January 20, 2006
One of the first actions taken by Dr. Nietzel after becoming president of Missouri State University was the establishment of the Task Force on Missouri State University Futures. For membership on that Task Force, President Nietzel selected some of the University's most accomplished faculty, recognized for their influential scholarship and for their ability to understand the University in broad, inclusive terms and to represent the highest standards of excellence in teaching, research, and service. President Nietzel appointed Acting Provost Frank Einhellig as chair of the Task Force. Members of the task force included:
- Dr. Jim Baker, Research and Economic Development
- Dr. Chris Barnhart, Biology
- Dr. Mike Carlie, Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology
- Dr. Marc Cooper, History
- Dr. Peter Collins, Music
- Dr. Jane Doelling, School of Teacher Education
- Dr. Ryan Giedd, Physics and Astronomy
- Dr. Dennis Hickey, Political Science
- Dr. Michael Hignite, Computer Information Systems
- Dr. Jane Hoogestraat, English
- Dr. Kathryn Hope, Nursing
- Dr. Julie Masterson, Communication Science and Disorders
- Dr. D. Wayne Mitchell, Psychology
- Dr. Elizabeth Rozell, Management
- Dr. Dennis Schmitt, Agriculture
- Dr. Wade Thompson, Theatre and Dance
President Nietzel emphasized from the beginning that the examination of future areas of research and scholarly focus was to be led by faculty. The membership and composition of the Task Force represented the President's desire to engage faculty in key decision-making tasks that will help shape Missouri State's future.
In his initial memo to the Task Force, President Nietzel indicated that many universities have launched similar efforts to identify those areas of knowledge that should be targets of focused reinvestment. In general terms, he asked the Task Force to concentrate on identifying broad intellectual/research themes, rather than specific departments, units or programs, for the recommended priorities.
The specific charge to the Task Force on Missouri State University Futures was to:
- Assess the current status of the University's scholarly and educational strengths as well as its best opportunities for initiatives with a high potential for excellence;
- Recommend up to 12 areas of contemporary scholarship that should be the priorities for investments of new and reallocated resources, particularly the addition of faculty lines; and,
- Propose specific options for academic restructuring and reorganization that will promote interdisciplinary innovations, strengthen research and degree programs, increase administrative efficiency, and generate additional savings in administrative costs that can be reallocated to academic priorities.
Dr. Nietzel directed the task force to consider multiple criteria in its assessment, including the following:
- Major trends and opportunities in extramural funding;
- Areas where growth in knowledge is expected to be most dramatic;
- Special needs of Missouri, Springfield, and the Ozarks to include economic development, technological advances, cultural enrichment, physical well-being, and social prosperity;
- Encouragement of new collaborations in research and learning as well as linkages to the University's existing and emerging research strengths;
- Compatibility with the University's statewide mission in public affairs; and,
- Potential for contributing to superior undergraduate, graduate, and professional education.
It should be noted that at the second meeting of the Task Force (September 1, 2005) the group made two changes to the criteria identified by Dr. Nietzel. The first change was that the third bulleted point was modified to read:
- Special needs and resources of Missouri, Springfield, and the Ozarks to include economic development, technological advances, cultural enrichment, physical well-being and social prosperity.
In addition, sustainability was added as new criteria to be used in assessing and developing a list of research and scholarly emphasis areas.
The first meeting of the Task Force was held on August 25, 2005. At that meeting it was decided that the Task Force would meet weekly. One of the first activities of the Task Force was to review how other universities had approached setting up research and scholarship emphasis areas. Projects from the University of Kentucky and the University of Wisconsin were reviewed. After those reviews, it was decided to conduct a survey of Missouri State faculty to determine what areas of emphasis that they would suggest and support. At its September 1 meeting, the Task Force drafted a letter to the campus community to solicit feedback to be utilized for the development of initial "clusters" or emphasis areas. It was also decided at that meeting to develop a website to allow additional input from the campus community. During the following meeting on September 7, the final version of the letter was approved and sent via email to all faculty on campus.
