Blum sees renovations

Those walking through Blum Union this semester may notice a few changes to the student union. Over the summer the upper floor received a makeover that SGA and the Student Affairs Office hope will make it easier for students to access resources in that area. “We see students from this office all the time come upstairs and not know where to go,” said Shana Meyer, Vice President of Student Affairs. “It was barricades to involvement. People didn’t know about the services that we had, and we know that when students get involved and engaged on campus, they’re more likely to persist and be retained.” Renovations were made to the Center for Multicultural Education, Center for Student Involvement and International Student Services Offices in an effort to make each office more accessible and visible to students. The renovations include large storefront windows, new carpeting and new paint for the offices. To Ann Rahmat, Director of International Student Services, these changes provide a more private space for international students to seek advice and feel at home. “For us, we basically want to make it into a safe place for international students- make it where they really feel like it’s a home, where they can be comfortable,” Rahmat said. “[Students] have always been welcome, it’s just that we’d be giving them more space to be able to be more comfortable in that space.” This new space is being completely funded by Student Success Act dollars. The Student Success Act (SSA) is an act that charges students $25 to $75 per semester to maintain and improve the quality of university programs and services like the International Student Services. The renovations were approved by the committee presiding over SSA in April. A new memorandum of understanding for SSA was also approved in April, allowing the money to individually fund student services. “The committee is comprised of both faculty members and student members,” Meyer said. “They worked through a ton of different options for where the funding might go. Funding was originally allocated to the union a couple of year ago, but it was just a process that we really had to work through as far as ‘what are we going to use this funding as a whole for?’” The renovations for Blum ended up costing $196,164 out of a $440,000 budget. With full-time students paying $150 per year, it would take around 1,300 students to raise these funds within a year’s time. Whether or not that many students will benefit from the renovations they are funding is to be seen. Student body president  Alec Guy thinks the money could have been used on a number of projects around campus and that this project was worth the cost. “I do think that it’s a good use of money,” Guy said. “In terms of other  projects and things like that, we just recently changed SSA  to go to different student services on campus and actually provide them with more funding. So I think there are plenty of uses for this money that would benefit students, and I think this is just one of the many that will have a great impact on students and improve Missouri Western.” Gillian Evans, SGA’s director of public relations, believes students deserve to have access to the services in Blum and believes these renovations will make that access easier. “We’re paying fees to have those services there, and nobody even knows about them,” Evans said. “I was one of these kids, where’s it’s kind of intimidating getting involved. You don’t really know how to or where to, and then you hear about all these services that are there and these offices that are there for students, but whenever you’re a student and you can’t really navigate where to go, it’s very frustrating.” Students and faculty members alike are hopeful that the renovations will be able to give more opportunities for students to get involved. “You can’t make people get involved, but you can certainly make it easier,” Evans said. While the choice to get involved on campus is ultimately up to the students, Guy believes SGA still has work to do to promote the new space before involvement increases. “I think it will be a lot on SGA’s shoulders, so to speak, to kind of get students to come upstairs and see the services that are up here,” Guy said. “So I think that the renovations themselves will help, but we also have to publicize it and kind of let students know that it’s been renovated.” According to Guy, SGA has not made any plans to publicize the renovations yet, but will be discussing options further into the semester.

