Clif’s Notes Vol. 2, No. 12

Clif's Notes

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.

Students in classGeneral 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.

Citizen Scholar statueMissouri 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.

Public Affairs SpeakerSignature events

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.

Avenue of FlagsDescribing 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.

Building bannersUpdate 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.

Telling the Missouri State story

Ad Team

Missouri State University’s Ad Team beat out six universities and won first place in the national AT&T Campus Marketing Challenge, a competition for the best AT&T marketing and research campaign targeting college students. The Ad Team is part of a marketing class and operates similar to an advertising agency under the direction and supervision of Dr. Melissa Burnett, professor of marketing.

The Ad Team — which is comprised of select students in the Missouri State College of Business — developed and implemented a semester-long marketing campaign and presented the results to AT&T executives in Dallas on May 28. The “inTEXTicated” campaign taught students about the hazards of texting while driving through events, social media, advertising and public relations.

“Missouri State University wowed us. We were impressed with their in-depth research, creativity and presentation,” said Chris Roy, AT&T Vice-President of Government and Education in the Western Region. “This challenge gave us the opportunity to tap into the energy and enthusiasm of young minds. Not only did they benefit, but we did as well by gaining deeper insight into the behaviors, beliefs and aspirations of our next-generation leaders and customers.”

As a part of the AT&T Campus Challenge, the students were given $3,000 and equipped with mobile phones and other tools to implement a marketing plan for AT&T mobility services and It Can Wait, a campaign to end texting and driving. The students were responsible for sales, retail, public relations, sponsorship, talent recruiting/retention and marketing communications on their campuses.

Earlier in the semester, the Ad Team hosted Textulator, which served as an eye-opening event to promote awareness of the It Can Wait campaign and showcase the dangers of distracted driving. In it, students competed in a game of Mario Kart while responding to text messages sent to them by members of the Ad Team, dodging virtual turtleshells and banana peels the whole time.

The Ad Team has a rich history of national success, and I am proud to congratulate them on another wonderful campaign. The team members included:

  • Stephanie French
  • Brian Neyer
  • Jenna Duren
  • Amanda Eckerle
  • Jasmyn Franks
  • Jake Layton
  • Stephanie Stryker
  • Amanda Willens
  • Emily Harris
  • Allen Schieber
Clif Smart

About Clif Smart

Clifton "Clif" M. Smart III has served as the 11th president of Missouri State University since June 27, 2011. Smart is known throughout campus and the state of Missouri for his collaborative leadership and strong relationships with students, faculty and staff. During his tenure, the university has continually set new enrollment records, added degree programs and constructed or extensively renovated more than a dozen major campus facilities. Before his presidency, Smart served as the Missouri State University’s general counsel.
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