2015 State of the University Address

President Clif Smart and Provost Frank Einhellig
Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015

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

Before we talk about strategic planning, I do want to mention some of the highlights of the last 12 months:

  • Enrollment continued to increase, and we set system (24,735) and campus (22,834) records.

    • We have more graduate students, international students and students of color than ever before, and our biggest freshman class since 1995 (3178, up 377 or 13.5%).
    • Students want to come here and that's a good thing. As you have seen this week, not all universities are growing. So I am very pleased that we are growing in times that are challenging for universities. Enrollment growth is the best metric that the university is healthy.
  • We improved compensation for our employees through:

    • 1.8% across-the-board raise (more than twice the rate of inflation)
    • Second year of the Full Professor Incentive Program
    • An additional pool of money to improve the pay of many of our instructors
    • Additional money allocated to each cost center to improve staff salaries (Staff Senate initiative)
    • Equity adjustments

Of the 6 million new dollars we had to spend, slightly less than half went to improving pay and benefits, not counting equity adjustments, made by departments. Another $800,000 went to new faculty positions.

  • We had a successful year in the state Capitol.

    • MSU received a 1.5% increase in state appropriation. Ours was larger than others because we met all of our performance measures; and for the first time ever, equity (i.e. enrollment growth) was factored into the formula.
    • The general revenue bonding bill passed, which will allow the renovation of both Hill and Ellis Halls.
    • We received $2,250,000 as a state funds match for private money to construct the welcome center.
    • Year two of the OT money was released by the governor.
  • We were successful at fundraising, bringing in over $19,000,000, making it the second best year ever for the Missouri State University Foundation.

  • We improved our physical campus by:

    • Adding the Davis-Harrington Welcome Center and O'Reilly Clinical Sciences Center
    • Adding five new labs in Temple Hall
    • Completely renovating Pummill Hall, Sun Villa and Blair-Shannon Dining Hall
    • Completing the first stage of Meyer Library renovation

And that doesn't list them all. These new buildings will improve teaching, learning, recruiting, the student experience and raise our profile as a major university.

Provost Dr. Frank Einhellig will highlight some of the academic achievements in his talk and when he is done, I think you will agree that this was truly an extraordinary year in the life of Missouri State University.

So where do we go from here?

First, we need to fully implement the new initiatives and learn how to best use our new facilities. For example, the O'Reilly Center will have a free clinic we need to bring online and there will be many obstacles and challenges to implementing that program. Frank will talk more about that.

Second, we need to figure our future out together. Many questions were identified during the visioning process including:

  • What new programs should be started or what existing programs should be expanded?
  • What new initiatives should we begin?
  • What changes should be made to our academic organization?
  • Where can our limited new resources best be used?
  • What colleges or units should receive new faculty and staff lines?

And many others.

In short, Frank and I view this as a planning year. We have already begun that process by completing a year of visioning which involved a steering committee, six task forces and almost 200 people which resulted in a report entitled "Our Passion for Excellence." I hope you read it. 

  • Five assumptions:

    • The rate of change will continue to accelerate.
    • Competition will intensify.
    • There will be changes in demographics.
    • Cost will matter to Missouri State students.
    • State appropriations will remain unpredictable.
  • Six guiding principles:

    • Student success is priority one.
    • Attracting and retaining talented employees is paramount.
    • Continuous improvement toward excellence is the goal.
    • The statewide mission is public affairs remains important.
    • Partnerships and allies will be key.
    • Organizational agility is vital.

Those principles impact each of these six task forces which will be the areas we focus on in the long-range plan.

The planning has begun. We have put together a long-range plan steering committee to lead the effort to determine how these assumptions and principles relate to these six areas. The chair is Dr. Gloria Galanes, dean of the College of Arts and Letters, and there are 12 members of that committee. The steering committee reports to an oversight group composed of Frank, Dr. Siscoe and me.

The steering committee is currently working to revise the mission statement, create a vision statement and identify important campus values. They will report their work to the board in two weeks and to campus in my Clif's Notes entry next week.

Here is what the draft revised mission statement says:

"Missouri State University is a comprehensive institution offering undergraduate and graduate programs, including the professional doctorate.  The University educates global citizen scholars committed to public affairs."

We want your input on the mission statement and on all aspects of the plan. The 15 of us along with the board cannot and should not do it alone. We all have a stake in deciding what we want our University to be in the next decade.

