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University Relations

University of Central Missouri
Administration 302
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
Fax: 660-543-4943

Speaker Suggests “New Normal” On Higher Education’s Horizon 

Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Oct. 22, 2010)  Nationally known administrator, educator and author Kenneth A. Shaw this week told campus leaders “a personal and collective commitment to do great things at the University of Central Missouri” will be needed as the institution prepares for a “new normal” in higher education. 

Shaw’s remarks Wednesday evening were a highlight of work sessions that took place Oct. 20-21 regarding the development of a new Strategic Governance Model for Student Success. The UCM Board of Governors initiated these discussions in cooperation with campus members, including deans, representatives of key faculty and staff governance groups, and the Student Government Association.

 The board is working with the national Association of Governing Boards Ingram Center for Public Trusteeship and Governance to develop the new model. AGB has received support from the private Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation to foster a two-year project emphasizing the role of governing boards in collaborating with college and university presidents to help meet the nation’s educational needs, including graduating more students.

Shaw, who has written extensively about university leadership, spent nearly 30 years at top university posts, including serving as chancellor of Syracuse University, president of the University of Wisconsin System, chancellor of the Southern Illinois University System, and president of Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. He stressed that there is a “new normal” in higher education caused by a serious lack of state funding, which is prompting institutions to consider reductions in programs, services, and personnel. Although the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education is projecting state appropriation cuts ranging from 15 to 20 percent for Missouri’s public institutions, he said the good news for the state is that it is in better shape financially than some nearby states. Some of them are facing billions of dollars in funding reductions that will impact education.

“A ‘new normal’ will be experienced once we get through the budget crisis. You have the advantage of being relatively flexible compared to most states in how you spend your money,” Shaw told the group.

He provided a number of suggestions to help campus leaders through the fiscal downturn. His points covered areas such as transparency of leadership actions, accepting what needs to be done to help the institution succeed and then taking necessary steps, understanding the emotional impact on all constituents involved, creating a narrative of actions to take, establishing effective communication among constituents, building and maintaining trust among stakeholders, adaptive leadership, giving faculty and staff tools for change, “walking the talk,” rolling out a plan, following up with metrics to determine how the plan is doing, and persistence in moving forward with the plan.

While laying the groundwork for the Strategic Governance Model for Student Success, those who met with AGB members this week considered practices that will lead to effective governance and how to create a culture of shared decision making between the board and university constituents. AGB representatives will return to campus Nov. 17-18 to discuss with the board the implementation of the new Strategic Resource Model to assist the university in budget preparation for Fiscal Year 2012. The model will help the institution in response to the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education’s request for colleges and universities to be financially efficient while keeping costs as low as possible for students.

According to University President Charles Ambrose, the UCM Strategic Resource Model has four components: revenue growth, fiscal management, academic program viability and productivity (academic program review), and administrative efficiencies.

“It is important for everyone who cares and has stake in the future of the University of Central Missouri to know: your university has a stronger commitment today to focus on the success of students, improve the quality of the UCM experience, build stronger academic programs, and maintain a commitment to keeping college costs low even within the current economic challenges facing the state of Missouri,” Ambrose said.  “The Association of Governing Boards and the resources provided over the last two days affirm that our university is well-equipped and prepared to meet the challenge while reaching for a new level of service it provides to the students and communities we serve."