By Meredith Dobes – Editor-in-chief
Reevaluation leading to change and innovation was the predominant topic explored last Wednesday at this year’s State of the University Address.
President Charles Middleton took the stage in Congress Lounge to present an audience of faculty and staff members with evidence that Roosevelt University’s newly devised Institutional Strategic Plan and Strategic Enrollment Plan and their initial pursuit is not without worth.
“We based our fundamental decision about how we were to address our future on either modifying and tweaking our current process or being bold and moving aggressively in a new direction,” Middleton said about the university’s decision to follow the ISP and SEP. “I’m pleased to say we had chosen the latter course. There’s emerging evidence that we’ve begun to reap the preliminary benefits of that decision.”
Middleton prefaced discussion of issues and merits specific to the university with discussion of the present state of higher education, in general.
He cited an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education which said that most institutions of higher education struggle with increasing net tuition revenue — the amount of money left over after financial aid — and enrollment.
“Last year, we decided to move boldly in a new direction and take control of our own destiny so it didn’t take control of us,” Middleton said.
Creating a more efficient system of operations, changing the university’s culture and modifying the way faculty and staff interacts with one another and students were the main endeavors he qualified as successful.
Data presented at the address showed that enrollment for full time students as of Jan. 10 was ahead of spring 2013 by 44 students, putting the university at 108.8 percent of its goal and marking the first time in four years that full time spring semester enrollment increased from the previous spring semester.
Middleton also stated that fall to spring retention of full time undergraduates increased in every college.
“We’re using principles of the new SEP in guiding recruitment for fall 2014,” he said. “The preliminary results are compelling. This year, we have many more applicants compared to this time last year, and more admits.”
Because of the successes the university has experienced thus far, Middleton told faculty and staff that the university “will be able to provide a modest one-time bonus to eligible employees this semester.”
He added, “It is imperative the ISP continues to be a dynamic and evolving document. The details of change are driven from the bottom, up, not mandated from the top, down. Ownership of the plan now rests solely with you.”
The ISP and ESP are in the first six months of their five-year timeline.
Middleton went over the five main goals of the ISP: creating campus distinction, enhancing the student experience, enhancing the quality of life for faculty and staff, increasing and diversifying non-tuition revenues and improving institutional effectiveness.
To continue the process of attempting to meet these goals, Middleton stated that the university intends to release a plan for the future of the campuses, following three on-campus forums early this year; continue to put “students first” by increasing institutional competence and efficiency; create a retirement benefits council and evaluation and goal setting system for employees; continue efforts to increase research and grant activity, provide summer services and build relationships with alumni and friends; and enhance accountability for all units of the university.
“You have my personal commitment to attaining these goals as the future unfolds,” Middleton said. “So, therefore, I charge you to be brave, be bold and begin.”
The Torch reached out to 46 members of the faculty, predominantly deans, department chairs and faculty members of the Board of Trustees, for comment on the address.
No responses were received.