UM System Board of Curators elects new leadership, discusses strategic priorities

Friday, December 7, 2012 | 4:18 p.m. CST

ST. LOUIS — University of Missouri System campuses moved one step closer to finalizing their strategy statements at the UM System Board of Curators meeting on Friday.

Representatives from each institution presented drafts of the statements to the curators for feedback during the second day of the board's December meetings at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

The short statement, required by the system, must describe how each institution will define itself within the system, compete with other universities nationally and achieve specified goals over the next five years.

"If you expect to succeed in the marketplace, you have to develop strategies and initiatives to overcome the challenges of that marketplace," UM System President Tim Wolfe said when describing his rationale for strategic planning.

Instead of providing amorphous objectives, such as "increase the number of qualified graduates," Wolfe has advised that each statement set a metric that is time-bound and measurable, such as "increase enrollment to 20,000 by 2020," according to meeting documents.

He emphasized that the statements do not change the mission or values of the universities. Instead, he said, the statements define the competitive plan that will drive the universities over the next five years.

Ratifying a strategy statement is the first step in Wolfe's strategic planning process, introduced in September. The president introduced an idea earlier this year that would use these statements to distribute state funding.

The president's unfinished plan would withhold five to 10 percent of any increase in state funding after the current fiscal year, UM System Spokeswoman Jennifer Hollingshead said in November. That money would be reallocated to campuses based on how well they meet the goals outlined in their strategy statements.

Hollingshead added that this plan will not cause any changes until at least 2015 because the campuses are still developing strategic statements, and the system is predicting no change in state support for the 2014 fiscal year. The curators discussed tuition and fee raises to counter stagnant state funding at their meeting Thursday.

Each UM institution is required to present a finalized strategic statement to Wolfe by June 2013, according to meeting documents. 

In Wolfe's report to the curators, he outlined his "holiday wish list" of issues to be addressed in the coming year. He also gave updates on the system's progress in meeting his six strategic priorities.

The president's wish list included:

  • Continuing the "momentum" of the board after the governor fills two empty curator seats.
  • Educating rural Missourians on higher education funding issues after the failure of Proposition B in November. The tobacco tax increase was expected to create between $280 and $420 million for public education. Wolfe said he wants to educate people on the benefits of investing in education such as job growth. 
  • Improving college-readiness for incoming students and retention for returning students to contribute to President Barack Obama's goal that 60 percent of Americans have a college degree.
  • Showing the Missouri legislature that the UM System is a smart investment by spending money more efficiently and addressing deferred maintenance issues. The system saved more than $80 million in 2012 by reducing costs and increasing revenue, according to a news release from the system, and has saved more than $410 million since 2009.

What's on your wish list for the UM System? Share your ideas here.

The president also highlighted how the system is working to meet the strategic priorities he set during his first board of curators meeting after taking office as president.

He mentioned that strides had been taken to attract and retain strong employees. He cited a retirement plan that took effect on Oct. 1 for more than 250 new employees. Another example was the streamlining of employee management procedures into electronic form, predicted to save the system $2 million a year.

Chairman David Bradley praised Wolfe's first year: "I don't believe he sees this job as a stepping stone to his later career. If he plays his cards right, he can give the university a long-term perspective that many of our past presidents could not."

Wolfe also spoke about a new classroom model developed at the Missouri University of Science and Technology that will be applied to other campuses, filling the priority for innovative instruction. The model reduced the number of faculty needed to teach large freshmen-level courses by giving students the option to view lectures independently and work in groups.

The board discussed the strategic planning priority at length when it heard representatives of each campus present drafts of their school's strategic statements.

The board also chose new leadership for 2013; Chairman Bradley and Vice Chairman Wayne Goode's terms will end in January. Goode moved up to take the position of chairman; St. Louis attorney Don Downing was elected as vice chairman.

Before his appointment to the board of curators in 2009, Goode served in the Missouri General Assembly for 41 years. He represented St. Louis County as a Democrat in the Missouri Senate and House and served as Senate appropriations chair from 1995 to 2000, according to the UM System website.


Goode, left, at the University of Missouri System Awards Dinner on June 16, 2011. Image courtesy of the UM System's flickr page.

Goode is an MU alumni. He earned a bachelor's degree in banking and finance, and holds an honorary law degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Downing is an attorney from Webster Groves, where he is vice president of the personal injury attorney firm Gray, Ritter and Graham, P.C. He also has experience in Missouri government after serving as chief deputy attorney general from 1993 to 1995, when current Gov. Jay Nixon was attorney general, according to the law firm's website.


Downing, right, and Chairman David Bradley and the University of Missouri System Awards on June 16, 2011. Image courtesy of the UM System's flickr page.

Downing earned both his bachelor's degree in economics and law degree from MU.

The chairman of the board presides over meetings and carries out any duties the board assigns them, according to the board of curators' bylaws. The vice chairman takes over those duties if the chairman is unable to complete them.

"For all of us, I think it's safe to say that not only has this been a labor of love, but also the high point of our lives," Bradley said about concluding his year as chairman.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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