2017 State of the University Address

President Clif Smart and Provost Dr. Frank Einhellig

Sept. 25, 2017

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President Clif Smart

Good afternoon and thanks for joining us for the State of the University Address.

During our time today, there will be several ways for interaction/questions. At the conclusion of the presentations by Frank and me, we will take questions.

  1. First, from anyone who sends in a question through social media or by card to Suzanne Shaw, who will ask the question.
  2. Second, directly from anyone in the audience.
  3. The questions can be on any topic to either of us.

Let's begin.

We had an extraordinarily good year last year on all fronts but one: state funding.

In the last eight months, the Missouri State system has experienced three reductions in state funding.

  1. $91.6 million was a 4.8 percent increase and we had our cooperative mechanical engineering program funded. We never got that increase or all the engineering funding.
  2. FY17 withholding of about $6.3 million plus $600,000 of engineering funds
  3. FY18 budget reduction of $6.5 million (6.58 percent) including half the engineering money
  4. FY18 withholding of $2.7 million (9 percent) plus the other half of the engineering money.

This is not a new trend.

The higher education share of the state budget has gone from 16 percent in 2002 to 10 percent today, and the actual dollar amount universities receive is less than it was in 2002 before considering inflation, but these cuts were the most dramatic cuts in the 6+ years I have been president.

Unfortunately, we project this trend to continue for the next several years.

As a result, we have created what we believe will be a new, sustainable funding model. The four key principles are:

  1. Maintaining affordability – value
  2. Becoming more efficient – good stewards
  3. Growing revenue beyond raising tuition and fees
  4. Restructuring our tuition, fees and scholarships

I wrote about these in my blog on Aug. 8, 2017, and Frank and I have discussed them at all division and college meetings we have attended.

Despite this major funding obstacle, we had some great achievements last year, which I want to review with you.

I want to start by showing you our short video entitled "What's New at MSU."

Let me follow up on some of the things you just saw.

  1. Enrollment has continued to increase: We set system (26,216) and campus (24,350) enrollment records for the sixth consecutive year. We set records in our freshman class, graduate students and underrepresented students as a part of this accomplishment.
  2. We graduated a record number of students, awarding 4,633 degrees and 301 certificates.
  3. We added new academic programs in areas of critical workforce needs, including a master’s in agriculture, master’s in computer science, master’s in athletic training and master’s in early childhood special education.
  4. We made much improvement in our retention of first-generation, Pell-eligible and underrepresented students. As a result, St. Louis Graduates and the St. Louis Regional Chamber recognized Missouri State as one of five Missouri colleges (only three of which were public) for “leadership in graduating low-income students, first-generation students and students of color with less debt.”
  5. We increased the diversity of our faculty and staff to 12.8 percent (up from 11.5 percent just one year ago), and we once again met our target of 20 percent of new hires being from diverse backgrounds.
  6. We made significant facilities investments, including work on Ellis Hall, which was dedicated yesterday, the Professional Building (third floor), Cheek Hall (computer labs), Blair-Shannon House (bathrooms), Glass Hall, which will be completed in about another month, the Health and Wellness Center and Hass-Darr Hall in West Plains, which will open in January. And, we are adding a new parking lot on Walnut Street, which should be done in a week or two. Note that over $50 million has been invested into improving our academic space.
  7. We improved safety on campus by completing an in-depth security assessment in Springfield and West Plains, reallocating money to hire David Hall, a manager of emergency preparedness, revising emergency response plans and policies, increasing campus cameras to 472 digital and 92 analog, and enhancing our information security protections.
  8. We expanded our entrepreneurial activities at JVIC and the eFactory including completing a second cohort of the business accelerator program, and kicked off several new initiatives and activities like Rosie, the Springfield Entrepreneurial and Innovation Network, and customized corporate innovation events.
  9. For the second year in a row, We received more than $40 million of external support with $20.5 million of grants and sponsored contracts and private contributions through the Foundation, topping $19.5 million, our second best year ever.
  10. We won four conference championships in athletics with our athletes earning the highest overall grade point average in history. The success of our baseball program in making the super regionals for the second time in three years raised the profile of the university significantly.

