In this issue of Clif’s Notes, I provide an update on the legislative session, report on our plan for resurfacing parking lots this summer with environmentally-friendly material and review some recent events.
The 2014 session of the Missouri General Assembly is progressing. The budget must be completed by May 9, which is one week before the last day of the session (May 16). Much remains to be finalized, but I wanted to report on the three major items we are tracking.
Current year (fiscal year 2014)
For this year, lottery revenues, which help fund the higher education operating budget, are below what had been budgeted. In fact, the shortfall was about $44 million. The legislature approved $22 million in a supplemental appropriation to help cover half of the shortfall.
On April 10, Governor Jay Nixon announced the holdbacks necessary to cover the remaining $22 million. That included $3.2 million for the public four-year universities. For Missouri State, that means $353,017 will be withheld from the remaining monthly payments from the state. We plan to cover this one-time shortfall with central reserve funds so that no cost center budget will be impacted by this withholding.
For next year (fiscal year 2015)
On the operating budget, the House recommended a 3 percent increase, and the Senate Appropriations Committee has recommended a 5 percent increase. Provided the full Senate supports the committee recommendation, those will be the positions when the two chambers go into the conference committee. As you recall, we held undergraduate in-state tuition flat based on the assumption that the increase would be 5 percent or higher.
On capital, a revenue bonding initiative is moving forward. It involves a statutory bill that enables the bonding, plus a bonding bill with specific renovation, maintenance and repair projects to be funded. Included for Missouri State are projects totaling more than $20 million:
- $7,581,818 — Ellis Hall
- $11,016,237 — Hill Hall
- $220,000 — sprinkler system and fire alarm panel repairs and maintenance on the West Plains campus
- $1,547,890 — Post Office Building at the West Plains campus.
Finally, a variety of tax reduction bills are in various stages of passage. They have the potential to impact the revenue increases previously referenced, so we continue to engage our legislators on this subject as well.
Again, much remains to be completed, and I will continue to provide updates for you.
Parking lot project
Every summer we repair, reseal and re-stripe parking lots. Like most others in Springfield, we have always used a coal tar-based asphalt sealer in the resealing process as no other comparable products were available. This has caused concerns within our campus community and our city because of the potential negative environmental effects of coal tar.
This summer, we will spend approximately $180,000 to repair/seal/re-stripe more than a dozen parking lots around campus. To accomplish this, we will be trying a different product — an asphalt emulsion sealer — rather than the coal tar based asphalt sealer we have used in the past.
We have been and will continue to evaluate the performance of asphalt emulsion based sealers to see if they are a viable substitute for the coal tar sealants. If this new sealant performs well, it will replace the coal tar sealants going forward. I will keep you apprised of our results on this and other projects as we continue to advance our sustainability agenda.
Review of recent events
We have had a number of high-profile events lately, so I want to provide updates on those.
Public Affairs Conference
Approximately 3,425 people attended the 2014 Public Affairs Conference, with its theme Global Perspective: Why It Matters. Once again, the conference offered informative, inspirational and thought-provoking sessions for the University and local communities. I want to thank Dr. Kevin Evans, 2014 provost fellow for public affairs, for his outstanding leadership in planning the 10th annual conference.
Three plenary speakers drew large audiences and offered diverse viewpoints on global perspective.
- Dr. Spencer Wells, National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence and director of the Genographic project, offered insight into the commonalities shared by all humans and supported the concept of “citizen science,” public participation and funding in scientific studies.
- Best-selling author George Saunders provided humorous and poignant insights into the human condition, noting that Americans often view other cultures as strange, but he contended that American culture is just as strange.
- Gonzalo Vargas, director of finance for Groupon Latin America and MSU alumnus, noted that awareness and adaptability are key factors to developing cultural understanding, and that cultural competence is essential for successful multicultural organizations.
Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame
More than 200 people attended the inaugural induction of the Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame. We honored President Harry Truman (represented by his grandson Clifton Truman Daniel), Senator John Danforth and Dr. Donald Suggs. It was an inspiring evening. By telling the stories of these three individuals, we were able to illustrate the meaning of the public affairs mission for the entire state of Missouri. Review a recap of the event.
This was an excellent start to a new annual tradition, and I want to thank the selection committee and the work group that made the event a success, as well as Strong-Garner-Bauer for sponsoring the event.
Remember, the deadline for nominations for the 2015 Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame is July 1, 2014. I hope you will consider submitting a nomination.
Student open forum
I was pleased to speak at the student open forum April 8. More than 100 students attended the event, which was hosted by the Student Government Association. Students had the opportunity to submit questions in advance through Facebook and other social media outlets, and questions were also taken from the audience.
Students were interested in learning more about my leadership style, issues I see facing higher education and plans for Missouri State. Additionally, they wanted to learn more about me as a person. Questions at the forum ranged from “Where do you see higher education in the state of Missouri in the next 5-10 years, and how does MSU fit into that vision?” to “What was your favorite tradition back when you were a student?”
It was a lively discussion and a great opportunity for me to interact with our students, which is, by the way, one of my favorite parts of the job.
HLC Town Hall meeting
We appreciate the good turnout we had for the HLC Town Hall meeting on April 4.
Our first goal was education on criteria, process and timeline. We are preparing for a comprehensive site visit in fall of 2015 — the specific date will be set this fall. A complete first draft of the assurance argument that clearly states how Missouri State University meets the HLC criteria and core components will be completed by early October. This argument is limited to 35,000 words and must be backed with evidence, i.e. data, policies, procedures, meeting minutes and reports. Drafts of the assurance argument will be posted for campus review in the coming year.
To those who were unable to attend, the draft reports and summary PowerPoint presentation are posted online. We received questions and comments on the following topics: transparency of process; assessment of students, faculty and administrators; advising and diversity. Should you have further feedback, please email the chair of the steering committee, Dr. Tammy Jahnke, dean of the College of Natural and Applied Sciences.
We are in the home stretch for the spring semester and the 2013-14 year. As usual, we end with a flurry of events and activities, many of which I hope you will attend. I hope all of you will make plans to attend one or more of the three commencements on Friday, May 16, as we honor this year’s spring graduates. The honorary doctorate recipients named by the Faculty Senate will give the addresses at two of the commencement ceremonies: James Tatum at 10 a.m. and John Rush at 5 p.m. Educator and former state representative Sara Lampe will give the 1:30 p.m. ceremony address.
Thank you for all you do for Missouri State University.
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