Wading through the uncharted waters of what’s to come in 2024, Missouri State University President Clif Smart forecasts a world where revolutionary technology is at our disposal. How to use it is what’s key as he concludes his tenure in his final State of the University address before his retirement next summer.

“You know, the world continues to change,” he said. “I think on the academic side, the whole ChatGPT/AI is a revolutionary development. I don’t think it’s going to replace people, but it’s going to change people’s jobs and it’s going to be really important that our graduates are familiar with and know how to ethically use that new tool.”

Smart told those in attendance to be open to change and that being on the cutting edge of it will lead to success moving forward.

Other challenges he anticipates is the increasing cost of education and whether that will lead to dwindling enrollment numbers because families are evaluating their return on investment of a student going to college.

“There are significant cultural challenges next year as an election year,” Smart said. “You know, I see the bills that have passed in other states that limit, frankly, our ability to teach certain things and talk about certain things. I think that’s a significant challenge.”

But there is one thing he’s hung his hat on. That is helping Missouri State University gain recognition as an institution that awards research doctorates.

“The first thing we had to do was get the law changed to allow this to occur,” said Smart. “That was a two-to-three-year process that was achieved in 2019. We then had to convince the coordinating board over the strenuous objections of the University of Missouri and the Higher Learning Commission that we had earned it.”

A national search is underway to find Smart’s replacement in time before his summer 2024 retirement.

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