Take me out to the ballgame!

MLB news by week through the eyes of Ricky Rivera.

Update On The Astroturf

A month ago I reported on what is one of the biggest if not the biggest renovation our UCM baseball team has received in the history of the program. The addition of AstroTurf playing surface for our field thanks to a big donation by Jim Crane.

The donation was of 1.1 million and it includes the playing surface, geo-technical investigation, land disturbance, erosion control and fence repair. But that 1.1 million does not include any other project contingency. As the project has been advancing “several  unforeseen costs and conditions are being identified that could require additional funding. Items include performance and payment bond costs, backstop padding replacement, and additions to the outfield fence to eliminate the gap because the original center field was approximately six to eight inches higher than the left and right field” said Christopher Bamman. Of particular concern is sandstone that has been uncovered in the northeast corner of the field that may extend further into the outfield and possibly entail relocation of the main drain So this Friday December 11  Bamman will present the board of governors with this information and ask to establish a contingency equivalent to 10% of the approved cost for Crane Stadium – Tompkins Field. The problem with these unforeseen conditions and road blocks the construction people have ran into is that it could hurt the project and delay the date of when it is supposed to be done. March 1, 2016 is the agreed date in the contract but this date could be at risk with these conditions that popped up. The UCM baseball team plays their first home series March 4, 2016 against Pittsburg State University and their coach Kyle Crookes expects the field to be done by then.

Hopefully the Board of Governors approves the contingency proposed by Bamman which would be equivalent to $111,300 and would help the process.

W.C Morris Renovations

The University of Central Missouri continues their improvements. After the construction of the Crossing, the renovation of the baseball field, the building of Fitz dining hall, knocking down of President Ambrose’s house and the rebuilding the away stands for the football team. UCM will be rebuilding the W.C Morris building on campus next summer. Governor Jay Nixon announced the rebuilding of the building with President Ambrose on this past August 25 right in front of the W. C. Morris building in a press conference.

This Friday December 11, the board of governors will be proposed with the challenge of awarding a contract for a construction management for the project. As it will be presented by Executive Director of Facilities, planning & Operations, Mr. Christopher Bamman. It will be presented with the idea of the board approving the hiring of a construction management for this project. On June 5, 2016, Governor Jay Nixon signed legislation that contains funding for capital improvement projects at higher education campuses across Missouri, including more than $12 million in renovations at the University of Central Missouri. “House Bill 19 provides $12.2 million in maintenance and repairs for the W. C. Morris Science Building that will be focused on improving classrooms, laboratories, and offices. Utilizing additional funds approved by the Board of Governors, the project will also address some of the building’s deteriorated infrastructure”said Bamman. Programming and design development for the renovations are well underway by the University’s contracted architect-engineer, Gould Evans Associates.” The University desires to hire a construction manager as constructor to provide pre-construction phase services. The constructor will work with UCM and the contracted A&E firm to evaluate and consult on the project’s program, phasing schedule, and budget, and to provide preliminary cost estimates and development of potential subcontractors and suppliers. The constructor will also provide construction phase services serving as project manager” according to information for this upcoming meeting.

It’s very exciting to be a part of the UCM student body in times like this when every year our President and faculty help make this place the Division two school in the nation.

Cyber Security

At the beginning of my blog posts after meeting with Mr. Jeff Murphy I discussed the increase in demand in Cyber security not only by students but it has became a need because of hacking attacks.  So after creating a major for Cyber Security earlier this year, the board of governors will be presented with the idea of adding it as a minor as well during this Fridays monthly meeting.

The idea of adding the minor will be presented by provost-chief Dr. Deborah Curtis. There was another big hack attack on Anthem- one of the largest insurance providers- which caught the attention of cyber security people and it highlighted the need for more students to be educated in this area.”The preparation of more students in our generation will help secure the cyberspace” said Curtis. With all the going incidents of hacking in the states it is not only important fr electronic majors to be educated and prepared but also from other majors to be prepared as well. “Many companies from different sectors of economy now require some knowledge of cyber security to prevent theft”. The minor will also help in the department’s efforts to obtain a National Center of Academic Excellence designation from the National Security Agency (NSA). In the past, the designation has been given to institutions offering opportunities for cyber security education to students across various disciplines.

