Academic Programs

The responsibility for implementing the mission and five themes of the university is that of the faculty, staff and administrators in the six colleges of Arts and Letters, Business Administration, Education, Health and Human Services, Humanities and Public Affairs, and Natural and Applied Sciences which house the academic departments; the University College, which has responsibility for administering the honors program, academic advising, and general education; the Graduate College; Continuing Education; Library Services; the Writing Center; Institutional Research; and the Center for Assessment and Instructional Support.

These groups must contribute to the university mission, guided by the vision of what Southwest Missouri State University is to become over the next five years and into the 21st Century, capitalizing on university strengths; addressing responsibilities to the needs and expectations of the citizenry and their elected and appointed representatives and officials; and functioning within the economic, political, cultural, technical, and social environment.

  • Academic Philosophy
  • General Education
  • Honors College
  • Graduate Education
  • Research and Creative Scholarship
  • Implementing the Five Themes
  • Supporting the New Mission

Academic philosophy

The focus of the Southwest Missouri State University mission is to develop educated persons who have an understanding of themselves and the diverse social and natural world in which they live, who are creative people of vision, and who are capable of making informed and meaningful decisions. Furthermore, these educated people will be literate in the broadest sense, will develop an appreciation for the beauty and complexities of citizenship, will become lifelong learners, and will learn to identify problems as well as to solve them through use of their academic disciplines. In order to achieve this, it is essential that the faculty, staff, and administrators of Southwest Missouri State University serve as role models and leaders.

As with most university systems, the evaluation and reward mechanism for faculty has treated the three traditional components of performance -- teaching, research, and service -- as unrelated functions. The new mission of the university, with its rededicated emphasis upon student learning as its primary purpose, and with a statewide theme of public affairs, acknowledges that teaching, research, and service are to be regarded as integrated, complementary activities. In order to have sufficient dialogue to properly incorporate this philosophy into the university's evaluation system, the university merit pay plan has been suspended for the two year period of 1994 and 1995. A Faculty Roles and Rewards Committee has been formed to articulate the university's expectations of the faculty and the reward system to accompany those expectations. Academic departments and colleges support both the individual and collective efforts of faculty in fulfilling their obligations to the university and the public they serve. These units have several important responsibilities. First, in light of the focused themes of the university, changes in student needs, and the ever-present responsibility to the taxpayers of the state, it is imperative that departments and colleges critically examine the curriculum they offer -- both individual courses and major programs of study. Courses will be offered because of their relevance to student educational needs. Courses, and majors, will be eliminated or modified if they do not meet those needs. Programs that are not appropriate for a selective admissions university will be phased out. Programs that are consistent with the university mission and that address statewide concerns will be developed, subject to resource constraints.

Departments and colleges will review their offerings in light of providing efficient, effective learning experiences for SMSU students. Unnecessary offering of duplicate sections, frequent offering of low enrollment courses, and inefficient use of facilities and resources will be avoided. A variety of technologies and techniques will be incorporated by departments to improve efficiency, enhance student learning, and expand accessibility.

Departments and colleges have an increasing responsibility to pursue and promote cooperative and collaborative programs and learning experiences. Such undertakings will be multifaceted and include the following:

  • joint offerings, particularly at the graduate level, between higher education institutions.
  • courses and programs developed collaboratively between departments and colleges within the university, including interdisciplinary courses, particularly in general education.
  • partnerships with K-12 schools to enhance both faculty and student interactions and to develop a seamless K-16 interface using distance learning, dual enrollment and expanded advanced placement opportunities.
  • joint ventures with business and industry to provide improved opportunities for student learning experiences.
  • expanded articulation agreements and educational ventures with community colleges.
  • international linkages to prepare graduates to be citizens of the world.

It must be recognized that in an effort to support lifelong learning and to be of service to the community, it will be necessary to provide and promote nontraditional learning experiences. The Office of Continuing Education has just completed a major expansion of its facilities and will offer additional noncredit opportunities for people in the metropolitan community served by the university.

