Welcome Back Greetings -- Shippensburg University
Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Thank you Barbara and good morning everyone. Welcome back and welcome to the beginning of the 138th year of educational opportunity at this fantastic university we know as Shippensburg! I'm excited you are here and I hope you all took advantage of the summer months to do something interesting and enjoyable. For some of you that involved travel, for others it was research into a topic important to you, and for others it was again sharing your wisdom and insight with students during our three summer terms. No matter what you did, I hope you are ready for what I know will be another exciting year for this great institution.

What did I do on my summer "vacation?"

I traveled to Wroclaw, Poland - a city of nearly 700,000 with 170,000 of its residents who are students at 17 universities - a wonderful community.  I traveled  with Tom Verney of Grove College of Business, Lori Smith from the Alumni Office and Linda Miller, our Director of Major Gifts with the SU Foundation  as well as  students and faculty from Juniata College, the Penn State University and Florida International University to participate in a conference in which we shared our experiences with representatives of universities in that nation. Our participation in this conference helps us develop ways to provide educational opportunities to Polish students and faculty.  Through that discussion and the assistance of Bill Minsker, we are in the planning stages to begin a student and faculty exchange sometime in 2009.
I had the pleasure of not one but two visits to Southern California where both Judy and I meet with a number of donors and alumni.  The trips were so successful that I know I will be returning before the end of this year.
Also as a part of the second visit, I had the pleasure of renewing my academic ties by participating as a paper reviewer and discussant for the 2008 Academy of Management Meeting in Anaheim.  It was a very exciting time to renew my academic ties, participate with other faculty members and enjoy the discussion of research and learning for the future.

And, I had the chance to continue to meet with alumni and supporters throughout the country including Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and Maryland. Alumni, especially, remain enthusiastic about Ship and about our future.  They know that their alma mater is continuing to work toward maintaining and enhancing its position among the best colleges and universities in this region and beyond.

This success is due to your successes, both inside and outside of the classroom. In your classes, you provide students with information they need to know, the analytical and critical thinking skills they need to learn and the knowledge they need to be our future leaders in so many fields. Outside of class, you continue to attend and present scholarly research at conferences, you supervise students in internships, and you work with outside groups and agencies.
We are the premier residential university in the state of Pennsylvania and are nationally recognized for our student-centered approach to learning.  Much of this learning is due to YOU - the dedicated, supportive and talented faculty that leads this system right here at Ship.

  • One great example of this is our Growing Edges Community Counseling Clinic, a community counseling center in Shippen Hall that opened in the spring semester of 2008 to provide free counseling for individuals and families. This program was led by Dr. Bill McHenry in conjunction with colleagues in the Department of Counseling and College Student Personnel. This program, the ONLY one of its kind in the PASSHE system, served 28 clients with a 90 percent success rate. It also provided our graduate students in the program a unique opportunity to get needed field training as part of their coursework.
  • Your efforts also show outside the classroom where our students also excel. Two student business organizations earned honors in national competitions. The Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) team ranked nationally while the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) student chapter earned the 2007-2008 Student Chapter Merit Award.

  • Another success story is that of Tyrone Dixon, a human communication studies major who, with the help of his faculty members, was able to rework his finals week schedule last December so he could go home and donate a kidney to save his sister's life. Tyrone is deeply grateful for the support faculty in the department and throughout campus gave him that, literally, allowed him to save her life. That support shows the true heart of our faculty and is an inspiration to all of us.

  • In addition, outreach efforts led by you are helping to transform the valley. For example, the Center for Land Use continues to present programs that elected and appointed leaders needed to better manage their municipalities in such areas as growth and development.

Supporting students. Supporting our community. Making the Cumberland Valley a better place for us all. That's what you do. That's what you do well, and you should be as proud of your individual and collective successes as I am. Thank you.

Make no mistake; this university is all about US.  Collectively we work together, sharing the road and generating an air about this very unique place.  I continue to realize how special we are as I visit other campuses - California, Millersville, Lock Haven, East Stroudsburg, West Chester, and Slippery Rock to name a few.   We are different, we have a campus, we are lucky and we are special and we owe it to ourselves to maintain that excellence - no matter what the challenge.  

I want to welcome our new faculty to Ship.  Faculty who I know will continue this wonderful tradition of service. This year, we have twenty-six (26) new tenure track faculty.  We have also been successful in hiring a number of part-time, temporary and adjunct faculty.

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. Please join me in again welcoming Barbara to Ship.

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 CUB, and build all new residence halls. Roger, please stand.
I'm also happy to again 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. Denny, please stand.
In addition, 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. Jody, please stand.

I would be remiss if I did not introduce the remaining member of our Executive Management Team.  Although not new to the university, 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 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.  Rick, please stand.

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

  • 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 success 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 the 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.

As I said earlier, this will be an exciting year and I have many reasons to think so.

