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2016 Opening Day Address

August 26, 2016
Dr Kenneth S. Hawkinson, president

Good morning and welcome to the 2016 Opening Day Ceremony.  My thanks to the prior speakers for their remarks and for their dedication to our institution.  Welcome to all the new faculty and staff who are with us today.  This is a wonderful place to live and work and we thank you for joining our community.

I would like to again acknowledge Council of Trustee member and past chair of the Board of Governors Guido Pichini and his wife Sue - they have done so much for our university!  I also want to recognize Tom Heck, Vice Chair, and Dianne Lutz, secretary for the Council of Trustees, for their service. The Council of Trustees of Kutztown University provides valuable oversight and makes an important contribution to our institution and I'm grateful that our trustees are here today.

And thanks to Provost Anne Zayaitz for serving as emcee for this event.

Let me also acknowledge my office staff; Toyia Heywood, Pam Rex-Reichert, and Amy Ridenour, our new events planner.

Ann Marie and I would also like to thank all of you and the entire university and Kutztown community for the support we have received over the course of this past year.  We have been touched by the warm welcome and the graciousness of the many, many people we have met. 

I believe that the purpose of this opening day meeting is to report to you, the faculty and staff of the university, on our progress over the past year and our goals for the coming year.  You just heard from many of our union and campus leaders on the state of their organizations and I now, would like to talk about the state of the university.

Last year at this meeting I explained how important it was for me to become familiar with all aspects of the university and community before determining future directions.  My intent was not so much to "hit the

ground running" but to "hit the ground learning."  I made a number of commitments to you all and I'd like to take a few minutes to update you on the progress I made through the course of the year:

Progress on First Year Agenda

Visit all units and constituencies on campus

I said that I would visit all units and constituencies on campus - I visited 116 departments, offices, and other units through the course of the year and Ann Marie and I have hosted 2-4 events a week at the house so that I could learn about the many constituencies on campus and to make myself available to all employees.  If any group was missed, please notify my office and we will arrange a meeting.  In the coming year, along with my semester open meeting with the university community, I will host a monthly open "office hour" so that anyone can come and speak with me on any issue.  Of course, if there is an urgent issue anyone can contact me at any time and if I don't have an answer I will refer you to someone who does.

Establish roundtable/advisory groups

I said that we in the higher administration would establish roundtable/advisory groups - The following groups have been established over the past year: 

Advisory Groups

   A president's faculty advisory group was established. This group has been extremely helpful to me in orienting me to the university community and the needs of faculty.

   The provost also established a faculty advisory group

   An advisory group was established to advise the director of Human Resources and a number of new initiatives have been put in place as a result - including a new program that will recognize an employee of the month and year.

   Marketing has established advisory groups that assisted in the development of our new webpage, the marketing of our programs of distinction, and in choosing and working with our consultants on the branding of the university.

   We established an advisory committee of international faculty who are helping us with recruiting and serving the needs of our international students

   There are numerous other advisory groups such as those serving Instructional Technology, and in other areas.

Of course, I continued to meet with leaders of the unions, senate, and other campus leaders to learn of their concerns and suggestions to improve our university community.

In addition, numerous meetings have occurred with area leaders in business and other professions; and I have been appointed to the following board of directors: Hawk Mountain, Berks Encore and Burn Prevention Network.

Neither myself, nor the other senior administrators on this campus have all the solutions to the challenges before us and I am very much aware of the talent of our faculty and staff, alumni and other stakeholders of our university, and want to provide as many avenues as possible for that talent to be recognized and used to move us forward as an institution.

Meet with local/regional community and government leaders

Last year I said that I would Meet with local/regional community and government leaders:  I have met with our legislative leaders and have met regularly with Mayor Sandy Green, one of the most thoughtful and talented mayors in the country.  Along with all the university advisory committees and visits to campus communities I have reinstituted a joint university/Kutztown council consisting of university officials and local government leaders, business owners, landlords, the police chief, and others in the community.  These meetings have included frank discussions about economic challenges facing our communities, the behavior of our students, the acceptance and tolerance shown to those different than the majority population of the area, and our mutual interest in ensuring the success of our communities. 