Carrying out all of these plans will be an ongoing process, but it is expected that significant changes, particularly in the curriculum, will be implemented during the 1994-95 and 1995-96 school years. Incorporating technologies on a widespread basis will require several years, but will start during the 1994-95 year with the establishment of computer network accessibility for every faculty member, and the newly hired associate vice president for information technology, who provides leadership and direction for campus technological support. Expanded collaborative and cooperative ventures will grow on an annual basis.

The success of these ventures will be measured by comparing course and program offerings at the end of the 1995-96 school year with current offerings, by surveying faculty and departments on their use of new instructional tools and methodologies, by asking employers to assess the value of instructional programs, and by annually reporting joint, cooperative ventures.

With finite resources, it will be necessary for almost all new programs to be funded, at least in part, by reallocations within the individual colleges as older programs are eliminated or consolidated. Some resource reallocation among the colleges will be done, using Funding for Results (FFR) strategies and more analytical techniques for determining resource needs. FFR will be administered by the Office of Academic Affairs to provide development and/or reward monies to academic units to encourage and enable them to undertake specific projects that further enhance their teaching and learning efforts, consistent with the aims of the five-year plan of the university.

The success of these undertakings can, in large part, be measured by the successes of the individual faculty, departments, and colleges in meeting their obligations. In addition, the implementation of a new general education program by the end of the 1995-96 year, the use of FFR and analytical resource allocation techniques, and the availability of additional faculty development funds can clearly be demonstrated. The development of statewide achievement tests before the end of the decade also is a goal.

General education

The last decade has seen faculty review but little revision of the general education program at Southwest Missouri State University. A distribution method-based program, the trend in the past has been to expand course options available to students. Cognizant of the need to establish a more focused general education program that will prepare graduates with a common core of knowledge, skills, and understanding, the university formed a General Education Reform Committee. In its second year, the committee's charge is to assess the current program of general education and to develop a new recommended program that will prepare students for their academic careers as well as for the tasks of citizenship into the 21st Century. The program being developed is to be coherent, connected to the overall mission of the university, capable of continuing and lively development, and competently managed.

The preliminary report being discussed states that general education at Southwest Missouri State University should be aimed at developing people of vision, capable of making choices that lead to thoughtful, creative, and productive lives and to responsible participation in society, making the public affairs theme of SMSU an integral part of general education. The report identifies two parts of general education: intellectual abilities and dispositions, and knowledge and understanding.

The first part has the goal of development of conceptual and practical understanding of modes of learning, problem-solving, and creative inquiry; information-gathering, reasoning, and synthesizing abilities; reflective, creative, and critical dispositions; and communication skills. The second part has the goal of development of an understanding of the natural world, understanding of culture and society, and self-understanding and self-expression.

The recommendations from the General Education Reform Committee concerning the details of the new general education program are being debated and refined, through the faculty governance process, during the 1994-95 academic year. Once the final program is approved, it is planned that specific courses will be submitted, during the 1995-96 year, for consideration for inclusion in the general education program for implementation the following year. Assessment tools will be developed to assure that graduating seniors will have achieved the aims of the new general education program.

Honors college

The plan to create an honors program was passed by the SMSU Faculty Senate in 1985. The program began by receiving its first students in August 1986. The program provides for high-achieving students the opportunity to pursue an enhanced, advanced course of study, which leads to recognition of the student's achievement upon graduation. The intent of the program is to attract more high-achieving students to SMSU. It has succeeded in that attempt as evidenced by the ACT and class standing statistics. The program was reviewed by the faculty of the university in 1991, and a revision of the program was approved, along with the designation "Honors College".

