Connie Johnmeyer Retires From CMU

Connie JohnmeyerConnie Johnmeyer has led a fascinating professional life – one that offered opportunities to travel the world. And now that she is retired from Central Methodist University, she doesn’t plan to slow down one bit.

Instead, she’s on to even more exciting adventures.

A Fayette native, Johnmeyer attended Fayette High School. During her undergraduate years, however, she moved around to different colleges, including the University of Missouri, Alaska Methodist University, and the University of Alaska Anchorage. When all was said and done, she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in sociology, a Master of Science Degree in public health, and a Ph.D. in counseling psychology.

While working toward her PhD, she began teaching at Central. “I think the last three years of my PhD classwork, I was teaching here – full time, actually,” Johnmeyer said. “I was going to school full time, teaching full time, and raising children. It was quite interesting.” 

At the end of her PhD, an internship was required, and after searching for the best option, she decided on one in the United States Air Force as a psychologist. “The deal with the Air Force is that you do your internship, and then you owe them three years,” she said. “So I owed them three years, but I ended up staying for 20.”

During the first half of those 20 years, Johnmeyer said she mostly managed mental health clinics, where she conducted assessments and evaluations, and provided education. She experienced a lot of life during those years, and fell in love with the Air Force – the people, the places she was able to travel, and the fulfillment of playing a role in something significant – something bigger than herself.   

The second half of the 20 years, however, was a much different experience. This was after the September 11 terrorist attacks. 

“The first half of my career, I felt like a regular psychologist in a big organization. The last half, though, was just crazy. Interesting, but crazy,” Johnmeyer said. “Just a lot of deployment, which is very disruptive to one’s life.” 

Deployments were typically five to six months long, and it was during that time Johnmeyer was assigned overseas where she served three years in Germany, and two years in Portugal.

In 2012, she wrapped up her 20 years of service and returned home to Fayette. She moved into a 1970 family home built by her father, Julius Johnmeyer, and turned it into a Bed and Breakfast – JJ’s Folly, which is located just a mile or two outside of town.

Her original plan was to remain retired and only run the B&B, but she decided to begin teaching at CMU again, where she became a very valued, full-time employee. “Five years later, here I am, retiring again,” Johnmeyer said as she laughed.

At the time of her retirement, which was official on Saturday, May 20, she was the director of the Master of Science in Clinical Counseling program for CMU’s College of Graduate and Extended Studies, as well as an assistant professor.

A lot has changed and progressed for CMU’s MSCC program, which started off relatively small, according to Johnmeyer. 

“We had two sites, Park Hills and Sedalia, and we had no full-time people, only adjuncts,” she said of the program. “Now, we have six full-time assistant professor positions, and four sites. We added Maryland Heights and Columbia.” 

In addition to the rapid growth, Johnmeyer said MSCC was recently applied for accreditation through Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), which will add great value and quality to the developing program. 

“I love Central Methodist,” Johnmeyer said. “I like where they’re going, and I like where they’ve been. They have been steadfast in creating a very solid institution.”

The friendships, the mission, and working toward goals – those are what Johnmeyer said she’ll miss most about CMU – a place where she has made many friends over the years, a place that feels much like home.

As she turns to walk away from yet another big chapter in her life, excitement and opportunity lie ahead. “I have big plans,” she said.

Like most who retire, Johnmeyer is looking forward to the extra family time. She has four children, seven grandchildren, and one grandbaby on the way.

Her big plan, though – a plan she couldn’t help but smile in excitement as she spoke about – will kick off in September. She and her sister will be traveling to Europe, and will walk Spain’s Camino de Santiago – a feat that usually takes travelers about five weeks to accomplish.

“We’re giving ourselves six because we’re old,” she joked. “But it’s going to be incredible.”

As Johnmeyer takes these exciting steps, literally, as a retiree, she said she’ll always look back and appreciate the indescribable moments of human connection she felt during her career.

“The string of interpersonal moments where I’ve connected with someone, and just felt pure joy, or felt healing – those are the moments that have meant the most,” she said. “They’re the moments that kept me fed.”

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