Affinity Magazine, Summer 2023

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Since 1973, Columbia College Global has benefited graduates like Cleo DeGraffenreid ’76 through educational partnerships with the U.S. military and meeting the needs of nontraditional students nationwide.

courage edition the Summer 2023 THE COLUMBIA COLLEGE ALUMNI MAGAZINE


On the Cover: Cleo DeGraffenreid ’76 began her career as a nurse in the 1950s before joining the Air Force (right). In November, the 93-year-old veteran attended an alumni luncheon in Kansas City (above).


Summer 2023

Editor, Production & Design

Carolyn Preul

Staff Writers

Kevin Graeler

Andy Oldenburg

Staff Photographer

Abigail Wade

Editorial Review Board

Sam Fleury

Alejandra Gudiño

Dr. Shadel Hamilton

Suzanne Rothwell

Dr. David Russell

Dr. Piyusha Singh


Keiyana Austin ’21

Debra Carnahan ’82

Nathan Davis

Kevin Fletcher

Drew Grzella ’01

Leslie Kennon ’00

Missy Montgomery ’06

Ann Muder

Cindy Fotti Potter ’05

Kaci Smart ’09

Affinity magazine is published by the Columbia College Division of Advancement in accordance with the college’s vision to be a highly innovative institution of higher education, dedicated to excellence in both its traditional and nontraditional programs nationwide. © 2023, all rights reserved. Read this issue and browse the Affinity archive at

Please send correspondence to: Editor, Affinity magazine

1001 Rogers St., Columbia, MO 65216

Alumni Relations: (573) 875-2586

Development: (573) 875-7563

Strategic Communications: (573) 875-7283


For 50 years, Columbia College Global has shaped the future of education by forging long-lasting military partnerships, adapting to changing needs of today’s students and facing challenges head-on.


Alumna Cleo DeGraffenreid ’76 recalls milestone moments through her decades-long nursing career and record-making military service.


Jolene Marra Schulz ’61 has given back through a lifetime of loyalty. Dr. Terry Smith has built a legacy of excellence at Columbia College. Bill Seibert ’09 has come full circle to further his flourishing career. Michael Garver ’03 ’13 has set an inspiring example by going the extra mile. In honor of these achievements, the Columbia College Alumni Association presents its 2023 Alumni Awards.


10 | Inside the Gate

Art Professor Mike Sleadd reflects on his illustrious ride; bells keep ringing in honor of former CC President Ruthenberg.

36 | My CCAA

CCAA announces 2023 scholarship recipients; alumnus continues to serve after law enforcement career.

42 | Class Notes

Alumni share personal and professional updates; In Memoriam remembers those who have passed.

3 Affinity Summer 2023

Show your Affinity for the CCAA.

Affinity magazine is our comprehensive look inside Rogers Gate and across Columbia College’s global footprint. All alumni and friends can request to join the mailing list.

If you graduated prior to 1970 or are a member of a Columbia College Giving Society, you are automatically registered on the magazine’s print mailing list.

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Columbia College Board of Trustees


Rev. Dr. Brad Stagg

Vice Chair

Helen Dale Coe Simons ’65


Carol J. Winkler ’93


Genie Rogers

Member at Large

Matt Williams

CCAA Advisory Council


Joshua Muder ’99

Faculty Representatives

Sandra Hamar, Ph.D.

Mark Price, Ph.D.


Lynne Stuver Baker ’64

H. Jane Blackman ’64, M.D.

Lt. Gen. Richard C. Harding, U.S. Air Force (Retired)

June Viner Hurdle ’83

William (Bill) J. Johnston ’82

Bill Leeper ’04

Col. Mike Randerson, U.S. Air Force (Retired)

Jolene Marra Schulz ’61

Gary A. Tatlow

Anita Abbott Timmons ’58

Col. Robert Walker ’87, U.S. Air Force (Retired)

MISSION: Columbia College improves lives by providing quality education to both traditional and nontraditional students, helping them achieve their true potential.

VALUES: We believe all students deserve access to affordable quality education. We believe higher learning should be individualized, innovative and flexible. We believe a liberal arts core curriculum produces globally engaged citizens who are creative, curious and ethical. We believe people of all beliefs and backgrounds should engage in civil discourse and discovery.

Greetings from CC!

» During its 172-year existence, Columbia College has risen to embrace challenges of historic proportions and turned them into stunning transformative changes. Along the way the college has earned a reputation for being a thought leader in higher education and a purveyor of quality educational opportunities for students here in Missouri and across the country.

To mark our successes, this edition of Affinity celebrates the 50th anniversary of Columbia College Global and honors four recipients of 2023 Columbia College Alumni Awards who have made their mark in the world.

The yearlong anniversary celebration of Columbia College Global provides us with an opportunity to honor our past, celebrate the present and envision our future. It was indeed fitting to welcome directors and team members from our nationwide locations to main campus in March to help kick off the recognition of such important milestones as the decision to launch our groundbreaking Online Program in 2000. The Online Program continues to be an important conduit for engaging both adult learners and military-affiliated students and their families. We’re proud of our continued association with these important learners. Events are taking place around the country throughout the year to mark Columbia College Global’s 50th anniversary. Thanks to those of you who have joined in these festivities and those who will in the months to come.

Congratulations also are in order for this year’s tremendous slate of Alumni Awards honorees. Jolene Marra Schulz ’61 (Distinguished Alumna), Dr. Terry Smith (Honorary Alumnus), Bill Seibert ’09 (Professional Achievement) and Michael Garver ’03 ’13 (Community Service) collectively represent the best of what our institution is about. I encourage you to learn more about these impressive individuals on pages 28-37.

Finally, I would like to share with you some exciting news from the Higher Learning Commission, which is our major accrediting body. HLC conducted its 10-year reaccreditation visit to main campus this spring. The team of peer reviewers published a highly complimentary report declaring that Columbia College met all five of the criteria for full accreditation without any concerns or reservations. This visit was our chance to shine, and we most certainly did.

I was particularly proud that the inspection team praised our continued active commitment to serving our traditional and nontraditional students. The HLC report commended the college for its commitment to academic excellence and putting our students first in everything we do. The team also singled out our intensive planning for the future, as evidenced by our new strategic plan and the introduction of new academic programs that are responsive to what students need to succeed in their future endeavors.

I wish you fun times with family and friends this summer and invite you to play an active part in the vibrant activities happening behind Rogers Gate and across our global footprint in the year ahead.

5 Affinity Summer 2023 FROM THE PRESIDENT


Art professor reflects on his illustrious ride

» Your eyes are drawn in a number of directions before you reach the desk on the north end of Visual Arts Professor Mike Sleadd’s office in Brown Hall.

His artwork and that of others adorn the walls, with a backstory to match the creativity of each piece.

“I have tried to instill in my students to really think and to play with art and to let it be a conveyance for your imagination,” Sleadd says. “Let it take you on a ride and lead you in some ways. And then use it as a way of expressing yourself, your ideals and ideas.”

At the end of the 2022-23 academic year, Sleadd finished a ride of his own, closing his illustrious career at Columbia College after imparting his expertise to generations of emerging artists. Nearly 35 years after he began teaching at the college alongside a Mount Rushmore-esque team of Art faculty members, the engaging educator is retiring from the classroom.

Sleadd remembers the mentors he learned from upon his arrival at the college, including Sidney Larson, Tom Watson, Ed Collings, Ben Cameron and Richard Baumann. He describes himself as “one of the last holdouts” from that esteemed era of faculty members.

After those colleagues concluded their careers, Sleadd says he was proud to have a hand in hiring the people leading the department now and into the future.

“There is just an amazing group of people,” Sleadd says of the current faculty. “It’s a very diverse group. People with different approaches to art, but a very tight group. They are just wonderful artists.”

Sleadd came to Columbia College in the late 1980s as a visiting instructor teaching Graphic Design classes. Soon he began working toward his Master of Fine Arts at the University of Missouri so he could improve his

career trajectory within academia, completing that degree after the encouragement of Mary Miller, the dean he worked under at the time.

At one point during his tenure, Sleadd recalls teaching the most courses of any professor at the college, with that number influenced by stacked classes such as Graphic Design 1, 2 and 3. He eventually took over instructing the Advanced Drawing and Printmaking classes, and developed a graphic design course for Typography.

“What a great gig it’s been,” Sleadd says.

“To be able to spend your life doing what you love and teach it is really wonderful.”

Sleadd proudly follows the achievements of graduates as they advance their lives, with former pupils becoming professors like him or even creating at places such as Cartoon Network.

“You’re proud of students that you’ve had contact with in their lives and touched them in some way,” Sleadd says. “Whenever you teach, you continue to learn. Of course, you have to stay steps ahead, but your students challenge you and make you look at what you’re doing. They make you think about how to communicate what you want to teach them.”

He doesn’t intend to stop making art, and he won’t be going far this next year as his creative juices continue to flow. Sleadd will be the department’s first artist-in-residence, moving from his upstairs office to a studio downstairs in the same building.

He will create in that space at a more leisurely schedule and make himself available for open studio sessions with students. Even in his retirement, he will not be a stranger around campus. “No stranger than I already am,” Sleadd says with a smile. –KG

6 Affinity Summer 2023 INSIDE THE GATE
A familiar face on main campus, he served for a decade as chair of the Department of Visual Arts & Music and carried the ceremonial mace at recent Commencement ceremonies as a nod to his seniority.


The college will be moving forward with a new academic structure in Fall 2023. The three schools will be organized as follows:

• School of Arts & Science: Humanities, Natural Sciences & Mathematics (including Computer Science), Social & Behavioral Sciences and Visual Arts & Music

• Robert W. Plaster School of Business: Business Administration, including Management Information Systems and Cybersecurity

• School of Public Service: Criminal Justice, Education and Nursing; Public Administration and Social Work & Human Services will begin in Fall 2024

Dr. Sandra Hamar was named the founding dean of the School of Public Service. Hamar has been at the college since 2017 and has served as interim dean for the School of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences as well as interim dean for the Robert W. Plaster School of Business, including the Steven and Barbara Fishman Center for Entrepreneurship. A tenured faculty member and faculty representative to the Board of Trustees, Hamar has also served as chair of the Education Department.

Dr. Jennifer Jewell will be the dean of the School of Arts & Science, transitioning from her leadership of what was the School of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences since July 2022. Jewell previously served for eight years as professor and director of the School of Social Work at Salisbury University on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Jonathon Moberly, J.D. began as the new dean of the Robert W. Plaster School of Business in May. Moberly comes to CC after serving as the dean of the College of Business & Technology as well as the director of operations for Strategic Enrollment at Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska. He has more than 16 years of experience in higher education and five years in the sports business industry.


» Rob Boone, associate vice president of Strategic Partnerships and Projects, was elected to serve as vice president of the National Association of Institutions for Military Education Services. Boone’s election also includes a two-year term as presidentelect. Boone is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army whose deployments included Egypt, Tunisia, Haiti and two tours of duty in Iraq. After an exceptional 26-year military career, Boone worked at the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital, where he was a training specialist. He then served the Federal Emergency Management Agency as an emergency management specialist. He joined Columbia College in March 2019.


» Dr. Mary Dorn, Columbia College Robert W. Plaster School of Business assistant professor of Finance and department chair, won the “Best Research Award” for her presentation during the Journal of Financial Planning Research Showcase at the 2022 Financial Planning Association Annual Conference.

In her presentation, “Later Life Financial Planning Concerns: A Unique Perspective from Midwest LGBTQ Adults,” Dorn discussed the fears and feelings of LGBTQ+ clients regarding aging and financial planning needs. Her research identified themes to guide certified financial planners in their advice and interactions.

“It was an honor to present at this conference and to be recognized with this award. The primary finding in my research is that while everyone needs a certain level of money and financial planning as they age, members of the LGBTQ+ community have greater concern surrounding the topic as the traditional safety nets are often unavailable,” Dorn says. “Finding a trusted professional who understands these community members’ needs can be difficult. Financial professionals who work with members of the LGBTQ+ community should continually educate themselves on the nuances of their clients’ financial priorities.”

Dorn received her Ph.D. in personal financial planning from the University of Missouri. She has over 30 years of industry experience in financial services that include banking, insurance, investments, tax and retirement planning. –KG

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» When you attend an event at Columbia College, there is a high probability that junior Zoe Davis either will be in attendance or she played a critical role in its execution behind the scenes. Through groups like student leadership programs and student organizations, individuals like Davis have the ability to positively impact the college’s student body in a variety of ways.

As Davis concludes her third year at the college’s main campus in Columbia, Missouri, she has been the recipient of countless awards and recognitions. A standout student in the classroom, evidenced by her Dean’s List accolades in each semester at the college thus far, Davis quickly earned the respect of faculty and staff.

Her academic excellence and active role at the college resulted in a major award at the 2022 Night of Recognition, a yearly event hosted by the Division of Student Affairs to honor students, faculty and staff who exceptionally impact the college. Davis brought home the hardware for the “Emerging Leader Award,” as she continued to make extraordinary strides throughout the college community.

Arguably Davis’ top accomplishment at the college began during her sophomore year and continued throughout the recent 2022-23 school year as a junior. Under the guidance of associate professors of Physical & Biological Sciences Dr. Tara Martin and Dr. Kent Strodtman, Davis worked tirelessly to revitalize the Columbia College Science & Pre-Health Professions Club. The dedication ultimately paid off, as the organization was reborn and she was later named club president.

“Zoe is a very driven student and is determined to make things happen,” Martin says. Beginning in Summer 2022, Davis and fellow Science Club members launched a brandnew garden on campus. “Alongside her fellow Science Club members, they worked with campus facilities to see what could be accomplished. Zoe took the lead and organized students inside and outside the club to help maintain the new garden. You can tell she is the type of person who is laser-focused on achieving her goals.”

Davis says the garden was her biggest goal as the club’s president and she appreciates the encouragement of the college. “We started with one 22-by-14-foot plot of land, but have already tilled four additional large plots to expand our garden’s capabilities.

