WEST PLAINS, Mo. – Dr. Herb Lunday, dean of student services at Missouri State University-West Plains, has announced his plans to retire after a 30-year career with the Missouri State University System.
Lunday, who came to the Missouri State-West Plains campus from the Springfield campus in 1993, announced his plans to retire to university officials earlier this week. His retirement is effective Jan. 1, 2015, university officials said.
“It is difficult to say goodbye to Dr. Herb Lunday. He has been such an integral part of Missouri State-West Plains for the past 21 years,” said Chancellor Drew Bennett. “The footprints of his leadership can be seen throughout our campus, from the excellent programs provided through his student services division, which help students adjust to the demands of college and support their efforts to become successful graduates of our academic programs, to the success of Grizzly Athletics, which has put this campus on the national map. I have often said that he does the work of 10 mortal men, and those efforts have played a major role in the success of Missouri State-West Plains. Although we are sad to see him go, we are excited for him as he begins this new chapter in his life.”
Lunday began working for Missouri State University as director of career information, placement and cooperative education Sept. 1, 1984. He was appointed acting vice president of student affairs Aug. 5, 1986, before being named to the position permanently on Aug. 1, 1987. He came to Missouri State-West Plains July 1, 1993, as coordinator of financial aid before being appointed as acting coordinator of financial aid, food service, bookstore and athletic director on July 1, 1994. He was named director of student services on July 1, 1995, then dean of student services on July 1, 1999.
Several new departments, services and initiatives were implemented and/or expanded at Missouri State-West Plains during Lunday’s tenure. These include the advising and testing center now known as the Advising and Academic Coaching Center for Empowering Student Success (AACCESS); the Career and Campus Outreach Center; professional, health, legal, counseling and credit counseling services for students; and Grizzly Athletics, which now has an endowment valued at more than $1.5 million, and the Grizzly Booster Club.
He authored or co-authored several grant proposals which led to the establishment of the Veterans Incentive Program and Veterans Services Center, the College Parent Resource Center, and the CCAMPIS child care program, as well as numerous outreach programs through the admissions office, including campus caravans, high school extravaganzas, financial aid workshops and the recently developed College Express enrollment program. These programs have played a role in doubling campus enrollment during his tenure, officials said, pointing out enrollment went from 1,018 students in fall 1993 to 2,123 in fall 2013.
One of his most recent university projects was the Operation 50K initiative, for which he served as administrative leader. The project encouraged students, faculty, staff and others with ties to the university to volunteer a total of 50,000 hours of community service in a year’s time – from the university’s 2013 commencement ceremony to the 2014 commencement ceremony – in honor of the campus’ 50th anniversary. Under his leadership, and that of student leaders, the 50,000-hour goal was met in early April, well ahead of the May 17 deadline. By the deadline, participants had donated 56,531 hours. When calculated at Missouri’s minimum wage of $7.50, participants had donated $423,982 worth in labor.
Lunday also became very active in the West Plains community, lending his support to numerous projects and causes. These include serving on the boards of Ozark Independent Living, West Plains Community Foundation, Heart of the Ozarks United Way, West Plains Country Club, Greater West Plains Area Chamber of Commerce, West Plains Planning and Zoning Commission, and the West Plains Home Rule Charter Commission, to name a few. In several instances, he served as board chairman.
He served on the committees for Ozarks Medical Center’s 50th anniversary, the 37th Judicial Circuit Juvenile Division and Drug Court, the Robert Neathery Skate Park, and Howell County All-Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee, and he was a volunteer mentor with the Howell County Juvenile Services’ Mentoring Achieves Great Individual Connections (MAGIC) program.
Lunday has received numerous awards for his community service, including Missouri State University’s Staff Excellence in Community Service and Staff Excellence in Public Affairs awards, and the Greater West Plains Area Chamber of Commerce’s Chairman’s Award. In addition, the Grizzly Booster Club Executive Board of Directors honored him and his wife, Mary Beth, with the Grizzly Track Award in 2002 for their tireless work and support of the program.
Royce Fugate, former West Plains city administrator and current councilman, said he was saddened by the news of Lunday’s retirement, saying “he’s done so much for the university and the community. When you think about all of the programs he handles – and he handles them so well – it’s unbelievable.”
Fugate praised Lunday’s service to the city, pointing out his membership on the planning and zoning commission, several search committees for city positions, and on the charter commission, saying of the latter that Lunday’s efforts helped ensure a successful outcome for the proposal.
“He’s been such a great person to have in our community. He’s served the city anytime we’ve asked him to do anything. I hate to see him leave,” Fugate said.
Tom Marhefka, a long-time member of the Grizzly Booster Club Executive Board of Directors and co-owner of Ozark Radio Network and Ozark Horse Trader, said Lunday is the type of person who accomplishes much. “When you worked with him on a project, you knew things would get done. I always appreciated his professionalism and can-do spirit. Once he was on board with something, you knew it would be successful,” Marhefka said. “From a family perspective, I greatly appreciated his willingness to head up the skate park effort, and his efforts to ensure that park was completed. That was something Papa Bob really wanted to see happen. Herb will truly be missed.”
Lunday said he will “always treasure” his time with Missouri State University, Missouri State-West Plains, and the community of West Plains. “The Lunday family considers the day we came to West Plains in 1993 to be one of the most fortunate days of our lives. West Plains is a very special place. I often tell visitors that if you like little places, West Plains is as good as it gets on planet earth. I stand in awe at the visionary leadership we’ve enjoyed over the years.
“Missouri State-West Plains also is a very special place,” he added. “I’ve always felt the university has a noble mission of providing quality higher education opportunities in a region of the state and nation that needs somebody to care. An expression we still use at the university is ‘Where Students Come First.’ I can assure everyone this phrase is not something taken lightly for publicity purposes; it is a truth that is practiced continually. Through thick and thin the campus has pressed on through the years, and with the resolve of many supporters, it continues to grow into its potential and destiny. I am truly honored to have been part of a faculty and staff that works smart, works hard and works together to get things done. Our students are the deserving beneficiaries of all we do, and that is absolutely wonderful!”
Lunday said he and his wife will be moving to Nixa to be near their son and daughter-in-law, Aaron and Kim, who are expecting their first child in January 2015. “We are happy that timing and circumstances will allow us to be there to fulfill our grandparent duties,” he said. “Mary Beth is gifted in working with little children, and I believe her greatest mission in life is to be a grandmother.
“Mary Beth and I have been genuinely honored to live and work in West Plains,” he added. “Our 21 years here have been personally rewarding and fulfilling. We’ve made friends here that we will never forget. In the final analysis, I consider myself to be a pretty lucky guy.”