2007 State of the University Address
It is my pleasure to welcome you back to a new and exciting academic year. It is always thrilling to greet our students back and to see the campus reinvigorated and reenergized.
At this time, I would like to recognize the Kutztown University Council of Trustees members here with us today, and ask them to stand as I call their names.
Thank you all for taking time out of your busy schedules to be with us today and for your continued service and support for the university.
We also have new faculty and staff who have joined us this year (please stand). Welcome to the Kutztown University family. I know you will find that Kutztown is a remarkably warm and welcoming university.
I would now like to introduce two new members of my Cabinet, Jerry Silberman, Interim Vice President for Administration and Finance, and Richard Button, Interim Vice President for University Advancement.
I would now like to ask the Chair of the University Senate, Maria Sanelli, to make some remarks.
Kutztown University is proud of the positive relationships that have been established with the various bargaining units on campus. I have invited their respective presidents to make some brief comments.
I would like to ask Professor Mike Gambone, president of APSCUF, to make some remarks.
We will hear now from Elizabeth Fischer, representing SCUPA.
We will now hear from Mark Prevoznik representing AFSCME.
It is also a tradition at our opening day festivities that we acknowledge the accomplishments of one faculty member in particular. It is now the time to name the 2007 recipient of the Arthur and Isabel Wiesenberger Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching. Before we announce this year's winner, I would like to acknowledge the previous faculty award recipients. Please stand when I call your name:
Prof. Patrick Duddy, Biology (retired)
Prof. Jack Schellenberg, Physical Science (retired)
Prof. John Landis, Communication Design (retired)
Prof. Ed Evans, Math/CIS (retired)
Prof. Allida McKinley, History (retired)
Prof. James Ogden, Marketing
Prof. David Peterson, Audio-visual Communications (retired)
Prof. John Loomis, Physical Science (retired)
Prof. Kathleen Dolgos, Secondary Education
Prof. Tom Schantz, Art Education and Crafts (retired)
Dr. Arifeen Daneshyar, Economics
Dr. Robert Ziegenfus, Geography
Dr. Michael Gabriel, History
Thank you, again, for setting an example for us all. I would like to ask the Kutztown University Alumni Board President, Ms. Melissa Hershey to join me in presenting the award and a check for $2,000 to Professor Elaine Reed from the English Department.
The past five years
It is hard for me to believe that this semester marks my 6th year as President of Kutztown University. Things have happened so rapidly that I feel both that I just got here, and that I have been here for a long time.
Nevertheless, five years is a significant amount of time, and is a reasonable moment to look back and see what has been accomplished. It is also an appropriate time to look forward and plan for all that needs to be done.
Needless to say, a college president does not accomplish anything on her or his own. For that matter, neither does Cabinet nor any isolated group of individuals. We all rely on the people around us. We work as a team, and we need a team effort to bring forth new ideas, to create change, to build new programs. The role of the President is both to inspire and energize -unleash if you want- that creativity, and then to prioritize among those new ideas and find the resources to help carry them to fruition.
In the academic world things often happen slowly. On the infrastructure side, for instance, some of the construction projects that have been accomplished in the last five years were planned years before I came to KU. On the more important, academic side, it takes even longer to see any changes. The first graduating class that I had any say or influence in recruiting is the class of '07, and taking into consideration that nationally we now look at the 6-year graduation rate, it will take two more years for the first class recruited on my watch to finish their studies. What follows, then, is a summary of the combined work and thinking of the campus community from July 2002.
One of the first things we needed to do was to revise the Strategic Plan developed in 2000. The plan needed a Vision Statement. To this end, with the help of Drs. Eileen Hogan and Dave Haas, we launched the IDEAS process, gathering input from the entire community through open meetings, smaller sessions and feedback through e-mail. Our vision is to be a Center of Excellence in Academics, Cultural Enrichment, and Public Engagement. All new initiatives are linked to the goals presented in the Vision. We will update the Strategic Plan this October. We will be sure our goals and objectives match PASSHE's. As a system, we have one of the most sophisticated accountability plans in the nation. The combination of both plans ensures that we deliver the best education possible.
