As they researched and discussed topics leading to their reports, all six task forces operated with five major assumptions:
The rate of change will continue to accelerate
Change will remain constant, but the rate of change will accelerate exponentially, driven in large part by advances in technology. More people will have easy, fast and cheap access to each other, the world, and, most importantly, to the vast amount of knowledge available electronically. Organizations will be required to adapt so they not only survive, but thrive. Good organizations will add programs and functions to deal with change; great organizations will not only add what is needed, but also excel in “planned abandonment” – eliminating programs and services that have outlived their usefulness.
There will be changes in demographics
There will be changes in demographics and the majority of those changes will benefit Missouri State. While Missouri’s overall population is predicted to remain flat or decrease slightly, southwest Missouri is expected to continue growing. In the coming years, the number of high school graduates in the state will increase modestly. While Missouri and the Midwest may be among the last to experience it, the population of the United States will continue to become more diverse over the next 10 years.
Competition will intensify
The knowledge age will continue, so education and training will remain essential. This fact will attract additional providers into the higher education marketplace and cause existing institutions to expand their reach with new programs and especially with online delivery. Competitors will look for advantages both with superior products and with “customer-centric” convenience and services.
Cost will matter to Missouri State students
Since it was founded in 1905, Missouri State University has served students to whom cost matters. That is not likely to change. A majority of Missouri State students come from modest means; a significant number work while attending school; and many enter professions, such as teaching, that are more vital than they are lucrative. Missouri State views itself as the “high-quality educational option offered at a competitive price.” Containing cost while offering high-quality programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level, providing 21st century facilities, and hiring and retaining talented faculty and staff who are compensated appropriately will be a balancing act, especially given the status of state appropriations and related issues such as rising student loan debt.
State appropriations will remain unpredictable
A significant portion of the University’s budget comes from state appropriations – approximately $86 million ($80.1 million to Springfield and $5.8 million to West Plains) or about 37.5 percent of the total budget. There is no evidence to suggest that state appropriations will increase dramatically over the next decade. For planning purposes, therefore, increases in appropriations are predicted to approximate the rate of inflation. This will put more pressure on other sources of revenue: student tuition and fees, grants and contracts, private giving and entrepreneurial ventures. The bottom line is that funding will continue to be a challenge.