On the heels of a request from state legislative leaders for Missouri’s public colleges and universities to prepare for significant cuts in state funding, Missouri University of Science and Technology Chancellor John F. Carney III said in his State of the University Address on Thursday (Dec. 4, 2008) that public higher education is the solution to economic problems and should be protected.
“The worst thing that can happen during tough economic times is to cut our investment in higher education,” Carney said. “Higher education is the economic engine for our state and nation. Our public research universities create the technology that will keep us competitive in the global economy, and they are still the envy of the world. At Missouri S&T, our graduates are the scientists and engineers who will help get our nation back on its feet.” Carney delivered his State of the University Address at noon Thursday in the St. Pat’s Ballroom of Missouri S&T’s Havener Center. He began his talk by outlining the national recession’s impact on the state and the university. He specifically mentioned two recent events: a hiring freeze on all four University of Missouri campuses that went into effect on Nov. 17 and a Dec. 1 request from state legislators and the Missouri Department of Higher Education (DHE) for Missouri S&T and other public colleges and universities to develop scenarios for state funding cuts of 15 to 25 percent.
A cut of 25 percent would equate to a $12.5 million reduction for Missouri S&T, Carney said. He and his administrative team are preparing scenarios to share with DHE by the Dec. 18 deadline.
Despite the economic challenges, Carney also pointed out many positive indicators that the campus is doing well. Among them:
- Missouri S&T’s student enrollment of 6,325 is ahead of projections, and the freshman class of 1,056 students is one of the largest and most talented in the university’s history.
- The “Advancing Excellence” campaign is on track to meet its goal of raising $200 million in private funds by June 30, 2010. As of Nov. 30, the campaign has raised $164.9 million for scholarships, construction, programs and other efforts. In addition, 48 percent of the campus’s faculty, staff and retirees have contributed to the campaign.
- The “E3” (E-cubed) initiative on environmental sustainability, alternative and renewable energy and education has grown over the past year with development of Missouri’s first hydrogen fueling station and wind turbine/solar panel project on the E3 Commons east of campus. In addition, the campus’s environmental sustainability efforts have increased during the past year with the renewed emphasis on environmental excellence and other green campus activities.
- Research productivity is up in terms of proposals for funding awarded and submitted. At $25.5 million, the dollar amount for proposals funded for the year is up by 22.4 percent over the same period last year. The number of proposals awarded and amendments to proposals is also up by 12 percent, to 177 proposals.
Carney also praised Missouri S&T students for passing a referendum to add a capital fee of $30 per semester to help pay for a new student fitness complex.
Looking forward to the upcoming semester, Carney noted that a site visit by members of the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) will be Feb. 23-25. That visit is part of a process for the campus to maintain accreditation with the NCA.
Carney’s State of the University PowerPoint presentation is available online at chancellor.mst.edu under the “presentations” section.