2013 State of the University

Thank you, Trustee Voll.

Good morning.  Welcome to the 2013 State of the University address. I want to also welcome those who are watching through our video stream. Thank you for joining us today.

Thank you vice-chair Voll for being here today. Other trustees with us are Megan Newlove and Vivienne Felix. We appreciate those government officials and city and community leaders who have joined us today. Thank YOU for your support of BGSU.

Today, we celebrate Bowling Green State University’s 103 years of stellar history.

The theme of today’s address is the “spirit of innovation.” That idea…that concept…will be the foundation for our accomplishments in the coming years. It will guarantee that we conquer our challenges. Today we will talk about our successes, acknowledge our challenges, and set plans for BGSU’s future.

First, let’s highlight our recent successes. There have been many achievements this past year and I will highlight just a few. We all should be very proud of what we’ve achieved by working together.

When we gathered one a year ago, I emphasized the importance of the Higher Learning Commission visit in April. The Higher Learning Commission accredits all the universities in Ohio and throughout the Midwest. When I arrived in 2011, we had just 2 years to prepare for this important reaccreditation review. Many universities spend as much as 4 years getting ready for reaccreditation.

It was a daunting task that touched virtually every corner of our campus and operations. Vice Provost Joe Frizado led our reaccreditation team. We asked our team to secure our reaccreditation. We also set a goal of having a “perfect” visit, which meant no major recommendations for improvement for BGSU.

I am very pleased to report that we accomplished that goal. In fact, the site team even used some of our current practices…such as assigning Board of Trustee liaisons to colleges and other units…our revised strategic plan…and our university/community partnerships…as excellent examples for other universities to emulate.

Dr. Frizado, would you and your team please stand?  

We are indebted to your leadership and outstanding work in ensuring that BGSU continues to have strong academic standards. On behalf of the Trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends…thank you. Let’s give them a round of applause.

Also critical to BGSU’s future was finalizing a mutually beneficial contract with the BGSU Faculty Association. A goal was set of completing the contract negotiations during the last academic year. Thanks to the hard work of the negotiating teams, we were able to reach an agreement. The Board of Trustees approved the contract at their May meeting. We are now in the process of implementing the contract.
Will all of those involved in successfully negotiating and now implementing our first contract please stand and be recognized?

Thanks to each of you for your work and dedication to this University. Now we must move forward together to ensure student success is our central focus for BGSU’s future.

Next, let’s highlight the accomplishments of some of our faculty. Our faculty continue to be recognized nationally for their excellence in teaching and research.

Dr. Tom Mascaro, an associate professor in the Department of Telecommunications, is the winner of the 2013 Tankard Book Award, considered the highest honor for a book in journalism and mass communications.

Drs. Jim Albert and Maria Rizzo from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics received a 5-year, 880,000 dollar grant from the National Science Foundation to modernize and enhance our undergraduate Statistics program. The grant will also provide training to BGSU faculty in the techniques of data science.

Three of our faculty members have been named Fulbright Scholars for this year. They include Dr. Elainie Lillios, (Elain-ee Lil-ee-ose), Dr. Andreas Nicolaou, (Nick-o-lau), and Dr. Becky Mancuso.

Drs. Wendy Manning and Susan Brown from the Center for Family and Demographic  Research continue to bring national recognition to BGSU through their important research. Last Friday, their research was the basis of an article in USA TODAY.

Will our Fulbright Scholars, past and present, Jim Albert, Tom Mascaro, Wendy Manning and Susan Brown, please stand and be recognized for their outstanding work?

BGSU is focused on faculty success and student engagement as the basis for the “unique” BG Experience. I am pleased that we have strengthened and expanded the academic resources available to faculty with the formation of the Center for Faculty Excellence. The center combines services from across campus into a one place for faculty and offers support and resources on the latest teaching pedagogies for online and blended learning as well as face-to-face learning and will be a key resource to ensuring faculty success.

Our students have accomplished great things over the last year.

We are pleased that Ayo Ellis, a junior business major from Toledo received the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship that allowed him to study abroad in China this semester.

Our forensics and debate team continued to excel at the national level winning two national championship tournaments last year.
We are also proud of our innovative student programs, such as the Falcon Hatch which garnered support and visibility for BGSU. The Hatch is a new entrepreneurial competition in the College of Business Administration where BGSU students prepared innovative business plans for real investors.

Other individual students involvement in the unique BGSU experience include:
Senior Merissa (mer-issa) Acerbi (Ah-Ser-Bee) became involved in undergraduate research just one month into her freshman year. Working with Dr. Cordula Mora, in our neuroscience center, Merissa has published her research findings and presented at conferences in England and the United States.

