Missouri State University
Public Affairs Blog

Healthy communities: Reflecting on the 2016 public affairs theme

An action-packed Public Affairs Conference approaches, featuring inspiring individuals such as health and wellness expert Jillian Michaels, who positively promotes this year’s theme: Healthy Communities: Body, Mind and Spirit.

Dr. Elizabeth Dudash-Buskirk, provost fellow for public affairs, reiterates that this concept, as well as MSU’s public affairs mission, is relevant to all of us.

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Five reasons you should join the Public Affairs Conference

Citizen Scholar

With more than 30 events slated for the 2016 Public Affairs Conference, the schedule provides a diverse list of opportunities for students, faculty, staff and the public. But while we could simply put the options in front of you and say, “Here ya go,” we’d like to explain why the conference matters, and why you should take some time to join us on campus April 5-8.

The conference has something for everyone. Presenting five reasons you should experience the PAC in 2016:

Meet nationally recognized experts

This year, you’ll hear from professors from Boston College and Harvard, a senior adviser to a presidential campaign and the CEO of CoxHealth, among others. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s a list of a few folks whose names you might recognize:

  • Barbara Bush
  • Maura Cullen
  • Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
  • Cal Ripken, Jr.
  • Toshia Shaw

All of them were plenary speakers at previous Public Affairs Conferences. Basically, you’re going to learn from the best.

Engage with Jillian MichaelsJillian Michaels

The fitness expert and TV personality won’t only be here for her keynote address at JQH Arena. You also have a chance to meet her beforehand.

Enjoy more than just speeches

The conference brings far more to the table than just people speaking from a podium. You might be interested in getting involved in other ways, such as the Body-Mind-Spirit Wellness Walk, the Field of Memories or Show-Me Chefs Show Us How.

These are opportunities to become actively engaged in your community and meet people with similar passions for the #CitizenBear mission.

Share your experience worldwide

While you’re participating in the conference, use the #CitizenBear hashtag on your social media channels to join the digital discussion. Posts that include the #CitizenBear hashtag are pulled into a Tagboard.

Check out the campus in springHammons Fountain

We’re proud of our campus, and it looks spectacular in April. So please take some time, walk around and enjoy features such as the John Q. Hammons Fountain, new facilities such as the Davis-Harrington Welcome Center and O’Reilly Clinical Health Sciences Center and the renovated Plaster Stadium.

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Five neat Public Affairs Conference sessions for students

And now a list of five Public Affairs Conference sessions we think students would be pretty interested in. All you have to do is bring yourself, your friends, and join the fun!

Body-Mind-Spirit Wellness WalkWalking

Moving about campus is something many of you do on a daily basis, so why not join a group of friends and take a walk to Jillian Michaels’ keynote address? The fun starts at Jordan Valley Park in downtown Springfield at 6 p.m., and you’ll receive reserved seats for the Michaels event.

Plus, the benefits of walking are many:

  • Increases heart rate
  • Increases blood flow
  • Tones muscles
  • Helps digestion
  • Releases stress
  • Improves mood

Social media and community healthStudents walking

Social media play a role in all of our lives. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are mainstays, and new platforms are developing and gaining traction every day. Many of you may have a role in developing accounts for businesses after graduation. This session will help you uncover a mindset to utilize those accounts for the greater good, and provide your audiences with content they need and enjoy.

Plus, you’ll get to hear from the CEO of Askinosie Chocolate and the senior adviser to the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. If you can make time from 9-10:15 a.m. on Wednesday, you’ll want to make your way to Plaster Student Union for this session.

Affordable Care Act: Health care worker
Right or privilege?

The Affordable Care Act continues to be a controversial topic in the political sphere, but seems to be here to stay in some form for the foreseeable future. Still, millions of United States citizens remain uninsured and millions more are in medical debt collection.

You will help shape the future of health care decisions, and the time is now to gather as much knowledge on the topic as you can.

Field of Memories

The description on the Public Affairs website says it all: More than 1,000 suicides occur on college campuses each year, and you’ll see more than 1,000 flags planted north of Plaster Student Union to raise awareness of this important issue.

