Category: Inspiring Excellence


ECC Sees Enrollment Increase for the Fall 2021 Semester

September 21, 2021 | Campus News Inspiring Excellence

More students are enrolled at East Central College than during each of the past two fall semesters.

Enrollment is up 2.5 percent in total student headcount in the fall 2021 semester compared to the fall 2020 semester.

There are 2,657 students enrolled this fall compared to 2,593 to the 2020 fall semester, a difference of 64 students, according to data compiled by the college’s institutional research department.

ECC also saw an increase of 5 percent in the number of credit hours taken this year. In the fall 2021 students enrolled in 25,868 credit hours compared to 24,633 in the fall of 2020. That is an increase of 1,235 credit hours.

“This is great news for East Central College. The enrollment numbers reflect the quality of our academic offerings,” said ECC President Dr. Jon Bauer. “Students choose a college because of the knowledge and skills they will gain from their experience.”

The College saw increases in several areas, including dual credit, dual technical credit, first time and transfer students.

First-time degree seeking students are also up 7.3 percent this fall. There are 694 first-time degree seekers this year compared to 647 in 2020, an increase of 47 students, according to unofficial results.

“Enrollment is up because of the great work of our faculty and staff. It takes a comprehensive effort, including marketing, advising and counseling, financial assistance, teaching, scheduling, facilities, and more,” Bauer added.

“The enrollment numbers are tangible results of this work and the quality of what we provide.”

The headcount and credit hours for the 2021 fall semester are also higher in comparison to the 2019 fall semester, the last fall semester before the COVID-19 pandemic.  ECC’s enrollment increase comes at a time when community college enrollment is trending down.

According to Robyn Walter, vice president of academic affairs, recruitment and retainment of students are just two of many factors that have boosted enrollment.

“We credit a myriad of efforts, to not only retain students, but to bring back those that withdrew this spring, as well as attracting new students,” she said. “ECC responded to students’ request for more in-person class options, and developed a course schedule with a variety of course delivery methods.

“We continue to offer student-centered instruction with highly qualified faculty and academic support services,” Walter added.

Top Ten Programs

A majority of ECC students are planning to complete their Associate of Arts degree, while others are looking to directly begin their career upon completion of their program’s certificate and/or degree.

Below is a list of the top 10 programs for the fall 2021 semester:

  • Associate of Arts: 1,248
  • Nursing: 88
  • Education: 82
  • Pre-Engineering: 51
  • Computer Information System: 51
  • EMT-Paramedic: 45
  • HVAC-R: 39
  • Industrial Engineering Technology: 39
  • Fine Arts: 36
  • Culinary Arts: 30


East Central College Board of Trustees Unanimously Approves New Strategic Plan

September 6, 2019 | Campus News Inspiring Excellence

East Central College’s five-year strategic plan, SOAR to 2024, was unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees at its August 26 meeting.

“I am grateful for the countless hours of work that have gone into the development of the plan,” said. Dr. Bauer. “We now turn our attention to implementation. I am excited and incredibly optimistic about what’s in store for East Central over the next five years.”

In 2018, East Central College partnered with CampusWorks to help design a strategic plan. Since that time, the company has worked closely with East Central College administration, faculty, staff, Board of Trustee members and the strategic planning committee to ensure that all stakeholders had a voice in the process.

“This plan is a big step forward for the college’s future,” said Ann Hartley, East Central College Board of Trustees president, “I am so proud of what has been accomplished in a relatively short amount of time.. The Board of Trustees is so appreciative of the involvement from our students, faculty and staff who helped make this possible.”

In January 2019, ECC hosted a region-wide Future Summit. All of the college’s constituents were invited and encouraged to participate. More than 200 people, from healthcare, manufacturing, education and more, engaged in discussions about East Central College’s future challenges and how to address them.

“Community input has been invaluable throughout this process,” said Dr. Bauer. “It allowed us to create a plan that truly reflects who we want to be as an institution and how we are going to get there.”

Students also took part in the strategic planning process. In February, more than 50 students came together in series of focus groups to provide input and ideas.

