In this issue of Clif’s Notes, I provide a recap of Welcome Weekend activities, summarize our first day enrollment numbers, highlight this year’s eight major goals, preview a visioning process that we will start soon, provide information about two of the University’s sustainability initiatives and highlight a policy change regarding campus safety.
Last weekend we welcomed students to campus with a number of exciting activities. Throughout the day on Thursday and Friday, the Bear Crew (comprised of students, faculty and staff volunteers) helped students move into campus housing. Friday evening students took in a free outdoor movie and participated in team-building activities and outdoor games at Playfair. On Saturday, faculty and staff bid parents “farewell” and students “hello” at the Aloha Brunch, and more than 5,000 students filled the PSU and enjoyed free food and games at Bear Bash. Alumnus Judith Rowland spoke to an audience of more than 4,000 students, faculty and staff at Sunday’s New Student Convocation. The weekend ended with the Sunday night Belong-B-Q, an event designed to connect students with multicultural experiences at Missouri State. It was a fantastic opening weekend, and I want to thank everyone who helped make it so. My favorite part was SGA President Jordan McGee’s challenge to students to excel in all they do on campus.
Our first day enrollment numbers came in this week, and they are fabulous. We are up 401 students on the Springfield campus and 8 students on the West Plains campus over last year. We have the largest freshman class on the Springfield campus in over 20 years with 2,807 students. This was accomplished in a year when the number of Missouri high school graduates dropped and fewer people graduated from Missouri community colleges. We continue to gain market share as our profile grows. Thanks for all you do to contribute to the success of Missouri State. More information about our first day enrollment numbers can be found in the University’s press release.
Eight major goals
In my last issue of Clif’s Notes I discussed the process for developing the University’s eight major goals for 2014-15. That process is now complete, and we have finalized the goals.
This year’s goals align with the six headings in the 2011-16 Long-Range Plan: access to success, public affairs integration, engaged inquiry, partners for progress, valuing and supporting people, and responsible stewardship. The two remaining goals address athletics and West Plains integration. Specific action items fall under each of the eight goals.
Below are highlights of some of the major action items in this year’s eight major goals:
The University will successfully complete the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) self-study process (assurance report) and submit findings in accordance with the HLC’s timeline with regard to its Springfield campus. The University will finalize its reaffirmation of HLC accreditation with regard to the West Plains campus.
Maintaining modest enrollment growth while increasing the diversity of the student body continues to be a priority. This year we will implement a graduate needs-based scholarship program and a graduate diversity scholarship program, continue to create new academic programs based on student demand and state need, strengthen relationships with community college partners and expand opportunities for collaboration with diversity-oriented organizations.
This year the University will implement its construction and renovation plans regarding the Student Admissions and Success (Welcome) Center, Pummill Hall, the Occupational Therapy and Health Sciences Building, Sunvilla, phase one of Meyer Library and the fifth floor of the Morris Center.
- Faculty and staff compensation
The University will make every effort to provide a cost of living pay raise for full-time employees. The University will also continue the Full Professor Incentive Program and evaluate other potential programs to target high-performing and/or underpaid employee groups for additional compensation if funding allows.
- Faculty and staff diversity
The University will focus on hiring a more diverse faculty and staff. One important component of this initiative is a hiring target: we have established a goal that at least 20% (1 in 5) of new hires be ethnically or racially diverse, international, disabled, of veteran status or a member of a group that is underrepresented within the hiring department. This is achievable, and I expect that everyone can and will hit this target. If you are trying to make a diverse hire but are experiencing policy-related, administrative or other barriers, please contact my office.
The University will take active steps to improve its retention rate of first-time, full-time freshmen. The University will evaluate admission requirements and protocols for low-performing applicants, develop a program to assist freshmen students on academic probation, which is an SGA priority as well, and evaluate whether GEP 101, orientation programs, living learning communities and family activities should be redesigned.
- West Plains integration
The University will integrate West Plains and Springfield operations to the extent practicable by developing and marketing student pathways from West Plains to Springfield, codifying a funding formula for West Plains in a University policy, and evaluating opportunities to coordinate bookstore functions, Banner processes and other campus operations.
Please review the eight major goals for 2014-15 at your leisure. Frank and I will discuss them in more detail at the State of the University Speech scheduled for noon on Sept. 26.
In the coming months, we will begin a visioning process. The goal is to strategically forecast the direction of Missouri State 10 years in the future by identifying and analyzing topics, themes and challenges that the University will encounter. This process will help us set the stage for our next long-range plan in 2016.
We will form a steering committee (and potentially other committees and task forces) that will identify, discuss, investigate and analyze various issues as part of this process. We want our entire campus community to have an opportunity to provide input, and we will seek input from community and political leaders, alumni and others who care about the University.
If you have ideas of topics, themes and challenges that should be analyzed as part of the visioning process, please email them to me. If you would like to be part of the visioning process in some other way, please contact my office.
I am very excited about two sustainability initiatives. A traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution known as the “Green Revolution” will be coming to Springfield’s Discovery Center. The exhibit is all about sustainability — recycling, energy, composting/gardening and carbon footprint, and will be on display from Sept. 10 through early 2015. The Discovery Center is hosting the exhibit in partnership with Missouri State University and City Utilities.
On Oct. 1, Missouri State will be sponsoring a free day for all students, faculty, staff and their families. The museum hours for that day will be 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Also, Missouri State is among the first to pre-enroll to receive a portion of its electrical energy from the newly operational City Utilities solar farm. The total capacity of the solar farm is approximately 4.9 megawatts, and Missouri State has applied to receive 200 kilowatts, the maximum amount offered to individual customers. Although solar power is currently more expensive, this approach firmly establishes the University as a community leader in solar power and does so in a cost effective manner.
I wanted to let you know about a policy change regarding campus and student safety. The Board has approved a new policy entitled Title IX Policy on Sexual Assault, Stalking and Other Forms of Sexual Misconduct. This policy builds on the University’s existing policies for student, faculty and staff discipline with regard to sexual misconduct. Among other things, this policy defines what acts are prohibited, describes how complaints may be made and discusses how complaints will be investigated.
As part of this policy, the University has created a list of campus security authorities (CSAs). A CSA is required by law to report sexual misconduct and certain other crimes to the office of safety and transportation for inclusion in the campus security report. We will roll out a training program for all CSAs very soon.
Additionally, I expect all members of our campus community to immediately inform their supervisors when they suspect students, faculty or staff have been or will be harmed. All of us have a responsibility to keep our campus safe.
I look forward to seeing you around campus this semester. Thanks for all you do for Missouri State University.