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Northwest Missouri State University


News Release

    Aug. 26, 2016

    Northwest welcomes 60 new employees to begin 2016-17

    Northwest Missouri State University welcomes 60 new employees as it begins its 2016-17 trimester.

    The new employees, who are those hired at Northwest after the spring trimester began, were recognized during the University’s annual fall All-Employee Meeting Aug 24. They include 25 faculty members who come to Northwest from 12 different states and four other countries.

    The new employees, including their positions and departments, are listed below.

    Natasha Blackford is a research librarian in the B.D. Owens Library. Most recently, she worked as a graduate assistant in the Owens Library. She earned a master’s degree in English and her bachelor’s degree in English education at Northwest as well as an associate degree in teaching at North Central Missouri College.

    Natasha Blackford

    Erica Buck is an early childhood teacher at the Leet Center. Previously, she taught kindergarten at North Andrew Elementary in Rosendale, Missouri, and third grade, kindergarten and preschool at St. Gregory Barbarigo School in Maryville. She earned her bachelor’s degree in education at Northwest.

    Erica Buck

    Dr. Luke Campbell is an assistant professor of political science. He earned his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Kansas, a master’s degree in political science from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from William Jewell College.

    Dr. Luke Campbell

    Ankit Chaudhary is an assistant professor of computer science and information systems. Previously, he was an assistant professor at Truman State University and postdoctoral fellow in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Iowa. He earned his Ph.D. in computer engineering from the Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute in India and a master’s of engineering in computer science from Birla Institute of Technology & Science in Pilani, India.

    Ankit Chaudhary

    Dr. Jiwon Choi is a staff accompanist in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts. Prior to coming to Northwest, she served a graduate teaching assistantship at the University of Kansas and was a piano faculty member at the University of Kansas Community Music School. She earned a doctor of music arts in piano performance and pedagogy from the University of Kansas, a master’s degree in piano performance from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and a bachelor’s in piano performance from Dong-A University in Pusan, South Korea.

    Dr. Jiwon Choi

    Cari Cline is an instructor of computer science and information systems. Previously, she was a computer applications instructor at Maryville R-II Middle School and an outreach coordinator at Northwest. She has master’s degrees in teaching: instructional technology and higher education leadership and a bachelor’s of technology in business management, all from Northwest. She also has an associate degree in office information technology from Southwestern Community College.

    Cari Cline

    Dr. Joshua de Groot is a lecturer of chemistry. He completed his Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Iowa, where he worked as a graduate research assistant and graduate teaching assistant. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Maryland.

    Dr. Joshua de Groot

    Aziz Fellah is an assistant professor of computer science and information systems. His previous experience includes service as a faculty member at the University of New Brunswick, University of Sharjah, Tulane University, University of Lethbridge and United Arab Emirates University. He earned his Ph.D. in computer science from Kent State University and a master’s degree in computer science from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

    Mandy Felton joined Northwest in June as operations coordinator for Facility Services. A native of Austin, Texas, she was an account executive with Dell Inc. for eight years and owned small businesses in in real estate, xeriscaping and event catering. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Houston.

    Dr. Connor Ferguson is an assistant professor of agricultural sciences. He has a Ph.D. in agricultural plant science from the University of Queensland, a master’s in agronomy: plant science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a bachelor’s degree in plant and soil sciences from Oklahoma State University.

    Dr. Connor Ferguson

    Gabrielle Fields is an annual giving and donor relations specialist in the Office of Alumni Relations, where she will supervise the Northwest Call Center and manage its comprehensive annual appeal program. She recently completed her bachelor’s degree at Northwest in communication with a public relations emphasis.

    Gabrielle Fields

    Selena Foreman is an office manager in the Office of Student Affairs. She worked for the last five years as social service director at Golden Living Center in Maryville. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Northwest in psychology.

    Selena Foreman

    Dr. Tolina Fufa is an assistant professor in the Department of Economics. He comes to Northwest with more than 10 years of teaching experience at Unity University in Ethiopia and, most recently, at Oklahoma State University. He earned her Ph.D. in economics from Oklahoma State as well as master’s degrees in global human studies from Osaka University in Japan and economics from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Mekelle University in Ethiopia.