My challenge to you is to become involved in the process and weigh in on how we jump the next curb, build on the success and momentum of the last four years and continue to strive toward excellence.

Questions on anything related to the Long-Range Plan.

Thank you Clif.

I will cover some accreditation awareness near the end of this talk. As with Clif’s remarks, we are happy to take questions about anything, but particularly think about accreditation questions that you want to explore further.

President Smart has stimulated thinking about the Visioning process of the past year and its outcomes. He also followed with some of our challenges to developing our Long-Range Plan. In keeping with a look to the future, I want to primarily focus my comments in three ways:

  1.  To highlight some of the things we are working on this year
  2. To note that most of these are not one-year actions but instead set a tone for the longer term of what will happen at our institution
  3. To emphasize that just about everything mentioned will result by way of a group effort and not depend on the accomplishments of a lone individual

We have a dynamic curriculum, and our faculty has constantly sought to keep that curriculum as the solid base of a University preparing its students for the future. In everything we do it is our collective challenge to raise the visibility of Missouri State. We do so by working from a stable, quality educational environment but also then capitalizing on unique opportunities and meeting the immediate challenges of an ever-changing array of societal needs and career challenges.

Some major, big-picture challenges not only for this year but also for the long term are as follows:

  • Retention on all levels
  • Evidences of student learning
  • Transfer student support
  • Graduate outcomes – a state performance measure
  • Alignment of learning with need and employer expectations

Retention of students so they meet their end goal of graduation is everyone’s business. Retention of first time full-time freshman moving to their second year has hovered very close to 75 percent. I am very pleased to report that this fall the retention of our large group of first-time freshman of last year is slightly over 78 percent. This is great news, but it also takes constant effort to continue and move this trend even higher. Interest in progression of students continues beyond the first year, and it is our goal to move the graduation rate of students higher than our most recent six-year cohort, which is 52 percent.

Other big-picture challenges include providing transfer students a more complete support system.  Developing improvements in transfer student support is an important goal this year. It will be accomplished by the student affairs office and academic units working together to provide transfer students a seamless process and to make them feel at home in their early experiences at Missouri State.

Gaining good evidence of student learning outcomes is another long-term expectation.

By the end of the year Missouri State will be expected to know the placement of a large percentage of students after graduation. By state mandate, this will be our sixth performance measure, and it will be tied – as are other performance measures – to future funding of the University. In brief, the expectation is that we know more about the placement outcomes of our students than we currently have in our records.

Another big-picture challenge is to ensure Missouri State graduates perform well and meet employer expectations, not just in the skills of their disciplines, but across the board in talent developed in communication, team work, problem solving and other skills that fit almost every job.

Missouri State has progressed significantly in offering online courses and programs, and we fully expect this delivery mode to be an ongoing demand. We now have 14 graduate degrees and 11 undergraduate majors that can be completed online. Many students who take an online class are not seeking full degrees in this manner, but the general convenience and quality of online fuels demand. This has especially been the case for summer school. Last summer’s enrollment resulted in 43 percent of credit hours taken online, and more than half of the enrolled students took at least one online class. This fall online credit hours moved above 11 percent for the semester, which is part of an upward trend.

Missouri State has also dedicated considerable effort to provide free course information about the Ozarks through the Massive Open Online Courses. Over 15,000 citizens enrolled in the three MOOCs we ran last year, and we are confident these MOOCs served a need and raised the visibility of Missouri State. Later this month we will launch the fourth MOOC, Missouri’s Civil War.

I will now turn our attention to discussing two or three major things each college and the School of Agriculture are working on this year.

I want to be clear about the central role of the teaching and research work that we engage in at all times. However, I know that when we reach beyond our normal routine we often face bigger challenges, and quite often these fringe challenges are what help shape the future of the university. I will focus on highlights, challenges and opportunities of the immediate school year.

On a percentage basis the School of Agriculture continues to be the most rapidly growing field at Missouri State. Its outreach is expanding beyond student head count. Currently, agriculture faculty are working on a proposal for a master’s degree and will send that proposal through the curricular process this fall term.  