Ann Marie also established a university/community advisory committee which met regularly to discuss many of these same issues.  An example of a suggestion that came from her group resulted in our hosting a "garden party" in June for areas business owners - over 200 were invited and more than 50 attended this event.  For many it was the first time they were at the president's house or even on campus

Continue the strategic planning process and make sure it is completed this year

I said that I would continue the strategic planning process and make sure it is completed this year.  Under the leadership of Dr. Paul Ache, we completed the strategic plan for the university updating our goals, writing a new purpose statement, and incorporating many of the initiatives on the checklist.  This strategic plan was vetted through all constituencies on campus.  It not only serves as the basis for our Middle State Reaccreditation Review, but also is the foundation for our planning of future goals and initiatives. 

Establish a planning process for distribution of resources

Last year, I said that I would establish a planning process that is "bottom-up", based on the strategic plan, and that will provide the basis for university initiatives and the allocation of university resources.  This process was put in place this past spring and later in this presentation I will present the results of that planning process.


I am becoming increasingly familiar with the State System and believe I have developed a strong relationship with the chancellor, his staff, the board of governors, and the other 13 presidents in the system.

Visited many top donors and alumni

Alumni from Inauguration

I have also visited many top donors and alumni who are increasingly giving to the university to support our students and programs.  It was a very powerful moment at the beginning of my inauguration to see over 110 alumni marching with faculty and other dignitaries during the inauguration, with hundreds more in attendance.  We had representatives from the class of 1935 up to last year.  Later in this presentation I will update you on some of the progress our foundation made in this past year under the leadership of executive director, Tracey Thompson.

So, these were actions promised last year on which I believe we have made significant progress.  I then presented many new initiatives that became the basis for the "President's Checklist" -- Many of you have seen this list on the university website.  Let me now update you on our progress:

Presidents Checklist

Academic Excellence

1.    Raise admission standards  

You are all aware that we have raised our admissions requirements, which has resulted in a 9.4% increase in our denial rate.  This change has not come without cost... if we had accepted students with the same profile as last year we would possibly have equaled our freshman admissions this year.  But we are thinking toward the future and better quality students as freshmen should result in higher retention rates and in the long run - should increase our overall enrollment over time.

2.    Enhance the Honors Program

We have required students receiving our highest scholarship awards to be members of the Honors Program and have asked for a review of programs and opportunities.  An active and vibrant Honors Program is a sign of quality at an institution and we must do all we can to enhance our program at KU.

3.    Established scholarships for high achieving students

You are aware of our new scholarships - these have resulted in 35% increase in those students who have a SAT of 1350 or above; and a 18% increase of those with 1200 or above.

In addition, the provost has put in place a new program for existing students - funding is in place for KU-BEARS (Kutztown University Bringing Experiences About Research in summer); an initiative to support undergraduates working with KU faculty. 

The result of our efforts to achieve higher academic excellence has been the first increase in our academic profile since 2008.  The average SAT of our freshman class has gone up to 981 - 12 pts higher than last year (ACT 21).  And the average GPA has gone up to 3.19 from a low of 3.03 in recent years. 

4.    Carnegie classification

Individuals are being identified who can help us move forward on attaining Carnegie classification status.

5.    Prepare for university accreditation   

Under the fine leadership of Dr. Carole Wells and her team we are well positioned for our re-accreditation.  The new strategic plan is in place.  All teams have been formed in the various areas of accreditation (slide showing teams).  An initial visit by the chief accreditor took place and was very positive.  We are moving forward and with everyone's help, we should have a good result. 

Expanding Educational Opportunity and Access

Expanding Education Opportunity and Access

We are making progress with regard to these initiatives listed above.  Our MBA has established a hybrid program.  We are continuing to expand our distance education offerings.  We will continue to explore the feasibility of certificate programs and extension programs for place-bound students.  We have also reached out to students who have "stopped-out" - who have stopped registering for classes and have 30 hours or fewer to complete so that they can finish their degrees through distance learning. 

