2012 State of the University Address Text
Interim President Clif Smart and Interim Provost Frank Einhellig
Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012
Good afternoon and thank you for coming. We are doing this speech about a month earlier than usual; the reason is so as not to interrupt the presidential search process. I did not want to be giving this speech the day before or after a candidate was on campus to interview—that would not have been fair to anyone
We thought about canceling it altogether, but we believe there are things we should discuss as a university community. We will follow the same procedure as last year: I will speak first about overarching university issues then Frank will follow me to more specifically address academic issues. I will have some final remarks and then we will take questions. The theme of this talk is “Building on Success.”
My perception is that we had a good year last year, and we want to build on those achievements. I hope you agree, but the title means more than that. At a university, building takes time–sometimes a long time–and that is okay. Building something meaningful requires consensus, and consensus on difficult issues is rarely obtained quickly.
Usually, many people are involved, and sometimes many of those involved are no longer here—but they still share in our successes because of their contributions. With input from our Board of Governors, our administrative team has put together 10 areas of focus for this year. We worked on many of these items last year, and several items have been worked on for many years. All are in our long-range plan in one form or another.
I will address items 1-4 and 7-10. Frank will comment on items 5-6 and also make other general comments about academic matters. So, let’s begin.
You recall that our enrollment was down slightly a year ago. As a result, we made enrollment a priority last year. Thanks to your good work, we rebounded to set records both in the spring and summer. We have good news this fall: first day enrollments on both the Springfield and West Plains campuses were up. Overall, enrollment was up 106 students on the first day. Those numbers have actually gone up over the first week or so, so we are optimistic they will hold or move up even more by the 20th day census.
There is additional good news in that we are up in three target areas:
- Graduate students
- Underrepresented students–topping 2,000 for the first time ever
- International students
Some colleges and departments also had impressive increases, too, as you can see—led by the College of Health and Human Services with an increase of 218 students.
There are still some areas that need attention, however:
- Community college transfer students outside of southwest Missouri
We also had other highlights during the year, starting with the reconstitution of the Enrollment Management Committee. For this year, we want to review and revise our plans for recruiting new freshmen and transfers, and we also want to continue to expand our offerings in the Evening College.
Enrollment has to remain a priority for many reasons:
- We want more students to have a college degree.
- Increasing the number of college graduates is also a goal for our state and nation as nearly two-thirds of new jobs will require a college degree.
- Performance funding, which will likely begin in Missouri next year, will be based in part on increasing graduation numbers and retention rates.
- And, last but not least, given the funding environment, increasing enrollment is the only sure way we will increase our revenues.
We must increase enrollment without decreasing in any way the quality of our programs.
So let me talk about funding. We did some good things last year, including a mid-year raise—the first across-the-board raise in three years. We instituted the first undergraduate differential fee in the College of Business. We did exceptionally well in our fundraising. And, after a roller coaster ride, we escaped with only a one percent reduction in state appropriations
For fiscal year 2014, we have submitted four proposals for funding to the state:
- The first is based on equity. We are still next-to-last when it comes to per-student funding, ahead only of Missouri Western. This must change.
We have also submitted funding proposals for:
- New occupational therapy program under development
- Maintenance and repair
Given the budget predictions, we have no grand illusions about all of these being funded, but we are determined to be in the discussion if new money is available this year. Please know that we continue to work diligently and daily on the state level to improve funding for all of higher education and for Missouri State.
We also are looking at our ability to increase revenues in several areas unrelated to state funding. Our goal is to develop an on-going plan that will allow us to fund our priorities, including another salary increase this year
We continue to make progress on defining and implementing the public affairs mission. From revising general education to expanding study away to integrating international students more fully, we made progress last year. For example, in our study away program, we had a 34 percent increase in student participation last year.
We are doing several things to further increase that number this year:
- We have begun a pilot program for need-based study away scholarships. College cannot just be for the affluent, and that includes all aspects of college, including study away.
- We’ve added a study away component to top academic scholarships for students enrolling fall 2013.
