2016 State of the University Address

President Clif Smart and Provost Dr. Frank Einhellig

Sept. 26, 2016

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President Clif Smart

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

During the presentation today, there will be three opportunities for interaction.

At the conclusion of my talk, we will take any questions or comments on the new long-range plan and our focus for the year, which is the main topic of my talk.

At the conclusion of Frank's presentation, we will take any questions on any academic issue, which is the main topic of his talk.

You have three ways to get those questions to us. Our vice president for marketing and communications will run this process and ask the questions submitted.

At the end, we will take any questions or comments on any topic directly from you at an open mic.

Before we talk about the long-range plan and action items for the year, I do want to mention some of the highlights of the last 12 months.

Enrollment has continued to increase, both system- (26,000) and campus-wide (24,116). Those are both records, continuing our string of five consecutive years of enrollment growth.

We have more new undergraduate students than ever before, including the most new transfer students ever and the most underrepresented students ever. In fact, we have more transfer students than any other public university in our state.

Students want to come here, and that's a good thing. As you have seen this year in our newspaper and on television, all universities are not growing, so I am very pleased we are growing in these tough times.

Enrollment growth is the best metric to demonstrate that the university is healthy.

Moreover, without enrollment growth, we could not hire new faculty, expand programs or increase compensation.

We have seen what happens when enrollment decreases. This year, when the University of Missouri-Columbia lost students, this resulted in hiring freezes, no merit increases and the closure of buildings.

We improved compensation for our employees. Three major items were:

  • 2.0 percent across-the-board raises, which is more than two times the rate of inflation, which was 0.8 percent.
  • Year three of the full professor incentive program (A $5,000 raise to 52 full professors).
  • Additional money was allocated to each cost center to improve staff salaries (Staff Senate initiative).

Not included in this number were benefits increases. We:

  • Expanded our sick leave benefits for faculty and staff
  • Made equity adjustments

Of the 6.3 million new dollars we had to spend, slightly more than half went to improving pay and benefits, not counting equity adjustments made by departments.

Another $900,000 went to new faculty positions, our largest commitment in the last five years.

A total of 64 percent of our new money went into compensation increases and new faculty positions as we work to make this a place where you want to work.

We also had a successful year in the state capitol.

  • We received a 4.5 percent increase in state appropriations. Ours was larger than others because we met all of our performance measures and, for the second time ever, equity (enrollment growth), was factored into the funding formula.
  • We received $5 million as a state funds match for private money to help construct Glass Hall. The caveat was a withholding of $1.875 million. This will not alter our timeline on completion. We will work to have the money released or filled in with private donations.
  • We received $1 million of ongoing money to begin a new mechanical engineering program with Missouri S&T.
  • No campus conceal and carry legislation passed. That will be a continuing battle and we will need your help on this issue.

We were successful at fundraising, bringing in over $18 million for the third-straight year, and we brought in almost $25 million in grants and contracts for the biggest year ever in that revenue category.

We continue to improve our physical plant by beginning the renovation and expansion of Glass Hall, adding a storm shelter by Sunvilla and expanding the chilled water loop, among other projects.

These new and renovated buildings and projects will improve teaching, learning, recruiting, safety, sustainability, the student experience and raise our profile as a major university.

We used the year as a planning year to complete the new long-range plan and put together the first year's action plan.

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

Let me jump into the long-range plan presentation.

You should each have received one in campus mail and it is also online.

This is not a document Frank and I put together by ourselves over a weekend.

It is the culmination of the work of hundreds of people over two years.

The first year was a visioning process where task forces of mostly faculty worked on six topics selected as critical to the future of the university by a steering committee composed, again, of mostly faculty. The six topics were:

  • Academic profile
  • Student experience
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Globalization
  • Infrastructure
  • Funding

In the second year, we took that report and using the same six categories and the same vision statements, prepared this report and set our strategic priorities and university goals for each category.

There was a very open and inclusive process to set these strategic goals and directives.

This was made possible by the Board of Governors, a steering committee of Frank, Dee Siscoe and me, and a working group led by Dean Gloria Galanes who wrote the plan and made presentations to dozens of faculty, staff and student groups and sought feedback thru website, email, Inside Missouri State and town hall meetings.

Our objective was to create a single document that almost everything we do is connected to.

