Missouri State University recognized three faculty members and two staff members with the 2022 Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Public Affairs. The award recognizes employees for living the public affairs mission in their work and personal lives.
Each winner receives a $1,500 grant for research, travel or projects related to their public affairs activities.
Dr. Diana Piccolo, professor, childhood education and family studies
Piccolo has focused her public affairs efforts on improving the public education system for its students. In the past decade, Piccolo has worked extensively on mathematics education with more than 50 school districts. She secured $1.5 million in external funding from the Missouri Department of Higher Education to support the teaching of mathematics in middle and high schools.
She also received a $4 million grant that supports career outcomes in STEM. Additionally, Piccolo connected teachers and students to community partners and became a leader in the College of Education by supporting LGBTQ+ students working in public schools.
Dr. Stephen Spates, associate professor, communication
Spates has put his students first in many areas on campus, including presentations on the topic of speaking up to bias in the workplace and providing leadership for the Ad Team in the College of Business.
Spates’ Ad Team earned a $645,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security’s Targeted Violence and Prevention program. The project, “Fuse: Spark Connection,” is a campaign that encourages conversations on difficult topics to reduce bias and discrimination. As the faculty advisor for Missouri State’s Phi Beta Sigma Rho Chi Chapter and Zeta Phi Beta Theta Pi chapters, he mentors students as they manage their organization.
Dr. Shurita Thomas-Tate, associate professor, communication sciences and disorders
Thomas-Tate focuses on helping students develop cultural consciousness to provide services that minimize biases and are responsive to individual and group differences. She created Ujima, a literacy and community program that has grown through partnerships with Springfield Public Schools, Missouri State’s Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic, the Bartley-Decatur Neighborhood Center and the Springfield NAACP chapter.
Through summer literacy camps and family literacy nights, Thomas-Tate has helped Missouri State students become citizen scholars. Thomas-Tate is a member of the Springfield R-12 School Board.
Jeffrey Grevillius, clothing and soft goods manager, Missouri State University Bookstore
For more than 40 years, Grevillius has provided the highest levels of customer service to students, alumni and community members at the Bookstore. His leadership and mentorship extend beyond the store’s walls, as he also works with students through fraternity and sorority advisement.
Off campus, Grevillius coaches, officiates and raises funds for local students at the middle and high school levels. He also mentored students in Glendale High School’s Distributive Education Clubs of America to prepare them for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.
Kathleen Hains, administrative specialist, theatre and dance
Hains lives the public affairs mission through volunteerism and as an advisor for students in the university’s theatre and dance program. She volunteers her time at the Bear Pantry and Counseling Center, and serves as stage manager for Springfield Little Theatre and Springfield Contemporary Theatre.
Hains recently participated in the first Unlikely Allies Conference, an event where white women and women of color came together to build relationships and share stories about the difficulties they faced based on skin color and working in higher education.