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Chancellor Mo Dehghani’s delivered his State of the University address on Nov. 5, 2020, as Missouri S&T kicked off its year-long 150th anniversary celebration. In his address, he urged the audience to consider what the university will become over the next 150 years.
Dehghani also discussed how two recent donations to the university will help shape Missouri S&T as a “destination of choice” for students, faculty and staff. He discussed plans to create a new arrival district to the university and other future development.
Below are written responses to questions Dr. Dehghani couldn’t respond to before time ran out. For clarification, some questions have been edited or paraphrased.
What will be done with the $300 million donation (from June and Fred Kummer) to ensure that significant additional expectations aren't imposed on IT without funding/positions/etc. to be able to absorb the additional needs considering that IT is already massively underfunded?
First of all, my thanks goes to the information technology department. I know that your department is stretched and as professionals you are stretched. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do. Regarding the Kummer gift, the Board of Directors for the Kummer Institute was formed about a month ago and is starting to flesh out a spending and investment plan. While the initial plan calls for hiring new faculty members, we anticipate that the growth of our university will lead to hiring more staff members in the future.
Will some of this money be used to address the university's budget shortfalls?
In accordance with June and Fred Kummer’s wishes, 100% of the funding will support new initiatives that will further elevate our university, the Kummer Institute, and the new Kummer School of Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development. Therefore, the gift is not allocated for budget shortfalls.
However, we can improve our financial outlook by working to increase our enrollment and improve student retention. That is the best way for us to address budget challenges.
Is any allocation (from the Kummer gift) being made for staff salaries and hirings?
The initial plans call for hiring new faculty members and leadership for the Kummer School and the new centers. We anticipate, however, that the growth of our university will lead to hiring more staff members in the future.
There are several universities that are testing faculty, staff and students regularly for COVID-19 to ensure campuses are safe. Is there a reason why we are not doing that and do we plan to do that?
Some organizations do regularly test asymptomatic individuals for COVID-19. According to Dr. Dennis Goodman, chief medical officer at S&T, a better approach may be an ongoing daily evaluation of the campus community with emphasis on facial coverings, social distancing, limiting gatherings, and prompt contact tracing with resulting quarantine and isolation.
The reason is that getting recurring negative results can sometimes lead to a false sense of security and more risk-taking behavior.
That being said, I encourage anyone who would like to get a test to consult with their health care provider or contact Student Health Services at 341-4284. Student Health Services offers students antigen testing with same-day results.
The 10 endowed faculty positions and 10 endowed professorships the Chancellor referenced ... will any of those be new positions, or just endowing existing positions?
The new positions will be open to existing faculty as well as external faculty. I anticipate the positions will be filled with a combination of current S&T faculty and new S&T faculty.
What support is there for staff in the future for things like increased insurance costs without any salary raises/bonuses, etc.?
Our staff are often the behind-the-scenes workers who help our students, faculty and overall campus community thrive. I encourage all staff members to pursue professional development activities and opportunities to advance in their fields. For employees wanting to pursue or complete a college degree, the UM System’s tuition assistance program and Staff Council’s employee scholarship program are valuable resources. Additionally, Staff Council is working on developing a staff success center to more easily connect employees with available resources.
How does distance education impact the enrollment vision and funding opportunities?
Our distance education programs can help us to increase our enrollment and funding but we currently have work to do. That is why we are recruiting for the position of vice provost for corporate and professional education to lead these programs.
Dr. Dehghani presented his inaugural State of the University address on Nov. 6, 2019. Watch a recording or read a recap of the address.