More than 23,000 students throughout the Missouri State University System are expected to converge on campus next week for the start of fall classes. The total figure is projected to top enrollment from this time a year ago, according to President Clif Smart.
“On the Friday before classes to a year ago the Friday before classes we’re up in every category. We’re up in freshmen, we’re up in transfer students, we’re up in graduate students, we’re up in students of color, we’re up in international students,” Smart said.
He believes that many two and four year Missouri institutions will be down in numbers this year, but that MSU will be up due to its strong programs and affordability.
Like many universities starting classes next week, residence hall move-in is underway, and various activities are planned in the days to follow, including Missouri State’s New Student Convocation on Sunday, where alumnus and actor John Goodman will receive an honorary doctorate.
“We’re gonna do lots of activities around that. He’ll address the group at convocation – we’ve written it essentially around him, the whole hour – and so very excited about that. There’ll be a John Goodman film festival after that. He’s gonna interact with all the theatre students over lunch before that occurs.”
A big focus of this school year, says Smart, will also be on the university’s academic buildings. On August 1, the Board of Governors met and identified eight goals for the school year, including modest enrollment growth, generating new revenue, and making significant improvements to academic facilities over the next five years.
Pummill and McQueary halls will each receive renovations in the near future, where certain academic programs will be moved to make way for the school’s healthcare programs. Read more about facility upgrades in the August edition of Clif’s Notes.
“We will have grown 1,000 students studying in health care in the last five years. And we need to address some real space needs there. And so the Legislature has allocated some new money for that. We hope the Governor releases it and we’ll begin immediately working on that piece.”
Smart is referring to the $400 million in funding being withheld by Gov. Jay Nixon, accounting for four percent of the university budget, which comes amid cost concerns for the impact of HB 253. The tax cutting bill, which was vetoed by Nixon in June, could be overridden with a two-thirds majority of the Missouri House and Senate in September.
Hear the complete interview with President Smart, as part of our monthly program Engaging the Community, by clicking play above.