The cost of doing business

When Dale Krueger was hired as an assistant professor in the business department in 1984, President Ronald Reagan was about to be elected to a second term and Prince's Purple Rain was the number one album in the country. Now, 32 years later, he is the longest-serving faculty member in the Craig School of Business, and the lowest paid associate professor. In spite of that longevity, four teachers in CSB make about $35,000 more than Krueger-over $100,000-including a new assistant professor hired just last year. According to Krueger, when Western became AACSB accredited, the administration stopped hiring people without business doctorates, and began to hire at higher wages in order to remain competitive with other accredited universities. The cost of doing business The CSB currently has 19 faculty members ranked instructor, assistant professor, associate professor or professor. Out of these, only five remain from before the push for the AACSB accreditation in 2007. The 14 hired during or after the decision to seek accreditation were hired at considerably higher salaries than their counterparts. For example, three assistant professors hired last August are already making $80,000 or more, according to data provided by the CSB following a Griffon News open record request:
  • Jeremy Logan Jones, Management Assistant Professor- $80,000
  • Hillary Mellema, Marketing Assistant Professor- $82,000
  • Kirill Yurov,Management Assistant Professor- $92,000
Those salaries are approaching double the approximately $48,000 starting salary of assistant professors in many other departments, according to Missouri Blue Book record. While the salaries of the business department are high compared to to those in other departments, they are actually low compared to national figures. The top-paid faculty member in the CSB is Management Professor Mark Lewis, who was hired in August of 2005, before the push for the accreditation. Lewis is paid $106, 034.70 a year, and is closely followed by Accounting Assistant Professor Sunil Dahanayake and Information Systems and Marketing Professor Peggy Lane, both of whom were hired in 2014 and earn $105,060 annually. The university has also hired a new associate professor to start teaching next semester for $90,000 annually. Dean of the CSB Michael Lane said that it is necessary to hire top-notch faculty members in order to show that Western school means business, so to speak. "It makes companies comfortable with the quality of graduates that they’re getting. They know we have standards, they know that our faculty maintain their standards," Lane said. Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Jeanne Daffron explained that it is worth it to hire more expensive faculty members in order to meet the accreditation requirements. "If we’re going to have a program, we want it to be a high-quality program,” Daffron said. “So, you know, you have to divert the resources that are necessary for that." While personnel are funded through the general operating budget, the CSB does require each of its students to pay a $35 per credit hour fee. That fee is more than twice the $17.65 paid for humanities courses. But, the total cost per credit hour-$232.79 vs. $215.44-is only 8 percent higher for business students. Daffron also explained that the market for AACSB accredited-level hiring is a competitive one. "In order to get the credentials that you need for the quality program, the market is going to drive the price up," Daffron said. How we stack up on the national market Lane said that Western hires on the low end of the spectrum. "We’re hiring very low on the national scale, and we recruit nationally," Lane said. The majority of CSB faculty members make between the 10th and 25th percentile in their discipline, according to a study conducted by AACSB.  However, Lane said that some faculty members who were hired before the accreditation are "way below the market." For example,Behavioral Science Professor Brett Luthans, who was hired in August of 1996, is making $79,538.89 a year. Not only is that figure well below his brand-new colleagues, it is less than half the national median salary for full professors in his discipline: $168,900 Krueger’s $69, 842 salary falls below the 10th percentile and is well below the $129,000 median salary for associate professors in accounting. Similarly, Konrad Gunderson, also an associate professor in accounting, is well below the median at $73, 351. In comparison, Sunil Dahanayake, a new Ph.D. hired last fall—14 years after Gunderson—started as an assistant professor making $105, 060. While that number may seem eye-popping here at Missouri Western, it is still well below The median assistant professor salary for accounting of $139,900. Ironically, the national median salary for assistant professors is higher than full professors ($139,700), something that is unheard of in other departments. Lane explained that quality hires tend to only seek schools who have AACSB accreditation. "Candidates don’t necessarily segregate by public-private, they do tend to segregate by AACSB accredited and non-AACSB accredited," Lane said. Daffron explained that the university needs those qualified candidates inorder to keep their accreditation. "AACSB looks very strongly at faculty credentials," Daffron said. "It's really not a meeting minimum standards kind of accreditation it's more of a higher education kind of accreditation." In addition to higher salaries, those hired at an AACSB accredited university are expected to do additional research and publish articles in order to maintain the university's accreditation, which means less hours spent with students. Doing their research All faculty members in the CSB are given one less class per semester than a typical teaching professor in order to spend time conducting research to publish journal articles or present at conferences, according to Lane. "They have to maintain our requirements for scholarly/academic and that is either three journal articles, or two journal articles plus two other things like presentations at conferences and those kind of things," Lane said. Lane explained that CSB professors have a heavier teaching load than most comparable universities, stating that many schools give their business professors at least two fewer classes. Additionally, Lane said that the requirements set by the CSB for their faculty members must be reported to the AACSB and met in order to keep the school's accreditation . Accreditation affirmation  According to the revised 2016 standards for AACSB, a school must be reevaluated every five years in order to keep their accreditation. The standards state that "the school must develop appropriate criteria consistent with its mission for the classification of faculty according to initial academic preparation, professional experience, ongoing scholarship, and ongoing professional engagement." The requirements set forth by the CSB must be met by each reevaluation period in order for the school to be reaccredited. Western first received AACSB accreditation in 2010, and was reevaluated last year. This semester, it was announced that the university had maintained its accreditation. Turnover The CSB has maintained a faculty of about 19 professors since it was founded in 2008.  However, since 2012, 11 faculty members have resigned from the school. While some have retired, Daffron said that others have left to be close to family. She also said that the level of turnover in the CSB may not be typical of other departments, and that this is due to the competitive job market. "It’s probably higher in business. Some of it is because there’s a lot of opportunity, the supply is not great," Daffron said. Another additional factor is that professors would rather publish more instead of spending time in the classroom. "Here we have a really strong focus on teaching,” Daffron said. “Some people really want an opportunity to have more of their day or week spent doing research." However, Daffron does not believe that the number of resigning professors is a serious problem, and she doesn't believe that Lane is worried. "Those are not easy positions to fill, but I don’t think he’s concerned that people are leaving, you know, in numbers that overwhelmingly concern him at all," Daffron said. Dahanayake and Selcuk Ertekin will be resigning at the end of this semester,and they won't be the only one's leaving. Krueger will be retiring on Jan. 1, after working past typical retirement in order to secure his future.  The 78-year-old associate professor said that he felt "blessed" to have worked at Western, but originally stayed despite having his doctoral degree in education administration not recognized by the CSB because his children were in high school here and his wife was a student at Western. He said the other people in the department that make less than the newer hires are in a similar situation. "They have a choice, like I do, but, because of family circumstances, most of these people do not want to leave for a variety of reasons," Krueger said.  

