Springing into Summer

As the spring semester draws to a close, I wanted to take a few moments to update you regarding issues that are important to the Lion family.

KCU Medical School 

Like me, you’ve probably followed with great interest the announcement that the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences (KCU) will open a Joplin campus in August 2017. The campus will be located in Mercy’s former component hospital and will enroll 150 students per year.

KCUMB will open in 2017 in Mercy's former component hospital.
KCU will open in 2017 in Mercy’s former component hospital.

The arrival of KCU will undoubtedly put added pressure on our science programs and the already overcrowded Reynolds Hall. But, I think we should view this as a long-term positive for us because Missouri Southern is already well known for an exceptionally high caliber pre-med program, and the arrival of a new medical school will only strengthen our reputation and help attract ultra high-performing students.

An analysis by the National Community Development Services Inc., on behalf of the Joplin Medical School Alliance, estimates that Missouri Southern and Pittsburg State will enroll a projected 700 additional students in the pre-med fields. So, we not only need the $5.2 million in Maintenance and Repair funding currently being debated in the Missouri General Assembly… we also need to be contemplating a targeted capital campaign for the expansion of Reynolds Hall. Stay tuned!

Legislative Update 

As you recall, the Governor’s budget recommendation back in January called for a very small 1.3% increase for higher education next year, the House of Representatives recommended 1.9%, and the Senate passed a 3% increase. However, the Conference Committee reverted back to the original 1.3%.

To make matters worse for MSSU, we were only granted credit for meeting 4 out of 5 performance funding measures. The measure we were penalized for missing concerned financial accountability and keeping tuition below the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The confounding part of the calculation used by the Department is that they somewhat randomly use data from the 2011-12 academic years. And, this happens to be the year when the Department granted a waiver for the additional tuition increase due to the devastating tornado.

To make the situation even less defensible, the idea of performance funding had not been addressed in 2011-12, so calculating a future penalty could not be contemplated. Nonetheless, after months of futile protest the Department concluded that our increase will be limited to 0.95% next year as a result of meeting only 4 out of 5 performance funding measures.

This disappointing increase will make budgeting very tricky going forward, but it does make a strong argument for a significant tuition increase to replace lost state funding (even if a waiver is denied and we are forced to pay the one-time penalty of 5% of our appropriation). Again, stay tuned!

Reynolds Hall (legislative update #2)

As of this writing, HB19 is rapidly moving through the Senate and appears to be on its way to the Governor’s desk for signing (of course, there could still be unforeseen circumstances arise that serve to torpedo the bill).

However, the pleasant surprise is that not only does HB19 contain the $5.2 million we requested for maintenance and repair, it also contains the $1.5 million we requested in “50/50 money” (which would require a $1.5 million local match from private donations). So, in total we could end up with $8.2 million for the renovation of Reynolds Hall! And, we are very confident the matching dollars can be raised from our very supportive donor base.

Keep your fingers crossed that this one makes it through the legislative process unscathed and is signed into law by the Governor.

Great Game of Education 

We continue to move forward with the Great Game of Education and the desire to creatively use open-book management here at Missouri Southern. GGOE_Combo

The Design Team recently held its final meeting to work on putting together a University Council (UC). The UC will essentially be our “top-level” huddle that will represent the campus for this initiative.

I’ll be working with the President’s Council to help establish the UC and plan our first Great Game huddle for the fall.

We’re also continuing to send representatives from campus to train with our Great Game of Business friends in Springfield. Because we’ve had people step forward, we’ll soon be able to begin offering “train the trainer” workshops here on campus, so that those who have already become acquainted with the Great Game concepts can talk to others about MiniGames, the scoreboard, critical number, etc.

Jeff Gibson and Scott Cragin continue to work on the top level university scoreboard – which will allow all of our employees to go line-by-line to see the revenue and expense components that affect Operating Cash (our critical number).

We’re on the ground floor of the Great Game of Education and all of us have a voice and vested interest in Missouri Southern’s future. It will take all of us to implement it effectively and reach a more sustainable future, so be ready to “get in the game.”

You can find updates and more information about the Great Game of Education at www.mssu.edu/offices/president/ggoe/.