Our greatest challenge, like most U.S. universities, is financial. Maintaining the quality of our programs during five years of budgetary reductions has forced difficult decisions. It has been a challenge to find ways to increase revenues and cut expenses. Through this group effort we have maintained a strong financial stand. We have managed retirements and new positions in a deliberate manner, and we have expanded some academic programs that were consistent with our mission. But we have reached the point where additional cuts would have serious negative effects. We will continue to look for new sources of revenue as we prepare next year's budget.
Accreditation of Existing Academic Programs
Accreditation of our professional programs gives us a national benchmark and established standards of quality for our programs. The PASSHE Strategic Plan calls for every program that could be accredited by a recognized external organization to be accredited or on the way to accreditation by 2009.
We accredited or reaccredited 10 programs, and are in the process of accrediting 5 more.
New Academic Programs
We have established several new academic programs: Master of Social Work, Music Education, Biochemistry, Germanic Studies, and made progress in the multicultural minor.
We also split Math and Computer Sciences, and we split Social Work and Criminal Justice into two departments. Creating these departments lets us better serve the growing number of students in the four distinct disciplines.
The Kutztown University Foundation bought the building across the street from the McFarland Student Union, and thanks to their vision and generosity and the leadership of the Honors program director, Andrew Arnold, we have been able to add a residential component to our Honors program. An honors program in an access institution is meant to continue the concept of a broadly diverse educational community by enticing excellent high school students to enroll at KU.
A residential honors program enhances that experience by connecting the classroom experience with student's living experience which then provides a supportive, full-time community for concentration on academic study, research, social, intellectual and personal growth. The building houses forty students, with room for offices, meeting rooms and technologically enhanced classrooms. The residential honors program has been full since its initiation. The goal is to develop a full-fledged residential Honors College. I expect that in a few years we can have 300 residents in the Honors College, and we can move it back to the campus into one of the smaller residence halls renovated specifically for it.
One of our goals was to foster academic achievement. Thanks to retired professor Carlson Chambliss, we have established the Chambliss Lecture Series and the Chambliss Outstanding Student Recognition Awards. The lecture series recognizes outstanding faculty research and creativity. Faculty members receive a gold medal, a cash award, and deliver a lecture to the university community. The students receive gold, silver and bronze medals in recognition of their academic and extra-curricular work.
As part of a system initiative, we have established the Frederick Douglass Institute at Kutztown University with a goal to provide multicultural opportunities across the curriculum. Professor Maria Sanelli directs the program. We look forward to the enrichment it will bring to campus.
We have initiated the Ambassadors of Learning Recognition program, to highlight and honor faculty who have been identified by ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) students for going the extra mile in classroom accommodations and learning concepts.
We live in a global economy, and our students need access to opportunities to live and learn in different cultures. We have many long-standing programs abroad, in England, Spain, Germany, Russia, and Kenya. We have worked to increase those programs, to open new opportunities in such countries as India and Ecuador; re-energize programs with China and Ukraine, and strengthen our ties with our long-standing partners. We established the Office of International Programs, with a full-time director and a recruiter. The efforts are working. Faculty and student exchanges are healthy and growing. We have a new program in nursing with India that has great potential.
I have always believed the Library is the heart of the university. As President of this University, I am sure of it. Lawrence Clark Powell, American librarian, writer and critic, noted, "No university in the world has ever risen to greatness without a correspondingly great library ... When this is no longer true, then will our civilization have come to an end." Not just maintaining but enhancing our library collection is essential for us to continue our academic progress and become an even greater educational resource for our students and all Pennsylvanians.
