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MAC Re-Names Board Room after Longtime Trustee VanHerck
7/13/2017 1:00:00 AM
By: Sarah Haas, Communications Director

PARK HILLS – He’s been on the Mineral Area College’s Board of Trustees since 1974, 9 years after the college formed from the roots of its predecessor, Flat River Junior College, which was established in 1922.

With that kind of longevity in mind, the board, on Thursday, July 13, presented its longest-serving member, Dr. Don VanHerck, with the distinction of naming their board room after him. The conference room connected to both the theater lobby and the President’s Office will now be known as the VanHerck Board Room.

“His circle of friends at the college is as wide as his tenure has been long,” Dr. Kurtz said. “It’s not been uncommon to see Dr. VanHerck visiting staff and faculty on campus between board meetings, attending several of the community college’s many events and activities throughout the year. We’ve really appreciated his active leadership.” The Subdistrict #5 trustee was first elected to the board in 1974. He brought with him a wealth of vocational and technical education knowledge, having been UniTec Career Center’s director from 1973 to 1997. But years ago, when he was given the Missouri Community College Association Award of Distinction, he mentioned he wasn’t always destined for a life in education.

Growing up in Bismarck, he said in a 2013 interview, he hadn’t given education much thought for the future until his mother approached him with $60 in her hand, and a request that he enroll in Flat River Junior College, Mineral Area College’s precursor.

A reluctant student at first, Dr. VanHerck soon became friends with some of his junior college instructors who, he said, gave him the impression that they believed he could do great things. “I didn’t set the world on fire in my classes,” he said. “But they gave me confidence and seemed to think they saw something in me that could succeed.” He graduated in 1956 and worked for the Missouri Division of Employment Security for a couple of years, but realized, if he wanted to have a family and earn enough to support them, he should continue his education. At Murray State University, he learned the joys of academic competition, earned an “A” average in his studies to secure a bachelor’s degree in education, and was invited to pursue his master’s degree studies while teaching classes for Murray State. Enjoying his education, Dr. VanHerck progressed toward his doctorate, eschewing a full scholarship to Texas A&M to work for and attend a favorite Murray professor’s alma mater, University of Missouri-Columbia. There, he met up with an old friend from his hometown of Bismarck, Dixie A. Kohn, who was also pursuing his studies while working for the university.

Both men eventually entered careers in education, which led to them working together, once again, when Dr. Kohn was hired as MAC’s president. Dr. VanHerck was just closing his first decade on the college’s Board of Trustees.

Over almost 40 years, Dr. VanHerck has served in every officer capacity on the Board of Trustees, since the offices rotate regularly. Some of the highlights of his tenure have included pioneering the addition of the Central Methodist University 2+2 plan, the construction of several additional buildings on campus, and the expansion of outreach centers in Perryville, Winona, Fredericktown and Potosi.

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