WMU News

President reviews accomplishments, defines goals

Nov. 10, 2004

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University President Judith I. Bailey presented her annual State of the University address today, Nov. 10, in the Dalton Center Recital Hall.

In her speech, Bailey outlined four new or expanded initiatives to meet the present and future challenges facing the University: an enrollment management strategy, the doubling of sponsored research, an aggressive capital campaign, and a program for resource allocation, including faculty and staff positions. This was the second such address of Bailey's 17-month presidency. She also reviewed the progress on initiatives outlined in her first State of the University address.

President Bailey was introduced by Dr. Linda Delene, WMU provost and vice president for academic affairs. The complete text of the 2004-05 State of the University address follows.

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State of the University Address

"We, the People of Western Michigan University,
Embrace the New Reality"

Dr. Judith I. Bailey
President of Western Michigan University
Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Good afternoon, and thank you, Provost Delene for such a gracious welcome. I would also like to thank Provost Delene for the energy and dedication she has brought to Academic Affairs over the past several months. Her purposeful guidance is reshaping the academy to be poised for future growth and success.

27,829 students

3,833 new beginners

5,830 new alumni graduated in this past year

3,631 faculty and staff

85 new faculty members

8 Trustees

We, the people of Western Michigan University, are a vibrant, intellectual community.

We, the people of Western Michigan University, are a community of learners, dedicated to the advancement of teaching, inquiry, and service.

We, the people of Western Michigan University, are individuals united in our efforts to work together, while ensuring that the rich fabric of our diversity is valued and nurtured.

We, the people of Western Michigan University, comprise a community that is exciting, resilient, and committed to moving forward to a future of impressive promise.

We, the people of Western Michigan University, are a catalyst for change in our University, in our community, in our state, and in our nation.

We, the people of Western Michigan University, have the honor and the privilege of working with our current and future students, the next generation of leaders, inspiring them to achieve.

We, the people, ARE Western Michigan University.

We live in times unlike any we have seen in the past. The external forces at work today have altered the basic premise of higher education's place in society and because of their gradual nature over the last 30 years, this change did not register early on our radar. These forces have now converged into a strong and steady perfect storm, leaving in its path a new reality we dare not ignore.

You have heard the statistics many times over the past months, but this message bears repeating yet again:

WMU receives only 41 percent of its general fund budget from the State of Michigan. Less than 25 years ago, 70 percent of that budget came from the state. We are now state-assisted rather than state-supported. The higher education landscape in the state and nation has permanently changed, and our plans for the future must change accordingly. Public policy and funding shifts signal that higher education is regarded as a private benefit rather than a public good. The cost of higher education is being placed squarely on our students while, in truth, the benefit of their education accrues both to them as individuals and to society as a whole.

Despite the statewide economic climate that has led to a dramatic reduction in resources for all of Michigan's 15 public universities and, in many instances, because of the difficulties we have faced, our accomplishments are all the more significant.

Commitments made ­ commitments kept

We, the people of WMU, honor our commitments as we manage our own destiny.

During this address in February, I made several commitments targeted to deal with immediate needs. Our progress on these initiatives emphasizes our ability to work together effectively.

Consider our commitment to research collaborations:

The cataclysmic changes in the Kalamazoo pharmaceutical industry and WMU's interest in expanding our biosciences research portfolio led to the creation of the Biosciences Research and Commercialization Center on our Parkview Campus. The BRCC, co-founded with a $10 million initiation grant from the State of Michigan, is designed to foster the development and commercialization of pharmaceutical products using the historic and continuing biosciences knowledge base long present in our region.

Already six new companies at the BRCC are showing strong potential and viable growth. Four additional companies are actively engaged in discussions with the BRCC. The Biosciences Research and Commercialization Center will continue to boost Michigan's economic development in the life sciences market sector, provide needed advanced scientific research opportunities for companies, and offer educational opportunities for graduate students.

We recently appointed Dr. Charles Nawrot as the center's first director. Dr. Nawrot has been an active researcher and entrepreneur in the biosciences area for over 27 years.

To further our commitment to research, in December 2003 we created the Western Michigan University Research Foundation. The Research Foundation facilitates, organizes, and protects the University's unfolding research and tech transfer agenda. It provides a mechanism for WMU to focus on industry as a significant source of funded research and enhances our flexibility to manage such intellectual property as patented technology.

Consider our new Student Information System:

In Fall 2003 it became clear that we could no longer meet our commitment to deliver quality student services and to improve academic planning and assessment without investing in a new Student Information System.

