2011 State of the University Address Text
Interim President Clif Smart and Interim Provost Frank Einhellig
Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011
Good afternoon, and thank you for coming. I have seen four of these speeches in my time at the University and frankly never thought I would be giving one—I now wish I had paid more attention to them.
The goal of this speech is to describe the State of the University and highlight some of the key issues facing us in the coming months. I want to begin by acknowledging that it would be a little bit presumptuous for me to tackle this alone, having been on the job only three months, so I have asked our Provost to deliver part of the address. I will lead off then hand off to Frank. And then I will have some closing comments. Following our prepared remarks, we will take your questions.
The theme of this speech has changed several times during the last two weeks, much to the frustration of Paul Kincaid who helps put these things together. And I’ll admit to being a little nervous today, despite the fact that I have largely made my living speaking publicly in courtrooms all across Missouri for the last 25 years. The reason is because I think that this is an important speech—and it is an important speech because it is an important time in our history.
Progress so far
In the past three months, we have moved on several initiatives. First, on June 27th, I made it clear that finding a way to provide a salary increase would be our top priority this year, and on Oct. 28, I will present a plan for a mid-year salary increase to the Board of Governors for its approval. The increase will be funded centrally for the first six months, but by July 1, the cost centers will need to have reallocation plans ready to fund it from there on. I hope we can find a way to have another increase on July 1—I say hope because our enrollment numbers will make this more difficult as will be discussed later.
Second, we have improved the budget process for fiscal year 2013. The Executive Budget Committee’s first agenda item when it meets tomorrow for the first time this year will be to discuss the mid-year raise proposal.
Third, in mid-October, we hope to be able to formally sign the MOU for the cooperative Doctor of Pharmacy program with the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The PharmD program has been more than two years in the making, and thanks to ongoing funding from the Missouri General Assembly and the Governor, this program will become a reality
Fourth, thanks to a significant gift, we have also found a way to cooperatively fund Gohn Hall on the West Plains Campus. That is the facility that will house our baccalaureate and graduate distance learning completion programs.
Fifth, we have improved and streamlined the travel policy.
Sixth, at either the October or December meeting of the Board, I anticipate that a shared leave policy that has been recommended for several years by the Staff Senate will be approved.
Seventh, in an effort for greater transparency and fiscal responsibility, new cell phone and car allowances have ceased. And there has been a recommitment to increased communication with campus—from more written communications from me to additional meetings or forums to additional feedback mechanisms.
Frank will spend his time today talking about some of the academic initiatives that are under way. More needs to be accomplished in all areas, but I believe we are living up to the Board’s instructions: Don’t be caretakers. How much more we accomplish is up to us and is directly related to our enrollment. This will be my focus for the remainder of this speech.
I want to start on this subject by talking to you about the intersection of our strong belief in the benefits of higher education and our ability to fund the University’s priorities. It is the intersection of our strongly-held philosophical beliefs and our budget reality.
Most of us work at the University because we are true believers in higher education. We believe in the personal and public benefits that higher education provides to students and society. Those benefits are many: indisputable, powerful and compelling.
We see examples every day—I am telling their stories in Clif’s Notes and speeches to community and alumni groups. Both the president of the United States and Governor Nixon have acknowledged the importance of higher education by setting lofty targets for the number of graduates we have in the coming years. As you have read, the governor has announced his intent to implement performance funding—a plan whereby 100 percent of any increased funding for higher education will be based on specific measures, and one of these will be the number of students we are able to graduate.
Our own long-range plan goals reflect our desire to have more graduates at all levels. At the same time, we continue aspire to have a more diverse student population with greater numbers of under-represented students. We want our students to more reflect the state and the world.
And we want to ensure that talented students do not by-pass a college degree solely on the basis of cost. From a more personal standpoint, all of us would like to have more talented professionals in our own fields: scientists take pride in educating more outstanding scientists; historians want to educate more successful historians; artists strive to graduate more renowned artists and so on.
All of us in this room believe in higher education. We want more students to have degrees; philosophically, that has to be (and is) at our core.
