Press Releases | Governance

New “Report Card” Grades Missouri’s Public Universities

F's Given in Cost and Effectiveness; Mixed Marks in Other Areas
October 22, 2008

WASHINGTON, DC—A new report card issued today gives Missouri’s public universities failing grades in cost and effectiveness and mixed marks in other areas. The report, entitled Show Me and published by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, also calls upon the universities to address the academic needs of students, do more to guarantee the free exchange of ideas, and improve their curricula.

“The Show-Me State’s students, parents, and taxpayers spend a great deal on their public universities,” said ACTA president Anne D. Neal. “Our report card shows them what they are getting for their money—and calls upon the universities to give Missourians the best bang for their buck.”

Show Me gives passing (“P”) or failing (“F”) grades in what students are learning (general education), whether the marketplace of ideas is vibrant (intellectual diversity), how the universities are run (governance), and what a college education costs (cost and effectiveness). All grades can be found in the Executive Summary.

The report finds that a full 39 percent of students enrolling at UM do not graduate within six years, let alone four. At MSU, the number is even greater: 46 percent. Both universities receive failing grades for cost and effectiveness, but MSU is singled out for large increases in administrative spending and a proliferation of new programs with no offsetting reductions.

Missouri’s highest grades are in general education, where the state as a whole received a “P.” The state is strongest in composition, math, and science and weaker in literature, economics, foreign language, and American history. Truman State University is rightly known for its sound and rigorous curriculum, although it did not meet all of ACTA’s criteria.

Missouri’s institutions receive uniformly low grades for their efforts to guarantee the free exchange of ideas. While the University of Missouri Board of Curators has begun to take action, a scientific survey of students there and at Missouri State University revealed extremely troubling results. For example, a majority of students reported pressure to agree with professors’ political views in order to get a good grade.

Grades are mixed for governance. UM’s Board of Curators receives a “P” for its proactive efforts to improve academic quality, contain costs, and debate key issues. The MSU Board of Governors is credited for good intentions but has serious practical problems, receiving an “F.”

Most sections of Show Me evaluate the UM System and MSU. The chapter on general education also examines Truman State and Southern Missouri State University. Together, these institutions represent more than half of Missouri’s four-year university enrollment.

Show Me is part of a series of ACTA publications designed to help states improve the performance of their public universities. This week, ACTA sent copies of Show Me—and letters urging action—to the presidents and trustees of all institutions covered, Governor Matt Blunt, and the candidates vying to succeed him. Members of the legislature will also receive the report.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, national organization dedicated to academic freedom, academic quality, and accountability. Its network includes alumni and trustees from more than 600 colleges and universities across the country. Since its founding in 1995, ACTA has counseled boards and educated the public about such issues as historical literacy, core curricula, the free exchange of ideas, accreditation, and good governance in higher education.


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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