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[Audio] MSU President Talks #RacersCare, Performance Funding, Diversity Efforts, More

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Dr. Bob Davies, Murray State University
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Murray State President Dr. Bob Davies speaks with Matt Markgraf on Sounds Good about the #RacersCare campaign, an update on performance funding, efforts underway to increase diversity in students, faculty and staff, understanding the budget advisory committee and 'entrepreneurial opportunities' and his thoughts on the possible payroll tax. 

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Extended Version

#RacersCare

The #RacersCare campaign is an effort to go beyond a holiday card and launch a kindness campaign, kicking off with the Hutson School of Agriculture packing more than 40,000 meals for individuals in need of food, or paying it forward buying coffee for others. Davies says he hopes the kindness efforts are contagious. The website is murraystate.edu/racerscare.

Performance Funding

Davies is part of a higher education Performance Funding Work Group tasked with creating metrics for five percent of state appropriation beginning in July. Davies says the group is coalescing around a plan, noting some movement regarding quality issues. He says Murray State "will be okay" so long as the strategic plan continues to be followed.The metrics will involve all of the public universities "in one pool" and will include measurements based on graduation effectiveness, degrees in certain areas (like STEM-H), attracting and retaining students of underrepresented groups and low-income students.

He says he doesn't anticipate significant changes once performance funding goes into effect. "We're working through some of those things to make sure that that hypothesis is true. Because we obviously don't want to enter into a model that from the get-go is going to be hurting any universities and obviously not Murray State."

Davies says the model being presented is based on growth over a three-year rolling average in the university's market share. The plan won't be perfect, he says, but such is the nature of a model designed to work with all universities.

The work group includes other university presidents, state government officials and the Council on Postsecondary Education President Bob King. The deadline is December 1.

Increasing Diversity Efforts

While attracting and retaining underrepresented groups to campus is expected to be a component of performance funding metrics, Davies stresses that it's not wholly the reason for increasing diversity and says a diverse campus community reflects the reality of the nation and world and that "that's what higher education should be reflective of."

Mechanisms are in motion for attracting more diverse students and staff, with an effort specifically in Louisville. He says there's also an effort underway in listening to current students and staff in finding ways to be more inclusive. He also praised the minority fellows program and making an intentional priority in recruitment.

Budget Advisory Committee

Davies says the committee's role is to be knowledgeable about the budget and the major aspects involved: the source of revenue and functions, major levels of expenditures, understanding key elements of the financial makeup of the university and things that are flexible and inflexible. With that understanding, they will then provide him advice on big picture issues.

He says the purpose is not to scrutinize departmental budgets or identify further cuts, but rather provide advice and communicate to their constituents details or answers to questions regarding budgetary issues. The committee is made up of members of staff, faculty and students.

Entrepreneurial Opportunities

Davies says there are primarily two revenue sources currently: state appropriation and tuition. Both areas will be "squeezed tight" in the future, he says. He's proposed pursuing activities that could build on current expertise and capacity as additional sources for revenue. A goal, for example, is finding a way to get to a point where a freshmen class can regularly grow to 1,700 (from around 1,500 currently).

He says there is some potential in 'reinvigorating' a continuing education program. Or to develop seminars and training programs for companies in the area. For example, Murray State professors who recently did a cultural awareness program for the Paducah Police Department.

Payroll Tax

Davies underscores his opposition to the payroll tax, as discussed in the previous month's conversation. He says "it does not assist Murray State in achieving our goals." It could harm, specifically, efforts in offering competitive salaries, he says. He urges a different solution to meet the needs of the city.

Racer One Stop

This will be set up in the Curris Center at the beginning of the Spring semester in January as a means to offer students one destination for services like billing, financial aid, registration and scholarships. Dates are January 17 - 19 and Jan. 23, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and on January 20 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Davies says this will be offered for a longer duration at the start of the next fall semester.

Matt Markgraf joined the WKMS team as a student in January 2007. He's served in a variety of roles over the years: as News Director March 2016-September 2019 and previously as the New Media & Promotions Coordinator beginning in 2011. Prior to that, he was a graduate and undergraduate assistant. He is currently the host of the international music show Imported on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
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