Freshmen at Missouri Southern State University willing to go the extra mile will have a new leadership program to look forward to next fall that will assist them both financially and professionally.

MSSU officials announced the launch of the new Global Leaders Program during a news conference Wednesday after the foundation received a $1 million donation from late alumnus Joel Newby, who died over the summer.

Newby, a World War II veteran, graduated in 1947 from Joplin Junior College and taught hundreds of college students as a professor at the University of Houston. He expressed to MSSU his desire to help students achieve their dreams despite their financial status.

Global Leaders will be funded through private donations to the MSSU Foundation and will be offered at no cost to students. MSSU President Dean Van Galen estimates it will cost $200,000 to $300,000 annually to fund the program.

“While additional private gifts will be needed to fully fund the program over time, it is Mr. Newby’s very generous estate gift that is making today’s launch of this program possible,” Van Galen said during the news conference. “Obviously, it would’ve been wonderful if Mr. Newby could’ve joined us today so that we could personally extend our gratitude.”

Van Galen said the program will have a strong leadership development component to help strengthen students’ communication, leadership and critical thinking skills.

The program will be open to 50 high-achieving freshmen beginning in fall 2021. They can network with future employers, connect with nationally and internationally recognized executives from a variety of workplaces, access exclusive learning opportunities, enroll in honors courses and even register for classes early.

“Beginning next fall, 50 new freshmen will be selected each year to participate in an undergraduate experience that provides four-year scholarship support, funds for an immersive educational experience such as study abroad and unique opportunities for leadership development,” Van Galen said.

The program aligns with the university’s mission statement where it aims to “educate and graduate knowledgeable, responsible, successful global citizens.”

“One of the great strengths of Missouri Southern is our unwavering commitment to student success, providing students with opportunities for a high-quality and affordable education in which they can engage in life-changing experiences,” Van Galen said. “The new program we celebrate today builds upon that strength.”

Students who qualify for the university’s highest level of automatic financial aid — the “Premier” band of the MOSO Merit Scholarship — will be selected for the Global Leaders Program. The Premier portion of the scholarship provides $5,000 annually to each freshman student who meets certain GPA and ACT/SAT score requirements.

“It will provide great new opportunities for the talented students that we hope to attract with it and new ways for those students to uniquely expand their success right here at Missouri Southern,” said Alison Hershewe, who chairs MSSU’s Board of Governors. “We believe the program will have a transformational impact on our region and beyond by developing these graduates who have the skills of communication, teamwork and global leadership.”

Recipients will be required to maintain at least a 3.0 GPA, complete at least 30 credit hours per academic year and attend program activities, as well as donor stewardship events. Each program participant will also have access to $4,000 in private funds, which can be used for international travel, leadership development, undergraduate research and travel to academic conferences.

“These incoming freshmen students will have demonstrated academic excellence, and we know that many will also have significant financial need,” Van Galen said.

“When combined with the $20,000 in university scholarships, each Global Leader will receive up to $24,000 in support,” he added.

Sallie Beard, president of the Missouri Southern Foundation Board of Directors, said the program will reap benefits for years to come.

“Today’s announcement of Global Leaders and its founding support by Mr. Joel Newby is a testament to the Lion spirit,” she said. “On behalf of the entire Lion family, we want to thank Mr. Newby and the vision that has brought the Global Leaders Program to fruition.”

More information about Global Leaders can be found here.

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Kimberly Barker is a news reporter for The Globe who covers Northeast Oklahoma, Southeast Kansas, as well as Carl Junction and Webb City.