A collection of our favorite moments from 2020. 

We’ve all heard it a million times, but 2020 was truly a year unlike any other. Here at Morningside, we were fortunate to have a community of students, faculty and staff, alumni, donors, and supporters who came together to make this last year not only possible but full of moments that made us #MsideProud. While we wish we could highlight every single accomplishment and triumph of the last year in one list, here’s ten of our favorite #MsideMoments2020. We wish all of the wonderful people in our Morningside family a happy, healthy, and bright new year!

10. Student Achievements

#ExperienceMatters at Morningside and our students turn these simple words into incredible accomplishments inside and outside the classroom. Here are just a few of the moments that made us #MsideProud in 2020:

active mindsMorningside’s Active Minds chapter (photo taken before COVID-19 pandemic)

Morningside’s Active Minds chapter shared their work at the Active Minds National Conference held in Washington D.C. in February. Active Minds aims to reduce the stigma around mental illness by encouraging conversations about mental health and providing educational activities and resources to help students create a supportive and well-informed college community. The group presented two displays at the conference: “Scare Away Stigma” and “Leaf Stigma Away.”

cam morningside choir 2020 resizeThe Morningside Choir directed by Dr. Ryan Person

The Morningside Choir was selected for the 2020 Iowa Choral Showcase. This is the first time that The Morningside Choir has been selected and The Morningside Choir was the only college choir in the state chosen for the prestigious showcase that includes top choirs from throughout Iowa.

Speaking of music, Christmas at Morningside: Quarantine Edition shared the holiday spirit online with recorded performances by the choirs and instrumental ensembles. While nothing could replace the in-person festive spectacular, we are still incredibly proud of the dedication and flexibility of our music students and faculty.

Watch the 2020 Christmas at Morningside video here.

surp 2020 andiAndi Hays presents her 2020 SURP research

Five projects were selected for the 2020 Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) at Morningside. SURP is a funded scholar’s program at Morningside that provides students and faculty an opportunity to collaborate on research and scholarly work during the summer. The students and faculty who did SURP 2020 are: 

  • Damian Herrera and Stacey Alex, assistant professor of Spanish. Their project, “Latina/o/x Stories of Siouxland: An Oral History Archive,” seeks to establish a publicly available digital video archive of Latina/o/x life-histories in Siouxland.
  • Krista Zenk, Caitlin Makovicka, and Shannon Claxton, assistant professor of psychology. Their project, “Attachment and Sociosexuality: Exploring Differences Based on Religion and Parental Divorce,” will evaluate whether parental divorce and religiosity moderate the relationship between attachment styles and sociosexual orientation for emerging adults.
  • Alexandra Inskeep, Keonté Robertson, and Elizabeth Coody, assistant professor of religious studies. Their project, “The Comics and Sacred Text Database Project” aims to establish a scholarly database that organizes and catalogs instances of sacred texts in comic books.
  • Margaret Bass and John Helms, associate professor of chemistry. Their project, “Photochemical dissolution of phosphorus from soil runoff and resuspended freshwater sediments: How the ‘unlocking’ of recalcitrant nutrients may lead to algal bloom conditions,” will utilize a new method of phosphorus quantification to investigate the transition of phosphorus from solid and/or adsorbed phases into the freely dissolved phase.
  • Andi Hays and Anni Moore, assistant professor of biology. Their project, “Comparison of Upper Respiratory Microbiomes of Free Range and Caged Chickens,” will compare the upper respiratory microbiomes of free-range and commercial traditionally caged egg-laying chickens.

You can watch the 2020 SURP presentations on our YouTube channel.

Our students strive to grow, learn, and succeed each year, and we are so proud that they call Morningside home.

9. #ExperienceMatters Reimagined

When it comes to creating experiential learning opportunities, our faculty and staff go above and beyond. From virtual speakers to flexible internships, they took our signature hashtag #ExperienceMatters to new levels this year.

aj jacobs senior capstoneWriter AJ Jacobs talks via Zoom to a senior capstone class

Many courses at Morningside feature multiple guest speakers throughout the year, and the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t stop our faculty from finding ways to connect students with professionals in their field. With the help of services like Zoom and WebEx, students were able to ask questions and learn from speakers throughout the country.

Even during a time when many internships were up in the air, the Tyson Foods Summer Community Internship Program continued to provide opportunities for Morningside’s interns. This year’s interns were Sydney Palmer, MacKenzie Bennett, Morgan Roberts, Kaitlyn Hoelscher, Kaelyn Giefer, Skyler McDermott, Tessa Renze, Jade Guzman, Abby Koch, Ruby Lemus, Abby Hauser, Olivia Christensen, and Katie McClintock. You can read their stories and more at morningside.edu/news under the People section.

Our outstanding Career Services team offers a variety of experiential learning opportunities throughout the year, and 2020 was no different even with the challenges of COVID-19. Dynamic duo Stacie Hays and Alex Watters worked with alumni and speakers with a variety of expertise areas for a multitude of virtual presentations that are available on Morningside’s YouTube channel. Check them out at youtube.com/c/MorningsideUniversity.

8. Graduate Education offers 11 tracks and Criminal Justice joins undergraduate program offerings

girl on laptop

Morningside College’s Sharon Walker School of Education added nine new degree options for teachers pursuing their Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) for a total of 11 tracks in Morningside’s 100% online graduate education program. “Our new Master of Arts in Teaching degree options offer an excellent opportunity for teachers to advance their career in a variety of content areas tailored to the needs of today’s students,” said LuAnn Haase of the Sharon Walker School of Education. “Whether you’re interested in growing as a teacher or becoming a leader in your school or district, the faculty in our program are here to help and ready to guide the next generation of masters-level teachers.” Learn more at morningside.edu/news/morningside-announces-nine-new-graduate-education-degree-options.