The SIS installation I announced last winter is on schedule because of the dedication of countless individuals, such as Matt Tomczak, Marcy Ohs, Jim Gilchrist, and Lynn Kelly Albertson, who are working hundreds of extra hours to install this modern information infrastructure that will support the academic and fiscal transactions of all students.

This new technology, allowing us to be efficient, flexible, and accessible, is a direct result of embracing the reality of our current system not meeting our student service and academic support needs, as well as not being in compliance with federal and state mandates.

Consider our commitment to intellectual rigor and academic excellence:

We welcomed 85 new faculty colleagues to campus this fall, and their contributions will continue the tradition of instructional excellence and research productivity at WMU. Among these are eight faculty members who were selected to strengthen first-year instruction for our undergraduate students and those who will enhance existing strengths in the research arena.

Dr. Michael Scriven, for instance, is an internationally known figure in the evaluation field, who has become a senior member of our Evaluation Center staff. Dr. Sherine O. Obare is a young chemist who came to WMU from a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University. She has become part of our growing cadre of specialists in nanoscience.

We have also initiated a series of changes aimed at improving the entire undergraduate experience for all of our students. We want that experience to be rigorous, vibrant, and attuned to the goal of fostering a lifelong love of learning.

As educators, we have the opportunity to instill in students something that transcends the career goals that bring them to us. We can infuse a sense of the real importance of education in society and a love of learning for learning's sake-learning for the sheer joy of knowing. The way our students approach new information and new intellectual opportunities in the future will be our lasting gift to them.

In February, I announced the launch of a new First Year Experience program designed to ease the transition of students to college life and to strengthen students' introduction to the academic, social, and cultural opportunities of life at this University. Parts of the initiative are already in place, and, by the start of the next academic year, the First Year Experience will be a reality. Students engaged in a First Year Experience program have a greater success rate in college-and student success is our primary concern.

The First Year Experience includes online placement testing, a reorganization of our student and parent orientation sessions, assigned summer readings, and a five-day August transition program for first-year students. We also will offer incoming students two-semester bloc scheduling with targeted advising, defined campus events and activities related to their academic courses, and an on-campus residential experience that supports responsible personal and social development.

We have crafted what we believe to be an inclusive and effective introduction to the WMU academic community that will set the stage for students to become engaged and active learners. We expect students who adopt these traits early to stay engaged, to move quickly toward degree completion, to become active participants in academic life and the University's research agenda, to be highly marketable, and to build their professional lives here in Michigan-a state eager for their contributions. The lessons that emerge from the First Year Experience will last a lifetime for our students. The outcomes of our work to improve the undergraduate experience will pay dividends for all of us.

Consider the current and future building growth on campus:

Erica Stout, a junior in Occupational Therapy and also a student representative on the SIS Team, shares her story of coming to campus as a freshman and watching the new Health and Human Services facility seemingly pop up out of the ground right before her eyes. Erica's enthusiasm for WMU is contagious and her success is a credit to you faculty and staff members who have guided her experiences. I am pleased that she will have two years of learning in the new Health and Human Services building starting in the fall of 2005 as she works toward completing her degree.

At long last, this important college will be united under one roof in a state-of-the art instructional and research facility, offering the students enhanced educational opportunities.

In the spring, we will begin construction in the center of campus on a new chemistry building. This facility, devoted to undergraduate education, will meet the needs of modern science instruction and address the shortcomings we currently have in offering our students a chance to learn this important discipline. Because the instructional needs are so pressing, this project has been put on a "fast track" with a planned completion date of Fall 2006.

Early next summer, we will start construction on a new School of Art facility, named for community supporters Jim and Lois Richmond, and designed to provide exhibition space for our students and to be a focal point for the visual arts in our community.

These investments in new facilities during a time of limited resources emphasize our commitment to the future.

Consider the Presidential Initiative on Diversity and Multiculturalism being led by Dr. Martha Warfield:

Dr. Warfield convened the Council on Institutional Diversity, which was charged with a campuswide review of University policy and procedures and development of a comprehensive diversity agenda for the campus. The group has completed its preliminary work, assessed the campus landscape, and made recommendations, which are now under consideration by various campus groups, such as the Faculty Senate. I expect to formally respond to the initiatives proposed at the beginning of the spring semester.

Dr. Warfield and her council have developed a wonderful vision for what the future can be. Ultimately, our goal is a change of campus culture to a state where we embrace, in the eloquent words of the council's report, "diversity that encompasses inclusion, acceptance, respect and empowerment...understanding that each individual is unique and that our commonalities and differences make the contributions we have to offer all the more valuable."

That is the outcome we seek.

