Honoring the work of our legislators – and founders

Dear colleagues,

It’s been an exciting few weeks here at Missouri Southern! Before sharing with you some items of interest, I’d like to take a quick moment to revisit a topic that will certainly need to be addressed at some point… tuition.

Tuition

As we’ve often discussed, the desire of everyone at Missouri Southern is to be a high-quality, affordable option for students. But, consider the following chart that shows MSSU “tuition and required fees” lag all of our cohort institutions (Harris-Stowe is slightly lower, but they enjoy a great deal more in state appropriations per student than we receive). Our sister institution, Missouri Western, charges $20 per credit hour more than we do and they have higher fees.

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At some point, we will need to increase tuition to be more in-line with our cohorts – or we run the risk of failing to have sufficient resources to provide the high-quality educational experience our students deserve. Accordingly, we are brainstorming a variety of options to get out of this box and to avoid the penalties of SB389 that could cost us 5% of state appropriations. Stay tuned.

‘15 to Finish’

The Missouri Department of Higher Education has launched the “15 to Finish” initiative, and I had the opportunity to attend the statewide kickoff earlier this month at Missouri State University along with Dr. Carson, Dr. Creamer, Dr. Nicoletti, and Darren Fullerton.

The program encourages students to take at least 15 credit hours per semester in order to receive their bachelor’s degree in four years or an associate’s degree in two. When students take too long to complete their degree, they’re less likely to finish at all, which can cost themselves and the state more money.

The benefits of completing a degree on time are numerous, and I hope our students see that value as this messaging takes hold.

On a related note, Zora Mulligan was recently appointed commissioner of higher education. I have known Zora for a long time and applaud the board’s decision. We’ll be watching with interest to see how new initiatives such as “15 to Finish” take shape and make our students more successful.

Webster Medallion ceremony

Please mark your calendars for Tuesday, Nov. 15, as we welcome Sen. Ron Richard to campus to receive the inaugural Webster Medallion – an annual recognition for the work our legislators do on behalf of our university and the community in general.

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The award is named for the late Sen. Richard Webster, an influential legislator who helped guide us on the path to becoming a full-fledged university. Webster Hall, which houses our communication and social science programs, was named for him when it was opened in 1992.

We have invited Ron Richard’s Senate colleagues to be on hand for the ceremony, and we’re happy to be able to properly thank him for his support of Missouri Southern.

In the spring, we will be reviving the Annie Baxter Award.

Named for Annie Baxter – who became the first woman elected to public office when she became Jasper County Clerk in 1890 – the award goes to female public servants in recognition of their accomplishments. We’re excited to bring this award back.

More details about the Webster Medallion ceremony will be announced soon.

Nixon Hall

The Board of Governors recently voted unanimously to name the upcoming addition to Reynolds Hall for Go2016-05-11_MSSU Reynolds Boards_15-253.inddv. Jay Nixon. We deeply appreciate the governor’s efforts to garner bipartisan support for the project, as well as his service to Joplin following the tornado.

The new building will be located on the south side of Reynolds Hall and connect to it via a sky-bridge. It will provide additional classrooms, offices, and study spaces, bolstering our ability to meet the needs of students interested in high-demand STEM fields. A ground breaking date in early December is being contemplated by the Governor’s office. More information will be passed along as the date and time firms up.

Japanese Ambassador

We were very happy to welcome Kenichiró Sasae, Japanese Ambassador to the United States, to campus earlier this month as part of his Midwest tour of the country. The visit was arranged by Congressman Billy Long.

The economic, cultural, educational and strategic relationship between Japan and the United States is extremely important. It was a great honor to host the Ambassador and his wife at a luncheon in the North End Zone Facility and have him meet with our terrific group of Missouri Southern students from Japan.

Buchanan Mansion

The Lucius P. Buchanan mansion was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places, and I want to offer thanks on behalf of the campus to Brad Belk, director of the Joplin Museum Complex and a member of the Alumni Association board, for his efforts to make this happen. Brad’s 16-month effort to oversee the application process and guide it through the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office, then through the federal process, took a great deal of time and energy on his part.

The mansion, built in 1926, is an iconic building on this campus (plans for the transformation from a junior college to a four-year institution were made within its walls), and we’re thrilled to have distinction bestowed on the facility. Stop by the original entrance on the south side or at the entrance to the Alumni Association to view the plaques issued by the National Register.

Great Britain Semester

We have enjoyed a wonderful variety of programs offered as part of the themed semester this fall – including music, a play, films and presentations by guests and members of our own faculty.

You won’t want to miss two upcoming events that will wrap up this semester’s events. The Southern Symphony Orchestra will perform music from Great Britain during a concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4. They’ll be joined by Erik Peterson, a member of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

Charles Finch – author of “The Last Enchantments” – will visit campus on Nov. 16-17 to discuss and sign copies of his novel, and speak about the city of Oxford and creative writing about travel.

Great Game of Education

Thank you to everyone who completed the introductory training for the Great Game of Education. We’ve already passed the first two reward benchmarks, and everyone on campus has received a Lantern pin and food credit from Fresh Ideas. When we hit 80%, everyone will receive a T-shirt. We are currently at 70% and climbing!

I’d like to thank Scott Cragin and all the members of the Culture Committee and subcommittees for their efforts to roll this program out across campus. Giving everyone a better understanding of the university’s finances and their own role in creating the critical number helps us to chart a positive path forward.

If you haven’t heard, Scott has been invited to speak about GGOE during next summer’s EduTECH International Congress & Expo in Sydney, Australia. He will be speaking on how we have implemented this groundbreaking financial initiative – a first of its kind in higher education. We’ve also had inquiries from other universities about how they can also get involved.

If you haven’t already started the training, log in to Blackboard – it’s not too late to get in the game!

As always, I want to thank all of you for the important role you play on this campus. Your continued service to our students and Missouri Southern is truly appreciated.

Alan