Senior Julia Grummel just completed her second internship with Adobe, one of the world's largest software companies, at their San Jose headquarters. She is now working with Adobe part-time while completing her degree. This is also a great example of how we’re working to link our students with our alumni. Julia had a chance to meet with Shantanu Narayen, Adobe’s president and chief executive officer and a BGSU alumnus.

Two BGSU graduate students had a hand in a text-mining project that could impact the outcome of child abuse cases in Ohio. In partnership with several county offices of Ohio Job and Family Services, Quality Systems graduate students analyzed child welfare data to reduce failure rates in placing children in at-risk environments. From this regional analysis, the model could be used statewide.

Thanks to the focused efforts of an interdisciplinary committee, the University has a new strategic plan for graduate education and research. The group’s work received a bronze award by the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education in its 2013 Excellence Awards, honoring the contributions of members who are transforming higher education through outstanding programs, innovative services, and effective administration.

Athletics had an outstanding year with MAC Championships in Volleyball and Baseball… a bowl game appearance for football…and MAC Coach of the Year Honors for Kerrie Turner in Gymnastics, Penny Dean in Tennis, and Petra Martin in Swimming. We welcome Chris Kingston, our new athletic director  to BGSU, and expect that there will be many more championships.

In addition, our cheerleaders won first place in their division at the World Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championship. Will our student athletes, coaches and cheerleaders please stand and be recognized?

One of our goals is to assure greater state, national, and international recognition for students, faculty, and staff.

Our administrative and classified staffs also play a critical role in our success and I’m pleased that we’re doing a better job recognizing their contribution with a new event honoring their years of service and commitment to BGSU.

I also want to recognize Barbara Henry, who leads our Veterans program. Our program was recognized recently as 1 of 250 in the country for its work with veterans. BGSU was selected by President Obama because of our commitment to veteran success as demonstrated by our alignment with the President’s “8 Keys to Success” for veterans.  Military Times Edge ranked BGSU 20th as “Best for Vets” among 4-year schools.  Barb, would you stand?

As we begin this academic year, we’ve learned that we moved from 103 to101 in the public universities according to US News and World Report and from 184 to 181 in the overall rankings. Our first-year programs were again recognized. While moving up two and three places may not seem to be significant, this is a MAJOR accomplishment based on our competition and the strengths of those competitors. And, now we CAN do BETTER and WE WILL.

We are also seeing the results of the new admissions plan that we have implemented. I am very proud and I hope each of you are, that BGSU welcomed the most academically well prepared freshman class of the past 25 years. The average ACT score of our freshman class is 22.6. Their average grade point average is 3.31 – which is the highest of any incoming class in our history.

We continue to implement innovative best practices designed to aid student success and increase our retention and graduation rates. I commend Provost Rogers and others for all they have done and continue to do to improve retention. Now, we CAN do BETTER. 

We MUST do better to guarantee the unique “BG Experience”.

This freshmen class will be the first to benefit from linked courses. Freshmen have up to three classes with the same group of fellow students. This provides a great opportunity for them to become acquainted with their fellow classmates and builds connections in the University community. Research indicates this is critical to student success.

In the future, our freshmen need to participate in a first-year experience course, which will allow for even greater engagement. Other campuses have found that a combination of linked courses and a freshman seminar helps to increase the retention of the freshman class.

The class of 2017 and those who follow will also benefit from an innovative teaching methods being adopted by our mathematics and statistics faculty. The Math Emporium, now in proto-type form in Olscamp, is a hands-on lab that changes the way math courses are offered. It will help students to succeed in Math and already has shown great success on other campuses.

We are in the process of expanding and raising the profile of our Honors program to better meet the needs of our high achieving students. The offices of our new Honors College have moved to Founders Hall alongside new, upgraded honors student housing. Dr. Simon Morgan-Russell has agreed to be the first dean of the Honors College. We all need to assist him and the students as we build our new Honors College. In the near future we want BGSU students to compete and be successful for Rhodes, Marshall, Truman, and Goldwater scholarships.

Equally important, is our commitment to expand undergraduate research opportunities. I was pleased to be able to attend the University’s first undergraduate research day last semester. Our students are doing some outstanding work with the guidance and support of our faculty. We need to do a better job of recognizing these faculty and students.

The expanded program for Honors, our linked courses, the Math Emporium, the common reading experience, the use of success-net, and other first year initiatives, are innovations that will assist us with student retention and student success.

Last fall BGSU admitted 10 students into the first cohort for the Master of Science in Interdisciplinary Gerontology program. This fall an additional 15 students have started their graduate studies. Most of these students are paying their own fees or receiving assistance from their employers. Currently there are two students from Nepal who intend to bring their knowledge about gerontology back to Nepal where the country is experiencing a tremendous growth in the older adult population.

