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2015 Men of the Year Honoree: Jeff Jochems

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For 24 years, Jeff Jochems has been a familiar face to the students, faculty and staff of Ozarks Technical Community College.

“I have always been interested in what someone’s future plans are and then trying to find ways to help them get where they want to be,” says Jochems, who began his professional career as an admissions counselor at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan., shortly before obtaining his master’s in education from the University of Kansas.

Jochems says his proudest professional accomplishment is helping establish federal financial aid funding for OTC students when he came to the school as its first director of financial aid in 1991.

Since then, he has seen OTC’s footprint grow to five locations with enrollment of nearly 12,000 students.

“His ability to work with OTC since its inception has given him the opportunity to learn the various functions of the school and a true understanding of ways that the college systems and offices interact,” says OTC Chancellor Hal Higdon.

“He has taken on an impressive array of administrative functions during his time at the college.”

Since 1998, Jochems has served as assistant dean of admissions, dean of student development, dean of student services, assistant vice president of administrative services and as an instructor for OTC’s business department. He was appointed inaugural president of the school’s Christian County-based Richwood Valley campus in 2011, and between July 2013 and November 2014 also served as interim president of the OTC Table Rock campus. Higdon says it is these credentials that give Jochems credibility with the faculty members he supervises.

“I look to provide guidance, vision and an atmosphere that encourages innovation and big thinking,” Jochems says.

“I try to make sure those who report to me feel free to try new things without the fear of repercussions – even if their new ideas do not always work out.”

As a leader, Jochems says it’s vitally important to set an example for his staff through consistency, integrity and positivity.

At the same time, he recognizes the value of teamwork, trusting colleagues and enabling them to play to their strengths.

“I have always tried to hire well-qualified people, put them in the right position to have the most influence and then let them do their job,” he says.

“I feel it is critical to truly have a team approach and give appropriate credit to those who have actually done the work.”

For Jochems, leadership and hard work go beyond the doors of OTC to other educational institutions and civic organizations. Currently, Jochems serves on the board of the Educational Community Credit Union and is a member of the Ozark Rotary Club, Ozark Chamber of Commerce Legislative Committee and James River Church’s Red Carpet Team and Children’s Ministries.

His past involvement includes membership with the Springfield Central Street Recycling Coalition, Springfield Partnership for Sustainability Committee, the Springfield Central High School A+ advisory committee and the Nixa Public Schools Comprehensive School Improvement Plan subcommittee on Progressive School Models.

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