The Crow’s Nest — February 3, 2021

Park University Announces Top 10 Stories from 2020

Park University celebrated another historic and noteworthy year in 2020 as the University and its employees garnered national media attention, and earned international, national and local honors. Park’s Office of University Engagement compiled the University’s biggest stories of the year and asked five members of the University’s staff to pick their top 10 moments from 2020. The voting was tight as only one of the 21 events/stories on the poll was named on all five ballots and four others appeared on four ballots. In fact, 19 of the 21 events/stories were named on at least one ballot.

Here are the top three Park University stories/events from 2020:
          1.  The coronavirus pandemic forces Park University classes to be held fully online for the second half of the spring semester; Park’s classes are held in a hybrid format during the fall semester.
Anthony Melchiorri          2.  Park University holds its first-ever virtual commencement ceremony on Dec. 12; Anthony Melchiorri, a 1990 Park graduate, U.S. military veteran and host, co-creator and co-executive producer of Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible” series of shows, was the keynote speaker.
          3.  To support concerns of college students considering taking a year off from their current college/university due to health anxieties related to the coronavirus, and as a way to ease the financial concerns of these students, Park University launched a flat rate tuition initiative in June.

Check out the complete top 10 list at

Plans Announced for Virtual All-University Commencement Ceremony

Park University’s Office of Academic Affairs has announced that similar to December 2020, the University will host a virtual all-University commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 8, starting at noon (Central time). As part of a recent message sent to students, faculty and staff worldwide, the Office of Academic Affairs stated, “Throughout Park University’s nearly 150-year history, the May Commencement ceremony has signified for generations of students the conclusion of their academic program at Park and the beginning of the next chapter in their life’s journey. In planning this symbolic event each year, the University has strived to elevate the experience both for students and their families and friends. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic requires us to make adjustments in 2021 for the safety of participants and spectators alike.”

Graduates will have the ability to customize their own slide in the online ceremony. During the December event, students shared quotes, photos and video messages, providing the opportunity to thank those who have provided support. The University has partnered with Herff Jones in collaboration with graduation technology partners StageClip and MarchingOrder to make this virtual event happen. May graduates will receive e-mail messages from the Registrar’s Office, StageClip and MarchingOrder over the coming weeks with additional information.

100th Anniversary of Tulsa Race Massacre to be the Focus of Park University’s Annual Black History Lecture

A discussion surrounding the events of the Tulsa (Okla.) Race Massacre (also known as the Tulsa Race Riot) will be the topic addressed during Park University’s 20th annual Spencer Cave Black History Month Lecture on Monday, Feb. 22. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held virtually at starting at 3 p.m. Randy Krehbiel, a staff writer at the Tulsa World, will be the featured guest speaker discussing the events of May 31 and June 1, 1921, considered one of the worst incidents of racial violence in U.S. history. According to the Oklahoma Historical Society, more than 1,000 homes and businesses were destroyed and death estimates ranged from 50 to 300.

In 1999, Krehbiel was appointed to a panel established by the Oklahoma Legislature to investigate the Tulsa events and the aftermath. This began two decades of research and reporting by Krehbiel that became the basis of his book Tulsa 1921: Reporting a Massacre (University of Oklahoma Press), which was published in September 2019 and was named Oklahoma Department of Libraries’ Nonfiction Book of the Year and the Oklahoma Historical Society’s Book of the Year. Read more about the event at

Park Campuses Announce 2020 Graduates

Park University announces its 2020 graduates from the following campuses:
          •  All University December Commencement list
          •  Fall 2020 Kansas City Area and online across the country not previously announced
          •  Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (Ariz.) Campus
          •  Defense Supply Center Columbus (Ohio) Campus

Park United – It Starts With Us Campaign

Park University’s Office of University Advancement has announced its “Park United – It Starts with Us” fundraising campaign to benefit the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center, which is being built on the University’s Parkville Campus. When completed this fall, the facility will be the new home of the Robert W. Plaster School of Business, the College of Management and the Park Global Warrior Center. The fundraising campaign’s goal of $25,000 will support a collaboration space on the second floor, which will include a custom piece of art recognizing donors of $100 or more. For more information about the campaign or to make a contribution (either one-time or via payroll deduction), visit

