Long-term planning, shared sense of resolve have UMSL moving in the right direction for students, community
The University of Missouri–St. Louis is poised to expand its role as the region’s largest public research institution by educating more students and better facilitating economic development and community renewal, Chancellor Tom George said during his annual State of the University Address on Wednesday.
George told an audience of students, faculty, staff and supporters at UMSL’s Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center that the institution had “realized a budget surplus for the second consecutive year.” UMSL’s budget balance increased 49 percent to $38 million. UMSL has an annual operating budget of about $200 million.
“We are now focused on investments rather than cuts,” George said. “Tough decisions and strong fiscal management have positioned us well as we introduce a new Strategic Plan that – among other things – calls for increasing enrollment by 1,000 students over five years.”
UMSL has a total enrollment of about 16,700 students annually – about 10,500 degree-seeking students on campus and about 6,150 non-degree-seeking students off campus.
The new plan also streamlines UMSL’s mission statement to “We Transform Lives,” which George said highlights “the essence of our efforts and our existence.” Increasing student retention rates, advancing diversity and inclusion, community engagement and economic development also are primary compacts with the plan, which the University of Missouri System Board of Curators will consider for approval when it meets Sept. 20.
“I encourage you to read the Strategic Plan,” George said. “Know our mission statement and know your role in transforming the lives of our students and community.”
The address included a video that reinforced the importance of UMSL’s new mission and the essential role faculty and staff have in its successful implementation.
George said increasing enrollment – particularly among underserved populations – will require multiple changes in operations and a dramatic increase in financial aid.
“UMSL is a tremendous educational value, but unfortunately we still find that the cost presents a hardship for too many students in this community,” George said. “Working with the UM System, UMSL will develop and launch a special effort to dramatically increase giving for annual and endowed scholarships.”
UM System President Mun Choi will provide details during a presentation Friday, George said. UMSL attracted $2.7 million in donations for scholarships in fiscal year 2018.
Other highlights of George’s presentation included:
- The introduction of a newly conceived Community Innovation and Action Center that will fundamentally change UMSL’s support of and engagement with local nonprofits and governments to build strong, whole communities.
- UMSL issued 3,100 undergraduate and graduate degrees – including celebrating its 100,000th graduate crossing the stage – in May. The university has issued 114,000 degrees to more than 100,000 individuals since its first ceremony in 1967.
- UMSL faculty attracted $33 million in new grant awards, the largest of which was $3 million from the Kern Family Foundation for character education programs and research.
- Donors gave or pledged nearly $28 million for scholarships, facilities, public service and programs. The Steward Family Foundation gave $1.3 million to support jazz studies and other music programs.
George’s presentation slide deck can be viewed here.
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