Office of the President

 

Holloway Hall

A Maryland University of National Distinction

STATE OF THE UNIVERSITY SPEECH

Dr. Janet Dudley-Eshbach
President of Salisbury University
April 18, 2006; Holloway Hall

Good afternoon. To our students, our faculty and staff, our elected officials and civic leaders, and our alumni and friends who are here this afternoon, I thank you. I am profoundly grateful for your time, your hard work, and your commitment to the greatness of Salisbury University.

Before I begin, there are several people in the room today

I would like to acknowledge:

We are joined today by members of our Eastern Shore delegation to the Maryland General Assembly. Last week, they returned home after a legislative session that proved to be of historic consequence for Salisbury University. The investments that were made in this institution over the course of those 90 days will transform our national reputation, the aesthetics of our campus, and the manner in which teaching and learning occur within our classrooms.

Having worked closely with our delegation during the 2006 session – and in the months leading up to it – I can assure you that our extraordinary success would not have been possible without their steadfast and bipartisan support. They worked with Governor Ehrlich to ensure that our key priorities were included in his operating and capital budgets, then they shepherded these projects through the legislative process. We are truly fortunate to have a delegation of lawmakers who share a sense of ownership in Salisbury University and an abiding concern for our future success. I would ask those who are here today to stand for a round of well-deserved applause.

I would like to recognize my colleague, Dr. Maarten Pereboom, Chairman of the Faculty Senate. Maarten wears many hats on this campus and wears them all with great distinction. Over the past year, Maarten has been an effective voice for the best interests of Salisbury University’s faculty and a valuable member of my Advisory Team. As the past Chairman of the Town-Gown Council and current Chairman of its Neighborhood Relations Committee, Maarten frequently serves as a “goodwill ambassador” to key city lawmakers and community activists. Somehow, he also manages to teach a few history courses as Chairman of the History Department! His work validates the wisdom and potential of shared governance. Thank you, Maarten, for your selfless dedication.

I would like to recognize Clacie Hubbard, the President of our Staff Senate. Clacie does so much, with little fanfare, to advocate for the priorities and interests of our staff members, all of whom are indispensable to the successful daily operation of this University. I, along with so many on this campus, recognize and admire the quality of Clacie Hubbard’s work on behalf of those who are often overlooked. With the advent of collective bargaining, the challenge of leading the Staff Senate this past year has been significant. Clacie, thank you for making Salisbury University a better place to work.

Another campus leader is Julius Jones, immediate past President of the Student Government Association. Julius … where has the time gone? I cannot believe that in just five weeks, I’ll be shaking your hand as you cross the stage at Commencement. As President, as frequent beneficiary of your advice and diplomacy, and, perhaps most memorably, as your Spanish 312 professor, let me say that working with you has been a privilege. You are a smart, talented person with good instincts and a unique ability to rally a diverse group of people around the pursuit of a worthy cause. Your service represents the finest aspirations of student government, and I sincerely hope that your leadership experiences at SU serve as a springboard to a lifetime of public service.

At the most recent meeting of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, 15 faculty from around the state were awarded the Board’s prestigious faculty recognition awards. That three faculty from Salisbury University were so honored speaks very highly of the quality and dedication of our faculty. Marie Cavallaro of our Art Department received the Regents Award for Public Service, Dr. Jerry Miller from Philosophy garnered the Regents Faculty Award in Teaching, and Dr. Eugene Williams from Biology was the recipient of the Regents Faculty Award in Mentoring. Would these three faculty please stand and be recognized by your colleagues?

We are now approaching the final weeks of four memorable and important faculty careers. Next month, Drs. Calvin Thomas and Chap McGrew will retire after 35 and 31 years, respectively, in the Department of Geography and Geosciences. Together, they have helped transform this program into one of Salisbury’s stand-out academic disciplines. Increasingly, the Department of Geography and Geosciences informs regional decision makers on matters of land-use planning, resource conservation, and growth management, while producing graduates ready to excel in these highly specialized, competitive fields. Dr. Thomas and Dr. McGrew, we are thankful for all you have done to make this Department a true civic resource.

