Academic departments recognize outstanding graduates at SBU

Each academic department at Southwest Baptist University has selected one graduating senior as the outstanding graduate in the department for the 2013-14 academic year. These students were recognized during a student honors chapel service on May 5 and at an honors banquet on May 13.

The following students were selected for this honor:

  • Rebecca Bell was chosen as the Outstanding Graduate from the Department of History and Political Science. Bell is a social science education major from Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Amanda Ell was chosen as the Outstanding Graduate from the Department of Education. Ell is an elementary education major from Kansas City, Mo.
  • Jennifer Frazier was chosen as the Outstanding Graduate from the Department of Christian Ministry. Frazier is a Christian Ministry major, with a concentration in educational administration in the church, from Monett, Mo.
  • Emily Gilmore was chosen as the Outstanding Graduate from the Department of Behavioral Sciences. Gilmore is a psychology major from Poplar Bluff, Mo.
  • Nathan Hawkins was chosen as the Outstanding Graduate from the Department of Computer and Information Sciences. Hawkins is a computer science major from Napoleon, Mo.
  • Alex Huff was chosen as the Outstanding Graduate from the Department of Business Administration. Huff is an economics/finance major from Da Nang, Vietnam.
  • Morgan Katz was chosen as the Outstanding Graduate from the Department of Music. Katz is a music major from Hampton, Iowa.
  • Lauren Knutson was chosen as the Outstanding Graduate from the Department of Language and Literature. Knutson is an English major from Lee’s Summit, Mo.
  • Derek Lee was chosen as the Outstanding Graduate from the Department of Accounting. Lee is an accounting major from Clinton, Mo.
  • Jamie Lloyd was chosen as the Outstanding Graduate from the Department of Mathematics. Lloyd is a mathematics major from Flemington, Mo.
  • Vicki Neumann was chosen as the Outstanding Graduate from the Department of Art. Neumann is a commercial art major, with a concentration in digital imaging, from Osborne, Kan.
  • Trevor Parrish was chosen as the Outstanding Graduate from the Bob R. Derryberry School of Communication Arts. Parrish is a communication major from Blue Springs, Mo.
  • Kara Phipps was chosen as the Outstanding Graduate from the Department of Biology. Phipps is a biology major from Bolivar, Mo.
  • Landon Young was chosen as the Outstanding Graduate from the Department of Theology. Young is a Biblical Studies major from Bonne Terre, Mo.

Stockard selected as new director of alumni engagement at SBU

Holly Stockard ’08 will serve SBU as the next director of alumni engagement.

Holly Stockard ’08 will serve SBU as the next director of alumni engagement.

Holly Stockard ’08 will serve Southwest Baptist University as the new director of alumni engagement. Stockard graduated from SBU in 2008 with a B.A. in Communication. After graduating, Stockard began to work for SBU in the department of university relations where she has been responsible for SBU’s annual giving and foundation relations programs.

“We are pleased that Holly will be taking leadership of this important function within the greater University community,” said Dr. Brad Johnson, vice president for university relations. “Holly has a great vision for the alumni program that will involve working with faculty, staff and current students to build upon the good work of the past and expand the University’s involvement with all of our SBU/SWBC alumni.”

According to Johnson, Stockard has worked closely with the alumni office assisting with many of the day-to-day planning and activities over the past several years, which prepares her to be ready to step into this position.

“Holly has represented SBU well for many years from her time as a student to serving as the director of annual giving and foundation relations,” said Dr. C. Pat Taylor, president of Southwest Baptist University. “I am excited to see her take on this new responsibility and I look forward to what she will do to increase our alumni engagement.”

Stockard is excited to transition into this new role at SBU and hopes to bring new growth to the alumni program.

“From the valuable education I received at SBU to the lifelong friends I have made to the numerous donors and alumni I have had the opportunity to meet over the past six years, SBU is a very special place to me,” she said. “I am looking forward to growing our alumni program, building traditions and working with our future alumni currently on campus. God is doing amazing things at SBU and I feel blessed to be even a small part of it.”

Stockard will begin her new role effective June 1. For more information about university relations, please contact Johnson at (417) 328-1805 or

Kimball begins service as trustee at SBU

Dr. Charles Kimball

Dr. Charles Kimball

Charles Kimball, Ph.D., of Wildwood, Mo., is the newest member of the Southwest Baptist University Board of Trustees.

A 1983 graduate of SBU with a bachelor of arts in religious studies, Kimball is senior pastor of Ballwin Baptist Church in Ballwin, Mo. He pastored at churches in Texas, Georgia and Louisiana before returning to Missouri in 2011.

He is married to Connie, and they have a son, Josh.

SBU has a 25-member board of trustees. Each trustee serves for five years and is approved for service during the Missouri Baptist Convention annual meeting held each year in October.

