MU's new strategic plan to address enrollment, graduation time

Monday, November 4, 2013 | 4:52 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — MU will spend more than $300 million in the next five years to carry out a strategic plan to increase its ranking among the Association of American Universities.

The university is planning to hold public meetings about the five-year plan on Nov. 14 and Nov. 18.

If you go

What: Public meetings on the MU Strategic Operating Plan, which is intended to be open to revisions

When: 10:30 to noon Nov. 14 in Stotler Lounge of Memorial Union and 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Nov. 18 in Room S-203 of Memorial Union

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The MU Strategic Operating Plan: Providing Focus to 'One Mizzou' will devote the most funds, $162.3 million, to recruiting new faculty and staff.

Other goals are:

  • increasing interdisciplinary and hands-on learning experiences for undergraduate, graduate and professional students;
  • strengthening the diverse culture surrounding faculty and staff, which means trying to recruit from outside Missouri;
  • providing facilities capable of accommodating innovative MU research;
  • freeing up revenue to allow for new investments.

The funding for this plan, called MUSOP, will come from a variety of sources such as student fees, private sources and new state funds. But the largest portion of funding, at more than $183 million of the total $300 million, is coming from budget reallocation.

This is money that now is being distributed to the deans of different colleges, said Tom Phillips, co-chairman of the planning committee. Over time, MU will take some of the money back and give it to people, such as researchers, with plans in place that match the strategic operating plan, he said.

"It is moving money around to be sure it is used in the most important areas," Phillips said.

The plan targets an increase in enrollment to 36,000 students from the current 34,658 and decreasing the average time it takes a student to graduate. It also aims for an increase in scholarly citations of work by tenured and tenure-track faculty to 100 per year by 2018 from the current 74 per year.

Phillips said if these goals are not met, MU will reevaluate where money is being spent and how to continue progress in the future.

This strategic plan is not MU's first. In 2011, MU created a plan called "One Mizzou: 2020 Vision for Excellence" to be achieved by 2020. Its purpose was to outline specific goals for the university after three years of input and discussion by administrators, faculty, staff and students.

The 2011 plan focused on expanding programs for all Missouri citizens, building on the Mizzou Advantage and ensuring resources were available to support growth in research and economic development.

The new plan does not replace the 2020 plan, but it is intended to provide a narrower set of goals. The 2020 plan is more global, Phillips said.

"It is the hottest focus of the moment," he said.

Marijo Dixon, member of the MU Strategic Planning and Resource Advisory Council, said that after Tim Wolfe became the new University of Missouri System president, he asked each campus to revisit its strategic plans and create an update.

In June 2012, MU's Strategic Workgroup started drafting the five-year plan by collecting feedback from stakeholders at the university.

Dixon represented MU staff on the Strategic Planning and Resource Advisory Council and voiced their concerns as the plan was being written. She said her main input was for the staff to be remembered.

"We like for them to remember that there are individuals that keep the school going even though they are not working in an academic capacity," Dixon said.

The new strategic operating plan was published on Oct. 15. Its website says the plan will continue to grow and work as a living document in the future, adapting to future needs of university stakeholders.

That is one of the reasons for two public meetings that will be held Nov. 14 and Nov. 18.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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Ellis Smith November 4, 2013 | 9:03 p.m.

Reducing the average time for graduation (BA/BS degree) could use attention at MANY domestic universities and colleges. The present statistics should be considered unacceptable when applied to full-time students.

There is something called "Parkinson's* Principle" that appears to apply to this situation. Simply stated, this principle says that the time actually taken to complete a task is often directly related to the time ALLOWED to complete that task. If someone believes he/she only has a short, but achievable, time in which to complete a task he/she is highly motivated to do so. The present system of student loans does not facilitate the situation, as it allows the student to run up larger future financial obligations (paying back the loans) while at the same time possibly not feeling as keen an interest in completing their education in a reasonable number of semesters.

For a full time students, most ought to be able to complete a BA/BS degree in 8 semesters and certainly in 9 or 10 semesters. This six year business is an obscene joke!

*- This has nothing to do with Parkinson's disease; that's named for a different "Parkinson." Parkinson's Principle is a proven and established principle in business.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith November 5, 2013 | 6:09 a.m.

"This is money that now is being distributed to the deans of different colleges..."

Isn't it amazing that while MU and two other campuses require deans in order to operate, the fourth campus of this administrative joke called a "system" manages to operate sans academic deans? Not only that, but their operation has been Curator-approved.

Well, as the saying goes, "different strokes for different folks," but we may now be seeing the future of academia. It IS the twenty-first century, folks, not the nineteenth. :)

(Report Comment)

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