To provide the services expected of libraries today, we must preserve the historic nature of libraries while ensuring that they remain relevant to today's generations. Our librarians have done an outstanding job of capturing the opportunities the digital era brings. Online access to numerous databases and journals has grown exponentially, and thanks to the Instructional Technology Fee we have been able to allocate hundreds of thousands of dollars to ensure on-line access to those resources. Word for word, document for document, technology gives us much more access to many more volumes and journals, in real time at less cost than if we had to access them in hard copy.
The Innovation Center at TEK Park. Thanks to the vision and generosity of our alumnus, Larry Stuardi, we have access to a state-of-the-art research facility just a few miles east of campus. TEK Park brings together business, industry, and education in very creative ways. It provides research and lab space for our faculty, as well as a variety of internship opportunities for our students. The companies moving to this facility range from fiber optics and micro chip fabrication to medical supplies to data recovery and security to advertising and marketing. They all have one thing in common: they see the potential of working with us. And by the way, the Senior Art Exhibit was held there this spring!
One of the commitments I made early on was to create an active presence in downtown Reading and Allentown. As I have often repeated, we are a community of scholars, but we are also scholars in the community. The Langan Allied Health Academy in Reading is a unique partnership we have established with the Hispanic Center, Saint Joseph's Hospital, and Reading Area Community College. The Academy, in the center of town, has more than exceeded our enrollment goals. The classrooms are full, day and night. We currently offer our MBA there, and have just started offering our SBDC program in Spanish as well. We will expand our offerings as the program develops.
The Donley Center in Allentown allows us to work with Lehigh Carbon Community College and offer a seamless transition to our 4-year bachelor's degree in Education at that location. We hope to expand our offerings with a Criminal Justice program to interface with LCCC's program.
The Institute for the Advancement of Children's Environmental Health. One very exciting project in development is an institute to study and monitor environmental impact on children's health. Most American health studies are based on a 140 lbs. healthy adult male. Children are not "little adults" regarding health issues. The project is a partnership between the Institute, KU, our Foundation, two hospitals, a number of physicians and pediatric centers, and private businesses. The Berks County Commissioners have committed $100,000 a year for 15 years to the project. This is a great way to get started! The PA Department of Environmental Protection will provide us air monitoring equipment. The potential for research, grants, and internships for our students is tremendous. There are only four such Institutes in the nation.
Eck Haus. With a group of faculty and students in the visual arts we rented an empty store on Main Street and created an art gallery. This space gives us a very visible presence downtown, and is used for art exhibits as well as workshops for the entire community. Now in its second year, the project has become an integral part of the town.
We are working hard to make transitioning from community college to a four-year institution (especially KU) a seamless process for both students and faculty. This transition is beneficial to all parties. It guarantees us a continuous stream of students seeking a four-year degree, it encourages students to start their education knowing they can transfer their credits, and it helps economically disadvantaged students reduce the cost of a four-year degree by spending the first two years at a community college. As part of our efforts, we developed an agreement with Montgomery County Community College to allow students to transfer all their credits (based on a pre-approved list) to Kutztown. We are working with Reading Area Community College on a similar agreement.
Dual enrollment with High School. In another effort to encourage students to continue their education after high school, and to make it more affordable, we are working on dual enrollment programs with area high schools. These programs let high school students take college courses to satisfy high school requirements.
We have also restructured the Office of Grants and Contracts and created the new position of Director of Research. The synergy between their offices will help our faculty raise their research profiles, find external funding, and add to the intellectual quality of our campus.
Over the past five years Kutztown University has become a primary destination school for many high school seniors. Until recently we were considered a "safety" school, but surveys over the last three years show that we are the #1 choice for 70 percent or more of our students. That is outstanding for a regional, access-oriented public university. Our enrollment management team very carefully follows the projections of the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Those projections tell us the number of high school graduates who typically enroll at Kutztown University will increase for one more year and then level off until 2016 when a slow decline will begin. It is crucial for us to grow at the appropriate rate to serve the students in our region, while not overbuilding programs or facilities over the next ten years.
