Beth Huebner, Mindy Bier and Tom Hoerr featured as ‘St. Louis on the Air’ comes to campus

by | Feb 24, 2020

Host Sarah Fenske and her colleagues recorded an episode last week in front of members of the Pierre Laclede Society.
St. Louis on the Air

Criminology and Criminal Justice Professor Beth Huebner (second from right) answers a question from host Sarah Fenske (left) during the recording of an episode of “St. Louis on the Air” in front of members of the Pierre Laclede Society last week at the Millennium Student Center. St. Louis County Executive Sam Page and attorney Julia Fogelberg also participated in the segment on jail reform efforts in the county. (Photos by August Jennewein)

Members of the University of Missouri–St. Louis community usually have to make the trip to St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU’s studios in Grand Center to appear as guests on the station’s signature talkshow, “St. Louis on the Air.”

Last week, host Sarah Fenske and her colleagues brought the studio to UMSL, recording an episode of the show in front of a live audience Thursday evening in Century Room C of the Millennium Student Center as part of the third annual Community Confluence donor event for members of UMSL’s Pierre Laclede Society.

“St. Louis on the Air” provides a platform for guests to engage in conversation about how their work is impacting the St. Louis region and beyond. In the first of two segments broadcast today during the show’s usual noon time slot, Fenske spoke to UMSL Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice Beth Huebner as well as St. Louis County Executive Sam Page and attorney Julia Fogelberg, the director of diversion and special programs for the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office, about ongoing jail reform efforts in the county.

Huebner has helped steer some of those efforts as the lead researcher analyzing St. Louis County’s involvement in the Safety and Justice Challenge, funded through a series of grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

St. Louis on the Air

Host Sarah Fenske (left) engages with the Pierre Laclede Society members before last Thursday’s recording of “St. Louis on the Air” at the Millennium Student Center. St. Louis County Executive Sam Page (right) was part of a panel discussing jail reform during the show’s first segment.

“MacArthur wanted to take what they call a big bet, and they saw that jail incarceration has many negative impacts on communities,” Huebner said. “They wanted to do what they call “turn the country orange” by taking on jail reform. They made a big bet and put many millions of dollars into this initiative.”

St. Louis County’s team was one of 20 awarded funding to be part of the challenge and received a $2.25 million grant for two years starting in 2016. MacArthur awarded the team another $2.25 million grant for two more years in October 2018.

The efforts of Huebner and her colleagues with St. Louis County has started to gain traction in the past year and half and have helped reduce the population in the county jail from 1,242 in the summer of 2018 to 930 inmates as of last week.

“Sustainability is harder than to get it down, so I’m very happy that we’ve sustained the changes for a very long time,” Huebner said. “I think the key for the whole team — and I know this will continue after I’m done with the grant in about a year and a half — is to continue to look at those numbers, to continue to challenge and ask: ‘Who’s in this jail? Who needs to be here? Who doesn’t?’”

The shows second segment featured a conversation with Mindy Bier, co-director of UMSL’s Center for Character and Citizenship, and Tom Hoerr, scholar in residence in the College of Education and former head of the New City School in St. Louis. They have partnered on a new course that promotes servant leadership and cultivating virtues of humility, courage, gratitude and forgiveness in educational leaders.

“Those virtues will allow you to practice empowerment, foresight and stewardship,” Bier said. “That package has been shown in business, in the military, in health care to produce these really important outcomes.”

They want to conduct research to show the impact it can have in education, helping leaders combat empathy fatigue among teachers and teach social-emotional learning to students.

St. Louis on the Air

An audience of Pierre Laclede Society members applauds last Thursday evening during a break in the recording of an episode of “St. Louis on the Air”at the Millennium Student Center as part of UMSL’s third annual Community Confluence donor event.

“Leadership is a function of relationships,” Hoerr said. “And when you talk about leading a group – whether it’s a school, whether it’s a medical organization, whether it’s a radio station – it really boils down to how people interact and how you relate with them.

“We can’t assume that children are going to learn that naturally. We can’t assume that administrators are going to learn that naturally. What we need to do is formally teach people how to hear other folks, how to learn with them, learn from them.”

The audience for both segments was members of the Pierre Laclede Society, philanthropic donors who contribute $1,000 or more to UMSL each year.

In addition to listening in and submitting written questions during “St. Louis on the Air,” attendees of the Community Confluence event had the opportunity to hear from UMSL faculty members Jerry Dunn, Natalie Murphy and Joseph Pickard in 45-minute presentations about their work.

Dunn, the executive director of Children’s Advocacy Services of Greater St. Louis, discussed the impact of the Children’s Advocacy Center providing services to vulnerable children through forensic interviews, victim advocacy and trauma-focused counseling.

Murphy, the interim associate dean for academic programs in the College of Nursing, talked about the benefits of education abroad opportunities for nursing students at UMSL.

Pickard, an associate professor in the School of Social Work, presented the results of a survey of people who completed pilgrimages on El Camino de Santiago in northern Spain.

Steve Walentik

Steve Walentik