Ambrose, Riley Testify at Joint Committee on Education Hearing
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Oct. 26, 2012) Representatives of the University of Central Missouri, President Charles Ambrose and Faculty Senate President Cheryl Riley, were among those testifying before the Joint Committee on Education when it met on campus Oct. 23 in the Elliott Union. The public hearing, chaired by Senator David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, was the second of three such meetings that are planned in the state this fall to help the committee develop a comprehensive funding formula for Missouri’s public higher education institutions by Dec. 31, 2013. That policy will be implemented by Fiscal Year 2015.
According to Pearce, one of the 14-member committee’s goals is to gather information from members of the public and from those involved in higher education to create a funding formula that depends less on across-the-board funding, and provides a rational basis for core funding, support for performance outcomes, and support for Missouri’s higher education goals. The formula, he said, would be based more on institution performance compared to each school’s mission and other factors, such as student retention.
One of five public community college and university presidents to address the committee, Ambrose outlined UCM’s student-center performance measures that help the institution to accomplish its statewide mission in applied science and technology. He said the university follows a model that was developed in cooperation with representatives of the Association of Governing Boards.
“Perhaps the best way to think about this is as an institutional response to the request for how we receive funds and how we are responsible for the stewardship of those funds,” Ambrose noted.
The model incorporates the value proposition of an education for UCM students, the institution’s mission, partnerships and collaborations, and student success. He said the model helps the university to understand, “Are we meeting the needs of students, are we increasing access for students, are they persisting and completing, can we maintain our ability to provide that access, and are students successful once they leave the University of Central Missouri.”
In addressing ways the institution can help improve performance measures such as retention and graduation, Ambrose spoke about the value of courses such as AE 1420 Exploring College Majors and Careers, which is taken by students who are “open option,” meaning they have not declared a major. Statistics have shown increases in the number of students who persist in college and graduate among those who take this course and those who do not.
“The question has to be asked, if one single course can be used to help open option students attain a higher retention and graduation rates, why don’t we offer it to all students? These are the types of strategies, when we look at institutional performance, that we can implement to basically help us accelerate our performance.”
He pointed out the university continues to receive less state support, which is now only 40 percent of the university’s revenue source. Issues with funding were also addressed by Riley.
She told the committee, “As faculty we would like to suggest that it is essential for the state to maintain a significant and relevant funding role for our higher education institutions. This is essential support that is needed for higher education institutions to have the capacity to support Missouri’s shared educational and economic goals. We need this support in order to achieve the goal of having 60 percent of the adult population obtain a college degree by the year 2025.”
She added, “We believe one viable mechanism for increasing funding for higher education and other essential services is to address the issues of tax credit reform as suggested by the governor’s tax credit review commission. We believe metrics such as number of Missourians served, number of graduates attaining jobs in their field, years to degree, student indebtedness, low tuition increases, workforce readiness, and numbers of graduates are ways to examine funding for higher education.”
Riley said faculty are compassionate individuals who do not want to see other social programs cut while increasing higher education funding, however, “We believe our citizens deserve both. Affirmatively funding education is necessary to furthering skilled labor, industry and most importantly innovation in the state of Missouri. We stand ready to serve as a resource to the committee as its work continues and look forward to an ongoing dialog on improving educational opportunities and outcomes for all Missourians.”
The committee met previously at North Central Missouri College in Trenton, and its final meeting will take place Nov. 14 at the University of Science and Technology in Rolla.