You are well aware that state appropriations have been cut in recent years—despite the efforts of the Governor and many legislators who have tried their best to protect funding for education. The fact remains, state appropriations have been reduced by 11.8 percent in the past two years (or more than 10.3 million dollars to us)—and it is very likely state appropriations will be reduced again for fiscal year 2013. As a result, the balance between state appropriations and student tuition and fees has reversed itself over the past 40 years.
In the late 1970s, state appropriations paid for roughly 75 percent of the total cost of an education at Missouri State and other four-year public institutions in the state. This year, state appropriations account for about 27 percent of the total revenue. Said another way, this year on the Springfield campus, we will have 72 million dollars in revenue from state appropriations and about 110 million dollars in revenue from student tuition and fees.
Quite simply, if we are going to fund our priorities, such as salary increases, increased benefits like a shared leave program, new academic programs, more faculty positions and capital improvements, we need to increase our revenue. Besides the state appropriations, which are decreasing, enrollment is our only major source of revenue. And since we have state law that limits increases in tuition and fees, the way to increase revenue is through enrollment growth.
So, it is the intersection of our philosophy regarding the importance of higher education and the reality of our funding that makes this year’s decrease in enrollment a concern. (By the way, as usual, all of these slides will be posted on the Web for you to have.)
In this slide you can see the headcount decrease on both campuses—the total decrease is 226.
In this slide you can see the decrease in terms of credit hours—we are down 1,172 on the Springfield Campus and 1,309 on the West Plains Campus
I want to give you some additional facts about our enrollment this year, but first, let me put this into clear perspective for you. If this fall’s decrease holds throughout the year, the loss in tuition and fees from the amount budgeted at Springfield and West Plains amounts to about 1.2 million dollars; that happens to be about the same as a 1 percent across-the-board salary increase for all faculty and staff. As you know, we are trying to reallocate funds to support a second salary increase in July 2012, but it will now be more difficult to accomplish, and the amount of any raise has likely decreased with this loss of revenue
Enrollment facts and figures
I want to put this year’s numbers into context. Our enrollment increased in 14 of the previous 15 years. We are still the second-largest university in the state, and we remain attractive to students with our programs, services and setting.
There were some bright spots in this fall’s enrollment as you can see in this slide:
- We were up in up in domestic transfers.
- We had an increase of first-time degree-seeking graduate students.
- Our retention picked up.
- The number of online and evening course students increased.
- The average ACT of entering freshmen remained at a very impressive 24.1.
So, we don’t need to panic, but we have to renew our commitment to meeting our enrollment goals.
In this slide, you can see that we were up very slightly in degree-seeking undergraduates but down both in graduates and in nondegree-seeking classifications. We were down in some but not all colleges as you can see from this slide—most notably in COBA and students with no declared major. While we were up in international students on campus, the enrollment at our China campus fell off.
I will tell you that this slide is one of the ones that caught my attention; it is the graph of the first-time new college students (formerly known as first-time freshmen). As you can see, we went the wrong direction this year, and we are now below 2008 levels for this class of students. We have reconstituted the Enrollment Management Committee to look at the numbers and help guide the campus toward improvements. It will be up to us to make the necessary changes.
Increasing enrollment will be up to us
It will be up to us to do a better job of recruiting high school students, especially since the number of Missouri high school graduates will decline over the next couple of years. It will be up to us to adapt to the increasing number of transfer students; they now represent nearly 50 percent of the new students, as you can see from these numbers.
And it will be up to us to build stronger relationships with community colleges, so we are a more and more attractive option for transfer students. The biology department recently hosted 100 OTC students on campus for a biology fair; more departments will need to be directly involved in this kind of recruitment activity.
It will be up to us to continue to reach out to other states and other countries. It is up to us to recruit and retain a more diverse student body. As you can see from these two slides, we have made progress, but we are not where we want to be. We need to work on making our campus more welcoming and inclusive.
It will be up to us to find ways to accommodate students by opening additional slots in high-demand programs, especially at the graduate level and by adding a student or two or three to classes when there is student demand in order to reverse the decline in graduate enrollment.
It will be up to us to find appropriate and effective ways to recruit the many talented middle school and high school students we bring to campus every year for various academies, camps, conferences, fairs and other events. It will be up to us to provide the services, and mentoring and responsiveness that students want and deserve—all of which will increase retention and, thus, enrollment and graduation numbers. And we have to increase our enrollment while maintaining high standards and high expectations of our students.
