Chancellors to unveil strategy statements at Board of Curators meeting

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 | 7:57 p.m. CDT; updated 7:23 a.m. CDT, Thursday, April 11, 2013

COLUMBIA — The four chancellors of the University of Missouri System will each unveil a short statement Friday that will help shape the future of their institutions.

These "strategy statements" act as blueprints, so to speak, for system and campus priorities in the future, UM System spokeswoman Jennifer Hollingshead said.

Required by the system as part of its larger strategic planning effort, the statement must describe how each institution will define itself within the system, compete with other universities nationally and achieve specified goals over the next several years. 

These presentations will outline the strategy statements in general terms and open the floor for discussion at the regularly scheduled UM System Board of Curators meetings Thursday and Friday at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.  The meeting starts at 11:30 a.m. Thursday. In June, the chancellors will return to the curators and provide a detailed plan that explains how each institution will meet the objectives defined in the statement.

Instead of providing amorphous objectives, system President Tim Wolfe has advised that each statement set a metric that is time-bound and measurable, such as increasing enrollment by a certain amount by 2020, according to meeting documents.

The statements could have budgetary implications as well.

If the system receives more money from the state than it did in fiscal year 2013, the additional money might be distributed to the institutions based on the criteria defined in these strategy statements, Wolfe said.

Tom Phillips, a professor of biological sciences at MU, co-chaired a committee that drafted MU's strategy statement.

"The statement will help drive decisions in the future: where we'll move money, what are the highest priority items, and then what are the lower priority items that require us to make tough decisions," Phillips said.

MU Chancellor Brady Deaton formed the committee of 14 faculty, staff and administrators last October, Phillips said. Since then, the committee has received input on drafts of the strategy statement from Faculty Council , Missouri Students Association and open forums for faculty and staff.

"There are lots of different stakeholders and our job was to balance the competing needs of the different groups," Phillips said. 

Phillips said it's critical to make the statement as realistic as possible.

"Administrators have to make decisions," he said. "This (the strategy statement) is a way we can identify things so we can come back and say, 'Why aren't these things being done?' 

"Dollars are limited and state support has dwindled, so it's important to use resources in an efficient way," 

State support at MU has dropped by 12 percent since 2001, according to MU Budget Director Rhonda Gibler.

The decrease in state support is a trend that Deaton will identify when he addresses the curators on Friday.

At Thursday's meeting, the curators will review the preliminary budget for fiscal year 2014. In February, the curators agreed on a 1.7 percent increase in tuition and fees for resident, undergraduate students.

Supervising editor Elizabeth Brixey.

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Ellis Smith April 11, 2013 | 12:54 a.m.

How much longer do we intend to maintain the fiction that some meaningful relationship exists between the four campuses that compose this bogus "system"? There isn't any, and there hasn't been any since a second campus was chartered in 1870. That's now been 143 years.

Maybe we should wait another 7 years until that campus celebrates its sesquicentennial and then end this long-running farce.

When it comes to higher education, bigger is not necessarily better - its just bigger, and if size attracts increased public funding, this pathetic "system" should be awash with public funding.

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