Article Category Archives: Class Notes

Thirty Golden Years Later

Ray Armstead (’84)

Ray Armstead (’84)

Time might be one of the few things that moves as fast as Ray Armstead (’84). This summer marks the 30th anniversary of his Olympic gold medal win as a member of the U.S. 1,600-meter relay team.

“I can’t believe it was that long ago—I really can’t,” Armstead said. “It makes you a part of history. Being an Olympian is like winning the lottery, but beyond that, I’m still the same.”

Interestingly enough, Armstead nearly missed the chance to become one of the University’s most accomplished athletic alumni. The St. Louis native was primarily a basketball player in high school and was a latecomer to the track. After a successful showing at the state meet his senior year, legendary coach Kenneth Gardner helped steer Armstead to Truman thanks in part to the University’s reputation for academics and its track program.

Armstead is quick to credit the coaches at Truman for helping him improve on the track.

“Everything I learned was from someone teaching me how to run, how to lift weights and basically to be a good athlete,” he said. “I’m a motivated individual and I never wanted to be a failure. I just needed somebody who had the guidance and understanding to make me better.”

In addition to Gardner, Armstead acknowledges coaches Ed Schenider, John Cochrane and John Ware as instrumental in helping him achieve his goals. Cochrane worked with Armstead in the summers, and even drove him to Bloomfield, Iowa, regularly so he could have the opportunity to workout on an all-weather track.

“He saw that I was really passionate about being an Olympian. He gave me the workouts. He put me in the weight room,” Armstead said.

Along with all of his hard work, an injury in the 1983 season might have been equally responsible for helping Armstead reach Olympic greatness. That injury led him to take a redshirt, pushing back his eligibility for the outdoor track season and allowing him more time to workout with the rest of the team.

“If I would have graduated on time, I probably never would have made the Olympic team because then you are on your own to train,” he said. “Because I was redshirted I still had the opportunity to work with Truman.”

After posting a qualifying time during a meet at Southeast Missouri State University, Armstead was invited to the Olympic trials, where he found himself competing against Division I athletes. The gravity of making the team and representing the U.S. did not set in until that summer in Los Angeles.

“The whole time I was running, I had to prove myself,” Armstead said. “It didn’t hit me until the finals. It was very rewarding.”

After the OlympRayArmsteadSpeakingics, Armstead returned to Truman to finish his degree in art in December. He spent much of the next five years competing professionally around the globe. When his track career was complete, he turned his focus back to his education, picking up a master’s degree in business administration from Fontbonne University and a teaching degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Today, the gold medalist still finds time to run. He usually gets in two or three miles before heading to work as an art teacher at Jana Elementary School in Hazelwood, Mo. Armstead has a son and a daughter and lives in St. Louis with his wife of 17 years, Kimberly.

Truman’s Dr. J

Reinberg enjoys spending time with his wife Christina and their children, Hunter (7), Parker (5) and Emersen (1).

Reinberg enjoys spending time with his wife Christina and their children, Hunter (7), Parker (5) and Emersen (1).

Like most college students, Jason Reinberg (’00) formed a lot of lasting memories during his time at Truman. Between athletics, academics and a social life, he is hard pressed to determine which one is the most memorable.

It could be when, as a member of the 1998-1999 men’s basketball team, he hit two late free throws to secure the conference championship and send the Bulldogs to the NCAA tournament. The jam-packed crowd in Pershing Arena and the celebrations late into the night are a flurry of indescribable feelings for Reinberg. That team would carry their late-season momentum all the way to the final four, the best performance ever by a Truman squad. He still considers his teammates as some of his best friends.

“We have always gotten along and supported each other. I would bet the depth and longevity of our friendships is rarely seen in a college team,” Reinberg said.

Maybe something from all of the hours he spent in class or studying in Pickler Memorial Library stands out as his most memorable moment. In addition to his successful athletic career, Reinberg graduated as a valedictorian with a degree in biology. He went on to study at the University of Missouri’s School of Medicine and interned for one year at St. John’s Mercy in St. Louis before returning to Columbia for his dermatology residency.

Currently, Reinberg works in Washington, Mo., at Mercy Clinic as a dermatologist. Although he treats a variety of rashes, the majority of his patients come in for exams in order to diagnose and treat skin cancer. The visual aspects of this field fascinate Reinberg.

“I like being able to look at a problem on the skin and in most cases immediately know what the issue is and how to treat it,” he said.

