Faculty/Staff News

Updated November 29, 2011

Dear COAL Colleagues:

Please excuse my using the largely impersonal medium of email to share some news that is quite personal for me, but communicating simultaneously with 200 people is difficult to do any other way.

This week I have accepted an offer to become Provost and Vice-president for Academic Affairs at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Georgia, effective July 1, 2012.  I have been very happy in my role as Dean and was not looking for another position, but when I was approached about this job earlier this semester I was intrigued enough to explore the specific opportunity further.  To make the long story short, my family and I have decided that the time is right to begin a new chapter in our personal and professional lives.

I know as well as all of you the uncertainties created by transitions in the Dean’s Office.  In my 16 years prior to 2007 there were no fewer than seven Deans and Acting Deans, and only one of those served more than a couple of years.  I hope that I have brought some measure of stability and security to the college during the past four and a half years, and I will do everything I can to maintain that stability during my remaining seven months and in planning for the transition forward.  Hopefully the first step in that process will be Frank naming as soon as possible the interim dean to take my place on July 1.  We also have three department head searches underway, and Frank will have to decide how to proceed with those in light of my announcement.  I would not expect any of our faculty searches to be affected.

We will continue to work on our other priorities for the year, including learning outcomes assessment, student success, program reviews, and budget reallocations.  Our slogan for the year – Da Capo al Fine – is even more motivating to me now.

This has been a very, very difficult decision for me.  I have spent essentially my entire professional career here, and I love this college.  In some respects I think I must be crazy to leave such a great place and such wonderful people.  It has taken the perfect combination of an exciting professional challenge, an appealing location, and good timing in the cycle of family life for me to even consider a change.  But, after much thought and consultation, I believe this is a move that I need and want to make.

If I am successful in this new position it will be due in large part to what I have learned from all of you over the past 20 years.  So many people have taken chances on me and allowed me to make mistakes and learn by doing; so many have modeled for me what it means to be collegial, collaborative, and dedicated.  I cannot say enough about what a terrific college this is and how proud I am to be a part of it.

Every disruption in our normal routines is an opportunity for change.  We may try to get back to “normal” just as quickly as possible, or we may pause to ask the What If? questions that take us in different, even better directions.  I am excited about the creative, positive conversations that a change in leadership will precipitate for the college.

Over the next seven months I hope to be able to thank many of you personally and to express my best wishes for your futures.  In the meantime, I wanted to be sure you heard this news from me first.



Updated October 3, 2011

A few notes, reminders and highlights as we head into Week Seven:

  •  If you weren’t able to attend the State of the University address delivered last week by Clif Smart and Frank Einhellig, I encourage you to read the text or watch the video online.
  • You can read my October Dean’s Blog here.

This request comes from Dr. Judith Martin, Modern & Classical Languages.

Dear COAL Colleagues,

This fall I was asked to serve on a Presidential task force that is charged with evaluating the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning (FCTL).  The task force contains a representative from each college and part of our role as college representatives is to solicit input from the faculty about their experiences and perceptions related to the FCTL.

In order to gain the input from as many COAL faculty as possible, I am asking you to please take a few minutes of your time to complete the survey and provide your honest and valuable feedback.  Even if you have never used any of the FCTL services, there are important questions that apply to you.

Follow this link to the Survey:
Take the Survey

Or copy and paste the URL below into your internet browser:

There are several campus and college events of note this week, including,

And October is a big month, with special emphases for

Please be reminded of the following opportunities (and deadlines) to apply for internal funding support:

  • Curriculum Innovation Funds – Deadline Monday, October 31st for innovations to be implemented in Spring or Fall 2012.\
  • FCTL Travel Funds – Awards of up to $500 each are available to faculty attending or presenting at conferences related to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) or the public affairs themes.
  • Public Affairs Grants – Up to $4000 to support events for the campus community that are consistent with MSU’s public affairs mission.  Deadline October 21st for Spring 2012 awards.
  • CASL Research Stipends and Faculty Fellowships —  Deadline October 18th for research stipends up to $8,000 and support of $2500 for faculty fellowship projects.
  • Your students can apply for COAL Student Achievement Funding Awards of up to $200 to help them pursue opportunities for recognition and/or dissemination of their scholarly and creative work.  There are no application deadlines, but applications should be submitted prior to incurring expenses.

The current Provost’s Communique contains more information you’ll want to be aware of:

Have a great week!


Updated September 9, 2011

COAL Colleagues:

Just under the wire again, here’s a brief summary of news and reminders for Week Three of the semester.

I do encourage you to browse yesterday’s Provost Communique.  There are several events and application deadlines highlighted there that I hope you will note.

Citizen Scholar Award nominations are due September 22.  Each year a handful of exceptional students receive this honor from the MSU Board of Governors to recognize their academic achievements and their demonstration of the public affairs mission.

Please be reminded of the application deadlines for the following internal funding opportunities:

  • Monday, September 26 — Faculty Research Grants.  Up to $7,500 for personnel, supplies, equipment, travel, services, and various other costs
  • Friday, October 21 – Public Affairs Grants.  Up to $4,000 to sponsor events consistent with the public affairs mission. (Deadline is for Spring 2012 events.)
  • Monday, October 31 – Curriculum Innovation Grants. Up to $5,000 to transform an existing course or develop a new course designed to improve student learning.
  • Tuesday, November 1 – Sabbatical Leave.   One semester at full pay or two semesters at ½ to ¾ pay.
  • Friday, November 4 – Summer Faculty Fellowships.  $6,000 stipend to allow faculty to devote intense thought and activity to a single project

The Ozarks Celebration Festival is this weekend.  In addition to the traditional kickoff concert this evening (a triple-header starting at 5:30 p.m.) and a full slate of performers, artists and craftsmen the following two days, on Sunday there are two 9/11 commemoration events.  “Taps” will be played at 1:00 p.m. on the steps of Carrington Hall and a special carillon concert, “Remembering 9/11,” will be held at 7:00 p.m. that evening on the grounds of Meyer Library.  Then don’t forget the Ozarks Lecture Series next week, with presentations Monday-Wednesday.  Topics range from “Vigilante Justice in the Ozarks: The Baldnobbers of Southwest Missouri, 1885-1889” to “Lee Mace’s Ozark Opry and the Emergence of the Country Music Industry in the Ozarks.”