Goodness for Ethical Leadership Scholarship Available for Park Students

Park University’s Austin (Texas) Campus is offering scholarships of up to $1,000 to Park students worldwide. Last summer, the University received $5,000 from RecognizeGood in Austin for work that 14 students at the Austin Campus completed as part of an ethical business research project. The deadline to apply for the Goodness for Ethical Leadership Scholarship is Monday, March 8. The application must include a 500 to 1,000-word essay regarding an encounter experienced that has taught the student about the value of ethics in the workplace. Eligible students must have a 2.75 grade point average or higher, have completed six or more credit hours at Park, be currently enrolled and be in good academic standing. To apply or for questions, contact the Austin Campus at

Faculty, Staff, Student News

Patty RybergPatty Ryberg, Ph.D., associate professor of biology and director of Park’s Honors Academy, was among a trio of speakers for the Museum of Discovery and Science’s (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) Distinguished Speaker Series event held virtually on Jan. 7 (her talk begins around 37 minutes into the video). The discussion centered on ancient life in Antarctica and the event included a film screening of “Dinosaurs of Antarctica” which Ryberg appears. She also participated in a similar event for the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia on Dec. 15, and she spoke at the January 29 virtual meeting of the Parkville (Mo.) Rotary Club discussing what it’s like for a scientist to participate in making a dinosaur documentary.

Ryberg provided consultation and character inspiration for the graphic novella, The Time Traveling Dino Detectives of Antarctica. The publication is geared to informing children of all ages on what it takes to study in Antarctica and what paleontologists have uncovered about what the ancient environments of the continent were like. Ryberg was consulted to ensure the accuracy of the fossil plants and paleobotany story line, and some of the character dialogue and scientist appearances have traits of Ryberg.

A paper co-authored by Gregory McLaughlin, D.B.A., adjunct instructor of quality management, and Heidi McLaughlin, D.B.A., adjunct instructor of marketing, was recently published in the Journal of Management and Public Policy. The paper, “Innovation and Value: Customer Perception, Application and Concept,” aims to understand and quantify how individuals perceive the meaning of the word “innovation” and its overall value.

W. Ann Hansbrough, J.D., a member of Park University’s Board of Trustees, was appointed by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson as the circuit judge for the Sixth Judicial Circuit, which covers Platte County. She previously served as an associate circuit judge for the Sixth Judicial Circuit.

Park in the News

Chelsea Platt, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology, provided comments for a story on the WDAF-TV (Kansas City) website on Jan. 1 related to celebrities possibly being a key to convincing the public to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The story was produced by Lisa McCormick, ’83.

Matt Harris, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science, was interviewed for stories that aired on KMBZ-FM in Kansas City on Jan. 4 related to U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-Mo.) efforts to challenge the Electoral College votes. Harris was again interviewed by KMBZ for stories on Jan. 12 related to Hawley’s political future and possibility of being formally rebuked.

Harris was also interviewed by KSHB-TV in Kansas City on Jan. 7 for a story related to how social media may have fueled misinformation related to the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

In addition, earlier on Jan. 7, Harris was interviewed by WDAF-TV in Kansas City for a story related to efforts by Congressional leaders to invoke the 25th Amendment.

On Jan. 8, Harris was again interviewed by WDAF-TV for a story related to constitutional law with a focus on the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in light of a comment made by Missouri U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley the day before on Twitter.

Harris was interviewed on January 20 for stories that aired on KSHB-TV and KMBC-TV in Kansas City. The KSHB story focused on how President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 plan could impact the Kansas City area, while the KMBC story was related to how effective Biden’s call for national unity will be.

An album of recordings performed by pianist Behzod Abduraimov, International Center for Music artist-in-residence, and recently released by Alpha, was selected as one of the best new classical albums for January by Gramophone, stating that the album was of “distinguished musicianship, elegance and sheer delight.” Read Gramophone’s review of the album, “Debussy / Chopin / Mussorgsky.”

KYMA-TV in Yuma, Ariz., aired a 3½-minute interview with Rori Martinez, who signed a letter of intent with Park University’s Gilbert (Ariz.) Campus to play women’s volleyball, on Jan. 5.

John Hamilton, Ph.D., chair and associate professor of criminal justice administration, was interviewed for a story that aired on WDAF-TV in Kansas City on Jan. 6. Hamilton provided comments related to the security breach of the U.S. Capitol that same day.