- On the international front, two of my favorite stories of the year were the success
of the White String Quartet and the alternative spring break trip to Chicago. You
may be thinking: why are you listing those stories here? It’s because of the make-up
of the groups.
- The White String Quartet won the contest for all colleges in the state of Missouri. They went to their region in Denver and won that entire region, and were named one of the top six string quartets in the nation. That’s a big accomplishment for the music department. However, the bigger accomplishment for the university is based on the make-up of the group, which was composed of two exchange students from Qingdao and two students from Missouri.
- The trip to Chicago was a great service project—an alternative spring break to Chicago where lots of good things were done. Nineteen students went. The bigger story for me is that the group was composed of 10 students from the United States and nine international students who just took the trip to a different level. There is a great You Tube video of this trip. I would encourage you to look at that.
This year, we hope to develop an annual set of signature public affairs events, including a Public Affairs Hall of Fame, and then to publicize those events.
We will continue to work to find the best ways to describe and illustrate the public affairs mission and raise the profile of the University.
We also made progress in diversity, starting with the hiring of Dr. Ken Coopwood and the formation of the division for diversity and inclusion.
A significant change was incorporating diversity into the ADPs for all senior staff and administrators. This year, we will continue to work on a mentoring program for diverse faculty and staff, and complete a campus climate survey to ensure we are serving our diverse students appropriately.
We raised our profile last year by reaching the Our Promise goal and increasing our national and international alumni activities.
This year, we are going to increase the number of alumni activities in southwest Missouri, our strongest area. We have thousands of alums in every small town from Branson to Monett to Lebanon to Camdenton. We need to make a more organized effort to get them involved with the university. And, at the same time, we are going to develop a set of major activities to raise our profile all across Missouri, beginning this year in St. Louis.
This goal relates back to the funding objective. Private fundraising will be ever more critical to our success as state appropriations decline. This year for the first year ever we exceeded $20 million in private fundraising for 1st time ever this year, up more than $4 million from our next best year. We must continue to increase this number.
Thanks to donors and our students, we were able to improve many facilities last year.
The Foster Family Recreation Center is worth noting. It was funded by a self-imposed student fee and private gifts, and it is a game-changing kind of facility. If you have not gone through it yet, I encourage you to do so. I predict you will say one word over and over, and that word is “wow.”
One of our emphases this year will include finishing the new campus entrance and trying to attract private funding for a Welcome Center—the last critical piece to campus transformation and part of the plan to increase enrollment by improving facilities. I believe we can build this building with private money, matched by state money. This will be a part of our Foundation fundraising focus this year.
The IDEA Commons, anchored by the Roy Blunt Jordan Valley Innovation Center, continues to set Missouri State apart in our state, in our region and in our nation. Work this year continues on Buildings 1 and 5 of Brick City to house the art department and also the cooperative Doctor of Pharmacy Program with UMKC.
The Plaster Center for Free Enterprise and Business Development will be a great addition to IDEA Commons. It will house not only the small business incubator and related services but also the cooperative engineering program with Missouri S&T and our printing and postal services. So our emphasis this year in IDEA Commons will be to continue to develop and expand those facilities.
Some of us cringe a little when we talk about marketing the University. When I discuss the term, however, all I mean is how do we best promote our programs and improve our reputation. By that definition, marketing should be a high priority, not only for the Board and the administration, but for each of us.
The major initiative this year will be to complete the marketing study. It will provide some much-needed research upon which we can better build our recruitment and fundraising plans. Thereby, this connects back in with the first and second items that we started with today.
Introduction of Frank Einhellig
It is now my pleasure to introduce our provost, Frank Einhellig, to talk about the other two areas of focus for this year. In doing so, I want to publicly thank Frank for his leadership last year and his commitment to continue on this year. Despite difficult health issues in his immediate family, I believe Frank has worked harder than anyone on campus—including me—to grow our academic reputation. He has demonstrated, again and repeatedly, that he is a true leader. Please welcome Frank to the podium.