Faculty Handbook 

The proposed update to the faculty handbook recently passed a vote of the faculty and I want to thank everyone who made the commitment to address these much-needed revisions by serving on the Oversight Committee: Grace Ayton, Lorinda Hackett, Brian Nichols, Scott Wells, Wendy McGrane, Joy Dworkin, Michael Garoutte, Crystal Lemmons and Al Cade.

This was a huge undertaking and those mentioned above deserve credit for making it happen.

The revised handbook will go to the Board of Governors for consideration during their next meeting, scheduled for June 4.

Money Matters 

In my last column, I mentioned that we need to begin considering a substantial tuition increase for 2016-17.

One of the areas that has been impacted by the restricted state appropriations and limited tuition increases has been our ability to offer salary increases to our valued employees. A tuition increase would allow us to do more in this area, in addition to being better able to serve our student body.

Please know that you and your contributions to Missouri Southern are extremely valuable and that the administration is working tirelessly to find solutions that help our university in the long term and ensure that your contributions are rewarded.

ITS Friday 

Finally, I recently mentioned the desire to create a monthly event showcasing a presentation by a different member of the faculty – an idea that came from a conversation with the Faculty Senate’s executive committee. But, it was never intended to be an exclusive event … faculty and staff members are all welcome. So, if I offended anyone with the previous title I sincerely apologize.

The “TED Talk”-style events will be open to all university employees, and will be an opportunity for social interaction and intellectual stimulation. We’re moving forward with plans to launch “ITS Friday” for the fall semester, and I hope you all will join us.

Yes, it is pronounced “It’s Friday,” but the apostrophe is purposely omitted because the letters ITS represent an acronym … but you have to attend the first meeting next fall to see what the letters stand for.

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As always, thank you for all that you do on behalf of our students and the University. I hope everyone has a wonderful summer break!

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!

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!

Closing out the Fall 2014 semester

Four-year degrees

The importance of motivating students to not only graduate but graduate on time is addressed in a recent report by Complete College America. “Four-Year Myth” addresses ways that colleges and universities can help students and their families control the rising costs of higher education and student loan debt by providing them with a direct route to graduation. fourmyth

I encourage you to read through the report (http://completecollege.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/4-Year-Myth.pdf) and consider the suggestions offered for creating a path for reducing the cost of higher education and graduating more students … and helping them graduate on time.

Great Game progress

The Great Game of Education continues to take shape under the thoughtful guidance of Dr. Scott Cragin and Jeff Gibson. We had about 60 members of our campus community volunteer to serve on the design team, working to adapt the open-book management system for use here at Missouri Southern.

While it’s still a work in progress, a number of Great Game resources are available on SharePoint (https://intranet.mssu.edu/sites/TheGreatGameOfEducation/SitePages/Home.aspx). Check it out, and stay tuned for more information as this exciting initiative comes together.

Title IX training

You should have received an email recently informing you that Missouri Southern will offer mandatory webinar training for all staff members to stay in compliance with the federal requirements for Title IX.

The webinar will be offered from 9 to 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 18. If you haven’t registered, follow this link: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/756256222.

Specialized Title IX training for faculty members will be offered during the all-faculty meeting on January 9th.

Reynolds Hall renovations 

Dr. Crystal Lemmons gives Gov. Nixon a tour of areas in Reynolds Hall in need of renovation.
Dr. Crystal Lemmons gives Gov. Nixon a tour of areas in Reynolds Hall in need of renovation.

Thank you to everyone who attended Gov. Nixon’s announcement that he’s going to request more than $5.2 million in funding for renovations to Reynolds Hall.

It’s one of the oldest buildings on campus and the lab areas used by students are showing the many years of wear and tear. We’re pleased that the governor’s request has bipartisan support, including our local legislators, and hope that the state legislature moves quickly so we can get started on this critical project.

On a related note, Missouri Southern hosted approximately 50 of Missouri’s freshmen legislators from around the state earlier this week. Their statewide tour visited campus for lunch in Connor Ballroom and we were joined by our friends at Crowder College to speak with them about what each institution has to offer – independently and collaboratively.

