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Senior Administrative Staff of the University
Michael Droge, Ph.D. - President
Michael Droge, Ph.D., was appointed President by the Park University Board of Trustees in 2009 after serving for a brief period as Interim President. He joined Park University in September 2002 to serve as the Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs. His role in that position gave him charge of all academic areas of the University, including acting as the liaison between the academic and non-academic components of the University.
Droge has 30 years of distinguished achievement in teaching, research and service in higher education. As the principle investigator on programs funded by the National Institutes for Health (NIH) and the Department of Education, he expanded research opportunities for groups of students who are underserved by higher education. His research focused on the spinal cord and he served as a reviewer for the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences and several journals in neuroscience. Droge was the founding Director of the Center for Undergraduate and Graduate Student Research Support at Texas Woman’s University (TWU), and “Lead Dean” for the Federation of North Texas Area Universities. His academic awards include the Beall Memorial Award for Outstanding Dissertation from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Texas, the Mary Mason Lyon Award for Excellence in Scholarship, Teaching and Service, the President’s Award for Distinguished Service from Texas Woman’s University, and the 2012 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Dr. Droge currently serves numerous organizations in various leadership roles including the American Council on Education’s Commission on Internationalization and Global Engagement, People to People International’s Board, and the Kansas City Economic Development Council’s Higher Education Taskforce.
Droge received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biology and German from the University of Kansas, and he began graduate studies in Germany at the University of Bonn as a Fulbright Scholar. Upon receiving his Master of Science degree from Texas Tech University, Droge earned his Ph. D. degree in Physiology & Biophysics from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. He came to Park University with 19 years of experience in higher education as a faculty member and administrator at TWU, where he was Professor of Biology and Dean of Graduate Studies and Research. He is committed to Park University’s leadership role in serving those who serve their community and country as global citizens.
Clarinda H. Creighton - Associate Vice President for Student Affairs
H. Creighton is associate vice president for student affairs at
Her professional experience began in the social work and mental health field, shifting to the higher education arena upon completion of her master's degree. She is a skilled workshop facilitator and program presenter, has provided consultative services to higher education institutions, and developed and implemented training programs for staff and non-profit organizations. Prior to coming to Park University, Mrs. Creighton held positions in the Student Services area at Saint Mary's College and at Iowa State University.
Creighton received her M.S. in Counselor Education/Student Personnel, and her B.A. in Psychology at Emporia State University.
In addition to her professional roles, she has extended her services to community groups and agency boards who are providing services to children, youth and adults in transition.
Paul H. Gault - Special Assistant for Administration, and Assistant Secretary/Assistant Treasurer to the Board of Trustees
Paul H. Gault has the record for longevity among the current administration, having worked at the University (with the exception of two years in the U.S. Army) since earning his undergraduate degree in 1961. He served as Vice President for Business and Finance from 1981 until 2001.
In his current position, Gault serves as an advisor to the President, Vice Presidents, and to members of the University Board of Trustees. He is a staff member on all the standing committees of the Board and serves as Assistant Treasurer and Assistant Secretary for the Board of Trustees and for its two subsidiary corporations, Park McAfee Inc. and Park University Enterprises.
Gault is a member of the National Association of College and University Business Officers and the Central Association of that organization. He served as advisor at the U.S. Department of Education's "The Endowment Program Mini-Summit" in March 1996.
He received his M.P.A. degree and a B.A. degree from Park University, and attended the College Business Management Institutes at both the University of Nebraska and the University of Kentucky.
In addition to his duties at Park, Gault is president of the Hispanic Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City and a member of the Park Hill School District Education Foundation Council. He also serves as treasurer for the Synod of Mid-America of the Presbyterian Church USA, the Church Development Corporation and the Civil War Round Table of Kansas City.
Roger Hershey - Vice President and General Counsel, and Assistant Secretary to the Board of Trustees
Roger Hershey, vice president and general counsel, is the chief legal officer of Park University. Hershey, who has more than 40 years of legal experience, was appointed to this position in 2004. He previously served as president, shareholder and director of King Hershey PC, a real estate development law firm established in 1988 in Kansas City, Mo.