Read the plan as it will be the foundation of what we will be working on for the next five years.

When you do that, you will see that there is a lot of material here.

A couple of questions may jump out at you:

  • How do we achieve the goals set forth in the plan, including tactics and implementation plans?
  • What do we work on first?

The second question is answered by the action plan for 2016-17, which we have just finalized and shared with the campus community in my Sept. 6, 2016 Clif's Note.

Administrative Council, Academic Leadership Council and our board have all been involved its preparation.

While we will work on parts of each of the six strategic areas this year, let me share what our major focus will be this year and probably the next several years. It will be on two major subjects:

  • Increasing number of graduates
  • Improving diversity and inclusion practices of our campus

Why this focus? We have several reasons which are connected, as you will see when I share some data.

  • Every unit can participate in these goals. Everything counts.
  • Everything we do should promote student success. It is our core mission. If we are not graduating our students, we are not carrying out our mission to educate our students to be successful in the world.
  • The economy of our state and nation needs more graduates. Two-thirds of all new jobs require post-secondary education and most require at least a bachelor's degree.
  • We have room for improvement. We have not increased significantly in the last five years until this fall, despite our growth. Our graduation rates and and retention rates can improve.
  • There's a social justice basis as well. If students come to us, particularly first-generation students, Pell-eligible students andunderrepresented students hoping to change their lives and the lives of their families for generations to come, and we send them home without a degree, without the ability to get a college-level job, with debt and limited ability to pay off that debt, not only have we not improved their lives, we may have made them worse. That's very sad.
  • It's not acceptable to have a 31-35 percent graduation rate for black students when the graduation rate of white students is 54-56 percent. We must and can do better.
  • Finally, our state is right in the middle of racial unrest sweeping the country with the Ferguson events, the founding of the Black Lives Matter movement, the events at the University of Missouri and racial issues on our own campus and in our community. The events in Oklahoma and North Carolina this month tell us this issue is not going to go away.

The board insists we be accountable for how we do, so we will measure our success by how many more students we graduate, by whether we improve our retention and graduation rates, and by the composition of our work force at the end of five years. The more diverse we are, the better we are and the better we serve our students. While we have made slow progress, we must do better, faster.

Our metrics will be established by the board in October and I will share the final numbers with you soon.

Back to the first question: How do we make progress in these areas?

Some tactics we will use to move the needle will be handled centrally and others by specific units, but some will involve multiple units on campus. We won't be able to graduate more students or improve our graduation rates without the work of every department.

Frank will talk about specific action items that will help us achieve these goals in his presentation.

Thank you for all you do and will do to make this an even better place to work and go to school.

Provost Dr. Frank Einhellig

My remarks will be divided into three general categories.

  • First, I will note a few of the indicators of our collective strength that are the foundation from which we go into our new plan.
  • Second, since student success is the key to the plan and it is dependent upon involving students in the learning, I will highlight things from across the campus that show ways we are gaining student participation in parts of the curriculum.
  • In my final section, I focus on some specifics in the action plan that we are committing to work on in the coming academic year.

As noted previously, your questions can come to Clif and me in several ways.

President Smart has already mentioned enrollment growth that has occurred. The foundation of that outcome is that Missouri State University has excellent faculty and staff that serve the students. Likewise, there are multiple evidences that we offer a quality education across a large number of choices in our curriculum.

This is a bit redundant, but this slide names four key areas wherein we have set new records in terms of numbers and participation.

At 560, we have the largest number of graduate assistantships ever as we start this year.

This fall’s enrollment increase of more than 1,200 students is a new record in the total undergraduate student number, transfer students, Honors College enrollment, and doctorate students. And during the past year, we set new record highs for students involved in service learning (over 4,000), study away (over 500), and undergraduate research (over 4,500).

From a different kind of perspective, we had a record grant income of almost $25 million, and more faculty and staff participated in this process.

We have also made progress in terms of full-time faculty number to teach the students. Our low point of recent history for full-time faculty was in the fall of 2012 at 696. This fall, the faculty number is 755, an increase of 59 over four years. At the same time, the percentage in the instructor rank has essentially stayed the same and is 23 percent. (Actual: 22.4 percent in 2012 and now 23 percent). Further, we now have 10 in the rank of distinguished professor, compared to 4 in 2012.

