Board of Curators meet to discuss plans and goals of marketing strategies, research, funding

The meeting took place on UMKC’s campus on Sept. 20 and 21.
The company 160over90 was hired to help fix the branding of MU in five locations. The results are recorded in the graphic. Courtesy of

The UM System Board of Curators met on Sept. 20 and 21 at the University of Missouri, Kansas City campus. The curators discussed different marketing strategies to increase enrollment, investment performance and financial goals.

Chancellor Mauli Agrawal - UMKC

The Sept. 20 board meeting began with UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal, who spoke about areas that need attention at UMKC. Agrawal is working on increasing student success, improving student experience and growing the research enterprise at UMKC. His top goal is to increase retention and to grow enrollment. He also said he believes that more strategic marketing and more scholarships are necessary to increase enrollment.

Agrawal also spoke about the sense of belonging within UMKC, which is a part of student experience. Agrawal said additional sporting events such as men's basketball are being moved back to their campus for increased school spirit and to decrease costs.

Fiscal Year 2018 investment performance

Curator Julia Brncic introduced Ryan Rapp, vice president for finance and chief financial officer to discuss the financial status update. Rapp mentioned that the overall financial performance is strong, but the business model needs to change to improve financial performance.

Strategic communications and marketing update

MU leaders signed a contract with 160over90, a Philadelphia-based branding agency to help fix MU’s brand. The marketing efforts were focused in five locations: Chicago, Southwest Missouri, Kansas City, St. Louis and Central Missouri.

Freshman enrollment has increased by 13 percent in fall 2018, the strongest gain in 10 years. 160over90 helped accomplish this growth by focusing on digital marketing. They used social media, paid searches and targeted strategic messaging that follows IP addresses.

Andrew Careaga, executive director of marketing and communications at S&T, said he believes the best ambassadors for a brand are the students. He shared a quote from L.R. Grabill, an S&T graduate from the class of 1878.

“We present ourselves as defenders of the new education whose adherents, work not only with their heads, but with their hands; who delight to unravel the mysteries and solve the problems which nature lays before us,” Grabill wrote.

S&T has adopted this statement as its 150-year promise.

Kamrhan Farwell, chief marketing and communications officer at MU and for the UM System, spoke about the strategic communications and marketing update at MU.

“Mom and dad might be getting messaging focused on value and what kind of jobs students would get after graduation and the student is getting messaging about how interesting it’s going to be on campus and what kind of experiences they’re going to have,” Farwell said. “Those messages are going to the same household, focused on the different audiences.”

The focus for the academic year 2019 is on four items: enrollment media, or messages that go to prospective students and their parents; sentiment media, which focuses on raising MU’s profile; yield media, which focuses on closing the deal with students who have been accepted but are not yet enrolled; and website redesign, specifically on the front page.

Lastly, UM System President Mun Choi gave a presentation called Excellence through Innovation. He said the highest priorities for the university are student success and research and creative works.

MU Chancellor Alexander Cartwright

MU Chancellor Alexander Cartwright presented on the Flagship of the Future. He also presented academic goals for the university and explained strategies to achieve those goals.

One goal was to increase the six-year graduation rate from 69 percent in 2018 to 74 percent in 2023 and increase the six-year Pell Grant graduation rate from 53 percent to 58 percent.

Another goal was to increase student engagement and thriving through accessible support. The way to achieve that goal is to create a comprehensive student employment experience that contributes to student learning, success and career outcomes.

Other goals included doubling the expenditure for federal and industry research, increase journal article publications and to increase the number of national awards for faculty.

Strategic Plans

Agrawal explained the six pillars of UMKC: provide exceptional student learning, success and experience, become a thriving discovery enterprise, transform community and region with impactful engagement, foster an environment of invigorating multiculturalism, globalism, diversity and inclusion and develop strong and resilient processes and physical infrastructure.

Chancellor Christopher Maples presented academic goals for 2023, including increasing the first-year retention rate and increasing classroom use efficiency.

Maples also said that Missouri University of Science of Technology plans to eliminate its application fee for current applicants. Maples then presented research goals for fall 2023, including doubling the research expenditures and to have 10 faculty receive nationally recognized awards. He also explained goals regarding engagement and outreach, inclusive excellence and operations.

University of Missouri, St. Louis Chancellor Thomas George presented the strategic plan for UMSL from 2018 to 2023. Student success goals included increasing the six-year graduation rate, increase retention of Pell Grant recipients and reduce debt at graduation.

Research goals include increasing the number of journal articles, to aggressively increase national award nominations for faculty and increase external research awards by 10 percent each year.

New Bachelor’s degree program

George Stewart, chairman of the department of veterinary pathobiology, talked about the bachelor’s of science degree in microbiology at MU. Having a microbiology major is important because and has a lot of research potential, according to Stewart. The Board voted on adding this degree and agreed unanimously that this program should be added to MU.

