President outlines goals for 2007-08

September 13 2007

(Prepared remarks)

Good afternoon and thank you for coming.

The title and content of today's speech were inspired by the Roman mythological figure of Janus. Janus was the god of the gates, doors, doorways, beginnings and endings and is generally depicted with two faces, one looking toward the past and one looking toward the future. He, also, being associated with gates and doors, was seen as a protector of interior security from external barbarity.

For a myriad of reasons, this figure is an appropriate representation of today's remarks.

As the Janus figure depicts, we must be forward thinking while also being informed by and cognizant of our past.

So,Let us begin by reviewing the past year for a moment.

As you assembled today, I hope that you had time to take note of the PowerPoint slides welcoming some of our new colleagues and honoring others for their accomplishments. It was a tremendous year with many exceptional hires and many of our colleagues across campus gaining recognition for their exceedingly good work. Congratulations to all of you.

In addition, we welcome a new group of faculty to our campus this fall and look forward to the contributions they will make to our community of learners. I enjoyed meeting many of you at the new faculty reception two weeks ago and again at the Foundation's faculty reception on Monday.

Together with me on the stage this afternoon are the representative leaders of our university community - the Student Government Association, the University Faculty Senate and the Support Staff Council. We also have with us a new leader, Gene Crume, who serves as the president of the Indiana State University Foundation. At this time I invite each of them to say a few words on behalf of their organizations. Provost Jack Maynard is also with us on the stage, and you will be hearing from him a bit later.

I'll call first upon Indiana State University Foundation President Gene Crume. He will be followed by Professor Virgil Sheets, chairperson of the University Faculty Senate; Kelly Hall, chairperson of the Support Staff Council; and, then, A.J. Patton, president of the Student Government Association. Colleagues, following your remarks please feel free to take seats in the audience, out of the glare of the bright lights.

(Following remarks by Crume, Sheets, Hall and Patton)

Thank you, colleagues, for your comments.

I am pleased with our progress on the Campaign for Indiana State University, the quiet phase of which we are currently in is actually an incredibly busy period and Gene is providing strong leadership in advancing the campaign forward.

Continuing upon our reflection of the past year, I would like to congratulate the entire campus on the success of our recruitment efforts. In particular, Kevin Snider and Director of Admissions Richard Toomey, along with the entire enrollment management team and the communications and marketing area are to be commended for their tireless work in implementing an aggressive array of recruitment activities.

This year, applications hit a record high and grew by 20 percent. Most importantly, first-time freshmen enrollment grew by nearly 9 percent at a time when our sister four-year institutions saw a decline in their freshmen enrollments.

This is a significant accomplishment and signals the second year in a row where we have experienced growth in first-time freshmen. Many of you have assisted in this success as have many of our alumni. We appreciate your involvement, and we hope the entire campus will celebrate this achievement.

During the past year, the physical campus environment has also undergone significant change accompanied by much progress in the redevelopment of our downtown business community.

The largest state-funded project in our institution's history, University Hall, was approved last fall and work is steadily moving forward. I toured the facility last week and was pleased to see the progress that has been made in turning this into a sate-of-the-art facility for our College of Education.

The announcement last week by the General Services Administration that a new federal building will be constructed downtown to house the federal courts and other agencies is also a welcomed development. This ensures that the federal courts will remain in Terre Haute in an environment built to post 9/11 security standards, that Indiana State will receive a wonderful facility that will be renovated for the College of Business and that the downtown community will benefit from the location within its midst of 1,200 faculty, staff and students as well as the new federal building staff. We could not have asked for a better outcome.

Across the street, the Cherry Street Multi-Modal Transportation Facility is moving rapidly toward its expected February 2008 completion. The attractive structure will not only increase parking capacity, it will serve as a hub for the city bus system bringing those services to the front door of campus.

The completion of the Hilton Garden Inn next month will also add a new dimension to downtown and our campus. Closer access to quality hotel rooms and meeting spaces will provide new opportunities for conferences and an accessible location for our visitors, prospective students and their parents, visiting faculty, candidates, alumni, donors and other guests.

We also continue to partner with the city and community on the arts corridor project, the railroad relocation effort and the use of public art to enhance spaces and stimulate thought.

A new plaza on the south side of Stalker Hall is almost finished, bringing that remarkable renovation project to completion.

