We’ve cut the ribbon on Nixon Hall, learned that Dr. AmyKaye Cole will be honored with the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, hosted the Higher Learning Commission site visit team, updated our recently elected members of the General Assembly on our priority issues, and spent 30 minutes or so in private conversation with Governor Parson and Senator Blunt, who were on campus for a meeting of the Hawthorn Foundation. And, of course, we’ve enjoyed watching our athletic teams compete successfully in the conference and region.
As you are all aware, the Strategic Plan we worked on last year and implemented this spring focuses the efforts of the entire campus on “Stage 2” of the Great Game by identifying the retention portion of sub-goal 1a as a campus-wide objective.
While the metric for sub-goal 1a is “fall-to-fall” retention, I am delighted to report an intermediate milestone was recently achieved. The Office of Institutional Effectiveness reports that our “fall-to-spring” retention of First Time/Full Time/Baccalaureate Seeking (FTFTBS) students reached what appears to be an all-time high this spring. The report states, “The final census read is 86.2%. The last cohort we retained at 86% was the 2008 cohort. Great news!”
Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
In my experience, our recent HLC site visit was exceptional and very impressive. While obviously finding some issues (state funding questions, heavy faculty loads, etc.), the team summary thoughts during the exit interview were very positive. And, they also noted that they were pleased when the open sessions revealed that the issues they were going to comment on are already well understood by the campus community and are being worked on currently. We expect a positive recommendation letter from the site visit team, which will be advanced to the Institutional Actions Council for review, with the final accreditation recommendation arriving in six to eight weeks.
Everyone on campus should be very proud of the work we have put in to make this visit a positive experience for the team, but a special tip of the hat must go to Dr. Carson and Dr. McGrane for the enormous amount of work they put into this effort.
Paid Parental Leave
I recently learned that MSSU may be the first public university in Missouri to implement paid parental leave for the benefit of new parents and their children (biological, adopted or foster children). Even if we are not the first, we are among the first, and we should be very proud that we support the bonding that is necessary for healthy adjustment as children enter a family. Frankly, this employee benefit is not a “cost item.” Rather, it is an “investment” in our greatest asset … our people!
As we held our annual meeting with local members of the General Assembly, it was obvious we have an eager and supportive delegation. Even with several new faces at the table, it was clear that we will have a strong voice in Jefferson City again this year. It’s too early in the session to address any potential legislation, but we can confirm that Southwest Missouri will again be well represented.
As some of you know from my recent report to the Board of Governors, in May of last year the Supreme Court struck down the 25 year old federal law known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) that mostly outlawed sports betting anywhere outside of Nevada. Known as the “Murphy decision,” the hurdles have now been cleared for wagering on all types of sporting events … and virtually all elements of sporting events.
No distinctions are made between professional, amateur, or even youth events … sports betting is legal at all levels and basically for every type of activity on the court, field, track, course or diamond. To add another layer of intrigue, tech-savvy individuals can make wagers on their handheld devices and have money transferred to online bookies directly from their bank accounts. Four states have already written laws to tax the sports wagering activity and several others are lined up to follow suit. So, this appears to be one of the new frontiers of sports that currently has very few boundaries.
Accordingly, we need to be extra vigilant about reminding students of the dangers of gambling addiction. And, as with any other addiction, if a student or colleague self identifies as having a problem, please promptly refer them to the Counseling Center for help and/or referral to other service providers.
It appears that Lori’s DBS surgery will occur as scheduled in Feb. 20. We would both like to thank each of you for the words of encouragement, cards, notes, and yes … many ear rings that have bolstered her confidence and touched her in such a deep and meaningful way.
I’m convinced there is no greater group of people on earth than the faculty and staff of Missouri Southern State University!
It’s a Great Day to be a Lion!