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Learning to a Greater Degree Award Winners

Congratulations to Ashley Wellman and Mathew Martinez, the fall 2015 recipients of the Learning to a Greater Degree Award.


UCM Feature Stories

Senior Emily Northen Recognized with Learning to a Greater Degree Award

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UCM President Charles Ambrose presents senior Emily Northen with the Learning to a Greater Degree Award at the November meeting of the UCM Board of Governors.


Senior finance major Emily Northen was recognized by the UCM Board of Governors in November with the fall Learning to a Greater Degree award for her commitment to engaged learning and the UCM culture of service.

As an office assistant in the Department of Psychological Sciences, Emily served the department's faculty and students while the department's office professional was absent on extended leave, coordinating the department's awards banquet and training the temporary office professional. As a student employee on campus, she has twice been nominated for the Student Employee of the Year Award.

Emily's commitment to service includes her sorority, where she served as treasurer and liaison to the Panhellenic Council and participates in a variety of community service events. She also provides leadership as a career development ambassador in the Office of Career Services, assisting students in developing job applications and answering inquiries about services provided by the office.

Her commitment to engaged learning and future focused academics is exemplified by her participation beyond the classroom while attaining academic excellence. Emily earned first place in Sports and Entertainment Marketing at the Missouri Career Development Conference in 2014 and second place in 2016 while also claiming first place on the marketing exam. She is a member of Rho Lambda honor society and is consistently named to the Dean's List.

Through her dedication and commitment to service and engaged learning, Emily is learning to a greater degree.

Comer Receives Learning to a Greater Degree Award

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Colin Comer, right, director of the Central Missouri Police Academy, received the Learning to a Greater Degree Award from UCM President Charles Ambrose at the November 2016 UCM Board of Governors meeting.


Colin Comer's wealth of experience and passion for excellence has created opportunities for students in the Central Missouri Police Academy at the University of Central Missouri to experience learning to a greater degree.

Comer was recognized by the UCM Board of Governors with the Fall 2016 Learning to a Greater Degree Award for his work since being named director of the academy in the fall of 2013. The veteran Missouri law enforcement officer revised and expanded the academy curriculum, providing hands-on engaged learning experiences with state of the art equipment and crime investigation scenarios, as well as instruction by veteran law enforcement professionals.

Comer also instituted one-day and weekend training opportunities, allowing the academy to serve area law enforcement personnel and their support agencies by meeting specific needs for professional development. The academy and its students also reach out to the community, inviting the public to open house events where they can learn about the training required for law enforcement, as well as the challenges facing the profession.

To make the academy accessible, Comer worked with the UCM Foundation to access funding for equipment and expanded the curriculum without raising the cost of tuition. Assistance is provided in accessing financial aid.

Comer's efforts have resulted in a focus on the future of quality law enforcement in Missouri through engaged learning and a culture of service, reinforcing a commitment to learning to a greater degree.

Curtis Brings Hollywood to the Classroom for UCM Students

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Hollywood producer Grant Curtis lectures during the final week of the History of American Film class he taught at his alma mater this semester.


University of Central Missouri students in the fall semester History of American Film course were provided with a unique opportunity for engaged learning by the instructor, UCM alumnus and Hollywood film producer Grant Curtis.

Curtis received his master's degree from UCM in 1997 and the Distinguished Recent Alumnus award in 2002. He taught the class via Skype from California, visiting campus on the first day of the semester to meet his class and returning last week to wrap up the semester.

Students benefited not only from Curtis' experience, but also the experiences of Curtis' peers in the film industry, who participated as guest speakers.

"When they asked me if I wanted to teach a class, I jumped at the chance," Curtis recalled. "This is where I grew up." His father, Dan Curtis, is chair emeritus of the Department of Communication.

"I wanted to teach them to understand the advantages they have growing up in the technology age," he said. "I also wanted to take away some of the 'myth of Hollywood' and teach them they can practice skills right here at UCM that will serve them throughout their careers."

"It was a unique experience to talk to professionals in our field," said senior Hannah Byrne. "We could ask questions about techniques utilized in Hollywood films. I feel fortunate to have had this opportunity."

Technology, combined with the expertise of a professional, provided UCM students with the opportunity to experience learning to a greater degree.

Collaboration Allows UCM to Better Address Food Insecurity

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Volunteer Jamie Clay, left, and Trish Smith, Campus Cupboard manager, package surplus food from the UCM dining centers for distribution.


Collaboration between the Campus Cupboard, the food center serving students and staff at UCM, and UCM Dining by Sodexo to continue to address food insecurity at UCM has added another dimension to UCM's culture of service.

The idea of a food recovery program was initially discussed during a sustainability meeting in February. The group proposed a pilot food recovery program which began after the students returned from spring break.

Trish Smith, UCM graduate student and manager of the Campus Cupboard, and a team of volunteers contact the campus dining centers each evening to determine if there is a food donation. Volunteers pick up the food, package, label and refrigerate it. Smith and several of her volunteers are certified as Serve Safe food handlers by the UCM nutrition program.

"We only keep the food in refrigeration for a specific numbers of days," Smith said, "but it usually doesn't last that long. It's become really popular, particularly with students who don't have a kitchen to prepare this kind of food."

The program is based on Sodexo's Stop Hunger program, which reinforces Sodexo's priority of preventing food waste and feeding the hungry.

"The UCM pilot program went well," said Janet Decker, director of resident dining for Sodexo. "We had great support from the cupboard"s volunteers in collecting the food. With the beginning of the fall semester, we have participation from all three of the dining centers on campus. The program is a win-win situation for everyone."

UCM Shares Faculty, Staff Expertise Through UCM Merit Badge University

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Terry Hunt, chair of the Department of Aviation, explains how an airplane works to Boys Scouts seeking the Aviation merit badge at the 2016 UCM Merit Badge University.


UCM's culture of service brings together the university and the local community in a variety of ways throughout the academic year.

The UCM Merit Badge University has matched faculty and staff together with members of the community to provide Warrensburg Boy Scout Troop 400 with the expertise and guidance needed to allow the scouts to master the qualifications for more than 20 merit badges.

Merit Badge University began in 2012 as a service learning project for UCM aviation students. It has grown due to the dedication of a number of UCM faculty and staff volunteering their time and expertise. During a weekend in the spring, the annual overnight Boy Scout camp out at UCM's Max B. Swisher Skyhaven Airport provides an opportunity for scouts to obtain the aviation merit badge.

However, during that same weekend, a variety of area professionals, including more than a dozen UCM faculty and staff members, make themselves available at Skyhaven and at locations on campus, providing the experience necessary to complete a variety of merit badges.

"We've been able to work with UCM faculty and staff members on an individual basis, and the response has been great," said Warrensburg resident Jason Gilbert, committee member for Troop 400 who coordinates the event. "Without their commitment, it would be difficult for many of these scouts to find the expertise to complete many of these merit badges. It's become an important annual event."

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