  • Tomorrow our new students will move in; thank you in advance to those here who in the next few days will help make this transition go smoothly. We start the semester with over 1,700 new students and about 400 transfer students. An important part of those numbers, that we should all be proud of, is that the number of minority students in this entering class increased about three percent this year. Overall, we'll have 6,700 undergraduates - a 1.2% increase from 6,621 in the Fall of 2007 and 1,200 graduate students - a 4.5% increase from 1,148 in the Fall of 2007.  This gives us a total enrollment of 7,900 - a 1.7% increase from 7,765 in the Fall of 2007.  More importantly, the incoming freshman class for the Fall of 2008 shows an increase in SAT score to 1020 - 4 points better that the 1016 of the Fall of 2007.  There was an increase in total application of nearly 10% from the Fall of 2007, an increase in Out of State applications of 11% from the Fall of 2007, and, as I said, an increase in diversity of over 3% from the Fall of 2007.  We should take great pride in the increase in both SAT score and diversity.
  • We have a new chancellor, Dr. John C. Cavanaugh, who started July 1, 2008 and is earning accolades for both his willingness to listen and his perspective on higher education in the PASSHE system. I have had the chance to meet with him and he is already scheduled to visit our campus several times. And, as some of you may know, Dr. Cavanaugh was president of the University of West Florida when our provost worked there as vice provost.  We look forward to having a great relationship with our new Chancellor.  I stated in my end of the year presentation that it will be a new world with a new Chancellor and I know this will clearly be the case with John Cavanaugh in Harrisburg.
  • The PASSHE system received a 3% increase in state appropriations and the Board of Governors approved a $181 tuition increase. This coupled with our strong enrollment figures, will allow us to balance our budget this year without any major cuts.
  • Work continues in preparation for our Middle States evaluation this year. I urge you to get involved if you have not already volunteered your time and talent.  The Middle State's Kick-Off Meetings will be today, Wednesday, August 20th from 1:30 p.m.-3:00 p.m. in the Spiritual Center Chapel and on Tuesday, August 26th from 3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. in the CUB Orndorff Theatre.  Thank you for all of the work you did as part of the self-study and any work you will do this year as we participate in this important process.  Our initial visit is scheduled for October 12th and 13th.    We are committed to a successful visit and to developing and implementing our all important Academic Master Plan.  We look forward to showcasing Shippensburg through both of those efforts.
  • When you drove in today you saw the new entrance on Prince Street. Thanks to a gift from the Class of 1959, visitors will now know they have entered onto campus.  Although the letters and Ship logo for the entrance will not arrive until this weekend, for installation early next week, this entrance is truly a symbol of entry into a fine university.  Some of you may also have entered campus through the back gate along Fogelsonger Road and in doing so drove across the new bridge at Burd Run Road. These are but two of the numerous campus projects that are completed, are near completion or about to get underway.
  • Dauphin Humanities Center has re-opened and is very impressive. The project not only updated and upgraded the facility but also added an additional 4,600 square feet to meet the needs of faculty and students. It now also provides a home in the academic quad for the College of Arts and Sciences. I encourage everyone here to attend the ribbon cutting at 1 p.m. Friday, August 22nd on the patio outside of the addition  so you can see the results of this project.
  • Reisner Dining Hall remains on schedule to be renovated and completed by the start of the 2009-2010 academic year.  As you may have noticed, it is turning into quite a facility.   The Tuscarora Room will be open for food service this fall with seating for over 400. - Stop by when you get a chance and take a look.  Just as a reminder, for this academic year, the Century Café will remain as the faculty dining room. I appreciate your patience for the changes this project has caused and believe that the wait will be well worth it.
  • When you get the chance, stop in to Lehman Library to see the new lobby and circulation area. If you don't stop by, Dean Marian Schultz will find you and make you stop by.  I have never seen a person who is so proud of her new library.  This is just part of the work we plan in the library and I complement Marian Schultz and the entire library staff, as well as facilities management personnel for all of their hard work to get this accomplished.  Thanks Marian for your leadership and look out, we are going to do the rest of the first floor next year.
  • The Huber Art Center project is progressing - the new plans are out and we're working with faculty in the building to begin that work sometime in the spring semester.
  • Plans for expansion of the CUB are nearly finished and that project will be underway very soon.
  • The largest undertaking, however, will be construction of all new residence halls beginning sometime next year and phased-in over several years. A key component in the planning and construction is making the new residence halls into living/learning centers, a concept that will enhance students' academic and overall university experience.  I want to thank Jody Harpster, Mindy Fawks, Lance Bryson, Roger Serr, Denny Terrell and members of our Council of Trustees for their leadership in moving this very complicated planning process forward.  We will be initiating an RFP for this project partnership in the very near future.
  • Our athletic programs continue to move forward.  With the addition of a wood basketball floor, the upgrading of  team exercise facilities in the old recreation area, and our planning efforts to upgrade our locker rooms, add lights, and increase scholarships and outside support, our athletic programs excel.  Please remember although many of our student-athletes receive scholarship support, very few if any receive a full ride.  Our student athletes are dedicated athletes and students and our coaching staff is dedicated to the success of these students on and off the field.  Our baseball team went to the Division II World Series with two of our many standout players - Justin Garber and Matt Wright being drafted in to the Major Leagues. The Shippensburg University field hockey program is pleased to announce that Angie Loy, a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Field Hockey team competing this summer in Beijing, will join the Shippensburg field hockey coaching staff as a volunteer assistant this fall.  She is a native of West Perry High School and is a former standout player from Old Dominion who has recorded 102 international caps and scored more than 30 goals in international competition for the United States. Finally, we finished the 2007-08 academic year with 99 PSAC Scholar Athletes.  That makes 208 PSAC Scholar Athletes over the past two years from Ship who have earned at least a 3.25 GPA while competing in an intercollegiate varsity sport.  We are also proud to say that our Academic Success Rate for our Student Athletes is 86% -- 86% graduate from Ship!!
  • The Luhrs Performing Arts Center has a magnificent schedule this year and we've already sold out one show with several others very close.  Whether it is Tracey Lawrence, Peter, Paul and Mary, Crosby and Nash, Annie, the Czech Symphony, the 5 Browns, or Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, I encourage you to check out the schedule as I'm sure you'll find a program you'll enjoy.

