The man who would become an energy entrepreneur

The fall 2012 convocation speaker T. Boone Pickens
[caption id="attachment_12319" align="alignnone" width="300"] The fall 2012 convocation speaker T. Boone Pickens[/caption] Giving back is what T. Boone Pickens, energy entrepreneur, is all about. As a child having gone through the depression he learned the value of a dollar early on from his grandmother and aunt.  These lessons would serve him well throughout his life.  He was taught to take a risk from his father and the value of a hard day’s work from his mother. His greatest lesson was that honesty was not to be rewarded but expected and to do what is right the first time. Pickens was the first birth ever done by cesarean means. He was always said to be ahead of his time. His early start at age 12 as a businessman would be the start of a lifelong career. He started by delivering newspapers, having expanded his business from 28 papers to a whopping 156. He attributed the success of his boyhood job to expanding quickly by acquisition, which would be how he would lead his life in business throughout his career. His parents greatly influenced his life as his father worked in oil and mineral as a rights leaser while his mother ran the office of Price Administrator which rationed gas and other goods in three local counties. Pickens earned a degree in Geology from Texas A&M. He gained employment from Phillips Petroleum until 1954. His training as a geologist aided to his growth as an energy entrepreneur.  Later Pickens would found the company becoming Mesa Petroleum. This company would become one of the largest oil companies of all time in the world. His first acquisition was the takeover of Hugoton Production Company, 30 times the size of Mesa. He became the deal maker of the 1980’s. His most public attempted buyouts were Cities Service, Gulf Oil, Phillips Petroleum and Unocal. Pickens reinvented himself through the establishment of one of the nation’s most independent successful energy related oil and natural gas companies. He considered running for presidency in the 1988 election. His most recent accomplishment was from the Franklin Institute as the recipient of the 2009 Bower Award. He was awarded for his business leadership for 50 years of visionary leadership in oil and energy production. His accomplishments which led to this award were based on his contribution to education, medical research, wildlife conservation, and domestic renewable energy.

The Western District Court of Appeals visits MWSU

[caption id="attachment_12383" align="alignleft" width="200"] Gary Witt, the newest member of the Western District Judges. Witt also served in the Missouri House of Representatives.[/caption] The Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District will sit at Missouri Western on Wednesday, Oct. 10, to hear four cases including personal injury, child pornography and murder. The three-judge panel will begin to hear oral arguments in four cases beginning at 9:30 a.m. at Kemper recital Hall inside the Leah Spratt building. The judges are Thomas Newton, a trial judge from Jackson County, Joseph Ellis, who practiced law in Macon and Gary Witt, the newest member of the Western District Judges. Witt also served in the Missouri House of Representatives. Chief Justice of the Western District James Welsh explained in a recent press release that “the cases are appeals from previously held trials in area circuit courts.” An appeal is “where judges listen to attorneys argue whether the trials had any errors that should cause them to be retried, or the trial courts judgment reversed.” Students will have the opportunity to hear explanations of court proceedings during the judges break time. The court has devoted resources to educating the public with two videos available on line at Missouri Court of Appeals Western District. ( The first video is "Know All About Missouri Courts" and is designed for elementary school-level students. The second video is simply called "Missouri Courts" and is best suited for high schools. Both of these videos feature judges who explain Missouri’s court system and method of selecting judges The appellate court has its own courthouse in Kansas City that is open to the public. It is the state’s only courthouse exclusively for hearing arguments on appeal. This practice of bringing the courts to towns as small as Macon and Trenton has been a practice for quite some time. This is the 15th time it has sat at Western. “The court goes into the district to make our judicial system real to the average people,” associate professor of criminal justice, legal and social work Suzanne Kissock said. “It says to the people, we are resolving conflicts.” The Western District serves the largest number of counties in Missouri and is the largest intermediate appellate court. They hear literally thousands of cases. “You appeal your case on the state level by right of the individual,” legal studies professor Joanne Katz said. “If you appeal to higher court, the court decides if they will hear the case or not.” Katz explains you have to preserve error by objecting in court. Appeals are created from the way the judge handles the objection. If the judge rules incorrectly on an error and it may change the course of the trial, it can be raised again in an appeal. Attorneys typically argue these types of cases. The parties can be present but usually are not. Kissock also points out that sometimes the attorneys representing an appeal do not argue orally. “The judges make their decision on the written briefs prepared by the attorney" Kissock said. "The judges do not want to challenge precedents. That is why each judge has two law clerks. “I hope this experience will dispel the myths about the law and make it real for students. I don’t want students to feel disenfranchised by the legal system."

