Missouri S&T’s Interim Chancellor, Dr. Christopher Maples, has been hard at work for the past two months, after being selected to temporarily fill the position. Dr. Maples came out of retirement for the second time to bring his student-centric mindset to work with the university in what is largely seen as a troubling time, due to budget cuts for higher education.
Missouri S&T’s Interim Chancellor, Dr. Christopher Maples, has been hard at work for the past two months, after being selected to temporarily fill the position. Dr. Maples came out of retirement for the second time to bring his student-centric mindset to work with the university in what is largely seen as a troubling time, due to budget cuts for higher education. Dr. Maples spoke not only about his motivations for taking the position, but his goals for the coming year and his plan for paving the way for the next Chancellor.
“It’s been wonderful,” said Dr. Maples about his time so far. “I really have greatly appreciated the welcome I’ve gotten. A lot of things have gone really well and there’s a lot of opportunities to continue the trajectory in a good direction.”
For Dr. Maples, this trajectory is focused on student success, and all of his focus is on making sure the students at Missouri S&T have everything they need for a high quality education.
“I’m all about student success,” he said. “You look at the mission of S&T and it’s absolutely what Missouri and the economy needs.” The students that graduate from the university, according to Dr. Maples, are entirely ready to move on to a career or graduate school, with the experience and competence to back them up. Dr. Maples wants to continue this tradition of excellence and help more students reach this point.
Dr. Maples said one of his goals for the coming year is to make sure students have a clear and direct path to graduation. One of the ways he wants to accomplish this is by putting more effort into making sure required courses are available for students and making sure these students are on track when they register for classes.
Additionally, Dr. Maples said he would like to secure support for students going through their fourth or perhaps fifth year, who need a little extra support as their scholarship funding runs out.
And while graduation is the goal, giving students experiences along the way to put what they’re learning to work is just as important, according to Dr. Maples.
Despite dealing with budget cuts facing higher education everywhere in the state, Dr. Maples is confident about how Missouri S&T stands, and where they’re heading in the future.
“I went through a time in Oregon where there were horrific budget cuts, and we had a system that completely disintegrated. We went from having a system (of universities) to having individual boards. What I bring is that appreciation for a system and yet a recognition of our name, our value and what we add to that system.”
Dr. Maples said when speaking of diversity, most people discuss it at the individual level, but there’s also a diversity in respect to the kinds of universities present in a system.
“The University of Missouri system is in a unique position to have Missouri S&T. There aren’t many states that have that kind of school focused the same way we’re focused.”
To move forward through the budget cuts, Dr. Maples said they are building on the existing strengths of the university, building the research aspect and striving to have more graduate students pursue their goals at Missouri S&T. Dr. Maples said this helps to create an economic engine for the area, promoting spin-off companies and employing a broader range of people at competitive salaries as a result of delving into the research aspect of university life.
Beyond that, Dr. Maples said the university is trying to plan and be conservative about how they budget.
“i’ve never been a ‘bunker down and wait for it to get better’ person. I tend to think of these as opportunities for us to look at low-cost, high-impact areas where you can move in quickly at a time other people are bunkering down,” he said.
Dr. Maples said taking cuts evenly across the board is “a quick trip to mediocrity.” But if cutting in places that make sense, and investing places that make sense can help the university not only survive, but thrive in a time when many others are simply staying afloat.
For the rest of his time here, Dr. Maples will be pursuing these goals with the rest of the staff and faculty of Missouri S&T, and making sure everything is in place for his successor. Dr. Maples said he wants the position to be attractive for prospective chancellors, and is doing his best to make it so in the coming year.