Governor Commends UCM’s Contributions to Meeting State’s Education Goals
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Oct. 6, 2011) – Missouri Gov. Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon today commended the University of Central Missouri’s commitment to helping the state achieve its higher education goals, including graduating more students and establishing new partnerships that will benefit students and the state.
Nixon spoke during the installation ceremony for Charles Ambrose as the institution’s 15th president The ceremony in the Multipurpose Building arena was attended by an estimated crowd of more than 1,600 people. Ambrose joined the university on Aug. 1, 2010, but UCM chose to honor the president through traditional inauguration festivities during the same week as the annual homecoming celebration.
Ambrose also delivered his inaugural address at the event.
Missouri Gov. Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon, left, congratulates Charles Ambrose during the installation ceremony honoring him as the 15th president of the University of Central Missouri. The inauguration of Ambrose took place Oct. 6 at UCM.
After an introduction by Walt Hicklin, president of the UCM Board of Governors, Nixon noted the pivotal role UCM has played in educating Missourians for the past 140 years. He said that the fall enrollment – the largest in the institution’s history – reflects the university’s efforts to prepare “productive leaders across Missouri and the nation.”
He stressed that the stakes for higher education in Missouri could not be higher than they are today. “The best jobs of the future will require proficiency in science and technology and there is simply no better place to build that foundation than right here at UCM,” the governor remarked. “We must prepare our students to meet the global challenges of the 21st century, rebuild a strong and competitive economy and secure America’s place as the most innovative, well-educated and prosperous nation on Earth.”
Considering today’s higher education environment, institutions must reexamine their missions and be able to adapt quickly, according to the governor.
“It takes confident leadership and institutional courage, and people who are intellectually nimble. Theseare all qualities I see and admire so much in Chuck Ambrose, and in his faculty and in this administration. That is why I knew I could expect excellent leadership on this campus in response to the public agenda for higher education that I laid out in education summits that I convened in 2010 and again last summer.”
During these summits, Nixon challenged presidents and chancellors of all of Missouri’s two-year and four-year colleges and universities, along with their governing boards and the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education, to address four goals:
- Increase the percentage of young Missourians who hold a college degree from the current level of 37 percent to 60 percent by 2020;
- Review all academic programs in order to discontinue or modify programs that do not meet productivity thresholds and build new programs that address the state’s most pressing social and economic needs;
- Improve administrative efficiency and academic collaboration across the institution with special emphasis on technology and related course redesign; and
- Revise the higher education funding model giving greater weight to mission and performance.
“The results of that higher education agenda have been substantial and already extremely positive,” Nixon said. “UCM students and the state of Missouri as a whole have been well served by your commitment, starting with your efforts to boost the number of young Missourians holding college degrees. At a time when universities all around us were increasing tuition by double digits, Missouri stood up for affordability and kept tuition flat for two years running. And, in response to this focus on affordability, enrollment in Missouri’s public institutions has surged to 23,000 more students over the past two years hitting record highs at many schools, including UCM.”
Missouri graduated 2,065 more college students in 2010 than it did the previous year, which Nixon insists is evidence that the state is marching toward its goal for more citizens with higher education degrees. He said through a voluntary statewide review of academic programs, two- and four-year institutions discontinued 118 majors and revamped dozens of degrees to increase productivity, and he praised UCM for its strong contribution to this effort.
“These decisions that are being made will free up limited state resources and allow those funds to be invested more strategically into high-quality programs where there is a clear need and demand,” Nixon said.
He noted that higher education is in need of innovations that are student-focused, lower the cost of a college education, decrease graduates’ debt, shorten the time it takes to earn a degree – especially for non-traditional students, and establish new public-private partnerships.
“UCM is an ideal institution to take up this innovation challenge,” Nixon remarked. “This institution is growing yet nimble, historic yet agile, strong but grounded; you have the leadership here, the advantage of avery strong and committed faculty, the legacy of working well with other institutions – public and private, and the interest and capacity of the private sector in this region.
“The private sector is reaching out for pathways in which they can directly connect to the outstanding students you have here with their organizations, and we look forward to helping provide every bridge we possibly can to make those connections,” Nixon said.
He added, “With the dawning of the Ambrose era, I am confident you will be able to create a unique innovation campus in the Show Me State and show the rest of the nation how it is done. The future of this university, the success of our young people, and the prosperity of our state, are all intertwined.”