Author Archives: Charlotte Marsch

Phipps, Huff receive Life Beautiful Awards at SBU graduation

SBU graduation candid

With 581 graduates, Southwest Baptist University’s May 2014 graduating class was the largest in the University’s 136-year history. The commencement ceremony also included the annual presentation of three prestigious awards: two Life Beautiful Awards and the Orien B. Hendrex Distinguished Teacher Award.

Life Beautiful Award

The 2014 recipients of the Life Beautiful Award are Kara Phipps of Bolivar and Alex Huff of Da Nang, Vietnam.

Kara Phipps, biology major from Bolivar, Mo., is the female recipient of the Life Beautiful award. She is the daughter of Michael and Tammy Phipps of Bolivar.

Kara Phipps, biology major from Bolivar, Mo., is the female recipient of the Life Beautiful award. She is the daughter of Michael and Tammy Phipps of Bolivar.

Phipps graduated with a bachelor of science in biology. She has received multiple honors while at SBU, is a member of the Gordon & Judy Dutile Honors Program Leadership Council and has been a biology research team leader since 2012. She is a member of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Bolivar, where she is part of the worship team and leads a Bible study. She participated in three mission trips while at SBU. One faculty member wrote, “Kara has a quiet, sweet spirit. She is patient and kind, always considerate of others. She is a true servant leader.”

She is the daughter of Michael and Tammy Phipps, both SBU graduates. Her brother Josiah was the male 2013 Life Beautiful recipient.

Alex Huff, economics and finance major from Da Nang, Vietnam, is the male recipient of the Life Beautiful Award. He is the son of Bob and Kathleen Huff.

Alex Huff, economics and finance major from Da Nang, Vietnam, is the male recipient of the Life Beautiful Award. He is the son of Bob and Kathleen Huff.

Huff graduated with a bachelor of science degree in economics/finance. He was selected as the Outstanding Business Administration graduate and is in the Dutile Honors program. He attends Alliance Christian Fellowship in Bolivar and served on two mission trips through SBU. One faculty member wrote, “He greets everybody with a smile and a can-do attitude. He takes the time to listen and get to know others. Alex has a heart for missions and sharing the gospel around the world.”

He is the son of Bob and Kathleen Huff.

The Life Beautiful Award was established in 1937 by Rosalee Mills Appleby, a career missionary to Brazil. This award is given annually to an outstanding man and woman in the Southwest Baptist University spring graduating class. These individuals have demonstrated by their scholarship and character that they are living a “life beautiful.” The faculty selects the recipients, whose identities remain confidential until commencement.

Orien B. Hendrex Award

Joe Wooderson, chair of the Department of Kinesiology and instructor of physical education, received the Orien B. Hendrex Distinguished Teacher Award.

The award is presented annually to a faculty member who has been judged by the previous three years’ graduating classes to be outstanding in both teaching ability and personal guidance. The SBU Board of Trustees designated this award in memory of Hendrex, a former academic dean.

Senior speaker

Shannon L. Gray of Schell City, Mo., delivered the Bob R. Derryberry Senior Address, reminding her classmates that though they have encountered difficult times during college, God sees the potential and beauty of each graduate.

Shannon Gray

Shannon Gray

“While in college we are looking at our lives from the underside of a tapestry, but our Creator has a bigger, better plan,” she said. “He sees the whole tapestry and rejoices in its picture with all of its beauty and its imperfections, because that is what makes us all unique. He sees us in our final form, full of success, lessons learned and growth shown. He sees his children, the men and women who breathed life into doing his work through mission trips, daily tasks and even being a listening ear.

“This part of the tapestry is now done and it is time for us to move on to this more exciting time of our future. We have bright futures, full of hope and ready for the world ahead of us, and we have been trained and held accountable by some of the finest people we ever have had the privilege of knowing, our teachers.”

Senior music was provided by Katelyn Hicks and Shelby Johnson accompanied by Tammie Pennington.

Faculty and staff recognitions

Dr. Taylor also recognized four retiring faculty members and one retiring staff member.

Retiring faculty members are J.D. Lynch, instructor of recreation and leisure and director of the Meyer Wellness and Sports Center; Susan Lynch, chair of the Department of Business Administration and professor of business administration; Robert Perry, professor of graduate studies in educational administration; and Libby Sanders, instructor of education at the SBU Salem campus. Retiring staff member is Larry Price, director of the SBU Mountain View campus.