We will provide incentives to departments who grow and reductions in funding to departments that shrink. We are well aware that some departments and programs have more potential to grow than others, and that will be taken into account. Exactly how we incentivize enrollment will be a focus of the Academic Affairs Budget Committee during this year’s budget process, and there will be coordination with the Enrollment Management Committee, which will be working with the colleges to set enrollment targets. Frank is involved with both groups and will guide the process.
Call to action
So this is a “call to action” for all of us. We cannot complain about budget cuts and low salaries and inadequate funding for our priorities on the one hand and refuse to take responsibility for enrollment decreases on the other hand. We cannot espouse the virtues of higher education and divorce that philosophy from making every effort to attract additional students to higher education. It is up to all of us—administrators, faculty, staff and students. It is much more than an admissions department problem.
Introduction of Frank
Now, it is my great pleasure to introduce my friend and partner in this venture over the past three months—Provost Frank Einhellig—to give his perspective on this and other academic issues.
I don’t know when or where that picture was taken, but if I am showing “the way forward,” I only wish my eyes had been open a little wider! In spite of the picture, I think we have an eye on a bright future for Missouri State.
In June, the Missouri State Board of Governors approved the new long-range plan for 2011-16, titled Fulfilling Our Promise. This plan was the culmination of about 17 months of work by many people. It consumed a lot of time and effort for an entire year. As with any project this large and spread over this period of time, it became tedious at times. What has been interesting is that as many of us who were involved have gone back to the plan with a fresh eye after having a break from it, we have come to realize that it really is a very good plan. It is comprehensive, and it provides a guide for us over the next five years.
The plan includes a stronger revised mission statement that recognizes both our commitment to developing educated persons and our role as an institution with a public affairs focus committed to foster ethical leadership, cultural competence and community engagement. It is built on a foundation of three overarching and enduring commitments: student learning, inclusive excellence and institutional impact. And it reaffirms our collective commitment to the University Community Principles.
The goals in the plan are both ambitious and meaningful; they will appropriately stretch us to improve in many important areas. I know many of you are very familiar with the plan. I have seen evidence of this as I visited each of your colleges for the opening faculty meeting of the year; however, if you have not looked closely at the specifics of the plan, I urge you to do so. And, I encourage you to keep the hard copy you got in the mail and the Web link handy for reference throughout the year. Much of what is in the plan identifies initiatives that were planned or already under way. Our plan is to focus on these and complete them, as opposed to introducing a number of new initiatives.
I want to spend the next 15 minutes highlighting just a few of the goals the long-range plan and to note actions we are taking this year. To do this, I ask you to focus your attention of the slides and recognize in advance that I will not discuss each point, but I will only focus on selected examples from these slides. Likewise, the topics I will cover today will not be comprehensive but, rather, a snapshot of a few highlights of the engagement and goals for this.
The chapters of Fulfilling Our Promise hold a blueprint for progress we have undertaken and will continue this year. Each of these chapters has elements that influence how we will eventually fare in the enrollment challenges that Clif has outlined. Access to Success is particularly focused on the facets that open pathways and enhance student chances for success in their progress to the goal of degree completion. Our mission to challenge students with the creative thinking and activities of research is the chapter on Engaged Inquiry. Chapter 5 on how we Value and Support People and the final chapter on Responsible Stewardship have a direct bearing on capacity for meeting the mission of educating students.
Retention, graduation and outreach
Two important goals of the year are to make progress on putting things in place that will help move our retention rate upward from the current 75 percent and increase our 6-year undergraduate completion rate above the current 55 percent level. At the same time, we expect to improve student outcomes and extend the outreach of our University to provide access to a wider sphere of students. With the appointment of Joye Norris this year, we are revitalizing our efforts to make expand the availability of our programs to students having situations that may not allow them to come to campus or at least not come during the traditional class day.
General education and course transformation
As many of you know, we are in the second year of a University commitment to review and appropriately revise general education. Course transformation work is occurring in parallel with our general education review, which might not be the best sequence, but it is workable.