SBU Honors Program students present capstone projects

Fourteen students in Southwest Baptist University’s Gordon & Judy Dutile Honors Program presented their Senior Honors Capstone Experience projects during an open house May 6.

Students are admitted to the Dutile Honors Program before their freshman year through a competitive process. The program includes nine honors-specific courses designed to provide scholastic enrichment and opportunities for practical application and professional development; honors colloquium for sophomores and juniors; and the Senior Honors Capstone Experience that allows students to complete a project or research in the student’s field of study, including the integration of faith and discipline.

“They are creating an original work that is scientific, research-based or creative,” said Dr. Allison Langford, director of the Dutile Honors Program. “They are using research skills, going through the scholarly process of analyzing information.”

Students who presented projects are:

• Luke Abbott, of Roach, Mo., presented “Exploring Non-Iterative Fractal Formulas.” He is a computer science and mathematics major and is the son of John and Kay Abbott.

• Rebecca Bell, of Las Vegas, Nev., presented “Origins of the American Communist Party: The Genesis of an Idea.” She is a social science education major and is the daughter of Tom and Jayne Bell.

• Lynne Davis, of California, Mo., presented “Best Practices in Short Term Missions.” She is an intercultural studies major and is the daughter of Dennis and Janice Davis.

• Emily Gilmore, of Poplar Bluff, Mo., presented “The Effect of Mental Health History, Educational Level, and Educational Completion on Program Graduation and Longevity in Polk County Drug Court Clients.” She is a psychology major and is the daughter of David and Jamie Gilmore.

• Vance Halfaker, of Sullivan, Mo., presented “Welch’s and Oyster Crackers: Poems and Essays.” He is an English major and is the son of Douglas and Becky Halfaker.

• Erin Haugh, of Bolivar, Mo., presented “A Study in Silver: Investigating the History and Healing Properties of Silver Solutions.” She is a biology major and is the daughter of Dr. Sam and Nancy Bethea. She is married to David Haugh.

• Alex Huff, of Da Nang, Vietnam, presented “The Economics of US Trade Relations with Vietnam.” He is an economics/finance major and is the son of Bob and Kathleen Huff.

• Rebecca McNabb, of Clever, Mo., presented “Cloud Computing in the Field of Accounting.” She is an accounting and information assurance major and is the daughter of David and Brandi McNabb.

• Heather Pruitt, of Bolivar, Mo., presented “Unspoken Messages: A Study of the Deeper Meanings in Children’s Artwork and of the Educational Strategies to Meet Children’s Mental and Emotional Needs.” She is an art education major and is the daughter of Dennis and Julie Watson. She is married to Scott Pruitt.

• Joy Reehle, of Green Lane, Pa., presented “Diving Deeper: A Skills-Based Framework for Teaching Social Studies.” She is a middle school education major and is the daughter of Richard and Carol Reehle.

• Clara Strunk, of Mulvane, Kan., presented “Campus Croup: Coincidence or Epidemiology?” She is a biology major with a biomedical science concentration and is the daughter of Knute and Jill Strunk.

• Jordan Taylor, of Greenfield, Mo., presented “Pilot of Convoy of Hope Microenterprise Model in the Philippines.” He is a marketing major and is the son of Brad and Kim Taylor.

• Landon Young, of Potosi, Mo., presented “Metaphors of Faithfulness: Exploring Paul’s Metaphors of Adoption and Slavery in Light of Christ’s Faithfulness.” He is a Biblical studies major and is the son of Donald and Peggy Young.

• Katelynn Zuercher of Olathe, Kan., presented “Marketing Emotions.” She is a marketing major and is the daughter of Ray and Janell Zuercher.

The Dutile Honors Program started during the fall 2005 semester. Including these students, the program now has 96 graduates.

For more information, contact Langford at (417) 328-2093 or

Senior art students’ work on display in Driskill Gallery

The Driskill Art Gallery at Southwest Baptist University currently is displaying selected works of four graduating senior art students.

The featured student artists are:

  • Victoria Neumann, commercial art major with concentration in digital imaging from Osborne, Kan.
  • Andjela Panovski, commercial art major with concentration in graphic design from Belgrade, Serbia
  • Heather Pruitt, art education major from Bolivar, Mo.
  • Shelby Wofford, commercial art major with concentration in graphic design from Carthage, Mo.

The senior artwork show will be on display through May 24. A reception in honor of these student artists will be held on May 24, immediately following the SBU commencement ceremonies.

For more information, please contact Deby Gilley, director of the Driskill Art Gallery, at

SBU set to graduate largest class in history

With 581 students scheduled to graduate from Southwest Baptist University this month, the May 22 and 24 commencement ceremonies will yield the highest number of graduates in the University’s history, surpassing last year’s record graduation number of 497.

“Graduation is my favorite day of the year,” said C. Pat Taylor, Ed.D., SBU president. “Every time I hand a student a diploma, the University has accomplished its primary goal — graduating students.”

