New face arrives on campus

Bob Walker started March 1 as the new assistant vice president for information services. He replaces Steve Earney who retired in December.

Bob Walker started March 1 as the new assistant vice president for information services. He replaces Steve Earney who retired in December.

Jessica MacIntosh

Since March 1, Missouri Southern has had a new face on campus.

Bob Walker, who was named the new assistant vice president for information services, said he had two separate recruiters call him about the position.

“I was looking for something closer to home in Ohio, but very specifically looking for an environment that was not in the complete turnaround,” Walker said.

He said the last two positions he held were as turnaround chief information officers.

“It is a lot of work, which is fine,” he said, “but it involves restructuring everything. I was looking for something that is a little more stable, that we could build together and kick it up a notch and take it from there.”

Walker’s background prior to that was in quality and process improvement.

“What we’ve started to take a look at is how we approach customer service and what we are doing with that, making sure we have them available around the clock,” he said.

Walker replaces Steve Earney, who retired from the position in December.

Dr. Terri Agee, vice president for business affairs, said there was a 10-person search committee who narrowed down the candidates.

“He interviewed well,” Agee said.

Agee said he came qualified for the position. She said he has experience with the SunGuard SCT Banner software, which is being implemented on campus.

“I admire his dedication,” she said. “He has a very strong work ethic. I have been very pleased and happy that he could join us. I have enjoyed working with him.”

University President Julio León said they are pleased with the selection.

“He just happened to be a good match for what we were looking for,” León said.

“[He is a] good fit,” Agee said.

Walker was born in Eugene, Ore., and he has lived in the Seattle area for most of his life.

“I lived in Japan for two years,” he said.

He met his wife after college in Ohio, where her family stayed.

“Even though I was shipped from Washington to Ohio, I stayed in the area,” he said.

Walker and his wife raised a family and have four children in Canton, Ohio.

Walker said the people are friendlier in the Joplin area.

“People are more hospitable,” he said. “I really like this atmosphere.”

He said he has a “great” crew.

“People have a really good work ethic,” Walker said. “It’s just what strikes me.”

Walker said he lives in the residence halls at Southern.

“It’s just fine,” he said. “It’s not bad.”

He said the students he runs into are friendly.

“I am obviously the odd man out,” Walker said. “They have been very considerate about it.”

Agee said he came quickly to Southern.

“He agreed to come just as quickly as he could,” she said.

Agee said his family will join him over the summer break.

He said he flies home every other weekend out of St. Louis to see his family.

“It’s the only direct flight out to Cleveland,” Walker said.

Walker said the house is up for sale and school ends for his children on June 1.

Walker said he really would like some feedback from students.

“I’m still looking for a way to find out what’s working for students and what’s not working,” he said.

He said over time, people have grown up with tiny computer labs scattered everywhere, but he said they might work.

“But it really doesn’t help us provide good support,” Walker said. “A couple, two or three, centralized labs with high-end equipment and having a lab tech there that can answer questions, have workshops, teach [and] train.”

He said he does not want to change it if the idea will not work for the students.

Walker was just named to the Board of Examiners of the Excellence in Missouri Foundation, which was established in 1992. He said it was established to administer the Missouri Quality Award program and to promote quality principles in business, education, government and health care throughout Missouri.

Walker has also been a licensed pilot for 14 years and owns a two-seat Cessna 150 plane.

“I used to commute over Lake Erie between Michigan and Ohio for the past four years,” he said.

Although his first day was March 1, Walker said he is “still smiling.”