I mentioned the strong support we receive from alumni, friends and donors to Shippensburg University who recognize the outstanding job you do and the importance of this university to the Commonwealth. I would like to thank John Clinton, his staff, and the members of the SU Foundation Board of Directors for their on-going support.  We are fortunate that this support has resulted in generous contributions to the SU Foundation.   For the 2007-08 year, the Foundation raised $6.1M, showing an increase in total assets to an all-time high of $61.5M, and our permanent endowment stands at nearly $27.3M.  That meant that last year, the Foundation provided $3.1M in direct support to the university, with almost $1.1 million of that providing support to our students in the form of scholarships and low-interest loans. And, something that is VERY important to me is your contribution, I want to personally thank you the faculty, staff associates, and administrators who contributed nearly $570,000 to the campus campaign last year.  Please give yourselves a great big round of applause.

I want to mention that last year, the University identified various needs that were tested in a feasibility study conducted during the summer by a fundraising consulting firm hired through the Foundation. The results of this study will inform our decision-making process as the university's Council of Trustees and Foundation's Board of Directors work jointly to meet these needs through private resources raised as part of an upcoming comprehensive campaign. We'll have more to come on this effort later in the year.

During the past year, I had the pleasure to work with Dr. Debra Cornelius in her role as APSCUF president. She was a passionate, considerate and vocal advocate for all faculty members and never let me forget that academics are what we do best here at Ship -- never. She has my thanks for her efforts and I'm sure she has yours. I now look forward to working with Dr. Brendan Finucane in his role as president and know that he, too, will serve his colleagues well.  We will continue to be committed to shared governance, recruit and retain the best possible tenure track faculty members, and ensure that our students receive the support services that they need to succeed at Ship and beyond.

Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania will be a learning-centered community that promotes creativity, intellectual development, and service.  Our commitment to continuous improvement will result in Ship being acknowledged regionally and nationally for its People:  our students, faculty, staff, and the residents of South Central Pennsylvania and beyond; its Programs:  programs that will bolster current academic and new program initiatives benefitting students and the Commonwealth, and its Places:  facilities in which people can accomplish their initiatives and programs.
I am now approaching two years as the fifteenth permanent president of this extraordinary institution. During my inaugural address, I said I have the best job because I get to work with you - our faculty, our students, our staff associates, and the community of Shippensburg, Cumberland and Franklin counties, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I have the opportunity to; as I will tomorrow, help new students move in, though I don't think I'll be carrying any refrigerators. I also have the honor of shaking the hands of our graduating seniors during commencement. And I get to do this every day. What a way to make a living!

But this is more than a way to make a living and it's more than a job, it is a responsibility we all share with our students, to each other and our world. Our efforts -- and it is a joint effort -- are meaningful and long-lasting. What you do this year, inside and outside of the classroom will last long after this semester. You may not know when, and you may not know where, but you can be assured that some bit of information you or some guidance you provide will be long-remembered by your students. 

I will say to you today the same thing I said in my interview at the Chancellor's Office in late 2006.  I was asked "Who do you work for?"  Now I know it was a loaded question, so I answered honestly, "I work for the students, faculty, staff, and trustees of Shippensburg University, I work with the Chancellor's Office, the Board of Governors', and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to provide the opportunity for a fabulous education."
I have outlined our past successes and future directions and again ask you to JOIN me in our pursuit of that vision--we will continue to show Pennsylvania and the world who we are.  The Dalhi Lama is quoted as saying, "Share your knowledge, it is a way to achieve immortality!"  Continue that sharing and we will succeed.

Best wishes to all of you for a successful 2008-09 academic year, thanks in advance for all that you do!   I look forward to seeing you again at lunch and at the BBQ this evening at the Martin House.

Thanks.

 

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