Zoe Davis, right, worked with members of the Science & Pre-Health Professions Club to build a campus garden. Currently consisting of tomato and pepper plants, the student-led initiative helps support the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri. Pictured above from left: Kenzie Rutledge, Kristen Kelly, Zoe Davis, Hana Farrington and Gigi Jackson

“We have had support not only from Science Club members, but all students at the college. Countless individuals have dedicated endless hours to this project and I am incredibly grateful for their support. Between interactive events and expanding our garden-specific positions, there were so many advancements with this project in 2022-23 and I am so excited to watch it continue to grow!”

While additional lifetime memories surely await as a senior in 2023-24, Davis has already pinpointed the Science Club garden’s success as something she’ll never forget.

“Making the local news for our garden was a great memory,” Davis says. “The club’s officers met at the garden after a long day of classes, thinking we were doing one interview for a local newspaper. However, when we arrived, we were surprised to see additional news journalists and TV cameras! It was so fun to read the final news stories, as well as see ourselves on the nightly news. It was very rewarding to get recognized for our hard work on this project!” –AO

8 Affinity Summer 2023 INSIDE THE GATE

Students showcase research at ninth annual Science Symposium

More than 50 research posters were on display Wednesday, April 12, in the Brouder Science Center as part of the ninth annual Columbia College Science Symposium.

Students in Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Forensics, Nursing and Psychology showcased their research, including summer internship experiences, literature reviews, research proposals, and class or independent projects. The symposium is sponsored by the Department of Physical & Biological Sciences.

Jada O’Donnell (above) received first place for her poster research project on the effects of nitrogen deficiency on plants. The award was presented by Dr. Sarah Mounter, a former CC adjunct instructor and chemistry tutor who now manages the science laboratory.

Clara Hagedorn ’19 delivered the keynote address, sharing an inspirational message about the start of her career – she oversees soybean trait introgression at Benson Hill in St. Louis – and how Columbia College prepared her for success.

The Science/Pre-Health Professions Club and Forensic Science Club promoted their groups with tables during the event, while the Grossnickle Career Services Center provided examples of science resumes as well as contacts for internships and job-shadowing opportunities. Recruiters for post-graduate paths also were on hand to interact with students.

A special celebration for alumni will be held in conjunction with the 10th annual symposium next spring. –KG


» Each Spring, the Columbia College community gathers to hear the next great business idea from students at the Steven and Barbara Fishman Center for Entrepreneurship Student Pitch Competition.

Six students from across the country presented their business plans at the New Hall Event Center in front of alumni, faculty, staff and community members. Coordinated by former Fishman Center for Entrepreneurship Director Becky Bocklage, each student competitor was allotted 10 minutes to pitch their business idea, followed by a Q&A session with the panel of judges.

Putting a spin on the “same old” bounce house, Victoria Brown was awarded $5,000 with her winning pitch for Paint to Pieces. This business will offer to set up an inflatable splatter paint tent at an event and provide the customer with the necessary tools to get messy! Customers can use a variety of tools such as water guns, blasters and squeeze bottles to paint the inside of the tent.

A dozen business professionals served as coaches and judges throughout the process, lending entrepreneurial guidance as the students developed their business plans. The six student finalists entered the day in the running for three donor-funded monetary prizes to aid their future business development.


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to learn
more or support the program. –AO
Victoria Brown (center), a Columbia College Global student from St. Louis, celebrates her first-place win in the Student Pitch Competition with coach Sunitha Bosecker (left) and her sister.


Expo doubles in size

» From hairstyling to home cooking, longtime business owners to new startups, entrepreneurial spirit was on full display Saturday, Feb. 18, during the fourth Black Business Expo at Columbia College.

Sixty vendors from around mid-Missouri set up shop as about 450 community members checked out their products and services. This year’s expo was the largest such event yet at CC — and by a wide margin, more than doubling the number of businesses from the last edition.

“Columbia College is a pillar in the community,” says beauty salon owner and Columbia City Council member Roy Lovelady. “To have a pillar in the community have a vested interest in the Black and brown community definitely says a lot. It’s neat being out here. It’s a great experience and a networking opportunity to get out and see other Black businesses that I might not have known about.”

The annual expo is organized by the college’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion with the purpose of shining a spotlight on minority-owned small businesses.

“The Black Business Expo represents the hope, the strength, the partnership and the spirit of the Beloved Community teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” says Alejandra Gudiño, the college’s director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “For us at Columbia College, it represents the possibility, the opportunity and the honor to host and uplift these business owners’ voices and efforts.”

The college compiled a directory of participating businesses and named the book in honor of longtime community leader James “Jim” Whitt, who passed away in 2021. Annelle Whitt

it and ask how to become part of it, it’s becoming more

continues her husband’s legacy by running the James & Annelle Whitt Entrepreneurial Development Foundation.

She hosted a table on behalf of the foundation, which provides seed grants to minority- and women-owned small businesses in addition to offering workshops, mentoring and coaching.

“There are a lot of young folks who have tables set up here. What many of them are lacking is capital,” she says. “To be in this environment and say, ‘Hey, we can help you in that regard,’ that’s the (priority). Exposure and getting your brand out there, getting yourself out there.” –KG

Unity Takes Center Stage

» The Columbia College Unified Voices Gospel Choir debuted with a diverse blend of harmony on Saturday, Feb. 11. The new ensemble was comprised primarily of students but also included alumni and staff. The inaugural performance, sponsored by the offices of the President and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, manifested a vision that began taking shape last year as new Music faculty members Emily Edgington Andrews and Dr. Bryan Stenson connected with the CC Friends of the ’70s Alumni Advisory Committee. The historical precedent for a gospel choir on campus began in the 1970s with the Children of God Gospel Choir (inset), which was comprised of the first African American students attending Columbia College.

“Singing is important and brings people together in a powerful way,” Edgington Andrews says. –KG

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Roy Lovelady, owner of 360 Star Styling Studio, offered hairstyling to attendees during the Black Business Expo, organized by the college’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “I think this is a great event,” Lovelady says. “I wish it could happen more. As people talk about well-known.”


» A deep sense of gratitude permeated the Southwell Complex on Tuesday, April 11, as nearly 200 people gathered for Columbia College’s second annual Celebration of Philanthropy Luncheon.

The event provides an opportunity to recognize the generosity of contributors who support scholarships and to publicly thank members of the college’s giving societies, which include the Cornerstone Club, President’s Society and St. Clair Society.

Contributors and student scholarship recipients shared a meal while discussing their Cougar connections.

“I have been able to spread my wings in a place that feels like home,” says sophomore Emily Cote, who received two of the more than 125 scholarships highlighted during the program. “Because of the financial contributions I have received at Columbia College, I have been able to have a full and enriched college experience. Without these scholarships, my college experience would be a lot different.”

Bill Seibert ’09, the recipient of the 2023 Columbia College Alumni Association Professional Achievement Award (page 34), received a standing ovation after delivering remarks about his reason for giving back.

“There was and still is a need to say thank you,” Seibert says of supporting

his alma mater. “Through life’s experiences, struggles and successes, I trust Columbia College to continue to serve and be willing to walk with those who need you. I trust you to continue to hold your charges’ feet to the fire but be there for them when needed. I trust you to continue your excellence and outreach to alumni as you have done with me.”

Members of the college community from across the country watched via Zoom as Vice President for Advancement Suzanne Rothwell shared that the college has awarded over $700,000 in donor-supported scholarships this year. Rothwell noted the need for financial aid was displayed by the more than 200 applications for the 12 available CCAA Scholars Program awards (page 40).

“I want to say thank you personally to the donors on behalf of myself and many other students here at Columbia College. We would not be here without you.”

Fund stewards of more than 25 existing scholarships attended the celebration, with many of them meeting the recipients of their awards.

“Our mission at Columbia College is to improve lives,” Rothwell says. “Contributors, because of all of you, that mission is made possible. Thank you for making a difference.” –KG

The success of the FIFTH ANNUAL GIVING DAY campaign on March 23 further illustrates the inspiring generosity of those who support the college. While the goal entering Giving Day was to raise $150,000 in recognition of the 50th anniversary of Columbia College Global, early momentum allowed the college to increase that goal to $172,000 in honor of the 172nd anniversary of CC. By the end, Giving Day supporters exceeded both of those goals, as the initiative raised nearly $188,000.

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• • •

Student Referral Program


When it comes to important life decisions, we often turn to friends and family who have shared experiences. That is especially true when choosing the best college for our educational needs.

Do you know a student who would be a great fit at Columbia College? Your encouragement could be just what they need to pursue their academic journey.

The offices of Admissions and Alumni Relations have partnered to create the Student Referral Program, a quick and easy process that allows members of the CC community to suggest potential students for classes at Columbia College. When you submit your first referral, you will be recognized as a member of the Student Referral Program and will receive a Columbia College Alumni Association-branded portable cell phone charger to keep you powered up when you are on the go.

The CCAA keeps you connected to the college and provides lifelong member benefits. To learn more about the Student Referral Program and submit a recommendation in a matter of minutes, scan the QR code with your smartphone or visit

Office of Alumni Relations (573) 875-2586 |


» An electronic carillon bell system was gifted in honor of former CC President Dr. Donald Ruthenberg by an anonymous friend of the college. The bells help mark the movement of time while honoring important occasions in the lives of the college family, sharing the gift of music and uniting all ages in a common spirit. “This is a great honor for me,” says Ruthenberg, who served as the college’s 15th president from 1984 to 1995.

The newly created Dr. Donald Ruthenberg Endowed Program Fund, established in recognition of Ruthenberg’s longtime friend Bernie Lensmeyer, will support increased Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programming at the college.

The donation was one of two gifts recognized during a special ceremony Monday, May 1, in the parlor of Missouri Hall, where a second gift by friends of the college was recognized in honor of Bernard “Bernie” Lensmeyer. This gift aids the newly created Dr. Donald Ruthenberg Endowed Program Fund, which will support Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programming.

Lensmeyer lived his life with unwavering energy and a sincere belief in every individual’s potential to succeed. As a leader in the food service industry, he stood as an advocate for diversity and inclusion in his professional pursuits. His unique ability to unite people to do good in the world left a legacy.

Lensmeyer managed a national college food service operation that nourished students in Dulany Hall from the days of Christian College through the transition

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Pictured from left: Kris Lensmeyer Leshner, Dr. Donald Ruthenberg and Mark Lensmeyer Former CC President Dr. Donald Ruthenberg gathers with his family in Missouri Hall.

to Columbia College. In addition to his storied career in strengthening food service provision and innovation, he held roles on several influential national food service boards.

Ruthenberg was joined at the gift announcement by several members of his family and the Lensmeyer family, who were present to honor their father and grandfather who passed away in 2013. Ruthenberg recalls becoming friends with Lensmeyer while in graduate school at the University of Denver, the start of a meaningful relationship that spanned decades.

Ruthenberg received an honorary alumni degree from Columbia College upon his retirement and was a champion of equity and inclusion throughout his esteemed career in higher education. He brought an influx of national and intercultural endeavors to the college during his tenure.

“I guess when anonymous gifts are given, they’re anonymous,” Ruthenberg told the guests in attendance. “I don’t know who did it. But I appreciate it and thank whomever it was who thought that would be a kind way to operate.”

Columbia College President Dr. David Russell presented a plaque to Lensmeyer’s daughter, Kris Lensmeyer Leshner, to share with her family in recognition of the generous gift directly benefiting the college’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. He presented two plaques to Ruthenberg to commemorate the bells and endowed fund.

The fund will strengthen the spirit of the welcoming community that Ruthenberg and Lensmeyer helped create at Columbia College, Russell told the intimate gathering. “These two leaders worked together for many years and made a lasting impact,” Russell says.

Ruthenberg got the final word during the celebration before guests awaited the ringing of the bells at the top of the hour. “It’s always good to come home,” Ruthenberg says. –KG

Cornerstone Club

The Cornerstone Club recognizes alumni and friends for their leadership-level annual contributions to the Columbia College Fund. These members go above and beyond to help our students achieve their academic goals. Thank you for your support!

2023 Cornerstone Club Members:

Anita Abbott Timmons ’58 and James Timmons – Atlanta, Ga.

Marilyn Abney-Warner ’97 ’00 and Ronnie Warner – Madison, Ala.

James and Lesley Arnold – Fulton, Mo.

Maryellen Batt ’47* – Salina, Kan.

Barbara Bilger ’62 – Dallas, Texas

H. Jane Blackman, M.D., ’64 – Key West, Fla.

Carrie and Rob Boone – Columbia, Mo.

Sara Botts ’41* – Oceanside, Calif.

Caitlin ’10 and Mike ’08 Campbell – Columbia, Mo.

Lori and Lex Cavanah – Marceline, Mo.

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) – Indianapolis, Ind.

Sara Clark – Columbia, Mo.

Susie Cox ’61 – Lees Summit, Mo.

Jill ’75 and Jacques ’77 Craig – Houston, Texas

Daniel D’Alesio – Neptune Beach, Fla.

Lisa ’11 and Scott ’02 Daugherty – Columbia, Mo.

Kathy Digges – Columbia, Mo.

Mary Dorn – Columbia, Mo.

Mike Durham ’83 – Blue Grass, Va.

Cathy ’18 and Nathan ’99 Eatherton – Columbia, Mo.

Patty and Donald Fischer – Fulton, Mo.

Linda Gosney – Columbia, Mo.

Daisy ’66 and Skip Grossnickle – Columbia, Mo.

Leander and Dr. Shadel Hamilton – Columbia, Mo.

Melanie and Darin Hand – Oak Harbor, Wa.

Phyllis ’57 and James ’76 Hardin – Columbia, Mo.

Debra Hartman – Crystal Lake, Ill.

Hawthorn Bank – Jefferson City, Mo.

Angie Hilbert ’69 – Marthasville, Mo.

Jackie Hinton – Columbia, Mo.

Marilyn ’70 and B.W. Hoecker – Columbia, Mo.

George Hulett Hon. ’19 – Columbia, Mo.

June Hurdle ’83 – Broussard, La.

Debra and Cliff Jarvis – Columbia, Mo.

Sally ’66 and Stephen Jennings – Des Moines, Iowa

Greg Johnston ’91 and Patricia Churchill – Jefferson City, Mo.