They also are expanding their global perspective. Each summer for the past few years agriculture students have studied and conducted viticulture research in northwest China. This fall, 60 student and faculty from Ningxia University arrived in Springfield for a year of study in agriculture at Missouri State. This is both a highlight and a challenge for the School of Agriculture, and I am confident the school will measure up. The long-term plan is for these students to return to Ningxia University for a year and complete their degrees. In the following year they will come back to Missouri State in order to study at the graduate level.

The third point of pride – and challenge as well – is continuation of the work on the VESTA grant, which just received a five-year extension and $4 million grant award. VESTA stands for Viticulture and Enology Science and Technology Alliance. The new grant extends the total funding received over the past dozen years to almost $13 million. It is a work force development initiative that provides multiple avenues for students to connect knowledge acquisition with field and commercial experiences. Missouri State has been designated as a national center, or hub, for 16 states (including 20 institutions), making us a major leader in viticulture and enology education. Our scientists have also carved out a place as one of the top institutions for genetic studies in viticulture.

This year the College of Arts and Letters is implementing a master’s in second language acquisition. The home for this degree is the department of modern and classical languages, but the degree relies heavily on interdisciplinary working relationships with the English department. Thirteen students enrolled this fall. The degree will be a plus for globalization demands in education.

A second highlight for this college is that faculty and administration in languages are the leaders in refining approaches to Credit by Assessment (CBA), also sometimes known on a national level as Credit for Prior Learning. They have demonstrated that CBA is a plus for students and for those interested in taking further course work in their department. Currently, the department has an external grant of $100,000 to help refine CBA processes and to give more clarity to student outcomes.

The Ozarks Writing Project recently affiliated with another National Writing Project site, the Greater Kansas City Writing Project, which serves the Kansas City area. Kansas City’s operations were integrated under Missouri State management. The Writing project is a great way to make the Missouri State name visible among a new group of teachers, and it should serve as a tool for recruitment of teachers to graduate work at Missouri State, such as the graduate certificate in writing. The Writing Project should also aid in recruiting undergraduate students to come to Missouri State. 

Incorporation of the Kansas City project broadens the funding base about $100,000 for the current year, and gives the overall Writing Project about $460,000 for this year. In the past 10 years that Missouri State has conducted workshops, classes and various teacher training experiences with the National Writing project, about $1.4 million has flowed through the University to directly help teachers.

The College of Business, like several other places on campus, is challenged to meet the needs of expanding enrollment. Part of the college's expansion stems from new niches of the business world that are now being addressed by academic program we did not offer in the past. 

This fall COB welcomed the first students in the MS in Cybersecurity. Twenty students enrolled for either cybersecurity degrees or certificates. A new track in the master’s program is underway in the School of Accountancy. It focuses on public accounting. Both of these new programs address areas of great employer demand, and they fit needed job opportunities.

As Glass Hall is undergoing some renovation this year, one outcome that directly enhances the curriculum is the development of facilities that simulate a stock exchange floor. Students will get a chance to experience a real-world simulation of a stock exchange.

A good challenge that stems from having additional business students is that several instructional areas are experiencing pressure to have an adequate number of faculty and class seats available. The major in finance is growing rapidly. Online classes in the MBA fill up quickly. Adding to these great challenges is the inclusion of six eMBA cohorts from China, which result in an additional 140 international students who are choosing Missouri State for their degrees. We are delighted to have them, and every effort is in process the serve them well.

The College of Education was granted approval for the MS in Child Life Studies, and now the real work begins. The program has four option areas: child development, youth development, family studies and child life. The child life area prepares students to become specialists who are employed by hospitals and other health care providers in order to help children and families cope with the stress that traumatic events place on development, health and the well-being of youth and families. This program is a great fit with Missouri State's public affairs mission. 

In addition to the child life program, the College of Education started two new advanced degrees for career teachers, the Master of Teaching and Learning and the Specialist in Teacher Leadership. They are site-based programs and are designed to keep teachers in their classrooms while nurturing their skills. These programs enrolled a first cohort of nine teachers in Nixa schools.  

Thanks to the support of the Herschend Family Foundation, COE launched a new school leadership project last fall, the Missouri Institute for Leadership in Education (MILE). Going the extra MILE means becoming a highly skilled school principal or superintendent who knows how to lead whole-school reform at the most professional level. Discussions are underway to examine the feasibility of making MILE a statewide program in partnership with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and other institutions of higher education. The goal is to create the most rigorous, purposeful, intentional school leadership program in Missouri. We will carefully examine student learning in the schools led by our MILE-prepared graduates over the next several years.

