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2012 State of the University Address

2012 State of the University Address

Greetings and welcome to another academic year.

This year's message is titled "Choose Kutztown," to reflect our current advertising and marketing slogan. The "Choose Kutztown" commercial is being aired on television stations and in movie theaters throughout the region, to a much broader and wider audience than ever before, as we focus on having the best and brightest students choose a KU education.

Despite the financial challenges we face, I am happy to report that we have taken steps in the right direction to continue to give our students an excellent "return on investment." This is supported by a few very important accomplishments in the past year: the first one is the acceptance of our 2012 monitoring report by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education on June 28. The acceptance of the report depended strongly on the development and implementation of the assessment processes for institutional effectiveness and general education, and the revision and publication of our strategic plan. I am truly pleased that we have made great strides in these areas.

Regarding our strategic plan ---- you may recall last year at this very opening day address when I stated that it is absolutely critical that we be able to articulate a clear and defensible vision of the role our university plays. That we have a Strategic Plan that is grounded in a realistic and rigorous assessment of our environment, our resources, and our opportunities. That the plan must be the road map to allocate our resources and fulfill our mission. That we must sort through the 39 initiatives listed under the four major goals, and we must put a smaller number of key projects and initiatives in priority. Moreover, for each of these to comply with the mandate of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, we must supply specific details, metrics for assessment, and assign responsibility.

Thanks to our Strategic Planning Task force co-chaired by Dr. Carole Wells and Dr. James Delle, I am thrilled to report that we now have a focused, attainable and measurable strategic plan. Last week I met with the Strategic Planning and Resources Committee, which has representation from all our governance bodies. I presented the actual strategic plan with specific actions by each division, road-mapping the initiatives we will implement to achieve the goals and desired outcomes as established in the strategic plan. This plan is a rolling plan that will allow us to continuously review methods to improve and grow as necessary. This will also allow us to meet the ever-changing demands of our constituents.

As we move forward with our new initiatives, we are making an effort to educate the public about our direction.

Many of you have received our strategic plan brochure. We are using this attractive, yet simple, brochure to share our vision and strategy with our constituents --- both internally and externally --- about our plans.

You can view the entire strategic plan document here.

So.... What have we done to ensure that our current and prospective students "Choose Kutztown"? Let us review briefly unit by unit.

Over the last year, the Division of Academic and Student Affairs, led by Dr. Carlos Vargas-Aburto:

  • Increased online course offerings during Winter term and Summer sessions.
  • Increased our scholarship offering, including KU Promise and STEM, and began an out-of-state tuition plan, allowing us to be more cost competitive for the top students from neighboring states and beyond.
  • We signed new transfer and articulation agreements. This included statewide program-to-program transfer articulation agreements with other four-year institutions and community colleges.
  • We increased internships, externships, learning communities, community service opportunities and capstone experiences, among other high impact priorities. We provided quality academic support services such as our tutoring center, supplemental instruction, the academic jeopardy program, advising for undeclared students and the Student Support Services Program.
  • The campus infrastructure continues to be improved, including wireless upgrades, network switches; total wireless coverage in the Rohrbach Library; the addition of a computer classroom in Defrancesco and a computer lab in Beekey; and we upgraded and added classrooms in Beekey, Old Main, and Rickenbach.
  • The KU Evidence Team for Equity Scorecard was formed to address equity gaps, in particular for minority students.
  • The division's highly qualified and dedicated faculty and staff produced 91 professional publications; 188 professional presentations and 95 reports of service to profession or community.
  • The division sponsored outstanding scholarly performances, speakers, concerts, and conferences, including Noam Chomsky, Onishi Yasuaki, and Markus Zusak.

In the four Academic Colleges:
KU received approval from PASSHE for a minor in Art History. We also received formal recognition by the Council of Graduate Schools for a Professional Science master's track in Computer Science. Enrollment of students in these programs are underway. We requested approval for a Master's of Fine Arts degree in Communication Design was submitted.

We received approval and marketing began for the master's with Certification for PreK-4, 4-8 and 7-12. In addition, we submitted approval for a Certification in Special Education for Secondary Education majors.

We increased funding to undergraduate research thanks to the Carole and Ray Neag Undergraduate Research Fund.

We reached out to the community by hosting Math/Science/Technology open houses, expanding National Portfolio Day to New York City, and by hosting the central-eastern Regional Science Olympiad. The College of Visual and Performing Arts even sent birthday cards to incoming freshmen.