One major disappointment was our inability to fund an across the board raise due to cuts in state funding. This was the first time in my six years in this position that had occurred. While we still did increase compensation, as shown below, we must do better next year.

  • A $2 million increase in the university’s contribution under the MOSERS pension system
  • $190,000 for faculty promotions on the Springfield campus and $34,000 on the West Plains campus
  • $34,000 for the full professor salary incentive program
  • $270,000 for salary and fringe increases provided to more than 60 employees under the university’s FLSA compliance plan
  • $46,000 for salary and fringe increases provided to 89 staff members due to inflationary adjustments to the job classification system

Building on this good work, here are our focus areas for the coming year.

  1. Increasing the number of graduates while maintaining academic rigor and quality
  2. Enhancing campus diversity and inclusion
  3. Funding

The first two areas were our focus last year and we have added the third area in anticipation of further decreased state funding.

We have built an action plan based on this focus. I want to share key highlights with you. I anticipate that Frank will expand on some of the academic initiatives I reference.

There are some things we can do which will both increase revenue and improve student success.

  • Continue to grow enrollment of domestic students and sustain enrollment of international students.
  • Strategically unbundle programs into stackable, micro-credentials and create nondegree training programs designed to provide participants with unique employment-applicable skills in strategic areas.
  • Expand and enhance transition support for new at-risk students.
  • Collaborate with the faculty to restructure summer school.
  • Restructure GEP 101 classes for more consistency and pre-assign new students to specific sections in advance of SOAR.
  • Expand advising services.

Maintain affordability

  • Collaborate with Faculty Senate to evaluate the reduction of the minimum number of hours required to graduate from 125 to 120.
  • Expand corequisite course offerings.
  • Initiate structured scheduling pilot programs.
  • Collaborate with faculty to reduce the cost of textbooks.

Improve efficiency

  • Increase efficiency by enhancing the university’s procurement policies and practices, negotiating favorable contractual terms, and evaluating opportunities to centralize and consolidate support staff services.
  • Evaluate opportunities to enhance campus facilities, including the use of public/private partnerships for some projects.
  • Eliminate less successful programs, procedures and initiatives.

Increase diversity/inclusivity

  • Continue cultural consciousness/competency training and development for faculty, staff, administrators, students and the community to improve campus climate.
  • Implement college and unit-level diversity and inclusion initiatives consistent with the Inclusive Excellence Strategic Plan.
  • Develop and implement the Bear Power program, a two-year program for students ages 18 to 26 with intellectual disabilities.
  • Increase the percentage of underrepresented faculty, staff and students.

Only if we do these other things can we evaluate and revise the tuition, fee and scholarship policies.

Working together, I believe we can make progress on these action items, which will allow us to grow revenue and thus:

  • Decrease the student-to-faculty ratio as we hire additional teachers
  • Increase compensation for faculty and staff
  • Increase graduation and retention rates as well as the number of credentials awarded
  • Improve the student experience
  • Help grow our economy
  • Maintain affordability

We live in challenging times. Our country is divided along many lines. The world has become a scarier place. The tone and style of national and state political leadership has changed and not for the better in my opinion. People are hurting. It would be easy for despair and apathy to take hold.

Here is my challenge to all of us: First, let's continue to be positive. We are making a difference in the lives of thousands of students. The university is thriving. Our influence and profile in the state has never been higher.

Second, let's continue to emphasize our public affairs mission of community engagement, ethical leadership and cultural competence. And, let's do it with an emphasis on inclusion, civility, and kindness.

Every employee and every student, no matter their political or religious views, should feel a part of the Missouri State University family.

If we do that, this will continue to be a special place to work or attend school.

Frank will now report on some of the academic achievements of the past year and comment further on various academic initiatives underway.

