2015 State of the University

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Thank you, Vice Chair Newlove. I appreciate all you do for BGSU and the time and effort you give to us as a member of the Board of Trustees and as Vice Chair of the Board. Our Trustees give of their time to ensure a strong future for Bowling Green State University. We appreciate the expertise and advice they provide.

Good morning. Welcome to those here in the Donnell Theatre of the Wolfe Center, at our Firelands campus, and to those across the state and country, who are watching through our video stream.

Thank you to our faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters for all they have done and will continue to do to build BGSU’s future. We need to say a special thank you to Ohio Governor Kasich, President of the Senate Faber, Speaker of the House Rosenberger, and an extra special thanks to chair of the Senate Higher Education Finance Committee Randy Gardner, for increasing the State Share of Instruction in the state budget for the next two years and for freezing tuition for our students this year and next academic year. This increased state support means a great deal to us.

The theme of last year’s State of the University Address was “together we have built and will continue to build BGSU’s future.” We accomplished that goal and will continue to embrace it. I want to congratulate everyone for a truly outstanding 2014-15 year for BGSU. Today, you will hear about many of the successes that made 2014-15 a year of accomplishments. Now we must continue to collaborate and cooperate across the campuses to ensure our success continues.

This year’s theme will be “Let’s lift ourselves to yet higher levels of achievements and recognition.” With our many years of historical success, each day we should find ways to change BGSU to meet the challenges of the future. We are all agents of change.

First, I want to discuss the strategic plan and recognize those who have been instrumental to its implementation. Second, I want to discuss the path to our future success as we continue to build this great University. Let’s discuss the strategic plan and how it guides our future.

 “In the spirit of Innovation” is the beginning phrase of BGSU’s vision. Simply, this means that we are willing to change to meet the future needs and demands placed upon public higher education. During this past year, we have made significant changes and progress in positioning our academic programming and other university operations. We have created a new general education program that is focused on learning outcomes and an assessment process for all general education courses. We have used linked courses, learning communities, and undergraduate research to increase student retention. We have continued to implement the Accenture recommendations. All of us must be change agents.

Goal 1 of the strategic plan places an emphasis on the “unique undergraduate experience available at BGSU.” Let me discuss some successes of that goal. I am proud to announce that retention of last year’s freshman class is 77.5 percent. This is among the highest in recent University history and about eight percentage points higher than just two years ago. This is a major accomplishment and many, many faculty and staff were instrumental in this achievement. I ask Andy Alt and his staff to stand and be recognized for all the innovative and excellent work they have done to achieve this remarkable goal.

I also want to thank Provost Rogers, other administrators, faculty, and staff all across campus for their diligence in increasing retention.

To achieve this retention success, we implemented innovative technologies, which included four-year digital roadmaps for on-time degree completion. In addition, we continued and expanded the Centennial Hall Faculty Involvement program to four additional residence halls, which is an excellent example of a collaboration between Academic Affairs, led by Provost Rogers, and Student Affairs, led by now retired Vice President Jill Carr. This collaboration focused on student success and student achievement.

Last fall, we issued a request for proposals for the Trustees Innovation Fund. The purpose was to establish new programs with student demand or to offer our existing programs in a flexible format. I am pleased we were able to fund nine grants from that fund. As a result, eCampus was established and approved by the Trustees. eCampus provides program support and marketing of online programs that demonstrate student demand at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. In addition, new or modified academic programs have been created. They focus on workforce education and development, public health, software engineering and insurance. There is another request for proposals for funding Trustees Innovation grants for this academic year.

We learned during the summer that two of our engineering programs — Engineering Technology and Electronics, and Computer Engineering Technology — received the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) approval. All of these demonstrate how we are changing to meet new needs and creating an innovative culture on the BGSU campus.

Our enrollments this fall are strong. Let me offer some insights:

  • New freshman enrollment is up 12 percent over last year. The freshman goal was 3,200 and 3,402 new freshman enrolled this week.
  • We have enrolled the best academically prepared class in the University’s history! The GPA for the cohort is 3.36.  
  • 20 percent of enrolled freshmen report a multicultural ethnicity.
  • 14.3 percent of the students are from out of state.
  • 21 different countries are represented in this class.
  • Transfer enrollment is trending up, with a 4 percent gain in new transfers over last year.
  • New graduate student enrollment is up 13 percent; with 898 enrolled this semester.