We have been selected and approved to take the lead in the state of Missouri for a new look at how to deliver the basic psychology course. Also this year we are in the process of course transformation in a number of sections of English 110. Math faculty are focused on several revisions of entry level courses. Additional areas of major course transformation include work in Chemistry, the GGP Department and fairly significant list of other disciplines. We also continue to grow opportunities for student to gain assistance in the learning experience through the Bear CLAW and community living and learning environments that can increase interactions. However, it also is very important to recognize that none of these take the place of the vital student-faculty interaction of the classroom, which is always the major key to student success.
I think all of us agree that the general education experience has a bearing on enrollment and persistence to graduation, so it is important that we “do it right.” Under the leadership of Etta Madden, the General Education Task Force has developed a mission statement that challenges these courses to better prepare citizens for a global and dynamic world by cultivating basic skills in problem solving, creative thinking and effective communication.
I am under no illusion that a revision of general education is a simple or easy process. It is can be difficult and stir people’s passions that may be in opposite directions. However, the work of this task force has been a very open process, including, among other avenues, input from focus groups. Later this year the task force will invite submission of proposed courses that will fit the general education goals and student learning outcomes.
Course transformation is something that good faculty members are doing on a regular basis, but the transformations that I have noted are on a larger scale. The overarching goal of what we have labeled as course transformation is to improve student learning. What follows from that is they we attempt to achieve this primary goal. Some of the common themes I have observed in our course transformation process involve changes in delivery modality and an expanded application of technology; however, it is important to emphasize that an emphasis on engagement is at the heart of the work. An increased emphasis on engagement is sought through such avenues as service learning and problem-solving experiences. One of my favorite quotes is from the insights of Benjamin Franklin 200 years ago: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will learn.”
Curriculum development and outreach
This year we will move forward in meeting the changing needs of an expanded “potential” student population by increasing access to our programs. Part of these efforts will be to better publicize that we already have an online pathway through general education, two undergraduate programs and eight graduate degrees. But another part is to continue to build online availability to other programs, such as an online hospitality and restaurant administration major.
In another approach, by a focused effort to deliver what is needed—when and where it is needed—the College of Business Administration will be providing the Master of Health Administration program to a cohort of St. John’s employees. I am very proud of the work of some COBA faculty and administrators to make this happen. We will make progress on completing online access for several degree programs that already have two-thirds of their courses in this delivery modality. Specifically, we will continue our work on the MA in Theatre and the MSEd in Early Childhood and Family Studies.
One of the more difficult challenges of our long-range plan is to expand enrollment and degree completion in the sciences and in other areas of high workforce demand. In the STEM disciplines—science, technology, engineering, math—work is in progress to gain approval for a professional science master’s track. We have also continued the stimulus graduate assistantship program for this year. The situation is different in the health areas where student demand and community interest are very high, but resources and faculty are limited. However, we are working on several avenues to meet the needs. For example, the physician’s assistant studies program is using an incremental approach to increasing the size of entry cohorts.
We also have curricular advancements in progress that speak to community and workforce needs, particularly at the graduate curriculum level. As Clif has noted, getting the PharmD from UMKC aligned with our campus will be a major accomplishment that should also enhance our undergraduate enrollment in the sciences for those who will ready themselves for a career in pharmacy.
We should complete the approval processes for the Doctorate of Nursing Practice, the new interdisciplinary degree in counseling and assessment, and the athletic training degree. Assuming a culmination of these approval processes, all three of these programs will start next fall (2012). Our community impact will not only be enhanced by these new graduate programs, but we will continue steps in transitioning the nurse anesthesia clinic oversight from St. John’s to MSU. This will allow MSU’s program to expand to new clinical site placements outside of Springfield. In the long run, MSU will better serve hospitals in more rural settings with quality professionals from our nurse anesthesia degree program.
Performance funding and current graduation numbers
Our efforts to focus on fine-tuning avenues for student success are complementary to the recently announced governor’s plan for future funding of higher education. As Clif has noted, the plan is for a performance-based incremental funding. While performance goals have not been set and the legislature has not yet weighed on this approach, it seems to be a high probability that retention and graduation will be key components.
