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November 21, 2014

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Fortifying educational pathways

Today's newsletter focuses on one of our six key customer groups — research-based graduate students. As guided by our strategic plan, we are investing in growing our graduate student population. Although much of our focus is on recruitment and retention, the reality is that we must take the long view if we're going to be successful in this effort over the long term. We must support students and educators at all points along the education continuum, from K to grey, as I call it, if we're going to solve this complex problem.

Speaking earlier this month, I had the opportunity to join distinguished speakers, including former U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett and Steve Forbes, chair and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media, at the national Project Lead The Way Summit.

Project Lead The WaySince Missouri S&T became a Project Lead The Way affiliate in 2006, we have trained nearly 1,500 teachers from more than 30 states to teach in subjects such as biomedical science, engineering and computer science. My presentation focused on the importance of creating an educational pathway beginning at the elementary level that ensures all students with the will and aptitude are encouraged and enabled to succeed.

I'm proud that Missouri S&T is addressing this issue, whether through interactive summer camps, training teachers through Project Lead The Way or through our on-campus degree programs. I'm convinced we must if we're going to grow our graduate programs over the decades to come.


Graduate enrollment on the rise
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Missouri S&TIf you read this newsletter regularly, you probably already know that this fall the university has a record enrollment of 8,642 students. What you might not realize is that graduate student enrollment, now at 2,120, has been a major contributor to that growth. Although we've had strong growth across the university enterprise, graduate enrollment growth has outpaced undergraduate growth. For example, since 2000, we had a 128 percent increase in graduate enrollment compared to 87 percent growth in total enrollment.

As outlined in our strategic plan, we intend to keep this trend going and have planned and implemented a number of actions. We are hiring more professors to mentor and support graduate students; improving campus infrastructure; removing barriers to graduation; supporting entrepreneurial applications of research; and providing on-campus professional development activities for graduate students. In addition to growing enrollment, we intend to shape that enrollment, focusing on recruitment of more women and under-represented minorities into our graduate programs.

We believe that strengthening these programs will benefit the university overall as research programs grow and these promising scholars become distinguished alumni of our institution.

You can learn more about our ambitious plan by downloading our strategic plan at


State invests in graduate student growth
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Increasing the number of Missouri S&T doctoral students has garnered state support this year. This fall we learned that Missouri S&T received over $4.5 million in state funding through a University of Missouri System allocation based on the strength of our strategic plan. More than $3 million of this will be invested in doctoral student recruitment and retention, and more than $1.5 million is being invested in our signature areas — a key to building our graduate programs.

The funding will create 70 new Ph.D. research assistant, teaching assistant and fellowship positions, and will increase the number of doctoral students at Missouri S&T. The initiative also provides competitive funding for the equivalent of 350 existing graduate research and teaching assistant positions.

Complementing this effort to recruit more Ph.D. students is funding to provide needed technical and professional staff as well as funding for distinguished faculty leaders for the two signature areas of Advanced Manufacturing and Advanced Materials for Sustainable Infrastructure.


Missouri S&T co-hosted graduate student conference
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Research tells us that the more engaged students are with their university, the more likely they are to graduate. One way graduate students can be engaged is through the Council of Graduate Students, which represents Missouri S&T graduate students on policy matters and other issues.

National Association of Graduate-Professional StudentsWe are fortunate to have an active Council of Graduate Students. In fact, our council co-hosted the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS) with the University of Missouri-Columbia's Graduate Professional Council earlier this month.

Over 150 graduate students from more than 90 NAGPS member institutions gathered for the conference to share practices for aiding students and policy issues that affect graduate students. Missouri S&T was chosen to co-host the conference with MU during the 2013 conference, beating out a joint bid from Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and University of Arizona.


Giving them something to talk about
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I’d like to mention that the Missouri S&T Council of Graduate Students hosted its second Ignite Rolla event earlier this month. This series features brief, “TED Talk-style” lectures designed to showcase the ideas being generated by members of the Missouri S&T campus and the Rolla community. Ignite RollaCheck out some of the Ignite Rolla talks here. New videos coming soon!


Miner Nation says thanks
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I've shared with you some of the things I'm thankful for. If you have a moment, I encourage you to watch this short video that shows what happens when our students are given the opportunity to express their gratitude. I think you'll see that no matter if you are a graduate student, alumni or friend of the university, the Missouri S&T family has much to be thankful for. My best wishes to all of Miner Nation for a very happy Thanksgiving.


Missouri University of Science and Technology