Robert ’73 and Susan Lang – Reno, Nev.

Bill ’04 and Emma Leeper – Fernandina Beach, Fla.

Trina and Bryan Liebhart – Columbia, Mo.

Marilyn ’68 and Charles Lukehart – Nashville, Tenn.

Joan Luttge ’50* – Arlington Heights, Ill.

Marcia ’96 and David Machens – Mission Hills, Kan.

Melissa Montgomery ’06 – Columbia, Mo.

Joshua ’99 and Ann Muder – Olathe, Kan.

John ’88 and Lorrie Ney – Columbia, Mo.

Joe Nicchetta ’79 – Glenview, Ill.

Jane Pickens – Waukegan, Ill.

Susan Fritz Ralph ’70 – San Marino, Calif.

Rancho Santa Fe Foundation – Encinitas, Calif.

Carole and Mike Hon. ’14 Randerson – Columbia, Mo.

Cheryl Ritchie ’78 – Sturgeon, Mo.

Jim ’93 and Suzanne Rothwell – Columbia, Mo.

Jeannie M Rulo ’00 ’18 and Jerry Shannon – Centertown, Mo.

Dr. David and Lee Russell – Columbia, Mo.

Dr. Donald Ruthenberg Hon. ’95 – Columbia, Mo.

William ’78 and Phyllis Schneider – Columbia, Mo.

Jolene ’61 and Bill Schulz – Columbia, Mo.

Bill ’09 and Rachelle Seibert – Jefferson City, Mo.

Jeannie Simmons ’02 – Fort Worth, Texas

Elizabeth Smallfelt ’56 – La Jolla, Calif.

Daphne Sumner ’57 – Millstadt, Ill.

Gary Tatlow – Columbia, Mo.

Corbin ’12 and Lauren Umstattd – Kansas City, Mo.

Rob ’87 and Gail Walker – Aurora, Colo.

Carla and Matt Williams – Columbia, Mo.

Dixie Williams – Columbia, Mo.

Carol ’93 and Darrell Winkler – Columbia, Mo.


To join or renew your membership, visit or contact the Office of Development at (573) 875-7492.




» For the sixth consecutive year, the Columbia College Athletics Department won the American Midwest Conference (AMC) Presidents’ Cup.

The Presidents’ Cup is awarded to the institution accumulating the most points, determined by final regular-season standings or the final results from the AMC Championship for cross country, wrestling, golf and track & field. CC competed in 15 of the 16 conference sports and brought home eight first-place finishes.

“This year it took some clutch performances late from our spring sports to secure the Cup for another year,” Columbia College Director of Athletics James Arnold says. “I’m so very proud of all our student-athletes, coaches, athletic trainers, sports information staff and the entire Cougar community.” –ND

the course of the season, the Cougars claimed 10 AMC tournament championship titles.


Men’s Indoor Track & Field


Men’s Golf

Women’s Golf

Men’s Outdoor Track & Field

Men’s Basketball

Men’s Soccer

Women’s Basketball


Women’s Soccer

“The work that goes into winning the Presidents’ Cup is the ultimate measure of quality depth for athletic departments.”

The Cougars finished with a 17.5-point advantage over Missouri Baptist, which finished one spot behind Columbia for the fourth straight year.

The Cougars have passed William Woods University for the most AMC Presidents’ Cup wins among active schools.

Former AMC member McKendree University (Ill.) leads with 10 wins (2001-2011).

16 Affinity Summer 2023 INSIDE THE GATE


CC Esports continues to achieve national acclaim in competitive gaming industry

» In the fall of 2016, Columbia College became one of the first higher-education institutions in the country to adopt Esports. Beginning with two teams of five players competing in League of Legends, the Cougars captured immediate success in their new endeavor. CC produced top honors at the Harrisburg University Esports Festival and a second-place finish at the 2018 College League of Legends Championship.

After hosting the Midwest Campus Clash and Gaming Expo for three consecutive years from 2017-19, Columbia College and mid-Missouri quickly became nationally renowned in the competitive gaming industry.

In the fall of 2021, the Cougars continued their evolution in Esports by adding Rocket League and Rainbow 6 Siege to their competitive gaming catalog. Similar to its original adoption of League of Legends, Columbia College enjoyed instant positive results with its new teams, capturing five Collegiate Rocket League titles that year alone.

In January 2020, Aaron Shockley was appointed as the new director of Columbia College Esports. Shockley arrived at CC’s main campus in Columbia, Missouri, following a successful two-year tenure as the director of Esports at Central Methodist University. Since his arrival, Shockley and Director of Athletics James Arnold have continued the program’s rapid ascension by adding Madden and Valorant to its competitive gaming lineup. Additionally, the Esports roster has climbed from six players in 2020 to currently standing at 28 total student-athletes.

Housed in the Esports Game Hut on main campus, individual and team accolades have continued to pile up for the Cougars. In November 2022, Columbia College reached new heights by tallying its first-ever Esports national title. The Cougars toppled Northwood University

out of Midland, Michigan, in the Rocket League Fall National Championship and brought home the treasured hardware. Thanks in part to the success and notoriety of CC’s program, Shockley continues to see incredible advancement in Esports within Missouri.

“The main growth I have seen over the last two years has definitely been the development of the high school Esports league in Missouri,” Shockley says. “We have close to almost 300 high schools now offering Esports for various games.”

As the Esports industry boom appears to have no end in sight, Shockley seeks to capitalize on the momentum and foresees even bigger developments within his program.

“I would like to see CC Esports expand our roster offerings to not only players, but to behind-the-scenes help such as managers, social media personnel, broadcasting and casting opportunities,” Shockley says. “I would also like to see us continue to expand our game offerings and potentially open a larger facility to attract more members to our Esports club who just want to be a part of a student organization on campus.

“Finally, I hope we can also offer more coaching opportunities within not only our own program, but also develop relationships with high schools so our players are able to develop their talents and potentially have a career in the industry once they graduate.” –AO

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“We have seen the number of colleges in Missouri that offer Esports grow. This has allowed us not only to compete against schools that are closer, but also develop good rivalries.”


» Some of the earliest risers at Columbia College bring the most energy. The Spirit Squad entertains crowds at campus events and enlivens Southwell Athletic Complex during home basketball games – all while those same Cougar cheer and dance teams train and compete at their own competitions.

Shining in the spotlight required commitment behind the scenes for

the 20 student-athletes in the program during the 2022-23 academic year. The combined roster size of the teams has grown since they were established two years ago.

“The sun is just coming up when we get here,” head competitive cheer coach Danniele Liles says about the program’s practices, which start around 6:30 a.m. and generally occur three or four days per week, in addition to strength and conditioning.

“The lights are turning on for us. It’s a good start to the day.”

Liles spearheads the Spirit Squad alongside head competitive dance coach Amanda Roberts

Their first priority when they were hired in March 2021 was to improve the atmosphere at Cougar men’s and women’s basketball games.

“Our first job was to come in and bring some of that extra sparkle,” Liles says.

There was more awareness and excitement on campus surrounding the Spirit Squad this year, says Annie Lemerande, dance team captain.

“People are definitely realizing how dedicated we are and how serious we are,” she says.

The rising junior (pictured left) is part of the program’s inaugural class, one she hopes will help pave the way.

“We are starting a lot of small traditions here that I know will be carried out for years,” Lemerande says. “It’s really exciting to start something new like that.”

Liles believes the culture at Columbia College is what makes it special. Putting that on display is the Spirit Squad’s specialty.

18 Affinity Summer 2023 INSIDE THE GATE

“We get to be that face a little bit for Columbia College, and all the alumni from the many years of the college’s history, we get to sort of be a face for them and get them represented out in the community in ways that didn’t always happen otherwise,” Liles says.

The composition of the cheer and dance teams this past year was almost entirely freshmen and sophomores. Liles and Roberts expect to expand the size of their respective rosters in the coming years.

After not competing in its first year, the program competed at events in Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska in February before the NAIA cheer and dance qualifiers to round out the month.

February served as the team’s exciting “first foray,” Liles says. The teams debuted in North Newton, Kansas, on Feb. 4 at the Thresher Invitational hosted by Bethel College. The dance team shined with a third-place showing out of 15 schools at the York Invite in York, Nebraska, on Feb. 10 and earned a pair of dual victories one day later in Concordia, Nebraska.

The cheer team posted a season-high score at the Spartan Showcase at Missouri Baptist University on Feb. 17, the same day the dance team also notched its season best.

Dance finished seventh and cheer took ninth in their respective NAIA qualifier events on Feb. 25.

“We are incredibly proud of all the hard work put in by our competitive teams this year,” Liles says. “We couldn’t have asked for a better group of athletes to take on this first season with.”

A confident, hard-work approach is guiding both teams as they make strides forward.

“The most important thing we look for and we think we’ve found with the girls we’ve got now is the want, the motivation to come here and keep doing this,” Liles says. “You have to really love this sport and have to love it so much that you want to do everything you can to keep doing it.”

Members of the cheer and dance teams are keeping their dreams alive – together. While they are two teams, they represent one joint program and the college as a whole.

That makes the early mornings well worth the effort.

“We work really hard,” Lemerande says. “We get up every morning at 6:30 to practice, and coach pushes us to our breaking points, but it’s great and we’re all in it together.” –KG

When it comes to school spirit, Scooter is often leading the charge. Rising sophomore Aaron Bilbruck has earned rave reviews for his performances as the beloved Cougar mascot that include dressing for the occasion. Faces light up when people come across Scooter. “Aaron takes it so seriously and has been such a gift to the program,” says Danniele Liles, head competitive cheer coach. “He’s taken Scooter and given him a whole life and personality, and we’re really excited to see the continued growth and use of Scooter being here, there and everywhere.”


20 Affinity Summer 2023
PHOTOS BY ABIGAIL WADE & FROM COLUMBIA COLLEGE ARCHIVES 50th Anniversary Logo Designed By Leslie Kennon ’00
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Courage to change.

Merriam-Webster defines “courage” as the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty. The dictionary describes “change” as to make different, shift or undergo a modification.

Those words play directly into how the Columbia Daily Tribune characterized the pivotal events at Columbia College in the early 1970s, when many private colleges were cutting back and closing their doors amid a particularly turbulent time within the evolving landscape of higher education.

“Columbia College made it,” the Tribune reported on March 9, 1975, “because it had the courage to change.”

Christian College updated its name to Columbia College. The school switched from a two-year junior college to a baccalaureate institution. Male students were admitted for the first time. African American students came to the college after being recruited from across the nation, forging a vital integration of the student body.

Last but not least, faculty branched out to teach classes to nontraditional students at sites located away from main campus – mostly on military bases at first before also expanding to civilian outposts – forming what was originally called the Extended Studies Division (ESD).

“We shall not be afraid of change and experiment,” Dr. W. Merle Hill, Columbia College’s 13th president, said at the time of the major shifts under his administration, which spanned from 1965 to 1977.

First known as ESD, then as Adult Higher Education (AHE) and now as Columbia College Global, the division is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2023 with special events across the country. Even the progression of the division’s various titles sheds light on its spirit of continual reimagination.

The priority remains how to best serve adult learners and military-affiliated students who are furthering their education through one of the college’s nationwide locations or the Online Program while balancing family, work and school.

The foundation of Columbia College Global was built by the innovation of the leaders who shaped its first five decades, says Dr. Shadel Hamilton, vice president for Columbia College Global.

“Columbia College has been at the forefront of innovation, and I have no doubt that we will continue to be in that position moving forward,” Hamilton says. “We now have an opportunity to put our fingerprints on the future, be a part of the history and stand on the shoulders of those who came before us to take Columbia College Global to the next level.”


A simple request by a U.S. Army education services officer named Ted Messick resulted in a courageous response with a profound ripple effect. Messick asked Hill, who served in the Army during World War II, whether the college could offer educational opportunities to Army recruiters away from its main campus.

By the spring of 1973, faculty members were driving to St. Louis to teach classes to military recruiters, beginning the concept of nationwide locations. Within a year, the number of ESD teaching locations increased to 75, made possible by the hiring of adjunct faculty. By the summer of 1975, the division reached as many as 155 teaching locations with nearly 3,000 students across more than 30 states.

“If approached about offering a class, Columbia College would try to meet that request, wherever and whenever the college could find a qualified instructor and teaching location,” says René Massey ’84 ’98 ’01, who worked for the division from 1981 to 2015, rising up the ranks to associate dean. She is regarded as a living encyclopedia of the division’s history. “There weren’t any campuses with full-time staff yet, just an instructor and students.”

Soon, the focus of ESD adjusted to creating actual sites with a schedule of classes, staff and structure. “In the beginning of the division, things were a bit chaotic,” Massey says. “But when it all got straightened out, there were policies and structure and a foundation from which to build.”

With access to education extending in every direction beyond main campus, the bold creation of the new division proved beneficial not only to military personnel but also to civilian adult learners.

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“It is a program in which anybody who has ever been connected with it can take a great deal of pride,” Lt. Col. Don Foster, an early dean for ESD, said in reflection upon his retirement. “It is part of the flexibility the college has always demonstrated.”

The first decade of what is now Columbia College Global brought the opening of 10 locations that will be reaching their respective 50th anniversaries by 2025.

These original locations include St. Louis (Missouri), Fort Leonard Wood (Missouri), Evening Campus (Missouri),  Jefferson City (Missouri), Lake County (Illinois), Denver (Colorado), Orlando (Florida), Redstone Arsenal (Alabama), NASJRB Fort Worth (Texas) and Salt Lake City (Utah).

Under the direction of several influential leaders to come, ESD further cemented its standing. “We just grew and grew and grew,” Massey says. “It was like riding on a rocket ship.”


Col. Frank Westling is among the key leaders credited with bringing order to the initial chaos.

“Frank was the genius,” says Dr. Donald Ruthenberg, the 15th president of Columbia College from 1984 to 1995. Westling served as an adjunct faculty member at the Lake County location when Foster asked if the fellow Vietnam War veteran would retire from the Army and work at the main campus.

Westling arrived in 1975 and devoted his efforts as dean toward helping ESD manage its rapid growth. “Frank developed the structure within the division, and campuses were supported by on-site administrators,” Massey says. “He was not going to have anything less than professional, quality education offered to this group of students for whom he felt a real affinity.”

