2013 State of the Campus Address

21st August 2013

AUG. 20, 2013 

Interim Chancellor Barbara A. Bichelmeyer

Welcome, all, to the 2013-14 academic year at Indiana University Southeast. 

On behalf of the entire IU Southeast community, we extend a special welcome to our students – may this be a year in which you learn not only how to provide for your needs and to better care for yourself; may you also come to understand yourself and your world more deeply and fully, to find your place in community with others, and to come closer to finding your answer to a most important question, posed by poet Mary Oliver, “what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

To our faculty, staff and administrators, welcome back to another year in which, day in and day out, through the words you say and the actions you take, you will create a climate that helps people to change, and to grow, and to do things they have not previously been able to achieve. Thank you for all you do to make IU Southeast a place which people value so highly, a place where hopes and dreams may begin to come true.

Welcome to our alumni, to our friends and our guests, to those who serve IU Southeast in many and varied important ways. Thank you for all the positive energy you bring to help us build bridges between our campus and the regional community, between our dreams and our future.

Welcome to each of you on stage with me today. You are the leaders of our students, our alumni, faculty, staff, administration, and our Board of Advisors – collectively, you represent the strength of our community. Congratulations to our award winners, and thank you – you exemplify the best qualities of our service.

And thank you to all who have spent so much time and effort and gone to great lengths to prepare for and organize events today. Thanks especially to Charla Stonecipher, Jennifer Hershfield, and to Jenny Johnson Wolfe, and the entire Office of Communications staff, without whom these events would not have happened at all.

I consider it a great privilege to be serving this year as Interim Chancellor of Indiana University Southeast. I am inspired every day by the people I have come to know here – you care so much, you are so very generous of time and resources, and you work so hard to further the mission and goals of this campus.

I have held the title of Interim Chancellor for only seven full weeks, so I am honored to serve as reporter to you about the good works of so many others over the course of the past year. Notable accomplishments include:

•  The largest class ever graduated from IU Southeast in May 2013, with almost 1,200 students earning degrees.

•  IU Southeast remains the most affordable four-year option for higher education in Southern Indiana and Greater Louisville. We are particularly proud of this fact because we recognize the cost of college is of critical concern to our students and for our region.

•  The “Powerful Futures” fundraising campaign closed on June 30, 2013, and exceeded the campaign’s goal, raising a total of more than $12 million. This is a testament to the pride our community members have in this campus, and your commitment to IU Southeast.

•  The Chancellor’s Medallion dinner last October netted more than $100,000 in gifts and contributions, the most ever, from friends of IU Southeast. These funds go directly to scholarships for our students.

•  Due in large part from the success of our development efforts, we continue to increase the amount of financial aid and the number of scholarships we provide, so now most of our students receive some form of aid through scholarships, grants, or loans.

•  The States of Indiana and Kentucky added Shelby County to our renewed reciprocity agreement. Now, residents of six Kentucky counties pay in-state tuition rates at IU Southeast, and our campus is an even more viable option for Kentucky residents, especially since we are located less than 15 minutes from downtown Louisville.

•  Our alumni continue to see a strong return on their investment in higher education. A 2012 survey conducted by the campus found that only 2 percent of alumni respondents reported being unable to find employment. This percentage is significantly better than the September 2012 national unemployment rate for new college graduates of 6.3 percent, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

•  Even better news is that more than 90 percent of IU Southeast alumni live and work in Indiana and the Greater Louisville region. In 2011, the Department of Labor reported the average salary for all jobs in the Greater Louisville region was $41,290. More than half the alumni who responded to our campus survey indicated that they earn an annual salary of $50,000 or higher.

•  The IU Southeast School of Education launched the New Neighbors Education Center (NNEC), a comprehensive endeavor directed to assist school districts, P-12 teachers, community organizations, and state entities as they respond to the learning needs of all students, particularly English language learners.

•  Also in 2012, our School of Business earned successful maintenance of its accreditation by the Association to Advance Colleges and Schools of Business.