    Dr. Tolina Fufa

    Linda Gray Smith is a lecturer of professional education. Previously, she was assistant superintendent of human resources for the Independence School District in Independence, Missouri, and superintendent of schools for the Chillicothe and Worth County R-lll school districts. She also was a middle and elementary school principal, education consultant and English teacher in Bedford. She earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in educational leadership and policy studies from Iowa State University. She also has master’s degrees in educational leadership and secondary education: English and a bachelor’s degree in music and elementary education, all from Northwest.

    Linda Gray Smith

    Alisha Greene joined Northwest in April as a dispatcher for University Police. She is completing her bachelor’s degree at Northwest in psychology with a minor in criminal justice. Last spring, she was recognized as Northwest’s Student Employee of the Year.

    Alisha Greene

    Dr. Augustus Hallmon is an assistant professor for recreation. Most recently, he was an instructor in recreation management at Eastern Illinois University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in leisure studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a master’s degree in information systems management from DeVry University’s Keller School of Management, specializing in project management and his Ph.D. in recreation, sport and tourism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He also is a certified park and recreation professional.

    Dr. Augustus Hallmon

    Mark Hendrix joined Northwest in May as university scheduling coordinator in Auxiliary Services. Previously, he worked as a radio personality at 97.1 The Vill in Maryville and as a landscape technician at Bleakley Development in Olathe, Kansas. He is working to complete his bachelor’s degree at Northwest.

    Mark Hendrix

    Dr. Charitha Hettiarachchi is an assistant professor in the School of Computer Science and Information Systems. Previously, he was a teaching specialist at the University of Minnesota-Crookston. He earned his Ph.D. in software engineering at North Dakota State University and his master’s degree in information assurance at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota.

    Dr. Charitha Hettiarachchi

    Cody Hoepker joined Northwest in March as a driver in Facility Services. A Hopkins, Missouri, native, he worked construction for 15 years in the Nodaway County area. After obtaining his Class A commercial driver’s license, he drove for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

    Cody Hoepker

    Dr. Jamie Hooyman is vice provost. She comes to Northwest from North Central Missouri College where she had been since 2006, including the last two years as vice president of institutional effectiveness. Her professional experience also includes service as a faculty member at the University of Central Oklahoma. She earned her doctorate of education in human performance from Oklahoma State University. She also has an associate degree from North Central, a bachelor’s degree in education from Missouri State University and a master’s degree in education from Northern Illinois University. 

    Dr. Jamie Hooyman

    Heather Howard is an assistant women's basketball coach and instructor in the Department of Athletics. She comes to Northwest after two seasons as assistant coach at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. She received her bachelor's degree in sports management from Oklahoma State University and a master’s degree in sports fitness and management from Missouri Western State University.

    Heather Howard

    Alexis Hurt joined Northwest in April as a financial assistance counselor in the Office of Financial Assistance. She recently completed her bachelor’s degree at Northwest in psychology and worked as a student employee in University Advancement and the Office of the President. She also was active in the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, for which she now serves as an advisor.

    Alexis Hurt

    Marc Krein is an instructor of broadcast production and digital cinematography. He comes to Northwest via San Diego while his previous academic experience includes stops at Oklahoma State University, East Carolina University School of Medicine, Kingston Polytechnic University and Management Development Institute of Singapore. He also has experience in electronic video system operations with international sports television networks, including ESPN, FOX, IMG and Gearhouse, as well as telemedicine and medical media, commercial production with ABC Seattle and corporate media with Microsoft in Redmond, Washington. He earned his master’s degree in media management from the Edward R. Murrow School of Journalism at Washington State University and a bachelor’s degree in information and communication technologies at California State University-Chico.

    Marc Krein

    Amanda Lager joined Northwest in April as an admissions specialist in the Office of Admissions. Previously, she worked for Progressive Community Services. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Association of Group Homes and Nodaway County Services. She received her bachelor’s degree in child and family studies at Northwest.

