The Crow’s Nest — December 6, 2023

Melissa FordPark University Promotes Melissa Ford to Chief Advancement Officer

Melissa Ford has been appointed as the chief advancement officer at Park University, effective Dec. 1. Ford, who previously served as associate vice president for advancement, takes over the role from Nathan Marticke, who left the University in late November. In her role as CAO, Ford is charged with developing and executing comprehensive fundraising strategies that support the University’s mission and goals. She is responsible for growing the advancement program through annual giving, alumni relations, corporate and foundation relations, capital campaigns, major gifts, planned giving, stewardship, advancement services and special events. Ford will also work with the University’s Board of Trustees and the Park University International Center for Music Foundation Board to further strengthen philanthropic support in support of faculty and student endeavors with an established, successful advancement team. Read more about Ford at

Park Buccaneers logoPark Pirates logoParkville, Gilbert Student-Athletes Earn Post-Season Honors

Park University student-athletes in fall sports at the flagship Parkville (Mo.) Campus and Gilbert (Ariz.) Campus have been recognized for a variety of post-season accolades.

A total of 56 student-athletes between the two campuses (41 Parkville, 15 Gilbert) were named 2023 Daktronics / NAIA Scholar-Athletes. Those recognized achieved a 3.5 cumulative grade point average or higher (on a 4.0 scale), must appear on the eligibility certificate for the sport and have attended one full year at their institution. The Parkville Campus women’s volleyball team led all Park teams with 15 selections, while the Parkville Campus men’s soccer team added 12. The Gilbert Campus women’s soccer team led the Buccaneers teams with five.

The NAIA No. 6 ranked Parkville Campus women’s volleyball team, which advanced to the NAIA national tournament before bowing out in pool play, had three players earn 2023 American Volleyball Coaches Association / NAIA Midwest Region first team honors — junior middle blocker Debora Bernardi, freshman setter Arianna Marino and junior outside hitter Grecia Ung. Marino was also selected as the Midwest Region Freshman of the Year, while Mateus Martins was named the region’s Assistant Coach of the Year. In addition, Gilbert Campus sophomore outside hitter Railey Druxman was named to the AVCA/NAIA Southwest Region first team.

The honors continued to pour in for the Parkville Campus women’s volleyball team as four players earned Heart of America Athletic Conference first team honors — Bernardi, Marino, Ung and senior outside hitter Malaina Hensley. In fact, the Pirates’ other three regular starters received second team or third team recognition. Additionally, Marino was tabbed as the HAAC Setter of the Year and Freshman of the Year, Martins was named Assistant Coach of the Year and Mike Talamantes, director of volleyball and head coach, was named Coach of the Year. For the Buccaneers, Druxman was named to the California Pacific Conference first team.

Other Parkville Campus HAAC first team honors include: senior forward Wayde Roman, men’s soccer; sophomore forward Patrycia Kozak, women’s soccer; and Lucas Mehl, men’s cross country. In addition, men’s/women’s cross country head coach Rikki Hakker was named the HAAC Men’s Cross Country Coach of the Year. Mehl placed 183rd at the NAIA national championship meet, running the 8K course at the Fort Vancouver (Wash.) National Historic Site in 26:56.0, while Gilbert Campus women’s cross country senior Maryan Sharif placed 286th at the national meet, running the 6K course in 25:50.1.

Arrr and ArrrParkville Athletics Hosting Arrr & Arrr Event

Arrr & Arrr, an event that will provide Park University’s flagship Parkville (Mo.) Campus athletics to showcase its programs, will be held on Thursday, Feb. 22, from 5 to 8 p.m. in Breckon Sports Center. The event will include a National Women and Girls in Sport presentation, a silent auction, raffle drawings, and drinks and appetizers. Attendees will have the opportunity to network and receive professional development opportunities, while athletics staff and female student-athletes will help celebrate National Women and Girls in Sport Month. By participating in our Arrr and Arrr event, you help support Park athletics staff expand their professional development which impacts the student-athlete experience. For more information, including silent auction items, visit

Park University, Kansas City Chiefs Award Gold Star Scholarship

Emma Sammons and Shane SmeedPark University and the Kansas City Chiefs (Park is an official higher education partner of the Chiefs) awarded a $10,000 Gold Star Memorial Scholarship to Emma Sammons during the Chiefs game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 20. Sammons father, U.S. Navy Lt. Gordon Bruce Wulf, was killed in a training mission plane crash in Pensacola, Fla., in February 1990 when Sammons was just 21 months old. Park University President Shane Smeed presented the check to Sammons.

Andrew Shoffner with Kansas City Chiefs cheerleadersIn addition, retired U.S. Army Col. Andrew Shoffner, Ph.D., chair of Park’s Board of Trustees and director of the Department of Command Leadership at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., was recognized during the game as part of the Salute to Scholars program.