This data of this slide provides the recent history of students completing Missouri State University programs. Graduate degree completions have been setting new records each year, with fiscal year 2011 at 1,143. Undergraduate degrees have been fairly constant the last three years, but collectively you see that we are approaching 4,300 degrees conferred from MSU in a year. Can this be increased?
Balance: teaching, research productivity, external funding
At this point, I will transition to a perspective on the total work of faculty. Many of you have heard me express my belief that we have a fundamental obligation and challenge for tenure-track faculty to be involved in education through the creation of knowledge as well as the transfer of knowledge.
We engage students in the learning process through the focused processes of research and creative activities. Certainly there is a balance that must be achieved across teaching, research and service aspects of our work. I do not see these as compartments of our life---they are integrated functions, and they are integrated functions in the process of engaging students. Faculty must be engaged in research in order engage students in this aspect of an education. Our research activities are vital for us to continue as a quality University. They provide our students’ learning experience fitting them for the challenges of a dynamic world.
What are your aspirations and strategies for research? At MSU, you have great freedom to be engaged and to engage your students in research that is most meaningful to you. While often we are working on applied research that has fairly immediate community impact, there are no barriers to attacking fundamental questions. History shows that answering fundamental questions has typically proven to be a blessing to society. When Watson and Crick published the structure of DNA almost 60 years ago, few would have predicted the biotechnology industry of today.
This address has a focus on meeting student needs, and I want to assure you that this year your leadership understands that our research mission fits into both meeting student needs and community needs. We must continue our efforts, give this portion of work respect, and expand productivity as our Long-Range Plan challenges us to do.
I am very proud of the faculty research and creative productivity. Achievements by those who produce this record are noticed, and they bring a positive spotlight on MSU. As you will note, we have been fairly steady; state production of about 340 referred works each year—books, book chapters, journal papers, performances and exhibits. Can we slightly increase this? I think so, if we work together and make advances in alignment of workload with productivity at the department level.
One of our goals also is to increase undergraduate and graduate student involvement in research. An Honor’s College director will soon be named, and the challenges for this individual will include better connecting honors students and research, and gaining a way to inventory the research work of undergraduate students.
It is gratifying to look on Amazon.com and see some of our faculty names, and this is part of the visibility that makes MSU a place to come. The publications shown by book covers in this slide are examples of recent work by faculty in CHPA. (Authors include W. Meadows, D. Hickey (PLS), Indria Palaclos-Valtadares (PLS), A. Hass (CRM), S. Walker-Pacheco (SOC/ANTH), W. R. Miller (HIS).) We are proud of these and the many other Missouri State authors that have published this past year.
Another challenge we have is to gain external funding support for all aspects of our mission. The record shows we had a slight drop in funding last year from above the $20 million mark to below. Last year it was $18.7 million. These grants and contracts allow us to extend our resources, and they have a direct pay off for our students.
We were recently awarded almost $400,000 for a major scientific instrument that will add to what can be done by students in physics department or in interdisciplinary work in the sciences. A major VESTA project was renewed for over $1 million dollars. It funds curriculum and instruction in the grape and wine area, connects us with a number of community colleges throughout a multistate region and gives us the formal distinction of being a national center for this education. Tomorrow, several of us in this room will begin to outline a proposal for a major Title III grant that will embrace need elements to support the modern, electronic approach to enhance teaching.
In today’s world of higher education, assessment of our progress is an integral part of what we do. We have had a successful program review process for the past five years. It has the full cycle of assessment, in that action and follow-up changes occur; however, this year we will analyze this process and tweak, if needed, to assure it is serving us well. Most of you are now involved in the development of student learning outcomes for your programs, and the refinement and implementation of assessing these student learning outcomes will become an ongoing process. I want to thank the deans and each of your faculty for taking on this challenge.
Hiring and diversity goals
All of the goals of this year and the long-range plan depend on a dedicated community, from faculty to staff in departments. I am pleased to note that the deans and I have come to agreement on a level of hiring new faculty across the University that is not all we want but is at least a bit better than the last couple of years.
Last week, you may have noticed that MSU had a major ad in the Chronicle indicating we would have searches under way for 37 faculty or department head positions. I know each of us feels it is an absolute necessity that we hire well, and you will have a major role in this process. I only wish that the budget would allow more, but this compromise is in line with having the capacity for the mid-year salary raises we have as a goal.
