Peers of Aspiration and Consumer Price Index Recommendations

January 30, 2006

Dr. Michael Nietzel, President
Greg Burris,
Vice President for Administrative & Information Services and Chair, Ad Hoc Process
Improvement committee
Updated Recommendations – Benchmark Peers and Consumer Price Index

Four charges were given to the Ad Hoc Process Improvement Committee – three via your memo dated July 27, 2005, and one delegated to the committee subsequent to that memo. This memo is intended to make recommendations addressing the first two charges, although a status update addressing the last two charges is also included.

This memo supersedes the prior memo dated December 14, 2005. While the majority of the content remains the same as that previous memo, updated recommendations are being made regarding the list of institutions, the name for the list, the inclusion of student and workforce diversity as an evaluation criteria, and a more specific Consumer Price Index. These updated recommendations are detailed within this memo.

Recommended List of "Benchmark Peers"

The first charge given to the committee was the following:

The Ad Hoc PIC consists of the original members of the Process Improvement Committee plus two additional faculty representatives assigned by Faculty Senate, two additional staff representatives assigned by Staff Senate, and Paul Langston, Director of Institutional Research.

Based upon feedback the committee received during its January 19 presentation to Faculty Senate and subsequent internal discussions, the committee recommends that the list of institutions be called "Benchmark Peers." Thus, the remaining portion of this report will refer to this list using the name Benchmark Peers.

The Ad Hoc Process Improvement Committee used the following process to develop the proposed list of Benchmark Peers:

  • The committee identified the master list of major characteristics it would consider when identifying benchmark peers (e.g., selectivity). Some characteristics were determined to be used as selection parameters to narrow the list of institutions; others were to be used subjectively once the list was reduced. (See Appendix A – Characteristics to Consider when Identifying Missouri State University's "Benchmark Peers"* and the accompanying Carnegie Classification Categories Key)
  • The committee determined a specific indicator for each characteristic (e.g., ACT or SAT score over a specified level).
  • The committee discussed the relative weight of each characteristic, but did not determine a specific value for each.
  • The committee solicited input from the Futures Committee. Feedback from the Chair indicated two major areas of emphasis: (a) increased research funding ($20 million annually by 2010) and an increase in total graduate enrollment from 2,850 to 3,000-3,500.
  • The committee reviewed a series of institutional lists prepared from the IPEDS Peer Analysis System database by Paul Langston. An initial set of criteria produced a list of 120 institutions. During each review iteration, the committee refined its list of selection parameters to narrow the list.
  • Additional information was collected from the U.S. News & World Report's institutional rankings and the list of Metropolitan Universities.
  • The committee agreed that the process will not produce a perfect set of Benchmark Peers because some institutions are performing better than us in some respects, but not as well in others.

The following criteria were used to narrow the list of proposed Benchmark Peers:

  • Public university
  • Total headcount enrollment in the range of 10,000-29,000
  • Enrollment mix of graduate students + first professional students as a percentage of undergraduate students = 12-30%
  • Lower end of the range of admission test scores representing the middle 50% of the freshman class must be either 19 or higher for schools reporting ACT scores or 950 or higher (sum of critical reading and math) for schools reporting SAT scores
    • Must have reported ACT or SAT scores; we excluded institutions that did not report any scores
  • Actual graduation rate of 45% or higher
  • Research expenditures per FTE > $170
  • Both Masters I and Doctoral-Research Intensive institutions were considered
    • As reported by the U.S. News & World Report institutional rankings, our list includes top-performing Masters institutions and second-, third- and fourth-tier doctoral institutions
  • No more than two institutions from any state
  • No more than one institution from California; no more than one institution from New York
  • No institution from Missouri
  • No institution with a hospital or where a medical degree is awarded
  • No historically black institution
  • Note: The institutions included in the list generally scored higher than Missouri State University in these categories. However, included on the list are institutions that scored lower than us in some categories while scoring higher than us in other characteristics to which we aspire.

On the enclosed spreadsheet*, those "peer" indicators that exceed Missouri State University's values are highlighted.

During the committee's recent presentation of these institutions to the Faculty Senate, there was strong support to consider student and workforce diversity measures as a selection/evaluation criteria. The committee agrees. While diversity measures were not used as a selection criteria for the set of institutions recommended in this document, the committee has added diversity indicators to the attached spreadsheet for comparison and recommends that future committees tasked to conduct a similar process include diversity as a selection/evaluation criteria.

The Ad Hoc Process Improvement Committee recommends the following institutions be considered Missouri State University-Springfield's "Benchmark Peers" in conjunction with the new long-range plan:

While the committee originally included the University of Wisconsin—La Crosse on its proposed list, feedback received during the committee's presentations to the Staff Senate and the Faculty Senate convinced the committee that this institution should be re-evaluated. Upon further consideration, the committee agreed to recommend this institution be excluded from our recommended Benchmark Peers list.

