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In the Media

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dr. William N. Ruud's Inaugural Address

Ruud Gestures to CrowdDistinguished members of the platform party, Mr. Jarin, Chancellor Hample, Members of the Board of Governors, Members of the Council of Trustees, students, faculty, staff, alumni, members of the greater Shippensburg community and the many friends and supporters of Shippensburg University, thank you for being here today. I am very honored by both your presence and your trust in providing me the opportunity to serve Shippensburg University.

First, I want to thank my out-of-town family and friends for traveling so far to be with us today:
  • Lou and Linda Kish - Judy's parents who traveled 2500 miles to attend this taking their 3rd plane flight in 80 years. Hi Mom and Dad!!
  • Ernie and Jean Kish - Uncle Ernie and Aunt Jean and their daughter Kelly from CA
  • Louie and Bev Kish, my brother and sister in law and their daughter Nicole from San Diego and Janis Bloomquist also from san Diego who could not be here
  • Kristen Gorczyk, our niece and her husband John and daughter Katie - our grand niece from New Hampshire
  • My cousin Mary Schneeweis and her husband Colin from Virginia
  • Dr. Bob Davies, VP for Advancement and University Relations at IUP and a former colleague with whom I worked at Boise State University.Gerald Jakubowski Image
  • Father Joseph Illo, our pastor from Modesto and good friend who grew up in Shippensburg.
  • Mary Glynn Wilford a close family friend also from Boise
  • Terri Cipponeri and two of her five children, Dominic and Giana from Modesto, CA
  • Bob Boylen, our friend from Grand Rapids, MI
  • Dr. Jim Fenton and wife Marta. Jim is the Dean of the College of Business at Ohio Northern Jim and I were Assistant Professors together at Toledo.
  • My good friend Dr. Jerry Jakubowski and his wife Lynn, President of Rose-Huhlman Institute in Indiana - Jake-who has known me since I was a brand new 28 year old Assistant Professor of Management. We both dreamed at that time of being president of a university and for both of us that dream has come true.
  • Three people not present who I think about daily: my Mom and Dad, Marjorie and John Ruud and my brother Marty. They shaped me and made me into what I am today and I know they would be proud.
  • Finally, and very specially, my wife of 31 years Judy-my best friend, my trusted confident, my patient traveler -she has passed the Bar exam in Ohio, Idaho, and California and now after 25 years of practicing law has taking up that noble profession of teaching. Thank you!!
  • Please stand so we can thank you for coming.

In 1970, I had the opportunity and good fortune to become a college student. I so loved education that today some thirty-seven years later, I'm still in college. I am so grateful to live in a country that allows each of us to enjoy our respective passion, fulfill our dreams, and serve others with rewarding work. For me that dream came true when I was chosen President of Shippensburg University in January 2007.

Higher education has changed significantly since I entered college and in those 37 years we have seen unimaginable and unprecedented change in higher education and our world. Perhaps, no change has and will have a greater impact than technology and its effect on how we teach and learn.

For example, at this moment, video of this event is being electronically streamed around the world offering those with a computer and an Internet connection the chance to watch. Unlike 37 years ago when you had to be here personally or wait days to see it on a reel to reel movie, today, from anywhere - at this very moment - anyone, including the more than 54,000 Shippensburg University alumni, can join us in today's celebration.

Honor Guard ImageAs technology rapidly changes our world we must position Shippensburg University to assist in and lead that change for tomorrow's students. Focus for a moment on just the speed of one aspect of how rapidly technological change is and its impact on education; think about the storage capacity "BYTE" definitions - megabyte - 1 million bytes, gigabyte - 1 billion bytes, terra byte - one trillion bytes, and now a new byte, the Yottabyte - the space in all the computers in the world!!! All the information that there is!!!!! This storage capacity allows our students to live in a new world. They can keep an entire college or university career on one of these (hold up a memory stick) that fits easily into your pocket or around your neck.

Going forward, we must be prepared, and we must prepare those passing through these hallowed halls with an education that helps them deal with and live in this rapidly changing world. First and foremost, we need to provide all qualified and motivated students with the opportunity for higher education, particularly if we want them prepared to compete in a global economy.

You know our work is cut out for us when you consider that in 2006, the United States awarded 1.3 million college degrees, yet India awarded 3.1 million college degrees and China awarded 3.3 million college degrees. These other countries understand the value of obtaining a college education and we must increase our efforts to keep pace.

