Month: April 2023

ECC Students Named to Academic Teams

April 27, 2023 | Campus News ECC Rolla

Four East Central College students were named to the All-Missouri Academic Team, and one also was recognized nationally.

Kelsea Smith has been named a 2023 Coca-Cola Academic Team Gold Scholar and received a $1,500 scholarship.

Smith and Elise Jeffers, ECC Rolla; and Brooklyn Hyatt and Annika Brunner, Union campus, were named to the 2023 All-Missouri Academic Team. The students were recognized by Missouri Community College Association (MCCA) and the Phi Theta Kappa national honor society at a ceremony sponsored by MCCA on April 13.

Each student received a medallion and certificate to honor their achievement along with a $250 cash scholarship underwritten by MOHELA (MO Higher Education Loan Authority). The Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society, along with participating corporate partners, sponsors the Academic All-USA competition for students attending two-year colleges.

PTK ranks applicants nationally, then forwards results for students to the MCCA. The top 53 students statewide were named Academic All-State award winners.

ECC annually nominates two to four students per site for the All-USA Team, which automatically qualifies the nominees for the All-Missouri Academic Team. Nominees complete a lengthy scholarship application, including information about their campus and community activities, and details and a letter of recommendation regarding a “significant endeavor” done during their time as a community college student.

Coca-Cola Academic Team

Smith’s Coca-Cola Academic Team honor is sponsored by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, which recognizes 50 Gold, 50 Silver and 50 Bronze Scholars with nearly $200,000 in scholarships annually. Each scholar also receives a commemorative medallion.

Smith and other Coca-Cola Academic Team members were recognized internationally during PTK’s annual convention, PTK Catalyst. Which was held in Columbus, Ohio, April 20-22.

“We thank the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation for recognizing these student leaders and for investing in their futures,” said Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner, president and CEO of PTK. “Scholarships like these are integral to the success of these students in reaching their educational and career goals.”

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation celebrates and empowers visionary leaders who are refreshing the world by supporting more than 1,400 exceptional college students each year.

PTK is the premier honor society recognizing the academic achievement of students at associate degree-granting colleges and helping them to grow as scholars and leaders.

Community College Month—Op-Ed

April 27, 2023 | Campus News ECC Rolla
Jon Bauer, Ph.D.
President, East Central College

The trophy sits on a shelf in my mom’s bedroom. Only recently have I noticed that it resembles an Academy Award, with a gold-plated graduate standing on a pedestal in place of Oscar himself. The graduate wears a dress, a fitting tribute to the class valedictorian. Today—decades later, and after a few dents and dings picked up along the way—the award still represents the best academic performance of that year’s graduating class.

Mom chose this for her valedictory theme at commencement: “There is no security on this Earth, only opportunity.”

A moment in time, but times were different. Going to college—even for the class valedictorian—was no easy task. That was especially true for a young woman from a poor family. There were few scholarships, no federal assistance, and in Mom’s hometown there was no community college. So, after a taste of college, she went to work and raised a family.

Today, the opportunities to go to college would be plentiful. Assistance based on both merit and need would ensure the path a college campus. And today, a community college would likely be serving the Ohio county where Mom graduated.

April is national Community College Month, a time to honor our colleges, our students, and our faculty, staff, and trustees. It is also a time to reflect on the difference these institutions have made for generations of students.

Community colleges are uniquely American. Our oldest colleges were private institutions that replicated those found in Europe. Starting with Harvard, these colleges were places of learning and privilege. Men attended in preparation for life in the landed gentry or clergy. Eventually we adopted the university model, both public and private, derived from Germany.

But around the turn of the 20th Century, University of Chicago president William Rainey Harper proposed the notion of the junior and senior college, the former representing the first two years of a college degree. His idea first took root in Joliet, Illinois, with six students taking classes at the country’s first junior college.

Over the next several decades hundreds of junior colleges came and went. They were mostly extensions of high school. President Harry Truman first called for the development of a system of community colleges in 1947; he was also the first national figure to use the term “community college” in lieu of “junior college.”

In 1960, most communities were without a college of their own. That was true in Mom’s hometown. But that was about to change. States had taken up the challenge from Presidents Truman and Eisenhower and had begun to establish publicly-supported community colleges from coast to coast. At one point in the Sixties we were opening a new community college at the rate of one per week.

