Governors lower tuition, admission standards

Nate Billings

Governors heard from University President Dr. Julio León and Dr. Chad Stebbins, director of the Institute of International Studies, about their trip to China. The trip was in response to an invitation by the Bejing Broadcasting University. León and Stebbins would like to build a relationship with the BBU after starting conversations with it a few years ago.”Relationships take time,” León said.The BBU was celebrating their 50th year anniversary as well as the announcement of becoming a national university in China.The Chinese government has selected several institutions around the country to be specialized institutions for national education.This change would mean the name would become the Communications University of China.The discussion brought up the new China semester in fall of 2007. “There is no doubt in my mind that China is the country of the 21st century,” León said. Stebbins and León said they would be looking into making Missouri Southern the China expert of Missouri.”This ought to be the place in Missouri where people can go to learn about China,” León said.Dr. Brad Kleindl, dean of the school of business, discussed the University’s relationship with the British Virgin Islands and the school in Tortola. He updated the Governors with the progress of the degrees Southern offers through its cooperation with Tortola.He said the tuition rates for the classes and the degrees themselves are competitive with the rates and degrees of other universities competing for classes at the Tortola University.Dr. Richard McCallum, vice president of academic affairs, also updated the Board on the graduate degrees with Northwest Missouri State University and Southwest Missouri State University. SMSU approved the cooperation between the two institutions and during the meeting the Board approved the agreement. This is the last step the Universities need to take before the agreement goes to the state level to be finally approved. The largest portion of the evening’s meeting was taken in considering three proposals León brought before the Board as part of the administration’s recommendations to tuition and student acceptance.”[We want to] improve access to a quality college education,” León said.

The first proposal involved tuition. León said the tuition freeze from last year was a beginning to having the University put back on an affordable road.The proposal to the Board was to cut tuition by two dollars per credit hour.The next proposal was to freeze the cost of room and board at the same price level it is now.León also proposed a new scholarship for A-plus accredited schools. The scholarship would provide approximately 100 qualifying students graduating from those schools to receive $1,000 on a first-come-first-serve basis.The name of the scholarship would be the A-plus Leadership Scholarship.Another proposal set before the Board in response to increasing the student population involved the application standards.The proposal was to simplify the requirements on the application process. Students will not have to use the qualifying index anymore. The qualifications for acceptance are now an ACT composite score of 21 or higher or are in the top-half of one’s graduating class or a cumulative grade point average of 2.25 or higher.Board members discussed the proposals and whether the quality of the student body would go down or not. Student Senate president Eric Ducommun asked León if the standards would include or exclude more students.León said the proposals would make acceptance available to more students and the quality of the education the students receive would not go down.”I do not want the education I received to be diluted,” Governor Ensley said.The Board agreed the current index was confusing and unanimously passed every proposal. Board president Dwight Douglas asked the Governors to look over the building and improvement plans for the next meeting.Douglas also noted recent Board trips to recreation facilities around the area and said the trips were helpful in understanding the need for a recreation center on campus and possible building ideas.Dr. Terri Agee, vice-president of business affairs, brought up the Stadium Strategic Planning Committee, a group of community members and others interested in the progress of Fred Hughes Stadium.She also announced the renovation of the lounge on the second floor of the Billingsly Student Center. “We’re excited about this because the students have expressed the need to have a meeting place,” she said.The renovations will include new carpet and new furniture in the University colors.The meeting ended without the Governors going into executive session.