Western to receive $800k more from state; increase won’t prevent salary erosion

The Missouri General Assembly has voted to approve a state budget for the 2017 fiscal year, which will provide a 4 percent increase to higher education funding. There is concern, however, that the $873,000 in additional funding will not be enough to offset inflation for personnel salaries. Historically, when state allocations are increased, universities patch any holes in their own budgets, and then look to add to salaries for their employees. If the governor approves the General Assembly’s budget, this trend of adding to salaries will likely continue for Missouri Western. “Provided our revenue estimates leave us with additional funding after we cover our mandatory costs, it is likely we would attempt to provide our employees with salary and wage increases, and follow that with other budgetary adjustments if additional funding remains,” Cale Fessler, vice president for financial planning and administration said. Western’s Faculty Senate salary committee recommended a 3.5 percent addition to salaries to counterbalance Missouri inflation rates. The raise would provide the average salary with $2,102.10, which some believe to be a suitable amount. “As to whether a… increase is ‘worth it,’ the answer is absolutely yes,” Jon Rhoad, past faculty senate president said. “One must not discount the long-term, compounding effect of percent increases.” Though the Faculty Senate recommended a 3.5 percent bump for personnel, Rhoad is doubtful that the proposal will pass the Board of Governors. “The president is always careful not to promise too much when talking about salary increases,” Rhoad said. “I do not think that the salary increase will be that large. A 3.5 percent increase would cost more than $1 million for all faculty and staff.” Even if the full amount of increased state allocations went to raises, the $873,000 would not be enough to institute the Senate’s proposal. In times of austerity and large-scale state cuts, it’s rare for salaries to be a first priority for universities statewide. “I think most schools are using state funding increases to address inflation across their budgets so as to allow them to hold tuition down and keep higher education as affordable as possible,” Paul Wagner, director of the Council on Public Higher Education in Missouri said. “I don’t think many universities have been able to consistently give faculty and staff raises over the past several years.” In attempt to counterbalance inflation rates, many universities, including Western, provide “cost-of-living increases” to salaries and wages. The Faculty Senate salary committee has reported that since 2007, these cost-of-living increases have lagged behind inflation by 1.7 percent. That percentage lag has compounded each year since then, to the point that in 2016, faculty salaries are 3.5 percent behind inflation. In order to mitigate these inflation levels, the Faculty Senate has proposed a 3.5 percent salary increase. Without the 3.5 percent boost, inflation will continue to erode university salaries.