Commencement speaker

Charles Graham, founder of Charles Graham Ministries, and a 2007 recipient of an honorary doctorate from SBU, told the graduates that God has a purpose for everything that has and will happen in their lives.

“I want you to realize God does have a plan for you,” he said.

“Number two, don’t allow a world of circumstances to rob you of your purpose. You may get your position, you may get your pay raises, but I want you to understand that the purpose is not the position nor your pay. The purpose will always be people. God will always use us in the lives of those around us.

“My third point, don’t let moments define the purpose. Don’t let them rob you of your purpose. When you enter your workforce, let your life be shaped by the Word that is within and not the world you are in.”

Creating math champions: Dr. Bev Harris spent decades preparing math educators

From the 1978 SBU Mozarkian yearbook: Dr. Bev Harris, right, is pictured with John Bryant, left, and John Smashey, center, all faculty members in SBU Department of Mathematics. Bryant and Smashey were Harris’ students at SBU before returning to SBU to teach. The trio taught together for 23 years before Harris retired in 1989.

During nearly four decades in the college classroom, Dr. Bev Harris championed the cause of educating math educators in Missouri, leaving behind a legacy that continues through his students, who are teaching at high schools and universities across the country, preparing future generations of math educators.
“At one time, before the state colleges really got with it as far as math education is concerned, I was the leading math educator in the state of Missouri,” he said. “I was putting more students in high schools to teach mathematics and more students in graduate schools to pursue graduate school mathematics than any college in the state.
“The thing I’m most proud of from having taught at SBU, at least from an academic standpoint, is that over 50 of my former students have at least a master’s degree in pure mathematics. That’s better than one a year. I taught 37 years at Southwest.”
Harris encouraged and inspired his students to study pure mathematics and to be educators.
“I remember when I first went into his office my freshman year,” said Dr. Bob Glasgow, professor of mathematics at SBU, who was one of Harris’ students and joined the mathematics faculty in 1989. “I had just made my decision to be a math teacher and was still very unsure of myself. By the time I left Bev’s office, I had a four-year plan and was starting to think about graduate school after graduation. That’s the way Bev advised. He was encouraging while giving you strong nudges to do more than you thought you were capable of doing.”
Even students who weren’t math majors remember his caring and helpful demeanor.
“He was very interested in the students,” said Elizabeth Pace ’59, one of his many students. “He is just generally interested in people and was always helpful.”
As an SWBC graduate, he was very familiar with the college when he was offered a job. Attending Southwest Baptist College after graduating from high school was not optional for Harris, whose family moved to Bolivar in January 1943, during the middle of World War II, because his mother wanted all of her children to attend SWBC. Harris said the family left behind a nice farm in the Kansas City area of Jackson County, Mo., to move to Bolivar so he and his siblings could live at home while attending SWBC.
He started college during the summer of 1945 but was then drafted into the U.S. Army in January 1946. He served as a Regimental Control Sergeant in the Transportation Corps for one year, being discharged according to the newly enacted college clause that limited service to one year for anyone who was drafted out of college. He returned to SWBC for the spring and summer semesters of 1947, graduating that year with an associate of arts degree. He completed a bachelor of science in education with a major in math and a minor in biology from Southwest Missouri State University in 1949.
Harris taught math and science at Humansville High School in northwestern Polk County for two years before joining the SWBC faculty in 1952 while working on his master’s degree in mathematics, which he finished in 1953 at the University of Missouri. While he was teaching at Humansville, Dr. John Dowdy, president of SWBC, told him that if he finished his master’s degree he would have a job at SWBC.
“I found out later that my junior college math professor, J.F. Hurst, had requested that I take his place,” Harris said. “I’ve never had to ask for a job in my life.”
While teaching at Humansville, he married Zodee, who was the first full-time secretary at Bolivar First Baptist Church. They had three children: Susan, Steven and Joy.
Harris completed his doctorate 10 years after completing his master’s degree, about the time SWBC was transitioning from a junior to a senior college. At that time he was one of two professors to have a doctorate, the other being Dr. Jasper Clark, a biology professor. When SWBC became a senior college, Harris was promoted straight from instructor to professor. He later received the title of “Distinguished Professor.”
“I felt like the Lord called me to teach at SBU, just like he calls ministers,” Harris said. “I felt sure after Dr. Dowdy had invited me to teach that it was God’s will for me. When I first came to SBU, I told the Lord, ‘Send me students I can help.’ Notice I didn’t say send me good students; I said send me students I can help. It’s kind of like when King Solomon prayed and he said, ‘Lord, help me to have the wisdom to guide the Israelites’ and not only did he do that, but he gave him wealth besides. So the Lord, when I asked for students I can help, as a bonus he gave me outstanding students.”
Harris hired former students John Smashey and John Bryant to teach alongside him, and the trio taught math together at SBU for 23 years until Harris’ retirement in 1989. Smashey also has since retired, while Bryant is still on the math faculty and coaches men’s and women’s tennis, a job for which he was recommended by Harris.
“As the department chair, he arranged my class schedule in the mornings so I could work with tennis,” said Bryant, who took an algebra class with Harris in 1960 and returned to teach at SBU in 1966.
Harris hired his replacement, Dr. Kevin Hopkins, who filled the department of mathematics chair position. When Hopkins sent an inquiry letter in 1987 about any possible openings, expressing an interest in teaching at a small, Christian university, Harris decided it might be time to look at early retirement. Hopkins’ resumé was impressive, and his references were solid. But there was one line in that letter that really caught Harris’ attention: “I know a big school could pay me more money, but money isn’t everything.”
“I thought, ‘BINGO!” Harris recalls. “I thought the Lord was trying to tell me something. I felt we would never have another opportunity to have a Ph.D. at the head of the department, especially from one of the top math universities in the country. I checked on his credentials, and all the teachers that I talked to said he would be an outstanding candidate not only for our university, but for any university in the U.S. because he is a top student in his class and is very much respected.”
For Harris, early retirement meant an opportunity to do more of the Lord’s work, which he already had done for many years through involvement at Southern Hills Baptist Church and First Baptist Church.
“I prayed, ‘Lord, give me something worthwhile to do,’” he said. “So he gave me Polk County Christian Social Ministries with Share Your Christmas. I was one of the leaders for 25 years.”
PCCSM was a young ministry, having just started in 1985. Bev served as treasurer for more than 20 years and organized the Share Your Christmas project that now assists more than 600 families annually with donations of food, toys and other items at Christmas.
“I enjoy helping people,” Harris told the Bolivar Herald-Free Press in 2009. “It makes tears come to your eyes sometimes when you see a needy family and you’d like to help them but there’s just no way in the world to help them. I take that work very seriously.”
Also in his retirement, Bev became an avid tennis player, ranking second in the state of Missouri in the 65-year-old age bracket. He was the center on SWBC’s basketball team in the fall of 1947, and he was a scorekeeper at SBU men’s basketball games for 34 years. Even now, when he is not able to be as active, he enjoys watching sports on TV. One of his favorite SBU memories is when he saw the men’s tennis team win a national championship in Kansas City.
“Bev was devoted to his students, to the Bolivar community and mostly, to serving our Lord,” Bryant said. “He created math champions for years.”

