SBU to hold three commencement ceremonies, 571 students graduating

Southwest Baptist University is set to graduate 571 students this month at three separate commencement ceremonies scheduled to take place May 14 and 16.

“This is a tremendous time of celebration for our outstanding graduates, who have worked diligently to earn these degrees,” said C. Pat Taylor, Ed.D., SBU president. “We are pleased to honor the achievements of our students, including those completing graduate programs, who will now have a separate, more intimate ceremony.”

Graduation ceremonies for Mercy College of Nursing and Health Sciences students will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 14, in the sanctuary of Second Baptist Church, 3111 E. Battlefield Rd., Springfield.

For the first time, Bolivar undergraduate and graduate students will be honored at two separate ceremonies, with the undergraduate commencement taking place at 10 a.m., followed at 3 p.m. by the graduate ceremony. Both ceremonies will be held at John Q. Hammons Court within the Jane and Ken Meyer Wellness and Sports Center on the Bolivar campus, with overflow seating being offered in Pike Auditorium in the Mabee Chapel building for undergraduate commencement.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt will deliver the commencement address at the undergraduate ceremony. Prior to being elected to the United States Senate in 2010, Blunt served in the U.S. House of Representatives and was president of SBU from 1993 to 1996.

Meagan R. Burns will deliver the Bob R. Derryberry Senior Address. For the senior music performance, Elizabeth E. Caddy will present “Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken,” composed by Franz Haydn and arranged by Ken Lynch.

Five retiring faculty members will be recognized:

  • Pearlene Breshears, counselor and assistant professor of psychology;
  • Dr. Kathy Brown, professor of music;
  • Dr. William Brown, provost, professor of music and former dean of the Geneva Casebolt College of Music, Arts and Letters;
  • Dr. Delta Cavner, associate professor of education; and
  • Dr. Jim Frost, professor of Intercultural Studies.

One staff member will be recognized: Ron Maupin, vice president for administration and the University’s chief financial officer, who will retire July 31. Award presentations will include the student Life Beautiful Awards and the Orien B. Hendrex Distinguished Teacher Award.

Dr. J. David Taylor will deliver the commencement address at the graduate student commencement ceremony. Taylor, who graduated from SBU with a master of physical therapy in 1998, is an associate professor of physical therapy at University of Central Arkansas. One retiring faculty member will be recognized: Dr. Dot Hash, a professor of physical therapy who served as program director of the department from 1994 to 2005.

For more information about the Bolivar commencement, please contact the Provost’s Office at (417) 328-1601. For more information about the Springfield commencement, please call (417) 820-2069.

SBU Students Chosen for Small College Intercollegiate Band

Two students from Southwest Baptist University recently traveled to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., to perform with the 2015 Small College Intercollegiate Band at a March 28 concert. The concert was part of the biennial convention of the College Band Directors National Association, which was attended by Dr. Brian Hopwood, SBU music professor and Wind Symphony conductor.

Comprised of more than 95 auditioned musicians representing 49 schools from across the nation, the ensemble selected Courtney Munton (flute), a senior music education major from Greenfield, Mo., and Ashley Fox (French horn), a junior music education major from Dunnegan, Mo.

Munton and Fox were selected from a group of more than 300 students applying for admission to the ensemble, in which SBU was one of only two Missouri colleges to be represented. “I have never had as much fun performing a concert as I did performing with this group,” Fox said. “It was truly amazing.”

SBU students Courtney Munton (left) and Ashley Fox (far right) with Dr. Ray Cramer, director of the 2015 Small College Intercollegiate Band.

The group was under the direction of Dr. Ray Cramer, emeritus professor of conducting and emeritus director of Bands at Indiana University, where he was conductor of the University Wind Ensemble. “I am grateful to have had the opportunity to perform with such talented and committed players, as well as to learn from Dr. Cramer,” Munton said. “It was truly an amazing experience.”

Musical selections at the concert included “Celebration Fanfare and Dance” by Kevin Walczyk; Symphony No. 6 by Vincent Persichetti; “Seal Lullaby” by Eric Whitacre; “Symphony IV: Bookmarks from Japan” by Julie Giroux, and “Dance of the Jesters” by Peter Tchaikovsky and arranged for band by Dr. Cramer.

