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Northwest Missouri State University

News Release

Feb. 13, 2015

Northwest announces Tavorn as director of TRIO programming

Northwest Missouri State University has announced Cassandra Tavorn will assume the role of TRIO director, effective March 2.

Tavorn will oversee the University’s Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math and Science, and Student Support Services programs. She succeeds Phil Kenkel, who will retire June 1 after 28 years of leading the Northwest TRIO programs.

“Cassandra brings a rich background and varied experiences to the TRIO director position including serving as a TRIO professional at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock and many years of leadership at the state, regional and national levels for the Council for Opportunity in Education, the lobbyist organization for TRIO programs,” Dr. Leslie Galbreath, dean of academic and library services at Northwest, said. “She will lead a very talented, experienced, committed and successful staff of TRIO professionals in important work that is critical to the northwest Missouri community and Northwest Missouri State University’s mission of student success.”

Tavorn comes to Northwest from the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, where she has served since 2004 as education specialist and tutor coordinator in its TRIO Educational Talent Search Center. While managing a caseload of about 500 students, Tavorn developed strategies for selecting and recruiting students, implemented goals and objectives to administer services and resources for college access, and developed workshops about college and career opportunities. She also handled compliance, grant-writing, data collection and budgetary responsibilities.

Tavorn holds professional affiliations in the Arkansas Association of Student Assistance Programs, Arkansas Tutoring Association, Southwest Association of Student Assistance Programs and Council for Opportunity in Education. Among her community and volunteer experiences, she was a mentor for the Youth Initiative and Wind’s Beneath My Wings youth programs in Little Rock.

Tavorn completed her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock in international studies and a Master of Public and International Affairs degree at the University of Pittsburg in the management of non-profit organizations.

“It is a pleasure to join the Northwest TRIO programs, as it is a crucial artery for providing educational opportunities, college access and success for students coming from economically distressed areas, who are first in their family to go to college or are dealing with disabilities,” Tavorn said. “It is important that our students succeed not only academically, but also learn to advance in knowledge and learning at a higher level.

She added, “These students come in different packages with specific needs that TRIO is sensitive toward. TRIO works for the simple fact that it’s a mission and not a job. In continuing the work of the Northwest TRIO programs as a strong and vibrant entity of Northwest Missouri State University, I will work collaboratively with the leadership team, campus community and partners to assist in capacity-building services for improving and expanding our retention and graduation rates among our participants.”

TRIO is a federally recognized educational outreach program designed for students with disadvantaged backgrounds. It serves as an umbrella organization for Northwest programs consisting of Student Support Services, Upward Bound, and Upward Bound Math and Science.

Northwest’s Upward Bound, founded in 1986, has helped hundreds of high school students realize their goals of attending college and finding success. The program annually serves 80 high school students from seven high schools in northwest Missouri: King City, Maryville, Northeast Nodaway, Rock Port, Stanberry, Tarkio and West Nodaway. Open to students who are in their freshman year of high school or older, Upward Bound helps students build self-confidence while preparing them for the academic, social and cultural challenges of college life.

Launched at Northwest in 1988, Student Support Services includes a variety of campus programs dedicated to helping students meet their academic needs and successfully complete their undergraduate degrees. The office offers a variety of resources, including peer mentors who have intricate knowledge of what it takes to be academically successful during college and are available to meet with students in need of assistance.

Upward Bound Math and Science was founded at Northwest in 1990 and is a six-week, hands-on summer learning experience for eligible high school students interested in careers in a math or science field. The life-enhancing college-prep program helps students explore math, science and technology topics while exposing them to a university campus and reducing anxieties about college. Northwest’s program draws students from 18 high schools throughout Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas, who live in campus residence halls while receiving instruction from skilled college and high school faculty.

Northwest TRIO programs are funded 100 percent by highly-competitive federal grants and are staffed by eight full-time professionals. For more information about TRIO programs at Northwest, visit

For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468