In the area of Distance Education: We hired an instructional technologist, and provided one-stop shop support to faculty, staff, and students.

The Registrar's Office developed a free electronic transcript service for students which will be effective this fall, and will also finalize the degree audit phase of MyKU this semester.

The office also worked with 14 academic departments to identify majors for the Fall 2012 phase of a statewide community college program-to-program transfer articulation.

The Rohrbach Library became home to the Department of Academic Enrichment and University's Tutoring Center, while our faculty librarians continued to play an important role in advising undeclared freshmen.

Our General Education Assessment Committee completed assessments of General Education student learning goals, such as oral and written communication, quantitative literacy, decision making, and wellness.

Let's move on to the Division of Administration and Finance, led by Jerry Silberman, vice-president.

The division has several projects that benefit students and give them more reasons to "Choose Kutztown".

In the area of HOUSING/RESIDENCE LIFE/DINING
Beck Hall has been updated, and Lehigh Hall is currently under renovation and expected to open by Fall 2013. Schuylkill and Berks halls are also slated to be renovated over the next three years providing upgraded building infrastructure, lighting, bathrooms, and finishes.

In collaboration with our food vendor Aramark, the MarketMATCH planning process was completed, which identifies new food venues to assist with the growing need for eating locations, seating, and food selection.

The STUDENT RECREATION CENTER will have new cardio equipment available beginning this fall. 47 new pieces will replace what is already available and 11 spinning bikes will be added to the facility. This will allow us to continue to have a state-of-the-art fitness center.
We will also be adding CXWorx, a class focusing on core strength development, and Spinning indoor cycling.

In the McFarland Student Union,
We added two free filtered water bottle filling stations, saving our students time and money, while protecting the environment.

The student union staff will provide enhanced telephone support for evening phone coverage --- in collaboration with University Relations and telephone services --- resulting in high-quality customer service for our constituents.

Additional multipurpose space will be available for small group meetings, presentations or trainings in the former TV lounge.

And enhanced security cameras will be installed throughout the common areas of the building to better protect our university family.

The Office of Human Resources developed a mobile eTime site, where student workers can use their smart phones to add and sign their hours, change times, contact their supervisor, view their online pay statements and more. Nearly 10 percent of our students use their smart phones to enter their time. This is an excellent example of how we are meeting the students' needs where they are...not just sitting at a computer or on a wireless laptop or tablet, but via their smart phones.

Our FACILITIES department continues to take initiatives to enhance our campus infrastructure.

The renovations to the data center in Stratton will help ensure internet accessibility through most every conceivable condition that in the past would have had the potential to bring it down; and at times did. As you probably have noticed, the renovations to the data center gave us the opportunity to enhance the rear entrance of Stratton. This renovation will help better welcome our visitors to our administration building.

The start of the new electric substation that will hopefully be completed in 2013, should make our electrical power supply to campus much more dependable and consistent, with far less interruptions due to MetEd transformers down the line. KU will have its own dedicated generation powerline, with our own transformer with full back-up capability.

KUSSI, which works closely with the division, developed the "Price Comparison Shopping Tool" where students can compare the bookstore's prices with online competitors by accessing the KU Student Bookstore website. This will further enhance our students' ability and ease to purchase the lowest cost course material options by reviewing and comparing multiple vendors.
And the Dixon Marketplace now features a Rita's Italian Ice shop. Our students expressed a desire to bring Rita's to campus, and KUSSI is excited about this new partnership.

The safety and security of our students, faculty and staff is imperative and our department of Public Safety and Police Servicesdoes an excellent job leading the effort.

Our campus police provide training to all campus constituents who meet the definition of a Campus Security Authority (CSA) under the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, regarding the reporting of campus crimes to the appropriate authorities.

As the leader of this institution, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this training. Given the recent situation at State College, I want to remind you all of the importance of reporting any crimes to our Campus Police. It is the duty of each and every one of us to ensure the safety and protection of our students, fellow employees and campus visitors. I urge you to act if any of you encounter a situation that is inappropriate. Even if you are not entirely sure, it is always better to err on the side of safety.

Our next unit is the Division of Advancement, Marketing and University Relations led by John Green, Associate vice president

The division continues to help define, re-define and spread the word of Kutztown University in a variety of ways ....

