President’s Address Sheds Light on UCM’s Next Frontier
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Aug. 20, 2008) – Progress in areas such as strategic planning and creating a “green” campus were outlined Aug. 19 when Aaron Podolefsky, president of the University of Central Missouri, presented his State of the University Address. The university leader gave his speech, “The Next Frontier,” to a crowd of more than 300 faculty and staff members who gathered in the Elliott Union ballroom on the first day of the fall 2008 semester.
Sound Financial Footing
During his speech, the president pointed out that despite structural deficits in the university’s budget three years ago, he is pleased that “the university is on solid financial footing, at least for now, and that overall the state of the university is good.” Echoing back to his theme, he then emphasized the importance of some current measures in progress that will help the institution in the future.
“If you are heading into a new frontier, it is a good idea to chart your course. No doubt we will encounter obstacles and detours, and maybe even some changes in direction along the way, but it still pays to aim for a destination,” Podolefsky told the crowd.
Adopting a New Strategic Plan
Charting a course for UCM entails the adoption of a new strategic plan. Podolefsky said the Strategic Planning and Resource Council came forward this spring with a revised mission statement and a set of seven new university goals, which have been reviewed by the president’s cabinet and the Board of Governors. At SPRC’s request, during the summer the cabinet drafted objectives for each goal and a set of performance indicators. A draft plan is now being circulated on campus, Podolefsky said, and there will be a final round of conversations among campus constituents to ensure it conforms to the university’s “view of the future.” SPRC will provide final recommendations by the end of September, and the board of governors will vote on the matter in October.
“This new plan will be a clear and effective guide to keep us on track as we carry out our mission, achieve our vision, and judge our performance,” Podolefsky said. “At the same time, such plans cannot be so rigid that the university cannot react to new opportunities and new strategic directions.”
Sustained Effort toward a Green Campus
The president stressed energy efficiency measures are among “sustainability” issues facing the campus. He was one of the founding signers of the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment. As a group, these university leaders have pledged that the design, construction, operation and maintenance of all new buildings on their campuses will follow the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system guidelines, with an emphasis on energy and water conservation.
Podolefsky said UCM must look for ways to replace or correct inefficient and costly heating and cooling systems, windows and lighting.
“Vice President (Betty) Roberts recently brought an exceptional idea to the table that may help us make a huge leap forward in a fairly short time. The idea is to contract with an energy service company – or ESCO – that will do an extensive, in-depth audit of the conditions of the physical plant and opportunities to increase efficiency and then provide a plan and a guarantee for energy usage,” Podolefsky noted.
“We believe we will be able to come up with a plan that will spend $10-$15 million on replacements and upgrades with the annual bond payment covered by the savings in energy costs, maintenance and scheduled replacement. While this will not save the university money, it will significantly improve our living and working environments and reduce our carbon footprint.”
Enrollment on the Increase
The president also spoke about enrollment issues, noting preliminary figures show an increase of 3 percent for freshmen students and 4 percent for graduate students over the same time last year, and discussed a number of campus accomplishments that have occurred over the last several months.