Higher Education Center Directors Providing Students with Personal Attention, One-on-One Assistance

Photo of Center Directors

From left are Marsha Blanchard, director of the Kennett Area Higher Education Center; Dr. Rick Hux, director of the Harry L. Crisp Bootheel Education Center, and Judy Buck, director of the Sikeston Area Higher Education Center.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,

July 29, 2005 – Students at Southeast Missouri State University’s higher education centers in Sikeston, Malden and Kennett, Mo., are regularly treated to personal attention, one-on-one guidance and first-rate customer service.

Spearheading these close-knit communities are Marsha Blanchard, Dr. Rick Hux and Judy Buck, who serve as director of the centers in Kennett, Malden and Sikeston respectively. They say they are readily accessible and are there, day in and day out, for students who need their assistance. As the 2005-2006 school year is poised to begin, the three are encouraging students to seek them out for help.

 “I feel like they are my kids,” Blanchard said. “I have a personal relationship with nearly all of them. I spend a lot of time in the hallways with them, encouraging them and patting them on the back. I try to give them a lot of guidance and encouragement. I sometimes feel like I’m the old woman in the shoe who has so many children … ,” she mused. Hux says the Harry L. Crisp Bootheel Education Center (CBEC) has about 450 students in one building. “It’s like a small school,” he said, adding. “We want students to feel comfortable with us. It makes it easier that we are on a first-name basis with them. Because we know their circumstances, we are able to communicate with them on a more personal basis.”

He says customer service is the hallmark of Southeast’s area higher education centers.

 “I am a very strong proponent of providing service for our students and providing a one-stop shop,” he said. “If students have a problem, someone here will help them solve it. It is service to the customer” that keeps students returning, he said.

 “Students are the reason we are here,” Buck added. “We have an open door policy and go the extra mile” to help students at SAHEC. Because the area higher education centers are relatively small facilities “there’s just more one-on-one contact,” she said.

Blanchard says making students feel welcome and comfortable at the Kennett Area Higher Education Center (KAHEC) is important particularly because higher education can be intimidating. Anything she can do to ease those fears is important, she said, because “higher education can make a huge difference in their lives. I think this is our way to elevate our standard of living in the Bootheel.”

But Blanchard is quick to add that “it’s not just about their classes. It’s about their lives.

“I try to be casual with them and let them know I am approachable. I try to get them to call me by first name,” she said.

“We try to be professional, but also friendly and approachable.”

To stay in tune with students’ needs, Blanchard said she tries to teach one course each semester, in addition to her duties as center director. She plans to teach the psychology course “The Child” during the fall 2005 semester. “It’s advantageous for keeping in better contact with faculty and students,” she said. “Being in class with students really keeps me in touch with them.”

Nurturing students is what Blanchard does best, and she says she enjoys every minute of it, including attending commencement ceremonies to watch students who attended KAHEC graduate.

 “It’s incredibly rewarding,” she said. “I love my job. It’s the best job in the world.”

Marsha Blanchard

 Blanchard has been the director of KAHEC since June 2000. Prior to serving as the director of KAHEC, she served as director of distance learning and technical services at Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff, Mo. She also has served as an adjunct faculty member at both Three Rivers and the Crisp Bootheel Education Center, and has conducted ACT Work Keys job profiles and assessments for regional industries.

Prior to her work with Three Rivers, Blanchard served as a vocational counselor with the Missouri Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. From 1993 to 1994, she supervised community support workers for the Ozark Center. Blanchard earned a bachelor of science degree in psychology from Missouri Southern State College in Joplin. She received a master of arts degree in industrial and organizational psychology from the University of Tulsa. She and her husband Perry are Kennett residents. They are the parents of Jason, Cara and Amy.

Dr. Rick Hux

 Hux has been director of the CBEC in Malden, Mo., for five years. He has 36 years of experience in University and public elementary and secondary education in Missouri, with 24 years as a public school administrator.

Prior to his work with the CBEC, Hux served as superintendent of Van Buren school district as well as the principal of Van Buren High School. He also has served as principal of T.S. Hill Middle School and as the principal and assistant principal of Dexter High School. Hux held teaching positions in physics at Southeast Missouri State College and positions at Dexter Public Schools. This spring, he received the Outstanding Emeritus Educator Award from the Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA).

He has degrees from both Southeast Missouri State University and St. Louis University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in education with a major in mathematics and a minor in physics, a master’s degree in physics, and a specialist degree in educational administration. He also has his doctorate in educational leadership.

A native of Essex, Mo., Hux now resides with his wife Annette and their son, Toppy, in Dexter.

Judy Buck

Buck has served as director of the Sikeston Area Higher Education Center since it opened. She has been involved with the center’s development from the beginning, serving on the committee to approve plans for the center, serving as director during construction of the new center, and currently involved with the planning and construction of additional classrooms and a childcare center. She previously served for eight years in an administrative position as coordinator of Sikeston Public Schools Adult Education Programs. During her last year with Sikeston Public Schools, she also served as interim director of the Sikeston Area Vocational School while continuing to coordinate all adult programs for the district. She retired from the Missouri Public School Retirement System after 30 years of service.

Buck was born and raised in Osceola, Ark., where she graduated from high school. She earned a bachelor of science degree in education from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro Ark. She earned a master of arts degree in teaching and, later, a specialist in education degree from Southeast Missouri State University. 

Buck moved to Missouri to begin a career in education teaching at Richland High School in Essex, Mo.  She then taught at Bloomfield High School and, in 1971, began teaching at Sikeston Public Schools.  She was a business education instructor for 19 years and also served as department chair and FBLA sponsor during her tenure. 

Buck has been an active member of various organizations during her professional career.  As well as participating in educational organizations, she has been an active member of the Sikeston Rotary Club and served as the first female president of the organization. She also is a member of P.E.O. in Sikeston. 

Buck and her husband Jim, have two children and three grandchildren.