Three years ago, the doctor of physical therapy (DPT) program increased to admit 80 students each year, up from 40. This May’s graduating class includes the first expanded group of DPT graduates. It also includes seven graduates of the first cohort of the doctor of education in educational leadership program that began in 2012.

Commencement ceremonies are at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 22, at Second Baptist Church, 3111 E. Battlefield Road, Springfield for graduates of the Mercy College of Nursing and Health Sciences of SBU. The Bolivar ceremony is at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 24, and will be outdoors on the Merril Burnidge Memorial Forum, south of Mabee Chapel. In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be moved to the Jane and Ken Meyer Wellness and Sports Center.

Musician Charles Graham, founder of Charles Graham Ministries headquartered in Dermott, Ark., will deliver the commencement address. He is a native of Arkansas and attended SBU for two years. In 2007, he received an honorary doctorate from SBU. He ministers internationally across denominational, social, economic and racial lines, encouraging Christians to experience worship both personally and corporately.

Shannon L. Gray will deliver the Bob R. Derryberry Senior Address. Senior music will be provided by Katelyn Hicks and Shelby Johnson accompanied by Tammie Pennington.

Four retiring faculty members will be recognized: 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.

One retiring staff member will be recognized: Larry Price, director of the SBU Mountain View campus.

Award presentations will include the student Life Beautiful Awards and the Orien B. Hendrex Distinguished Teacher Award.

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.

Abbott claims first in SBU student art show

Nikki Abbott received first place in the Southwest Baptist University Student Art Show displayed recently in the University’s Driskill Art Gallery.

“The show was very diverse in the selections of their work that was entered, and it definitely displayed the talents of SBU’s art and graphic design majors,” said Deby Gilley, director of the Driskill Art Gallery.

Winners in the 2014 Student Art Show at Southwest Baptist University are, from left, row 1 — Nikki Abbott, Jaquilyn Couchoud, Noah Loethen; row 2 — Jessica Betts, Rachel Packard and Sam Douglas.

Winners in the 2014 Student Art Show at Southwest Baptist University are, from left, row 1 — Nikki Abbott, Jaquilyn Couchoud, Noah Loethen; row 2 — Jessica Betts, Rachel Packard and Sam Douglas.

Awards are listed below.

• First place: Nikki Abbott, a junior commercial art major from Roach, Mo., for a watercolor titled “Reflection”

• Second place: Noah Loethen, a freshman commercial art major from Lee’s Summit, Mo., for a graphic design project

• Third place: Jaquilyn Couchoud, a junior commercial art major from St. Peter’s Mo., for a graphic design project

• Honorable mentions: Rachel Packard, an intercultural studies major from Florence, Colo., for a photo collection; Sam Douglas, a freshman art major from Fulton, Miss., for an acrylic project; Couchoud for an oil pastel titled “Symbol of Freedom”; and Jessica Betts, a sophomore art major from Bolivar, Mo., for a graphic design project.

The show was judged by Sherri Fidler of Springfield, an art teacher and graphic designer.

“We were very pleased in the quantity and quality of student work exhibited,” said Tom Douglas, associate professor of art and chair of the Department of Art. “We are blessed to experience growth in student enrollment in our program and see the dynamic offering of works as evidence of good things to come for our visual arts students.”

For more information about the SBU Department of Art, contact Douglas at (417) 328-1955 or

Sewell receives SBU Libraries’ student assistant award

Lisa Sewell of Bolivar was honored by the Southwest Baptist University Libraries as the “Outstanding Student Assistant of the Month” for April.

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.

Sewell, a student assistant in Circulation, received an award letter from Dr. Edward W. Walton, dean of the University Libraries, a certificate of recognition and a gift.

The University Libraries employs 27 part-time student assistants through the University’s work-study program. Sewell is a history major in SBU’s College of Education and Social Sciences.

SBU students commissioned for summer global projects

Nearly 80 Southwest Baptist University students who are participating in international projects this summer through nine Center for Global Connections were covered with prayer during a commissioning service Monday morning.

Commissioning ServiceAlong with worship led by Zach Atchley and Nate Jones, students and leaders of the teams were prayed for by fellow students, as well as faculty and staff members.

“Each project participant goes into this chapel service with someone who has committed to praying for him or her, and many other students voluntarily join in prayer,” said Diana Gallamore, director of the Center for Global Connections. “It is so uplifting to see so many students, faculty and staff uniting in prayer for these students who are demonstrating servant leadership around the world.”

Summer destinations for global projects are Cheyenne River, Extreme Africa, Guatemala City, Mongolia, New York, Northern Asia, Pacific Rim, Peru and Pyrenees.

The CGC organized 10 winter projects that included 119 students and sponsors that took place during December 2013 and January 2014. During spring break in March, 63 students and sponsors participated in four trips.

For more information, contact Gallamore at (417) 328-1905.

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.