A few words before spring break

As we head into spring break, I wanted to take a moment remind you of how much I appreciate your hard work and to say a few words regarding some important developments on campus.

Remembering Dr. Al Cade cade3

Al was a great mentor and friend to his students and colleagues over the years, and a true inspiration to our Lion family. He was a significant force in the development of the initial graduate degrees in the School of Education – he guided the university’s Master of Science in Education-Curriculum & Instruction degree through the approval process, as well as the new Master of Science in Education-School Administration degree, which has received provisional approval from the Missouri Department of Higher Education.

The imprint he left behind will be a lasting one, both professionally and personally. Therefore, I am very pleased to announce that Al will be honored as Missouri Southern’s recipient of the 2015 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. We believe this is a most fitting recognition for the great Dr. Al Cade.

Football turf donation

A formal announcement will be made soon, but I want to thank Mercy Hospital Joplin for a sponsorship that will result in new turf for the football field at Fred G. Hughes Stadium.

The design for the new turf at the football stadium.
The design for the new turf at the football stadium.

 

The sponsorship will result in new, state-of-the-art turf, for which a design has already been approved. As Athletic Director Jared Bruggeman said recently, the new addition to the field – as well as the new end-zone field house currently under construction – will be a great thing for our student-athletes, the university and community as a whole.

Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs

The final candidate for the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs position – Dr. Paula Phillips Carson – will visit campus this week. A forum for faculty and staff members will be offered at 3:15 p.m. Friday, March 13, in Corley Auditorium.

If you weren’t able to attend the recent forums for finalists Dr. Howard Smith, Dr. Lisa Boyd Cobb and Dr. Joseph Bessie, they were recorded and can be viewed via the following link:

https://intranet.mssu.edu/provost/default.aspx?RootFolder=%2Fprovost%2FProvost%2FVideos

We have four great candidates for the position, and you are encouraged to attend the all-faculty meeting set for 3 p.m. Monday, March 23, in Phelps Theater to weigh in on the search.

Tuition

As we continue to move forward toward a sustainable financial future, a significant tuition increase is an issue that must remain on the table.

While we are fully mindful of the need to contain the cost of higher education for our students, we must also remain fully mindful of keeping the doors open. Accordingly, we need to start thinking in terms of a fairly substantial tuition increase for 2016-17 (probably in the 12% range). This idea was introduced earlier at the All Faculty meeting in January and it has been briefly addressed by the Board of Governors, but over the next year we need to make it a front-burner issue because it is apparent that we cannot rely on stable state appropriations nor can we expect that particular revenue source to return to historic and/or adequate levels.

For several years now we have suffered from restricted state appropriations coupled with the crippling effect of tuition cap legislation that limits tuition increases to CPI (with a tiny adjustment for those of us under the state tuition average). The result has been the constant and compounding erosion of our ability to gather the funds needed to adequately serve our deserving student body. Currently, we have the lowest combined “tuition and state appropriations per FTE” of any public university in Missouri. This condition must change.

Legislative Activity

It appears things are continuing to move in a positive direction for the $5.2 million in “maintenance and repair” funding that will help us make some critical improvements to Reynolds Hall. The proposed legislation is steadily working its way through the General Assembly and Governor Nixon endorsed our project during his visit to campus last fall. This desperately needed renovation is long overdue, and we’re looking forward to launching the project as soon as possible.

I’m also including a link to an informative letter from Kyna Iman – Missouri Southern’s representative for governmental affairs in Jefferson City. She offers regular legislative updates for the university.

You can read the letter by clicking here.

Faculty Fridays

Finally, I’d like to share an idea that emerged after speaking with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee recently.

Taking place on the afternoon of perhaps one Friday per month, Faculty Friday would feature a standing opportunity for our faculty members to gather for a “TED Talk”-style presentation. Each month, a different member of the faculty would provide a brief presentation about a topic of interest in a specific area of expertise… followed by a question and answer session… and a time to socialize while enjoying some wine and cheese.

The Faculty Friday idea is conceived as a time of intellectual stimulation, social interaction and general decompression. I’ll share more with you about this as we move forward with the idea and as always I would appreciate your ideas and feedback.

Thank you for all that you do. Enjoy your spring break!