During his medical school education, Reinberg never felt at a disadvantage when matched against students who graduated from larger or more nationally well-known institutions.

“My Truman education not only prepared me for medical school, but it allowed me to succeed in medical school,” Reinberg said. “It provided a great atmosphere for learning and growth academically, as well as socially.”

JasonReinbergBasketballSo maybe it is a memory from his social life that stands out among the rest. A member of Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity, he also spent a considerable amount of time at the Catholic Newman Center. Reinberg even enjoyed living in Missouri Hall his freshman year and still keeps in touch with his roommate and former team member Jason Ramthun (’00). To this day, he plays basketball in a YMCA league with many of the same guys he played with at Truman, as well as some younger graduates.

As great as all those memories are, none of them top the list for Reinberg. Despite his many accomplishments in college, whether they were in the classroom, on the court or in the fraternity house, he will say the one experience that stands out the most was meeting his wife Christina (Hunter) Reinberg (’01). They have three children together and Reinberg enjoys passing on his love of sports to them.

Transfer Leads to Academic and Athletic Success

Sarah Dance (’05)

Sarah Dance (’05)

One of the most Accomplished careers in the history of Bulldog athletics almost never happened.

Sarah Dance (’05) originally decided to go to school in her home state, and attended the University of Nebraska as a freshman. She did not swim that year, and when she made up her mind that she wanted to get back into the sport, she knew Truman was the place for her.

“My brother, who is three years older, went to Truman,” Dance said. “Through him, I learned about the great swimming and academics of the school. Truman was a natural fit, so I transferred.”

That decision worked out well. During her time at the University, Dance was a part of four swimming team national championships. On an individual level, she was a member of seven national champion freestyle relay teams and earned 28 All-America awards. Academically she excelled too, graduating with a perfect grade-point average while picking up a degree in exercise science with a minor in biology.

Those accomplishments helped Dance secure the NCAA Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship. The honor is bestowed on one male and one female student-athlete each year, regardless of sport or division, in recognition of athletic and academic achievement and for the purposes of postgraduate study.

“I didn’t think I would make it far in the application process, let alone win,” she said. “As students and athletes, what we do—working hard in our sport and academically—is the routine. It’s hard to recognize when it might be exemplary. I have my coach, Colleen Murphy, and my parents to thank, because they encouraged me to apply.”

SarahDanceSwimmingThe Walter Byers Scholarship came in handy for Dance, who attended medical school at the University of Nebraska Medical Center after her time at Truman. She finished her final year of anesthesiology residency this June, and while she calls Seattle, Wash., home now, she is currently spending a year in Houston as she completes a fellowship in cardiothoracic anesthesiology at the Texas Heart Institute.

In addition to dedicating the last several years to establishing her medical career, Dance joined the National Guard and spent six months deployed in Iraq.

“I always wanted to do something with the military, but couldn’t find the right avenue until a National Guard member spoke at a med school lunch meeting during the first weeks of school,” she said. “It seemed like a good fit—the opportunity for military involvement, but to still pick my own specialty and where I live.”

Dance worked with the Guard during medical school and her residency, participating in drills during the weekends. She delayed her anesthesia residency so she would have the opportunity deploy to Iraq, where she served as a brigade surgeon for a Nebraska unit and primarily focused on medical administrative work.

“It was a great experience in a leadership role, and I met a lot of great people,” she said.

Dance and her fiancé will be married next year, and they hope to make their home in the northwest.

Taking a Big Idea and Running With It

Matt Helbig (’03)

Matt Helbig (’03)

What started as just an idea between two friends keeps getting bigger.

Longtime acquaintances and former Truman track and field teammates Matt Helbig (’03) and Ben Rosario (’03) were enjoying a run together when they came up with the idea of opening their own store. Following the advice “do what you love,” they formulated a business plan, raised nearly $100,000 from friends and family for start-up funds and opened their first running and walking specialty store in August 2006.

In less than a decade, Big River Running Company has gone from an idea to a multimillion-dollar entity. Today, the company has four locations in the St. Louis metro area, with 35 full- and part-time employees. The initial success of Big River Running has also led to greater achievements for its two founders and their community.

In 2012, Rosario sold his share in the company to Helbig and moved to the running mecca of Flagstaff, Ariz., with his wife, Jen (Tesmer) Rosario (’03). Rosario now coaches and manages Northern Arizona Elite, a professional sports organization with a mission to recruit, develop and produce distance runners to compete at the very highest level of international athletics. His athletes have won national and international events, represented the United States at the World Championships and are considered strong contenders to make the 2016 Olympic Team.

