Two Columbia educators named Icons of Education

Thursday, February 24, 2011 | 6:10 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Two college educators in Columbia received this year's Icons of Education awards from Ingram's magazine, a business publication for the Kansas City area.

There were only nine people chosen to be Icons of Education. The magazine gave eight of the awards to administrators, professors and teachers from Missouri and the other to a dean from Kansas. They were awarded for their contributions to the success of their grade schools or universities.

Bruce Walker, former dean of MU's Trulaske College of Business, initiated the planning process for Cornell Hall. He helped give the school its current name by securing the naming gift and getting it approved by the Board of Curators. The Business College is now a nationally recognized program, according to Ingram's magazine.

Gerald Brouder, the president of Columbia College, eliminated the college's debt and grew its endowment from $2 million to $69 million, according to Ingram's magazine. Brouder said most of the campus facilities have been redone, the quality of teaching and learning has improved and the college now offers four master's degrees.


Walker initiated the business school's move from Middlebush Hall to Cornell Hall. The process began in 1991 and ended in 2002. It involved getting approval, obtaining funding and designing and constructing Cornell.

“I wouldn’t have done it if I had known it would take that long,” Walker said with a laugh.

Walker was dean from 1990 to 2010.

"It is very unusual for a dean to have a 20-year term, but Walker was a good dean for all 20 years," said Joan Gabel, the current dean of the Business College.

When Walker first became dean, there were too many students for the faculty and budget, and the programs in the college were struggling financially.

Gabel said Walker improved the school annually by hiring strong faculty members and making Cornell Hall an excellent learning environment. Now the school is nationally recognized.

“I’m the happy beneficiary of his successes,” Gabel said.

Walker said his proudest achievement is the 15,000 students who graduated from the Business College while he was the dean.

“I just know that the large majority are doing very well in their careers,” he said.

After taking a faculty position in 2010, Walker began to co-direct the Cornell Leadership Program. The program, which has 130 students this year, helps develop the skills and values students need to become future business leaders, he said.

Michelle Horan, a Cornell Leadership Program student, said she believes she is more prepared for the professional world because of the program and Walker's leadership.

"He inspires me to reach out and build relationships,” she said.

Walker didn't consider the award an individual recognition, but rather a team award. He said he could not have achieved much by himself.

“Like coach Norm Stewart used to say, ‘If you see a turtle on top of a fence post, you know he didn’t get there by himself,'” Walker said.


When Gerald Brouder became president in 1995, Columbia College's debt and small endowment prevented him from providing students a quality education.

As a result, Brouder worked to keep the college within budget and grow the endowment. It was a sacrifice, Brouder said. He had to delay the development of programs and the building of facilities to make sure the college didn’t use up more money than it had.

“My philosophy that we put into place was that we didn't spend money that we didn't have,” Brouder said.

Brouder also developed three goals to improve the college: enhance the technology, grow the endowment and strengthen and deepen the sciences.

His fiscal conservatism, willingness to listen and find answers, plus his involvement in campus organizations made the college what it is today, said Suzanne Tourville, associate professor of mathematics.

“Gerald Brouder's leadership really transformed Columbia College,” she said.

Student government president Courtney Lauer-Myers said she has seen the college expand locally and nationwide, and she's excited about the plans for a new science building.

“Seeing the college broaden its horizons is a result of President Brouder's leadership,” she said.

Lauer-Myers said Brouder has given the students a greater connection with the faculty and administration. Brouder is very visible on campus. The students know who he is and know they can talk to him, she said.

“It’s very easy to talk to him,” she said. “He has such a great personality and sense of humor, but he’s also so wise.”

Brouder said he was surprised and humbled by the award, but like Walker, he said he could not have improved the campus alone.

“It wasn’t just me,” he said. “It’s the good people we hired.”

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Mary Ann Beahon February 25, 2011 | 12:17 p.m.

Dr. Mary Spratt, Cox Distinguished Professor of Biology at William Woods University in Fulton, was also named an Icon. This is the second consecutive year that someone from WWU has received the honor. Dr. Jahnae H. Barnett, president, was an Icon last year.

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