East Central College was part of this generation. Local leaders recognized the need for a community college to serve the students of the region and, in 1968, voters approved the creation of East Central Junior College.

We have come a long way in our history. Joliet Junior College—starting with those six students in 1901—serves over 30,000 today. East Central serves thousands of students each year. ECC’s students include juniors and seniors in our Early College Academy. They will graduate from college a few weeks before finishing high school. We serve those right out of high school, as well as those who have been away from a classroom for years, even decades.

Our colleges still serve the student who plans to transfer—Harper’s junior college model—at a fraction of the cost. And we serve those looking to go right into the workforce. These students include nurses, machinists, technicians, and chefs. Over time our mission has grown to serve those already employed, but in need of additional skills. ECC’s Center for Workforce Development works with companies throughout the region.

The Truman Commission called for the first two years of college to be free to students, just like high school. As a nation we are still working on “free community college,” but in Missouri those with the A+ benefit can attend a community college tuition-free. Around 90% of our full-time students have some sort of scholarship or assistance, and the neediest students qualify for the federal Pell Grant. At a community college, the Pell Grant will cover a student’s tuition, fees, and most additional costs like books. For many, it is the jump start to college.

Not only do students have a local, affordable option, but one marked with quality. Our transfer students have high GPAs at their next school. Those going to work often have jobs waiting for them once they graduate. Our faculty are experienced in the classroom, working at teaching-centered colleges. We are much more than the low-cost provider.

Today, more than four out of ten undergraduate students attend a community college.

Community colleges are no longer a novel idea; we are part of the fabric of our communities. We have been around for generations and will be around for generations to come. We are one of America’s best ideas.

Back in Mom’s hometown, a community college came to the area more than a decade after she graduated. Would she have been one of Southern State Community College’s students had the timing been different? I have no doubt. And they would have rolled out the red carpet. That’s what we do at community colleges.

In a few weeks we will graduate another class of East Central College graduates. And coming right behind them will be a new group of students with their own stories, dreams, ambitions, and awards. They will be ready for their best performance. And we will be ready for them.

Opportunity indeed.

Student Shares Why She Chose HIM Program — Flexible, Great Careers

April 19, 2023 | Campus News ECC Rolla

Melissa Helms wants a career in health care but not the bedside patient aspect of the field.

That’s one reason she enrolled in East Central College’s Health Information Management (HIM) program, she said.

Melissa Helms, HIM

“I wasn’t sure I was capable of the hands-on patient care side of healthcare with all its goriness potential,” Helms commented. “However, I still wanted to be involved in the side of healthcare that truly makes an impact on patient care, outcomes, and the improvement of healthcare.”

Helms, of Villa Ridge, graduates in May with an Associate of Applied Science degree.

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is celebrating students like Helms, and HIM professionals from April 17-23 during the annual Health Information Professionals (HIP) Week.
This year’s theme is “Health Information Powers Innovation.”

ECC offers an all-inclusive online program in HIM, including a one-semester Health Care Security Certificate of Specialization, a one-year Certificate of Achievement and a two-year AAS degree. The program includes a Professional Practice Experience (PPE).

“My favorite part of this program was the hands-on PPE course,” Helms commented. “The HIM PPE course is what clinicals are to nursing — so much fun and experience were gained during that semester.”

For more information about ECC and the HIM program, visit here, or contact Kimberly Daman-Scheel, HIM program director, at or 636-584-6662.

Online Courses

According to Helms, the flexibility ECC’s HIM program offers also attracted her to the College.

“I have three children so finding time to take care of them, worry about their schooling, the ability to take them to their extra-curricular activities, working around my husband’s work schedule, and being able to still work myself, if needed, is a struggle,” she said.

“The program being online allowed me to still have my life while fulfilling my life goal and dream.”

HIM is a broad field that connects the administrative, operational, and clinical components of health care. HIM specialists affect the quality of patient care and information at every stage of health care.

“HIM is more than just billing and coding, which a lot of people aren’t aware of — there is a lot of knowledge and requirements to understand billing and coding due to HIM jobs all having some aspect of these, but it is way more than that and can be more depending on which direction you see yourself going in the HIM field,” Helms added.

