Southeast Missouri State University
For more information, contact:
Ann K. Hayes (573) 651-2552




Photo of Joseph Driskill, director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Nov. 27, 2002 - Five hundred sixty-three students will participate in commencement exercises scheduled for Dec. 14 at Southeast Missouri State University.

Joseph Driskill, director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development, will present the commencement address during exercises scheduled for 2 p.m. in the Show Me Center. Participating in the ceremony will be 460 undergraduates and 103 graduate students. Dr. Jack Sterrett, professor of marketing and chair of the Department of Marketing, will receive the PRIDE Award. Leslie Jones, Southeast assistant professor of music, will lead the National Anthem, and the Southeast Studio Jazz Ensemble will perform as part of the program.

Leading the class of undergraduates are eight students with perfect 4.0 grade point averages. They are:

  • Adam Baker of Marble Hill, Mo., who will receive a bachelor of science in business administration degree and a bachelor of science degree with majors in economics and a minor in finance.
  • Sarah Berkbigler of Perryville, Mo., who will receive a bachelor of science in business administration degree with majors in accounting and financial economics.
  • Heath Dawley of Anna, Ill., who will receive a bachelor of science in education degree--unified science and bachelor of arts degree with majors in chemistry and a minor in Spanish.
  • Shawn Haley of Cape Girardeau, who will receive a bachelor of arts degree with a major in French and minors in integrated marketing communication and tourism.
  • Kristi Pranger of Brighton, Ill., who will receive a bachelor of science degree with a major in criminal justice and a minor in communication for legal professionals.
  • Hollie Smith of Vicksburg, Mich., who will receive a bachelor of science in education degree with a major in elementary education and a concentration in mathematics.
  • Sarah Stiegemeyer-Schubert of Jackson, Mo., who will receive a bachelor of science in education degree with a major in elementary education and a concentration in science.
  • Maria Stilson of Cape Girardeau, who will receive a bachelor of science in nursing degree with a major in nursing.

Two honors scholars will be recognized in the graduating class. They are Terica Ernst of Biehle, Mo.; and Diana Hegwood of Peoria, Ill. To be recognized as an honors scholar, students must complete 24 hours of honors coursework, six of which are at the senior level, and maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.25. Honors scholars also must complete a senior research project.

Four students will graduate with academic distinction in their major department. They are: Christopher Adams of Topeka, Kan., who will be recognized for academic distinction in the Department of Industrial and Engineering Technology; David Bridges of Poplar Bluff, Mo., who will be recognized for academic distinction in the Department of Geosciences; Mindy Horrell of Jackson, Mo., who will be recognized for academic distinction in the Department of Art; and Denekia Tucker of Parma, Mo., who will be recognized for academic distinction in the Department of Psychology. Students who graduate with "Academic Distinction in the Department of Major" complete a special project in conjunction with a faculty committee, department chair and dean. Students carry out the project after they complete at least 75 credit hours of course work with a minimum 3.25 grade point average in their major department and a minimum 3.0 overall grade point average.

In addition, 31 members of Phi Kappa Phi will be recognized during commencement exercises. Phi Kappa Phi is an international honor society for academic distinction that brings together individuals from a variety of disciplines. The charter is only extended to colleges and universities meeting the society's rigorous standards. Southeast first chartered its Phi Kappa Phi chapter in 1992. The society is open to men and women in all academic fields who have demonstrated excellence of scholarship and integrity of character. Graduating seniors who rank in the upper 10 percent of their class; juniors who rank in the upper five percent of their class; and graduate and professional students who have a graduate grade point average of at least 3.9 and have an outstanding undergraduate record are eligible for consideration.

Four members of Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society for college students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumni, will graduate. Students chosen for Omicron Delta Kappa are juniors and seniors with a minimum 3.5 grade point average who have demonstrated achievement in one of the following areas: scholarship; athletics; campus and community service, social and religious activities, and campus government; journalism, speech and the mass media; and creative and performing arts. The society is designed to recognize those who have exhibited a high standard of leadership and effectiveness in collegiate activities, to bring together student leaders from all sectors of collegiate interest; and to bring together members of the faculty and the student body on a basis of mutual interest and understanding.