During the same period, diversity has continued to increase. The entering class of 2007 is projected to be 17 percent minorities, the largest diverse entering class in our history. Our multicultural marketing efforts have attracted traditionally under-represented students, and our admissions office has done a truly exemplary job of making them feel welcome during campus visits and helping them enroll. At the same time, our first year retention rate has climbed to almost 78% for all students. We are very proud that the retention rates are basically the same for all ethnic/racial groups on campus.
Campus Grounds and Facilities
The grounds and facilities of a college campus play a significant role in the students' total University experience. Professors come and go, curriculum and programs change, friends part and spread across the globe, but the buildings and grounds in and on which students spend their college years for the most part stay steadfast. Alums return to visit the dorm rooms in which friendships and memories were made, trek to the Library where many long hours were spent, and visit stately Old Main, which defines the character and history of the typical American college campus.
However, aesthetics and emotions are not the most important aspects the physical plant adds to the college experience. The physical plant plays an important role in defining the educational quality of an institution. The learning environment created by the campus buildings can be either positive or negative, depending on factors such as temperature, humidity, air quality, lighting, aesthetics (colors, seating, auxiliary furniture), space (square foot per student), and technology. Additionally, the quality of the Physical Plant can also add or detract form the ability of the University to attract and retain high quality professors and administrators, which has a direct impact on the educational experience.
Overall, the physical plant can immediately give a sense of our quality. If facilities are neglected and not well maintained, that speaks much louder than words. There simply can be no credence to a stated dedication to academic excellence if there is not a demonstrated commitment to stewardship of the buildings and grounds. We at Kutztown University have that commitment to excellence in all areas affecting student learning.
For these reasons I have made improving the campus physical plant an important priority, in support of the academic mission. I always said I wouldn't want to be President at a campus without cranes, since that would signify a campus that is stagnant; not growing, changing and improving.
We have accomplished a great deal in planned, deliberate building renovation and new construction over the last five years.
We followed the Campus Master Plan which was created in 2000. We've updated the plan twice since then to reflect the changing requirements in support of the academic mission and growing student population. We commissioned consultants to examine in great detail what space we already have versus what space is defined as needed by State guidelines, and we've been careful not to overbuild. This allows us to perform our mission and serve as the region's access institution while at the same time minimizing the operational expense increases due to new buildings coming on line.
We created a Housing Master Plan, a campus plan subset, which lets us plan campus housing needs for the next 15 years. The PA German Cultural Center is also working on a Master Plan. We hope this plan will better define the parameters of the Center for the volunteers, its patrons, and the University at large, to ensure a viable and continuing program to preserve the local heritage. The Athletics and Recreation Departments are developing a master plan for their areas. This will help focus our efforts on these important extra-curricular activities and ensure that facilities are shared as much as possible to allow the best overall facilities and grounds for both programs at the lowest possible cost. Finally, a campus parking and traffic master plan is being developed to mitigate and minimize the effects our presence and growth have on the broader community.
Kutztown University Foundation Projects
We partnered with the Kutztown University Foundation on several projects to leverage their borrowing power and ability to respond to construction needs faster and cheaper than the University can. Since 2002, we have accomplished the following:
- Built the Golden Bear South apartment complex. This project helped in our goal to respond to the needs of the borough by bringing students back to campus and let us expand our educational in-residence opportunities by 1,400 students.
- The Foundation, together with the Alumni through their generous donations, built one of the most beautiful places on campus, The Alumni Plaza. This wonderful spot of solitude and beauty has become a place where we congregate (both University and community members!), where art and music find a niche, where alumni get married, and where we gather together in times of sorrow and sadness and share each others' pain and grief, as we did after the horrible events at Virginia Tech.
- As mentioned, we have a building for our Honors College. It houses 40 students, and this fall the first floor will be renovated with classroom, office, study-lounge and gathering space for our honors students.
