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Helping students succeed and strengthening the university’s research efforts were the key themes of the State of the University address delivered by Dr. Chris Maples, interim chancellor, on Oct. 3. A video of the presentation and the slides are posted online at chancellor.mst.edu/presentations.
“There is no better measure of student success than graduation,” he said. “We need to ensure that our students can make it to the finish line.”
Maples noted that Missouri S&T’s six-year graduate rate stands at about 64 percent, which is on the lower end for comparable technological research universities. He outlined several initiatives intended to boost student graduation and ensure a Missouri S&T degree remains a sound investment, even for economically challenged students.
Highlights of the new student initiatives include:
- Application fee waiver. Missouri S&T will waive its $50 application fee for Missouri residents who apply to Missouri S&T for admission next fall. The fee can pose a barrier for economically challenged students and could discourage some from applying to Missouri S&T, Maples said.
- “Finish line” scholarships. These scholarships will be available to help undergraduate and graduate students close to finishing their degrees. The funds will help with tuition, rent or other expenses. This will allow students to take more credit hours and graduate sooner with less debt.
- “Full Load to Finish” scholarships. These scholarships are for Pell-eligible and near-Pell-eligible students taking 14 credit hours. The scholarship program will allow them to take two additional credit hours for free. The additional hours help students graduate sooner than if they are taking fewer than 16 hours a semester.
Maples also discussed plans to establish certificate programs for undergraduate students from the minors and emphasis areas of all S&T degree programs. The university has offered graduate certificates for years, he noted, but currently offers only four undergraduate certificates.
Employers may consider students who graduate with a certificate in some specialty more favorably than students without such a credential, Maples says.
“If we have a business student who is also minoring in enterprise resource planning or human-computer interaction, or a computer science student minoring in cybersecurity management and information assurance, why not also turn those minors into certificates that are more marketable to employers?” Maples said.
Plans to double research
In terms of strengthening Missouri S&T’s research profile, Maples said the S&T strategic plan calls for the university to change its classification from an “R2: Doctoral University” as rated by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education to the R1 classification. The R1 classification is the highest possible classification for a research university, and to attain that status will require increasing research activity.
The university currently has about $36 million in annual research expenditures. The strategic plan calls for doubling that figure by 2023. Peer institutions such as the Colorado School of Mines see about $61 million in annual research expenditures.
“We have the capability to build on our core strengths and reputation to become a world-class technological research university, where our collaborators look to us to shape the future through groundbreaking research,” Maples said.
Maples also told the audience that the University of Missouri System recently approved plans to build a new classroom learning center addition to the Computer Science Building. The addition will house four new 100-seat classrooms and one 300-seat lecture hall, providing needed classroom space for campus.
Other preliminary capital projects include a planned $10.3 million renovation of the Curtis Laws Wilson Library, $10.4 million addition to McNutt Hall, $43 million addition and renovation to the Engineering Research Laboratory, and $44.6 million in remaining funds needed for the renovation for Schrenk Hall’s addition and renovation. Funds for these projects have not yet been identified.