In this issue of Clif’s Notes, I recap the State of the University address, provide an update on the visioning project, inform the campus community about Missouri State’s recent selection by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine for the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award, discuss the Stomp Out Hunger public affairs initiative, invite the campus community to participate in the United Way and Missouri State Way campaigns and provide details on campus security authority training.
State of the University address
On Monday, Sept. 29, Dr. Einhellig and I gave the State of the University address on the Springfield campus. The theme was “raising the profile of the University.” I addressed five of the specific policies and priorities set by the board for this year: value, student retention rates, facilities improvement, improving diversity of faculty and staff and strategic planning. My specific remarks included:
- Public higher education must remain affordable for working and middle class families. We must also continue to pursue opportunities to improve our rigorous, high-quality programs.
- Improving student retention is critical to the economic success of our state. We will focus on retooling student orientation, family programs and living-learning communities to help students make better connections. We will also focus on advising, connecting students to departments and improving the GEP 101 experience.
- Our facilities have a dramatic impact on our profile. This year we are building a Welcome Center (funded by private support) and a new health building. We are also renovating Pummill Hall, the fifth floor of the Morris Center, Sunvilla and Meyer Library (phase I). Next year we plan to expand laboratory spaces and renovate older academic buildings if the state issues revenue bonds and appropriates the proceeds.
- We have done very well in increasing the ethnic diversity of our students, but we have made only marginal progress in improving the diversity of our faculty and staff. Our students are entitled to interact with faculty and staff with diverse backgrounds, life experiences and ideas. In all hiring searches, we need to pay attention to diversity — which means more than just race or ethnicity — as a goal.
- We are beginning a visioning project named The Missouri State Vision: Our Passion for Excellence. The goal of this project is to gain consensus on the assumptions and philosophical foundation from which the next two long-range plans will be developed.
Student safety is a priority
After Dr. Einhellig spoke, I closed with a discussion about safety. Campus safety, particularly sexual assault on campus, is an important topic due to increased media scrutiny and recent legislation. The data here at Missouri State indicates that we have done extremely well at protecting our students from sexual assaults and investigating when these offenses are alleged to have occurred. We have never covered up a sexual assault, and we never will. But with public attention on the issue, we decided to look at what we do and see if there are things we can improve upon. The changes we implemented include:
- The Board of Governors approved a new policy titled Title IX Policy on Sexual Assault, Stalking and Other Forms of Sexual Misconduct.
- We created a list of campus security authorities (CSAs). CSAs are required by law to report all allegations or evidence of sexual misconduct and certain other criminal behavior to University employees who can investigate the situation and take appropriate actions. We are in the process of training all of our CSAs.
- We have started an online training module called Haven for our students. All of our new students are now required to participate in this training, which focuses on preventing and responding to sexual assault.
Safety of our students must always be a priority for all of us. Our students and their families trust us to create a safe environment for them to study and learn. It is important that we not let them down. When we believe a student has been or may be in a dangerous situation, we all need to be ready to respond by intervening if it is safe to do so and by notifying our supervisors, the office of equity and compliance and the office of safety and transportation.
Visit the State of the University address website to view a video of the address and see Dr. Einhellig’s and my slides and speech notes.
I informed you in a prior issue of Clif’s Notes that we were starting a visioning project. I want to give you a brief update on the project. As I mentioned above, we have named it The Missouri State Vision: Our Passion for Excellence. I will be chairing the steering committee for this project. The other members of the steering committee are:
- Roberta Aram
- James Baker
- Drew Bennett
- Christina Bowles
- Stephanie Bryant
- Russell Carney
- Ryan DeBoef
- Brittany Donnellan
- Frank Einhellig
- Tammy Jahnke
- Tim Knapp
- Michael F. Murray
- Tom Peters
- Sharmistha Self
- Suzanne Shaw
- Dee Siscoe
- Christine Sudbrock
The steering committee will have its first two meetings on Oct. 2 and 15. The goal of these meetings is to create a list of four to six topical areas for discussion and investigation during the visioning project, create a task force for each topical area and develop instructions explaining to each task force the parameters of their topical area. I will continue to update you on our progress with the visioning project throughout the year.
Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award
We have made great progress on diversity initiatives over the past several years. Recently, this progress was noticed on a national level. INSIGHT Into Diversity, the oldest and largest diversity magazine in higher education, has selected Missouri State as one of only 83 recipients of the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award for 2014.
The HEED Award recognizes colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. We are in great company with other recipients such as California State University, Florida State University, Georgia Tech University, Louisiana State University, Penn State University, Rice University, the SUNY System, University of Georgia, University of Oklahoma, University of Texas at Austin, University of Virginia and University of Wisconsin.
All faculty, staff and students are to be commended and congratulated for events, programs and initiatives that display the best of diversity at Missouri State. I want to especially thank Dr. Ken Coopwood and his team for their important work on Missouri State’s diversity initiatives as well as their time and effort to apply for and receive this award.
Stomp Out Hunger
Missouri State has partnered with Drury, Evangel, OTC and SBU for a service project called Stomp Out Hunger: All-Collegiate Shoe Drive. From Oct. 1 through 24, there will be marked boxes in most buildings on campus. (Access the complete list of collection sites.) All wearable shoes put in these boxes will be donated to Sole Food, a program of Friends Against Hunger, a Springfield non-profit that packages and distributes nutritious, vitamin-fortified meals to hungry people in the US and around the world. Sole Food, in conjunction with Shoeman Water Projects in St. Louis, exports the donated shoes to distributors in developing countries. By donating used shoes, students, faculty and staff will provide not only shoes, but also food and clean water to those in need around the world!
United Way and Missouri State Way campaigns
We kicked off our annual United Way and Missouri State Way campaigns with a leadership breakfast on Wednesday. The United Way serves the neediest of our neighbors in Springfield and the Ozarks. The Missouri State Way campaign is an opportunity for all members of the campus community to support the areas of the University that are most important to them. You may designate your Missouri State Way gift for student scholarships, a special program or even your own department or college.
I want to personally invite participants of either campaign to the celebration luncheon that will be held from 12 to 1 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 10 in the ballroom at Plaster Student Union. This was formerly a breakfast. I hope changing the time allows more people to attend. I look forward to seeing you there. Please RSVP by Nov. 5 to Monica Gray at 836-6763.
You will receive a packet further explaining these campaigns next week. You may participate in these campaigns by completing and returning the forms in the packet.
In a prior issue of Clif’s Notes I indicated that 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.
On Wednesday afternoon we sent an email to all CSAs telling them about online training that they must complete by Nov. 1. This training is very important to our Clery Act compliance and to the safety of our students and our campus community.
As we approach the mid-point of the semester, we should be proud of what we have accomplished thus far. I look forward to continuing to work with you to do great things. Thanks for all you do for our University.