Massey remembers Westling as a smart, engaging leader who connected with faculty, staff and students. “He kept lines of communication open and would call the campus directors sometimes just to tell a joke,” Massey says. “He had great relationships with everybody. But make no mistake, you weren’t ever going to win an argument – he was just too sharp.”

The Frank Westling Memorial Scholarship, created the year following his death, continues to provide funding every year to students who exemplify Westling’s qualities, beyond just academics.

Fellow Army veteran Frazier Moon ’74, one of the first male graduates of Columbia College, was the division’s director of administration handling state approvals, leases and other related responsibilities. Moon succeeded Westling, his longtime colleague, as the next dean for ESD in 1987, bringing a calm but commanding presence to the position over the next nine years.

“Frazier was a quiet, yet powerful man,” Massey says. “He carried himself with such command that he didn’t have to use a lot of words to be heard. His greatest strength was that he allowed leaders to be leaders.”

To this day, the Frazier Moon Location of the Year Award recognizes the most outstanding Columbia College Global location for consistently achieving the highest standards of effectiveness, efficiency, timeliness and adherence to college policies and procedures. Foster created this award in honor of Moon but never made public the fact that he was behind its creation, Massey says.

Scholarships in honor of Westling and Moon are among ways to support adult learners and military-affiliated students. Visit to search giving opportunities.

Dr. Gerald Brouder, the college’s 16th president, hired retired Air Force Col. Mike Randerson to lead ESD in 1996 with another priority at the forefront: integrating the division with the rest of the college. Brouder described the nationwide locations at the time as “individual little fiefdoms,” Randerson recalls.

Furthermore, “Extended Studies was absolutely standalone,” Randerson says, handling its own marketing, contract negotiations and everything in between separate from the rest of the college. Over the first several years of his 18 working at the college, Randerson teamed with

In December 1973, Columbia College held a Commencement ceremony for its first-ever class of military personnel, awarding 47 bachelor’s degrees and 38 associate degrees.

Columbia College Global houses four locations in Illinois.

The Lake County/NS Great Lakes location was founded first in 1974, offering post-secondary education opportunities for sailors at a local naval station.

As one of the college’s first installations to serve military students and working adults, Columbia College Global’s Fort Leonard Wood (Missouri) location was founded in 1974.

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» Directors and program coordinators from Columbia College’s nationwide locations gathered in Dorsey Gym with members of the faculty, staff and college community on Thursday, March 23, to kick off the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Columbia College Global.

“This is truly a landmark day as we celebrate the kickoff of this yearlong celebration,” President Dr. David Russell told the crowd, which included attendees via Zoom. “Columbia College Global will continue to play a pivotal role in Columbia College’s success. We remain committed to fulfilling our mission to improve lives by providing quality education to traditional and nontraditional students.”

Additional celebration events were held at two of the college’s Illinois locations later in the spring: April 26 at Freeport and May 10 at Elgin. More recognition of the anniversary is planned this fall.

More than 75,000 students have graduated from the network over the past 50 years, and more than 20,000 Columbia College alumni are affiliated with the military.

Boone County, Missouri, Presiding Commissioner   Kip Kendrick ’06, a graduate of the Columbia College Evening Program, attended the kickoff celebration as a special guest and congratulated the college on its milestone on behalf of the Boone County government. Kendrick shared his personal experiences as a nontraditional student who worked a full-time job while completing his bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

“This place is very near and dear to my heart,” Kendrick said of Columbia College. “I am a product of Columbia College Global. The experience that I had through CCG allowed me to get to where I am today and to become who I am today.”

23 Affinity Summer 2023
The Kansas City (Missouri) location was originally established in Blue Springs, Missouri (1988), then moved to Independence, Missouri (1993), and finally set its current roots at Blue Ridge Tower (2006). The Redstone Arsenal (Alabama) installation was founded in 1975. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and Illinois Gov. JB Pritzer have sent the college letters of congratulations in honor of the milestone. Above: Debra Hartman (assistant vice president for Columbia College Global), Molly Roberts (academic advisor at the Elgin location), Melissa King (senior academic advisor at the Crystal Lake location) and Dr. John Schwarm (director of the Elgin location) host a 50th anniversary celebration on May 18 in Elgin, Illinois. Right: Commemmorative T-shirts, travel cups and lapel pins mark the 50th anniversary. Below: Dr. Shadel Hamilton, left, and Col. Mike Randerson – Columbia College Global leaders present and past – celebrate the first 50 years of the college’s impact in adult higher education.

Brouder to establish increased collaboration between main campus faculty and staff and those with Adult Higher Education, as the division became known during this era. “Truly, it was gratifying to see two distinct entities – Adult Higher Education and main campus – come together and have people really working together for the college,” says Randerson, who is now a member of the institution’s Board of Trustees.

This process coincided with the rise of the internet and the use of emerging technology that aided in more efficient processes and communications among AHE leaders around the nation.

“We moved from paper processes to 100% electronic, webbased processing,” Massey says. New technology would soon lead to perhaps the biggest breakthrough the college has ever known.


Dr. Terry Smith remembers being on the verge of a new frontier in nontraditional higher education. Initially, however, it wasn’t completely clear what that frontier would entail.

At one point the leading idea was palm pilots. Then it was CD-ROMs. As executive vice president and dean for Academic Affairs, Smith cautioned the college against trends that could be obsolescent. “There’s going to be a technology that comes along really soon,” Smith recalls thinking.

Of course, that technology turned into what is now Online Education. Dr. Arlin Epperson, who had taught Business courses, researched Columbia College’s potential future in Online Education, talking with competitors and strategizing what that mode could look like.

Epperson established the college’s connection with Desire 2 Learn, its Online Education portal. “(Epperson) was a wealth of information and a champion of Online from the beginning,” Randerson says.

After expressing reluctance about starting the Online Program, Brouder was won over by his advisors, who appeased their boss by formulating plans for how the college could adapt to new demands of the military and provide degree programs of the same rigor as those offered to students on the main campus.

Brouder ensured the process boldly proceeded in an atmosphere of civility and respect, Randerson says.

Academic Affairs initially oversaw the Online Program as Smith, Randerson and other key leaders worked through the early stages of course development and management. “Online was a perfect thing for us,” Randerson recalls. “Not only was it the right thing at the right time, but we already had a pool of adjunct faculty – the human resource to start mounting these classes. We were able to actually meet demand and then had to meld the processes. We weren’t the first in online education, but we were a very early adapter. There was a lot of courage to step out and do that.”

Smith, 2023 Honorary Alumni Award recipient (page 32), says it was critical for the Online Program to have the support of full-time faculty members. “My role was to make sure that faculty were understanding that this was a critical part of the college’s portfolio and it was important for them to maintain as active a role in it as possible,” he says.

Serving as one of nine Columbia College Global locations in California, the Los Alamitos installation was founded in 1997 at a Joint Forces Training Center.

In 1998, the Columbia College Global location at NS Everett/Marysville (Washington) became the first location nationwide to offer graduate courses to its students.

Currently, 15 states have a Columbia College Global location: Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington.

24 Affinity Summer 2023 FAST FACTS
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Columbia College Extended Studies Division Dean Col. Frank Westling (front row, fourth from left) and fellow Army veteran and future Dean Frazier Moon (third from right) pose as part of a group photo taken during a 10th anniversary event in 1983 on main campus.

Launching in October 2000, there were 180 students taking 10 classes online. At the peak of the surge, there were 18,000 students taking 900 classes digitally. The Online Program expanded from six staff members to more than 50 in just a few years, in addition to hundreds of adjunct instructors.

Dr. Gary Massey ’85, a retired Coast Guard officer who had served as the St. Louis location director, became director of the Online Program in 2004 before his elevation to dean for AHE in 2010. “Every school that offered online classes had to convince people that it was quality education,” he says. “Time after time, assessment exams showed that online students did just as well and, in some cases, better than in-seat students. That brought us credibility.”

Massey collaborated with a team including associate deans Dr. Eric Cunningham and Gary Oedewaldt to facilitate the growth of AHE through its most significant period of change in 30 years.

“We worked really hard to prove that you really could get a higher education, and a quality one, at the feet of adjunct faculty who were 2,000 miles away from the flagpole at 1001 Rogers Street,” says Cunningham, a retired Army colonel who oversaw the development of curriculum within the division. Ensuring the integrity of adjunct faculty was of paramount importance, says Oedewaldt, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who worked at the Fort Leonard Wood location before coming to main campus. “We weren’t going to take the backseat to anybody in terms of quality,” Oedewaldt says.

The surge in enrollments thanks to the success of the Online Program enabled significant investment into the college’s endowment, which grew from $3 million in the 1990s to over $150 million. “We got in at just the right time,” Smith says.


In the spirit of recognizing Columbia College Global’s golden anniversary, leaders from past and present looked to the

future and discussed how the college can apply lessons learned from the past five decades.

The school will have to change again, but it can’t lose its root family relationship, Ruthenberg says. “I don’t know what the next 50 years will portend, but institutions that just are looking for survival will not survive,” Ruthenberg says. “We can’t make things work just because they worked before.”

There is a blueprint from the decades of growth that can help guide Columbia College Global forward, albeit in constantly developing circumstances, René Massey says.

“We were built from change,” she says. “That’s the legacy of the division and the college – you have to keep changing to be relevant. I expect (Columbia College) to morph into even more easily accessed education and to also keep its heart. To be the same wonderful institution, providing quality education, perhaps done differently.”

COVID-19 has exasperated headwinds that were already starting to crop up, Randerson says, making this a critical time in the college’s 172 years of existence.

“We’ve got a compelling history,” Randerson says. “We have expertise. We’ve done it and done it well. The college will have to change again, and we are in the process of changing. We have to focus on the critical pieces that the future holds for us.”

Now is the time to begin figuring out what the next 50 years are going to be like, he says. “This is the latest batch of Columbia College folks who have to start thinking outside of the box, who have to take some risks, who will face challenging times but will live up to it as we always have,” Randerson says.

Smith says Columbia College Global’s significance to the college cannot be overstated. “I think it is very likely that Columbia College would not exist had it not been for what is now Columbia College Global,” Smith says. “But beyond that, there are literally hundreds of thousands of people now all over the world who have gotten or are getting powerful post-secondary education, because we provide it and we provide it at a cost that is reasonable. What we’re doing is very, very important and is making a difference in the world.”

In the same way as in 1973, Columbia College’s mission continues to improve lives by providing quality education and empowering students from all walks of life to achieve their true potential.

“Fifty years from now, I see Columbia College continuing to be a leader in this space,” Hamilton says. “We’ll shift along with the times like our leaders have always done. We will plug a gap and not be afraid to change.”

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(California): MCRD
San Diego
San Diego. Located in central Missouri, the Lake of the Ozarks
celebrated its new campus building opening in 2005.
There are currently three Columbia College Global locations in San Diego



40 years ago, Col. Cleo DeGraffenreid was preparing to make a speech on African Americans in the military for Black History Month when she got a call from the organizer, who asked if she was sitting down.

After looking through National Guard records, the organizer discovered she was the top-ranking Black female in the National Guard — not just in Missouri, but in the whole nation.

That record may have come as a surprise to her, but DeGraffenreid has been breaking barriers for most of her life. Her career has taken her from working as a nurse in the 1950s to moving up in nursing leadership to eventually earning full colonel status in the National Guard.

After graduating from high school in Oklahoma, DeGraffenreid knew she wanted to be a nurse. However, it was difficult at the time to find a place she could go to school.

“The only nursing schools I could go to, that my parents could afford, were those run by the city,” she says.

At first, she headed to Chicago, but when the head nurse at a hospital there informed her that they had already met their student quota for September, she headed to Kansas City where her aunt lived. She attended nursing school at General Hospital #2, which served the Black population in Kansas City. When she graduated in 1950, she accepted a job at St. Mary’s Hospital in Kansas City.


As a Black nurse in the 1950s, DeGraffenreid remembers having patients who didn’t accept her as their caregiver. One night, she was working the evening shift when a patient wouldn’t take medicine from her.

“I tried to explain that I was the only one available, but she kept saying, ‘There’s got to be someone else,’” she says.

She carried the medicine back to the nurses’ station and called the patient’s doctor, who came to the hospital. “He said, ‘If you don’t take your medicine, I can’t treat you.’ The patient didn’t know what to say. Then he said, ‘You may not realize it, but you could get some of your best treatment from a nurse who is this color.’”

Her skills in nursing made her a valued asset at St. Mary’s among staff and physicians. One day, she got a phone call from a surgeon from another hospital. He asked her to come to General Hospital #2 to assist with a radical neck dissection.

“After the six-hour surgery, he was able to go home and get some sleep because he knew I’d take care of (the patient),” she says. For her work, the doctor paid her $25, she remembers.

After seven years at St. Mary’s, DeGraffenreid was frustrated at the fact that other nurses were getting promotions over her despite her experience. She decided to try something different and enlisted in the Air Force. She was stationed in Denver, where she was quickly promoted to head nurse in the operating room.

During surgeries, DeGraffenreid remembers that she could tell what the surgeon needed just watching what his hands were doing. “If he put his first finger on his thumb, we’d

know what instrument that meant. If he put his hand out, he needed the Kelly (clamp).”

After two years, when it was time for her to either re-enlist or leave, she moved back to Kansas City to marry Lloyd Allen DeGraffenreid, a sergeant with the Kansas City Police Department. She returned to St. Mary’s Hospital where she was promoted to head nurse — the second Black head nurse at St. Mary’s at that time. After 13 years there, she moved to Truman Medical Center in Kansas City where she was second nurse in charge of the surgical outpatient clinic.

In the years that followed, DeGraffenreid left her nursing position to take care of her mother, who had suffered a stroke. In the meantime, she was still in the Air Force Reserves, where she moved up to the position of lieutenant colonel. She transferred to the Army National Guard after 13 years in the Air Force.

During all of this, education was a top priority for DeGraffenreid as well. While she was in the National Guard, she attended Columbia College-Kansas City and graduated with a business degree in 1976. She also took a Command and General Staff Officers course in San Antonio to further her career.