“During my six amazing years at Big River I learned a lifetime’s worth of lessons, but I’d say hard work, the value of relationships and how to create a powerful brand were three of the biggest,” Rosario said. “It’s those three things, above all others, that I think are helping me succeed in the world of professional running.”

Helbig has an additional business venture as well after spearheading the launch of Big River Race Management in 2007. That company helps plan and provide chip timing for races all across the U.S. Its impact can especially be felt in St. Louis where last year Big River Race Management timed more than 150,000 athletes at no fewer than 220 events, many of which they helped sponsor or bring to the area.

“It is really pretty simple. We wanted to share the passion we have for running with others, some of whom share that passion and others who are learning about the sport of running for the first time,” Helbig said. “The goal was always to create a true community of runners and walkers around the stores.”

Getting involved in the community may be one of the secrets of success for Big River Running, and its efforts have not gone unnoticed. In 2009, the City of
St. Louis named it a Neighborhood Business of the Year. In fact, every year since its inception, Big River Running has been named one of the 50 best run specialty stores in the country, and was one of four finalists for the award in 2012.

All of his hard work has earned Helbig some attention too, as this year he was recognized by the St. Louis Business Journal on its “40 Under 40” list.

“Big River Running has been very successful and it’s not by luck. A lot of hard work and care went into building and growing the stores into what they are today,” Helbig said. “I truly believe success comes much easier when you are authentic and passionate. People naturally gravitate towards those qualities, and being authentic and passionate is part of the fiber of Big River Running.”

Putting Others First

Kevin Urbatsch (’88)

Kevin Urbatsch (’88)

In football, an offensive lineman’s primary job is to protect the quarterback. Kevin Urbatsch (’88) did just that while playing at Truman, and now continues to protect others with his legal expertise.

A three-time all-conference player and one-time All-American, Urbatsch excels at everything he does. Today, he is a partner at Myers Urbatsch P.C., a law firm that works in planning for the needs of people with disabilities. He has been named a Northern California Superlawyer for four consecutive years, and was named one of the nation’s Top Child Advocates in 2013 by Parenting Magazine.

“I work six days a week, and have promised not to work on Sundays,” Urbatsch said. “Although I’ve broken that promise a few times, I work this hard because I love what I do, and I love working for the people.”

As a student, his hard work on the football field earned him a spot on Truman’s All-Century Team, comprised of the top 95 football players and coaches of the past century. Urbatsch was also one of the founding members of Phi Kappa Tau social fraternity.

After graduating from Truman with a degree in history, Urbatsch played minor league football in Florida and Arizona for a few years before taking the LSAT and attending law school at St. Louis University. One of the highlights of his legal career was arguing before the Ninth Circuit of Appeals and reversing a district court order in a published decision.

Urbatsch has spent the last 21 years in San Francisco working in estate planning and helping those in need. He also uses his legal abilities to help veterans of World War II and the Korean War receive benefits.

“Because of my background and understanding of benefits for people with disabilities, it’s nice to help the veterans receive their benefits as well,” he said.

Additionally, Urbatsch has used his background and knowledge to help other lawyers who are looking to develop a practice. He published a two-volume set of books titled, “Special Needs Trusts: Planning, Drafting and Administration,” which took more than 20 authors and two years to complete.

“When I started in special needs, there was nothing to guide young practitioners on how to develop a practice,” he said. “I thought of all the things I wished someone had told me about this area of practice, then put it down in writing.”

KevinUrbatschFootballUrbatsch believes his greatest professional accomplishment to be establishing his own law firm. From starting with nothing in San Francisco, to creating a name for himself, Urbatsch has built a practice that is now one of the most respected estate-planning law firms in the Bay area.

“We all think about the things in our lives that bother us. When I sit down to talk to people with disabilities, I realize my problems are pretty insignificant,” he said. “It’s very inspiring to talk and learn from them.”

Outside of work, Urbatsch spends time with his wife, their two dogs and three cats. In his spare time, he enjoys visiting wineries in Napa and Sonoma Valley and watching the San Francisco Giants, especially when they beat the Cardinals.