All three of these initiatives, along with a new year-long professional internship for future educators, are contributing to the College of Education’s commitment to be a state leader in the re-conceptualization of how to best prepare future educators.

Clif has already mentioned the MSU Care partnership with Mercy to provide basic health care to some of our most needy citizens. This is an opportunity, a tremendous outreach effort and a significant set of ongoing challenges for the College of Health and Human Services, and it will take a great deal of effort. However, the clinic provides experiential training for nursing and physician assistant students, and in many respects will bring an added dimension to the University’s relationship with the Springfield community.

The college also started its first class of 23 students in the Master of Occupational Therapy program. With new faculty, a new building and a first-time class in the discipline, everyone is excited about both the opportunities and the unexpected, unpredicted things that will occur. We know that education for students wishing to enter the job market as practicing occupational therapists is something badly needed in Missouri. We have had great support from local hospitals and clinics in developing this program, and the Missouri Legislature provided the needed funding. This does not complete Missouri State's efforts in health care programming, but it marks another step toward our goal of being a center of health care education.

My third highlight from Dean Reid’s college is the fourth professional doctorate program at Missouri State, the Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice. A fifteen-member cohort is in the entry level program that culminates in the DNAP, and another 21 students who have the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthesia credential will seek the doctorate. Program director Monika Feeney has garnered 38 clinical sites in Missouri and seven in other states. Hence, Missouri State is extending its visibility and making new friends in new communities, and I guarantee every place Missouri State students go will end up with an enhanced respect for the University.

Just this week Missouri State's DNAP was mentioned in national news as the most affordable, quality nurse anesthetist program.

The College of Humanities and Public Affairs was a founding partner with the office of the provost in creating the Center for Community Engagement. Under Dr. Mike Stout’s steady leadership, the Center has already engaged in a number of local civil projects and has become visible on the national scene for investigating social conditions. The Center's work assessing poverty, health and other red-flag issues of the community has provided perspective and recommendations for key city, state and national groups interested in creating a culture where all citizens can thrive and not be marginalized. Mike has submitted several grants, both on his own and in collaboration with others. We look for some good outcomes from the work of this Center.

The defense and strategic studies department is experiencing important increases in enrollment. The program has an ongoing relationship with the National Defense University and provides classwork for students to complete a certificate in the study of weapons of mass destruction. DSS is currently in discussion to provide courses to personnel at Fort Leonard Wood.

A third highlight for this college has a little more past history focus as well as a challenge for the future, but it is my belief that the research cited here continues a long-standing trend. The faculty of this college led all other Missouri State colleges in the writing and editing of published books, which contribute to the knowledge base of society. This activity brings a great deal of visibility to Missouri State, and it is regularly a point of pride for the institution as a whole.

Humanities and public affairs faculty published nine books in the past year. They range from the specific political and military subject material to cultural studies in Africa.

One of the highlights from the College of Natural and Applied Sciences is that several faculty and students were recently moved to the fourth floor of the Jordan Valley Innovation Center (JVIC). This provides better access to research instrumentation and improves the chance for collaborative associations with technology companies who have offices in JVIC, and it is a very positive development for faculty and student research.

Over many years the CNAS faculty have been the leaders in submitting external grants and bringing in grant funds for research. Approximately one-half of the tenure track faculty submitted a proposal last year. We anticipate that external funds will help support the continued activities of the faculty at JVIC.

On the academic program side in this college, the computer science department is developing a new track in the major that should improve the flexibility of graduates in meeting a wider range of employer needs.

Another point of pride for CNAS is the biotechnology focused partnership that brings Qingdao students to Missouri State. Currently, 18 Qingdao students are enrolled in courses that develop their skills in biotechnology.

I will now turn my attention to several University-wide initiatives and programs that raise the Missouri State profile. 

Faculty and student research and creative works are among the ways we distinguish ourselves. The third edition of "Mind’s Eye" is just now coming out. The work of 16 faculty is featured in this edition. When you receive your copy, I hope you will look at the extensive variety of pursuits that faculty devote energy to on a regular basis.

Student research is another part of this picture. At the Board of Governors meeting in two weeks, undergraduate research will be featured. This semester there are 1,775 students either taking classes that have a significant amount of energy focused on research or pursuing individualized research under the direction of a faculty mentor. Some of these student publish in "Logos," the publication of the honor's program.