This is a good idea in my opinion because this world is such an advance world in technology that companies need that security. It also needs no funding for it since here at UCM we already have the personnel and materials required for the curriculum and no positions need to be added. And it is a position that has a great growing rate as the Missouri Department of Economics Development reported Security Analyst as the third fastest growing occupation in Missouri.

UCM FCC Spectrum Auction

The UCM board of governors will be back at it this upcoming Friday December 11. 2015, as they will have their monthly meeting in which they will look into approve or deny new legislation’s proposed by people on campus.

One of the main legislation’s to be brought up this week in the meeting will be the Federal Communications Commission Spectrum Auction. This subject will be presented by Dr. Phil Huffman who is the director of Broadcasting Services/KMOS. The objective of this proposal is to have the board of governors support and approve  UCM -owned and operated KMOS television to participate in the FCC Spectrum Auction process in 2016.

By March 2016, changes will be underway across the entire nation affecting free, over-the-air television. “The Federal Communications Commission seeks to capture more over-the-air spectrum for mobile and internet technologies”. The FCC’s goal is to move stations on channels 31 to 52 to lower channel assignments. This newly available spectrum would be auctioned off to cellular carriers like Sprint, AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile. The school has various options which are, not participating, participating and sell the license of KMOS to the FCC or participate and change channels to either higher or lower channel.  All of the funding for this project would go through the FCC.

In my opinion we should definitely participate because if we don’t lots of the students that get the channel for free would lose educational television. Also because of theprofessional experience, jobs and opportunities it provides to our students here on campus

Mules Baseball gets Astroturf from Astros owner

This week in my blog I will for the first time talk about sports.  This because the Board of Governors has approved a 900,000 dollars donation to renovate the baseball field here on campus from UCM alum and current Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.  Crane a former baseball player for UCM has always been a big doner for the schools athletics, in 1998 he renovated the baseball teams facilities. When this year the Astros were in town to face the Kansas City Royals Crane decided to swing by his alma matter and stated that he was going to make a donation to make a renovation to the playing surface and try to make UCM “the best baseball field in division two baseball” said Crane.  The Board of Governors approved unanimously, “the bond between a player and a coach and the appreciation of an alumnus in their university is again evident” said President Charles Ambrose. Ambrose was extremely proud about how UCM’s baseball team has grown throughout the years. The talk of getting astroturf has been a topic of discussion for the past five years and has even been brought up to the City Council and Board members in several occasions. This because it not only would help the baseball team and school, but also the community. This because if you have turf on a baseball field that eliminates most of the reasons of why to dance a baseball game, tournament or activities being held on the field. Which as a result means that UCM could host big tournaments throughout the fall, spring and summer “which could bring revenue to the city of Warrensburg, especially when teams from far away are coming to stay in a hotel here in town for a weekend all the money spent will be here in town for that period of time” said Head Coach Kyle Crookes.

Ultimately it is a big acquisition for the Mule community here in Warrensburg and we are all extremely proud of what our diners do for this program and also a special thank you to Mr. Jim Crane for being a supporter and helper for UCM athletics.

A Chat with Dr. Graham

After attending the last Board Of Governors meeting I met a lot of interesting and important people here at UCM. It gave me an opportunity to interact with some of the governors and a couple of vice provosts. One of those was Dr. Jim Graham, a vice provost of technology here on campus.

Graham is responsible for overseeing the team that has responsibilities of technology resources deployed around campus. Resources such as work stations, classroom technology, residence hall etc. Some of the challenges he faces daily are the constant change in technology, security is a huge deal to him, this security includes viruses and hacks so his job is to protect the student/employee information and monitor it daily to make sure it is safe. Graham also mentioned budget being a big challenge in his and his teams daily life. This because technology is expensive and requires constant updates. On the other side of it Graham mentioned how proud he was of his team for the work they put in daily, “my success is depending on the success of the other people” said Graham.