In order to qualify for membership in the Honors College, a student must have at least a 27 ACT composite and must be in at least the 90th percentile of the high school graduating class. In fact, for the current membership of 480 students, the average ACT composite is 31.0 and the average cumulative grade point average at SMSU is 3.77. Sixty-eight of the current members have a cumulative grade point average of 4.0. SMSU admits only 150 freshman honors students each fall. The university has a graduation rate within the college of about 80 percent. There are some transfers and some withdrawals for various reasons. Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.25 (minimum). They must take about one-third of their general education courses in honors. They can, if they so desire, pursue departmental distinction through the Honors College by completing more of their hours in their department of major and by doing a senior research project (or creative project) and by participating in a senior honors seminar which culminates the four-year college experience.

SMSU's graduates have majored in every department of the university. A significant portion of the students is enrolled in a pre-professional program. Honors College students have participated in cooperative education programs, internships, study abroad, and student leadership roles. They have made significant achievements for themselves. Students have enrolled in graduate programs at Harvard Law, Georgetown, Emory, the University of Kansas, Stanford, Rice, Washington (St. Louis), Duke, the University of Chicago, Temple, and a host of others. They have won scholarships and fellowships not only from their graduate schools, but also from such prestigious sources as the National Science Foundation, the Southern Medical Association, the Department of Defense, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. One student received a Fulbright Fellowship to study genetics in preparation for a Ph.D. in medicine, which the student is now pursuing at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Honors College depends upon an active scholarship program that helps the university in the recruitment of high ACT, high-achieving students. With a successful recruitment program of scholars the Honors College will enjoy stable enrollment and a well-managed enrollment plan.

Graduate education

SMSU's Graduate College coordinates a select group of graduate programs that have the common challenge to aid student progress toward a maturity of thought and discipline-related capabilities. SMSU is committed to providing the programs and scholarship base to make SMSU the center for graduate education in the metropolitan region it serves. The university will provide certain graduate education opportunities for students beyond the immediate locality.

In meeting this goal, SMSU will increase the relative mix of graduate to undergraduate students. SMSU's current 21 master's degree programs and specialist in educational administration degree program will be strengthened and new graduate programs will be implemented that provide student preparation for career pathways in public affairs, health care, business and economic development, professional education, and the performing arts. The primary thrust of graduate program expansion is at the master's level, but master's programs will be complemented by selected doctoral offerings in areas of recognized need and where the university has the academic strength for programs of high quality. Selected graduate programs will be offered in collaboration with other universities.

The Graduate College's minimum admission requirements are either 1) an overall 2.75 GPA, 2) a 2.75 GPA on the last 60 hours, or 3) a GRE score of 475 on either the verbal or quantitative section and not less than 400 on the other section. Higher standards are stipulated for specific programs. Eleven of the 22 programs require either the GRE or GMAT test scores and teacher certification is required for completion of the teacher education master's degree programs. As stated in the SMSU response to Goal 16 in Critical Choices, SMSU intends that new graduate programs will implement an appropriate nationally-normed test as part of its entrance requirement.

The master's degree has begun to serve as the professional credential required for career success, and this trend will increase. There is a market-driven student demand for graduate degree preparation in many vocations, such as professional education, health care and other professions requiring licensure and managerial qualifications. Graduate education develops the resourcefulness and responsibility of individuals by enhancing their abilities to deal with the materials and affairs of life and to critically judge the value and limitation of information. The SMSU graduate programs are committed to provide an instructional environment which includes research and creative activities and has involvement with the community at large. Students are challenged to question, explore, analyze, reconsider, and synthesize old and new knowledge and skills so they are prepared to give leadership in their professions.

In serving the public needs for graduate education, the SMSU graduate-student enrollment will grow to 2,225, approximately 14 percent of headcount enrollment, by the end of the decade. (These enrollment projections assume implementation of the new graduate programs shown on Chart F, under the Chart directory, and several under consideration for Fall 1998 and Fall 1999.) Several degree programs will be considered for restructuring to address current needs in professional education are met. This will include addition of several new options, including a student services option in the M.S. Educational Administration and a foreign language option in the M.S. Secondary Education.

