Veteran Westminster staff member Dr. Bob Hansen has assumed the reins of the Emerson Center for Leadership & Service as its new Executive Director.
"Developing leaders of tomorrow is an awesome and humbling responsibility and I can't wait to work with President Forsythe and others to create a program that earns a national, if not international, reputation," says Hansen.
His goals in his new position are to strengthen curricular and co-curricular leadership development programs that help students link theory with practice, appreciate the importance of ethical leadership and charge them with being responsible agents of change.
"We want to help every Westminster student to commit to personal values, conceive a personal and community vision and act on their convictions with courage," says Hansen. "We will do this through courses, seminars, leadership labs, exposure to exemplary leaders, service and civic engagement opportunities, exposure to global issues, teaching conflict transformation skills and providing opportunities where students can apply their knowledge and skills to real world problems on campus, in the community and in the world."
Hansen comes to his new position after a year's stint as Interim Vice President and Dean of Students.
Originally, Hansen came to Westminster in 1986 to work as a counselor and instructor in the psychology department after 13 years in student development at the University of Missouri. He developed the counseling center at Westminster into a comprehensive Wellness Center that now houses counseling services, health services and the student clinic and campus wellness programs.
He also has taught more than 15 different courses and helped develop the original leadership studies program that he will now coordinate as well as teach its major courses. He brought the concept of the center to the president of the college at the time and wrote a $750,000 grant that was supported by all of Missouri's federal senators and representatives.
Prior to the Center's creation, he received a three-year grant to host a VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program at Westminster that included the development of CIVICUS, a VISTA and student-led program that coordinates and promotes community service and civic engagement among Westminster students, faculty and staff.
In addition, he developed and coached the first women's soccer team at Westminster (1987-90), started the EcoHouse living/learning community on campus, was the first Greek advisor (1994-96) and NCAA faculty athletics representative for six years.
"Bob's commitment to educational excellence, leadership and civic engagement embodies Westminster's mission and sets the standard for others to emulate," says Westminster President Dr. George B. Forsythe. "I am confident he will take the Emerson Center to the next level as the College continues to move forward."
Hansen has served on many local advisory boards and boards of directors, including Central Missouri Community Action, Habitat for Humanity, Wakonse Foundation, Pioneering Healthy Communities and Humanity for Children.
For the past four years, he has led project development initiatives in East Africa (Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania) with Humanity for Children and the Rwanda Community Partnership. This effort has led to the creation of a special relationship between the city of Fulton and Callaway County with Kibungo Town and Ngoma District in Rwanda and the building of a children and mothers' health center near Kibungo.
Hansen has taken Westminster students to Rwanda where they conducted needs assessments in remote villages. He will take another student group there during the 2011 winter semester break. He is also involved in a fair trade project with the Maasai of Northern Tanzania.
He has previously taken Westminster students to Hungary, Ukraine, Romania and the Czech Republic.
"It's truly an exciting time to be at Westminster," says Hansen. "The College just keeps growing stronger and stronger and we are genuinely proud of our mission and vision."
Hansen holds a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a master's degree in counseling psychology and a bachelor of arts degree in anthropology from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
He has been married for 38 years to Linda, a retired art educator. The couple has two adult children, both recently married.