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A monthly conversation with Missouri State University President Clif Smart.

President Smart: Well Performing Schools "Ought to be Rewarded"

President Smart introducing Gov. Jay Nixon at the Governor's Feb. 6 address on Higher Education on the MSU campus/Credit Scott

New funding for higher education is among the proposals this year from Gov. Jay Nixon, who said during his State of the State address in January he’d like to dedicate $34 million to the state’s colleges and universities based on their performance.

For Missouri State University, that means an additional 4.3 percent in funding, or roughly $3.3 million, for achieving all five performance measures.

“We are believers that those universities that are graduating the most students, educating the most scientists, retaining students, spending money on teaching and research whose students pass licensing exams – those are the kinds of things that are being measured - ought to be rewarded for that,” university President Clif Smart said.

For each criteria not met, MSU would have lost out on about $700,000.

In addition to accountability measures like graduation and retention rates, each university had the option to submit a measure specific to them, Smart says. For MSU, that was the number of graduates in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and health care fields.

“That’s a priority of our state. That’s a priority of our university – to graduate people who work in those fields because we need those kinds of workers. So that’s the measure we selected.”

The President says there’s also a financial measure that evaluates what percentage of a school’s budget goes into core mission categories like teaching and research, as well as the percentage of students passing certain examinations.

Gov. Nixon visited the MSU campus Feb. 6 to further detail the higher education proposal. Here’s our report.

If awarded, Missouri State would like to dedicate roughly 80 percent of the $3.3 million to employee salaries, based on an initial meeting of the university’s Executive Budget Committee. The remaining 20 percent would go toward operating costs, such as new faculty for planned program expansions.

Additionally, MSU will receive another $793,000 for the current fiscal year, following Gov. Nixon’s recent decision to release $8.5 million in higher education money thanks to higher than expected state revenue collections. 

Smart added that university officials will be advocating for a bonding proposal to improve campus infrastructure.

“That would be huge for us. We would anticipate trying to build a new life sciences center on the Springfield campus with that. That’s a $50 million project,” Smart says.

He says another $6 million project will be sought for a building at the West Plains campus that would house the Honors College and various student support services and classrooms.