A Busy Bulldog

Brenton Freeman (’05)

Brenton Freeman (’05)

Brenton Freeman (’05) rarely has a dull moment at work. As an anesthesiologist in Des Moines, Iowa, he balances his workload between two area hospitals and two outpatient surgery centers. He has to be prepared to work with patients ranging in age from one to 100, on anything from a simple outpatient procedure to major trauma. Although some might find it unsettling, the hectic atmosphere is actually something he enjoys.

“It can be challenging at times, but I love every second of my job,” Freeman said.

“Whether I am involved with a minor procedure, a major operation or an obstetrical delivery, the most rewarding part of my job is seeing patients after surgery feeling comfortable and appreciative of their care.”

The ability to balance a busy schedule is something Freeman honed during his time at Truman. In addition to the hours of coursework he undertook to earn his degree in exercise science, he was also a member of the men’s soccer team.

“As an athlete, I knew I was going to be traveling and competing, but I still had exams and other school work to complete, so I had to be organized and focused,” Freeman said. “I felt like being a student-athlete made me more successful in both academics and athletics.”

In the fall of 2003, Freeman was one of three captains for the soccer team, which had its most successful campaign ever. That team would go undefeated in the regular season, advance to the national quarterfinals and finish the year ranked No. 4 in the country with a record of 20-1.

“That season was filled with so many great memories and stories,” he said. “That team knew how to work hard, but we also had a lot of fun together. Those guys are still some of my best friends and we regularly keep in touch despite living around the country.”

BrentonFreemanSoccerSince his time at Truman, Freeman himself has been scattered around the country. Following graduation he stayed in Kirksville, attending A.T. Still University and earning his osteopathic degree in 2009. His last two years of medical school took him to Phoenix, Ariz., for clinical rotations, followed by an internship in Las Vegas and his anesthesiology residency in Iowa City, Iowa.

Today, Freeman is employed with Associated Anesthesiologist in Des Moines. This September he will be married to Hillary Farmer. In his free time, he enjoys golfing, running and biking—pretty much anything outdoors, although surprisingly not usually playing soccer.

“I still love the game and follow it as much as I can, but most of my playing days are behind me,” he said. “I was fortunate enough to not have a major injury throughout my sports career, so I have no interest in hurting myself now.”

From Sales Rep to CEO

GregBrownMost entry-level jobs act as a resume-builder for applications elsewhere, but not so for alumnus Greg Brown (’84). During his 30-year span at Learfield Communications, Brown has created a reputation as a skilled worker and trusted leader, which helped him rise to the top of the company.

Learfield Communications began as a regional radio network in Jefferson City, Mo. Since its inception in 1972, the company has grown into a diverse multimedia enterprise and respected pioneer in collegiate sports media and marketing. With two primary operating units, Learfield News and Learfield Sports, the business not only provides news and agriculture broadcast programming to hundreds of radio stations throughout the Midwest, but also manages the multi-media rights for some of the biggest programs in college sports.

Immediately after graduation, Brown began his career with Learfield, managing the account with the Iowa State Cyclone network. Eventually, he worked his way to becoming the head of Learfield Sports. Under his leadership, this primary operating unit grew from a client base of six schools to more than 50 schools, conferences and associations, and today boasts a portfolio of relationships with nearly 100 major university athletic programs.

In 2009, Brown was promoted to his current role of president and CEO of Learfield Communications. Although the company has grown much larger since Brown first joined the team, Learfield maintains close personal relationships with its clients and employees.

“We work hard, treat our people exceedingly well and strive to create an incredible culture internally, which makes for very productive external relationships,” Brown said. “The integrity and cultural values of Learfield are effectively transferred between all of these relationships.”

Brown’s dedication to Learfield has been heralded by many. In 2012, he was named a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Award in the Central Midwest. That same year, he was listed as the 23rd most influential executive in college football by SportsBusiness Journal. While Brown appreciates the recognition, gaining personal acclaim has not been a focus in his career.

“Trying to gain accolades and awards for myself–that’s not where it’s at,” Brown said. “I’ve had 30 years of experience working alongside a lot of talented people who are doing great work. I’m more focused on how we’re doing as a company, as individuals, how we are serving our partners and clients, and how we’re doing as leaders in our field.”

When reflecting on his experience at Truman, Brown noted that the opportunities to serve as the president of Sigma Tau Gamma and as a senator on Student Senate gave him access to professional skills, while his work with the Missouri Student Government Internship Program helped him develop important relationships to jumpstart his career. As a senior, Brown served as an intern in the Missouri Attorney General’s Office under John Ashcroft.

