Article Category Archives: Around the Quad

University Continues to Shine in National Spotlight

NorthGateJuly2014-4Truman began the school year with impressive showings in two separate national publications.

September saw Truman run its streak at the top of the U.S. News & World Report Best College rankings to 18 consecutive years. Truman was the No. 1 public university in the Midwest Regional category, and tied for the No. 9 spot in the region among both private and public institutions that provide a full range of undergraduate and master’s programs. That placed the University one spot better than the previous year’s ranking and a full nine spots higher than the second-best public school on the list. Truman far outpaced the other Missouri public schools on the list, the closest of which was nearly 60 spots lower.

Truman received high praise in several supplemental categories and earned three additional No. 1 rankings. It was the No. 1 school in the Midwest region in the “A Strong Commitment to Undergraduate Teaching” section—the only public school from the Midwest to make the list.

Along the same lines, Truman’s research reputation landed the University a spot in the “A Focus on Student Success” section under “Undergraduate Research/Creative Projects.” That list of 32 schools, while not broken down with numerical rankings, found Truman alongside such nationally known institutions as Harvard, Yale, Duke and Stanford.

Admiration from fellow college administrators earned Truman the No. 1 spot for the Midwest on the list of “The 2015 Up-and-Comers.” Feedback from college presidents, provosts and admissions deans was used to compile this list.

In terms of affordability, Truman was the No. 1 public school, and No. 5 overall, on the “Great Schools, Great Prices” list for the Midwest region.

U.S. News & World Report bases its regional rankings on peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, graduation rate performance, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving.

Truman is also continuing to work its way closer to the top of another national college ranking. In August, the University improved to take over the No. 2 spot in the Best Master’s University category of the 2014 Washington Monthly College Rankings. Additionally, Truman was the No. 1 public school on the list and had the lowest net price in the top five.

A fixture in the top 10, this marked the third straight year Truman climbed in the rankings. It was the only Missouri school on the entire top 100 Master’s Universities list.

The Washington Monthly rankings are unique in the fact they are based primarily on civic engagement, research and social mobility. Schools receive high marks for contributing to society, enrolling low-income students, helping them graduate and keeping costs affordable.

Truman closed out the year with additional nods from Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, which placed the University at No. 19 on its list of the “100 Best College Values” in the nation for 2015. Truman was the highest-rated Missouri school on the list and the only university in the state to be included in the top 50. Kiplinger’s also ranked Truman 12th in the nation for best out-of-state value.


Thomas Appointed Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

Dr. Susan Thomas

Dr. Susan Thomas

Dr. Susan L. Thomas became Truman’s executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, effective July 21, 2014.

Following a national search, Thomas was selected for the position. She previously served as associate provost for academic planning and program development at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

Thomas’ educational background includes a Ph.D. and two master’s degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She earned her Ph.D. in social psychology in 1988, after obtaining her M.B.A. in administrative management and a Master of Arts in social psychology in 1987 and 1986 respectively. Thomas graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa.

Thomas has worked at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville since 1991. In addition to her most recent position there, she has also served as the assistant provost for planning, and she is a tenured member of the psychology faculty. Prior to her arrival in Edwardsville, Thomas was an assistant professor of psychology at Central College in Iowa and conducted post-doctoral research through Brown University-Emma Pendleton Bradley Hospital in Rhode Island.

Alumnus Returns for Commencement Address


Alphonso Jackson (’68, ’69)

Alphonso Jackson (’68, ’69) gave the address during winter  commencement ceremonies, Dec. 13. Jackson is a former United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and a past vice chairman with JPMorgan Chase in New York City. He served on the University Board of Governors from 1994-2001. A total of 327 students received degrees at the winter commencement.

Professor Remembered with Tree Dedication

Heckert-Tree-1On the date of her first birthday since her passing, friends and family came together on campus to honor the life and contributions of Dr. Teresa Heckert with the dedication of a memorial tree.

A member of the Truman community for 20 years, Heckert was the professor and chair of the Department of Psychology when she passed away in February 2014. On Sept. 12, 2014, a white oak tree was dedicated in her honor in Red Barn Park. The idea of a memorial tree originated with Heckert’s family, and a white oak was selected due to its ties to her home state of Maryland. As part of the family’s gift to the University, granite from Maryland was also brought in to help mark the area.

Dr. Teresa Heckert

Dr. Teresa Heckert

In October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Week, Alpha Sigma Gamma service sorority used the site to host a vigil in honor of Heckert and other loved ones affected by breast cancer.

Career Center Provides Opportunities for Students and Alumni

CareerExpoFal2014AlumniMonsantoDuring the Fall Career and Grad School Expo in October, more than 175 representatives of various businesses, schools and organizations were on campus to recruit Truman students. More than 700 students, representing 32 of 35 majors, participated in the event. The following day several recruiters remained on campus and conducted 166 student interviews for internships or jobs with their organizations.

Career Week is planned and coordinated each semester by the Truman Career Center. The entire week is filled with career development opportunities. In the fall, events included mock interviews, an etiquette dinner, company presentations and a volunteer fair showcasing local agency opportunities. Delta Sigma Pi and Alpha Kappa Psi co-sponsored a LinkedIn consultant who offered advice for building a strong online presence on the professional networking site. Student participation in all of the activities was exceptional.