Jerry D. Jorgensen, Ph.D. — Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Jerry D. Jorgensen, Ph.D., was appointed as provost and vice president for academic affairs in June 2011. He joined Park after 10 years of administrative experience as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at South Dakota State University, where he supervised 150 full-time faculty members and provided oversight for undergraduate and graduate programs, including two doctoral programs. Jorgensen has considerable strategic planning experience, as well as institutional and program accreditation experience, and has coordinated multiple successful fundraising campaigns. Prior to his years as dean, he served as director of the Instructional Technologies Center in the Office of Academic Affairs and as professor/coordinator in the Department of Communication Studies and Theatre at SDSU
Jorgensen received his bachelor's degree and master's degree, both in journalism and mass communications, from South Dakota State University. He earned his doctorate degree in communications studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is an honors graduate of the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and is a retired colonel with the U.S. Army Reserve. During his time with the military, he was called to active duty as the deputy director of the Army Reserve Communication (Public Affairs) at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
Laurie D. McCormack - Vice President for University Advancement
Laurie D. McCormack began her duties as vice president for university advancement at Park University in January 2008. Prior to arriving at Park, McCormack was the assistant vice chancellor of advancement for development at the University of Missouri-Kansas City where she directed the University's first-ever nine-figure capital campaign, raising $202.6 million. McCormack's career in fundraising began with the Heart of America United Way as the campaign assistant director, where she raised more than $3.8 million through targeted efforts. McCormack has also served as director of marketing and client services at the law firm of Polsinelli, White, Vardeman and Shalton, P.C., in Kansas City, Mo., and as the manager of community and public relations at Gateway 2000 in Kansas City.
McCormack has been an active volunteer for several organizations. She currently serves on the board of the Truman Medical Centers Foundation and is a board member and vice president of Nonprofit Connect: Learn, Network, Grow. She is a former president of the Southtown Council and its Foundation, and a former treasurer and board member of Safehome, has served on the United Negro College Fund Kansas City Board of Advisors, the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education conference committee, and the Safehome Capital Campaign Steering Committee. McCormack received her bachelor's degree in communication studies from UMKC, is a member of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce's Centurion Leadership Program Class of 2001 and the Greater Missouri Leadership Challenge Class of 2010.
Dorla D. Watkins - Vice President for Finance and Administration
Dorla D. Watkins, Vice President for Finance and Administration, supervises all University financial business actions, making necessary decisions for day-to-day operations and for long-range University economic development.
She joined Park University's administrative staff in 1979 as a staff accountant. Her most recent position has been Associate Vice President for Business and Finance. Prior to that Watkins has served as a consultant and controller for the University, as well as serving on the Board of Trustees. She also oversaw the partnership with Xerox Global Services and the document management system at Park as well as served as chair of the strategic plan Explorations and Transformations Committee 2012: Access to Excellence.
In her various positions, she has accumulated 30 years of supervisory, management, accounting and consulting experience, including six years as director of Business Affairs for Kromm, Rikimaru & Johansen, Inc. She has acted as a liaison to financial, legal and auditing institutions and negotiated and implemented contractual agreements as well as developing office accounting and policy procedures including overseeing fiscal budgets.
Watkins earned both her bachelor's degree in business administration and master's degree in public affairs from Park University and has also pursued additional professional education at Harvard University Graduate School of Education Institute for Educational Management.
Rita Weighill - Vice President for Communication
Rita Weighill, Vice President for University Communications and Marketing, has been on staff at Park University since 1995. She has administrative responsibility for the development of Park University’s marketing and communication strategy. In that role, she develops integrated communication initiatives which directly align and serve as the managing tools to promote, enhance, and protect the organization’s brand reputation through strategic direction and positioning of the organization and its leadership
She is a member of the Public Relations Society of America Greater Kansas City Chapter and also holds a national PRSA membership. She serves as president elect for the KCI Rotary Club and is in her second year as the communication chair with District 6040 (Mo.) Rotary International. Additionally, she is a member of the Platte County Economic Development Council, the Northland Regional Chamber, the Riverside Chamber of Commerce, the Association for Information Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education and the Parkville Chamber of Commerce.
Weighill was named a 2011 Paul Harris Fellow and has also received the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) award, a nationally recognized credential for professional advancement careers.
Before coming to Park University, she was employed at Midwestern Baptist Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., where she was the director of seminary relations at that master's- and doctorate-level institution. She received a B.A. from Park University and a M.Ed. in higher education administration (Leadership Policy and Organizations) from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College in Nashville, Tenn.