As part of the review process, the Task Force examined Institutional Review Board documents to determine the number and nature of research projects dealing with human subjects submitted by units on campus. The prior three-year history of all the proposals submitted for external funding by institutes/centers, colleges, and departments was also reviewed.
Feedback from more than 180 faculty was received between September 9 and September 27. At its September 29 meeting, the Task Force reviewed the faculty feedback results and developed a number of very broad categories, and tentative working models to be used in paring down the research and scholarship emphasis areas. The early categories, based on faculty feedback (website, emails, and personal contact), reviewing IRB and grant activity, and committee knowledge of the University resulted in the following topics.
- Public Health
- Life Science
- Environmental Management
- Life-Span Studies
- Materials Science
- History and Culture of the Americas
- International Studies
- Technology and the Arts
- Learning Disabilities
- Societal and Behavioral Issues
- Technology Development
- Agricultural Sciences
- Performing Arts
After a great deal of discussion, this initial list was refined and subcommittees were established to solicit additional input and to further refine the proposed research and scholarship emphasis areas. The list of categories, with subgroup members in parenthesis, included:
- Materials Science (Rozell, Hignite, Giedd)
- Entrepreneurship (Rozell, Hignite, Giedd)
- Life-Span Behavioral Studies (Masterson, Doelling, Mitchell, Hope, Carlie)
- Public Health (Masterson, Mitchell, Hope, Carlie, Doelling)
- History and Cultures of the Americas (Hickey, Carlie, Cooper)
- International Studies (Carlie, Cooper, Hickey)
- Life Sciences (Barnhart, Giedd, Schmitt, Einhellig)
- Environmental and Water Quality (Barnhart, Giedd, Schmitt, Einhellig)
- Musical Theatre (Collins, Thompson, Masterson)
- Technology and the Arts (Collins, Thompson, Masterson)
- Teaching and Learning Research (Carlie, Doelling, Hope, Masterson, Mitchell)
- This particular emphasis area evolved after the subgroups were selected
A concept statement was developed for each proposed emphasis area by each subgroup. Further, the subgroups evaluated their emphasis areas according to how they aligned with the following list of previously established criteria.
- Funding: Major trends and opportunities in extramural funding.
- Growth: Areas of knowledge anticipated to experience the most dramatic growth.
- Unique Resources: Unique existing resources as well as current needs in Missouri, the Ozarks, and/or Springfield regarding economic development, technological advances, cultural enrichment, physical well-being, and/or social prosperity.
- Collaborations: New collaborations in research and/or learning as well as linkages to the University's existing and emerging research strengths.
- Strengths: Building on existing strengths.
- Mission Fit: Compatibility with the University's statewide mission in public affairs.
- Education Fit: Contributions to superior undergraduate, graduate, and professional education.
- Sustainability: Programs will be sustainable for the long-term.
In subsequent meetings, the subgroups made presentations to the Task Force as a whole concerning their assigned emphasis areas. In this manner, each of the final emphasis areas was modified and eventually approved by the Task Force and then posted on the web site for further review by the campus and external communities. In addition to receiving feedback collected from the web site, the Task Force held two public forums on campus (November 28 and November 29) and one public forum off-campus at the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce on November 30. In all, more than 100 people attended these forums.
A representative listing of comments and/or recommendations from the on campus open forums included:
- There is a lack of clear, accessible information regarding research productivity.
- Outstanding scholars/faculty that don't necessarily fall in one of the emphasis areas should also be recognized for their contributions.
- Greater emphasis needs to be put on the Public Affairs Mission by implementing an additional cluster to include humanities and liberal arts.
- Health emphasis is too broad and general which causes it to lose its meaning and as a result it needs to be narrowed to public health.
- The University needs to develop mechanisms to promote interdisciplinary activity.
- The University must develop a mechanism(s) to measure the success/progress of each emphasis area.
Highlighted comments and/or recommendations gathered at the off campus open forum included:
- Overall, it would be good to condense and consolidate the areas of focus. For example, health and research on human development could be combined.
- The focus areas seem well aligned with the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and business community goals.
- The University must continue to strategically tie into community needs, such as those highlighted in the Community Focus report card for Springfield and Greene County.
