It has been just over a year since I announced we would begin a two-year transformation plan to ensure we are meeting modern post-secondary needs. The Board of Governors supported the approach and it includes all areas of the university.
Over the next few months, I’ll provide more information about many areas of the plan. Today, I’ll focus on the academic realignment plan, which was a primary topic of our Town Hall last Friday.
You can read the complete details on the academic realignment plan website as I reference portions below. My intent here is to convey my excitement on a few of the outcomes and changes that will collectively shape the academic transformation.
Darr College of Agriculture (DCOAG)
Darr is focused on enhancing its statewide prominence and I’m excited by the vision from Hospitality Leadership and its move to Darr as we go from farm to fork in addressing food, forage and natural resources. The two new schools offer a laser focus on the science and business/education sides of agriculture.
Departments will be combined into two schools within the college. Our build-out of the approximately $6 million Agricultural Innovation Hub projected for completion in 2025, comes at a perfect time for this college as it morphs in addressing 21st century needs. My thanks to Dr. Melissa Bledsoe for assuming the interim dean role and Dr. Chin-Feng Hwang for taking on the chancellorship of the Mountain Grove campus. I cannot wait to see the changes ahead.
Judith Enyeart Reynolds College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (RCASH)
Last December, we announced that the colleges of Arts and Letters and Humanities and Public Affairs would be combined to create a new college. I’ve attended a few combined RCASH functions as of late and it’s quite clear the transition has been smooth and enhanced collaboration is blossoming.
The opportunities for us to be a destination campus for the arts, to continue elevating strong programs like criminology and criminal justice and defense and strategic studies, and to be a trendsetter in protecting and investing in the arts, social sciences and humanities make me proud of our realignment efforts in these areas. A special thanks to Dean Vic Matthews for his 39 year of service – our very best to you, Vic, in retirement!
College of Business (COB)
COB is our largest college and we’re the university of choice in the Midwest for business students – so why rest on our laurels? I love the focus on expanding and enhancing our portfolio by having Economics join what will soon be known as the department of finance, economics and risk management. Merchandising and Fashion Design will move to the department of technology and construction management.
The synergies of the programs are evident and investing in them is as well. To exemplify, our new $1 million specialized lab complex in Glass Hall includes a merchandising and fashion 3-D lab and is slated to open this fall. Further, we are beginning an $8 million addition and renovation of Kemper Hall with its completion projected in fall 2024.
College of Education (COE)
We are the state’s leader in producing educators. The two new schools serve to enhance our strengths in teacher education and developmental studies and complement the Greenwood Laboratory School and Agency for Teaching, Leading and Learning – and the soon-to-be-opened Center on Rural Education.
I appreciate the focus on proactive engagement communities. Our 1905 founding was based on being a normal school and serving agricultural interests. Combined with the Darr College of Agriculture, the changes within the College of Education will serve to strengthen our birthright programs.
McQueary College of Health and Human Services (MCHHS)
I fully support the move to five schools in the college – including three new ones – and the elevated focus on multidisciplinary and integrated practices complete with immersive student experiences and community integration.
The new School of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences – with Counseling’s move to MCHHS and joining Psychology and Social Work – puts another stamp on MSU being a destination campus while addressing one of society’s signature needs. The other four schools clearly address critical workforce needs. And the proposed interdisciplinary major in Esports targets an explosive field of growth.
College of Natural and Applied Sciences (CNAS)
I’m thrilled to see the creation of an interdisciplinary major in tourism – the state’s second largest industry and a program that is relatively non-existent in higher education. The move to make Geology, Geography, Planning and Sustainability a new school is something I hope we continue to do across other areas and I’m pleased that student pathways across the university will be clarified to assist students.
Our focus on STEM is obvious with our $145 million investment in Blunt and Cheek halls. By the way, construction on Blunt Hall is slated to begin next week!
Some of these changes will occur this summer; others will occur over the next 14 months. My thanks to all areas involved as I know the transition impacts offices and workflows across the university.
John Jasinski and I talk a great deal about the continuous evolution of academic affairs. I fully expect to see ongoing changes throughout the enterprise moving forward – as continuous improvement within organizations is just that – continuous.
Beyond the colleges, many other changes are taking place within academic affairs and it is evident the pace of change over the past 10 months has accelerated our transformational efforts.
The Chief Academic Strategy Officer will be Dr. Ken Brown and he begins his duties June 1, 2023. Three provost fellows are being introduced for fall 2023: research – Dr. Paul Durham, research compliance – Dr. Amy Hulme and curriculum and learning – Dr. Subha Basu Roy.
Executive Vice President Zora Mulligan, MCHHS dean Mark Smith and John J. listened and took in a great deal from our advising community. Key changes in advising include structure (ensuring all colleges have advising centers), system – (invoking an early alert system) and people (providing baseline market pay for advisors).
Zora and our enrollment team, along with all those throughout academic affairs and all of you have focused on enrollment, and our preliminary fall 2023 projections – shared at Friday’s Town Hall – look solid. More on enrollment in the coming months.
Vice President Brad Bodenhausen and John J. listened to our researchers and those who are part of our research support system. Investments in research include the provost fellows, funding an additional position in the Office of Research Administration and a move toward an eventual innovation fund.
We began a journey of exploring a new learning management system late last November and we’re taking a proposal to go with Brightspace/D2L to the Board of Governors this week. We’ve already heard from a great number of faculty who wish to be early adopters of changing from our current system to Brightspace/D2L in the coming months. Thank you!
Our team gathered broad input throughout the academic realignment process. There are many more changes I’ve not addressed here. But let me summarize my take on what we’ve done in a short time and where we’re headed.
In crafting academic affairs as MSU’s strategic enterprise, we’re reallocating and investing in academics. We’re focused on raising our academic profile. We have $1.8 million for future academic investment. We have savings/reinvestment opportunities at the college level to the tune of about $600k.
We’re proposing to the Board of Governors a cost-of-living increase, retention payment and centrally-funded position adjustments. We’re investing in provost fellows, research, advising and a data warehouse. I took John J.’s challenge to fund investments in active learning classrooms and facility improvements. Combined with matches from the provost and deans, we have up to $5 million for these improvements.
Folks, we did all this and avoided program eliminations and protected filled faculty lines and administrative assistant positions. We reduced administrators and administrative costs. To be sure, we have some more to do as we have several study groups lined up to solidify further changes.
Transformation plan introduced. Transformation plan in full force in a short amount of time. Boom! Let’s keep going!
I asked for transformation and academic affairs produced. I can’t wait for the continuous evolution as we collectively focus on student success. We’re well-positioned to take that next organizational leap as we fulfill our statewide mission of public affairs.
Thanks for all you do for Missouri State. Wrap up strong and we’ll see you at our spring 2023 Commencement ceremonies!