Work is also underway on the new Student Recreation Center which will provide a new center for student fitness and recreation. We anticipate it will become a new hub of campus activity.

I also look forward to us obtaining the armory building on Eighth street. Colleagues in the art department may benefit from this acquisition.

Lastly, we will soon be renovating our life sciences and chemistry laboratories and building a satellite chiller to support these facilities thanks to $14.8 million in funding received in the 2007-09 biennial budget process. These much-needed renovations will greatly enhance these programs and provide infrastructure to support the state's life sciences initiative.

Overall, the university fared well in the state budgeting process, receiving an increase in our state appropriation, an additional $500,000 for the nursing program, full funding of the repair and rehabilitation formula and increases in our line-item budgets for DegreeLink and our learning centers. This increase in state appropriations, coupled with our improved enrollment picture and solid fiscal management, allowed us to once again address our priority of increasing compensation for our employees.

I would like to commend Greg Goode for his work in advocating for Indiana State locally, at the Statehouse, and on the federal level. Greg has been a tremendous asset to our university and we wish him all the best as he leaves to pursue another personal goal. Whatever the outcome, we know that Greg will always have Indiana State's interests at heart. Would you please join me in recognizing Greg for his efforts.

As we work to improve campus facilities, we are also concerned about safety, especially given the tragic events that occurred at Virginia Tech. I appreciate the leadership of Tom Ramey and Bill Mercier and others have provided in making our campus a safer place to work, live and learn. For example, this week our public safety personnel have been undergoing training on dealing with shooting incidents. Preparation is an important part of responding effectively to these issues. As part of that preparation, Indiana State will soon be launching a new emergency notification system where faculty, staff, students and other interested individuals will be able to sign up to receive emergency text messages to their cell phone and/or e-mail. This is an important addition to our emergency communications efforts. Please watch your e-mail, the portal, and the media for more information on this system.

The physical transformation on our campus is accompanied by many efforts to reform our curriculum and provide our students with experiential learning experiences in and out of the classroom. Our faculty members are to be commended for their work in building these opportunities. We have heard countless stories from our students about how an internship, research project or study abroad experience has changed their lives and influenced their life decisions.

The Center for Public Service and Community Engagement continues to be a leader in the state for coordinating these efforts. The progress we have made was validated with two forms of national recognition this past year. Being named to the United States President’s honor roll for distinguished community service was a tremendous honor. On its heels a few weeks later, Indiana State was one of only two institutions in the state and 62 in the nation to be selected by the Carnegie foundation for inclusion in both categories of a new classification of colleges and universities that focuses on community engagement. These honors reflect upon all of us who are part of this university community and represent the dedicated work of many. Congratulations to everyone involved. And lastly, we were named to the Princeton review’s best colleges and universities of the Midwest for the fourth year in a row.

We have also made progress in internationalizing our campus. More students are studying abroad than ever before, and we have faculty, staff and students participating in a myriad of international activities. The highly successful China conference we hosted earlier this year connected Indiana Business leaders with Chinese leaders and provided the background information each needs to successfully do business with each other. We are helping our Indiana schools internationalize their curriculum and have taken K-12 teachers and administrators on trips to China in each of the last two years to build their awareness and understanding of the Chinese culture. We also are becoming known as a leader in assisting institutions in other countries with reforming their educational systems. Earlier this week, we were pleased to be notified that we have received a planning grant from higher education development to assist the country of Morocco with creating a national system of accreditation for its institutions of higher education. I would like to recognize Gaston Fernandez, Chaqra El-Houcin, Jack Maynard and Brad Balch who worked with me on this project and in landing the grant.

Our academic offerings are also evolving as a result of the exhaustive program prioritization process the campus underwent last year. I appreciate the work of the committee that took on this formidable task and saw it through. The focus this process had brought to our curriculum will position our university for the future. I know it was not an easy task, and I know many of you spent countless hours reviewing information and developing recommendations. Your work is appreciated and will impact our university in ways that we cannot yet fully measure. I would like to recognize Provost Jack Maynard for his leadership in driving this effort.

Implementing one of the founding ideas of my administration, Jack led the effort to identify programs of distinction which merit additional investments. As you saw on the slides prior to this address, we identified two programs of national distinction, eight programs of regional/state distinction and seven programs of promise. During the next three years, we will be investing $1.75 million to build these programs to better serve our students, better meet the needs of our state and region and to enhance the reputation of the university.

