Greetings! I hope everyone has settled in comfortably over the past few weeks as we ushered in the new academic year. As we welcome the fall season in all its glory, I want to share with you brief, but important updates this semester:
This fall semester, Kutztown University is facing a problem of serious magnitude. For the second straight year, the university has experienced a drop in enrollment.
Almost 300 students have made the decision not to come back to KU to continue their education for this fall semester. While we realize many of our sister institutions and private universities within our region are facing the same situation, the drop we are experiencing this year is much larger than we have had in the past.
Upon learning of this, we immediately identified the students and called them to determine their status and/or reasons for not returning. Although we are still evaluating the information we have gathered, it is evident that we need to become more effective at retaining our students.
As I stated at our opening day gathering, each student we lose seriously impacts our budget. With only 20 percent of funding coming from the commonwealth, and with our operating budget based on our year-to-year enrollment, the student body is our lifeblood.
As a result of this enrollment loss, we face a shortfall of $3 million on top of the reductions we have already made. I have decided to cover this gap with carry over funds on a one time basis to meet the deficit in the current year. Although this is only a temporary solution, it will provide us with time to thoughtfully consider base budget reductions, beginning next year, in the context of our mission.
I want to stress the importance of our role in student retention. We all need to go above and beyond to assist our students in persisting and graduating from KU. It is crucial to the future of our university and the region.
I urge you all to put our students first, and do whatever you can to make KU a place they will take great pride in. It is really going to take each and every one of us to help KU overcome this challenge in the future.
An exciting initiative that ties in to our retention efforts is the Equity ScoreCard, a PASSHE wide effort partnered with the Center for Urban Education (University of Southern California), that aims to achieve equity in educational outcomes for all underrepresented student groups.
At KU, a group of 10 members representing diverse areas and co-chaired by drs. Deryl Johnson and Gil Clary, have worked together since January with the goal to increase the enrollment of African-American students.
They have done extensive research, and their findings are quite interesting, such as the complicated process our students need to follow when registering for the first time; the importance of collaboration among offices or departments that facilitate the enrollment of new students; and the need to reorganize the information on the financial aid and scholarship website.
A set of 11 recommendations have been presented, and are now exploring the viability of their implementation.
I want to thank the team for their hard work, and acknowledge the important task they have underway, as they will review three more stages: Retention and Persistence, Completion, and Quality.
As they work on the next stages, they may call on you for assistance and I encourage you to assist them in their efforts.
Introducing College Hill Memorial Grove
I am pleased to announce our Council of Trustees has approved the renaming of the Bell Plaza between Stratton and Old Main to College Hill Memorial Grove. There has been a strong desire in our community to dedicate an area on campus to memorialize the lives of the many who have graced our campus over the years and passed on. As many of you know, the plaza is in the historic center of our campus, and the name “College Hill” was used for many years to identify our campus. The majestic trees and the bell, which rang in Old Main as long as a century ago, enhance the historical significance of the area.
We look forward to dedicating the grove in the near future. Our hope is that it will be a permanent place for us all to reflect on the heritage of our institution and the many who have been a part of our KU family over the past century and a half.
We are at the beginning of our annual faculty/staff State Employee Combined Appeal (SECA) campaign. I want to thank you all who supported this campaign last year. With your support, we were able to eclipse our institutional goal. I encourage all of you to take a look at www.kutztown.edu/SECA once again and consider helping those in need through this year’s campaign. Thank you for your consideration for supporting this great cause.
Points of Pride
Our tradition of excellence is evident so far in this new academic year as our institution and members of the KU community receive the usual accolades. Some of the highlights include:
- KU is once again ranked by U.S. News & World Report. We moved up four places to 118 overall in the North Region, and 38th among public universities. We were also ranked once again by the Princeton Review.
- Kutztown University student, Bernard Yuhas, a senior physics major from Nazareth, Pa., was notified his photometric research on a binary star will be published in The Astronomical Journal, an international journal on astronomy. The paper, titled “New Photometric Study of the Interacting Binary Star System Y Piscium,” will be included in an upcoming issue. A major finding of this study, which was conducted in our observatory, is the discovery of a 28-year magnetic activity cycle that is affecting the evolution of a pair of stars more than 18,000 light-years away.
- KU has been recognized nationally for our efforts in serving students with disabilities (Teenink.com) and for being a “military friendly” school. Military friendly schools are the top 15 percent of schools nationwide that deliver the best experience for military students.
- KU football alumnus John Mobley will be inducted into the NCAA Division II Football Hall of Fame in December. Mobley was an All-American at linebacker for the Golden Bears from 1991-95, and was the PSAC’s first-ever NFL first-round draft pick. During his career with the Denver Broncos, he won two Super Bowls. He will join our own Andre Reed in the hall.
In closing, I want to wish you all the best as we move ahead with a very busy fall. I look forward to seeing you all around campus as we enjoy the many events and activities associated with the season.
F. Javier Cevallos