Plan your days and evenings carefully so that you can take in both the 2nd Annual Springfield Jazz Festival and the 2011 Missouri Literary Festival September 23-24.  The Jazz Festival features the gala concert for the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition, sponsored by the International Trumpet Guild in cooperation with the Herb Alpert Foundation and hosted this year by Missouri State University thanks to the effort of ITG member and Music department faculty member Grant Peters.

On October 6th at 7:00 p.m. in the PSU Theatre you can attend a presentation by Doug Rushkoff, media and technology theorist and globally recognized thought leader on marketing and Internet culture and the impact of technology and digital media on organizations and society.

As always, for a complete list of college activities, performances and events, check the COAL web site.

Enjoy what promises to be a beautiful weekend.  See you at the Festival!


Updated September 2, 2011

Last week I sent my “week one” email out on Tuesday morning.  It’s probably not too surprising that my “week two” email is going out late Friday afternoon, although at this rate the “week three” email will come out sometime during week five.  I’m sure you are as glad to see the long weekend as I am.  Here are a few notes and reminders as we head into September.

Yesterday’s Provost’s Communique was chock full of information, so please check out the items contained there, including:

I would highlight a couple of items in particular from this list.

  • Fall commencement: We will continue our new tradition of departments competing for the highest percentage of faculty & staff attending commencement.  The winning unit gets its next retreat or meeting catered by the Dean’s Office.  If you need FREE regalia, send in the form.
  • Free portrait days: As I browse department web sites I see a lot of blank squares where people’s photos should be.  Please take advantage of this convenient and FREE service to have your flattering headshot taken.
  • Ozarks Celebration Festival: Barb Jones would have my head if I didn’t put in a plug for the festival, which begins next Friday evening with the kickoff concert.  Did I mention this is FREE too?

The 2011-2012 COAL Budget Committee has been named and will have its first meeting on Monday, September 12th.  At Interim President Smart’s direction, each college budget committee now will include an elected faculty representative from each department.  Additional members will be appointed by each Dean to insure adequate expertise and representation.  Individuals will serve staggered terms of up to three years.  This year’s elected members are: Vonda Yarberry, Jaime Bihlmeyer, Mark Putman, Joe Hughes, Isabelle Bauman, Jeremy Chesman, and Keri Franklin.  Appointed members include: Andrew Cline, Telory Davies, Jason Jolley, Marnie Farmer, Julie Combs, Earl Holmer, Angela Barker, and Darin Wallace (budget officer).

COAL Student Achievement Grants are back.  Undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to apply for up to $200 from the college to assist them in pursuing opportunities for recognition and/or dissemination of their scholarly and creative work.  Last year we awarded close to $10,000 for purposes ranging from contest entry fees to conference travel expenses.  The guidelines and application form are available on the COAL web site.  Please encourage your students to apply!

September is “festival month.”  In addition to our own Ozarks Celebration Festival, there are a multitude of opportunities to enjoy music, art, food, crafts, and culture all around Springfield.  To name just a few:

Then it will be time to hit all of the fall festivals in October.  Did I hear someone say “Apple Butter Makin’ Days”? J

Oh, one more thing – my September Dean’s Blog is up if you’re interested.

Have a great weekend!


Updated September 14, 2010

This is a very busy time of year when you are asked to participate in a lot of very worthy activities and also a period when deadlines for internal funding opportunities come and go very quickly.  Please make sure that you’re aware of each of the following as they pertain to you.

Upcoming Events

  • Provost McCarthy will present this afternoon as part of the “Faculty and Student Seminar” series.  Her topic is, “What Are The Goals of an Undergraduate Education? The Beginnings of a Discussion,” and will touch on the book Our Underachieving Colleges by Derek Bok and the discussions beginning on campus about reviewing our general education program.  The session will be today at 4:00 p.m. in Strong Hall Room #3. 
  • The Provost also has scheduled a series of monthly “Provost Forums” to discuss informally issues of interest to the campus.  The first of these is this Wednesday, September 15th, 3:00-5:00 p.m. in the PSU Union Club.  Others will follow at the same time on October 20th and November 17th, both in the PSU East Ballroom.
  • President Cofer will present his first State of the University Address on Tuesday, September 28th, at noon in the PSU Theatre.


  • Remember to order your College of Arts and Letters apparel online at the COAL Store.  Orders must be placed online and payment made by cash or check in the Dean’s Office no later than Thursday, September 30th.
  • Contribute to an online discussion of Derek Bok’s book, Our Underachieving Colleges

Internal Funding Opportunities

  • Attain/maintain your Master Advisor status and increase your department’s faculty travel and development allotment.  In addition to each department’s usual annual allotment for faculty travel and development, the College will provide an additional $200 X the number of active Master Advisors in the unit.  We take a count in December and another one in mid-spring to make sure we don’t miss anyone.  Not sure if your Master Advisor status is active or what you need to do to make it current?  Go to this link:  Register for All Academic Advising Workshops Here and See Your Master Advisor Certification Status.  Click on the link provided there and you’ll see what, if anything, you need to do to attain/maintain active status, as well as register online for any training opportunities you’d like to attend.
  • Support your students at the December commencement and earn a catered event for your department.  The COAL Commencement Challenge continues!  For the department with the highest percentage of its full-time faculty attending the December 17 COAL commencement ceremony (4:00 p.m.), the Dean’s Office will foot the refreshment bill for that department’s spring retreat or another meeting.  If you don’t own your own regalia, IT’S FREE!  You just have to fill out a simple form and return it to the Dean of Students Office by October 7.
  • College funding is available to help students pursue opportunities for recognition and/or dissemination of their scholarly and creative work.  As I mentioned at the all-college meeting in August, the Dean’s Office is setting aside funds to help students with expenses such as entry and registration fees, travel expenses for making a presentation or accepting an award, and similar costs.  Award amounts will vary but typically will be limited to $200 per student.  Policies and an application form are available online.  There are no deadlines, but students are encouraged to apply as soon as they know their need for funding.
  • Graduate College continues to offer Thesis Research Funding.  Awards of approximately $500 are given to help students with expenses associated with their thesis projects.  The Fall 2010 Application Deadline is October 8th.  There also is Graduate Student Travel Funding available through the Graduate College.
  • Get some funding for your own work!  There are several deadlines coming up in September – November.  Please follow the links below for further information and applications.  Please note that all applications must be reviewed and endorsed by your Department Head and by me beforethe deadlines shown below.  Please consult with your Department Head regarding how soon you need to have applications submitted to him/her for review in time to meet the university deadline.