This event will serve to remember those who have been affected by death by suicide, and you can personalize a flag at the North Mall.

The Field of Memories should be visually stunning and a reminder that we all have a responsibility to help friends and family who may be in crisis.

Show-Me Chefs show us howShow-Me Chefs

The conference will close on a fun note with Show-Me Chefs demonstrating how to prepare meals in a way students are familiar: The microwave.

How do you eat well on a limited budget? You’ll see the answers in-person as local chefs and MSU’s newly hired executive chef deliver some delicious options in the PSU Theater.

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Five things about the Public Affairs Conference plenaries

We’ve invited five people (six, including keynote Jillian Michaels) to highlight the Public Affairs Conference as plenary speakers. Who are they? What makes them unique?

Zack Exley

Exley is an intriguing choice to speak at the conference, as he’s garnered plenty of experience in the national political spectrum. That includes his current position as a full-time senior adviser to the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. A pioneer in online fundraising, he also played a pivotal role in the rise of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Plus, this isn’t Exley’s first trip to Springfield. He stopped by two years ago to chat with Jeff Houghton on The Mystery Hour.

Peter Gray

Gray is all about the psychology behind education, and has focused his research on the importance of play in a child’s development. Did today’s college students get to play enough when they were growing up? If not, what are the consequences of that? That’s the focus of Gray’s plenary talk at the conference.

Robert Putnam

What we know as “The American Dream” might be shifting because there’s a problem: A gap in opportunity, which is not always equal, and therefore doesn’t give everyone a true chance to work hard and achieve success.

Paul Thomlinson

Thomlinson won’t have to travel far to join the conference, as he serves as the vice president for research and quality assurance at Burrell Behavioral Health in Springfield. Plus, he’s familiar with the campus, as he was a Missouri State faculty member. He’s a go-to source for local media thanks to his expertise on mental health issues.

Mark Umbreit

Ever heard the phrase “Forgive and forget”? Forgiveness is far more than that, Umbreit says, and ties directly to his talk on restorative justice.

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Five awesome Jillian Michaels videos

Michaels_CAASpeakers_photo3 horizontal

Sponsored by:
Arvest (Member FDIC)   Missouri State University Foundation

We’re preparing to host strength trainer and life coach Jillian Michaels as the keynote speaker for Missouri State University’s Public Affairs Conference. Her presentation, which will be held at 7:30 p.m. April 5 in JQH Arena, is sponsored by the Missouri State University Foundation with presenting sponsor Arvest. Michaels is a tremendous fit for this year’s theme, “Building Healthy Communities: Body, Mind and Spirit.”

But who is Jillian? What better way to introduce her than by sharing five of her best moments on YouTube?

The softer side

You may have seen Michaels as the take-no-prisoners fitness coach on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” But there’s another side to her, as she explained on TODAY.

Debunking fitness myths

You may have heard some ideas about dieting. Michaels suggests that you think twice before implementing them.

An underrated muscle

It’s the strength of your will that helps you make good food decisions.

Body image in 2016

How do we have healthy conversations with our children about what fitness looks like?

Jillian on homework

“What are you, in college?”

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March Faculty Spotlight: Dr. John Rose

Vietnam Veteran Lapel PinJohn Rose, PhD, Brigadier General, U.S. Army (retired)

Professor, Defense and Strategic Studies

After a 30 year Army career serving our country both at home and abroad, Dr. John Rose’s passion to serve and support others, continues to endure.  In addition to teaching part-time for MSU’s Defense and Strategic Studies in Washington D.C., John helps advise disabled veterans looking to start their own business.  John consults with them about their business ideas, operations, processes and helps direct them in positive assessment of their future goals. In what began as a favor to one mother’s request, his work has led John down an unexpected path to share his knowledge and experiences to those who have given so much in return, humbly saying “I simply try to give candid advice based on my years of experience.  I continue to serve and give back to my community and country because it is the right thing to do and it is our responsibility to continually make positive contributions within society,”

In 2012, John was asked to help honor our 7.2 million living Vietnam veterans in response to President Obama’s 12 year proclamation to honor our Vietnam veterans – those fallen, wounded, unaccounted for, former prisoners of war, their families, and all who served from 1955-1975.  Retired Brigadier General Rose spends his free time traveling across the country talking with veteran groups and showing the country’s honor, respect and thanks by awarding official lapel pins to individuals that served during the Vietnam era. “While it can be difficult at times to experience a veteran become so emotionally overwhelmed for feeling authentically honored for the first time, it is of highest honor for me to recognize that veteran and place our country’s symbol of honor on his/her jacket.”