While so many are involved in recruiting our students, I would like to ask Cecilia Castellano to stand. Cecilia is our new vice provost for strategic enrollment planning, and she is to be commended for her work on recruiting an outstanding class to BGSU.

For these freshmen and future freshmen, we must continue to position ourselves with majors that are in demand in the workforce.

Early last fall, we learned that US News and World Report designated us as one of the top 100 public universities in the country. This was a significant achievement. We were the ONLY public university in northern Ohio to achieve that ranking.

Our new Honors College is attracting outstanding students and providing first-rate experiences for them. The Honors College admitted its largest class in University history this fall.

Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor John Carey was on campus a few weeks ago. He commended our Career Center for its work. I want to thank Jeff Jackson for his excellent work in leading the Center—please stand and be recognized.

Part of our unique undergraduate experience, Goal One of the strategic plan, is that we embed career-related activities in all undergraduate programs to ensure students are prepared for the first-time employment as well as “lifelong career growth.” Our internship guarantee is a credit to the outstanding work of our Career Center and faculty efforts. Last year, we received an award under the second round of the Ohio Board of Regents’ “Ohio Means Internships and Co-ops” program. This program forges partnerships in key industrial sectors throughout the state to create more internships and co-ops. Thanks to all who worked to make that grant possible to benefit our students.

Another example of that unique undergraduate experience is the Northwest Ohio Undergraduate Symposium for Research and Scholarship held in April. Students from universities throughout the region participated, and I would like for Cordula Mora, Director of Undergraduate Research, to stand and be recognized for her excellent work with our students.

Our innovative and entrepreneurial spirit is alive at BGSU and was evident when more than 5,000 people attended events during e-Week to hear from renowned speakers and participate in educational opportunities such as The Hatch and the Sebo Series in Entrepreneurship. I want to thank all of our sponsors of e-Week, and a special thank you to Dr. J. Robert Sebo for his vision in creating an entrepreneurial spirit with his financial support of the Sebo Series.

National academic competitions are important to taking us to higher levels of national recognition. During 2014-2015, the BG Chapter of the American Marketing Association won the Bronze Chapter Award, placing it in the top five percent of the 350 collegiate chapters throughout the world. Business student Andrew Ludwig placed 12 out of 147 students at the National Sales Competition. The Forensics and Debate Team spent their spring break winning a national championship. The team beat out 127 other universities to win the national tournament. We are proud of these achievements and hope to have more team and individual academic recognitions in the future.

On the athletic front, we had many individual and team achievements last academic year, and all of us should be very proud. After winning the NCAA East Regional, being named Great Lakes Region Field Athlete of the Year twice, and being ranked number one nationally most of the season, track and field’s Brooke Pleger ended her BGSU career with a third-place finish in the hammer throw at the NCAA Division I National Championship. Brooke, the only Falcon ever to be honored with the regional award and the three-time All-American awards, became the first female in BGSU Athletics Department history to achieve that elite level. Brooke has joined the BGSU staff. Brooke, would you stand and be recognized?

Another impressive individual athletic accomplishment this past year is the fact that Richaun Holmes became the first Falcon to be selected in the NBA draft since 1997. He’s the first player out of the Mid-American Conference to be drafted in the last 12 years. We are proud of all of our students and want to congratulate Brooke and Richaun for the national recognition they brought to BGSU.

 We are pleased that the football team won the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl and are back-to-back MAC East Champions. Last year, men’s basketball had a 20-win season for the first time since 2001, and hockey ended the regular season with 20 wins for the first time since 1996, and men’s soccer was runner-up to the MAC Championship.

Athletics also had many academic achievements last year including a school record of a 3.186 cumulative grade point average. The 2014-15 women’s basketball team was ranked fifth in the nation, with an overall team GPA of 3.594 – the highest ever in program history. Our student athletes finished second out of 12 for the MAC Institutional Academic Achievement Award. Chris Kingston, our Athletics Director, will you stand and be recognized for your fine work in building the recognition of our Athletics programs?

