Back to School Welcome scheduled, and other summer updates

Dear Fellow Lions,

First, let me thank all of you for your support and well-wishes during this difficult time for both me and the Marble family.

It’s never easy, losing someone so close to your heart. Your cards, condolences and kind words have helped to lift us up. Again, thank you so much.

I hope everyone is enjoying the summer. The high temperatures are going hand-in-hand with how things are heating up on our campus. There’s a lot going on – make no mistake, it’s a new day at Missouri Southern.

If you take a look around us, the news hasn’t been sunny for schools on the other side of the state lines. Budget difficulties have led to staffing cuts and increased tuition.

I’m happy to report, however, that this year, all of our requests from the state Legislature were funded. Money has been appropriated for important projects such as the Reynolds Hall renovation and expansion as well as our partnership with the University of Missouri-Kansas City to bring a dental program to our campus. The Fiscal 2017 budget approved by the Board of Governors includes a 2.25 percent across-the-board salary increase for all university employees. And, as we continue to greet new students enrolling for the fall semester, all signs are pointing to an increase in the number of new freshman over last year and strong enrollment overall.

All of this can be credited to the “forward thinking” mindset that we have embraced, as well as the willingness on the part of the Governor and the Legislature to work together to support higher education throughout the state in general, and Missouri Southern in particular.

AN INVESTMENT IN OUR CAMPUS

During his visit to campus earlier this month, Gov. Jay Nixon signed two bills that will provide funding for continued growth on our campus. House Bill 17 includes $6.7 million toward the work underway in Reynolds Hall, while House Bill 18 provides $9.3 million in additional capital improvement funding for a desperately needed expansion.

In his remarks, the governor termed it “an investment in Missouri Southern” that will pay dividends for many years to come.

Very well-stated.

Gov. Jay Nixon signed two bills providing money for Reynolds Hall.
Gov. Jay Nixon signed two bills providing money for Reynolds Hall.

The improvements to Reynolds will mean more classroom space, modern laboratories and new equipment. One of the oldest buildings on campus will soon sport a contemporary look along with the ability to meet the learning needs of our students.

House Bill 3, which was also agreed upon by the Governor and Legislature, means we can partner with the University of Missouri-Kansas City to bring a dental school to Missouri Southern. The bill provided $2 million in “core funding” to make that happen.

Missouri Southern has taken possession of about 2/3 of the Joplin Regional Center, located west of the Mills Anderson Criminal Justice Center. The Child Development Center will be relocated to that building – which, with improvements, will offer roughly double the current space and provide better facilities for pre-school students. Also, Brad Erwin of Paragon Architecture, is conducting a series of meetings with faculty and staff members of the Psychology Department to design the “renovation and new construction” needed for their transition back to the Gene Taylor building. As we have said all along, we intend for each unit to benefit from improved facilities as moves are made, so be prepared to be wowed when you see the new Psychology building and renovated space.

NEW HEALTH SCIENCES DEAN

Dr. Richard Schooler joined the Lion family earlier this month when he was named the new dean of the School of Health Sciences. He’ll be overseeing programs such as nursing, radiology, respiratory care, emergency services, and emerging programs of the future.

A longtime OB/GYN physician in Joplin, he was later named medical director and director of medical education for Freeman Health System.

Dr. Richard Schooler
Dr. Richard Schooler

In 2006, he became the hospital’s chief medical officer and in 2013 the executive vice president.

As we seek to capitalize on and enhance Joplin’s status as a health-care hub – Dr. Schooler brings a wealth of medical knowledge to the table, as well as invaluable management experience in the field of health care. As we continue our already outstanding efforts to serve as the leader in health-care education for the region, we look forward to the many contributions he can make toward those efforts.

THE GREAT GAME OF EDUCATION

We’re drawing ever closer to the campus-wide rollout of the Great Game of Education.

The open-book management principles outlined by businessman Jack Stack have never before been instituted in the higher-education field. As Dr. Scott Cragin has said, we are “pioneers” in this endeavor – one that will provide a clear line of sight in terms of how departments and individuals can impact the university’s financial status.

The GGOE Culture Committee has formed subcommittees that are focusing on training, mini-games and the rollout to campus. Each academic department will have its own operating statement, which will then fold into the university’s scoreboard. Dr. Paula Carson is working with the Culture Committee to identify a specific area that each department on campus will measure.

The Financial Training Team is working to “train the trainers.” Team members will make the rounds on campus to offer financial training and information everyone will need to know to get in the game.

Creating a culture of financial transparency will allow us all to see “the big picture” and clearly define our own roles within it.

The rollout committee is working on some fun ways to introduce the Great Game of Education to the entire campus, which brings me to …

THE INAUGURAL “BACK TO SCHOOL WELCOME”

In the past, these welcome-back sessions have been offered separately to members of the faculty and staff.

This year, we’ll bring everyone together for the Fall 2016 Back to School Welcome. It will be held at 8:30 am, Friday, Aug. 19, in Taylor Performing Arts Center. Having everyone together helps foster the sense of community on our campus as we present information of value to all.

Each member of the President’s Cabinet will offer a brief and informative update about their division. There will also be a rollout presentation for the Great Game.

The entire campus is invited to attend this meeting. Offices that must remain open at that time should plan to utilize a skeleton crew. Should you not be able to attend, make plans to attend the Spring 2017 session, as this is a meeting we will offer at the start of each semester.

NOTE: Faculty members please disregard the earlier notice that you should report to campus on Thursday – that was a miscommunication on my part. I’m sorry for the confusion. We will all meet only on Friday.

It’s an exciting time here at Missouri Southern, and I’m eager to continue this journey with you as we become the most open, forward thinking, and innovative university possible.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Alan