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Missouri State steps up as a leader in innovation

How a one-day event can inspire faculty, staff and students.

Higher education has a reputation for being slow to change, but that has not been true at Missouri State University. Leaders are rethinking everything from academic alignment to advising, and they are asking students, faculty and staff for their ideas.

Missouri State University’s Executive Vice President Zora Mulligan is now championing a first-year event – one focusing on innovation: the Innovation Accelerator.

“An Innovation Accelerator is an event that acknowledges that the best ideas often come from the front line, not from the top down,” Mulligan said. The university is taking applications from faculty, staff and students who have an idea that:

  • Positively impacts student success.
  • Saves MSU money.
  • Improves MSU in some other way.

“This is really about empowering people to say yes to new ideas and trying new things,” Mulligan added.  

Many positive outcomes

In addition to possibly identifying thoughtful and innovative ideas that have buy-in from a cross-section of the university community, an accelerator has other positive outcomes, Mulligan said.

An event like this, which flattens the organization for a day, can help administration identify potential leaders and champions across an organization.

Innovation Accelerators are not new. But among universities, they are definitely uncommon.

One local innovation champion is CoxHealth, which has hosted an Innovation Accelerator annually since 2016.

“These events have been instrumental to a culture change throughout our organization,” said Scott Rogers, CoxHealth System Director, Performance Integration and Innovation. “When you let people have a platform to share their ideas, build them up and get them to implementation, you are building trust and loyalty in a group of engaged employees who will be ambassadors for your organization, too.”