The History of the Center for Dispute Resolution

CDR logo

The CDR began in Springfield as a community organization in the early 1990’s and was named “The Center for Conflict Resolution.” It was formed “to educate the general public and specialized populations (e.g., police) about informal conflict resolution procedures that avoid litigation and to deliver mediation services.” By the year 2000 the activities of the CCR had “virtually ceased.” The Board of Directors at the time had decided to disband the CCR as a nonprofit corporation when several board members volunteered to investigate if another organization would take on the functions of the CCR.

Missouri State University (then Southwest Missouri State University) seemed a perfect fit for the CCR, particularly given its mission in public affairs (in particular the use of disciplinary expertise to address the problems of society). The Board approached the Department of Communication to take on the CCR, seeing a direct relationship between the department’s mission and direction, including the potential for research, the application of faculty expertise, and the potential for the Center to serve as a laboratory for student education, training, and research in conflict and conflict resolution. Another goal was to provide a centralized location for curriculum development pertaining to conflict and dispute resolution (including a graduate certificate in dispute resolution) as well as to heighten awareness about alternative methods of dispute resolution.

The Department of Communication incorporated the Center, changing the name to the Center for Dispute Resolution (CDR). Dr. John Sisco, an emeritus faculty member in Communication, volunteered to direct the CDR through the summer of 2002. Dr. Charlene Berquist became the Center Director in August of 2002 and remains the Director today.

Since becoming a part of the Department of Communication, the CDR has flourished, providing programs that encompass a unique blend of university goals and community needs and interests. Over the years the CDR has grown significantly, expanding services, increasing programs, and raising awareness of alternative forms of dispute resolution and effective conflict management. Today the CDR is known throughout the region as a leader in providing training and developing innovative community programs. Additionally, the CDR supports Missouri State’s largest certificate program – the undergraduate and graduate certificates in Conflict and Dispute Resolution.