“The student focus groups helped us identify what an ideal student experience should look like at East Central College,” explained Dr. Bauer. “Our students want an environment that is academically challenging and personally meaningful.”

SOAR to 2024 features a new mission and vision for the college, as well as a new set of values. Additionally, five major strategies will help shape the future of the college. The “Pathways” strategy focuses on developing clear academic and career pathways with personalized support to increase enrollment and promote student success.

The “Partnerships” strategy focuses on strengthening partnerships with local high schools, higher education institutions and employers to drive intellectual and economic development in the region.

The “Employees” strategy concentrates on creating a culture of collaboration and learning to attract, retain and develop diverse and talented employees at the college.

Expanding East Central College’s presence and offerings in Rolla to enhance the college’s impact throughout the region is the mission of the “Rolla” strategy.

Finally, the “Financial Strength” strategy puts attention on securing financial strength in order to sustain institutional viability.

East Central College will continue to update the community on its progress throughout implementation of SOAR to 2024.


#InspiringExcellence – Athletic Department Claims Conference Academic Award for Record Tenth Consecutive Year

June 26, 2019 | Campus News Inspiring Excellence

For the tenth year in a row, the East Central College Athletic Department has received the prestigious Harold Oetting All-Academic Award by the Missouri Community College Athletic Conference (MCCAC).

“This is unprecedented by any community college in Missouri,” said Dr. Jay Mehrhoff, athletic director. “Our student athletes in women’s volleyball and softball, as well as men’s soccer, had a combined 3.099 GPA last academic year. We are incredibly proud of their hard work and dedication.”

The award was first established in 1995 as an All-Sports Award – with academics as one component. In 2003-04, the award was renamed to honor longtime conference president Harold Oetting, who retired as athletic director at Jefferson College in 2003. The award is now based on overall athletic department academic achievement.

“Many of the student athletes continue their athletic careers at the four-year level. While many receive athletic scholarship money, a much higher percentage receive academic scholarships. The formula for success starts with recruiting quality student athletes,” added Dr. Mehrhoff.

Dr. Mehrhoff believes the key is setting the tone early. From the beginning, his staff and coaches emphasize the importance of academic performance and give the students the resources they need to thrive.


Heart Attack Doesn’t Stop Student from Pursuing His Dream

June 24, 2019 | Campus News Inspiring Excellence

Last February, 55-year-old Matt Snodgrass suffered a heart attack. The next week, he was back in class pursuing his Associate’s Degree in Accounting at East Central College.

“I had my mind set on accomplishing a goal,” he explained. “I wasn’t going to let anything stop me – not even a heart attack!”

His educational journey started four years ago, when he made a major life decision. Snodgrass owns Master Auto Tech in Union. He’s been working on cars for nearly 37 years.

“I decided I wanted a career change,” he said. “I’ve been working on cars all my life. After two back surgeries, I knew it was time to do something different.”

He didn’t want to close his shop and just hope for the best. He wanted a plan, and he knew getting an education was his first step. Snodgrass had always enjoyed the bookkeeping part of owning a business. He figured a degree in accounting would be a natural fit, so he enrolled in part-time classes in Fall 2016.

Life in the Classroom

“At first, I thought I would be the only one my age in my classes. I was pleasantly surprised to find out I was wrong,” he explained.

He soon felt comfort in sharing his college experience with so many other working adult learners.

“I’m usually still the oldest in the class,” he laughed, “but there are a lot of people closer to my age than I originally thought there would be.”

Snodgrass found time management was his biggest struggle at first. However, like any student, he learned to adapt.

“Dedicating the time necessary to follow through with all your assignments was a big step at first. As I got used to the college environment, things got much easier,” he said.

His dedication and determination helped him excel in the classroom.

“When learning new material, Matt always researches additional information about the subject and then brings the information back to classroom to share with others,” said Lisa Hanneken, accounting instructor. “He has a relentless pursuit of knowledge and shows a tremendous love for learning.”

