Martin Luther King Jr. Week: Giving Back to the Community

MLK volunteers final
Missouri Western continued to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day all last week, starting off on Tuesday, Jan. 20, with a group of 13 volunteers helping out with Habitat for Humanity. In charge of this event, as well as the rest of Martin Luther King Jr. Week, is Multicultural Educational Coordinator Latoya Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick mentioned that Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organization that works with families who are poor or do not have the finances to build homes they can afford. She noted that both the group of volunteers as well as herself are specifically working to keep water out from the foundation of the house being built. Latoya also briefly mentioned that this organization relies on volunteers to help build the homes. Harlan Woodward, one of the main Habitat for Humanity workers on site, explained that the work they do is done with help of volunteers and that he greatly appreciates the help the students are providing for this project. Fitzpatrick saw the cause of Habitat for Humanity as a way for the volunteers and workers to give back to people who do not have a lot, and explained that the event fits in well with Martin Luther King Jr. Day. “Well MLK was all about social justice and equality for all and making sure that you were well educated about different social justice issues going on,” Fitzpatrick said. She mentioned that Habitat for Humanity is a social justice issue, in a way that some are not as willing to help those less fortunate. Western does Habitat for Humanity every year, and it usually has a good turnout. With so many students coming out to help with and enjoying Habitat for Humanity, Fitzpatrick decided to continue with it and chose it as one of the events for Martin Luther King Jr. Week. Students Jonathan Julion and Elijah Todd chose to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity in order to give back to the community. “It’s never the wrong time to give back,” Julion said. “Just coming out and being a part of something that’s bigger than yourself,” Todd said. Habitat for Humanity was only the first event of Martin Luther King Jr. Week. On Wednesday, Jan. 21, the Martin Luther King Drum Major for Justice Award Banquet took place, followed by a vigil. Fitzpatrick believes that the Drum Major for Justice Awards help to recognize people who have made a difference. “Fighting every day for equal rights for everyone can sometimes be a thankless job, so we want to make sure we thank those who have been really stepping out there,” Fitzpatrick said. The last event of the week, a movie night, took place on Thursday, Jan. 22. The movie featured was “Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom.”  This movie was about the famous leader Nelson Mandela. Fitzpatrick explained that the message of the movie was to be educational to the students of Western, which fits the meaning of Martin Luther King Jr. Week.

Ludacris to headline Spring Concert


Three-time Grammy-winning rap artist Ludacris will be this year's guest at Missouri Western's Spring Concert.

The Western Activities Council made the announcement Friday, Jan. 23, at Western's Centennial Ball.

The announcement was met with a round of ecstatic applause from the audience. Individual responses centered around anticipation and excitement.

"I feel really excited. Im glad we got someone who's well known," sophomore Shenia Wilson said.

"It's really cool that we have someone who's been in a movie coming to our concert. I know a lot of people who are going to be pumped about it," freshman Jonathan Arthaud said.

Some, like junior Sarah Jones, have been waiting quite some time for such a widely-known artist.

"I've been here for three years and he's by far the best who's come here. The concerts in the past were alright, but Ludacris will be better," Jones said.

Where as much of the crowd was pleased to hear the news, not all the reactions were positive.

"I think it's great we got a big name, but I think we'd make a lot more money and draw more interest if we had a country artist," sophomore Paul Godberson said.

But even those who had negative thoughts about Ludacris as headliner were hopeful that the 2015 Spring Concert will be better than years past.

"I was really wishing for a country artist, but Ludacris will be better than years past," junior Matt Scholz said. "From what I understand about years past is that they were smaller artists and WAC only broke even."

Reyhan Wilkinson, WAC concert chair, said they had a reason for choosing Ludacris as the headliner.

"To accomadate students the best we could, we chose a pop artist who would reach more generations," Wilkinson said.

Although the big name artist will attract more of the student body and the public, WAC believes that the Saturday concert will allow an even wider opportunity for people to enjoy the concert.

The concert will be held Saturday, April 11, in St. Joseph's Civic Arena.

Tickets are $7 per student and can be purchased in the Center for Student Involvement office in upstairs Blum. For the public, however, the cost is still to be decided by the artist's ticket agency.

