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President Gibralter's Fall 2014 Convocation Address
09/23/2014

Fall 2014 Convocation Address
Dr. Jonathan Gibralter

Tuesday, September 23, 2014
3:30 p.m., Alice R. Manicur Assembly Hall

First and foremost, would every faculty member who received tenure or a promotion this year please stand up and be recognized as your name is announced. Please hold your applause until everyone is standing.

  • Mr. Bradford E. Barkley from Associate to Professor of English
  • Dr. Paul C. Bernhardt from Assistant to Associate Professor of Psychology
  • Dr. Diane C. Blankenship from Associate to Professor of Kinesiology and Recreation
  • Dr. Sunshine L. Brosi from Assistant to Associate Professor of Biology
  • Dr. Jennifer A. Flinn from Assistant to Associate Professor of Psychology
  • Dr. Carol J. Gaumer from Associate to Professor of Marketing and Finance
  • Dr. Julie E. Hartman-Linck from Assistant to Associate Professor of Sociology
  • Dr. Farhad B. Idris from Associate to Professor of English
  • Dr. Brent C. Kice from Assistant to Associate Professor of Mass Communications and Communication Studies
  • Dr. David M. Kiriazis from Assistant to Associate Professor of Economics
  • Dr. Jeffrey L. McClellan from Assistant to Associate Professor of Management
  • Ms. Theresa M. Mastrodonato from Librarian I to Librarian II
  • Dr. Emily K. Milleson from Assistant to Associate Professor of Educational Professions
  • Dr. Kathleen H. Powell from Associate to Professor of Social Work
  • Dr. David P. Puthoff from Assistant to Associate Professor of Biology
  • Dr. Greg Wood from Assistant to Associate Professor of History
  • Dr. Lei Ye from Assistant to Associate Professor of Marketing and Finance

 

Let’s give them all a round of applause. Your teaching skills are an enormous part of the reason our students come to FSU to study. I’m proud to see you advance in your careers, and I look forward to watching you all go even further in the future.

Introduction:

We’ve come a long way in 8 years, and together we’re on track to go even further. I want to thank everyone in this room (and everyone too busy to be here today) for all of their hard work. Everything we’ve set out to achieve has been aimed at meeting our six strategic goals—goals we continue to review and refine, most recently in June. This all-encompassing focus has allowed us to ensure our achievements are much greater than the sum of our efforts.

When I first arrived in 2006, many people told me major changes were unachievable at our institution. Frostburg would never be anything more than a teachers’ college or a party school in the mountains. Academically-minded students would never seek out FSU as a first-choice school. Presidents had consistently tried but failed in their efforts. Institutional momentum worked against positive change. It just wasn’t in the cards. But that never sounded true to me, and I stand here today before a very different institution than I saw during my first convocation. Thanks to your hard work, FSU has changed in many ways. And I have to say, I like what I see.

Enrollment is trending upward at the same time that we are accepting better academically prepared students from a decreasing pool of students statewide. Our new facilities bring the state of the art to Western Maryland and provide the tools needed to best prepare our students to excel in modern workplaces. We’re implementing new programs aimed at increasing retention and graduation rates. Our new brand—One University: A World of Experiences—speaks to students and parents alike. Our FSU Foundation had its best fundraising year since the conclusion of its last campaign, beating its goal by more than 15% for a total of almost $2.4 million. We’ve made and continue to make great strides implementing sustainable practices on campus and in our community. Our efforts at changing campus attitudes toward binge-drinking and risky behavior have shown real success—just this past week on All Things Considered, NPR highlighted our leadership on this issue, which I’ll return to shortly. We’ve managed to improve town-gown relations in a remarkable way. And we’re on the verge of offering new academic programs that will completely transform the way the world of higher-education, and our state, views our institution. In short, Frostburg State University is the best it’s ever been, and we’re only just getting started.

Enrollment:

Our third strategic goal is to “Increase student quality and institutional retention and graduation rates while encouraging baccalaureate students to persist to graduation.” I’m happy to report that we are making significant progress here, and we have enacted new programs to redouble our progress.

This semester, we have the largest total headcount enrollment in the history of our institution, with 5,645 students, an increase of 3.1% from last fall. Over the same period, our first-time student enrollment grew by 7.1% to 961 students, and our transfer student enrollment grew by 12.4%. Our freshman class average admit GPA of 3.18 is about as high as we’ve seen since my arrival in 2006, as is the Mean SAT score of 985. Taken together, all of these numbers are incredible. Especially considering the pool of prospective college students from which we recruit continues to decrease. These data are strong indicators that all the work we’ve put into recruiting quality students is starting to pay meaningful dividends. And those aren’t the only positive signs either.

