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From the Office of the President

September 28, 2011

Dear Colleagues:

Now that the fall semester is well underway, I wanted to bring you up-to-date on a few items. As always, please feel free to email me with questions or comments at

Stephen J. Owens
Interim President

Henry Bloch gift largest in the history of UMKC

As you have no doubt heard by now, the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the UMKC Foundation recently announced a $32 million gift from Henry W. Bloch — the largest outright gift in UMKC’s history and among the top 24 largest in 2011, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

The gift will fund a state-of-the-art building to house the Henry W. Bloch School of Management’s graduate and executive programs.

I cannot begin to express how much this historic gift means to our university and the state of Missouri. The Bloch School already offers stellar, nationally recognized entrepreneurial programs. This gift will reinforce Kansas City's position as a national center of excellence for entrepreneurship. I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to Henry Bloch for this transformative investment and congratulate Chancellor Leo Morton, Dean Teng-Kee Tan, Dr. Michael Song and their Bloch School colleagues for their focus on advancing the quality of the university's entrepreneurship programs.

Tiger Institute marks
two-year milestone

This week marks a fruitful two years for the Tiger Institute for Health Innovation, a partnership between the University of Missouri and Cerner. I’d like to extend kudos all around on the great teamwork and collaboration demonstrated in this highly successful public-private partnership.

The Tiger Institute is facilitating a statewide alliance of health care organizations that can improve health care through health information technology and collaborative innovations with MU Health Care physicians and students and researchers from the School of Medicine. Already, MU Health Care has been named one of the nation’s “Most Wired” Hospitals — only one of five hospitals in the state receiving the designation and the only facility in mid-Missouri making the list.

As this relationship continues to grow, the real winners are the citizens of Missouri, whose portable electronic medical records will provide medical information that leads to more personalized and timely care regardless of their location. Learn more about the Tiger Institute and watch a video that gives you an inside look at the Tiger Institute's work: Click here.

President, chancellor searches continue

The Board of Curators is making progress in the search for a new university system president, according to Board Chair Warren Erdman. “In the past month we’ve talked to several candidates, and we’re all excited about the quality and diversity of the folks we’ve seen,” said Chairman Erdman, stressing that the search remains open with no definitive timeline in place for a selection.

The search for a new chancellor at Missouri University of Science and Technology also continues. The chancellor search committee recently met and reviewed more than 50 candidates for the position. Interviews will begin next month, although nominations are still being accepted.

Proposed retirement plan shared with curators

At a recent Board of Curators meeting, curators continued their review of the recommended retirement plan design for future employees. Kelley Stuck, associate vice president of total rewards, updated the curators on the Retirement and Staff Benefits Committee's recommended minor changes to the formula for new employees. She also discussed the defined contribution vendor selection process and employee risk mitigation strategies for the new plan. Curators are expected to receive another update in early October on the new plan’s design, which will only affect new employees hired after Sept. 30, 2012. Curators will likely vote on the plan design at their meeting Oct. 20-21. For more information, click here.

Accountability seen as key to productivity

A new report from the National Governor’s Association offers some sober news for those of us in higher education. It references a “new normal” in which colleges and universities will continue to compete for scarce resources while being asked to do more. The report states higher education institutions today are challenged to become more productive with fewer resources, and it suggests strong accountability systems are important in capturing and communicating improved effectiveness and efficiencies. As you might be aware, Gov. Jay Nixon recently unveiled plans to create a performance funding model aimed at allocating new state resources to institutions of higher learning based on performance measures and academic goals.

University officials are part of a taskforce that will work with the state to develop the proposed new performance funding model. The good news is that the University of Missouri System is ahead of the curve on this issue as we have long been committed to continually improving performance and being transparent with our progress. In 2008, the university developed a comprehensive list of approximately 80 accountability measures. These measures are tied to strategic objectives and priorities encompassing the unique mission of each of the four campuses in helping achieve the state’s goals for higher education. Yearly updates are provided to the Board of Curators and posted to the system’s website.