Goal Two of the strategic plan focuses on graduate programs, scholarship and research. Last April, BGSU hosted a research workshop titled “Global Solutions to Regional Problems.” The workshop, led by Professors of Biological Sciences George Bullerjahn and Michael McKay, was sponsored by the National Science Foundation and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. It brought together the leading scholars in the world to discuss the current science on factors that contribute to harmful algal blooms in fresh water.

To build on this research, the city of Sandusky has approved an agreement with BGSU Firelands to lease space at the Big Island Water Works facility to create a research center. The agreement will allow the University to further research on Lake Erie, provide enhanced educational opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students, and to expand outreach activities to local schools and the community.

During the summer we were notified that the Center for Family and Demographic Research is expected to receive a five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue its research, training, and service. We are fortunate to have these nationally recognized demographic researchers on the faculty. Congratulations to Susan Brown, Wendy Manning, Karen Guzzo, and I-Fen Lin for this grant and for the additional grants they received from NIH this past year and for the many years that their outstanding research has brought national recognition to this great University. We all look forward to your findings from this extension of your national funding.

Just recently, I learned that Moira Van Staaden has a pending $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation for STEM education research. Also from the National Science Foundation, Mikhail Zamkov of Photochemical Sciences and Physics expects to receive two separate three-year grant awards for more than $730,000 to support his research.

Neocles Leontis of Chemistry and Craig Zirbel of Mathematics and Statistics received a $1.3 million grant from National Institutes of Health, which was a second, four-year award to support their work. Jonathan Bostic and Gabriel Matney received two, two-year awards totaling nearly a million dollars from the Ohio Department of Education, funding provided by the Federal Mathematics and Science Partnership. All of these are examples of our outstanding faculty competing nationally to bring research funding and recognition to BGSU.

We are pleased to welcome Malcolm Forbes from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to the directorship of our internationally recognized Center for Photochemical Sciences. As Dr. Forbes assumes the role as director of this long-established center, we look forward to his leadership and collaboration with partners internal and external to BGSU. This past year, Professor Peter Lu, Ohio Eminent Scholar in Photochemical Sciences, was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a very prestigious national award. Thank you, Dr. Lu, for the national recognition you bring to BGSU.

It’s been a whirlwind year for Dr. Phil Stinson in criminal justice. His research into police who commit crimes has made him a sought-after commentator by media outlets worldwide, helping raise the University’s profile. Dr. Stinson, would you please stand and be recognized?

Our alumnus Anthony Doerr, a graduate of the creative writing master’s program, received the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. His book, “All the Light We Cannot See,” has been on the bestseller list for months. Over the summer I read the book, and I suggest you add it to your reading list.

To continue to grow our graduate enrollments, we have added professional master’s programs and four-plus-one or three-plus-two graduate programs. Our goal is to continue to develop such programs, including a professional master’s degree in forensic science. We have enhanced graduate program offerings to allow adult, online, and other nontraditional students to access the value of a BGSU degree in high growth/high demand areas with five new online or degree completion programs for 2015-16.

Goal Three of the strategic plan focuses on partnerships with public, nonprofit and the corporate sector. We are proud of our partnership with Attorney General DeWine, and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation Laboratory on our campus, and the whole array of new academic programming and outreach associated with it. Recently, Provost Rogers, Dean Colwell and I visited the city of Toledo Public Schools Superintendent Romulus Durant, and discussed how we can partner with them in a STEM high school collaboration and on a STEM initiative. During last spring semester, we partnered with the University of Toledo and other community colleges in the region on a RAPIDS grant from the Board of Regents to foster Advanced Manufacturing in the region. We will continue to build these regional partnerships with the public, private and nonprofit sectors to ensure northwest Ohio is a driver of the state of Ohio’s economy.

Recognition at state, national and international levels is very important. Jerome Library was ranked number 11 of the 50 most amazing college libraries in the country. Our partner, the city of Bowling Green, has recently been ranked by WalletHub as the 28th best college town in the country. The city was also ranked as the top city in Ohio for hockey and number 18 in the country among 74 cities that boast an NHL or NCAA Division I hockey team. These rankings demonstrate we are a university, and a university town, on the move. We will continue to strive for national recognition.

