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Cynthia Reeves | SBJ

2022 Men of the Year: Shawn Wahl

Missouri State University

Posted online

Shawn Wahl has a proven commitment to higher education.

Dean of the Missouri State University Judith Enyeart Reynolds College of Arts and Letters, Wahl has proved instrumental in growing creative coursework, including majors in art, communication, dance, design, global studies and journalism.

He says his proudest accomplishment to date was his role in the naming of the college in honor of longtime MSU supporters and alumni Tim and Judy Reynolds.

“The naming was achieved when the college received the largest scholarship gift in MSU history,” Wahl says, noting the donation was in the eight figures. “The historic gift also supports the current construction of the Judith Enyeart Reynolds Arts Park and the John Goodman Amphitheatre at Missouri State University.”

The gifts are part of MSU’s $250 million Onward, Upward capital campaign, which launched in late 2019 with a visit to Springfield from actor and alumnus John Goodman. The arts park and amphitheater are near Craig Hall, the home of the College of Arts and Letters.

Other donations Wahl had a hand in include a six-figure naming-level gift for the Robert and Margaret Carolla Arts Exhibition Center; seven figures’ worth of faculty-led external funding through the U.S. Department of Education; six figures in U.S. Department of Homeland Security funding; and Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education funds to the tune of six figures. 

“If someone has a big idea or an opportunity to achieve, I do what I can to create the conditions that it takes to get the job done,” Wahl says.

Wahl served as co-chair of the 2021-26 long-range plan steering committee to help guide President Clif Smart and the MSU Board of Governors on making decisions about the future of the higher education institution.

“This plan ultimately resulted in the state expanding MSU’s mission to include professional doctoral degrees,” Wahl says.

He also worked for the office of the president in supporting the Momentum 2015 long-range plan.

Wahl has experience serving as president of the Central States Communication Association, which he says is the largest regional communication association in the United States. 

“CSCA spans 13 states, and during my presidency, I implemented strategic initiatives that have enhanced both individual member and organizational goals,” he says.

His career additionally includes leadership and consultancy work for corporations in the commodity trading, health care, oil and gas, and mining industries.

“These experiences have given me the opportunity to work in a variety of large, complex, academic, corporate and nonprofit environments that have sought my professional expertise and advice on strategic planning, workforce and policy development, organizational change, communication audits and leadership coaching,” Wahl says.

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