We are also losing Dr. Carolyn Bowden, who has been at SU for 27 years. Hers is a career that has been defined by sheer perseverance in pursuit of progress. Dr. Bowden has worked her entire career on behalf of a more tolerant and inclusive campus-wide culture. She has worked diligently in the pursuit of a more diverse faculty and student body. What I will especially remember about Dr. Bowden is her hard work to establish an Early Childhood Education program at Salisbury University – an effort which finally paid off in 2002, when the Maryland State Department of Education approved our program. Today, it is one of our fastest-growing programs. Thank you, Dr. Bowden, for your legacy of leadership.

Finally, we are losing Dr. Tony Whall, with 34 years at SU, the – dare I say it? – legendary creator and Director of the Thomas E. Bellavance Honors Program. Tony, your dedication to the idea of an extraordinary learning experience – one that cultivates critical thinking, rhetorical persuasion, and inter-disciplinary writing skills in an interactive environment – has helped generations of gifted Salisbury students harness their true intellectual potential. In so doing, you have enabled the Bellavance Honors Program to live up to the ideals and legacy of Thom Bellavance himself.

I would like all four of these distinguished professors to please stand for a round of applause.

Last, but certainly not least, I would like to recognize the members of the Salisbury University Foundation who are here and seated behind me today. In just a moment, I will speak about the extraordinary ability of this institution to accomplish more with less and to meet high standards of excellence during periods of fiscal crisis.

The Importance of Philanthropy

We couldn’t have done so were it not for the extraordinary support we have received – and continue to receive – from the private sector. Each of the men and women seated behind me today has made an extraordinary personal investment – financially to be sure, but also a “heart and soul” investment – in our success.

Many of us were together on March 30 when Jim Perdue announced an $8 million donation from the Arthur W. Perdue Foundation toward a new building for the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business. This new, state-of-the-art facility will provide us with the classroom space and learning technology that we will need to accommodate more students and train our students even more effectively for success in the global knowledge economy. At the risk of stating the obvious, this building will dramatically elevate the stature and reputation of the Perdue School of Business, which is already ranked in the top 20 percent of business schools nationwide.

Like his late father, Jim Perdue is one of America’s great philanthropists, with business and cultural interests throughout the world. There are at least a thousand worthy causes to which he could have donated this money. It speaks volumes about Jim Perdue and his family, about the legacy of his father, and about Salisbury University that we were considered worthy of this investment – by far the largest in the history of this institution. This gift is the cornerstone of our upcoming Capital Campaign and raises the bar as Salisbury University continues to achieve the type of fund-raising success that is uncommon at public universities.

I’d like to say a word of special thanks to Ed Thomas, the Chairman of the Foundation Board, and Henry Hanna, past Chairman, who has agreed to lead our upcoming Capital Campaign. Both of these accomplished civic leaders give so much of their time to the enrichment of this University. I would like Ed, Henry, and each member of the Salisbury University Foundation to please stand and be acknowledged with a round of applause.

The support of these individuals and other key donors has seen us through some very difficult times and sends a very powerful message to Governors, lawmakers, and many others: Salisbury University is a most worthy investment.

At last December’s Commencement, we honored another special friend, Sam Brown, who has established the largest single charitable remainder trust ever given to Salisbury University, now standing at $4.5 million. Think about how remarkable this is: Sam Brown is not a graduate of Salisbury University, nor is he a native Marylander. Sam is, however, a man of extraordinary vision and generosity. He knows that Salisbury University is the cultural hub of Delmarva, and he believes in the institution that we will become. His investment will contribute to our efforts to reach new heights of academic excellence and civic greatness.

Again, Salisbury University is unique in the level of private support we have received. Such designated funds help raise the profile and quality of SU, as these dollars support scholarships, capital projects, and program enhancements. We are fortunate to be located in a community that recognizes the importance of higher education, and we are even more blessed to have philanthropists locally and nationally who are committed to helping make dreams become reality.

The State of the University Today and
Our Continued Commitment to Excellence

I am now completing my sixth year as President of Salisbury University. During these six years, we have experienced the great insecurity that accompanies economic recessions and budget deficits, followed by the rising tide that lifts all boats in times of prosperity. In the first years of this century, we were forced to make difficult decisions resulting from deep budget cuts, only to receive, this coming fiscal year, the largest single-year funding boost in recent memory. I feel fortunate to be part of a faculty and staff that did not waiver from our commitment to students by providing excellent teaching, mentoring, and student services through the lean budget years.