Our minority enrollment continues to grow steadily. From 20.6% of our enrollment in 2006, minority students now comprise 39.5% of our enrollment, and African American students have increased from 16.6% to 28.8% of our enrollment over the same time period. Having grown up in a relatively diverse area, it means a lot to me personally to see our student body become increasingly diverse, reflecting the society in which we all live. It also speaks highly of our university that we draw so many students up from downstate when there is no shortage of great universities around the beltways. It tells me we’re doing a lot of things very well.

Our University System of Maryland at Hagerstown continues to play an important role, especially with regards to our graduate studies programs. We have twice as many MAT students enrolled at Hagerstown as we do in Frostburg, despite the smaller facility. About two-thirds as many M.Ed. students study in Hagerstown as we have here. Furthermore, nearly half of our EDD students are enrolled through Frostburg’s programs at USMH. While it is small in stature, Frostburg’s presence in eastern Western Maryland makes an outsized impact on our overall enrollment and our graduate studies. And I want to say a special thank you to Mark Halsey, director of our USMH facility, and every faculty member who makes the drive out to Hagerstown to teach courses. I am all too familiar with the drive downstate, and I know it is not an easy commute. But I also know your presence means a great deal to the students you teach there.

Our retention numbers are positive as well. In 2006, when I arrived here, we retained 67% of our freshmen. This semester, 76% of our first-time 2013 students returned. This demonstrates that our efforts to retain students are paying off, and we’ve only gotten started. In fact, at the USM Board meeting last week, Chancellor Kirwan highlighted in public session FSU’s improved retention rate, as well as our positive results in bridging the achievement gap.

Academic Success Network:

Continuing with our third strategic goal, I’m proud to announce, thanks to the hard work of Dr. Childs, Dr. Hegeman, and many of their staff members, we are implementing our new Academic Success Network this semester. I’m sure a good number of you have heard or read about the Academic Success Network, but I’d like to share why we’ve created it and what we hope it will accomplish.

Structured under the Office of the Provost, the Academic Success Network will bring together the efforts of Programs for Advancing Student Success, TRiO Student Support Services, Disability Support Services, programs managed by the Assistant Provost for Student Services and Retention, and the new Center for Academic Advising and Retention. These programs now have a home in Pullen Hall in the spaces vacated by the Office of Information Technology. In conjunction with the launch of its own strategic planning process, our Division of Student and Educational Services has changed its name to Student Affairs. This designation more accurately describes the work of the staff and is consistent with how the profession is known throughout the country. Student Affairs programs formally located in Sand Spring Hall, such as Counseling and Psychological Services, will likewise relocate to Pullen once renovations are complete. These relocations will ensure our students can meet their needs, no matter what they are, in just one building on campus.

The new Center for Academic Advising and Retention in Pullen will serve as a sort of triage center for our students in need of academic assistance. When a student enters the Center with an issue, the staff will direct that student to the appropriate office in Pullen to find a solution. Furthermore, the Center for Advising and Retention will coordinate with ORIE advisors to intervene before students fall too far behind for assistance. In the past, mid-terms were the earliest warning that an advisor needed to step in, and by that time some struggling students were already buried in holes too deep to escape. The Academic Success Network will endeavor to rescue those students much earlier, in weeks three and five, when students still have ample time to salvage their semesters.

Through careful consideration and extensive planning, the Academic Success Network reflects a reallocation of existing resources rather than an increased investment. If it is successful, not only will we accomplish more for the same cost, but we will net a dramatic increase in revenue savings. Each student enrolled at Frostburg generates about $28,000 in revenue over four years. Every student we lose costs us the same amount of revenue. Our retention rate was approximately 77% last year, and our first-time freshman first-semester probation rate was approximately 23%. That represented a loss of 187 students between 2012 and 2013. Put in purely financial terms, those students we did not re-enroll represented a loss of more than $1.3 million in potential revenue in one year. If this new program allows us to cut our probation rate by 10 to 13% and increase our retention rate by just 5%, we’ll see 48 more students return based on this year’s entering class, which means about an additional $1.2 million in revenue by the time they graduate. By continually improving these rates, we’ll better serve our students and ensure more consistent revenue streams. That is a very good thing for FSU.

