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Head of the Class

A Tradition of Teacher Education

Long before the colors of purple and white were adopted in 1902, or the bulldog was made the school’s mascot in 1915, the University already had a well-established history. Above all else, it was a place to train teachers for public schools.

Much has changed since Truman’s founding—most notably seven different names and the distinction of becoming the state’s only public liberal arts and sciences university—but the development of public educators has remained a cornerstone of the institution. Among the University’s nearly 59,000 living alumni as of fall 2014, a full 25 percent earned either a Bachelor of Science in Education or a Master of Arts in Education.

HeadOfClass-OldClassroomDiscussion about methods to prepare future educators has been a constant topic on campus, almost since the school’s first days. A look back at Truman’s history in regards to its education program will show it was always in flux, but every massive change or minor adjustment was made with quality in mind, both for the future teachers and the field in general.

HeadOfClass-CumberlandWhile Truman has been the preeminent University in northeast Missouri for the better part of two centuries, it owes a debt of gratitude to a well-intentioned, but short-lived, learning institution. Cumberland Academy was established in Kirksville before the Civil War and while it never flourished as a school the structure attracted the attention of Joseph Baldwin, a professional educator with years of service as a teacher and administrator.

In the late 1860s, Baldwin was the president of a private seminary school in Indiana, and he had a desire to create his ideal school. In addition to the availability of the Cumberland Academy building, family ties and the urging of education leaders in Missouri helped sway the Pennsylvania native to establish his school in Kirksville. The North Missouri Normal School and Commercial College opened its doors in 1867, and just three years later it was Missouri’s first state-supported institution of higher education established for the primary purpose of preparing teachers for public schools.

Joseph Baldwin

Joseph Baldwin

Baldwin believed the basic education of a teacher should be a thorough program of both arts and science. To earn a bachelor’s degree, his educational program required 120 semester hours between mathematics, sciences, languages, English, literature, history, political economy and professional education. Fifteen men earned state teaching certificates as the Normal School’s first graduating class in 1870.

After Baldwin stepped down as president in 1881, two of his next three successors brought some differing opinions on how to approach teacher education. In Joseph Blanton’s nine-year reign, he shifted the focus more towards the academic side of the curriculum and less towards teaching others how to teach. William D. Dobson followed Blanton, and he seemed to take an almost opposite approach, focusing on the art of teaching rather than academics.

With the arrival of John R. Kirk in 1899, the school returned more to the idea of broad-based education for teachers. However, he did more than just reestablish Baldwin’s philosophies. Kirk was interested in helping to improve the facilities and quality of education in many of Missouri’s rural schools, and he was instrumental in establishing the model rural school. Just as Baldwin had a vision of his ideal college, Kirk had dreams of a perfect schoolhouse, which he built on campus in 1907. The Demonstration Rural School would serve students as well as future educators for 10 years before being repurposed during World War I.

HeadOfClass-ModelRuralSchool“The Model Rural School exemplified the simplest, yet most complete, practical and economical architecture ever devised anywhere for rural or village schools and the most effective facilities for instruction use in schools of corresponding grades anywhere,” Kirk wrote in 1910.

One former model school, which can also be seen as an example of the evolving approach to teacher instruction, is the Ophelia Parrish Building. Constructed in 1923 and named in honor of the former supervisor of the practical school, the building was a model school for a number of years before later serving as the local junior high school. Although model schools have been phased out over the years, the spirit and practicality of them remains. When Eugene Fair assumed the presidency from Kirk, he implemented a cadet system of teaching that required teachers in training to work for three months in a nearby community in an effort to expand and enhance their laboratory experiences. While the cadet system was discontinued in 1932, the idea of integrating education students into community schools is still in place. Currently, Truman students are active in several schools throughout the state completing their observation hours and conducting student teaching.

“We want students to stay connected with their dreams of becoming teachers, and they need to have the experience of working in schools as undergraduates,” said Peter Kelly, chair of the Department of Education.

Perhaps the biggest—and most controversial—change for the University in regards to producing teachers was the decision to phase out the Bachelor of Science in Education in the early 1990s. While it may seem strange for a University that started as a normal school to no longer offer an undergraduate degree in education, the switch to an MAE-only option is another example of how Truman tries to stay at the forefront of teacher education.

WingertMAE2014Classroom-33of41“Truman has a long and successful history in teacher education. Our job now is to build on that,” Kelly said. “I would say that the quality of our education program, students and teacher preparation has been enhanced by Truman’s transition to a public liberal arts and sciences university. Earning an undergraduate degree in a discipline provides expert content knowledge that serves as the foundation for strong careers in teaching.”

