VanHerck Wins Award of Distinction During MCCA Convention
Mineral Area College Trustee Dr. Don VanHerck, center, received Missouri Community College Association’s Award of Distinction Oct. 31 at ceremonies held in St. Louis. He was congratulated by MCCA Executive Director Zora Mulligan, left, and Mineral Area College President Dr. Steve Kurtz. VanHerck has been a trustee for the college for almost 40 years
The Missouri Community College Association presented Dr. Don VanHerck of Bismarck with the Award of Distinction at a ceremony held in St. Louis Oct. 31.
Dr. VanHerck was recognized for his outstanding service to Mineral Area College and to the mission of community colleges throughout the state. First elected to MAC’s Board of Trustees in 1974, Dr. VanHerck has brought with him a wealth of vocational and technical education knowledge, having been UniTec Career Center’s director from 1973 to 1997. He has also been an invaluable asset as a longtime member of the Subdistrict #5 community.
When he was growing up, Dr. VanHerck 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, was named to Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges & Universities 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, passing up 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 MAC Board of Trustees. 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, Farmington, Fredericktown and Potosi.
Mineral Area College President Dr. Steve Kurtz said he was gratified to see Dr. VanHerck’s dedication to the college rewarded at MCCA’s statewide convention.
“His circle of friends at the college is as wide as his tenure has been long. It’s not 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,” he said. “He serves as an excellent example of public service and dedication to this community college, and it’s been an honor to serve under him.”