- The Foundation also purchased and remodeled the "Chinese Christian Church", now known as the KUF Professional Building. This gives us a place where faculty and staff can be temporarily relocated during construction and renovations on campus.
University Capital Projects
We have been very aggressive regarding the Capital Funding Plans put forth by PASSHE. Because we successfully execute projects and the quality of the results, and because we work closely with the responsible PASSHE Offices, we have been able to garner a lion's share of the Capital monies over the last five years.
In fact, we have gone from being one of the lowest funded PASSHE schools, to the highest funded school. All totaled, from 2002 projected to 2011, we will have constructed more than 190 million dollars of new and renovated facilities. For a public regional University, this is an amazing effort!
- The Boehm Science Center - a project underway when I arrived in 2002 and completed in 2003- is a combination of new lab, classroom and office space and complete renovation of an existing facility. We also removed one building, and created, following faculty suggestions, the exterior bio-lab between the renovated planetarium and the Science Center. Interestingly, this feature also serves as a storm water retention pond and is really an environmental best practices concept.
- After many years of waiting (over nine!), planning, discussing and cajoling, we finally received state authorization - and funds - to build a new heating plant. The project, now complete, will allow us to move from coal to gas (with fuel oil as a back-up), a much cleaner and more efficient energy source. We explored building a coal-burning facility, noting the importance of coal to the Pennsylvania economy, especially the regions we serve. But the cost of a new, clean EPA-compliant coal plant was prohibitive, more than double the cost of the gas plant. Relocating the plant to the campus perimeter will reclaim prime interior green space.
- In 2001 the student body approved a fee to construct a new Recreation Center. It opened the fall semester of 2006, and is truly an amazing facility. Our campus population has totally embraced the center and its concept of health and fitness; a great learning goal outside what one would normally consider a University mission. However, a healthy body supports a healthy mind, and provides de-stressing and mingling around a concept more worthy than alcohol. It really is a campus gathering place. From the climbing wall to the aerobic studios to the racquetball courts to the indoor basketball courts or the running track, and of course the whole series of exercise machines, the center is always busy. And it's a great place to get a "smoothie" (the healthy alternative to a milkshake)!
- The Academic Forum has provided us with both much needed state of the art classroom space, and new places for our students to eat, meet, congregate and study. It is an exceptional facility and has garnered architectural awards.
- The new residence hall will have 856 beds, and is the largest building project ever on our campus in both size and cost. It is also the largest bonded facility project in the history of PASSHE. This is great testimony to the trust and confidence PASSHE has in this University. In fact, we were the first school the Board of Governors authorized to build a new facility on campus rather than to enter into an agreement with a third party. When it opens in fall 2008, it will have 5,000 square feet of retail space that could include a coffee shop and an ice cream parlor. Those details are being worked out with KUSSI.
- And of course the renovation and expansion of Sharadin Arts Building is underway. Once the project is completed, we will immediately proceed with the renovation and expansion of Schaeffer Auditorium, thus bringing our visual and performing arts facilities to a standard which will reflect the high quality and tradition of our nationally recognized arts programs.
Locally Funded and Executed Projects
We also completed several smaller, non-capital projects. My favorite is the Coffee Shop in the Library. Who would have thought back when we went to school that there would ever be such a concept? Sometimes things do change for the better!
Our Language Laboratory, a piece of archaeology worthy of the same museum as our old heat plant, has been renovated and appropriately re-equipped. We have a new, safe artificial turf, resurfaced running track and lights in our stadium. We renovated the business office, creating a much more efficient layout for students as well as more offices for staff. We redesigned the Stratton Administration Center entrance to be more aesthetically pleasing and to allow such necessary moves as relocating the Advising Center to the first floor, and Career Center to the main lobby to be more accessible to students. Talking about accessibility, during the last 18 months we spent a great amount of time, effort and money making sure our campus offers equal accessibility to everyone. We have made significant progress, although our campus was one of the most accessible in the System to start with. We are just getting better.
