Good morning. Welcome to the start of a new and exciting academic year. I hope that you have had a restful and productive summer and are as eager as I am to get this fall semester under way.
I always look forward to this gathering, where I have the privilege of welcoming back to campus our many faculty and staff and bringing greetings to our new employees.
As I begin my sixth year as President of this fine institution, I continue to be pleased with the progress our university is making toward accomplishing the goals and objectives of the Academic Master Plan. It is my sincere belief that we are an institution of distinction and are achieving great things because of the extraordinary people who work here.
I want you to know how much I appreciate your service.
Over the years it has been the tradition at this meeting for me to accomplish 3 things:
* First - introduce the executive staff,
* Second - provide highlights of last year’s accomplishments by faculty and staff
* And Third - outline some of the challenges and opportunities for the coming year.
EXECUTIVE STAFF INTRODUCTIONS
I will begin by introducing my Executive staff. These individuals serve as Senior Advisors to me and are key decision makers on the campus.
* First, Dr. Kaylene Gebert, Provost and Executive Vice President
* Mr. John Cothern, Senior Vice President
* Dr. Bob Glenn, Vice President for Student Affairs and Vice Provost for Enrollment and Academic Services
* Ms. Lucinda Lea, Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer
* Mr. Joe Bales, Vice President for Development and University Relations,
* and Ms. Kimberly Edgar, Executive Assistant to the President.
Please join me in acknowledging this great group of executives
I also want to introduce, Dr. Tony Johnston, Associate Professor in Department of Agribusiness and Agriscience and the 2006-07 President of the Faculty Senate
RECOGNIZE ANY SPECIAL GUESTS:
* The Honorable Bill Ketron, Senator of the 13th district
* The Honorable Jim Tracy, Senator of the 16th district
* The Honorable John D. Hood, Representative of the 48th district.
* The Honorable Kent Coleman, Representative of the 49th district.
* My childhood friend – Father Harry Bain, Archdecon from the Bahamas and his wife Anne
In preparation for my remarks today, I reviewed my notes from my speech last year and saw that I spoke about several challenges that we were facing for the 2005-06 academic year. Some of the challenges I listed were
o Operating the university with limited resources from the state
o Managing the university’s enrollment growth
o Implementing a new administrative system (Banner)
o Improving graduation and retention of students
o And workload issues….just to name a few.
While we have made some progress in addressing these issues last academic year, many of these challenges remain. However, I am confident that we will give the same level of effort this coming year in tackling these challenges.
Let me begin with an update on our budget and salaries.
The 2006-07 fiscal year budget appropriated by the state to colleges and universities provided for the first time in many years new operating funds. MTSU received $4.3 million in new operating funds, which was the highest amount allocated to a TBR institution. This was due to our recent enrollment increases and the THEC funding formula that factored in enrollment growth in the distribution of funds. The state legislature also funded this year, $15 million for the planning and infrastructure work on our badly needed new science building. In addition, $4.3 million in State funds were provided for capital maintenance projects. I would like to thank our legislative delegation for their support of the enhancement dollars and the planning funds for the Science Building.
On the matter of salaries, I wish to remind you that when I became President over five years ago, I promised that one of my top priorities would be improving faculty and staff salaries and strengthening our academic programs. I hope my actions regarding faculty and staff salary increases over the past 5 years demonstrate my commitment to this promise.
In the past, budget challenges have prevented us from moving ahead as quickly as I would have liked in improving faculty and staff salaries. However, we have made some progress in this area. Since July 2000 all employees at MTSU have received a combined total of 16% across-the-board salary increases funded jointly by the state and the University. Additionally, due to prudent budget management and enrollment growth, the University funded for the faculty an additional 2% in July 2001 and 3% January 2003 and for classified and administrative employees an additional 1% in July 2001 and 2% in January 2003. This has resulted in a 21% aggregate faculty salary increase and 19% aggregate classified and administrative employee salary increase during this period. Moreover, in August 2000 and January 2005, market salary increases were given to some employees. These salary increases were the largest given in the TBR university system during this period.
