As many of you may be aware, Governor Mike Parson addressed the General Assembly last week.
He discussed the need for a fresh start for our state. He indicated that he will work each day to make Missouri a better place. He stated that he will not be motivated by selfish ambition but by a commitment to serve Missourians. He commended public servants and affirmed his appreciation and respect for everyone who takes up the call to public affairs.
In this address, Governor Parson was talking to legislators, but he wasn’t just talking about members of the legislature. He was also talking about us. The faculty and staff at Missouri State University are public servants, motivated to work to make Missouri a better place.
Moving Missouri forward
I have had multiple opportunities to interact with Governor Parson in the short time he has been in office. Through these conversations, I have learned about his plans for moving Missouri forward. He intends to focus on infrastructure and workforce development. The work we do at Missouri State aligns with this agenda.
Our infrastructure needs
While the bulk of the state’s infrastructure needs center on our system of highways, roads and bridges, we know that there are also physical and digital infrastructure needs in higher education. Governor Parson championed the bonding package that resulted in renovations to Ellis, Hill and Hass-Darr Halls, so he is familiar with our infrastructure needs.
We have already begun to inform the new administration about current infrastructure requirements. Shortly after Governor Parson took office, staff from the Missouri Department of Higher Education toured our campus. We showed them the good, the bad and the ugly in our campus facilities and information technology infrastructure.
Developing a strong workforce for Missouri
Higher education is also a critical partner in developing the state’s workforce. That workforce includes a wide and ever-changing range of professional positions.
We know how valuable a liberal arts and science education is. We are committed to developing the whole student through a curriculum rich in literature, art, humanities, philosophy, mathematics, and social, life and physical sciences. Educating students to be global citizen scholars committed to public affairs is an important piece of our mission.
We will continue to make the case that an education grounded in the liberal arts and sciences is critical to workforce development. We hear repeatedly about the “soft skills” gap in the workforce. It is through a liberal arts education that students learn the communication, social and life skills necessary to be effective in the workplace.
As a statewide, comprehensive, public university, we must also be responsive to the needs of our state and the direction set by our elected leaders. This will likely require that we commit resources to expand programs in areas of critical workforce need, like health and technology. It may also require that we target specific degree and certificate programs to quickly create or grow. We must work together on these initiatives for Missouri State to continue to lead the state.
I hope you are as excited as I am about the new direction for the state and the opportunities for our university.
Thanks for all you do for Missouri State!