The university is improved by the faculty that care deeply about their subjects and students.
Recently, Dr. Steven Jensen, faculty emeritus, died.
The College of Natural and Applied Sciences (CNAS) will hold in memory the legacy he left behind.
His legacy among faculty
Jensen was an inspiration to many, Dr. Tamera Jahnke, dean of CNAS, recalls.
“Steve and I were department heads at the same time,” Jahnke said. “He was one of the people that encouraged me to apply to be dean.”
Faculty members knew Jensen’s research efforts to be impressive, and even name changing.
“My favorite fun fact about Steve is that he has a species named after him,” Dr. Alicia Mathis, current head of the biology department, said. “Paraleptophlebia jenseni is a mayfly, named in honor of his extensive research on mayflies in Idaho.”
The faculty member who perhaps knew Jensen best was Dr. Vernon Thielmann, faculty emeritus.
He met Jensen after joining the university’s faculty in 1974. Their friendship stretched over the next 32 years.
“Steve was a great contributor in meetings, and we shared many common philosophies,” Thielmann said. “It was a true pleasure to work with him. “
His legacy among students
Jensen won the university’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 1987.
“Students loved Dr. Jensen,” Jahnke said. “He was passionate about helping them succeed.”
In the early 1990s, Jensen and Dr. Michael Awad of the mathematics department established the Young Scholars Program using a grant from the National Science Foundation.
The four-week summer program allowed 30 gifted eighth and ninth graders to study how basic biology, physics and mathematics fit together to solve problems.
While Jensen was later chair of the Pre-Medical Committee, Thielmann experienced his further dedication to helping students.
“I was always impressed by his organization of the committee’s meetings, especially how he dealt with the students interviewed for recommendation to medical schools,” Thielmann said.
Jensen and Thielmann often met with directors of medical school admissions to strengthen students’ chances of acceptance into medical school programs.
Together, they later extended their efforts to help students from across committees to across countries.
In 2002, they traveled to Dalian University in China to show Missouri State’s (then Southwest Missouri State) interest in students taking affiliated science courses there.
“Dr. Jensen helped increase the number of students majoring in the sciences at the university,” Thielmann said. “He was a strong advocate for students and brought out the best in each one.”
His defining traits
Jensen was passionate about nature, conservation and baseball.
He also loved fly fishing and golf.
“Steve was the most organized golfer I have ever known,” Thielmann said. “He recorded the club used, the direction and distance of his hits and how his putts worked out.”
Thielmann also knew Jensen as a professional framer.
“He produced a beautiful matted and framed production of my wife, a fellow avid golfer, that draws from her achievement of four holes-in-one,” Thielmann said. “It hangs in the center of our family room. I see it every day.”
His engagement on campus
Jensen joined the university’s biology faculty in 1972.
He began as an assistant professor at the university before his promotion to associate professor and then professor.
He ultimately served as head of the biology department for seven years before retiring in 2005.
- Principles of biological sciences.
- Introduction to entomology.
- Systematic entomology.
- Aquatic entomology.
During his time at the university, Jensen was an actively engaged faculty member.
He became involved in:
- The Faculty Senate for four terms, including one term on the executive committee.
- The College of Natural and Applied Sciences’ (CNAS) council for three terms.
- The Pre-Medical Committee for fourteen years, including eight as chair.