Some of the new programs serving health care needs (M.S. Nurse Anesthesia, M. Social Work, M.S. Physical Therapy, M.S. Occupational Therapy) are resident programs which will increase our relative ratio of full-time to part-time graduate students. However, SMSU recognizes that career pathways through graduate education are varied and as a metropolitan university, SMSU will continue to provide graduate education opportunities for a large number of part-time students.

Certain of the new graduate offerings are interdisciplinary and some, such as the M.S. in Computer Information Systems, will rely heavily on technology for their delivery. Outreach efforts will be emphasized and, if found feasible, student opportunities at the Graduate Residence Center in Joplin will be enhanced with an interactive telecommunications classroom.

The projected increase in graduate student number and phasing in of new graduate programs to meet student needs will require direct program enhancement funds and an increase in staffing of the Graduate College.

Research and creative scholarship

SMSU is committed to increasing research activity as an integral part of the academic environment that facilitates the educational process. The rationale for research is based in both meeting needs of society and the learning needs of students.

As an expected faculty and student activity, interdisciplinary differences are valued and research is broadly defined as the attempt to acquire and interpret new knowledge. The scope includes both basic and applied research, creative accomplishments, and scholarship that generates new perspectives. Research activities involve faculty and students in the 1) discovery, interpretation, and dissemination of new knowledge; 2) application of this knowledge to societal problems; and 3) examination of that information within the context of the culture, including the development of methodology to improve inquiry, teaching, and professional practice. All three thrusts are important to a metropolitan university.

Because of research's crucial importance to effective learning, the university provides and expects to be measured by research opportunities for undergraduate, as well as graduate, students. Students can expect to see faculty involved in their discipline and students will often be included with faculty in research projects. Additionally, students can expect faculty guidance in formulating their own research endeavors. The expanding role of graduate education at SMSU heightens those needs as most departments have research requirements as part of a graduate degree program.

The starting point for research and creative activities is often the individual, and unique faculty projects are a fundamental aspect of the research environment. However, activities at the Mountain Grove research campus and the 10 SMSU research centers (Center for Archaeological Research, SMSU/Southwestern Bell Telephone Literacy Center, Center for Business and Economic Development, Small Business Development Center, Economic Research Center, Center for Outstanding Schools, Center for Ozarks Studies, Center for Scientific Research, Center for Social Research, Center for Resource Planning and Management) on the Springfield campus allow opportunities to address larger, more interdisciplinary problems that focus on needs in public affairs, professional education, health care, business and economic development, and performing arts. These SMSU centers contribute to the educational process as they involve students in research and field experiences, bring faculty together on projects, and extend the university presence into the metropolitan region and the community beyond. We will evaluate the need for additional theme-based centers such as a Center for Environmental Studies.

The ability to write and secure grants and contracts is an important part of a successful research agenda. In this increasingly complex and technological society, scholars are encouraged and, indeed, obligated to seek external funding for their projects. As a result, the educational opportunities for students are extended. SMSU has attained a 50 percent increase in grant and contract funding over the past two years which is an early achievement of the 1996 goal as stated in the SMSU response to Goal 16 of Critical Choices.

Averaged over the next five years, SMSU projects an incremental growth of $500,000 per year in awards for research, service, and teaching projects.

Implementing the five themes

An inventory of current and proposed academic programs that are related to the five theme areas of the university reveals the following:

Public Affairs-- Public Affairs at SMSU is not a curriculum in the formal sense. It is not a new discipline nor is it likely to create new majors or new academic programs. It is primarily a perspective and, therefore, is intended to be pervasive in the experience of the student. It is built upon the premise that knowledge has a moral purpose that is at least as important as its utilitarian purpose. Public affairs is about cultivating civic virtues, strengthening the bonds that unite people, and provoking reflection about commitment to the collective sources of our individual rights.