Thank you, Clif. I want to note at the beginning that all of the areas Clif has discussed are important to academic affairs. As Clif has stated, the two major areas of continued emphasis that I will discuss—student access and learning, and graduate programs—directly focus on academic progress. These areas have a great deal of overlap at some levels, and, thus, many elements of my remarks will address the two topics jointly.
Our long-range plan highlights student success and learning for both undergraduates and graduates, and the things to achieve are not one-time fixes. They are ongoing. Following the model Clif has presented, my goals in the next 20 minutes are to review some of our accomplishments of the past year while at the same time addressing the upcoming work of this year.
Key performance indicators
During the past year at the state levels, decisions were made that when new funding was available to higher education, it would be distributed according to our success in retention, degrees awarded, student learning and keeping things affordable. The challenge to us is that we need to show improvement in these five areas. I am confident we can do so. At the same time that the state was adopting performance measures, we adopted 15 key performance indicators that parallel our expectations in the long-range plan. Five of our measures coincide with the state performance measures.
We will soon have the data for each of these KPIs on a website thanks to a lot of development work by institutional research, computer services, and Web and new media. Using degrees granted as an example, the data will show not only the total degrees granted, but with another click, everyone will be able to see more details, such as the degrees state-determined critical disciplines of workforce need.
First, every area of enrollment is important to this University. Second, if we take this long-term with a 21-year look, there have been some major shifts in the pattern.
We now have about 800 more students. At the same time, we have
- About 700 fewer first-time in college students—3,284 versus today’s 2,500
- Picked up 1,800 dual-credit students
- Increased our transfer student population by over 500—about 1,600 compared to 1,059
- And doubled our graduate student number to more than 3,200 from 1,563.
Our goal is to create student success at all levels by creating various access pathways. At the same time, we have the challenges of rapidly changing teaching tools and full recognition of them to maintain program quality. These goals and challenges form the basis of the rest of my illustration of actions achieved and pending.
Highlights of achievements: Where we are and are headed
Going into this year, we have funded more than $400,000 of proposals that made the best case for strengthening enrollment. These include the Evening College Plus, with 14 courses that have an average enrollment of 26, and making available the general business major in the evening. In addition to evening-only students, this program makes more course seats available in a number of areas where enrollment pressure was anticipated to be great.
We committed to expand health care programs, and you already noted the College of Health and Human Services has followed through with enrollment increases. As a future hope for assistance in teaching readiness, through the cooperative work of Jeff Morrissey in computer services, a number of folks in academic affairs and Julie Masterson as the PI, we have submitted a major grant request to help with e-learning, including faculty development.
Achievements in new programs
Based on the development work of last year, this fall we have three new graduate programs, with enrollments of, respectively, six, 11 and nine. We anticipate starting the BS in Health Services in December, pending final approval from the Missouri Department of Higher Education.
Some, not all, of our new projects going into this year are listed. I anticipate several of these, perhaps not all, getting to the curriculum review process. A lot of foundation work has already been done on the occupational therapy program. Tom Kane has started a discussion on a bachelor’s proposal in leadership, and several folks are beginning to discuss how to construct a general studies degree.
A big issue we have been spending a lot of analysis time on is the potential merger of Forest Institute and its programs into Missouri State. These include a PsyD and four master’s programs. I want to thank the faculty of the psychology department who have all invested a lot of energy on this issue, along with Dean Reid, Penni Groves, Steve Foucart, our President and many others.
Achievements in program delivery
Some of the advances that we have made in delivery of existing programs are shown. I have already mentioned the evening programs. In addition, the highlights include expansion of the elementary education completion program at Crowder and delivery of the master’s in literacy to that area with our first on-site classes going this fall. The social work faculty are working to start a BSW program to connect with Crowder graduates and establishing an off-campus location at either Neosho or Webb City.