- Importance of foreign language studies and international programs must continue to be recognized.
- The University needs to evaluate this program and remain flexible to change as new areas of focus emerge.
- The University needs to have at least one specific example in each emphasis area on how this program enables Missouri State University to better connect with the community and respond to important community needs.
Also during this period of time, Dr. Einhellig met with the Faculty Senate (October 13 and November 10), Graduate Council (October 12, November 9 and December 7), and the Academic Administrators Assembly (October 24 and November 21) providing updates and progress reports.
On December 1, the Task Force met to discuss incorporation of feedback received from the website and from the public forums. Once again, the subcommittees worked to incorporate feedback from the public forums and to further modify and refine the emphasis areas, with some alteration, changing of titles and narrowing of focus. The final formal meeting of the Task Force was held on December 8. After the final formal Task Force meeting, Task Force subcommittees continued to fine tune the recommended research and scholarship emphasis areas. This process extended into mid-January 2006.
The research emphasis areas that best meet the established criteria previously listed are recommended by the Task Force for consideration by the President of Missouri State University. Those emphasis areas are discussed in the next section of this report. The Task Force members recognize that some emphasis areas have a broader scope than others, but the consensus is that significant self-narrowing will occur by the interest and effort of faculty that work in these areas.
Recommended Research and Scholarship Emphasis Areas
After numerous meetings, thorough discussion, and review of faculty and community feedback, the Task Force recommends that the President consider investing additional resources in the following areas, listed in alphabetical order:
- American History and Cultures
- Environment and Water Resources
- Global Perspectives with an Emphasis on Asia
- Health Promotion
- Human Development
- Materials Science
- Performing and Creative Arts
- Research on Learning, Teaching, and Intervention
- Technology and Emerging Art Forms
The concept for each research and scholarship emphasis area is summarized below. More detailed information for each emphasis area is presented in Attachment One.
American History and Cultures
Americans share a history but participate in many cultures. This area encompasses the study, preservation, and dissemination of scholarship relating to American history, societies, and cultures from the perspectives of the humanities and social sciences. While this emphasis area encompasses the span of American history and the breadth of its cultures, including its literature, art, and popular culture, it focuses on those aspects of culture and history unique to Missouri and the Ozarks.
- Big Eddy Site: A multi-component Paleoindian Site on the Ozark border of southwest Missouri
- A quasi-experimental approach to improve the performance of students in American history
Biotechnology is the understanding and improvement of living organisms. During the past three decades, novel molecular approaches have lead to a rapid accumulation of knowledge in biological systems. The translation of this new knowledge to practical applications presents unprecedented economic opportunities in all areas dealing with living organisms, from medicine, to animal husbandry, to crop production. Biotechnology is expected to become an important, if not the most important, driving force of the 21st century economy. For example, the biotechnology industry employed 713,000 workers in 2002 and is anticipated to employ 815,000 workers in 2007. Jobs in the biotechnology sector typically pay 1.5 times the United States annual average salary.
The inherent complexity of living organisms presents challenges for both basic and translational life sciences. Meeting these challenges requires a coordinated interdisciplinary approach. Missouri State University has strong research programs in animal reproduction and product improvement, nerve cell biology, and the plant genomics areas. While these programs can serve as seeds for future growth, they need to be strengthened by contribution from agriculture, biomedical sciences, chemistry, mathematics, and computer and material sciences. A strong interdisciplinary research and scholarship cluster in plant and animal biotechnology will enable the University to play a prominent role in establishing a modern, life science-based economy in Missouri.
- Cloning and functional analysis of defense-related genes from disease-resistant grapevines.
- Development of techniques and protocols for artificial insemination of elephants in captivity.
The definition of Entrepreneurship is complex and multifaceted. Entrepreneurship may be conceptualized as the practice of starting new businesses, but entrepreneurs also are those who pioneer change by creating new products and/or processes. These activities have long been associated with creating job opportunities and the spectrum of entrepreneurship activities can be found in both for-profit and not-for-profit entities.