Hundreds of other projects were accomplished during the last five years, to include much maintenance and repair. We take very seriously our duty to be the stewards of such a wonderful campus, which represents almost $400 million in assets to the Commonwealth.
So, regarding the Physical Plant, where do we go from here? The next major project is to renovate Lytle Hall or demolish it and build a new facility. Like the Grim Building, Lytle may simply not be worth the renovation cost and we may be better served by a new building. The upcoming feasibility study will give us the details to consider. We also have some smaller projects in planning. Our Master Plan includes a new grounds/garage building and the demolition of the old heating plant. When this is accomplished, hopefully by 2011/12, we plan to expand our tennis courts to twelve, to be eligible for NCAA tournaments, and perhaps have a couple of them covered. We also want to reorient the Softball/Baseball fields and add some seating. Tennis, Softball and Baseball are among our best athletic programs, but it is hard to enjoy them when there is no place to sit!
Our Housing Master Plan will also keep us busy. Some residence halls have not been renovated since their construction in the late '50s and early '60s. We need to bring them into at least the late twentieth century. At some point, we need, together with the Foundation, to look at a small hotel or Bed-and-Breakfast near campus. There is a clear need for one, as the consultant we hired four years ago told us. We have had too many other things going on to focus on this, but it would certainly benefit us all.
We all know how pervasive technology has become. In his now famous book, Thomas Friedman said technology and connectivity have created a new, "flat world". This technologically enriched, flat world we inhabit offers great opportunities and challenges. In academia, technology can dramatically enhance the classroom experience and assist faculty in their instructional goals. We recognize that students already consider technology a routine part of their lives (I-Pods, Face Book, My Space, Video Games, Cell Phones, etc.) and will use many new technologies in their professional lives. Thus, we must ensure they have access to new technological tools as part of their overall learning experience. These are some of the technological improvements made since 2002.
Thanks to the Board of Governors' Instructional Technology Fee, we went from a handful of "smart classrooms" (technologically advanced multimedia AV systems) to 141; almost every classroom on campus. Perhaps equally (or maybe even more) important, we created a Technology Service Center located in the Academic Forum to ensure prompt response to anyone having problems with the equipment. We also installed a "Consistent Instructor Interface" - all the buttons in all the classrooms do the same thing - to facilitate use by the entire faculty in all smart classrooms. Without the proper support to ensure faculty success when using these new tools, their implementation across campus would be a waste of money. With this support, we have found our faculty very excited about implementing the new technologies.
We instituted the "Teachnology" grant program for faculty to foster the creation of technologically-enhanced pedagogical methods and sharing those methods with others.
University Web Site
We developed an award-winning web site (from an independent analysis using the Yale University Web Standards), including being the first school in PASSHE to have a one-button translation into Spanish.
We enhanced many campus IT systems to improve the reliability of the infrastructure, resulting in a network "uptime" of more than 99.8 percent. This included splitting our one network into two, redundant networks with fail-over capabilities, one for the academic side and one for the student side. Also, we prioritized network traffic to ensure that academic work happens first. We also upgraded the wiring across campus from "paper cable" to fiber optics. And we have just completed the third cycle of our computer replenishment program.
We expanded our wireless network to cover most academic building interiors as well as most outside areas. Students can enjoy the outdoors and still do their work, and faculty can use the outdoors as their classroom and remain connected to the campus network.
Security is a major challenge for IT. We created a leading computer security area, one of the most advanced in the State System, including many "best practices" that make our system as secure as current technology allows.
