UM Curators meet, discuss strategic goals of UM System and campuses

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COLUMBIA - The UM System Board of Curators will meet over the course of July 18 and 19 to discuss new strategies for future research, academic goals and potential funding for its campuses.

UM System President Mun Choi showed a list of universities that named MU as a peer compared to the ones MU had named a peer. The list showed many of the schools MU chose did not consider MU a comparable peer.

Choi said the UM schools need to improve on their standing with other well-performing universities.

“It matters more when people in academia say you’re a great university,” Choi said.  

Some administrators recommended focusing on a “Missouri First” mindset when it comes to improvement.

The MU Vice Chancellor of Extension and Engagement Marshall Stewart spoke on how the system could earn community support. He provided examples of steps campuses, faculty and students could take to be better engaged and reconnect with local communities in the state.

Currently, over two-thirds of MU’s undergraduate students are from Missouri. One of the examples Stewart recommended is to increase in-state enrollment over the next few years. He also suggested building relationships with state officials and requiring students to complete a certain amount of hours in public service within the state.

“It’s all about them, not about us, because we serve them,” Stewart said.

Stewart presented the idea from a model used by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The university increased its engagement with urban and rural counties in the state, and then marketed to those counties based on each area’s interests and needs.

According to Stewart, working with Missourians in the way they most need it and putting state needs first could help increase funding for the UM system.

Stewart recommended administrators and faculty “partner campuses with local stakeholders to create sustainable solutions.”

Choi also showed data that compared UM’s Rolla campus to other universities like University of Massachusetts as a way to measure excellence. The data showed where UMass had improved in areas such as national ranking and small class sizes. In those areas, Rolla had gotten worse from 2010 to 2017.

US News and World Report ranks MU highest of the campuses at 111 out of 310. Missouri S&T is ranked 164 out of 310 schools, UMKC is ranked 210 and UMSL is ranked 220.

The agenda for the board on July 19 is discussing research and economic development as well as creating partnerships between campuses to encourage “system-ness.”