After dedicating only one new academic building in 13 years – the Henson Science Hall, in 2002 – this year we have secured State funding for not one, but two state-of-the-art academic buildings.

An institution that was established in 1925 as, literally, a one-building schoolhouse, has evolved into one of Maryland’s most powerful economic engines: a leading provider of teachers, nurses, finance officers, accountants, CEOs, and researchers. Ours is an institution that generates over $350 million each year for the Eastern Shore economy while creating the equivalent of 3,000 local jobs.

Our student body is among the most accomplished, and is by far the most diverse, of any in Salisbury University’s history.

Our men’s lacrosse and women’s field hockey teams have transformed Salisbury, Maryland, into Titletown, USA, each winning three consecutive national championships. Many of our other teams – football, softball, baseball, women’s lacrosse, cross country, to name just a few – also help build our institution’s reputation well beyond State borders by virtue of their unparalleled success. Imagine almost two years ago when our men’s rugby team won the national championship at Stanford University in California! We had those West Coasters wondering just where Salisbury was located and what we were all about.

In addition to our extraordinary performances on the athletic fields, we achieve national distinction through the number and quality of cultural events that take place on our campus. Our Salisbury Symphony Orchestra, the Bobbi Biron Theatre Program, the Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture, and the Ward Museum for Wildfowl Art, all have positioned Salisbury University as a vibrant cultural center. The Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement has provided a venue for the enlightened discussion of the great issues of our time.

The presentation by former President of Poland Lech Walesa this past March 30, coupled with the $8 million gift announcement the same day, points to the stature of our institution. One Washington-area business leader commented to me that he had seen the headlines from our campus from that day and thought to himself: “Wow, those are the type of headlines one would expect from a Harvard or Princeton!”

For so many reasons, a school that once rested in the shadow of other Maryland institutions is now earning national recognition from the likes of U.S. News & World Report, The Princeton Review, and Kiplinger’s as one of the truly great universities in the United States.

Given the modest price of a Salisbury University education, the quality of our academic experience has also given us a reputation as one of the very best bargains in American higher education.

We have persevered through times of difficulty, and now we are challenged to take advantage of the extraordinary opportunities that lie before us. Relying on the Strategic Plan that we collaboratively developed several years ago as a guide, we have already accomplished some of our top objectives and are moving with intent and commitment to fulfill the others.

We have truly become A Maryland University of National Distinction. We are distinctive in areas I’ve already noted and in many others. Private fund raising and athletics are two examples. Also, we are the only officially-designated national campus arboretum in the State of Maryland. Perhaps most importantly, we have an extraordinarily talented faculty and staff, and, in part, as a result, we continue to boast the highest four-year graduation rate in the University System.

Crucial Votes of Confidence

This past year has been truly historic for Salisbury University. Through the hard work of so many in this room today, our institution has elevated its stature to new heights. The most influential constituencies that we serve – our Governor, State lawmakers and Regents, our students and families, our alumni, our colleagues and peers within academe, and our community stakeholders – all have offered a resounding endorsement of our results to date and a vote of confidence that we can sustain this positive momentum.

The Board of Regents that governs the University System of Maryland believes in the quality of our institution. They have designated Salisbury University as one of only two “enrollment growth institutions” within the System, along with Towson. The Regents – many of whom hail from the corporate world and bring a true “bottom line” approach to the world of higher education – made a simple business decision. In evaluating which universities were best equipped to accommodate more students for the next several years, they wanted quality and results. And, yes, they want to get the biggest “bang for the buck.” The Regents saw that Salisbury University, which ranks next to last within the University System in State funding per student and receives far fewer State dollars than our national performance peers, is meeting the Board’s own high standards on just about every meaningful benchmark of accountability.

Because we have been designated as an “enrollment growth institution,” we must develop a thoughtful, focused enrollment management strategy. While our admissions decisions have been guided by certain general principles, Salisbury University has never had a well-developed enrollment management plan. Such a plan is essential if we are to build enrollments, quality, and diversity. Because a strong graduate program strengthens the quality of undergraduate programs, we should strive to maintain a graduate enrollment of 10 percent of overall enrollment. Further, it is time that we consider recruitment that is targeted to specific academic disciplines.

