New Missouri State Head Wants More Diversity

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.

      Missouri State University should boost the number of minorities on campus, toughen academic standards and bring in more out-of-state students, the new president of the state’s second largest school said in his first public address since being appointed.

      President Michael Nietzel also questioned whether the current tuition rate of $5,454 was high enough and he said the number of endowments should be doubled.

      Nietzel was appointed in July to head Missouri State, which had an enrollment last year of about 20,800 students on two main campuses and until August was known as Southwest Missouri State University. He said his goals were part of plans to take the school “in new directions that will allow us to become a distinctive university.”

      Missouri State’s aim is to ensure access to education as the demand for higher education grows, Nietzel said, noting changes would be necessary, including more rigorous academic standards.

      “We don’t do students a service by not making (academics) rigorous,” he said. The university leader also called for increasing student and staff diversity. Minority enrollment is currently 5.9 percent and Nietzel said a task force was already studying ways to improve diversity.

      “We need to be reflecting diversity that’s out there in the world,” he said.

      Among other proposals, Nietzel called for a boost in enrollment from outside the region and the state. Half of the student body is currently from southwest Missouri and only 9 percent is from outside Missouri.

      The number of Missouri State freshmen dropped from a high of 2,732 in 2002 to 2,583 this fall. Graduate student numbers are down about 5 percent from five years ago.

Associated Press



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