Aug. 26, 2011
Northwest celebrates, looks forward during all-employee meeting
Northwest Missouri State University welcomed its returning employees and introduced new members of the Bearcat family Wednesday during the University's annual all-employee meeting, which carried themes of celebrating the institution's accomplishments during the past year and set a tone for the approaching academic year.
"I would challenge you to find many institutions that have strong enrollment, strong academic performance, financials that have turned around and strengthened, and have a focus on moving forward," Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski told the audience. "I think we're uniquely positioned to not just celebrate our performance but to continue moving forward."
While explaining the University's recently unveiled strategic plan, Jasinski cited Northwest's continued success in key areas compared to other moderately selective institutions. Northwest boasts a freshman success rate of 74 percent, which is considerably higher than national and regional averages.
Its graduation rate of 58 percent is 13 percent higher than the national average, and 93 percent of Northwest graduates find employment or continue their education within six months of graduation. What's more, Jasinski noted, Northwest students involved in Greek organizations graduate at a rate of 97 percent, and Northwest's student-athletes boast a graduation rate of 87 percent compared to the national average of 71 percent.
Jasinski also told employees of the University's improved financial standing. In spite of losing 12.2 percent in state funding during the last two years, Northwest has aggressively managed its expenses, addressed grant and other revenue funding streams, and reduced costs. Northwest was rewarded for its efforts recently when the Higher Learning Commission, its accreditor, indicated it is recommending no additional progress reports related to the University's financial condition.
"Higher education is really under attack," Jasinski said in reference to the funding cuts and a heightened emphasis on academic performance. "Folks are asking us to be more accountable than ever, and, frankly, I love that. Why? Because we're Bearcats and we perform."
Jasinski also reviewed the results of faculty and satisfaction surveys conducted earlier this year at Northwest. About 68 percent of Northwest faculty said they are satisfied or very satisfied with their work experiences at Northwest, while about 78 percent of staff members said they are satisfied or very satisfied. However, Jasinski conceded, the survey also revealed several areas where improvement is needed for employees. He said the University is continuing to look at enhancing to its work environment.
The meeting in Northwest's Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts also featured a segment during which the University reflected on hundreds of accomplishments and accolades received, by both individuals and the University, during the last year.
While images and text glided onto a screen behind them, faculty and staff members took the stage and conducted interviews with a few of their colleagues who attained some unique successes. Provost Dr. Doug Dunham interviewed Dr. April Haberyan, an associate professor who was Northwest's 2011 Governor's Award for Excellence in Education recipient; Agriculture Instructor Rod Barr interviewed Chris Redden, Northwest's hardscape supervisor who recently placed sixth at an international horse-racing competition; Director of Athletics Wren Baker interviewed Head Athletic Trainer Kelly Quinlin about her work to provide care for Northwest student-athletes; and Associate Professor Dr. Renee Rohs interviewed Associate Professor Dr. Mark Corson, who recently returned from his third deployment in Iraq, where he was commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve's 103rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command.
During a special presentation, Corson presented to Jasinski and the University an American flag that flew Sept. 11, 2010, over Joint Base Balad.
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