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PRESIDENT'S RECOGNITION DINNER - 40th Anniversary
09/13/2008 - Student Recreation Center -- The SHIP REC

Thank you, Chris.  Please join me in another hand for Chris Meehan, John Clinton and the entire staff of the Shippensburg University Foundation for all of their hard work.  If you are available on Saturday, November 1, 2008, we will officially dedicate this wonderful facility. (Last Home Football Game--details and times will be available soon).

Good evening everyone and thanks again to each of you for being here. One of the many pleasures I have as president of this wonderful university is the opportunity to spend time with people like you -- individuals who love Ship and whose pride in Ship is shown through generous contributions of your time and resources.

In the past two weeks, there has been a lot of talk about change by the candidates for president. Each also talked about what needs to be done to make the United States the preeminent nation of the world, and how -- through change -- we all have a chance to help accomplish that goal.

They're both right, and this event tonight celebrates what individuals can do to help change their nation, and each of you is leading that change. The many successes of this university are the direct result of your contributions -- your desire to provide this institution with the resources it needs to educate the future leaders who will -- truly -- change our world for the better.

People like annual fund chairs Mary Jo and Gary Grove who are working hard to provide the leadership we need. They know that the many hours they spent in helping secure funds for scholarships will someday help a student earn a Shippensburg degree and, maybe, that person could be the one to make a major medical breakthrough or found a company whose product will revolutionize our lives.

Gary's and Mary Jo's dedication and commitment to the University and the Foundation will enable this institution to continue to excel and continue to be an important educational, cultural and economic force within the Commonwealth and beyond.  Now, they have set a wonderful goal by this year exceeding $2M in the annual fund!  I am sure they knew when they accepted this TWO year assignment that once the processes were put into place the first year, the second year would run like clockwork -- and I know it will.  I challenge all of you to again partner with us and push that annual fund total even higher.

I would also like to thank all of our new and returning volunteers and especially to the Annual Fund Volunteer Leadership Team - would they please stand.

Many thanks to the Shippensburg University Foundation for their stewardship and charitable giving leadership.  Thanks to John "Mac" Aichele for his leadership as Chairperson of the Board - he served 25 years on the Board and 13 years as Chair of the Board.  

He will remain on the Board as Immediate Past Chairperson. Of course, we are also very grateful to the new Chair of the Foundation's Board of Directors, Joel Zullinger - who is unable to be here this evening --, for his leadership, guidance and support of the University. The Board members hours are numerous and their leadership unwavering as they, too, work to help make change happen.

How is this change I am speaking of visible? For the 2007-08 year, the Foundation raised $6.1M, saw an increase in total assets to an all-time high of $61.5M, and saw the permanent endowment stand at nearly $27.3M.  That meant that last year, the Foundation provided $3.1M in direct support to the university, of which almost $1.1 million went to support students in the form of scholarships and low-interest loans.
It also supports such efforts as

  • Joint undergraduate student/faculty research projects,
  • Scholarships for talented and deserving students,
  • Faculty research and professional development,
  • Computer and technology upgrades,
  • Support for the Ezra Lehman Memorial Library,
  • Support for Raiders Club athletic programs,
  • Support for the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center through the Luhrs Circle of Friends program, and 
  • Class reunion program

As I said, these funds support scholarships for talented and deserving students. An example of one of those students is Megan Keener who came to Ship in the Fall of 2004 from a small farm in Mount Joy, Lancaster County, PA.  Her hard work during high school made her eligible for the McGaughey-Higgins Outstanding Student Scholarship and the Class of 1949 Bernard J. Hogg Scholarship both of which she gratefully received through her senior year when she graduated with a 4.0 GPA and a BSED degree in Elementary Education. Megan says, "These scholarships provided a degree of financial freedom for me and my parents, allowing me to embrace opportunities and pursue interests that might not have been possible otherwise."  As a freshman she joined the field hockey team and in 2007, when she was co-captain, was awarded the Jane G. Goss Field Hockey scholarship for outstanding teamwork.  

In addition to her studies, Megan tutored Harrisburg middle-schoolers through GEAR-UP, partnered with a local elementary school in a reading program, benefited from the teaching and service opportunities offered through the Honors Program, coached field hockey at the Scotland School for Veterans Children and interned during the summer as a counselor for a summer camp for emotionally disturbed children.  Megan even found the time to babysit for some professors.

For her student/faculty undergraduate research, Megan tested strategies and theories she had developed with the fifth graders in the Grace B. Luhrs Elementary School.  Megan says her greatest learning experiences were, "The many opportunities to teach, observe, and interact with elementary students through education classes at Ship."

Megan's plans are to find a teaching position before going to graduate school to pursue her studies.  Megan has, "many dreams for the future - dreams of teaching and coaching, of empowering young lives to reach their full potential; and, as she says, "of blessing others the same way I have been blessed."  She will never forget the generosity of her scholarship benefactors who made her Shippensburg education possible and the wonderful faculty members who guided and encouraged her along the way.

The past academic year of 2007-08 was one that was truly outstanding.  A few highlights:

  • This year, we have twenty-six (26) new tenure track faculty.  They are all outstanding and dedicated to learning and service to our students. In addition to hiring outstanding new faculty; we have also filled several important administrative posts, including that of Provost and Senior Vice President, Dr. Barbara Lyman.  Barbara was so excited about coming here that she started several weeks early. Since then, she has worked diligently and tirelessly learning about Ship and has been a strong and forceful advocate for the academic affairs division. One of her main goals is to provide faculty with the support and services necessary to do their jobs.