Because the elimination of the Bachelor of Science in Education followed a few years after the University mission change in 1985, many people closely associate the two. However, the seeds for an MAE approach were actually sown nearly 50 years earlier during Walter H. Ryle’s presidency. Ryle was one of the biggest proponents of keeping teaching as a central component of the University, so much so that he was opposed to dropping the word “Teachers” from the school name. In the late 1930s he was already exploring how to better prepare teachers, and in a memo to the Board of Regents he mentioned the prospect of additional education.

“I think it’s only a matter of time before the leading teacher colleges of this country will be offering three years above the two years of general education. In other words, instead of having four years of college work as we have today, we will have five years, and at the close of this five years of work a master’s degree in teaching will be granted,” Ryle wrote.

WingertMAE2014-26of56Students interested in the MAE must apply for entry into the program, usually during their senior year. Once in the program, they receive additional coursework in the major area as well as coursework specific to the MAE. Students can get their undergraduate degrees in any number of subjects if they plan on pursing elementary or special education at the master’s level. Those that specialize in the content areas of history, music, science, math, English or a foreign language obtain undergraduate degrees in those disciplines prior to enrolling in the MAE program.

Today, Truman produces roughly 100 MAE graduates per year, and while that number may seem small in comparison to the 500 Bachelor of Education graduates per year the University was turning out nearly a century after its founding, it is more a representation of the shifting interests of the student body than a reflection on the University’s regard for educating teachers. Since its inception, the University has built upon programs it was already offering in order to provide more degrees to those not necessarily interested in teaching. Normal schools alone are a thing of the past. Baldwin’s first students were already studying a variety of subjects, so it was a natural progression for the University to serve more students. While more education students were being turned out at the 100-year mark, they were already accounting for a smaller percentage of the graduating class.

Another factor that can be lost in looking only at numbers is the quality of preparation. While Truman may not produce as many education graduates as it did in the past, arguably it still turns out better-prepared educators than other institutions.

“Research clearly demonstrates that good teachers have rich content knowledge,” Kelly said. “If you want to be a good teacher, it helps to know your content well. Programs that offer a bachelor’s degree in education offer their students much less content knowledge preparation.”

WingertMAE2014-9of56Proof of the quality preparation Truman education students receive might best be seen in the opportunities they are afforded either during their internships or early in their careers. In addition to internships throughout the state of Missouri, Truman is a partner with the U.S. Department of Defense and MAE students have been able to conduct their student teaching on American military bases in foreign countries. Of late, Truman has also cultivated a growing reputation for its participation in the U.S. Fulbright Program, one of the most prestigious exchange programs in the world. Several Truman MAE students or alumni have gone on to spend time teaching in various locations around the globe, including two this year.

In addition to the countless teachers specializing in history, music, science, math and languages, Truman MAE graduates have gone on expand the boundaries of the education field. They can be found spreading their knowledge in a variety of fields, including outdoor education, culinary arts and journalism among many
more. MAE graduates are also well prepared to continue their own educations and several have gone on to
receive a Ph.D.

The fact that so many Truman-trained teachers are practicing their crafts in more non-traditional roles is further evidence the University’s approach to education instruction is working. Another indication of success is Truman alumni earning back-to-back Missouri Teacher of the Year awards (sidebar, page 17).

“Deep and rigorous content knowledge, coupled with an emphasis on reflective practice, ensures that Truman MAE teacher candidates are well prepared to meet the unique challenges facing today’s educators,” said Janet Gooch, dean of the School of Health Sciences and Education.

WingertMAE2014Classroom-1of41With so many different philosophies of education instruction, it can be easy to take sides, but the reality is all of the competing ideas of past presidents have helped to shape where the University is today. Their contributions did not jockey for position as much as they coalesced, and remnants of their philosophies still can be seen. Baldwin’s belief in a broad-based education is a core principle to the school’s liberal arts mission. Blanton would no doubt be pleased with Truman’s high academic standards and the reputation the University has garnered since his tenure. Ryle’s vision of a master’s degree requirement and Charles McClain’s ability to make it become a reality show a commitment to the art of teaching for which Dobson would certainly be proud. Additionally, glimpses of Kirk’s desire to use the University’s resources as an avenue to improve the community can be seen in the many service-learning projects conducted by current students and faculty members, as well as the observation hours and teaching internships that take place throughout the state.

