Universities are complex and intricate learning institutions, and therefore must be managed.
Those who manage Missouri Southern are members of the Board of Governors, a group composed of eight members, who oversee how the institution is run.
Former State Representative T. Mark Elliott is the newest member of the board. He was appointed to the position on Sept. 7, by Governor Mike Parson.
After confirmation by the Missouri State Senate, Elliott attended his first Board of Governors meeting at Missouri Southern on Sept. 20.
Elliot said during his first meeting, he was a very open listener so he could “learn more about the operation of the University” and “really find out [his] role” as a member of the board.
Coming into the job with a “blank canvas,” Elliot said he is open to learning more about the University.
Elliott said his goal as a Board of Governor member is to advance the University during his six-year term.
Elliott has been involved in the history of the institution. In addition to being a business student at Missouri Southern in the 1970s, he served in the Missouri State House of Representatives from 1986 to 2000.
Elliott said he served with many of the people who were involved in the creation of the four-year institution which Southern is today.
Elliott said he believes he “has a historical perspective on the University,” because of this background in public service.
During his time on the legislature, Elliott was involved in gathering the funding for Richard M. Webster Hall, which houses the Communication and Social Science departments.
Elliott served with the building’s namesake, Missouri Senator Richard M. Webster, during his time on the legislature.
He considered Webster a mentor. He said visiting Webster Hall gives him “warm fuzzies.”
He said Webster was a “great communicator,” and someone who was crucial in Southern’s transformation from a college to a state university.
Elliott believes the University is “very well-managed,” and that President Alan Marble, his staff, and other members of the Board of Governors have done an “excellent job” in managing the facility.
While Elliott was a member of the House, Southern officials under the leadership of then President Julio Léon implemented the school’s international mission.
He said the mission allows Missouri Southern to “set [ourselves] apart from some of the other institutions in the state.”
In addition, Elliott believes it would be beneficial to continue to search for new ways to set Southern apart, allowing school officials to make the Missouri Southern experience unique for students
Some options he would like to explore include partnerships with other universities. This includes the new medical school located in Joplin, a campus that is a branch of Kansas City University.
Elliott believes great possibilities exist in developing those relationships.
Beyond his own experiences with Southern, Elliott watched as his daughter graduated in December with a teaching degree. She is a third grade teacher at Cecil Floyd Elementary in Joplin.
Elliott said he was pleased with how his daughter, Haley Elliott, was treated at Southern and praises the “support that she got overall” from those she came in contact with.
He said Haley’s education at Southern helped her gain the knowledge she needed to become a successful teacher, which allowed her to transition into the workforce directly after graduation.
More about Elliott
Elliott, an ad sales manager with Missouri Farm Bureau in Webb City, is a graduate of Carl Junction High School. He attended Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and Missouri Southern while it was a state college.
Elliott and his wife, Denise, reside in rural Oronogo, where they have a small commercial cow/calf operation. In addition to his role with Missouri Farm Bureau, Elliott has served on the Carl Junction school board and as the president of the Jasper Country Farm Bureau.
They have three adult children and four grandchildren.