In this issue of Clif’s Notes, I review recent developments involving our public affairs mission, and I also provide an update on the marketing research project.
Public affairs mission
Missouri State University’s public affairs mission has served the University well for the past 18 years; the mission was approved by the Missouri General Assembly and signed into law in 1995. Since that time, the mission has been incorporated into the fabric of campus life, from volunteer activities to academic course work. The mission continues to be meaningful, especially for current students and prospective faculty and administrators.
The public affairs mission speaks to the need for graduates to be prepared for their careers, but also for their lifetime roles as citizens. Sometimes we refer to them as “citizen scholars.” We believe the public affairs mission sets us apart from other institutions and has the potential to raise our profile.
For 2013-14, we will take additional steps toward that goal. I want to summarize those for you here.
General education revisions
Public affairs plays a prominent role in our revised general education program. The overall structure includes 15 learning goals, three of which are related specifically to public affairs.
Foundations and breadth of knowledge
The general education structure incorporates these 15 goals into two sections:
- The foundations section includes the first-year seminar, written and oral communications, and information and quantitative literacy. The first-year seminar is the kickoff for public affairs as it includes learning goals with a focus on community engagement, inclusive excellence and ethical leadership. These learning goals are accomplished through a variety of public affairs assignments, including those related to the common reader.
- The second section of general education, breath of knowledge, includes three areas, one of which is public affairs. Students will take 12 credit hours in the public affairs area. Two of those courses fulfill Senate Bill 4 through a focus on the United States and Missouri Constitutions and American history and institutions. For the other six hours, students will take one course focused on cultural competence and one on public issues.
Public affairs experience
Beyond general education, all students will have a capstone public affairs experience within their major. With these elements, the faculty have successfully woven the public affairs mission into the curriculum for our students, beginning with their first semester at Missouri State and continuing through public affairs courses in general education and an intensive public affairs experience in their major prior to graduation. Our mission in public affairs allows our students to build the knowledge, skill and dispositions to become engaged citizens and strong leaders in the communities in which they will live.
I want to take this opportunity to thank several individuals who helped complete the revision of the general education program:
- Chris Herr, associate professor of theatre and dance, who was the 2012-13 Faculty Senate chair and guided the process to a successful conclusion
- Etta Madden, professor of English, who chaired the Task Force on General Education Revision for two years
- Josh Smith, assistant professor of biomedical sciences, who chaired Committee on general education and Intercollegiate Programs (CGEIP) — it was CGEIP that set guidelines and criteria and reviewed/evaluated all courses submitted for potential adoption into the new general education program
- Brian Edmond, computer services senior systems analyst, who developed a system for electronic submission of courses for consideration to CGEIP
Revising the general education program and incorporating public affairs more intentionally was both very important and very challenging. I appreciate the good work of these individuals and others who helped accomplish this goal.
Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame
During the 2013 Public Affairs Conference, we announced that we have established the Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame. We believe the Hall of Fame will help communicate the meaning of the public affairs mission by providing real-life examples of individuals who exemplify the mission.
We will take nominations through Aug. 31, with the first class to be inducted in April of 2014, possibly in conjunction with the Public Affairs Conference. I invite and encourage you review the criteria and then consider nominating a deserving individual.
While we will continue to offer dozens of public affairs-related events, awards and recognitions each year, we will begin focusing on a select number of events to promote to the public each year. Those events are featured on the redesigned public affairs website, which went live earlier this week.
For 2013-14, the signature events include the following, all of which I hope you will add to your calendar and plan to attend:
New Student Convocation
Aug. 18, 2013, JQH Arena
This will be the official kickoff of the public affairs theme: Global Perspective – Why it Matters. (I hope all faculty and staff will march or participate in this event. You remember this is when we will present the Honorary Doctorate to alumnus and actor John Goodman.)
Public Affairs Week
Sept. 16–20, 2013
This student-organized week includes a number of activities, from voter registration to a presentation by Afghanistan native Zohra Zori.
Stomp Out Hunger: All Collegiate Shoe Drive
Sept. 28–Oct. 19, 2013
Participants from MSU, OTC, Drury, Evangel and SBU will partner in an effort to set a world record for the most shoes collected for the Sole Food Project.
Public Affairs Convocation with Speaker Blake Mycoskie
Nov. 11, 2013, JQH Arena
Blake Mycoskie is the founder and “chief shoe giver” of TOMS Shoes, and author of Start Something That Matters, Missouri State’s common reader for 2013-14 — his appearance is being jointly funded by Missouri State, Ozarks Technical Community College, Drury University, the City of Springfield and the Community Foundation of the Ozarks (I hope you will read this book and assign it to your students, so we can truly have a campus-wide conversation about it.)
Public Affairs Conference: Global Perspective — Why It Matters
April 8–11, 2014
The 10th annual conference will focus on why developing a global perspective is no longer merely an option; it is a cultural imperative that involves examining our experiences, our knowledge and our learning in the light of the people and cultures of an increasingly interconnected world.
Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Banquet
April 2014 (Date TBA)
Nominations for the inaugural class will be accepted through Aug. 31, 2013.
Collaborative Diversity Conference
April 24–25, 2014
The second annual conference focuses on diversity best practices and builds statewide networks.
Describing the mission more effectively
From our marketing research project, we learned the elements of the public affairs mission resonate well with students and alumni, even if the term “public affairs” is not as well understood. As a result, we have already begun to reorder the way in which we describe the mission to lead with those elements. So, I would invite you to consider using the following description as you talk about public affairs:
Missouri State University focuses on ethical leadership, cultural competence and community engagement, all of which embody the University’s statewide mission in public affairs.
By reordering the description, we may maintain the integrity while communicating more effectively. Watch for me to use this approach in the coming year.
Public affairs is our mission. It is distinctive and we are proud of it. Our challenge is to continually find more ways to communicate it effectively to our audiences.
Sometimes people ask: don’t all colleges and universities promote the importance of public affairs? The answer is: yes, maybe so. But, our goal is to do so better than anyone else.
Update on marketing research
In the last issue of Clif’s Notes, I described the marketing research project and provided an update on its progress. One of the provisions of the marketing research contract was that all of the raw data from the surveys would be the property of Missouri State. Our intent is to use our own office of institutional research to dig deeper into particular areas of interest.
For example, sometime in the early fall, we anticipate surveying all faculty, staff and administrators about a number of issues to gain a fuller understanding of employee perceptions. We will give all full-time employees a chance to respond, and we will organize the responses by category (e.g., faculty, staff and administrators).
These follow-up surveys will allow us to build on the good work that has been done to date.
The summer semester begins June 10, and we will have several thousand students on campus taking courses. We will have several more thousand students of all ages on campus for camps and special events. Once again, campus will be alive.
I hope you have a productive summer. And I also hope you have a chance to recharge your professional battery through vacation time. August will be here before we know it.
Thanks again for all you do for Missouri State.
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