    Amanda Lager

    Dr. Damon Leiss is a lecturer for recreation. Previously, he was an assistant professor at Emporia State University where he also was an assistant football coach. He also worked as camp director at Camp Alexander in Emporia, Kansas. He has a Ph.D. in education with an emphasis in instructional design for online learning from Capella University as well as a master’s degree in health, physical education and recreation and a bachelor’s degree in general studies with emphases in physical education and psychology from Emporia State.

    Dr. Damon Leiss

    Dr. Jodie Leiss is an assistant professor in the School of Health Science and Wellness.  Previously, she was an instructor in health and physical education at Emporia State University. She earned her Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from Kansas State University, and she has a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a master’s degree in health and physical education, both from Emporia State University.

    Dr. Jodie Leiss

    Shannon Long joined Northwest in April as an electrician in Facility Services. A native of Fairfax, he previously was employed with Lifetime Energy Solutions in St. Joseph, Missouri. He has a journeyman electrical license and a NCCER industrial journeyman electrician license.

    Dr. Jessica Loyet Gracey is an assistant professor of political science. She previous was an adjunct instructor at Lindenwood University and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She earned her Ph.D. and master’s degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a bachelor’s degree from Truman State University, all in political science.

    Dr. Jessica Loyet Gracey

    Debra Lyons is a project assistant for curriculum and instruction in positive behavior support at the Regional Professional Development Center. She retired after 21 years as an educator with the St. Joseph School District, where she was a teacher and later the coordinator for a treatment center for emotionally disturbed students. She received her bachelor’s degree in education with an emphasis in behavior disorders from Missouri Western State University and her master’s degree from Northwest in 2001.

    Debra Lyons

    Dr. Michael Miller is an assistant professor of agricultural sciences. Previously, he served as an assistant professor in the Department of Economics at South Dakota State University. He earned his Ph.D. in agricultural and resource economics, a master’s degree in agricultural and resource economics and a bachelor’s degree in history, all from Colorado State University.

    Dr. Michael Miller

    Dejan Mraović is an assistant professor of graphic design. Previously, he was an assistant professor and coordinator of the graphic design programs at Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, and at Campbellsville University in Campbellsville, Kentucky. He has a master’s degree from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, and a bachelor’s degree from the College of Visual and Applied Arts in Belgrade, Serbia, both in graphic design.

    Dejan Mraović

    Gina Mumpower-Turner joined Northwest in March as a student services specialist at Northwest-Kansas City. Previously, she was employed at Park University in Parkville, Missouri, where she served for two years as regional director of admissions and for more than 10 years as an admissions counselor working with transfer students and community colleges. She earned her master’s degree in adult education from Park University and her bachelor’s degree in English literature from Missouri Western State University.                 

    Emily Nguyen is a residential counselor at the Missouri Academy. Previously, she worked for two years as a program guide and recruiter at Pacific Quest in Hawaii. With the Student Conservation Association, she worked as a project leader in Mammoth Lakes, California, and Ridgecrest, California, as well as northwest placement coordinator and northwest partner services coordinator in Seattle. She earned her bachelor’s degree in foreign languages at Mississippi State University.

    Emily Nguyen

    Dr. Michael Oudshoorn is an associate professor in the School of Computer Science and Information Systems. Previously, he was professor and chair of departments at Wentworth Institute of Technology, Montclair State University and Montana State University. He also served as dean of science, engineering and technology at the University of Texas at Brownsville. Prior to relocating to the United States, he was an associate professor of computer science at the University of Adelaide in South Australia, where he also served as associate dean. He earned a Ph.D. in computer science and a bachelor’s degrees in computer science and applied mathematics, all from the University of Adelaide.

    Dr. Michael Oudshoorn

    Joseph Overstreet is manager of landscape and sustainability in facility services. For the last 10 years, he worked as the parks and natural resources supervisor for the city of Liberty, where he managed 450 acres of parkland, including athletic fields, amenity construction, parks and right-of-way landscaping, and community forestry. He earned his bachelor’s degree in horticulture at Northwest.

