More than 150 people gathered at State Technical College of Missouri Saturday evening to celebrate over two decades of service by Dr. Donald Claycomb. Claycomb will retire as the president of the college on June 30.
Former State Tech Board of Regents President Tom Dinkins started the evening with a special toast to Claycomb. Following the toast, State Tech Chaplain Dan Ramsay spoke and bestowed a special blessing to Claycomb.
During the ceremony, Claycomb’s leadership was praised by friends and colleagues.
Former Senator Mike Lybyer spoke about his involvement with Claycomb when the Missouri General Assembly transferred Linn Technical College to the State of Missouri as Linn State Technical College when Senate Bill 101 was passed in 1995.
Leroy Wade, Interim-Commissioner of the Missouri Department of Higher Education, touched on what it was like for Claycomb after Senate Bill 101 was passed. “It’s not every day you are involved in the creation of a public institution for higher learning,” stated Wade. “It wasn’t easy but through it all Claycomb remained focused on the students and the mission of the college.”
Bod Priddy, a veteran newscaster and friend of the family, provided attendees with his perspective on Claycomb as a friend and a leader. He also gave advice to Claycomb about what he could expect his days to be like once he retired. “The most important thing you’ll have to decide each day is what’s for lunch,” said Priddy.
Clarke Thomas, State Tech alumnus and State Tech Foundation Chair, praised Claycomb for always remaining committed to the original mission of the college. Thomas, an Automotive Technology and Aviation Maintenance graduate, stated that Claycomb was always quick to thank the alumni for their success in the workforce which Claycomb believed contributed to the outstanding reputation the college has with business and industry. “I believe it’s also Dr. Claycomb’s leadership that has helped to build the reputation of the college,” stated Thomas.
John Atkinson, a recent graduate of the Electrical Distribution Systems program and the president of the Student Government Association, shared his first impression of Claycomb. According to Atkinson, Claycomb could be seen having lunch in the dining hall almost every day at the college. “The first time I noticed him he was wearing a cowboy hat and I thought to myself this must be some old man coming back to get his degree,” commented Atkinson.
Following the remarks made by friends and colleagues, family members had the opportunity to share their perspective of Claycomb with the audience. Claycomb’s daughter Donna Claycomb Sokol, his son Steven Claycomb and his wife Linda Claycomb shared their personal insights about their father and husband’s leadership and devotion to State Tech. “This wasn’t a job for Don Claycomb,” said Linda. “Don lives and breathes this place. It’s in his blood.”
Missouri House of Representative Justin Alferman re-presented Claycomb with the resolutions presented to him by the Missouri House of Representatives and the Senate on April 28 at the Missouri State Capitol.
During the event, State Tech Board of Regents President John Klebba presented Claycomb his honorary degree which he received during the recent commencement ceremony. “This degree symbolizes all Dr. Claycomb’s years of service and dedication to the college,” said Klebba.
Alongside the framed copy of the degree was the medallion Claycomb has worn at each commencement ceremony since 2001 when State Tech started the tradition of wearing official regalia. The medallion was originally created and produced by the Machine Tool Technology program at State Tech.
Scott Christianson, Vice President of the Board of Regents, presented a replica of the college’s new mace to Claycomb as his own keepsake. “For the first time at our commencement ceremony we had a mace present,” said Christianson. “The mace symbolizes the college’s governing authority and is present only when the President and Board of Regents are in attendance.”
Christianson stated that Claycomb had the honor of being the first person to carry the mace during the commencement ceremony held on May 7.
Machine Tool Technology Chair Chris Muenks, instructors Chad Glascock and James West, and lab assistant Ed Honse designed the mace. The grooves at the bottom of the mace represent the nine presidents of the college including Claycomb. The mace includes four logos that are important to the college’s history. The brass pieces also include the college’s mission ‘to prepare students for profitable employment and a life of learning’ and a replica of the brass eagle monument sits at the top of the mace.
Klebba concluded the presentations by re-announcing the decision of the Board of Regents to rename and dedicate the Information Technology Center to the Dr. Donald M. Claycomb Information Technology Center. Klebba stated that individuals may be recognized based upon their distinguished service who bring distinction to the institution or through their actions impact the course of history for the college in a positive way. “We believe Don is deserving of this level of recognition being bestowed,” said Klebba. “It honors all that he has done during his 23 years of service to the college.”
The evening concluded with a video celebrating Claycomb’s legacy as president. Claycomb is currently the longest-serving public college president in Missouri.
In addition to the dinner, an open house was held Saturday from 2 pm – 4 pm for members of the community to wish Claycomb well in his retirement.