Updated August 11, 2010

Dear COAL Faculty & Staff,

‘Tis the season for welcome back to campus letters.  It may be hard to think of August as the beginning of the “fall” semester with this week’s forecast of 95+ degrees every day, but it begins in two weeks, nonetheless.  I want to make sure you have several early dates on your calendars and also provide a preview of topics we’ll address at next week’s all-college meeting.

Upcoming Events

All-college Meeting

Welcome, Dr. Cofer.  President Cofer and Provost McCarthy will be our guests for the first part of the meeting.  Dr. Cofer has requested the opportunity to make remarks at each of the college meetings and I know we all are eager to become better acquainted with him.

Purpose, Priorities, Planning, Progress.  I believe this will be year of key decisions for the university.  A number of changes in our environment are requiring that we examine closely everything about how we operate, including:  an anticipated significant downturn in state appropriations to continue in fiscal year 2012 and beyond; increasing demands from federal and state governments for accountability of higher education; the call, led by President Obama, to dramatically increase the number of college- educated Americans; and pressure to rein in college costs, just to name several.  Internally, we have a long-range planning process underway and new presidential leadership that will need to address how the university can best respond to these changes and continue to serve its mission.  Arriving at these decisions will require that we have a clear sense of what we are trying to accomplish, an understanding of what things are most important to the accomplishment of that purpose, strategies for pursuing those goals, and the ability to evaluate the success of those efforts and to make changes where they are needed.  Purpose, Priorities, Planning, Progress.

You will see this process operating on a number of levels across the university.  It is guiding the work of the Long-range Planning Steering Committee and it is reflected in Dr. Cofer’s early work with the vice-presidents.  It will need to guide decisions made from the program level to the President’s Office regarding where tough budget choices must be made.  It is the process that we all use to guide our work, though we are more conscious of it at some times than others and we do not always do it thoughtfully or well.  In times such as these, it is especially imperative that we do it well and that we do it together.

One specific area to which we will apply this deliberate process this year is the assessment of learning outcomes.  At our annual retreat in June the department heads and I focused exclusively on how to improve the assessment of learning outcomes across the college and at the all-college meeting and in further discussions with each department I will lay out the plan we have developed.  Those of you who have been around for a while know that “assessment” has been preached for years, and for the most part we have seen it as a set of bureaucratic boxes to be checked off, or at best something that our departments were continually “working on.”  Worst of all, seldom did anyone feel that our efforts really led to any improvements or other positive outcomes.

That’s not what I mean by assessment.

If we are truly to deliver on the promises we make to students about a quality education – and, just as importantly, demonstrate to others that we have fulfilled those promises – then we need to know: (1) What is the purpose, the aim, the end goal of all our hard work?; (2) What must we prioritize in order to achieve that purpose?; (3) What plans do we need to devise and follow in order to do the work necessary to achieve our purpose?; and (4) How will we determine our progress and what steps are necessary to improve our success?

We will discuss at the all-college meeting what I hope will be a very constructive and positive approach to assessing learning outcomes and how this priority will relate to other processes, such as university long-range planning and program prioritization.

Although we face some challenges, I am more optimistic than ever about the work we are doing and the opportunities that are before us.  We are a college of extremely talented and dedicated people who care deeply about our students and our professions, and I cannot wait to see what you are going to do next.

Updated April 5, 2010

 April is here and we are headed into the home stretch of the semester.  It hardly seems possible that we could be less than six weeks from graduation, but there it is.  These last few weeks are full of important events and opportunities.  Below is a list of April college events — probably not exhaustive but still pretty lengthy.  I’d like to highlight just a handful of specific items for your attention.

Updated January 22, 2010

Depending on how you look at it, we’re either two weeks into the new semester or just six weeks away from spring break!  In either case, the semester is well under way and there is plenty going on.  Here are a few items of note.

  • GEP 101.  You may recall that at the August all-colleg meeting we discussed developing a COAL-specific version of GEP 101 that would be formatted as a large lecture section with breakout discussion labs, with the large section focused on showcasing college programs and engaging students with the college.  A faculty committee worked last semester on a set of recommendations for developing this idea, but since then First Year Programs has had unanticipated success in recruiting faculty and staff to teach GEP 101.  Since there is not an immediate staffing-related need for a large format section, for this fall we are trying a scaled back pilot by inviting 2-3 COAL GEP 101 instructors to link their regular sections, similar to how the new curricular learning communities have been organized, scheduling the sections simultaneously so that the individual sections could combine regularly for coordinated, college-based sessions.  If you have an interest in teaching GEP 101 this fall and being involved in this pilot collaboration, please let me know as soon as possible.
  • The Second Almost Annual COAL Commencement Challenge!  In Spring 2008 I challenged all COAL departments to have at least 50% of their faculty turn out for the May commencement.  To sweeten the deal I offered financial incentives for (1) any department that had 50% or greater participation and (2) for the department with the highest percentage of participation.  That year Theatre & Dance walked away with the top prize.  Since then, I have noticed that Theatre & Dance has continued to be very well represented at commencement ceremonies, so maybe the Commencement Challenge had a jump start effect.  Well, the Challenge is back!
    • If your department has 50% or better participation, I will multiply each percentage point by $10 and transfer that amount of money into the department’s 2010-2011 operating budget.  For example, if Music had 63% of its full-time faculty walk in commencement, the department would receive $630.
    • For the department with the highest rate of participation (minimum 50%) I will add another $5 per percentage point.  For example, if Music’s 63% was tops in the college, the department would receive $945.

Don’t own your own regalia?  You’re in luck!  The university will provide it for you.  All you have to do is complete the Faculty Regalia Order Form and return it to the Office of the Dean of Students byemail,  campus mail or fax (6-8944) so that it is received no later than March 12, 2008.  In fact, even if you have your own regalia, you are asked to turn in the form so that they know how many faculty to expect for commencement.