Equally important is a tuition and financial aid strategy. Individuals from our offices of Administration and Finance, Enrollment Management, and Financial Aid have been exploring alternate tuition models. Our traditionally low State funding per student [1] makes tuition a major consideration in achieving adequate overall funding. We must continue to work toward attaining a funding base more consistent with the quality and aspirations of our institution, and we must make the case for a more rational tuition strategy for Salisbury University.

Governor Ehrlich’s operating budget for fiscal year 2007 will increase our State funding by approximately 15 percent. It includes an “enrollment growth allocation” that will allow us to accommodate 323 additional students next year. It will allow us to hire a number of new faculty and staff, and it also will allow us to better address faculty salary issues. Last year, in addition to the cost of living and merit increases, we put an additional $100,000 toward salaries; this year we will do even more. Given the credentials and caliber of our faculty, we must again commit to this important priority.

We will also conduct a review of compensation and develop an institution-wide compensation strategy for exempt staff. Further, we will continue to work constructively with MCEA to improve the quality of work life for non-exempt staff.

While we are pleased with the substantial percentage increase in our State appropriation, we must manage our expectations. The actual State support we will receive in fiscal year 2007 is an increase that only takes us back to our level of funding in fiscal year 2002. [2] We must allocate our resources wisely to assure that we retain the agility to be able to deal with rising expenditures relating to benefits and utilities. We will take a conservative approach to budgeting, balancing the need to fund new positions, programs, and salary increases, with the uncertainties of future State appropriations. To sum up, while there is ample reason to feel good about this year’s budget, we must exercise caution in making decisions that impact our operating expenditures.

The capital budget for which we advocated and which was ultimately approved this legislative session will transform this campus. In addition to the planning money for the Perdue School of Business, the capital budget includes nearly $50 million for the construction of our new Teacher Education and Technology Complex.

We will break ground for the TETC by early fall and, when it is finished in 2008, it will provide Salisbury University with additional and greatly improved classroom and faculty office space. The TETC will finally provide this University with a unique aesthetic identity – and a far more welcoming façade – for travelers along the U.S. 13 corridor. The very design of the building, and the sophistication of its learning resources, will help us successfully recruit more of Maryland’s best and brightest students.

It certainly feels like a “new day” when Salisbury University can claim that our institution received a higher level of capital funding than any other school within the University System. The construction funding for the TETC was the largest project in the State’s entire 2007 capital budget!

Our external constituents – legislators, alumni, Foundation Board members, members of the USM Board of Regents, business leaders, and many others – all recognize that something truly special is happening here. It may seem trite for a Sea Gull to say, but our institution is, indeed, soaring!

The broader higher education community recognizes Salisbury University’s excellence, as evidenced in the recent visit and final report of the Middle States Commission visiting team. Based upon its review of our Self-Study, institutional data, and interviews with a large number of faculty, students, staff, and supporters, the Middle States team noted the following strengths of Salisbury University: “… a student body that is engaged in the institution and in the community; evidence of a student success culture, as documented by high retention and graduation rates … [and] … a loyal and dedicated staff whose pride in their work is evidenced by the well-kept facilities and efficient and friendly operations.”

The visiting team made particular note of our “talented and student-centered faculty,” and they stated that “it is very evident that there is a tremendous dedication of the faculty to the students as well as to the institution and colleagues.” Commission members who visited Salisbury University were very, very impressed by what they saw.

I thank all of you, especially Dr. Ron Dotterer, who put in so much time and hard work as Chair of the campus Self-Study Steering Committee, for making this process so meaningful and reaffirming for Salisbury University.

Further, our Seidel School of Education and Professional Studies achieved its NCATE re-accreditation with flying colors! Dean Dennis Pataniczek and his colleagues in teacher education worked morning, noon, and night, seven days a week, to steer that labor-intensive process to its highly successful conclusion.

I would like to acknowledge the efforts of Dean Pataniczek, and those of his colleagues, with a round of applause.

Also, the recent re-accreditation of programs in Athletic Training, Clinical Laboratory Science/Medical Technology, and Environmental Health Sciences, and initial accreditation for Exercise Science demonstrate the strength of our academic programs and the validation of the larger academic community.

Our students and their families – the most important constituencies of any successful school – also believe in Salisbury University. The student body that is currently enrolled at this institution is one of the most accomplished and certainly the most diverse of any in our 80-year history. Our average SAT scores are higher than those of any of our peer institutions and exceed the statewide average by 112 points.