•  We opened our new Graduate Center at Water Tower Square in Jeffersonville. This facility, which has 46% more space, includes state-of-the-art technology and classrooms.

•  We upgraded our wireless network to provide greater security, stronger signals, and improved connectivity on mobile devices when moving from place to place.

•  Many of our classroom computers, and those in student areas, have been upgraded to all-in-one touchscreen models to take advantage of the latest operating systems and software, including Windows 8. 

•  Two new hi-tech classrooms will be coming on line this Fall as well: Knobview 011 has been converted into a synchronous distance learning room called “Eagle Eye”, which has two cameras and can automatically zoom in on the person talking. Knobview 208, the Writing Center, has been redesigned with collaboration tables and a 70-inch interactive TV, allowing for a richer teaching and study environment.

 •  After years of planning and preparation, the Kuali Financial System went live in February 2013, replacing the legacy FIS system.  Kuali is a collaborative project involving a community of 72 colleges, universities, and commercial partners working together to create an open source financial system to improve efficiency and effectiveness and reduce costs.

•  Several capital projects were completed in the last 12 months, including classroom upgrades, new advisor offices in the schools, a new parking lot with 260 spaces, a new energy efficient kiln in the Ceramics Studio, a new kiln pavilion adjacent to Knobview Hall, and a renovation of the Ogle Center lobby. A new bus stop to improve safety will be ready for the fall semester, with a new shelter arriving by the end of October.

Accomplishments from athletics:

•  This past year, for the first time in program history, the IU Southeast men’s basketball team advanced to the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) Final Four.

•  Also in 2013, our cheerleaders won their fifth straight Cheer Ltd. National Championship.

•  Over half of our Grenadier student-athletes made the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll with a 3.0 GPA or higher during the 2012-13 academic year.

•  Our athletics department has now won the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Commissioners Cup five years in a row.

•  Athletics also won the NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star Award this past year.

•  For the first time ever, we will hold a fundraiser for athletics scholarships. The Champions Dinner is this coming Saturday, and I understand tickets for the event are sold out.

Accomplishments of note among our faculty, staff and students:

•  Our students and alumni are working in so many important professional and service roles that it is impossible to even begin to do justice to describing their contributions. I will offer one shout-out here, to our alumnae Shannon Potts, who was recently named On- Air Personality of the Year by the Academy of Country Music. Shannon majored in biology at IU Southeast, which goes to show the wide range of possibilities for where a good liberal arts and sciences education can lead.

•  It is also not possible in this one address to adequately represent all the good work of our faculty over the past year, so I will simply note as one example the publication of an edited book by Debbie Finkel, Professor of Psychology, titled Behavior Genetics of Cognition Across the Lifespan, which features her national and international research on twins to describe and explain the trajectories of change in cognitive abilities as a result of aging.

•  Assistant Professor of Informatics Sridhar Ramachandran was named the winner of the 2012 National Faculty Advising Award by NACADA, the National Academic Advising Association.

•  Professional Advisor Greg Roberts received NACADA’s Certificate of Merit for Outstanding Advising in 2013.

•  In 2012 and 2013, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Dana Wavle was named a finalist for Business First’s CFO of the Year for the category of large, non-profit organizations. From my work with Dana, I can personally attest that these are honors well- deserved.

I have attempted to highlight just some of the good that has been done by the community members of IU Southeast over the course of the past year. If caring, commitment and hard work are the only measures of our success, IU Southeast is thriving. Yet, as much as our people care and as hard as everyone works, our campus experienced four significant concerns this past year, concerns we continue to face.

1. Low student enrollments and revenue shortfalls – In Fiscal 2013, we experienced a decline in credit hours, resulting in a $3 million shortfall in tuition and fees. While it is still too early in our Fall 2013 enrollment cycle to definitively assess our current situation, I want to express my deep and sincere thanks to our admissions and enrollment management team for the hard work they put in this summer to increase our enrollments and thus improve our revenue.