11. Feasibility of increasing living/learning communities

You see on the screen the current living/learning communities at KU.  We hope to continue to add to this list in the coming years - these communities result in higher satisfaction and higher retention rates, for our students.

Enrollment Management and Student Success

12. Hire a Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs

Dr. Warren Hilton

I am delighted to again introduce Dr. Warren Hilton as our new vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs.  He comes with a great deal of experience in his field and is familiar with our state system and our region.  He has already proven to be an asset to our university.

13. Create incentives for transfer students  

You are aware that we created a $500 book award for any student with an Associate Degree.  We have also met with community college leaders to collaborate on joint initiatives (met thus far with LCCC, RACC, and NCC) and have signed transfer agreements.

14. Establish recruiting initiatives to enhance number and quality of student body

With Vice President Hilton on board we are quickly moving forward to put in place initiatives to increase our enrollment.  We are re-organizing our admissions area and placing a full time recruiter in Philadelphia at the City Center.  We are working with the Allentown and Reading school districts to re-introduce special programs to entice more students from these important population centers.   

We have established new athletic housing scholarships for our top athletes and talent grants to recruit top students in the arts.  We are doing a full review of our scholarship programs.   

15. International recruiting 

International recruiting is an area where we have an opportunity to both increase our student body and diversify our campus.  We have established an advisory committee of international faculty and have received invaluable advice.  There are possibilities being pursued in China and India.  We have joined a State System consortium that will assist us in recruiting in India.  Much more needs to be done here and I hope to have more to report next year.

16. Departments and colleges encouraged to develop recruitment and retention plans

I spoke with all departments on campus about the development of department recruitment and retention plans.  Many departments are doing innovative things to bring in new students such as science days, outreach to high schools with our music ensembles and choir, career days, and other events to bring potential new students to campus.  We will continue to make resources available, when needed, to help fund these initiatives.

17. Community colleges to increase 2 plus 2 Programs  

18. Integrated bac to masters programs

We are making progress in establishing 2 plus 2 and integrated Bac/MA programs and I hope to have more to report next year.

19. Review our First Year Experience Program 

A symposium of those involved in FYE and retention initiatives took place in February and other discussions have been held at throughout the university and a number of suggestions have been put in practice as a result - core general education classes in math and English composition have had their class size reduced and our FYE class was expanded from 50 students to over 200 students this year (and will go up more next year), we will be making substantial additional investments to support FYE to include the possible hiring of a director to lead our efforts. 

In addition, an important new initiative that will have a positive impact on retention will be our requirement that freshmen and sophomores live in the residence hall beginning fall 2017.  We have vetted this initiative throughout the year and it has received broad support from many of our constituents.  Data shows that there is a 14% increase in the retention rate between freshman/sophomores who live on campus vs. those who don't.  There will be a number of exceptions to this policy such as those who live within 30 miles, marital status, age, and other exceptions.

20. Review programs with low enrollments while at the same time, we must invest in growing programs - List of New Programs

New programs

New Programs

You see above the many new programs at KU.  Thanks to Provost Zayaitz, the deans, chairs, and faculty for their hard work.

Low-enrolled programs will continue to be monitored on campus and at the system level, and we must do all we can to work with the programs to ensure their viability.

21. Student Bill of Rights

When I interviewed, I spoke with student leaders about establishing a "Student Bill of Rights" - Molly Gallager and her team has completed a draft of this document - it was an extraordinary effort on the part of our student government and my congratulations to them for their professionalism and hard work. 

Support Faculty and Staff Professional Development

22. Increase initiatives in grant writing

The provost has established a grant writing fellows program for KU faculty.  In addition, reassigned time for faculty PI on Federal Grants was put in place for spring 2016.

23. Recognize faculty and staff

President with Gina, first Employee of the Month

As mentioned earlier, we have established an employee of the month and employee of the year award - our first recipient is Gina Laubach from custodial services.  There are a number of special awards for faculty, and we will do all we can to give special attention and recognition to those honored.  We are working with our advisory groups to identify other ways to recognize our faculty and staff. 

