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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

President Delivers State of the University Address

SALISBURY, MD---Salisbury University President Janet Dudley-Eshbach today delivered her 2006 State of the University address to members of the campus community, elected officials and civic leaders, reviewing an academic year defined by landmark accomplishments and outlining a strategic vision for continued national distinction in the coming years.

After thanking members of the Eastern Shore delegation to the Maryland General Assemby for a legislative session that “proved to be of historic consequence for Salisbury University,” Dudley-Eshbach recognized faculty, staff and student leaders, including Dr. Maarten Pereboom, Clacie Hubbard and Julius Jones.  She also praised Marie Cavallaro, Dr. Jerry Miller and Dr. Eugene Williams, this year’s winners of the University System of Maryland’s Regents Award for  Excellence, the highest faculty honor given by the USM; and several distinguished faculty members who were retiring, including Drs. Calvin Thomas, Chapman McGrew, Carolyn Bowden and Tony Whall.

In her speech, titled “A Maryland University of National Distinction,” the President spoke of the priorities and values that have guided Salisbury’s rise to distinction, and expressed support for a series of innovative proposals that will enable the University to sustain its growing statewide and national reputation:

--The Importance of Philanthropy:  The University has enjoyed extraordinary support from the private sector.  This year’s gifts have been record-breaking including $8 million from the Arthur W. Perdue Foundation for a new building for the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business, the largest single gift ever made to the institution, and $4.5 million from business leader and philanthropist Sam Brown, the largest single charitable remainder trust ever given to SU.   The president thanked the donors including Jim Perdue, chairman of Perdue Incorporated, for his generosity and trust, and the SU Foundation Board under the leadership of Ed Thomas, board chairman, and Henry Hanna, leader of the upcoming Capital Campaign.  Brown “believes in the institution that we will become,” said Dudley-Eshbach.  His and the other’s philanthropy will help make dreams a reality.

--The State of the University Today and Our Continued Commitment to Excellence:  The president highlighted  several milestones:  the largest single-year State funding boost in recent memory; capital funding for two state-of-the-art academic buildings; successful men’s lacrosse, field hockey and rugby teams which have transformed Salisbury into Titletown, USA; high institutional rankings in national guidebooks;  flourishing arts and other programs, which are turning SU into a vibrant cultural center; and an accomplished and diverse student body.  She praised an “extraordinarily talented faculty and staff” who, through good financial times and bad, have never wavered in their commitment to students, resulting in SU leading the USM with the highest four-year graduation rate for 18 consecutive years.

--Crucial Votes of Confidence:  The Board of Regents has designated SU as one of two “enrollment growth institutions” within the System, along with Towson.   The regents “made a simple business decision,” Dudley-Eshbach said, “… they wanted quality and results.”  An allocation to accommodate 323 additional students will require new faculty and staff and thoughtful, focused enrollment management strategy.  She would also like to maintain graduate student enrollment at 10 percent. 

Other State endorsements have included $50 million for the Teacher Education and Technology Complex and planning money for the Perdue School building, “a higher level of State capital funding than for any other school within the University System.”  The University’s academic programs also received several accreditations and re-accreditations including athletic training, clinical laboratory science/medical technology, environmental health science, exercise science and National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) for education.

A Middle States Commission visiting team also had praise for the quality of the students and staff and particularly SU’s “talented and student-centered faculty.”  “It may seem trite for a Sea Gull to say,” said Dudley-Eshbach, “but our institution is, indeed, soaring!”

--Improving the Learning Experience:  How can SU “think outside the box to provide our students with a richer and even more rewarding experience?” The president endorsed a new course-based curriculum, which, if adopted, will be unique within the USM.  Instead of 120 credit hours required to graduate, students would complete 32 courses.  This model is more commonly used at private colleges and universities including those in the Ivy League as well as Bucknell, Colgate, Franklin and Marshall, Bryn Mawr and Washington College.  Such a model allows more in-depth study by students and would help to distinguish an SU education.

--Beyond Classroom Walls:  The President asked that the concept of the classroom expand in pursuit of the unique learning opportunities provided by study abroad, Web-based courses, internships, community and public service,  distance learning on and beyond the Eastern Shore, and programs for retirees.

--A Library for Our Future:  The President reaffirmed her commitment to the construction of an improved library, the next capital project following the TETC and Perdue School buildings.  The library will become the intellectual center of the University and also serve the greater community.  She also cited a new parking garage, a fine and performing arts center, better recreational and athletic facilities, and land acquisition as parts of her Facilities Master Plan.

--Good Neighbors and Community Leaders: The need for the University to be a good neighbor is ever-present and Dudley-Eshbach praised and recognized the work of the Town-Gown Council which brings different groups together in a shared spirit of collaboration and consensus.  She also recognized the new leadership in the Student Affairs Division including Dr. Ellen Neufeldt, Dr. Dane Foust and Ed Cowell; Chief of University Police Ed Lashley; and Len Foxwell, assistant to the President for government and community relations.  She praised the community work of the Student Government Association under President Jen Poole and officers Beth Depot, Sara Pagano and Colleen Maier and students who volunteer on such successful service projects as The Big Event and Relay For Life, the top relay in the nation for per capita fund-raising.

--A Campaign for What We Can Become:  SU also marks its 80th anniversary this year by launching its second Capital Campaign seeking financial support for key academic priorities.  “At 80, Salisbury University is still a very young institution. … Yet, I believe, we are still defined by our aspirations, our dreams of what we can become,” Dudley-Eshbach said.  “… We must continue to explore ways to excel.  I would ask everyone to dream a bit, to imagine what this university could become … and then to help … in the pursuit of that dream.” A full text of the President’s State of the University address is available on the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu. "



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