Our new Multicultural Center for the University opened just weeks ago. Located in the Trimpe Building, the center was designed by students, in collaboration with faculty and staff members from across campus. It has already become a warm and supportive environment and a welcoming place for all students. This center has been a dream for years for our students of color and our international students. Now, it is a reality, and it plays a significant role in our drive to change our campus culture for the better.

Each initiative advanced because we, the people of WMU, shared a commitment to enhance the undergraduate experience for our students; to build a research agenda that fosters partnerships; to create a physical and technology infrastructure that is student friendly, responsive, and conducive to student learning; and to create a campus climate where all are valued for their contributions.

* * *

The simple truth is that to remain strong and vital, an organization must have the capacity to be responsive to change in its environment.

We, the people of WMU, must anticipate and plan for change together. Our students expect no less.

Over the coming years, we must look long and hard at everything we do, challenging all of our assumptions.

We have a 100-year plus tradition with some programs and services that will continue. Others are being reorganized and redirected. Others, still, will come under review.

External pressures and some internal forces as well will keep pushing us into a future that is fundamentally changed.

We face four major evolutionary forces. I will outline them here and describe the future commitments that will allow us to plan and manage change, rather than allow change to manage us.

First, and as was noted earlier, there has been a fundamental shift in the state's and nation's funding priorities, a shift that is expected to be a continuing fact of life in higher education.

Second, the expectations of our incoming students and their parents drive the need for more focused and responsive service delivery that will enable us to thrive in an increasingly competitive environment.

Third, we also face legacy issues associated with some older classrooms, laboratories, and residence halls that no longer satisfy the instructional needs, changing lifestyle, and study habits of today's students.

And fourth, the University continues to have increases in costs in daily operations, as well as increases associated with the need to support an adequate technology infrastructure and related communication equipment, including new costs for distance learning programs and the establishment of digital archives.

These four major forces and their associated financial and human costs represent a convergence of trends in higher education. Across the nation, universities face declining state revenue, high public concern about the level of tuition and fees paid by students, and elevated student and parent expectations for more responsive services. Educational outcomes, faculty quality, instructional facilities, and residential and campus life add more issues to be addressed. And finally, these trends have converged in a much more competitive environment for new students.

Just as we have built the foundation for our second century on our previous commitments, our plan for the next four years must be built on four commitments:

an enrollment management strategy,

the doubling of sponsored research,

an aggressive capital campaign,

and a program for resource allocation, including faculty and staff positions.

These commitments may seem ambitious. They are ambitious. But they are also essential to the new reality.

Commitment 1--We will adopt a carefully planned enrollment strategy.

We must have a comprehensive enrollment strategy that increases both the number and the quality of our incoming students. Western Michigan University must enroll a minimum of 30,000 students to be strong and competitive in today's environment. Our strategy must establish and achieve specific enrollment targets for undergraduate and graduate students, for students to complement our diversity agenda, for transfer and international students, and for students who elect to enroll in degree programs through our extended university campus sites. We expect to name a new Vice Provost for Enrollment Management by January 2005 to lead this effort.

We, the people of WMU, are the brain trust for the future of Michigan. In a state wracked by the loss of manufacturing jobs, WMU and our partner institutions hold the keys to the new economy.

It is critical to Michigan's future that we increase the number of college graduates-and those graduates will need baccalaureate, masters, and doctoral degrees in the life sciences, engineering, health sciences, the liberal arts, and social sciences. Our changing world will need entrepreneurs to grow our nation's economy, educators prepared for students who are technologically savvy by the third grade, artists and performers who enrich our lives and our communities, and leaders in the aviation industry who make our global experience safe.

I know many of you have felt strongly for some time that our best strategy is to cap enrollment and to continue focusing on improving the caliber of the admitted students. We are committed to student quality, and we will increase our efforts in this arena.

Fall 2002: 29,732 students

Fall 2004: 27,829 students

This loss of 1900 students cost the University $7.8 million. As a consequence, we lost valuable personnel, and services and programs across campus declined. Over the same two years, the state trimmed $14.8 million from our base appropriations. Knowing that major increases in state funding are unlikely, we must have a larger student body for the opportunity to grow our institutional capability. A student body of at least 30,000 will allow us to operate with improved effectiveness and provide the best possible experience for our students.

Let me be very clear. We are talking about carefully planned and managed growth with qualified students.

The human resources, technology, and physical facilities necessary to accommodate such an enrollment management approach requires detailed and concrete plans, the kind we have not historically designed. We will set 30,000 students as the enrollment target for fall 2007. The key component is an increase in size and quality of the entering freshman class. Other components of the growth will be increased numbers of transfer, international, and graduate students.