As for this fiscal year, salary increases from the state was 2% effective July for non-faculty and August for faculty. The university was mandated to fund the increase from new state appropriations, fee increases and reallocation of current funds. Despite this challenge, I am pleased to announce that, again due to good budget management at your university, I have requested the Tennessee Board of Regents to consider at its September Board meeting my recommendation to give MTSU faculty and staff who were employed as of June 30, 2005, a one-time - 1% bonus or $500, whichever is greater, to be paid in October. Our bonus would be in addition to the state funded $350 bonus that will also be paid in October. Also, I have requested the Board to consider at its September meeting additional salary increases for employees who were on the payroll as of June 30, 2005. The proposed permanent salary increases are based on our approved compensation plan that considers our new peer salary data for faculty and the increases will be effective January 1, 2007.
On another important initiative, we continue to make significant progress in increasing the university’s extramural funding. Another exceptional year of raising external funding for MTSU followed in FY 2006. Funding totaled $38,495,290, an increase of $17,055,669 over FY2005. The increase occurred in all areas including instruction, research, and public service. You will recall that in 2001, our research and grants funding stood at approximately $6 million annually. Today we are at $38 million.
Alumni / Development
In the areas of Alumni Relations and Development, I am again pleased with the efforts of our staff.
Our Alumni Relations Office has begun working closely with the Admissions Office in hosting receptions connecting student recruiting with our alumni in selected geographic areas of the state. Last year events were held in Kingsport, Knoxville, Jackson and Memphis and were very well attended. The receptions provide an opportunity for our alumni to interact with prospective students and their parents.
Also, the university’s Development office has made tremendous strides over the years. Last year, we had one of our most successful fund raising years ever, with over $13 million in gifts to the University and the MTSU Foundation. This is the second largest total in University history and the outright cash gifts from our alumni and friends were the third highest ever. This support is directly opposite of national trends showing decreasing support from alumni.
Learning, Teaching and Innovative Technologies Center
After a successful launch last year, the Learning, Teaching and Innovative Technologies Center, a joint endeavor of the academic affairs and information technology divisions, continued to grow with the establishment of a number of important faculty development initiatives.
Computer Replacement Plan
As part of our annual computer replacement and renewal project, over 900 computers were replaced in 2005-2006 making sure that students, faculty, and staff have the up-to-date technology needed to fulfill their roles in accomplishing the university’s mission. While 2006-2007 will be the third year for the faculty and staff desktop replacement program, it is the first year that we have established full recurring funds for this project.
Implementation of the New Administrative System and Banner
The University has also made good progress in implementing the Finance, Human Resources, and Advancement systems of Banner. Student admissions will be completed next year. Despite some challenges, the MTSU conversion and implementation teams continue to lead the Tennessee Board of Regents in this very important system-wide effort.
PHYSICAL PLANT INPROVEMENTS AND LAND ACQUISITIONS
In the area of physical facilities, we have much to report.
* Construction and renovation has begun Middle Tennessee Building and is scheduled to be complete in spring, 2007. It will house the graduate school, human resources, and payroll.
* Planning of the new Science Building has begun.
* The Nursing Building expansion is scheduled for completion this fall
* Phase 1 of the Parking and Transportation construction improvements is nearing completion, and Phase 2 design is underway.
* The Naked Eye Observatory and Observatory Plaza north of Cope Administration Building is complete.
* We are in the in the fifth year of a ten year project to renovate all residence halls.
* The Buckner House which was purchased last year has been renovated and is now the Alumni office
* Athletic Facilities Enhancements have been made or are in process for the following:
o Track and field
o Baseball stadium
o Football stadium turf replacement
For more details on each of these projects, please check my Newsletter next week.