Another high point of success and excellence is that 12 additional people were recognized in the Professor Salary Incentive Program. These full professors have demonstrated their continued fine work in teaching, research, and service, and we congratulate them. They had an additional $5,000 added to their base salaries. A total of 52 faculty have been recognized in the Professor Salary Incentive Program over the past three years, and only three have retired.

Other indicators of quality in the work that faculty are doing are illustrated in this year’s edition of "Mind’s Eye" which is published to show the general public and prospective students about research and creative work conducted at Missouri State. The feature story this year is about Dr. Alicia Mathis’s research work which has focused on a regional endangered species, the Hellbender salamander. It's very small, but is still the second largest salamander in the world.

Alicia’s research is one of 14 stories of the research and creative work of faculty, and often these stories highlight student involvement in the research. Over the last four years, the "Mind’s Eye" publication had 50 stories and mentioned work of 64 faculty. These illustrate only a fraction of the research and creative work of the campus, but we think "Mind’s Eye" is an effective communication tool that fosters respect for Missouri State.

We also offer our students a broad and exciting range of curriculum opportunities. Currently we offer 100 undergraduate majors and an even larger number of minors at 120. Further, 13 undergraduate certificate programs are available.

Missouri State has 60 graduate degree programs and three-fourths of these having an accelerated option that can be taken advantage of by undergraduate students. Four professional doctorates among the 60 programs and two other professional doctorates are offered here at MSU in collaboration with other institutions. MSU also offers over 40 formal graduate-certificate programs.

Our courses are increasingly offered in a variety of formats. Traditional face-to-face courses are by far the largest percentage at 82 percent of credit hours. However, online and blended courses have continued to increase in recent years.

ITV and ZOOM have a small fraction of the total credit hours, but these modes give opportunity to those at distant locations. ZOOM technology allows delivery to a home computer and students can still have direct collaboration with the instructor. ZOOM-assisted classes were started last summer and we are doing further pilot offerings this fall.

Online credit hours have dramatically grown in the last five years. The summer-term percentage of credit hours is 47.63 percent of total credit hours. Five years ago, the fall semester online courses constituted 5.6 percent of credit hours, and this fall they are about 13 percent. On a full fiscal year basis, online credit hours are 14.6 percent of all credit hour enrollments.

The biggest single positive thing that happened last year that now positions us for a good year is that the Higher Learning Commission (which accredits the entire university) came to campus, reviewed all of the evidence we had presented, and their report affirmed MSU met all criteria and core components. Thus, we have accreditation extended for the next 10 years. This process, of course, does require interim reports and expectations.

Part of the reaffirmation of accreditation process is that there always are recommendations. I have summarized the most salient of those recommendations.

  • We are asked to continue and expand our focus on creating a diverse and inclusive campus.
  • Second, although HLC reviewers thought we had made good process in the area of assessment, the Commission suggested a number of things for continued work in assessment. They suggested we had a very high number (over 50) student learning outcomes associated with general education, and that some consolidation could enhance the ability to assess general education as a total program. Our general education committee, CGEIP, is evaluating this recommendation. Also, HLC recommended that student learning outcomes from co-curricular work should be a focus. Another recommendation was to assure programs have consistent assessment across delivery modes: traditional, online, blended, and so forth.
  • The last point listed is that Missouri State’s fee schedule should be presented for students and parents in a more simplified format.

These and all recommendations are being looked at. I have appointed a standing committee, chaired by Keri Franklin, for tracking progress on the Higher Learning Commission processes.

I want to restate that the major theme of our Long-Range Plan is student success. The plan focuses on improving success as measured primarily by the outcomes of retention and graduation. So, what are the most basic things we know leading to students being successful?

We know student success is strongly related to approaches that involve students in active ways. We often refer to these approaches as experiential-based learning. As it is stated in the long-range plan, the goal is to personalize education. By design, we already have been focusing on engagement in high impact learning experience, including drawing students into the research process.

Other things mentioned in the long-range plan will help student success. The plan calls for this academic community to embrace collaboration across disciplines, academic programs and business, and student-with-student collaboration. It also points to the necessity to keep the curriculum on the cutting edge of what is needed in society.

The next few slides provide examples of student-centered learning that are currently being done and will expand.

