[Photo] IU Seal design imbedded in the floor in the entrance to the IU Southeast Library.
SEPTEMBER 11, 2014
Good afternoon everyone. Please let me begin by thanking you all for coming out to hear my first state of the campus address. I am extremely honored to be giving this address, my first as your new Chancellor, and I feel very gratified to have been chosen to serve in this position.
While my actual start date was officially July 1, 2014, as many of you know, I physically visited the campus twice since signing my contact in March, did several video conference sessions, was involved in several search discussions via tele-conferences, and also met with the state budget committee in June. From July until the end of August, Barb Bichelmeyer and I were involved in on-the-ground transition meetings with key local elected officials, key donors, community leaders, and various IU regional campus administrators. In addition, I have visited several important employers in the region, UPS, Ford and River Ridge to name but a few, to both introduce myself and to discuss how IU Southeast might help provide their employees on-going access to higher education. I have also met with representatives from Ivy Tech and Purdue. All these discussions are on-going as you might imagine. It has been a hectic first ten weeks here, but I genuinely feel that IU Southeast is poised to be an even bigger presence in our area and I can already see many ways in which we can grow and prosper.
As time is limited today, allow me now to talk about the state of our campus and perhaps a little more about my vision for our campus.
I deliberately did not give a state of the campus address a few weeks ago. I was uncertain of the direction I wanted to go with such a speech, still felt a little too new, but also really wanted to ensure that all of you had the opportunity to hear what I had heard about the campus from its leadership before I waxed poetic. So instead I invited the internal campus community, faculty and staff, to view a series of PowerPoint presentations, which demonstrated where we were as a campus. I asked that these presenters, leaders of various campus entities, simply discuss, in mostly graphical form, the current status of their respective units. It was an important day for us; we got to preview our condition and after listening to the presentations (and to Kirk Randolph’s singing), I was frankly reminded of Charles Dickens’ quote in “A Tale of Two Cities”: "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” Together, I think we learned a great deal about our campus and from the outset it is important to remember that the positives vastly outweigh the negatives.
We are a very stable campus. Our professoriate is strong - -we are known regionally, and not just in the IU family, for our teaching excellence, our commitment to serving students and our ability to achieve great pedagogical results based on sound research-driven underpinnings. The new faculty we have hired this year are a further indication of our campus’ ability to attract the caliber we need. Faculty senate and administration interactions have been helpful, frank and fruitful and I look forward to more of the same. We all understand the tenants of shared governance and I am impressed by the openness of the faculty and staff leadership to work together to make an even stronger IU Southeast campus. Our staff is impressive. Helpful, well-organized, and student-friendly, our staff receives high marks from our students and our alumni alike. We have facilities here that many institutions would give their high teeth for. We have an absolutely beautiful campus - -safe and modern - -two things prospective students want. We are located in a part of the state which is growing; where people want to move to or to be near. We are part of the IU family. This bond is vitally important since this is why most of our students selected us - -they want an IU degree. I want them to attain this degree at IU Southeast—one of the strongest regional campuses in the IU family.
Indeed, the degrees we offer here at IU Southeast, for the most part, are well-received and many faculty members have done a fine job to date in adding online and hybrid components to these already robust programs. Advising is thoughtful and helpful, an academic alert-system is beginning to take shape, and both internship opportunities and career services activities are sufficient for current demand. Our residence halls, or lodges, are, while small in number, impressive and luxurious. Our classrooms are well-equipped, our labs quite current, and our meeting spaces more than adequate. Our technological infrastructure is very, very, impressive and frankly is among the best of the regional campuses. Our athletic teams play well, win cleanly and fairly, and retain at higher rates than non-athletes. Finally, my administrative teams, from coordinators to directors to deans and then to vice chancellors are smart, swift and successful.
We are indeed solid. The foundational work has been done; we have achieved quite a lot in terms of placing graduates in the workforce or on to professional schools of their choice. We have awarded more than 28,000 degrees since 1971 and we continue to serve students from 11 Indiana counties and 6 Kentucky counties. We are thought of well in our surrounding community and word of mouth “talk on the street” is mostly positive. To repeat, IU-Southeast is solid!
Solid, yes, but we have work to do!
Our retention rates and our six-year graduation rates could and should be better and it will be all our jobs to make them better.
