The coming year promises to be one filled with exciting changes for our University and, of course, many challenges. As we take on the problems, as we lament that we're charged with doing so much with so little, we could easily slide from hopefulness to despair and even to cynicism.
But there's much we have to celebrate!
The opening of the new Morgan University Center. Our beautiful new student center should be operational by the time students and faculty return from spring break.
New residence halls. Construction will begin this year on a 300-bed complex for single students on Home Avenue and a 50-bed expansion of married student housing at Emerald Hill. This will allow us to increase our enrollment of students who prefer to attend a university outside their hometown or who simply want to enjoy the full college experience.
Kick off of the silent phase of a major capital campaign. Our University Advancement Office already has received pledges of more than a million dollars. A successful capital campaign could result in more scholarships. It would also result in a more stable financial base and thus, decreased vulnerability to state budget crises.
Finalization and submission of the new compensation plan developed by a team of faculty and staff during the fall semester. The plan may lead to salary increases for many faculty and staff. We also will be launching an aggressive enrollment management effort to increase the number of students we attract and retain. It does little good for us to recruit students if we lose them by being unresponsive to their needs. Your energy and commitment to student satisfaction and service will be vital to this effort.
The Liberal Arts Review Committee will present its findings and recommendations this year, which will allow us-once and for all-to determine what our designation as a liberal arts university means to our curriculum, our identity and our marketing strategy.
We will intensify our efforts to incorporate the TBR's mandated changes into our remedial and developmental education programs.
We will continue to implement a new budget allocation model that will ensure funds are distributed fairly and equitably based on needs and enrollment trends. Though we still face an uncertain budget situation at the state level, we will be prepared for future increases or (worst case scenario) for additional cuts with the new budget model.
Our most important challenge, this year and every year, is to increase enrollment, and the easiest and least expensive way to do that is to retain the students we have. Thus, I ask each of you to make a special effort to demonstrate care and concern for our students as you serve them in the days ahead. A kind word, an offer of assistance or just a smile can make a difference. Austin Peay has been known for being a caring institution for many years. Let's make sure we live up to our reputation.
My second request: I'd like you to become more involved in campus activities. One of the strongest retention factors for students is campus involvement. Faculty and staff can serve as models for our students by attending athletic events, fine arts events, student activities, etc. The opportunities are many and varied. If you aren't taking advantage of them, I encourage you to choose those that might be of interest to you and attend at least three events this semester. You will be supporting our students, as well as serving as a role model for them.
I recognize that the workload for Austin Peay faculty and staff has been, and continues to be, heavy. But you seldom disappoint me. You seem to shoulder the additional responsibilities along with existing ones, and in the process both you and the University often are transformed.
I thank you for all you've done, and I ask you to continue working with me to make Austin Peay the best it can possibly be.
Best wishes for a great semester and a wonderful year!