By Jeff Murphy, January 23, 2024
Members of the University of Central Missouri community are mourning the loss of Walter “Walt” Hicklin, a Warrensburg resident who touched the lives of many students and professional colleagues at UCM during a career that included teaching, mentoring, coaching and serving as an award-winning administrator. He passed away on Jan. 19.
A university alumnus, Hicklin earned Master’s and Education Specialist degrees from what was then known as Central Missouri State University. After teaching mathematics, serving as the athletic director, assistant principal and as head football coach at Lee’s Summit High School, Hicklin joined the university as Mules head football coach in 1976 and continued his passion for teaching mathematics within the former Department of Academic Enrichment. His strong leadership abilities were recognized and he later became Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, and later served as Interim Vice President for Student Affairs. He retired from UCM in 2006 after 31 years of service to the institution and its students.
During his tenure, Hicklin mentored hundreds of students, and was instrumental in the design and implementation of a program that led to the Noel Levitz National Award for student retention. His exceptional work at the university resulted in his selection as the first recipient of the J.P. Mees Award for Outstanding Professional Staff in 2003.
Throughout his professional career, Hicklin had an impact on thousands of high school youth across the state and became a legendary figure in the history of the American Legion Boys State of Missouri. He served the organization for 37 years, and was named to its Board of Directors in 1991. In 2011, he was inducted into the Boys State Hall of Fame for his meritorious service, which included 12 years as Dean of Administration. He also served as the official university host for the American Legion Auxiliary Girls State program, which provided additional opportunities to employ his leadership and public service abilities to serve, mentor and educate tomorrow’s leaders.
After retiring from UCM, Hicklin continued to demonstrate his dedication to the university through his appointment by Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt to the UCM Board of Governors. He served two one-year terms as president, 2010 to 2012, during a span of 12 years on the institution’s main governing body.
Among his many accolades, Hicklin received the Student Government Association’s James C. Kirkpatrick Exxcellence in Governance Award, and SGA subsequently honored him through the establishment of the Walter Hicklin Excellence in Service Award, first presented in 2022.
Funeral services for Hicklin will be conducted at 2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26, at the First Presbyterian Church in Warrensburg. Interment will follow in Sunset Hill Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25, at Sweeney-Phillips and Holdren Funeral Home in Warrensburg.