For his dedication and service to the University of Missouri's many distance students, Mizzou Online Academic Adviser Ehren Oncken was honored as one of four finalists for the 2015 Major Mick Deaver Memorial Award, during the Staff Recognition Week awards ceremony on May 18. Established in 1980 by the MU Staff Advisory Council, the annual award goes to a staff member who exemplifies Deaver's concern for fostering good relations with students.
Oncken advises students in the online bachelor of general studies and interdisciplinary studies bachelor degree programs, and fields questions from prospective students for other distance undergraduate degree offerings. Oncken also assists non-degree seeking students (including high school students simultaneously earning college credit) with enrolling in online courses after they are admitted to Mizzou.
"Ehren is a courteous and patient professional who gives 110 percent to each student he works with," says Terrie Nagel, Mizzou Online assistant director. "Distance students may not understand MU's procedures, policies and guidelines, as readily as residential students because they aren't physically established on campus, and those processes may have been different at their former schools."
Oncken works with several departments to ensure distance students successfully navigate all aspects of their academic experience at Mizzou. "As the intake adviser, Ehren serves as students' first and main point of contact, helping them understand the necessary steps to apply for admissions and financial aid, create a graduation plan, enroll in classes and complete course requirements to earn their degrees from our university," says Nagel.
Nagel adds that his service to students was exemplified in a letter from Ron Covington, a recent BGS graduate, who wrote to Oncken just before the fall 2014 commencement: "I wanted to make sure that I let you know what a great job you have done answering all of my questions, helping me with different things and providing me with the information that I needed for class registration, course testing, etc. I was nervous about trying to do this online, but you and your staff have made this a great and rewarding experience for me. As you may or may not have known, I started this process of trying to achieve my college degree over 20 years ago, and because of work, kids and other commitments, I didn't think it was going to happen. But now, because of the MU online program and staff, this goal of mine will soon be achieved."
Major Mick Deaver was the associate director of the University Police Department at the time of his death in 1980. The council's awards selection committee distinguished Oncken and three additional MU staff as finalists from a campus-wide pool of nominees. Brian Booton, program coordinator for the Office of Undergraduate Research, won this year's award.