Dr. Doris Jensen, former dean of academic affairs at Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP), received the Distinguished Faculty/Staff Award during the Missouri State University Alumni Association’s annual spring picnic for alumni and friends Thursday, May 4, in the exhibit hall at the West Plains Civic Center.
The award recognizes extraordinary service among former MSU-WP employees. Among the qualities considered are professional and/or academic achievements, as well as a demonstrated commitment to the university’s mission. Nominees must have been employed by the university for at least five years and must not currently be employed by the Missouri State University System.
“Many outstanding former faculty and staff members have been honored with this award, and now Dr. Doris Jensen takes her place among them. Although I didn’t have the pleasure of working with Dr. Jensen, the impact she had on this campus is legendary,” said Rachel Peterson, director of development and annual giving.
“Dr. Jensen opened doors for much of the work that was to come and continues to support the mission of this campus. Through this experience, it has been a pleasure to get to know her and be inspired by the stories she’s told of our campus’ rich history,” Peterson added.
Accomplishments at MSU-WP
Jensen’s tenure at MSU-WP began in 1991. Her duties included supervising the Garnett Library, the learning skills center, and the records and registration department. As academic dean, she supervised faculty and helped develop new academic programs, including several “2+2” cooperative programs with the South Central Career Center.
One of Jensen’s most significant accomplishments at MSU-WP was leading the campus’ first accreditation effort in the 1990s. She coordinated the self-study that led to MSU-WP receiving separate accreditation from the North Central Association. The campus received the maximum five-year initial accreditation, and the self-study report was an important part of the accreditation process.
“Separate accreditation for the campus was the final step in becoming an autonomous campus within the MSU system,” her nominator pointed out. “Until then, MSU-WP was accredited under the umbrella of the Springfield campus. Separate accreditation gave the Faculty Senate the authority to develop and manage the curriculum for the campus.
“Accreditation was a critical step in the growth of MSU-WP and set the stage for the campus to confer its own degrees and expand its academic offerings to meet the needs of the students and the communities it serves,” Jensen’s nominator added.
Some of Jensen’s other career highlights at MSU-WP include:
- an eight-year accreditation of the Associate of Science in Nursing program by the National League of Nursing in 1994. Graduates of the program reported a pass rate of 93.7 percent on the NCLEX exam, a pass rate that was among the highest of any program in the nation at that time.
- establishment of the first Associate of Applied Science degrees in 1995. Areas of study included business, paralegal, welding technology, drafting technology and manufacturing machine technology. • opening the MSU-WP Extended Campus in Mountain Grove in spring 1995 at the Fruit Experiment Station. Eleven courses were taught to approximately 50 students.
- implementation of the distance learning system BearNet, which used interactive audio and video to link two classrooms on the Springfield and West Plains campuses. This allowed classes to be taught on the Springfield campus to students in a classroom on the West Plains campus.
- the conferral of the first “official” degrees at commencement ceremonies in 1995.
- establishment of a dual credit program in 1996 that allowed juniors and seniors at area high schools to enroll in college-level courses offered by MSU-WP at their respective high schools.
- the first offering of bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business at MSU-WP in 1998.
- the offering of the Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education beginning in fall 1999.
Laid groundwork for technical education
In addition to these highlights, Jensen worked with university officials to lay the groundwork for offering technical education to students and the community through the Lybyer Enhanced Technology Center before her departure in 1999. Even though the facility did not open until after she left, she was involved in planning the academic aspects of the facility and the degrees to be offered.
Jensen also laid the groundwork for the opening of the Center for Business and Industry Training in August 1999. CBIT provided a variety of community education, continuing education and customized training programs to area residents. Her academic leadership led MSU-WP to offer its first technical degree programs and continuing education and customized training opportunities.
“Dr. Jensen was a role model in her commitment to the betterment of campus, as well as her commitment to the students and the community,” her nominator said. “When the campus received separate accreditation, many new academic policies and procedures had to be put in place to become an autonomous campus. She was diligent in her effort to establish best practices to ensure the success of the students and the quality of education provided.”
Dr. Jensen received her doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and her master’s degree in English at Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg.
Before coming to MSU-WP, she was the dean of student affairs at Cleveland College in Kansas City. Following her tenure at MSU-WP, she was the campus dean at Cochise College’s Sierra Vista campus in Arizona. She later served as the dean of fine arts, education and health sciences at Cochise College until her retirement in 2011.
For more information about the annual Alumni and Friends Picnic or the Distinguished Faculty/Staff Award and how to nominate a former faculty or staff member for the award, call the MSU-WP university advancement office at 417-255-7240.