Our average high school grade point average for incoming freshmen is now 3.46, and more than half of all of our incoming freshmen graduated in the top 25 percent of their graduating class. We are now competing for the very best and brightest students this State has to offer … and we are getting them. Our ability to compete for these high-performing students will grow, and we are dramatically increasing our scholarship funds for this purpose.

Our African-American, Latino, and Asian-American student enrollments are at all-time highs and are continuing to increase in number. I would also like to point out that our student body is the most geographically diverse of any in our history. Just 10 years ago, we were known primarily as an Eastern Shore school. This year, 53 percent of our total student population hails from the “Western Shore,” compared with 38 percent a decade ago.

Area residents will be pleased to know that Wicomico County is still the largest supplier of Salisbury University students. The next largest, though, is Montgomery County, followed by Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties. The counties with the fastest-growing student enrollments are Baltimore City and Calvert, Washington, Montgomery, and Howard counties.

It is clear that our growing reputation as a competitive yet affordable institution, the quality of our campus experience, and our convenient access to Maryland’s metropolitan regions have combined to make Salisbury University a statewide institution of first choice.

By many measures, from the quality of our academic programs to our athletic prowess to our success in private fund raising, we proudly receive acknowledgement as A Maryland University of National Distinction. And, while it is healthy to step back, reflect, and think about how far we have come, I am also reminded of the words of Winston Churchill, who once said that “the price of greatness is responsibility.” I firmly believe that our responsibility to those constituencies that I have noted here today, and the essential obligation of what we have achieved thus far, is to continue moving forward.

Improving the Learning Experience

Since we changed from a College to a University, the world has changed dramatically. We must embrace innovation in order to compete effectively for recognition and resources. We must chart a strategic course that will enable Salisbury University to become yet more distinctive within the University System of Maryland and in all of American higher education.

We must continue to explore new and better ways to improve the quality of the learning experience for our students, to prepare our graduates for success in the global economy, strengthen the bond that already exists with our community, and remain responsible stewards of both public and private funds.

So, how can an institution that has the highest four-year graduation rate in the University System of Maryland think outside the box to provide our students with a richer and even more rewarding experience?

While we are A Maryland University of National Distinction, at 80 years old, as an institution we are just getting started. Now we have an opportunity to build our distinctiveness and quality through a new curriculum which, if adopted, will be unique within the University System of Maryland.

For the past year, SU faculty have been considering the merits of a “course-based curriculum.” Under this model, courses, and not credit hours, are the basic measure of academic content. Instead of 120 credit hours required to graduate, students would complete 32 courses. While a detailed discussion of the course-based curriculum model goes well beyond the scope of my remarks today, I do believe that there are compelling arguments in its favor.

By far the most important reason for us to adopt the course-based curriculum is that this model – more commonly in place at prestigious private colleges and universities (including most of the Ivy League schools and privates such as Bucknell, Colgate, Franklin and Marshall, Bryn Mawr, and Washington College, to name a few) – would reinforce the intimate and engaged learning culture that we have established at Salisbury University. The additional time devoted to each course would allow faculty to present course material in greater depth and would facilitate greater personal interaction between instructors and students, particularly majors within their respective departments. I am inclined to believe that a course-based curriculum would provide our students with a far more rewarding intellectual experience.

In the course-based model, faculty would have more time for course development, student advising, scholarship, and creative endeavors. It is a model that reinforces the concept of the teacher-scholar and clearly places student learning as our institution’s top priority.

Finally, the reduced number of courses and the increased emphasis on coursework performed outside of the classroom would ease the demand for classroom use and, thus, make it easier for Salisbury to accommodate projected enrollment growth.

It is in that spirit that I urge faculty members to approach the possibility of a course-based curriculum with open-mindedness. We are at a rare moment when we have the opportunity to transform the way in which we provide higher education on this campus. One week from today all faculty are asked to vote on the proposal. Should the course-based model be approved, the Provost and I will provide faculty with the time and resources for the planning, transition, and successful implementation of the new curriculum-delivery system.