There are two distinct aspects to entrepreneurship with regard to the typical university's participation in such initiatives. The first involves an emphasis on economic development through interdisciplinary research efforts focused on the advancement of community, regional, state or national initiatives. The second emphasis is a focused effort aimed at creating the next generation of entrepreneurs by providing the business skills and research necessary for creation and market technologies, other products, and ideas.
- The Small Business Development Center Financial Consulting Service funded by the Small Business Administration during the 15 months from 10/1/04 to 12/31/05, provided assistance to 38 entrepreneurial enterprises in Southwest Missouri in securing $22M in investment capital for these enterprises, creating or retaining an estimated 1050 jobs.
- The Support American-Made Experiment starting in 1991 has provided product evaluation and entrepreneurial management practices assessment to about 2200 entrepreneurial growth-oriented manufacturing enterprises and placed 2050 products from 110 product lines on the shelves.
Environment and Water Resources
This emphasis area encompasses the study of ecosystems, human impacts on the environment, and sustainable resource management. The Ozarks region is biogeographically and geologically distinctive and possesses relatively intact but sensitive physical environment and biological communities. Aquatic and terrestrial natural resources are major factors in the quality of life and the regional economy. Missouri State has a superior record of research and funding in several areas of environmental science, and is well-positioned to achieve regional and national recognition.
- Conservation biology and restoration of federally-endangered species in rivers.
- Using geospatial science to relate land use to water quality trends.
Global Perspectives with an Emphasis on Asia
Broadly defined, the concept of "Global Perspectives" includes the study of international issues and trends (globalization, democratization, socio-economic development, religious-cultural interaction, international security, environmental degradation, etc.), area studies, and language skills. Whereas the focus of global perspectives may shift because of changes in the political, economic, or cultural contexts, the world in all its manifestations is increasingly interdependent, necessitating an emphasis as broad as possible.
It is anticipated that the university will continue to develop expertise in various regions of the world. For example, the university has emphasized efforts in Asia during the past several years. Asia, comprising such countries as China, Korea, Mongolia, Japan, India and Indonesia, contains more than half the world's population. Confucianism, Buddhism, Chinese traditions, and Hinduism form the core of its shared cultural heritage. Asian states also share a history which unites this region and differentiates it from the rest of the world. Despite our long and intimate engagement with Asia, Americans are often unfamiliar with the area, its civilizations, its customs, and its languages. Since 1945 the economies of the region have grown at an extraordinary pace. The American economy is now intimately connected to the economies of Asia, and they are themselves connected through an intricate web of commercial and financial ties. Despite the growing importance of the region, there are no other Asia programs in Missouri at state-supported institutions of higher education. Missouri State's strength in this area is unique within the state.
- Security dynamics in Central Asia, with a particular emphasis on radical or militant Islam.
- Development of strategies to promote peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and reduce the chance for conflict between China and Taiwan.
Health promotion research focuses on the prevention of disease and facilitation of wellness by maintaining or maximizing the health potential of individuals, families, communities, and societies. Health promotion emphasizes the achievement of an optimal level of health through health education, disease prevention, and health protection. Research goals include the identification of determinants of health, the avoidance of disease complications, and the development and evaluation of strategies to modify health knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors.
- Techniques and evaluation of newborns for hearing deficits.
- Development of strategies for smoking reduction and behavioral change.
Human Development promotes collaboration among diverse disciplines and supports research regarding populations with and without disabilities from conception through the final stages of life. The research includes the study of individual and developmental differences in human behavior and cognition. Research goals include basic and applied studies. Examples of current and potential research include descriptions of typical and atypical behavioral and cognitive processes, evaluating treatment outcomes of experimental interventions at various age levels, and functional assessments of independence and behavior-motor skills of individuals at various age levels.
- Studies to identify and describe the behavioral and cognitive processes that account for learning deficits observed typically in preterm-low birth weight infants so that optimal intervention strategies can be designed and provided.
- Measurement of balance in healthy children and young adults (ages 5 to 19 years) in order to determine normalized values so that health care providers can effectively treat children and young adults with impaired balance.