  • COAL Lecture/Recital Series January 26th.  The COAL Lecture/Recital Series is proud to present a world premier performance of Sonata 3 for Trumpet and Piano composed by Missouri State’s Professor of Music, Dr. John Prescott and performed by Los Angeles based trumpeter, Jon Lewis, and Missouri State’s Professor of Music, pianist, Dr. Peter Collins.  In addition to the Prescott Sonata 3, Mr. Lewis will perform music compositions by Gershwin, Henze, Shchedrin, Simon, Turrin and Vizzutti.  Mr. Lewis enjoys the distinction of being one of LA’s top “studio musicians.” He can be heard on over 500 movie soundtracks including: Avatar, Alvin and the Chipmunks II, GI Joe, Race to Witch Mountain, Ice Age 3, Wolverine as well as the upcoming Alice in Wonderland, Percy Jackson, Wolfman and Toy Story 3 movies. Jon has played on over 1000 television shows, and his solo trumpet has been heard regularly on the JAG and Star Trek television programs for the last 15 years.  He can also be heard on the recordings of Josh Groban, Ringo Starr, Amy Grant, KD Lang, Mariah Carey, Puff Daddy, Graciela Palafox, and Bruce Lofgren. He is Principal Trumpet in the Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra and Co-Principal Trumpet of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, along with performing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Pasadena Symphonies, Jon teaches at California State University Northridge and is active as a soloist and clinicianThis performance will take place in Ellis Recital Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 26th.
  • New COAL technology classrooms ready to roll.  Siceluff 126 is fully operational and Craig 316 should be up and running next week.  Both of these rooms feature state of the art technology.  Siceluff 126, in particular, is designed to foster collaborative learning environments.  Your department heads and technology committee representatives all have seen demonstrations of what’s possible in Siceluff 126, so please ask them about what they’ve seen.  Both of these rooms will be scheduled centrally through the Dean’s Office, so talk to your department head or administratie assistant if you are intersested in scheduling a class for this room this fall.
  • COAL Talent on Tour!  On March 5-6 COAL will launch our first Talent on Tour recruitment/alumni relations event at the Westin Crown Center in Kansas City.  This effort will include recruitment visits to various area high schools on Friday, March 5, followed that evening by a reception and “showcase” revue by students and faculty at the Westin that evening emceed by COAL alumna and KC FOX4 (WDAF) news anchor Susan Hiland.  Saturday will feature audtion sessions for the Music and Theatre & Dance departments as well as a recruitment fair for all departments in the college.  If you are interested in being involved and have not heard about this opportunity, please contact your department head as soon as possible.
  • Upcoming events for your calendar.  You should already be aware that the next President’s Town Hall Meeting will be Wednesday, February 24th at 3:00 p.m. in the PSU Theatre.  I am trying to schedule a COAL all-college meeting shortly before that time, as well, so be looking for more information about that.  Other cool stuff going on in the college over the next few weeks includes:
    • Now – February 6 l Art & Design Department Foundations Exhibition l Student Exhibition Center (artists’ reception 6:00 p.m. on February 5 as part of First Friday Art Walk)
    • Now – February 26 l Extraordinary Vernacular Photographs from the Collection of John and Teenuh Foster l Art & Design Gallery, Brick City
    • January 24  2:30 – 3:30 p.m. l Leon Couch Guest Artist Organ Concert l First & Calvary Presbyterian Church
    • January 24  7:00 p.m. l Concert Chorale l Immaculate Conception Church
    • January 26  7:30 p.m. l COAL Lecture/Recital Series featuring Jon Lewis (trumpet) l Ellis Recital Hall
    • January 28  5:00 p.m. l Multilingual Film Festival, Un conte de Noel (A Christmas Tale) l Siceluff Hall 117
    • February 25 – 27 l Evangeline Drowning (national premier docudrama by Dr. Kurt Heinlein) l Coger Theatre
    • February 26  7:30 – 9:00 p.m. l University Jazz Bands Concert l Juanita K. Hammons Hall
    • February 27 (all day) l Jazz Fest 2010 l Juanita K. Hammons Hall

Updated January 6, 2010

I have always said that the best thing about life in a university is that every three or four months you get to start over.  While I don’t generally do new year’s resolutions, the beginning of a new semester in January is a chance to take a deep breath before diving in again, to survey the landscape and make a few “notes to self” before things get crazy.  One thing I hope you do is remind yourself of some of the opportunities available to you for professional development and personal enrichment.  New faculty often ask me how many of these “opportunities” they’re expected to pursue and my answer is, pick just one or two things that you actually have time for and think would benefit you.  In that spirit, I thought I would provide a few suggestions and encourage you to pick just one or two for your own “notes to self” as you take that last deep breath …

  • Reach out in a personal way to a colleague who is new this year.  Invite someone to lunch.  Ask a junior colleague to come give a guest lecture in your class.  Recommend a book.  Ask a new faculty member for their advice.  Bring someone a surprise cup of coffee from Kaldi’s.
  • Subscribe to an online higher education news source.  InsideHigherEd.com is free.  The Chronicle of Higher Education online is free courtesy of the Provost’s Office.  Academic Impressions also puts out a daily e-bulletin that is free.
  • Take advantage of the university’s subscription to The Teaching ProfessorIt’s easy to sign up for your free access.  You might also check out the monthly brown-bag discussions based on contents of the current issue.
  • Apply for a Curricular Innovations Grant.  Grants of up to $5000 ($10,000 for joint proposals) are available to support curricular innovations involving technology, public affairs, and other initiatives to improve student engagement and success.
  • Check out the variety of resources available throught the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning.  Consultatations, presentations, blogs, discussion groups, online resources, and help with assessment are among the services offered by the FCTL.
  • Rediscover the COALESCENCE web communication resource.  This versatile Drupal web site is still available for faculty and staff to make connections with one another across the college and the university.  Post a blog, set up a discussion forum, share research and creative interests, or establish an online “group.”
  • Investigate a new teaching tool.  Missouri State Online & Instructional Technologies offer targeted training and personalized support to help faculty make use of innovations sucha s podcasting, wikis, and blogs, as well as provides audio and video recording services through the Digital Media Production Center.  Start by calling MSU Online at 836-3718 to make an appointment for a tour of the facilities and services available in the Meyer Alumni Center Room 400.
  • Consider teaching the new GEP 101 course next fall.  Look into teaching a self-contained section of the new First Year Foundations course, or look for more information about being involved in the new COAL large lecture/breakout discussion format section of the class.
  • Start thinking about curricular changes.  Given the long, multi-stage approval process for curricular changes, departments really need to be ready to go in August and September with changes they would like to see implemented for the following academic year.  Having discussions in the spring makes that quick start in the fall much easier.
  • Have lunch with a group of students.  Join them in one of the cafeterias, or spring for lunch in the Union Club.
  • Try one new thing to improve assessment of learning and outcomes in your classes.  If you do not usually collect written mid-term feedback from your students, try that.  Ask the FCTL about someone coming to your class at mid-term to conduct a focus group feedback session.  Ask an outside professional to review your students’ work.  Even better, have that person provide feedback directly to students.