I’d like to thank members of the Faculty Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Curriculum Change for their work over the past year: Dr. Keith Brower, chair; and Drs. Grace Clement, Cynthia Cooper, Mark Frana, Herman Manakyan, Katherine Miller, Susan Muller, Ed Robeck, Denise Rotondo, Bob Tardiff, Joerg Tuske, and Elichia Venso.

Stanley Ikenberry, the former President of the University of Illinois, once said that “Strategic differentiation – breaking from the pack – is precisely what will be required if American higher education is to survive and thrive in the century ahead.” The adoption of a course-based curriculum model is a most appropriate way to begin the next stage of our distinctiveness.

Beyond Classroom Walls

It is with that same spirit of open-mindedness that I would ask all of us – students, faculty, and administrators alike – to begin redefining our very notion of a classroom. Specifically, we should move aggressively and creatively in pursuit of learning opportunities that occur outside of the halls of Fulton, Henson, Caruthers, Holloway, and Devilbiss.

This means expanding the opportunities for our students to study abroad – an undertaking that has become increasingly essential for a lifetime of employment in the global marketplace. We will also increase our Web-based course offerings, strengthening SU’s presence in the online world in which we learn and live.

We will also build upon our successful student internship programs in the community, across the State, and beyond. Obviously, “real world” experiences for our students are a natural enhancement to the knowledge gained in the classroom. Furthermore, our students’ talents help advance many local businesses by offering new and creative initiatives that can enhance ways of doing business. Our internships in Annapolis and Washington have helped our University rise in stature in the State House and even on Capitol Hill.

Redefining the classroom will also mean identifying new ways in which our students can serve this community through volunteerism and public service. The challenge to transcend traditional classroom boundaries is one that we must fully embrace.

Over the coming years, too, Salisbury University will establish a greater presence in Maryland’s distance learning centers. We currently offer upper-division courses at the Eastern Shore Higher Education Center, located at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills, and we are also exploring programs that we can offer at the Higher Education and Applied Technology Center – the HEAT Center, for short – at Harford Community College and at Cecil Community College.

This is a good start, but it’s not enough. Centers like these provide a genuine opportunity to expand Salisbury’s reputation and introduce ourselves to a wider audience of students and stakeholders. Expanding our course offerings and presence well beyond the campus will send a clear message that Salisbury University is truly a statewide institution, and it would turn our legislative colleagues from the Washington suburbs into direct, vested stakeholders in our success.

For these same reasons we also need to consider, over the long term, a presence at the regional higher education centers in Shady Grove, Hagerstown, and Southern Maryland.

We should also be offering programs for the rapidly growing population of retirees in our immediate vicinity and at the coastal communities. Is it time to consider reinstituting the position of Dean or Director of Extended Learning (formerly known as Continuing Education), perhaps combining it with oversight for graduate programs? This was, by the way, one of the suggestions made in our Middle States report.

A Library for Our Future

I would like to make note of another observation in that report and to speak to it for a moment. The Commission praised Salisbury University for our focus on the library as essential to the success of our academic enterprise.

At this moment in time, we are blessed with the leadership of Dr. Alice Bahr, our Dean of Libraries and Instructional Resources, a woman who is an exceptional scholar and administrator. We have a talented and experienced staff that works very hard to make the most of the resources that are at their disposal. Unfortunately, what we do not have, at this time, is a library building that is worthy of this great institution.

We have a severely outdated and limited facility that lacks modern learning technology, group study areas, adequate public restrooms ... or even a sprinkler system! I want to assure Dr. Bahr, and everyone in this room today, of my personal commitment to secure both the public and private money needed to provide a state-of-the-art library and learning center on the campus of Salisbury University.

To quote from our recently-approved Mission Statement, our new library must serve as a “hub for academic discussion and discovery and will blend space for public events, community outreach, quiet study, research assistance, specialized materials and local archives, and the creation of digital publications.”

Without a high-quality library, this University cannot sustain its rise to national distinction, and it cannot realize its full potential as a civic resource and economic engine for our community. It is for that reason that this will become the next top capital priority for the campus.

I would like to ask everyone to recognize Dean Bahr and her staff, who have served our students and faculty so ably with relatively little.

The Master Plan that was completed in 2002 also called for other enhancements to our campus grounds and facilities. We have begun, or will begin, planning for a parking garage, a fine and performing arts center that will provide new space for the Fulton School, and better recreational and athletic facilities. We also are actively exploring the acquisition of land to expand beyond our current 145 acres.

