The Student News Site of Culver-Stockton College

Wildcat Wire

The Student News Site of Culver-Stockton College

Wildcat Wire

The Student News Site of Culver-Stockton College

Wildcat Wire

Culver-Stockton College Welcomes Its 28th President

“Progress is the enemy of perfection”
Culver-Stockton College Welcomes Its 28th President

Five years ago she was a professor of biology at Culver-Stockton, now she’s president.

In May of 2023, Culver-Stockton College welcomed a new president. Dr. Lauren Schellenberger, or as her students affectionately call her Doc Shelley, is the 28th president of C-SC. She has served in numerous positions on the campus over the years, starting as an assistant professor of biology and eventually working her way to chief academic position as provost. 

Since her hiring in 2008, Schellenberger’s path to presidency has been anything but straight and narrow. She was an assistant professor for three years before her division chair announced he was leaving. “I had an opportunity to throw my hat in the ring to become the division chair…we then consolidated divisions and I became division chair over a larger division.” This was quickly followed by the opportunity to become vice president over academic affairs and, in 2018, the provost. “All of these opportunities came at the time when I was thinking, what next?” After five years as provost, Schellenberger was promoted to president. “It’s unusual for someone to be able to do that in the same organization… I [am] lucky to have those opportunities here.” 

Each incoming college president has a vision of what they want their legacy to be. For President Bill Fox (2003-2009), it was the twelve-plus-three course schedule. For President Dick Valentine (2009-2014), it was beautifying the campus. Schellenberger’s vision is to improve the student experience. “It is complex…what is important to one student isn’t important to another.” When a student participates in a survey, the results are analyzed and “turned into action steps.” She also discusses building a “culture” on campus. “If a student visits an office and needs to go to another office, it is expected that someone walks them to that office. That is also a part of the student experience.”

Branching past the internal structures of C-SC, she also wants to increase the visibility in the higher education marketplace. “There is no reason why Culver-Stockton shouldn’t be regionally and nationally known…We need to be talking about [the benefits of the college]. We need to let people know what’s different about Culver and why they should choose Culver.” Schellenberger wants to show prospective students the opportunities Culver-Stockton provides and what makes it different from other schools in this area. Her short-term goals include meeting alumni and donors to show that our college is worthy of attention and investment. “Now that we are in a post-pandemic period, I am looking forward to getting off campus…We’re hoping to get to this sooner rather than later.” Schellenberger has already set these plans in motion. In the months since she was named president, she has held three “Meet-the-President” events in the surrounding cities, allowing people across Missouri and Illinois to come see what is special about Culver.

Her long-term goals are similar to presidents of all colleges. Her focus is on financial stability. We have seen colleges and universities that look the same as Culver-Stockton close. With the incoming drop in enrollment that is expected to occur in all colleges in the next five years, Schellenberger is faced with a unique challenge. “We have to ensure that our educational offerings for our traditional students are as good as they can possibly be so that they compete well in a market that is competing for fewer and fewer students.” She relates this back to her main vision for the campus, “We have to be able to say that we have a student experience whether its academic, co-curricular, or extra-curricular.” She also wants to create more online class opportunities for the growing amount of adult learners who are coming back in pursuit of a degree. 

Conversely, with the expected drop-off in enrollment, Culver Stockton has seen an unprecedented increase in enrollment this year. With a larger-than-average freshman class in addition to transfers from institutions that have closed, Culver-Stockton has struggled to support the weight of the additional people. Schellenberger sees this increase in admission in a positive light. “The more people on campus, the more opportunities we can provide…[We] are tuition-driven when we have more students, we have more money.” While the correlation isn’t precisely one-for-one, a higher amount of students on campus allows for more activities, more jobs, and more departments to help enhance the student experience. Some may see the campus as crowded, but these enrollment numbers are a necessity if the school is going to continue to provide the amenities it has. “Growth is good for us…[This] is exactly the kind of problem we need.”

Outside of work, Schellenberger lives in Canton with her husband and two sons. While her career is extremely demanding, she still manages to balance her work and home life. “Time management is about prioritizing,” she explains, “there is no perfect work-life balance.” She continues on about how she would not be able to succeed without the support system she has, “When I first started at Culver-Stockton, I had a four-month-old baby…[my husband] stayed home for the first year because we didn’t have childcare…[This] set us up for understanding how we’re going to manage my job and work at home.” While time management is still something she struggles with, her motto is “Perfection is the enemy of progress” and she strives every day to continue to progress. 

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About the Contributors
Libby Skaggs
Libby Skaggs, Feature Editor
Libby is a freshman at Culver-Stockton this year. She is majoring in media communications and political science, hoping to become an investigative journalist. She is from Dallas, Texas, and is involved in the school's color guard.  She also is a member of the Chi Omega Fraternity. A fun fact about Libby is that she has wanted to be a journalist since 5th grade.
Jessica Hornberger
Jessica Hornberger, Editor-in-Chief
Jessica Hornberger is from St. Charles, Missouri. She's a junior majoring in media communication and marketing and minoring in Spanish. Jessica is a multisport athlete on the cross country and lacrosse teams, as well as a member of Chi Omega Fraternity. She's also involved in Culver-Stockton’s literary and arts magazine Harmony. After college Jessica plans to pursue a career in the strategic communication or public relations field. A fun fact about Jessica is she loves to go bowling.

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