2. Constrained budgets – This past year, we weathered the storm of our revenue shortfall by managing expenses, reducing utility costs, and relying upon budget reserves that were established for such a purpose. Obviously, constrained budgets challenge our ability to provide valued support to students, faculty, and staff, and therefore this is a situation we must move out of as soon as possible.

3. Low student retention and completion rates – Though our retention and completion rates are in line with our peers, there is solid room here for improvement in terms of absolute numbers. The tie between Indiana’s new performance funding formula and completion rates means it is imperative that we at IU Southeast identify strategies to keep our students until graduation, and to better align with this funding model, in order to take full advantage of this incentive.

4. Rising student debt and default rates – As previously mentioned, IU Southeast is the most affordable four-year institution in the Greater Louisville Metro area, and still the borrowing profiles of our students reflect troubling national trends of increasing student debt and default rates. Though our students don’t carry as much debt as the national average, debt loads are still rising, and this trend line needs to be altered.

Perhaps the major theme of the past year has been the news of transitions among campus leaders. 

•  Long-serving Faculty Senate President Fran Squires retired this past year, and J Barry has now taken on this important responsibility. J has already shown himself to be a thoughtful and creative leader, and I greatly look forward to working with him, and all the members of the faculty senate.

•  Effective July 1, Jason Meriwether began serving as our new Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. Jason and his entire staff are focusing with laser-like precision on using data to inform their decisions about how to best engage and support students. Having previously worked with Jason’s predecessor, Ruth Garvey-Nix, I want to take this opportunity to thank her, and Anne Skuce, who served as interim Vice Chancellor. We owe our gratitude to both Ruth and Anne for their service to our students.

•  Also effective July 1, Uric Dufrene moved from the School of Business to serve as Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, taking on an exceedingly important role on this campus, and at a critical time. I have worked for years with his predecessor, Gil Atnip, so I know Uric has big shoes to fill. Our thanks also go to Curt Peters for his willingness to step out of retirement to fill the gap between these permanent placements. We all may need to put running shoes on to keep up with Uric’s energy and pace this year.

•  And of course, the retirement of Chancellor Sandra Patterson- Randles effective June 30, 2013 is what brings me to be standing before you today. I want to personally recognize and thank Sandra for her years of service to the campus and to the Southern Indiana and Greater Louisville communities.

Serving in an interim role, I am perhaps more keenly aware than most that this is a year between what has been and what will be. It would be wise, I think, for us to pause at this time to consider our position and surroundings in order to chart a course that will keep us moving in the direction of our goals. If we stop for a moment to survey the landscape, we will see that our campus is not the only higher education institution currently in transition.

Indiana University is in transition, as President McRobbie and our Board of Trustees shepherd the institution through a period of capped tuition, shrinking state apportionments, with increasing costs of operations, particularly related to health care benefits. Our leaders are working to build on IU’s reputation by scaling up our academic programs so we reach more students, while at the same time leveraging our resources to achieve economies of scale across all IU campuses.

Higher education in the State of Indiana is also in a period of transition. Secondary students are now required to take college credits while in high school in order to achieve a Core 40 honors diploma. Rather than waiting for classes to be offered or waitlists to open on our campus, our own students now take courses online from other schools.

This Fall, a new Statewide Transfer General Education Core goes into effect that allows students who complete a general education program at one college to transfer 30 credit hours toward their degree at another college. This past legislative session, a statute was passed requiring higher education institutions to work together to develop state-wide transfer pathways, so any student who completes an Associate’s Degree in any of the 10 most popular programs at Ivy Tech will be able to transfer all 60 credit hours toward a bachelor’s degree at any public four-year school in Indiana.

Indeed, the entire enterprise of higher education is currently in an unprecedented period of transition. Shrinking revenue sources, increasing student debt burdens, calls for greater accountability, more – and more aggressive – competition, and the impact of the Internet are a perfect storm of conditions that are forcing change.

The Internet is actually late to effect higher education. While the first wave of the Internet disrupted information industries such as newspapers, journals, libraries, advertising and recording, Web 2.0 technologies are just beginning to be able to replicate some of the interactive features of traditional face-to-face classes.