Online courses on the rise at Missouri Western

Along with technology, online courses have grown exponentially over the last five years here at Missouri Western. In the fall of 2008, only 30 online courses were offered; now there are 200 accredited courses. A major reason that number has jumped so drastically at Western is because of Dean of Western Institute Dr. Gordon Mapley and other faculty members who have joined together to make it possible. Over 90 faculty members have been involved in training to teach online courses in their departments. “More and more student's schedules are difficult with work and school that online courses are very essential for them to get the degree they are after," Mapley said. "Enrollment continues to climb because more students are finding it valuable and affordable for them.” Mapley also believes Western's online courses are cheap yet are of high quality, which benefit the students. Kay Dickerson teaches English as a second language courses online, and she believes these classes are beneficial to people everywhere. “It allows Missouri Western to draw students from all over the world and allows them to participate in programs that aren’t available at a lot of other institutes.” As for the benefits of the community Mapley, has a plan. “We have started a $1 million dollar grant to work with the local industry to help individuals get 4 year degrees that will be beneficial for growing business and the economy in the area,” Mapley said. Greg Kriewitz, professor of physical education, teaches a PED 101 class to 145 students this semester, in the classroom and online. He can see why students like to take online classes. “The reason online enrollment continues to grow is mainly because of convenience, gas being almost $4 a gallon, driving through a busy city and getting to campus just to fight to find a parking spot is stressful when you are getting the same education from your computer at home,” Kriewitz said. “As a professor of online courses, we put more time into them because we fear that the course will be more scrutinized so we make a huge effort to ensure that the material is the same online as it is in the classroom." Western alone has 249 students that are only online students this semester. Whether it be because they are working, live too far to commute back and forth or would just rather not deal with getting up and dealing with the stress of getting to class, it is very clear that online classes are on the rise.

Controversial student worker flyers posted

One of two posters that have been seen around campus regarding the workers free-zone.
Unapproved posters desiring student workers to unite were hung anonymously around campus last Thursday, September 13. Outlining student worker grievances, the posters have yet to be claimed. [caption id="attachment_11834" align="alignleft" width="234"] One of two posters that have been seen around campus regarding the workers free-zone.[/caption] “Let me clarify, we are not sure how that approval came about,” Dean of Students and Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Judy Grimes said. “We only approve posters and flyers that are from our clubs and organizations, or our academic or university departments. We’ve checked with all of our students. We don’t know how it got stamped so it should not have been out there to start with.” The posters were removed from campus buildings by the Center for Student Engagement the next day. Student Government President Jacob Scott clarified who has access to the approval stamps. “Well as far as I am aware, I believe the stamps are actually provided by the Center for Student Engagement, and I believe the student workers of that office are in charge of reviewing the posters and then a poster that meets the guidelines for approval receives a stamp by the student worker,” Scott said. The posters may have sounded as though there is a large group of student workers behind them, but that has not been confirmed. However, faculty and staff believe it was a student acting alone. "My sense is there was an isolated incident, maybe even one student who is not happy about a situation that might have provoked something like that,” Grimes said. Donnell Turner, the director for Career Development Center, agreed. “It really appears, at least from the posters that I saw, that it’s representative of a number of students or a good deal of the student body, but that’s not what we’re hearing and that’s not what we are seeing or experiencing.” Student Employment Coordinator Matthew Gregg would like to encourage the students that hung the posters to partake in an open dialogue. “To me, just putting up posters doesn’t solve anyone’s problem,” Gregg said. “Putting up posters and then having open communications with whoever is fine. … You are entitled to your opinion. I just think it is best to go through the proper channels to make sure your voice is heard.” Gregg also feels that students should utilize SGA if they feel uncomfortable coming to faculty or staff. “If they don’t feel comfortable coming to us (Student Employment), let SGA come to us, and then let’s meet together and take it from there,” Gregg said. SGA addresses all student concerns that are submitted through their proper grievance policy. “Certainly we would be happy to listen to their concerns and do what we can to advocate on their behalf, but if you can’t sign your name to it it’s going to be difficult to address,” Scott said. The Career Development Center also has an open door policy for student workers. “I want students to feel that they have an open door here and that they have someone that is here to listen," Gregg said. "That doesn’t mean I’m always going to agree or disagree with that group, but we’re going to be objective about the situation." Former SGA student Sen. Amber Nold denied to comment on the situation, yet admitted to hanging the posters around campus. If any students involved in creating and hanging the posters are interested in sharing any information, please contact the Griffon News at 816-271-4412 or via email at

