Chapter 1: SMSU: A Mission-Focused Evolving Institution
Responses to the 1995 Self-Study
SMSU received its 10-year continuing accreditation by the NCA in February, 1996. While the visiting Site Team and later, the Commission, listed no conditions or stipulations to that continuing accreditation, there were six concerns and thirteen suggestions contained in the report of the Site Team. All of the concerns and almost all of the suggestions in the Site Team’s report arose from the University’s own recognition of these issues during the self-study process.
While the University’s acknowledgement of these issues arose from a desire to improve the institution in specific areas, the University’s response to the Site Team’s report reflected the ongoing commitment to overall institutional improvement. In September 1997, President Keiser and Vice President for Academic Affairs Schmidt appointed the North Central Association Review Committee whose official purpose was to monitor the University’s progress in addressing these concerns and suggestions. The Review Committee submitted reports in January 1998 and in 2000 as well as additional periodic reports to the Administrative Council. As a result of reflecting on those reports and the later reports given by academic and non-academic units to the emergent HLC Self-Study Steering Committee, the Steering Committee is able to conclude that the University has addressed or is continuing to address all concerns listed in the last NCA Site Team Report.
The six concerns listed in the Site Team Report were related to the following topics:
Brief responses to each of these areas of concern, as they were noted ten years ago, follow. More in-depth evidence of the University’s ability to address these concerns appears in the chapters that follow. The University’s response to the site team’s thirteen suggestions appears as an appendix.
Diversity among Faculty and Staff
The last Site Team report noted, with regard to the diversity among faculty and staff, “The University does not exhibit a sense of real commitment to diversity as evidenced by the absence of an articulated plan. The absence of women and minorities in administrative roles and minorities in faculty was cited as a concern in 1985 and remains a concern.”
As discussed at length in Chapter Six, the University has made significant strides since 1995 in increasing diversity through articulated plans, the hiring of women and minorities in administrative roles, and the hiring of minorities in faculty positions. While the Steering Committee acknowledges the University has not yet met its goals in each of these areas of hiring, the institution continues to plan for increased diversity. For example, President Michael T. Nietzel has appointed a Commission on Diversity. Both Countdown to the Centennial and Daring to Excel elaborate on the ongoing efforts.
The Steering Committee also notes, however, that studies of hiring across the nation have shown that competitive salaries are as significant as environmental factors in attracting employees. Until Missouri State offers competitive salaries to minority candidates, it seems unlikely that the institution will be able to achieve the desired level of ethnic diversity among faculty and administrators.
Diversity among Students and within Curriculum
The 1995 site team report also noted, regarding diversity among students and within curriculum, “The lack of a required curricular component that promotes knowledge and understanding of multicultural environments is inconsistent with the university mission statement in the 1995-96 Catalogs.”
Revised General Education curriculum, requirements within specific disciplines, and numerous campus activities all demonstrate the promotion of multiculturalism and diversity.
In keeping with its mission, the University “promotes knowledge and understanding of multicultural environments” through several aspects of University life. The revised General Education curriculum, requirements within specific disciplines (such as Education and Business), and activities on campus demonstrate how knowledge of multiculturalism and diversity are promoted. While it is possible for a student to graduate without taking a course containing a multicultural component, it is extremely unlikely. The programs and activities that promote diversity are discussed more fully in Chapters Four and Six.
Library Facilities and Funding
With regard to the library, the 1995 site team report noted, “Lack of funds for staff and inadequate space restrict library’s ability to adequately meet the educational and research needs of faculty and students.” The University community was delighted with the allocation of funds ($1.35 million in FY98) for planning a major addition to Meyer Library, the beginning of construction in October 1999, and the project’s completion in 2002. The addition and renovation, at a cost of more than $28 million, brought the facilities to Level “A,” according to the Standards for Libraries in Higher Education.
Because the library’s materials budget has been static for the past six years at $1.8 million per year, purchases of books have declined each of these years, with the net acquired for 2003-04 at 11,000, down from the net acquired in FY95 of 26,000. Paper journals have been cut from 4,750 subscriptions to 3,639 at the end of the 2003-04 year. Although these reductions are regrettable, because technology has expanded and developed exponentially since the 1995 Self-Study, the community has witnessed an increased availability of holdings through the Internet and through MOBIUS, a consortium of 57 academic libraries with a common library platform and resource sharing.
The Library’s improvements in facilities and in electronic resources have contributed to professional and educational activities for faculty and students at a significantly higher level than what was possible in 1995. This renovated and expanded learning environment, along with the continuing needs for increased staffing and an adequate music library, is discussed more fully in Chapter Four.
Funding & Staffing New Graduate Programs
Graduate programs and enrollment have doubled since 1995.
The 1995 Self-Study noted a concern regarding plans for new graduate programs: “While funding is anticipated for the eleven new graduate programs which are in various stages of the planning process, staffing some of these programs may be very difficult.”
The programs and activities of the Graduate College have experienced tremendous growth in the interval since the 1995 Self-Study. Graduate enrollment and programs doubled in this period. Programs expanded from 22 in 1995 to the present 43 graduate-degree programs and ten graduate-certificate programs. As discussed in Chapters Three and Five, this planned expansion was at the very foundation of the University’s public affairs mission, as new programs were instituted to address critical educational needs of society, Missouri, and particularly the institution’s immediate service region. Now one of every six students enrolled at Missouri State is a graduate student. The expanded dedication to graduate education has reshaped the University and reflects an ongoing transition in the academic culture and environment that will continue for the foreseeable future. The aspects of this expansion that involve scholarship and research are discussed more fully in Chapter Four.
Overall, Missouri State has met the challenges of staffing its graduate expansion and developing quality programs. This occurred because of extensive planning, the focus of program expansion meeting the public affairs mission, concerted faculty and administrative efforts, and significant infusion of new and dedicated mission enhancement funding for the programs from state appropriations during 1996-2000. An example of the new funding is the $693,000 received for starting the Masters in Physical Therapy (MPT) program. In addition, all the planned new programs received some funds (for graduate assistantships, student research, distance learning courses, or operations budgets, for example) because this graduate expansion occurred in concert with the encouragement and support of the Missouri Department of Higher Education.
The 1995 Site Team Report noted the following regarding the general education program: “While recent planning efforts in general education are encouraging, the same general education requirements are in place, which were cited as a concern in 1985.”
A revised general education program has been fully implemented and periodic assessment has begun. A description of this revised program and its assessment appears in Chapter Four.
Gender Equity in Athletics
Regarding gender equity in athletics, the 1995 Site Team Report noted, “While the university is developing its plans to achieve gender equity in intercollegiate athletic programs, it nonetheless is not in compliance as defined by Title IX, a federal mandate.”
Missouri State is now in compliance with Title IX. According to the federal standards as they are stated, we are “fully meeting the interests and abilities of our student athletes.” Gender equity in athletics is discussed in Chapter Six.
The University has addressed all the concerns listed in the 1995 NCA Site Team Report. The current Self-Study report provides evidence, in the following chapters, that these concerns have been addressed and that those concerns still in existence are receiving additional consideration and remediation.