Missouri State University
Presidential Updates

Clif’s Notes for May 24, 2016

Clif's Notes

The legislative session ended on Friday, May 13. You may recall that we started the year with three legislative priorities. I am happy to report that we made significant progress toward accomplishing all three of our priorities.

The Plaster Stadium Bear Statue with the U.S. Flag at half-staff in the background.Legislative session successful for MSU

Our first priority was to increase Missouri State’s operating appropriation by six percent ($5.2 million). If the legislature increased the operating appropriation by six percent, we committed to spend one-sixth of the new money to expand our collaborative engineering program with Missouri S&T to include mechanical engineering.

The legislature appropriated Missouri State an operating appropriation increase of more than $3.8 million. The legislature also appropriated a $1 million line item to Missouri State for the collaborative engineering program with Missouri S&T.

Accordingly, Missouri State added a total of more than $4.8 million in operating appropriations this year. This is a 5.6 percent increase to Missouri State’s total operating appropriations. Missouri State’s operating appropriation for the coming fiscal year will be the highest that it has ever been.

glass renovation 19244-4372 (1)Glass Hall, occupational therapy funded

Our second priority was to obtain a $5 million appropriation in matching capital funds for the Glass Hall project. The legislature passed a capital improvement bill that appropriated $7 million for new capital projects at Missouri State—including $5 million for the Glass Hall project.

We also accomplished our third priority for the year by having our $1.3 million occupational therapy line-item appropriation combined into a single line item within Missouri’s State’s operating appropriation. This is a cost neutral move. But we believe this accounting change will help secure the line item from vetoes and withholds in future years. It also allows future performance funding increases to be calculated on the $1.3 million occupational therapy appropriation.

We worked on several other legislative issues this year. We supported legislation that would have allowed Missouri State University greater flexibility to offer professional and doctoral degree programs. While this legislation did not pass, it started a conversation about the issue which resulted in a directive to the Coordinating Board for Higher Education to work with the higher education community in Missouri and propose a solution to the General Assembly. We are hopeful that we will obtain additional flexibility for professional and graduate degree programs through legislative or non-legislative solutions in the not too distant future.

We opposed legislation that would have allowed concealed carry permit holders to carry concealed firearms on university campuses. The General Assembly did not pass this legislation this year.

18278_1593-Clif's-Notes-CapitolSuccess due to legislative support of Missouri State

All of our southwest Missouri legislators played important roles in this year’s legislative successes. I want to thank several individual legislators who played especially critical roles:

  • Ron Richard
  • Jay Wasson
  • Kurt Schaefer
  • Mike Cunningham
  • Mike Parson
  • David Sater
  • Eric Schmitt
  • Todd Richardson
  • Kevin Austin
  • Tom Flanigan
  • Scott Fitzpatrick
  • Lincoln Hough
  • Eric Burlison
  • Jeff Messenger
  • Jered Taylor

University weighing options for revised Fair Labor Standards Act

We are also evaluating various issues working through the federal government in Washington D.C. One such issue is the Fair Labor Standards Act changes that came out last week. We are reviewing the final rule and its impact on Missouri State employees. We know we have a number of employees who will be affected by this change. We will be evaluating all options available to us to determine how we will incorporate the new rule at the university. It is a priority for us and we’ll be ready for the Dec. 1 implementation date for the changes, assuming Congress doesn’t intervene.

Thanks for all you do for Missouri State!

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Clif’s Notes for May 17, 2016

Clif's Notes





Last week the Board of Governors met in conjunction with commencement. I wanted to update you on several important actions from their meeting.

Board approves revised fee resolution

The board heard two presentations. The first was a presentation from Missouri State’s Quest for the Cup team. The team is made up of speech-language pathology graduate students, and it competes annually at the Missouri Speech Language Hearing Association’s state convention. MSU’s team won the competition in 2006, 2012, 2014, 2015 and again this year. Missouri State has the most consecutive wins of any other program in the state.

The second presentation was on online education. Online education has grown to be an important part of our students’ educational experience at Missouri State. This presentation and panel discussion provided the board with a critical opportunity to see what a student experiences when they take an online course or participate in an online program.

I also updated the board on this year’s 4.5 percent increase to the Springfield campus’s core appropriation from the state. In exchange for this increase—which nets the university more than $3.5 million—the university agreed to not increase in-state, undergraduate tuition next year. The board previously adopted a resolution that would have raised tuition by $1, resulting in approximately $350,000 in additional revenue. Last week the board adopted a new resolution to remove the $1 tuition increase and hold in-state, undergraduate tuition flat for the 2016-2017 year.

Pictured, from left: Charlene Berquist, Melissa Burnett, Ashley Leinweber, Devin Scherer and Darren Young.
Pictured, from left: Charlene Berquist, Melissa Burnett, Ashley Leinweber, Devin Scherer and Darren Young.

