Missouri Western State University President Robert Vartabedian rallied staff and faculty on Monday morning, Aug. 22, in Fulkerson Center in preparation for the fall semester. The meeting was light-hearted and entertaining at times, even with the main topic being the financial challenges that face Western in the near future.
“Missouri Western is made up of dedicated people who will not go quietly,” Varatabedian said. When speaking of the challenges facing the campus he made several references to the “You Can’t Keep a Griffon Down” campaign, which started at a student rally over the summer to protest the state’s cutting of appropriations for Western. Vartabedian outlined a three point strategy to attack Western’s financial challenges after giving a brief history of the campus’s nearly 100 years in the higher education business.
Vartabedian’s first plan of attack is to seek outside funding through searches for grants and revenue possibilities, which involve learning opportunities for students with income for the university. He named Associate Provost Brian Cronk as the spearhead for these operations.
The next strategy is to take full advantage of all of Western’s assets. One of these plans it to lease some of the 723 acres owned by Western to agricultural interests. Vartabedian said that administration is looking for opportunities to lease some of the land which could be used in an environmentally responsible and esthetically pleasing way.
The third front of the challenge is to be faced by faculty, staff and students. Vartabedian announced an all-out effort to do everything possible to see to it that Senate Bill 389 be amended in a “fair” way. He called on everyone in the room to contact senators and the governor and share our unique story. “We must rally senate alums to amend Senate Bill 389,” Vartabedian said. Handouts were provided with contact information for senators and others to contact to push for funding and the amendment of Senate Bill 389.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has proposed funding for higher education to be performance-based on things such as graduating numbers. Vartabedian is pushing for a more fair assessment of all universities and promises to push for more and fairer funding concerning the unique way in which Western fulfills the need of higher education in this community. “Our governing board must be allowed to govern to meet our needs,” Vartabedian said.
The opening act of the meeting was conducted by two Assistant Professors of Theater and Cinema, Dallas Henry and Tee Quillin. They delivered a skit that lampooned Western’s administration, Missouri State Governor, Jay Nixon and Northwest Missouri State University.
Provost and VP of Academic Affairs, Jeanne Daffron followed with introductions of six new faculty members. “We are fortunate that most faculty members have decided to stay at Western,” Daffron said.