Provost Dr. Frank Einhellig

We are in the second year of our long-range plan, and as Clif noted, many challenges that we envisioned are with us. The top priority stated in that plan is student success. My comments today are organized into three areas.

First, I will reinforce and recognize that we have a good momentum of accomplishments that we build upon. The most basic thing we do is inspired teaching, and it is important to recognize and praise the day-in-day-out work of what we sometimes think of as the routine classroom and laboratory effort that goes on. This semester alone, we had 5,312 class and lab sections and we must never forget that the experiences in these settings are the heart of the University.

We also go beyond the basics, and much of what I will note as accomplishments will be ways MSU faculty, departments and colleges continue to take steps to make “active learning” a part of a students’ experiences. I also will point to outcomes of educational initiatives that are built upon collaborative efforts.

The second half of my comments focus on academic challenges and actions for this year. Some intended actions may be accomplished quickly, but most of them are long-term endeavors.

We had great start to this fall term. The first class day, Aug. 21, was also the day of viewing the once-in-a-century solar eclipse for this region. Hence, a natural science event came into the awareness of all students. It also brought public awareness to our campus, and there was a great spirit of involvement among students, faculty and the public. Thanks to the dean, faculty and staff of the College of Natural and Applied Science, this event was integrated into the experience of the campus.

We had a great start because students continued to make MSU the university of choice. As Clif noted, MSU shows a record total enrollment of 24,350. That includes a high of the last 20 years for students new to college, which we once called freshmen, but now many are coming in with substantial credit already earned by dual credit of testing. Graduate students passed the 3,500 mark for the first time. Other new highs are in dual credit, underrepresented, and online enrollment.

What is not shown is the record enrollment in, or a continued history of recent years of growth in many majors. This is particularly evident in majors that have a strong economic demand. For example, the undergraduate computer science major continues its growth. The master’s and certificate programs in cybersecurity almost doubled over last fall. The doctorate in nurse anesthesia practice has 135 in the program with the CRNA to doctorate completion program doubling in student number and the programing gaining national recognition.

Online credit hours have continued their upward trend. This term online classes contribute almost 15 percent of the credit hours. In the past summer online credit hours surpassed the halfway point and were 53 percent of the total. For the past fiscal year (summer 2016, fall 2016 and spring 2017), online credit hours were 16 (15.9) percent of our total.

To assist teachers in preparation for teaching online, last spring 12 faculty from the College of Natural and Applied Science worked with the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning by participating in a concentrated boot camp. They developed online teaching skills and each one converted a course to online. This will result in adding four online biology classes, five in the geography, geology, and planning department, and one each in chemistry, math, and physics.

Due to the success of the boot camp approach, we are now inviting faculty for a similar bootcamp experience for online teaching that will occur in January.

I now turn my attention to highlighting some other accomplishments across the academic campus. As Clif noted, the College of Natural and Applied Sciences started a new computer science master’s degree. Even with a mid-summer approval for this degree, the program has 15 graduate students and we expect it to grow rapidly in the next couple of years.

In order to allow expansion in computer science, a new 50-student computer lab in Cheek Hall was constructed for the computer science teaching and research program. This renovation was completed in a timely fashion thanks to the cooperation of our facilities arm of campus.

As I looked at all the great things happening in the College of Arts and Letters, it was tempting to settle in the Chorale performance in the presidential inauguration last winter. While that was wonderful, today I am mentioning a $2.5 million grant Andrea Hellman received to work with 85 public school teachers.

The focus is to assist teachers in methods utilized for teaching students whose original language was not English. Our partners in this are schools in Monett, Neosho, McDonald County, and Springfield. This exciting program brings teachers to MSU for completing a graduate certificate while at the same time they will become qualified for the state of Missouri’s English Language Learner endorsement.

Continuing with an emphasis on opportunities for active learning, this past year the College of Agriculture expanded field studies resources. An 80-acre farm was gifted from the Kendrick family. This is a Century farm which is about 80 percent cropland. Almost immediately after MSU took possession, Monsanto funded soybean-variety yield trial. Both in classwork and research opportunities, this land is already providing our students and faculty some great field work studies.

