University President Troy Paino updated the Truman State community about funding formula negotiations, evaluation criteria and the goals for the future of the University during the State of the University address Monday in the Student Union Building.
As the Missouri State legislature continues to discuss the funding formula, Paino said he is lobbying for Truman and for a formula that emphasizes measurements based on the quality of education students receive. Paino took this opportunity to share his idea about incorporating the Degree Qualifications Profile, a benchmark for learning outcomes, into the way Truman evaluates the quality of the education students receive.
Paino said there currently are two proposed plans for higher education funding being discussed at the state Capitol — the Governor’s plan and the State House’s plan.
Paino presented what each plan would mean for Truman’s funding. If the Governor’s plan is accepted, Truman would receive an increase of 3.44 percent of state appropriations, and if the legislature’s plan is accepted, Paino said Truman would receive an additional 2 percent increase, or about $800,000 worth of additional state appropriations. This is about $50,000 less than what the University would receive with the Governor’s plan, which amounts to about $1,319,000. Paino said that negotiations are ongoing and the deadline to submit legislation in the Senate has not passed, but he is hopeful that the final legislation will reflect higher education spending closer to the Governor’s plan than the House’s plan.
Paino said there is a difference between the two figures because the Governor’s plan assumes that the state will undergo Nixon’s proposed Medicaid expansion, while the legislator’s proposal does not.
“Either way, there is cutting still to be done,” Paino said, in order for the University to give raises.
The University will continue to make every effort to find savings and additional revenue, he said.
The average increase for state appropriation for state institutions of higher education is 4 percent, but because Truman failed to demonstrate an increase in critical thinking last year from a three year rolling average, which was one of the five criteria used to determine funding, Truman only will receive 3.44 percent.
The five criteria used to evaluate higher education and to assign the amount of funding include the percent of total expenditure on core mission, retention rates, graduation rates, a quality of learning assessment and a fifth, institution specific criteria that the universities select for themselves, Paino said.
Truman chose to demonstrate improvement in students’ critical thinking. This was the one criteria the University did not meet, and Paino said that students’ critical thinking actually fell by more than 5 percent, from 71.2 to 65.8 percent during a three year period, based on faculty evaluation of student senior portfolios.
Paino said there wasn’t an identifiable reason for the drop, and that measuring critical thinking through portfolio evaluation can often produce “random” results, which he said is one of the flaws of this particular indicator.
Paino said he is hopeful that during the next evaluation period, there will be a performance increase in this category.
Paino, sad that using critical thinking as a criteria originally was implemented with the understanding that it would be used for three years as a trial period.
Paino said the current negotiations about the funding formula offer an opportunity to revamp the way Truman evaluates quality.
Paino said that there currently are three different general approaches to funding formulas in higher education including formulas based on enrollment, mission and performance outcome, Paino said.
Paino said that while a formal funding formula model has not been formally purposed, the model staffers presented based on a theoretical formula model determines 90 percent of the funding from enrollment and 10 percent from performance, Paino said. A funding formula primarily based on enrollment is counter to the University’s mission and a liberal arts education, Paino said, because when Truman underwent its mission change, it became a selective liberal arts and sciences institution. If the formula is based on enrollment, Paino said he will have to find new ways to increase enrollment.
Faculty members shared the concern about the enrollment-based funding formula, and during the State of the University address, geography professor Wolfgang Hoeschele asked Paino if the legislature chose the enrollment-based funding formula, if the formula would effectively revoke Truman’s mission. Paino said that while the mission officially would still be a liberal arts and science school, an enrollment based funding system would make it difficult to achieve our mission because it would emphasize quantity instead of quality.
“[An enrollment based funding formula] is going to cripple us for generations to come and make it increasingly difficult to fulfill our mission,” Paino said. “To me, it’s imperative to keep talking about quality, quality, quality, mission, mission, mission.”
Paino said the problems of an enrollment-based system aren’t limited to a liberal arts campus. He said he it would be in the best interest for higher education as a whole to find a way to evaluate the quality of education.