If the heading sounds informal, then I have accomplished my goal. Please call me “Clif” because I plan to call you by your first name, just as I called Dr. Nietzel “Mike” and Dr. Cofer “Jim.” My view is that we are all part of the same team trying to accomplish the same goals. As teammates working together to educate students, I think we can be on a first-name basis.
As I said Monday, I am honored and humbled to have the responsibility of serving as your interim president. I take the responsibility seriously, and I will make the same pledge to you in writing here that I made on Monday at the news conference:
I pledge that as long as I am interim president, I will do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility will consider others better than myself.
I will not repeat my remarks from Monday since many of you were there, and we have provided video on our homepage of the entire news conference. If you want to hear my part of the news conference, you can do so by viewing the video.
[youTubeVideo url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwYVbm_JNJQ” width=”600″ height=”384″]
I will repeat that I am guided by my faith, grounded by my family, and am a lifelong advocate of public education. I love Springfield and believe deeply in Missouri State University. I am a positive person and a consensus builder, and you will find that my leadership style reflects that. I believe the word “transparent” is overused and that the promise of transparency is frequently broken. I prefer to say “I will tell you the truth.”
I will communicate with all constituent groups. I will listen. And I will be decisive. The Board of Governors has made it clear that while I am “interim,” I should not be a “caretaker.” I plan to live up to that.
Over the next few months, I will spend quite a bit of my time meeting with groups and individuals, both on campus and off, to build stronger relationships. This is especially true for those with which I have not had as much contact.
I am indebted to Dr. Frank Einhellig for accepting the role as interim provost. Frank will be officially moved in to the office and be the provost by the end of next week (July 8). As all of you know, Frank will be a great asset as we move forward.
The long-range plan has been completed and approved by the Board of Governors. Frank and I – along with about 20 other administrators, faculty, staff and students – were on the Steering Committee that guided the plan to its completion over 16 months. More than 100 other faculty, staff and students were involved in the process. And dozens more made suggestions via e-mail and in the open forums. We believe the plan is solid, and we have begun implementing it.
Over the next 30-60 days, I anticipate we will make some organizational adjustments to achieve greater productivity and save some money. I will consult with the appropriate groups before making these changes, and I will announce them to the campus community when the decisions are made.
At the top of my “to-do” list is to find a way to fund an across-the-board salary increase for faculty and staff in 2012-13. This is long overdue, and we simply have to find a way to accomplish this. We always will be mindful of our goal to increase salaries as we make other decisions, since those could affect the primary goal. Strategies to reach this goal will be discussed using a budget process based on the one initiated by President Cofer last year, but with fine-tuning suggested by faculty and staff.
On another subject, I have asked Dr. Terrel Gallaway and Frank to organize a group to look at the policy that permits administrators who return to the faculty to do so at 9/11ths of their administrative salary. This review is both timely and appropriate. I am confident Terrel and Frank will come back with a recommendation that balances our desire to attract and retain outstanding administrators but also is fair and appropriate in the context of the entire University.
Input invited and welcome
For the time I am in this office, I invite and will value your thoughts and ideas. Please send them to me, either as a response to this communication or via email. I will read them all, give them thoughtful consideration and send you a response.
Again, I will appreciate your help as we move the University forward. If we work together, I am confident no challenge is too great.