During this past academic year, the Carnegie Foundation named Bowling Green State University one of only 340 higher education institutions in the country to receive the 2015 Community Engagement Classification. This notable achievement showcases high participation rates in service learning and demonstrates that BGSU has continued to build its partnerships in this region and beyond which is an important component of Goal Three of the strategic plan. Last academic year, Maddi Georgoff was one of 201 students recognized nationally as a 2015 Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellow, again demonstrating our commitment to service-learning and the work of our students. Thank you, Jane Rosser, in leading our efforts. Will you stand and be recognized?

Our inaugural Bravo BG event took place in March. The event was designed to showcase the outstanding programs in music, theater and film, art, creative writing and dance. With a presenting sponsorship from PNC and with support from the BGSU Foundation and others, we raised $65,000 for scholarships for students in the arts. These students will be known as Bravo Scholars and will be featured at the next Bravo event, scheduled for April 2, 2016. Watch for more information on this signature event. Join us for the event to raise scholarship funds for the arts.

Goal Four of the strategic plan focuses on global engagement. To that end, this past year we have had some remarkable individual achievements that demonstrate the implementation of this goal. These include three BGSU students who received Fulbright awards for the 2015-16 academic year. They are Rebekah Nelson, who will be an English teaching assistant in Berlin, Germany; Samantha Boss, teaching in Mexico; and Jessica Batterton, teaching in Rwanda. Both Samantha and Jessica were students in the Master of Arts in Cross-Cultural and International Education program. Radhika Gajjala of the School of Media and Communication will be in residence this coming year at the University of Bergen, Norway, as a Fulbright Scholar. She will be working for the Digital Cultures Institute to further her work in the digital humanities and cultural theory.

Four years ago, I stood before you and discussed the need to continue to nurture and grow our international partnerships. In 2011, we had 11 of these partnerships and today we have 22, with 12 more in negotiation. One of these new partnerships has been created between Tianjin Polytechnic University and our College of Business, which will result in a joint degree between the two universities. The degree program is a BSBA with a specialization in Business Analytics and Intelligence.

We also have a partnership with INSOFE — the International School of Engineering in Hyderabad, India. They are an educational institute that is partnering with us to recruit for our MS in Analytics program. Of this year’s cohort of 36 MSA students, 14 came directly from INSOFE, with others being referred to us by them.

These are excellent examples of international academic partnerships that take this great university to higher heights of recognition and demonstrate we are a national/international model for a premier learning community—our vision!

Goal Five of the strategic plan emphasizes a campus and community that fosters diversity and inclusion. This past year marked the second anniversary of the Not in Our Town effort with the Bowling Green community. The national NIOT organization produced a film that featured the outstanding work that has been undertaken here, titled “The Bowling Green Legacy.” Thank you to all who have been involved in this effort.

During the summer of 2014, the White House contacted the President’s Office and asked us to become involved in the It’s on Us Campaign, and the campus has taken a leadership role with our program. Recently our program was presented at the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence Annual Conference. Barbara Waddell, will you please stand and be recognized for your leadership efforts in NIOT and It’s on Us?

Goal Six of the strategic plan focuses on the well-being and quality of life of our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends. To that end, the leadership of Undergraduate Student Government has created Falcon Care, which is a student charitable initiative that allows donating meals to students in need. In addition, we have implemented a faculty excellence award program. We will continue to focus on leadership development of our students, faculty, staff and administrators.

An attraction to new students in all disciplines, but particularly those enrolled in those related to our Center for Health and Wellness Across the Lifespan, is the newly renovated Student Recreation Center. The new center boasts state-of- the-art equipment and is home to the outstanding programming focused on health and wellness.

During the past year, Goal Seven of the strategic plan, that focuses on physical, organizational and financial infrastructure, has been centered on the implementation of the University’s Master Plan. During the 2014-15 academic year, we opened new facilities, which included the Attorney General’s Center for the Future of Forensic Science/Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation Building. With that opening, BGSU is one of four universities in the country with a crime laboratory on campus.

