Welcome back!

I’d like to take a moment to welcome everyone back for the Spring 2015 semester. We are off to a great start, and I want to take this opportunity to review a few items of interest to the campus community.

Personnel announcements

The search is continuing for a new Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs. Telephone interviews with select candidates started this week and will conclude next week. We plan to use the telephone interviews and reference checking process to develop a list of five (5) candidates to invite to campus for face-to-face interviews with the search committee, meetings with the Dean’s Council, faculty forums, etc. The search is on schedule and we expect to name someone to the position by mid-March. I’d like to offer a note of gratitude to the members of our great search committee who are working very diligently to identify the best candidates for the job. A special thank you goes to committee co-chair, Dr. Michael Garoutte, for the extra effort he has given to this important work.

New HR Director Evan Jewsbury
New HR Director Evan Jewsbury

We have successfully completed the search for our new Human Resources Director. Evan Jewsbury will be joining us from NEO A&M College on Feb. 16. A graduate of Missouri Southern, he brings a strong background in HR to the table. We look forward to having him rejoin the Lion family.

I’d also like to congratulate JoAnn Graffam, who has been named Senior Director of Donor Engagement for the Wichita State University Foundation. JoAnn notified us in October that she would be leaving her position as Director of the Missouri Southern Foundation, which gave MSSU and the Missouri Southern Foundation Board (which pays half of the salary for the position) time to explore options for her replacement. We’re grateful for her professionalism and service to Missouri Southern and wish her all the best at Wichita State.

Accordingly, we have identified an extraordinarily well-qualified candidate for her replacement and we plan to fill the position very soon. I also want to give a huge tip of the hat to Dr. John Tiede for stepping in and doing a great job as Interim Vice President for Development and Foundation Director.

Finally, I’d like to again congratulate Dr. Wendy McGrane, who will begin her duties as Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs on July 1. We’re very pleased she accepted the position and look forward to working closely with her going forward.

Graduate programs

To guide and support our new graduate programs, a Graduate Council has been formed and is being chaired by Dr. Tia Strait. The council is busy working to create clear and forward-looking policies, and our first graduate catalog is being assembled.

The university added two new graduate programs in 2014 – a Master of Science in Education-Curriculum and Instruction, and a Master of Accountancy. We’re actively pursuing the approval of additional programs, including a Master of Management degree.

Great Game of Education

Work continues on adapting the Great Game of Business for a first-of-its-kind application in a university setting.

A “critical number workshop” was held on Jan. 13, and the team is forwarding its recommendation to the Financial Stability Committee.

Also, seven members of our faculty and staff attended Great Game workshops in Springfield earlier this month. The workshops were filmed by members of the University Relations & Marketing staff.

The Design Team will meet again at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 29. We are looking forward to rolling out the program as a framework for strengthening Missouri Southern’s financial future in an open, transparent, and effective manner.

Legislative matters 

Gov. Jay Nixon
Gov. Jay Nixon

As you may have seen in the news, Gov. Jay Nixon delivered his State of the State address Wednesday evening in Jefferson City.

His budget calls for a small increase in appropriations for Missouri Southern, but we will still be hampered by the tuition restrictions imposed by SB389. As you know, this statute links tuition increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), and we have been notified that the official CPI calculation comes in at 0.8%. Using this small CPI figure, we calculate that we will only be able to recommend no more than $1.79/credit hour increase to the Board of Governors.

However, during the Governor’s address, he referenced efforts to upgrade university facilities and equipment needed to prepare students for high-tech jobs. During his visit last fall, Governor Nixon announced that he will request more than $5.2 million in funding to help with much-needed renovations to Reynolds Hall. We are very hopeful this funding will work its way through the legislative process and be signed into law as soon as possible. It’s a project that is long overdue and will greatly improve the programs that help prepare our students studying biology, environmental health, chemical and physical science, and mathematics.

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As always, I want to thank each of you for the terrific work you do on behalf of our students.

I hope you are as proud as I am to call yourself a Lion!