We have inched up to a 32% six-year graduation yield. On the one-hand our increase in this metric is good news. We are trending in the correct direction and given that we are largely a commuter-institution, and that our wide-ranging student body is quite a bit different from say an institution which recruits only “traditional” first-time, full-time college student types and houses most of them in on-campus dormitories, we should be cautiously optimistic about this measure. However, alas this 32% graduation rate is also what is reported on the FAFSA forms to prospective students and their parents when they select us as a possible school of choice. Frankly, at present we do not compare well to the schools we aspire to compete with.
Add to this metric the fact that our four-year graduation rate has never climbed above 9% in the institution’s history. I will repeat this; our four-year graduation rate has never climbed above 9%. This is simply not good enough.
Enrollment metrics are also trending in the wrong direction. Undergraduate headcount has decreased 6.8% and credit hour enrollment has decreased 8.1% over the last three years. Since 2010, graduate program enrollment has decreased 43%, with education experiencing the largest decrease at 49%, but with business graduate enrollment also decreasing 29%. According to the fall 2014 census, undergraduate headcount is down 2.6% from 2013 and graduate headcount is down 22.6% compared to census last year. Combined, we have seen an 11.2% decrease in headcount and 10% decrease in credit hours since our peak in 2011. Our enrollment declines must be reversed soon. Several consecutive annual enrollment declines have had negative impacts upon our operating budgets, and the knock-on effect is such that effective strategic planning is hampered by this lack of fiscal balance. Please remember that for every 1% decline in overall student credit hours, we drop more than three hundred thousand dollars in operating funds - -we are down by 2.8% this year - -and you have already received the memo on fiscal belt-tightening.
However, let us not dwell on the current state, since we will have sufficient time in the near future to work to turn this all around. Let’s instead talk a little about my vision, which I hope will eventually translate into our vision (probably somewhat revised from my initial effort), for the future of IU Southeast.
First, it is important that I describe a few things about vision and the subsequent dreams for our future since envisioning is really dreaming about a better future. Indeed others have written more eloquently about vision than I, so allow me to rely on three such writers to set the scene for us. What we will do together here over the next few years will be to dream about how we attain a new level of excellence at IU Southeast. None of us should be content with our current status; we should be excited to strive collectively for something grander. Helen Keller eloquently described the need to look toward the future when she said, “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision.” Additionally, Tony Dungy (I believe he coached a football team near here) has noted that “the first step toward creating an improved future is developing the ability to envision it. VISION will ignite the fire of passion that fuels our commitment to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to achieve excellence. Only VISION allows us to transform dreams of greatness into the reality of achievement. VISION has no boundaries and knows no limits.” Finally it would be remiss of me however not to quote an Irishman after these others. As we know actualizing a vision leads to a transformation, or progress. George Bernard Shaw has noted that “Progress is impossible without change; and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
So you will now hear my vision for IU Southeast. Please remember that a single person’s vision, even the Chancellor’s, only works when the team, the community, our family, comes together to make the vision a concrete reality. To that end, over the next few months/year we (all of us) will be working together in forming the next vision for IU Southeast, through a strategic plan. What I offer here today as the Chancellor is the visionary fuel to get our conversation started, and as such here is my broad-brush vision for IU Southeast over the next 10 years (2024).
However, please remember as I say, we are basically stable and solid, but with work to do. We will work together on a collective vision for the next phase of IU Southeast’s evolution.
Currently we are around 6,400 students. We have the potential to grow to 9,000/10,000 (a combination of undergraduate and graduate) in ten-fifteen years, if all the planets align. We have an impressive array of curricular programs on the books but we need to modernize (more on this later). We need to improve a number of key demographics:
Currently we have 180 acres and that is fine for growth projections on the main campus. However, and again to over a 10-15 year period:
We will need to change our philosophy about how we serve our students:
We will need to become more connected to our service communities:
IU Southeast is a fine regional campus. We graduate great students and we will continue to do so. But, we will need to dream bigger, to attract more students, and to accept the mantle of the best public comprehensive regional campus in the state and beyond. Together as we work on a new vision for IU Southeast, I know we will come together to develop a proactive strategic plan - -a road map to lead us to an even better IU Southeast. I look forward to taking the journey together.