Today's college graduates will most likely have 10-14 jobs before reaching age 40. This is different from many of us, our parents and grandparents who worked for one company for 35-40 years - and it's different because many of those jobs did not exist even ten years ago. Jobs in areas like: 

  • New MediaFaculty Processional Image
  • Organic Agriculture
  • E-Business
  • Nanotechnology
  • Homeland Security
And job titles like:
  • Teleport Specialist
  • Robot Mechanic
  • Space Tour Guide
  • Hydrogen Fuel Station Manager

 

We have Yahoo, Google, Netscape, Face Book, and My Space -some estimate that if My Space were a country, it would be the 8th largest in the world!! My Space, a social networking program didn't even exist five years ago -- again showing how rapidly our world changes and how technology drives this change. While we can't foresee what changes technology will bring in the future, we know it will bring change and we as educators must prepare ourselves and our students to embrace this change.

Albert Einstein said, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used to create them!"

Taking his advice, we must provide students with the tools - to include critical thinking-to realize something is changing and will continue to change - and the skills to adapt to the new environment. If we fail - students will not only fail to solve the problem - but may also miss new opportunities.

Pres Ruud Oath ImageAt the same time, what hasn't changed is a shared commitment, the reason we get up every day, the reason why we are so passionate about education, and about Shippensburg. That shared commitment is to help our students become not only skilled employees and workers, but also good human beings.

Every day, we, each in our own way, do our part to help our students in that respect. Every day, faculty members share their knowledge - and wisdom - with students both inside and outside the classroom challenging them to be their best - try new things - and not fear failure. Every day our staff and administrators work to provide students and faculty with the facilities and resources they need so they can focus on their education.

And me, I have the best job of all, every day I get to work with these talented individuals, I get to help freshmen students move in, and I get to shake their hand four years later at commencement when as a graduating senior they receive a degree. And every day I get to work with our faculty, staff, students and the System office to move our educational agenda forward.

What we offer in a college education, particularly at Shippensburg, is imbedded in our commitment to these students - giving things they won't find in technology and things technology can't teach them. These things are skills allowing them to deal with each other in this rapidly changing world - skills allowing them to care for and help each other.

A university campus provides a great opportunity to develop these characteristics and skills. Here at Ship, students learn this by living and learning together, supporting our athletic teams and our debate teams, celebrating together at graduation, learning through our failures and seeing that at many times, often in some of the challenges we have experienced in recent years, we need to come together to support each other.

While this learning begins at home, a university provides a unique opportunity to develop this human aspect. And Ship as a small but diverse university campus, provides a safe and nurturing environment supported by committed faculty and staff and a community that fosters this development.

Pres Ruud Mace ImageAs president, I must lead this effort. A president must use the authority of the office judiciously, wisely, carefully and always for the betterment of the university. Here at Shippensburg, my ability to do that is enhanced by the depth and breadth of the most caring and dedicated individuals who use their hard work and nurturing spirit to collaborate and cooperate for the good of the university and its students.

As president I get lots of advice - some of the best comes from our students at the Grace B. Luhrs Elementary School who earlier this week had their own inauguration for me. They have advised me that a President should:

  • Be Responsible
  • Be Positive
  • Be Kind and Look Good
  • Be a good choice maker
  • Have a good Smile
  • And Give Candy

 

They have also advised me that a President is someone who sleeps in a big house on campus with his dog and wife and someone who makes the world go round. But to keep me grounded, they reminded me to brush my teeth, be very humble and that although they are not really sure what a President is and does - he has to be smart because we don't want a president who doesn't know what he is doing - but we think President Ruud knows what he is doing. Thanks -- I promise to try very hard.

Upon joining the Ship family earlier this year, it became instantly apparent that the campus community - everyone -enjoys and takes great pride in Ship. In fact, they call themselves a family - The Ship Family! That's part of what makes Ship unique, we are lucky, and we owe it to ourselves to maintain those many things that make us proud of Shippensburg University. This last academic year - and my last nine months at the helm of this mighty Ship, have been a learning experience, and one that has seen us complete a number of our strategic efforts and allows us to move on to additional opportunities that we accept.

Also evident are the university's many successes in which we all take pride. It is important to thank my two immediate predecessors for their contributions to those successes. Dr. Tony Ceddia and Dr. Jody Harpster, who through their skilled leadership, foresight and love of this institution, positioned Shippensburg as one of the best universities in Pennsylvania and among the best in the North as reported in the most recent U.S. News and World Report. Their work has made my job easier allowing me to lead from a position of strength - a position that will advantage us as we try to fulfill our many plans, dreams and hopes for the future.