24. Incentives, as the contract allows, for such things as research money, travel, and support of new faculty transition into the university and Kutztown community

The provost has increased funding for faculty professional development and we are working to identify ways we can better support our new faculty in their transition to our community.  This past Monday I hosted a reception for new faculty, cabinet officers, and deans and I hope to have other such events through the year.

25. Faculty/staff development programs

We provided funding for academic department chairs to attend a professional development conference last year and we hope to develop other such initiatives for our chairs;  a program has being developed for our physical plant employees wherein individuals can "shadow" a tradesman for the purpose of professional advancement;  we have agreed to release time being allowed for non-teaching employees to attend special training sessions;  also we have put in place funding to support the professional development of non-faculty employees in a number of areas.

26. Appropriate technology available

Information Technology Accomplishments 2015-2016

  • MyKU Mobile App for SmartPhones and Tablet PC's
  • Expanded Usage of the Hobson's Radius Customer Relationship Management System
  • Responsive University Website Home Page
  • MyKU PeopleSoft Delegated Access project
  • Completion of the university Academic Classroom Wireless "WiFi" Initiative
  • Personal Computer Cyclical Replenishment Project

Listed above are just a few examples of the progress our IT department has made in this past year.  Of note, is the CRM project which will be able to help us track applicants to KU and lead to better yield rates, and of course, our computer replenishment program which is bringing state-of-the-art computers to our labs, classrooms, and faculty/staff offices.


Marketing and Public Relations

27. Develop new marketing campaign

University Marketing, under Associate Vice President John Green, made modifications and enhancements to our marketing campaign.  Programs of Distinction were highlighted by showing our own students participating in learning experiences.  This campaign utilized cable TV, programmatic/digital formats, Facebook, outdoor billboards, newspaper education guides and YouTube gaming platform.  An independent campaign was also developed to promote all of the Sesquicentennial programming.  This campaign also included the development of the "Difference Makers" campaign appearing on our homepage of our website.

The next phase of marketing programs is well on the way to development.  A nationally recognized Higher Education marketing and brand development agency was contracted to conduct a complete internal and external brand research project.  The company conducted an intense research project involving more than 3,283 faculty, staff, alumni and other internal respondents.  They also conducted an outside survey of numerous people from our surrounding counties and states.  From this messaging platform will come all new advertising, printed materials and talking points that will enable the university to better tell our story. 

28. Enhanced Webpage design

University Relations directed the development of our new, responsive, attractive homepage which was completed in the spring.  Feedback from key campus constituents was gathered last fall, resulting in a full screen site with enhanced news items and photos and additional links.  We have begun the process to redesign the balance of the website.

29. Social media

Also under the direction of University Relations, a Social Media Strategy/Implementation Team was created with representatives from university relations, admissions, marketing, student life, academics and the KU Foundation. This team developed strategies to grow our overall social media presence, and began soliciting feedback through focus groups. 

Our efforts to communicate through social media have been successful.   You see on this slide the many thousands of followers we now have on social media.

Marketing and PR Social Media numbers

In addition, for the second straight year, our beloved mascot Avalanche won the State System's Mascot Madness competition, which is based on votes via social media.

Avalanche wins Mascot Madness


Social Equity and Diversity

30. Increase student diversity

We remain constant at approximately 19-20% minority enrollment.  While this places us among the more diverse universities in the state system, it does not represent the population of this region.  We need to do more in urban centers to reach out to students of diverse backgrounds.

31. Diversify our faculty

Last year we participated in the Frederick Douglas Institute Visiting Scholars Program.  

We also created a new program, connected to the institute, to bring in scholars with diverse backgrounds and give them an opportunity to join our faculty. 

We must do all we can to attract diverse faculty and employees to our university so that we better reflect the demographics of our students, state, and nation.

32. Ensure diverse students, faculty, and staff are supported on campus and in the community

I met regularly with students, staff, and faculty from diverse backgrounds and am engaged in ongoing discussions about how to create a community wherein all feel welcome and included. 

