The Northwest Missouri State University Board of Regents during its regular meeting September 3 received an update regarding the institution’s COVID-19 measures and an overview of its work to address issues of race.
Institutional leaders briefed the Regents about the university’s COVID-19 mitigation measures and efforts to maintain on-ground instruction during the pandemic, saying they continue to assess the environment and adapt as conditions and guidelines change.
Brad Scott, assistant vice president for enterprise risk management, noted on-campus mitigation measures are working and widespread compliance with the measures is in place.
“A lot of people are stepping up and really working through some challenges,” Scott said. “Some of these things aren’t predictable. It takes a lot of creativity and adjustments. It’s an unprecedented time.”
Scott reported that the university had received 680 gallons of hand sanitizer from Jefferson City.
Northwest provides COVID-19 updates and answers to frequently asked questions as well as a dashboard of publicly available data that is updated daily at www.nwmissouri.edu/alert/
During the Regents’ meeting, Northwest officials unveiled a “microsite” dedicated to “addressing and enhancing a diverse and equitable Northwest.” Dr. Justin Mallett, Northwest’s associate provost of diversity and inclusion, provided Regents with an overview of the website, saying it is an important tool to offer updates to university students, employees, community members, alumni and other stakeholders related to the ways Northwest is addressing issues of race in the wake of local and national conversations about the topic this summer.
The website provides a compilation of information that details Northwest’s actions in recent months as well as a timeline of actions related to diversity and inclusion taken by Northwest since 2013. Two teams: The President’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Team and an Issues of Race Action Team have organized to listen, act and align with the university’s strategic plans. The website also offers resources for further education.
The Regents also celebrated the results of the 2019-2020 Ruffalo Noel Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory, Northwest students who completed the survey are more satisfied with their college experience, in all areas, than national and regional comparison groups.
Seventy-eight percent of freshmen said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with their Northwest experience, compared to 77 percent of freshmen surveyed at their respective regional peers and 75 percent at national peers. Eighty-three percent of Northwest juniors expressed satisfaction with their experience, compared to 77 percent at regional peers and 75 percent at national peers.
Additionally, 82 percent of all Northwest students surveyed answered that they would repeat their experience at Northwest, compared to 76 percent of students at regional peers and 75 percent of students at national peers.
While Northwest provides the survey every two years to its freshmen and juniors, the university distributed the most recent iteration to freshmen in the fall of 2019 and juniors during spring 2020.
Egon Heidendal, who is the university’s vice president for institutional research and effectiveness and oversees the survey’s delivery, told the Regents the university will next share the results with departments and look for areas of improvement.
In other business, the Regents:
• Authorized the university to enter into a multi-year student success software agreement not to exceed $200,000 annually. Regent Jason Klindt was the only dissenting vote.
• Approved, based on input from employees, an immigration sponsorship policy that allows Northwest to recruit, hire and retain employee candidates by providing immigration sponsorship for US work authorization. The policy will provide consistent guidelines for employees seeking immigration sponsorship while helping the university recruit and retain employees in addition to creating a more diverse culture. Krista Barcus, assistant vice president of human resources, reported there are approximately 20 active cases presently that would average $13,000 per case, which comes from the university’s legal budget.
• Approved, based on input from employees, an essential non-exempt employee call-in policy that places a heightened value on essential non-exempt staff when dealing with issues after scheduled work hours at an hourly rate of 1.5 times including travel time to work. The university expects the policy to increase employee morale and impact retention of essential employees while aligning strategic goals aimed at increasing employee engagement and retention.
• Approved the appointment of four adjunct faculty to teach during the 2020-21 academic year.
During his report to the Regents, Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski noted the university’s governing board met for the first time 115 years ago this month on September 12, 1905. The Missouri bill creating the Fifth District Normal School had become law on June 16, 1905, and Maryville was announced as the site of the new institution on August 4.
The Regents held a closed session for the topics of litigation, real estate and personnel.