Campus gains new desks and tables, expenses totaling to $100,000

The new desks (above right) which are wider and more flexible then the old desks (above left) are in place in a classroom in Looney complex. Looney, Popplewell and Wilson all received new desks and tables as many were again and outdated.
[caption id="attachment_11481" align="alignleft" width="240"] The new desks (above right) which are wider and more flexible then the old desks (above left) are in place in a classroom in Looney complex. Looney, Popplewell and Wilson all received new desks and tables as many were again and outdated.[/caption] In March of this year, the SGA voted to allocate $99,558 to purchase new chairs and tables to replace aging furniture across campus. The announcement came with some criticism at the time from those who thought it was strange that student fee money would be used to purchase property for the university. “There was some opposition at the first, but now all I hear is compliments from faculty and students,” Instructional Technology Director Cori Criger said. “It’s a big improvement for the students especially.” One of the best improvements Criger says is the benefit to students with disabilities. Each classroom throughout the campus now has at least two tables and two chairs to accommodate students that need that type of seating. “What it means for students with disabilities is that these classrooms are now ready and waiting for them,” Disability Services Coordinator Michael Ritter said. “ No longer do they have to request special furniture on the first day of class. The new furniture brings these classrooms into the 21st century.” Criger said the old way of accommodating students' needs placed the responsibility of fulfilling the need on the student who had to go through channels to get a table or chair when needed. The furniture was totally changed in 10 rooms across campus. Four additional rooms for renovation had to keep the tablet type desks to accommodate current capacities, but tables and chairs were added to the back of the classrooms. Two other computer labs received new furnishings, but the technology fee funded those changes. “For many years, I’ve been an advocate for replacing the 1970s vintage tablet arm chairs with tables and chairs,” Dean and Executive Director of Western Institute Gordon Mapley said. “Many 2012 adult bodies do not fit well in tablet arm chairs.” Former SGA President Allison Norris and Sen. Amber Nold are credited with the success of the plan to replace the furniture with SGA funds. It was one of the last legislative decisions from the last SGA session. “I am very excited about the classroom furniture upgrades and I applaud the SGA for providing the funding,” Ritter said. Wilson Hall received most of the renovations with a total of five rooms renovated with new tables and chairs and two rooms renovated with new tablet style desks to keep the some room occupancy. Looney Sports Complex received two rooms with new tables and chairs and one with new tablet style desks. Popplewell Hall had two rooms renovated with new tables and chairs and one with new tablet style desks. Eder Hall had one room renovated with new tables and chairs. To see the before and after photos of these rooms, go to