Gubera celebrates 45th year at Southern


Willie Brown, The Chart

Gubera celebrates 45th year at Southern

Dr. Conrad Gubera’s work over the years has given him life experiences, lessons and endless amounts of stories.

 Gubera, professor of sociology and social science, has worked at Missouri Southern for 45 years.

 When he began, the school was then known as Joplin Junior College and it was important to him to build the sociology department.

“It was a good challenge to be on the cusp of creating something brand new,” Gubera said.

Sociology of Death and Dying, The Arab World, Juvenile Delinquency and Sociology 110 are some of Gubera’s favorite classes to teach.

“I like getting students who don’t know anything about sociology, they may never take another class but it’s a good experience for them,” he said.

 He began teaching here in 1967, and faced some of the difficulties of starting at a school that was just beginning.

“Glorified high school,” was the image at the time with majority of the staff starting out as highschool teachers and having only master’s degrees.

“One student was such a discipline problem one day I said to him, ‘Jim I need to talk to you after class’ and I said ‘you are so smart, I want you to do something for me. I want you to ask me a question tomorrow in class.’

“I went into class tomorrow and Jim raised his hand and asked the question and I answered it. That’s how I got him to cooperate,” he said.

The memory of the tornado in May 5, 1971 stands out to Gubera in particular.  

He was teaching a class when the tornado struck at about around 6:45 p.m.

“I can remember this middle aged woman coming to me, a student of mine, and she said to me in rather challenging terms ‘you’re going to dismiss class for the rest of the night,’ and I said ‘yes ma’am I am.’

“She then says ‘I’ll have you know I paid 49 dollars to take this class, I don’t think I’m getting my money’s worth.’

“So I reach in my pocket and I have a quarter and I said ‘here’s your refund’ she looks at the quarter and hands it back to me saying ‘I’m sorry I don’t have any change.’

“That’s when I knew you don’t mix it up with students they’re smarter than you are,” he said.

“She made an A in the class. That’s always a lesson to me in humility, “ he said.

“The joy of doing that plus the joy of learning something new is really what I think is great about college and university teaching.”