The general field of Materials Science involves the examination of all classes of materials from an interdisciplinary viewpoint with an emphasis on making connections between the underlying structure and the processing, properties, and performance of a material. Advances in materials science have resulted in "made to order" materials where exacting control of the most fundamental microscopic processes (referred to as nanotechnology) result in unique applications. Economic development based on the application of materials science to nanotechnological challenges and new product development has led to the creation of Missouri State's Center for Applied Science and Engineering (CASE). CASE's focus is to apply materials science technologies to product development for corporate affiliates and for interdisciplinary learning experiences.
Missouri State's emphasis in Materials Science is on discovering and applying new nanotechnologies driven by commercial interest with a focus on remediation materials, electronic materials, and biomaterials that have unique properties when exposed to the Biological, Chemical, Physical, and FAR IR spectrums through hardening, particle detection, and collective response mechanisms. In addition to the traditional sciences, many opportunities in applying new materials science nanotechnologies involve novel manufacturing, management, and marketing approaches.
- Biosensors made from Carbon and Polymer-Based MEMS.
- Polymer Based Highly Parallel Nanoscopic Sensors for Rapid Detection of Chemical and Biological Threats.
Performing and Creative Arts
The Performing and Creative Arts represent disciplines that intersect with music, dance, theatre and the visual arts. The Performing and Creative Arts emphasis would initiate dialog among research/creative activities from various areas and focus on the interaction of those areas with the ultimate goal of establishing excellence in artistic activity. Areas would include theatre, dance, music, musical theatre, visual arts, speech, and creative writing. Media would serve as a means of recording and disseminating live performance. In addition to maintaining a high level of artistic activity in traditional settings, potential creative/research projects could include oral performance of literature in cooperation with creative writing, modern dance interpretations of literature and/or music, collaborative presentations within new visual arts genres and media/sound design connecting to performing and creative arts.
- The Graphic Imperative: International Posters for Peace, Social Justice and the Environment, 1965-2005.
- The Musical Theatre program was recently honored by the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival for the outstanding full-length production Cicada Dance.
Research on Learning, Teaching, and Intervention
Research on Learning, Teaching, and Intervention requires systematic analysis of the learning process and identification of instructional methods and modalities that best facilitate learning in typical and atypical populations. Included is an analysis of instructional content, pedagogy, and the relationship of teaching practices and clinical interventions to learner outcomes. Studies in this area involve critical evaluation of instructional practices that have a significant impact on students at all levels of ability, from preschool through adult education. This research also includes an evaluation of how students learn and the social and moral context of the learning and teaching process.
- Analysis of how students' spellings can be used to improve reading performance and optimize the chances of all students meeting the No Child Left Behind accountability criteria.
- Enhancing intrinsic motivation for research through service-learning.
Technology and Emerging Art Forms
The creation of new art forms and the development of new technologies are both driven by creative problem solving. Creative practitioners within the arts have become increasingly more involved in the application of new technologies to the development of new art forms. This transition has eliminated many of the traditional boundaries that have separated various forms of artistic exploration. The Technology and Emerging Art Forms initiative would coordinate faculty and students from various disciplines and focus research on emerging arts technologies and their interaction with artists and the public. Areas would include, but are not limited to, visual arts and design, media film production, communications, biomedical sciences, computer sciences, dance and music. Examples of current and potential research include digital applications in photography, printmaking, graphic design and animation, musical/video collaborations, musical composition, dance/video interactive performances, and the study of vocal production through collaboration of science and theatre disciplines.
- Understanding the Voice: The Value of Interdisciplinary Collaboration.
- Video Game, an art expo, international juried video festival in video animation.
Recommendations to Support Implementing Selected Research and Scholarship Emphasis Areas
The Futures Task Force was given the charge to identify research areas in which Missouri State University is excelling and/or should develop excellence. These research areas are to provide a focus for investment by the University with the hope that in the future they can become areas on which Missouri State can build a world class reputation. It is expected that the research areas, within a reasonable period of time, will be self-sufficient through the generation of significant external funding. This self- sufficiency will not be feasible without a significant initial investment by the University.
