2011 State of the Campus Address

9th September 2011


Sept. 8, 2011

By Chancellor Sandra R. Patterson-Randles

Welcome to a whole new era at IU Southeast! Every year we begin the opening of school with a busy – indeed sometimes frenzied – celebration as we greet our new and returning students, faculty, and staff.  But this year is different in a truly momentous way, for this year we celebrate 70 years of devoted service to our students and community.  You have seen our banners flying all over campus.  During this remarkable time, we will assuredly live up to our festive slogan, “Celebrating the Past, Shaping the Future.” So it is with a special emphasis that I once again extend a very warm welcome to our students, faculty, staff, parents, and members of our regional community, including the exceptional community leaders who serve on our Board of Advisors.  Will our Board of Advisors members please stand to receive our recognition and thanks?

As you can tell from the wonderful timeline which extends over 80 feet along the University Center hallway, IU Southeast began its journey in the Fall of 1941 as the Falls City Area Center of the Extension Division of Indiana University.  We, as a campus community, have come a long, long way – from borrowed junior high school and senior high school classrooms to a 180-acre campus; from 16 courses to over 700; and from 291 students, only four of which were full-time, to this year’s – the third year in a row –  new headcount record of 7,256 students.  Even though this is only a small increase of 78 students over last year’s record, nonetheless, it is quite significant because of our new higher admissions requirements.  Our student services teams have done yeoman’s service this past year, especially so during an extremely busy summer, in order to bring in an even larger group of students. This was accomplished in the wake of raising admissions standards and enforcing the new Indiana Core 40 admissions requirements, which, in turn, has resulted in denying admission to nearly twice as many students as has been typical in the past.  Over the past two years the SAT scores for our incoming freshmen have increased by 17 points. Congratulations to our enrollment management offices for a job well done under difficult circumstances!

Our efforts this past year have been anchored on the achievements of nearly seven decades but also on the accomplishments specifically cited and praised in our 2010 NCA Reaccreditation report.  With this foundation for success, we have made significant strides regarding the initiatives outlined in my State of the Campus Address last year.

First, in order for us to help students stay in school and finish their degrees, our Task Force on Student Retention and Persistence to Graduation turned in a superbly researched and written report and a set of recommendations which we are in the process of implementing.  Thank you to Brittany Hubbard, the Task Force chair; Tanlee Wasson; Dean Emmanuel Otu; Dana Gohmann; Dr. Donna Dahlgren; Dr. Liam Felsen; Dr. Ken Harris; Jim Kanning; and Assistant Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management Anne Skuce for your exceptional work on this critical endeavor.

 Second, we have begun implementing the foundation initiatives detailed in our 2010-2015 Strategic Plan and are demonstrating progress in all areas.  As significant as all the work is on our eight goals in the plan, I would like to highlight the area which immediately catches the visitor’s eye and which has occasioned many comments of praise from people both on and off campus – the beauty of our institution’s grounds and facilities.  Our Physical Plant employees have enhanced this campus to a remarkable degree.  The flowers have been absolutely outstanding, and the Physical Plant has worked hard to deliver a whole string of improvements like the Sanders Financial Markets Lab; renovated chemistry labs; the Ogle Center/Knobview roof; new windows and roof for Crestview; windows for the University Center; the Hillside Hall fire alarm systems; accommodations for the new nuclear magnetic resonator; and our wonderful renovation of the food service area.  Incidentally, I was amused to see that in spite of adding a grill and refreshed menus, the number one desired food is – pizza – followed by hamburgers and cheeseburgers as a close second……some things never change!

As an extension of our facilities work, we are also in the final stages of developing a master plan for IU Southeast’s future, one where quadrangles, green spaces, walking malls, etc. take the comfortable, inviting outdoor areas of our campus to a whole new level.  In addition, even though our Education/Purdue Technology Building has been put on hold because of the state’s fiscal condition, I am so pleased that the IU Trustees have approved our proposal to build a sixth lodge.  Our residential housing has been a huge success with 95% occupancy the first year; 100% occupancy the second, third, and fourth years; and as many as 558 applications for 399 beds this year.  Because of moderate construction costs, a successful design already in place, and a $1 million gift to be dedicated to student housing, this is an unusually opportune time for this project.  The new lodge will add 87 new beds for students and will be located on the south side of our lake.  The project is estimated to cost $5.3 million and will be funded by auxiliary revenue bonds of $4 million, which will be repaid by Residence Life and Housing operating revenues, the $1 million gift, and $300,000 of campus reserves.  At this point, IU has sent a letter to the Governor requesting approval, following which endorsements by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, the State Budget Committee, and the Indiana Finance Authority must be secured.  Because this project would provide our local area with a much-needed economic boost in the form of more construction jobs and increased retail spending, I hope we can secure these approvals expeditiously and, thus, put the project out to bid in early Spring 2012.  I believe this would be an excellent way to round out our 70th anniversary year.

In addition, to accommodate all our new students, the Evergreen West parking lot has been completely resurfaced, and we have created an overflow parking gravel lot which will be paved next summer and named the Chestnut parking lot.  Considering all these projects, plus many more carried out during a tough year and an even tougher, hot summer, we owe a special thanks to Physical Plant employees and Administrative Affairs for their tireless work to make our campus safe, friendly, and beautiful.

In particular, I appreciate their special efforts regarding our aged oak tree which we had to bring down for safety purposes.  Our iconic statue of the Grenadier carved from that tree as a memorial will be a lasting reminder of how our campus values the past and builds its hopes for the future.