Current, former faculty and staff recognized

The board approved this year’s Excellence in Public Affairs for Faculty and Staff award recipients. Those recipients are:

  • Charlene Berquist
  • Melissa Burnett
  • Ashley Leinweber
  • Holly Hesse
  • Devin Scherer
  • Darren Young

The board also approved five inductees into Missouri State’s Wall of Fame.

  • Don Aripoli
  • Lawrence Banks Jr.
  • Wayne Bartee
  • William Daggett
  • Michael Smith

You can read more information about this year’s Excellence in Public Affairs recipients and Wall of Fame inductees. The Wall of Fame inductees will have their plaques added to the wall outside of the Plaster Student Union Ballroom during a formal ceremony at 4 p.m. Oct. 14, in conjunction with Homecoming. The ceremony is free and open to the public.

The board also approved a proposal to establish the Missouri State University Center for Writing in College, Career and Community. This center will continue and expand the work begun in 2006 with teachers and students from kindergarten through the university-level.

Finally, the board approved resolutions of appreciation for Sharmistha Self (outgoing Faculty Senate chair), Ashley Crisafulli (outgoing student body president), Alissa Biermaier (outgoing student body vice president) and Christina Bowles (outgoing Staff Senate chair). I have appreciated working with each of these campus leaders over the past year. They have made important contributions to our university.

Thanks for all you do for Missouri State!

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Clif’s Notes for May 10, 2016

Clif's Notes





On Friday, we will graduate 2,424 students at three commencement ceremonies in JQH Arena.

Graduates by the fountainCommencement is time for celebration

  • Abram “Abe” McGull, II, a retired U.S. Navy commander who has dedicated his life to public service, is the featured speaker for the 10 a.m. ceremony.
  • Students graduating at 1:30 p.m. will hear from MSU alumnus Gen. Frank J. Grass who currently serves as the 27th Chief, National Guard Bureau and as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  • Dr. John Bentley, who will receive an honorary doctorate for his extraordinary achievements in public affairs, is the featured speaker for the 5 p.m. ceremony.

On Saturday we will hold another commencement ceremony on the West Plains campus.

I want to personally congratulate each of our graduates on a job well done in completing their coursework at Missouri State. I am excited to see the great things each of our new graduates will accomplish in the next chapter of their lives.

Commencement provides us with an important opportunity to celebrate the successes of our graduates. It is a reminder that each of our students makes their Missouri Statement in their own way. I want to take a moment as we finish this year to spotlight a few of our students and celebrate all of our students’ differences.

Spencer MartinSpencer Martin

Spencer Martin is the first Missouri State student ever to win the Science, Mathematics and Research award for Transformation, called SMART, from the Department of Defense. In exchange for two years of service with the Department of Defense, SMART awardees receive money for tuition and some college expenses. What is perhaps even better than the money, Martin said, is that winners have a guaranteed internship each summer. His duties at the United States Naval Oceanographic Office in Mississippi will include writing software.

“I’ll go work for that facility full-time after college. It’s basically a guaranteed job, which is awesome. After two years I can either stay in the government or start working in the private sector.” At MSU, he not only applied for the very competitive award, he decided to join a fraternity and become a leader in student government. “My favorite part thing about Missouri State is that you get a lot of opportunities for involvement and leadership. I definitely found a lot of people around me, including professors, who encouraged me or pushed me. Missouri State helped me to dare to excel.”

T-Asia MaysT-Asia Mays

Watching her mother graduate with an associate’s degree during her senior year of high school inspired St. Louis native T-Asia Mays to continue her own education at Missouri State University. Once on campus, Mays found a way to turn her love of animals into a career through the animal science program in the William H. Darr School of Agriculture.

“My passion for animals followed me here,” Mays said. “My goal is to become an animal nutritionist and make feeds.” Outside of the classroom, Mays has been able to gain experience through her involvement in Sigma Alpha, a service sorority that promotes women in agriculture, Collegiate FFA, Residence Hall Association and Student Government Association. “Within the organizations I’m a part of I have the chance to give back to the community by volunteering,” Mays said. “It’s important for me to give back to my community; even though I don’t have a lot, I can give my time to help others.”

Caitlin Shukwit in the dance studio in McDonald Arena.Caitlin Shukwit

Former gymnast Caitlin Shukwit’s passion is moving, whether that’s dancing in Craig Hall, competing as a contestant on “American Ninja Warrior” or walking backwards while guiding tour groups as the president of University Ambassadors. “I also want people moving me emotionally and mentally, and hopefully to be moving other people.”

The self-labeled Type A super-involved student was diagnosed at age 9 with Tourette syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder. “I am an open book about it. To me, it’s humorous, you know? Yes, it stinks, and yes, it’s so hard to deal with sometimes. But everywhere I went here, I found supportive friends.” When she graduates in May, she’ll feel like she “pulled every last detail and experience out of Missouri State that I can. I’ll remember all the leadership opportunities and the experiences that just really set me up for some really cool things in my life. It’s important to be serious about school and learn to be professional, but I also want to have fun and be happy every day. You find that balance at Missouri State.”

Read more unique stories about Missouri State students, faculty and staff.

Thanks for all you do for Missouri State!


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