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With the fall 2013 semester in full swing, Missouri State President Clif Smart presented his annual State of the University Address to faculty and staff. KSMU’s Scott Harvey was there and has this report.
Teaming with University Provost Dr. Frank Einhellig, the two spoke of the school’s achievements and future projects through the speeches’ “Thinking Bigger and Bolder” theme. Smart says that thinking begins in areas like enrollment and recruitment - which grew by nearly 800 students this year – but also includes, among other things, quality facilities, and achieving a more diverse faculty and staff and student body,
“On the Quality and rigor of our programs and classes—you know in Ozarks Culture, iCourse is a good idea. A massive open online class in Ozarks Culture taken by thousands and thousands of students around the world is a bolder idea,” Smart says.
The speech reflected on eight major goals for 2013-2014; which are enrollment, funding, accreditation, diversity and inclusion, student success, facilities and sustainability, athletics, and raising the profile.
Full-time faculty at MSU has grown by 18 since last fall. And according to Smart, professors that meet certain criteria are eligible to benefit through the Professor Salary Incentive Program. Applications are now open to full professors in rank five or more years, and will provide a minimum of 20, $5,000 awards. The program was proposed by a Faculty Senate committee.
“The expectation of faculty on this campus is that you’re in involved in all three of the major areas. You have to be involved in research, and in teaching, and in service, and you have to do all of those things at a high level,” Smart says.
One of the major unknowns going into this semester was whether the university would have the money to support some general operations and its Occupational Therapy Program. Millions were withheld by Gov. Nixon amid fear that an override of House Bill 253, which he vetoed, would deal a huge blow to the state budget. In particular, says Smart, it would have meant a revenue reduction at Missouri State of between $6-11 million annually, according to Nixon’s calculations, because of cuts to primarily business income taxes.
“That size of a cut would have been, in my view, catastrophic for us, on top of the $11 million in cuts we have already sustained over the last four years. Last week, his [Nixon’s] veto of that bill was sustained by 15 votes.”
Now, with the release of $3.1 million in general appropriations and $1.3 million of specific health care funds, MSU can move forward. But Smart is encouraging all sides to work together to find a comprised plan on tax reform that will not diminish state support for education.
“As quality education is the most important driver in economic development as we all know. And we need to avoid a repeat of this very divisive fight next year.”
Smart and Einhellig’s full speech on their eight goals for this school year through the “Bigger and Bolder” theme are available online and can be heard Thursday at 7 p.m. on KSMU. Ozarks Public Broadcasting will also air the speech on Sunday, beginning at 6 p.m.