galve Rivera, assistant professor of Spanish; Dr. Jency Sundararajan, assistant professor of physical science; Jason Willard, assistant professor of biology; Dr. Jordan Wilson, assistant professor of music; and Melissa Zolnierz, assistant professor of biology.

The Plaster School of Business welcomes Jef Garner, instructor of accounting; while Carissa Gober has joined the School of Education to coordinate the university’s teacher-education relationship with Crowder College.

New faculty in the School of Health Sciences are: Dr. Diana Kay Fauss, assistant professor of nursing; Coeta Ogle, assistant professor of nursing; and Thad Torix, instructor of EMS.

Also welcomed during the meeting were Xiaocan (Lucy) Wang, associate professor and emerging technologies librarian; and Capt. Chase Phillips, instructor of military science.

Also were recognized were the recipients of the Outstanding Teaching Awards.

Dr. Karen Kostan, who was recognized at spring commencement, has been with the School of Education for six years as an associate professor of psychology.

Nominations from students praised her as “a bright light on campus” and a teacher “always willing to go the extra mile for her students.”

Dr. Scott Wells was also selected for the award. A biology professor who has been with Missouri Southern for 21 years, he was described in nominations from students as “rigorous but fair” and “by far the most helpful, caring and professional teacher that I’ve ever had.”

The Outstanding Faculty Advisor award was also announced. That award was given to Dr. Mike Fletcher, a professor of environmental health.

Dr. Pat Lipira presents the award for Outstanding Academic Adviser to Dr. Mike Fletcher.

Dr. Pat Lipira presents the award for Outstanding Academic Adviser to Dr. Mike Fletcher.

He was described in the nominations as being “personally invested in his students and the program” and someone who “puts the students’ success first by arranging his schedule around student needs.”

Dr. Jennifer Dennis, head of the biology department, said it came as no surprise that two members of her department – Wells and Fletcher – were honored for their contributions.

“We’re really proud that our students have access teachers of their standing,” she said.

The meeting closed with remarks from Dr. Alan Marble, university president. He noted that it was time for Lipira to drop the “interim” part of her title, as vice president for academic affairs has become her official title.

He also cited a spike in enrollment numbers and credit hours as the fall 2014 semester prepares to get underway.

“You’re all to be congratulated for the enrollment growth we’ve seen,” he said. “That’s our future.”

He praised Missouri Southern’s faculty members for their dedication to the students and closed with quote displayed on a screen behind him: “Your role is somewhere between a medical doctor and the priesthood in your value and contribution to society.”

“Never forget that,” he said.