  • We also filled two other very important posts in the past few months.   After extensive national searches, Dr. Roger Serr, who had served as acting vice president for student affairs was recommended for the permanent position as Vice President for Student Affairs. Roger has been at Shippensburg University since 1994 and very well understands the role student affairs plays in our students' success both academically and personally. I look forward to his guidance, especially as we remodel Reisner Hall, prepare to expand our Ceddia Union Building, and build all new residence halls.

I'm also happy to introduce you to Dr. Denny Terrell, who recently retired as a Brigadier General in the United States Air Force after 30 years of extensive experience in finance and budgeting, facilities management and public safety. In addition to a successful Air Force career, Denny also has a Ph.D. in Operations Research and Mathematics. As you know, we have started or will soon start a number of construction or renovation projects, and Denny's experience will serve the university well as we build for the university's future.

We have reorganized and created the Division of External Affairs and University Relations and asked Dr. Jody Harpster to lead this new division. It combines the current Office of University Communications and Marketing, the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center and Campus Programs and the Office of Alumni and University Relations. By forming this new division, we will be better able to focus on ensuring that individuals, businesses and leaders throughout the region are aware of the nationally recognized education, and helps us coordinate our fundraising and friend raising efforts with the SU Foundation, and the many outreach and public service efforts the university provides.
Dr. Rick Ruth has renewed himself over the summer.  In this respect, after helping Dr. Barbara Lyman adjust to her new role, Rick jumped back from the position of Interim Provost into his role of Vice President for Information Technologies and is leading our charge in the never ending changes we face in technology.  Since the PASSHE presidents proposed alternatives to the Campus Management portion of our new integrated technology program, Rick is on the forefront of assisting implementation of possible alternatives to our Campus Management System with SYTEC and the Chancellor's Office.

And that means that for the first time in a long time the senior leadership of this institution is not longer Interim - we have, as they say a "full complement."  And, I am pleased to say these are the finest men and women that any President will have the opportunity to work with to move this Ship forward!!!

-- We continue to have great success with our "SHIP" marketing program.  This program introduces our students through an integrated program of billboards, printed material and our website emphasizing Leadership, Partnership, Friendship, Scholarship, Championship, and -my favorite - Flagship!!

-- Our academic success continues through the accreditation of our Grove College of Business and our College of Education and Human Services, the visibility of our Honors Program, the growth of our MSW and MBA programs, our increased Graduate Assistantship Support, and the showcasing our Undergraduate Research Program.

-- Students continue to make us proud at Shippensburg through their involvement on and off campus, the development of a new Student Leadership Structure, their academic and athletic success, and their continuing success after graduation.

-- We completed our Facilities Master Plan, introduced a new Wellness Program, finished this new Student Recreation Center and are working diligently on new projects and programs.

-- Our Outreach with the community continues to result in financial partnership, participation, and programming.

All of these allow the university to enhance its education and what it can offer our students. How else is this change seen?

  • This year's student body is a bit larger than last year and a bit more diverse, providing more students the opportunity to learn from our outstanding faculty. Overall, we'll have 6,700 undergraduates, a 1.2% increase from Fall 2007 and 1,200 graduate students, a 4.5% increase from last fall. Our total enrollment will be 7,900, a 1.7% increase. In addition, the enrollment of minority students has increased three percent over last year.

  • U.S. News and World Report again ranked Ship among the best colleges and universities in the North in its book "America's Best Colleges 2009." In the annual rankings, Shippensburg is tied for 58th among all institutions in the region - the highest of any university on the 14 school PASSHE system! This ranking is a reflection on the good students we admit, the excellent faculty, and the support services we provide.

  • Dauphin Humanities Center is again open and it is impressive. The project not only updated and upgraded the facility but added an additional 4,600 square feet to meet the needs of faculty and students. It also provides a home in the academic quad for the College of Arts and Sciences.

  • The Huber Art Center project is progressing - the new plans are out and we're working with faculty in the building to get ready to start that work sometime in the spring semester, 2009.

  • We are in the initial phases of construction of all new residence halls beginning sometime next year and phased-in over several years. A key component in their planning and construction is making them be living/learning centers, a concept that will enhance students' academic and overall university experience.

I also see change everyday in the faces or our students. The talent, the inquisitiveness, the dedication and -- most importantly -- the potential I see in them is inspirational to me and, I know, is inspirational to you, too. How can we not be inspired when we talk with these young women and men in whom we have placed our future?
While some change is free, some is more costly. The many projects I mentioned earlier will ultimately require hundreds of millions of dollars to come to fruition. And we've all seen how the increase in oil has had a dramatic ripple effect on construction projects. In addition, in these unsettled economic times, the opportunity for a higher education may not be as readily available as we like for all students. Because of this, the scholarships and low-interest loans your support provides to students is invaluable for them to reach their dreams.

But the true key to our students' success, our faculty's success -- and Shippensburg University's -- is you - your loyalty, your support, and your willingness to make a difference.

Author and clergyman Edward Everett Hale said "Look up and not down. Look forward and not back. Look out and not in, and lend a hand." Each of you has shared in our joint vision for Shippensburg University's future. Each of you has truly looked beyond yourself to the good of others. And each of you has lent a hand.

It is my pleasure to be able to thank you tonight, to ask for your continued support and to join with me in anticipating a wonderful future for Shippensburg University -- The University FOR Pennsylvania.

Thank you, and best wishes.