St. Louis Students Complete Southeast Bachelor’s, Master’s Degrees without Needing to Set Foot on Campus



Dec. 2, 2005 – On Dec. 17, five students will receive their master’s degrees in industrial management from Southeast Missouri State University, without needing to set foot on the campus. 

This comes after the same group also completed their bachelor’s degrees in the same fashion.

They are Gladson David, Michael Georgevitch and Paul Guthier, all of St. Louis; Janeen Sifford of Florissant, Mo., and Leslie Wheat of St. Charles, Mo.

The five will be the first to earn their master’s degrees in industrial management through Southeast at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley after completing Southeast’s 2+2 program.  The 2+2 program allows students to complete their entire bachelor of science degree in industrial technology from Southeast through the campus of St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley.

According to Dr. Ragu Athinarayanan, professor of industrial and engineering technology at Southeast and advisor for the group, the master’s program Southeast offers through Florissant Valley is extremely beneficial for students.

“We have structured the industrial management program so students can use the knowledge they get here to improve their leadership and technical management skills, which will lead to better positions and higher pay,” he said.  “We want to help students to improve professionally and gain leadership positions within technical organizations.  Many of the students from the 2+2 program have already seen improvements in the form of higher salaries and positions within their companies since they earned bachelor’s degrees.  Once they receive their master’s degrees, I would not be surprised to see the same happen again.”

Mike Zacharko, quality control manager at bioMerieux, Inc., works with Senior Quality Technician Janeen Sifford, one of the Southeast students completing her master’s degree in industrial management.  Zacharko says her master’s degree will not only help her to advance within the company, but will also be beneficial to the St. Louis area.

“I think that practical training, coupled with formalized schooling is a wonderful concept,” Zacharko said.  “It’s a great boon to St. Louis students and the community to have a program where students can utilize knowledge from a generalized science and employ it in a specialty or practical application.  In most cases, school is where you learn the methodology and means to place technical knowledge into practice later on in life. However, the Southeast concept allows immediate utilization of much of the knowledge while it is still fresh in the mind, providing strong reinforcement of the learning/training experience.  Janeen’s classes have given her confidence to pursue the field of management of industrial operations.  Her current position involves writing procedures, training people, dealing with managers and the evaluation and analysis of manufacturing processes requirements. This is an excellent fit for her course of studies and where she’s going.”

Sifford has already reaped some benefits from completing the 2+2 program.

“I have already taken one new position since graduating from the 2+2 program.  Ten years ago, I worked for bioMerieux as a temporary employee,” Sifford said.  “At that time, I wasn’t considered for permanent employment because I lacked a degree.  After I receive my master’s degree, I’ll have a competitive edge when applying for higher-level positions.”

Students say the master’s program in industrial management through Southeast at Florissant Valley is convenient, offers interesting instructors, and is a good fit with the bachelor’s degree via the 2+2 program.

“I decided to attend classes through Flo Valley because of its close proximity to home and because I knew former classmates from the 2+2 bachelor’s program in industrial and engineering technology would be attending as well,” Sifford said.  “I am still in contact with a group of people from that program, both graduates and non-graduates.”

The five who are receiving their master’s degrees are already showing their skills in the workplace.  Joe Heenan, chief of surveyors for the St. Louis County Government Highway and Traffic Department, says Southeast student and surveyor Gladson David has been a tremendous addition to his workforce.

“As far as surveying, Gladson has been fundamental on the technology that’s come about,” Heenan said.  “By him being in tune with new technology, he has been a real asset to us; he enhances our team.  It’s very important that we stay on top of technology these days, as we change our own technology about every six months.  We’ve changed more in the last two years than in the 10 before that.  For this reason, it’s very necessary for us to stay on top of technology.  Gladson has been very quick on the uptake.”

Mike Rapp, senior platform engineer of Permacel Automotive, says Southeast student and costing engineer Michael Georgevitch’s master’s degree will enhance their workplace.

“I believe having Mike obtain his master’s degree will expand the level of the knowledge base in our company a great deal,” Rapp said.  “Since Mike has been working on his master’s degree with  emphasis in occupational health and safety, this will definitely help us to become a better plant with regard to the safety and welfare of all of our people.  He will be expanding his role to more safety-related issues in the future.  Currently he is involved in product costing, and document and data control, along with new product samples for the engineering department.  He will eventually collaborate more closely with our corporate safety manager working on some new projects for us.

“I am absolutely in favor of employees getting their master’s degrees. Education is an investment in your future which will help you personally while making you a more valuable employee to your company and helping to enhance job security, which is increasingly important in this global economy,” he said.

Southeast Missouri State University Extended Learning and Department of Industrial and Engineering Technology, in collaboration with St. Louis Community College – Florissant Valley and the University of Missouri-St. Louis, has offered undergraduate degree completion programs in industrial technology in the St. Louis area since the fall of 1998.  The bachelor’s programs offered in St. Louis, which are accredited by the National Association of Industrial Technology (NAIT), are designed to prepare students for industrial supervision and management positions.  Since the inception of the undergraduate program, more than 200 students have applied for admission to the program, and thus far, nearly 40 have graduated.

Classes for the programs are delivered through face-to-face instruction by Southeast instructors, Web-enhanced (face-to-face and online) instruction, interactive television (ITV), and online through Southeast Online.

Dr. Randy Shaw, dean of the School of Polytechnic Studies at Southeast, says, “The graduation of these first five M.S. graduates is another milestone in the development of this very successful collaborative program.  I want to thank St. Louis Community College – Florissant Valley, and specifically Ashok Agrawal and Bill Mason, for their efforts to make both the bachelor’s and master’s programs so successful. These programs model how institutions can work together to meet the educational needs of our region.”