John’s passion to help and serve others epitomizes MSU’s public affairs mission, and we are proud to honor him as March’s Public Affairs Faculty Spotlight!

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February Student Spotlight: Cindy Umaña

Cindy Umana

Cindy Umaña

Junior: Political Science, Honors College, President-Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity, V.P.-Model United Nations

Cindy’s passion for multiculturalism and social justice has created multiple opportunities to make a difference, both on and off campus.  Having an appreciation and understanding of the issues and pressures on immigrant families, especially children, Cindy has volunteered with local organizations such as the Hand-in-Hand Multicultural Center and Grupo Latinoamericano.  In conjunction with her Law interests, Cindy was able to assist Grupo Latinoamericano with cases and paperwork regarding D.A.C.A.-Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which helps provide a two year pardon from deportation to undocumented immigrant youth brought to the U.S. as children.  This allows many of these youth to apply for work and higher education opportunities.

Cindy encourages others to get involved in their community in some way, but do so with an open mind and an open heart, stating “…when you volunteer, you get to know others better, and in turn, learn more about yourself.”  Because of her impressive track record of campus and community service activities, we are proud to recognize Cindy as February’s Public Affairs Student Spotlight.

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February Staff Spotlight: Tara Benson

Tara Benson

Tara Benson

Associate Director PSU – Director Student Engagement

When Tara moved to Springfield in 2007, she knew she wanted to connect with others in a way that could make a big impact in her new community.  She found that avenue through the Junior League of Springfield (JLS).  On average, JLS members donate over 20,000 volunteer hours annually to Springfield organizations and projects.  Tara has specifically served the Doula Foundation, Ozarks Food Harvest and Isabel’s House’s Ozarks Parent Café in partnership with CPO.  Through JLS, Tara is preparing to assist their new Homeless Youth Project initiative.  With 891 (3.8%) homeless SPS students, she will be helping shed further light on this troubling issue and find ways we can all take action, large or small, to help our homeless youth.

In addition to her 5 years with the Junior League and serving as Youth Group Leader at her church, Tara also volunteers on the phones with Ozarks Public Television telethons and during its program, Sense of Community.  For all her contributions, we honor Tara Benson as February’s Staff Public Affairs Spotlight.

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Board of Governors’ Excellence in Public Affairs Award

Faculty & Staff Nominations Now Being Accepted for 2016 

The Board of Governors’ Award for Excellence in Public Affairs was established at Missouri State University to recognize faculty and staff who excel at carrying out the public affairs mission.  Up to three faculty and three staff are selected each year to receive recognition by the Board of Governors and a $1,500 grant to be used toward their university public affairs work.

View the staff and/or faculty nomination procedures on the Public Affairs website.  Nominations due in February.  For questions please contact Dr. Rachelle Darabi at 6-8346 or StaceyTrewatha-Bach at 6-8832.

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Staff Excellence in Community Service Awards

Nominations now being accepted for 2015 Staff Community Service Awards!

Through October 23rd, the campus and area community are encouraged to nominate Missouri State University staff members for the Staff Excellence in Community Service Award.  Each year, up to two staff members are recognized for their excellence in volunteer work with nonprofit, charitable, church or similar organizations.  Awardees earn a $1,000 award and are acknowledged during the Staff Awards Recognition Luncheon in January.  More information and the nomination form can be found at  the Excellence in Community Service Awards webpage or contact Stacey Trewatha-Bach at 836-8832, staceytrewatha@missouristate.edu.

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