New renovation funding announced, and more good news to share

Good afternoon fellow Lions,

With Finals Week upon us and the Spring semester coming to a close, I’d like to update you on a few items of interest for our campus community.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

This has been a very good legislative year for us, as all of our priorities were approved in part or in full.

State Budget

  • We received access to the Regional Center Building across Newman Road that will facilitate a doubling of the size of our current Child Development Center (CDC) and allow them to vacate the Taylor Ed/Psych building.
  • HB3 included a $2 million new decision item for our base budget to pay for the relocation of the CDC and to move the Psychology Department to the Taylor Ed/Psych building, along with funding the needed expansion to accommodate their growing programs (HB3 has been signed by the Governor).
  • Also, I wanted the campus to be the first to know that HB18 is out of Conference and has cleared both Chambers of the General Assembly and is on the Governor’s desk waiting to be signed later today. It includes $9.3 million for “planning, design, renovation and construction of Reynolds Hall.” Added to last year’s $8.22 million, this gives us more than $17 million to renovate and expand Reynolds. A sorely needed project if ever one existed.

These are fiscal lifelines for us at a time when we really need the assistance, so please make sure to thank our local legislative delegation, and the Governor, if and when opportunities arise.

“Campus Carry” Legislation

The latest version of the concealed carry on campus legislation appears to limit weapons to permit-holding faculty and staff only. If this is the case, then I think we have cleared a major hurdle by keeping guns out of students’ hands in our residence halls. If this legislation passes, it could still be vetoed and it’s anyone’s guess whether or not enough override votes exist to make the law take effect.

“15 to Finish Act”

We were successful in removing the “banded tuition” requirement of SB997 that would limit colleges and universities to only charging tuition for the first 12 credit hours and allowing up to 17 hours to be taken for the base price. However, the bill contains several other aspects that clearly point toward a 120-hour baccalaureate degree, required programs of study, identified supplemental instruction plans and other items that could easily be viewed as encroachments on Academic Freedom.

COMPETITION WINNERS

It’s always a pleasure to celebrate our students’ success as they put their knowledge to the test. Recently, we’ve had students recognized for accomplishments that are of special note.

Statewide Math Competition

A team from Missouri Southern achieved a perfect score and tied with competition powerhouse Washington University during the 21st annual Missouri Collegiate Mathematics Competition last month in St. Joseph.

Andrew Stokes, Sam Heil and Keith Geller.
Andrew Stokes, Sam Heil and Keith Geller.

It was the first perfect score and the first tie for first place in the competition’s history. The team of Andrew Stokes, Keith Geller and Sam Heil (a dual-credit student from Joplin) defeated their counterparts from William Jewell College, St. Louis University, Truman State University and Missouri Academy.

The winning schools, led by Missouri Southern, included:

  • 1st Place (Tie): Missouri Southern State University
  • 1st Place (Tie): Washington University in St. Louis
  • 3rd Place: Missouri Academy
  • 4th Place: Washington University in St. Louis
  • 5th Place: Truman State University
  • 6th Place: Truman State University
  • 7th Place: Saint Louis University
  • 8th Place: William Jewell College

Other participants: College of the Ozarks, Drury University, Mineral Area College, Missouri Academy, Missouri Science & Technology, Missouri State University, Missouri Western State University, Northwest Missouri State University, Park University, Saint Louis Community College, St. Louis University, Southeast Missouri State University, Truman State University, University of Central Missouri, University of Missouri-Columbia, Westminster College, and William Jewell College.

As Dr. Rich Laird said, “This tie is sort of like our football team beating the Chiefs.” What an incredible accomplishment!

NASBITE 

As the winning team, the students were presented with a check for $1,000 by Tom Lix, founder of Cleveland Whiskey.
Students were presented with a check by Tom Lix, founder of Cleveland Whiskey.

Just as impressive was the win by students from the Plaster School of Business during the recent NASBITE International Student Case Competition in Newport, Rhode Island.

This was only the second year for the contest hosted by the National Association of Small Business International Trade Educators, and it was held as part of the group’s international conference.

The team of Holly Loncarich, Josh Foster, Cynthia Salas, Aliza Fahle and Viktoryia Johnson made their pitch for the Ohio-based Cleveland Whiskey company to expand into the Asian market, including recommendations on branding, pricing and distribution.