We brought in many speakers to help bring diversity in our knowledge and thinking - such as Black Lives Matter co-founder Alizia Garza, Dr. Samson Davis, who provided the freshman reading text and spoke at our freshman orientation, and we hosted a panel of law enforcement experts to speak on law enforcement and race.  These are just a few examples and we will continue to bring enlightened speakers to our campus in the coming year.

The Disability Services Office received a grant to support college students with autism spectrum disorders through one-on-one coaching/mentoring sessions, structured study sessions, group activities to enhance life skills, and recreational activities to increase social skills. 

In addition, our town/gown committee regularly talks about ways in which the Kutztown community can be even more welcoming to our diverse student population.

I would like to thank Deputy to the President, Jesus Pena, for his tireless efforts in promoting diversity and social equity on this campus.

Administration and Finance

Administration and Finance

Listed above are the initiatives that fall under Administration and Finance.  I believe we have managed our budget well and are continually searching for savings and putting resources to where they are needed most.  We have also established a 360 degree evaluation for administrators who have three or more employees.

Let me spend a few moments talking about our budget situation.  As you all know we have had many challenges in recent years - a major drop in state funding, falling enrollment (we have gone from 10,700 students in 2010 to around 8,600 this year), rising costs in all areas while doing all we can to keep tuition increases as low as possible.  Our retention rate has fallen from 78% to 73%. 

75% of our budget is in personnel but we have also significantly cut our workforce in many areas at KU with elimination of around 166 positions - not people, positions -- between 2010 and fall of 2015.  We cannot cut much more in this area without significantly harming our mission in the classroom or harming the support we give our faculty and students.  As I announced last year, I have no intention of instituting any further workforce reduction at this time. 

But time is running out. As in past years, income will not meet projected costs this year.  We are able to make ends meet by relying on "breakage" savings - savings chiefly from open positions, and from our reserve. 

We anticipate increases in costs and limited additional support from the state.  Our way out of these difficulties is to raise our retention rate and increase our enrollment.  If we still had a 78% retention rate we would have around 450 additional students and another 4 million dollars a year in tuition alone.  I have presented to you many initiatives on increasing our enrollment and we have experts in place now to help us.  But we need everyone's help to contain costs, do all we can to retain our students, and to do all we can to recruit new students.

But to do these things we must invest resources in new initiatives.  We need to have a strong reserve but money sitting in a reserve gives little return.  We need to take some of these reserves and other budget lines, and reallocate resources, to help with recruiting, retention, and other initiatives that will lead to student success. 

It is for this reason we established a new planning initiative for the allocation of resources.  After consultation with governance groups, we established the Strategic Initiative Request process, which is intended to provide a means of requesting funds of $5,000 or more to advance university priorities.  This process will happen twice a year.  The first departmental and unit requests were submitted at the end of the spring semester and prioritized by division.  In July, cabinet reviewed 105 requests totaling $11.9 million.  We are currently hoping to fund about 20% of these requests.  Listed below are the general areas in which the projects fall that we hope to support.  Your deans or supervisors will soon be contacting you with regard to whether your project was selected for funding. 


Summer Strategic Funding Requests

Summer Strategic Funding Requests

Summer Strategic Funding Requests

You see here that we hope to put $900,000 in breakage money and reserve into one-time initiatives with additional funds coming from reallocation within units.  Examples of projects to support would include under Student Success Initiatives the hiring of a director of FTE and the funding of more sections of FYE classes and lowering the class size of gen ed requirements in math and English. 

Under diversity we hope to put resources in place to fund a Fredrick Douglas fellowship.

We will continue to place more money into professional development.

Funds will be made available to support new programs and to assist with recruitment and retention efforts in departments.

And a number of departments will receive funding for special equipment and technology for the lab or classroom.

In addition, we have some infrastructure and facilities requests we would like to fund.  IT needs to replace a server that is over capacity.  And we hope to allocate money to do improvements to Keystone Hall - our assistant coaches currently do not have offices of their own and so we will renovate space to provide them offices.  The project also calls for additional locker room space for several of our female sports teams - we must ensure that our female student-athletes have the same quality facilities as our male athletes.

