Dear faculty, staff, and students,
It has been awhile since my last blog posting, so the inside stories have accumulated and there is a lot of news to share. I'll try to do these in shorter, more frequent doses.
In this post I want to tell you about:
- the great new Compro entry
- the renovations we're doing in Verrill Hall for our growing Compro enrollment
- our new health insurance coverage
- the status of the Campus Clinic
- our spring standard student enrollment and some marketing initiatives
- the latest achievement from business professors Andy Bargerstock and Lin Lin Shi
- the Board of Trustees meeting that took place on March 1
- the 749 windows we have replaced (with a $20,000 grant from Alliant Energy)
- comments from the visitors to our most recent Visitors Weekend
- where Iowa ranks in a listing of the happiest states in America
100 new Compro students arrive on campus
This past month, as most of you know, we enrolled 100 Compro students, the largest entry since 2008.
These students come from 26 countries, including 23 from Ethiopia, 13 from Nepal, 8 from Bangladesh, 7 each from Egypt and the Philippines, and 6 each from China and Mongolia — and perhaps our first-ever student from the Gambia.
This is on top of the 97 students we enrolled in October (the second largest since 2008) and the 45 students we expect in June — for a total of 242 this year, a huge boon to our enrollment and our budget. We had the highest percentage of visa accepts from Nepal and Ethiopia in a decade, 20 more than the target.
The Compro students are now taking the 33-lesson Science of Creative Intelligence course. The faculty tell us that the students are enjoying this course a great deal and having good experiences with their Transcendental Meditation practice, and the Student Government says that these students seem to be more engaged with campus life and activities than any previous Compro class.
Dr. Greg Guthrie and Elaine Guthrie left just a few days ago on a recruiting tour of China and Nepal.
Congratulations to Greg and Elaine and to Dr. Keith Levi, Craig Shaw, Peter Vonderheide, and the whole Compro team.
Renovation for new Compro students
We are renovating the south end of Verrill Hall to create a classroom environment for our expanding Compro enrollment.
We are creating two new large classrooms, which can accommodate 35–40 students each, as well as upgrading an existing classroom. We’re also creating several new offices, as well as upgrading the bathrooms and significantly improving two hallways.
The whole area will be virtually new from top to bottom, with new HVAC, ceiling, lighting, walls, and flooring, plus new furniture for the classrooms. The total investment in this project is about $150,000.
In the fall we’ll convert an old laboratory in Verrill Hall back to its original function for our expanding Physiology and Health department.
Unlimited health insurance coverage for all full-time employees
Starting in January, health insurance coverage for our full-time faculty and staff rose to infinity, in keeping with the regulations of the Affordable Care Act. This requires an additional $240,000 investment from the University. Now no full-time employee is at risk of being wiped out financially due to some health situation, and those who had been “buying up” to higher levels of insurance coverage no longer have this expense.
Admissions and marketing
We fell short on our US undergraduate enrollment goals, especially compared to our bumper crop last year — 44 new standard (non-Compro) students this spring, compared to 69 last spring and an average of 55 from 2009–2012.
At the same time, the trend in US graduate students in our other programs has remained strong over the last two semesters. We also saw an increase in the Accounting Professionals program enrollment — 15 new students this spring compared to 7 last year.
We have a number of exciting marketing initiatives either in planning or underway. Foremost among these is that we’re redesigning the University website. Actually, we are creating two new designs:
The MUM Marketing Department is creating a new design similar to the new international sites (uk.tm.org), with improved architecture. We will A/B test this site against our existing site. A/B testing means that we have both sites up at the same time, and half the visitors to mum.edu are presented with one of the sites, half with the other, and we monitor the results — how long people stay on the site, how they engage with it, whether they send in a prospective student inquiry.
Alek Lisefski, MUM graduate and talented web designer, is also designing a new University website. This site will include structural changes that will flatten the site architecture to affect user retention and conversion. Alek’s site will also employ “responsive design,” meaning the site will adapt to all mobile platforms. We will A/B test Alek’s site against the winner of the International TM.org model and our existing site.
We’re also strongly considering contracting with a public relations firm called Stamats to help us boost public perception of the University. Stamats is based in Iowa but works with colleges and universities around the country.
I will tell you about the other initiatives in my next blog post in a week or two.
Integrated campus wellness clinic now open
Our campus clinic opened in January in the Maharishi Peace Palace for women on the west side of Highway 1. Its focus is prevention and wellness.
Dr. Jim Davis is the medical director, assisted by a Maharishi Ayur-Veda expert Vaidya from Nepal. Our campus nurse, Deidre Lentz, is working there, and undergraduate students in Physiology and Health being trained as Maharishi Ayur-Veda consultants will assist with wellness consultations.
We are waiting for Dr. Davis to get his final approval from the state — which should come any day now — to begin his practice.
The clinic’s primary goal will be to provide integrative wellness for students, faculty, and staff, including Maharishi Ayur-Veda assessments and recommendations. Dr. Davis, an osteopathic physician, has 23 years of experience as a practitioner of Maharishi Ayur-Veda. Most recently he has been in private practice in Austin.
Congratulations to Dr. Andy Bargerstock and Lin Lin Shi
Last week Dr. Andrew Bargerstock and Lin Lin Shi, business department faculty members, were notified that a paper they had coauthored had been named Best Case Study for the 2014 Carl Menconi Ethics Competition by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA).
The article will be published in the July issue of Strategic Finance, a monthly IMA journal focusing on professional practices in management accounting and finance.
