KU President's Update
Dear Kutztown University Community,
It is hard to believe we are in the final stretch of another school year. Although the next six weeks will be some of the busiest of the semester, our May 18th commencement day will be here in the blink of an eye.
As we look ahead to the end of 2012-13 and beyond, there are several important issues that we must keep at the forefront:
2013-14 Budget, Enrollment & Retention
Contracts have been settled for all bargaining units, giving us a much better idea of our personnel expenses for the next few years. We also know that the commonwealth is providing flat funding for the 14 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education schools for 2013-14, and we are facing increasing health care, pension and operating costs. These factors, combined with our decline in students the last few years have left us facing a substantial budget gap once again.
We are carefully evaluating our options to overcome the fiscal gap in preparation to submit a balanced budget to the Council of Trustees in June. One initiative that is already underway focuses on recovering lost students. For the short term, we are conducting an advertising campaign this spring, geared toward high school seniors and transfers who have not made their college choice for next year.
For the long term, we hired an independent company to review our enrollment practices and make suggestions for improvement. We will be implementing their top recommendation of hiring a vice president for enrollment management. This new position will serve on Cabinet, report directly to me and supervise areas related to enrollment.
Although the actions we have identified are sure to boost our enrollment, we must all keep in mind that enrollment and retention are campus-wide issues. As higher education professionals, we must all do our part in making KU a place where students want to learn, live and grow. I urge you all to make that "extra effort" in working with our current students and selling our university to prospective students.
Faculty, staff, students and alumni --- tell everyone you know about Kutztown University, the many great experiences that our students have, and the success stories of our graduates. The future of our university really depends on us.
I look forward to involving as many of you as possible in our planning efforts and providing updates as we are able. The budget website will be updated with this year's information in the coming days.
Campus Crime and Safety
Last Thursday, we informed you that KU Public Safety and Police Services arrested a student in conjunction with the March 8 armed robbery at Deatrick Hall. That same morning, Kutztown Borough Police arrested a second student on campus in connection with an armed robbery that occurred in the borough at Briar Cliff Apartments on March 30, 2012.
Since this type of criminal activity is not the norm for our campus or the borough, the incidents and arrests received above average attention from local media. Nevertheless, I am extremely disappointed students were allegedly involved in these incidents. This type of behavior is not indicative of our student body and the many great things we do each and every day.
I want to thank campus and borough police for their continued hard work regarding these cases. Thursday's arrests should help in curbing crimes on campus and in the borough. Campus police will continue their investigation of the two remaining suspects in the Deatrick Hall incident, as well as anyone else involved with criminal activity. In addition, increased security measures will be the standard for the remainder of the semester.
Even though our public safety efforts remain strong, I want to stress the importance of always being vigilant regarding personal safety. While our campus and the borough are considered safe, no place is totally immune from crime. As more of our campus and surrounding community moves to outside activities in the coming weeks, please make wise decisions. Look out for each other, and be sure to report any suspicious activity to the proper authorities.
If you are interested in learning more about safety tips and/or crime statistics, visit the KU Public Safety and Police Services website.
Construction is ongoing on campus as we continue to make Kutztown University THE most attractive campus in the State System and the region for current and prospective students.
We are often asked how we are able to continue our construction efforts while facing tough budget constraints. We are very fortunate to have a budget provided by the commonwealth for capital improvements. These "capital funds" are separate from our operational budget. In addition, some of these projects are supported by private gifts through the KU Foundation. The location and the beauty of our campus continue to be cited as primary reasons students "Choose KU." Capital improvements are, and will continue to be, crucial to our recruitment efforts.
Updates on some of the current capital projects include:
*Schaeffer Auditorium --- this is the most visible construction project on campus. The renovation and expansion of this 75-year old gem is scheduled for completion this summer. We are hoping to debut it to faculty and staff at our 2013 opening day gathering in August. We are planning some outstanding events for the re-opening and throughout the fall in conjunction with KU Presents! You can visit the following link to access the construction webcam site to keep an eye on the project's progress.
In addition, the information below, posted following last year's groundbreaking, includes designs of how Schaeffer Hall will look when completed.
*Lehigh Hall --- this residence hall has been under construction since last summer. Internally, the complete renovation and upgrades of electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems are being made to the facility, including an updated bathroom area with more privacy. Externally, an elevator is being added to the facility. Lehigh will open in fall 2013 as the university's new First Year Living Experience Community, replacing Beck Hall. Beck will be dedicated to serving the living/learning community for the Physical Sciences and Honors programs.
*Beekey Building --- total replacement of the HVAC System in the Beekey building, as well as lighting, several minor space modifications and a new fire alarm system with voice capability for mass notification, will occur this summer.
*New South Campus Plaza --- The plaza, located on the site of the old heating plant, will be dedicated this fall. The area features two gas barbecue grills, which will be operated for events by Aramark, and outdoor lighted basketball courts, which are already in use by our students. A committee is working on the official name of the area and details for the dedication.
In closing, I want to wish you the best for the remainder of the semester. I trust you will all make the most of it.
F. Javier Cevallos