Murray State President Bob Davies visited the WKMS studios for the latest in a series of monthly conversations on the state of the university. He spoke with Chad Lampe on implementing MSU’s upcoming campus-wide tobacco ban, his thoughts on a performance funding for higher education institutions in Kentucky and other topics from last week’s Board of Regents meeting.
Tobacco Ban – Implementation Date Set
Friday, the Murray State Board of Regents adopted Davies’ tobacco-free policy. This will ban all tobacco products and e-cigarettes from campus, effective August 5. The policy includes some exemptions including research and theatrical performances. In December, the board approved the shift, and charged Davies with the plan’s development. While the overall ban won’t take place until next semester, Davies says parts of it will show up this month.
“One of the things that has been brought to my attention is to have a zone or a bubble around buildings of 25 feet,” Davies said. He used MSU’s Zen Garden as an example of formerly designated smoking areas that will become smoke and tobacco free. “That was one area that a lot of individuals talk about,” Davies said. “They want to be part of the serenity, but the tobacco use has driven them away from that.” Those changes take effect March 15. Davies says the plan will be re-evaluated yearly. University-sanctioned tobacco usage such as research work will remain unaffected.
Murray State Honors College in the Works
Last week’s Board of Regents meeting brought about the approval of a university honors college system, expanding MSU’s current offerings. Davies says the program helps to reposition Murray State as a major academic player in the region.
“What it makes is a very bold statement that we’re about academic quality and excellence,” Davies said. “We all know who we are, but this enables us to really have an extra arrow in our quiver to make that statement.” While most details have yet to be ironed out, the Honors College will include a residential component. Davies says even though the plan is aimed at high-end students, it should help overall recruitment. “Success begets success,” Davies said. A plan for the Honors College system has not been set.
Davies’ Thoughts on a Statewide Performance Funding System
A much-discussed topic in the Kentucky legislature is that of a bill advocating for a performance funding system for higher education. In that system, colleges receive grants mostly on designated forms of academic achievement.
Davies says he’s not opposed to the idea, but he believes universities’ current standings make such a task complicated. “We’ve got to have a grounding to take in consideration of where each institution is, take a grounding of the strengths of each institution and build off of those strengths,” Davies said. “And yes, we all have weaknesses; when it comes to weaknesses, how do we show modest improvements? Davies says in MSU’s case, the university has continued to make improvements while coping with continual budget cuts. He added that that’s not always the case with other Kentucky universities, and it’s tough to find reliable performance benchmarks.