The Internet is refining our notions of education as being a lecture- based, information dissemination experience. We are gaining a new appreciation that real education occurs through learner engagement and interactions with faculty, other learners, and with the knowledge and skills students seek to acquire. Historically, many people have confused information with education, but these are two very different things. Information is the decrease in uncertainty, while education is an increase in ability to do things one could not previously achieve. Lecture alone is simply informational. The other elements of instruction needed to increase students’ abilities are inspiration, demonstration, discussion, practice, feedback, and assessment. It always has been and always will be true that education, by its very nature, requires learners to be engaged in these elements of instruction. We have the Internet to thank for finally breaking the old paradigm of education as information dissemination, and bringing the truth into our collective consciousness that learner engagement is the core element of education.

The Internet is also transforming the university through the re- definition of expertise. When the collective body of knowledge is available in “the cloud,” it strikes at the root of the academy as conservatory. If faculty are no longer the keepers of knowledge, if students no longer must “sit at the feet of the masters” to access knowledge, then what purpose does the academy serve? While many faculty are still concerned with transmitting subject matter, our constituents are screaming that they want us to teach students the skills they need to interpret and apply knowledge. The U.S. Department of Education is so committed to finding alternative approaches to prepare students with adequate skills and abilities for the 21st century, this past Spring they ruled that federal student financial aid may be awarded for competency-based education. We can now be assured that such programs are here to stay.

The Internet has created expectations for customization of educational programs and services – just think of the Amazon model applied to higher education. Online degree programs offer students the opportunity to work through courses when it’s convenient, wherever in the world they happen to be, and do just as much work as they have time available to complete in any given session.

The real revolution in student-centered education begins when we match competency-based programs with customization of services: students are given outcomes with integrated performance measures of the knowledge and skills they must master to achieve a diploma, and they receive credit for prior learning activities. They engage in a community discussion space to connect with other students and use a web-based dashboard to see how well they are progressing as they work their way through project-based assessments that demonstrate they’ve achieved the required competencies. This isn’t futuristic. Currently we have elements of such programs on our campus. Just last week Southern New Hampshire University celebrated its first graduate from College for America, a comprehensive competency-based and customized programs.

To summarize my address to this point, the community of IU Southeast is full of tremendously caring and committed people who have been doing and continue to do wonderful things. Even so, we face significant concerns with regard to our enrollments, revenues, completion rates, and resulting budget constraints, at a time when now only our own campus is in transition, but when large forces are effecting change in higher education all around us.

So, what are we to do now? How should we respond when we care so much and we work so hard, and we are still not achieving the levels of success needed? Do we shrug our shoulders and give up? Do we trust our plan and keep a steady course, and hope the winds will shift in our favor? Do we re-double our efforts in the same direction? Or, do we stop and assess the terrain and remember the admonition of Thomas Edison, who said, “There’s always a better way.”

My father was a sixth-generation butcher who grew up during the Great Depression, left home at the age of 13 to apprentice in a meat market so he could help provide for his family, and worked in the grueling conditions of the Kansas City stockyards. My father was a man who knew how to work hard. At the age of 30, he took a chance on himself and started his own business. Just as his fortunes were improving and his company was showing signs of succeeding, he fell ill with tuberculosis, and was ordered by the doctor to bedrest for nine months. Worried his company would fail without his constant presence and effort, he turned for advice to his oldest sister, a major in the U.S. Army nursing corps. My aunt Barbara’s reply was, “John, this is a change you can’t escape, and you can’t work any harder, so if you want to be successful now, you are going to have to figure out how work smarter.”

We are now facing changes in higher education that we can’t escape, we are experiencing constrained resources that make it very difficult if not impossible to work any harder, and it is critical to our students, to our region, and to our economy that we are successful in achieving our goals. It’s time for us to “work smarter,” to find better ways to increase enrollments, improve retention, ensure completion, in service of our students and our community.