As I assume this leadership position, we find ourselves empowered by a dynamic, high tech/high touch economy driving the Central Valley of Pennsylvania. Because we can work from a position of strength, we can capitalize on this economy.

What also makes every day here enjoyable - and worthwhile - is seeing the many accomplishments of this university and its diverse members. We see it in the ground breaking and internationally hailed research into Alzheimer's disease done by Dr. Bill Klunk, a 1978 Ship graduate who is now director of psychiatry for the University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. He is this close (hold up fingers) to a major breakthrough that could mean help - and hope - for millions of people facing this debilitating disease.

We see it in the work by Dr. Steven Berg, an associate professor of history at Ship, who, with several Ship students researched, documented, and preserved Locust Grove Cemetery, Shippensburg's historic African-American burial site. The project, funded in part by a grant from our Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, included not only transcribing each tombstone, but also hands-on preservation of 25 damaged tombstones. This accomplishment so exemplifies the Shippensburg sense of humanity that flourishes in a world of rapid technological change.

We see it in the work of a group of female computer science majors at Ship who reached out to local, high school females through a video pod cast to help those younger students see how interesting and challenging computer science can be. Interestingly, they also discovered that each 7 to 15-minute pod cast was attracting male computer science majors and people on- and off-campus who aren't familiar with technology and want to know more.

We see it in the work of our Shippensburg computer technology staff, led by Denny Mathes and Amy Diehl, who, in an effort to ensure the safety of this campus, implemented a new text messaging system that will assist us in meeting our response to security challenges universities face today. They designed this system using current equipment and thereby allowing us to provide this valuable service at a considerable cost savings.

It is impossible not to be impressed with, and thankful to work at, an institution where such people are associated. And they and their work are just a few examples of Ship's accomplishments.

These accomplishments are too numerous to mention in my short speech today, but let me highlight just a few more:

  • Our Middle States Self-Study Design has been approved putting us in great shape for our upcoming review for our accreditation.
  • The first year of our joint Masters in Social Work program with Millersville has been completed, was successful, and has been celebrated.
  • Last year, we celebrated the success of our John L. Grove College of Business and 25 years of AACSB Accreditation, 35 years as the College of Business, and 70 years of teaching business. This accreditation places Ship is among only 550 colleges of business around the world who have achieved this accreditation.
  • Ship has been selected to host the 2009 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Summer Honors Program -allowing us to celebrate 2009 as the 25th year of Ship's Honors Program. If you are reviewing your travel plans -it will be in Brussels and we would love for you to join us.
  • We continue to be ranked among the nation's best universities. In addition to U.S. News and World Report, the 2007 Princeton Review rated Ship as one of the Best Northeastern Colleges and included Shippensburg University in their Best Colleges: Region by Region and has again ranked our Grove College of Business among the best in the nation.
  • The new Student Recreation Center will be completed early in the Spring Semester 2008. This 62,000 square foot state-of-the art recreation facility will offer four basketball courts, a suspended running track, cardio rooms, weight rooms as well as general fitness areas and will continue to help make our student's campus experience a great and healthy one and help bridge our campus with the community.
  • Dauphin Humanities Center, our main Arts and Sciences classroom building is presently being renovated and work is underway for the planned renovation of Huber Art Center to begin next year. These renovations will allow students, faculty and staff to have state of the art academic and learning space to enhance their experience at Ship.
  • Next February, construction begins on Reisner Dining Hall. This project dramatically changes the size, appearance, services and amenities of Reisner. It brings the kitchen out into the dining room where chefs will cook meals to order offering students a dining experience like no other.
  • The H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center has quickly become the hub of cultural activities in this region, attracting patrons locally and from hundreds of miles away resulting in a "sell out" of many programs and shows. In only its second full year of operation, the Center has become widely recognized for its programming and it now serves as an economic engine for the area.
  • Students just this month voted to dramatically expand the size of the student union, offering additional facilities and services for students - more meeting room space, bookstore space, learning space, and food service space. Construction will begin in 2010.
  • The university, in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers, opened a Small Business Development Center on campus to provide information services, low-cost training programs, seminars and free business consulting services to pre-venture entrepreneurs and business owners in Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties - yet another link connecting Shippensburg University to our community.
  • The Shippensburg University Foundation's Navigating into the Future campaign which ended last year raised a record $50 million, $10 million over its original goal. This successful campaign shows that the university continues the privilege of having strong alumni support and the support of so many other individuals and businesses who understand the important role Shippensburg University plays in the region. And in this past year, our Foundation raised over $5.6 million - funds that will allow us to continue our emphasis of excellence in education. This success shows that with the collaboration of the University and community -- almost anything is possible.
  • And finally, Ship is one of four regional universities that received a $1,000,000 grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation aimed at significantly increasing college and university enrollment and graduation rates among low-income high school and community college students by providing one-on-one advising services to high school students in nine school districts in Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, and Mifflin counties.