So, as we reflect over the past, we see that much progress has been made. Our physical facilities have been augmented and transformed, our recruitment efforts are beginning to pay off, out academic structure and curriculum is being updated to meet today’s needs and our efforts to build a distinctive identity by providing high-quality, unique educational experiences to our students are being recognized. There is much to celebrate, and I applaud all of you for the contributions you have made to these successes.

But, as always, there is room for improvement. Looking to the future in terms of goals for this year, I would like to address five main areas.

The top priority remains recruitment and retention of high-achieving students. The market for new students is more competitive than ever. To be successful in recruiting high-achieving students, we must continue to distinguish ourselves by offering a unique, high-quality educational experience. We must aggressively market this student experience in a targeted, strategic fashion that best utilizes our resources. And, we must provide exemplary service to our students throughout all aspects of our operation. Let me stress- retention and graduation rates for ISU must be improved.

Our new vice president for enrollment management, marketing and communications, John Beacon, understands that there is no honeymoon for his position. He brings vast experience, energy, enthusiasm and loyalty to ISU and is putting together an aggressive agenda of recruitment and marketing programs. We look forward to seeing positive results.

Our second area of emphasis this year is investing in our people. Addressing compensation is critical to attracting and retaining quality personnel, and we are optimistic that we will be able to provide meaningful compensation increase next summer.

We also are committed to revamping our employee classification system and completing a comprehensive analysis of our benefits program.

That we could do what we did this year for salaries owes a great deal to the work done in business and finance. They make our projections and keep us in budget. I want to thank Gregg Floyd and Dianne McKee especially for their experienced attentiveness. I know behind them is a great team of people who make it work -people like Jeff Jasco and Dom Napote and their staffs.

While proud of our diverse student population, we are concerned about broadening the diversity of our faculty and staff group. I plan to bring in an external group to help address this issue.

We are pleased with the key hires we have made in the last year and look for successful conclusions to the searches we will conduct this year, including the selection of a new dean for the College of Nursing, Health and Human Services.

Our third goal s to continue to diversify our revenue streams. We will continue to look for ways to redirect resources to align with strategic initiatives. We also will expect growth in external funding through grants and contracts. And we will work with the Foundation to move the University’s first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign closer to its public phase.

In broad terms, the fourth area falls under the umbrella of planning. This year we will undergo the NCAA Athletics certification process. This important review of our athletic programs will be conducted in an open, transparent process led by David Wright from Student Affairs.

In addition, the other vice presidential units have been asked to undergo a program review process similar to that undertaken by the academic side of the house last year. Student Affairs has completed its assessment, and business and finance is beginning its process.

These efforts are important as we prepare for our 10-year accreditation review by North central which will take place in 2010. The extensive work already undertaken will serve us well in the NCA self-study process, but there is more work to be done. Against that backdrop, I would like to ask Provost Jack Maynard to address areas related to academic planning the implementation of our program prioritization, distinctive programs and number of other issues.

Provost's comments

Thank you, President Benjamin. I am pleased to have this opportunity to provide additional information related to academic planning.

Before I begin, I would like to reflect on our progress and how that prepares us for the future. We have been through several years where we have had to respond to many challenges – new mission, ITCC/regional campuses, state funding, enrollment decline, image confusion, etc. This has created, at times, great tension on the campus. It is understandable.

In the face of these challenges, we have made significant progress. I would suggest that each of us reflect on our progress and I think you have to acknowledge that a lot of great work has been done. This cumulative body of work gives all of hope for the future of Indiana State University. I hope you share my enthusiasm for the future and share my comfort that we are on the right track.

Let me know turn my attention to academic planning:

Last year we took several major steps that we need to celebrate – program prioritization and distinctive programs. I reference this Phase I and acknowledge our progress and over the next few months we should complete this phase. I know that a number of departments/colleges are making final curriculum decisions and those are working thru to review process.

I want to talk about Phase II of our academic planning cycle. This phase will include:

Developing an on-going systematic model to review of the vitality of our academic offerings. This review should be based on the criteria that we used for program prioritization. This process must insure that we have the process and procedures to determine the vitality of our current offerings, to make adjustments when warranted, and to support the development of new programs when appropriate.