SBU trustees vote to reinstate MBA program

Southwest Baptist University’s Board of Trustees voted during the board’s April 28 meeting to reinstate the Master of Business Administration degree.

The MBA program was suspended in May 2012 due to low enrollment and decreasing revenue, but SBU has continued to have approved degree status for the program from the Higher Learning Commission, the University’s overall accrediting body, and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), the business accrediting body.

Dr. John Yeats, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention, presents a check to Southwest Baptist University President Dr. C. Pat Taylor during the April 28 SBU Board of Trustees meeting. The money will be used toward the renovation and expansion of the Gene Taylor Free Enterprise Center.

Classes will begin in Fall 2015 on the Bolivar campus for the Residential MBA that is designed for graduates of the traditional undergraduate program on SBU’s Bolivar campus. A second track, the Professional MBA that is designed for the business professional who desires to return to school to complete an MBA, will be introduced to the Springfield market at a future time.

The program has three distinctive components: Being intentionally faith-based with a focus on leadership and an emphasis on entrepreneurship.

2015-16 budget: Trustees also approved a $58 million budget that includes a 4-percent raise for all employees if enrollment goals are met.

MBC donation to building project: Dr. John Yeats, executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), presented a check from the MBC to be used toward the renovation and expansion of the Gene Taylor Free Enterprise Center. The estimated total cost of the project is $2.5 million, with more than $1.4 million raised. Expansion is necessary due to enrollment growth in the Robert W. Plaster College of Business and Computer Science.

Five-year strategic plan: Trustees approved an updated Pathways for Success: 2015-2020 strategic plan. Goals identified in the plan are:

  • Place students first;
  • Commitment to employee well-being;
  • Achieve enrollment goals;
  • Advance excellence in teaching and learning;
  • Integration of faith in all aspects of university life;
  • Enhanced visibility and reputation; and
  • Improve financial health.

During his state of University address, Dr. Taylor also detailed the purchase of a 15,000-square-foot building adjacent to the Springfield campus that houses the Mercy College of Nursing and Health Sciences of SBU. Total cost of the building purchase, renovations and installation of a state-of-the-art simulation lab is estimated to be $3.5 million. The Springfield campus has more than 700 students enrolled in nursing, radiography and health sciences programs.

Senior art students’ work on display at SBU

Works by four graduating senior art students are on view at the Driskill Art Gallery at Southwest Baptist University. The show features about 60 pieces in various mediums, such at watercolors, ceramics, graphic design and fiber arts.

Featured student artists include:

  • Nikki Abbott, a commercial art and general art major from Roach, Mo.;
  • Jessica Betts, a general art major from Bolivar, Mo.;
  • Luke Liston, a commercial art major from McCall, Idaho; and
  • Stephanie Menez, a general art major from Bolivar, Mo.

The show will be on display through Saturday, May 16. Following the May 16 commencement ceremony for Bolivar undergraduates, a reception honoring these senior artists will be held at the Driskill Art Gallery from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

The Driskill Art Gallery, situated on the SBU campus in the Jester Learning and Performance Center, is free of admission and open to the public on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information about the exhibition or the Driskill Art Gallery, please contact gallery director and art instructor Dawn Katzer, who may be reached at (417) 328-1651 and

SBU students come out on top at Phi Beta Lambda state conference, qualify for national competition

Southwest Baptist University’s Computer and Information Sciences Department (CIS) students in the Missouri Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda (FBLA-PBL) placed highly in various categories at the Phi Beta Lambda State Leadership Conference, held April 12-14 in Springfield, Mo. Winning students earned the honor to compete this summer at the National Leadership Conference in Chicago.

SBU had 15 students competing under the direction and support of advisor and CIS instructor Meilani Conley. “I am very proud to sponsor such a talented group of students,” Conley said. “Our students work hard to prepare for competition and the results show their strong academic ability. I am blessed and excited to see our students represent SBU FBLA-PBL at the national level.”

SBU students who won at the state level and qualified for the national conference include sophomore Regan Katz (Hampton, Iowa) in Information Management and Project Management; junior Matt Shaffer (O’Fallon, Ill.) in Computer Concepts; and sophomore Maura Sturguess (Bolivar, Mo.) in Job Interview.

