Business dean search continues

Missouri Western administration hopes to have a final decision for a new Dean of the Steven L. Craig School of Business following a candidate’s campus visit on Jan. 29. The fourth candidate, Phillip Nitse, professor and former chair of the Idaho State University College of Business, was invited to interview with key members of Missouri Western’s administration. With the Steven L. Craig School of Business in the process of accreditation with The Association of Advanced Collegiate Schools of Business, candidates were asked to give a presentation to students, faculty, administration and members of the community on the challenges of AACSB schools and how to address them. “We wanted to give students, faculty and members of the community an opportunity to provide feedback to the committee,” Cynthia Heider, associate provost and vice president for academic and student affairs said. “We strongly encouraged everyone to attend the presentation by each candidate.” Interim Dean of the Steven L. Craig School of Business, Carol Roever, announced her retirement last July, allowing the university a year to find the her replacement. Immediately following, a committee was formed to begin the search for her replacement. The eight-member committee includes representation from the faculty of the Steven L. Craig School of Business, external faculty members, the St. Joseph community, as well as administration. “All positions are important; however, we wanted to make sure we had all representation across campus,” Heider said. “We identified individuals that could provide leadership, input and direction.” Although the committee was put together to find the right candidate, according to Kylee Strough, vice chair of the board of governors and search committee member, the committee does not make the final decision. “We will meet again as a committee following the fourth candidate’s visit to discuss weaknesses and strengths, as well as pros and cons,” Strough said. “The search committee’s decision is purely a recommendation, administration makes the final decision.” [caption id="attachment_2658" align="alignright" width="400" caption="Phillip Nitse, the fourth candidate for the Craig School of Bussiness Dean, presents information on AACSB accredidation"][/caption] With the Steven L. Craig School of Business in the final process of accreditation, administration hopes an announcement can be made before the Feb. 16-18 AASCB visit to Missouri Western. “It would be nice when the accreditation team is here to say we have a new Dean,” President Robert Vartebedian said. “We are hopeful the fourth time is a charm.” According to Strough, despite the business school’s position with the accreditation process, the committee will not propose a final candidate selection to administration until they are confident in their decision. “We don’t want to hire anyone just to say we did it, we want longevity and the right fit,” Strough said. “We will not sacrifice the quality of a Dean.” According to Heider, a July 1 appointment date for a new Dean is still expected, despite a candidate withdrawal late in the interview process. The candidate pulled out of contention following a campus visit for unknown reasons, resulting in the committee’s search for a fourth candidate. “We originally decided to start small but we knew we may need to bring in five or six candidates,” Strough said. “The whole way along we weren’t set that we would find perfection in the first three candidates.”

Newt Gingrich annouced as 2010 convocation speaker

Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and prominent conservative speaker, has been selected by Missouri Western to speak at the 17th annual Convocation on Critical Issues. The convocation will take place on Thursday, Oct. 7, at 9:30 a.m. in the Looney Complex and will be free and open to the public. In addition, Gingrich will speak at the annual Convocation Dinner, which will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m. at the Fulkerson Center in Spratt Hall. Founded in 1993, the Convocation on Critical Issues was designed to be an oral presentation platform through which students and the community at large could hear from a high-profile speaker on a timely issue in modern society. Past speakers have included Steve Forbes, Colin Powell and Bob Woodward, among many others. According to Dan Nicoson, vice president for university advancement, Western works with the Washington Speakers Bureau every year, looking at a list of potential speakers and trying to match the speaker with current pressing issues in the nation. From his perspective, Gingrich is a perfect fit for the convocation. “First of all he is … staying well informed on current issues,” Nicoson said. “Furthermore, his reputation is that he presents an intellectually challenging presentation. Both of [these attributes] fit our needs well.” Following a career as a college professor at the University of West Georgia and Kennesaw State University, Gingrich ran for a congressional seat in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. After two unsuccessful runs in 1974 and 1976, Gingrich won, holding the seat from 1979-1999. During this time, Gingrich also succeeded Dick Cheney as House Minority Whip from 1989-1995. Gingrich became a household name in 1994 as a co-author of “Contract With America,” a document outlining the Republican Party’s plans, were they to win the majority in the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years. When the Republican Party won, Gingrich was made the Speaker of the House, a position that he held from 1995-1999. Following his career in Congress, Gingrich has remained a prominent figure in the political spectrum, authoring 19 books and serving as a political analyst. According to President Robert Vartabedian, the process of selecting a speaker for the convocation consists of four phases: determining who is available with the Speaker’s Bureau, who is affordable, who is available within the time frame and whether or not there is a critical issue at hand that is compatible with Western. Western’s President Vartabedian feels that Gingrich meets the University’s criteria and then some. “He offered us eight different alternative topics,” Vartabedian said. “That’s kind of unheard of; usually there’s just a basic speech. I think that was very attractive to some of the people in on the decision.” From Vartabedian’s perspective, there were two other key factors in the decision, the first of being the need to balance the convocation out politically, as last year’s convocation featured a democratic speaker, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Another factor that makes Gingrich unique is swirling rumors about his future in politics. “He may be a candidate for the presidency in 2012,” Vartabedian said. “This is the first time in the 17-year history of the convocation that we have someone who very well maybe running for the presidency in two years.” As of now, it is unknown as to what subject Gingrich will speak about. According to the Washington Speakers Bureau website, www.washingtonspeakers.com, Gingrich’s main speech topics include how to improve America’s economic standing, the Obama administration and leadership lessons. Regardless of what topic he chooses, it can be assumed from his prolific background and experience that Gingrich will provide the students of Missouri Western a critical take on a timely issue that is important to all. “[Gingrich]…has an experience and insight into critical issues which I think he can bring to [Western],” said R. Dan Boulware, the former Western regent for whom the convocation is held in honor of. “We like people who speak on college campuses and who are well received by students; that’s very important to me and Newt Gingrich fits that criteria.”