As we hire new faculty, we are committed to strong efforts to improve in our diversity. Clif has already mentioned our student diversity picture is 9.5%. Hence I will focus on the faculty data which shows approximately 14% of our faculty in either an under-represented or international diversity category.
On Monday, Ken Coopwood will join Missouri State as our new vice president for diversity and inclusion. We look forward to his assistance in building on the current degree of diversity in the faculty and staff at Missouri State.
Since the school year has started, we have already committed to use the diversity hiring program for two new faculty that will start in January and fit into instructor roles in the COE and CHPA. Several other faculty were hired during the summer by taking advantage of the diversity hiring plan that is in place.
Several of you are serving on a committee chaired by Leslie Anderson that is charged to come up with a plan for a scholarship program to assist diverse students, faculty or staff to be better prepared for a position at MSU.
Challenge for excellence in academic programs
There is an overarching programmatic challenge in everything that I have mentioned, from General Education to undergraduate majors, master’s programs and our clinical doctorates. That challenge is to have excellent programs and have those programs be recognized for their strong reputations by the students and the public in general.
You come from the many different programs that we present at MSU, and yet the same question applies: What are the distinctive features that signify that your academic program is excellent? I hope you have good answers to this question, and I also trust that amid all the work we doing we keep that vision in mind. I have no doubt that this will be a year where we make progress as an institution. It will be a year where we will add to our list accomplishments of students, faculty, and our academic programs that show the excellence in education that is provided by this University where we are investing our lives!
And now it is my turn to turn the microphone back to Clif for some summary statements and closing observations.
Clif’s closing remarks
Before we open this up for questions, I want to cover one more subject and end on a very positive note. Several weeks ago, I went on a Chamber of Commerce community leadership visit to Mississippi. It was a very valuable trip for many reasons, one of which was hearing the superintendent of the Tupelo School District discuss his operating principles. Those principles were consistent with what Frank and I had been using, and we are committed to following them for the remainder of our time in these positions. I want to share them with you as the last part of my talk:
- Everything we do will be student centered. (Before any decision is made, we will ask “how will this decision affect our students?”)
- We will be open, honest, and transparent about the reasons for our actions, our successes and our failings. We will not sugarcoat things as you have just seen (biometrics, newspaper, posted audits on the website, and detailed and frequent Clif’s Notes.)
- We will be respectful and appreciative of the ideas, feelings and points of view of others. (We know our ideas are not perfect, can always be improved and should sometimes be abandoned.)
- We will support innovative and entrepreneurial ideas, programs and teaching methods (incentives, PharmD, IDEA Commons).
- We believe we should all be accountable to the public, the Board, our supervisors, our students and each other. None of us operates in a silo; we must learn to trust each other more.
- We will be relentless in the pursuit of excellence (in the classroom, salaries, facilities, enrollment management, and all things). Mediocrity is not acceptable.
- Lastly, we will be team oriented—I return to my favorite Harry Truman quotation:
“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
Frank and I believe that this is a great place to work. We enjoy coming to the office every day, and I mean every day! We both get here early and often have evening commitments. Neither of us has to do this, as we are “interim,” but if we don’t work hard, we can’t expect you to work hard.
I was asked at a Kiwanis meeting last week when I was giving the program “what is the best part of the new job,” and I said it was making a difference in the lives of students. Let me give you an example. We just graduated a student with honors who I knew as an average little girl in church. Her name is Judith Rowland. She majored in political science and had four minors, including a minor in Chinese. She graduated magna cum laude in May after spending her last semester in Qingdao, China, taking her classes in Mandarin Chinese. She is now studying at the London School of Economics. This University and her professors changed her life, and there are dozens or hundreds of students just like her on our campus.
So I encourage all of us to remember that we are in this together for the students. It’s not faculty versus staff or administrators versus faculty or any other “us versus them” group you can name. It’s not even about ourselves; it’s certainly not about me.
So we ask you to join us in this endeavor for however long Frank and I are here and beyond, and together, we will accomplish many things. It is, indeed, up to us. Thank you.