This spring, KBIA's Thinking Out Loud visits some colleges and universities in our area that you may not know as much about as, say, the University of Missouri. This week, Darren Hellwege headed north from Columbia to check in with leaders at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri.
Head north from Columbia and after 93 miles you'll find Truman State University. The former District One Normal School has gone through a couple of name changes before becoming Truman State University in 1991.
Founded in 1867 as the state's first normal school for teachers, the institution has a mission to serve the educational needs of students across the entire State of Missouri.
Truman State University President Troy Paino told Darren that:
We were created around this mission of a liberal arts and sciences school. In the 1990s we really evolved to become the state's only public highly-selective institution. The academic profile of our student body is very strong.
Paino noted that when the US Department of Higher Education created new classifications for public universities, Truman State was the only highly-selective institution named. This is based on each incoming classes' average GPA and ACT scores. Truman State consistently produces Fulbright Scholars and Peace Corps volunteers.
Commenting on a story that he heard on KBIA about a liberal arts education, Paino said:
We really can't predict what the work force is going to look like 5, 10, 15, 20 years from now. The focus of particularly liberal arts institutions should be on developing students who are adaptable, critical thinkers, problem solvers provide tools to adaptive liberal arts education... Here, we talk about three pillars of [liberal arts education that stand the test of time. The first is to instill the intrinsic value of learning... We expect our students to be lifelong learners...
Number two would certainly be a focus on the higher order thinking skills things like... qualitative and qualitative reasoning, the ability to be able to communicate effectively, to work with people from different perspectives... and understand the world in a broad sense and how culture and history influence who people are and how they think about the world... The last pillar would be character development, thinking about not only what you are doing inside the classroom but outside the classroom, to find your purpose in life... We are a public university and our highest calling is to produce good citizens for our democracy.
Truman State University started as a college to train teachers. Dr. Julie Lochbaum, a faculty member in Truman's Department of Education discussed the origin of teacher education.
Joseph Baldwin was active in teacher education in the Eastern states... He came west immediately after the civil war. With the idea of doing something different in normal schools, he was trying to set up a new model that later became labeled as The Missouri Ideal. He was saying that you don't just go to Normal School because you finished the one-room eighth grade experience and you want to be a teacher... The Missouri Ideal is that learning how to teach while learning what to teach is essential said Joseph Baldwin.
Hear much more from leaders at Truman State University on this week's Thinking Out Loud.
Listen to new episodes of Thinking Out Loud each Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. on 91.3FM KBIA.