Other national-qualifying students include sophomore Kelli McNabb (Clever, Mo.) in Mobile Application Development; freshman Emily Woods (Osceola, Mo.) and Kenzie Booker (Carthage, Mo.) in Business Presentation; sophomore Becca Brandon (Alton, Mo.) in Macroeconomics and Microeconomics; junior Steven Harris (Bolivar, Mo.) in Cybersecurity; and junior David Thomas (Monett, Mo.) in Networking Concepts. Harris and Shaffer also qualified in Network Design.

Additional members of the SBU team include junior Ashley Morgan (Granite City, Ill.), sophomore Andy Johnson (Piedmont, Mo.), junior Elisabeth Whaley (Fair Play, Mo.) and junior Ruoxi Zhang (Baoding, China).

Missouri FBLA-PBL is the official Career and Technical Student Organization for Missouri Business Education. Missouri FBLA-PBL is supported and run by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Missouri’s FBLA-PBL membership amounts to nearly 16,000, making it the second largest state chapter in the nation.

SBU’s CIS department is home to five full-time faculty, two faculty associates and more than 100 students majoring in computer science, computer information science or web systems and design. The SBU CIS Department is the recipient of multiple national awards each year and among evangelical Christian institutions, SBU is one of the leading producers of software engineers in the United States.

For more information, please contact Dr. Tim DeClue, chair of the CIS department, at (417) 328-1704 or

SBU staff selected to present at annual student development conference

The Association for Christians in Student Development (ACSD) Program Committee has selected several Southwest Baptist University staff to give workshop presentations at this year’s annual ACSD conference, to be held June 1-4 at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Ill. Those selected include Dr. Rob Harris, vice president for student development; Nathan Penland, director of student activities; Chris Allison, director of the Wellness and Sports center; and Dr. Krista Allison, resident director of Plaster Hall.

This year’s conference theme is “Repurpose,” the concept of adapting when environments and circumstances shift and create new challenges and opportunities. The presentations were selected from a large number of submissions during this year’s ACSD workshop proposal period, and will include the following:

  • “The Role of E-Mentoring in Helping College Sophomores Stay Enrolled” by Harris;
  • “Repurposing of Student Government for Service: A Glance at Southwest Baptist University’s Shift from Student Government Association to Student Association” by Penland; and
  • “Repurposing Casual, Daily Interactions with Students to Create Significant Growth” by the Allisons.

Begun from two organizations, the Christian Association of Deans of Women and the National Association of Deans and Advisors of Men, the Association for Christians in Student Development boasts 650 annual members from 155 institutions. ACSD seeks to support and encourage those working in student affairs, as well as equip and challenge them to integrate their Christian faith into student development practice and scholarship.

SBU’s Camerata ensemble to perform diverse program

Southwest Baptist University’s all-male Camerata ensemble will present their spring concert at 8 p.m. Monday, May 11. The concert, which is free and open to the public, will be held in Meyer Recital Hall on the SBU campus.

Camerata will present a varied repertoire of sacred, ethnic and entertaining music written specifically for men’s voices by composers such as Morten Lauridsen, Dan Forrest, Bob Kauflin, Jester Hairston and Kurt Knecht. The singers will perform in a variety of languages, from Latin and Spanish to Gaelic, Punjabi, and various African dialects.

The Camerata choral ensemble, comprised of 18 men, is under the direction of Dr. James Tarrant, professor of music and director of choral studies at SBU.

50th Annual Masterworks Concert to be held at SBU

The Department of Music at Southwest Baptist University will present its Masterworks Concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 1 in Pike Auditorium. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Masterworks, the department’s massed choirs and orchestra will present Requiem (K. 626) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Since 1965, the Masterworks presentation annually provides southwest Missouri audiences the opportunity to experience musical works that are best presented by the combined efforts of SBU, its music department and the community. The repertoire has included the great classics, unfamiliar pearls and significant modern compositions.

Featured soloists include Dr. Kathy Brown, soprano; Dr. Paula Patterson, alto; Dr. Andrew Campbell, tenor; and Dr. Chris A. Thompson, baritone. Dr. James R. Tarrant, professor of music and director of choral studies, is musical director for the event.

