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Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Jon Spence

Name: Jon Spence

Current Position: Director of the Center for Student Success

Courses Taught: Leadership Curriculum (LEAD)

Hometown: Nixa, MO

Degrees and Grad Year: 1988 – B.S. in Social Science from Evangel; 1997 – M.S. Education Administration from Missouri State University; 2005 – Ed.D. Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Missouri at Columbia

Tell us about your career and what you do now.

I am a 30-year veteran of education; the first 10 years were spent in junior high and high school roles and the latter 20 in higher education. For the past two years, I have been responsible for the direction of our Center for Student Success that offers students support in personal direction with regard to their academics and career focus.

What is your favorite memory as faculty?

I have two:

  1. Working alongside students as they evolve and embrace their calling.
  2. Being a part of teams that move the Evangel mission forward.

How do you help your students identify/develop their calling?

We start by identifying their greatest potential for talent development through the Clifton Strengthsfinder. This helps students to see that they are born on purpose for a purpose. Then we begin to dialogue about passions and interests. We encourage students to slow down and reflect; learn not to equate busyness with productivity. Reflection allows for vision. However, we emphasize that every investment of time can contribute to the fulfillment of the vision – so we challenge students with “where ever you are, be all there.” In those moments of learning to do their best, students will find greater clarity for their calling. Finally, we coach students to take advantage of all of the support resources on campus. If they do, thriving is inevitable.

How do you try to prepare them for life after graduation?

We help students see themselves, not as “students,” – those who reside as sponges waiting for morsels of knowledge to fall in their brains; but see themselves as “learners,” – those who proactively go after the questions, dialoguing with professors and colleagues so that they own what alters their thinking as well as their course in life.

Practically speaking, our department also houses Career Development; we offer various resources such as resume building, mock interviews, and internship opportunities.

What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?

Love what you do and do what you love. Let interest and curiosity be the drivers. Do not be driven by the market to choose your career; that changes. If you focus on what you love to do, there is space for creativity and you can feel the Lord’s pleasure in your work.

Get rid of the “general education mindset” – treat nothing or no day as something that can be thrown away. Time is the greatest non-renewable resource; therefore, whatever you sign on to, be committed.

What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates?

A sense of humor; commitment to learn; clear understanding of humility; hunger to accomplish a shared mission with others; developing emotional intelligence regarding others (Lencioni’s “Ideal Team Player”).