Take me out to the ballgame!

MLB news by week through the eyes of Ricky Rivera.

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.

UCM the Place to be!

This week I got the opportunity to get in contact and sit down with provost-chief learning officer Deborah Curtis. Dr. Curtis is a very smart lady  that I greatly enjoyed talking too. Her position is entitled provost chief officer, it is a very unique title, this because most places have the same position but with the name of Provost vice president of academic affairs. President Ambrose modified that name to what it is now because he “consoladated” areas that on other campus’s would be separated, together into one big area. This because he rather have one big group of people that work with all the public and student affairs and meet daily. So most areas that in other schools would have their own areas and own provosts, such as student affairs all fall within the same provost here at the University of Central Missouri. The goal is “to eliminate the obvious silos” and the ones that are left or still in place will keep getying better. By putting all these provost and areas under one big one it forces more interaction within these areas to fix problems ahd keep student programs going in the right direction.

Dr. Curtis described as a team environment due to the amount of communication involved daily in her role. Also mentioned that one of the most important things mentioned at the beginning or at some key point in every meeting is asking ” How does this impact the students”, this because students “are and will always be the number one priority for us”. When asked about a daily challenge faced or challenges that she faces often Dr. Curtis said that she would say that there are challenges daily but that major challenges show up at the end of every year because of new hirings, retirement or the adding of positions. This is so important and big key of their succes as a group because communication and getting to know this new person quick is a priority because of all the communication involved in this job. Curtis mentioned also the proudest moments for her in the past couple of years which included her being extremely proud of the growth of International Students population here on campus. Also connected to that the amount of native students that have gone to study abroad and most importantly during times were it’s been tough to grow in enrollment number the University of Central Missouri has continued the growth of enrollment yearly and “will continue to grow”.

Drawing a conclusion the University of Central Missouri is doing great things to help our student body and that makes me proud to be a student here at UCM knowing that the higher people on campus are concerned about students and are working hard to make things better daily.

UCM New Legislations

This week I was fortunate enough to be handed out some very important paperwork of some new legislation’s that were accepted by the UCM board of governors last month.  So during this blog post I will be letting you guys know what these legislation’s are and the objective of each, thanks to the help of Dr. Jeff Murphy.

The first legislation had as a subject the Graduate Certificate in Cyber security. The objective of this legislation is to obtain a graduate certificate that shows that students are certified in cyber security. It was proposed as an opportunity for our students here at UCM to be provided with the right training and education in cyber security due to the big issues of hackers around the states. The second legislation had as its subject a Graduate Certificate in Simulation Education. This subject got brought up because of the need of increase in areas of training, educating and preparing healthcare professionals. So because of this legislation being passed students in the health and science/nursing programs will receive a certificate for completing the simulation of education. The third legislation passed a month ago was the approval of a new master science in the nutrition program. This program will be housed in the department of Nutrition and Kinesiology within the college of health. This legislation was a direct result of  the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that by 2024 will require registered dietitians to hold at least a Master’s degree. This program will also prepare our students to apply nutrition knowledge and skills when analyzing human performance at a high level. The fourth legislation passed has a Commercial Card service as its main subject. The objective of this legislation is to approve award of contract to Bank of America so that they can provide commercial card services for the initial three year period of Oct. 1st 2015 through Sept. 30th 2018 and three two year renewal options through Sept. 2024. This Commercial Card program is aimed to reduce administrative costs of processing small dollar purchases and provide a more convenient and efficient procurement method. The fifth and last legislation is the Oracle support and Maintenance Contract which was a multi year agreement. To be exact  it was a five year agreement for support and maintenance on existing Oracle products on campus.

Next week I will be trying to meet with Mrs. Monica Huffman to let you guys about her role and challenged she faces like I promised last week.

