Dr. Shawn Strong
Story by Megan Whitehead | Dec 28, 2016
President of State Technical College of Missouri
Your current job title and number of years/months in that position:
President of State Technical College of Missouri, five months.
Please list your education:
Associate of Applied Science in mechanical construction technology from Northwest Iowa Technical College, Bachelor of Science in industrial management from Wayne State College, MBA from Wayne State College, and a Ph.D. in industrial education and technology from Iowa State University.
Favorite charitable organization and why:
We have a memorial scholarship at Missouri State University in our son’s name. I know that higher education isn’t always the first thing we associate with charitable organizations, but higher education breaks down so many barriers and presents so many opportunities to graduates. There just isn’t a much better charitable investment one can make that pays so many future dividends.
What are some of your immediate and long term goals as president of State Technical College of Missouri?
State Tech is in a great position with stable enrollment, a national ranking, and exceptional employment opportunities for graduates. The last thing I will do as the new president is muck up what faculty, staff, and the former president worked so hard to build. That said, State Tech is an incredible asset that far too many Missourians don’t know about. In the short term, we are working to solidify the State Tech brand. In the long term, much like my predecessor Dr. Donald Claycomb, I like to build things. I have no idea if we will build enrollment, quality, facilities, etc., but I am confident we will continue to grow the institution.
How do you hope to impact the community with your role?
The role of a college president is to enable a shared vision and help secure the resources to enable that vision. State Tech’s mission is to provide students with profitable employment and a life of learning. The impact of a president can be felt when a vision and a strong mission go hand in hand.
What led you to pursue education administration?
Very simple: the ability to make a clear and measurable impact.
Why you are passionate about your position:
Technical education. I always tell prospective students that, of my four degrees, it was my AAS in HVAC that was by far the best investment. You can go so far with a technical degree. I always say I wouldn’t have this job without my AAS degree. To be the president of an institution that only delivers technical degrees? Incredible.
What’s your favorite moment from your time at State Technical College of Missouri?
There will come a day — yet this year, I predict — when I will give permission to someone to do something outlandish and more than a bit crazy. When crazy works, that will be my favorite moment.
Favorite place to spend an afternoon:
After spending the last three years in northern Minnesota, I could not get enough of the sun at the Lake of the Ozarks this summer. I will take a heat index of 100 over a wind chill of minus 50 any day.
Last book read:
I really enjoyed “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry” by Gabrielle Zevinz. I read it just in case anyone asked me what I was reading during my interview at State Tech. In this case, it turns out I was overprepared. I think most of us can identify with the premise of this book: you never know where life will take you.
Favorite TV show:
Let’s assume you mean a current TV series . . . “American Pickers.” If I weren’t in higher education, I would be a picker. I love the over-the-top, the unique, and the artistry of a deal. I once stopped at the pickers’ store, Antique Archeology, in Iowa and bought a bicycle. I was talking to a friend and asked what he thought they paid for the bike. He knew the answer: one-third what I paid for it.
Favorite comfort food:
Passed down from my father, the Reuben. I can’t pass up trying a Reuben. Until I find one better, I recommend Michael’s Deli, in Boston.
I would have never guessed I would be a college president. I suppose I will have to start looking for a new aspiration.
Bicycle riding. Late every summer, my four other siblings and I ride in what is often called “spring break for adults,” the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI. It forces me to get into shape once a year, and it never gets old.