January 17, 2012
A new semester begins! This likely will be my last eNewsletter to you as Interim President. I’d like to thank you for your support during the past year—your words of encouragement and advice have helped make this transition as smooth as possible. Together, we accomplished a lot in 2011, and I know 2012 will bring even more accomplishments, opportunities and challenges. Please join me in welcoming President Tim Wolfe as he officially takes office on Feb. 15, and I look forward to resuming my work with you as the University’s General Counsel.
Stephen J. Owens
Special Thanks to the Presidential Search Committee
Feb. 15 will mark a special day as our 23rd president will take the reins of the University of Missouri System. President Timothy M. Wolfe is a University of Missouri-Columbia business school alumnus with an executive background in the high-tech industry and deep Missouri roots. He was selected after nearly a year of study, interviews and careful deliberation by both the curators and the Presidential Search Advisory Committee. I would like to extend my thanks to all who spent considerable time and energy ensuring we have a poised and capable leader for the University of Missouri System.
UM System Continues to Advance Missouri
Last year, the four campuses and health care enterprise of the University of Missouri System continued to advance the state in ways that touched every county, every day.
From the education of our more than 73,000 students to the hundreds of thousands of patients we cared for…from the million contacts made by our Extension offices to the millions of dollars brought in from licensing novel technologies developed at the university…from the immeasurable support we provided to communities like Joplin, the Bootheel and Northwest Missouri ravaged by natural disasters to the vibrant statewide arts and culture our faculty, graduates, students and staff help cultivate, our university’s impact is felt by all.
Our mission—to discover, disseminate, preserve and apply knowledge—has been our historic guide in serving the state and its citizens since our founding more than 170 years ago. But our ability to continue to meet the needs of Missouri and its citizens has been jeopardized by more than a decade of declining state funding that has put our per capita state funding at 45th out of 50 states. That’s lower than any of our neighboring states…lower than any state in the Midwest…and lower than any state in the South.
This evening, Gov. Jay Nixon is expected to outline his 2012-13 budget proposal during his annual State of the State Address. While we understand that our still sluggish economy will continue to present budget challenges for the governor and the legislature, we hope all Missourians fully appreciate that higher education is an important investment—in our children, our economic future and quality of life, the health of our citizens and the global competitiveness of our nation. During these difficult economic times, we remain committed to working with the governor and legislature to find ways to adequately fund higher education and maintain the quality and excellence that Missourians rightfully expect from the university.
Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
On Monday, the University of Missouri observed the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. As an armchair historian, I think Dr. King’s legacy can be an inspiration to all of us to persevere in the face of adversity, to fight injustice and respect the rights of all people. I have made it a personal tradition to re-read some of his speeches each MLK holiday. His “I Have a Dream” speech is always worth re-reading and I commend it to you. Here is a link to the speech.
Protecting the Sanctity of the Classroom
Last month I issued an executive order regarding the unauthorized redistribution of recordings made in the classroom. The new policy was developed in conjunction with faculty representatives and administrators from all four of our campuses. The primary purpose of the policy is to protect the sanctity of classroom discussions for students so they feel free to contribute their own thoughts and opinions in a safe learning environment without fear that their personal opinions will be disseminated outside the classroom.
The University of Missouri System has long protected the academic freedom of faculty as being essential to the learning process and the new policy provides similar protection for student discussions. This new policy in no way attempts to prohibit students’ use of technology, but rather prohibits the unauthorized redistribution of any audio or video outside of the classroom without the instructor’s prior consent and the consent of any students who are recorded.
State of the University Speech on Feb. 3
On the eve of our new president taking office, I will deliver a State of the University Address at our Feb. 2-3 curators meeting in Kansas City. As with previous annual State of the University remarks, it will be audio-streamed live at approximately 9 a.m. Friday, Feb. 3, from our website, www.umsystem.edu. For those who can’t tune in, a transcript of the address will be posted at www.umsystem.edu/president/speeches.
Curators Assume New Leadership Positions
At the beginning of the year, Curator David Bradley of St. Joseph began his one-year term as board chair and Curator Wayne Goode of St. Louis began his term as vice chair. We thank Curator Warren Erdman of Kansas City—who will continue to serve on the board—for his tireless support of the university during his chairmanship last year, and look forward to working with curators Bradley and Goode in their new roles. To learn more about our curators, please visit www.umsystem.edu/curators.
Mentoring Program Recently Recognized
The University of Missouri was recognized with the Corporate Innovation Program Award and the Government/Institution of the Year Award last month at the St. Louis Minority Supplier Development Council’s Awards Gala. The awards recognize our efforts, led by Dr. Jacqueline Hall Kelly, director of Minority Business Development, to increase the number of competitive women- and minority-owned firms that do business with the university. Among our efforts in this area is the Advocacy Mentoring Program, which partners young minority or women-owned firms with established firms that have done business with the University. Congratulations to Dr. Kelly and all those involved in the program.
United Way Campaign Exceeds Goal
The numbers are in! Employees throughout our four campuses and the rest of the UM System raised a record $835,000 during our annual United Way campaign. Many campuses saw sizeable jumps in participation rates and overall giving. Thanks to everyone who helped us set a new giving record—providing even more sorely needed support for the United Way and its member agencies. I’d like to extend special thanks to the campaign organizers and volunteers on all four of our campuses who unselfishly lent their energy and creativity to another campaign that helped our fellow citizens.
Retirement Plan Vendor Selected
During last month’s regular board meeting, the University of Missouri Board of Curators approved Fidelity Investments as its master administrator to manage the defined contribution portion of the new retirement plan for new employees, as well as its voluntary tax-deferred investment program. By moving to a master administrator, we will still provide employees with an array of investment options, but we will reduce administrative fees by more than half, expand employee services and allow the university to have a more structured, comprehensive retirement approach that benefits employees’ retirement savings goals. For more information, visit the human resources website at www.umsystem.edu/totalrewards.