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News Release

Aug. 16, 2023

Northwest employees reconvene to celebrate beginning of academic year, successes

Northwest Missouri State University welcomed the return of its nearly 750 faculty and staff to campus Wednesday during its All-Employee Meeting, which took on a theme of “new beginnings” under the leadership of new University President Dr. Lance Tatum.

During his address to employees at the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts, Tatum celebrated Northwest’s successes of the previous year and provided a few of the goals he has in mind as the University moves forward.

“I am honored to serve as your president and to be a part of this remarkable University,” Tatum said, noting that Wednesday marked the 76th of his first 100 days at Northwest. “Since I stepped onto campus June 1st, I have been energized and inspired by the many individuals that I’ve had the great opportunity to meet who serve and support our students. Through these many interactions, I have learned much about Northwest, Maryville, the region and the state, but I also know there is much left for me to learn. As a lifelong educator, I know one’s education never ends, and my commitment to you is that I will continue to work daily to make Northwest a place that you, our students and alumni, and our citizens of Maryville, can be proud of. I am confident that together, we will continue to be a positive influence on the lives of Northwest students.”

Northwest welcomed its employees back to its campus Wednesday during the University's annual All-Employee Meeting. (Photos by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

Northwest welcomed its employees back to its campus Wednesday during the University's annual All-Employee Meeting. (Photos by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

Tatum commended the work of faculty and staff, past and present, for their work to create a “rich past and a strong foundation” at Northwest. In doing do, he also thanked Dr. Clarence Green, who served as the University’s interim president during the 2022-23 academic year and continues to serve as vice president of culture, for his leadership and passion for Northwest.

“We have much to be proud of at Northwest Missouri State,” Tatum told employees. “You do an incredible job at personalizing the educational experience for our students, and it is because of that – that personalized touch – that students and others who come in contact with Northwest develop deep connections to this campus, to our faculty and to our staff. The roots of this institution are grounded in the idea of access to education and upward mobility. I have been privileged to hear over and over again from alumni the profound impact Northwest has made on their lives.”

Dr. Lance Tatum

Dr. Lance Tatum

Tatum said he is committed to supporting Northwest’s mission of focusing on “student success – every student, every day,” and highlighted its student retention rate, which reached 79 percent last year. Additionally, programs such as Jump Start further support first-year students, pairing underrepresented freshmen with mentors and strengthening critical connections during students’ first years at Northwest.

“Our investments in retention are important because the promise we make to the student at the point of recruitment is graduation, and our efforts related to retention represent a critical piece of delivering on that promise,” Tatum said. “We also provide students with a learning experience that focuses and fosters success beyond graduation. Northwest continues to do what it has done best for the past 118 years – to place the most career ready, day one graduates into Missouri’s workforce.”

Tatum also said Northwest expects to see an overall increase in enrollment for the sixth consecutive year. While Northwest’s graduate and online enrollments are key reasons behind the enrollment increases, Tatum emphasized the need to maintain a sustainable campus population at the University. To support that goal, the Northwest Leadership Team has approved a new scholarship model designed to place Northwest in a stronger competitive position to recruit out-of-state students.

Additionally, Tatum applauded the University’s efforts to be a good steward of its resources and cited recent campus improvements that include a remodel of the McKemy Center of Lifelong Learning, ongoing work to renovate Martindale Hall and a new cybersecurity laboratory in Colden Hall. Additionally, the University demolished two aging residence halls this summer, Phillips Hall and North Complex, and its campus dining facilities are undergoing changes in collaboration with a new dining partner.

Looking to the future, Tatum laid out priorities to strengthen state support and fundraising opportunities for Northwest. Additionally, the University is preparing to embark on an aggressive three-year plan to address aging systems and infrastructure. Said Tatum, “Our focus on improving infrastructure will be expensive, but to move our University forward without the risk of mission disruption, we must address the systems that keep our buildings and grounds operating.”

Elizabeth Motazedi

Elizabeth Motazedi

In addition to Tatum’s remarks, Northwest employees heard from Dr. Rhonda Beemer, an associate professor of health and physical education who is Faculty Senate president-elect; Selena Foreman, a residential and auxiliary coordinator who is Staff Council president; and Elizabeth Motazedi, a social studies education major serving as Student Senate president.

For her part, Motazedi recalled the mix of excitement and anxiety she felt when she arrived at Northwest while sharing examples of the ways faculty and staff advisors have helped her succeed – from meeting with a faculty member to better understand her degree path to a staff member helping her find Maryville’s post office.

“I know many students can share similar ones,” Motazedi told employees. “Your contributions to students exemplify that there’s much more to college than gaining a degree. It's about connections, growth and development. You inspire us to aim higher, to challenge ourselves and to strive for excellence. Your unwavering support empowers us to achieve things we didn’t even know that we could accomplish.”


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215