Craig School of Business maintains AACSB accreditation

Western is pleased to announce that as of Feb. 12, the Steven L. Craig school of Business has maintained its AACSB accreditation. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business is an exclusive international academic association dedicated to the progression of collegiate business schools. There are only 749 AACSB accredited institutions in the world, making it the gold standard for business programs. AACSB Executive Vice President and Chief Accreditation officer Robert Reid was pleased to accredit Western’s business school. “It takes a great deal of commitment and determination to earn and maintain AACSB Accreditation,” Reid said. “Business schools must not only meet specific standards of excellence, but their deans, faculty and professional staff must make a commitment to ongoing continuous improvement to ensure that the institution will continue to deliver the highest quality of education to students.” Michael Lane, Dean of the Craig School of Business, views the accreditation as a well-deserved recognition of the quality of Western’s business programs. “The original application process is actually a five-year process, which we went through from 2005-2010. Then every five years you go through a reaccreditation, which is what we just did, and that is an affirmation of the quality of the program.  They look at the credentials of the faculty, the quality of the students and the program as a whole. As we are offering the program we are also measuring whether or not the students are learning what they need to learn for the employers out there,” Lane said. “Accreditation should be the byproduct of a high quality program, so we really view the process as just validating the quality of our program. We assume now, since we have had the original accreditation and we continue to maintain the quality of our program then it will naturally reoccur every five years.” Western President Robert Vartabedian was thrilled with the continuation of the business school’s accreditation.