Our current faculty and staff numbers, of course, would not be sufficient to serve such a student body. I am committed to increasing the size of our faculty and staff, as well as to adding academic and support services, commensurate with enrollment growth.

Commitment 2--External support for research will double.

Our campus researchers now average $40 million annually in external funding. Important grants over the past months include funding for school reform, nanotechnology, mathematics education, physics, and international food policy.

The incredible breadth of these disciplines demonstrates our strengths as a research institution.

Nevertheless, we must double the amount of external support for research received by WMU from $40 million in 2004 to $80 million by 2008. This, I know, is a bold challenge to our faculty. The last time you were issued such a challenge was in 1986. At that time, doubling research meant going from $4 million to $8 million. You rose to the challenge and achieved that goal in record time-just two years. What I've learned about your talents, commitment, and passion makes me confident this can happen again.

Just yesterday, I learned of a new success. Our College of Education has been awarded more than $1.2 million from the Wallace Foundation to build student achievement and school leadership in Michigan's urban school districts.

Governor Granholm and a broad coalition of education leaders around the state supported this grant because of its impact on the state's public schools. Dr. Jianping Shen and Dr. Van Cooley from the department of Teaching, Learning, and Leadership will head this initiative.

Successes like this are essential in growing our research agenda to maximize and leverage funds in a way that will best serve our students, contribute to our state's need for economic development, and increase discretionary funds for academic program growth and renewal.

To boost our research profile, we will designate some faculty positions as "presidential research professorships," and construct a more extensive support environment that focuses on successful grant applications. And, we need to develop research specializations-niche areas in which we already have both talented researchers and strong educational programs.

Commitment 3--We will mount a new capital campaign

We will prepare for a new capital campaign that will begin no later than January 2008 with completion by 2014.

Although we have very recently completed a capital campaign that more than doubled the amount raised in the prior campaign, we cannot wait much longer to initiate this crucial effort again. To organize a campaign of the magnitude required, we will work to double the investment of alumni and emeriti in the University. We must identify new and stronger corporate and philanthropic partners nationwide.

As the University becomes more central to economic development, it must have the necessary private support to meet both its educational and partnership obligations. I am especially mindful of the importance of those partnerships in meeting the challenges that face our state in the coming years. Our campaign will allow us to deliver needed educational programs and related support services, as well as to provide additional merit and need-based scholarships.

Commitment 4-We will carefully plan for allocation of our resources.

We must have a detailed plan for how every resource is allocated in the coming years. That is particularly important for our most valuable resource, our people. More than 80 percent of our general fund expenditures are for personnel. If we are successful in tapping other sources of revenue, we must also be clear about the resulting expenditures and their relationship to our core educational needs. As a University, we will retain and foster our passion for and commitment to undergraduate education.

To that end, I will continue focusing additional presidential hires in the area of general education. We hired five such faculty this fall. An additional five will join our faculty next year.

Be assured, we will continue to deliver superior graduate programs in targeted areas with fundamental and applied research opportunities for students. However, we also need faculty and staff members who are skilled at helping students take life-long responsibility for their own learning, especially in terms of critical thinking and communication skills.

We must make certain we have the right people in the right places campuswide. In our physical plant, our instructional areas, and our campus living/learning environments, we have to clearly define the skill and expertise needed for each position.

Together, we will identify and document the fundamental positions for the decade ahead no later than January 2007. Some personnel needs may be dependent upon the success we achieve with the other commitments, but we will use all foresight possible to identify what we need to succeed in the decade ahead. Disciplines are changing and knowledge bases are shifting. Our future faculty and staff must meet these developing needs.

The focus must be on our people

There is a strong common thread running through the commitments I've just outlined. It is you--the people of WMU--who are at the core of each commitment.

We will focus on our people because we know we can count on:

Impassioned educators intent on devising ways to better serve our students;

Good students making WMU their University of choice;

Skilled visionaries planning the facilities and infrastructure that will serve our future;

Talented research faculty who strengthen our graduate programs and build our research portfolio in a way that makes us indispensable to the economy of our state and community;

Dedicated staff creating a supportive and compassionate environment for our students; and

Caring citizens who are not only part of our academic community, but also part of the larger community we share and with whom we are eager to integrate our teaching, research, and service missions.

The strength of our people will allow us to realize our goals. Can we carry out daily tasks in a wiser and more efficient way? Of course. That is what the steps I have laid out today are all about. Can we find people who care more about the well being of our students and community? I doubt it. As I look about me this afternoon, I see people who want for nothing when it comes to exhibiting a love for their work and total dedication to the cause of higher education. We can realize our goals because we have the necessary strength as a community.