Scholarship fund to honor Dr. Bev Harris’ legacy

In recognition of Dr. Bev Harris’ contributions to mathematics education during his 37-year tenure as department chair and faculty member in SBU’s Department of Mathematics, the Dr. Bev Harris Mathematics Education Scholarship Fund has been established.
Only two people have served as chairman of SBU’s Department of Mathematics during the past 62 years. Harris served from 1952-1989, when he hired Dr. Kevin Hopkins to teach and assume the department chair position, allowing Harris to take early retirement. Hopkins is still in that position and, 25 years later, has led efforts to establish the scholarship fund in recognition of Harris’ legacy at SBU and in the Bolivar community.
“When I came to SBU, I didn’t have any experience to have ideas about how to properly honor Dr. Harris’ years of service,” Hopkins said. “My mother passed away in September 2013, and I have thought much more about legacy (her legacy and the legacy of others) during the past few months since her passing. Now, even though it is 25 years after his retirement, seems an appropriate time to establish a scholarship fund that would honor and continue to recognize Dr. Harris’ legacy of service to the math department and to the Bolivar community, which he continued to serve faithfully in his retirement until health issues prevented him from continuing that service.”
Scholarships will be awarded with priority given to junior or senior level math education majors.
Through the years, many scholarship funds have been established in honor or in memory of SBU professors. Donations can be made to any of these funds through a check mailed to SBU, Att: University Relations, 1600 University Ave., Bolivar MO 65613, or online at and click on “Give online.” To find out which professors have been honored with scholarship funds, search the list of funds in the “Give online” section of the website or call (417) 328-1804.

