2008 Holiday Letter

Dear Ship Faculty, Students, Alumni and Friends,

The end of the Fall Semester and the calendar year is an appropriate time to first wish all of you a very happy holiday, reflect on some of our many successes at the university, and to discuss budgetary issues that will challenge the university in the coming months.

While we have many successes, two of the most important have to do with accreditations that are an important measure of our ability to offer quality programs to students.

  • Fifty-four years after its first accreditation, the College of Education and Human Services has again met performance standards of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the national organization for professional accreditation of teacher education. Meeting these rigorous standards is a testament to the quality of faculty, staff, and administrators in the college and their ability to provide our students with a quality education.
  • We have also learned more about the Middle States evaluation team that will visit us April 5-8, 2009. The team chair is Dr. Dennis Hefner from SUNY Fredonia. Other members are Benjamin Onu Arah, assistant professor of government & philosophy, Bowie State University; Thomas Bowling, vice president of student and educational services, Frostburg State University; Betty P. Crockett, associate vice president of administration & finance, Salisbury University; Dorothy Echols Tobe, chief planning officer, Ramapo College of New Jersey; Kathleen H. Lavoic, dean of the faculty of arts & sciences, SUNY at Plattsburgh; Elizabeth Paul, vice provost, The College of New Jersey; and Gail Wood, director of library, SUNY at Cortland. I look forward to their visit and to all of us continuing to work together on this important project.

The university also continues to reach out to the community in many venues.

  • We are developing a bachelor's degree in professional studies with a concentration in Technology Management as part of a program in which Harrisburg Area Community College is running a technical college program in Mechatronics at the Franklin County Career Technology Center. Once students complete HACC's program, they can earn their degree at Ship.
  • We've also received a Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) grant to fund an Entrepreneurial Leadership Center so students can learn the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and also to support regional economic development. The grant will provide create an informational "hub" for entrepreneurship co-located with the university's Small Business Development Center.
  • And we are also reaching around the world. Later this month, students involved in United Campus Ministry will spend 16 days working with university students from Ho Chi Minh City to build three small houses for families in a small village in Vietnam. Students from the Grace B. Luhrs University Elementary School also donated time and money to provide 60 kits of school supplies that will be delivered to students in that village.

Even as we continue our successes, we face challenges and none is more pressing than the one we all face as our nation struggles with an economy that is trying to recover from unprecedented changes. The PASSHE Board of Governors agreed to set aside money from this year's state appropriation. For Shippensburg, this means approximately $1.5 million that we will defer spending until a clearer picture on state revenues is available.

Even with that deferral, we will try as hard as we can not to make any significant changes in what we do or how we do it. We will have enough faculty to fill our class schedule for the Spring 2009 semester, we will provide support services needed by students and faculty, and we will work to maintain the high quality of our facilities and campus.

We can to do this because of our fiscally conservative approach to budgeting. I have asked each vice president to again review their budgets while still maintaining the essential services of their respective divisions. This will be a challenge, we will have to manage our resources carefully, and we will have some pain, but this will be a challenge I know that each of us will be able to accomplish. And, collectively the Ship family will make it through this together.

Even before the economy changed in recent weeks, the university was already saving money. An energy conservation system implemented several years ago has - and will continue to - save money in utility bills even as coal and natural gas increase in cost. And, we will be truing the heat back over the holiday break to 55 degrees - a move that we hope will save us $15,000.

As a former business college dean, I have watched the economy professionally for many years. I won't make any prediction as to where the economy will go, but I can promise that Shippensburg University will continue to make the most appropriate and efficient use of all resources provided to us by the citizens of Pennsylvania. If you have any suggestions as to ways for us to make even more efficient use of our resources, please contact me.

Thank you for being part of Ship, best wishes for a joyous holiday season, and I look forward to a great 2009.