In the area of Marketing:
Many of you in this room have seen the results of the image/recognition research that was completed nearly a year ago. The results were dramatic. In our primary recruitment markets of Berks, Lehigh and Montgomery Counties, we learned that less than half of the residents with children nearing college age did not name KU when asked to name five state colleges.
Follow-up questions for the small set of respondents who named KU, discovered that while they did mention Kutztown University, they were unable to offer much more information regarding our academic programs or other campus highlights.

The result of these findings is the image advertising campaign currently running within our primary market, as well as counties near the Harrisburg, York, Lebanon and Lancaster areas.
Television, cable television, outdoor and cinema advertising media are now being used to tell our story. The "Choose Kutztown" television spot you saw earlier is a major part of this campaign and was produced here at KU by Video Services. This advertising campaign will continue through the end of the year when we plan on going back into the field with additional awareness research.
With the addition of Jennifer Umberger, our new University Marketing Director, we have also increased the quantity and quality of other marketing campaigns that include programs for Summer Sessions, transfer students, Master of Social Work, Professional Science master's, Master's in Education, the Entrepreneurial Leadership Center and new view books for international students and graduate programs, to name a few.

In the area of University Relations:
The website is nearly complete. Launching the newly redesigned and technically enhanced Kutztown.edu last spring, has given the university a new look to the users of the internet. Designed to be the window to the university through which prospective students first view us - the new website has a much more user friendly navigation and is specifically designed for the new student prospect's experience.

KU official social media has taken on a life of its own. Whether it's Twitter, You tube, Flicker, LinkedIn or Facebook, numbers of followers continue to rise - KU Facebook now has nearly 14,000 "likes"!

Something else you will notice on our new website is an increased use of video to help tell our story. These video clips are produced by using our Video Services department, graduate assistants and student workers.

For residents of Lehigh County, our cable television signal that has been available in Berks County via Service Electric Cablevision is now available on the Lehigh Valley system. This has given us the ability to reach more than 100,000 households on a 24/7 basis. All of these efforts are intended to increase our promotional footprint and encourage more students to choose KU.
University Relations has also made substantial improvements in internal communications through the Brief and presidential communications, and with our alumni, parents and VIPs through the Tower Magazine. Increases in the number and quality of media placement has extended KU's image throughout the region and the commonwealth.

In the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics:
KU Golden Bear athletic teams are making their mark on the playing venues as well as in the classroom. Our football team won the PSAC title for the first time in the program's 96 year history, while softball made its way to the NCAA finals in Louisville, KY. We also had outstanding individual and team accomplishments from several other sports including a division title for men's basketball, a return to the NCAA playoffs for women's soccer and baseball, and appearances at the national championships for members of the wrestling, women's swimming and men's outdoor track and field teams. And two of our female student-athletes were named NCAA Division II National Player of the Year.

Our student-athletes have continued to make improvements in the classroom - to the point that as a group, they now have a higher GPA than the rest of the student body and have a graduation rate that is nearly 20 points higher than the overall student body. 107 student-athletes achieved the Dean's List last fall and 99 made the list in the spring.

The number one goal of the athletic department's newly written Strategic Plan is to recruit, enroll, retain and graduation the finest student-athletes in the region.

Winning in the classroom and on the playing venues --- Golden Bear Athletics continue to draw attention to KU as a campus of choice.

Another department in the division, Sports Medicine, has initiated a new academic internship program this year through a partnership with East Stroudsburg University. ESU will be sending a number of seniors from its Athletic Training Education Program to work with our trainers. This program will give these students valuable clinical experience that cannot be obtained anywhere else.

Other outreach efforts in Advancement include:
The Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center and KU Presents, which continue to give our students, our staff and our community reason to be drawn to our campus for a wide variety of educational and entertainment opportunities.

While Schaeffer Auditorium undergoes its renovation, KU Presents has continued to bring cultural entertainment to campus. Ursa Minors Café was opened last fall to offer a new venue. While the café series is held in a much smaller space, the environment has been created to enhance the experience for live entertainment. Last season closed out with a series of sold-out performances from nationally known acts like Wycliff Gordon and Shemekia Copeland. You might want to get your tickets early for this season as it looks to be even more exciting!