The Kendrick farm adds to a half a dozen other field production areas that make MSU agriculture the envy of many land-grant institutions. Those are the Fruit Science Station (190 acres); Darr Center (90 acres); Journagan Ranch (3,300 acres); Woodlands (161 acres); and Shealy Farm (256 acres).

This fall, faculty of the College of Business moved back into renovated Glass Hall and a major addition of a student success center, including laboratories and interview spaces and more. The new area has a stock market-style trading lab, as shown in the picture, which will also have the software to be an up-to-date market experience.

Glass Hall also includes four other meeting spaces for development of projects that connect the normal classroom work with the typical needs outside. Those are a cybersecurity lab, marketing and sales labs, creative thinking in business space, and tutoring. All facilitate team-building experiences for students that may range from perspectives on data utilization to sharing creative ideas.

Accomplishments of the College of Education are evident by in-school experiences. The elementary education teacher internship academy continues to be a major success for preparing our students and assuring them positions upon graduation, and it may expand to include early childhood. This approach is looked at as a model in the state, and others are trying to copy this approach.

College of Education has also started a program to recruit in St. Louis and other urban area with the commitment to work with those school districts in placing student teachers back in their home area and thus to provide a good opportunity for those students to return to their own communities after graduation. This One Missouri program includes bringing students to campus for a short time before their first semester.

This year we are getting the major elements in place for Bear P.O.W.E.R., which is housed in the College of Education. This is an interdisciplinary effort to provide a two-year college experience for students with some degree of intellectual disability.

In the College of Health and Human Services, a great interdisciplinary addition of teaching and research equipment recently occurred with the acquisition of a balance assessment and rehabilitation instrument. This was a significant investment of almost $150,000 that could only occur because several departments pooled resources, along with the dean and equipment funds from my office. Balance is an important aspect of health that is addressed in several areas of health care, including physical therapy, audiology, occupational therapy, and athletic training. It has strong inter-professional aspects.

When this equipment arrived, the elevators were not working in the McQueary Family Health Sciences Hall. I thought I should note that not only do the faculty, administrator and staff work together on important issues, they were so anxious to get this balance machine set up on the second floor that they put the shoulder to the wheel and moved it up the steps without an elevator.

This is an update on MSU Care that was initiated a year and a half ago. In the last year, MSU Care served over 4,000 patient appointments and almost 1,000 individuals. The program functions jointly with Mercy, but the major work is by MSU students and faculty from the nursing department, and students from physician’s assistant, dietetics, and the PharmD programs. Most recently, the vision screening program from service learning has begun to see those who come in for services.

The College of Humanities and Public Affairs has had considerable activity in directing short-term study away experiences for students. Two of those are featured here. These examples are the program led by Lora Hobbs where religious studies students spent time in Haiti, and in the process they assisted people with eye tests and providing glasses. The second one noted is a short-term study away in political science led by Dr. Kevin Pybas. The focus was on differences and unique aspects of government in the Low Countries of Europe.

Across the university, participation in Study Away continues to grow, reaching over 700 students in the past year. This is a 26 percent increase over the prior year. These data include the Study in China program which runs directly out of Dr. Jim Baker’s office.

The big increase in study away is short-term trips, typically of about two weeks.

One of the highlights from the Graduate College is the growth of the master of professional studies (MPS) and also the M.S. in interdisciplinary studies. Both of these degrees draw courses and support from all of the colleges and that interdisciplinary opportunity has been attractive to students.

The master of professional studies has almost doubled in the last four years and now is second only to the MBA. International students account for a significant part, but not all, of the growth of this program. The program offers flexibility, having several different option areas. The numbers on the graph show the combined headcount in professional studies and interdisciplinary studies, but the major fraction is the MPS.

One unique thing in graduate programming is the collaboration with Unisesumar University in Brazil. A cohort of 22 Brazilian students are in the MSU MPS program. These students take Missouri State courses of the MPS program with an applied communication option. Some courses are taught by MSU faculty and some will be taught by faculty from Unisesumar who we hire as per course.