Celebrating students

I would also like to take a moment to congratulate our students, who have had a great fall semester.

The men’s and women’s cross country teams made it to the 2014 NCAA Division II National Cross Country meet in Louisville, Ky., and our basketball teams are off to a strong start to the season. Our instrumental, choral and theater students have given the campus and local community some phenomenal performances recently.

The Southern Jazz Orchestra helped heat things up with their Swinging’ Holiday Show
The Southern Jazz Orchestra helped heat things up with their Swinging’ Holiday Show.

We’re also very proud of our Mock Trial team and the success they have had this fall. They’ll be competing in the Mid-Missouri Tournament next month as well as an event right here on campus before heading to the regional competition in February.

The items listed above  just scratch the surface of the numerous student accomplishments cataloged this fall and we are proud of each one!

Board presentations

I also wanted to give you a head’s up about a couple presentations planned for upcoming Board of Governors meetings.

During January’s meeting, Scott Snell – Director of Distance Learning – will speak about the exciting growth and development of online, ITV, blended formats and other delivery systems. The technological advances of the past couple of decades have combined to make distance education a vital component of today’s higher education platform.

The following month, the board will hear about our prairie preservation plan during a presentation by Dr. “Kip” Heth, Rob Yust and Randy Hasse, from the Missouri Department of Conservation. It’s important that we move to permanently protect a portion of the prairie land, because it is a unique asset to the university and one that we should preserve for future generations.

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Finally, I want to thank you for your service to our students and our University! Please have a safe and joyful holiday break.

Staying Connected

We live in a world that places a high value on staying “connected.”

Technology makes it easier every single day for us to connect with our friends, with our family and with those who share similar views and interests.

I want to use this new “Between the Lions” correspondence as a means to stay connected with you – whether you’re a member of our faculty and staff, a student, or a community supporter. It’s a way to keep you updated regarding issues and events that could have an impact on our campus – from building updates and accomplishments we want to celebrate, to fiscal matters and legislative initiatives, to the latest trends, issues and research in higher education.

Here are a few brief items I’d like to share with you in this initial issue:

Newly elected legislators will be on campus for a visit in early December as they travel around the state. In our brief time with them, we will make our best case for why we need their support at Missouri Southern. Since they won’t have time for a stop at Crowder College, we’ve invited representatives from Crowder to join us for the visit as well.

Maintenance and repair capital funding requests to the state continue to be a priority for us. We have prepared and submitted a $5.2 million request for renovations to Reynolds Hall – funds we would use to update laboratories and infrastructure in this critical but aging building. We’re also applying for a $1.5 million matching grant from the state that would be used for the same purpose. The grant requires a $1.5 million match in private donations, but I am confident we can raise the money (we have already started contacting prospective donors).

In the Missouri General Assembly the pre-filing of bills will start in December, and we will carefully monitor the ebb and flow of proposed legislation relating to higher education and other issues you may find of interest (retirement system changes, insurance modifications, K-12 issues, etc.).

As a reminder, Noel-Levitz will be on campus this Friday to offer morning and afternoon meetings designed to explain and discuss the work they accomplished, their recommendations, and current results. They will also present an abbreviated version of the report at the Board of Governors meeting this Friday at 1 p.m. Please make plans to attend one of these sessions.

Representatives from the Great Game of Business visited Missouri Southern recently to discuss how the plan can work for education.
Representatives from the Great Game of Business recently visited Missouri Southern.

I also want to keep our campus community updated as we begin to implement “The Great Game of Education” at Missouri Southern. Through open-book management practices, everyone will have a voice and a vested interest in our future. As an institute of higher education, we are pioneers in this area and we will carefully craft a system to fit our unique needs. This is a great opportunity, and I’m excited at how it is coming together. I look forward to hearing from you about this initiative.

I plan to offer periodic “Between the Lions” updates for you. My goal is to build and maintain the relationships that are so vital to the success of Missouri Southern State University. The word “connection” implies that communication should flow both ways, so I encourage your questions and comments. Feel free to email me at marble-a@mssu.edu or call my office at 417-625-9501.

These updates will be archived at http://president.mssu.edu for everyone to view.

Let’s stay connected!