Faculty, Staff, Student News

Brad BilesBrad Biles, director of communications and public relations, and Jacqueline Clark, MPA ’00 (government relations and public affairs at Holcim US), served as panelists on the session “Public Relations Pros to Know” at the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America’s annual PRSSA Student Summit in Kansas City, Mo., on Nov. 3.

Virginia BrackettVirginia Brackett, Ph.D., professor emerita of English, was a panelist as part of Veterans Day events at the World War I Memorial and Museum in Kansas City on Nov. 12. Brackett discussed how veterans can tell their stories as part of the annual Veterans Pen Celebration for the Veterans Voices Writing Project, publishers of Veterans’ Voices magazine.

Alla AdamsAlla Adams, Ph.D., associate professor of healthcare administration, presented a session on “How to Become an Innovative Leader in Higher Education” at the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs Women’s Academic Leadership Summit on Nov. 15 in New Orleans. The presentation reviewed supporting factors and barriers to innovation, strategies on how to get there and innovation of press, product, process and people. Adams also provided specific recommendations on how to deliberate innovation vision, encourage challenge and risk taking, develop innovation teams and seek to accelerate breakthrough thinking.

John G. Wilson (Gatheru), adjunct instructor of business administration, was recently appointed as the vice president of program and development for the American Society for Quality’s Kansas City section.

Camille CookCamille A. Cook, assistant professor of library instruction and outreach, is one of 50 people selected to participate in the American Library Association’s 2024 Class of Emerging Leaders. The program is designed to enable library staff and information workers to participate in project planning work groups, network with peers, gain an inside look into ALA structure and have an opportunity to serve the profession in a leadership capacity early in their careers.

Dr. Donald ChruscielDon Chrusciel, Ph.D., vice president of finance and administration, co-authored the article “Support Services Assessment: Influence on Change and Improvement” (page 69) for the Journal of Higher Education Management published on Nov. 15. According to Chrusciel, the findings from the SSA serve to not only aid in measuring the impact of change interventions influencing strategic direction, but can also assist an entire organization in demonstrating the value of the services provided and right sizing resource allocations. It can help to identify what the organization should stop doing, do better and begin to do for its customers both in-house and/or by contracting out.

Park University’s criminal justice administration program has started a podcast, Criminal JustUs, which creates an immersive and enlightening auditory experience that not only educates and engages listeners on the intricate dynamics of the criminal justice system, but also serves as a unique gateway to Park University’s academic community. Through captivating narratives, expert insights and thought-provoking conversations, the podcast aims to captivate the curiosity of prospective students, drawing them into an intellectually stimulating environment where they can actively participate in shaping the future of criminal justice through interdisciplinary learning. The first three episodes, including shows on “Labeling Taylor Swift,” the Brian Kohberger case and the Sydney Powell case, can be heard at

Park in the News

Matt Harris, Ph.D., associate professor of political science, was interviewed for stories that aired on KMBC-TV/KCWE-TV in Kansas City on Oct. 7 and 8 related to candidates in Johnson County (Kan.) school board elections raising tens of thousands in campaign fundraising. Soundbites from the stories also aired on KMBZ-FM in Kansas City on Oct. 8.

Harris was also interviewed for stories that aired on KMBZ-FM on Nov. 9 related to an ethics investigation into Missouri House of Representatives Speaker Dean Plocher.

Park University’s connection to the Manhattan Project, subject of this summer’s blockbuster movie, “Oppenheimer,” was featured on the Flatland KC website on Nov. 10. Tim Westcott, Ph.D., professor of history and associate university archivist, was interviewed for the story. Three Park University alumni were connected to the Manhattan Project — a research and development program in World War II that produced the first nuclear weapons, a main feature in “Oppenheimer.” Joseph McKibben, ’33, Ph.D., Hugh Richards, ’39, Ph.D., and John Cory, ’42, participated in the Manhattan Project, two of whom played significant roles.

Triumfia Houmbie Fulks, ’14 (and a member of Park University’s Civic Advisory Council), was announced as a winner of a $50,000 non-dilutive grant as part of Launch KC’s competition on Nov. 14 in Kansas City, Mo. Fulks, who also received $13,000 as part of a Pure Pitch Rally event in Kansas City in August, founded codeAlgo Academy, which uses gamification to teach coding skills to students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

A story posted on the International Journalists’ Network website on Nov. 14 on “Advice for Covering the Israel-Hamas War” included comments from Steve Youngblood, associate professor of communication arts and director of the Center for Global Peace Journalism. The article included a link to a recent webinar Youngblood participated in on “The Israel-Gaza Conflict: What Journalists Covering War Should Know.”