Fees by the student, for the student: Understanding the Student Success Act

Rarely do college students decide that college should cost even more than it already does, but students at Missouri Western did just that several years ago. The Student Success Act (formerly known as the Save Our School Act) is a student -imposed fee that has collected over $2 million dollars from students over the few years it has been around. Created in 2012, the fee charges $75 to full-time students per semester, $50 to part-time students and $25 for summer semesters. Put in place by student government and not a student body vote, the fee helps to fund a variety of student services. Current SGA Vice President Brad Stanton said threats at the time of cuts to the university’s budget led to the creation of the SSA fee. “What was happening was that the state government was threatening budget cuts to basically all the universities [in Missouri], and Missouri Western determined that those budget cuts would have to come from cutting student services,” Stanton said. “So, SGA, at the time, said that was not acceptable and created this fee to take the place of those budget cuts, which would save services like the Center of Student Engagement, the Center for Multicultural Education and some of those offices that aren’t really core to the academic experience but are core to the student experience.” Those budget cuts ultimately did not happened but the SSA fee remained in place. The fee then changed its purpose. “The budget cut never came,” Stanton said, “so the fee was still put in place and since it meant to save student services in the beginning, now we decided to transition to kind of the model of supporting student services.” Since its inception, SSA has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a variety of projects. SSA was initially intended to help fund five key areas: recreation services, Center for Academic Support, student success and advising, student life and leadership and career services. Over time, however, that seemed to change as SSA funds were used to fund everything from International Student Services, Baker Fitness equipment rentals, nursing services at Esry, theater productions, parking lot renovations, library updates, student life programming and career development events. The current fiscal year (FY16) allocated $70,000 to Baker Fitness for new equipment rentals and $60,000 went to Esry Health Center to extend hours and contract-in a registered nurse. After much debate, it also allocated money was also allocated to help fund a renovation project of Blum Union as well as a renovation of the leaking Looney Pool. Who decides? How much SSA money gets allocated and where it gets allocated is decided by the Student Fee Advisory Committee. The committee is comprised of six members and is meant to represent both the student and the university sides of how the money should be spent. Three of the members are students picked by the SGA president. The other three are administration members picked by the University president. Once the committee reaches an agreement on how the money is to be allocated, it is submitted to SGA Senate to approve or deny. If it passes SGA, the proposal is then sent to the University President to be approved or vetoed. SGA administrative coordinator Jessica Frogge said that having students on the committee allows them to have a voice in what happens on campus. “I think our view with this funding is to be able to say, ‘hey, this is what students want,’” Frogge said. “This is our control of this money to fix what students are wanting, not administration saying this is what we think students want. So it gives students a little more control over being able to use it for things that they feel they want changed on campus." Frogge said having the administration on the committee provides another perspective into how to spend the money. “It is also nice to have the administration in on this committee because sometimes they see needs that students don’t, because students are only here for four years,” Frogge said. “A lot of times, even the students up here in student government change from year to year, so having the administration here to say ‘hey, we really see this need and we really feel like students would benefit from this,’ so it’s nice to have their input.” SGA Senator Haden McDonald was one of the three students who represented Missouri Western students by serving on the SSA advisory committee last year. At times, representing the student body as a whole was difficult, McDonald said. “Between the three of us [students], we always had different ideas and there were a few times where we all agree on the same idea, but not always,” McDonald said. “That was a little hard on us because the question becomes who are we representing. We’re not supposed to be representing ourselves. We’re supposed to be representing the students. Then the question is what do the students think.” Not only is there difficulty in getting students to agree, but so is getting the committee as a whole to do the same. When a proposal came from the administration for SSA funds to help finance part of the renovations to Spratt Stadium, the student portion of the committee rejected it. “So I think the administration was trying to put money to fund large items that, I think, they saw as things that students do use, but not necessarily student success,” McDonald said. “When we went in there, all three students agreed that student success was going to be a priority. That if we’re going to fund anything, it needs to be student success." McDonald said that while good has come about from the fee, there were times in the past when SSA funding went to things other than student success related programs. “I think we provided funding for things like parking lot renovations outside of Baker and I wouldn’t consider these deferred maintenance type issues as things that go toward student success,” McDonald said. “Those are things that should be addressed by the university and not a student fee. The CAS got carpet and that’s questionable. It’s borderline because the CAS is helpful for the students and that’s nice, but does the carpet in the CAS help the students? It’s things like that is a question of should a student fee be paying for it.” Is SSA here to stay? While there has been some tension over the allocation of the fee and the fee itself over the years, it seems like the SSA fee will be around for years to come since there are no initiatives to alter or repeal it. SGA Vice President Brad Stanton supports the fee and said that it is important to remember what the SSA funds when discussing the fee’s future. “Just really being able to sustain the student services that we need and then also building new projects is great for a university that’s so poorly funding,” Stanton said. “Having this pool of money, I think, is worth the $75 [a semester] when you’re getting a whole new building, you’re getting a completely renovated pool and things like that. You’re getting these student services that you can use for free. I think it’s worth it. I think it’s a good fee.” Likewise, Frogge said eliminating the SSA fee would likely cause more fees to take its place. “Honestly, I don’t think it’s a fee that students should really give up… I feel like if this fee is taken away, you’re going to start to see fees like a health fee tacked on and other fees may eventually come about to help with more student[-focused] things,” Frogge said. “If you want to continue to see more student upgrades of what students want, then this fee is a good thing. And compared to other universities, I don’t feel like our fees are high and our cost of tuition is a lot lower. I feel like taking away this fee is kind of taking away the power of change on campus from the students.” While SSA may provide students a way to change things on campus, others like McDonald feel that the Student Success Act itself needs to change. “So, I would say that for the most part, it [SSA money] has gone toward student success, but there are still some times when it didn’t and that’s what needs to be changed for the future,” McDonald said. “I really hope that SGA makes that effort as a whole to change SSA to redefine it to go towards student success and only student success.” As for now, there are no concrete plans to change or repeal the SSA fee, ensuring that student success will be a topic of discussion for years to come.