“I learned through the years that I needed to do everything I could if I wanted to get a little further,” she says. “Black people didn’t get the top positions easily. I put everything I could in my brain, so if the time came up for an opportunity to be promoted, there wouldn’t be any excuses.”

Her hard work paid off, as she earned a promotion to full colonel. At a Chief Nurses Conference for the National Guard, one of the nurses said the competition was tight. The Command

and General Staff Officers course was what ultimately ensured her promotion.

Later, DeGraffenreid was chosen to be on the promotion board for the National Guard. “I sat on the board looking at records and helping decide who would receive promotions to colonel. It was quite an honor,” she says.

In 2015, DeGraffenreid was chosen to sit in the Buck O’Neil Legacy Seat during a Kansas City Royals baseball game at Kauffman Stadium. Honorees are chosen for making a difference in their community. She was awarded a plaque and honored throughout the game.

DeGraffenreid has the plaque in her sunroom. “It still gives me chills to look at,” she says.

Approximately 34,000 people were there in the stadium that night as the team showed pictures on the video board from her career, including her first picture from the military. “It was something I’ll always remember,” she says.

27 Affinity Summer 2023
DeGraffenreid, left, studied at Columbia CollegeKansas City at the same time as Tuskegee Airman Brig. Gen. Charles E. McGee ’76, right. She attended the 2021 ceremony for the McGee General Aviation Terminal at Kansas City’s Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport. Col. Cleo DeGraffenreid ’76 served in the Air Force and Army National Guard. 2023 Alumni Awards recipients, pictured from left: Michael Garver ’03 ’13, Jolene Marra Schulz ’61, Dr. Terry Smith and Bill Seibert ’09

Alumni Awards


A Christian College alumna who serves on the Board of Trustees. A longtime professor of Political Science who led as interim president. An adult graduate who oversaw not one but two state agencies. And an advisor who makes an indelible impact at his alma mater.

The Columbia College Alumni Association honored four worthy individuals with 2023 Alumni Awards on Thursday, May 18, during a banquet in Dulany Hall on main campus.

This year marks 60 years since the inception of the Alumni Awards in 1963, when world-class performer Jane Froman Smith ’26 accepted the first Distinguished Alumni Award. The awards recognize members of the college community who display the ideals of the college and serve as ambassadors for the institution. Their examples set the standard for generations of Cougars to come.

Nominations for the 2024 Alumni Awards and a list of past recipients are available at

29 Affinity Summer 2023

Jolene Marra Schulz ’61 may come from a small town, but there was no keeping her from doing big things. Her charm, cheer and can-do attitude, combined with her intellect and leadership skills, have impacted everyone with whom she has been connected over her lifetime of positive influence, including her notable career in education and service as a trustee at her alma mater, Columbia (Christian) College.

The native of Bevier, Missouri – a town of less than 1,000 located about 65 miles north of Columbia – remembers the feeling of leaving home for the first time when she enrolled at Christian College.

“When I set foot onto Christian College, I realized I could navigate my way around, the professors were very nice, my classes were small, and everybody was friendly and wanted to get to know each other,” Schulz says. “It was a small school, but it had a national presence and was trying to provide an individualized education for every student here, which meant so much to me.

“It was indeed a warm and friendly place to be away from home.”

So warm and friendly, it turns out, that she has made it her second home for the past six-plus decades.

Generously giving her time, talent and treasure, Schulz is an ardent supporter of Columbia College as a member of the President’s Society and St. Clair Society in addition to her role governing the institution on the Board of Trustees, displaying her commitment to the longevity of higher education.

For attaining outstanding recognition in her career and embodying the spirit of leadership and service, Schulz is the 2023 recipient of the Columbia College Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award.

“I can truly say that Christian College absolutely laid the foundation for my pathways of life,” Schulz says.

“I am honored and humbled to be a recipient of this very prestigious award. To me, it’s the recognition of my life’s work that really began here.”

After earning her associate degree from Christian College, Schulz earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at

Jolene Marra Schulz ’61

the University of Missouri. She built a lasting legacy during her 40-year career in education, beginning as a teacher, then becoming director of the Missouri Facilitator Center and finally serving as director of community relations and school/community programs for Columbia Public Schools.

During her tenure, she created the Partners in Education program, which continues today and boasts more than 300 partners, including Columbia College. The program deepened the relationship between businesses and the school district by creating opportunities for interaction and collaboration.

Bo Fraser, former president of Central Bank of Boone County, was among the business leaders who signed the original agreement Schulz drafted for the initiative in 1984.

“Partners in Education was a great program that grew into something very impactful for the business community and Columbia Public Schools,” says Fraser, a trustee emeritus at Columbia College. “This distinguished award is very appropriate for Jolene. She is distinguished and has set herself apart in many, many ways. Certainly at Columbia College, but also in the community for the numerous things she has been involved in. She has given back to this community in a terrific way.”

Dan Scotten, a trustee emeritus who served as president of multiple Columbia banks during his career, was introduced to Schulz as an inaugural member of Partners in Education, the first of many projects the two would work on together, including the renovation of Missouri Hall in 2006.

“Jolene is one of those people who speaks when she really has something important to say, and people respect her,” Scotten says. “It has always been obvious that she is all in on Columbia College.”


For attaining outstanding recognition in one’s chosen career field and embodying the spirit of leadership and service

worked so well.”

Fellow current Trustee Gary Tatlow recalls meeting Schulz over 50 years ago when she was a classmate of his wife, Marilyn, at Christian College. Both couples later overlapped while living in Moberly, Missouri, before returning to Columbia, where Tatlow would practice as an attorney.

“Anytime there’s a job to be done, a task that other people shy away from, Jolene raises her hand,” Tatlow says. “She really typifies the ethic that Columbia College taught her many –no, I should say a few – years ago.”

Helen Dale Coe Simons ’65, current vice chair of the trustees, says she is impressed time after time by Schulz’s quiet leadership style, indepth knowledge of her community and never-ending commitment to supporting the causes that mean the most to her.

Simons says she has been honored to serve with Schulz through challenging situations and to learn from her the ability to practice supreme discipline based on the principles and values of the institution.

“Jolene is the epitome of an alumna of Columbia College who has given distinguished service from the time she attended Christian College to today,” Simons says. “Her genuine passion for this college and her lifetime commitment to education have been Columbia College’s gifts. Her style of leadership builds trust and her loyalty is an example to us all.”

Echoing others who have seen Schulz in action, longtime Columbia lawyer Scott Orr says he has observed three guarantees for initiatives she leads: They are under budget, ahead of time and done to perfection.

“When the lifting gets heavy,” Orr says, “Jolene’s shoulders are among the strongest that carry the load through until completion. Her mission in life is simply to serve others. She has always been an unselfish, caring human being. She is an absolute dynamo.”

In addition to the hallmark Partners in Education, Schulz implemented volunteer, service-learning and mentor programs during her 34 years with Columbia Public Schools.

She has taught kindergartners and college students alike, including some at Columbia College, where she was an adjunct professor from 1998 to 2001. She received the CCAA Community Service Award in 1996 and numerous awards from the University of Missouri and education organizations.

She has dedicated a life of service to Columbia and held board positions with numerous organizations.

“Jolene is one of the kindest, most caring, most generous individuals you will ever meet,” says Heather DimittFletcher, current executive director of the Missouri FFA Foundation and former executive director at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Missouri. “She is an immeasurable support to her family, her friends, her community and Columbia College. We should all hope to become the type of person that Jolene is.”

“Jolene is the paragon of virtue. She has always been the go-to girl.”

Dr. Terry Smith

undergraduate alma mater to work again, leveraging technology, critical thinking, communication and ethical decision-making. I was able to just do this wonderful liberal arts thing again.”

arts college. Smith attended a small private school in Missouri for his undergraduate studies. He got a well-rounded education. He joined the band. He learned from a mentor. He met Jane, his wife of 57 years.

Smith’s second go-around at a liberal arts institution has culminated in what he calls “the final completion of the circle”: Two of his grandchildren are at the same place where he is winding down a fulfilling and impactful career in higher education.

What Smith began at Central Methodist College with a bachelor’s degree in 1966 picked up three decades later when he started his tenure as an administrator and professor at Columbia College. His legacy of excellence only continues to grow, shaping countless Cougars along the way.

Smith has held many significant roles at Columbia College throughout his 27 years on campus. One thing he has never been at the college is a student. Now, however, Smith is an honorary graduate. The venerable political science professor and former interim president is the recipient of the 2023 Columbia College Alumni Association Honorary Alumni Award.

“My goal this entire time has been to provide a classic liberal arts education for students,” Smith says. “As it turns out, in the process of doing that, one of the things that happened alongside them was I had another classic liberal arts experience. That involved putting all of those skills that I learned at my

Smith arrived in Columbia in 1996 as the executive vice president and dean for Academic Affairs, serving under the late former President Dr. Gerald Brouder, whom he says was “a great mentor.” Smith was the institutional liaison with the college’s accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission.

Following Brouder’s retirement, Smith stepped up as interim president in 2013-14, providing steady leadership amid a season of transition before returning to his first love as a fulltime professor. He elevated Columbia College’s academic reputation to greater heights with new degrees and urged faculty to improve the quality of teaching and learning, says Distinguished Professor of History Dr. Brad Lookingbill, who began working at the college the same year as Smith and remains his colleague.

An authority in his field of study, Smith frequently shares his political knowledge beyond the realms of Columbia College, making appearances on radio and television programs as an expert source. In addition to teaching political science, Smith continues to direct the college’s Honors Program, challenging and inspiring highperforming students to respond to issues facing their generation.

“Dr. Smith’s modesty is remarkable,” Lookingbill says. “He rarely brags about himself. But he has an amazing record of accomplishment. Honestly, I doubt that the success of the college over the last three decades would have been even possible without him. I know that I would not have thrived here without his support. Along with President Emeritus Brouder, he encouraged civility and respect in all campus activities. He gave credit to others for

successes, yet took responsibility if things did not work out.”

For a leader who has served in big roles and made big decisions, Smith’s dedication to the small things resonates deeply with those whose lives he has profoundly influenced.

Cindy Potter ’05 ’06, senior deputy director of Athletics, met Smith in the early 2000s when she was a studentathlete on the Cougars softball team. After suffering a season-ending knee injury, Potter received what many CC athletes have over the years: a personalized note from Smith.

“He sent me a note to say what an impact I was for the team and what a loss that was going to be,” Potter says. “I still have that note. That meant the world to me. Unless you’re a studentathlete or a coach at Columbia College, you don’t know he does that.”

Dr. Mara Woody ’02 ’11, who served as assistant dean for Academic Affairs under Smith, recalls how Smith correctly pronounced every graduate’s name at commencements. What happened behind the scenes went largely unseen. Smith confirmed phonetics with students one-by-one before each ceremony.

“And to this day,” Woody says, “I still have no idea how Dr. Smith remembers everyone’s name on campus. That is one of the great untold secrets of Columbia College.”

Dr. Corri Hamilton ’16 distinctly remembers Smith greeting her during Welcome Week on the lawn of Bass Commons. Hamilton, now a postdoctoral research fellow who teaches at the University of British Columbia, says she is struck today more than ever by his level of interaction with students.

“He is an educator in every setting,” Hamilton says. “Whether you’re at the gym, walking down the street or

32 Affinity Summer 2023

sitting on the quad, he’s engaging with you, giving you tips, educating you not just about the subject but about life. That quality about him just exudes in every space.”

Jon Turner ’19 thought so much of Smith during his time as a student at Columbia College that he invited Smith to his wedding. Smith politely declined due to a scheduling conflict. But a busy calendar didn’t stop the professor from showing up at the front door of Turner’s home with a gift.

“You wouldn’t expect a college professor to do that,” Turner says, “but he took the time out of his day and it was very special.”

Inside the classroom, former and current students alike rave about Smith’s teaching style. His down-to-earth personality puts students at ease in a positive, fun and unintimidating atmosphere, says Karalynn Fisher, a student in the Political Science program. Fisher credits Smith for empowering her to pursue her dreams.

“He refuses to tell students about his own political views, and he removes his own bias from his teaching,” Fisher says. “On all of our tests, he has us write our names on the back so he doesn’t know whose test he’s grading until he’s already finished giving the grade. He grades everything based on the merit of the argument and not his opinion of the view or the student. In the current state of our political culture, Dr. Smith is just the professor we need.”

Smith has provided thousands of students the same kind of quality liberal arts education that he enjoyed nearly 60 years ago when he was in their shoes. Now his legacy is linked to Columbia College graduates in yet another way: as fellow alumni.

“I just want to say how much I appreciate this award and how deeply honored I am,” Smith says of being an honorary alumnus. “This is a wonderful place and I am privileged to have been here. I am CC.”


For an individual who, while not a graduate of Columbia College, has contributed greatly of their time, talent and/or treasure to fulfill the college’s mission
“Dr. Smith possesses great strength of character, making him what Winston Churchill might have called a ‘man of valor.’ I’m proud to call Dr. Smith a Cougar, and I will applaud his recognition as one of Columbia’s GOATs – greatest of all time.”

BBill Seibert ’09 has made a career out of rising to meet challenges head-on. His skills and influential leadership led to him serving as the assistant superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, where he was responsible for daily operations of the 2,300-person agency.

“Not very many people get to that level,” says Brad Jones, who worked with Seibert at the State Highway Patrol headquarters in the 1990s. “It’s due to his personality, his intellect, how he treats people, the example that he gives. I could go on and on about his professionalism.”

After retiring from the Highway Patrol in 2006 and chairing the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole, retired Lt. Col. Seibert returned to his roots in law enforcement by becoming a deputy police chief in O’Fallon, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis with a population over 90,000.

His position in O’Fallon came with one condition: He had to complete a college degree within two years. That’s when he returned to where his higher-education journey had begun more than 30 years earlier.

“What Columbia College means to me probably more than anything is family and second chances,” Seibert says.

Seibert, born in England, first enrolled at Columbia College in 1972 right out of Rolla High School in rural

Bill Seibert ’09

Missouri. He started but never finished his degree. He began working as a state trooper in 1977, launching what became an extensive career in law enforcement.