Shawn Wahl, now interim dean Wahl, taught the first course by traveling to Brazil, doing an intensive week teaching stent there, and then finishing the rest of the course online.

Two other unique international collaborations have been developed through the work of the International Leadership and Training Center. One is in collaboration with the College of Education and the other in the College of Agriculture. The College of Education is hosting 24 faculty from Hainan University who are taking a 9-hour graduate certificate program focused on perspectives in American higher education. Associate dean Gilbert Brown is a key part of that program.

As shown on the right half of the slide, this is the third year that the College of Agriculture has become the primary study site for students from Ningxia University. However, this year is a little broader and some of the 41 students who are on campus in this program have a part of their study outside of agriculture.

In both programs, the students are in credit classes, and most of them are in regular classes. A key part to the success in these programs is the interaction of the international students with their American counterparts. Hence, programs like these two are an important way we put into action the MSU commitment to the cultural diversity component of our public affairs mission.

I will now segue from some achievement of last year and some in progress to noting challenges and a few actions in progress to meet those challenges.

We know we must demonstrate quality academic programs. One way we achieve that goal is through accreditation and other types of external evaluation.

Accreditations for this year include AACSB (all business programs), programs in communication sciences and disorders, public heath, counseling, and nursing. The two-person team from the state board of nursing was here last week. They appeared to be very favorably impressed and we also discussed the fact that we were working to expand our BSN program.

One of the challenges for the future is that the State Performance Measures are being recast. Three of the six performance measures going forward will be new.

Two new measures are in the efficiency column in the center. They are, first, operating salaries compared to FTE and, second, affordability. In both of those cases we don’t know the specifics or metrics of how we will be judged.

We know more about the new measure on student success. We are to be held accountable for the number of awards earned compared to our enrollment. Exceeding 25 percent is the goal for this measure. If that were applied today and with no weighting for the area of degree or background of the student, MSU would meet that measure, but just by a few tenths of a point. Clif has served on the state task force to develop these new performance measures.

I will expand a bit on where we stand on awards. Clif briefly showed this slide previously. In the last fiscal year, we gave a total of 4,934 awards. Additional points for us to know are that all awards count – undergraduate, graduate, and certificates. It is no longer a game of reviewing success of first-time full-time new in college and their success. This measure gives credit and value to every aspect of academic endeavor: transfer students, graduate students, and certificate students. Hence, retention is not just a matter of how well we retain first-time students, it is all students. All aspects of recruitment and retention are important.

This bar shows how the percent of awards is distributed across colleges. As expected, the size of the college is important and the biggest share of the bar. About 31.2 percent is the College of Business followed by 21.2 percent in the College of Health and Human Services.

The 1 percent on the far right is the Graduate College, which is only designed for the two interdisciplinary programs. The note at the bottom of the screen informs that 30 percent of the degrees and certificates conferred last year were at the graduate level.

This fall the Faculty Senate has an ad hoc committee evaluating the current 125-hour degree requirement of Missouri State. The basic charge is to evaluate the feasibility of moving to 120 credit hours as a degree minimum. This committee is chaired by Tom Dicke. These folks are evaluating the situation and will report to the Faculty Senate yet this fall.

Basic background information for this committee includes the fact that Missouri State has the highest hours in the state for a bachelor’s degree. However, almost four out of five of our majors could be completed in 120 hours, or less. Further, as a part of the charge from the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, a change in minimum hours required would not mean the other one-fifth of the majors would need to reduce credit hours, especially those having accreditation standards to meet.

A second committee is considering the opportunities to restructure the formal summer school period. Note that the committee members go beyond faculty and include representation from the registrar, financial aid, facilities, and housing.

The rationale to evaluate the summer period revolves around how best we can meet student needs. If we are better at meeting those needs by increased flexibility, it could well mean an increase in enrollment.