The Missouri Southern team was selected as one of the top three teams (along with the University of Northern Iowa and Youngstown State University). After making their presentation to company officials, they were selected as the winners of the competition for the second straight year.

Congratulations to Dr. Chris Moos for putting together another winning team!

JIM FRAZIER JOINS HALL OF FAME 

Next month, former Athletics Director and football coach Jim Frazier will be inducted into the MIAA Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Kansas City.

Coach Frazier left a lasting legacy at Missouri Southern, not only as our winningest football coach who led his team to the NAIA title in 1972, but as a champion for the continued success of our athletics program. He helped with the development and improvement of several campus facilities, including Young Gymnasium, the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center, Fred G. Hughes Stadium, and the recently opened on-campus baseball stadium – Warren Turner Field. During his tenure as Athletics Director, we won 23 conference championships and one NCAA Division II national championship.

The Hall of Fame honor is well-deserved, and I want to extend my congratulations and thanks to Jim for his years of service to Missouri Southern. If you’re interested in attending the ceremony on June 1, you can make a reservation at http://www.themiaa.com/sb_output.aspx?form=4.

SELF-INSURANCE PROPOSAL

While we continue to look for answers to escalating health insurance costs, an interesting discussion on self-insurance is underway. Last month, the MSSU Board of Governors heard a proposal on the topic and approved the engagement of Gallagher & Associates to serve as consultants for the Insurance Committee as they wrestle with the various considerations that must be contemplated.

Currently, no recommendations have been forwarded by the Insurance Committee, but they are working hard to find solutions to our health insurance challenges.

PHASED RETIREMENT

One of the most promising new programs we’ve seen of late has been the new Phased Retirement option for employees who are eligible for retirement but are interested in half-time each week.

Under the new plan, retirees keep their full health benefits and remain working for 20 hours a week up to three years while drawing their retirement income. This is a great new option for employees who want move gradually into retirement. And, it allows the University to give new faculty members the opportunity to work side by side with our valued veterans.

At yesterday’s annual Retiree Reception, we honored them as well as those choosing full retirement for their many years of faithful service to the institution. This is a promising program and one we plan to continue.

GREAT GAME OF EDUCATION GGOE_Combo

Significant steps are being made toward the rollout of the Great Game of Education for the entire campus – an effort led by Scott Cragin and Jeff Gibson.

The Culture Committee has been formed as a representative body to review training materials. At the same time, the Financial Training Team has begun meeting and learning to understand the top-level scoreboard and how to educate our campus community on how their departments and offices affect those numbers.

Gibson, our director of budget and operations and co-coordinator of the Great Game at Missouri Southern, said that the goal is to begin offering financial training to the campus by September.

Keep your eye out for more information on this innovative program, which will serve as a framework to bolster the University’s financial future.

ITS FRIDAY

The third of our ITS Friday presentations was held last week, with Dr. Conrad Gubera reflecting on his 50 years at Missouri Southern. Over the past few months, we’ve heard from several great faculty members – Dr. David McKee, who gave a presentation about a particle camera project undertaken by several of his students, as well as Dr. Joy Dworkin, who presented “Other Voices: My Trip to Israel-Palestine with Interfaith Peace-Builders.”

The “Ideas That Stick” events are designed to give faculty, staff and administrators a chance to get together, share ideas, learn something new, and generally enjoy a collegial afternoon with their colleagues. And by that measure, it has been a tremendous success.

I want to thank Conrad, David and Joy for their wonderful presentations, and I look forward to the ITS Friday program flourishing in the coming semesters.

COMMENCEMENT

Don’t forget that our 2016 Spring Commencement ceremonies will be held on Saturday, May 14. There will be two ceremonies: The School of Arts & Sciences and School of Health Sciences will be at 9:30 a.m., and the School of Business and School of Education at 1 p.m.

Watching our students complete the journey they’ve undertaken at Missouri Southern is one of the most gratifying experiences we as educators can have. I hope you’ll make plans to join in the ceremony and celebration.

I want to offer my thanks to each of you for your efforts in and out of the classroom this semester. The work you do day in and day out is what drives this institution forward, and your efforts are greatly appreciated.

Have a safe and relaxing summer!

Alan