One extremely successful service-learning program has been the Vision Screening started three years ago in fall 2013. Service learning students from nursing, BMS and other areas are the backbone of the process where young children and certain adult populations are camera screened for evidence of eye problems. I am particularly proud that at my suggestion last spring, we added color vision to the screening process.

Vision screening last spring screened over 3,500 people using the camera, and half that number in color-blind testing. On average, the data shows about 12 percent of those camera-screened needed referrals, and we have collaborators in the medical community that are then ready to help. On the color-vision side, the deficits found fit the national average of 8 percent of males being color blind. Many young children do not know they have vision problems. Hence, the MSU vision screening program gets information to parents and the program can really make a difference.

Vision screening is just one of our many service-learning programs which last year had, in total, participation from over 4,000 MSU students.

Following my theme of increasing student involvement, business students are soon to have expanded opportunities provided by the Student Success Center addition to Glass Hall which will have five new professional-practice laboratories designed and intended to offer real-world type experiential learning. The labs are:

  • Trading
  • Sales
  • Advertising
  • Cybersecurity
  • Entrepreneurship.

The College of Business Career Fair and Study Away programs are other examples of being student-centered. The Career Fair is professionalized by requiring students to have instruction before interview sessions and assisting students to be certain they can, and will, dress appropriately. A fund has been established to purchase suits for some men who did not have the needed attire. Last week, about 1,000 students participated in the Career Fair, and last year it was about 1,300.

The Teacher Internship Academy highlighted on this slide started last year with the placement of 26 elementary education students in a public school for a year with a master teacher and under the supervision of a teacher in residence and a director for this Academy project. Our internship students learned a great deal, showed their potential and over 90 percent were immediately placed in teaching positions upon their completion. This is another excellent example of student success with involvement in the process of their learning. A second cohort of the Teacher Internship Academy is underway.

In the creative arts side of the university, they initiated the use of theatre to improve communication and civic dialogue regarding experiences of the underrepresented. Students and faculty do interviews, develop the scenarios, write the script, and produce “Giving Voice.” The student troupe has performed for classes, regional businesses, civic groups and recently at a conference in San Diego. This is both an effective learning experience for the students of our troupe, and it also gets the audience involved. It is easy to see how this activity-centered learning carries out the public affairs mission.

Involvement of students in research is illustrated by the work of a major project from faculty and students in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and also from Media, Journalism and Film. This project will develop a narrative and visual history of the African-American community in Springfield. MSU students are doing interviews and filming. Hence, they learn and apply research skills. The work is under the direction of professors Tim Knapp and Lyle Foster.

Another high student involvement project comes from the School of Agriculture and the ILTC working together to bring in 50 undergraduate students and 10 faculty from Ningxia University in China. The program uses a high degree of experiential learning, and students take classes with other agriculture majors. Last May at their closing recognition of their completion event, it was gratifying to feel the appreciation the students had for their experiences.

A second cohort of students from China is now enrolled. The program expands global, cultural, and agricultural knowledge for all students, both those from our local region and those from abroad.

Faculty in the College of Natural and Applied Sciences are very active in seeking out and obtaining external funding for research and education projects that enhance opportunities for science and math majors to pursue STEM careers. Two examples are shown. The NSF-funded S-STEM grant funded 21 student at $3,100 each and they received extensive mentoring along with taking 12 hours a week of tutoring in calculus and physics. The goal is to increase retention in STEM. Next year, we add another 21 students.

A total of 12 students were involved in the NSF-funded REU summer research experience for math students, thus positioning them for graduate school and careers. Many of the grants have students working side-by-side with faculty on research in their labs or in the field.

It is a mark of excellence and pride that the CNAS faculty submitted 115 proposals last year and received 72 grant awards for over $3 million. Again, perhaps the most important point is that many of these grants gave our students an opportunity to participate in the discipline in ways that enhance retention and success.

As noted, research participation start to finish is an important student engagement correlated with student success. Last year, the Graduate College gave small travel grants to 83 students to present their work at regional or national meetings, and I know several academic departments provided further monetary help.

The annual Graduate Interdisciplinary Presentation Forum featured 50 oral presentations and over 100 posters. The annual research poster presentation events for the Colleges of Health and Human Services and Natural and Applied Science had great student participation with 80 posters in CHHS and over 60 in CNAS. Anyone who has spent some time listening to these students or viewing their work can appreciate the importance of this learning process and what it does for the student’s skills and confidence.