UCM Board of Governors Intro

During the next 15 weeks I will be posting about the University of Central Missouri Board of Governors. Making sure that throughout the blog you guys will know what this group does, what are their objectives and much more information that people would be interested in knowing about. Thursday morning August 27th I had the opportunity to meet with Jeff Murphy. Murphy who is the assistant director of University Relations for media relations had some very good insight to offer to me.

When asked about what was the UCM board of governors Mr. Murphy said “It’s the main governing body for the University”. It’s encharge of making decisions of how to spend money, like for example if the school is planning to build a new building this group of people is incharge of managing the budget and deciding how it will be used. Also this group of people oversees policies on campus and is the official policy making group for the school. They utilize state funding to control the budget that will be used, set fees and a “wide variety of things that involve setting school policies and managing the schools budget. This board of governers consist of a group of 7 voting members of the board and 1 student member of the board  that are appointed by the Missouri governor and are not on a salary. Some of the goals this board has is to make sure the University if operating physically sound and their “main purpose is to make sure that the University is focused on programs that support student success”. The Board of Governors initially started as the Board of Regions later the name changed to Board of Governors which “is consiting with other Universities, that we would call peer Universities around the United States”. Seeing the success of a new structure like The Crossing being utilized by students and fully made is one of the proudest moments this Board of Governors has seen. Them knowing that they were part of that process was a big highlight to remember for these 7 individuals that put a lot of work in for this student body. When asked about challenges that these individuals face Murphy said, that reduction and state funds could become an issue if not handled properly, also keeping and figuring out how to maintain programs and keep good quality that will earn student succes is always an “ongoing challenge” for board members. Reaching a conclusion Mr. Murphy was really satisfied with the work these individuals put in on a volunteer job to help the University reach its goals, provide good learning opportunities and the best possible facilities for students. Next week I will be talking about 5 new policies and rules that the Board of Governors implemented last month.

MuleSkinner assignment 1.. Interview with student athletes

The real student-athlete grind

Looking at things from the outside it’s easy to say “Athletes have it easy “and those are words we hear commonly used outside around campuses. The life of student athletes from the outside looks like one that is all fun and real simple. You go to practice and play games? Doesn’t that sound fun? But a lot of things go on behind the “scenes” that people don’t see. As a current athlete myself I could tell you that the life of an athlete is real tough. It is what we call a “grind”. But I went beyond just me and had a chance to sit down with a couple athletes to see how they deal with being student/athletes and what goes on behind the scenes or things that people don’t see in their sports. I had the opportunity to meet Emily Heissler a former multi-sport athlete (softball and track) at Hutchinson Community College and current Track and Field athlete here at UCM. Also met another track athlete (Madison Whisler) to sit down and talk about the challenges of being student athletes. Both track athletes started playing sports around the age of 5 and have continued through their whole high school and college career. Both finding ways to maintain pretty good GPA’s told me that it is really important to find time and make the best use of your time. When asked about their routines they talked about how hard it is to keep up with everything while being a student athlete. Both mentioned that they go through lifting workouts in the morning, then have to go to class, and after go to practice.
“That’s when the real grind and fatigue is” Whisler said. “We have to find a way to get energy to get through the day and do your homework, study and rest so you can go through the same routine everyday” Heissler said. When asked about what advice they would give to freshmen they both seemed to agree that it is not as easy as it looks like, Whisler said “I would recommend that is real important to manage your time wisely and find ways to get through days in rough times”. Heissler stated that freshmen year is a hard one because “it is like a whole new world”, she mentioned some of the difficulties and challenges you face a freshmen student/athlete such as the way you manage time between practices, games, meetings etc. But both agreed and were really happy to admit that teachers here on campus are extremely open to work with athlete schedules and “are really considerate”.
Being an athlete is not as easy as it looks we go through a lot of stuff that people don’t see, like the girls mentioned, getting up early, going through a whole day while being tired and finding ways to study and catch up in class is not the easiest thing to do. Luckily here in the University of Central Missouri student/athletes receive teachers and all faculty members’ support so the teachers are willing to deal with athletes’ schedules and offer tutors to help them.


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