Missouri S&T's Interim Chancellor, Dr. Christopher Maples, has two things on his mind, ensuring the quality of education for the university's students and educating legislators about not only what Missouri S&T does for it's students, but what these students do for the state.
Dr. Maples is committing to a making regular trips to Jefferson City to meet with what he described as “various elected officials” so he can meet with them to discuss the progress the school is making and the students they are serving. As another round of budget cuts are made in response to a new budget handed down from the Missouri State Government, this task is increasingly important.
“I take the philosophical approach that anybody who, especially in today’s political climate, will stand for election….wants to do well, wants to serve the people,” said Dr. Maples. “They tend to [have] a broader perspective...and what I want to try to do is educate them to the best of my ability about what they need to know about what I will unabashedly tell you is the state’s finest university.”
Dr. Maples explained that he’s not necessarily approaching legislators with a plea for more funds, his goal is to make them aware of Missouri S&T’s value.
“Legislators get hammered from lots of different directions from people wanting things...my pitch is not wanting something. My pitch is helping them understand what we do, what we deliver and how we deliver it,” said the interim chancellor.
Dr. Maple gave the analogy of higher education being, “kind of a can you can kick down the road in terms of funding -- in terms of immediate need.” He added, “as you kick a can down the road, eventually you run out of road. We’re about out of road.” By educating legislators in Jefferson City, the hope is they will see the university’s value and pick up the can.
Until then, Dr. Maples said the university is moving forward assuming cuts are coming and that the university’s focus remains on ensuring S&T students graduate in a timely manner without decreasing the quality of their education.
“The things we will look at are graduating students, that we get them out the door and take care of them in the way they need to be taken care of while they’re here,” Dr. Maples said. “That will continue to be our number one priority. That includes having a really good faculty who can succeed and do the things they need to do in order to be both excellent instructors, professors and excellent researchers on a national and international scene as well.”
In terms of handling the new budget cuts, Dr. Maples said they will be reviewing internal feedback from staff, faculty and students. He explained the cuts will not be “top-down”, but will be a collaboration within the university. All the while, he will be lobbying for Missouri S&T each Wednesday at the state capitol.
According to Dr. Maples, any cuts made will be put in place by the beginning of the next fiscal year which begins on July 1, 2018.