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A Message from Dr. Hawkinson; Welcome to Spring 2017 Semester

January 23, 2017

My warmest greetings to all members of the Kutztown University community as we embark on a new year and the beginning of our spring semester. 

KU continues to excel at providing a high-quality education that "awakens" our students to new ideas and self-discovery, and prepares them for a very competitive workforce.  We continue to receive many distinctions from such entities as U.S. News and World Report, Princeton Review, GI Jobs Magazine and Military Times.  It is noteworthy that we have attained and maintained accreditation through AACSB, CACREP, CAEP, COSMA, CSWE, NASAD, NASM and NCACE, and have attained distinction through other national and international agencies.  We are an All-Steinway School, which places us among the best schools for music in the world.  In our publicity and news releases, we regularly celebrate the accomplishments of our students, faculty, and staff, frequently highlighting the hands-on, applied educational experiences our students are having in the laboratories, at off-campus sites, and in study abroad programs.  In fact, I just recently Skyped with students and faculty on a study abroad trip in London and Paris. 

Our faculty produce hundreds of articles and papers each year and conduct innovative research, many with contributions from our students.  Our students indicate on surveys that the most significant impact they experience from their KU education is the extremely positive influence of their teachers, in and outside the classroom.

One of the most important endeavors we are engaged in this year is to prepare for our upcoming Middle States accreditation.  We have much to do to meet the expectations which, at their core, are constructed so as to ensure that member institutions have in place the processes, procedures, actions and values that result in a high-quality education for our students.  More than 100 faculty, administrators, staff and other supporters of our university are participating in seven working groups and a steering committee to ensure that our self-study is completed on time, and that we are ready for the accreditation visit that will occur in April 2018.

While many good things are happening, we have many challenges to meet in the coming year, most notably the insufficient resources from the commonwealth and a smaller pool of students from which to recruit new students.  The recent settlement of our many labor contracts has resulted in much deserved pay increases for all our employees, but these pay increases, along with rising costs and shortfalls from previous years, have left us with potentially huge deficits.  We simply do not have the resources coming in from the state or tuition to balance our budget.

Numerous cutbacks have been made at KU in recent years, and further savings must be recovered so as not to put our mission at risk.  While some hiring has occurred in essential areas, we must limit future financial commitments by restricting our hiring of new personnel.  We will also need to pull resources from existing reserves in many areas of the university, while at the same time continuing to make investments in those initiatives that advance the mission of the institution.  Our vice president for Administration and Finance will be giving briefings on our budget situation with governance groups in the coming months.

These challenges must be addressed on many fronts; the most practical way to address our budget shortfall is to increase our enrollment. We have many initiatives in place to move forward on recruiting additional, high-quality students to Kutztown University (see the President's Checklist, recently updated in December 2016, on initiatives in enrollment management and many other areas).  Talented personnel have been put in place to help us move forward in recruiting.  We have developed new scholarships, continued to revise our academic programs, and we have countless additional things to draw students to KU and to support them when they are here.  We ask the help of all members of our university community in this effort to recruit and retain our students and ensure that our academic programs are meeting the needs of the commonwealth.   We ask this of our administrators, faculty, staff, as well as our alumni and members of our local community.  We must do all we can to get the word out that Kutztown University is a vibrant, safe place that respects all people and welcomes them into a community of learning. 

To help us in attracting students to KU, throughout the spring months you will begin to see and hear about the rollout of our new marketing and brand awareness messaging campaign.  This campaign has been in the works for the past six months, involving numerous research efforts and brainstorming sessions, while including the thoughts and efforts of many students, faculty and staff from across campus.  This campaign will bring us a new way to tell the story of our university and highlight points of pride to prospective students and everyone involved with our university.  Much more to come on this.

For 150 years our institution has made a difference in young people's lives.  With the help of the many members of our community, we will ensure that we will continue to have the resources to make a difference in students' lives next year, and beyond.  My best wishes to you all in the coming year!


Dr. Kenneth S. Hawkinson
Kutztown University