“Fundamentally, it’s about relationships,” Brown said. “The relationship that I formed with John Ashcroft’s chief of staff while I served as Mr. Ashcroft’s intern led me to contacts which were incredibly helpful in securing my position at Learfield. It is about being intentional with the relationships you have and engaging people in a meaningful way.”

With many accomplishments under his belt from his illustrious career at Learfield, Brown advises anyone looking to develop a similar career path to search for something that really tugs at their heart.

“Engaging in something you are passionate about is critical,” he said. “If you don’t, it’s merely a job and a paycheck. Why do that when there is so much more out there for each of us to pursue?”

Love of Books Leads to a Career

Emily Hall (’11)

Emily Hall (’11)

Nestled between crumbling brick storefronts and restaurants, Main Street Books is a beloved staple in the Historic District of St. Charles, Mo. Among the knotty pine wooden panels and cozy ambience, University alumna Emily Hall (’11) feels at home navigating the displays of bestsellers and sorting through piles of unread books. Hall and her parents took over the popular bookstore in an unexpected turn of events.

Hall’s mother heard the previous owner of Main Street Books, Vicki Erwin, was planning on retiring and closing. She offhandedly suggested buying the bookstore to her family and, in particular, her daughter. After working as a personal assistant at an insurance company, Hall was looking for something else to give her a sense of accomplishment.

“It was a decided family effort that hinged on me, but I thought I could handle it,” Hall said.

Her love of books feeds her passion for the bookstore. In an industry competing with e-readers and tablets, Hall believes there will always be people who want print books. Through coffee stains and folded corners, she says the pages of print books convey history and moments in time.

“A book doesn’t need batteries, doesn’t need to be turned off and you don’t have to take it out of your bag at airport security,” Hall said. “Plus, an author can’t sign a Kindle.”

In February, Hall and her parents officially signed the papers as joint owners of the bookstore. While her parents will provide financial support and assistance, Hall will control the day-to-day operations. Her long-term goal is to own at least half of the business within the next five years.

Erwin has helped Hall transition into her new role by providing knowledge of the industry. Besides helping customers, Hall’s duties revolve around meeting the representatives of publishing houses, devising a marketing strategy and ordering books for the store.

MainStreetBooksTableHall is not expecting to make big changes to the face of the store. Besides adding her personal touches, she is looking to expand the young adult literature section. Hall is also hoping to providing a structured place for a reading group that would be accessible to young adults.

Although not in her original career plan, the process has been both terrifying and exciting. Her time in college helped to inspire and encourage her to pursue different paths. Hall graduated from Truman with an English degree. Since her experience with the Joseph Baldwin Academy in middle school, Hall always knew she wanted to go to Truman.

“I didn’t want to get a degree where I was pressured to get a career in a big town somewhere else,” Hall said. “I still refer to Truman as the best decision I ever made.”

Legal Expertise Leads to Forbes Recognition

Corey Owens (’06) and fellow Truman graduate Sarah Saheb (’06) at a labor rights rally in Washington, D.C.

Corey Owens (’06) and fellow Truman graduate Sarah Saheb (’06) at a labor rights rally in Washington, D.C.

Friends of the University may have noticed a familiar name on the Forbes “30 Under 30” list, released in January. Alumnus Corey Owens (’06) made a drastic change in his career to align his passion with his profession, and his efforts are certainly earning some attention.

After landing a job with Facebook in 2010 and serving as the social media giant’s manager of global public policy in Washington, D.C., Owens decided his skills could be put to better use fighting for an up-and-coming product he believed would be the next big thing. In March 2013, he left his job at Facebook and relocated to San Francisco to start work as the head of global public policy at Uber, a company that connects riders with high-quality drivers through a smartphone app.

“I had reached a point in my career where I really wanted to fight for something that I wanted to use, and Uber felt like that magical product,” he said.

Founded in 2009, Uber launched its first city–San Francisco–in 2010 and has since grown into a global company with millions of users in more than 80 cities and 30 countries around the world. Owens describes Uber as offering luxury rides at affordable costs. Instead of waiting for a taxi to drive by and flagging it down, Uber users can request a car through their smartphone and track its progress to their location.

Any company that experiences rapid expansion needs to be aware of its environment, which is where Owens, who earned his master’s in political management from George Washington University in 2008, shines. When Uber expands to a new city, he is on the front lines, working with local leaders to clear any legal hurdles that might arise, allowing the company to establish roots in the market.