Partnerships is one of MTSU’s three major goals. Middle Tennessee State University affirmed its commitment to Goal 3 of the Academic Master Plan last year by establishing a Community and University Partnerships Office on February 1, 2006. The mission of this new initiative is to encourage the development of important bonds and connections that lead to a sharing of knowledge and resources to facilitate better coordination of efforts university-wide.
You are encouraged to visit the new “MTSU PARTNERSHIPS WEBSITE”: www.mtsu.edu/~partner to learn how your partnership can be catalogued, formally documented, and earn appropriate credit and recognition.
ATHLETICS - RECOGNIZE COACHES AND AD
Like every other area of the university, athletics has been a major area of focus for improvements.
I am pleased with the progress being made in Athletics under the leadership of Chris Massaro who has completed his first year in his new role. With the help of Chris and his outstanding staff, I have some good news to report. MTSU’s Athletics Program received recertification, based on its recent year-long self-study, from the NCAA in July 2006. The recertification speaks to the quality of the Athletics Program in academics, student welfare and governance.
You will recall that last year at this meeting, I reported to you that during the spring of 2005, the football program - in particular, and the athletic department – in general, received some negative public attention with the announcement of the NCAA Academic Progress Report. I also told you candidly that it was an embarrassment to us all and promised you improvements. Well, I am pleased to report to you that this past year, the athletic department’s overall APR score has improved significantly and will be no lower than 950. The NCAA benchmark is 925.
In comparison, last year we were at 926, and 905 the year before. The football APR score for the last academic year should be near 940. In the past two years, their score was 812 and 892, much below the benchmark. This past year, four programs that have perfect APR scores are baseball, men's tennis, women's tennis, and men's golf.
I am also pleased with the academic performance of many of our student athletes from a variety of sports. Special recognition should be given to Chrissy Givens and Krystal Horton from our Women’s Basketball team. Both of these athletes have excelled on and off the court.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM COLLEGES AND FACULTY
At this time I wish to recognize a select number of faculty who have distinguished themselves in their disciplines. This past year – much like these select faculty members, many of our university employees have shown great resilience and have continued to make extraordinary accomplishments.
I am pleased to recognize…
Assistant Professor of Aerospace, Joe Hawkins. Joe Hawkins made aviation history in Tennessee by being selected as the state’s first National Aviation Technician of the Year in 2006. He was nominated by the Tennessee Aviation Association’s Maintenance committee. Joe Hawkins, please stand and be recognized.
Now, most of you don’t know Holli Harrison, a 1999 graduate, but Holli was one of only five top performers in a contest in New York hosted the 52nd Metropolitan Opera National Council Grand Finals this past spring. She attributes much of her success to Dr. Raphael Bundage and Dr. Stephen Smith from the McLean School of Music. Would Dr. Bundage and Dr. Smith please stand?
Dr. Don Morgan, Professor of Health and Human Performance, is the primary investigator of a 2-year, $311,000, NIH-funded study aimed at determining the impact of an aquatics-based treadmill walking program. In this project, participants walk on an underwater treadmill to improve their cardiovascular endurance and to strengthen their legs. It is hoped that data collected from this investigation will form the basis for future grant submissions that will allow this program to expand to other research and clinical sites throughout the United States. Dr. Morgan – let us recognize you?
Dr. Carroll Van West, Director of the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation, hosted the prestigious International Heritage Development Conference in Nashville in 2005. The conference brought together experts from across the country. Dr. Carroll Van West – stand so we may recognize you.
Dr. Bill Ford, Chairholder of the Weatherford Chair of Finance, made 16 appearances in 2005 on national and worldwide business television shows, including Bloomberg Business News and CNBC / TV. The chair established working relationships with a number of banks that have entered the local market recently, including Fifth Third Bank, BB&T
Bank, and First Bank System of Tennessee. Dr. Ford serves as director of the National Association for Business Economics. Dr. Ford, please stand?