More than anything, and even if you don’t try any of the above, take a few moments to remind yourself of the passion that drove you to this life of teaching, exploring, and creating.  We have opportunities every day that most people in the world will never know.  Love your work, and help make Missouri State a place where others love to do theirs.

Updated October 21, 2009

Who is MSU’s “Ultimate Professor”?  According to an online survey conducted by The Standard, it’s none other than our own Dr. Joseph Hughes, Professor of Modern & Classical Languages!  I’m thinking that trumps Marketing Department Head Dr. Robin Luke’s status as “Teen Heartthrob Turned Teacher.”

COAL Experts Cited.  University Communications currently is running two stories on the MSU home page featuring interviews with COAL faculty.  English faculty Brian Shawver  and Dr. Jean Stringham were interviewed for  “Classic Literature Brings Many Chills, Much Contemplation for Readers,” and Dr. Kelly Wood, Communication Department Head, comments on how “Dating Digitally Heightens Communication, Regrets.”

Homecoming Tailgate Party Less Than Two Weeks Away!  Simply Delicious will again cater our alumni/faculty lunch at our tailgate party in Bearfest Village on Saturday, October 31.  This is a great opportunity to bring the family out, socialize with colleagues, and meet alumni.  The college is again making up t0 100 tickets to the Homecoming game available to college employees (maximum four per employee).  To reserve your tickets, please call Pat O’Neill at 836-5247 or email her at PatriciaOneill@MissouriState.edu.  We also would appreciate your letting us know if you plan to come for lunch.

Full Schedule of Fall Activities Continues.  There is no shortage of good stuff to enjoy in the college during the next few weeks.  Here’s a sampling of opportunities to enjoy great music, art, film, theatre, and other events.

Updated October 15, 2009

Now that President Nietzel has addressed the budget situation in several forums and the campus discussions are beginning in earnest, I’d like to share with you my perspective on how the College of Arts and Letters can best respond to the challenges we face.  I hope you will join me and your colleagues in an ongoing conversation about how we can thrive and not just survive in this environment.


Before we imagine and evaluate possible courses of action, we should be deliberate in establishing what principles and assumptions will guide our ultimate decisions.  Here are a few I think are important.

  • Stay committed to the mission and priorities that we have articulated.  These become more important as resources tighten, not less.  The size of our ambitions may fluxuate with changes in resources, but the values that underlie those ambitions do not.
  • Take the long view.  When cuts and reallocations become necessary, we must not make them in ways that will hurt our long-term ability to compete for the best students, faculty and staff or our capacity to deliver on the commitments we make to them.  For example, we could decide to make severe cuts in support for equipment and faculty travel in order to maintain the current number of faculty lines being filled.  However, in the long run that would just make it more difficult for current faculty to do their work well and for us to recruit excellent new faculty.
  • Do the right things regardless of the budget.  Good practices are good practices, and we are not driven to them only when money gets tight.  Reviewing programs to determine where and how resources can best be deployed, seeking efficiencies, and responding to growth opportunities are things we have been doing all along and will continue to do.
  • Keep things in perspective.  Potential cuts faced by the university and ultimately by our college are serious, but they are not catastrophic or crippling.  Unless events take a terrible turn for the worse, people aren’t going to lose jobs; departments are not going to be eliminated.  It’s unlikely even that programs will be cut, although some significant revisions may be called for in some areas.  We will weather this.  And if we do it well, we will find ourselves even stronger in future years than we are now.

What We Are Doing Now

As President Nietzel has said, we are fortunate in having some time to plan for the times ahead.  That said, faculty, staff and students are understandably wondering about what decisions already are being made and how they may be affected.  Here are some of the actions I have taken or have recommended so far.

  • Hires for FY11.  We are proceeding cautiously with planned searches.  We already were being fairly conservative about the number of open positions we planned to fill, so decisions to cancel any of these searches will be difficult.  One big unknown is how a proposed voluntary retirement incentive might affect our staffing situation.  So no college searches have been “frozen” at this point, but that remains a possibility.
  • Sabbaticals for FY11.  We plan to make sabbaticals available for FY11 (the application deadline is November 3).  However, we likely will be able to support fewer sabbaticals than in recent years.  All the college Deans are in agreement that we must continue to support sabbatical opportunities at some level.
  • New Faculty Summer Research Stipends.  We intend to honor our commitments to faculty we have already hired to provide new faculty research stipends in Summer 2010.  We will continue to evaluate how we can continue this program, which has been a highly effective recruitment tool.
  • Curriculum Review.  I have charged the Heads with asking the departments to examine their programs for opportunities where we might constructively streamline.  For example, in a degree program with multiple options, what would be the impact of reducing the number of options?  Would it hurt overall enrollments?  Would it allow for growth in other areas?  Could retirements by certain faculty be better absorbed?  What are areas that could be strengthened, even without new resources?  Are there seldom-offered courses that could be deleted?
  • Enrollment Management.  We will continue to pay attention to class sizes, periodicity, and staffing.  Over the past couple of years we have achieved significant savings in per course expenditures, for example, simply by offering classes in more efficient ways.  These are savings that we have redirected to increase support for equipment, faculty travel, and infrastructure improvements.  We will contine to look for ways to operate more efficiently, though not at the expense of providing quality educational experiences.
  • Growth Opportunities.  Reducing costs is one way to deal with budget reductions, but so is increasing revenues.  Some revenue increases reach us at the college level indirectly — for example, enrollment growth increases tuition revenue which gives the university more money to work with, which helps us all.  The Provost’s Office does get to retain a percentage of net tuition revenue growth, some of which is passed on to the colleges in proportion.  There are other entrepreneurial opportunities that can bring new revenues more directly.  For example, non-credit programs can generate funds directly for departments and programs.  Grants and contracts are other sources of revenue that have not been pursued much in our college.
  • Recruitment and Retention.  Of course, since tuition and fees account for more than half the university’s operating budget, enrollments are important.  But more important than mere headcount are the quality of students we attract and the success they have during and after their time with us.  In addition to the many ongoing efforts of departments we are undertaking several initiatives that should contribute to recruitment and retention, including: (1) establishing a new college advising office; (2) developing a college-based, interdisciplinary version of GEP 101; (3) planning a college “Talent on Tour” recruitment event in Kansas City next March; (4) piloting surveys to assess student and faculty perceptions of advising; (5) enhancing college recruitment materials; and (6) developing a college-wide Student Advisory Team.