Good Neighbors and Community Leaders

While Salisbury University has become a rising star in Maryland higher education and a university of national distinction, I am mindful of the fact that we are, at the end of the day, a proud native of the Eastern Shore. Just as we have helped transform the economy and culture of the Delmarva Peninsula, the support of this community has made our greatness possible.

I understand the need to be good neighbors and to cultivate a source of civic pride, and I am particularly pleased with the progress that we have made on this front. Today, we have a successful Town-Gown Council that brings University representatives, business and civic leaders, elected officials, and law enforcement agencies to the table in a shared spirit of collaboration and consensus. I am pleased that some of our Town-Gown Council members are with us today. I’d like to ask each of you to stand and be recognized.

We have also hired several new professionals who are making a positive difference on this front. I would like to recognize Dr. Ellen Neufeldt, Vice President for Student Affairs; Dr. Dane Foust, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs; Ed Lashley, Chief of University Police; Edwin Cowell, our new Dean of Students; and Len Foxwell, my assistant for Government and Community Relations. These individuals have made it very clear, to students, neighbors, and city leaders alike, that we do care about our surrounding community and responsible student behavior.

I would like to acknowledge and thank the leaders of our Student Government Association – President Jen Poole, Executive Vice President Beth Depot, Vice President of External Affairs Sara Pagano, and the entire SGA Executive Board – for using their platform to steer in a positive direction the conversation on the broad issue of responsible student conduct. Would the current SGA officers and senators in the audience please stand?

I am so impressed with the quality and the character of our Salisbury University students. Because good news often travels slowly, it is easy to overlook the positive contributions that our students make in this community on a daily basis. The weekend before last, the SGA hosted The Big Event, which generated an extraordinary outpouring of student volunteerism. By all accounts, this year’s Big Event was another huge success. Students rolled up their sleeves to rake leaves, paint, clean, and pick up trash in an effort to be of service to our neighbors, those who live in close proximity to campus.

I would like to extend our gratitude, on behalf of this entire community, to Colleen Maier of the SGA, the lead organizer of this event, and to everyone who worked so hard on The Big Event. It would have been far easier to sleep in on that cold, rainy Saturday morning.

This coming weekend Salisbury University students – along with faculty, staff, and cancer survivors – will gather at the track for our fifth annual Relay For Life. This important event raises funds for the American Cancer Society, which are used for research, public awareness, patient services, and advocacy. We call our event Going Strong ... All Night Long ... and what an appropriate way to describe it! Last year, we raised $115,000 for the battle against cancer, and ours was named Top Relay in the Nation for a school of our size. If anyone here would like to experience the selfless and caring spirit of our students while joining the good fight against a disease that has taken so many far too quickly, I would ask you to join us this weekend.

A Campaign for What We Can Become

Looking ahead, the Salisbury University Foundation will commemorate the 80th anniversary of this institution by launching our second Capital Campaign. The purpose of this multi-year campaign is to generate unprecedented levels of private donor support for our leading priorities, such as the library, student scholarships, program enhancements in each of our four academic schools, and upgraded facilities. The Campaign will be a call for “all hands on deck.” We will call upon alumni and their families. We will reach out to our current and retired faculty members. We will be asking for the help of employers on Delmarva and throughout the State whose continued success depends upon the quality of the workforce that we provide.

The Capital Campaign, which will be launched officially on June 2, 2006, will require the hard work of many. I am confident that the level of support we receive will reflect our remarkable progress over the past 80 years and will provide Salisbury University with a down payment on another 80 years of academic excellence and transformation.

Think about this: at 80, Salisbury University is still a very young institution. We have achieved a high level of distinction. Yet, I believe, we are still defined by our aspirations, our dreams of what we can become.

We must continue to shape the character and culture of Salisbury University through our curriculum and our successes in fund raising. We must continue to explore new opportunities to be unique, and 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 help me in the pursuit of that dream.

It has been my honor to accompany you on the journey thus far, and I look forward to working with you as we make our dreams come true.

Thank you very much, and let’s get started.

[1] In fiscal 2007, the average State appropriation per FTE student in the USM will be approximately $8,500; despite a substantial increase in operating funds, the average State appropriation per FTE student at Salisbury University still will not reach $5,000.

[2] Adjusted for inflation.