We have worked to make it easy for you to give us feedback, and we need your help and support. I ask everyone here to embrace this concept and offer constructive solutions toward further improvements. I’m confident that with all of our faculty and staff working toward the same goal, the Academic Success Network will make a great impact on our retention and graduation rates. These are incredibly important to our continued success.

Community Relations:

I’m not sure how many of you in this room know how far FSU has come in eight years repairing the relationship between our campus community and the City of Frostburg. I see many people here who predate my arrival, and they can all tell you how rocky that relationship used to be. The year I arrived, a Frostburg student nearly killed a local man after a drunken punch knocked his head into a curb, leaving him permanently disabled. Not only was that the impetus for me to start speaking out against high-risk drinking, but the reactions from the town showed me it was time to start mending fences with our neighbors as well. And thanks to the efforts of many faculty, staff, and students, our University enjoys closer ties to its home community than most college towns I’ve seen.

Our Frostburg Community Coalition has made a great impact on the ability of underage students to purchase alcohol in town bars and liquor stores, in part by providing no-cost training and helpful services to the establishments. The Community Coalition work follows the lead of Don Swogger and his BURG Peer Educator students, who for years have worked to address high-risk drinking by our students on-campus. The work being performed by the President’s Alcohol Taskforce and the Frostburg Community Coalition is extraordinary on a national scale. I want to thank Jesse Ketterman, Jeff Graham, April Baer, Lyndsey Baker, and Spencer Deakin for their tireless efforts to combat high-risk drinking in our community. A few weeks ago, an NPR correspondent named Jennifer Ludden drove all the way up to Frostburg from DC to spend the day with these folks and others involved in this effort, and the resulting story, which was broadcast across the U.S. on All Things Considered, has truly shone a national spotlight on FSU. I received calls and emails from university presidents on both coasts congratulating us on our tremendous success. Beyond that, at last week’s public session of the USM Board of Regents meeting, Chancellor Kirwan spent several minutes applauding our efforts and the positive national attention that story brought to FSU and the University System of Maryland. For those of you who missed hearing the story when it was aired last Tuesday, I’d like to take a few minutes to play it for you now.

(Hear the story here: http://n.pr/1wAYeHs)

Just this past Friday, the White House announced that Frostburg State University has been awarded a Drug-Free Communities grant. This extremely competitive grant will provide significant resources for our Community Coalition to address youth substance abuse. We are guaranteed $625,000 over the next five years, and we will be eligible to receive a total of $1.25 million over the next ten years. While this award is the result of the hard work of many individuals, I would like to express my particular appreciation to April Baer for her leadership and persistent efforts to secure this grant. With our team of dedicated professionals leading the charge, I know they’ll make an enormous impact.

The Sustaining Campus and Community Dialogue Series, hosted by Elesha Ruminski and the Department of Communication Studies, created a place for community members and campus constituents to exchange critical thoughts about the ways they interact with one another. By opening offices in the Lyric Building, FSU established a University foothold on Main Street, increasing our presence in the town, bringing students out into the community, and reinforcing our commitment to see Frostburg flourish. Our efforts helped turn a burnt-out eyesore on Main Street into one of the prettiest locations in town. And events in the Writing Center and the Lyric Theater help draw thousands of visiting scholars and students into the heart of Frostburg’s business district. Each year, Patrick O’Brien at the Office of Civic Engagement and all of his volunteers in the Braddock House coordinate a May spring cleaning that brings out hundreds of students to Beautify the ‘Burg. Over the summer, Head Football Coach DeLane Fitzgerald took his Bobcats out into the community to clean up the city, maintain facilities, paint benches and lampposts, and otherwise improve our town. Each fall, the University community ventures down to Main Street for our annual Block Party, introducing our students to the town and bringing revenue to local businesses. All of these actions add up to a much better relationship with the City of Frostburg.

In 2012, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding that created a unique joint jurisdiction between the FSU Police and the Frostburg City Police in the off-campus residential neighborhood. This was a monumental achievement. Until the 21st century, the two police forces could not even cross jurisdictions to assist in an emergency without approval from the top level of command. In creating this agreement, both University and City compromised. In that compromise, we created an environment where our students are safer, and both police forces operate more efficiently and effectively. The City shares information with us, and we share data and resources with them. In this process, we’ve managed to sooth a long-contentious sore point in our town-gown relationship. It is truly amazing what can be accomplished when both sides open the lines of communication and simply come together to talk.