Two curators eligible for reappointment

The gubernatorial appointments of two members to the Board of Curators — Craig Van Matre and Pamela Quigg Henrickson — were withdrawn prior to the special legislative session convened earlier this month. Because of their withdrawal they will be eligible for reappointment after the special legislative session ends.

With the prior appointment of Curator Henrickson, we said goodbye to Curator Doug Russell, who is one of the longest serving curators in UM history. Doug served two terms on the board — from 1982 to 1987 and again from 2005 to 2011. Doug truly went above and beyond the call of duty, and we are grateful for his years of outstanding stewardship.

UM is advancing state’s economy

Columbia-area business leaders and citizens recently learned about the significant progress the University of Missouri System is making in bolstering the state’s economy. At a breakfast meeting hosted by Missouri Cures, Mike Nichols, vice president for research and economic development, discussed the university’s three-part economic development strategy for advancing Missouri’s economy: investment, innovation and infrastructure.

Mike noted that the student IP policy change allowing our 72,000 students to own all intellectual property rights has, for the first time, positioned the UM System as a worldwide leader. “Being recognized as one of only three Leaders in Commercialization by the Kauffman Foundation is a huge accomplishment,” Nichols told the audience. “Being placed in the same category as the esteemed Carnegie Mellon University never would have happened five, even three years ago — but it’s happening now.” To learn more, click here.

2012 benefits plan has new features

Watch for changes and new options in this fall’s employee benefits program. The new features reflect the university’s commitment to maintaining strong, comprehensive health and wellness programs for faculty and staff. You will receive information later this month about changes for 2012, including a new plan design option and an opportunity to earn $100 in a tax-free savings account by completing a personal health assessment and health screening. Employees can make benefits enrollment changes beginning Oct. 24. I encourage you to watch for more information as it becomes available in the coming weeks.

System offers research funding opportunities

The Enterprise Investment Program (EIP) is another step closer to awarding its first round of funding to Missouri businesses looking to commercialize university technology. The program has narrowed down the field of 16 applicants to three. The second round of the program is expected to open in early 2012.

The university’s other funding programs also have been actively supporting the four campuses. The Research Board — with a new maximum award amount of $75,000 — awarded more than $2.6 million to individual and collaborative faculty projects during the 2010-2011 academic year. The next deadline for applications is Oct. 3, 2011. The Spinal Cord Injury Research Program also has increased its maximum award to $250,000 and is accepting applications on a rolling basis.

Enrollment, eLearning numbers up

Throughout the University of Missouri System students are coming to class — or logging on remotely — in record numbers.

The first day of classes at Missouri University of Science and Technology began with 7,271 students, an increase of 319 students. Nearly half of those new students are enrolled in the university’s online education programs — up 27.4 percent over last year. On-campus enrollment has increased 2.6 percent.

The University of Missouri-Columbia welcomed more than 1,300 more students this year than last year. Mizzou set another record in total student enrollment with 33,318 students on the first day of classes — about a 4 percent increase.

At the University of Missouri-Kansas City, first-time college student enrollment hit a record 1,137 students. Overall enrollment is slightly higher than last year at 13,586 students.

Total enrollment at the University of Missouri–St. Louis is projected at 16,800. This year, there are 1,920 transfer students – the second largest transfer class in campus history.

Delta Center celebrates 50th annual field day

The 2011 field day at the University of Missouri’s Delta Research Center in Portageville saw two milestones: it was the center’s 50th field day and it marked the retirement of its long-serving supervisor, Thomas “Jake” Fisher. In a tribute to Fisher, the Board of Curators approved the naming of the facility as the T. E. “Jake” Fisher Delta Research Center. The annual field day breakfast attracted more than 600 visitors and was attended by university officials, legislators, farmers, industry leaders and children. To learn more, click here.

The center’s history has been marked by a number of significant discoveries that have helped Missouri farmers, including advances in growing soybeans and rice. “Largely thanks to the great research undertaken here at the Delta Center, soybean production has nearly quadrupled over the last five decades, from 20 bushels an acre to 70,” Curator Judith Haggard told attendees at the event.

Advancing Missouri: A message from Interim President Steve Owens