Predictions about the future of education in America can be hard to make. Certification requirements, changing curriculums, technological innovations and shifting budgets are just a few of the factors at play, and no one knows for sure what skills the teacher of tomorrow will need in the classroom. Baldwin could not have foreseen chalkboards giving way to smart boards, or inkwells becoming obsolete and Wi-Fi hotspots becoming a near necessity. While those things happened, they did not diminish Truman’s ability to produce quality educators, and there is no reason to think future changes should sidetrack the University either.

“Technology, state and federal requirements, the learning environment, pedagogical methods, globalization—those all influence education and are constantly changing and evolving,” Gooch said. “The MAE program needs to stay abreast of these changes and the impact that they have on teacher preparation. Truman will continue to produce high-quality teachers that meet the needs of the local area, the state and the nation.”

Editor’s Note: Some of the information for this article was taken from “Centennial History of the Northeast Missouri State Teachers College,” by Dr. Walter H. Ryle and “Founding the Future: A History of Truman State University,” by Dr. David C. Nichols.


 Back-to-Back

Chris Holmes Earns Missouri Teacher of the Year Honors, the Second in a Row for Truman Alumni

Chris Holmes

Chris Holmes (’90)

Nearly 150 years have passed since the University was founded with the goal of educating teachers, but some things never change. Truman still produces top-notch teachers, as proven by consecutive Missouri Teacher of the Year recipients.

Chris Holmes (’90), a journalism teacher at Hazelwood West High School near St. Louis, was named the state’s Teacher of the Year in August. His award comes on the heels of Jamie (Smith) Manker (’98, ’00) earning the honor the previous year.

For Holmes, the award itself might not be as much of a surprise as the fact that he ever became a teacher in the first place. He originally had designs on a career solely in journalism.

“I was planning a lifetime of writing, covering news from every corner of the world,” he said.

It was not until his journalism advisor at Truman, Les Dunseith, asked him to present a session on newswriting to prospective students that he felt the urge to teach.

“That’s when it happened. When I was speaking to this group of wide-eyed teenagers,” he said. “Something clicked. Then sparked. Then caught fire. That utterly unique feeling of connecting with kids has been burning ever since.”

Holmes would go on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Education degree with a specialization in journalism, a field not usually explored by future teachers.

“If memory serves me correctly, I was the only education major studying journalism during my time at Truman,” he said. “However, my professors were flexible in providing opportunities for me to focus on journalism, while the majority of my peers studied core subjects.”

Holmes tries to maintain flexibility in his own teaching curriculum. He was the catalyst in creating a journalism field trip program at Hazelwood West. Last year, he took a group of students to the border town of Weslaco, Texas, so they could examine, firsthand, the topic of immigration reform and explore teenagers’ perspectives on the issue (Truman Review, Summer 2014). He hopes to plan similar trips with a variety of locations and topics.

When the events in nearby Ferguson, Mo., were taking center stage in the national news, Holmes visited the area in person so he could fully understand and discuss the matter with his students when the school year started. While some teachers might shy away from controversial topics with high school students, Holmes thinks it is important, and he feels it might actually give him a distinct advantage in inspiring them.

“The students are instantly engaged because it may seem more real or relevant to them than traditional subjects,” Holmes said. “I suspect that getting ninth graders excited about algebra is much more difficult than what I do.”


 An Education for All Ages

ZombieScholarAlthough Truman was founded as a school for teachers and has grown into a nationally recognized university, it does not cater exclusively to undergraduate and graduate students. Truman’s Institute for Academic Outreach (IAO) oversees a variety of programming for a wide range of audiences.

Perhaps the best-known IAO program is the Joseph Baldwin Academy for Eminent Young Scholars. Commonly referred to as JBA, it provides highly talented middle school students the opportunity to spend three weeks on campus in the summer where they can get a head start on their future college careers. The students live in the residence halls and take classes with Truman faculty members.

“For many high-ability young people, school isn’t always challenging enough, and sometimes it feels less-than-cool to be smart,” said Kevin Minch, associate vice president for academic affairs and Institute director. “We try to create an environment at JBA where students not only learn it’s OK to be smart, but that attending college is something they eagerly look forward to.”

Typical summers see roughly 400 seventh, eighth and ninth grade students participating in JBA. To be admitted to the program, all students must be nominated by a school principal or guidance counselor and they must meet exceptional academic criteria.