Many of these research areas have major interdisciplinary components. The Futures Task Force has been made aware of challenges and issues encountered by the University in rewarding departments and faculty members that participate in interdisciplinary work (e.g., collaboration by multiple departments to develop and offer general education courses). While interdisciplinary challenges have been evident in curriculum, there are concerns that gaining forums for interdisciplinary research sharing may also be difficult, and it will need continued dialogue and leadership to champion these endeavors. Hence, there was a consensus in the Task Force that development of a website portal to foster interactions on research, as well as teaching and service, should be considered.
Faculty working in these interdisciplinary research areas should realize that decisions for promotion, tenure, and review ultimately reside within departments and colleges, so they must remain sensitive to the priorities of their department and college. The Futures Task Force hopes that considerations will be stated in departmental promotion, tenure, and review documents that appropriately reward faculty for participation in interdisciplinary research.
The Futures Task Force proposes that the Vice President for Research and Economic Development oversee the coordination and distribution of University resources in the initial stages of developing the identified research areas. This investment should be consistent with the infrastructural needs identified by the University Research Task Force report for the proposed long range plan Daring to Excel: A Long-Range Vision and Five-Year Plan (2005-2010) summarized below. This investment is expected to be in addition to the normal investments made at the college and departmental levels. It is envisioned that as internal funds become available to invest for strengthening emphasis areas named in this report, a "request for proposal (RFP)" process will be used. The process will solicit proposals from Deans or jointly from several Deans, as well as Board of Governors' approved Centers and Institutes given the interdisciplinary nature of the research emphasis areas. The proposals will need to describe not only the details of the research investment proposed, but also the strategic gain, outcome, and long-term impact that can be made from such an investment. As a part of this process, a faculty advisory committee chaired by the Vice President for Research and Economic Development will review the proposals and forward recommendations to the Provost and President for making selected investments to enhance specific research emphasis areas.
In general there is a tremendous need to improve and enhance the infrastructure facilitating research in current and potential areas of excellence identified by the Futures Task Force. The University Research Task Force, in their work toward developing the university's five-year plan, identified several means to improve research productivity and a summary of these recommendations is provided below. The Futures Task Force endorses the recommendations contained with the University Research Task Force report to be incorporated into the university's long-range plan and encourages review of the document in its entirety at http://www.missouristate.edu/daringtoexcel/research/
- Expand space allocation to meet research needs. The availability of research space and facilities must be evaluated with space allocations in line with interdisciplinary research goals.
- Provide necessary administrative and staff support. The proliferation of research projects over the last five years and the projected future increase in sponsored research projects requires a commensurate increase in resources for supporting administrative units and committees. Particular needs are evident in the areas of accounting, purchasing, assistance with acquiring research grants and contracts, compliance with federal and state regulations, and technical work in direct support of research.
- Maintain flexibility of individual workload assignments. The proportions of individual workload assigned to teaching, research, and service must be flexible within departments to allow for the best use of individual talents and opportunities. Equitable distribution of the department workload should be the responsibility of the department head with justification of individual loads facilitated by systematic reporting of productivity via the professional development plan.
- Recognize research productivity in staffing decisions. Departmental staffing and workloads start with the premise that all faculty members are allocated time, equipment, and necessary physical facilities to pursue a reasonable level of creative activity. Staffing decisions, over time, should be based on equitable assessments of research productivity as well as on credit hour production.
- Recognize research mentoring as teaching. Recognition and reward of this type of teaching is essential for involvement of students in research at all levels, and for the viability of graduate programs. The accounting of research specific courses should be reviewed and made consistent among departments. Since mentoring produces a low ratio of student credit hours to faculty hours, and an adequate credit hour production must be maintained, credit hour production should be addressed on a department level, and in the context of overall department or program productivity.
- Support graduate programs and graduate research. Research productivity and graduate education are strongly interdependent. Graduate students are an important resource, and Missouri State University must compete for high-quality graduate students with GA stipends and opportunities that are comparable to those at similar graduate-level institutions.