Forbes took notice of Owens’ commitment to excellence and placed him among the “30 Under 30” to watch in law and policy.

“I’m really flattered and humbled, but I think the most exciting part of it is the recognition of the really cool stuff we’re doing at the company,” Owens said. “It’s about a growing company with a big idea, so as much as it’s a recognition of me, it’s a recognition of the work we’re doing at Uber.”

Owens has always been a bit of a trailblazer, so his work with forward-thinking companies like Uber and Facebook should come as no surprise to those who know him. After starting at Truman as a communication major in 2002, he eventually became one of the first students to apply for and declare an interdisciplinary studies major. He ultimately injected philosophy and political science classes into his communication course load and created a major he called rhetoric and power.

“It’s an exhilarating experience to learn about something you care about, and any kind of program that allows you to customize your learning experience to your needs and interests will set you up for success,” he said.

Owens, left, with the Uber Public Policy/Comms team at a retreat in Miami

Owens, left, with the Uber Public Policy/Comms team at a retreat in Miami

To that point, Owens’ résumé speaks for itself. He has also occupied positions at the American Civil Liberties Union and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. In addition to his major, he attributes part of his professional success to the opportunities made available during his time at Truman as an avid member of the debate team and a disc jockey for KTRM. Owens can foresee a time when his former college town will cross paths with the company where he puts his skills to use today.

“Uber is technology that is on the right side of history,” he said. “It is not a question of if Kirksville will have services like Uber, it’s a question of when.”

Alumnus Finds a Home at Harvard

Jason Beckfield (’98)

Jason Beckfield (’98)

As a freshman at Truman, Jason Beckfield (’98) laughed at the idea of pursuing a Ph.D. in sociology after his undergraduate degree. Now, after many laborious doctoral years, Beckfield has moved from the “Harvard of the Midwest” to full-time professor of sociology at Harvard University in Massachusetts.

The liberal arts program drew Beckfield to Truman, allowing him to explore different career paths and major options. With the help of his professor and mentor Jack Mitchell, Beckfield became interested in the field of sociology. Intimidating and demanding, Mitchell would often come to class still dressed for duck hunting, occasionally barking out questions to his students.

“His answer to all my attempts was something like ‘No!’ or ‘You’re thinking about it wrong!’” Beckfield said. “Being a student in his class was a little scary, and also intellectually thrilling.”

Mitchell was crucial in Beckfield’s decision to attend graduate school. He cleared up Beckfield’s initial hesitations and explained the positives of good graduate programs in sociology. His compelling lectures and excellent teaching helped Beckfield excel in school, which earned him a Chancellor’s Fellowship to Indiana University.

After Indiana, Beckfield taught as an assistant professor at the University of Chicago. Later, Harvard offered his wife a postdoctoral fellowship and the two moved to Massachusetts, where they still live with their two kids. Beckfield picked up work as a visiting assistant professor during his first year at Harvard, yet had no intention of staying.

“I thought I might go back to Chicago, or go somewhere else,” Beckfield said. “To our shock, both my wife and I were offered jobs at Harvard and we have been here ever since.”

Relieved and ecstatic, Beckfield was promoted to full-time professor of sociology at Harvard in February 2011. His job is equal parts research, teaching and service. In the past, he has served as director of undergraduate studies and is the current director of graduate studies.

“Few people in the world are so privileged as tenured professors,” Beckfield said. “We have a lot of freedom to ask and answer the questions that we find important, and we have very nice working conditions compared to nearly any other job in the world.”

Fairness, whether it is in working conditions or quality of life, is a particular area of interest to Beckfield. He is currently devoting his time to exploring the effect of the European Union on social inequalities, and how social inequalities in the United States compare to inequalities in other countries. With his research, Beckfield has published books, papers and numerous journal articles, including one of his favorites “The Social Structure of the World Polity.” In this article, he illustrated growing political inequality around the world.

Although Beckfield might not come to class dressed for duck hunting, he still relates to his Midwest roots. Compared to Truman, Harvard is a much larger environment with high research expectations. However, Beckfield says the universities are similar in the fact they both place a strong emphasis on undergraduate teaching.

“I am glad people still call Truman the ‘Harvard of the Midwest,’ because in some ways they do share a similar spirit of encouraging and nourishing the curious mind,” Beckfield said.