The committee recognizes there is no perfect Benchmark Peer institution. However, the committee feels it has identified a set of twelve institutions that have, in the aggregate, performed as well or better than Missouri State University on a number of key indicators.

The committee used a relatively empirical approach to narrow the master list of institutions to a more focused subset, then considered a variety of both objective and subjective factors to reach the recommended list. For example, while the committee recognizes that a directional reference in an institution's name does not dictate quality (something our own institution knows very well), the committee tried not to include too many institutions with directional names. The committee does, however, recommend including Northern Iowa because their accomplishments and reputation seem to have transcended their regional name, and they are the third largest institution in a state that emphasizes higher education.

The committee acknowledges that a few of the institutions on the list have exceptional programs or emphasis in specific areas (e.g., Louisiana Tech University for engineering, College of Charleston for high-quality undergraduate instruction). The committee also acknowledges that the funding per FTE student for most of the listed institutions is higher than Missouri State University's comparable funding. The committee did not exclude any institution from the list solely because it was lower funded than our own institution. The committee did, however, exclude a few institutions because they were funded substantially higher than Missouri State University.

While the committee did not initially aim to develop a list of geographically dispersed institutions, the resulting list happens to be reasonably dispersed. Included in the list are institutions from states contiguous to Missouri.

Based on your remarks during our November 23rd meeting, it is the committee's understanding that the Benchmark Peers list will be used for the following three primary purposes:

  • To provide a comparison group that can be used as benchmarks when comparing public performance measures. We don't want a list where Missouri State is last on every indicator, but the mean or median should be higher than Missouri State. Additionally, we may use these to set standard benchmarks for many other comparisons (instead of comparing our performance to other Missouri schools).
  • To analyze their operations and seek out "best practices" to emulate to make Missouri State more effective and/or efficient.
  • To analyze their salary levels as one component toward identifying salary goals for Missouri State University.

The committee has presented its original recommendations to the Staff Senate (January 12) and Faculty Senate (January 19). Both of those presentations yielded positive, helpful discussions regarding these topics. The committee will next present these updated recommendations to Administrative Council (on January 30) and, upon your concurrence, the Board of Governors (March meeting). The purpose of the presentations to Faculty Senate and Staff Senate was to collect feedback from these constituencies. The intended purpose of the presentation to the Board of Governors will be to seek their concurrence that these institutions are appropriate to become Missouri State University-Springfield's "Benchmark Peers." If the list can be adopted soon, it can be included in the University's long-range plan that is currently under development. If not, the "Benchmark Peers" list can be mentioned (without listing the actual institution names) in the hardcopy version and can be specifically listed by name in the version posted on the web.

The committee recommends that the Benchmark Peer list be reviewed every five years in conjunction with the University's strategic plan development.

Please contact me if you have any questions or comments regarding this portion of the report or the recommended institutions.

Recommended Consumer Price Index

The Ad Hoc Process Improvement Committee was also charged with the following task within your July 27, 2005 memo:

After considering various CPI options, including whether to use a national or regional index, the committee recommends use of the December CPI-All Urban Index, Seasonally Adjusted. [Note: On January 17, 2006, the Ad Hoc PIC updated its recommendation from "CPI-All Urban Index" to the index noted above.]

Additional Tasks

The Ad Hoc PIC will continue its work to address its final two tasks. The committee's third task was also included in the July 27, 2005, memo:

Work on this nearing completion. The committee hopes to have a recommendation addressing this charge soon.

The committee's fourth task was delegated to it informally in October. In essence, the Ad Hoc PIC has been asked to coordinate the selection of the performance measures for the University's new strategic plan that external stakeholders and policy makers can use to evaluate the University's performance. Included within this task is the recommendation of a subset of "dashboard indicators." This task has not yet been started by the committee.

Sends Comments to the Ad Hoc Process Improvement Committee

*Requires Microsoft Excel

Develop two recommended salary objectives – one for classified staff (typically selected from a local pool of candidates) and one for faculty, unclassified staff, and administrators (typically selected from a larger geographic region – regionally, nationally, or internationally). These objectives should be adjusted based upon the recommended CPI, if possible. One method to be considered is determining the median salaries at our peer institutions, adjusting them based upon their respective CPI's, and comparing them to our median salaries adjusted by the CPI selected in task #2 above. [Note: The term "CPI" is to be replaced with "Cost of Living Index" in this charge, per clarification received from Dr. Nietzel on 12/7/05.]

Recommend a consumer price index (CPI) that should be used to benchmark our salary targets over time for all workforce categories.

Identify a set of up to 15 "peers of aspiration." This set of institutions should be similar to Missouri State University-Springfield in many respects (e.g., student headcount, level and span of degree programs), but possess characteristics and accomplish outcomes that we aspire to achieve. This set of institutions will be used as a benchmark cohort for comparing our performance in a variety of categories over the next few years.