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The Edward F. Swinney Trust, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee, has made a $250,000 grant to support a state-of-the-art finance laboratory in the University’s planned Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center. The finance lab will provide Park students with a unique real-world experience, not only for those in the space itself, but also for students across the country. Students will learn via the same software and in a similar environment used by financial investment professionals. Through video-enabled connections, face-to-face and online students will have access to the best in the University’s educational experiences.

When the approximate 20,500-square-foot project is completed, the Plaster Center will be the home of the University’s School of Business and the Park Global Warrior Center, which assists service members and veterans transitioning in and out of the military. Along with classroom and office space, the Plaster Center will also include a video production studio, lounge for commuter students and a special innovation and entrepreneurship lab.

The Plaster Center is planned to be built on the University’s flagship campus in Parkville, Mo., on the east side of the University’s main entrance. Fundraising and planning for the building continues, with groundbreaking anticipated in 2018. For more information or to support the building project, contact Nathan Marticke, associate vice president for university advancement, at / (816) 584-6844.


Park University Chief Information Officer David Whittaker has announced the promotion of James Nelson to associate vice president of information technology services. Nelson began his new duties at Park on Nov. 1. As associate vice president of information technology services, Nelson leads a team that builds and works on enterprise grade software systems for the University, including Microsoft .NET, Visual Basic, PHP and other development languages and development software. Nelson has been with Park for nearly six years. Prior to his promotion, Nelson served as director of software development since July 2015. He also served stints at associate director of software development and programmer analyst after beginning his career at Park as a Linux administrator in January 2012. Nelson is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration degree from Park University.


Michael Collins, president and chief executive officer of the Port Authority of Kansas City, Mo., and a member of the Park University Board of Trustees, will present the keynote address at his alma mater during Park’s Kansas City Area December 2017 Commencement on Saturday, Dec. 9. The ceremony will be held at the Community of Christ Auditorium, 1001 W. Walnut in Independence, Mo., starting at 10 a.m. The event will include 384 Park University students eligible to graduate and participate in the ceremony — 150 students are set to receive a master’s degree and/or graduate certificate, and 234 students are scheduled to receive a bachelor’s degree, associate degree and/or undergraduate certificate. Collins, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in political science from Park in 2004, is the immediate past chair of Park’s Board of Trustees after having served as chair from 2015-17. He is in the midst of his second three-year term on the Board.


Park University campus centers across the country have held commencement ceremonies for 2017 graduates. As these ceremonies continue through the year, we’ll include the link to the news releases announcing the list of graduates at each campus.
          •  Defense Supply Center Columbus (Ohio) Campus Center
          •  Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (Ohio) Campus Center


Five Park University athletes have earned all-conference honors from the American Midwest Conference for their play during the 2017 season. Women’s volleyball player Nada Meawad (left), a freshman outside hitter, was named the AMC Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year. Meawad led the AMC in kills per set at 4.48, which ranked fourth in the NAIA. She was joined on the AMC all-conference first team by junior setter Danna Gomes, who was also named AMC Setter of the Year, and sophomore libero Celina Monteiro. Read more about Park’s all-conference women’s volleyball players at

In women’s soccer, senior midfielder Emma Chatterton and junior midfielder Isabel Sullivan were both selected to the AMC’s all-conference first team. Read more about Park’s all-conference women’s soccer players at


Park University and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management have announced that Park has joined the Federal Academic Alliance, an academic agreement to provide discounted tuition for federal employees nationwide, along with their spouses/domestic partners and dependents. Those eligible can receive a discount equivalent to Park’s military veteran tuition rate, as well as have the University’s application fee waived. Park’s participation in the Alliance supports a continued nationwide effort to close skills gaps, increases federal employees’ access to high-quality, affordable educational resources, and further develops and sustains the federal workforce. Federal employees needing more information can visit Park’s Access to Education partnership website at Read more about the announcement here.


The Park University International Center for Music’s ICM Orchestra will hold its second performance of the ICM’s 2017-18 season on Saturday, Dec. 2, starting at 7:30 p.m. in Graham Tyler Memorial Chapel on the University’s Parkville Campus. Admission to the concert is free. The concert will feature a special guest, soprano Victoria Botero, who will perform as a soloist with the ICM Orchestra on two selections. The Columbian-American, fluent in Spanish and Italian, has performed in more than a dozen languages and dialects throughout her wide-ranging concert and recital career. Most recently, she premiered a piece with the Atemporchestra at TEDxKC.


Park University’s Office of Human Resource Services has announced the holiday schedule for 2018:
          •  New Year’s Day — Monday, January 1
          •  Martin Luther King Jr. Day — Monday, January 15
          •  President’s Day — Monday, February 19
          •  Memorial Day — Monday, May 28
          •  Independence Day — Wednesday, July 4
          •  Labor Day — Monday, September 3
          •  Veterans Day (observed) — Monday, November 12
          •  Thanksgiving Day — Thursday, November 22
          •  Day after Thanksgiving — Friday, November 23
          •  Christmas Eve — Monday, December 24
          •  Christmas Day — Tuesday, December 25
On all holidays, all University offices nationwide are closed and Parkville Daytime (16-week) classes are cancelled. All face-to-face, online, blended and Pirate Patch Spring I/Spring II/Fall I/Fall II (8-week) classes nationwide are held as scheduled, unless cancelled by the instructor.