This past year, something truly remarkable happened. The commissioners of Allegany County approached us with an incredible opportunity. See, when casino gambling became legalized in Maryland, as you might suspect, the law was written with down-state’s population density in mind. A portion of the revenue was to be set aside to improve the neighborhoods surrounding the new casinos. As anyone from Western Maryland knows, the only thing surrounding Rocky Gap is a state park, a forest, a lake, and a speed trap on I-68. So when the commissioners of Allegany County received an exemption to repurpose their new revenue stream for education, they didn’t just send it all to the public school system or Allegany College of Maryland—they approached FSU about creating a very ambitious scholarship program. From that initial proposal, the Allegany County Opportunity Scholarship was born. Thanks to the County’s generosity, nearly 100 local residents have received scholarships of up to $2,000 each to study at Frostburg State University this year, with more than $110,000 already awarded. This not only helps these local students study closer to home for a very low cost, but helps keep our enrollment up on campus as well. And you all know how important that is. The fact that the county approached us with this opportunity speaks incredibly highly of how far FSU’s relationship with our region has advanced in recent years.

Middle States:

Again, many of you are aware that the Middle States Commission on Higher Education is our accrediting body and that we are currently entering our next Self Study Review. As a former Middle States Commissioner, I have participated in the accreditation process both as the sitting president of an institution being reviewed and as a reviewer myself. Speaking from that experience, I can tell you that Frostburg is unique in that our faculty, staff, and students have consistently embraced the process. At many campuses that just isn’t the case. Our collective participation in Middle States helps serve our fifth strategic goal, which is to “Promote activities that demonstrate the University’s educational distinction.”

In 2011, when Middle States last reviewed our campus, they applauded our efforts, our openness, and our enthusiasm for honest and wholehearted self-examination, as well as our willingness to address issues raised during the review. That is a very important distinction. I want to thank Sydney Duncan and Randall Rhodes for volunteering to co-chair the Middle States’ Steering Committee. They, and the entire committee, have already begun their work in earnest, and I am confident that over the next year, our Self Study Review will thoroughly examine every aspect of our campus and identify areas in which we excel as well as areas in which we can do better. By the time our Site Chair comes to visit campus next spring, I’m sure all of you will have embraced the process as enthusiastically as you did in 2011.

Again, speaking from experience, the accreditation process guarantees our accountability in every aspect of our operations. It is a crucial step to ensure our efforts instructing our students are producing the outcomes those students deserve. I want to thank you all in advance for participating in this year-long process and for everything you do to make Frostburg State University such a great place.

New Academic Programs:

Our first strategic goal is to “Develop and support academic programs and student services that prepare a changing student population for an era of complexity and globalization.” We’ve been meeting that goal by expanding our offerings in response to needs in our regional workforce and those around the country as well.

We recently took a bold step toward the future—while embracing our heritage as a teacher’s school—by offering our Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership. This terminal degree offers working educators in Western Maryland and the surrounding regions the chance to advance their careers and better serve their own students. This semester, our third cohort of Ed.D. candidates was admitted at Frostburg, and the first cohort has begun to work on their dissertations.

The Ed.D. program is only the beginning—after all, Frostburg has become so much more than just a teacher’s college. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us the healthcare field is the fastest growing job sector in our country, and Frostburg intends to help meet that growing demand. We are in the midst of launching a host of programs in the health sciences that will eventually form a new College of Health Sciences at FSU. I have to single out Heather Gable in the Nursing Department for her remarkable work toward this goal.

Thanks in large part to Heather, our RN to BSN program has already enjoyed remarkable success, enrolling more than 200 working Registered Nurses intent on advancing their careers. This semester, we began offering a Master of Science in Nursing degree for BSN holders, which now has ten students enrolled in its inaugural cohort. Over the next few years, these will be joined by a host of other degree options from a Bachelor in Health Science to prepare students to work in a variety of health careers, to programs for nutrition and dietetics, Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners, and a variety of Master degrees in the health field.

Perhaps most importantly, in fall of 2016 we should begin offering a Doctorate in Nursing Practice. Shortly thereafter, that should be joined by a Doctorate in Business Administration in the College of Business, for which the proposal is complete and will be going to campus governance for approval this semester. That means in the next few years, Frostburg State University could have several hundred doctoral students. Just a few short years ago, we had none. That, my friends, is a game changer.

