By Jeff Murphy, May 12, 2023
Recipients of the University of Central Missouri’s 2023 Education for Service Awards were, from left, UCM student Caitlin Dudenhoeffer, faculty member Scott Chenault and staff member Darin Plummer.
WARRENSBURG, MO – Continuing a recognition program that began last year, the University of Central Missouri recently honored three individuals who embody the essence of the institution’s longstanding motto, “Education for Service.”
The 2023 Education for Service Awards were presented during the Board of Governors’ plenary session on April 27 at the Elliott Student Union. This recognition program was established during the 2021-2022 academic year by the Office of Student Experience and Engagement to honor each spring a student, faculty and staff member who have demonstrated a commitment to values that relate to community, diversity, excellence, learning, opportunity and service. These values go hand-in-hand with the institution’s “Education for Service” mindset and cultural way of life.
Caitlin Dudendhoeffer, a senior Events Marketing Management major from Warsaw, Missouri, received the student Excellence in Service Award. The faculty award went to Scott Chenault, professor of criminal justice and criminology, and Darin Plummer, broadcast systems engineer in Communication and Digital Media Production, received the staff award.
The individual who nominated Dudenhoeffer noted that she has been involved in at least 10 different student organizations since she began her education at UCM four years ago. Among these groups is Mo’s Activities Council, formerly known as Spotlight. She has been a member of this organization since her freshman year, giving her an opportunity to plan a number of events such as Speed Friending that are not only fun but help students connect with other individuals on campus. Dudenhoeffer has also been involved with Mo Volunteers and UCM Breakers, groups that gives back to communities by engaging in projects that benefit others. As part of UCM Breakers, for example, she has traveled to different cities during spring break to help with Habitat for Humanity projects.
While Dudenhoeffer was involved with the national honor fraternity, Phi Sigma Pi, she completed several workshops online in order to improve her ability to be an ally for diverse campus groups. Through Mo’s Activities Council, she planned events that engaged international students in new experiences at UCM, including a program titled “Just Swing” to teach students - many of them from other countries - how to swing dance and line dance. She also has served as a coordinator for the Mules After Dark program to establish late-night activities for students.
One of Dudenhoeffer’s goals was to reach the highest tier of commitment to be considered for the Office of Student Activities’ Commitment to Service Award. This was an objective she accomplished by dedicating 90 hours to service over an eight-month period.
While earning a spot on the Dean’s List three times at UCM, she has also looked for opportunities beyond the classroom to help her in her career. In February 2023, she served on the stage crew at the annual conference of the National Association of Campus Activities. This year, as part of the Events Marketing Management program, she helped create a theme for the Meeting Professionals International Kansas City chapter’s annual conference. She also worked with her classmates to plan a recognition event for Jackson County CASA, which was held backstage at Starlight Theatre in Kansas City earlier this spring. Additionally, Dudenhoeffer has worked as an alumni ambassador assisting at multiple events and networking with UCM’s graduates.
Praised by his nominator for his “can-do” attitude, Darin Plummer is a UCM alumnus who works closely with students who hope to one day serve in a communications field. Whether the setting is covering a live presentation by a guest speaker in Hendricks Hall, a sporting event, or commencement ceremony that will be viewed by people across the globe, anyone who watches livestream programs from the university has likely experienced the fruit of his labor, which shines in the efforts students he teaches and mentors.
A colleague who nominated Plummer noted that “Darin seeks to build community through his work as a broadcast systems engineer. He makes our broadcast labs inclusive and provides a supportive atmosphere, providing encouragement and guidance to any student who enters his area.”
Plummer has been instrumental in increasing streaming capabilities in his area over the last 10 years. What began as a small trailer with equipment has grown into a much larger tailer with all the equipment students need to learn skills they will employ long after leaving UCM.
“Darin mentors students in a variety of ways while opening the possibilities for them to experience their craft in a way that is both unique and impactful to them as students as well as when they enter into future careers,” his nominator stated. “The work he has done with the THRIVE program as well as supporting students with the opportunity to participate in the MIAA conference gives them opportunities they would never be able to experience.”
Plummer teaches courses such as Introduction to Sports Broadcasting and Advanced Multicam Production. His students gain hands-on knowledge about cameras, control boards and many other aspects of live events, which sometimes include coverge of regional sports competitions.
Because of Plummer’s work, his nominator stated, “Our sports broadcasting program is the envy of the MIAA. He is constantly pushing for better graphics, better camera work, better replay. As he teaches these courses, he consistently challenges our students to aim higher.”
Plummer has served UCM for approximately 22 years. In 2022, he was recognized as the recipient of the J.P. Mees Outstanding Professional Staff Member of the Year, the highest honor given annually to a professional staff member.
A longtime faculty member in Criminal Justice and Criminology (CJC) at UCM, Scott Chenault not only serves the university but is active in the community and the education of public school students as a member of the Warrensburg R-VI School District Board of Education. He has served on the board for six years in positions that include president, vice president and treasurer, and was recently elected for a three-year term. Chenault is currently collaborating with a faculty colleague to establish new learning communities within the CJC academic department that will include community service on campus and within the city of Warrensburg.
Three years ago, he volunteered to serve as a faculty mentor for all Title III students (first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented minorities). In this capacity, he hosts semi-formal informational session with students once each semester to offer advice on how to succeed in college. He also maintains frequent contact throughout the year with these students to help support them in their efforts to succeed, and has spoken at five different urban high schools in the past two years about college preparation and success.
Chenault’s nominator noted that “his student evaluation scores are consistently above the departmental, college and university averages.” His work on the faculty includes teaching corrections classes, leading the charge to develop a new master’s program in Criminal Justice Administration, and develop a new master’s track in Leadership, which is for individuals currently working in the CJC field. He also has created, updated and taught courses such as Criminal Justice and the Media, and Sports and Criminal Justice.
Chenault has served as the Consortium for Transatlantic Studies and Scholarship executive director for eight years. This program allows any student at UCM to experience three months studying in Spain and any faculty member to spend a month in that setting. He has led three international study tours in Turkey, Belize, and a European Cruise where students learned about the criminal justice systems at each port. Additionally, for the past 12 years, Chenault has taken students to the Missouri Department of Corrections Association Conference. To date, more than 200 students have attended this event with him.
“Dr. Chenault is the very definition of Education for Service,” his nominator stated. “He has taken charge of retention and recruitment as a personal challenges. If there is a fair, a summit, or a college and career day at a high school, he is there and promotes UCM and the CJC Department.”