Blue Tiger Bio: Cherryl Jones

Jefferson City, MO-When Cherryl Jones first came to the Office of the President at Lincoln University, she was a mother of three.  As she prepares to retire some 20 years later, she is now affectionately called some version of "Mom" by so many people she has lost count.  When a visitor first walks in the door, she greets them with professionalism and a smile, but if you have the good fortune of dealing with her more than once, she has an uncanny way of pulling you into her maternal fold. 

"I treat them the way I want someone to treat my children," Jones says.  Just like a mother, she meets everyone where they are and cheers them along.  "I see them and I see their potential... and I do whatever I can to help them fulfill their potential."

Her commitment to the students, faculty and staff she has unofficially adopted also extends to the Presidents of Lincoln University.  Sitting at the front desk of 201 Young Hall, she has worked with four Presidents and three Interim Presidents.  While a change in administration can bring with it some uncertainty, Jones has found enjoyment working with each leader. 

"They have all had different personalities and different leadership styles, but it has always been a pleasure to work in this office." 

While most people recognize her for her role as an employee, for a time, she also very quietly wore the hat of student and fulfilled a promise to herself by earning a degree from Lincoln University in May of 2018.  Her love of helping people guided her passion for a particular degree program, but the reality of balancing a career and family led her down a different path. 

"I couldn't do nursing... that was what I wanted to do... because it would have required me taking classes during the day.  I went with my second choice, which was computers.  I made a promise that I would finish my degree and so I did."

Even after her graduation, she decided to stay on in her current position.  She says a job opportunity brought her to Lincoln University, but it's the people who have kept her here. 

"No, I didn't plan on staying here over 20 years, but I got here and I couldn't leave the people. The students, faculty and staff. The friendships I have made and the children I have gained... is what I will miss the most." 

If you ask most anyone, nobody is ready to let Jones go just yet, but she says she is ready and is making plans to enjoy her retirement. 

"My husband, Sebron, and I are going to travel, spend time with family and mark things off our bucket list."

One of those bucket list items is taking a cruise to Alaska, but no matter where she is, Lincoln will never be far from her heart. 

"Lincoln is still my home.  It's still my family.  I will definitely be around."

Misty Nunn
Photo by: JerMichael  White

 

Blue Tiger Bio: Mark Schleer

Jefferson City, MO-Conservator. Program director. Researcher. Educator.

Mark Schleer wears all of these hats and more on a daily basis as the Lincoln University Archivist. From his office on the top floor of Inman E. Page Library, Schleer serves as the guardian of Blue Tiger history, preserving and displaying writings, records and artifacts of all manner that tell the story of Lincoln.

"We have a book signed by Harriet Tubman," Schleer said, when asked about some of the more unique items in the Page Library Archives. "She signed it with a cross instead of an "X" because she was a devout Christian. I would say that's probably the most interesting item we have."

:We also have a time capsule that came out of Jason Gym in 2008. They were tearing down a wall, this little copper box came tumbling out, and there's some local newspapers in there, some issues of the Lincoln Clarion, there was even a basketball in there. I thought it was pretty cool."

Currently on Schleer's plate is a centennial celebration honoring LU's transition in 1921 from its former title of Lincoln Institute to being designated as a university by the state of Missouri.

"It was a major step," Schleer explains. "It went from being a training institute founded by former slaves, which alone is pretty profound, but it becomes a four-year university just decades later. It's incredible. The fact that we lasted this long, 155 years now, is a tribute to the dream those soldiers had. I know it probably sounds corny, but I mean every word. There's nothing to compare that to."

The founding of Lincoln University is monumental in and of itself, but Schleer points out that the school has continued to break down barriers and make its mark on history throughout those 155 years. Schleer points to the Lloyd Gaines Decision in 1939 as one of the ways Lincoln has made an indelible impact on the history of the United States.

"[Gaines] wanted to go to law school at the University of Missouri, and the Supreme Court of the United States said to Missouri it had to allow him to go to law school in its state. They ended up finding a loophole by building Lincoln a law school, but that was the first step from "separate but equal" to Brown vs. The Board of Education (which led to integration throughout the country). That milestone happened because of Lincoln University, and because of a Lincolnite name Lloyd Gaines. He's a civil rights hero."