A significant outreach effort of the past year was establishment of the MSU Care center jointly with Mercy Hospital. This facility is a training ground for many students in the health care fields. Students are currently mentored by faculty from nursing, physician’s assistant studies, dietetics and pharmacy. They gain experience as well as provide clinical services for over 400 low-income, adult patients each month.

Why are we doing this? The answer is two-fold, but it starts first with the educational experience MSU provides students.

A point of pride is our student success getting into medical schools. We had 30 students apply and 21 were admitted, which is an excellent success rate. Our students came from five different undergraduate majors at MSU, and they were admitted collectively to 12 different medical schools.

Likewise, our undergraduate students have done well in entering health-care professions graduate programs here at MSU. These data show we can recruit undergraduate students who have shown confidence that if they do well in their undergraduate work at MSU, that they can move upward right here in a health professions career path at the graduate level. The numbers on the slide show former undergraduate MSU students in the most recent classes in our graduate programs. Three-fourths of the students in the doctorate of pharmacy were from MSU; a little less than half in Physician Assistant Studies (14/32) and DPT (17/40); one-third (9/27) in OT and over half (14/27) for Communication Science and Disorders.

Clif talked about our goals to improve retention and graduation. In my last few minutes I will highlight a few things in the Action Plans for this year.

This year, the curriculum processes on campus and at the state level will be entertaining five new MSU degree programs that I know about: bachelor’s degrees in Agricultural Communication, and master’s degrees in agriculture, computer science, dietetics and athletic training. The athletic training degree will be an entry-level degree which is to be mandated by accreditation, and it will replace our current post-professional degree in AT.

In our action planning, we continue to emphasize and develop strategies and programs to improve campus diversity. These include recruitment, hiring, and cultural training. Many things are in progress, yet it is incumbent on us all to do more, do it better, and with the full focus that it will improve our retention and get students to the finish line in degree programs. This year we have already started developing educational strategies to work with faculty and administration to help our faculty develop skills to be effective with difficult diversity and cultural situations in class discussions, questions, and situations.

Important in our year’s action plan is how we can best utilize the GEP 101 course to enhance student success. We have two years of data showing that college-specific sections of this course and attention to first-generation student section has improved the retention of those students who have been in these types of class sections. In fact, while the data is limited, the first-year retention gap between first-generation and non-first-generation has been closed when students have been in first-gen sections. Hence, at minimum, we will double the number of these sections as we go forward.

Working groups are being formed to analyze and suggest possible improvements in the GEP course design, and strategies for development of associated living and learning communities are in process. Kelly Wood is helping with many aspects of these endeavors related to GEP 101.

In short, the first-year experiences are vitally to student persistence and our goal is improvement.

The action plan for this year calls for evaluation and ratcheting up the advising process so students are channeled into the best pathway for the math requirement. Pilot projects are being develop to eliminate remedial classes by folding in more time in the required math and English classes. This is called a corequisite model. To further improve math success in a different way, a program will be initiated to bring in specific examples of application, such as for examples that business students might utilize.

Many strategies exist that can be levered to decrease time to graduation, and these are only of few. They include keeping students better informed of their progress through an element in Degree Works that we are just now starting to train advisors on how to use.

Other approaches are encouragement of full-time enrollment, and giving students more options by increasing our second block class sections. Several MSU departments have agreed to pilot the use of structured schedules. We also know MSU has the highest number of credit hours required for graduation in the state of Missouri, and this probably should be a discussion.

Advising is a major key to student accomplishments and success. We are in the process of forming working groups to evaluate strategies to improve advising.

As a part of the advising focus, development of processes that are as efficient and streamlined as possible for our more than 1,700 transfer students will be vital. The same streamlining review is needed for the graduate student population and the non-traditional students. These questions do not come from automatically assuming we are doing a bad job, but it is a matter of looking at what we can improve to do even better.

Just about everything we do as individuals in all functions of the university has an impact on how well we retain and complete students. I utilize this closing slide to illustrate we don’t solve many problems with some unique new strategy. It is the many things that are shown here, and a lot not in the diagram.

Fundamental to all of this effort to improve student success will be our personal interactions with the students and the evidence that we show them we care about them and are here to help them. My closing quote and one some of you have heard me say before is:

“They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”