    Joseph Overstreet

    Wesley Parker joined Northwest in April as a plant operator in Facility Services. His previous experience includes work with city of Maryville in the water maintenance department, for the state of Missouri at its power plants and for 20 years as water superintendent for Nodaway County.

    Wesley Parker

    Dr. Zhengrui (Jerry) Qin is an assistant professor of computer science and information systems. Previously, he was a teaching assistant and research assistant at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia; Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire; and Beijing University in China. He earned his Ph.D. in computer science from the College of William and Mary as well as master’s degrees in physics from Dartmouth and in space physics from Beijing.

    Dr. Zhengrui (Jerry) Qin

    Tasha Quimby is an invoice and accounts payable clerk in the Office of the Controller. She spent 10 years as a senior sales tax auditor for the Missouri Department of Revenue and then became a bookkeeper for Hineline Home Furnishings in Maryville. She earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting at Northwest.

    Tasha Quimby

    Gabbi Ray is coordinator of diversity and inclusion in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Previously, she was local business development executive at The Kansas City Star. She received her bachelor’s degree in merchandising and her Master of Business Administration at Northwest, where she was active as a resident assistant for three years, with the Northwest Dance Company and on the Speaking Bearcats speech and debate team, earning a national championship in program of oral interpretation in 2013.

    Gabbi Ray

    Michael Rhodes joined Northwest in March as a part-time custodian in Facility Services. He is retired after 25 years as a health teacher and football coach in Orange County, California.

    Michael Rhodes

    Niki Richardson joins Northwest in February as a financial literacy coordinator in Student Support Services. She came to the position with five years of banking experience at Nodaway Valley Bank in Maryville. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics education from the University of Central Missouri.

    Niki Richardson

    Renee Riedel joined Northwest in June as a career development coordinator for employer relations in Career Services. She has owned Carson’s Sports Grille since 2006 and was elected to the Maryville City Council in 2012, serving as mayor from 2014 through last April. From 2000 to 2011, she was a strategic planning manager for MetLife. She has a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Northern Colorado in Greely, Colorado.

    Renee Riedel

    Patrick Rinkleff joined Northwest in February as a sportsfield groundskeeper in Facility Services. He was a golf course superintendent with Appanoose Country Club for 10 years before starting his own lawn care company in Centerville, Iowa, which he owned and operated for four years. He has a degree in turf and greenhouse management from Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa.

    Patrick Rinkleff

    Megan Roberts is a staff nurse and registered nurse at Wellness Services. Previously, she was employed as a diabetes educator and certified wound care nurse at Clarinda Regional Health Center. She received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Northwest and wound care certification from Emory University in Atlanta.

    Megan Roberts

    Jerry Sharr joined Northwest in April as a plumber in Facility Services. He has worked as a plumber since 1980, having been employed with Maryville LP Gas Co. for eight years, before opening his own plumbing business in Maryville, which he operated for 28 years.

    Jerry Sharr

    Cortni Shreve joined Northwest in May as a secretary in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. Previously, she was a GIS coordinator and mapper for Miller County, Missouri. She has an associate degree in office systems from Southwestern Community College in Creston, Iowa.

    Cortni Shreve

    Dr. Juanita Simmons is vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She comes to Northwest from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she had served as a faculty member since 2003, teaching educational leadership and policy analysis. Previously, she served in various administrative roles in the Austin and Dallas, Texas, independent school districts. She also was a high school English, journalism and humanities teacher in the Dallas Independent School District. She has Ph.D. and master’s degree, both in educational administration from the University of Texas-Austin. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English and speech from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.

    Dr. Juanita Simmons

    Sarah Sipling is assistant professor of art. She previously served as an adjunct professor at the University of Alaska in Anchorage and a visiting assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University. She has a master’s degree in printmaking from Rhode Island School of Design and a bachelor’s degree in visual arts from State University of New York at Purchase

    Sarah Sipling

    Dr. Seth Soman is an assistant professor of agricultural sciences. He was an assistant professor in the Department of Agriculture at Dickinson State University. He earned his Ph.D. in environmental resources and policy and a master’s degree in agricultural economics, both from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, as well as a bachelor’s degree in agriculture at Kerala Agricultural University in Kerala, India.