“My instructors have been great,” Snodgrass said. “They make things so clear and understandable. They have little tips and tricks that I would have never picked up on my own. They always answer my questions without hesitation.”

End in Sight

He’s been at it for more than three years, and now the finish line is in sight. Snodgrass is set to graduate in May 2020. After graduation, he hopes to find an office to set up his own accounting firm where he is looking forward to a more “relaxing” environment.

“I’m tired of breaking my back,” he said, “burning my hands, cutting my arms – I want to get away from the demanding physical aspects from my current profession.”

Along the way, he has had a lot of support – friends, family, fellow students and instructors. He’s also had some naysayers. After his heart attack, some even encouraged him to stop pursuing his dream altogether.

“I’m doing this for me,” Snodgrass explained. “I’m going to finish it no matter what. Heart attack. Back surgery. I’m not giving up.”

“Matt is an inspiration,” commented Hanneken. “He is one of those students every instructor loves to have in their classroom.”

After high school, Snodgrass admits he had no interest in getting a college degree. As he progressed through life, things started to change, and he knew his life needed to change. He hopes his story will inspire others to follow his path.

“If anyone out there isn’t happy with their life the way it’s going – I say stop! Life is too short. Find something you really want to do and educate yourself in that area.”


Alumni Spotlight – Chef Wins National Competition, Will Compete on World Stage

June 10, 2019 | Alumni Spotlight Campus News Inspiring Excellence

He graduated from the East Central College Culinary Program in 2018, and Nathan Yount is already making a name for himself. Yount spends his days working under award-winning chef Paul Kampff at the St. Louis Country Club. Outside of work, he is an active competitor in culinary competitions.

“I love the pressure of the kitchen,” Yount said, “especially a competition kitchen.”

When he was selected to participate in the 2019 National Jeune Commis Competition in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in June, he was taken aback.

“It was like nothing I had ever done before. You have to do a three-course meal from a mystery basket that can consist of anything,” he explained, “but every competitor gets the same basket and you get thirty minutes to write out a menu you want to prepare. You then have three and a half hours to cook it.”

“The competition is organized by the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs organization, which is the oldest food and wine society in the world. It’s a great honor to be selected to compete,” said Chef Mike Palazzola, East Central College culinary program coordinator. “Competitions of this magnitude require the highest standards of culinary skill and execution of dishes.”

Yount said he understood what was at stake and used his knowledge from East Central College and his real-world experience to create something impressive and unique. When he got his basket at the competition, he got to work.

“I got parsnips, hickory maple syrup, trout, a two pound strip steak, granny smith apples, and hog jowl,” he said. “For my first course I did a hickory glazed trout with celery leaf and apple slaw, sautéed Bok Choy and a lemon buerre blanc.”

It only got better from there.

“For my second course, I did a roasted strip loin with parsnip puree, glazed carrots and parsnips, a braised potato with a hog jowl ragout and a red wine reduction,” he said. “My dessert was a glazed chocolate Bavarian with an orange sponge cake, a marinated fruit salad, raspberry sauce and strawberry sorbet.”

The judges were impressed. He took home first place.

“When they called my name, I had a huge feeling of relief,” Yount said. “It was a feeling like ‘this is why you cannot ever give up on yourself. You always have to push through.’ All of my hard work had paid off. When I walked across the stage to accept my award, I felt like a new person.”

“Nathan has incredible drive,” said Palazzola. “He was the type of student who would never shy away from a challenge. I’m very proud of this young man.”

He’s not done competing yet. Yount will now represent the United States in the International Jeunes Chefs Rôtisseurs Competition in Calgary, Canada in September. According to its website, it is “a challenging competition that helps the development of the young chefs by showcasing their talents and creativity in an international arena.”

“This will be my first time out of the country,” explained Yount. “I’m going to practice every second I get. It is truly the biggest competition of my life.”

“Getting to compete in this competition is an incredible accomplishment itself,” said Palazzola. “No one can ever take from you what you learn on a journey like this one. It sticks with you for life.”