Professional Education (Teaching) -- Present programs in professional education are large, both in terms of the number of programs preparing professional educators and in terms of the number of students served. Significant curricular revisions have been made in existing programs in order to help meet the challenges of education as well as satisfy new teacher certification requirements. Several new programs, particularly at the graduate level, are being considered for adoption. These offerings, along with activities of the Center for Outstanding Schools, will involve many sectors of the community -- departments outside the College of Education, all levels of education at numerous other institutions, and a variety of businesses with an interest in improving our educational system.

Health Care-- The health theme is now being implemented by a relatively small number of programs of high quality. Given the health care resources and needs of the region and beyond, this area is seen as the one of greatest growth in terms of number of proposed new programs. It is recognized that this area of educational service is also the most costly to implement, and it will rely most heavily on additional public and private funding. In order to avoid unnecessary duplication of expensive programs, cooperative ways of sharing resources among institutions offering different health care programs will be developed.

Business and Economic Development -- The university is in a strong position with regard to its programs that contribute to the business and economic development theme. These programs range from those that specifically support the business area to a number of well-defined disciplinary programs and activities offered across the academic campus that indirectly enhance this theme through professional occupational training, including basic and applied research. Future programs will be proposed which, for the most part, will be collaborative in nature in recognition of the tremendous needs of business knowledge and skills on the part of students in many disciplines.

Chart E

Springfield campus -- undergraduate program expansion plan

View Chart E.*

Chart F

Springfield campus -- graduate program expansion plan

View Chart F.*

Performing Arts -- The performing arts theme will build on a small number of existing programs which are among the best in the state. New programs will take advantage of the unique location of the university, where partnerships with the entertainment industry will provide a wealth of educational opportunities for our students.

In summary, a number of new programs are needed to meet the changing needs of southwest Missouri and the state. These will be implemented in part by the reallocation of resources from programs of declining importance, but will also rely upon new program support from the state, particularly in the area of health care.

Supporting the new mission

The mission enhancement being proposed for Southwest Missouri State University will require a new level of support. Internally, ongoing discussions involving a variety of forums will be required as the university evolves into a community of learners, where loyalties and emphases shift from academic disciplines and academic departments to the common goal of developing educated persons; where teaching, research, and service are treated as an integrated whole; where collaboration and cooperation and the sharing of resources are stressed; and where interdisciplinary endeavors, participatory learning, relevant problem solving, and public affairs become a meaningful component of the curriculum. Implementing interdisciplinary courses and programs does not come easily nor inexpensively -- it requires major faculty development initiatives. Equipping students with relevant participatory learning experiences and problem-solving tools requires, among other things, modern, scientific laboratory equipment. Likewise, the use of technology to support teaching and learning in all disciplines, with the ultimate goals of both improving the learning experience and increasing the efficiency in providing instruction, has enormous initial costs in terms of the equipment and faculty development time.

Externally, collaboration and cooperation will be the theme with partnerships among government, business, and other educational institutions at all levels. Costs will be significant in terms of the time required of many people in developing such partnerships. The costs also will be significant as investments are made in distance learning technologies as one of the tools for implementing these cooperative efforts.

SMSU - West Plains

The separately accredited SMSU-West Plains Campus has prepared a comprehensive five-year plan to implement its expanded mission and to meet the needs of the students and business/industry leaders of the seven-county area served by that two-year campus. SMSU-West Plains proposes to offer a comprehensive instructional program which will include a variety of associate degree programs, certificate programs, and credit and noncredit courses. The 10 new associate degree programs being proposed can be found on Chart G.

With the addition of these targeted programs, SMSU-West Plains anticipates growing from 1,000 students in the fall of 1993 to 1,500 students by the year 2000. As enrollment increases, student services will be expanded to include counseling, career planning/placement and child care; an integrated computer system will be installed; and plans will be developed to meet the requirements in facilities, telecommunications and maintenance.

Chart G

West Plains campus -- association degree program expansion plan

View Chart G.*

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