Missouri Valley college shifts its focus to academics

By Temo Olvera/Staff Writer

Retention rates are influencing the future of Missouri Valley College. The new three-year strategic plan will include an emphasis on academics. The administration also wants to see a change in faculty endorsement and recruiting practices. 

“I would like to see a culture shift to encourage more of an academic focus at our college while still embracing athletics,” said Elizabeth Bellamy, associate dean of students. 

Gary Heisserer, institutional effectiveness and planning director, said the strategic plan will include HIPs, High Impact Practices. According to the American Association for Colleges and Universities HIPs include internships, writing-intensive courses, and collaborative assignments. 

The strategic plan is what establishes priorities and guides college spending. 

Many alumni change careers or jobs over their lifetime. Heisserer said the college should teach students how to learn so they are prepared for more than their first job. 

Bellamy wants to take a holistic approach to education. She said students have come to her at the end of the year with no money to travel home for the summer and snowballing debt. 

She wants students to understand the true cost of college and be able to make informed choices.

She said financial literacy extends beyond knowing the difference between a loan and a grant. It’s the earning potential of a degree, the cost in time and mental health, and what it means to invest in one’s self.

Faculty Endorsement 

Bellamy said recruiting and maintaining faculty is an issue for the college. Many have retired or left this past year.  Bellamy said professors who have a passion flourish and supporting them is crucial 

She said she wants the college to support more projects led by faculty members: experiential learning, conference trips, and academic clubs. 

Heisserer said the creation of new programs comes either from the top down or from the bottom up. 

Top-down is when the administration sees a need and creates a program. Bottom-up is the gathering of people to form an organization that is later endorsed by the administration. 

In both situations, a cost-benefit analysis is conducted. Heisserer said the college will examine the cost of the program including time, faculty burden, and resources. Then it will look at the demand and benefits of the program. 

Heisserer said new programs are approved by the faculty, admissions, and board of trustees regardless of the avenue

Bellamy said faculty development is important. The VP of Academic Affairs sends out the Monday Morning Mentor, a 20-minute online development program. Bellamy said she sees value in this and wants more. 


Maddison Buck, an admissions counselor, said recruitment has been rising over the past three years and the college is training new recruiters. 

“We’ve got to recruit students who we are confident can succeed,” said Heisserer. 

Buck said a shift towards academics would create little change in recruiting practices. She said professors are not as involved as coaches. She said the way to improve academic recruiting is by having faculty scout out students and work with her office. 

Buck said a lot of the current recruitment is done through social media, high school trips, career fairs, and on-campus events. She said coaches work with her to scout athletes and host events. 

Bellamy said the school should better highlight the academic endeavors of the school. 

“The students who meet us halfway do alright,” said Bellamy. “The ones we lose are the ones who came just to play their sport.”

Heisserer said he’s received feedback saying a shift to academics would create reasons for students to stay despite athletics. 

“We have so much more to offer that we don’t really offer,” said Bellamy.

Buck said recruiters share information about fine arts, academics, and athletics equally. She said roughly eighty percent of incoming students are athletes and recruits are just more interested in sports on campus.

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