Trends of recent years are a part of this puzzle. The intersession prior to summer school is not thriving; it is dying. Summer school is increasing dominated by online classes, as 53 percent of the credit hours last summer. Departments often divided the summer period into smaller blocks, like four-week sessions. While answers are not clear, this is a focus worth consideration.

In order to aid transition from high school to college, we are continuing some things done in the past and also making certain changes. Jump START is a structured summer enrollment period to aid students who did not hit the admission minimum requirements. This past summer, that program served 52 students.

This fall, Wes Pratt, working with student affairs and others, initiated a new transition program that will include the giving students peer mentoring, structured meeting to help with all aspects of student success, and overall the program will help in socialization. 25 to 30 students have participated so far.

For the spring term, admission requirements for new first-time students will require a minimum composite ACT of 17. This will be put in place because history shows that those below 17 seldom are successful and they will be better served getting more foundation work before entering MSU.

In order to centralize, coordinate, and make visible actions to help success of first time students, this year we are establishing an Academic Success Center. Modifications in GEP 101 are a part of the success strategy. This term has a 60 percent increase in sections devoted to first-generation students or college-focused sections (now 28 sections). In order to continue that approach, next year students will be preregistered for their GEP 101 class. GEP sections will also have a more extensive use of a common Blackboard shell that will aid the many instructors of the course which now has 96 sections.

To further promote student success, we hope to eventually have all students at least one high-involvement course experience in their second year. Currently, business college students get such an experience in CIS 100.

How we handle remedial work in either English or math is changing in several ways. The corequisite model is an approach where students take the required class while simultaneously getting addition assistance through a linked enrollment. This was tried for English 110 with some degree of success last spring, and thus this fall there are several sections using this approach.

Math currently has a section of contemporary math, Math 130, linked with a corequisite credit enrollment. In the spring term, we pilot one section linking Math 103 with enrollment in college algebra (Math 135).

Perhaps even more encompassing is trying to have all students and advisors take a critical look at the most appropriate math pathway that fits their major and long-term goals. In effect, college algebra may not be the better pathway for every student.

There is considerable evidence that universities can improve retention by giving students fewer choices when they enter. Giving more direction on what courses students are directed to enroll in can improve their success rate. This year, we will develop the logistics for doing structured schedules, and this will be put into action for several programs in next fall’s enrollment.

For fall, all students will be preregistered in a GEP 101 according to their first-generation status or their general indication of career pathway, such as a health area, education, or business.

Pre-business and pre-nursing students during SOAR register in required courses as directed by their major. The current thinking is that required registration can be accomplish most efficiently using the Degree Works electronic packages, specifically the Student Educational Planner and the Trial Schedule Builder. Regardless of the procedures required, the goal will be to reduce choices and have pre-business and pre-nursing students registered in several (but perhaps not all) courses that are specified.

If the data show the structured schedule approach improves retention, then the university can evaluate the option of expanding this approach.

Advising is an important aid to student success. Departments have been working hard to update the four-year degree plan for each major, and we are beginning to use the Student Educational Planner feature of Degree Works. Nathan Hoff has the outline of more than 100 four-year degree plans built in for ready use by students and their advisors.

Students will get introduced to this electronic tool as part of the curriculum of GEP 101, and they will be asked to outline their degree pathway. There will be more activities from the Bear CLAW to help those students who have not yet determined a major.

In a move to better integrate transfer students to MSU, late last year I formed a transfer council which is chaired by Don Simpson. One of the outcomes of the collaborative work of that group and the advising council is that going forward students will need an advisor release for a minimum of three registration times.

This summary slide illustrates that student persistence and completion of a degree has multiple aspects. Our immediate actions outlined as advisement, transition programming, and a tighter focus on goals from the beginning are only a part of the picture. Financial and other personal situations have a huge impact. High on that list of what students have as their responsibility is the initiative and goal-focus that each one needs. On the university side, an environment demonstrating that we care about the students is essential.

Thank you for your attention, and I trust that together we can make this another great year.