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KU President's Update

F. Javier Cevallos
March 2012

Dear Kutztown University Community,

Spring Break is upon us, and we are nearing the home stretch of another academic year.  Before we disperse for the week, I want to update you on several important items: 

THE 2012-13 BUDGET

Governor Tom Corbett's proposed budget for 2012-13 has been an important topic of discussion over the past few weeks.  As you are probably aware, the governor is proposing a 20 percent reduction in commonwealth funding for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).  This would be another serious challenge for our university, after reducing our budget by $10 million over the past three years.   We are also still contemplating how to cover an additional five percent freeze for the current academic year. 

We were able to learn more about the governor's position last week when the Northeast Berks Chamber of Commerce hosted a budget presentation on campus with Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor, the Honorable James Cawley, and Secretary of Revenue, the Honorable Dan Meuser.  On Monday, I joined Mr. Guido Pichini, chair of the PASSHE Board of Governors and a member of our Council of Trustees; PASSHE Chancellor John Cavanaugh; and Joanna Catalano, a student representative from Clarion University, as a participant in the budget hearings with the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.  It was quite an experience, and I think we made a strong case for sustaining funding for our universities.  I am hopeful that our efforts will result in a better scenario when the final numbers are announced this summer.  As you recall, the reduction last year dropped from a proposal of 50 percent to a final total of 18 percent.  In the meantime, we must continue to promote the value of a State System education.

Although it is difficult for us to plan without definite numbers, we are working on several possible budget scenarios for KU.  We have presented our scenarios to select groups on campus including union leaders, the Strategic Planning Resource Committee and University Senate.  I also answered many related questions at my open meeting with students last week.  We will look for more opportunities to share this information with campus after Spring Break.  

I am thrilled to report that our update of the University Strategic Plan has been completed.  

As I shared before, the purpose of the strategic plan is to be adaptive and flexible to our needs and challenges.  It is a "live" document that will be reviewed constantly and "fed" with results and outcomes that will guide our budgetary and operational decisions.

The final version can be found through this link.

In addition to this document, each division has put together a list of actions that will help the university achieve each desired outcome.  Each May (starting in 2013), the university will assess the results related to the Strategic Plan, and will provide plan updates to the campus community during the President's Opening Day Gathering.  Once again, this is a rolling plan that will keep track of those desired outcomes that have been accomplished, those that are still in progress, and those that must be eliminated from the Strategic Plan.

I want to again thank the members of the Strategic Plan Task Force which called for representatives across every college and governance body to come together to complete the project on a short schedule.

In June 2008, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education reaffirmed our university's accreditation and requested a monitoring report due March 1, 2010.  After submission of the 2010 report, the commission requested that the university document, through a 2012 monitoring report, the following: the assessment of institutional effectiveness; steps taken to strengthen institutional research ability to support assessment activities and decision making; an assessment process for General Education; and direct evidence of student achievement of General Education learning outcomes. 

On March 1 of this year, our response to the 2010 report was submitted.  The Office of Institutional Research, led by Dr. Gil Clary, under the supervision of Dr. Carole Wells, vice provost, prepared a 40-page report for the commission.  I was pleased to submit to Middle States a report that highlights our accomplishments over the last two years.  These accomplishments are a testament that our progress is headed in the right direction.
I want to thank the members of the Implementation Team for Institutional Effectiveness for their efforts in helping to make this report a reality.  Most importantly, I want to thank our faculty and staff who have worked so hard during challenging times to achieve the outstanding results in the report. 

We are always hearing great news about members of the Kutztown University family.  Whether it is our students, faculty, staff or alumni --- members of the university community are constantly making a difference and making us proud.  While you can follow these activities on our new website or through the various social media outlets we have, there are a few "kudos" I would like to highlight:

*Dr. John White, chair of the Department of Art Education & Crafts, has received the 2012 National Higher Education Art Educator of the Year Award by the National Art Education Association.  The award is selected by the recipient's peers.   It is a great testament to John's exemplary contributions to the field of visual arts education.

* Kutztown University associate professor of physical sciences Dr. Kunal Das has been selected as a scholar for the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics (KITP), one of the most prestigious institutes for physics in the world.  The purpose of this program is to support the research efforts of faculty at American colleges and universities that are not major research institutions.  Dr. Das was chosen for a term from 2012-14 after a nationwide competition.  Only eight physicists per year are chosen by the Santa Barbara, Calif.-based institute.

*Our women's swimming team was awarded the Scholar All-America Team Award for the fall semester.  The award is presented by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America and is awarded to college and university swimming and diving teams who have achieved a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher.   The Golden Bear swimmers had a combined GPA of 3.42 last fall, good for seventh in the entire nation.

*Our men's basketball team won a share of the PSAC East title, and was featured on national television for several days after earning ESPN Top Ten Play of the Day honors for the buzzer beater against Bloomsburg.  If you missed this fantastic finish, please click here
Congratulations and keep up the good work! 

In closing, I want to wish you all a happy and, more importantly, a safe Spring Break and St. Patrick's Day.  I hope you will come back for the first days of the spring season recharged and ready for the final weeks of the semester.  I look forward to seeing you all in the days ahead.


F. Javier Cevallos