We have three of our programs that have added enough online courses to be able to be completed by an online student: the criminal justice major, and at the graduate level, the MBA and master’s in early childhood and family development. Another view of our progress on program accessibility is the number of online-available programs. We have 11 at the graduate level and three at the undergraduate level, plus numerous certificates and a general education pathway.
When we compare the credit hours generated by online, blended and evening classes, all of these have increased, but the dramatic increase is in blended course work, which has doubled. The other two continued an incremental growth of 16 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
Achievements in first-time student support
Some of our advances to help our first-time students succeed include expanding the summer program called Jump Start, and the access and connections of our living-learning communities to disciples.
We have continued the growth in courses having a service-learning option, thus increasing student engagement. The Bear CLAW this year has more specialized tutoring support, and the Writing Center has reached out to give special help to online students.
Achievements in transfer student support
In keeping with the need to have the best in services for transfer students, a consistent evening schedule has been adopted to start this coming spring. The deans discussed the need for having more available information for enrollment planning purposes, and work is underway to develop a searchable database that will have our course offerings for the next several years.
Above all, however, the personal touch of faculty is the key to being a transfer-friendly environment, and I want to share with you a bit of how Kent Ragan responded to one student inquiry. She basically asked if we could meet her needs. Kent quickly replied with information about our new general business evening program and how we would hold a place for her. He went on to tell her how good our professors are and how much specialization we can offer. And I agree!
The list of people that contribute to better ways for students having access to MSU is very long, but just to name a few I have noted that Stan Leasure was given a distance learning award at the state level, Kelly and Amy were recognized nationally for their advising, Eric received a Governor’s award, and a team of folks led by Danae have recognition for the transformation of Psychology 121. Thank you!
Special graduate program highlights
And now I will turn to a few graduate program highlights that led to the increased enrollment of this fall. Our MBA is our largest program; DSS, MHA and plant science had the largest percentage growth.
The physical therapy and physician assistant programs have high applicant to admit ratios. Biology does the job with excellent research advising. I have already noted that literacy and early childhood have taken a proactive approach to reaching out with their programs, either with on-site distance locations or online.
Much of what has been noted as accomplishment is because of the work of teams of individuals in their different roles. I want to emphasize the point that we recognize a great University is not just a place; it is made great by the investment of time and talents of a lot of people.
Emphasis on faculty and what they do
This fall we start the semester with 705 full-time faculty members, four more than last year. The work that is in progress is tightly linked to the success of the faculty, even as we talk about student success. Much of the success of our student is tied to their high-engagement experiences with our faculty. I will note a few examples.
In the last couple of years our faculty have increased their efforts to lead and to encourage study away experiences. By increased faculty involvement, we have increased the student numbers served by 50 percent in the last two years.
The faculty-mentoring of research in terms of thesis and undergraduate research presentations has become increasingly evident. The colleges of Natural and Applied Science and Health and Human Services have held these forums for a number of years, and this past year Humanities and Public Affairs initiated student presentation events.
We know that this data does not represent all the work faculty are doing in student research. This fall the committee, led by John Chuchiak, that is working to determine a way to get more complete data on student research will finish their work, so next year, at this time, the data will be more complete.
Of course, student research is not usually done without a research-active faculty. I am pleased to note that this past year, in spite of all the other pressures, we held our own in the various types of faculty research productivity measures as shown in this table:
- By a number count, we had 363 products under the headings of books, chapters, journal articles, performances and exhibitions.
- By far our largest contributions are in refereed journal articles at 254. This data shows the distribution of articles by colleges, with CNAS the largest at 99.
- The College of Arts and Letters is home for performance and exhibits, as shown.
There were about 40 book contributions this past year, which represented seven percent of the tenure-track faculty having a book published. These publications are illustrated by these book covers which come from the work of faculty across the University.
