2018 State of the University Address

President Clif Smart

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

During our time today, there will be several ways for interaction.

At the conclusion of Frank's presentation, we will both take questions.

  • First, from anyone who sends in a question through social media or by card to Suzanne Shaw who will ask the question.
  • Second, directly from anyone in the audience.  

The questions can be on any topic, except the new health care plan. We will cover that separately in a town hall meeting at 1:30 p.m.

I want to begin by saying that many good things were accomplished last year despite no increase in state funding for the third consecutive year.

Flat funding this year was actually a victory as Governor Greitens had proposed another significant cut to funding to higher education ($6.5 million to MSU). Working with the legislature, that funding was restored.

Other good things happened last year as well. We highlight some in this brand-new video entitled "What's New at MSU."

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

We set a 7th-consecutive enrollment record for the Springfield campus. Our biggest gain was in graduate students. We have the most graduate students in our history this semester and I suspect our provost will talk more about that in a minute.

Maintaining enrollment is critical since two-thirds of our revenue to pay for operations comes from tuition and fees. Unfortunately, we were down about 5,000 credit hours, so we will have to do a budget adjustment to manage that revenue loss.

Let me encourage you all to continue to aggressively recruit students. It’s important that more people come to college. It changes their lives and their families' lives, it improves our state and it directly impacts our budget.

Completion is even more important than enrollment, and we graduated a record number of students last year, awarding 5,184 degrees and certificates, exceeding our five-year goal three years early.

We added new academic programs, including many certificates, that will allow our students to complete degrees in stages.

We began several new retention initiatives to retain more of our first generation, Pell-eligible and underrepresented students.

We increased the diversity of our faculty and staff to 14.1 percent, up from 11.5 percent just 2 years ago, again exceeding our five-year goal three years early, and we once again met our target of 20 percent of new hires being from diverse backgrounds.

We made significant facilities investments, including the renovation of Hill Hall, the construction of the Magers Health and Wellness Center and Hass-Darr Hall in West Plains and we added a new parking lot in IDEA Commons.

We improved safety on campus by completing an in-depth IT security assessment in Springfield and West Plains and are implementing the recommendations that came out of the report. We continued to improve our IT infrastructure in other ways as well.

We maintained our affordability by raising tuition by less than inflation, reducing the number of hours to graduate from 125 to 120, and through a variety of other measures.

We know our graduate outcomes for the first time in our history and almost 90 percent of our graduating seniors were employed or in graduate school within six months of their graduation.

We received more than $47 million of external support with over $26 million of grants and sponsored contracts and $21.5 million in private contributions through the Foundation, both records.

We won 10 conference championships in athletics which earned us the MVC all-sports trophy and we did it while reducing athletic expenditures by over $1 million.

These were all group efforts, so thank you to everyone who played a role in improving our university as we move onward and upward.

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

  • $235,808 for faculty promotions on the Springfield campus and $10,212 on the West Plains campus
  • $41,010 for the full professor salary incentive program 
  • $1,800,000 spent from reserves to fund a $700 one-time retention payment for full-time employees 
  • $291,310 for salary and fringe increases provided to 88 faculty and staff members due to equity adjustments

As this next slide shows, the cost of benefits (pension and health care) continued to increase last year, and the university funded those increases without passing anything along to units or employees.

  • $650,000 increase in the university’s contribution under the MOSERS pension system
  • $1.5 million budgeted health plan contribution
  • $2.1 million un-budgeted health plan contribution

Many of you know we are working on modifications to the health care plan because of these increasing costs. We will have a separate town hall meeting after this presentation today to discuss options and it will be live streamed on our website as well.

Now, let me highlight six major initiatives for this year.

Growing specific academic programs strategically

Increasing marketing share is going to be ever more difficult, our enrollment growth focus shifts to a strategic growth plan. The questions we will be answering include:

  • What new programs should we add?
  • What existing programs can expand?
  • What barriers to entry can be removed?
  • How do we best continue to expand online?
  • What marketing help is needed?

Frank will focus more on this topic in a minute.

Improving our graduation and retention rates 

We have work to do here. Slide 22 shows our retention rates from this year. The questions that need answering include:

  • How can we better support our most at-risk students?
  • How do we move to a more proactive advising system?
  • Can our GEP structure make a difference?

We have created the Center for Academic Success and Transition. Kelly Wood is the director and she will lead in this effort.

Expanding IDEA Commons

This is a public private partnership with Vecino Group, the chamber, the city, city utilities and the university to expand JVIC, build a parking garage and a new privately owned office building.

