Final Report Executive Summary

January 20, 2006

The Task Force on Missouri State University Futures has completed its charge and respectfully submits its findings and recommendations. The Task Force identified 11 research emphasis areas, all of which are highly interdisciplinary, to be considered for additional University support:

To arrive at these recommendations, the Task Force assessed how other universities are approaching future strategies for investment in research; established and utilized criteria to follow in identifying proposed emphasis areas; examined numerous internal documents and reports to determine areas of activity and strength; solicited faculty input through a number of means including open forums; and, solicited feedback from the community through an open forum held at the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Task Force had the extraordinarily difficult job of balancing a number of legitimate but competing concerns, including the balance between research and teaching. These included the issue that external funding is more readily available in some research areas than in others; the need to promote interdisciplinary research in an existing administrative structure that is not supportive of interdisciplinary research; the need to ensure that the emphasis areas are complementary to and supportive of the University's mission in public affairs as well as the major themes promoted by the University; and, the need to promote research and scholarship without diminishing the University's strength as a teaching institution. And of course, the background for all discussions is the ever tightening budget constraints faced by Missouri State University.

The Task Force believes that the 11 emphasis areas identified in this report are relevant in today's environment. However, the Task Force acknowledges that these emphasis areas are organic in nature and are certainly subject to change. Some emphasis areas will flourish, others may not. The need to add additional emphasis areas in the future is likely to occur. Further, activities of other committees on campus, for example the Public Health Task Force, may give rise to other emphasis areas for consideration, such as public health.

Given the dynamics of rapidly changing environments in which the University operates, the Task Force recommends that the University adopt an organizational structure for coordination and distribution of University resources in development of identified research emphasis areas. The Task Force also recommends strongly that a method of assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of each emphasis area be undertaken on a three-year cycle. Emphasis areas not meeting expectations should be eliminated and not subject to further consideration as a special focus for University investment. Finally, the Task Force recommends that a faculty committee, chaired by the Vice President for Research and Economic Development be given the responsibility of providing the organizational structure necessary for coordination and distribution of university resources in the development of identified interdisciplinary research areas, as well as the on-going assessment of each area. Recommendations made by the committee will be forwarded to the Provost and President for final actions.