Please let me know your thoughts as we move forward, and participate actively in discussions at the department level.  We will look for additional ways to facilitate conversations at a college level as we move forward.

Updated September 28, 2009

Last chance to order your COAL BearWear!  This Wednesday, September 30 is the last day to order your COAL polo shirt or fleece pullover and also the deadline to turn in payment to the Dean’s Office.  Visit the online “store” to place your order and send your check or cash to Craig 106.  Sorry, no credit/debit cards.  Orders will be ready by mid-October.

Tour Austria with the Concert Chorale this May.  September 30 also is the deadline to sign up and pay the first deposit for the companion tour to Austria with Dr. Guy Webb and the Concert Chorale.  Leave NYC on May 16 for an 10 day/8 night tour with stops in Salzburg, Obervellach, Graz and Vienna.  Details are available online, or contact Marie Murphree for more information.

Application deadlines for summer fellowships, sabbaticals approaching.  Applications for Summer Faculty Fellowships are due in the Dean’s Office (with Department Head approval signature) by October 26.  Applications for 2010-11 sabbaticals are due to the Dean’s Office (with Department Head approval signature) by November 2.

Plan to Party with COAL at the Homecoming Tailgate.  COAL will again host our own tent at Bearfest Village prior to the Homecoming football game on Saturday, October 31.  Last year we had great food, a great turnout, and a great time, so I hope you’ll mark your calendars now and plan to join us again.  We’ll start serving lunch around 11:00 a.m. and the game starts at 1:00 p.m.  The College also plans to purchase a block of tickets again.  Stay tuned for details.

Updated September 18, 2009

Get Your COAL BearWear. Another BearWear Friday has come and gone.  Don’t you wish you had had a cool Arts & Letters polo shirt or fleece pullover to show off?  There’s still plenty of time to pre-order your COAL apparell.  Just visit our online “store”  and reserve your items now.  Orders and payment are due by September 30, and items will be available for pick up in mid-October.

Apply for Internal Research Funding.  Deadlines for Faculty Research Grants and Summer Faculty Fellowships are approaching.  Faculty Research Grant applications are due in the Dean’s Office (with Department Head approval signature) by September 25, and Summer Faculty Fellowship applications are due in the Dean’s Office (with Department Head approval signature) by October 26.

Apply for 2010-11 Sabbaticals.  Applications for 2010-11 sabbaticals are due to the Dean’s Office (with Department Head approval signature) by November 2.  Sabbatical decisions are made by the Dean’s Office based on recommendations from the Dean’s Faculty Advisory Committee.

COAL to be Recognized at September 26 Football Game.  At several home football games this fall each of the academic colleges will be acknowledged and briefly profiled.  COAL will be featured at the September 26 game against the University of Northern Iowa.  Rumor has it I’ll even be presented with a football autographed by the team :-)  In honor of the occasion, general admission tickets are being made available to COAL members for just $5 each.  If you are interested in these discount tickets, please contact Pat O’Neill in the Dean’s Office at 836-5247.

Plan to Party with COAL at the Homecoming Tailgate.  COAL will again host our own tent at Bearfest Village prior to the Homecoming football game on Saturday, October 31.  Last year we had great food, a great turnout, and a great time, so I hope you’ll mark your calendars now and plan to join us again.  We’ll start serving lunch around 11:00 a.m. and the game starts at 1:00 p.m.  The College also plans to purchase a block of tickets again.  Stay tuned for details.

President’s State of the University Address Scheduled.  Dr. Nietzel will address the campus on Tuesday, September 29 at noon in the PSU Theatre.  His remarks will be titled, “MSU’s Long-Range Plan:  Progress and Prospects.”  If you can’t attend in person, his address will be recorded and aired later on both KSMU and KOPT.    

Follow the Concert Chorale to Austria!  May seems a long way away, but plan now and the weekend after graduation instead of cleaning your office you can be winging your way to Austria on a 10-day/8-night companion tour with the MSU Concert Chorale.  Details are available online, or contact Marie Murphree for more information.

Plenty of COAL Events Left to Enjoy in September.  If anyone tells you there’s “nothing to do” in Springfield, they haven’t looked at the calendar of events for Arts & Letters.  Here are a few of the opportunities remaining this month alone:

















Updated August 24, 2009

Believe it or not, MSU is poised to set a new enrollment record this fall.  Though everyone was justifiably worried that enrollments could be down this fall, preliminary reports show that every college is up this fall and there are increases in all new student categories.  Enrollments in COAL appear strong across the board, and departments have done an excellent job in providing access while reducing the numbers of underenrolled sections.

Siceluff is officially open.  Although there still is some minor construction being finished and some cleanup remaining, Siceluff Hall re-opened to students, faculty and staff this morning.  Sometime this week you should take a few minutes to walk the halls and see what has been accomplished.  If you haven’t made it over by Friday, you can take a tour at the rededication ceremony  scheduled for 3:15 p.m.  We’d like to have a huge crowd on hand, so please mark it on your calendar.  Afterwards you can mosey over to the North Mall and enjoy some free BBQ at the Legacy Day picnic.

College picnic scheduled for Friday, September 11.  Speaking of picnics, the annual COAL picnic is two weeks from Friday, 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Sequiota Park pavillion.  The college will provide chicken and beverages; watch for an announcement from your department offices about signing up to bring desserts and side dishes.