Financing is coming into place with one federal tax credit program still in limbo. If those tax credits are obtained, the university will obtain $26 million in facilities at ultimately no cost. We believe this project will ultimately transform downtown and lead to the opening of Jordan Creek.

Launching a comprehensive campaign

We are in the silent phase of a new campaign to raise money for the university, with a focus on academic and student support. We will be setting our target, getting the structure in place, and meeting with key people this year. The time is right to launch given the success the university is having.  

Advocating aggressively for new state funding

We are now the lowest-funded university in Missouri, passing Missouri Southern.

Our goal this year is to receive new performance funding, new equity funding, funding for a capital project and to successfully compete for funding in the workforce development arena.

We are positioned well to do this with many government leaders connected to the university and our region of the state. We will let you know how you can help.

Increasing compensation for faculty and staff

This is my number one priority this year. The executive budget committee met last week and we will be presenting a mid-year raise proposal to the Board of Governors in October.

More to come soon on this item too.

We live in challenging times.  Our country is divided along many lines. We saw that in President Trump’s appearance on campus. The tone and style of our national political leadership has changed. Things are better this year in Missouri with the change in administrations in Jeff City and I am excited about the coming year.

Here are my final challenges to all of us:

Be positive 

Remember that we are making a difference in the lives of thousands of students. The university is thriving and our influence and profile in the state has never been higher.

Continue to emphasize our public affairs mission

Let's do it with an emphasis on inclusion, civility, compassion and kindness. We just had a tremendous Public Affairs Conference. Let’s remember what we heard and live it out, even in challenging times.

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

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

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

Dr. Frank Einhellig 

In the first half of my portion of this State of University, I will reference a few points of current status, and also give some accomplishments. The second section will deal with intended actions. 

Majors, degrees and certificates

MSU started this year with a record number of academic pathways or choices for students to pursue. We have 102 undergraduate majors and those majors include almost 70 additional options. There also are 15 undergraduate certificates.

We boast 61 graduate programs with almost 100 options, plus 60 certificates. Most certificates are 12 hours, and the growth in the certificate credential has shown a dramatic increase.

Fall 2018 enrollment highlights

While total enrollment this fall is only slightly above a year ago, new records were set in graduate enrollment exceeding 3700 (3,709), in the 2,929 dual credit students and with more than one-third of the students (8,866 of 24,390, or 36 percent) taking an online course.

Likewise, 1,921 new-to-college students (63.24 percent) arrive in college with some college credit, and the average is 15.6 credits. The 338 new students in the honors program also is a record, and the total number of 1,215 in Honors is second to the highest year.

Experiential learning expands

Across the curriculum, faculty and staff have made experiential learning a highly valued part of the curriculum. New high numbers are evident in study away, service learning and students involved in research or internships. The 664 number for study away is two-thirds in the short-term trips.

The 5,600 student in service learning this term is bolstered a great deal by the vision-screening program. Vision screening should hit about 12,000 clients this year. Student participation in service learning will include about 8,000 of our MSU students.

We anticipate experiential learning will continue to increase with the new laboratories in Glass Hall, expansion of some programs in health care, and an increase in students engaged in research.

Number of faculty

We start the year off with 764 faculty. This number does not include 440 per course faculty and about one-third of the 698 graduate assistants who are teaching assistants.

The 764 full-time faculty is 11 more than we started the year with last fall, and 59 more than six years ago.  MSU has been able to maintain 79 percent in the ranks of assistant professor or above. Only 21.3 percent are in the instructor rank. Other ranks are assistant professor at 31 percent, associate at 17 percent, professor at 28.4 percent and distinguished at 1.7 percent.

Mind’s Eye

Many faculty are involved in high-quality research endeavors. The sixth edition of Mind’s Eye features stories on the research of 13 faculty.

These research areas fit into both basic research and applied research categories. During the six years of publication of Mind’s Eye, 93 faculty are noted.

A few years ago, a parallel group of videos were produced on some of the research featured in the publication. This past year, nine videos were produced, and in a few moments I will show one of those. 

Several of the videos of last year were in the national competition of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and MSU won second in that competition with only Harvard slightly edging us out of first place.

This is a strong testament to the work of folks in marketing and communications for their production skills, and also the work of faculty for the research being done.

One of the judges’ comments is particularly insightful as this judge pointed out how the subjects treated were made understandable. The print edition of Mind’s Eye also won silver in a Regional Research Publication category. 

I will take 3 minutes to show a video that highlights some world-recognized research in grape breeding.

