- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - Missouri State University President Clif Smart is promoting five priorities that he hopes will raise the profile of the university in Springfield.

In his annual “State of the University” address Monday, Smart said the first priority is focusing on value by scrutinizing all proposed tuition and fee increases.

“College cannot be just for the affluent, and student debt cannot expand indefinitely,” he said, adding that the school must also have resources to improve its academic offerings so it can provide a valuable education to all.

The other priorities are improving the university’s retention rate, improving facilities, more diversity in staff and faculty, and long-term strategic planning, The Springfield News-Leader reported (https://sgfnow.co/1u8xE6m ).

Smart said the university retains about 75 percent of its first-year students and it will try to improve that number by evaluating the advising process and better connecting students with academic departments.

The school focused on improving its athletic facilities this year with renovations at its football stadium and several other sports venues on campus. Smart said this year the school will build a welcome center and a health building that will house three programs, with other buildings being renovated. Next year, Missouri State will increase its laboratory space and renovate older academic buildings if revenue bonds are issued by the state.

The university has had success attracting a more diverse student body but made only “marginal progress” recruiting a diverse staff and faculty, Smart said.

“This will be challenging - maybe the most challenging thing on our list - but we will not make progress if we don’t begin to intentionally work at this as an important priority,” he said.

Long-term strategic planning will become a focus as the current plan expires June 30, 2016. The process to form a new long-term plan will take two years.

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, https://www.news-leader.com


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