In addition to the aforementioned initiatives targeted for completion this past year, there are two more accomplishments I wish to highlight.  First, I am delighted that Melissa Weissinger, an IU Southeast graduate, and Kirk Randolph, a well-known regional community member and an ongoing IU Southeast employee, have accepted positions as our new Development Officers.  Along with Interim Vice Chancellor Jerry Wayne, they have blasted out of the starting gate through their efforts with local donors; special development training; strategic planning; excellent collaboration with Paula Jenkins, our very supportive assistant vice president for regional campuses; and a host of advancement activities.  Second, our University Communications team has garnered many accolades for our striking new IU Southeast magazine and their innovative marketing strategies, like the new “G-Time” campaign for athletics.  Our billboards also are prominent and tell a true story – Powerful Degrees, Powerful Graduates.  That this message is successfully reaching our major regional audiences is reaffirmed by the over 3,000 people who stopped by our Kentucky State Fair booth for meaningful conversations and questions.

All of these remarkable achievements this past year have, in fact, been accomplished in a tough fiscal environment.  We ended FY11 with a positive margin, meaning that revenues exceeded expenses by approximately $500,000, which then went into reserves available for future use, if needed.  Total compensation (wages & benefits) increased $1.3 million or 3.7% due to the Trustee-approved salary policy, promotional increases, and new positions that were approved in the FY11 operating budget.  Our planned use of reserves was $1.2 million and was used for such things as facilities and equipment, student financial aid, faculty and staff salaries and support, and technology support.

We were also able to cover a number of major supplemental items, such as R&R, facilities improvement projects, design fees, the early retirement program, and new bleachers for the Activities Building, totaling over $3 million.  In addition, in FY11 we established a $1 million reserve in anticipation of future state appropriation cuts.  This reserve was essentially depleted to balance the FY12 budget when we needed to absorb a $1.7 million reduction in state appropriation.

Overall, because of solid budgeting practices and continued efficiencies, FY11 was a good year for the campus, which, in turn, has set the stage for a solid FY12 budget.  Since the excellence of our faculty is at the very core of our students’ learning experience, for this school year we have increased the base budget for faculty salaries by $556K to cover the Trustee-approved salary policy, faculty promotions, and new faculty lines, as well as $118K for part-time instruction.  Other allocations included an increase in Degrees of Excellence funding, a new capital equipment R&R plan for expensive technical equipment, an increased energy and utilities budget, an increase in our University Assessment, and a FY12 planned use of reserves totaling $1.35 million.

Again, I believe our budgeting is circumspect and sound and that it positions IU Southeast favorably for the future.  In spite of a poor economy and appropriation cuts in the face of growing enrollments, we are opening this, our 70th year, strong, vibrant, and well- recognized as a high-quality institution that produces powerful graduates with a meaningful degree.

However, every transition, every milestone reached brings some bittersweet moments.  Because of IU’s recently announced early retirement program, 21 of our valued faculty and staff have chosen to retire.  The loss of these professionals and the devotion and expertise they have contributed to the success of IU Southeast will strongly impact our University.  We wish them well and encourage them to remember that they are still part of our campus family.  We also remember with fondness members of our campus community who have passed away – staff members Ed Kochert, Purchasing, and Mary Ann Braden, School of Social Sciences, and students Sandy Turpin, Bobby Gibson, LaKiesha Brumfield, and Bethany Burrier.  We will miss them and the brightness that they brought to IU Southeast.

As IU Southeast prepares for its next decade of service, we can rely on our practice of sound strategic visioning and planning to guide us through the inevitable challenges which every higher education institution must face.  Fortunately, one of Indiana University’s major goals, as announced by President McRobbie at his annual retreat, is to aggressively promote the value of baccalaureate degrees and the four-year institutions which provide them.  In this regard the regional campuses of Indiana University have collaboratively taken a giant step forward.  The Blueprint for Student Attainment has established objectives and action plans for improving higher education performance at the IU regional campuses.  The completed plan is the result of extensive work by a range of committees headed by Executive Vice President John Applegate’s office and comprised of faculty and staff members from all the regional campuses.  The plan is based on three priorities:  Collaboration, Engagement, and Excellence and is being implemented in greater detail by eight action teams on the following topics:

  • Student Advising – IU Kokomo Chancellor Michael Harris
  • System of Data Gathering and Evaluation – IU Southeast Chancellor Sandra Patterson-Randles
  • Online and Hybrid Education – AVP Barbara Bichelmeyer
  • Research and Learning Directed Toward Regional Needs and Non-traditional Students – IU South Bend Chancellor Mae Reck
  • Joint Academic Programming and Faculty Development – IU Northwest Chancellor Bill Lowe
  • A Strong, Two-Way Partnership with Ivy Tech Community College – IU East Chancellor Nasser Paydar
  • Efficiency:  Consolidation of Back-Office Student Services Operations – AVP Jim Kennedy
  • Efficiency:  Organization and Long-Range Planning – EVP John Applegate

While advancing the regional campuses’ goal of greatly improved student success in earning quality, affordable baccalaureate and master’s degrees, the Blueprint supports many of President McRobbie’s ten Principles of Excellence for Indiana University.  The importance of this endeavor cannot be stressed enough, and I encourage all of our campus community members to inform themselves thoroughly regarding the Blueprint and its initiatives, to be actively engaged in the ongoing planning and implementation, to review progress and submit well-considered feedback and evaluations, and to support the process. The active engagement of our faculty and staff is critical, because this endeavor clearly will chart the future for IU’s regional campuses.

Finally, I wish to give every single contributor to IU Southeast’s achievements for the past 70 years my deepest appreciation and respect.  As we stand here beginning our year-long jubilee, I can honestly say that IU Southeast has blossomed and is thriving. Our success in serving our students and regional community is strongly indicated by the numbers of our 2011 Commencement:  the largest graduating class ever in IU Southeast’s history and the largest minority student graduating class.  Throughout this school year we will enjoy many festivities on campus.  Please come join us as we celebrate our past and continue to shape the future.