The Heritage Center created its own unique style of excitement by launching a lecture series that engaged students, faculty, the public and the Old Order Mennonite community. Partnering with the Rohrbach Library, a three-event series played to overflow attendance. More of this type of programming is in the works for the coming year.

One of the responsibilities of Conference Services is to solicit, coordinate and sometimes manage the hundreds of camps that utilize our campus throughout the academic year, and especially during the summer. More than 15,000 individuals annually will experience our campus for the first time by attending a camp here. From soccer to band - from science to baseball and from scouting to art, these campers will take home an image of what it might be like to attend KU as a college student. This year with many preferred camp facilities off-line due to much needed repairs, the staff of conference services had to get creative finding alternative sites, and work especially hard to control costs. Moving forward - the Division of Advancement, Marketing and University Relations will continue to shepherd the cause to convince prospective students to Choose Kutztown.

Let's switch to the Division of Equity and Compliance, under the direction of Jesus Peña, Esq., Associate Vice President for Equity & Compliance. Jesus' unit consists of the Office of Social Equity & the Disability Services Office.

During the 2011-2012 academic year, the Office of Social Equity monitored more than 170 faculty and management searches. From assisting with recruitment strategies, to reviewing rubrics and interview questions, to certifying candidates to be interviewed, the Office of Social Equity worked side-by-side with our search committees to hire the best qualified and diverse faculty and staff in furtherance of our university's mission "to provide a high quality education". By continuing to recruit the very best faculty and staff, prospective students will "Choose Kutztown."

The Office of Social Equity updated our university's Sexual Harassment, Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policies, as well as policies within the area of Academic and Student Affairs, to ensure we are providing an appropriate learning and working environment in compliance with our laws, regulations, and university policies. More specifically, the Office of Social Equity staff collaborated with the Assistant Dean of Students in updating policies and procedures relative to student-on-student complaints covered under Title IX.

In relation to this topic, I wanted to comment briefly on some of the challenges our campus has faced this year regarding tolerance and freedom of speech. As you may know, I have repeatedly stated that the only diversity statement we need is very simple: "At Kutztown University we respect every single person". I am personally committed to building a truly open and respectful environment for all. At the same time we must recognize the rights we all have under the First Amendment. We cannot deprive a person to her/his right to exercise their free speech.

Democracy works precisely because it is based on dissent, on totally opposite points of view, on diametrically opposed attitudes and ideas. It is a very messy system, but the brilliancy of the Founding Fathers was precisely to recognize that only through dissent and disagreement we prevent tyranny. As educators we can make a huge difference as we remain or become engaged in making our campus, and our nation, a place where we respect all.

Picking up where I left off with the Division of Social Equity. The Disability Services Office currently serves 530 students, with an additional 230 students in the process of requesting accommodations. These services assist and support our students with disabilities to succeed in all facets of university life, as well as serving and supporting our faculty and staff with disabilities in their professional endeavors.

When a student with a disability is required to take an exam and needs certain accommodations, if faculty are unable to provide the necessary accommodation due to logistical reasons, students are able to arrange to take the exam with reasonable accommodations at the Testing Center, located in 205 Stratton Administration Building.

In the 2011-2012 academic year, the Disability Services Office provided testing accommodations for 1,805 exams.

The KU Americans with Disabilities Act Task Force has existed for many years and for the past two years has endeavored to make Kutztown University a veteran-friendly campus. As "wounded warriors" return to college, common impairments are hearing and vision loss, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, depression and orthopedic injuries. In conjunction with the Americans with Disabilities Act Task Force, we have developed a recruitment pamphlet and website especially for veterans, actively recruited veterans through an Admissions Veteran Liaison, revitalized the KU Military Club, promoted the availability of scholarships, included information for veterans at Connections, and partnered with a number of community organizations, which serve veterans.

Last but not least, let's take a look at the KU Foundation, led by Jason Ketter, executive director.
The Foundation is currently conducting Setting the Stage, the Campaign for Kutztown University:
Thus far, $11 million in cash and pledges has been raised toward the campaign's $15 million goal. The highest priority of the campaign is the Schaeffer renovation project. The campaign runs until June 2014 and we will move into the public phase of the campaign this fall at the donor appreciation dinner in October.

Last year, the Foundation provided about $1.8 million dollars in support of the university with $627,000 coming in the form of scholarship support, upon which many of our students depend.
The Foundation and Alumni Engagement Office has instituted college-based development with the initial introduction of a major gift officer for the College of Visual and Performing Arts. There are plans to add fundraisers for the other three colleges and intercollegiate athletics in the near future.