Once we are consistently granting 20 or more doctoral degrees per year and the Carnegie Foundation again reviews their national classifications, our Carnegie Classification will change from a Master’s College and University to a Doctoral/Research University, and we will revise our peer institutions. While that may sound like an administrative formality, our Carnegie Classification has enormous implications. Our state funding formula is dependent on that classification, and reclassifying puts our institution on an entirely new level. That changes our economic outlook by leaps and bounds and revises our institutional trajectory in a very positive way.

Beyond that, while our current Doctoral offering is aimed at working professionals, as we begin to offer degrees that bring students on-campus 12 months of the year, the increased year-round population should help support businesses in our local economy and attract larger retailers and service providers to Western Maryland. And I know everyone here will appreciate that.

Public Safety:

We, as a campus, owe it to every one of our students to make their safety a priority. Each of them chose Frostburg for their college experience, and it is on us, every faculty and staff member at FSU, to ensure they enjoy a safe campus environment free from fear, intimidation, or assault of any kind. There are many employees on this campus whose jobs focus on protecting our students and remediating issues that do arise. But everyone is part of the campus community, and like any good community, we all need to protect our members. I won’t stand for anything less and neither should anyone on campus.

One of the most visible aspects of safety on campuses this past year has been sexual assault, and the ways colleges and universities combat the problem and address it when it does occur. I’m sure many of you are aware that our own programs and procedures have been under investigation by the US Office of Civil Rights. We continue to await a resolution from the government on this matter. When we receive that resolution, we will rapidly address all of the recommendations the Office of Civil Rights offers in order to make our campus the safest place it can possibly be. But as we’ve waited, we have continued to further refine our efforts toward eliminating sexual assault in our community. Indeed, this increased effort predates the start of the investigation.

Back in 2011, I formed the President’s Advisory Council Against Gender Based Violence. The members of this council have worked diligently ever since to review our existing procedures, evaluate available trainings and methods to improve our procedures, and advise me on the best possible practices we can take to ensure our students’ safety. This semester, I’ve appointed Dr. Shawn Golden-Llewellyn as the new chairperson. We are still currently trying to fill two faculty vacancies. I am currently interviewing faculty for appointment to the committee.

Thanks to the Council’s past efforts, all incoming freshman have been required to take an in-person sexual-violence-prevention program as part of ORIE since fall of 2012. Now all freshman and incoming transfer students are required to complete Haven—Understanding Sexual Assault, an interactive online program that educates about and works to address sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking. This semester, we’ve also begun utilizing Step UP!—a bystander intervention program designed to teach our students to recognize indicators of incipient sexual assault and step up to stop it before it occurs. With the help of its new members, I know the Advisory Council will make a real difference in promoting our students’ safety.

Our students are leaders on this issue as well. The BURG Peer Education Network of FSU students, with the help of their advisor, Don Swogger, started the Red Zone Campaign to raise awareness of sexual assault on campus during the “Red Zone,” the time period from the first day of school through the Thanksgiving break, during which new students are most acutely at risk of sexual assault. This campaign helps freshmen safely adjust to their new environment, teaches about the importance of consent, indicators of risky situations, and offers techniques and tips to avoid such situations, recognize them, and intervene on behalf of others who appear to be at risk. Like our students, all of us need to proactively involve ourselves in the fight against sexual assault.

Many of you have already taken Safe Zone trainings to make LGBTQ and allied students aware that you are an ally to them. By speaking out against homophobia and heterosexism, you help create a campus environment that is open and welcoming to people of any gender or orientation. By identifying yourself to the LGBTQ community as an ally, you give these students and community members a nonjudgmental, empathetic space where they can be themselves without fear of reprisal or discrimination. In short, you help LGBTQ and allied students to achieve all of their educational goals at FSU. If you’re interested in joining the Safe Zone program and availing yourself of the training, I encourage you to contact Shawn Golden-Llewellyn. She’ll be glad to have you onboard.

FSU has also joined the “It’s On Us” campaign launched last week by the White House to combat sexual assault. It’s on us, all of us here to do everything we can to stop sexual assault on-campus and in our communities. It’s on us to recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault, to identify situations in which sexual assault may occur, to intervene in situations where consent has not or cannot be given, and to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.  