Created by the University in 1985 to provide the benefits of a liberal arts education to students beyond its own undergraduates, JBA has also become a successful recruiting tool. Hundreds of former JBA students have gone on to make Truman their college choice.

In recent years, the IAO has added additional summer programming for younger students. The Summer Talent Academy for Professions in Health (STAPH) is a one-week, intensive residential program aimed at students who have just completed 10th or 11th grade and are interested in becoming doctors, nurses, therapists, technicians or entering any other health profession. In addition to Truman faculty, STAPH is conducted in partnership with doctors and clinical faculty from A.T. Still University.

Capitalizing on recent popular culture trends, the IAO created the Zombie Scholars Academy. The program, which debuted in 2013, focuses on developing critical thinking, leadership and disaster preparedness skills and was inspired by zombie initiatives by the Centers for Disease Control and other public health groups.

“With 30 years of experience learning about what gets young people excited about scholarship, we’ve reaffirmed the notion that learning is more effective when its hands-on and fun,” Minch said. “Popular culture–and zombies in particular–gives us access to so many fascinating topics in the arts and sciences. The kids love it!”

IAO programming reaches other demographics besides middle and high school students, and participants do not always have to venture to Kirksville to reap the benefits. Working adults can take advantage of professional development courses and online graduate certificate programs. There are also a host of online courses, test preparation services and options for non-degree seeking students.

“We are growing our programming every day. We really want to help people embrace the idea of learning as a life-long experience,” Minch said.

More detailed information about programming available through the IAO can be found online at institute.truman.edu or by calling (660) 785-5384.

The University During War

Remembering World War II and Those Who Served

The atmosphere on campus in the late 1930s and early 1940s was an interesting mix of anxiousness and obliviousness. War loomed, and while the general consensus was that the United States would eventually become involved, many on campus chose not to think about what was in store.

“There was a feeling it was coming, especially in ’40 and ’41,” Gerald “Shag” Grossnickle (’42) said. “The main thing was, ‘Let’s have a good time while we may. We might not live to see tomorrow.’”

Attendee Harvey Young shared the same outlook.

“I didn’t worry about it too much,” he said. “I was probably having too much fun.”

For the most part, day-to-day life on campus went largely unchanged until 1941. Grossnickle remembers being on the dance floor in Kirk Auditorium with his future wife when he heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“I knew we were at war then,” he said. “There was no question.”

According to “Centennial History of the Northeast Missouri State Teachers College,” written by President Emeritus Walter H. Ryle, fall enrollment for 1941 was 846. By comparison, just three years later only 302 students remained. In 1944, only 101 degrees were awarded and women were the recipients of 82 of them.

Traditional fixtures of college life faded away for a time. The football team skipped three seasons of play, and in 1942 Ryle announced the University would not celebrate another Homecoming until after the war.

In Kirksville, one of the early indicators that war was inevitable was the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPT) sponsored through the government. The University began participation in the program in January 1941. While the goal may have been to train civilian pilots, by 1943 the program had officially changed to the War Training Service. The participants were on a strict military regimen and lived in barrack conditions in Kirk Building.

Even though the program took place on campus, many of the men involved were not University students and some came from various states all across the country. In his book, Ryle estimates the University helped train anywhere from 1,800 to 2,000 men during the school’s three-year participation in the program. One of those trained in the early days of the program was William “Bill” Minor (’42).

William “Bill” Minor (’42)

William “Bill” Minor (’42)

“I got my license there just before World War II started in 1941,” he said.

Minor enlisted in the Army Air Corps and was commissioned after his graduation. He, Grossnickle and Young are just a few of the individuals with University ties that served. Their stories, while unique in their own rights, do share similarities and are emblematic in several ways of the many alumni, students, faculty and staff members who participated in the war effort.

WilliamMinorinPlane

William “Bill” Minor (’42)

For Minor, although he was a licensed pilot, he spent much of his first year and a half of active duty gaining training experience stateside. Before he even got out of the country, he was exposed to just how dangerous the task at hand would be. On a training flight in Florida, his squadron of aircraft encountered a tropical storm and five pilots perished. That was just a taste of some of the misfortune he would see and experience.

Upon entering the Army Air Corps, Minor had hopes of being a fighter pilot. He was even scheduled to fly the famed P-51 Mustang, but a shortage of bomber pilots forced a last-minute change of duty that left him piloting a B-24 for the Eighth Air Force. While he may have been disappointed in the reassignment, it was not all bad for Minor. He was taught to fly the B-24 by Hollywood legend Jimmy Stewart. Also, while conducting training exercises in Iowa, he met his future wife of nearly 65 years.

