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If you missed it: A summary of the Convocation address

Last Tuesday, Aug. 23, in the music/mass communication buildings concert hall, President Sherry Hoppe greeted a near-full house of faculty and staff for the annual fall Convocation.

Dr. Hoppe noted that five years ago this month, she made her first Convocation address at APSU, following six months as interim president, during which she spent much time addressing significant enrollment and financial problems.
Last Tuesday, Aug. 23, in the music/mass communication building's concert hall, President Sherry Hoppe greeted a near-full house of faculty and staff for the annual fall Convocation.

Dr. Hoppe noted that five years ago this month, she made her first Convocation address at APSU, following six months as interim president, during which she spent much time addressing significant enrollment and financial problems.

In spite of the major budget cuts and racial protests of the past five years, Hoppe said, “The positive far outweighed the negative. We've started a number of new academic programs, and enrollment not only has stabilized, it has grown dramatically.

“And despite inadequate state funding, we have made major strides in salary improvements, classroom equipment and overall campus beautification. And we've entered the world of online courses with significant success.”

Due to budget constraints, Hoppe had not published an annual report during her APSU presidency. Last spring, she decided to develop a small record of the highlights of the past five years. Passed out following Convocation, the booklet was designed to celebrate what APSU faculty and staff have achieved since 2000.

There's many reasons for Peay Pride
Using the successful Peay Pride campaign as the backdrop for her talk, Hoppe shared a few examples of why she, personally, feels such intense Peay Pride. Citing specific faculty and staff by names, Hoppe expounded on some of the reasons she takes pride in the University, such as:

*The new staff-recognition program.
*The outstanding concerts, art exhibits and theatrical performances by APSU faculty.
*Guest artists, stars in their own right, who choose to perform at APSU.
*Initiatives by a “retention team,” led by Dr. Harriett McQueen, which are proving to be successful in retaining students.
*The many APSU students who already are making their mark in the outside world.
*New graduate programs, including the graduation of 28 students from the first class of the weekend M.S. in Managementthe first recipients of a business master's degree from APSU in 20 years.
*A new Master of Science in Nursing that is completely online.
*The diversity of the APSU campus: With almost 20 percent African Americans and more than 5 percent Hispanics, we have one of the most diverse campuses in the state.
*Establishment of the interdisciplinary Institute for Global Security Studies.
*A million dollars more in grants this year than in the previous year.
*More than $5 million in private gifts this past year, exceeding the target.
*Nine completely online degrees: From zero online enrollments in 1999-2000, APSU now has more than 2,000 students taking online classes each semester.
*That so many faculty/staff are receiving service pins this year, especially those with 35 years of service to the University.
*The massive workload handled efficiently and professionally by enrollment services this summer. The Registrar's Office processed 3,188 transfer evaluations; financial aid processed $2.5 million for 1,400 lottery scholarship recipients; admissions processed more than 3,000 applications.
*APSU's financial stability enabled us to be one of the few TBR schools to purchase and implement a new software system without borrowing money or using TAF funds.
*APSU has the resources to award additional salary increases and bonuses later this year.
*With the theme “Go Find Your Place in the World,” new marketing initiatives reflect the University's new vision and depict the limitless potential of an APSU education.
*Student-athletes are winners in their sports and, more importantly, in their studieswith average GPAs higher than the general student population.
*The return to scholarship football, made possible by private gifts from fans and former athletes. Hoppe alluded to a major gift for the football program, yet to be announced.
*For the first time in history, the soccer team played on its own field this month.
*Campus renaissance, which includes a complete renovation of the McCord Building, a new recreation center and an additional educational facility at the Fort Campbell satellite campus.

Globalization of students is key to University's vision
In the second part of her presentation, Hoppe focused on what the next five years will hold. She said, “Guided by our new vision, we will build distinctive learning communities, where students can learn to live and work in a global society.”

Two aspects of this focus, she said, are why it is critical to expand globalization concepts throughout the curricula and, second, why selected skills must be obtained by all APSU students, regardless of major. These skills, such as critical thinking, communication and problem-solving, have been discussed extensively over the past three years, so Hoppe chose to concentrate her vision remarks on globalization.

She talked about increasing students' exposure to globalization through increased numbers of international students on our campus, increased opportunities for our students to study abroad, both of which are becoming increasingly more difficult, and the infusion of more globalization concepts within all University courses.

Citing a recent College Board article, Hoppe said, “We have an obligation to help our students learn and understand more about our global neighbors, if we are to replace conflict with collaboration.”

“One possible way to approach globalization efforts is through learning communities. I believe learning communities have the potential, not only to increase student success, but also to give us a platform for globalizing our students' studies.”

Hoppe indicated that learning communities will be a major initiative over the next few years, and APSU will be submitting a $1.8 million Title III grant proposal to help faculty and staff plan and implement learning communities in ways that will increase student persistence, student learning and globalization.

The ‘Net generation” is here
Toward the end of her address, Hoppe introduced the audience to the “net generation”people born in or after 1982, which includes 55 percent of APSU's students. Drawing heavily on information from a recent Educause presentation, Hoppe gave an overview of their unique characteristics. Net generation students:
*Gravitate toward group activity.
*Eight out of 10 say, “It's cool to be smart.”
*Are focused on grades and performance.
*Are busy with extracurricular activities.
*Identify with parents' values and feel close to their parents.
*Respect social conventions and institutions.
*Are fascinated with new technologies.

“Simply put, today's learners are digital and they are connected,” Hoppe said, “This creates a number of concerns. The Web is their information sourcenot the library. The high Web use and multi-tasking result in the development of short attention spans and the expectation of fast response time. Conversely, it doesn't provide time or inclination for reflection.”

What is the answer to reaching the net generation students? Hoppe said, “I think the answer is not in replacing traditional classroom instruction. The answer is adding online and media-based venues to face-to-face instruction…ultimately to balance the old and the new.”

‘Breaking news' at Austin Peay
At intervals throughout her address, Hoppe announced “breaking news:”

*Renovation and expansion of Trahern is No.16 on the TBR's capital projects list.
*At this time, it appears main-campus enrollment growth will offset the decline in soldier enrollment at the APSU Center@ Fort Campbell.
*University housing is at 100 percent occupancy with some students temporarily housed at the Riverview Inn.
*TBR recently gave APSU approval to offer a new graduate certificate in Family Nurse Practitioner.
*A new research-incentive program, which begins this fall, will offer faculty who write successful grants a personal cash bonus and a cash bonus for his/her department.
*TBR Chancellor Manning has approved Hoppe's unique request to go beyond the 2 percent equity pool limit by an additional 1 percent, contingent upon approval by the TBR at its September meeting.
*The University no longer will charge out-of-state tuition for study-abroad students.

Hoppe concluded her remarks with statistics regarding the low percentage of college graduates in Montgomery and contiguous counties in Tennessee. “With more and more jobs in the future requiring postsecondary education, it is hard to understand why individuals don't go to college and even harder to understand why the state does not support higher education adequately.”
She encouraged faculty and staff to remember that, above all, their challenge is to transform the lives of our students. Dennie B. Burke