An Honors Convocation is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. in the Show Me Center, during which 99 undergraduates and 59 graduate students will be honored. Dr. Wes Mueller, chair of the Department of Agriculture, will present the Honors Convocation address, and Dr. Fred Yeo, chair of the Department of Secondary Education, will serve as grand marshal at the commencement ceremony.Among the undergraduates participating in the honors convocation, 22 will graduate summa cum laude, 28 will graduate magna cum laude, 46 will graduate cum laude and three will graduate with honors in associate degrees. The required undergraduate grade point average for graduating cum laude is 3.5 to 3.74. Student graduating magna cum laude must earn a grade point average of 3.75 to 3.89. Students graduating summa cum laude must earn a grade point average of 3.9 to 4.0. Graduate students participating in the Honors Convocation must have achieved at least a 3.9 grade point average.

The commencement speaker, Joseph Driskill, was appointed director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development in 1993 by Gov. Mel Carnahan. He was retained as director by Gov. Roger Wilson and is currently serving as a part of Gov. Bob Holden's cabinet in the capacity of director of the department.

Driskill has dedicated the majority of his career to the betterment of Missouri through economic prosperity initiatives. Through his leadership, the Department of Economic Development has built a reputation for strong local and regional involvement in efforts to stimulate new business growth, revitalize urban neighborhoods and rural communities, increase worker skills, promote more visitors to Missouri, and make government more responsive to customer wishes.

During Driskill's tenure, the department has assisted more than 1,700 new or expanding businesses. Companies assisted by the department have invested nearly $14 billion in private capital in Missouri, more than 400,000 jobs have been created and 133,000 persons have left Missouri's welfare rolls.

As a result of these efforts, Missouri's economy has experienced an increase in the gross state product of more than $38.5 billion, growth in foreign exports of more than $2 billion and an unemployment rate that is consistently below the national and regional averages.

As director, Driskill has initiated several innovative programs at the department, including a total quality management program and the development and implementation of a comprehensive strategic plan -- the first in the department's history. He also supported the implementation of a department-wide Employee Appreciation Program and compiled a team to prepare the department's entrance in the Missouri Quality Award (MQA) competition in 1999 and 2000. In 2000, in just its second entry, the department received its first MQA site visit.

He commissioned a targeted industry study in 1997 designed to identify target industries in the state to build a foundation for Missouri's 21st century economy. In 2000, a second study was initiated to take into account the sub-economies within the state, testing the hypothesis that diverse industries affect various regions differently.

As a result, the Department is involved in leading and collaborating in efforts to promote the life and plant sciences, advanced manufacturing and information technology as the state's most critical industry clusters. Driskill has organized a series of stakeholder meetings involving Gov. Bob Holden to gain input into the writing of a strategic action plan to encourage the growth of the target industry clusters.

Driskill recently organized the restructuring of programs and personnel in the department's business and community development programs to operate a set of customer designed services. The result was the formation of Economic Development Groups to replace older, bureaucratic agencies. The new groups are Business Development-dedicated to helping businesses be successful; Business Expansion and Attraction-focused on attracting new businesses to Missouri and retaining existing ones; Community Development-improving economic security and quality of life in communities and neighborhoods; Tourism-increasing the number of visitors to Missouri; and Workforce Development-electronic matching of workers with available jobs and increasing the skills and productivity of the workforce.

Driskill also carried out an executive order by Gov. Carnahan, creating the most recent structural change within the department -- the merging the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations' Employment Services component into the Division of Job Development and Training. The new Division of Workforce Development will better integrate workforce development activities in Missouri through Missouri Career Centers located in 40 communities.

In addition to development activities, the director of the Department of Economic Development is responsible for the Division of Motor Carrier and Rail Safety, the Division of Credit Unions, the Division of Finance, the Office of the Public Counsel, the Division of Professional Registration and, for administrative purposes, the Missouri Public Service Commission.

In total, Driskill oversees more than 35 separate divisions, commissions and boards with more than 1,600 employees, while administering a $248 million budget and outlays of more than $200 million in tax credits and other assistance to Missouri's communities and businesses.

He is a member of the Governor's Commission on Management and Productivity, and also serves as a member of the Missouri Development Finance Board, the Missouri Technology Corporation, and the Missouri Training and Employment Council.

Prior to his appointment as director, Driskill was elected to six terms in the Missouri House of Representatives. As a legislator, Driskill was an active sponsor of economic development legislation and was chairman of the House Commerce Committee.

Driskill, 46, is a native of Doniphan, Mo., and holds a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's degree in public administration from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He and his wife, Janice, have two children, Aaron and Hope. They currently reside in Jefferson City, Mo.


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