New Doctoral Program

Stephanie Reid-Arndt, associate dean for academic affairs at MU School of Health Professions, shared information about a proposed doctoral program. The new program is an interdisciplinary, research-focused doctoral program that will prepare students for careers, research, education and leadership, according to Reid-Arndt.

Students will be able to earn a Ph.D. of Philosophy in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. The Board unanimously voted to approve this degree program.

UM Board’s Chair Report

Research growth in the UM System halted in 2008 due to financial problems, but the growth in other universities did not stop. Steelman introduced this issue to the Board on Sept. 21 and his presentation pertained to the standing of the UM system’s academic research in comparison to other UM campuses and other universities.

Steelman said that even if resources per student and financial aid from the state government decreases, UM campuses must continue in their research goals.

“We frankly know that we not only desire but need as much state funding as we can get,” Steelman said. “But if we don’t get state funding we can’t just pull in and give up. We have to learn to prosper no matter what the situation is.”

Steelman said research retains faculty, increases student interest in the campuses and therefore growing campus reputation and and revenue.

“We owe it to our students because if you do better, more high quality research, it increases the value of our student’s degrees and that’s why we’re here,” Steelman said.

Additionally, a resolution was passed to thank former-Student Representative to the Board of Curators Courtney Lauer for her time and service on the Board of Curators. S&T student Avery Welker was sworn in as the new student representative.

UM System President’s Report

A plan for a Transitional Precision Medical Complex at MU were voiced to the Board during the UM System President’s Report.

While research funding is necessary to continue innovations, Choi said grants and donations are not the most important piece of studies conducted.

“It’s not the dollars, it’s the impact that comes from those research expenditures that actually support the great science that leads to society benefits, and we can’t lose sight of that,” Choi said.

MU Chancellor Alexander Cartwright spoke about improving research and faculty relations on MU’s campus through collaboration between faculty and administration and the environment for research that MU is looking to create. The university is also planning to launch the Office of Research Advancement to coordinate grant opportunities between disciplines and connect researchers throughout MU.

“When I look at Mizzou, I see a comprehensive institution unlike almost any other institution in the country,” Cartwright said. “That gives us a distinctive advantage that if we could bring all of those disciplines together in a way that they get together and think about ideation, how do you come up with new ideas?”

A plan for a new Translational Precision Medical Complex on MU’s campus is in the works. Mark McIntosh, MU vice chancellor for research, graduate studies and economic development, said this new facility will create interdisciplinary collaboration between engineering, medicine and many other schools to create real-world uses of research in a more timely manner.

The TPMC will focus on cancer, cardiovascular and neurological work. There will be a floor dedicated to research innovation and some of the space will eventually be for commercial use with business partners.

Finance Committee

During the Finance Committee, each campus chancellor updated the Board on current and future plans for renovations. Cartwright explained an addition to Ellis library’s book depository, along with a plan to replace the Veterinary Medicine Diagnostic Laboratory.

For S&T, Chancellor Christopher Maples provided the Board an update on the Schrenk Hall renovation, the library/learning commons renovation and the McNutt Hall addition. The campus is also renovating and adding an addition to their engineering research laboratory, which will be the first research-only space ever built on S&T’s campus.

The University of Missouri, St. Louis recently completed a $150 million project of updating four buildings and redoing roads. The campus will also renovate their Social Sciences building with the help of a $1 million gift from Monsanto.

At MU, Ellis Library will receive a book depository addition. MU will also build a satellite boiler plant and replace the Veterinary Medicine Diagnostic Laboratory. A plan to redevelop Neff Hall and add to the site is also in the works.

UMKC will build a new Conservatory of Music and Dance, renovate and add to Bloch Heritage Hall, and has plans to build a new space for 500 beds of student housing.

Press conference

Choi addressed the climate of the campuses and how each layer of administration will be accountable to one another and the public during a press conference after the Board meeting concluded.

“We need to ensure... we create a climate and a culture where funded research programs for those disciplines in which funding is expected are encouraged and also incentivized,” Choi said. “The accountability for all of us starts with the goals that we establish.”

Another question was asked in regards to potential tuition raises, especially in regards to other universities. Choi said tuition raises will be “measured and appropriate” for the needs of the UM campuses, but affordability must be taken into account.

“If we can increase tuition to have a larger revenue source that can be used to hire additional faculty and teaching assistants so that our students can get into the classes that they need to graduate and graduate on time, as opposed to reducing the number of faculty because of a lack of resources which may extend the time to graduation, that’s not a win for the students. So we have to figure out how do we best use those revenue sources to ensure student success,” Choi said.

The next Board of Curators meeting will be held at UMSL on Nov. 15-16. Live audio streaming is available and archived audio is available at

Edited by Morgan Smith |

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