Despite his career advancements, Seibert recalls feeling “like something was missing in my life.”

Upon starting with the O’Fallon Police Department, where he later would serve as the interim chief, Seibert enrolled in online classes through Columbia College’s St. Louis location. Balancing work, family and school, he earned his bachelor’s degree in General Studies with an emphasis in Business.

“The willingness to take me back and help me and just kind of walk with me the whole time, that means more to me than most people will ever know,” Seibert says of the college. “I started here and I wanted to end here, and I was able to accomplish that.”

Embodying the benefits of higher education in furthering professional pursuits, Seibert leveraged his business knowledge into a job at the Missouri Gaming Commission, which oversees a billion-dollar industry that regulates casinos and gambling entities. He worked as deputy director for nearly five years before serving as executive director for four years.

Since retiring from the Gaming Commission in 2019, the Jefferson City resident has become an ordained Catholic deacon, a role in which he continues today.

“Saving lives on the highway. Saving lives in the heart and soul. Two very different ways, but that just sounds right about Bill,” says Ellen Miller-Mapp ’75, who met Seibert when they both were among the first African American students to integrate CC’s main campus. “He just has that generous spirit.”


Seibert is a member of President’s Society and the CC Friends of the ’70s Advisory Committee, a group formed with the goal of expanding opportunities for minority students.

In honor of his contributions to law enforcement and countless lives touched during his career, Seibert is the 2023 recipient of the Columbia College Alumni Association Professional Achievement Award.

“This was so surprising to me,” Seibert says of the award. “I really like to kind of stay under the radar.”

Seibert’s former fellow state troopers say they remain impacted by him decades after working together.

Kevin Geiger, who worked with Seibert when the latter was captain of Troop C in the St. Louis area, recalls Seibert breaking down walls between different law-enforcement agencies and encouraging counties and municipalities to work together.

“He’s a leader. There are no two ways about it,” Geiger says. “He leads by example. He’s a person I would follow anywhere and I would do anything for him. He’s very original in the things that he does. He’s very creative in his thinking. He’s a guy that when it really gets bad, he’s who I want to have with

“We’ve shared a lot of good times and shared a lot of bad times,” Stottlemyre says, “and Bill has the same character all the time.”

Ron Johnson had been a trooper for about five years before Seibert became his boss, bringing a style of leadership that resonates with Johnson to this day.

“Bill shared who he was not just as a leader, but as a person,” Johnson says. “Every time you’re around him and talking to him, he’s always thanking you. A lot of things that I have achieved in life as a state trooper and even as a husband and a father, he has played a role.”

Kyle Kelley was named a deputy police chief in O’Fallon along with Seibert in 2007. While the position required a college degree, Kelley says he thinks the city would have waived that requirement for Seibert based on his already “long and successful career.”

“I found Bill’s commitment to completing the requirements commendable and served as an excellent example for all of our employees,” Kelley says of Seibert earning his degree.

Seibert is now applying his faith to restoring relationships through his ministry, says Robert Lowery, who was the city manager of O’Fallon when Seibert worked there. They also served together with the Greater St. Louis Major Case Squad and on the board of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

“Bill is a can-do kind of person,” Lowery says. “He always brings a positive attitude. He doesn’t just tell us about it, the man lives it.”

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For a member of the CCAA who has attained outstanding success in their chosen career field within the past 10 years
“What Columbia College means to me probably more than anything is family and second chances.” – BILL SEIBERT ’09

Michael Garver ’03 ’13

to mind for D’Arcy Crane when thinking about the longtime Columbia College advisor and Relay for Life volunteer.

“Michael is the heart of our mission and leads by example,” says Crane, associate director of the American Cancer Society, the organization behind Relay for Life. “He’s very serious about it but also likes to have a lot of fun, and you can’t really beat that. He’s a super fun human being and an absolute joy.”

Positive. Contagiously enthusiastic. Focused on others. Always walking the talk.

People who have a front-row seat to Garver’s daily life can hardly contain their praises, perhaps amplifying their voices even more in light of him not seeking the spotlight for himself.

Garver has worked in financial aid and academic advising at Columbia College for more than 20 years after graduating from the Evening Program with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He received a Master of Business Administration in 2013. Giving back to his alma mater, he was inducted into the President’s Society in 2018.

Garver has been instrumental in growing the college’s Relay for Life fundraising efforts for more than a decade, serving as a key leader for a team that regularly has been the top performer in Boone County, Missouri. Since its inception, the CC team has raised more than $175,000 to fight cancer. He has also been a

member of the leadership group that plans the entire event for the county.

For these contributions and his inspirational example to those around him, Garver is the 2023 recipient of the Columbia College Alumni Association Community Service Award.

“What’s not to like about Michael?” asks Allyson Meredith, systems analyst in Tech Services, who has volunteered for Relay for Life with Garver. “He’s always willing to go the extra mile. He has a positive attitude and a sense of humor that he brings to all that he does. He’s just a truly good human being who sincerely cares about others and shows up.”

Garver remembers sitting on benches in the parlor of Missouri Hall, shaking with transcripts in hand, when he arrived as a student for the first time.

“High school wasn’t the easiest for me, so I was trying to figure out why I would want to put myself through torture again,” Garver says. “But that quickly changed. Columbia College is a very supportive, loving, safe environment, and I really felt at ease.

“I always have felt like this is my family away from family.”

While his feeling of home at Columbia College influenced his

desire to serve the community around him, the passing of his father provided a deeply rooted source of motivation for his Relay involvement.

“It’s a way to connect with my dad,” Garver says. “I lost him in 2009 to lung cancer. It did take me about three years to get involved with Relay because I was afraid of the emotions it might invoke, but I thought it was really fun, I got to meet people and again I felt support from Columbia College itself.

“I’m just so honored to take what was the great foundation built by previous faculty and staff and continue to carry on that legacy.”

Dr. Eric Cunningham, former associate dean at the college who helped found the Relay team in 2000, credits Garver for smoothly taking the reins of leadership.

“Michael made an impact right away,” Cunningham says. “His energy level was invaluable. We had been doing it for a while when he came on the team. We needed an energy boost, and Michael provided that. He made a strong team into an extraordinary team. I will always be thankful for him for that.”

Garver is the catalyst that keeps the college’s Relay team going, says Tery Donelson, senior director of Military Operations and Partnerships.

“Michael is an extremely positive example of someone putting service before self,” Donelson says. “He is always there first, leaves last and has a smile on his face the entire time. His efforts and commitment should be recognized with this award, even though Michael will say it is not necessary.”

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TTo know Michael Garver ’03 ’13 is to love Michael Garver. Those are the first words that come

‘no’ is not part of his vocabulary.”

Payroll Manager Phyllis Grant ’90 says Garver puts “200%” into everything he does.

“Michael is deserving of the Community Service Award,” Grant says, “because his middle name could be ‘Community Service.’ He just gives so much. He is a role model for all of us.”

Garver deflects praise for the award by crediting the village around him.

“I’m just so honored,” he says. “This is such a big community, a big family, and to be notified that you made a difference and helped Columbia College with its prestigious name out in the community, it’s just really gratifying. I’m truly honored and I couldn’t have done it without everyone who supported me.”


For an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and contribution in serving their community

“Anytime anyone needs something, whether it’s Relay for Life or a neighbor or a friend, Michael’s always there willing to help. The word ‘no’ is not part of his vocabulary.”


Debra Carnahan ’82 is an attorney and principal of Carnahan Global Consulting with her husband, former Congressman Russ Carnahan. She is a regular panelist on the PBS award-winning program “To The Contrary with Bonnie Erbe” and a prominent public speaker. Debra is a retired judge and former assistant U.S. attorney and state prosecutor. Debra received the CCAA Distinguished Alumni Award in 2005. She resides in St. Louis with her with husband and their two sons, Austin and Andrew.

Hello to my fellow CC alumni,

I recently attended and spoke at another wonderful day celebrating the present, the future and the past of Columbia College – our spring graduation ceremonies.

What enthusiasm was shown by the graduates. Shout-outs from family, fellow students and friends resonated throughout the event. Chants of “We are CC” could be heard across the gymnasium. Bagpipes and drums, the Jane Froman Singers; you get the picture. If you ever need a shot of positive energy, come to a CC graduation, or any event at our alma mater for that matter. It’s contagious!

As I conclude my tenure of the past two years as Alumni Advisory Council chairperson, I continue to have pride and amazement at the growth and resilience of our college. Main campus is truly something to experience and behold if you haven’t been there in a while, and our Columbia College Global locations are a key artery to our stature as an excellent academic and thriving private school. Many other private colleges are shuttering their doors as they simply cannot withstand so many factors like COVID-19, dwindling enrollments and lack of alumni financial giving. Yet I am confident about our institution’s future, one in which we each have an important role to play.

I have one request of you as I end my time in this role. Consider how we could shine brighter together in the arena of alumni giving. Participation really matters, whether it’s a donation of $5 or $10 or a larger gift. As I said to the graduates in welcoming them from their change of status from students to alumni: “Don’t go too far away. Stay in touch. The alumni are the wind beneath CC’s wings.”

Please join me in being a “lift” of air, no matter the amount. Together we make a difference, one student at a time. I know because I was one of those students once, as were you.

Thank you for the privilege of serving as your chair.

My best to all of you, my CC family.


Debra Carnahan ’82 Day Program


Courtney Steelman ’11 Day Program


Joshua Muder ’99 Day Program


Rebecca Brietzke ’13 Evening Program

Mike Campbell ’08 Day Program

Julia Collins ’14 Day Program

Luana Fields ’10 Day Program

Stacey Goodale ’93 Day Program

Nikki McGruder ’00 Day Program

John Ney ’88 Day Program

Joe Nicchetta ’79 Day Program

Jared Reichel ’16 Day Program

Jeannie M. Rulo ’00 ’18 Online Program

Corbin Umstattd ’12 Day & Online programs


Sam Fleury

Assistant Vice President for Strategic Communications

Keiyana Austin ’21 Online Program

Alumni Relations Coordinator

Suzanne Rothwell Vice President for Advancement

Lynne Stuver Baker ’64 Christian College Advisor Emerita and Chair of Advancement Committee, Board of Trustees

Ellen Miller-Mapp ’75 Day Program

Representative for the CC Friends of the ’70s Advisory Committee

38 Affinity Summer 2023 MY CCAA
Columbia College Alumni Association Advisory Council Debra Carnahan ’82 |


» Christian College alumna Maryellen Batt ’47 passed away on May 17, 2022, in Salina, Kansas, at the age of 94. Maryellen taught English and Art in the seventh and eighth grades in Hays, Kansas, for two years before moving back to her hometown of Salina to marry Robert Alan Batt. Robert graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in Architecture and worked for Wilson and Company Engineers and Architects. They were married at the First Presbyterian Church in Salina on July 7, 1951. Maryellen spent many more years as an educator, including teaching the fourth and fifth grades, junior high Art, and Business English at BrownMackie School of Business.

Members of the St. Clair Society, the Batts included the college in their estate plan. Her legacy and affinity for CC will live on through the Robert and Maryellen Batt ’47 Scholarship, which was established with a $202,000 gift through the Estate of Robert and Maryellen Batt. This endowed scholarship will be awarded annually and is intended to support students attending CC as incoming freshmen. –CP

» To support our entire community in caring for all they love, Columbia College has partnered with FreeWill, a free online estate planning tool so our community can complete this essential life task easily! FreeWill streamlines the will-writing process into a 20-minute online experience — at no cost to you.

A concrete way to support the people and causes you love is to make a plan for them in your will, and we hope to make this important task more widely accessible to those who need it. If you don’t have an up-to-date will, you can use FreeWill’s tool to create yours and even include an optional legacy gift to Columbia College in the process. Creating a legacy gift that supports Columbia College in your estate plans has never been easier!

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Creating a plan doesn’t have to be complicated or scary, but many people avoid the task because they assume it will be. This will-writing tool makes the process easy, intuitive, and fast: In less than 20 minutes, you can make a will and make a plan for the future. You won’t need to submit any sensitive personal information — no social security number necessary, for example — and you’ll finish with a PDF of your will that is legally valid in all 50 states and D.C. after signing!

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Creating a legacy with Columbia College is the most powerful way to support our campus and students for generations to come. It represents your lasting commitment to our school while costing you nothing today. As you write your will online, FreeWill makes it easy for you to give any amount of your estate to Columbia College – and even tell us how you’d like to see your gift allocated!

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To write your will, scan the code below or visit ColumbiaCollege. If you have any further questions about FreeWill or Planned Giving with Columbia College, please contact Missy Montgomery ’06, assistant vice president for Development at (573) 875-7576.

39 Affinity Summer 2023
Maryellen Batt, Class of 1947, earned an associate degree in Design Merchandising at Christian College and a bachelor’s degree in Education from Marymount College in Salina, Kansas.


» The Columbia College Alumni Association awarded $9,500 in scholarship assistance to 12 students for the 2023-24 academic year. The selection committee, comprised of members of the CCAA Advisory Council, reviewed more than 200 applications from students across the nation. In addition to academic merit, applicants were asked to discuss how they have contributed to the college community, how they plan to utilize their degree moving forward and what CC means to them.

“I found myself deeply impressed with many of these scholars,” says Advisor Ellen Miller-Mapp ’75. “So many stories compel me to want to get to know them more.”

In the 10 years since creating the CCAA Scholars Program, 71 students have received nearly $70,000 combined. This program is made possible through the generous support of our alumni. Learn more at

Congratulations to the 2023 CCAA Scholars Program recipients!

back into school and finish with a degree wherever possible,” Beck says. “Education is essential, and you never stop learning.”

College immediately found a way for students to still go to class,” he says. “For that, I will be forever grateful and keep striving to get my bachelor’s degree.” Boswell is a member of the U.S. Navy and aspires to work for a Fleet and Family Support Center when he retires, so that he may teach junior sailors best practices in personal finance management.