Park University is seeking comments from the public about the University in preparation for its periodic evaluation by its regional accrediting agency. The University will undergo a comprehensive evaluation visit Feb. 12-13, 2018, by a team representing the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Park University has been accredited by the Commission since 1913. The team will review Park’s ongoing ability to meet the Commission’s criteria for accreditation. The public is invited to submit comments regarding Park University to:
Public Comment on Park University
The Higher Learning Commission
230 S. LaSalle St., Suite 7-500
Chicago, IL 60604

The public may also submit comments on the Commission’s website at Comments must address substantive matters related to the quality of the institution or its academic programs. Comments must be in writing and signed, and comments cannot be treated as confidential. All comments must be received by Jan. 12, 2018.


Park University’s Faculty Center for Innovation was among four finalists for the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education’s 2017 Innovation Award. Amber Dailey-Hebert, Ph.D., FCI director and professor of adult and organizational learning, Jamie Els, Ed.D., FCI programming director, Stacy Kikendall, Ph.D., assistant professor of English and FCI associate director, and Emily Sallee, Ph.D., associate provost, presented their innovative idea paper, “Development on Demand: Offering Multiple Pathways for Faculty Learning,” at the POD Network Conference in Montreal on Oct. 24. Dailey-Hebert, Els, Kikendall and Sallee also presented a session at conference on “What Matters Most to Contingent Faculty: Assessing and Promoting Inclusivity” on Oct. 27. The presentation shared the quantitative and qualitative strategies utilized to assess the needs of all faculty at Park nationwide.

Kay Barnes, senior academic ambassador and liaison, and Laurie DiPadova-Stocks, Ph.D., professor of public administration, presented workshops at the American Business Women’s Association national leadership conference, Oct. 12-13, in Lancaster, Pa. Barnes led a workshop on “Adaptive Leadership” and DiPadova-Stocks presented a session on “Ethical Leadership, Purpose and Moral Courage: Tools for Change.”

Roger Dusing, chief human resources officer, recently earned a doctorate degree in business administration with a concentration in human resources from Northcentral University. Dusing’s dissertation was titled “Examining the Relationship Between Job Satisfaction and Organizational Performance in Higher Education.”

Jeff Ehrlich, Ed.D., associate professor of healthcare administration, and director of special projects and strategic initiatives, was a co-presenter of a session at the EDUCAUSE annual conference on Oct. 30 in Philadelphia. Ehrlich was a part of a pre-conference workshop on the “Transition to Digital Summit” session where he updated attendees on the status/lessons learned on direct digital access at Park University. He also presented at two breakout sessions related to universities implementing DDA and open educational resources.

Judi Simmons Estes, Ph.D., associate professor of education, authored a chapter on “Meeting the Needs of Young English Language Learners” for the recently published book, Handbook of Research on Pedagogies and Cultural Considerations for Young Language Learners.

Park University President Greg Gunderson, Ph.D., has been appointed to the Board of Directors for the Truman Library Institute. The Institute is the member-supported, nonprofit partner of the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, one of 14 presidential libraries of the National Archives. Together with its federal partner, the Truman Library Institute draws on President Truman’s legacy to enrich the public understanding of history, the presidency and America’s unique form of government.

Alayna Howard, a senior English writing major, presented her Honors Academy research project at the Midwest Popular Culture Association’s annual conference on Oct. 21 in St. Louis. Howard presented “An Analysis of Diversity in Young Adult Literature” as part of a panel on youth literature and media she chaired.

Dennis Okerstrom, Ph.D., professor of English, presented a pair of discussions related to his book, Dick Cole’s War: Doolittle Raider, Hump Pilot, Air Commando. On Veterans Day, Nov. 11, he spoke in Liberty, Mo., to members of the Sons of the American Revolution and Daughters of the American Revolution. Okerstrom also presented a public discussion on Nov. 16 at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library and Museum in Abilene, Kan.


A concert featuring Park University International Center for Music pianists Behzod Abduraimov, artist-in-residence, and Stanislav Ioudenitch, associate professor of music/piano, held on Nov. 7 at Kansas City’s Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, was previewed in the Oct. 28 edition of The Independent, Kansas City’s journal of society, and in the Nov. 5 issue of The Kansas City Star. The duo were also featured as part of an article that appeared in the November/December issue of KC Studio magazine. A review of the concert appeared on Nov. 8 on, Kansas City’s online journal of the arts.