We also opened the BG Flight Center, a collaboration with North Star Aviation. North Star has refurbished our planes, built the new hangar/classroom building, and provided us with a new flight simulator. The enrollments in that program have increased this fall.

During the summer, we renovated Olscamp Hall with state-of-the-art classrooms, created new classrooms in Eppler and the Education and Business buildings, and created new space for the Architecture program. We are renovating the Health and Human Services building, and have already moved Food and Nutrition into new laboratories in HHS. The Firelands Allied Health and Sciences Building ribbon cutting will be November 20, and students will begin using the facility next spring. We were notified this week that the renovation of McDonald has won an award from the American Institute of Architects.

South Hall will open next fall for the School of Media and Communication. Moseley will open in 2017 with new science labs. University Hall will open in 2017, also with new classrooms and as home to Admissions and student support services for academic units.

The basic infrastructure project for the Traditions buildings is on time and on budget. New Greek housing will also open next fall. We are transforming the campus on a continuous basis for academic programs and our current and future students. Our campus is changing every day to meet future student needs. A very special thank you to Vice Presidents Stoll and Krakoff and their staffs for all of the work on our campuses.

We continue to have an emphasis on increasing efficiency, and we are proud of the success we have achieved with the Accenture study. With its recommendations, we have centralized the business functions of the Foundation, have centralized facilities and maintenance functions, and have decreased the number of general education courses. We have developed new sources of revenue by increasing exposure to current online affiliations, identified new merchandise and service opportunities and developed new community-based partnerships.  All of these are part of our strategies to increase revenues and lower costs to ensure that our financial model is sustainable for BGSU’s future. An example of innovation being rewarded is the Central Association of College and University Business Officers award. Bob Swanson, Associate Controller, recently received first place in the Best Practices competition for 2015. Bob’s winning submission was entitled “Effectively Measuring, Allocating and Managing Campus Wide Utility Costs.” Bob, will you please stand and be recognized?

In October of 2012, I signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. We are working to implement the components. I want to share some information about our Green Fund Initiative:

  • 84 percent of the students voluntarily contributed to the fund in fiscal year 2015.
  • Nearly $147,000 was invested directly into sustainability initiatives on campus last year.
  • Since its beginning, the Green Fund has provided more than $400,000 for 36 projects on campus.

That’s just outstanding work! Nick Hennessy, will you please stand and be recognized for this work?

I am particularly pleased with the first year of the quiet phase of the Comprehensive Campaign and want to thank Vice President for University Advancement Shea McGrew and his staff for their work. The campaign’s support of BGSU’s vision and mission is truly extraordinary. Over the last year, Advancement has secured more than 30 gifts and pledges of $100,000 or more to the University. The campaign total now stands at more than $50 million dollars, which includes the generous gift from Bill Frack. There has been an increase in annual giving by five percent, and priorities for the campaign have been established. This past year, the Family Campaign raised $900,000 and had 45% participation, which is much better than many of our peer institutions. We established a group called the Golden Falcons, alumni who are celebrating 50 years or more as BGSU alumni. They had a great time in their inaugural reunion.

The first priority for our campaign is scholarships. We raised more than $7 million in scholarship funding last year, so our goal for the next year is to greatly exceed that figure because our students need scholarship support. Last year, we created $1.4 million of endowed faculty and other positions. We hope to double that amount in the coming year. We were also able to garner $4.2 million in capital project support. This year, we hope to increase that amount to $7 million. In total, we hope to increase our fundraising for BGSU this year to $30 million. In doing so we will need the support of the entire BGSU family. Talk to alumni, engage them in your classrooms and ensure they understand the needs of our students.

As we begin to think about the implementation of our goals for this year, I would like to recognize the efforts of our constituent groups who will be working with us: As I call your name, please stand. I ask that you hold your applause until the end.

  • Dr. Allen Rogel, Chair of Faculty Senate;
  • David Jackson, President of BGSU-FA;
  • Jeremy Joseph, Chair of Administrative Staff Council;
  • Jan Garber, Chair of Classified Staff Council;
  • Victor Senn and Danielle Parker, President and Vice President of Undergraduate Student Government; and
  • Maryam Kamran and Julia Largent, President and Vice President of Graduate Student Senate.

