For students, faculty, staff and alumni, 2018 was a transformational year for the University of Central Missouri. Not without challenges, the past 12 months have been a testimony to the resolve, perseverance, commitment and pride shown by our community to our institution. By sharing these attributes, the UCM family has worked together to deepen our commitment to Learning to a Greater Degree.


2018 collage


Under the then interim presidency of Dr. Roger Best — former faculty member, dean of the Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies and chief financial officer — UCM launched its first new recruitment campaign in seven years. Replacing the successful “Choose Red” campaign, “Opportunity in Action” speaks to individuals at every stage of their educational journey — from undergraduate and graduate degree completion to workforce development and their important role in supporting student success through alumni giving. Interim President Best launched the new campaign during his State of the University Address on Aug. 22, 2018. In his address, Best also unveiled a new academic mark, designed to represent UCM’s rich academic history and be a permanent part of UCM’s identity. This mark features the beloved and widely recognized university Administration Building as the focal point of the design.


As 2018 continued, the Alumni Foundation made several important strides in supporting the success of our students, including the launch of our Gift of Success initiative. With the objective to raise more than $1 million in scholarships, this campaign showcases the important role that our alumni have in providing a direct impact to student outcomes, including enabling high-performing students to overcome financial barriers and stay on track to graduate.


The impact of alumni support on student outcomes also was a key takeaway at the opening of the on-campus Success Advising Center in October. This center is a landmark in demonstrating UCM’s commitment to student success, and is an integral part of implementing a new intrusive advising model that delivers student support at just the right time, minimizing the individual risk of students dropping out and increasing year-over-year retention. At the Oct. 10 ribbon-cutting ceremony, Best noted that the center is “the physical embodiment of our commitment to students to make sure they leave with a degree to be successful in whatever career path they choose,” and this support is often provided through gifts from UCM alumni. The Success Advising Center is located on the lower level of the Elliott Student Union, which is undergoing another campus improvement project expected to be completed in fall 2019. This renovation will transform the student experience within the student union walls, providing an updated space for students to better utilize important resources and get involved in campus life.


year in review collage


In addition to physical campus improvements, 2018 has been a year of transformation academically for UCM. In addition to multiple significant grants, including a $744,923 award from the USDA in February and a separate $150,000 grant from the USDA in October, both benefiting initiatives by UCM’s agriculture faculty, the university was awarded the largest grant in its 147-year history. Received from the U.S. Department of Education, the Strengthening Institutions Grant helps institutions expand their ability to serve low-income students through academic quality and fiscal stability. The $2.7 million received by UCM over five years will be integral in strengthening the model for student success consolidated in 2018, and will be used to support the attainment of an 80 percent retention goal set over the past 12 months.


As UCM expands its ability to serve students by providing individual support, the university is continuing to establish and maintain a high standard of academic excellence through the development of new academic programs and partnerships that help meet the workforce needs of our regional, national and global economy.


The launch of new graduate and undergraduate programs in competitive fields such as big data, athletic training, bioinformatics and software engineering ensures that UCM is providing academic pathways for students looking for real career opportunities.


This commitment to meeting the needs of the workforce also has been reflected through the strategic partnerships established with our extended campus at the Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC) in Lee’s Summit, Mo. Over the past 12 months, UCM has formed important partnerships with organizations such as the Full Employment Council, KC Digital Drive and the Missouri National Guard to develop workforce-ready programs in areas such as sterile processing, gigabit technology and cybersecurity to reduce the current skills gap in evolving technologies.


In November, UCM’s Board of Governors appointed Dr. Roger Best as the 16th president of the university, following a successful interim presidency. This exciting decision allows UCM to conclude the year poised for even further success in the new year. Dr. Best led his first commencement address on Dec. 7, recognizing the commitment of UCM’s faculty and staff by telling the graduating class, “they have had your backs for this entire experience … If you remember nothing else, remember this e will always be here for you.”


As UCM continues its trajectory for success in academic quality, student support and retention, the university has been named one of the 2019 Best Regional Universities in the Midwest, Top Public Schools and Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News & World Report. These important recognitions reflect the significant improvements UCM has made over the past 12 months as our community focuses on providing opportunity for our students through a quality college degree. This platform of success — crafted by the dedication of our faculty, staff, alumni and students — is one that not only supported 3,259 graduates in receiving their degrees in 2018, but also will carry all subsequent UCM graduates to greater success in the future.


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