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Northwest Missouri State University

News Release

Nov. 1, 2013

Founder of national education institute to address winter graduates

Dr. John N. Gardner

Dr. John N. Gardner

Dr. John N. Gardner, the co-founder and president of a national institute dedicated to improving undergraduate education, will address Northwest Missouri State University’s graduates and their families during its winter commencement ceremony Friday, Dec. 13.

“We are very pleased to have Dr. Gardner joining us for our winter commencement ceremony,” Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski said. “Dr. Gardner is a well-known, passionate and vibrant national education leader whose ideas have been embraced by colleges and universities throughout the country and internationally, including Northwest.”

In 1999, Gardner and his wife, Betsy O. Barefoot, founded the Policy Center on the First Year of College, and in 2007, the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education was incorporated. The Institute is a national leader in efforts to improve undergraduate learning and retention at institutional, regional and national levels.

Gardner is universally regarded throughout the national and international higher education community as the initiator and leader of an educational reform movement, spanning more than three decades, to improve the retention and graduation rates of college and university students. His work has focused especially on two critical student transitions during the undergraduate years: the first-year experience and the senior-year experience.

Along with the Institute for Excellence, Gardner also founded the University of South Carolina’s National Resource Center on The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition. He is a widely published author and scholar whose work has been recognized with numerous awards including 11 honorary doctoral degrees.

About 350 undergraduate students from Northwest's three colleges are expected to receive bachelor's degrees. More than 100 additional candidates are expected to receive master's degrees and specialist degrees through the University's graduate school.

The commencement ceremony begins at 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, in Bearcat Arena. Doors open to guests at noon. Shuttle service will be provided from the parking lot west of the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts to the circle drive in front of the Lamkin Activity Center. Due to the number of graduates, tickets are required for admission to the ceremony. Graduates will receive six tickets. To accommodate guests unable to attend the ceremony, Northwest will offer a live online stream of the ceremony, which will be accessible at   

Graduates along with their families and friends also are invited to interact with Northwest’s social media before, during and after the commencement ceremonies. Users may share their graduation memories on Twitter by using the hashtag #nw13, or submit graduation photos to Northwest’s Flickr feed. Photos can be taken with a mobile phone and sent to Submitted photos will appear immediately on Northwest’s Flickr page at

Candidates for graduation may pick up caps and gowns at the Student Services Center on the first floor of the Administration Building from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9, through Thursday, Dec. 12, or 8:30 to 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 13.

Complete details about commencement at Northwest are posted on the Senior Spot Web site,

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