The faculty and staff have funded research and program opportunities by active pursuit of external grant and contract funds, with the past year reaping the reward of $18.9 million dollars. More than 300 proposals were submitted. The College of Natural and Applied Science contributes heavily in this regard. We certainly had many important awards, like the $400,000 instrumentation grant of Bob Mayanovic and colleagues, but I also want to point out that many students are able to obtain their education with the aid of some grant funding. Grant and contract funds support students by program support, as in the case of 170 eMBA students, 22 in defense and strategic studies, 21 in the MHA, at least 29 students in health areas like nursing and a large number of teachers that get a class funded through two Improving Teacher Quality grants.
On the other side, CNAS had 26 graduate students supported in research. Agriculture, with two new grants of a quarter million each, will support eight research students. Some of the research support goes to undergraduates we bring in from other universities, as in the case of the math NSF program for nine students last summer. And, of course, things like our Fine Arts and Innovation Academies have some external funding help for high school students. All of these things are the result of hard work of the faculty submitting proposal and carrying forth the projects. I could easily mention some other notable specific grants of the past year—such as the fact that Dr. Durham runs the Center for Biomedical and Life Science on external funds, and Chris Barnhart has five smaller grants going that together run a very productive research program.
Working to achieve quality
And now I will to turn our attention to another major way we evaluate and constantly attempt to be at the front in terms of our program quality. This past year we studied and evaluated our program review process, made some changes and reaffirmed many good things. Among the changes, we are moving to a seven-year cycle to allow reasonable time for follow-up between reviews. We have developed a website for this process that will be available to all outside reviewing parties.
We conducted five major program reviews last year and are deep into the process for political science this year. We have an increasing number of programs under a specialized accreditation process, with at least six site visit teams visiting MSU last year and more for the year we are starting. Two of these last year were new applications for accreditation, with project management now approved and public health still awaiting the outcome.
Most of you know that several important questions arose from our NCATE review, and we are working toward what we hope will be resolutions to those concerns. A number of faculty members have risen to the task after that review process, and I want to thank all of them. Sue George has lead two task forces in the few months that have done outstanding work to better position our education programs and demonstrate the quality of these programs.
In closing, I want to note that this is an important year in our work moving toward the reaffirmation of accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission, which is the regional accreditation agency that gives oversight to the total university. Our site visit is in the 2015-16 year. We have adopted a Quality Improvement Project to improve our assessment of public affairs learning outcomes, and all of you are a part of this. Our steering committee has been formed with Tammy Jahnke and Etta Madden as co-chairs. It is vitally important that everyone on campus is knowledgeable about the HLC accreditation process and what we are doing. A part of the work is to demonstrate and articulate what this university does and show why we are a great university.
Together, we will have a productive year!
Before we take questions, I want to update you on the Bookstore situation. Several of you have asked about it. The entire campus received a written update this morning, but I’d like to highlight several matters:
- First, controls are now in place which I hope will keep this from ever happening again.
- Second, this loss has not caused tuition to be increased or inflated the prices of anything for sale at the Bookstore. The bookstore was profitable despite this loss.
- Third, I have instructed the audit department to scrutinize every aspect of the Bookstore operation to make sure it is in compliance with all university policies and that no other issues exist. We will release that audit to the campus community and the media when it is completed, probably near the end of the year.
- Fourth, I have also instructed the audit department to schedule audits of any operation that receives money that has not been recently audited. This kind of audit will have a high priority.
- Fifth, I would remind you that we caught this ourselves. There is no reference in the 2010 state audit to any problem with the Bookstore. We had no tip or no media inquiry. Our internal auditors found this through hard work, and they should be commended.
- Sixth, I decided to release our findings publicly because of the importance of transparency in how we operate. It is always the best long-term policy to admit failures when they occur and learn from these mistakes even if it results in short-term embarrassment.
- Finally, we will cooperate fully as the police investigate this and pursue prosecution of the person believed to be responsible. Plus, we believe we will be able to recover the great bulk of the money from either him or the theft insurance policy that was in effect.
I am sorry this was discovered right at the beginning of school with so many good things happening with enrollment, our facilities upgrade and the sense of excitement with a new year, but we did not feel we could delay the disclosure of this matter and operate within our core principles of honesty, integrity and openness, which define ethical leadership.