* * *

Young, like his childhood friend Minor, got his pilot’s license through the CPT. He attended the University for three years and was working at a company that manufactured airplane parts in Wichita, Kan., when he was accepted into the Army Air Corps. He gave up a job that paid $1,000 a month in order to serve.

“We all had the idea we had to do it,” he said. “It was our duty.”

Attendee Harry Young

Attendee Harry Young

By the end of the war, Young would have more than 1,700 hours of flight time in combat zones in the Pacific, primarily transporting cargo, food, medical supplies and troops. On his first mission in theater, his flight came under attack over Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.

“Flak was so thick you could walk on it, but luckily we didn’t get hit,” he said.

After getting his plane turned around, he had to fly through a weather system to escape. A lightning strike knocked out the electrical systems and the crew had to make a dead reckoning heading back to Guadalcanal. It would not be Young’s last brush with death.

“I thought, ‘By God, what have I got myself into?’” he said.

Despite living in a war zone, dealing with heat, mosquitoes and what he describes as awful food and drinking water, Young does have some fond memories of his service time. On regular runs to Sydney, Australia, his ability to secure bottles of whiskey ultimately led to him winning the favor of a two-star general and at times serving as his personal pilot. Occasionally, he was responsible for flying in entertainment from the USO, and although he did not personally transport him, Young got to spend one evening sharing drinks with Bob Hope.

* * *

ShagGrossnickle

Gerald “Shag” Grossnickle (’42)

Grossnickle also had some memorable moments awaiting his final orders for the war. In the fall of 1942, he was in Rhode Island preparing to go overseas with the Navy. The St. Louis Cardinals happened to be playing in the World Series against the New York Yankees, and he and his wife were able to take a train into the city to catch a game.

Fortune smiled on Grossnickle more than once while he was in Rhode Island. Due to another sailor’s illness, Grossnickle was reassigned at the last minute to the Great Lakes Naval Station near Chicago. He would spend the duration of the war stateside training countless regiments of sailors before they were sent overseas, eventually working his way up to battalion adjutant. After about a month in Chicago, Grossnickle received word that the group he was previously assigned to, and would have remained with if not for the last-minute switch, had been shipped out and every one of them had been killed.

“I think it was the grace of God that I was the last one to come to Chicago,” he said.

* * *

The defining moment in Young’s flying career came when he was transporting a group of military police and fighter pilots out of Okinawa to Manila. At one point in the trip, the squadron flew into a typhoon. Past the point of no return, without enough fuel to go back and flying in an area where lower altitudes were controlled by Japanese forces, Young had no choice but to go through the storm. Although he found a hole to fly through at about 10,000 feet, the trip was anything but ideal. At times he could not see, and the storm was so intense it ripped off several pieces of the plane.

Attendee Harry Young during his training

Attendee Harry Young during his training

“I never took such a ride in my life. It just tore us to pieces,” he said. “I thought we weren’t going to make it.”

At one point, he considered ditching the plane over water, but knowing what that meant for everyone’s chance for survival, he pressed on through the storm. After nearly half an hour of white-knuckle flying so intense that both his navigator and co-pilot got sick, as did most of the troops being transported, the plane broke out of the weather. As fortune would have it, they came out of the storm and immediately found an emergency landing strip on the island of Luzon that was not on the navigator’s map.

“The good Lord just built us an airstrip,” Young said.

It was not until he was safely on the ground that he fully realized all he had been through.

“Luckily, I was so scared that I didn’t get sick in the air,” Young said. “When I landed, I was just so scared I couldn’t sign the form you are supposed to sign.”

Damage to the plane was severe enough that it was later junked, but all aboard made the trip unharmed. According to Young, a similar plane flying just 10 minutes behind was not as lucky. It went down in the jungle and was not found until the 1970s.

* * *

WilliamMinorFlightCrew

William “Bill” Minor (’42) with his flight crew

Although he was an experienced pilot by the time he landed in England in November 1943, Minor would not rack up a tremendous amount of flight time during the war.

“I only flew five missions,” he said.

On Jan. 5, 1944, during a bombing run over Kiel, Germany, Minor’s plane came under attack from Axis forces. Three German Luftwaffe fighters repeatedly strafed the plane. Minor lost contact with the crewmembers in the rear, and when his B-24 no longer returned fire, he knew those men were already killed or injured. The German planes then focused their attack near the front cabin where he was located, eventually striking the engine, causing it to burst into flames.