HIM Careers

There are many facilities and industries where HIM graduates can works, including hospitals, physician offices and clinics, nursing homes, mental health clinics, insurance companies, government agencies and more.

“I love HIM because of the endless opportunities and options I have for myself and my future,” Helms said, adding that she plans to work in the field while continuing her education.

“My plan after college is to build experience for a year or two, while furthering my education by attending classes to achieve my bachelor’s degree in HIM,” she said.

Helms, along with others who earn their AAS degree, is eligible to take the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) exam to be professionally certified in the HIM field.

The ECC RHIT exam pass rate in 2020-21 was 91 percent, surpassing the national average of 78 percent.

The College’s HIM program is accredited by Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management (CAHIIM).

The sponsor of HIM Week, AHIMA, is a global nonprofit association of health information (HI) professionals. AHIMA represents professionals who work with health data for more than one billion patient visits each year.

ECC Instructor Interviewed about Car Insurance

April 13, 2023 | Campus News ECC Rolla

Lisa Hanneken, coordinator and assistant professor of the business and accounting programs at East Central College, recently was featured in the “Ask the Experts” section of a article focusing on car insurance in Missouri.

In the article, WalletHub stated that the best insurance companies in Missouri have high customer satisfaction, streamlined claims processing and helpful policy management tools. WalletHub rated insurance companies based on user ratings on the WalletHub site.

Hanneken was asked in the interview why car insurance laws are different from state to state.

“The main reason the law and regulations tend to differ is that typically each state has its own regulatory agency,” she answered. “This means each state will oversee the insurance industry for their state and may be involved in the legal process of lawmaking or regulatory rules.”

Hanneken also was asked to list the most important things to look for when shopping for car insurance.

“As someone who has previously worked in the insurance industry, it is one area I carefully research and check into the details because I have seen people who were totally blindsided after a claim,” she said. “Everyone needs to spend the time to ensure they understand what coverage may be required by law, as well as what the policy they are considering really covers to avoid surprises later.”

Hanneken also provided factors to consider when looking for car insurance. To read those factors and the full article, visit here.

Coach Tom Dill to be Recognized with Dugout Naming

April 10, 2023 | Athletics Campus News

East Central College is celebrating the college’s first baseball coach, Tom Dill, with the naming of the Taco Bell Field home dugout.

The Tom Dill Dugout naming ceremony will be Saturday, May 6, at Taco Bell Field during the Region 16 Tournament hosted by ECC. The naming ceremony will be held between games at approximately 11:30 a.m. Food and drink will be available.

RSVP to the event here, by emailing the ECC Foundation at or calling 636-584-6506.

Dill was the founding skipper for the East Central Junior College Rebels baseball squad. He coached the baseball team for 16 seasons, from 1974-1990.

Dill coached many talented baseball players during his tenure, including Tom Henke, a Major League Baseball All-Star who played 14 seasons in the Majors and won the World Series in 1992 with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Dill also was a faculty member at ECC from 1973 to 2000. He later served two six-year terms on the College’s board of trustees, including several years as board secretary.

If there is inclement weather, the ceremony will be rescheduled for Sunday, May 7.

ECC Partners With PCSD in Law Enforcement Training Program

April 5, 2023 | Campus News ECC Rolla

A new partnership at East Central College will offer law enforcement training in the Rolla area that fits students’ schedules and provides the opportunity for financial aid and services.

The inaugural basic training class of the ECC Phelps Law Enforcement Training Center (LETC) will begin in August. It was developed through a collaboration between the College and the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department (PCSD).

ECC Rolla Director Christina Ayres said the one-year certificate program combines theory, experiential learning, and practical applications to prepare students for a career as a peace officer. Students who successfully complete this Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) approved program are eligible to take the Missouri Peace Officer License Exam (MPOLE) to become a licensed peace officer.

Students also have the option to take additional general education coursework to complete an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Law Enforcement degree.

Courses will be taught in the evenings and Saturdays during the fall, spring and summer semesters at ECC in Rolla, with breaks in between. That allows students to continue their employment while attending training.

