Sept. 1, 2000
A message to the campus community from
What a wonderful position we are in at the start of this academic year. So much of what we all have been working together to achieve is becoming a reality, and this wonderful University is rapidly moving forward and receiving the recognition we all know it deserves.
We're welcoming our largest-ever freshman class this week, and we face the challenges of meeting the needs of a student body that is now approaching 28,000 students. But we do so with a renewed sense of energy and commitment after a summer that has brought nothing but exciting news for WMU.
Just a few weeks ago, we learned that the new higher education classification system developed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has placed this University in its highest classification level-Doctoral/Research Universities-Extensive. Only 90 public universities in the nation are included in this elite group. In Michigan, only three other universities, Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, made the list. This is truly right where we belong.
All of you who have worked so long and hard to bring the University to this level and keep it moving forward have my heartfelt appreciation.
But there are many other developments that kept us progressing steadily forward over the summer. Our local legislative delegation gave us its full support during the state funding process and, as a result, we have a 6.3 percent increase to our general fund budget. That fact enabled us to keep our tuition increase to a modest 3.8 percent.
On June 30, we closed the books on a fiscal year that witnessed record levels of gifts and a phenomenal increase in the scope of our externally funded research. You'll be hearing much about those developments in the coming weeks.
Also, the development of our physical facilities is continuing as planned. Infrastructure development on our new engineering complex and business research and technology park has progressed rapidly. This fall, we'll be breaking ground on the first building for that site.
Meanwhile, as we begin the year, we are welcoming to the campus several new members of our academic leadership team. They are Fredrick J. Dobney, provost and vice president for academic affairs; Alan Walker, vice provost of academic affairs for continuing education; and three new deans-Dean David England, education; Dean Margaret Merrion, fine arts; and Dean Richard Wright, aviation. We also are starting the academic year with more than 100 new faculty members.
Finally, I must say that I couldn't be more pleased to be celebrating the beginning of our third year together. It's a wonderful time in the life of this University and a wonderful time for us to be working together as a community to build Western Michigan University into the place we all want it to be.
I know you've all been extending welcoming greetings this week to our new and returning students. Let me add my voice of welcome to some of the most important people in the life of this community-the faculty and staff of this University.