Board of Governors' Excellence in Public Affairs Award 2024-25 Recipients

Congratulations to the five recipients of the 2024-2025 Board of Governors’ Excellence in Public Affairs Award. Three faculty and two staff were chosen for their accomplishments in integrating the public affairs mission into their academic and on-campus professional work.  The Governors recognized each awardee with a plaque and $1,500 internal funds to be used toward advancing their professional public affairs work and projects.

Dr. David Cornelison is a rofessor of Physics, Astronomy and Materials Science in the College of Natural and Applied Sciences. David has applied the public affairs mission to many projects that combine his enthusiasm for physics and his commitment to help students and the community. Whether co-creating the traveling demonstration van called “Phys Biz”, organizing Seuss Science days, or hosting the STEM-based KSMU radio show that covers science topics, he brings the world of science to students of all ages. 

Jennifer Johnston is the English Language Institute’s Director of Teacher training programs.  Jennifer weaves the pillars of the public affairs mission throughout her work with ELI students and graduate teaching assistants by fostering an environment of cross-cultural understanding.  She helps non-native English speakers learn the language and culture of their new home, but equally important, she works with domestic students and employees so they may better serve our international populations.  Whether working on-campus or with Springfield area refugees through The Family Welcome Program, Jennifer weaves the public affairs pillars throughout her leadership to students, the campus and community.  

Juli Panza is Director of Professional Education Services in the College of Education.  She works to promote dialogue and collaboration on issues related to equity and social justice among students and academic advisors across campus.  She is deeply committed to modeling public affairs by advocating for the underrepresented and creating diverse opportunities for student teachers and field placements.  In Juli’s words “Cultural competence and community engagement are key aspects of an ethical leader.  Ultimately, ethical leadership is about setting a positive example and empowering others to uphold ethical standards in everything they do.” 

Dr. Alan Tinkler is assistant department head of the English department in the Reynolds College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities.  Dr. Tinkler states, “being connected with the community to recognize needs and finding the expertise to meet those needs, is central to my work here at MSU.”   Launching The Springfield Way Internship Program in 2003, he has helped to create opportunities for students to collaborate with organizations that support local individuals and families facing housing insecurity and much more.  Some of these organizations include: the Drew Lewis Foundation, Community Partnership of the Ozarks, The Kitchen, and the United Way.  

Dr. Rebecca Woodard is a professor of kinesiology in the McQueary College of Health and Human Services.  Her teaching career is dedicated to preparing students to effectively, and ethically, provide necessary physical education and exercise to individuals with disabilities regardless of age, ability or special needs.  While this is accomplished in many ways, the public affairs mission is evidenced by her longstanding partnership with The Arc of the Ozarks, being a member of the MSU Bear Power Project Team and collaborations with the Springfield Public Schools Adapted Physical Education program.