    Dr. Seth Soman

    Dr. Kory Stiffler is an assistant professor of chemistry. Previously, he was visiting assistant professor at Indiana University Northwest and a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Maryland. He earned his Ph.D. and master’s in physics as well as a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering, all from the University of Iowa.

    Dr. Kory Stiffler

    Kamala Tabor is an instructor of criminology. Previously, she was an associate faculty member at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington, and an adjunct instructor for the Seattle College District, where she developed and implemented educational and life skills programs for adolescents and adults from marginalized populations transitioning out of juvenile detention and adult correctional facilities. She has master’s degrees in post-secondary curriculum development from the University of Washington and in psychology from Sofia University in Ellensburg, Washington, as well as a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wichita State University.

    Kamala Tabor

    Christina Tapps is an assistant athletic trainer in the Department of Athletics. She worked for three years at Oklahoma State University as a graduate assistant and intern, serving the women’s cross country and track and field programs as well as men’s and women’s tennis. She earned her master’s degree at Oklahoma State University in health and human performance and her bachelor’s degree at Missouri State University in sports medicine and athletic training.

    Christina Tapps

    Janie Thacker joined Northwest in April as an accounts receivable coordinator in Bursar/Cashiering. She was employed previously for 19 years with the Missouri Department of Corrections at the Maryville Treatment Center as an account clerk. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Northwest in accounting.

    Janie Thacker

    Christopher Thomas is executive director of information technology. His industry experience includes work at companies such as MasterCard, Dansico and Softcard. He has a master’s degree in information systems management and a bachelor’s degrees in information technology, both from the University of Phoenix.

    Christopher Thomas

    Dr. Zhiling (Cindy) Tu is an assistant professor of computer science and information systems. She previously served as a researcher and teaching assistant at McMaster University in Canada and as an associate professor and lecturer at Nanjing University. She has a Ph.D. in information systems from McMaster University as well as master’s degrees in management from Queen’s University in Canada, in business administration from Maastricht School of Management in the Netherlands, and in engineering: computer science from Nanjing University in China.

    Dr. Zhiling (Cindy) Tu

    Dr. Tianyang (Timmy) Wang is an assistant professor of computer science and information systems. Previously, he was a visiting assistant professor at the University of Central Missouri. He has a Ph.D. in computer science from Southern Illinois University and a master’s degree in computer science from Jilin University in China.

    Kendra Watson is a project assistant for professional learning community at the Regional Professional Development Center. She comes to Northwest after working for 21 years as an elementary educator and was named earlier this year as a Missouri finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. She has a master’s degree as a reading specialist from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from York College of Pennsylvania.

    Rachel Wistrom joined Northwest in June as coordinator of counseling for Upward Bound. Previously, she was a K-12 guidance counselor for the North Nodaway R-VI School District. She earned her bachelor’s degree in comprehensive psychology and sociology from Northwest and launched her professional career with the Missouri State Highway Patrol working in quality control for criminal records at its Jefferson City headquarters. She later returned to Northwest and completed her master’s degree in guidance and counseling.

    Rachel Wistrom

    LaNee Wood is a residential counselor at the Missouri Academy. She is a recent graduate of the University of Illinois-Springfield where she earned her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and was active as a resident assistant, Leadership for Life and Habitat for Humanity as well as the local Big Brothers, Big Sisters chapter.

    LaNee Wood

    Aminah Woods is a residential counselor at the Missouri Academy of Science, Mathematics and Computing. She spent the last two years as a graduate assistant at Illinois State University's Conduct and Conflict Resolution Office. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology at Maryville University of St. Louis as well as a master’s in college student personnel administration from Illinois State University.

    Aminah Woods



    For more information, please contact:

    Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
    mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

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