Skip to Main Navigation | Skip to Content

University Relations

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


Ambrose Challenges Faculty and Staff to Continue Leading to a Greater Degree

Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Sept. 18, 2015) – Noting The Crossing – South at Holden as a symbol of the ways all campus members engage in the life of the University of Central Missouri, and the progress being made as a university community, President Charles Ambrose delivered his State of the University Address Thursday afternoon, Sept. 17. About 150 people gathered on the south side plaza area of The Crossing to hear a speech that focused on what leadership by faculty and staff means to a campus that is committed to student success.

Dr. Charles Ambrose, State of the University 2015

On a warm, windy afternoon, Ambrose opened his remarks noting The Crossing provides the perfect backdrop for his speech in that “it is a reflection of what is possible here.”

“It is the physical embodiment of UCM’s commitment to students’ engagement and success. What’s more, it serves as a permanent reminder of the ‘can do’ attitude of many employees who emerged as leaders between conception and completion of this project,” he said. “Through this new building, many challenges were accepted and met by university members who are continuing to help students experience learning to a greater degree.”

He talked briefly about Mule Haul, the annual fall semester move-in day at the residence halls, and praised faculty and staff members who turn out every year to help students settle into their new home.

“They recognize the value of building strong connections with students from day one, and are not only demonstrating qualities of leadership, but, a common understanding of a shared commitment to Learning to a Greater Degree.”

“Many of you may recall, the 2013 State of the University (Address), I shared my thoughts on the value of leadership. In essence, we discussed that if we are to meet our commitment to student success, leadership is a shared responsibility. In our own unique ways, all of us contribute to leading the university in a positive direction, consistent with our institution’s mission and goals. Regardless of our job titles, all of our inter-actions impact every student, every day, at the university,” Ambrose told the gathering. “That has not changed, it was recognized by our HLC (Higher Learning Commission) re-affirmation, and the positive impact this sentiment has on campus is paying office in very important ways as we continue to push forward in strategic ways.”

At a time when performance at peer institutions is static due to years of declining state support, Ambrose told faculty and staff he is “enthusiastic to say the state of UCM is strong because of all of you.”

He cited  “the Board of Governors’ willingness to keep tuition increases below the Consumer Price Index at the lowest rate in the nation and help reduce the level of student debt in a very significant way” as positive steps that deserve much gratitude as the university looks to progress.

Ambrose emphasized the continued focusing on student success, accessibility and affordability of a UCM degree. He pointed to the Learning to a Greater Degree contract for student completion, which is designed to help students graduate on time, and a significant factor in meeting such challenges, and noted several signs of growth and progress in areas that are strengthen by the contract. These include:

“Perhaps the most positive indication that we’re moving in the right direction that is enhancing the value proposition of UCM is the reduction in the amount of money students are to borrow to pay for a UCM degree. Our students borrowed $5.56 million less than the last year, an 8.5 percent drop from $65.3 million last year in federal Stafford and Plus Loans to $59.8 million this year,” Ambrose said.

The president mentioned progress that includes the partnership  with the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District that will result in a new shared facility that will house The Missouri Innovation Campus and UCM – Lee’s Summit by 2017. This is the result of a $40 million no-tax-increase bond approved by Lee’s Summit voters in April 2015. He also noted more than $12 million will help fund much-needed renovation of the W.C. Morris Science Building, and the innovativeness of UCM educators who are creating programs that meet growing needs, particularly in STEM areas, that have also contributed to enrollment growth.

“As we move forward, however, we must be diligent in exploring every possible avenue to ensure growth with quality, student success, increase efficiencies, and maximize innovation. Each of us provides leadership needed to not only make this possible but also accelerate our collective potential. We all must consider, “In what ways does my work every day make these many things possible?” I can tell you that as President I have the benefit every day of seeing what your collective efforts contribute to Growth with Quality; Student Success; and the ongoing Sustainability of efforts,” Ambrose said.

The president outlined how the university has moved aware from a culture of decentralization that was relied upon for about 20 years when the Board of Governors collaborated five years ago with the Association of Governing Boards to establish the Strategic Governance for Student Success Model. This, he said, brought faculty, staff and board members together to consider how UCM can academically and administratively build a stronger institution.

