It's beginning to feel like a new semester at Murray State University. Faculty is returning to prepare lesson plans, students are moving back in to the residential colleges. Murray State Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jay Morgan looks ahead to the new academic semester during Sounds Good and previews the "MSU 100" strategic plan to be unveiled soon.
Expanding Doctoral Degree Programs
Murray State is in the process of expanding its doctoral degree program options. As of May 2014, the first round of degrees were conferred with roughly a half dozen nursing practice students. A milestone for the university, Jay Morgan says, being the first doctoral degrees conferred by Murray State.
The second doctorate begins this fall, a doctorate of education in the Department of Education. The university is seeking a third degree in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, currently evaluating conceptual models. Morgan says to look for an announcement in three to six months.
The goal, he says, is for doctoral programs. "Four is our goal. We think our campus can absorb that. We think it complements our academic climate really well and really builds strength in our academic communities."
New Academic Programs
Several new academic programs are either recently or soon-to-be underway at Murray State. The Health Information Administration Program is an undergraduate level program, ideal for stuents interested in going into the healthcare field. Community Leadership is another, active for about six months. A Masters Program in Non-Profit Leadership is a new masters program this fall, a largely online and weekend oriented program geared towards attracting students in the St. Louis, Chicago and Memphis areas.
Strong Early Enrollment
Early enrollment numbers look good for the university this fall, particularly at the international level. Morgan says there are about 400 students from Saudi Arabia, the largest international population at Murray State. He says the university is seeking ways to increase that number. Most of the Saudi Arabian students are able to attend on Saudi government-sponsored contracts.
Overall, there are between 1,000 to 1,100 international students attending Murray State. The university goal is 1,400. Morgan says international students on average pay about $15,000 in tuition per semester, versus $3,800 for a Kentucky student, so increasing international enrollment is financially important for the university.
Murray State has seen some softness in enrollment from Tennessee, largely due to the state's push towards free community college enrollment. Morgan says Tennessee will be a challenge going forward. However, tuition rates from Southern Illinois and Southern Indiana remain strong.
A Generational Change
There are about 70 new faculty coming this fall, nearly double from the average of 35 per academic year. Morgan attributes this to many longtime faculty members reaching retirement age. Most of the faculty that came to the university in the 1970s and 1980s are beginning to retire. Murray State is undergoing a generational shift, where now a large portion of the faculty body is below 7 or 8 years of service. "While it's an exciting time to get new people and new ideas, it is sad to see some of the senior folks retire," Morgan says. "We have probably 170-plus faculty close to or eligible to retire."
Murray State's academic plan for the 100 anniversary is set to formally unveil in the next two to three weeks. Dr. Duane Bolin, Professor of History, has been commissioned to write a book about the history of Murray State for release in 2022, the 100 anniversary year. On envisioning Murray State's Future, Morgan says "We're really trying to push out and look toward who and what we want to be not only as a university under Dr. Davies, but also our academic community."