Griffons take MIAA title with weekend sweep

After busting out the brooms against the Washburn Ichabods, the Griffons claimed the MIAA Championship on Friday and capped the weekend off with a sweep of the Emporia State Hornets. Western was 9-1 in their last 10 games heading into the Washburn double header, but head coach Jen Trotter knew that they could not underestimate the Ichabods. “Washburn is always one of those teams that puts up a respectable offense,” Trotter said. “I was really worried about that match-up for us, but we took care of business.” The Griffons started off game one against the Ichabods with a bang. Left fielder Sydney Washington and right fielder Megan Korgie blasted back-to-back homers in the second inning to give Western a 3-0 lead. They scored again in the fourth inning off of Morgan Rathmann’s single and held Washburn scoreless until the bottom of the seventh inning when they knocked a one-run homerun. The Ichabods could not claw back, giving the Griffons a 4-1 victory. Western piled on the runs in game two. Third baseman Katie Klosterman and Washington drove in the first seven runs for the Griffons. Both players hit homeruns, Klosterman recorded a double and Washington added a single, giving the Griffons a 7-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning. Washburn fought back, driving in four runs in the bottom of the fifth to cut the lead to 7-4. The Griffons held on as first baseman Kailey Green hit a homerun and Rathmann singled, leading to an 11-4 win. Green and Washington launched homers number 14 and eight respectively while Klosterman and Korgie drove their homerun totals to 10 and two respectively. Pitcher Janie Smith improved her record to 19-8, striking out 11 batters in game one and fellow pitcher Shyanne Saladino struck out two while improving her record to 18-3 in game two. After the Washburn double header Western learned that they had won the conference championship, beating out rival Northwest. Trotter believes that one of their biggest strengths is how the Griffons play as a team. “What continues to be a great thing about this team is that they’re able to fight together,” Trotter said. Emporia was next on the list to cap off their MIAA championship season. In game one the Griffons piled on a lead throughout the game while holding the Hornets scoreless until the bottom of the seventh inning. Five players drove in RBIs the give Western a 7-0 lead before Emporia was able to tack on three of their own runs, adding one more in the win column by a score of 7-3. Game two was a defensive battle between the Griffons and Hornets. Emporia struck first to give them a 1-0 lead in the second, but Western added on one in the third and fourth to take a 2-1 lead. That’s how the game would stay, as both team were held scoreless through the last three innings, completing the sweep for the Griffons. Green took her team leading homerun total to 15 as Saladino recorded another win, giving her a 19-3 record. The Griffons finished the regular season at No. 1 in the conference by four games, which Trotter knows is a great accomplishment. “I knew that we were going to have a good season, but for us to get out of the MIAA, as tough as it is, by four games is something that I wouldn’t have anticipated, so that’s pretty neat,” Trotter said. Western will face No. 8 in the conference Southwest Baptist in game one of the MIAA tournament. The Griffons went 1-1 against the Bearcats during the season but Trotter thinks that might have been a good thing in the long run. “I’m grateful now for that split because I think that it will make sure our young ladies are really focused in because they know what can happen if we don’t play our best against that team,” Trotter said. The MIAA Tournament begins in Oklahoma City, OK on Thursday April 28 at 5 p.m.

Maddie and Tae headline spring concert

Country duo Maddie and Tae are flying to the top of the charts with their debut album "Start Here," which they performed at the Civic Arena on Saturday, April 16. Madison Marlow and Taylor Dye graced Missouri Western students and the St. Joseph community with a live concert, featuring their hit singles "Girl in a Country Song" and "Shut Up and Fish." The duo have performed with several popular country artists including Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley, Kip Moore and Little Big Town, but say they love doing small-town shows. “There's something really special about a smaller venue,” the duo said. “It's intimate and we can actually see the the different emotions on our fan's faces, we love that!” Right now, Maddie and Tae are on tour with country artist Lee Brice, whom they say they have learned a lot from. “The more we perform, the more we learn, especially being out with Lee and seeing how passionate he is on stage is very inspiring to us,” Maddie and Tae said. “We want to leave everything we have on the stage just like he does, and being on the road is an adventure in itself, so we've gotten some great song concepts from that.” Speaking of great song concepts, Maddie and Tae are working hard to promote their latest album "Start Here," which was released August 28, 2015. The group discussed that the main concept behind this album is something very important to them. “The common thread in "Start Here" is definitely honesty,” they said. “Authenticity is something that we always hope to capture and achieve throughout all aspects of our career.” Another concept throughout the album is the topic of bro-country, or modern country music taking on pop, rock and hip hop influences, and how the duo are working to promote feminism in country music while sticking to the original country roots. “We think everyone should make music they love and are proud of, but degrading women should never be okay,” they said. “We see that negative trend slowing fading away and it feels great.” Maddie and Tae will be on tour with Brad Paisley starting in May, but until then they plan on focusing on writing new music for their second album, releasing their fourth single off "Start Here" and planning a fall tour.