Dr. Dean Van Galen, president of Missouri Southern, kicked off the Spring 2022 Welcome Back meeting by noting the event would be a bit different from previous events.

With a theme of “A Lion for Life,” Van Galen said the meeting would be an opportunity to reflect on the university’s mission and the impact the campus community can have.

“It’s very easy to be focused on the here and now,” he said. “But it’s important to realize we’re something larger than that … providing a quality education for our students, and developing their potential and talent.”

His presentation focused on the stages of being a Lion – from the youngest students in the Lion Cub Academy, to life on campus, graduation and providing support to the university as an alum.

The meeting also featured presentations by three guest speakers.

Dr. Suzanne Hull spoke about the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) program, which will launch this year with two district partners – Webb City and Carl Junction – and several corporate sponsors, including Mercy Hospital and Arvest Bank.

High-school juniors and seniors will take coursework on campus two days a week, while exploring career paths with the program’s industry partners. Students will receive at least 3 credit hours for their coursework each semester.

“We’re growing our own Lions through MOSO CAPS,” said Hull.

Titus Hefner, a freshman and member of the Global Leaders program, spoke about the importance of leadership development.

“Before this program was introduced to me, I never saw a concentrated effort to usher in a new age of leaders,” he said. “Now, more than ever, we’ve seen example after example of leadership both good and bad. And now, more than ever, we need someone to be an anchor in these times.”

Wrapping up the meeting was a presentation by Bryan Vowels, a ’92 graduate who is a financial advisor for Wells Fargo and serves as the Missouri Southern Foundation Board vice president.

Vowels spoke about finding confidence and inspiration during his time as a student and the importance of having passion for ensuring the same for today’s students.

“What you do matters and pays off in the end,” he said.

“I will leave you with a challenge. If your passion level is high, keep shining it into the world. If it’s low, pick up a good book or watch a movie that inspired you in the past. We want to inspire students so they can change themselves and the world around them.”