Thursday, September 19, 2013

Alumna Hired by Western Institute

The following is a September 18th news release posted on the MWSU website by Kent Heier:

Dr. Melody Smith, former superintendent of the St. Joseph School District, has been hired as a program development liaison for the Western Institute at Missouri Western State University. In this part-time position, Dr. Smith will share responsibility for building a number of interlocking initiatives designed to help adults complete baccalaureate degrees that they may have started earlier in their lives.

“I have long admired the knowledge, imagination and energy of Dr. Smith, and I’m thrilled to have her on our team,” said Dr. Robert Vartabedian, Missouri Western’s president.

“Dr. Smith is the ideal person to link our Back to Western initiative, our $1,000,000 innovation campus grant and our online degree completion programs,” said Dr. Gordon Mapley, dean and executive director of the Western Institute.

Dr. Smith concurs that this new position is a great fit. “I started college after being in the work world for a while,” she said. “Completing my bachelor’s degree as an adult was the springboard to my career as a teacher and to my later graduate work and eventual role as a superintendent. I personally know the challenges of working on a degree as an adult and the greatly enhanced opportunities that can result from completing a degree. I am excited to return to the University from which I earned my first college degree and to be able to help other adults to achieve a degree that will help them and their families.”

While the Back to Western initiative was created to recruit former Missouri Western students, it is open to any adult who has prior college credits, regardless of where those credits were earned.
The $1,000,0000 Buchanan County Degree Attainment Initiative (BCDAI) provides scholarship support primarily to citizens working for Missouri “high impact” industries, helping these citizens complete bachelor’s degrees that will foster economic growth for the industries and the region, while preparing the employees for more advanced positions with their employer. Most adults using the Back to Western program and participating in the BCDAI will rely heavily on online courses, and many will use degree completion programs such as the Bachelor of Science in Technology or the Bachelor of General Studies.

“The BCDAI can assist at least 126 citizens with up to $7500 in tuition support,” Dr. Mapley said. “We have nine participants at present and I am eager to have Dr. Smith help us get the word out to regional companies whose employees may be eligible for the remaining 117 or more slots.”
Mapley noted that he has asked Dr. Smith to meet with regional CEOs and human resources professionals to make them aware of the BCDAI and Back to Western. Dr. Smith will also visit regional service clubs and work with the Western Institute to help adults learn about the options available to complete degrees.

Dr. Smith was superintendent of schools for the St. Joseph School District from 2006 to 2013. She was responsible for this district of 23 schools, two early learning centers, a technical center and two alternative education sites, with more than 1,600 employees and 11,000 students.

Dr. Smith worked for the St. Joseph School District for 25 years, previously serving as director of secondary education, instructional principal, assistant principal at Benton High School, coordinator of language arts, and a teacher and program developer with the St. Joseph School District. Dr. Smith continues to be very active in the community, serving on a number of boards and engaging in consulting through Patron Insight, for which she is a partner.

Dr. Smith earned her Bachelor of Science in English from Missouri Western, a Master’s in Education and a Specialist in Education from Northwest Missouri State University, and a Doctor of Education from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

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