It is hard to believe a whole year has passed since I joined the Southern team as permanent President. This past year has brought many challenges and rewards, and I am confident Missouri Southern will continue to excel in all areas.
As another fiscal year draws to an end, the Board of Governors held their final meeting for FY15 on Thursday, June 4. The agenda for the board meeting covered a variety of topics including the budget for FY2016, which begins July 1. Even though the Board approved another deficit budget for FY16, the positive news is the budget has improved by more than 46% from the deficit budget adopted for FY15. I believe this improvement can be largely attributed to the hard work and creative innovations of the campus community. Everyone has worked together to help resolve continued budgetary challenges.
To show our appreciation to our employees, despite another difficult budget year, the administration asked the Board of Governors to approve a 1% salary increase effective July 1 for employees who were employed prior to April 1 (with a $300 minimum for full-time employees and a $150 minimum for part-time employees). I am delighted to report this salary increase was unanimously approved. This modest increase is certainly less than you deserve, but it’s a start and we intend to make greater progress toward better salaries as our financial condition improves.
Campus improvements continue
To recap last year, many accomplishments were made including embarking on the Great Game of Education, which will bring many new opportunities and involve all employees in improving the campus environment in a number of ways (including financial).
But, during the year just completed we finished construction of MSSU’s own baseball stadium (with donated funds), and enjoyed watching that team earn a conference championship and earn an NCAA tournament berth. The Athletics Fieldhouse, as well as the installation of new turf in the football stadium, will be complete and ready for the season opener this fall (these projects were made possible by private donations and a legacy appropriation acquired by Senator Nodler several years ago). We are also nearing completion of our new Residence Halls and a FEMA safe room that were financed through a combination of FEMA grant funds and bond proceeds. The bonds will be repaid by students living in the new complex, which by the way sold out on the very first day rooms became available!
In addition, Governor Nixon recently signed House Bills 17, 18 and 19, which are bonding and reappropriation bills for capital improvement projects. House Bill 17 contains $1.5 million for planning, design, renovation and construction of science laboratories in Reynolds Hall. The university must match these funds 50/50 with private contributions in order to draw down the state funds and we are already in fund raising mode for this project with several donations in the bank. House Bill 19 contains an additional $5.2 million for repair and renovations of Reynolds Hall and will dramatically improve our science labs and classroom facilities (these funds do not require a local match).
Welcome, Paula Carson / Thank you, Pat Lipira!
The Provost Search Committee devoted numerous hours to the business of identifying great candidates for the position being vacated by Dr. Lipira as she enters retirement.
And, as you know, Dr. Paula Carson accepted our invitation to join the Lion family. She will officially begin her new duties on July 1, but she has already been on campus several times and is completely engaged via email, text messaging, and occasional phone calls. While we look forward to welcoming Dr. Carson to the MSSU family, I also encourage you to take time to express appreciation to Dr. Pat Lipira for the great job she has done over the past few years as the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Pat brought stability, trust and a dynamic sense of humor to a post that sorely needed it.
Program prioritization and Faculty Handbook
The Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI)/Program Prioritization report was delivered to the Board of Governors on June 4th and will be discussed in detail at the August meeting. As CQI implies, this will be an ongoing effort but the report illustrates the great strides that have already been made and indicates the stage is firmly set for further improvements going forward. Dr. Crystal Lemmons deserves most of the credit for pulling this report together and we are very grateful for the time she spent in Hearnes Hall (on this and many other projects). The CQI report can be viewed at this link.
Perhaps most importantly, the faculty overwhelming adopted a new Faculty Handbook that raises the bar for our organization and will help lead us toward becoming the dynamic university we are destined to become. This effort was led by a tireless band of warriors who donated countless hours to the tedious and intricate work of the Faculty Handbook Committee. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude. However, the greatest praise came from the Board of Governors as they approved the new Handbook with nothing but compliments and gratitude.
I believe the future is extremely bright for Missouri Southern and I am more committed than ever to making this institution the “best of the best” as we move forward together. I am very grateful to have joined the Missouri Southern team during this extraordinary time in the history of the University, and I look forward to many exciting times ahead.
Please have a safe, joyful and relaxing summer.