MU Chancellor Hank Foley: "We must adapt and we must adapt quickly"
COLUMBIA – University of Missouri’s Interim Chancellor, Hank Foley, addressed racial unrest, unhappy graduate students, faculty involvement and campus safety at his State of the University address on Wednesday afternoon.
He stressed the need to continue to work toward being an inclusive university in response to the rapid changes the university has seen in the last few months. Much of that change was triggered by protests by Concerned Student 1950, which lead former Chancellor Bowen Loftin and UM System President Tim Wolfe to step down.
He said student unrest came because the institution has not kept up with change.
“We must adapt and we must adapt quickly,” Foley explained.
He said, while the past must be respected, future change must be embraced.
“We are also a land grant university that seeks to be inclusive. That’s a challenge,” Foley said.
The administration, faculty and students are strengthening the Mizzou family to make it more inclusive and to embrace diversity, he said.
Foley also touched on the discontent of graduate students, who had their health insurance taken away and then restored and who now call themselves “graduate workers.” Foley said he is hopeful that MU can continue the insurance program for graduate students for many years to come.
“Beginning in July 2016, stipend will rise to $15,000 and in July 2017, minimum stipend will rise to $18,000 for graduate workers,” Foley said.
While he addressed concerns over student retention rates and future class applications, Foley said no one was worried about enrollment numbers when he first took the position, but things continued to change.
Since taking over the role of chancellor following the resignation of R. Bowen Loftin in November, Foley said he has, and will always, put academics first.
“The university is not the same as a corporation. The chancellor is not the same as a CEO,” Foley said.
Issues concerning safety on campus have been on high priority for Foley, as well. In order to ensure the safety of students, he plans to increase MUPD personnel and dispatchers.
Foley thanked donors who have set up scholarships and endowments for the university. He said endowment is the university’s savings account and during his time as interim chancellor, he wants to increase it to more than a billion dollars.
In order to open communication lines, Foley said he aims to reduce formality and is calling on faculty to take a hands-on role in improving the university. In terms of connecting with students, he asked all faculties to be more aware and mindful of the impact they have on students.
Foley urged faculty members to “pick up the pace” in recruiting faculty members of color to help diversify staff on campus.
“Diversity is not a buzzword,” Foley said. “It is about learning about other people.”
While unrest on campus has shaken the university, Foley said he cannot rewind the tape, but only move forward.