Hamilton was also interviewed by KSHB-TV in Kansas City on Jan. 11 for a story related to an FBI memo warning law enforcement across the U.S. of possible armed protests at state capitol buildings if Congress were to have President Donald Trump removed from office.

Don Breckon, Ph.D., Park University president emeritus, authored a column that was published in the Platte County (Mo.) Citizen on Jan. 6 calling for perspective and compassion in facing pandemic pressures.

Simon Mulama, ’06, provided comments for a story that appeared on the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation’s website on Jan. 7 related to a company wanting to revolutionize soccer in the country at the grassroots level.

Oasha White, ’12, a Kansas City, Mo., police officer, provided comments for a story that aired on KSHB-TV in Kansas City on Jan. 13 as the KCPD expects all officers to be equipped with body cameras by March.

Myles Whitehurst, ’15, who is playing basketball for Talleres de Arroyo Seco in Argentina, was featured in an article on the Line of Three website on Jan. 15. Whitehurst was a member of Park’s men’s basketball team from 2013-15.

Kay Barnes, senior director of university engagement, provided comments for a story titled “Patrick Mahomes’ Untouchable Kansas City Bond” that appeared on on Jan. 15.

Park University’s Mackay Hall was highlighted in a pair of “Red Friday” photos that appeared on the Kansas City Business Journal’s website on Jan. 22 (Nos. 4 and 24).

A feature story on David Jordan, ’15, who was recently appointed as assistant city manager and director of public safety for the City of La Marque, Texas, appeared in the Bay Area Entertainer on Jan. 24.

Sophie Roper, senior business administration and entrepreneurship major, and president of Park’s Business and Investment Club, was interviewed for a story that aired on WDAF-TV in Kansas City on Jan. 27 (as well as other television stations across the country) related to Reddit users buying up stocks of struggling companies such as GameStop.

U.S. News and World Report announced its 2021 Best Online Programs rankings on Jan. 26. Park University received the following national rankings:
          •  Best Online Bachelor’s Programs: Park ranked No. 246 (tie); for bachelor’s programs in business, Park ranked No. 79 (tie)
          •  Best Online MBA Programs: Park ranked No. 201
          •  Best Online Master’s Business Programs (Non-MBA): Park ranked No. 117
          •  Best Online Master’s Education Programs: Park ranked No. 183

Other rankings:
          • ranked Park No. 5 on its “Best Online Logistics Bachelor’s Degrees” list.
          • ranked Park No. 14 on its “Top 25 Bachelors in Fire Science Degree Programs for 2021” list.
          • ranked Park No. 14 on its “25 Best Bachelor’s in Biology for 2021” list.
          • ranked Park No. 19 its “25 Best Online Master’s in Homeland Security for 2021” list.

Upcoming Events

(All events are Central time)
          •  Through February 26 — Senior Art Students Art Exhibit, Campanella Gallery (Norrington Center)
          •  February 10 — International Center for Music Concert: Side-By-Side, 7:30 p.m., Virtual
          •  February 12 — International Center for Music Concert: ICM Orchestra, 7:30 p.m., Virtual
          •  February 12 — Board of Trustees Meeting, Virtual
          •  February 15 — President’s Day Holiday (all University offices closed; Parkville/Gilbert daytime classes cancelled; Spring I classes held as scheduled)
          •  February 22 — Spencer Cave Black History Month Lecture, 3 p.m., Virtual
          •  March 3 — International Center for Music Concert: Pianist Behzod Abduraimov, 7:30 p.m., Virtual
          •  March 7 — Spring I Term Ends
          •  March 8-14 — Spring Break
          •  March 15 — Spring II Term Begins
          •  March 19 — International Center for Music Concert: ICM Orchestra, 7:30 p.m., Virtual

The following events were/are cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic or other reason as noted:
          •  January 30 — El Paso (Texas) Campus / Fort Bliss (Texas) Campus / Holloman Air Force Base (N.M.) Campus Commencement
          •  January 30 — International Center for Music Concert: Pianist Stanislav Ioudenitch (cancelled due to injury)
          •  February 13 — International Center for Music Concert: Cellist Daniel Veis and Pianist Helena Veisova, 7:30 p.m., 1900 Building, Mission Woods, Kan. (cancelled due to illness)

Note: When these events are rescheduled (if applicable), they will be updated in the University’s online calendar. To view a comprehensive schedule for all events, including athletics and student life, visit



Park University’s degree programs are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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