Publications and Creative Activities

Further evidence of the high-quality work faculty are doing in expanding knowledge is illustrated by the 400 research products produced in 2017. Those include

  • 27 books
  • 78 book chapters
  • 264 journal articles
  • 15 exhibits
  • 17 performances

All of these are peer reviewed or juried. They cover a wide range of topics. 

Half of the books came out of the College of Humanities and Public Affairs, and I use the four titles to give a flavor for the range of topics and ideas addressed.

These examples are a book on Criminology, Maya Colonial Documents, world religion and the one on the right addressing Inclusion in the American military. These are a sample of the much larger array of research done at MSU.

External funding

As previously mentioned, the last calendar year MSU faculty and staff set a record of $26 million in the external dollars that came in through the grant and contract process. Perhaps even more important is the fact that 305 projects were submitted during the year and grant work involved contributions from 110 investigators.

Proposals were awarded in all three areas of academic responsibility: research, education, and service. This is good work for all who contributed.

Professor Salary Incentive program

We continued the Professor Salary Incentive program last year and recognized the excellence of six professors for their dedicated to continued good research, teaching and service. Those salary increases this year were awarded to:

  • Nick Gerasimchuk
  • Eric Nelson
  • Mike Reed
  • Arbindra Rimal 
  • Gwen Walstrand
  • Steve Willis

Since 2014, 63 professors have been recognized with PSIP, and 52 of those individuals are continuing to teach and research and help students as full-time faculty.

Debate national recognition

Many recognitions as a university come from the combined excellent of our faculty working with students. One recent example was that our debate team placed second in the national sweepstakes of the National Forensic Association, Lincoln Douglas Debate (NFA-LD). Only the University of Nebraska edged them into second place. We also had an individual national finalist.

The debate team is a program with a long and outstanding history of success. It has consistently had students from several majors across campus, and these students have a superior record of graduation and often continuation in law or other graduate programs.

The department of media, journalism and film

The year, I also am noting the fantastic record of external recognition that have come to students and faculty of the department of media, journalism and film. The department as whole has achieved a whopping 650 awards since 2001.

This year they had an Emmy nomination for the “Show-Me Chefs” program, and among other things they assisted in work that ranked The Standard first among Missouri college newspapers.

Implementing the Vision: 2016-21 Long-Range Plan

I will now turn my attention to some academic directions for this year. The central focus of the long-range plan is on student success. This means for all categories of students, or those who might become MSU students.

The plan suggests this is a time for innovation, and certainly innovation has never been more valuable, more possible, and more necessary. 

Ultimately, the best metric of success is for students to continue at the university to earn a credential, a degree or a certificate that can help them in their careers. In the next few slides I will mention at least one example of the 10 action factors on this diagram.

Because of state demand and in order to accommodate the needs of students, MSU will selectively focus on areas of expertise in high demand for employment by expanding the number of students we can accommodate, or by introducing new curriculum.

MSU intends to be sensitive to modes of delivery of courses and programs, while at the same time emphasizing quality and student learning. History and future expectations suggest interdisciplinary programs and partnerships are ways to better serve students.

Technology and health programs 

Technology and health care are examples of demand areas now and in the future. In the last seven years, computer science has gone from 179 majors to 438 this fall.

Three years ago, the computer information systems programs spun off a new major in cybersecurity, and when you take CIS and cybersecurity programs together, there has been an increase of almost 100 majors.

Most health care programs have a limited number of slots which they fill every year. However, nurse anesthesia has not set iron-clad limits and has grown from 30 seeking a degree to now 138.

Demand in most of the other health areas is better estimated by the applicant pools. For example, about 400 for occupational therapy and physician assistant (350 and 404); 500 for physical therapy (500) and 600 for nursing.

Targeted certificates

The action plan calls for an increase in enrollment and completion of certificate programs. Some certificates are targeted to attract students to come to the university and then go on to complete a degree program. 

Alternatively, certificates have also been developed for the enhancement of skills of those already in the workforce, or hoping to move into different positions.

A few of the outreach and hopefully ‘new market’ certificates are shown on this slide. For example, the graduate certificate RN First Assist will better qualify nurses for working in the operating room.

It is a 9-hour program with the first class offered second block this semester. The dyslexia certificate will help selected teachers to meet expectations of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.   

Online credit hours

Online delivery of course work is now an established dimension of our portfolio. In the last fiscal year, 18 percent of MSU’s credit hours were through online classes, with 57 percent in the summer and 16 percent this fall.

This term, we offer online 440 unique courses and 626 course sections. Currently, 16 graduate programs and 18 certificates can be completed online, and 11 bachelor's and two undergraduate certificates. The FCTL boot camp program to help faculty develop online courses will continue to be available.