Dr. Kathy Brown currently serves as professor of music at SBU and coordinator of the applied voice area. She has studied with notable figures such as Caterina Micieli, Elizabeth Mannion, Martha Lipton, Anna Boynton, Martha Longmire and Ted Harris. She has been a clinician for Missouri public schools and the Missouri Baptist Convention. Her voice students have won competitions sponsored by the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the Missouri Music Teachers Association. Her book, “Lotte Lehmann in America: A Legacy of Singing Artistry,” was published by the College Music Society. Dr. Brown serves as organist of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church of Bolivar.

Dr. Andrew Campbell currently serves as associate professor of music at SBU and directs the SBU Concert Choir and Bolivar Community Choir. In addition to serving as orchestra conductor for SBU’s musical and opera productions, he is an active tenor soloist and has performed numerous works with orchestra.

Dr. Patterson has performed leading roles with numerous opera companies including the Spanish National Opera in Madrid, Ohio Light Opera, Texas Opera Theatre in Houston, Opera Carolina in Charlotte, Opera Iowa, and Heartland Opera Theater in Joplin. In recent years, he has performed solo recitals in Qingdao, China; Oswego, New York; Atlanta, Georgia; Memphis, Tennessee; and Bowling Green, Ohio. Other concerts include solos with the Springfield Symphony, the Chamber Orchestra of the Ozarks, and the Ozarks Chorale in Arkansas, as well as with various student performing groups of Southwest Baptist University and Evangel University. Dr. Patterson is associate professor of voice at Missouri State University and music director at Grace United Methodist of Springfield.

Dr. Chris A. Thompson has performed leading lyric baritone roles across the United States and England ranging from Figaro in “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” to the title role in “Elijah” to Carl Magnus in “A Little Night Music.” He made his Carnegie Hall debut in January 2012 singing “Posh,” a song cycle by composer Mohammed Fairouz. He has appeared in several world premieres, including “Guest from the Future,” “The Scrimshaw Violin,” “Box and Cox,” and “Hester Prynne at Death.” In addition, Dr. Thompson made his Off-Broadway debut in Fermat’s “Last Tango.” He served as director of opera and musical theatre at the University of Idaho, and presently serves as coordinator of vocal studies at Missouri State University.

The first of two retirement receptions for Dr. Kathy Brown and her husband, Dr. William (Bill) Brown, SBU provost, will take place after the Masterworks Concert. This reception, hosted by the Department of Music, honors their 35 years of service and will be held in the Sixth Man Club in Jane and Ken Meyer Wellness Center.

SBU students place highly at college media competition

Southwest Baptist University media and television production students earned top awards at the Missouri Broadcast Educators Association’s College Media Awards Competition. This is the fourth consecutive year that SBU students have received top recognition at the competition, which annually recognizes excellence in various media formats by students from participating Missouri institutions.

SBU’s Evan Barnes, Sara Underwood, Sander Bryan, Lucas Roberts and Alex Schriver earned honorable mention in the non-recurring News Show category for their Spring News Brief. In the Radio PSA category, Morgan Lucy earned first place for her Project 3:10 PSA, while Lucy Belcher and Sarah Bicknell earned honorable mention for their Red Cross PSA.

For more information, please contact Gayla Prewitt, adjunct instructor in the Bob R. Derryberry School of Communication Arts, at

SBU student earns prestigious Missouri Physical Therapy Association award

April Fajardo, a third-year student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program at Southwest Baptist University, has received the Missouri Physical Therapy Association (MPTA) Student of the Year award. She was announced as this year’s award winner at the MPTA meeting held Saturday, April 18 in St. Louis. This is the first time an SBU DPT student has achieved this top award.

The SBU DPT 2015 Delegation, with April Fajardo (bottom row, fourth from left). Fajardo was awarded the Missouri Physical Therapy Association's Student of the Year award.

Fajardo is a native of San Bruno, Calif., and currently serves as co-chair of the Global Health Project Committee of the American Physical Therapy Association’s National Student Assembly. She also has served on mission trips to Brazil and Haiti through SBU’s Global Health Outreach, which mobilizes physical therapists to provide physical therapy services to underserved populations around the world.

This prestigious annual award honors academic excellence, as well as leadership and service to the profession and the community. Students from SBU, Washington University, St. Louis University, University of Missouri, Missouri State University, Maryville University, and Rockhurst University were eligible for this award.

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