Schleer's own history with Lincoln University runs deep. As a child in the 1960s, Schleer attended Lincoln Laboratory summer school for three years. His passion and enthusiasm for educating others, however, led him to transition from someone who was familiar with the campus to becoming a Blue Tiger.

"I had worked in retail for several years after graduating with my bachelor's degree at Central Missouri. I started substitute teaching, and I really liked that and decided I wanted to get my master's in history and become a full-time teacher," Schleer said. "What brought me to Lincoln was asking the people I was working for while I was substitute teaching where I should go to get my education degree, and they all, to a person, said Lincoln. [They said] the teacher education program there is great, a lot better than anywhere else around here."

Schleer decided to follow that advice and hasn't looked back. He ended up getting his master's degree at Lincoln, but his career path took a turn away from teaching when a fellow Lincolnite recognized his potential as a university librarian.

"I got a job in the library, and three days into the job, Elizabeth Wilson, the library director, asked me if I wanted to be her night manager,"Schleer said. "I thought, 'Well, I want to be a high school history teacher!'"She gave me the job bulletin and told me to think about it, and I saw the salary, and it was a bit more than a high school teacher's. I said, 'Okay, I'll do it, it's more money than I'd ever earned!'"

While working as the night manager, Schleer was asked by Carmen Beck, his predecessor in Archives, to help her out with research. In 2008, he put together his first exhibit, a large tableau entitled, "The Legacy of Lincoln." Working on the project not only allowed Schleer to tap into his passion for history, but also activated within him a new appreciation for the historic past of Lincoln University. When Beck left a year later, Schleer was asked to replace her, and he jumped at the opportunity.

"Well, I knew I didn't want to become a 65-year-old night manager, telling all the kids to be quiet over there," Schleer joked. "Really, it was a dream come true. I got a master's in history, and now I am the historian for my alma mater. This is a dream job for me."

Since taking over as the University Archivist, Schleer has helped Lincoln's already impressive collection of records and artifacts continue to grow. Some of the collection has developed through his dedicated hours of research. Other items have come as donations from alumni or members of the Jefferson community. And some items he's received through sheer serendipity -like, for example, a time capsule happening to fall out of a wall.

"It's a job I like to do because the more I find out (about Lincoln), the more I want to know, the deeper I want to dig," Schleer said.  "There are some pieces out there that aren't 100% known to everybody, and I'm trying to fill in those gaps in our history. Sometimes it's tough, other times we get it thrown right in our laps! It's pretty cool."

Dan Carr
Photo by: Keena Lynch 

 

Blue Tiger Bio: Aaron Spencer

 Jefferson City, MO-Senior Aaron Spencer and his camera have become a fixture at Lincoln University, as the journalism major can often be found taking pictures of campus life, concerts and sporting events. 
 

"I've done a lot of things with our Royal Court and CAB (Campus Activity Board) events," Spencer said. "My most favorite memory here is when we had Meg Thee Stallion and Li'l Boosie for a [concert]. I got to be on stage and take pictures of them. I've also done a lot of sports and other different events that go on around here."
 

Photography is just one more form of self-expression for Spencer, who has been involved n the arts for as long as he can remember. 
 

"In school, I was, you know, a band nerd. I did jazz band, marching band" and symphonic band. Also did theatre, and my senior year I was part of the [student] newspaper," Spencer said. 
 

Working on the school paper at Grandview High in Kansas City, Missouri, helped awaken Spencer's passion for photography and journalism. Spencer began taking pictures at various school sporting events, as well as other student activities, and started to develop a passion for the art form. Being at Lincoln has only helped grow that enthusiasm.
 

"Really, it was coming here to Lincoln that made me really interested in photography," Spencer said. "In high school, I did a radio show called Generation Rap, so my whole thing was, I thought I would do radio or TV. But I took a photojournalism class, and as I started taking pictures for that class, more and more the professor kept saying how she liked the work I did and that I should take it more seriously. That's when I went out and bought my first camera."
 