A true delight of working on our campus is the opportunity to interact with students. I enjoy participating in student events, and have an open door policy for students who need to see me. It is my personal policy to answer every e-mail students send me, and many students write to me with their concerns or needs. I also hold open meetings for students twice a semester in McFarland Student Union. Needless to say, we have had both rewarding and challenging moments. Some events required more careful attention, such as the affirmative action bake sale and its aftermath, or the religious group that visited us recently. Other events, such as the Virginia Tech tragedy, or the fifth anniversary of 9-11 have brought the campus together in sadness and remembrance. These are all learning opportunities for our community, and I am immensely proud of the way our students have faced these challenging issues and grown with them.
During the last few years we have developed a few initiatives to make student life more welcoming:
The Campus Shuttle
I like to joke that if space is the "final" frontier, parking space is the "ultimate" frontier. Parking is always an issue on any campus, almost without regard to how many spaces actually exist. To help alleviate the situation here, we started a campus shuttle. We did a two-week pilot run in April of 2004, and the students loved it and it did have a positive effect on parking "issues" and some traffic concerns, too. The initial one-bus campus loop started the next fall, and soon after we added the second bus. At the moment we have two campus loops running each morning, and the shuttle program extends into the night. Last year we had more than 120,000 riders. The shuttle is available to the community and some borough residents take advantage of this service to do their grocery shopping.
Our institutional commitment to diversity is all-inclusive. As part of that commitment we created a resource center for those who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning as well as allies. The number of people using the center, which recently celebrated its 2nd anniversary, continues to grow every year.
One Card program
This program simplifies the lives of students and staff by having a single identification card that can be used to access residence halls, purchase from vending machines, ride the shuttle bus, and enter the dining halls or purchase food or beverages on campus. Through the Bear Bucks program, the card is also accepted in many businesses in town.
The KU Radio Station (KUR)
The student-operated KU radio station had been dormant for several years. We moved it to the space the Student Union had allocated for it, and hired a full time station manager. The station is a small, local one, but we are planning to apply for a full license as soon as that opportunity arises.
Our IT division was ahead of the curve regarding music piracy and illegal downloading. By becoming a pilot center for RUCKUS, a licensed music download site, our campus community now has legal access to millions of songs. This service is free for students, and faculty and staff pay a nominal fee. We also, of course, avoid the legal entanglements and negative publicity other schools have gone through in this regard.
In response to a need for ongoing professional education for our staff, we opened the non-instructional training center. This is a never-before realized concept at KU. The training center's full time specialist conducts appropriate training programs. The center lets us offer educational and informative programs to our non-instructional staff for much less than if we purchased training from consultants or sent employees off-site. It also lets us offer the more mundane training scenarios such as new employee orientations or SAP trouble shooting. One of the exciting new initiatives I asked the center to address is an effort to offer cross divisional administrative training programs to ensure that we can better serve our students without sending them in circles from office to office.
We have also successfully implemented the new SAP human resources and financial system, and are working as one of the four pilot schools to implement the campus management portion of the SAP software package. This is a very short statement for a very large amount of work (and frustration) that went into the conversion from our operational legacy system to SAP. Literally thousand of hours of staff time have been devoted to this implementation, all while still operating the University, sometimes with two or more separate systems at the same time. It really has been a testament to the dedication and loyalty of our staff that we have fared so well in this area.
As part of the campus master plan, we are considering making the entire campus an arboretum. As we replace trees or simply plant additional ones, we have the opportunity to bring biodiversity to our tree environment, and provide a unique educational opportunity for our students, area K-12 students, and the community in general. In addition to providing these educational opportunities, an already beautiful campus will become more so.
Among a president's most important roles these days are friend-raising and fund-raising. It is difficult to summarize our activities in this arena, since so many things have a direct or indirect effect on our advancement function. Over the last five years we decided to be more visibly involved in activities and events in the region. We also wanted to send Cabinet members, Deans, and faculty and staff to those events. This has given us the opportunity to visit with alumni and friends, and meet new people who have an interest in our community and KU. It is a time consuming task, but one that helps keep our name and image present in the region.
