Article Category Archives: Around the Quad

Kirk Renovation to Bring Student Support Services Together, Provide Outreach to the Community

Truman will soon transform a campus landmark to bring together many student support services in one location.

With financial assistance from the state of Missouri, Truman will renovate the Kirk Building to house a new Student Success Center. The center will employ a collaborative service model in which individual student service departments do not simply co-locate and deliver their services nearby to one another; but rather, work in coordination to meet students’ needs from entry to exit. The Student Success Center will be comprised of: the Career Center; Tutoring Services; the Student Health Center; University Counseling Services; Student Access and Disability Services; the Center for Academic Excellence; the Communication Lab; and the Writing Center.

In addition to housing the Student Success Center, the University will also use the updated facility to provide resources to the community, including workforce development outreach, rural telehealth counseling and academic outreach workshops.

The Sustained Knowledge of Integrated Lifelong Learning Skills (SKILLS) Center will build upon the services of the departments in the Student Success Center, making key services available to the local community. While area K-12 students would have access to tutoring and advising, adult learners might seek skills to assist with career advancement through non-credit workshops on topics such as digital literacy, computer applications and personal development. Truman students will have the opportunity to be trained to lead and support these community learning opportunities.

The SKILLS Center will look to collaborate with relevant community partners including: the city of Kirksville, Adair County and other municipalities and counties in the northeast Missouri region; Kirksville Regional Economic Development, Inc., and other regional economic development entities; the Missouri Division of Employment Security; and regional health care and social service providers.

The total estimated cost for the project is approximately $21 million. State support for the project comes in the form of $10.5 million through the American Rescue Plan Act that was recommended by Gov. Mike Parson during the State of the State address in January. The University plans to pursue grant funding and private donations to help meet its required portion of the funding.

If funding is approved by the Missouri General Assembly, design for renovation of the building is slated to begin in August 2022 with completion projected by December 2024.

Constructed in 1923, Kirk Building is named in honor of John R. Kirk, an alumnus and the second-longest tenured president in University history. For generations of alumni, it is remembered as the social center of campus since it was the site of games, assemblies and events.

The Big Event Returns

Hundreds of Truman students volunteered their time to participate in the first Big Event since 2019.

Through the help of the SERVE Center, students were matched with more than 60 job sites around town. The job sites included simple service acts such as trimming bushes, raking leaves and washing windows for residents of the community.

Junior business major Norah Grojean was excited to finally be able to take part in her first Big Event since arriving at Truman. The 2020 Big Event was canceled due to the pandemic, while the Big Event in 2021 was planned but canceled due to rain.

“My group was put in charge of raking leaves for a household. The family was extremely grateful, kind and even got us donuts to have a little snack break,” Grojean said. “They provided all the materials we needed to do the job and were always there for us if we needed to ask any questions.”

Created in 1982, the Big Event has become one of the largest one-day, student-run service projects hosted nationwide. It allows students to show their appreciation to the surrounding community for their continued support. Since hosting its first Big Event in 2001, Truman has continued to receive positive feedback from the Kirksville community. The SERVE Center often receives many calls from community members on how grateful they are for the services provided by students. Many of them say they had already expressed their gratitude to the students, but wanted to make sure the University was aware of how thankful they are for the help. Some also explain how they are no longer able to complete a lot of the tasks they seek assistance for, and if it were not for the students they would have to make other arrangements.

“My favorite part about participating in the Big Event is that I felt like I was truly making a difference in the lives of others right then and there,” Grojean said. “I loved feeling a part of a community that cares enough to give back to the city that gives so much to Truman and its students.”

Compost Project Partners with Local Schools to Fight Food Waste

Truman and the Kirksville School District are partnering to reduce food waste and contribute to locally grown produce.

Since January, the Truman Compost Project has worked with students at Ray Miller Elementary to collect food scraps from the school. The materials are used at Truman’s University Farm to create finished compost, which in turn is donated back to Ray Miller Elementary for use in the school’s Outdoor Garden Classroom. The idea to expand the Truman Compost Project originated with Michael Seipel, chair of the Agricultural Science Department.

“I am passionate about reducing food waste,” Seipel said. “I thought that expanding the Truman Compost Project to include Kirksville public schools could help educate the community about the importance of reducing food waste through educating the community’s youth about food waste and composting.”

The partnership had been in the works since February 2020, but was put on hold at the onset of the pandemic. It was rekindled last fall when Tiffany Miller, the garden educator at Ray Miller Elementary, reached out to the Agricultural Science Department for some finished compost for the school’s garden in the fall. Representatives from both schools worked together to implement the program in January 2022.

Kelli Hunsicker, the outdoor education coordinator and a fifth grade teacher, hopes participating in the program will show Ray Miller students how they can limit their food waste by reusing it to help nourish new plants and vegetables.