Moving forward in advancements we are making, several things will be implemented that should simplify our work.

  • The electronic curricular process just beginning was spearheaded by Dr. Self, and she deserves considerable thanks. But this project, like all mentioned today, will involve the collective efforts of many at Missouri State.
  • The new degree audit system will be ready to go live next week.
  • There is a new website for directing students to complaints.

Again, these and other process improvements will advance the work of students, faculty and staff. In all cases there are still challenges for the year ahead. 

Based on discussions in this summer's Administrative Council retreat, consideration is being given throughout the University to how we can consolidate committee functions so at the same time there will be new needs to be met by committees that must be formed. For example, the scholarship committee functions appear to fit very well into the work of the executive enrollment management committee.

As a second example, there is logic in uniting the degrees committee and scholastic standards committee. 

My final topic to address is the site visit review from the Higher Learning Commission that occurs next Monday and Tuesday. All of you are aware of the importance of this accreditation process. The HLC is our regional accreditation that is an umbrella for all other specialized accreditation. It is essential for us to continue functioning as a major state university. We have been accredited by the organization for the past 100 years.

One might ask, "Why go through the process of such a regular review?" The answers are many, but they start with the recognition that it is a way of assuring and evidencing quality education. Further, it is a quality improvement process and being accredited is required for licensure, credit transfer, federal aid and other processes.

In addition to the HLC accreditation process, we have over 30 specialized accreditations. Approximately half of our students are enrolled in majors accredited by one of these specializations. 

In preparing the Missouri State assurance argument for HLC, Dean Tammy Jahnke has led the process alongside a great steering committee. Tammy deserves a lot of thanks for the work she has done, and I want to personally thank her. 

The site visit team arrives Sunday. All of us not only have opportunities to provide input to these folks, we also have an obligation to do so. In our assurance arguments (formerly called self-study) prior to this visit, Missouri State presented its case that we met and exceeded expectations for the five criteria to be demonstrated.

The first is Mission, and the second is Ethical, Responsible Conduct. Do we know our mission and utilize it in the way we focus our teaching, research and University operations? Does our institution act with integrity and have policies to ensure and promote ethical conduct? Do we understand the value and role of shared governance?  

We should have a good representation of faculty and staff at the open forms on criteria as well as the focused topics. It is important that we articulate our understanding and recognition of how the institution meets these criteria. That first open forum is Monday morning starting at 10:10 in the PSU Theatre.

The second open forum deals with Criteria 3 and 4:  Teaching and Learning. Quality, professional development for faculty, advising and assessment are just a few of the areas where questions may be directed. This is an open forum that all faculty should be interested in, and everyone should have some knowledge about the topics and questions that may arise. It starts at 1:25 on Monday in the PSU Theatre.

On Tuesday, beginning at 9 a.m., the final open forum on criteria we were expected to demonstrate will cover Resources, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness. It is especially germane for those who served on the Visioning task forces and those currently on the Long-Range Plan committee. 

The questions on these – as well as other open forums – are unpredictable.  However, the goal of site visitors will be to see if our faculty and staff know what is occurring and can express their understanding of and feelings about progress and actions at the University.

The site visit team chair has also communicated that there are several topics of special consideration which I have labeled as focus sessions. They are about diversity, faculty development, evaluation and quality assurance. The session on course scheduling, faculty development and quality assurance is specifically for department heads and deans.

However, some of these same general topics are a focused topic for faculty, as shown in the last item which will be Tuesday at 10:30. These focused sessions are all in room 313. In general, these are topics where the evaluation team wants to learn more and may have preliminary evidence; they are areas where we may need to have more attention given.

Also, we found out yesterday that there will a focused topic on assessment on Tuesday at 9 a.m.

While the HLC process has taken considerable energy, we also have departments and programs working on specialized accreditations and program review. The dietetics internship program and the DNAP degree have accreditation site visits.

On the program review side, we are scheduled for reviews in eight programs. In most cases, such as biology and psychology, the program review process involves the whole department. In others, such as in biomedical sciences, separate accreditation processes handle dietetics and other special components of the department work.

I hope the highlights illustrated have shown we will have a productive year and do many things that elevate the stature of the University.

I will now return the podium to Clif for final comments and questions.