In June of this year, during a two-day retreat of the Shippensburg University President's Cabinet -attended by our Senior Leadership and representatives from faculty, staff, students and community members, I posed this challenge: The year is 2012; The Harrisburg Patriot-News runs a front-page article celebrating the success of Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. What does the article say? Our consensus was that the story of 2012 would feature:

  • Shippensburg University increased in size through appropriate enrollment management which allowed it to attract, retain and graduate outstanding students while maintaining the spirit of family and the crucial student-faculty relationship that is held so dear.
  • Along with the continuing excellence of our existing programs, Shippensburg University started new programs in health care and management, physical therapy, gerontology, engineering, computer science/software engineering, and industrial distribution.
  • Major renovations informed by the new facilities master plan included all new state-of-the-art student housing, upgraded library and academic facilities, and upgraded athletic facilities.
  • Major advancements were made in increasing student diversity, as well as increasing the recruitment, retention and diversity throughout all university employee categories. Please note that we have already made great strides in the area of student diversity with an 11.8 percent increase this year in undergraduate students of color. Including a 14 percent increase in the number of African American students.
  • The university enhanced its external partnerships, especially in the area of economic development as it continues to be a center of information and support for business, industry and governmental agencies throughout the region.
  • Our new movie theatre, malt shop, bookstore, and clothing outlet were opened in downtown Shippensburg thanks to community support.

Will all of those great events happen? I can't guarantee it, but I invite you to come along for a great ride because we are sure going to try to make this vision happen!!

Of course, every organization has its challenges, and Ship is no exception. First among them is funding. This university has maintained a very conservative approach to fiscal matters that has allowed us to continue to provide needed services and support to students and faculty within the limited scope of available money. Our budgets are balanced, we receive clean audits and we continue to effectively and efficiently use our funds. But we will need to be even more prudent in our expenditures and find new ways to raise additional funds for needed projects and programs.

In addition, a predicted reduction in the number of high school graduates in Pennsylvania and beyond beginning in the next few years will dramatically increase the competition for new students. We must ensure that potential students and their families learn about the many good things about Shippensburg with the expectation that when it is time to select which university to attend, they choose Ship.

I began my comments today by discussing how technology has dramatically changed education and our world, and change will continue to occur. Within our region, our students' needs will change, businesses, industries, and non-profits will seek individuals with new talents, and citizens of Pennsylvania will demand even more from their state-owned universities. Change is good, but we need to forge partnerships and relationships now so that we can meet those changes to benefit all involved.

Last May, we celebrated commencement. During my remarks, I told our graduates that, as a realist, I had no illusions that 30 years from now they would remember one single thing I had to say.

After the laughter stopped, I told them what they should remember is their friends, their faculty, the staff, and all the experiences that made Ship an indelible part of their lives.

Today, I am also a realist so again I know that while my words will be preserved as part of Ship's history, over time the memories of this event will dim. But what I hope each of you remembers is the passion you share in higher education, your belief in our students and their impact on the future, and the success that will be Shippensburg University for years to come.

Nobel Prize winner George Bernard Shaw once said "We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future." I accept the responsibility for the future of Shippensburg and I pledge to you to use whatever wisdom I have gained these many years to uphold the legacy of this magnificent university.

Remember, WE ARE SHIP!!! WE ARE:

  • Partnership
  • Friendship
  • Scholarship
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Championship
  • Relationship
  • Leadership, and we are the
  • Flagship

We are Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania!!!

Thank you for your support, thank you for your trust, thank you for being part of the Ship family, and thank you for believing in Shippensburg, we are more than Shippensburg University, we are:

The University FOR Pennsylvania!!!