Joshua German Named 2019 Outstanding Student

May 11, 2019 | Campus News Inspiring Excellence

Sullivan native Joshua German had been named the 2019 Outstanding Student Award Winner. The award is the highest honor given to a graduate of ECC. To be considered for the honor, an ECC student must have maintained a grade point average of 3.5 or higher. In addition to academic achievements, participation in campus and community activities is also considered.

German is an exceptional student leader who has made remarkable contributions to East Central College. In the 2018-2019 academic year, Josh served as President of Phi Theta Kappa-Chi Delta, Chief Recording Officer of the Student Government Association, the Co-Founder and former Vice President of Scholar Bowl and has maintained membership status in other student organizations including Rotaract and ECC Student Media.

“The level of tenacity Josh displays in all his work is incredibly inspiring,” said Campus Life and Leadership Coordinator Courtney Henrichsen. “While managing his extensive co-curricular involvement, he has continued to earn outstanding grades in his courses and has received the President’s List academic honor for the past three consecutive semesters.  He is truly the embodiment of our organizational values and aspirations.”

“When Josh is sitting in your classroom, you can expect great discussion and his trademark dry humor,” said Assistant Professor Leigh Kolb. “It has been such a joy to know Josh, and to be able to encounter him on his journey. How lucky we have been to have him on our campus, and how proud we will be to call him an ECC alum.”

German has also made contributions to the college above and beyond other student leaders by participating in strategic planning activities and assisting our Civic and Community Engagement Committee. He helped organize and lead more events and fundraisers than any other student in ECC’s recent history. He also led the efforts to organize a student trip to Montgomery, Alabama in order to give his fellow students the opportunity to visit the new Legacy Museum and Memorial for Peace and Justice.

“When Josh approached me about organizing the trip,” said Kolb, “I was overwhelmed with excitement. Not only was he personally inspired by readings in African American Literature the prior spring, but he wanted to create the opportunity for other students to experience history. Josh embodies what it means to take an education and not only make the most of it for himself, but also to share it with others.”

German plans to transfer to Truman State University, where he will work toward a bachelor’s degree in English. He hopes to continue his education at the graduate level and eventually become a college professor.


Dorothy Schowe Named 2019 Outstanding Alumni

May 11, 2019 | Campus News Inspiring Excellence

Dorothy Schowe started as a temporary secretary in the East Central College Community Relations Department in 1980. She retired in 2016 as the Director of Public Relations. She’s hardworking, dedicated and thoughtful, and it’s one of many reasons Dorothy Schowe was chosen as the East Central College 2019 Outstanding Alumni! The award, presented annually to honor an ECC graduate who has used their education to benefit the community, doesn’t come as a surprise to those that know her well.

“Throughout her career at East Central College she has been a true ambassador for the College,” said Bonnie Gardner, executive assistant to the president. “If there was an event on campus, Dot was not only promoting it, she was intimately involved in ensuring the event’s success. Her love for ECC was very evident in everything she did.”

For the past 39 years she has been involved with the Missouri State High School Activities Association’s District Music Festival held at East Central College. As a supporter of the East Central College Foundation, Schowe established an endowed scholarship in memory of her parents, Helen and Jack Luecke. Schowe is a past member of the Franklin County Area United Way board of directors and continues to volunteer her time with the organization through its Power of the Purse and Door-to-Door drives. In 2016, she was honored with the United Way’s Red Feather award. It is presented annually to an individual, company or organization that best imparts the qualities of integrity, community spirit and courage. She is also currently a member of the Franklin County Community Resource Board and serves on the Scenic Regional Library Foundation Board. She was treasurer of the New Haven Elementary School PTO, secretary for the New Haven Music Boosters, and a Shamrock Athletic Booster Club member. She was also on the New Haven School Board, serving as treasurer and  president.

A 1975 graduate of New Haven High School, Schowe began her college education at then East Central Junior College. After graduating with an Associate of Arts degree in 1977, Schowe transferred to Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg. She served as editor of the college yearbook her senior year and obtained her bachelor’s degree in public relations from CMSU  (now the University of Central Missouri) in 1979. Schowe and her husband, Don, have two children and two grandchildren.

