UM System rep presents performance funding information to Faculty Council

Proposed measures will be taken to the Central Board of Higher Education for approval at its December meeting.
Anna Keller / Graphic Designer

Nikki Krawitz, UM System vice president for finance and administration, presented information about proposed measures for performance funding at Thursday’s Faculty Council meeting.

During the discussion, which lasted an hour and a half, faculty members expressed concerns that the measures would neglect some of MU’s institutional goals and suggested other possible measures for consideration.

The measures were developed last week by the Department of Higher Education’s task force on performance funding. The current proposal would require four-year institutions to pick four measures from three different categories and an additional fifth measure at their own discretion.

The proposed categories are student progress, which could be measured by freshman-to-sophomore retention rate or the amount of undergraduates completing 24 hours in their first year; degree attainment, measured by six-year graduation rate or total degrees awarded; and quality of learning, based on performance on nationally-administered exams, such as professional licensing exams.

Gov. Jay Nixon proposed affordability as a category for goals, but the task force opposed this measure because affordability largely depends on the level of state funding.

Krawitz said the quality of learning measure was added at the requests of the UM System provosts, but they have had trouble determining what tests could be used to accurately measure this.

Council members had previously expressed concerns about the exclusion of research from performance funding measures, and the presentation suggested that MU could choose research funding as its fifth, undetermined measure.

Krawitz said the measures were tied in to Nixon’s goal of increasing the number of Missouri residents with college degrees.

“The while focus of this is consistent with the state’s and the governor’s goal of increasing the number of citizens in the state with post-secondary degrees or certifications,” she said.

The task force’s chosen measures, such as retention rates, are meant to measure how well institutions support students through their years at college.

“You have admission criteria and you are accepting students you think can be successful,” Krawitz said. “Sometimes they aren’t successful for reasons over which you have no control, so we try to do things over which we have control and help students pass those difficult bumps on the road.”

Council members raised concerns that the measures would focus exclusively on undergraduate education.

“We have a whole population of grad students, and they’re not being counted anywhere,” council member Nicole Monnier said. “Nothing that they do, nothing that we do with them, nothing that they accomplish is counted anywhere in this.”

Other faculty members suggested measures that could include graduate students.

“Grad students are being published, they’re getting grants, they’re presenting their research at conferences,” council member Rebecca Johnson said. "There are many metrics to use to show success or quality.”

Council members also questioned why diversity was not included in any of the measures, a concern Krawitz said she would relay.

“I’ll bring back that this group would like to see a diversity measure included, but the idea is to keep it to a small number of measures, and there are choices in that,” she said.

The measures will be presented and officially determined in December. Concrete details of how funds would be distributed based on these will be discussed later. The current plan would implement performance funding in the 2014 fiscal year.

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