His Twitter handle is @presidentjazz, he runs marathons and his background includes consultancy in business, health care and K-12 education, so John Jasinski probably won’t fit many stereotypes
you may have about college presidents. With his first full academic year behind him as president of Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Jasinski visited with Ingram’s about what he calls Bearcat Nation and the 7,100 students under his watch.

 

Q. You’ve had some time to settle into your role. Has that added perspective in any way changed your views of the challenges facing Northwest Missouri State University?

A. My perspectives have crystallized. Our strengths and opportunities are incredible, and we have committed and engaged alumni, business partners, students, parents and employees who are ready and willing to capitalize on these. Sure, we have challenges, not the least of which is budget, but my perspective provides a view of excellent performance across key metrics, repositioning and preparing the institution through a series of important and tough actions aimed at enhanced efficiency and effectiveness and continuing our positive economic impacts across our state and region.

 

Q. How has your consulting background shaped your understanding of operational goal-setting and planning at the university level?

A. Without question, having consulted across the sectors of business, health care, K-12 and higher education provides me a broad view of organizational life, gap analysis and operational and strategic views. Accountability, high expectations and a dual focus on processes and metrics are not buzz words—they are guides. We have focused on fiscal responsibility, and I know our taxpayers, as they hear our story, will be proud of the measures we have taken to ensure such.

 

Q. A key challenge for universities after meeting recruitment goals is student retention. What are your strategies for achieving that?

A. Starting during the recruiting process, we create one-to-one relationships with prospective students and our recruiters. This connection continues during orientation in the summer prior to the first year of college, and we commit significant resources to the Advantage Program, which connects new students to upperclassmen, their professors and academic advisers. This relationship is maintained through our Freshman Seminar class, with an emphasis on introducing students to resources on campus—tutoring, counseling, learning more about choosing a major, writing center, math lab, wellness center and the value of interculturalism. These programs are intentionally intertwined to create a sort of safety net to recognize when students may be struggling and for the university to potentially find an opportunity to intervene. The final piece of the safety net is the early alert system, in which faculty can make a referral of a student who may need assistance.

 

Q. How does the high profile of your football and cheerleading programs help sell the university as a total collegiate experience?

A. Student accomplishments—whether on the field or in the classroom—are something to celebrate. The success of our national championship football team and cheerleading squad has created quite a buzz in the media and an enormous sense of pride for all Bearcats … But this is not only about two successful programs—it is about opportunities for student engagement, as the research shows engaged students are successful students. Northwest students involved in organizations such as soils judging, debate and forensics, student publications and Students in Free Enterprise have competed with tremendous success on the regional, national and international levels.

 

«March 2011 Edition