Missouri Western receives record-breaking $10 million donation

Missouri Western President Robert Vartebedian delivers a speech regarding Missouri Western's Centennial celebration.
On Saturday, Jan. 17, Western announced that three major gifts, including a $10 million donation by an anonymous alumnus, have been given to the university for its centennial. The announcement was made at the Centennial Kickoff, in front of a large group of faculty, staff, students and alumni. After a banquette in the Remington atrium, the guests were taken to Potter Hall theater via shuttle, where they were told of the first two gifts. The first was given by internationally known artist Brent Collins, who created the hanging sculpture in Remington Hall's atrium (Evolving Trefoil). Vice President for University Advancement and Executive Director of the MWSU Foundation Jerry Pickman announced that Collins' artist's estate was being permanently loaned to Western, where it will now be housed.  University President Robert Vartabedian expressed his gratitude for this donation. "This is a monumental gift to the university," Vartabedian said. The second gift announced was a $1.5 million donation from Mosaic Life Care, which will allow the first endowed professorship in Western's history in the new field of Population Health. CEO of Mosaic Lifecare Mark Laney believes this gift is just a way to give back to an institution that has helped his business. "For many years, Mosaic and Missouri Western have been partners," Laney said. "I don't know what we would do without the wonderful nursing students that we receive and help train." [caption id="attachment_22620" align="alignnone" width="300"]Quixotic of Kansas City performs during the Centennial Kickoff. Quixotic of Kansas City performs during the Centennial Kickoff.[/caption] The third gift was announced after a music and light presentation presented by Quixotic of Kansas City. With a projection display and a drum roll, Pickman announced a $10 million donation.  This donation is the largest that Western has ever received, and brings the total funds raised by the Centennial Capital Campaign to $16.8 million, just $3.2 million short of the campaign's $20 million dollar goal. With five years left in the campaign, it is projected that the original goal will be greatly surpassed. Additional donations made during the "quiet phase" of the campaign have also surpassed expectations. Western has received ten donations of $25,000-$99,000, nine of $100,000 to $249,000, two of $250,000 to $499,000, three of $500,000 to $999,000 and one donation of $100,000 or over during the "quiet phase." At the Centennial Kickoff, Campaign Co-Chair Dan Boulware expressed his gratitude for these donations. "We are all Griffons, and we will always be Griffons," Boulware said. "For those of you who have already pledged, I greatly appreciate it." Last year, Vartabedian and his wife Laurel started the President's Centennial Circle.  This elite circle contains members who have donated at least $100,000 to the university. The donations that Western has received from this campaign will be used in renovations to Spratt Stadium and Potter Hall, endowments to provide scholarships and support for Western and academic and co-curricular programming. [caption id="attachment_22619" align="alignnone" width="300"]Missouri Western President Robert Vartebedian delivers a speech regarding Missouri Western's Centennial celebration. Missouri Western President Robert Vartebedian delivers a speech regarding Missouri Western's Centennial celebration.[/caption]

Davenport accepted as associate provost of research and planning

After 20 years of working for Truman State University, Dr. Douglas Davenport has accepted the position of associate provost of research and planning at Missouri Western. Since Monday, Jan. 5, Davenport has taken on the responsibilities of Cindy Heider, who is now retired, and he brings years of administrative experience to the position. According to a press release posted on Western's website, Davenport has been chair of the Department of Justice Systems at Truman State, has served as dean of the School of Social and Cultural Studies and interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Division of Social Science, has chaired Truman’s Higher Learning Commission Leadership Team and has led several other accreditation and assessment efforts. "I've spent a lot of my career working in areas relating to accreditation, assessment and strategic planning," Davenport said. "This position was a very good fit for me and my interests." As associate provost of research and planning, Davenport will be assisting the the university by working with the Academic Affairs office in areas such as accreditation, strategic planning, research and grant management. Davenport explained that the applied learning mission of the university, as well as the fact that Western is entering its centennial year, were important reasons for him to take the position. "These are significant times for higher [education]," Davenport said. "These kinds of moments are opportunities to reflect and find where your strengths are, and where we can improve." According to Provost Jeanne Daffron, Davenport was the top pick in a national search for someone who could fill the position. "I'm looking forward to doing great things with his assistance, and am confident that he is just what we need right now," Daffron said. Davenport earned a Master of Public Administration and Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science from Texas Tech University. However, he earned his Bachelor of Arts from Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri, and says that it is good to be back. "I'm from the Western half of the state, so this is a chance to get closer to home, which is a wonderful thing to do," Davenport said.  

Brock named executive associate to the president

With former Executive Associate to the President Kim Weddle now serving as director of development, the university has hired Missouri Western alumna Connie Brock to fill the position. Brock has taken over the responsibilities of supervising the operations of the office of the president, and will also serve as secretary to the board of governor's. Brock has earned a certificate of business from Missouri Western and has years of experience in administration. Most recently, Brock has done administrative work for Heartland (now Mosaic Life Care). She has also worked for around 14 years for loan servicing businesses Trimus Financial Services and Systems & Service Technologies, both of St. Joseph, as well as 12 years doing administrative work for the president of Fermenta Animal Health Company. In a press released posted on Western's website, President Robert Vartabedian expressed his excitement for the new hire. “Connie has the combination of skills and experience that will make her a valuable asset to the Missouri Western campus," Vartabedian said. "I'm looking forward to working with her." Brock explained that she is happy to be back at her alma mater, especially with the centennial celebration approaching. "I am a graduate of Missouri Western and thought it would be an exciting place to come back to," Brock said. "I'm anxious to work with the faculty, staff and students."