Since taking that first class with adjunct instructor Leslie Cross, Spencer has regularly looked for opportunities to take photos around campus. Whether it be Homecoming events, gospel choir performances or a football game or track meet, Spencer has been active in continuing to gain experience and hone his prodigious skills.
 

"When I see events going on, even if they don't want me to, I'll bring my camera along and get some pictures taken," Spencer says with a laugh.
 
 

All that experience is leading to bigger and better things for Spencer, as he is already starting to plan his career after graduation.
 

"I want to hopefully one day open up my own production company,"Spencer said. "Whether it be pictures or film, whenever people need help with that, they'll be able to call me and say, 'Hey, we've got this project going on, can you help with pictures or filming?' It wouldn't necessarily be just me doing itI want to have a whole company [of people] to send out to help. That's my goal."
 

The professors at Lincoln have been strong supporters of Spencer's work, and their encouragement has given him the confidence to believe he can turn that goal into a reality.
 

"Every time I would do a project, (Ms. Cross) would tell me she liked the pictures I chose and kept telling me this is something I can do, so I took her word for that," Spencer said. "Mr. [Will] Sites is another one, because whenever I do take photos of the sports teams, he's one of the first persons I go and show and ask, 'Is this a good picture? Is this good?"! 
 

"A lot of our stuff in journalism is really hands on, so they're preparing us for the real world," Spencer continued. "Like how to handle different situations, how to get a job. I feel like the professors at Lincoln really are preparing us for the real world."
 
 

While Spencer is truly enjoying his experience as a Blue Tiger, there is one activity that the former percussionist has missed.
 

"The drumline here at Lincoln they're good, real good,"Spencer says with a laugh. "I actually wanted to do it but the scheduling didn't end up working out the best. I do miss it. I say that every time I hear our band!"


Dan Carr
Photo by: Keena Lynch

Lincoln University Clears Student Balances

Blue Tiger Bio: Dr. Toni Westbrooks

Jefferson City, MO- As a lifelong educator devoted to special education, Lincoln University alum and current professor Dr. Toni Westbrooks has made a lasting impact on countless students of all grade levels over the years. Like many students, however, she did not always know where her journey at Lincoln would take her.

"I was a music major here at Lincoln, for three years," said Westbrooks, a professor in the Lincoln University Department of Education who leads LU's Special Education program.  "During my junior year, however, President Reagan introduced Project 2000, which placed much more emphasis on math and science. This led to the number of positions available across the country for music teachers to be reduced, and I realized I would have a hard time finding a job in my chosen field. That's when I called my wise sister, who asked if I'd thought about special education."

Westbrooks took her first special education course over a summer session, and did an internship at the Special Learning Center of Jefferson City. That single experience ended up changing the course of her future.

"I fell in looooove! I was like, these are my people!" Westbrooks laughs. "That was it. That sealed it. It worked out beautifully, and I wouldn't change a thing."

Westbrooks earned her bachelor's degree in special education and her Master's degree in Principalship and Superintendency at Lincoln. After working as a special education teacher, principal and superintendent, she received a call from LU's dean of education offering a position as an instructor, and jumped at a chance to return home.

"I bleed the blue and white," Westbrooks says with a smile. "I love it!"

For Westbrooks, special education is not just a degree program or a career path, but a calling. She discovered a passion for connecting and instructing students with various needs beyond the traditional student body population, and has excelled at helping those individuals graduate from high school.

"One of the reasons why I really, really love the program is, I kind of refer to it as the nursing program of the field of education," Westbrooks said. "We take those (kindergarten through 12th grade) students who have not been successful in the general education population, and we're kind of that beacon, that safety net, that buoy for those kids. You have to know the base (of Lincoln's education program), and then you also have to know everything else."

Westbrooks' mission since returning to Lincoln has been to help every candidate in LU's special education program pass the Missouri Special Education Assessment. Not only does she want her students to just pass the assessment, she also wants to make sure they are prepared mentally for the rigors of the first three years of teaching.

To accomplish that mission, Westbrooks strives to support her students in any way possible. That includes giving them her cell phone number in case they have questions or need advice; framing lesson plans to better assist students in areas where they are struggling; and celebrating each milestone with them, from finishing their freshman years at LU to graduation and beginning their careers.