Eureka, Missouri

CC Location: Day Program

Major: Forensic Science

A member of four student organizations, Jacob Anderson aspires to work in law enforcement as a police officer or crime lab technician. “I have had a lot of fun with my unique classes that I couldn’t have had anywhere else,” he says. “I have also had the amazing opportunity to have my first job ever, working to contribute to a better college community.”


Honolulu, Hawaii

CC Location: Online ProgramHonolulu

Major: General Studies/ Business Administration

Jonathan Beck is a member of the United States Navy. Studying alongside fellow shipmates who are taking classes with Columbia College, he feels part of the college community when far away from main campus. After graduation, he would like to apply for Navy Officer Candidate School. “I want to help fellow sailors, soldiers, Marines and airmen get


Mount Vernon, Washington

CC Location: NS Everett/ Marysville

Major: Business – Accounting

Dale Boswell was in his final class toward an associate degree when the COVID-19 pandemic began. The first member of his family to go to college, he was afraid his efforts would come to an end. “The staff of Columbia


Vineyard, Utah

CC Location: Salt Lake City

Major: Business – Management

Bob Ekoh regards education as an investment in the future, with his time at Columbia College helping him become the person he is today. “It is an honor to be selected as a recipient of this prestigious award, and I cannot express my gratitude enough for your generosity and confidence in me,” he says. “The financial assistance that this scholarship provides will significantly reduce the financial burden of pursuing my academic goals. It will enable me to focus more on my studies and extracurricular activities, allowing me to get the most out of my college experience.”

40 Affinity Summer 2023 MY CCAA


Tulsa, Oklahoma

CC Location: Online Program

Major: Computer Information


Justin Harris attributes his collegiate success to grit. “I have shown that when things get tough, I don’t give up,” he says. Motivated by studies in the cybersecurity industry, he would like to gain handson experience through an internship with the National Security Agency.


Columbia, Missouri

CC Location: Day Program

Major: Nursing

A licensed practical nurse for more than 30 years, Kathe Leninsky brings real-world experience to the classroom and is often viewed as a mentor to her classmates. Although “life sometimes gets in the way,” she says, Leninsky is focused on her goals and plans to continue a rewarding career in hospice care.


Lawrence, Kansas

CC Location: Day Program

Major: Marketing

Alec Murphy is driven to become financially independent and utilize a degree from the Robert W. Plaster School of Business to better understand the world. “I am ambitious and driven,” he says. “A business degree is crucial in gaining a deeper understanding of creating and marketing a business.” Murphy is a member of the men’s soccer team and participated in the 2023 Student Pitch Competition.


Cedar Hill, Missouri

CC Location: Day Program

Major: Biochemistry

Angelina Snyder has found her place as a young adult. An active member of the student community, she participates in the TRiO Student Support Services program for first-generation students and sings in the Jane Froman choirs. She plans to attend medical school for forensic pathology. “I want to research and teach prospective students through sharing my passion for the sciences,” she says.


Sheffield, Alabama

CC Location: Online ProgramRedstone Arsenal

Major: Master of Business Administration

While completing undergraduate business courses at Columbia College, Jeffrey Johnson launched a business plan to become an entrepreneur. He is continuing his academic studies to develop his abilities to own and operate a successful business. “Columbia College helped me discover something I’m passionate about, all while helping me while I was navigating a demanding military career,” he says.


Eldon, Missouri

CC Location: Lake of the Ozarks

Major: Nursing

Having completed an associate degree in Nursing from Columbia College, Catrina Milo is a night shift nurse and working toward a bachelor’s degree. “It is my dream to be able to offer my services as a Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practioner in my community through the Emergency Room at Lake Regional Medical Center, where there is currently no one of that specialty,” she says.


Antioch, Illinois

CC Location: Crystal Lake

Major: Organizational Leadership Adriana Ortiz brings more than 10 years of experience in social services to her professional and volunteer endeavors. “My drive has always been to support the underserved population focusing on the Latino community,” she says. A first-generation college student, Ortiz draws on life experiences in her outreach to educate and serve minority populations.


Phenix City, Alabama

CC Location: Online Program

Major: Environmental Studies

Christian Suding has maximized his online studies to be an engaged and attentive participant through class discussion boards. He is passionate about the natural world and would like to educate youth and adults how to care for it. “My dream position is to be an interpretive instructor at either a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers site or one of our nation’s beautiful state parks,” he says. –CP

41 Affinity Summer 2023

Alumnus continues to serve after law enforcement career IN ACTION

» Sergeant Michael Wintersole ’15 ’18 was working a regular patrol shift when he got a call about a house on fire. The house was fully engulfed and there was someone inside. Fire spread through the eaves of the house, which was ready to collapse.

“We ran in and found the victim and another hero neighbor who was trying to help,” says Wintersole. “We were able to carry the victim out of the house and make sure the neighbor got out.”

For his actions, Wintersole received the Gold Distinguished Service Medal in 2009. It was just one highlight of a law enforcement career spanning 23 years with the Cypress Police Department in California.

Wintersole retired in 2022, but he still uses his law enforcement experience to help others. Today, he teaches law enforcement and criminal justice classes at Columbia College-Los Alamitos.

“I find that talking about my personal experiences helps students understand the practical applications of what they’re learning,” he says. “I put a regular-guy spin on it. I’ll often say, ‘Here’s what the book is trying to tell you, and here’s how it applies in real life.’”


Wintersole says he always knew he wanted to be in law enforcement. Growing up in California, he and a friend talked about becoming police officers. “I wanted to help the community, particularly those who couldn’t help themselves,” he says.

After high school, he served in the U.S. Army with deployments during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm in 1990 and 1991. He was awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Southwest Asia Service Medal and the Kuwait Liberation Medal.

After four years of service, Wintersole was honorably discharged from the Army. He then served as deputy sheriff with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department before moving to Cypress, California.

During his time in the Cypress Police Department, Wintersole served in a variety of roles, including gang/

42 Affinity Summer 2023 MY CCAA
“I felt a calling to be there for victims of crime who are minding their own business and have something happen beyond their control.”

Michael Wintersole and his wife, Melissa, completed degrees at Columbia College together in 2015. Michael continued with a master’s program that earned him a degree and adjunct instructor position at CC in 2018. Michelle followed with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2021.

narcotics officer, detective, lead police officer, field training officer, personnel and training officer, acting sergeant, patrol sergeant, and traffic bureau supervisor.

Working in narcotics became a particular area of interest. As a special investigator, he was responsible for providing gang intelligence and working undercover to conduct narcotics investigations.

“I felt a calling to be there for victims of crime who are minding their own business and have something happen beyond their control,” he says. “While it was rewarding to work in all areas of law enforcement, it was especially important to me to be able to reach out to those who are suffering from violence.”

In 2008, Wintersole received the Officer of the Year Award from the Cypress Police Officers Association. The award is given to an officer chosen by their peers.

“It was a really humbling acknowledgement to be recognized by people who do the same thing that you do every day and know the time and effort that’s put in,” he says.


At the beginning of 2012, Wintersole and his wife, Melissa, both made a New Year’s resolution — to get their college degrees. Both of them decided to pursue their degrees at Columbia College.

While registering at Columbia College-Los Alamitos, the Wintersoles met Carl David, director of the campus.

“He was so happy and excited to have both of us there,” Wintersole says. “He was so supportive of us going through the process. He was always there for us, answering any questions that we had along the way.”

Wintersole says his favorite part of attending Columbia College was learning the other students’ perspectives. “Because I was already in law enforcement, and most of my classmates weren’t, it was helpful to hear an outside perspective on law enforcement,” he says. “Also, we met a lot of really great people, some of whom Melissa and I keep in contact with to this day.”

Wintersole graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Administration. Afterward, it was David who gave him the inspiration to also pursue his Master of Science in Criminal Justice.

“After I got my bachelor’s degree, I asked him if I got my master’s degree, would he hire me?” says Wintersole. “He said, ‘Absolutely.’”

After Wintersole received his master’s from Columbia College in 2018, he became an adjunct professor for the college. In addition to teaching classes, he also serves as a mentor for students who have internships in the criminal justice field.

“I always have open conversations in class about my work with the police department,” he says. “Especially now, when there are a lot of differing views of the police, I think it’s important to encourage any questions they have and open up that dialogue.” –AM

43 Affinity Summer 2023

In the News


Joanne “Jody” Schloder Garbic ’66 resides in Gaithersburg, Maryland.


Personal and Professional Updates by Class Year, submitted September 2022 – April 2023

Grand County Historical Association. The chronicle depicts the 150-year history of the Colorado county, beginning with the discovery of Allosaurus fossils in 1869, and includes more than 200 images.


Kim Morgan-Biganski ’81 relocated to London, England, with her family. She is a freelance writer and artist.

Dr. Angela Montgomery

Timmons ’74 – a licensed social worker in Port Hueneme, California – received a NAACP Distinguished Award from the organization’s Ventura County Branch. She is also a member of the CC Friends of the ’70s Advisory Council.

Penny Hamilton ’76, Ph.D. has published her 12th book, Images of America: Grand County, with the

Tim Doud ’83 recently held a solo exhibition titled Prolepsis at Hemphill Fine Arts in Washington, D.C. He also served as co-editor of “Out of Place: Artists, Pedagogy and Purpose” and co-authored an essay, Collaborative and Co-working Models, published in “The Routledge Companion to Art and Activism in the Twenty-First Century.”


Lou “Jeannie” Livingston ’90 is a strategic operations analyst with the U.S. Army in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. She has completed 32 years of service to the federal government.


Aaron Beldner ’01 has been named president and CEO of Truity Credit Union in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

Gregory Graves ’01 retired as vice president of Postal Services for the United States Postal Service, where he managed 129,000 employees. His postal career spanned 37 years, including his participation in its executive leadership development program.

Sam Lewis ‘95 was featured in a series in The Redstone Rocket commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, where he was a fulltime avionics technician and volunteered to be a helicopter door gunner. He retired as a sergeant first class after more than 20 years with the U.S. Army. He received the Bronze Star, Air Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm, Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Medal, Vietnam Service Medal and other awards for his service.

Angela Jackson ’96 published Broken for Purpose with Restore Us Ministries. A minister and praise dance leader at her church, Jackson’s book “shifts your mindset on what it means to be broken for greatness and realize your life’s purpose.”

Jim Pasley ’02, chief training officer for the Fire Marshal Division of the Columbia Fire Department, is the handler for an accelerant detection dog. Pasley continually trains Tony, a black Labrador, to assist with arson investigations throughout Missouri.

Randy DioGuardi ’03 has been named chief executive officer of MediTelecare. Since its founding in 2018, DioGuardi has helped build the company into a national platform that provides telehealth technologies for behavioral health services.

CLASS NOTES 44 Affinity Summer 2023
Pictured from left: Classmates Cindy Hindes ’77, Jay Barrett ’80 and Andrea Rabinowitz Luchen ’81 caught up over lunch in Des Moines, Iowa.

April Jeffries ’06 has been promoted to the position of clinical manager of Home Health and Hospice for Lake Regional Health Systems in Osage Beach, Missouri.

Dan Stokes ’07 has been promoted to director of Software Development at MidwayUSA.

Amber Hardaway Yager ‘07 and her husband, Ryan ‘05, relocated to Columbia, Missouri. She is a third-grade teacher at Christian Fellowship School, and he is the funeral director at BachYager Funeral Chapel.

Amanda Bax ’08 retired from a career in nursing and now manages commercial and residential real estate investment properties.

Christian Lewis ’09 was named to the 2022 class of Men of the Year by the Springfield Business Journal. Since moving to Springfield, Missouri, in 2010, Lewis has been involved with numerous community organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks, the Ozarks Regional YMCA and the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. He is a regional community president for Simmons Bank, where he serves on the company’s committee for diversity, equity and inclusion.

In 2021, he joined the Springfield mayor’s initiative to improve community-focused DEI efforts. Lewis married Noel Soriano in November 2022.

Neal Lines ’09 has been promoted to director of eCommerce Marketing at MidwayUSA.


Zaneta Adams ’10 has been named deputy assistant secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. A veteran of the U.S. Army, National Guard and Reserve, she received the 2021 Women Veteran Trailblazer honors from the VA’s Center for Women Veterans.

» Army veteran Dave Strong ’01 has searched to find a home that promoted peace and was a safe place to live and work.

“I have been to over 100 countries in my lifetime. I only wish as a global society we could learn from each other and promote peace and kindness.”

The place he came back to time and time again – six, to be exact – was China. “Each time I was impressed and more impressed. Crime is extremely low. Education and investment into the young generation by the older generation is paramount. Technology and innovation are the best in the world.”

A graduate of Columbia College’s location in Jefferson City, Strong is now an associate professor in Bengbu, located in the northern Anhui Province, where he teaches undergraduate courses in the English language and American History. Many of his lectures are inspired by history books written by mid-Missouri author Jeremy Amick. The students are engaging and always inquisitive, he says.

Takisha Lovelace ’10 has been named vice president and chief operating officer of Affinia Healthcare, a non-profit in the St. Louis health care system. Lovelace is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. She previously worked with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs before transitioning

While continuing to make a daily impact, Strong hasn’t forgotten his roots along the way, including the institution where he began his journey in higher education.

“I am very proud and honored that I have a small connection with Columbia College as the school opened the first door for me to earn a degree,” Strong says. “I only wish more people could take advantage of getting an education and travel the world. Traveling opens the mind to expand knowledge and empathy for all people.” Visit

45 Affinity Summer 2023 VIEW & SUBMIT NEWS ONLINE: for the full story. –CP

to leadership roles in health care operations in St. Louis.

Tammy Surprise ’11 is a human resources manager and recruiter at Illinois-based Crane USA. As president of a Lake County, Illinois, alumni group, she provided the alumni charge at a Columbia College Global commencement ceremony.

Chad Massman ’12 has been promoted to vice president of Workforce Development for the Columbia Chamber of Commerce.

senior security engineer at Wipfli, a consulting firm headquartered in Wisconsin.

Angie Cody ’14 has been named director of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity at Pilot Company based in Knoxville, Tennessee. Cody, a United States Marine Corps veteran, brings to the company more than a decade of experience in building and leading global inclusion, diversity and equity initiatives, including co-founding the St. Louis Diversity and Inclusion Consortium.

