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Thu, February 25, 2016

Reflecting on a leap of faith

While visiting with some standout alumni recently, I realized that it has now been four years since I was named chancellor of Missouri S&T! Four years since my family and I took a leap of faith to return to our roots in the Midwest. Four years since I accepted the privilege and responsibility to lead one of the most dynamic higher education institutions in the nation.

I continue to be astounded by the momentum of this university and invigorated by all those who care about its future. Shortly after I began as chancellor, I asked many of you to imagine the future of Missouri S&T. You responded with many creative, innovative ideas, and in just a few years we have made real progress in making that vision a reality.

In the past four years, we have changed the very structure of our university with the introduction of the College of Arts, Sciences, and Business, and the College of Engineering and Computing. The Office of Corporate Relations was established to provide a one-stop shop for industry partners. And, we have made tremendous headway on our ambitious goal to add 100 new faculty to the university by 2020. By the end of the year, we should be nearly halfway to our goal.

In addition, four key signature research and teaching areas were identified, and we are becoming global leaders in those areas. We have introduced refreshed faculty and student recruitment and retention initiatives. And great improvements were made to the campus infrastructure through projects such as the completion of Bertelsmeyer Hall, Hasselmann Alumni House and the campuswide geothermal project; renovations of Schrenk Hall and laboratories; the transformation of the library into a Learning Commons; and ongoing construction and renovation of campus labs and other projects.

We are also reshaping the Missouri S&T academic experience with an emphasis on experiential learning – now required for new undergraduates – and course redesigns that improve learning outcomes and student success.

The results are adding up. In the first three years of implementing our strategic plan, Missouri S&T revenues increased by 31 percent. This is a result of investments from our alumni and corporate partners; continued year-over-year enrollment growth; and a 23 percent increase in state appropriations based on the strength of the plan and progress toward our goals.

Many of our gains, particularly with increased revenues, can be directly attributed to our reputation for excellence and the strength of our strategic plan. That reputation is built by many, and I am indebted to our friends and supporters who have helped advance our institution. There is much work ahead to reach our goals, and I am looking forward to navigating that path with you.

Creating a culture of inclusion

If you read this newsletter regularly, you know that Missouri S&T has been ahead of the curve in fostering a culture that values diversity – both diversity of thought and diversity of experience. Perhaps as a result of our leadership on diversity as well as inclusion, this year I was asked by Interim President Mike Middleton from the University of Missouri System, pictured above, to lead a search for the UM System’s first Chief Diversity Officer. Our committee, made up of volunteers from all four campuses and the UM system, has narrowed our selection down to a handful of individuals, and we’ve facilitated interviews for the past several weeks with various stakeholders.

I have been proud to share our progress with these distinguished candidates, from work we’ve done in shaping the demographics of the campus community to our commitment to holding candid and engaging conversations about important social issues.

Those conversations are continuing this month as we mark Black History Month through celebrations, films, art and music. Check out our full list of events. There is still some excellent programming coming up, and I encourage you to participate.

Like me, I think you’ll be proud of the leadership of our students, faculty, staff and alumni in creating an intentionally welcoming environment for all.

Wheels up: Celebrating Boeing’s 100th anniversary

Last month, I was honored to join Gov. Jay Nixon and key Boeing executives to commemorate Boeing’s centennial anniversary at the St. Louis Science Center. I also had on my science center hat as I am a member of the center’s board of trustees.

Boeing is one of our key partners and has been so for some 60 years. The company has traditionally hired our engineers, but in recent years it has expanded its hiring partnership with us to include business and IT, computer science and other majors across the university. In addition, this fall Boeing named 111 Boeing scholars, and these students come from disciplines throughout campus, including physics and chemistry.

Through May, the science center will showcase a new interactive exhibit from Boeing called “Above and Beyond.” The exhibit, pictured above, is designed for children and adults to explore the wonder and science of flight and the transformative innovations that shape advances in aerospace. While you’re there, make sure you check out Missouri S&T’s contributions to exhibits within the experience energy section of the museum.

Did you know?

Scientists have long understood that Great Danes have shorter lifespans than pugs. The reason is a complex relationship between energy usage and lifespan. Our understanding of that relationship is quickly being unraveled through the use of numerical modeling by a researcher at Missouri S&T. By using the principles of energy conservation and allometric scaling laws, Chen Hou, an assistant professor of biological sciences, has developed a theoretical model that can measure aging on the basis of energy expenditure. Hou has found that growth carries a tradeoff with health maintenance, and that previous research in the area is not as straightforward as once thought.

This research is just one example of some of the interesting work going on here at Missouri S&T and another reason why I'm proud to be a part of this dynamic institution.

Warmest regards,

Cheryl B. Schrader, Ph.D.
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