Lincoln students entering the program tend to double major in both education and special education, resulting in them often taking 18-21 credit hours per semester. Completing the special education program requires tremendous commitment, and Westbrooks strives to make the path towards graduation easier by supporting her students through both instruction and mentorship. The result of her commitment has been outstanding, as nearly every one of her students passes the assessment examination on either their first or second attempt.

"l'm very proud of the success rate of the students graduating from this program," Westbrooks said. "My students are as passionate as I am about education. (Watching them) walk across the stage at graduation with two degrees is amazing."


Dan Carr
Photo: Keena Lynch
 
Blue Tiger Bio: Cole Abbott

Jefferson City, MO- In over 10 years working in Shipping & Receiving at Lincoln University, Warehouse Supervisor Cole Abbott has seen just about everything.

"Fetal pigs, formaldehyde...first time I opened that, it was kind of a shock," laughs Abbott, who is in charge of tracking the packages received by the University and making sure they go to the correct departments.

"The mannequins for nursing - it's always fun opening a box and almost seeing a live human in there. And then sometimes you get live organisms like grasshoppers and chameleons. We had one chameleon jump out of the box. You know, it was never found! Now we're into these drones and more technologically advanced products," Abbott continued. "Lincoln tries to stay on the cutting edge with the new technology out there and it's kind of neat to see that stuff."

In his role as the warehouse supervisor, Abbott is one of the few staff members at Lincoln who interacts with every department. His hard work and dedication to the University community has made him a favorite on campus, as faculty and staff members alike appreciate his ubiquitous smile, cheerful demeanor and enthusiasm for serving the Blue Tiger community.

"I am one of the few that get out and go to every building on campus and see everybody, not just the people placing the orders but the people in their department and assistants," Cole said. "You meet everybody, and it is pretty special."

Abbott's commitment to Lincoln and positive relationships with others led to him becoming the chair of LU's Staff Council during the late 2010s. On his desk sits a large trophy, a relic from that era reminding him of the council's victory in the annual Homecoming float decoration contest. Abbott has helped plan fun events for Lincoln's other staff members, and he has been a loyal advocate for University employees through his various leadership roles.

"I really like the support I can provide to other people on campus," Abbott said. "Trying to make others' jobs on campus a little easier is kind of one of the perks I get in the position."

The support Abbott has been able to provide Lincoln extends past the tracking and delivery of shipments. Over the years, Abbott has been able to serve as a mentor to a number of work-study Lincoln students, as well as some from the local high schools. Seeing these student workers learn and grow over their time at LU is perhaps the perk of the position that Abbott most appreciates.

"It's pretty neat, seeing these kids come to me, pretty green as sophomores and watch them graduate," Abbott said. "That's one of the real rewarding parts of the job."

Abbott's ties to the Jefferson City community run deep. Abbott was born and raised in town, went to St. Peter's Elementary School and graduated from Helias High School. Abbott was also very familiar with Lincoln University, having attended sports events and basketball camps at the school as a child. When a friend of Abbott's mother gave him a heads up about an opening in the warehouse at LU in 2007, Abbott jumped at a chance to work for the school.

"It's been fun," Abbott says about his time at Lincoln. "It's really neat seeing what the University buys. You kind of get an inside scoop in the new projects at Lincoln or the new things that are coming, new programs, stuff like that. It's kind of neat seeing the equipment they use and realizing what kind of results they're going to get. It's kind of like [seeing] behind the scenes."

Dan Carr
Photo: Keena Lynch

Blue Tiger Bio: Stacy Landis

 

 

Jefferson City, MO- To Lincoln University senior Stacy Landis, few things in life are more important than one'sfamily.

"Absolutely, family is everything," Landis said. "They're your backbone, your support through thick and thin."

Landis, a Kansas City native and Lee's Summit alum, is Lincoln's Student Government Association President and is currently serving as a peer mentor in the Blue Tiger Academy, a summer academic program for incoming freshmen. Landis has accomplished much during his three years at Lincoln, but he credits his achievements to one person in particular.