Meg Goddard ’14, former assistant head coach for the Cougars men’s and women’s soccer program and a 2012-14 Cougar soccer alumna, is the head coach of Life University’s women’s soccer team in Marietta, Georgia.

at Capital City High School in Jefferson City.

Amy Wiser ’14 has been named director of Payroll for StorageMart.

Jason Morgan ’16 was named the new director of facilities management at Coil Construction in Columbia, Missouri.

Anthony Plogger ’16 ’18 is co-founder & director of club content for Nclusion Plus and an online program coordinator for Columbia College. He was named by COMO Business Times Magazine to its 20 Under 40 Class of 2023.

Kaylee Paffrath ’12 has been named director of Business Development for the Moberly Area Economic Development Corporation.

Katherine Reed ’12 has been named the senior communications manager for Clean Fuels Alliance America in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Amanda Wells ’12 is an assistant controller for The Kanata Group in St. Louis.

Andres Acosta ’13 was recently named a

Captain Chris Karrer ’14 has been named interim chief of police for the Menifee Police Department in California. A U.S. Marine veteran with more than 20 years of local law enforcement experience, Karrer has served with the department since its inception in 2020.

Whitni Howell ’14 has been named head softball coach at Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri. A two-time allconference selection and Cougars team captain, Howell previously coached

Renee Henson ’15 is a litigation attorney with Stinson LLP practicing in Kansas City, Jefferson City and St. Louis, Missouri. Henson received her juris doctorate from the University of Missouri School of Law in 2018. She is a business litigation attorney representing clients engaged in complex matters including trademark and copyright infringement and products liability actions. Henson was recognized among Missouri Lawyers Media’s Top Verdicts & Settlements Winners of 2022 for successfully defending their client in a jury trial involving product liability claims and was also named on the Lawyers of Color “Hot List” for 2022.

Arthur Brown ’16, a veteran of the Marines, currently serves in the civil service as a supply technician with Training Squadron 35, an advanced multi-engine training squadron located at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas.

Elwick Vidal ’16 has been named a security analyst for L3 Harris, a technology company for the global aerospace and defense industry. Vidal is an E-5 Navy veteran and resides in Cocoa, Florida.

Cassidy Johnston ’17 has been named associate attorney at the law firm of Gump, Faiella & Bugalski in Moberly, Missouri. Johnston attended law school at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.

Laurie Frew ’18 has joined the soccer coaching staff at Columbia College. During her four years on the Cougars women’s soccer team, the two-time All-American earned American Midwest Conference (AMC) Player of the Year recognition (2015, 2017), while also notching first team all-conference honors (2014-17). Frew was further named a CoSIDA Academic All-American (2015-17).

CLASS NOTES 46 Affinity Summer 2023

Stephanie McDonald

Megie ’18 is a local veterans employee representative for the Alabama Department of Labor.

Nicholas Zerilli ’18 graduated with his juris doctorate from Michigan State University in 2022.


Ricky Dawson ’20 has been named as a conservation agent for Montgomery County through the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Marshall is the creator of A Traveled Path Homes in Kansas City, which helps traveling nurses find furnished short-term accommodations and was the winning presentation of Columbia College’s 2022 Steven and Barbara Fishman Center for Entrepreneurship Student Pitch Competition.

College and Stephens College who in turn begin the first four years of their careers with Columbia Public Schools.

Karen Walters ’18 has joined Bothwell Health Center-Truman Lake in Warsaw, Missouri, as a nurse practitioner. She brings more than 20 years of experience to the clinic.

Micaela Foster ’20 is a dispatcher with the Overland Park Police Department in Kansas.

Shapree Marshall ’21 has been named a member of the 2023 Pathfinder cohort by Midwest-based Pipeline Entrepreneurs.

Tyus Monroe ’21 has been named Outstanding First-Year Teacher by the Columbia Fund for Academic Excellence. Monroe was among the first graduates of the Grow Your Own program that provides full college scholarships to education majors at Columbia


» Michele Snodderley ’13 needed help in the worst kind of way. She was 21 years old when ongoing physical abuse by her partner left her no choice. She needed to escape immediately. Snodderley’s parents drove from Arizona to Missouri to pick up her and her son.

“I was very lucky because I had family and friends who were there for me,” she says. “That is the only reason I was able to finally get out of that relationship. I can’t imagine going through all that and trying to heal and put your life back together after that without having that support.”

She decided then that she wanted to pursue a career where she could help people in similar situations. The Lee’s Summit, Missouri, native has realized that goal, and she credits her education from Columbia College as a key factor in reaching it.

Kyle Cox ’22 has retired from the U.S. Army as a master sergeant after 20 years as an infantryman. He recently started a new career as an academic advisor for Missouri University of Science and Technology, where he is pursing a master’s degree. –CP

Utilizing knowledge she gained from her master’s degree in Criminal Justice from the Online Program, Snodderley was recently named executive director at True North of Columbia, a nonprofit organization that supports victims of domestic and sexual violence.

“This was my dream job,” she says. “I want people to know that just because you went through domestic violence, it doesn’t have to define you for the rest of your life.”

Lessons at Columbia College prepared her for her current leadership position, she says.

“Without Columbia College, I probably would have only had a very surface viewpoint of things, but because I was challenged by the education I got here, it helped open my eyes,” she says. –KG

47 Affinity Summer 2023

In Memoriam

Sarah Walker Murphy ’39

January 19, 2022

Ellen Lohnes Paullin ’39

October 27, 2022

Jane “Harriett” Moore Black ’41

February 11, 2020

Martha Haynes Mann ’43

March 2, 2019

Sadie Blakeman Caropresi ’43

August 6, 2019

Carol Jones Fredericks ’45

February 28, 2021

Ann Morris Heffernan ’45

December 2, 2018

Dorothy Charlton Rhodes ’45

July 25, 2022

Beverly Summers Conlon ’46

February 16, 2020

Maryellen Justice Batt ’47

May 17, 2022

Ola Sheets Parker ’47

January 1, 2020

Jeannine McIntosh Baker ’48

February 5, 2023

Letitia Dille Montesi ’50

February 2, 2022

Joan Luttge ’50

January 23, 2022

Mary Jean Ohlhausen Smith ’51

September 17, 2022

To notify the CCAA of alumni who have passed recently, please send an email with the link to the obituary to

Jan Huffman Goodson ’54

July 25, 2022

Mary Hull Hudson ’55

June 3, 2022

Ann Schmidt Brown ’55

September 24, 2022

Ann Lipscombe Newman ’55

May 23, 2022

Sally Hubbard ’57

July 29, 2022

Linda Rowland Christenson ’58

May 1, 2022

Bonnie Lay Bourne ’59

August 2, 2022

Stefani Gurwell ’60

March 1, 2023

Marcia Marlin Hitt ’64

February 3, 2020

Elizabeth Debolt Remley ’71

July 14, 2022

Dora Hopkins Weatherly ’76

June 29, 2021

Lawrence Dove ’77

May 16, 2012

Alice Drane Boyce ’78

July 23, 2022

Robert Knapp ’78

August 15, 2022

James Owens ’78

September 24, 2020

gifts of remembrance

John Finafrock ’79

November 28, 2021

Robert Jones ’79

August 17, 2021

Donald Quisenberry ’80

January 17, 2022

Dale Trask ’82

July 3, 2022

Charles Hill ’82

June 20, 2020

John Metzger ’85

July 28, 2022

Arevia Schelle ’89

May 1, 2022

Brian Nevius ’91

August 22, 2022

Larry Morgan ’92

December 27, 2022

Cheryl Rothrock St. Joseph ’98

December 19, 2022

Becky Craig ’99

April 3, 2023

Charles Kullmann ’99

August 8, 2020

John Cupp ’10

February 28, 2022

Mary Howard Breckenridge ’14

February 15, 2022

Notifications received

July 2022 – April 2023

Dr. Robert Boon

» Dr. Robert “Bob” E. Boon, 66, passed away July 28, 2022. Boon was an adjunct humanities instructor for the college’s Day, Evening and Online programs for more than 25 years. He primarily taught English with additional courses in Environmental Science, American Studies and those for English Language Learners. Boon was instrumental in helping to start the short-term study abroad program in 2003, giving students, faculty and staff the opportunity to become more globally aware and learn about different cultures. His family has created a scholarship in his name to help students participate in study abroad opportunities. Learn more at

Benjamin Boone

» Benjamin Boone, longtime Columbia College mathematics and physics adjunct instructor, passed away Dec. 15, 2022, at the age of 63. When he was not busy teaching, he enjoyed running, challenging victims to a friendly game of chess, studying science and physics, and spending time with his friends and family, as well as sneaking in a nap with the cats. In memory of his 20-year career at CC, Boone’s family has named a bench on the college’s main campus. To learn more, visit

Mark Foreman

» If you would like to make a gift in memory of a loved one, you may mail a check to Columbia College, 1001 Rogers St., Columbia MO 65216 (write “in memory of” and the name of the individual on the memo line), make a secure gift online at or contact the Office of Development at (573) 875-7563. Please contact the Development team for assistance or information regarding scholarships and planned gifts.

» Mark Foreman, 91, passed away Feb. 19, 2023. Foreman worked as an agent with Lincoln National Life Insurance Company for 44 years. He played an instrumental role in bringing

48 Affinity Summer 2023 CLASS NOTES

a retirement savings program to Columbia College and was a stalwart supporter of the college, establishing a life insurance policy. Upon his passing, a $50,000 endowment has been bestowed to Columbia College in the name of former faculty member Dennis Grev. His legacy gift will support collegewide initiatives for years to come.

John Benjamin Grossnickle

» John Benjamin Grossnickle, 70, passed away March 5, 2023. Grossnickle married Mary Welch on Oct. 21, 1978, and to this union, two children were born: John Andrew Grossnickle ’04 and Katharine Marie Grossnickle. John Ben’s brother, Gary “Skip” Grossnickle, is married to Daisy Grossnickle ’66, first chairwoman of the Columbia College Board of Trustees. John Ben began working with his father in the Grossnickle Insurance business in 1973 and continued until his death. He was a deacon and longtime member of First Christian Church in Kirksville, Missouri, and achieved 44 years of perfect attendance in the Kiwanis Club. His son, John Andrew Grossnickle, named a classroom in New Hall in honor of the Grossnickle family, recognizing their legacy of supporting the mission of the college.

Jeff Heilbrunn

» Jeff Heilbrunn, adjunct instructor (1995-2022) and former director of Columbia College-Crystal Lake (2002-06), passed away March 14, 2023, at the age of 72. In 1972, Heilbrunn entered the corporate world, which led to him serving

as president of the National Safety Council from 1978 to 1985 and president of the American Marketing Association from 1985 to 1993. His passion for teaching began in 1993 and continued until just a few weeks before he died. A popular and respected instructor in Greater Chicago, he received hundreds of letters in his final weeks from students thanking him and saying that he changed their lives.

Dennis Kroll

» Dennis Kroll Jr., of Fulton, Missouri, passed away Aug. 26, 2022, at the age of 54. Kroll joined the military in 1988 and served in the U.S. Army and Army National Guard until retiring in 2011. He served as a deputy sheriff, prison guard, jailer and soldier most of his career before becoming a teacher in 2019. He was an adjunct instructor for Criminal Justice and Human Services courses at Columbia College.

David O’Hagan

» David C. O’Hagan Jr., 85, passed away March 9, 2023. Following a 35-year teaching career, he retired from Columbia College as professor emeritus of Music in 2000. O’Hagan was named by Gov. Mel Carnahan as recipient of the Governor’s Award for Academic Excellence in Teaching in 1998. He was founding director of the Paul D. Higday Mozart Music Trust, bringing world classical music performances to mid-Missouri. While at Columbia College, O’Hagan was a member of the college’s Board of Trustees. He and his wife, Diane, have given generously to the college as recognized members of the St. Clair Society and President’s Society. –CP

Giving Societies

» Our donors are at the heart of everything we do. Columbia College gratefully acknowledges our donors at all levels of giving. Of course, the best reward for your contribution is the knowledge that you have made a difference in the lives of our students. Thank you for including Columbia College in your generosity. We are proud to recognize the alumni, parents, faculty, staff and friends who provide foundational support for our students and programs through three distinguished groups.


In recognition of lifetime giving, benefactors who have provided cumulative gifts of $10,000 or more in cash, securities, real property, scholarship funds, awards or programs are granted lifelong membership in the President’s Society.


In recognition of planned giving, individuals who include the college in a charitable life income agreement or estate plan become lifetime members of the St. Clair Society.


In recognition of annual giving, donors who support the Columbia College Fund with $1,000 or more in gifts within a single fiscal year are recognized as members of the Cornerstone Club.

49 Affinity Summer 2023


Join the conversation on social media with your Cougar Family.


In one of Columbia College’s most traditional Commencement Week activities, CC students enjoyed a beautiful midMissouri day & the Spring 2023 Ivy Chain Ceremony! It marked the first time since 2018 that CC held the ceremony outdoors. #WeAreCC

One word to sum up #CCGivingDay so far? WOW! The Columbia College community has already tallied over $150,000 from more than 240 individual gifts! #WeAreCC

Columbia College graduates celebrate their journeys to Spring 2023 Commencement. Relive the eventful day inside Southwell Gym! #WeAreCC #CCMoGrad

CONGRATS to last night’s graduates from Columbia College’s main campus Nurses’ Pinning Ceremony! We can’t wait to see the CC community today for Spring ’23 Commencement. #WeAreCC #CCMoGrad

Happy #NationalStudentAthleteDay!

S/O to all of the individuals who have helped Columbia College Athletics claim five consecutive American Midwest Conference Presidents’ Cup trophies!

#WeAreCC #NatlSADay

CLASS NOTES 50 Affinity Summer 2023
Turn to page 16 for this year’s Cup standings!




First held in 1900, Columbia College’s Ivy Chain is one of the nation’s oldest continuously held graduation events. This year’s ceremony took place on Bass Commons, April 28, 2023.

1001 Rogers Street Columbia, MO 65216
Keep up with college news: Explore CCAA member benefits: Join the conversation: columbiacollegealumni

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