Last year, we successfully went through an amazing one-third our programs (10) for re-accreditation. They included College of Business programs, seven programs in the College of Health and Human Services, and Hospitality Leadership in the College of Natural and Applied Sciences.

This year we have accreditation site visits for computer science, and nursing. We also have the Higher Learning Commission review of things taught at our 12 off-site locations. In November, HLC will visit our site in Cassville, the DSS program offered in Virginia, and the Master of Professional Studies in Brazil.

Interdisciplinary graduate programs

Interdisciplinary programs have a recent history of success. They take a lot of cooperation, and it is a credit to our departments and faculty that we have been able to do so.

At the graduate level, the flexibility of the Master of Professional Studies and also the M.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies have provided the flexibility to accommodate collaboration with other universities, especially international, collaboration with grant-funded educational programs, and at the same time these programs are meeting the need of individual students.

Majors have doubled in the last five years, and they provide a pathways for degree completion for some unique areas. An example is the grant-funded students in our program for teachers to improve English language teaching in the Ozarks.

Bachelor of General Studies

Started three years ago, the BGS is a decided success in helping many well-deserving individuals, most of whom are already in the workforce, complete their degree. A total of 187 students have completed this degree, and we have about 100 in the pipeline.

The testimonial from one of our recent graduates gives you a sense of the great good the interdisciplinary BGS is achieving in the lives of those who have come back to complete their program.

Later this month Dr. Darabi, with help of many advisers, is running a workshop (Mission: Graduate) wherein their goal will be to review as many transcripts as possible of people who have left the university in that last five years without degree completion, but with over 100 hours accumulated.

We have over 2,000 such records. Some folks then will be contacted to show them a pathway for completion, and quite often that may through the general studies degree program.

Improving processes 

As Clif and I visited each college at the start of this semester, one thing mentioned was the need at every level to reevaluate our requirements and processes so that we can increase the chances for student success.

Several things are happening centrally that will be a help for new and continuing students. UniCAS, GradCAS, and Dual Enroll are new admissions systems that, when fully functional, will provide more flexibility and transparency for students, and more efficient for the staff.

Better communication will result from the Customer Relationship Management software that has been installed. Likewise, efficiency should be gained as thesis process goes online this year.

Implementing CORE 42 transfer measures and keeping four-year degree plans current are other actions intended to reduce hurdles.

In the short-term, some of these efforts toward simplicity will cause stress, but the ultimate goal is to modify and reduce hurdles. Every academic department should be looking at their curriculum in this kind of focus.

Engineering collaboration

MSU’s collaboration that began in 2008 on civil and electrical engineering has been great for servicing students. We are extending that collaboration by starting students in a mechanical engineering track in the fall of 2019.

Last Thursday (Sept. 26) in Rolla, we signed the latest formal agreement, and there will be no restriction on the residence from which engineering students can come to attend the programs in Springfield which are located in the Plaster Free Enterprise Center.

Renovation of new space in the Plaster Center for the ME program is now being completed. The current civil and electrical programs now enroll approximately 200 students and graduate 40 per year. We expect ME to eventually add another 200 students.

MSU and Southwest University (China)

One of newest international partnership is with Southwest University in Yinchuan, China. This is one of the very best universities in China. Through the work of our ILTC (International Leadership and Training), we have taught several short study programs for their students in agricultural sciences and also in mass media.

Currently, proposals are in discussion for a 3-plus-1 approach and also dual-degree programs for their students to be part of Missouri State.

Assurance of student learning

Assurance of learning is a common theme we will continue to emphasize as innovative educational approaches are piloted and as an institution we reach out to meet needs through certificate programs.

This fall, we have already had external consultants review our non-tradition assessment approach, and they were very complimentary. In the near future, four academic departments (philosophy, religion, art and design, and English) will have external visitors in the program review process. Nursing, and computer science undergo accreditation.

The committee on general education committee is working to streamline and improve their assessment processes. Building on the success of the last two years with a small grant program, the office of assessment again this year is funding grants that study and enhance how a program or major is evaluating student learning.  

Center for Academic Success and Transition

The newly formed Center for Academic Success and Transition will be an aid for helping student retention and completion. The center moves into Meyer Library early in 2019.

This physical location will help students directly and coordinate a variety of activities focused on meeting student needs, particularly for first generation and others groups of students at higher risk for not completing their college goal of graduation.

Under the direction of Dr. Kelly Wood, the center will be proactive in evaluation of program effectiveness and in new directions taken to build on what works. The work of the center will extend beyond the first-year student experience.

What we do every day will make the Missouri Statement for this year, and the future.