Faculty face is changing

I have talked about the forces that are bringing change to our University. The simple passage of time is one of those powerful evolutionary forces. It is causing a change to the face of our University as we continue to see the retirements of longtime faculty members. Next month will mark the final days in our classrooms of 35 faculty members. They include people like Professor Werner Sichel, who will leave us next month after some 45 years as a powerhouse in our Department of Economics, and President Emeritus Diether Haenicke, whose tenure here, including 13 years as the University's President, has been a time of tremendous accomplishment. The list of retiring faculty really reads like a "Who's Who" of Western Michigan University during the last half of the 20th century.

New faculty are taking their places in our research laboratories and in our classrooms. They join the nearly 1,000 faculty members who are building this University with the work they do every day.

I have enormous admiration for the work of our faculty. Those of you who have devoted your careers to service at WMU enhance the stature of the University and add immeasurably to the learning environment. Last winter, I announced my intention to honor selected faculty members by using funds from private donors to establish a series of named professorships.

Today, I will add to the list of those honored by naming Dr. Christian Hirsch as the James F. Powell Professor of Mathematics and Dr. Nickola Nelson as the Charles Van Riper Professor of Speech Pathology and Audiology. Professors Hirsch and Nelson are outstanding teachers with extensive publication records and significant research accomplishments. They extend the reputation of this University in the national arena. Please join me in congratulating them.

There is another group of faculty members I wish to recognize today-those whose gift and passion is for teaching and whose work in the classroom every day continues the tradition of education started here more than a century ago. We must never lose sight of how central your role is to our present and our future. I am announcing today that we are reinstituting the Teaching Excellence Award, effective Fall 2005. This program offers annual recognition similar to our Distinguished Faculty Scholar award program.

And finally, I must comment on the work of our amazing staff. There is no other group on campus that has been asked to accomplish so much more with so much less. You have handled it with grace, with skill, and with as deep a commitment to our students as any other group I know. Please join me in applauding them.

There is a story that beautifully illustrates the caliber and humanity of the people who make up this university community.

In May of this year, our campus community breathed a sigh of relief when the members of Company A of the 156th Signal Battalion returned to Southwest Michigan from Iraq, bringing home a number of WMU employees, students, and alumni, who had served with their unit in the war zone for the previous 11 months. But it is something that happened in that unit before it was deployed to Iraq that caught my attention and touched my heart.

In April 2003, members of the unit were at Ft. Riley, Kansas, waiting to be shipped overseas. Among the group was Clifford Ferree of Mattawan, Michigan, who had been scheduled to graduate from WMU that April with a bachelor's degree in chemistry. He had missed the ceremony because his unit had been called up just days before commencement.

Ferree's sergeant was Paul MacNellis, a 35-year employee of WMU and director of landscape services. MacNellis and other members of Company A who have WMU connections made clandestine plans for a commencement ceremony on the parade grounds at Fort Riley. With troops assembled, Sergeant 1st Class MacNellis placed a mortarboard on Specialist Ferree's head and read a congratulatory letter from the administration.

"By the power vested in me by no one at all," said MacNellis, "I bestow upon you the degree of bachelor of science, with all the rights and privileges appertaining thereto." As the company cheered, Ferree crossed the tassel on his cap from right to left. It was a simple heartfelt effort by someone who, even far removed from the campus, recognized the importance of ceremony and honoring the accomplishment of a student. Paul, we're glad you're safely back with us and proud to have someone like you as part of our community.

I've just laid out a future that is one of change. If we accomplish all that we set out to do, five years from now, we will have a university that is larger, but one in which growth is carefully planned and every resource carefully managed. We will have a stronger, more vibrant undergraduate program and an academic community that values each individual and celebrates as a strength the differences represented on our campus.

Our students will move more quickly and successfully through our degree programs, achieve their individual educational goals, and move into the community to help our state grow and prosper. Our research achievements will be both the envy of like universities and the genesis of new economic development. And we will enjoy a new level of private support from alumni and corporate and foundation partners around the nation.

We, the people of WMU, embrace this new reality and will negotiate change successfully. Our commitment to our mission and our students permits us to do no less. Such dramatic change in such a short time is more often seen in the business community, so it is to management guru Stephen Covey I turn for this piece of wisdom. "People can't live with change if there's not a changeless core inside them. The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value."

As a community, we have that changeless core and commitment to what we most value-the education of our students. It will serve us well as the evolution continues.

Thank you, and good afternoon.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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