"I would say my Dad is definitely my role model," Landis said. "Without him, I don't know where I'd be. He's like Superman to me. He definitely guides me whenever I feel lost, and pushes me in the right direction. I often get credit for the things I've done in college, but he pushed me towards college."

Landis has been a member of the Lincoln Student Government Association since beginning his LU tenure as "Mr. Freshman," and as a sophomore he was elected as an At-Large representative. As a member of the SGA, Landis has helped promote the Dawson Learning Center and worked with Sodexo to set up town hall meetings to improve the cafeteria. This year, he plans to work with the university administration to promote a 2.5 GPA initiative, strengthen Lincoln's relationships with the community and assist in raising the spirits of the student body after last year's pandemic.

"It's all a team effort," Landis acknowledges.

Collaboration comes naturally to Landis, because in his mind, his fellow Lincolnites are more than just a collection of students, faculty and staff. To Landis, they are all members of his extended family, and those relationships have been crucial to his success as an LU student.

"Lincoln is a big family," Landis said. "You know, once you get involved, you just really feel it, and you really understand that everyone here at Lincoln University is here to help you. We're just like a big family; everyone here is cousins, aunts and uncles, that's just how it is around here."

His experiences working with others at LU will certainly benefit Landis in the long run, as he is a psychology major who plans to pursue a career as a child psychologist. As one might expect, family has played a role in that decision, as Landis' aunt is a psychologist who works with patients experiencing trauma and PTSD. Landis is passionate about using the skills he's gaining at Lincoln to help children cope when they are at their most vulnerable.

"I just feel like (childhood is) where it all starts," Landis said. "It's like the saying, You can't teach an old dog new tricks.' I feel like it's easier to help children grow, to help them before they become adults."

The psychology classes as LU have strengthened that passion, as they mix classical textbook learning with opportunities to engage in discussion with their fellow classmates. The professors encourage students to talk about real world, everyday experiences, often using recent current events as a launching point into deeper conversations. Dr. Walter Johnson, Jr. and Dr. Mara Aruguete are two psychology professors in particular who are helping Landis achieve his goal of spending his life helping others.

"Dr. Johnson is an amazing professor, one of my favorites. Dr. Aruguete gives me a little bit of trouble, but she knows what she's doing," Landis adds with a laugh. "She's gonna hassle you, it's gonna be hard getting an A in her class, but it's gonna be worth it. She's a genius when it comes to teaching and trying to get us to understand different viewpoints. The goal is to teach you the correct way, not the easy way."

When he's not serving the campus community or studying, Landis can often be found playing basketball at The LINC, taking on other students, the occasional faculty or staff member, local high schoolers and anyone else up for the challenge. Landis also enjoys playing video games with his friends, listening to podcasts (he particularly recommends Million Dollaz Worth of Game) or Meek Mill and Jay-Z, and binge watching Martin and Grey's Anatomy.

No matter what it is he's doing, however, Landis is always enjoying and appreciating the experience of being a Lincoln University student. Whether he's engaged in conversation in a classroom, attending an SGA meeting at Scruggs, shooting some hoops at The LINC or hanging out in the cafeteria, Landis feels he is making the most of his time at LU.

Landis' advice to incoming students is to find a way to get involved at LU. In his own words, "It just makes things a lot smoother when you feel like you're around family."

Dan Carr
Photo: Keena Lynch

Law Enforcement Training Academy to Graduate First Class

Announcement from the Lincoln University Board of Curators

Blue Tiger Resource Center Addresses Student Needs

Lincoln University to Hold In-Person Commencement

Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe and Lincoln University Partner in Bicentennial Paint for a Cause

NCAA Gift Establishes Dr. James Frank Scholarship

Lincoln University Surpasses Annual Fund Campaign Goal

Kauffman Foundation Awards Heartland Challenge Grant to Lincoln University

AmerenCares Supports Students with Scholarships and Emergency Needs

Lecture Series Tries to Define Rhyme or Reason Behind Good Poetry

Lecture Series to Discuss the Evolving Role of Chickens

Summer Staples Farmers' Market Returns This Weekend

Lincoln University to Offer In-Person Classes This Fall

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