This phase will also enable us to more fully articulate an academic master plan. We need to be clear on where we are going and to invest our resources in that future. This plan must interface with the campus facility master plan.

We also need to more clearly articulate the vision and expectations for each of our distinctive programs whether they are nationally recognized, state/regional recognized, or a program of promise. We are investing over $1.7M in these programs and the campus and the public has the right to expect that we will see growth in these critical areas. This fall our distinctive programs will be required to inform the campus of how they are using those funds to move the program forward.

This year we will also receive the recommendations of the Joint Task Force on General Education. This Task Force was appointed jointly with the Faculty Senate. The TF is charged to make recommendations regarding the future of general education on our campus. This work is critical and is linked to a number of our important initiatives, the least of which are enrollment growth and retention.

We also must begin the process of developing new programs and/or new models to deliver programs that are alignment with institutional priorities, state needs, and most important support the growth of enrollment. This is important for each college, especially our new College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services.

We must also address a number of issues related to structure. Included in this area are:

Creating a new structure to support the growth and development of outreach activities, both credit and non-credit. We need to grow our menu of programs in continuing education, workforce development, professional development, corrections, and international courses or degrees.

We need to engage in a discussion on the future of graduate education and the role of the School of Graduate Studies in this future.

We need to continue to work to align resources with improvements in enrollment, retention, course completion, etc.

We must continue our efforts to grow grants and contracts that are in alignment with our institutional goals and priorities. Last year we had a small drop off in external funds received after seven years of growth. We need to get back on the track. We can grow our production by $1 million per year.

We need to continue to align tenure and promotion with institutional goals and priorities.

We must restructure the International Affairs Center to align with our commitment to internationalize the campus.

The campus in general, and specifically academic affairs, must recommit to attracting and retaining a more diverse faculty and staff. This has long been an important goal for the University, but one that needs reaffirmation each year.

Finally, Academic Affairs must continue to work in partnership with the new division of enrollment management, marketing, and communications, and the division of student affairs to improve recruitment and retention of undergraduate and graduate students. This will continue to be the number one priority for all of us.

This is an ambitious agenda; one that builds on the progress that we have made and one that continues to position ISU to be the best comprehensive university in the Midwest.

Thank you.

President's comments resume

Thank you, Jack for your hard work in the zone between past and future for ISU.

Our last goal area for the coming year is in the area of engagement. There are social aspects, economic aspects and educational aspects to this issue. The recognition we have received is evidence of the progress we have made and the quality of our work. There is more to be done, however.

The new Center for Business Support and Economic Innovation, headed by Chris Pfaff, will help us reach out into the business community and provide assistance in meeting their needs. As part of the Terre Haute innovation alliance, the new center working in conjunction with the colleges of business and industry. Similar ventures are taking off in Lawrence and Hendricks counties with Indiana State leading the way. Higher education can be a significant driver of economic development, and Indiana State intends to fill that role.

The work of the new center will complement the important work being done by Nancy Rogers, Andrew Connor and the Center for Public Service and Community Engagement in working with the non-profit sector, city of Terre Haute, not for profit agencies and our students to further our engagement efforts.

Engagement also extends to our outreach work internationally. Social work’s role in Morocco comes immediately to mind as does the accreditation effort, introducing public school teachers to China - all of this is valuable work and reflects our increasing global engagement.

There are other important goals and issues we will face this year. However, the goals of recruitment and retention, investing in our people, diversifying revenue streams, planning (especially academic planning) and community engagement are the ones that will touch everyone on our campus in some manner.

This weekend, I hope that you will all have a chance to attend the Terre Haute Air Fair and help us in our student recruitment and alumni relations efforts we have planned in conjunction with the show. If the weather holds, it should be a tremendous showcase for our university.

As we look to the future, let us celebrate the success of our past as we continue to advance the university.

One final remark about Janus. Janus was considered the herald of the golden age- which leads me to close by thanking all of you who have made positive contributions to ISU by what you have said and done that helped build up the unioversity’s image in this community, state and the world.

Best wishes and good luck for a productive and enjoyable year!

I hope that you will now join Wieke and me for the faculty and staff opening reception in the Heritage lounge and Ballroom.

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Story Highlights

President Lloyd W. Benjamin III delivered his eighth Fall Address to the ISU campus, entitled "Reflecting on Our Future."

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