What would it look like for us to work smarter now? There is clear consistency in the messages I’ve received from IU Southeast’s Faculty Senate Executive Committee, the Campus Budgetary Advisory Group, and from Indiana University administration, regarding recommendations and priorities for the campus. 

First, we will improve revenue by increasing enrollment, retention and completion. We are already engaged in several strategic initiatives to address this priority, and during the coming year we will pursue several others:

•  The admissions and enrollment management team have spent the past few weeks connecting with 384 students who have stopped out to encourage them to come back to campus, and we have had remarkable success with this effort, as about 190 of those students have enrolled for Fall classes. This equates to $330,000 in tuition revenue we would not have had without their effort. 

•  We will build a student engagement model that includes a more robust approach to recruitment, retention strategies, and with more complete degree maps for students.

•  We will encourage and facilitate faculty involvement in recruitment and retention initiatives for all students.

•  We will review our inventory of academic programs to determine whether what we offer takes advantage of our unique strengths, matches with students’ interests, and best fits with the needs of our constituents in the region.

•  Remembering that our competition is outside our campus, we will work together to develop innovative, distinctive and attractive programs through unit-to-unit and cross-discipline collaboration.

•  We will gather input from our students to ensure our programs serve their needs, especially the needs of adults, returning students, first-generation students, veterans, and graduate students.

•  We will experiment with new and different options for academic programs, such as IU Weekend, evening courses, accelerated courses, and cohort-programs.

•  In our efforts to maintain control of our budgets and provide appropriate information that supports good decision-making, we will shift toward a modified version of responsibility-centered management so each academic unit will have a clear understanding of its budgetary health.

Second, we will collaborate with Ivy Tech and other area institutions to pursue opportunities that support students, promote seamless transfer, and serve the Southern Indiana and Greater Louisville Metro community.

•  In mid-July, IUS and Ivy Tech co-hosted our first-ever Open House for students, on the Ivy Tech campus. We will co-host other events in the future for our students, as well as events that promote collaborations between the faculty and staff of IUS and Ivy Tech.

•  We will work with Ivy Tech to implement the Statewide Transfer General Education Core to the benefit of our students.

•  We will participate with the other campuses of Indiana University in the development of statewide articulation pathways for Ivy Tech’s most popular degree programs.

•  We will explore opportunities with Ivy Tech, as well as with JCTC and with Purdue Technology Center, to establish other collaborative initiatives and shared services that better meet the needs of our students.

Third, we will develop and deliver online courses and programs to better meet the needs of our students, who face real time and resource constraints that may be mitigated by new technologies.

Given my continuing role this year as Senior Director of IU’s Office of Online Education, I would like to take a moment to address what I imagine may be a question or concern for some of you, which is whether I value and promote online courses and programs simply for the sake of technology. Please let me assure you that I see technology as a means to an end, and never as an end in itself. Within my academic discipline of Instructional Systems Technology, I have been criticized for not promoting technology enough. I do value technology as an important tool to most effectively and efficiently meet the needs of our students. I have also experienced that online courses and programs can be, and research shows them to be, a viable option, when well-designed, for students who have limitations that keep them from coming to campus.

Please let me explain what I mean by “well-designed.” You will hear me preach the terms “quality” and “student-centered” so many times this year with regard to education that you may come to believe these are my professional mantras. You will be correct in that belief. I have absolutely no doubt that, given the care and concern I find on this campus, you share my commitment to quality and a fierce dedication to students. At my professional and academic core, I am and always will be an instructional designer, and therefore I employ very technical definitions of these terms. So please understand that, when I talk in terms of quality, I am referring very specifically to educational programs and instructional experiences that are as engaging and highly interactive as possible. For example, I will look on a syllabus for statements of the performance objectives for a class, and compare those statements to the assessment activities to see if there is a strong link between what students are asked to do and the goals of the course.

