Loftin provides strategic plan updates to UM Curators

Hiring John Boyer, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, has improved MU’s membership standing score in the AAU by 12.5 percent.

Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin presented the key points of MU’s Strategic Operating Plan to the UM System Board of Curators at the Friday meeting during the board’s annual June session at MU.

MUSOP’s primary objective is to, by 2018, “enhance (MU’s) academic stature as measured by publicly made available metrics, including those of the Association of American Universities.”

One way to accomplish this goal, which Loftin said originated under former vice chancellor for research Robert Duncan, was to hire up to 100 non-tenure track faculty members dedicated to research.

However, Loftin said because of the lack of proposals made to hire such faculty, this aspect of the plan was since abandoned.

“We had two to three proposals come forth to hire these types of faculties and this was an abject failure as far as stimulating what we had hoped to stimulate,” Loftin said. “We are going to find a better way to do this.”

Loftin said a key step taken during 2014 was hiring nine new tenured faculty members, such as Elizabeth Parks in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology.

In addition, six new faculty members, including John Boyer from Delaware University, will join MU by the 2014 fall semester.

Boyer’s membership in the National Academy of Sciences, Loftin said, has provided a 12.5 percent increase in the metric for MU’s standing as a member of the AAU.

“We had eight (NAS) members in place; (Boyer) is our ninth,” Loftin said. “We continue to look forward to adding additional faculty from the academies to MU and also promoting the faculty we have already in place here to be recognized for membership in one of the academies.”

Another aspect of the MUSOP seeks to increase faculty salaries and benefits internally, without additional state funding.

Loftin said during FY2014, MU dedicated over $10 million to increasing faculty and staff compensations, $1.7 million to increasing salaries and $500,000 to increasing benefits for the “200 extraordinary faculty who contribute directly to our AAU metrics.”

An additional $614,000 were spent to promote associate professors to “full” professors and assistant professors to associate professors.

Loftin said he plans for 20 additional “signature” faculty hires to be made over the next four years — five in medical areas, two in health sciences, four in physical sciences, four in plant sciences, four in engineering and one in new media journalism.

As MU prepares to enter FY2015 in July, the plan is to keep compensation increases at similar levels and continue merit-based increases for “high-performing faculty.”

Each department will be expected to self-fund such increases, Loftin said.

The board concluded the June session by passing two resolutions to formally honor MU’s 175th year and MU Extension’s 100th year.

During his state of the university address, UM System president Tim Wolfe said the universities are “on solid ground,” and that he was pleased with the higher education lobbying efforts at the state level.

Wolfe also applauded campus leaders for taking steps to address sexual assault policies and campus safety concerns.

The curators will meet again on July 25 for a teleconference session.

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