By Jeff Murphy, January 31, 2023
Kansas City resident Mary Long, center, was recognized for her service since May 2009 on the University of Central Missouri Board of Governors by Ken Weymuth, left, board president from Sedalia, and Roger Best, university president, during the board’s plenary session on Jan. 26. In honor of her many years of service, she leaves her post with the title Governor Emerita.
WARRENSBURG, MO – The University of Central Missouri Board of Governors honored outgoing board member from Kansas City, Mary Long, while also authorizing funds for the purchase of training aircraft, approving two new degree programs and name changes to an undergraduate degree and minor when it met on campus on Jan. 26.
Roger Best, UCM president, and Ken Weymuth, board president, began the January plenary session recognizing Long’s service through the presentation of a proclamation that highlighted her contributions to the board and announced her new title as Governor Emerita. She was appointed to the board in 2008 by Missouri’s governor, and began serving in May 2009. She was reappointed to a six-year term that began on Jan. 1, 2016.
The proclamation read by Best noted her dedication and commitment to the university and its students, faculty, staff and alumni. It cited her involvement in decisions that led to groundbreaking educational opportunities and facilities such as the Missouri Innovation Campus academic program and building in cooperation with Lee’s Summit School District, renovations to various other university facilities, and her strong support for UCM’s efforts to serve a diverse student base that includes many first generation, low-income and minority students. It also cited her efforts in working with the board to build connections with thousands of alumni, support military personnel, and help the university successfully navigate through financial challenges such as previous declines in state appropriations and, most recently, the pandemic.
“By her actions as a champion for higher education and for students in Missouri and beyond, she has a truly set a positive example in which many others should aspire,” the proclamation stated.
Several items on the consent agenda were discussed during board committee meetings, and they were approved during the plenary session. This includes the need for additional training aircraft at Max B. Swisher Skyhaven Airport. The board approved authorized a request that was presented by Bill Hawley, vice president for finance and operations, to commit up to $2 million in institutional funds for the purchase of new and/or used single engine Cessna aircraft prior to Oct. 1, 2023. Board action also stipulates that the aviation department will keep board members updated when these airplane purchases are made.
Mark Suazo, dean of the Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies, noted that the training aircraft are needed to help fill current needs for student flight hours and to accommodate possible program growth in the future. The bulk of the training fleet currently consists of 15 single-engine Cessna airplanes, and two twin-engine aircraft, which require ongoing maintenance. This places limitations on the number of available airplanes for students who need flight experience. Between now and October, the university will purchase new or used Cessna 172s to extend the fleet. The flight program also recently obtained two used Cessna training airplanes that will require engine replacements, but are expected to be in service later this semester.
A new Bachelor of Science in Data Science, Data Science minor, and Master of Science in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence were approved. The university hopes to implement these new degrees during the fall 2023 semester, pending approval by the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development/Coordinating Board for Higher Education (MDHEWD/CBHE). All of these academic offerings will be available within the Department of Computer Science and Cybersecurity within the College of Health, Science and Technology. The bachelor’s degree program will help the university to continue to meet ABET accreditation standards in an area of rapidly increasing demand and student interest. The master’s degree program provides a balance of courses on data science, artificial intelligence and computer science to provide a strong foundation for data analytics skills needed in the 21st century. As data analytic skills grow in importance for many disciplines at UCM, offering a data science minor will prepare non-computer science students with skills that will help them succeed in their study and in future careers.
In other business, the board approved a request from the Child and Family Development program to change the discipline/area name to Human Development and Family Science. While Child and Family Development has been used since 1997, the field has evolved since then and the preferred name is Human
Development and Family Science. This better recognizes the continuum of educational preparation for the field and provides graduates with a recognizable identity. This change becomes effective for fall semester 2023.
The Child and Family Development program also requested a change in the undergraduate major name to Human Development and Family Science. This more adequately describes the range of knowledge and skills which graduates possess. The new name, Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Science will be effective this fall, pending approval by the MDHEWD/CBHE.