Morningside also announced a criminal justice program in fall 2020. Students majoring in criminal justice will be prepared for careers in legal studies and law enforcement through active learning opportunities and hands-on experiences that leverage critical thinking skills to explore the importance of criminal justice in our society. “The addition of the criminal justice major emphasizes Morningside’s commitment to innovation in higher education and responding to the needs of our community,” said Chris Spicer, Vice President of Academic Affairs. “Civic responsibility is a key part of our mission, and we’re excited to provide students with a new opportunity to grow as people, professionals, and public servants.”

7. A Political Season to Remember

garrett val hennings election night 2020Garrett Arbuckle and Dr. Valerie Hennings anchored the MCTV election night coverage in fall 2020.

From the Iowa Caucus to election night coverage, it was a political season to remember for Morningside students. While the COVID-19 pandemic reduced the number of candidates visiting prior to the caucus, Morningside students still had the opportunity to hear from presidential hopefuls in late 2019 and early 2020. The Colonel Bud Day Center for Civic Engagement released the highly anticipated results of their annual Morningside Poll in January, and they helped students register to vote and cast their ballot in the fall.

On election night, 20+ students and faculty worked together to provide election coverage online and via MCTV and KMSC. Students watched various races throughout the night and acted as on-air anchors as well as camera operators, directors, audio operators, and producers. Students in the Bud Day Center also hosted the first-ever Morningside Masterclass, titled “The Power of Civic Engagement.” The virtual event was a nonpartisan examination of some of the major topics on the minds of Americans as they headed into the election, while also considering ways people can have healthy discussions about divisive topics.

6. Welcoming and Connecting with the 4th Largest Freshman Class

boomer reynders cic fall 2020Boomer poses for a photo while President Reynders and his wife Robin talk with a CIC class.

Morningside welcomed its fourth-largest group of full-time, first-year students to campus in August as it kicked off the 2020-2021 academic year. The Morningside College Class of 2024 is comprised of 358 students from 17 states and eight countries. “Given all the uncertainty that 2020 has created, it’s refreshing to be able to welcome this group of new students,” said Morningside College President John Reynders. “Our mission remains the same even amidst a global pandemic, and our team is committed to doing everything we can to give this group of students the best Morningside experience possible with opportunities to learn, lead, grow, and engage in active learning experiences.”

As part of the first-year experience, President Reynders, his wife Robin, and their dog Boomer visited the Critical Inquiry and Communication course that all first-year students take to talk with the students about their futures and answer any questions they had about life at Morningside. Boomer also connected with the students, wandering between rows and stopping for well-deserved pets.

5. John Reynders Postponed Retirement Announcement

john reynders headshot

After announcing his plan to retire in June 2021, President Reynders shared that he would be staying an additional year to help lead Morningside through the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are so thankful for his dedication to the Morningside community and commitment to continue striving for excellence in the face of uncertainty.

“My wife Robin and I love Morningside as we have loved no other place,” said President Reynders in his message to campus. “While we certainly look forward to our next chapter, we aren’t at all sorry that we get to spend another year as part of a community that means so much to us – especially if that additional time will once again put Morningside in the best position possible for its next leader.”

4. Commencement 2020

four graduating students august 2020Graduating students at the August 2020 commencement ceremony

Morningside College’s Class of 2020 was the largest ever combined graduating class in the college’s 125-year history.  Though the May commencement was postponed due to COVID-19, graduates and their families were invited to a rescheduled ceremony at Elwood Olsen Stadium in August. Even with masks, the smiles of the newly-minted Morningside alumni and their proud families and friends shined brightly.

“The Class of 2020 will be well remembered in the history of Morningside College. Not only is this the largest-ever combined graduating class, but they completed their degree requirements during a global pandemic that has altered every aspect of life,” said Chris Spicer, Vice President for Academic Affairs. “That speaks not only to the caliber of students found at Morningside but also to the excellent support of our faculty and staff.”

3. End of the Vision 2020 Campaign

eppley sunset by anna uehlingEppley Auditorium at sunset; photo by Anna Uehling ’21

“Walking through Morningside today is a totally different experience than 10 or 20 years ago, and the beauty of campus has become a source of great pride,” said Jim Walker, a Lifetime Member of the Morningside College Board of Directors. 

This year marked the conclusion of the Vision 2020 campaign, the most ambitious and successful fundraising campaign in Morningside’s history. The generosity of our alumni, donors, and supporters is visible throughout campus, starting with the renovation of Eppley Auditorium in 2013 and followed by breaking ground for what is now Buhler Rohlfs Hall and the Krone Center in 2014 and the updates to Dimmitt Hall in 2015. 

“Early in my time here, I commented that Morningside was a gem that simply needed a little polish. The work completed through these campaigns has allowed us to restore the luster to our buildings and grounds, and ensure that the look of campus reflects how remarkable Morningside has always been,” said Reynders.

Read about the impact of the Vision 2020 campaign here

2. COVID-19 Pandemic and Response

students studying with masksStudents studying in Buhler Rohlfs

This year would not have been possible without the perseverance, patience, and grace of our amazing students, faculty, and staff. From our COVID-19 committees who worked countless hours to come up with plans and protocols, to our faculty who went above and beyond to teach virtually, and our students who endured a whirlwind of a year and still managed to amaze us each day with their ambition, creativity, and strength – Morningside is here because of you. You are #MsideStrong and dang, we are so #MsideProud.

1. College to University Announcement

The No. 1 spot on our #MsideMoments2020 list can be summed up in one hashtag: #MsideU. On June 1, 2021, Morningside College will officially become Morningside University. This exciting transition marks a new chapter in our historic 125-year journey, and we are so excited to embrace our future. Let’s get loud and #MsideProud!

Learn more about Morningside University here