New water systems

Have you ever been thirsty, too broke to buy a water bottle or in a hurry? Thanks to efforts made on campus, Missouri Western students in this predicament will soon have a solution. There have been a few new additions to campus water fountains. Water bottle refilling stations have been added to some water fountains, and there are plans to install more. The goal of this plan is to save students money and save plastic water bottles. Ida Haefner, President of SGA, explained how the SGA initiated this project.  “We had one of our Senators, Brianna Bland, go through and come up with this big contract with this company and ended up having this lady from California come out and look at our campus," Haefner said. "She loved our campus and gave us a great deal on water bottle refilling stations.” The project was not funded by SGA alone, however. “We purchased five as SGA and [Director of Physical Plant] Jerry Gentry purchased the other five," Haefner said.  Brianna Bland, SGA Senator, explained the process that went into acquiring the water fountains for Missouri Western.  “The water bottling stations just became an idea and from there we talked with a bunch of companies and went with a company in California," Bland said. "The sales representative from that company flew in to look at our campus and see what would be the best options for it."  The new water fountains provide some great amenities for students, Bland said. “Each of these stations show approximately how many water bottles we are saving to prevent from polluting," Bland said. "It also helps students save from buying $4-5 water bottles at the school. They’re censored so you can just put your water bottle in and once it's full take it out. It’s not going to overflow. It has ion pieces in it to give it a better taste and it is much more purified."  Bland said that the cost of the five fountains was $4,233, including installment, maintenance and warranty. Jerry Gentry, Director of the Physical Plant, explained how Missouri Western will get the most out of the new water fountains.  “The new ones that we are putting in have a built-in filter," Gentry said. "They have a charcoal filter so it makes the water cleaner. What we’re doing is changing out the ones that didn’t have filters and didn’t have bottle filling stations in the buildings that have the highest amount of traffic, or where people will be working out a lot.” Gentry said Western plans to get the fountains in 10 different buildings. Refillable stations have been installed in the Looney Complex, Popplewell Hall, Hearnes Center, Blum Union and the Baker Fitness Center. There are plans to have them installed in Potter, Murphy, Remington, Spratt and the Griffon Indoor Sports Complex. The fountains have meters on each system that display how many bottles it has saved; with one bottle is equaling 20 ounces of water.  Gentry said that three months from now the meters will be checked to see the total number of water bottles these systems have saved.  “It's a convenience for students and it’s a green initiative," Gentry said.  IMG_4366 IMG_4364

Western Unlikely to Face Changes with Proposed Health Bill

A House bill with the potential to drastically change how state universities within Missouri operate their student health services will make its way through committee hearings this month, but it seems as though Missouri Western will be left unaffected. House Bill 2096, authored by Rep. Jason Chipman, R-Steelville, mandates that state universities will not be allowed to charge students with a health service fee if the student has proof of insurance. For many schools, there would need to be major reconfiguration of their budgets in order to compensate for loss of revenue. However, Missouri Western will be faced with little to no change. Pam Esely is in charge of Esry Health Center’s operating budget, and she feels there is little reason to worry about this bill. Western does not charge students with a health service fee upon registration like other schools, but rather charges each individual student for their own usage of the center. Currently, when one visits Esry a $25 charge is billed to the individual’s account; no other students are responsible for paying this service. For this reason, Rep. Chipman authored the bill after his experience attending the University of Missouri-Rolla. Chipman was enrolled in only six credit hours at the time, but still was required to pay the various campus fees, such as the health services fee. Chipman, a veteran, living off campus with a family and a full-time job, had full insurance coverage and never once used the on-campus health facility. “It didn’t make sense for me to go to the campus center when I had my own doctor covered through my insurance plan. So I asked myself, ‘Why should I pay for a service I’m not ever going to use?’ Other students were benefitting at my expense,” said Chipman. Chipman believes college students across Missouri are facing this same issue as he did. He argues that if students are already paying fees for insurance coverage, then they shouldn’t be charged additional fees that are not benefitting them. According to Esely, Esry is already in the process of moving toward accepting health insurance from students. When a student visits the center, their insurance provider would be billed for the service rather than the student. Students without insurance would be self-pay, just like at any doctor’s office. Whether or not the $25 service fee would be covered by insurance depends upon the provider. A representative for Coventry Health Care, a prominent health insurance provider in the Midwest, said that most insurance companies would probably view the $25 charge as a typical co-pay fee. If this is the case, then students would still be responsible for the service charge. “I applaud Missouri Western for taking this stance on having students pay for the service they receive. That’s how the world works,” said Chipman. Chipman hopes that through his bill other Missouri universities will adopt a method like what Western enforces, thus creating a fairer system for students and their money.    

New Bursar Hire

This semester Leigh Hefflers joins Western's financial staff as the new Bursar. Hefflers is responsible for overseeing many financial duties within the Business Office, such as supervising payment plans, refunds and the school's payroll. Hefflers also must stay informed on financial aid rules and regulations that apply to state and federal grants, scholarships and loan programs. The Bursar manages the school's Business Office, making sure the department is in compliance with school policies, procedures, and Title IX codes. Leigh Hefflers can be found in the Business Office located in Eder 104. Welcome to Missouri Western!