Every vice provost has a role to play during every Board of Governors meeting. Graham mentioned that he won’t be infront of the Board unless there is an immediate need. During the last meeting Graham let the Board know about the annual update of technology. So in order to be prepared for that, he has to meet with his team of workers and talk about accomplishments of things installed, update on budget situation and information that needs to be informed to the Governors. Graham also presented to the Board the need of a renewal of contract with the company Oracle, which is one of the database systems on campus. Every single problem or necessity he feels that the technology team needs on campus Graham reports to Dr. Deborah Curtis who is the chief provost on campus. As in things to be aware of for the future, that will most likely  be brought up in future Board of Governors meeting, Graham, mentioned that our current phone system needs to be replaced. “It will require some dollars and some man power to make this happen” said Graham. Building some relationship with the vendors is a huge task to make this happen, but it will be all hands on deck for this one.

As we can see members of the UCM faculty are doing everything they can to make UCM the place to be and keep the tradition of being a great University alive.

UCM Calender Year Health Insurance plan

After covering last months Board of Governors meeting I got all the paperwork for everything that was presented and accepted. After several days of going through the paperwork I noticed the new calendar year for the Health Insurance plan UCM has. I figured I would talk about it and post it on this weeks blog because it is helpful information to have and know.

The document was prepared and presented by Mr. Rick Dixon who is the director of the Human Resources office and by Mr. Rob Charlesworth who is a healthcare consultant.  The objective of this was to inform the Board of Governoirs on the status of UCM’s health plan rates and options and also provide a recommendation for the renewal of UCM’s health insurance plan for the calendar year 2016. UCM’s current health plan consists of two plans. Plan A is a 500$ deductible plan with various co-pays and a maximum out-of-pocket expense of $3,250. Plan B is a $2,600 qualified high-deductible plan with a health saving account option. All UCM employees contribute to their health insurance premium. The university uses a three tier structure to measure how much UCM employees contribution to their healthy insurance premium. The main goal that Dixon and Charlesworth presented was an effort to encourage greater Employee Accountability in their own healthcare by implementing and employee premium contribution differentials ” for EE to pay an added amount if not participating in annual Health Risk Assessment.  In my opinion I thought it was a big deal that after last years health insurance renewal with Blue KC, UCM asked the company to explore the possibility of bringing their successful medical home program to Warrensburg. They have engaged in that process and are “well on their way to having a medical home established and certified in Warrensburg early in the 2016 plan year. Management recommended the Board of Governors to approve renewing their health plan with Blue KC for 2016 but then rebid the health plan for 2017 to see what better offer they can get although they will still have a year remaining with Blue KC.

Update on New Legistlation’s Approved in September

After meeting a couple weeks ago with Dr. Curtis she told me that she would be presenting some new legislation’s for the Board of Governors in Septembers meeting. So I decided to follow her and ask people about the meeting and I ended up meeting with Dr. Jeff Murphy for a quick minute in which he provided me with all the legislation’s that were approved by the Board of Governors on the September 17th meeting. So I will be talking about some of the important new legislation’s passed this passed month on this blog.

One of the first new legislation’s presented and accepted was the approval for a new minor in leadership studies. This was presented by Dr. Curtis and it is designed to provide students with leadership skills and knowledge. “The major fits UCM’s strategies of Engaged learning, Culture of Service and Worldly Perspective” said Murphy. It looks to be a Minor that can be easily attained without having to add extraneous credit hours that could delay graduation. This next one I found interesting and the Legislation that was presented was a proposed academic transcript fee increase from what it is now 5$ to 10$.  This cost has been maintained by UCM since 2003 year in which it was implemented. The reason given for this legislation being proposed was because of the cost of postage, envelopes, and transcript paper has risen substantially. Increasing the fee would allow UCM to enter into contract with a vendor to issue pdf transcripts and enable the Registrar’s office to meet the budgeted 90,000 in generated revenue. The proposed legislation that got my attention the most was UCM Aviation seeked a Board approval to get a contract for Aviation fuel. The contract proposed was a one year deal through September 30th 2016 with a UCM option to renew four additional one-year periods.  This was very interesting to me because I enjoy learning new information everyday and I have always been curious of how the Universities Aviation area works. The school’s contract with Avfuel Corporation ended this past Tuesday and the average price for gas is around 415,000 a year. An invitation for bid on our fuel company were placed on important newspapers but only three fuel providers responded and those were AvFuel Corporation, Epic Aviation LLC and Ascent Aviation Group LLC. The UCM management recommended to award contract to Epic Aviation LLC which gave the cheapest deal for the University. Fuel expenses will be paid from Airport Operations with flight fees and customer sales providing source of funding.

