MU achieving its goals

These days, it seems that MU administrators and faculty alike have a dim view about the near and mid-term future of MU. Of particular concern is the retention of quality faculty who have been snagged by peer institutions due to inferior faculty salaries. Adding further to the gloom has been MU’s drop from 73 to 91 in the US News and World Report of national university rankings. This has been cited as evidence that MU must be active in its approach to retain quality faculty and programs, and alas, justification for Compete Missouri. This editorial is against Compete Missouri. However, unlike most arguments against Compete Missouri, I wish to address the relevance of Compete Missouri rather than its merits. The prevailing wisdom is that MU wishes to hire and retain competent faculty and programs. Further, almost without the need to express in words, the prevailing wisdom assumes that MU wants to move up in the National rankings index, in the direction of No. 1, rather than moving down toward the bottom of the index. With such wisdom prevailing, it is understandable many would see Compete Missouri as a common sense approach to achieving these goals. However, I would like to suggest that MU does not desire to retain quality faculty, nor does it aspire to move to the top of national university rankings. By its actions, MU has shown that it wants to be 91st (or lower), thus MU is in fact meeting its goals, and all the doom and gloom about MU’s near to mid-term future is completely unwarranted. Likewise, Compete Missouri is completely unnecessary. As evidence, I would like to cite the recent article titled “Provost’s decision criticized” in the 06/08/2008 edition of the Columbia Daily Tribune. In the article it is stated that Provost Foster actively intervened to prevent the (already existing) Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute from applying for a $900,000 grant from the Nuclear Regulatory Committee to hire new junior faculty. His arguments for such actions are largely debunked by the allowance provided to the College of Engineering to apply for the same grant. Further, the NSEI has been rated number one in the nation for scholarly productivity by the Chronicle of Higher Education, while the College of Engineering, at the moment, has no nuclear engineering program. Rather than working with and devoting resources to promote a successful program (the NSEI), MU’s administration has taken an active step to hinder its progress. Further, the hiring of new faculty in the field of nuclear engineering by the College of Engineering implies that MU administrators wish to cultivate a parallel, redundant program; quite opposite the spirit of Compete Missouri (i.e. improving the value of an MU education despite the financial hardships). It is paradoxical for MU administration to promote Compete Missouri, while, at the same time, participate in the sabotage of one of MU’s most nationally recognized programs. Unless, of course, the critics of Compete Missouri are correct. By its recent actions, it appears that 91st is pretty much where MU wants to be. Congratulations!

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