The start of the Fall 2021 semester presents a moment of endless possibilities.

“On Monday, our Lion Welcome Crew will welcome students to our campus and the faculty are excited to begin the semester,” said Dr. Dean Van Galen, president of Missouri Southern, during the Fall Welcome Back Meeting.

“Our students are full of hope, and they have not lost a single point in their courses; and Lion athletics are undefeated.”

During his remarks, Van Galen highlighted a number of new initiatives and opportunities that should excite faculty and staff members.

He highlighted the Japan Semester – which will offer a wide variety of events and activities – and noted that the campus will see 117 international students attending classes this fall.

The new Global Leaders program will launch with an inaugural class of 22 students.

“The program is supported by gifts to the Missouri Southern Foundation,” Van Galen said. “The vision is that this will develop into a signature program for our campus, impacting students and graduates for years to come.

New this fall is MOSO Connect – a program that will include lunch and an opportunity to learn more about the university and build a stronger campus community – and Southern Leadership Academy, which will connect leaders from across campus during monthly sessions to learn more about effective leadership.

A major fundraising campaign is also being developed, Van Galen said.

“Last semester, we gathered ideas for potential fundraising priorities from our faculty, staff and some external groups,” he said. “There were a lot of excellent ideas, from student scholarships and success initiatives to academic support programs, and ideas for construction and renovation of facilities.

“The next question is to find if there is interest in these ideas from potential major donors. To help address that question, this fall a campaign feasibility study will be conducted to help develop a campaign case statement. This will enable us to begin asking our alumni and friends for leadership gifts in the spring, and invite them to invest in our mission. I believe that their generosity will inspire us and have a positive impact on our university for years to come.”

Those attending one of the two sessions offered Friday morning also heard updates from Dr. Julie Wengert, Dean of Student Success and Interim Vice President of Student Affairs; Lorinda Hackett, interim Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs; and Dr. Brad Hodson, Executive Vice President.

Also featured were Dr. David Locher, president of Faculty Senate; Mike Opfer, president of Staff Senate; and Brent Olson, present of Student Senate.

“Shared governance is something that was talked about when I first came to Missouri Southern,” said Locher. “There’s been a sea change at this university in the last several years and we have what can truly be called shared governance.

“We have an administration that is not just willing to occasionally listen, but actively seek out input on practically every major decision I can think of.”

Van Galen wrapped up the meeting by stressing the importance of looking toward the future and identifying strategic opportunities that can make MSSU more distinctive, and looking back on his first full year as president.

“The culture of our university is special,” he said. “We truly live our commitment to the success of our students, and despite adversity, we value a culture that is positive, supportive and productive. I thank you for that.”