The Board of Governors met last Friday. The Board had its summer retreat from 8-9:45 a.m., followed by the regular Board meeting at 10 a.m. I want to report to you on three significant topics we discussed at the Board retreat and meeting.
First year implementation of the long-range plan
At the retreat, we discussed and agreed upon the key objectives and tactics we will focus on during the first year of implementing the long-range plan, Fulfilling Our Promise. You can find the PowerPoint we used for this discussion online.
These priorities will be the major focus of my State of the University address Sept. 28 in Springfield and Oct. 4 in West Plains. I hope you can attend one of these addresses, or see coverage of them later on the Web and Ozarks Public Television.
Our intent was to identify some significant items from the long-range plan on which we could make significant progress during 2011-12. I look forward to working with you on these initiatives.
It is no secret that my top priority is finding a way to achieve across-the-board salary increases this year. On Friday, the Board of Governors confirmed its support and asked us to develop both short-term and long-term plans to increase salaries. I will work with Administrative Council, the Executive Budget Committee, and others to develop these plans.
For this year, whatever plan we develop will need to depend primarily, if not exclusively, on reallocated funds. Over the past several weeks, we have discussed the need to make decisions now that will allow us to reallocate funds later this year and next. Since more than 70 percent of our budget is spent on personnel (salaries and benefits), we absolutely must examine every open position to make sure we are addressing it in the best possible way.
The newspaper headline from Saturday – “Smart wants smaller MSU staff” – is misleading. My strong first preference would be to have the same or greater number of staff and to pay everyone above market rate. But that is not possible since state appropriations will continue to decrease, so we will have to make do with fewer staff as that will allow us to increase the pay for all.
I want to use the president’s office as one example of what I mean, since I have been given permission to use names of individuals.
- For nearly 30 years, the president’s office has had two full-time administrative assistants.
- Historically, the chief of staff has had one full-time administrative assistant.
- As most of you know, Barb Helvey retired at the end of May 2011 and is now working 1,000 hours (halftime).
- Marilyn Dennis will retire Dec. 31, 2011, and will begin working 1,000 hours.
- Renee Fogle, who has been working 1,000 hours in the general counsel’s office, is going to begin working 1,000 hours in the president’s office.
- And the administrative assistant position in the chief of staff’s office has gone unfilled since the passing of Teri Loch in June 2009.
So, by January 2012, we will have replaced three full-time positions in the president’s office and chief of staff’s office with three 1,000-hour positions, plus some increased student hours. This will save us more than $50,000 in salaries and another $12,000-$15,000 in benefits since we don’t pay benefits on 1,000-hour employees.
The end result is we will have about $62,000-$65,000 available for reallocation to the across-the-board increase.
Another example can be found in the Provost’s Office. Frank has ceased searches for two full-time staff members.Frank and his staff are redistributing responsibilities and planning to use more student employees to get the work done. This decision, too, will save several thousand dollars which can be reallocated.
Will we be able to combine and/or reduce positions in every unit across all campuses? Probably not, especially in those units that are very small and, therefore, have fewer options.
Will these changes cause us to stop doing some good, but non-essential, things we have done in the past? Yes.
Will we have to find ways to do things smarter and more efficiently? Absolutely.
Will the administrators in these areas work additional hours to get things done? Without a doubt.
But, if we are to position ourselves for an across-the-board increase, these kinds of personnel decisions have to be multiplied many times across campus. I hope I can count on you to help in this effort.
Investment in academic space at Brick City
On Friday, we had an in-depth discussion with the Board about an investment in academic space at Brick City. I want to share with you that same information.
As you know, academic space is at a premium on campus; Missouri State ranks last in the state in average square feet per student. And, quality academic space is even more precious.
For more than a decade, the University has focused its efforts on renovating buildings and space on campus (referred to as Facilities Reutilization Plan or FREUP). One of the primary goals of FREUP was to co-locate academic departments. Another strategy has been to lease space downtown instead of waiting for state funding for new buildings. All of this was intended to secure the best classroom and research space possible for our students and faculty.
We believe within the next 6 to 12 months, we will be presented with an opportunity to take yet another step in this process.
Frees other space
Missouri State already leases two of the buildings in Brick City, which house major portions of the art and design department. Soon, the University is likely to have the ability to lease the two remaining buildings (known as Buildings 1 and 5) which could be renovated so that the entire art and design department – faculty, staff and all functions – can be consolidated there.
By consolidating art and design in Brick City, we would free up (thus the acronym FREUP) approximately 20,000 square feet of space in Ellis Hall, the Jim D. Morris Center for Continuing Education, and Hill Hall for reassignment/reallocation.
Specifically, we would gain a very large space in Hill Hall to allow conversion and addition of a large core-campus state-of-the-art classroom, which would help facilitate our course redesign initiative. We would recover the fifth floor at the Morris Center for Continuing Education for reallocation for international programs (English Language Institute classrooms). The space in Ellis Hall would allow for the music department to be located in one physical location.
Both Wade Thompson, head of the department, and Dr. Carey Adams, dean of the College of Arts and Letters, have been involved in this planning and both are excited about the positive impact of this potential investment.
The “trigger” for this investment will be the ability to partner with a private company, which we anticipate would lease 1½ floors of the largest building (Building 1). Our hope is that this private company would allow for internships and student collaborations, as well as hire our graduates and create new high-paying jobs in Springfield.
A good investment
In addition to providing quality academic space, this investment would be a good one for several reasons:
- It further enhances and solidifies the IDEA Commons project/development area by completing the Brick City development.
- There is no cost for the next two years as the buildings are being renovated.
- The cost beginning in the fall of 2013 will be $550,000 annually for lease, which would be offset by about $280,000 in lease space we will discontinue, for a net increase of $270,000 per year.
- As is the case with our other Brick City leases, we have the option to purchase the buildings after five years.
I also would point out that this would address three of the six strategic directions in the long-range plan:
- It helps provide quality academic space for our current and prospective students – Access to Success.
- It is a good use of limited resources – Responsible Stewardship.
- In the process, it further develops the IDEA Commons initiative – Partners for Progress.
I believe this would be a great investment in our academic programs and I hope you agree. We will proceed as soon as a private partner is confirmed, which, again, we hope will be within the next 6-12 months.
Fall semester begins August 22
I look forward to seeing you often beginning the week of Aug. 15 as we begin welcoming students back for the fall semester. I hope you will plan to attend the New Student Convocation at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 21. Classes begin Monday, Aug. 22. Let’s have a great year.