Reaching a conclusion every week I enjoy more and more this assignment, this because of the amount of information I have collected so far and will keep getting. Again thank to Dr. Jeff Murphy who has always been there to help me get the right information at the right time.

A Chat with Jeff Murphy part II

This week I had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Jeff Murphy again. During this weeks decision making for me I decided to go back and touch base with Murphy because I think he is a very reliable source that I can always count to get valid and important information. This time around I wanted to ask him some questions that I thought of after our first meeting and also get a new packet of new legislation approved by the Board this past month.

When asked about how he prepares for Board Meetings and his role in them Murphy mentioned that he works with the presidents office and Mrs. Monica Huffman to go over “Board Material” so Murphy proof reads it and it informs him of whats going on and what are some of the items in agenda a couple weeks before the monthly meeting of the board members. Also Murphy collaborates with Huffman to post the agendas in certain places over campus and shares them with the media. Besides helping out, he also notifies and organizes news for the media for important issues that are coming up. So he formulates in is mind what to do if the Board accepts or does something about the issue so in case that happens he is organized and has everything prepared for a news release. Murphy said that the media is a vital part of everything they do so he tries to be the “best possible resource they can have” and someone that they can count on for accurate information. Murphy tries to develop a good relationship with the media so they can work with Board Members when an issue needs to be addressed. “Its a constant process that I enjoy” said Murphy.  Developing a relationship sounds way easier than how difficult it is because of how much the media does and the amount of information they require daily. Communication with the Board members vary from time to time and depend on whats the necessity at that time.

A Chat with Monica Huffman

This week I finally had the opportunity to meet and talk with Monica Huffman. Mrs. Huffman spent four years in the army reserve system and retired in 2007. Then went on to work with the Reserve Officer Training Corps here on campus. Huffman monitored the ROTC students academic progress throughout the year. After that she started working as an executive assistant to the president of our school Chuck Ambrose and also as an assistant board secretary.

Huffman has a very busy daily schedule as she takes part in a dual role. During her role as assistant board secretary she works with senior administrators to develop the agenda for the board meetings, she also coordinates the “logistics” of the meeting and organize their meeting packets not just that she organizes and makes sure all the documents are in order before every months meetings between the members of the UCM Board of Governors and serves as the Universities custodian of records. Huffman serves as a medium of communication for Dr. Ambrose. She described this as one of her most important roles because a lot of people, organizations or companies need or want to get in contact with Ambrose but since he is a “very busy man” she can help him and communicate with him in an easier face to face way to set up appointments,meetings etc. Also from the other side when Ambrose needs something she helps reach out to other people. When asked  about the daily challenges she faces she mentioned how busy she is constantly and used the phrase “there is not enough hours in a day to fulfill all of my duties” to describe her long days at the job. On the other side when asked about some of the proudest or happy moments while fulfilling her role Huffman mentioned that she has worked with three presidents since she started working here at the University of Central Missouri and she enjoys the challenges and ideas each new president brings. Huffman acknowledge all the things Dr. Ambrose has done for the positive growth of this school and how much she enjoys working with and for him. Being part of the Universities success makes her extremely proud and keeps her motivated and makes it easy to come in to work everyday.

Overall I think UCM is fortunate to have people like Mrs. Huffman working here on campus because they are positive people that give it all for this school. Also I was extremely impressed with the fact that she has worked here for 16 years and with three different presidents. This because of how busy her days are and how much she does for this school. It was my honor to get to interview such an interesting person like Monica Huffman and that keeps me excited to be part of the UCM student body.