“Strategic Governance has allowed UCM to develop an institutional-wide strategy for effective and efficient utilization and allocation of resources linked to strategic objectives. Since its adoption, we have continued to work on building this model to ensure our financial resources align with strategic goals. Aiding in this effort was the development of the Strategic Positioning Platform in 2012, which now serves as the umbrella for everything we do at UCM to provide a learner-centered environment where students can experience Learning to a Greater Degree,” Ambrose said.

 “Our commitment to this endeavor resulted in our innovative contract for student completion in 2013, which means that students who come to this campus will experience continuous learning in a dynamic environment that encourages them to find their passions and reach beyond themselves. They will broaden and deepen their education as they experience future-focused academics, engaged learning, worldly perspective, and a culture of service that prepares them for a world of accelerated change.”

 Ambrose pointed to the future of UCM noting, “With our strategic position guiding our future as an institution, we began developing the next important components of the Strategic Resource Allocation Model (SRAM) with the great help of rpk Group last fall, and started its implementation this summer. As we move forward in the coming months, we want to help educate the campus community on different aspects of this new student success driven model and how faculty and staff members can contribute to making it work.”

Dr. Deborah Curtis, provost-chief learning officer, and Dr. Ron Core, senior vice president for finance and administration, are leading this process forward, according to Ambrose. He said the university began this semester by using various communication tools to further campus understanding of SRAM, and what it means for each individual at UCM.

“We will continue to keep the campus informed and engaged with new resources and opportunities to enhance your knowledge and use of Strategic Resource Allocation.”

This year, the university also will take important steps required to enhance performance by balancing its efforts with a clear focus on the institutional health of UCM, “with an emphasis on you, our most important resource defined as our human capital,” Ambrose told the gathering.

“To help accomplish this goal, we draw inspiration and balance of our priorities from the work of James O. McKinsey, who graduated in 1912 with a bachelor’s degree from what was then Central Missouri State Teachers College. He eventually went on to become a professor of accounting at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. With an interest in helping businesses and organizations, he founded McKinsey & Company, which today is a global management consulting firm which helps diverse clients, boost performance and realize important goals.

“In order to successfully make a transformational change, McKinsey suggests that there must be a balance between institutional performance and health. UCM’s performance can be measured in how we improve the way we educate students, innovate through research, and give back to the community through service. SRAM helps to make this possible. To improve the health of this university, we must look at how the institution aligns itself, executes with excellence, and renews itself to sustainably achieve performance aspirations. Accomplishing this goal means a very deliberate investment in you as employees to create a culture where all faculty and staff members are “Leading to a Greater Degree” to ensure students enjoy their full university experience.

“How will we get there? We are working with PeopleWorks International, a generalist business performance consulting firm that has worked with some of the largest companies in the world as well as leading colleges and universities. They will engage with UCM’s Human Resources area and the campus community to develop an immediate plan for 2015-2016 and a long-term sustainable plan for human capital – that benefits our much-valued employees and the institution as a whole. We have an exceptional faculty and staff, and the progress we continue to make on many fronts exemplifies the quality of our people. We want to ensure that you, as employees and critical members of a campus committed to our students’ success, have the tools you need to successfully do your job and to ultimately become leaders in support of your individual areas and our collective potential as a campus,” Ambrose said.

Aligning with the objectives of Strategic Governance and Strategic Resource Allocation models, PeopleWorks will help UCM:

PeopleWorks also will work with UCM to provide long-term solutions for the next 12-24 months that include  development and implementation of:

“Most members of our campus clearly understand our role in creating a campus that is focused on Learning to a Greater Degree, but we need everyone to have stake in this process. From the custodial and grounds staff who ensure a quality living and learning environment for students to faculty members who create and deliver courses to office professionals who manage students and perform administrative tasks, our duties may vary, but we share a common bond. Our number one priority is to serve students and to help ensure their success,” Ambrose said. “We all engage in a wide range of ways which leaves plenty of opportunities for new leaders to emerge. We have many successes that we need to recognize and reward as we celebrate our progress at the start of the 2015-2016 year, and these important factors build a new platform from where we can meet the challenges that lie ahead for higher education. UCM’s commitment to you as faculty and staff includes building new resources and tools that will help you do your job even better. The SRAM will allow us to provide more clarity, focus and intentionality in creating a university that is not only great today, but, exceptional tomorrow. By each of us Leading to a Greater Degree, you will help make this possible.”

He concluded, “The state of the university is strong. I hope the number 14,395 means something to you because that’s how many students we’re serving. We can tell you how much we appreciate it. Let’s celebrate.”