Ozarks Celebration Festival returns September 12-16.  The annual traditional arts and music festival returns to the Carrington Hall quad Saturday-Sunday, September 12-13, followed by the lecture series Monday-Wednesday, September 14-16.  Don’t miss Bells, Bluegrass & BBQ on Sunday afternoon.  The regular carrillon series concert begins at 4:00 p.m. in front of Meyer Library, followed by the annual Ice Cream Social & Concert Under the Stars featuring Hiland Dairy ice cream, BBQ from Hawgwild BBQ, and a return engagement by the Dan Tyminski Band.

It’s cool to re-tool — really!  Missouri State Online and Instructional Technologies’ “It’s Cool to Re-Tool” campaign is designed to provide a two-day clinic for colleges with each day consisting of a presentation/forum open to all faculty and one-on-one sessions with our instructional designers for faculty to retool their existing online courses.  Faculty can attend any of the several scheduled workshops, but the ones scheduled specifically for COAL are September 17 and 18.

All-college meeting materials are available online.  If you missed the all-college meeting last Thursday and would like to access the agenda, Powerpoint slides, or handouts, they all are available on the http://coal.missouristate.edu/.

Use the COAL news feed to advertise your events and share your accomplishments.  Please remember that the COAL news feed is your convenient tool to get the word out about events in your department and to let everyone know about good things that are happening.  It’s easy to submit a news item or calendar event.

Updated Friday, June 5, 2009

The colleges of Arts & Letters, Humanities & Public Affairs, and Natural & Applied Sciences are co-sponsoring a half-day summer workshop for faculty and staff interested in exploring ideas for incorporating the 2009-10 public affairs theme in their teaching and other activities.  The workshop will be held Friday, June 26, 9:00 a.m. – noon in PSU 313.  Light breakfast refreshments will be served at 8:30 a.m.  So far about 20 people have registered their attendance online.  You can do the same via this registration site.

Earlier in May Associate Provost John Catau sent to faculty a summary of academic policy changes that will take effect in academic year 2009-2010.  A copy of this summary is now available on the COAL web site.  Changes include the new plus/minus grading system, changes in the course repeat policy, and new procedures for declaring majors and being admitted to degree programs.  Everyone needs to be familiar with these changes when we begin classes in the fall.

Save these dates for fall.  Be sure you have the following August events on your calendars.

  • Fall faculty contracts begin Monday, August 17
  • Showcase on Teaching and Learning Wednesday, August 19, 8:00 a.m. — 12:00 p.m., Strong Hall Atrium Register Online
  • All-college Meeting Thursday, August 20, 9:00 — 11:00 a.m., location to be announced
  • New Student Convocation Sunday, August 23, 2:00 — 3:00 p.m., JQH Arena

Plan now to make that first week a welcoming one for new faculty.  If your department will have new faculty coming in this fall, think about the following ways to help smooth their transition.

  • Find out if your department office has a current email address for the new person and send him/her a note over the summer.
  • See if your department office knows when the person will be moving to Springfield and send a welcoming card to his/her new address.
  • Buy the new person lunch during the week before classes or the first week of classes.  Wouldn’t it be great if enough people in the department did this so that the new person didn’t have to buy lunch for two weeks?
  • Invite the new person (and family) to your home early in the semester.

COAL’s busy summer season is heating up.  The Missouri Fine Arts Academy opens Sunday, June 7 and runs for three weeks.  Tent Theatre officially opens with Altar Boyz Wednesday, June 10, with a special Staff Appreciation Night performance on Tuesday, June 9.  And the MSU Summer Choir under Dr. Guy Webb’s direction begins rehearsals Tuesday, June 9.   See the COAL web site for more calendar items.

Updated Monday, May 4, 2009

Mark Biggs will become acting head of media, journalism & film effective July 1.  When Karen Buzzard returns to the faculty at the end of her current term Mark will begin a two-year appointment as acting head.  Mark was selected through a formal internal search process.  Please congratulate Mark as we wish him and the department well.


The colleges of Arts & Letters, Humanities & Public Affairs, and Natural & Applied Sciences are co-sponsoring a half-day summer workshop for faculty and staff interested in exploring ideas for incorporating the 2009-10 public affairs theme in their teaching and other activities.  The workshop will be held Friday, June 26, 9:00 a.m. – noon in PSU 313.  Light breakfast refreshments will be served at 8:30 a.m.  Later this week a general announcement will be sent out and you will be able to RSVP for the workshop online.  Here’s a brief description:

Evolving Economic Realities:  Linking Public Affairs to the Arts and Sciences

This workshop provides an opportunity for faculty to share ideas based on the 2009-10 public affairs theme as they plan teaching and learning strategies for the upcoming academic year.  Following a brief information session on the theme and campus-wide plans, participants will spend time brainstorming possibilities for injecting the theme into their courses, departmental activities, and student organizations.  They will then develop specific ideas in group discussions.  This will be a largely unstructured workshop, with emphasis on giving participants the chance to exchange ideas informally.  In sponsoring this event, the colleges of Arts & Letters, Humanities & Public Affairs, and Natural & Applied Sciences hope to stimulate cross-disciplinary discussion and focus attention on how the public affairs theme can enrich teaching in the arts and sciences, in particular.  The workshop is open to all faculty.


COAL will host a continental breakfast reception for our spring graduates, Friday, May 15, 8:00-9:15 a.m.  The reception will be in the atrium of First & Calvary Presbyterian Church, just north of JQH Arena, prior to our commencement ceremony at 10:00 a.m.  Please RSVP to the Dean’s Office (6-5247 or CollegeofArtsandLetters@MissouriState.edu) if you plan to attend.


Plans are being finalized for moves associated with the reopening of Siceluff Hall.  The Siceluff renovation is reported to be on schedule, with actual moving to begin the first week of August.  Faculty and staff in departments affected by the moves will receive information specific to their situations.  Here is a quick summary of what is slated to occur:

·         MCL will vacate the third floor of Craig Hall and move to Siceluff; English will leave Pummill and move to Siceluff.