- Improve library and travel resources. In particular, the erosion of scholarly journal subscriptions must be reversed and the availability of on line journals increased. It is expected that faculty will eventually generate a greater portion of their own travel funds from external sources. However, in the interim, additional monies to cover costs of presentation of research findings will be necessary in order to allow faculty to establish or strengthen credibility in their research areas and be optimally competitive in seeking external funds.
- Develop a pool of senior research faculty members. Some areas of excellence identified by the Futures Committee will most probably require the hiring of senior faculty members who have strong records of federally funded research within the areas. Some areas may lack depth in terms of current faculty members with strong, funded research programs, and some areas may not have any current faculty members fitting these criteria. Senior faculty members are needed to mentor others and to serve as role models and consultants.
- Adopt a system to assess research productivity across departments and colleges. Unless research productivity is recorded, assessed, and recognized, there is little incentive for units to set research goals and no formal basis to judge their performance. Hence, Missouri State must develop a system to measure and track research productivity, and selected evidences of this assessment should be exhibited in the Departmental Profiles.
- Provide greater support services during the pre- and post-award phases. Although Missouri State University has in place the Office of Sponsored Research, grant submission and management at the level suggested by the Futures Task Force will require a substantial increase in support services. Most principal investigators at Missouri State currently do not have access to adequate assistance at the department, college, center, or institute level during the preparation of grant proposals.
In accomplishing the ten recommendations above, the Futures Task Force recognizes that securing external funding for research and infrastructure development will be critical. To that end, the Futures Task Force further recommends the following:
- Missouri State University has a number of research centers and institutes. These units were established as separate research units for a variety of reasons, but primarily to focus on an area of interest that either would not normally be identified with a specific academic unit or would extend beyond the interests of any one academic unit. The Futures Task Force recognizes that these centers and institutes can be instrumental in supporting the interdisciplinary activities of the proposed research and scholarship emphasis areas. However, it is unclear at this time if all of the institutes and centers are being operated in an optimal fashion. Therefore, the Futures Task Force recommends that the University undertake an administrative review of existing institutes and centers in much the same manner as current practices in academic program review. Further, the administrative review should lead to recommendations on how each center and institute can best be utilized to assist in the development of the proposed emphasis areas. For example, the Center for Applied Science and Engineering can be directly supportive to emphasis areas including biotechnology, environment and water resources, materials science, and entrepreneurship while the newly created Community and Social Issues Institute supports activities that are important in the American history and cultures, health promotion and research on human development emphasis areas.
- The University should undertake a thorough review of its indirect cost recovery process. It is recommended that recovered indirect costs be focused on building the research infrastructure, including support of research activities in the proposed emphasis areas.
- To enhance the opportunity to obtain external funds to support development of the proposed emphasis areas, the Futures Task Force recommends that the University investigate the feasibility of establishing a Research Foundation with 501 (c) 3 status. Many grants are not available to "educational institutions." However, they are available to 501 (c) 3 foundations of "educational institutions." The research foundation would increase opportunities for external funding in emphasis areas such as the performing arts.
- While not making specific recommendations for academic unit reorganizations, some reorganization would be beneficial to the full implementation of proposed emphasis areas. For example, the potential for biotechnology research might be enhanced if the Departments of Agriculture and Fruit Science were to develop degrees in horticulture and animal science. The Futures Task Force recommends that the president of the university investigate structural changes that might aid in implementing the proposed emphasis areas.
- The Futures Task Force recommends that steps be taken to ensure that information regarding funding decisions, and actual budgets and expenditures, be easily accessed by the Missouri State University community.
- As feasible, additional budget, including potential 1% reallocation monies proposed by the President should be directed to support the research and scholarship emphasis areas.
- Finally, the Task Force recommends that the University reward efficiency at the departmental/program level by encouraging cost saving efforts and reallocation of monies to research.
The members of the Task Force on Missouri State University Futures would like to thank everyone who participated in this effort. A special debt of gratitude is owed Ms. Tami Sutton for her service as staff assistant to the Task Force. The Futures Task Force has worked diligently and objectively to identify broad intellectual/research themes with the potential to enhance the University's opportunity to excel in focused research and scholarly areas. By choosing to invest in these emphasis areas, the University will enhance greatly its opportunity to develop a world class reputation.