Thank you to all of your for your service.

I am also pleased that Viva McCarver is our new Chief Human Resources Officer, David Kielmeyer is our new Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, and Sidney Childs is the Interim Vice President for Student Affairs. Dr. Childs recently learned that his TRIO initiative to provide student success services to low-income students was funded for five more years at $2.8 million.

Undergraduate Student Government has created a new BGSU Creed that captures the spirit of Bowling Green State University and why we believe in our great University. The creed goes like this:

I am a Falcon.

I value an education inside and outside of the classroom.

I aspire to be an engaged global citizen and leader.

I seek service to improve my community.

I collaborate with fellow Falcons in changing the world.

I promote diversity, respect and a culture of inclusion.

I pursue excellence in all I do.

I support my Falcon family.

I believe in BGSU.

I am a Falcon.

Thanks to our great students, especially Victor and Danielle, for their fine work on this creed. We’ll have copies of the creed for you as you leave today. Please spread the message of the creed.

The goals for next year include a continued emphasis on the undergraduate experience and the diversification of our student population. We want the BG experience to be designed to ensure that our undergraduate learning experiences make us the first university of choice for prospective students.

Our goal is to decrease the time to degree and ensure all students have international learning opportunities inside and outside of the classroom while at the same time enhancing our internship guarantee. We hope to continue to develop professional graduate programs and grow our external research funding. Our partnerships with the private sector, the public and nonprofit sectors as well as the Foundation and corporate support for these partnerships must be enhanced. We want these academic and research partnerships to be with other universities in the state, nation and the world and to focus on workforce development, research and commercialization.

We plan to continue to diversify our faculty, staff and student body and build ourselves as a national model for diversity and inclusion. In addition, we will introduce new leadership development programs to provide opportunities for our faculty and staff.

We are dedicated to continuing to build our strong financial future with the implementation of performance-based budgeting and greater efficiency. Continued implementation of the master plan is a high priority and important to our future.

Our goal is to be at 25,000 students with more than 80% percent retention of our students. We have established ourselves as a strong value and quality education. We want to build on these strengths while at the same time overcoming any weaknesses and seizing opportunities to enhance and build our future.

Over the next year we will have many strategic choices to make to take this University to higher heights. Some of those choices include the following:

  1. Enhancing quality and value of the BGSU degree(s) and ensuring a distinctive BG undergraduate experience.
  2. Increasing the size of the University’s student body to have the resources necessary to fund the costs of innovation, new programs, and deferred maintenance. This means expanding to new markets and taking away market share from our competitors.
  3. Developing new programs that will generate strong enrollment numbers.
  4. Securing new populations such as employer-based cohort programs or increasing the existing market in such programs targeted to veterans.
  5. Expanding to more of the out-of-state and international markets and setting goals for these new markets.
  6. Providing new modes of instructional delivery and access and setting goals for size for online and hybrid student populations.
  7. Examining net tuition revenue by program to determine the return on investment as a form of performance-based budgeting.
  8. Continuing to lower our costs.
  9. Determining how best to balance the financial support of academic vs. athletics vs. support for student life programming.

In addition, during the 2015-2016 academic year, the administration and the Faculty Association are committed to producing a fair contract that supports the broader mission of excellence in teaching, research, and service at BGSU. Both sides pledge to work collaboratively and in good faith to achieve this goal through interest-based bargaining.

Also this year, the University, as a holder of a broadcast FCC license, will determine if, and how, we participate in an auction designed to increase the spectrum available for wireless devices. We continue to review the various options available to our station, WBGU-TV, in order to make the best decision possible for both the University and the communities we serve.

Our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends are the keys to building this strong future that ensures BGSU has a next 100 years that is even better than the last. We just continue to build on our successes and take this great university to higher heights of state, national, and global recognition. I am totally confident that we can do it!

I ask each of you to do your part in implementing our strategic goals for 2015-2016. Be innovative and creative and a change agent. I plan to do so.

Thank you for all you do for BGSU. I look forward to working for years to come with each and every one of you. Best wishes for a successful academic year.

Thank you.