Predating the “It’s On Us” campaign, yet in support of the same goal, every faculty and staff member at FSU is required to complete a mandatory sexual harassment training course and to complete periodic refresher courses during their employment. I sincerely hope that each of you give these courses your complete attention, because they are incredibly important. As we move forward, these courses will become more interactive and gain in complexity. I understand these are online courses, but in an era where degrees can be obtained entirely online, we can ill afford to flippantly breeze through them. The courses explain in detail your obligations to your students, and you need to know that information to best protect them. Under Maryland state law, nearly every single person in this room is a mandatory reporter for child abuse. And under federal law, nearly everyone is a mandatory reporter on sexual assault as well. It is your moral and legal responsibility to know these issues inside and out. We will provide the training you need to learn all about them. Very few topics have such broad-reaching, important real-world implications.

I know sexual assault can seem like an intractable problem, but that just means we need to work even more diligently. It’s not in our spirit to throw in the towel just because something seems hard. After all, look at everything we’ve accomplished in the fight against high-risk drinking at Frostburg. We are a national leader in that regard, and it has made FSU a safer place. I know you can take on this problem as well. We owe it to our students.

Salaries:

Let me change directions for a moment and talk about our fourth strategic goal, which is to recruit and retain diverse and talented faculty and staff committed to student learning and University goals.

In its efforts to create a more diverse employee base, the Office of Human Resources is in the process of updating its minority recruitment efforts. It has also implemented a number of new retention efforts including the Employee of the Month program, the new employee “buddy program” that pairs new hires with experienced faculty or staff, and the FSU Employee Development & Leadership Series, which began with a cohort of 10 for the 2014-15 year.

I know as well as every single person in this room that one of the most important initiatives we can undertake to support this goal is to develop an ongoing strategy to raise faculty and staff salaries as appropriate. As we slowly emerge from the 2008 recession and its aftermath, this is one of my most important goals as president of FSU. You all have worked tremendously hard to maintain standards of academic excellence here at Frostburg, and indeed, to set even higher standards. You deserve to be compensated appropriately for your efforts. I was pleased to see merit pay increases of 2.5% back on July 1 to start the fiscal year, and I look forward to everyone receiving their 2% Cost of Living Adjustment on the first of January. Moving forward, salary reviews and increases as warranted will be a top priority.

The good news is that we are on track to achieve this goal. However, to make the case to our leadership in the statehouse, we need our enrollment to continue breaking records. This fall we have one of our largest and best-qualified freshmen classes in years, and record total enrollment. If we can maintain, or better yet, build upon this momentum, we will have the standing we need to increase our budget and work toward our goal of market-based, consistently competitive salaries. Nothing will make me happier.

New Facilities:

Our second strategic goal is to enhance facilities and the campus environment in order to support and reinforce student learning. While we still have a way to go, we’ve made tremendous strides in support of this goal.

Even though we don’t officially cut the ribbon until tomorrow afternoon, I hope everyone here has gotten at least a peek at our new Center for Communications and Information Technology. Many of you have already gotten cozy in your new office or department spaces. And everyone who’s gotten a glimpse of it knows that CCIT marks the beginning of a new era at Frostburg State University—an era marked by incredible professionalism and cutting-edge facilities, much as the Compton Science Center and the Performing Arts Center did in years past. I want to personally invite everyone here to join us tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 in the CCIT to cut the ribbon and tour this marvel of modern education.

And CCIT is far from the only change to our campus this semester. Our academics and athletes alike are fortunate to have a new state of the art athletic training facility in our Physical Education building. There, our athletes and academics can coordinate training and research to remain healthy and competitive all semester long. And that’s not their only upgrade this semester. Thanks to auxiliary funding—which unfortunately cannot be used for academic programming or salary increases—our Bobcat Stadium has received some long-overdue changes as well. Our new facility is one that Bobcats are proud to call their own. It is well-suited to hosting donors and the families of our athletes to raise funds for all of our sports, and will allow sports reporters to properly cover our games. Beyond that, the structure now includes field-side facilities for our Bobcats. As our new head coach DeLane Fitzgerald builds our football team up to be the competitive monster we all know they can be, our Bobcats will work themselves into shape in the shadow of a structure that clearly demonstrates to them all of our hopes and great expectations.

Already this fall, our Bobcats are a roaring success. Our football team is off to its best start since 1999, winning its first two games and dropping the third only in a close contest against undefeated Utica. Come cheer them on this Saturday when they host St. John Fisher at one o’clock in Bobcat Stadium.

