SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Evangel University honored two professors for excellence in service to students and the university on Thursday, May 5 during the 64th annual commencement ceremony. Professor Michael Buesking of the Humanities Department was honored with the annual Clark Award and Dr. Andrea Hughes, professor in the Education Department, was honored with the Mills Young Faculty Award.
Professor Michael Buesking, associate professor of art, was awarded Evangel’s highest honor for academic excellence — the E.M. & Estella Clark Award for Excellence in Teaching, Scholarship and Service.
The award was established in 1991 by Dan and Elaine Johnson, in recognition of Elaine’s parents’ work on behalf of higher education in the Assemblies of God, as well as the Johnson’s special affection for EU. Students, faculty, and staff submit nominations, and a committee makes the final decision.
Buesking joined Evangel’s faculty in 1991, and in the over 30 years since, he has helped establish the art program as a robust, Christ-centered degree where students can develop the knowledge and skills necessary for vocational calling. Under Buesking’s leadership, students receive specialized teaching in art history and appreciation while also gaining valuable practical expertise in studio settings of the students’ choosing.
EU’s art program implements a faith-based approach to the history and practice of creative arts, with hands-on training in Drawing, Design, Painting, and the History of Modern Art. Students can obtain an Art major, minor, or concentration.
Buesking serves as an advisor to Art and Art Education students and is the advisor of the Evangel Art Club. He has assisted with EU’s theatre program along with his Painting students, designing set pieces and backdrops for productions.
“Professor Buesking’s presence is like the candlelight students and faculty share on the evening before classes start,” Ladonna Friesen, Humanities Department chair, said. “His candle illuminates art to students, not as a mere copy/paste feature in a clicking society, but as creatively provoking, poignant, and spiritually transformative in a culture that needs the fingers and breath of the Artist’s touch.”
Beyond his work at Evangel, Buesking is an active member of Christians in the Visual Arts, and his artistic works have been shown at several exhibitions across the United States. His most current work concentrates on events from Scripture where the Divine interacts physically with humanity; for example, in Jeremiah when the LORD reaches out his hand and touches Jeremiah’s mouth, or in the Gospels when Jesus heals the deaf and mute man.
“I cannot think of another person more deserving of this award than Mike Buesking,” Elliott Mann, EU alum (’21), said. “His close tutelage completely revolutionized my theology and craft as I began to integrate the two.”
Buesking served as an Artist in Residence at the 2008 Missouri State Fair and has provided the cover art for several published books and periodicals. Buesking acknowledges his work has been strongly influenced by painters William Hawk and Frank Stack, as well as Herbert Fink, Ed Shay, and his first painting instructor, Larry Bernstein.
“The real honor of the Clark Award comes from the knowledge that there are so many other outstanding, impressive, and worthy persons, my colleagues among the faculty – all of whom I admire and wish to emulate, if only I could – who deserve such a recognition,” Buesking said. “I’m thrilled to receive this award. It means so much to share in this honor.”
Buesking holds a Master of Fine Arts in Painting and Drawing from the University of Missouri, a Master of Science in Education in Teaching Art from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, and a Bachelor of Arts in Art from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale. His M.F.A. thesis exhibit, “Prophet as Artist,” featured paintings and drawings of the symbolic actions of Old Testament prophets.
Buesking and his wife, Debbie, have two grown children, Molly and Sam, and his work is displayed at Praise Assembly of God in Springfield, MO; Calvary Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, MI; and throughout Evangel’s campus.
Dr. Andrea Hughes, assistant professor of literacy and coordinator of the literacy program in the College of Adult & Graduate Studies, was awarded the Orville & Jewel Mills Young Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, Scholarship and Service.
The award was established in 2006 by Orville and Jewel Mills to recognize the academic work of outstanding young professors. Orville Mills is a retired comptroller of Exxon-Mobile and serves EU as a trustee emeritus. The couple’s three daughters are graduates of Evangel.
Hughes began teaching at EU in 2017 after over a decade teaching in elementary schools throughout Missouri and serving as an adjunct faculty member for the University of Missouri – St. Louis.
With a strong passion for literacy, Hughes’ work has bolstered the Education Department’s push to train teachers in reading strategies. Her expertise in literacy best practices is especially instructive for EU students in the Master of Education in Literacy program, which Hughes coordinates.
“Dr. Andrea Hughes is a key contributor to our Education Department,” Dr. Shonna Crawford, Education Department chair, said. “She is a strong mentor for students and new faculty. Andrea’s expertise, humility, and work ethic make her an amazing team player! EU is blessed to have her.”
Hughes’ dissertation focused on integrating digital literacy and traditional print text to assist struggling readers. Her experience with this process prepared her to chair dissertation committees, an essential undertaking with Evangel’s growing body of doctoral programs, particularly in the field of education.
Hughes is a member of the International Literacy Association and a teacher consultant for the National Writing Project, giving her access to greater resources for the EU community and a broader platform to share her academic work.
Hughes is also active within the community, serving as a mentor for the children’s ministry at her church and as a parent voice member at a local Montessori school.
Hughes holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Teaching and Learning Processes from the University of Missouri – St. Louis, a Master of Literacy from the University of Missouri, and a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Webster University.
“I am honored to join an incredible group of professors who have received the Mills Young Faculty Award,” Hughes said. “It is a testament to the amazing people I work with in the Education Department and the way in which we continually support each other in the work that we do. The Lord has stretched me in many ways since coming to Evangel and this award reminds me how being obedient and stepping out in faith reaps the blessings of the Lord.”
Raised in Branson, Hughes has coached high school girls’ volleyball and junior high girls’ basketball. She and her husband and high school sweetheart, Colby, have one son, Cal. When not teaching, Hughes and her family enjoy relaxing on the lake, spending time outdoors, playing with their cocker spaniel, and cheering for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Evangel University, with the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS), is a comprehensive Christian university committed to excellence in educating and equipping students to serve the Church and society globally. Evangel and AGTS serve more than 2,200 students from all 50 states and numerous foreign countries, offering 70 undergraduate majors and 19 master and doctoral degrees.