On July 1, Dr. Shawn Wahl, dean of the Judith Enyeart Reynolds College of Arts and Letters (RCOAL), was honored as one of the 2022 Men of the Year.
Unveiled by the Springfield Business Journal (SBJ), recipients of this award are recognized for their professional, philanthropic, and civic contributions to the Springfield region.
Wahl gives tribute to his mother, grandfather, President Clif Smart, and the Missouri State University community. In addition, he recognizes the importance of community partnerships as outlined in MSU’s Long-Range Plan website.
As a resident of Springfield, Wahl enjoys the array of fine art the city has to offer, whether it’s enjoying live music at the Gillioz Theatre or seeing the latest exhibit at the Robert and Margaret Carolla Arts Exhibition Center. As dean, he sees it as his responsibility to not only support the arts himself but also see to it that his community has access to the resources they need to make things happen.
“If someone has a big idea or an opportunity to achieve, I do what I can to create the conditions that it takes to get the job done.” —Dr. Shawn Wahl
Beyond RCOAL, Wahl has participated in a wide range of organizations that are devoted to the investment of higher education. These include the MSU’s 2021-2026 Long Range Plan Steering Committee, serving as co-chair; and the Central States Communication Association, in which he served as president.
He also has leadership experience in industries such as trading, health care, oil and gas, and mining.
“These experiences have given me the opportunity to work in a variety of large, complex, academic, corporate and nonprofit environments,” Wahl said. He’s utilized his expertise at MSU through his commitment to initiatives like the Onward, Upward fundraising campaign, which launched in 2019.
Furthermore, Wahl has overseen numerous donations within RCOAL. This includes the naming of the Robert and Margaret Carolla Arts Exhibition Center, which included a six-figure gift; faculty-led external funding from the U.S. Department of Education, worth seven figures; six-figure funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and funds secured towards the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education amounting to six-figures.
In June 2020, the college received its largest scholarship gift in MSU history by Tim and Judy Reynolds, both of whom are alumni. The renaming of the college was a transformational statement, Wahl said, and honored the Reynolds for their continued support. Their gift has gone towards Onward, Upward projects like the John Goodman Amphitheatre and the Judith Enyeart Reynolds Arts Park.
The Men of the Year award ceremony was held on August 25, 2022. The event partnered with Harmony House this year and raised nearly $50 thousand, a record for the Men of the Year celebration. Funds will go towards the nonprofit’s domestic violence shelter and resources to serve Greene County residents.
While grateful for the recognition, Wahl said his favorite part of the process was engaging in a fundraiser for a meaningful cause.
Wahl was featured in an SBJ article celebrating his achievements. His commitment to higher education, leadership, and community building will continue to strengthen MSU’s creative endeavors.