Women’s Volleyball is also playing phenomenally, just coming off of a seven-game winning streak, including four straight victories during the FSU Tournament Weekend to win the tournament.

And both of our soccer teams are doing great as well. Men’s soccer has a record of four wins, two ties, and only one loss. Incredibly, the men shut out their opponents in all four victories. Come cheer them as they take on the team from Hood tomorrow at seven o’clock in Bobcat Stadium. And as impressive as our men’s team has been playing, our women are doing even better. With a record of five wins, two ties, and only one loss, including four shutout victories of their own, it seems like Women’s Soccer is on the right track to bring home the national championship Senior Stephanie Fazenbaker promised me earlier this year. Come cheer for them tonight as they take on McDaniel at seven o’clock in Bobcat Stadium. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has in store for all of our teams. This truly is a new era for FSU Athletics.

But before long, another round of construction will begin on campus. The building that currently serves as our FSU Police headquarters was never intended to serve such a role. As it was designed as a schoolhouse, it lacks many features that a police force needs to best serve and protect our campus community. Our University Police have done a remarkable job of operating out of this substandard space for decades, but we are finally preparing to break ground on a dedicated, purpose-built Public Safety Building. This new facility will feature more-secure space to store firearms and other dangerous equipment, modern communications equipment to better coordinate with other area law enforcement units, better-secured infrastructure, proper locker room facilities for men and women, building surveillance for critical areas, and a host of other accommodations for the men and women who protect us. It will even feature space to house our incredibly successful student-run SafeRide program. When this new Public Safety Building is complete, our University Police officers will have the tools they need to earn full accreditation and best protect everyone on campus.

Again, our first strategic goal is to develop and support academic programs and student services that prepare a changing student population for an era of complexity and globalization. We’re fortunate that for the first time ever, in support of that goal, our Education and Health Sciences Center has found a place in the governor’s budget for Fiscal Year 2019. We still would love to find a way to see it constructed sooner, but knowing the building is budgeted is a meaningful victory. When the building goes up in a few short years, it will serve as the home for the new Colleges of Health Sciences and Education. It will also integrate the replacement for our 50-year-old Brady Health Center, originally built to serve a student population only a quarter the size of our current enrollment. Better adapted to modern medical equipment, the new Health Center will mean expanded and improved on-campus health services for our students. With the new College of Health Sciences, FSU will continue to expand in a need-driven, responsible manner. Our region needs quality healthcare providers, and we are uniquely suited to educate them in a community that stands ready to hire them when they graduate.

While it’s not quite a new facility, Frostburg Grows: Grow it Local Greenhouse Project continues to amaze. If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, you really ought to go have a look. Located on an unused strip mine site that once housed surplus FEMA trailers, this innovative greenhouse and shade house complex trains students and community members in sustainable, extended-season farming, produces locally grown food sold in the community and utilized on campus, and also raises tree seedlings for reforestation projects. In short, it took what was once blight on our region’s landscape and turned it into a model for affordable, sustainable agriculture that can be duplicated anywhere in the Appalachians. While the project leaders are currently searching for sustainable sources of funding to continue Frostburg Grows, having seen their abilities to scrounge, repurpose, and recycle materials to do more with less, I’m confident they will find a way to persevere.

If you’ve eaten on campus this semester, you’ve no doubt noticed some of the many changes wrought in Appalachian Station and Chesapeake Hall by Chartwells, our new food service provider. In addition to integrating produce from the Frostburg Grows greenhouses, Chartwells has completely renovated all of the food service stations on campus and implemented sustainable practices in their operations. Thanks to their work, we now have a fully equipped Moe’s Southwest Grill (Welcome to Moe’s!), the Create salad and wrap station, Innovation Kitchen Maryland for exhibition cooking, 2mato for Italian food, and Grillnation for burgers and fries, as well as our ever-popular Chick-fil-A. Along with all the renovations to our dining hall—if you haven’t been in to visit lately, it really does look like a world of dining experiences—Outtakes now provides a variety of grab & go meal options for all the hungry students running late to classes. And if you didn’t notice the email from HR last week, I want to point out that every Friday during the academic year Chartwells is running a $6 lunch and dinner special in the Chesapeake Dining Hall for faculty and staff. That’s sounds like a heck of a deal for fresh delicious food with a chance to break bread with our students and talk with them outside of a classroom or office. Beyond that, in just a few short weeks we’re going to have a full-fledged Subway restaurant in Sowers Hall where Sub Zero used to be.