Applications are due June 1 for the sessions that begin Aug. 21. There is a selective admission process utilized for students who apply for the program. For more information about the program, visit, or contact or 573-202-6960.

Local Program

Ayres has been working with Phelps County Sheriff Mike Kirn and Rolla Police Capt. Will Loughridge since August 2021 in preparation for this new program. She explained that a basic law enforcement training program in Rolla alleviates barriers for employers and future officers.

“Local agencies have seen a gap in the employment pipeline,” she said. “This partnership will provide a local training option reducing additional costs for travel and lodging out of the area.”

“The location of the basic training academy in Rolla will reduce lengthy commutes,” Loughridge added. “It will allow people in our community to attend training close to home, while still allowing them to work and take care of their families until they transition to a career with a police organization.”

Kirn said that a local program will bolster the ranks of the PCSD and police agencies in the Phelps County area.

“This academy will allow local law enforcement agencies access to quality candidates from our area. Young people who were raised here will take more interest in their community,” he said. “People raised here and trained here will stay here.”

“This academy will give us a chance to witness the student’s drive, integrity and work ethic,” Kirn added. “Having this knowledge will allow us to make better decisions when hiring.”

Ayres noted that LETC students will have access to federal financial aid, scholarships and services, including tutoring and advising, that all ECC students are provided.

“This is what we do — we have services and resources already in place to support student learning,” she said.

The state requires 600 training hours for a basic training program. The ECC Phelps LETC basic training program exceeds state requirements by providing 700 contact hours to further enhance the skills and knowledge of students.


The “theory” and classroom segments of the curriculum will be taught at ECC Rolla North, located at 2303 North Bishop, and the hands-on “experiential learning” will utilize facilities and equipment provided by the PCSD.

“Partnering with the sheriff’s department is a perfect example of carrying out our mission of empowering students and enriching our communities through education.” Ayres said. “By addressing this need together, we have the opportunity to maximize each other’s strengths — delivering quality education and support services with highly-trained faculty in well-equipped facilities.”

Students who take general education courses, along with electives, to complete an AAS in Law Enforcement have the option to transfer for a bachelor’s degree. An associate degree in law enforcement provides a foundation for a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, pre-law, public administration, emergency management and more.

The degree program could have a remarkable impact on law enforcement in the region, according to Loughridge.

“The college degree path offered through the ECC Phelps LETC is a significant benefit to attendees and future employers,” he said. “Research shows officers with a college degree often have less use of force incidents and less complaints, which limits liability to the organization.”

Loughridge added that the ECC Phelps LETC will assist in keeping law enforcement officers in the community as a pipeline for agencies, such as the Rolla Police Department.

“There is a potential to have nearly all new officers coming out of the academy with an associate degree and their law enforcement certificate,” he said.

New Rolla PTK Members Inducted, Win Regional Awards

April 1, 2023 | Campus News ECC Rolla

The Beta Omicron Phi chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society at East Central College in Rolla inducted seven new members into the organization so far this year.

Cole Halfaker, ECC student services specialist, was the keynote speaker during the ceremony held March 5.

The students inducted into the honor society were Briannah Tiarks, Charli Olszewski, Donna Neulinger, Jessica Richardson, Ezra Dunn, Alaina Sy and Shanna Hawkins. The ECC Rolla PTK advisor is Dr. Elizabeth Winters-Rozema.

PTK is an international honor society for two-year colleges. Members pursue activities that fall under the direction of the society’s hallmarks of Scholarship, Leadership, Service, and Fellowship.

To be eligible for induction, students must maintain a grade point average of at least 3.4 for one semester and maintain a 3.2 GPA after their induction. Students can be pursuing any major, degree or certificate.

Other students could still be eligible to join but haven’t yet. Students invited to be in the PTK can still do so through the end of the year. For more information about PTK in Rolla, contact Winters-Rozema at 573-466-4084 or

Region Awards

Rolla’s Beta Omicron Phi chapter, project and advisor won awards at the 2023 Heartland Region Hallmark Awards also held in March.

Winters-Rozema received third-place honors for the Distinguished Advisor Award category. The Chapter was named a Four-Star Chapter, and it was recognized with an Honorable Mention for the Honors in Action program. Beta Omicron Phi also placed fourth in the region in the College Project.