Round 2 of this process will be E&G base budget requests, which is designed for recurring annual needs in support of departmental operations. This process is tentatively projected to roll-out this fall with funding being provided for fiscal year 2017-18.

This process allows every individual on campus to participate in the allocation of resources by submitting ideas for initiatives and assisting in the prioritization of funding requests.

There are many unknowns with regard to our budget at this time but once the budget situation becomes more clear, Vice President Silberman and his team will again, as they did last year, present a budget update to our governance groups.

Fundraising and Alumni Relations

Fundraising and Alumni Relations

While we have many challenges with regard to our E&G budget, we have had many accomplishments and advances with the work of our Foundation and Alumni Relations.  On the screen you have seen the initiatives from the checklist. 

Let me just give you a few examples of some action items...

Foundation and Alumni Highlights

  • New Endowed Scholarships and other support in math, athletics, business, and other areas
  • A major donation to support entrepreneurship initiatives by our students
  • A number of naming opportunities in our facilities
  • The "88 Key" club to support our new All Steinway Piano status
  • Presidential Medals to Ryan Vogelsong and Doc Jones
  • Alumni events across the country
  • College alumni advisory committees established
  •    The Foundation Board is studying the feasibility of a major capital campaign

These many initiatives and others resulted in some significant increases in our fundraising and the participation of our alumni.  As of June 30th, the numbers look like this: 

Fundraising increases


Note that the foundation raised 3.4 million dollars last year which is more than a 7% increase over last year.  We are up in donors in many areas including a 23% increase in faculty and staff giving.  We are very proud of the fact that over 300 of our graduating seniors donated to a class gift.

We want to thank the Foundation and Alumni Relations team along with the foundation and alumni boards, and the many supporters of Kutztown University. We are excited about starting the new fiscal year and continuing this success, as we seek to provide ever-increasing support for current and future generations of KU students.

Transparency, Openness, and Consultation with Faculty and Staff

Transparancy, Openness and Consultation with Faculty and Staff

Transparancy, Openness and Consultation with Faculty and Staff

I spoke of my initiatives regarding Transparency, Openness and Consultation with faculty, staff, and other constituencies earlier in my presentation.  I will continue to do all I can to ensure that all constituencies have a voice in the decision making of the university and have access to me and other leaders of the university.  


Examples of other initiatives

53. Hire a permanent Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. 

Dr. Anne Zayaitz

Finally, after a national search, I was delighted to have selected Dr. Anne Zayaitz as our provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.  Her 30 years of experience, sound advice, and love of KU will prove invaluable as we move this agenda forward.  She received overwhelming support from the KU community and other stakeholders of our institution.  My thanks to the search committee for all their assistance in the selection process.  Congratulations, Anne.


This checklist was created by bringing in best practices that are utilized by universities around the country and based on the needs of the university as presented to me through the interview process and my transition into the campus community.  It has become known as the "President's Checklist" but as we go forward through this coming year it is my hope that you all will present new ideas and initiatives so that when I give my opening day address next year I will not be updating you on the "President's Checklist" but the "University's Checklist".  It will be a document created and owned by all of us.  I look forward to working with the Strategic Planning Committee and other governance groups in evolving this document so that it represents the goals of all constituency groups and stakeholders of the university.

In my inauguration speech, I spoke of the many things that make us unique, many programs and areas of distinction, but that the most important attribute is our pride in our institution, our tireless pursuit of quality, our desire to awaken students so they can reach their full potential, to make them curious so they will enjoy living within their own minds for the rest of their lives.  To make them a part of our KU history, to welcome them into our family, that through our student's association with this institution they will feel that they are a part of something bigger than themselves. 

I pledge to work with the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and all other constituencies to do all in my power to ensure that Kutztown University will grow stronger ... that we will provide an educational experience resulting in students of strong character, and to instill a gratefulness and a humility that for our students will lead to an educated mind, an enlightened soul, and a life fulfilled.

And so this concludes our Opening Day event.  My best wishes to you all!  Have a great year!