Dear Faculty and Staff:
We hope that your semester has gotten off to a great start. As you are most likely aware, colleges and universities have been under increased scrutiny regarding the handling of Title IX offenses including sexual assault. Title IX is a federal law prohibiting sexual discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. Title IX also prohibits actions that create a hostile and intimidating educational environment such as sexual harassment and sexual assault. In response, and to insure that the University is doing everything in its power to handle these offenses in the most appropriate and sensitive manner possible, several Truman administrators have worked over the summer to revise the Student Conduct Code processes for responding to sexual assault, to provide training for investigators and to educate students. You may find the changes to the Student Conduct Code at http://www.truman.edu/?p=24132. This week, a number of Truman staff and administrators will participate in investigator training to learn how to resolve complaints in a trauma-informed and equitable manner. All incoming students have been involved in educational programming on this topic during Truman Week. The attached brochure and insert were given to students during these programs.
It is important that you understand your responsibilities in regard to Title IX offenses. With the exception of those who work in the Student Health Center and University Counseling Services, all faculty and staff are required to report to their supervisor any information they receive regarding Title IX offenses. Supervisors will share the information with Sally Herleth, our Title IX Coordinator, to ensure that appropriate steps are taken. We encourage you to inform students of your limitations in keeping such disclosures confidential and to make sure they are aware of the confidential consultation that is available at the Student Health Center and University Counseling Services. For more information about Title IX, see http://eoaa.truman.edu/harassment/index.asp. If you have any questions about your responsibilities or have other Title IX questions, please feel free to contact Sally Herleth or Lou Ann Gilchrist, Dean of Student Affairs.
We hope that you have a wonderful semester and never have to utilize this Title IX information.
Troy Paino Sue Thomas
President Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
As you all begin classes tomorrow, I wanted to share the following updates.
• As a reminder, the Governor withheld higher education’s performance funding in anticipation of reduced state revenue after the passage of several tax cut bills in the General Assembly. Although the Governor vetoed these bills, the General Assembly is planning to try and override some or all of them. For Truman, the Governor’s withholding amounts to a little over 5% of our state appropriation or more than $2 million. I announced in early July that we would withhold 8% from all operating budgets and defer equipment purchases unless there are safety issues until we know what the Governor is going to do. We expect to have a better idea of his intentions after the September legislative session. In the meantime, I ask that everyone remain conservative with planned expenditures. If we learn that this is a permanent withhold, we will develop a more strategic plan on how to handle this revenue shortfall to minimize its effect on student learning. If the Governor releases the performance funding to colleges and universities after the September special session, we will restore operating budgets. It is also possible that the Governor would release some but not all of the money.
• There is some confusion about Dr. Sue Thomas’s title, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. In retrospect, the dropping of “Provost” from the title of our Chief Academic Officer (CAO) was a mistake. I was aiming for clarity, but my title tinkering has had the opposite effect. Henceforth, Dr. Thomas (she prefers to go by “Sue”) will be known as Truman’s Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost. All other Missouri public universities use “Provost” in their CAO’s title; so as to avoid confusion both internally and externally it makes sense to keep “Provost” in Sue’s title as well. I hope this clears things up and does not add to the confusion. If not, I think we can all agree that my dog Oscar’s commentary on my job performance was spot on.
• Finally, I ask that everyone be sensitive to how the events of Ferguson over the past two weeks might affect our students. Many Truman students come from the greater St. Louis area, several from around the impacted region. No doubt this has added to the anxiety and concern many students are experiencing as they start the school year. I imagine this is particularly true for our incoming first-year students. I am not sure what form support for these students should take, but a willingness to discuss the issues raised by these tragic events would be a good start.
Here is to a great beginning to another academic year. It is always exciting to welcome the students back to campus, and I am so appreciative of everything you do for them. You make this a remarkable community of learners.
In less than two weeks we will begin a new academic year with a new class of freshmen and transfer students converging on the Truman campus. I hope each of you had a productive and restorative summer and that you are as excited as I am to begin a new academic year. I always enjoy welcoming new faces to campus and reconnecting with members of the University community.
As a reminder, we ask that you mark your calendars for the Strategic Planning and Assessment Workshop scheduled for August 13-14. The workshop will begin with the annual All-University Fall Opening Assembly scheduled for 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, August 13, in Ophelia Parrish Performance Hall, and ends with our Ready-or-Not Appreciation Luncheon scheduled for noon on Thursday, August 14. These two events provide an opportunity for the campus community to come together in celebration and recognize the many achievements of our faculty and staff. I look forward to addressing you at the fall assembly and visiting with you at the luncheon.
The Board of Governors met this past Saturday under the leadership of Board Chair Susan Plassmeyer. During the meeting, the Board approved the State General Revenue Request for FY 2016 and the Local Capital Budgets for Fiscal Year 2015, a major focus of which will be masonry and roofing repairs, HVAC system replacements and other projects designed to preserve our facilities. The Board also continued its review of their policies. They approved a revised Student Conduct Code designed to comply with new federal guidelines addressing sexual misconduct on college campuses, updated their student housing policies and made minor edits to a few other policies which were out-of-date and/or obsolete. In addition, the Board heard reports throughout the day on the proposed Student Conduct Code, Athletic compliance, campus safety, year-end financials, construction projects and a president’s report where I provided an update on summer activities as well as current issues facing the University. A copy of the complete agenda from the August 2 meeting can be found on the Board of Governors website located at http://www.truman.edu/about/our-people/board-of-governors/board-of-governors-agendas/. The next meeting of the Board is scheduled for Friday, October 10, in conjunction with Truman Homecoming activities.
Thank you for all that you do for our students and for Truman. Each of you are greatly appreciated.
I want to welcome Dr. Sue Thomas to Truman. Today is Dr. Thomas’s first day as the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and senior member of my cabinet.
Instead of the “Provost’s Office,” we are returning to the title of “Office of Academic Affairs” when referring to McClain 203. The website will also refer to this office as “Academic Affairs.”
I know Dr. Thomas looks forward to getting a chance to know you and becoming a part of our community. Please join me in welcoming her to Truman and Kirksville!
On Tuesday, Governor Jay Nixon announced that he is withholding the entire five percent increase for higher education included in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget. For Truman, this is over $2 million. While this action is disappointing, it was not unexpected, as the final budget passed by the General Assembly exceeds current revenue projections.
Our FY 2015 operating budget approved by the Board of Governors was based on the appropriation recommended by the Governor and approved by the General Assembly. We should know more about FY 2015 funding after the veto session in mid-September. Until then, we have made the following decisions in reaction to the withholding.
The previously approved raise of 2% will be implemented as well as other salary decisions such as faculty promotions.
We will defer on all major equipment purchases unless there are possible safety implications.
All operations budgets will be reduced by an 8% restriction to the previously approved FY 2015 amount.
We will continue to carefully review all personnel actions and move forward to fill critical needs.
I have asked the academic deans and others to look at additional administrative efficiencies. Operating budgets will be restored if Governor Nixon decides to release the five percent increase after the mid-September veto session and enrollment remains stable.
Have a great weekend.