“The best thing about our outdoor education program is that students get a new experience learning to grow their own food,” Hunsicker said. “Now that we have added the compost project, they can see the process of reusing our food to break down and make compost that will go back into the garden to grow new food.”

At the end of their lunch shift, children at Ray Miller Elementary separate compostable food scraps, napkins and paper towels from non-compostable trash. Twice a week Truman students visit the school to help with the process and pick up materials.

“The students were really excited when Mrs. Tiffany explained the project to them. They couldn’t wait to get started,” Hunsicker said. “It has been helpful that Truman students have been able to be here during lunch a few days a week to help students sort their lunch trays. Students are always willing to help other students figure out what needs to go where.”

Ray Miller Elementary will ultimately use the finished product in its Outdoor Garden Classroom, which grows different fruits and vegetables for use at the school. The district has a similar program at the primary school that might eventually join the collaboration.

“This is meant to be an ongoing partnership,” Seipel said. “If it is successful, and if the Compost Project has enough student labor and resources, we would like to expand it to other buildings in the Kirksville R-III District.”

Since its inception in 2004, the Truman Compost Project primarily collects food scraps from the campus dining halls and Student Union Building. The project also partners with Rot Riders, a student organization that offers to pick up food scraps from Kirksville residents for composting. A pre-pandemic student research project estimated the Truman Compost Project collected approximately 142,000 pounds of food scraps during the 2018 academic year. More information about the Truman Compost Project, including ways to get involved, can be found at

Truman Recognized as a Top Producer of Fulbright Students

Truman was one of the colleges and universities that produced the most 2021-22 Fulbright U.S. students.

Each year the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) announces the top-producing institutions for the Fulbright Program, the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. The Chronicle of Higher Education publishes the lists annually.

Three students from Truman were named Fulbright finalists. They participated in English Language Teaching Assistantships during the 2021-22 academic year, serving as native-speaker experts in English-language classrooms in their host countries. The students and their host countries were: Karis Chapman, Germany; Ross Jones, Spain; and Taylor Libbert, Andorra.

Truman had seven Fulbright applications for 2021-22. In addition to three finalists, three other students – Peyton Bell, Chase Baker and Nick Puleo – were selected as alternates. This marks the third consecutive year Truman has been among the top master’s institutions for producing Fulbright students, and the seventh time in the past 12 years. Truman was the only Missouri school to be recognized on the master’s institutions list this year.

“Being a top Fulbright producer is a realization of Truman’s vision to develop educated citizens ‘through transformative experiences that foster critical thought, daring imagination and empathetic understanding of human experiences at home and around the world,’” said University President Sue Thomas. “It is a strong testament to our students’ excellence and the invaluable mentoring of our outstanding faculty.”

The Fulbright competition is administered at Truman by Jack Davis, associate professor of German, and Meg Edwards, associate professor of political science.

The Fulbright Program was established more than 75 years ago to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Fulbright is the world’s largest and most diverse international educational exchange program.

Since its inception in 1946, more than 400,000 people from all backgrounds – recent university graduates, teachers, scientists and researchers, artists and more – have participated in the Fulbright Program and returned to their home countries with an expanded worldview, a deep appreciation for their host country and its people, and a new network of colleagues and friends.

Fulbright alumni work to make a positive impact on their communities, sectors and the world and have included 40 heads of state or government, 61 Nobel Laureates, 89 Pulitzer Prize winners, 76 MacArthur Fellows and countless leaders and changemakers who carry forward the Fulbright mission of enhancing mutual understanding.

Fulbright is active in more than 160 countries worldwide and partners with participating governments, host institutions, corporations and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States. Many of these organizations also provide direct and indirect support.

Bulldogs to Compete in Digital Realm

This fall a new Truman team will compete under the Bulldog banner with the addition of a University sponsored esports team.

A committee consisting of faculty and staff from around campus worked through the academic year, researching, visiting sites and attending webinars in order to determine how Truman esports should look and operate. An esports facility will be housed in Barnett Hall and will come together over the summer months.

Truman esports teams may compete in, but would not be limited to, “League of Legends” and “Rocket League.”

“Esports have become very popular among colleges across the country,” said Jared Young, director of academic affairs operations. “Schools are using them not only as an extracurricular opportunity, but also as a recruitment tool. There is student demand for an esports team, and we want to be able to provide them that experience.”

An esports student survey conducted in the spring semester helped determine some of the initial plans for the esports team. Many details remain to be determined, but approximately 16 students are expected to make up the inaugural team.

New Center Serves Students

A Student Government project several years in the making became a reality this year with the opening of the LGBTQ+ Resource Center. Located in Baldwin Hall 101, this community space is equipped with books with LGBTQ+ resources, health materials and volunteers. Student Government, SAB and the LGBTQ+ Resource Center advisory board hosted a housewarming party in April to celebrate the center being open.