·         Several changes will occur in Craig Hall after MCL moves out, including:

o   All full-time faculty and staff in Media, Journalism & Film, Theatre & Dance, and Communication that do not need to be located elsewhere (e.g., Strong Hall, Student Media Center, lower floors of Craig) will move to the third floor of Craig. 

o   The Media, Journalism & Film departmental offices will move to where the Modern & Classical Languages departmental offices currently are located.

o   The COAL New Media Lab will move from Craig 338 to Siceluff, and Craig 338 will become a shared office space for graduate assistants in Communication and Media, Journalism & Film.

o   Craig 321 will become a seminar room to be shared by departments in Craig Hall.

o   The Missouri Fine Arts Academy office will move from the Dean’s Office Suite to the third floor of Craig.  Angela Barker will move from Pummill Hall to the Dean’s Office Suite.

o   Pending approval of the construction proposal, the wall separating Craig 316 and 316A will be removed to enlarge 316, which will become a computer classroom to be shared among college departments.

·         Siceluff 126, formerly planned as space for the Writing Center, will be a technology-enhanced classroom designed to facilitate collaborative teaching and learning methods.  This classroom is being funded from the Siceluff renovation budget and other money allocated from the Provost’s Office.


There will be a campus power shutdown on Saturday, May 16.  You should have received information about this already, but be reminded that most buildings on campus will be without power during a 36-hour period beginning Saturday, May 16.  The following information has been provided by Administrative Services regarding online processing of final grades. 

To accommodate the important task of posting end-of-the semester grades, a reliable generator will carry the Cheek Hall computer room, thereby ensuring access to the necessary files from computers off-campus. On-campus entry will be accommodated via Glass Hall Computer Labs 229, 234 and 235 (10a-6pm on Saturday, and noon to midnight Sunday).


Freshman Convocation will be Sunday, August 23 at 2:00 p.m. in JQH Arena.  Recently you should have received a memo with information about the event and an order form to request rental regalia if you do not own your own.  This year Ms. Kelli Wolf Moles will be the featured speaker. Ms. Moles received the 2008 Outstanding Young Alumni award and was a former student member of the university’s Board of Governors (July, 2003 – September, 2005).  I urge you to participate in this event and be part of launching the new year for our new students. 


The latest issue of the COAL newsletter, Expressions, is now available.  This issue highlights the role of technology in the arts and letters and features some of the most cutting edge work being done by our students.  Many thanks to Angela Barker and Marie Murphree, who do a tremendous job producing the newsletter yet  modestly refuse to publish their names as editors.  Also be sure to check out the monthly online version of Expressions. 

Updated Monday, March 30, 2009

All-College Meeting with President Nietzel & Provost McCarthy Rescheduled
Due to his being called to Jefferson City for a meeting with the Governor, Dr. Nietzel has had to reschedule his meeting with our college faculty and staff for Wednesday, April 8, 1:30-2:30 p.m. in the PSU Theatre.  The President and the Provost are holding town hall meetings with each of the colleges to discuss challenges and strategies related to recruitment, enrollment, and budgets.  If your schedule permits, please make every effort to participate in this important discussion.

Dr. Karen Buzzard Returning to MJF Faculty; Applications Accepted For Acting Department Head
Following seven years as Head of the Media, Journalism & Film Department, Dr. Karen Buzzard will return to that department’s faculty when her current appointment ends on June 30, 2009.  Karen is looking forward to a sabbatical in 2009-10 during which she will complete work on a book and other research while she prepares for her return to full-time faculty.  Applications for the position of Acting Department Head are now being accepted and are due by Wednesday, April 8.  Contact Dr. Roger Stoner, chair of the search committee, for more information.

Fall 2009 Registration Goes “Live” With Banner
On March 31 faculty will receive an email from the Registrar with information about Fall 2009 registration using the new Banner system.  The system goes live for students on April 1, with seniors and graduate students beginning to register April 6.  Information on new registration procedures is available online.

COAL  Lecture Series Premiere of Documentary Will Kick Off Public Affairs Conference Week
Artist-in-Residence Patrick Mureithi will present Icyizere: Hope, a documentary of the ongoing reconciliation process between survivors and perpetrators of the 1994 Rwanda genocide.  Muretihi earned a B.S. in Mass Media from Missouri State in 2001 and during 2008-09 has served MSU and Drury University as artist-in-residence through a joint appointment.  The premiere, featuring comments by Mureithi, will occur Monday, April 20 at 7:00 p.m. in the Plaster Student Union Theatre.

Stay In Tune With COAL News and Events
The COAL web site publishes news of the latest faculty and student accomplishments as well as a full calendar of events.  Make sure your news and events are listed by submitting items using the easy online forms.  Here is a sampling of the many great COAL events happening in April.


Updated Friday, February 6, 2009

Budget Updates

  • Governor Nixon’s recent suspension of payments from the Lewis and Clark Initiative for higher education capital projects will not affect the renovation of Siceluff.  Since this project is so far along it will not be subject to review.
  • Next year’s budget continues to be debated in Jefferson City.  We still have no definitive word on what holdbacks there might be in the current FY09 budget year, so everyone is urged to continue to be conservative in expenditures.
  • I have authorized most of the college’s active searches to go forward.  We are holding back on a handful of searches, in some cases filling them with one-year appointments.
  • The college is awarding six sabbaticals in the 2009-10 academic year.  During the current year seven sabbaticals were awarded.
  • President Nietzel continues to require his advance approval for all international travel.  The International Education Committee continues to function as usual, granting up to $1,000 support for international travel, with each award subject to the President’s approval.

Digital Measures/Activity Insights Online Faculty Profiles

  • CV information that you submitted last summer was entered into the Activity Insights database by Dean’s Office staff.  You should be hearing from your department heads soon instructions on how to access your individual profile.  By February 28th you need to have reviewed your profile and (1) checked existing information for accuracy, and (2) entered any new information to bring your profile up to date through December 2008.
  • The primary concern right now is to get right the information on research and creative activity.  There are other “holes” in the data at present, but President Nietzel wants to use the aggregate data on scholarly accomplishments to update the Public Scorecard this spring.
  • As you review and update your research and creative activity information, please pay attention to two things: (1) Make sure that all information is accurate and current; and (2) Make sure that your specific accomplishments have been put in the right categories.

Banner Student Module Training Available

  • The Banner Student Module goes live April 6.  Anyone who currently uses the Faculty Advisor Resource Center (FARC) needs to learn how to use the new Banner system to access information for which we now depend on the FARC.  A number of training sessions are scheduled throughout February and I strongly encourage everyone to take advantage.

Upcoming College & University Events

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