Boehringer Ingelheim signs Kit Bond Science lease

Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc., a pharmaceutical company based in St. Joseph, has signed a lease with Missouri Western State University to be the fifth tenant of the Christopher S. “Kit” Bond Science and Technology Incubator. “We’re bringing the synergy of having the [means] to…create a sort of can do attitude about animal health and what it takes to move ideas to products across the globe,” said Ed Robb, vice president of research and development. Founded in 1885, BIVI is a subsidiary of Boehringer Ingelheim Corporation, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies. With interests in both human pharmaceuticals and animal health products, the goals of BIVI and those of the incubator went hand-in-hand, so much that the company actually served on the board of the Institute for Industrial and Applied Life Sciences, the joint public/private organization that manages the incubator. When the incubator was being built, President and CEO Dr. Gary Clapp spoke with Dr. George Heidgerken, president and CEO of BIVI, about occupying the incubator in the near future. According to Clapp, IIALS and Missouri Western were looking at spending nearly a million dollars to finish the second floor; simultaneously, BIVI had doubled in size and was in need of a new facility to accommodate their growth. [caption id="attachment_2651" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Stock Photo"][/caption] Clapp believes that this agreement serves IIALS’ goals of advocating animal health and life sciences, working on economic development and helping Western in their mission of applied learning. “Boehringer Ingelheim will benefit from being an integral part of the incubator and our community and Missouri Western will benefit from the student and faculty interaction,” Clapp said. “Overall, the community will benefit significantly from the continued job growth and the ability to keep these jobs right here in St. Joseph.” Heidgerken is quick to concur, noting that it is his passion to bring higher quality science education to the community and he feels this agreement will achieve that. “We get to do day-to-day business, but we also get to meet and work with students and the faculty,” Heidgerken said. “We have that opportunity to share ideas.” With plans to move into the incubator by April, BIVI will occupy the second floor of the incubator for the next four years with an option to extend the lease for another year. With the signing of the lease, BIVI will bring 40 new jobs to the incubator and will spend approximately $750,000 on finishing the second floor. Once BIVI leaves the incubator, however, those improvements won’t be going with them. “When they leave at the end of four years, those improvements will become property of the university and those then become accessible to the enjoyment of new clients,” Clapp said. From the perspective of Western President Robert Vartabedian, the joint agreement between Western, IIALS and BIVI is a win-win situation for all involved. “They are huge players in the Animal Life Sciences Industry worldwide and to have an affiliation with them is a major development for the incubator,” Vartabedian said. “This will make for a stronger bond between us.”