Blair receives Outstanding Student Assistant award

Southwest Baptist University Libraries has selected Kristen Blair of Shawnee Mission, Kan., as the Outstanding Student Assistant of the Month for March 2014. Blair is a freshman business management major.

The University Libraries’ faculty and staff established the monthly award to recognize outstanding employment characteristics such as dependability, quality of work, motivation, attitude and cooperation.

Blair, a student assistant in Media Services, received an award letter from Dr. Edward Walton, dean of the University Libraries, a certificate of recognition and a gift.

The University Libraries employs 28 part-time student assistants through the University’s work-study program.

For more information, contact the University Libraries at (417) 328-1620.

Nine SBU students qualify for PBL national competition

All nine students on the Southwest Baptist University PBL team have qualified for this year’s national competition June 24-27 in Nashville, Tenn. Qualification for the national competition is contingent on their performances at the state level.

The following students qualified for the national competition based on these state level finishes:

• Alex Barcus, junior, from Liberty, Mo., and Bethany Hash, junior, from Bolivar, Mo., won second place in Website Design.
• Elizabeth Coleman, junior, from Springfield, Mo., is the state champion in Information Management and won third place in Project Management.
• Renee Coleman, junior, from Springfield, Mo., won third place in Statistical Analysis.
• Michael Gooley, junior, from Thornfield, Mo., is the state champion in Help Desk and won fifth place in Project Management.
• Steven Harris, sophomore, from Bolivar, Mo., won second place in Cybersecurity.
• Jarrett Munton, sophomore, from O’Fallon, Ill., is the state champion in Statistical Analysis and won fourth place in Computer Concepts.
• Bobby Sterling, sophomore, from Buffalo, Mo., won second place in Information Management and fourth place in Project Management.
• Justin Stout, junior, from Gardner, Kan., is the state champion in Cybersecurity and won second place in Networking Concepts.
• Maura Sturgess, freshman, from Chillicothe, Mo., won fifth place in Microeconomics.

“This is incredibly good news,” said Dr. Tim DeClue, chair of SBU’s Department of Computer Information Science. “We are beginning to make plans now to attend the national competition and represent SBU well.”

Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) is a nonprofit education association with a quarter million students preparing for careers in business and business-related fields.

For more information, contact DeClue at (417) 328-1704 or

SBU Wind Symphony and University Band to offer concert May 1

The Southwest Baptist University Department of Music will present the Wind Symphony and University Band in concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 1, in Pike Auditorium.

The University Band was created this semester and consists of non-music major students, community members, music majors performing on secondary instruments and a few area high school students.

“I am thrilled with the musical achievement and efforts of the University Band in just one semester of existence,” said Dr. Brian Hopwood, associate professor and director of instrumental studies. “The ensemble has exceeded all my expectations and has laid the groundwork for many future performances.”

Hopwood will lead the University Band along with two student conductors, Lauren Asbery and Matt Hopwood, who are both senior music education majors. The band’s inaugural performance will include works by Sparke, Ticheli, LaPlante, Broege and King.

The Wind Symphony, SBU’s premier instrumental ensemble, will open with “Overture to Candide,” by Leonard Bernstein, which was the instrumental introduction to the comic operetta “Candide.” The operetta was based on Voltaire’s 18th Century satire and adapted by playwright Lillian Hellman for the Broadway stage.

Other performances by the Wind Symphony will include “Second Suite in F” by Gustav Holst, “Lux Aeterna” by Japanese composer Yo Goto and “Undertow” by John Mackey.

The concert is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Hopwood at (417) 328-1647 or

Newkirk to speak at SBU April 29 about science and Christianity

Southwest Baptist University’s Darrell R. Strait Center for the Integration of Science and Christian Faith will host a guest speaker, Dr. Joseph Newkirk, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 29, in room 101 of the Wheeler Science Center.

Newkirk, associate professor of materials science at the University of Missouri-Science and Technology in Rolla, Mo., will give a presentation titled, “Straight Talk About Science and Christianity.”

Newkirk received a B.S. and M.S. in Physics from Miami University and his Ph.D. in Materials Science from the University of Virginia. He has been on faculty at Missouri S&T since 1987. He has over 120 technical publications and two patents. Newkirk’s areas of research expertise include 3-D printing development, aerospace materials and materials for energy production.

