Introducing MSU’s 2022 Quality Enhancement Plan


Colin Stevenson

Mechanical engineering freshman Micheal Morrell begins to slip off a mechanical bull set up at Maverick’s birthday party, Oct. 27.

MSU’s next reaccreditation is coming up in 2022 along with major plans to advance the university. SACSCOC, the reaccreditation agency for MSU, requires every institution to provide a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) for the university to enhance its student’s experiences. The previous QEP that MSU implemented was EURECA, which focused on undergraduate research. The QEP that will reach MSU students in 2022 focuses on a different area of student necessity.

“The [QEP] that was selected and moves from the topic selection committee now to the implementation committee is around a comprehensive first-year experience,” Interim President James Johnston said.

MSU began working on plans for the 2022 QEP only a year ago. The first step was to identify the topic, which is a difficult process since there are many issues to sort through. Martin Camacho, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, who also serves as the Chair of the QEP Identification Committee, spoke about what his team was looking for in a topic.

“[We need to] focus on one issue that will provide enough support, time, [and] resources to make sure that [we] improve a student’s success… What’s the one thing we should do better,” Camacho said. “As opposed to just coming up with anecdotal stories, we wanted to look at information. So we looked at a huge number of surveys that we have in our possession… and then we start to formulate a picture as to what is the most urgent.”

The committee first drew up seven proposals based on the original information gathered and narrowed those down to four. Those four were discussed by the president’s cabinet and narrowed down to two finalists. The Student Government Association analyzed the final two proposals, and after discussing them with the faculty and staff senates, made the final decision.

“There was a topic that came up about liberal arts inaction. I thought it was really good also. We need this, this is also a great idea,” Johnston said. “After going through the process, the comprehensive first-year experience (FYE) was the one selected.”

This next year’s QEP will focus on creating an FYE for all freshman and/or first-year students with an emphasis on a liberal arts aspect. This is a core ideal of MSU and the QEP board hopes the new plan will help students understand its importance and value.

“Part of our guiding principle as an institution is thinking about the value of a liberal arts education and aligning it, or showing, how training the liberal arts means that our graduates are trained in critical thinking, effective communication, teamwork, and sense of community,” Kristen Garrison, associate vice president of Academic Affairs and chair of QEP Planning and Implementation Committee, said.

The next step is to begin the planning and implementation of the QEP. This task has been delegated to a newly-formed committee that plans to present their final recommendations in early March.

“Our task is to come up with the outcomes, what we want students to gain, how do we deliver it, how do we make responsible use of our resources and how do we assess it to make sure it’s achieving what we want it to achieve,” Garrison said.

After the final proposal and reaccreditation in the spring, a pilot will be run in the fall. From there, adjustments will be made based on weaknesses or gaps the committees hadn’t anticipated before the official launch for students starting in the fall of 2023.

“So there’s needs of our students to be successful outside the classroom but within the university. I think this comprehensive first-year experience connects our students to each other and connects them to their courses of study to the university and gives them the skills they will need to succeed. That’s the big picture of what we need this thing to accomplish,” Johnston said.

Garrison said the main goal her committee is aiming to accomplish is to help the students. They want to create a plan that will give MSU students the right kinds of experiences and skills to finish their studies and enjoy their time in college while remaining representative of the whole community.

“The important thing to know about the QEP is that even though there’s a committee working on the details… that committee represents the campus community,” Garrison said. “The final plan is going to represent the whole. It’s meant to serve our entire campus community.”