The Menconi Case Competition aims to develop teaching cases around ethical issues affecting management accountants and finance professionals.
This continues a pattern of recognition from the IMA for the accounting faculty and PhD students at MUM:
Last October, Lin Lin was named IMA’s Lean Accounting Student of the Year for her work in teaching and writing case studies while pursuing her PhD at MUM.
In 2011, Manjunath Rao was named Lean Accounting Student of the Year and shortly, thereafter, he received a research grant from the IMA for his PhD dissertation research completed in 2013.
In 2009, Dr. Bargerstock was named Excellence in Lean Accounting Professor at the Lean Accounting Summit.
Board of Trustees meeting March 1
The Board of Trustees held its second meeting of the year last Saturday, March 1. Main agenda points:
Compro — They met with the Compro leaders to congratulate them on their great success
Admissions and Marketing — They met with the Admissions leaders — Brad Mylett, Paul Stokstad, Paul Schaefer, Aster Hesse, Alwin Hesse, Gwendolyn Stowe, plus David Sinton, our website analytics consultant — to review the spring enrollment and prospects for the fall.
Fundraising — They reviewed the status of our endowment campaign and the Annual Fund, with endowment campaign chair Mayor Ed Malloy, along with David Todt and Ellen Jones. The Annual Fund is running just ahead of where it was at this point last year, and this year so far we have 890 donors, compared to 745 at this time last year.
David Lynch MA in Film — They met with Stuart Tanner, Gurdy Leete, Noah Buntain to review the progress of this new initiative. The students are now working on their final projects.
MA in Maharishi Ayur-Veda and Integrative Medicine — They met with Dr. Keith Wallace, Dr. Paul Morehead, and Dr. Robert Schneider to review this new program, an online program with tracks for medical doctors and health professionals. We plan to launch this in August.
May Board of Trustees meeting — Usually this meeting runs for the 3-4 days prior to graduation. This year, Board members are invited to come a week early and spend the first five days rounding on the Invincible America Assembly as well as visiting classes during the first part of that last week. The idea is for Trustees to gain a fuller taste of the rich experience here.
Fall-to-spring retention dips slightly
You may recall that last fall, our fall-to-fall student retention rate for new first-year students (the figure we report to the Federal government) rose to nearly 80%, which may be an all-time high.
Our fall-to-spring retention rate (last fall to now) dipped slightly this year, compared to the last three years. For all new undergraduates it was 82.4%, compared to 89.4% last year, 90% the year before, and 85.1% the year before that. For all undergraduates the figure was 87.2%, compared to 91.3%, 88.6%, and 86.4% for the three prior years.
Although these are not significant changes, we always try determine the reason for students not returning, including calling them where necessary. Three of the non-returning students never completed a course. Altogether nine did not return for academic reasons (poor GPA, lack of motivation, learning challenges, etc.). Seven transferred to other schools, in some cases to pursue disciplines not offered here. Six had health issues, five had family issues, four needed or wanted to work, three were suspended, three wanted to travel, and one ran out funds. For seven students the reasons remain unknown.
749 windows replaced – with a $20,000 rebate
As part of the 2-year frat renovation project, we have replaced 749 windows in 11 buildings with Energy Star windows — and we received a $20,000 rebate from Alliant Energy, our energy provider.
In addition to this rebate, we expect these windows to save us $13,000 per year in energy costs through increased energy efficiency.
The detailed application for the Alliant rebate took several months to complete. Congratulations to Dr. Dave Streid and our Aramark team.
Comments from visitors to our last Visitors Weekend
- I love how MUM is able to present often abstract concepts in very concrete quantitative ways.
- MUM is the school of my dreams — a perfect balance of love and real-world applicability!
- I was completely astounded at how well MUM provides ideal living conditions: food, water, outdoor space etc. It is all of the highest quality that made my stay perfect.
- MUM has left me feeling very cleansed this weekend. I'm going home with so much more faith in America now that I know such a wonderful place exists.
- Many different cultures, religions and races are represented, but everyone is accepted equally because its about each individual's own journey.
- The feeling in the golden dome was amazing, the kindness here is all pervasive, it’s like heaven.
- I was especially impressed with the Golden Dome.
- The relationship between the teachers and students impressed me the most. This relationship is much closer than what I've experienced a other universities.
- The environment MUM provides is amazing. I feel like it really helps creativity flourish.
- I had an amazing weekend. I met a lot of awesome people. Everyone made me feel welcome.
- I have never been anywhere that has so many people open to Knowledge. The environment here is amazing.
- My consciousness has never been so open and aware than in this supportive environment. I have finally found somewhere I can belong and fit in. I was very lucky to find this place.
Iowa among the 10 happiest states in America
The annual Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index ranks Iowa number 10 in its listing of “The Happiest States in America” and four other states around Iowa in the top 10.
More than 176,000 people from all 50 states were interviewed last year for the index, which measures Americans' physical and emotional health. Well-being effectively reflects health, employment, education, and the local environment.
The highest-ranking states are not particularly wealthy. But this is counterbalanced by the fact that residents are healthier and more likely to learn new things every day.
Iowa ranked #10. Three other top 10 states border on Iowa — Minnesota (#4), Nebraska (#3), and South Dakota (#2) — while #1 is nearby North Dakota. (Hawaii ranked #8.)
So, quality of life-wise, Iowa is right up there with Hawaii — good to keep in mind in the winter.
Thank you all for your good work day after day after day.
Jai Guru Dev