Philanthropy will play an even more important role as we strive to provide our students with the highest quality education at an affordable price. And although we have a capable and professional team in the Kutztown University Foundation and Alumni Engagement Office, philanthropy is very much a team sport and we all play a role in making our campus a welcoming place for visiting alumni and potential donors. Finally, the success of our students is perhaps the one single greatest impact on potential philanthropy, as that is why people invest in Kutztown University.
Outreach to alumni last year was very robust with the launch of the Alumni Networking Series-events held off-campus to help alumni network and provide the university opportunities to engage our alumni. For the coming year, in addition to Alumni Networking Series events scheduled for Reading, the Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., California, Arizona, and Florida, there are a series of tailgates planned for home football games, affinity reunions for Homecoming, and receptions surrounding events like KU Presents! performances. These events are used to connect alumni with Kutztown with the purpose of reengaging them to serve as mentors to today's students, use their spheres of influence to help advance KU, return to campus as guest lecturers or panelists, or to take advantage of the various affinity programs that KU and alumni engagement offer.

The KU Foundation and Alumni Engagement Office is enhancing the current level of outreach to our alumni by offering a monthly e-newsletter to complement Tower magazine called the Maroon and Gold Monthly. This is in addition to all the social media sites that the unit actively uses to engage our alumni.

Finally, to stay current on the events, progress of the campaign, affinity programs and the like executed by the Kutztown University Foundation and Alumni Engagement office, please visit their website. We are confident that the more our alumni and friends learn about all the wonderful things taking place on this campus they will become more involved and help advance the mission of this great institution.

As you can see, all of our divisions have made significant strides in encouraging students of the region to "Choose Kutztown".

I want to remind you that each and every one of us plays a key role in ensuring our students not only choose to attend Kutztown, but also in their decision to return every semester and graduate from KU. From the groundkeepers that ensure our campus looks as beautiful as it does, to the secretaries and operators that answer the phone calls, to the professor in the classroom, and the advisor behind the computer, each and every one of us contributes to the enrollment, retention and graduation of our students. And I commend you all for your efforts.

In closing, I want to share a quick story with you. Some of you may be familiar with it from one of the most popular personal success books in recent years "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," by Steven Covey, who passed away in July.

In the section called "The Two Sides of Success," Covey refers to Aesop's fable "The Goose and the Golden Egg." The fable, as I am sure you all know, is the story of a poor farmer who visits the nest of his goose one day and finds a glittering golden egg at her side. Though he suspects it to be a trick, he decides to take it home where he learns, to his delight, that the egg is actually pure gold. Every morning, thereafter, the farmer gathers one golden egg from the nest of the goose and soon becomes fabulously wealthy. As he grows rich, however, he also grows greedy and impatient with the output of the goose. Finally, in an attempt to get all the gold in the goose at once, he kills the goose and opens it, only to find nothing.

Covey goes on to say "the moral of this tale has a modern ring to it. Like the foolish farmer, we often emphasize short-term results (the golden eggs) at the expense of long-term prosperity (the goose). Indeed, it seems we are often more concerned with doing things right (efficiency) than with doing the right things (effectiveness). In his attempt to be efficient, the farmer became grossly ineffective --- he destroyed his capacity to produce the desired results.

My challenge to all of us is to do the right thing. During this time of continued economic uncertainty for higher education, we must focus on adapting with the changing times --- on meeting the long term educational needs of our region and beyond --- and must constantly evaluate our progress and direction to ensure our continued commitment to prepare our students to meet lifelong challenges.

It is imperative for us to always keep in mind that we receive only about 25 percent of our budget from the commonwealth. Our students provide 75 percent of our funding through their tuition and fees. Every time we lose a student, it impacts our budget.

With this as a background, I strongly encourage you to please take some time to review the strategic plan ---- our "goose" if you will ---- and ask yourself, "How can you help. How can you make a difference." There is no doubt, it will take the commitment of all of us to ensure the long-term success of our institution and the recruitment, retention, and graduation of our students.

As always, I am grateful for everything that you do. I am confident that together we will continue to make our university the higher education institution of choice for our region and beyond.

Thank you for your time. Best wishes for an enjoyable and exciting year.