“I knew I had to get out,” Minor said. “The plane was on fire and it was coming up on the flight deck right behind me.”

As flames overtook the airplane, Minor could hardly see. He had to take a leap of faith, hoping the plane’s bomb bay doors were still open, leaving him an escape route. Luckily for him, they were.

“I just plunged right through the fire and went right through the bomb bay doors,” he said.

Just a few seconds passed between the time Minor exited the aircraft and when it exploded. He and two fellow crewmembers came down in the frigid waters of the North Sea at the bay entrance to the Kiel Canal. While they were fortunate enough to hit a sandbar at low tide, they landed within sight of a group of Hitler Youth accompanied by German soldiers and were immediately apprehended.

A fourth crewmember was unable to get out of the plane before it blew up, but was fortunately blown out of the wreckage and his parachute opened undamaged. He was severely burned, but made it to land and was later transported to a hospital. Six of the 10 crewmembers were killed in the attack.

Minor and the two others spent a week at an interrogation center before being packed into a boxcar with approximately 200 other prisoners of war. They spent two days on a train without any regard for food, water or sanitation. One night was spent in a Berlin rail yard, and bombing runs from British forces nearly sealed their fate. Eventually they would end up at a camp near Barth, Germany, where they would spend the remainder of the war.

Minor has a “war room” in his home where he keeps mementos from his service time. When asked, he freely discusses his experiences, but the details of his imprisonment are not among the stories he likes to share.

“I don’t much want to talk about that,” he said.

Despite spending nearly a year and a half in the prisoner of war camp, Minor maintains a relatively positive outlook on the world.

“Life is too short to be bitter,” he said.

* * *

All three men came home after the war, and by nearly any measurement, each has led a charmed life.

Minor and his wife Dolores had four children. He would spend 38 years as a faculty member of the University in the industrial education department, and he also devoted several years to the Air Force Reserve. A man of many interests, he has enjoyed dancing and writing, as well as researching the war. Through connections he made online with a man in Germany, he now owns a piece of the wreckage of the plane he bailed out of seven decades ago.

Although not an employee of the University, Young also stayed in Kirksville and maintained strong ties to the school. He had a successful career in banking and volunteered his services as a treasurer for the University for more than 20 years. He and his wife Jane had two children and were married for more than 50 years before she passed.

ShagGrossnickleCommencement

Gerald “Shag” Grossnickle (’42) receives his degree during the summer 1993 commencement ceremonies.

Grossnickle was married to his wife Sarah for almost 70 years before her passing, and the couple had three children. Since his time in the service ended, Grossnickle has become a jack-of-all-trades. He taught for a year, ran a restaurant for a while and spent a total of 28 years in elected office serving the citizens of Adair County in various capacities. During an eight-year stint as the sheriff, he never carried a gun, rarely wore a uniform and often kept his badge in his pocket. He also bought a share in an insurance company, which he would later go on to own and operate with one of his sons. He still maintains a desk in its office.

“I don’t work, I visit,” he said.

If that were not enough, Grossnickle was named a Master Conservationist by the Missouri Department of Conservation for his efforts to bring wild turkey to the region, and he is a member of six different halls of fame, including the Truman Athletics Hall of Fame and the Missouri Athletics Hall of Fame.

For all his accomplishments, Grossnickle had only one regret. Because he was called into service, he never got to walk across the stage and receive his degree. That was remedied in 1993 when he was invited to participate in summer commencement ceremonies.

“It was a great feeling. I had my whole family there to watch that,” he said. “It was a thrill. It eased the disappointment.”

* * *

While other military conflicts have come and gone, perhaps none of them have affected the campus community as much as World War II. The University did not keep official records of military service at the time, so an exact number of those who served might never be known. The 1945 yearbook published the names of 910 alumni and former students, as well as faculty and staff members, who participated in the war. When considering the number of veterans who enrolled for the first time after their service, the number of participants with University ties is probably incalculable today.

Attendee Harvey Young by the

Attendee Harvey Young

Outside the entrance to the Ruth W. Towne Museum and Visitor’s Center, four bronze plaques bear the names of University members who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The names on the World War II plaque double that of the Vietnam War plaque in terms of lives lost. Grossnickle, Young and Minor are each humble about their roles during the war, and they know they are among the lucky ones to have returned.

“I made a lot of good friends here in college,” Grossnickle said. “A number of them didn’t come back.”