Perález named new vice president of student affairs

There is a very important new face amongst the administration of Missouri Western. Her name is Esther Perález, and she is the vice president for student affairs. She will be the direct voice of the students on the line to the university president. After a national search for the right person, many on the administrative staff feel that they could not have made a better selection. Judith Grimes, dean of student affairs, certainly agrees. “We are absolutely delighted that she chose to come out here,” Grimes said. “It was a priority of the presidents that he had someone to work with him at the cabinet level to represent students. She has a significant background in student affairs in many different areas.” Grimes believes that the job before the new VP is a large one, but one that is made for the right person. “We have been having regular staff meetings. She is very personable. It was time to add this position and we are thrilled to have her, Grimes said.” The position was at the special request of the University President, Dr. Robert Vartabedian. “We are very pleased to have Dr. Perález join us,” Vartabedian said. “She has a wealth of experience in student affairs. She already has a lot on her plate here with fairly pressing issues associated with student housing, student organizations and student engagement.” Of course, the students may ask many questions, like where did she come from?’ Dr Perález is very open with her own origin story. “I wanted to be an elementary education teacher and did do that for a couple of years,” Perález said. “However, when I returned to Montana from Oregon, there were no teaching positions so I took an advising job at a local college.” After teaching and advising began to settle into her lifestyle, she saw new potentials. “I began to realize that to impact student success, I needed to advance in my career and to do so I needed a doctorate,” Perález said. “I completed it and accepted a position as a dean of students.” So what exactly does it mean to be vice president of student affairs? “My position is to ensure that all voices are heard and that everyone was acknowledged,” Perález said. “This requires that the VP educate the community about the role of student affairs and its contribution to student development.” There is a great use for someone in her position here at Western. She even feels there are areas of concern that she can help address. “I heard some of the concerns students have about Western relative to diversity,” Perález said. “As our world and Western becomes more diverse, we need to prepare our students for a different world. As a person of color, I have traversed two cultures my whole life and my experience working at a variety of institutions has given me the opportunity to do that.”

Costs rise while tuition stays frozen

Missouri Western State University may find itself in a fiscal jam in the coming years. It stems largely from the rising costs of running a University and an agreement made by the presidents of Missouri Presidents of Higher Education and the state governor. Jeanne Daffron, provost and vice president for academic and student affairs, paints a simple picture for students to understand. “It is agreement between the governor and the university presidents where he said I won’t cut your budgets if you agree not to raise tuition,” Daffron said. “The difficulty with that is that the dollars are constant but there has been an increase in things that are mandatory to make the school run; health care costs and increases in utilities. There are increased costs with no new money coming in.” Melvin Klinkner, vice president for financial planning and administration, is another person who has to deal with the puzzle of how to stretch the university’s budget. “What happened is that we are in year one of the governor’s agreement, which starts July 1 through June 30 this Fiscal year 2010. The agreement with the school presidents was I won’t cut you as long as you don’t raise tuition.” Klinkner said. “The agreement for this fiscal year is he will only cut 5.2 percent as long as we agree not to raise tuition.” Klinkner suggests a reason that this deal was made. “Last year the legislators bought into it because there was a federal stabilization fund to fill the short fall of revenues,” Klinkner said. “Soon, the stabilization funds will be gone, and we will have to make up for them with a 5.2 percent cut.” Considering that it has been years since Missouri Western raised their tuition, it may have been hoped that budget cuts would not be made at all. “Western has a reputation for not raising their tuition,” Klinkner said. “For the last three years we didn’t and we thought maybe that would leave us in good standing, like they would say ‘gosh, look at Western, they are keeping a tight budget and setting a good example.’ But the fact now is we should have raised tuition while we could because now we can’t.” So, the real problem comes when we consider the needs of a rapidly growing university. “We are in a phase now when you have to ask, how do you grow a university, how do you hire staff, expand classrooms, all that kind of stuff, when you have tuition caps,” Klinkner said. “Suddenly you can’t add staffing or give raises.” University President Robert Vartabedian considers it better than nothing at all but sees the potential for future problems. “Given the various alternatives, it was our best option,” Vartabedian said. “Of course, without the added revenue of a tuition increase, Missouri western will need to do a lot of belt tightening.”won’t cut you as long as you don’t raise tuition.” Klinkner said. “The agreement for this fiscal year is he will only cut 5.2 percent as long as we agree not to raise tuition.” Klinkner suggests a reason that this deal was made. “Last year the legislators bought into it because there was a federal stabilization fund to fill the short fall of revenues,” Klinkner said. “Soon, the stabilization funds will be gone, and we will have to make up for them with a 5.2 percent cut.” Considering that it has been years since Missouri Western raised their tuition, it may have been hoped that budget cuts would not be made at all. “Western has a reputation for not raising their tuition,” Klinkner said. “For the last three years we didn’t and we thought maybe that would leave us in good standing, like they would say ‘gosh, look at Western, they are keeping a tight budget and setting a good example.’ But the fact now is we should have raised tuition while we could because now we can’t.” So, the real problem comes when we consider the needs of a rapidly growing university. “We are in a phase now when you have to ask, how do you grow a university, how do you hire staff, expand classrooms, all that kind of stuff, when you have tuition caps,” Klinkner said. “Suddenly you can’t add staffing or give raises.” University President Robert Vartabedian considers it better than nothing at all but sees the potential for future problems. “Given the various alternatives, it was our best option,” Vartabedian said. “Of course, without the added revenue of a tuition increase, Missouri western will need to do a lot of belt tightening.”