The East Central College Alumni Association established the award in  2002 to recognize outstanding alumni who have set an example for ECC graduates by using their college education and serving their community. Past recipients include: Tanya Voss, John  Griesheimer, Tom Robertson, Chris Manhart, Deborah Koelling, Tammy Watz, Dr. Frank Miller, Ken Schmidt, Chris Stuckenschneider, Ann Schroeder, Ted Coburn, Linda Mahon, Joe Purschke, Amy Wildhaber, Tony Kreutz, Dave Arand, Audrey Freitag and Ron Unnerstall.


Judy Bieker Honored with 2019 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching

May 1, 2019 | Campus News Inspiring Excellence

Not only has she educated more than 500 students in her 25 years as an East Central College nursing faculty member, but Judy Bieker has also mentored numerous master’s students and new faculty members without hesitation. Her colleagues describe her as someone who “embodies the true spirit of nursing education” and “never turns down a challenge.” In recognition of her tenacity and disposition inside the classroom, she has been honored with the 2019 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

The award is presented to an outstanding faculty member from each participating higher education institution in Missouri. Winners are chosen based on effective teaching, effective advising, service to the college community, commitment to high standards of excellence and success in nurturing student achievement.

In her nomination form, Bieker was described as an “out-of-the-box thinker who always holds her students to the highest standards in providing excellence patient care. She instills a spirit of curiosity and educational excellence.”

Bieker will be presented with his award at the annual Missouri Community College Association Awards and Recognition Ceremony in Kansas City in November.

Congrats to Judy Bieker!


#InspiringExcellence – Students Named to 2019 All-Missouri Academic Team

March 13, 2019 | Campus News Inspiring Excellence

Each year, students are selected for the All-Missouri Academic Team by the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. East Central College is proud to announce four students made the list in 2019!

  • Joshua German – First Team All-Missouri
  • Carson Mowery – Second Team All-Missouri
  • Stephanie Brown – Second Team All-Missouri
  • Benjamin Bone – Third Team All-Missouri

Members of the All-Missouri Academic Team are selected based on the extent to which they meet the definition of the word “scholar,” which Phi Theta Kappa defines as “one who excels in the classroom, has the intellectual curiosity to pursue an academic career and cultural enrichment outside the traditional classroom, shows evidence of substantial development of talents in academics and technical education and has demonstrated an ability to share this development with others.”

Students from each of Missouri’s 25 Phi Theta Kappa chapters apply to be on the All-Missouri Academic Team. Only 42 students were selected this year. The students are recognized at a Missouri Community College Association luncheon in April in Columbia, MO. Each student will receive a cash scholarship and a medallion from MCCA. Phi Theta Kappa is the officially recognized honor society for two-year colleges on a national level.


ECC Phi Theta Kappa Chapters Receive National Recognition

March 7, 2019 | Campus News Inspiring Excellence

Due to its outstanding recruitment efforts in 2018, the Beta Omicron (Rolla) and Chi Delta (Union) Chapters of Phi Theta Kappa have achieved “REACH” status through the national organization! The REACH Rewards program recognizes and rewards Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) chapters that excel in the area of membership development.

As a result of the honor, the chapters will receive 11 PTK graduation stoles to be worn by chapter officers or members at the commencement ceremony in May. Other PTK members can still purchase stoles for graduation.

“We created this program because we believe strongly in the mission of Phi Theta Kappa and want as many students as possible to receive the benefits of membership,” National PTK President and CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner said. “Increased opportunities to apply for scholarships and engage with their peers and key faculty members lead to higher completion rates, and students get those opportunities through PTK.”

Phi Theta Kappa is the 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.

Headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, Phi Theta Kappa is the largest honor society in higher education with 1,285 chapters on college campuses in all 50 of the United States, U.S. territorial possessions and eight sovereign nations. More than three million students have been inducted since its founding in 1918, with approximately 134,000 students inducted annually.