Stephens College gets upgrades heading into fall semester

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 | 8:21 p.m. CDT; updated 12:19 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, August 14, 2013

COLUMBIA — Exciting rankings and improved facilities are among the most noticeable changes at Stephens College as it heads into the new fall semester.

Last week, as students wrapped up their summer and prepared to return to campus, The Princeton Review included Stephens College in its list of “The Best 378 Colleges.”

“We’re really pleased because it was heavily driven by student surveys,” Stephens spokeswoman Rebecca Kline said Monday.

The ranking has stirred some conversation on campus, among alumni and on Facebook. Kline, however, said the news is so recent that faculty have heard little about it from students.

About 200 new first-year and transfer students were scheduled to move into residence halls Sunday. Returning students officially move in next Tuesday. The college has introduced a “First Year Experience” program for new students. This year’s theme, “Society and Self,” emphasizes new general education requirements, study skills and getting acclimated with the college environment.

Stephens has 520 residential undergraduates and a total of 828 bachelor’s and master’s degree students, compared with 535 and 903, respectively, last year. Those numbers do not include certificate students.

“We’re relatively steady,” Kline said of enrollment. 

Although the college no longer awards bachelor’s degrees to men, Kline said it consistently has a few men enrolled in its Professional Conservatory Training program. Stephens serves a niche of dancers, actors and artists, and male students continue to study in those areas.

The college is introducing two new programs this year, Kline said, including a three-year degree in event and convention management. “It’s a growing field, definitely,” she said.

It also will offer a three-year degree program in education.

New faculty members include Lisa Lenoir in the School of Fashion and Design, Carrie Whittle and Bill Tackett in the School of Humanities and Sciences, and Cindy Hazelrigg in the School of Organizational Leadership and Strategic Communications. Hazelrigg also will be an instructor in the new Event and Convention Management program.

New students will be among the first to use the college’s upgraded facilities. Janese Silvey, the college’s story specialist/strategist, in July wrote in the From Readers section of the Columbia Missourian about the aggressive renovations taking place this summer.

Kline said the following renovations have been completed:

  • A fitness center, which was relocated to Stamper Commons.
  • Five classrooms in Dudley Hall. That work was funded by the Room to Grow campaign. Renovations in Dudley Hall were a continuation of projects that began last summer, Silvey wrote.
  • A new state of the art Mac computer lab in Stamper Commons.
  • Renovations to new dance studios that were relocated to Hickman Hall.
  • Renovations to the Hugh Stephens Library.

New landscaping also began at the historic President’s Home on campus, and the second phase of renovations to the pedestrian bridges over East Broadway and College Avenue will continue through the fall.

New Stephens sports information director Adam Samson outlined the following changes in the athletics department:

  • New cross-country coach Travis Cook started Aug. 1. Cook ran cross-country and participated in track and field at Centralia High School and Central Methodist University. He later studied at MU.
  • New associate head softball coach Tracy Dean started July 15. Dean played college softball for the University of California-Davis and at Point Loma Nazarene University. She has coached at the youth, high school and college levels.
  • Second-year volleyball head coach Rose Obunaga has seven freshman players this season, the most in program history. Practice began Tuesday.

  • Soccer head coach Xander Kennedy has only three upperclassmen on his team but said he believes his young group will hit some important milestones in its second season, including its first goal, first lead and first win.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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