Final Thoughts:

I hope my remarks have provided you with some insight into the progress we are making in many areas. This occasion also provides us, as a university community, the opportunity to reflect on the difference we are making in the lives of our most important stakeholders—our students. I believe that we are beginning to fulfill the challenge that we outline in our mission statement—to prepare future leaders to meet the challenges of a complex and global society. Not only have we seen an exponential growth in our study abroad programs, we also had a record enrollment of international students this fall. The more our students have an opportunity to experience another culture—through travel or here on our own campus—the more they will begin to understand that there are other perspectives of the world. And their ability to work effectively in a global economy will be greatly enhanced by this understanding. I am encouraged by the increased use of our leadership competency model, and the emphasis that it places on global leadership.

As we prepare our students to work in this complex and global society, we can take advantage of the research being performed by the Gallup organization that provides us insight into those experiences that are most predictive of professional success. Tom Friedman in a recent NY Times op-ed quotes Brandon Busteed, Executive Director of Gallup Education, who states that graduates who had someone "who cared about them as a person—or had a mentor who encouraged their goals and dreams and/or had an internship where they applied what they were learning—were twice as likely to be engaged with their work and thriving in their overall well-being." The most recent edition of Profile featured four recent graduates who reflected on the impact their mentors here had on their success. Many of us have always intuitively understood the difference that a mentor can make. This research also provides evidence that the emphasis we are placing on experiential learning will have a great impact on our students’ engagement with their careers. Experiences such as internships, study abroad, undergraduate research, leadership, and civic engagement will assist our students to become professionals who will not only be prepared to make a living, but will also understand how to balance their careers with personal lives filled with meaning and purpose.

Legacy:

Of course, even with all the new construction and changes on campus, by the time my tenure at FSU someday draws to a close, I have sneaking suspicion the change I’ll be best remembered for will happen this spring: bringing Starbucks back to campus.

And now, allow me to present our

2014 FSU STAFF AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE
AWARD WINNERS
Exempt Employee:

 

Blair Knouse

Blair began his employment at FSU in 2013 as the Chemistry Department’s Lab Manager.

During his short time in the position, Blair has become a very valuable asset to the Chemistry Department.  Not only because of his efficiency, has he taken the extra time to truly listen to others.  His ability to listen and his attention to detail ensures that proper equipment and supplies are purchased and maintained.

On campus Blair is the Advisor for the Music Department’s Phi Mu Alpha Fraternity.  Off campus he serves as president of the Frostburg Arion Band and plays the flute in the band.

Blair’s commitment to the development of FSU’s students through his dedicated service to the Chemistry Department coupled with his on and off campus activities showcase his exemplary service to the campus and community.

 

Nonexempt Employee:
 
Linda Lewis

Linda has been a dedicated FSU employee for the past 15 years.  She is currently the Executive Administrative Assistant for the Office of the Dean in the College of Education.

Linda is diligent, thoughtful and prompt in responding to the needs of the Dean’s Office.  She is an invaluable resource in the day-to-day operations of the Office.

Concern for the wellbeing of FSU’s students is easily witnessed through her organization of events that directly benefit students.  One manifestation of this, but certainly not the only one, is her generosity organizing a “hat, scarf and mitten drive” during the cold Frostburg winter season.

Dedicated to the wellbeing of others along with her high standards of professionalism clearly highlight her service at FSU.

Nonexempt Employee/Facilities/Maintenance:
 
Alan "Ike" Eichhorn

Ike has been employed at FSU for 34 years, the past 18 years as a Locksmith.

Working as a locksmith since 1995, it’s safe to say that Ike has opened doors in every building on the FSU campus, even installing brand-new locks and issuing the first keys for our newest facilities.

Devoted to community service, Ike volunteered on a missions trip to Haiti after a devastating earthquake in 2010.  Over the years he has served his church in various capacities, been a member of the Frostburg Fire Department and assisted as a “searcher” with the Western Maryland Crime Scene Investigators under the direction of the Maryland State Police.

Ike has gone above and beyond in his efforts and sets a great example for others.

 

 

 

 

Web Address for More Information: http://www.frostburg.edu/fsu/assets/File/Administration/president/Presidents_Fall_Convocation_9-23-14.pdf

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