I already mentioned the role the Foundation played in helping with building projects and land acquisitions. The Foundation is, of course, also the fund raising arm of the university, and is involved in the day to day running of the annual fund, and the planning and execution of capital campaigns. When I arrived on campus, we were completing the campaign for the science center. Once that campaign ended, the campaign for the arts began. We have completed the Berks County face of the campaign, and are planning the Lehigh Valley portion, and of course we will also start our national campaign in the near future.
As part of our fundraising efforts, we visit our alumni and friends both in and out of state. We host annually a number or events in places like Washington, DC, New York City and Philadelphia. As the campaign unfolds, I will need to spend a significant amount of time "on the road" in cultivation activities.
Our new Scholarship Ball deserves special recognition. The impetus for the creation of the Ball came from Guido and Susan Pichini, and thanks to their efforts the Ball is now a KU tradition. We have many need-based scholarships, but were sorely lacking merit-based scholarships to attract more high achieving students. The Scholarship Ball proceeds go entirely to recruit and retain high achieving students. The money is not placed in the endowment, but rather in a self-depleting fund. Thus, the donors know that every dollar raised goes directly to students.
Community Relations and Service
The Linny and Beall Fowler Allentown Academic Alliance. Four years ago we restarted the Academic Alliance with the city of Allentown. The program identifies economically disadvantaged students with academic potential, and through weekend activities, summer programs, and active intervention helps them achieve their dream of going to college. The program has a perfect record: all students who complete the program go to college! Many of them come to Kutztown University, and their presence has also helped with our diversity efforts.
Lauer's Park Elementary School Project. The Lauer's Park initiative is the result of the work of our Financial Aid office. As we know, by the time students reach high school many of them lack the necessary course work to prepare them for college. For the last three years we have been working with a group of economically disadvantaged 5th graders and their families at Lauer's Park. The children and their parents visit campus, participate in a series of activities, and are encouraged to think of college as part of their future.
KU students as Ambassadors with the Mayor and Borough Council. To enhance town gown relations, two KU students are appointed as "Ambassadors" to the borough. They do a year long internship with Borough Council and the Mayor respectively. Both sides can learn from each other and benefit from the open lines of communication between students and borough residents.
We have also worked to enhance our visibility and recognition in the area. We updated the university and athletic logos, and developed a manual to ensure that we have a consistent visual identity. We have received great regional press coverage, and have had several stories that have garnered national and international attention.
In conclusion, these have been five exciting and energizing years for the campus and for me personally. I believe we have in place the right infrastructure and the momentum to take us to an even higher level of accomplishments over the next five years. Our retention and graduation rates, the most important indicator of our success, will continue to improve every year. Despite challenging budgetary times, we have decided to continue to invest in our permanent faculty. The provost and the deans are working and monitoring a plan for the allocation of new and replacement tenure lines. The quality of our academic programs, the beauty of our campus, and the myriad extracurricular opportunities will help us retain a thriving, diverse, and intellectually stimulating entering class every fall. The Innovation Center at TEK Park will provide us a unique opportunity to engage in creative and applied research, connect with start up and well established companies, and provide internship and employment opportunities for our students in highly competitive fields ranging from nanotechnology to cyber security.
Our main challenge will be to find new sources of revenue to continue to develop all our programs. We will face dwindling resources in the coming years, and we must be creative and entrepreneurial to develop programs and activities that will generate new funds. Through all these challenges and changes, we must also keep in mind our mission as a comprehensive, public, access university, and maintain the goals we set in place in our Vision Statement: Kutztown University will be the region's center for excellence in academics, culture, and public engagement, in order to prepare our students to meet lifelong challenges and responsibilities within a complex and diverse community.
And over the next five years perhaps I will finally learn how to deal with snow storms...
Thank you for coming this morning. Congratulations on your great accomplishments over the last five years. And now it is time to go back to our students and our tasks. Have a wonderful year.