Similarly, as an example of what I mean by student-centered, if I were to observe a student sitting through a 45-minute lecture in a classroom, I might ask why students are required to drive to campus rather than staying at home and watching via YouTube. I challenge us all to think from the perspective of the student when we design and develop academic programs and instructional experiences, so they are as valuable to each student as possible, and so our students never have a concern or a doubt about the return on investment for their educational experiences at IU Southeast.

Finally, we will build a respectful, feedback-rich culture that allows us to create strong relationships between the members of our campus community; between our campus and other Indiana University campuses as well as university administration; and with our constituents and community partners in Southern Indiana and the Greater Louisville Metropolitan region.

I have already listed many important initiatives we will undertake together this year. However, I am certain the most important work we will do during this moment of pause and transition and change, will be to consider again our relationships to each other, this community, to Indiana University, and to our students; and to ask whether our relationships are as we want and need them to be, and if not, how we should come into right relationship with each other.

I assured you earlier that I will always consider technology as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. I assure you now that I will always consider a relationship – a respectful feedback-rich relationship – as an end in itself and never as the means to any other end. In this, I take my lesson from philosopher Immanuel Kant’s second formulation of the categorical imperative, which states, “Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end.” This year:

•   We will work together to carry out our mission as a community of learners who apply our knowledge and skills in service of our community, and we will more fully assert our role as a resource to Southern Indiana and the Greater Louisville Metro area.

•   In this period of transition, we will review and re-visit our human resources policies and processes, and put in place systems and structures that support our employees and serve to bring out the best performance in all of us.

•   We will consider again our relationship to the other regional campuses and to Indiana University. I have told a number of stories already in my time here, and I will tell countless more before the end of the year, about being the youngest in a family with 10 children. I was blessed with loving parents, who taught me and my siblings that each person in a family has both a last name and a first name, with the last name representing our shared goals and values and responsibilities, and the first name representing our unique characteristics and contributions. The challenge to creating a strong family is always to bring the best interests of the individual together with the best interests of the group. Indiana University and its multiple campuses are just like a family in that regard. Given I’m a tenure-line Professor at IU- Bloomington, that I’ve served the past five years as a university administrator with a special charge to help develop collaboration among regional campuses, and that I’m now serving as Interim Chancellor at IU Southeast, I’m sure some may wonder where my allegiances lie. I do not view the answer to this question as an either/or choice, rather I will always choose the both/and answer. I will always encourage us to look for solutions that meet all of our needs and keep us in healthy relationship with one another.

•   Again, and finally, and to end where I began, I will ask that we all, constantly, continually, relentlessly, ask ourselves to consider what is best for our students and whether we are in the best possible relationship with our students. I have already stated in other talks how much I love the vision statement of this campus, which is, “IU Southeast will shape the future of our region by transforming good students into great leaders, one graduate at a time.” I respect this vision because it recognizes we can only be successful by doing our work one student at a time, over and over again, one student at a time.

Annually, members of the IU Southeast Common Experience Committee select a book and theme to promote an extended intellectual dialogue among students, faculty, staff, and members of the community. Led by co-directors Mary Bradley and Cliff Staten, for this year they have chosen The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot, who took ten years to uncover the facts of this award-winning story about a poor African American woman whose cells were taken during a procedure to remove an aggressive tumor, and without the knowledge of her family, became the first line of cells to grow in cultured media indefinitely, thereby providing us with the means to cure polio, to begin the Human Genome Project, and serving as the basis for a miraculous range of medical discoveries. It is a fascinating, complex, well-told, sometimes heart-wrenching, and ultimately love-affirming story. The quote that begins the book is from Elie Wiesel, who himself experienced greater suffering at the hands of others than any human being should have to endure, and throughout it all found a way to keep a loving spirit. Weisel wrote:

“We must not see any person as an abstraction. Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph.”

I know we will do great things together during this year of transition. I know it will all go so very quickly. Most importantly, I know the greatest gifts of this year will be the relationships we build with each other, and those will remain long after the year is finished and the initiatives have been completed. I know that our relationships will, ultimately, be the most important measures of our success.

Thank you.


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