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Engaging the Community: The Role of Research at MSU

Missouri State University

In this monthly episode, MSU President Clif Smart discusses the different types of research happening at the university. 

"We think of ourselves as primarily a teaching institution: all of our faculty teach. We don't have anyone dedicated to just reserach, because we think our number one priority is educating our students who come to us," Smart said.

Still, reserach plays a major role in the role of faculty:  all of the tenure-track faculty at MSU are engaged in research, Smart said.  It's one of the expectations to obtain tenure and be promoted throughout their careers.

And last fiscal year, MSU set a record for external funding, Smart said.   "Over 26 million dollars of funded projects--that was six million more than a year ago, and an all-time record," he said.

“It’s really across the board,” Smart said of the types of research projects receiving funding.  For example, he said, there’s a $400K grant for adult literacy, funding to research technology for the purpose of enhancing fossil fuels systems, and a large grant for the prevention of sexual assault on campus.  Some of those receiving grant funding for research are staff members, he said.

"Much of that research is very practical types of things," Smart said.  A lot of the research projects underway are funded by grants awarded by private foundations, the state, and the federal government.

“Students are involved in all of that research that’s going on—many times, undergraduate students,” Smart said.

It's typical for Ph.D. programs around the world to do meaningful research as part of their terminal degrees, Smart said.  At MSU, undergraduates have the opportunity to do similar research.

"Down at the Jordan Valley Innovation Center, Paul Durham is using undergraduate students to work on: how do we reduce pain associated with headaches, for example," Smart said.

MSU puts out two publications featuring its research.  Both are designed to help laymen understand and appreciate the research conducted at scholarly levels.  They also both have a public affairs element in that many of the projects featured have practical articles aimed at improving the world around us.

One is called Mind's Eye.   The other is theEJournal of Public Affairs.