Returning alumni represented a number of the organizations that were on campus for the Career and Grad School Expo. Alumni are always welcome to join. Spring Career Week will take place Feb. 23-26, with the Career and Grad School Expo set for Feb. 25. For questions about the event, or about recruiting Truman students, contact Polly Matteson, assistant director of the Career Center at

Classes Work to Assist Food Bank

Karina Critten stands by her class project display outside the Student Union Building. On Family Day, Critten’s group raised $1,000 in donations for the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri.

In the fall semester, students in two of Truman’s nutrition courses partnered with the SERVE Center to raise money for the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri.

The classes divided into 14 small groups, each of which planned a fundraiser as part of a service-learning opportunity. Students began planning events, raffles and donation requests after learning the Food Bank is able to purchase 15 pounds of food for families in need with only one dollar. These student-led projects culminated during the Big Week of Giving in early October when the classes established donation tables on campus and throughout Kirksville.

The first of these fundraiser events was completed Sept. 13 when one group set up a table display outside the Student Union Building and asked visiting parents and family members to consider donating to the cause. By sharing statistics about hungry families needing help, and how a small donation can make a big impact, the team exceeded their project goal and raised $1,000.

Another fundraising project incorporated the help of University President Troy Paino. Raffle tickets were sold and the lucky winner was able to pie him in the face at the Sept. 27 football game.

There were also several fundraisers throughout the semester in conjunction with local restaurants. All of the proceeds raised in these projects were donated directly to the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri.




Truman Looks to Expand Opportunities Abroad

PresidentialTrip1With hopes of expanding academic cooperation with institutions abroad and increasing enrollment in select Truman graduate programming, University President Troy Paino traveled to the Balkans and brokered a deal with the European Center for Peace and Development (ECPD) in October.

Headquartered in Belgrade, Serbia, the ECPD is a branch of the UN-mandated University for Peace and collaborates with other academic institutions to help citizens of the Balkans and elsewhere receive needed education to advance peace and prosperity in their countries.

Currently, Truman administrators are working with their regional counterparts to explore possible options for offering Truman’s Master of Arts in leadership online to students. These options include the possibility of offering select coursework in one or more possible elective tracks, including content from Truman’s existing graduate certificate in sustainability and environmental studies, as well as select coursework in other fields in which regional partners have expressed interest.

The team is optimistic that at least some coursework can be offered to students in the region during the 2015-2016 academic year, pending review and approval by faculty governance and accreditors in the U.S. and overseas. In addition to the online coursework, administrators are also looking at opportunities the Balkan sites might present for expanding the University’s non-credit summer youth programming.


Alumni Band Coming Soon

Former Truman band members, along with Dan Peterson, emeritus band director, are forming an alumni association for all band members. The hope is to develop an active association to bring alumni together for alumni bands at Homecoming, alumni concert band performances and reunions during the summer. Additionally, information is being collected to form a definitive history that will include programs, recordings, pictures and more. For details on how to join the band alumni organization, or to provide information for the band history project, visit

Truman Partners with the Peace Corps to Offer the Master’s International Program

Students can now work toward a master’s degree while simultaneously doing volunteer service abroad, thanks to a newly formed partnership between Truman’s Office of Graduate Studies and the Peace Corps.

Students participating in the Master’s International program first gain admission to the Master of Arts in leadership program where they would be encouraged to specialize in education, health or environment and agriculture. Admitted students then complete their applications to the Peace Corps.

Individuals in the program typically complete one year of graduate coursework before beginning Peace Corps assignments. The two-year Peace Corps appointment counts as the required nine-credit internship experience. Tuition is waived during the Peace Corps assignment.

After the assignment, students complete remaining academic requirements and graduate with a Master of Arts in leadership. The program provides an opportunity to integrate international experience, cross-cultural awareness and foreign language skills with larger career goals.

After two months of in-country training, Sadie Nelson (’11), pictured far left, and members of her training group enjoy their day of “swearing in” as official Peace Corps volunteers in Lesotho, South Africa. Nelson applied to the Peace Corps shortly after graduation. Her in-country training included passing a language proficiency test of the country’s official language, Sesotho. Through a new partnership between the University and the Peace Corps, Truman students who volunteer can also work toward their master’s in leadership during service time.

After two months of in-country training, Sadie Nelson (’11), pictured far left, and members of her training group enjoy their day of “swearing in” as official Peace Corps volunteers in Lesotho, South Africa. Nelson applied to the Peace Corps shortly after graduation. Her in-country training included passing a language proficiency test of the country’s official language, Sesotho. Through a new partnership between the University and the Peace Corps, Truman students who volunteer can also work toward their master’s in leadership during service time.

A Longtime Mentor Says Goodbye

Bertha Thomas

Bertha Thomas

In August, when most students, faculty and staff were just getting into the new school year, Bertha Thomas was wrapping up more than two decades of time at Truman.

Thomas started her career at the University as a program coordinator before putting in 15 years as the assistant dean for multicultural affairs. She previously had positions in student support services and tutoring at Carleton College in Minnesota, and came to Truman in the early 1990s when her husband, Patrick Lobert, was hired to teach French.

“Luckily for me, my skills matched the job description for the McNair and multicultural affairs positions,” she said.

While Thomas is no longer on campus everyday, she still remains connected to the students and often takes the time to share a meal with them or offer support.

“I was very fortunate to have had 21 years to get to know our wonderful students and help them in my own small way to realize their academic, leadership, personal and career goals,” she said.

Thomas might be retired, but she remains busy. In addition to training for a half marathon in the spring, she is planning to spend time in France in the coming year.