Youngblood was also interviewed for a story, “How to Build Peace While Covering War: Peace Journalism and the Israel-Hamas War,” that appeared on the Peace News website on Nov. 20.

Lynette Jagbandhansingh-Wageman, ’59, was featured in a “Sages Over 70” article that appeared in Hawaii Business magazine on Nov. 20. Jagbandhansingh-Wageman spent more than 35 years as a librarian of the Asia Collection at the University of Hawaii’s Hamilton Library, but has devoted the last 23 years to supporting her community as a volunteer for a number of organizations.

Casey Bradley, ’04, was featured in a story that appeared in the Sheboygan (Wis.) Press on Nov. 21. Bradley was appointed as the Sheboygan city administrator on Oct. 21. He previously served as the city administrator in Baraboo, Wis.

Carolyn Ward, ’06, was selected by the New Bern (N.C.) Woman’s Club as its 2023 Citizen of the Year, according to a story posted on the New Bern Live website on Nov. 22. This honor is given to recognize a citizen who has made outstanding contributions in making the New Bern community a better place.

A 12-minute piano performance by Behzod Abduraimov, Park University International Center for Music artist-in-residence, recorded during a concert in May in Morrow, Ga., aired on “Performance Today” on WSCL-FM in Salisbury, Md., on Nov. 24 (starts at 6:00 mark).

Part one of a feature story on John Gillette, an 1892 Park University graduate, appeared in The Forum of Fargo (N.D.) – Moorhead (Minn.) on Nov. 26. Gillette was tabbed as the “father of rural sociology” after having his book, Rural Sociology, published in 1913 while he was a professor at the University of North Dakota.

The Park University Parkville (Mo.) Campus women’s volleyball team was highlighted on KCTV, KMBC-TV and WDAF-TV in Kansas City on Nov. 27 as each aired stories on the team’s send off to the NAIA national tournament in Sioux City, Iowa. Mike Talamantes, head coach, and seniors Malaina Hensley and Isabela Ribeiro were interviewed for the stories.

A story about U.S. Air Force Gen. Earl O’Loughlin, ’73, appeared in the Iosco County (Mich.) News-Herald on Nov. 27. A proclamation by the Tawas City, Mich., mayor declared Nov. 21 as “General Earl T. O’Loughlin Day,” recognizing the distinguished military veteran who passed away on Nov. 10. According to the story, O’Loughlin retired in 1987 as the only USAF four-star general in the state of Michigan after 37 years in uniform.

The Park University International Center for Music’s 2024 Stanislav and Friends event, set for March 8, 2024 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, was the featured cover photo of The Independent’s (Kansas City’s journal of society) Nov. 25 edition.

Deborah Ground Buckner, ’81, authored a guest commentary in tribute to former Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Richard Berkley (who passed away on Nov. 29) that was published in The Kansas City Star on Nov. 30. The article included mention of Jerzy Hauptmann, Ph.D., longtime Park University professor emeritus of political science and public administration.

ECCO Select, led by founder and chief executive officer Jeanette Prenger, ’09 (and former member of Park University’s Board of Trustees), was ranked No. 3 on Ingram’s (a Kansas City business magazine) list of top minority-owned businesses and No. 5 on Ingram’s list of top area women-owned businesses, both based on 2022 gross revenue, in the publication’s November issue.

Park University was ranked No. 93 nationally by Military Times on its “Best for Vets 2023 Colleges” list that was published on Nov. 6. Park also ranked No. 6 in the “Primarily Online” category; No. 14 in the U.S. central region; No. 82 among four-year schools; and No. 88 in general education.

Upcoming Events

(All events are Central time and on the flagship Parkville [Mo.] Campus unless noted)
          •  Through December 8 — Art Exhibit: Merrick Henry Digital Designs, Campanella Gallery (Norrington Center)
          •  December 8 — Ellen Finley Earhart Department of Nursing Pinning Ceremony, 2 p.m., Graham Tyler Memorial Chapel
          •  December 10 — Fall Semester / Fall II Term Ends
          •  December 22-31 — Christmas Holiday and University Holiday (all University offices closed nationwide)
          •  January 1 — New Year’s Day Holiday (all University offices closed nationwide)
          •  January 8 — Spring Semester / Spring I Classes Begin
          •  January 15 — Martin Luther King Jr. Day Holiday (all University offices closed nationwide; Parkville [Mo.] Campus and Gilbert [Ariz.] Campus daytime classes cancelled; Spring I term classes held as scheduled)
          •  January 25 — International Center for Music Concert: Rosamunde Trio, 7:30 p.m., 1900 Building, Mission Woods, Kan.

To view a comprehensive schedule for all events, including athletics and student life, visit



Park University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Park University is a private, non-profit, institution of higher learning since 1875.