Since becoming a Christian in 1987, Newkirk also has been active in local ministry. He currently leads the Family Builders ministry at Harvest Worship Center in Rolla and is involved in preaching, teaching and leadership ministries.

The public is invited to come to the presentation, which is free of charge. For more information, please contact Dr. Hillary Glauser-Patton, director of the Strait Center, at (417) 328-1668 or

Kezia Lilly new dean of Mercy College of Nursing and Health Sciences of SBU

Kezia Lilly

Kezia Lilly, D.N.P., is the new dean and nursing administrator of the Mercy College of Nursing and Health Sciences of Southwest Baptist University in Springfield.

“I have every confidence that Dr. Lilly will be able to usher us into a new level of achievement and recognition for our Mercy College of Nursing and Health Sciences of SBU,” said Provost Bill Brown, D.M.

Lilly is a 2006 SBU graduate who began teaching at SBU as an adjunct faculty member for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in 2009. She became a full-time faculty member in 2011 and became the BSN director in 2013. She has a master’s in business administration and a master’s in nursing from University of Phoenix, a post-graduate degree in nursing informatics and recently completed a doctorate in nursing practice with emphasis in educational leadership at Case Western University.

“I am not sure that being dean was in my career trajectory, but God continuously pushed me this direction,” Lilly said. “After a lot of prayer and encouragement, I chose to embrace the opportunity. The growing demands in health care continue to provide enormous opportunities for students to seek a career as a health care professional. We are dedicated to meeting these demands by providing a stronger and more competitive workforce.”

Lilly’s vision for the college is for the institution’s mission, vision and values to bridge the gap between education and practice while establishing longstanding relationships in the community.

“I want to help students achieve their career goals by becoming the next generation of health care professionals and taking pride to service our community needs,” she said. “I want to ensure that the college continues to deliver the best educational programs in southwest Missouri, resulting in high-quality health care professionals to meet high demand.”

Mercy College of Nursing and Health Sciences of SBU offers a wide variety of nursing and allied health programs from entry-level degrees to advanced degree programs for registered nurses who wish to advance their professional education.

The college is at 4431 S. Fremont Ave. in Springfield, Mo. For more information about nursing and health science programs at SBU, call (417) 820-2069 or send email to

Auditions April 28 for youth choral program at SBU

BOLIVAR, Mo. — Teens who are interested in choral music are invited to join Bella Voce, a choral and vocal program for young voices, ages 11-18, sponsored by the Southwest Baptist University Department of Music.

“This is an excellent opportunity for homeschool students to participate in a choral setting, but it is open to all students,” said Jane Munson-Berg, assistant professor of voice and opera at SBU. “This music experience supplements what students might be receiving at school.”

Two choirs will meet during May and June with a final performance at 4 p.m. Saturday, June 28. Lyric Singers is a mixed choir for ages 12-18 that meets from 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays from May 6 to June 24. Choralieres is a girls’ only choir for ages 11-18 that meets from 5 to 6 p.m. on Thursdays from May 8 to June 26.

Tuition is $40 per person, which includes music purchase and accompanist fees. If a family has more than one student participating, tuition is adjusted to $30 per person.

Auditions are from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, April 28, as an assessment for music selection.

“I want it to be as interesting and as challenging as I can,” Munson-Berg said. “I plan to challenge all levels of musicians.”

Munson-Berg earned a master of music in voice performance from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City and a diploma in opera and art song at the Hochschule fuer Music in Munich, West Germany. She has sung leading roles and solo appearances with opera and symphony productions across the U.S. and Europe.

To schedule an audition, call (417) 328-1645. For more information, call or send email to

SBU Bolivar, Springfield campuses closed Monday, March 3

Southwest Baptist University’s Bolivar and Springfield campuses will be closed Monday, March 3, due to inclement weather. The closure includes offices, except as noted.


• Hutchens Library on the Bolivar campus

• College of Nursing and Health Sciences library on the Springfield campus


• The Wellness Center will open at 8 a.m. University Activities Council is sponsoring a wiffleball tournament at 10 a.m in the Intramural Gym. More information regarding activities for students at the Wellness Center on March 3 will be shared as they are available.

• Welcome Week interviews scheduled for March 3 will still take place. Anyone who cannot make the scheduled appointment should contact Trinity to reschedule.