BGSU is helping to prepare students to work in the newly data-driven world, where better decisions can be made through analyzing the massive amount of data now available to us.

At the graduate level, BGSU’s new one-year, full-time, interdisciplinary master’s degree in business analytics combines departments from the College of Business Administration with the computer science and mathematics and statistics departments from the College of Arts and Sciences. The program is designed both to allow working professionals to enhance their job skills and to make up-and-coming recent graduates more marketable. Drs. Yeh, Chen, and Chao have collaborated to develop the new graduate program, which is administered by the Graduate College.

The University Libraries has again expanded its student-centered services with the addition of the Student Technology Assistance Center to the first-floor services in Jerome Library. The center provides peer-to-peer instruction on software applications for undergraduate, graduate and distance students. Students can drop in, set up a one-on-one appointment, participate in small groups or classes to get help with a variety of software and technology projects.

BGSU is also embracing a new spirit of innovation outside of the classroom and in our operations.  We’re launching exciting new partnerships and collaborations with the community and the State of Ohio that will build our spirit of innovation and engagement both inside and outside of the classroom.

Over the summer we had the opportunity to break ground on the new Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation Laboratory.  This unique collaboration with the Office of Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine has allowed us to establish academic programming in forensic science at the undergraduate level and will allow us to start a program at the graduate level. It also provides us with new research, outreach and training opportunities. I ask Dr. Steven Lab from Criminal Justice, Dr. John Cable from Chemistry, and Dr. Jeff Miner from Biology, to stand and be recognized for their work on this new forensic science initiative.

Thanks to all of you.

Collaboration is the key to innovation. Through collaboration with the Bowling Green Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the visitor center on campus now serves both the University and the broader community.

The collaborative partnership between BGSU Firelands and Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, which operates Cedar Point and other amusement parks, introduces an innovative internship and leadership training program. This partnership will develop and implement training programs for full-time and seasonal supervisors. And it will help expand the company’s pipeline of well-trained and service-oriented employees.

Another example of an innovative new university/community partnership is the Falcon Health Center. Led by our Division of Student Affairs and student leadership, this collaboration with Wood County Hospital enabled us to have a new 5 million dollar, state-of-the-art health center and expanded health care offerings for our students.  And we’ll save 1.6 million dollars in operating costs per year because of this partnership.

That savings from the student fee budget will be reallocated – allowing us to retire the debt for the renovation of the Student Recreation Center. Will Stan Korducki, CEO, of Wood County Hospital and his team, Jill Carr and the students involved, please stand and be recognized for what they did to make this partnership possible?

If we take the new BCI building, the new Falcon Health Center, and the renovation of the Recreation Center, the total investment in our Bowling Green Campus is more than 30 million dollars. These innovative partnerships have expanded services and opportunities for our students…AND we’ve done it without burdening our students with additional fees.

We have made major strides over the past two years. I appreciate what everyone has done to assist with our many successes. But we need more innovative partnerships in the future and we can do better and we will!

With all of these accomplishments, do we have challenges? Yes, we do! So, what are the challenges facing BGSU?  

Simply put, the current operating model for higher education and Bowling Green State University is unsustainable. With student debt on the rise, we cannot afford to continue to raise tuition to cover our costs. Therefore, we must lower our costs and increase our revenue.
Under the new formula for state share of instruction, 50 percent of our funding is based on the total number of graduates, and therefore, student success. Our state share of instruction has declined about 30 percent in recent years. Funding for our sister universities in that same time period has increased by about 6 to 9 percent.  

The future of this great University hinges on our ability to become more competitive with our peers. We must change and adopt current best practices in higher education. Embracing a spirit of innovation to become more competitive is essential for BGSU.

Our enrollments must grow in both our undergraduate and graduate programs. This includes increasing the number of: traditional students, international students, out -of-state students, adult students, and transfer students and ensure that each student who comes to BGSU is successful here.

What do we need to do to position this great University for its future?

There are 10 key issues that we must address and think about strategically on a day-to-day basis. All of these issues are directly linked to our revised Strategic Plan.

Let’s review these issues.

  1. To meet our enrollment goals, we must embrace change and innovation by introducing new academic programming in growing fields that match our strengths as a University. Forensic science is one example.
    Another example is the College of Education and Human Development’s new Inclusive Early Childhood Education program. The program provides three teaching certifications with one degree and is expected to be in great demand.

    Other examples are the master’s degree in business analytics and the masters in media and communications.
    We must have more professional master’s degrees and undergraduate degrees in high demand.
  2. We must develop new partnerships. We are working on additional public-private partnerships such as the one with NorthStar Aviation to help drive extensive growth in our Aviation studies program. Changes in regulations and the pending retirements of a large number of pilots are creating a tremendous demand for new pilots. We must be a part of meeting that need.