Park University was the focus of an interview segment that aired on KEYE-TV’s “We Are Austin” show on Nov. 1 (and re-aired on Nov. 2). Tom Allen, Austin (Texas) Campus community relations manager, along with Jolene Lampton, associate professor of accounting and management, and Guillermo Tonsmann, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science, discussed the Austin campus’ degree program offerings.

Park’s annual Fright Night event on Oct. 26 on the University’s Parkville Campus was highlighted in a story that appeared in the Platte County (Mo.) Citizen on Nov. 1.

Steve Wilson, associate athletic director for media relations and compliance, participated in a live interview on KSHB-TV’s “41 Action News Midday” newscast in Kansas City on Nov. 3 to discuss the Department of Athletics’ relief efforts for Puerto Rico hurricane victims. Claude English, director of athletics, was interviewed by WDAF-TV in Kansas City on Nov. 7 for a similar story.

A story about Corey Lonjers, M.Ed. ’10, appeared in the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press on Nov. 3. Lonjers, an art teacher in St. Joseph, was recently selected to paint a portrait of one of the 58 people killed in the Las Vegas shootings in October as part of a nationwide effort called the Las Vegas Portraits Project.

A feature story about Sgt. Maj Johnnie Ray Famer, ’90, being named the speaker at a Veterans Day ceremony in Murfreesboro, N.C., appeared in the Nov. 6 issue of the Roanoke-Chowan (N.C.) News-Herald. Farmer is a current member of the Hertford County (N.C.) Board of Commissioners.

An award won by Jacqueline Clark, M.P.A. ’00, and the public relations team at Ash Grove Cement Co. in Overland Park, Kan., was highlighted in the Nov. 4 issue of the Lee’s Summit (Mo.) Tribune. Clark, director of communications and public affairs at Ash Grove, and her team won a PRISM award from the Greater Kansas City chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

A story about Paul Keller, ’80, being elected the new mayor of Fairborn, Ohio, appeared in the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News on Nov. 8.

As part his presentation at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library and Museum in Abilene, Kan., on Nov. 11, Dennis Okerstrom, Ph.D., professor of English, was interviewed on KABI-AM in Abilene on Nov. 16.

A story about a new restaurant, Firenza Pizza, opening in Kansas City, Mo., that is co-owned and co-operated by Mel Ginther, ’09, appeared on the website on Nov. 7.

A review of a concert performed by pianist Vladislav Kosminov, graduate student in the International Center for Music pursuing a Master of Music degree in piano performance, appeared in the Cannon Beach (Ore.) Gazette on Nov. 15. Kosminov performed at the Cannon Beach Community Church on Nov. 11.

A story focusing on Director of Marketing/Digital Aimee Patton and her fight with a landlord due to a mold issue in her condo, appeared on WDAF-TV in Kansas City on Nov. 15.

More Park University online degree programs have been ranked by various websites:
          •  Master of Education in Educational Leadership program ranked No. 13 on’s “50 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Education Administration (Educational Leadership) 2018” list.
          •  Master of Education in Education Technology program ranked No. 48 on’s “50 Best Online Master’s in Educational Technology Degrees for 2017” list.


(All events are Central time)

     •  Through November 22 — Rita Guile Fine Art Paintings Exhibit, Campanella Gallery (Norrington Center)
     •  November 17 — International Festival, 5:30-8 p.m., Park Avenue (Academic Underground)
     •  November 23-26 — Thanksgiving Holiday (all University offices closed nationwide; Fall II classes held as scheduled)
     •  December 1 — Charleston (S.C.) Air Force Base Campus Center Commencement, noon, Joint Base Charleston Education Center
     •  December 2 — International Center for Music ICM Orchestra Concert, 7:30 p.m., Graham Tyler Memorial Chapel
     •  December 3 — Northland Community Choir Concert: Rutter Carols by Candlelight, 5 p.m., Graham Tyler Memorial Chapel
     •  December 4-29 — Fine Arts Seniors Thesis Exhibit, Campanella Gallery
     •  December 8 — International Student Sash Ceremony, 5 p.m., David Theater (Alumni Hall)
     •  December 9 — Kansas City Area December Commencement, 10 a.m., Community of Christ Auditorium, Independence, Mo.
     •  December 10 — Fall Semester/Fall II Classes End
     •  December 10 — International Center for Music Distinguished Alumni Concert: Violinist Cristian Fatu and Pianist Victoria Martirosyan Fatu, 4 p.m., Graham Tyler Memorial Chapel
     •  December 25-26 — Christmas Holiday (all University offices closed)
     •  January 1 — New Year’s Day Holiday (all University offices closed)
     •  January 8-February 23 — Lynn Richardson “Surfaces” Two-Dimensional Art Exhibit, Campanella Gallery
     •  January 15 — Spring Semester / Spring I Term Classes Begin
     •  January 15 — Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday (all University offices closed nationwide; Parkville Daytime classes cancelled; Spring I classes held as scheduled)Note: To view a comprehensive schedule for all events, including athletics and student life, visit here.


Brad Biles
Director of Communications and Public Relations


Park University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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