Dr. Jo Edwards, Chair of the Center for Health and Human Services was awarded a $300,000 grant in 2005 along with a $450,000 grant in 2004 and she now has 3 Tennessee Department of Health grants for more that $750,000. These projects included cancer control, death scene investigations, and tobacco use prevention programs. Is Dr. Edwards with us?
The MTSU Mass Communications program received accreditation by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications which accredits only 10 percent of the programs in the country. Would all those from the College of Mass Communication, please stand?
Now, let me tell you about a few other successful projects…
Under Dr. Allen Hibbard’s leadership, the Middle East Center at MTSU has been established . The Center draws on existing programs in all colleges across the campus. This past spring the University Curriculum Committee approved a new 18-hour interdisciplinary Minor in Middle East Studies, and this fall,
first-year Arabic and Hebrew will be offered for the first time at MTSU, as part of the Minor. These activities and others related to the Middle East will be supported over the next two years by a Department of Education Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Languages grant. Dr. Allen Hibbard and his colleagues are currently developing a cohort Middle East Studies program which will be the first comprehensive, cohesive program in the state of Tennessee. Dr. Hibbard please stand?
This past academic year, the university hosted the SACS review team to examine the University’s readiness for its
re-accreditation. As a result of many hours of good work and commitment from a number of faculty and staff. I am confident that MTSU will receive reaffirmation by SACS at its annual meeting in December.
I would like to recognize
* Dr. Jill Austin, from Management and Marketing
* Dr. Richard Detmer from Computer Science
* Dr. Jan Leone from History
* Dr. Sheila Otto from English
* and Faye Johnson from Academic Affairs for coordinating efforts.
Would the 5 of you please stand?
Please join me in recognizing once again, all of theses outstanding faculty for their commitment to excellence.
Finally, as we approach this new academic year, we shall continue to aggressively pursue our academic master plan goals. We shall continue to:
o Seek approval for new selected academic programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels
o Renovate existing facilities and construct new ones
o Manage enrollment growth and resources
o And pursue new opportunities that advance our mission
As I conclude my remarks, I wish to announce an exciting initiative for this coming year.
For years, we have known of the benefits of regular physical activity and proper nutritional habits on health and quality of life of our faculty and staff. Now, for the first time in this university’s history, there is a new “MTSU Faculty-Staff Health and Wellness Program” that will be offered to all university full-time faculty and staff over the 2006-2007 academic year. Each program will consist of 10 weeks of testing and coaching in the areas of exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle change. It will be the only university in the state of Tennessee that will be providing virtually 100% financial support. To ensure the commitment of each participant, there will be a nominal fee of $20.00 - which includes a t-shirt for those who remain in the program.
The program will be directed by MTSU Professor, Dr. Mark Anshel. My thanks to Dr. Tony Johnston, MTSU Faculty Senate President, for initiating this program. He and Dr. Anshel submitted a program proposal early summer that I felt was in the best interests of the university. I hope you take advantage of this rare opportunity.
Remember, the program is limited to 100 full time faculty and staff in each of three sessions, fall, spring, and summer, so watch for its promotion over campus-wide e-mail as early as next week and there be more details in my newsletter as well.
Now, will the faculty helping with this great program please stand and be recognized?
I also want to encourage you to participate in the many campus activities going on now and throughout the year. Please attend the Freshman Convocation on Sunday to hear Greg Critser, author of the book, Fat Land, and the many other events associated with Welcome Week. Also, take part in athletic events, theatre and musical programs and lectures. You are part of the MTSU family!!
It is easy to see and understand why I am so excited about the future of this great university. I believe that working together we can move this university to great heights while maintaining our status as Tennessee’s best comprehensive university. I am absolutely, positively shameless in promoting this university – our university – and so should you. I wish each and every one of you a great new academic year.
Fall Faculty Meeting
August 25, 2006
Revised: 8/28/2006 9:09:11 AM
Middle Tennessee State University
Fall Faculty Meeting
August 25, 2006