    We also need to expand our partnerships here in NW Ohio and beyond. We will be partnering with Owens Community College on a new undergraduate dual enrollment program. We already offer the executive masters degree of business administration on their Findlay campus. Again, we can do better by creating more partnerships in the coming months and years.
  3. As we introduce these and other new programs, we must also do a better job ensuring that our class schedules are flexible and meet the needs of the students -- whether they are traditional undergraduates or adults. We must position BGSU to meet the career needs of future students. Again, we can do better and we will.
  4. Moving forward we must continue to build our unique “BG Experience” by providing every student with the opportunity of a co-op, internship or some type of experiential learning. Service learning and community service are important to preparing our students for their roles in society. Our students also must have an opportunity to engage with faculty in undergraduate research. And every major should have a capstone course that assists the student with the development of a portfolio to help launch his or her career.  
  5. Students must have the opportunity to study abroad in a variety of settings and many different countries. Moving forward, it will be important for us to act locally but think globally. In addition to increasing the number of international students, we can invite more speakers from around the world to our campuses. Making sure students are exposed to thoughts and ideas from around the world…even if they are unable to study abroad. Our students can have international experiences on the BGSU campuses!

    Earlier this month, we welcomed the Kenyan Ambassador to the United States to our B.G. campus and we’re working on securing visits from representatives of China and South Korea.

    I was in China last May on an invited trip from Beijing Information Science and Technology University and signed agreements with 2 universities. We must continue to build such partnerships and recruit across the globe. We have approximately 640 international students this year but in three years it should be 1,500.
  6. The faculty are the core of our great university and today I am asking Provost Rogers to put into place an annual review to designate new distinguished professors of teaching and learning, of research and of professional service. Each awardee will be selected for a 3-year appointment.
  7. We must do all we can to celebrate and embrace the diversity of our community and stamp out intolerance. As a University we’ve made great strides over the last decade, significantly increasing the diversity of our student body. And our strategic plan re-affirms our commitment to improving diversity among faculty and staff. I’m pleased that each of our colleges has finalized a plan for diversity. And, during the last year we succeeded in increasing the diversity of our faculty  and staff and have hired 39 new faculty and staff of color.

    I hope all of you will join me in continuing the dialogue this year by supporting the “Not in our Town” initiative.
  8. We continue to seek out new funding streams in academic programming, both credit and non-credit, research funding, technology transfer and innovative new devices that can change the future and provide licensing agreements. At the same time we must continue to become more efficient as we meet our funding challenges.
    In the coming months, we will begin preparing for our next comprehensive campaign, which is absolutely key to our future. Our goals in this campaign are to endow one or two colleges, secure gifts for a new business building, and endow 80 professorships and 1000 new scholarships. Private gifts are absolutely essential for building BGSU’s future and building the national and international reputation of our great university. We welcome our new vice president of University Advancement, Shea McGrew, to BGSU."
  9. Speaking of building, I hope each of you will work with Vice President Steve Krakoff as we continue the implementation of the master plan, which will provide new academic classrooms in Olscamp Hall and the Traditions buildings, Health and Human Services, as well as a new business building. We made major strides over the summer with our prototype learning spaces in Olscamp hall, new chemistry labs, and a new HVAC system in the Moore Musical Arts Center. We can do better. We must have state-of-the-art facilities on our campuses.
  10. Once a student is admitted to BGSU, it is incumbent on each and every one of us to work hard to ensure that every student is retained, graduates, and goes on to a successful career. Helping students to find and define a career focus will be an important part of what we do to prepare our students for success.

Whether you teach, conduct research, work in the recreation center, provide care in the health center, work on the grounds or in our dining facilities…please make sure our students have the support they need and feel like they are the most important part of this great university.

The challenges we face are not insurmountable. Our future can be very bright. We must work collaboratively. We must embrace a spirit of innovation to ensure that BGSU is positioned to take advantage of the opportunities in the coming years. We need our faculty, staff, students and alumni and friends working together to build this great university.

Change is upon us. We must embrace that change. I ask each of you to work with the administration and your colleagues to ensure that each student who arrives here becomes a successful alumnae/alumnus of this great university. They, and we, are at the right place at the right time. It is important, it is critical, for all of us to support and assist our students and each other in moving forward.

Bowling Green State University has a tradition of greatness. It is incumbent upon each of us to ensure this greatness continues. I promise I will do my part and ask each of you to do your part. Innovation, collaboration, partnerships, and change will be the keys to our future.

Thank you. Best wishes for a success and productive academic year.