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 Yearend Report: SRU Saw Achievements in Enrollment, Retention, National Programs 

 

SPOTLIGHT

2/6/2004

Contact: K.E. Schwab  -- 724-738-2199;  e-mail: karl.schwab@sru.edu

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is intended for use in your “Year End” business reports.

2003 WAS YEAR OF ACHIEVEMENTS AS SLIPPERY ROCK UNIVERSITY

SAW ENROLLMENT, RETENTION CLIMB; PROGRAMS GAIN NATIONAL RECOGNITION

          SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -- Slippery Rock University was rated as one of the 98 “Best Mid-Atlantic Colleges” by the prestigious Princeton Review in 2003. The year also brought “Best in the Nation Status” for the university’s Therapeutic Recreation Program from the American Therapeutic Recreation Association. And, Outside magazine cited SRU’s Park Ranger Program among the best in the country. Those and other accomplishments made for a year of significant achievements at the nearby state-owned university.

          Enrollment was up fall semester for the eighth semester in a row and enrollment of African-American and Hispanic students continued to rise. SAT scores for the year’s entering class rose and 29 percent of new freshmen were from the top 25 percent of their high school graduating classes. Retention, considered an important measure of a university’s success, increased for first- to second-year students to stand at 78.3 percent, and the graduation rate exceeded targets set by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. In fact, Noel-Levitz, a leading firm in recruitment and retention programs, presented its National Award for Excellence in Retention to SRU for its special freshman assistance programs.

 Pioneering Project for Workforce Development

          The university’s pioneering project to bring 12 post-secondary educational providers together to serve western Pennsylvania with a single-source education, conference and learning center in the Cranberry Woods Corporate Office Park, in northern Allegheny County, is on track with construction heading for a grand opening this fall.

          Alumni, corporations, foundations and friends continued to support SRU philanthropically during the year with fundraising topping $3.6 million. Contributions to the 10-year, $33 million “Campaign for Slippery Rock University” are now at 37 percent of goal. A generous, year-end gift of $250,000 from Mrs. Ethel Carruth, a longtime university friend, will support construction of an Equine Therapy Center at the Robert A. Macoskey Center for Sustainable Systems Education and Research on campus.

          The university reallocated $7.2 million to high-priority projects during the year, including $2.2 million for renovation of lecture halls, classrooms, laboratories and faculty offices as well as provided additional funds for new initiatives in student services and finance and administration. SRU earmarked $2 million for technology upgrades and academic program enhancements during the year, including expansion of hand-held computers, global positioning units, new whiteboards and Internet network improvements. Another $2 million was marked for building and grounds upgrades, including the women’s athletic complex. In addition, the SRU Student Government Association provided $1 million for lights and artificial turf at N. Kerr Thompson Stadium, now be used by women’s teams.  

Research Growth Continues

          With a renewed focus on academics, students presented research or creative works at some 210 international, national, regional or state conferences during the year.  The university hosted its third annual Research and Scholarship Symposium and SRU students swept the awards at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Philosophy Conference. The weekly student newspaper, The Rocket, garnered more than 30 top honors, including first place from the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Press Association, while the theater department’s production of “Beirut” was selected for American College Theater Festival presentation. The SRU Jazz Ensemble recorded its second CD following a successful European tour.

          Students, faculty and staff captured honors and accolades during the year: Marketa Schublova, a Czech Republic student, become her country’s first certified athletic trainer; the Army ROTC program earned a prestigious Liberty Brigade Commander’s Certificate and the MacArthur Award; and cheerleaders, Andy Brown of DuBois and Shannon Ross of Clairton won first place in pairs in the National Collegiate Cheerleading Championships. The Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers awarded its “Effective and Innovative Practices” award to the Office of Facilities and Planning for  streamlining its custodial supply chain – a move expected to save nearly $35,000 annually. Faculty and staff collected more than 30 grants totally $1.2 million during the year.

          In the College of Education, a signature program at SRU, faculty introduced a Professional Development School at Pittsburgh’s Horace Mann Elementary School and at Slippery Rock Elementary School. The special projects enable SRU education majors to gain extensive hands-on experience while students in the schools receive more personalized attention. The projects are funded in part with a $962,000 Teacher Quality Grant received in collaboration with Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Duquesne University, the University of Pittsburgh and Carlow College.

Accreditations Build Reputation

          As with all colleges, accreditation and program recognition from outside professions help build reputation. Slippery Rock University enjoyed a year of praise. The university’s innovative Exercise Science Program was the first in the nation to earn accreditation from the American Society of Exercise Physiologists and was endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine. The SRU Therapeutic Recreation Program was named “Best in the Nation” by the American Therapeutic Recreation Association, and the SRU computer science department and School of Business began the formal accreditation process. A new “Women in Leadership” speaker series was initiated and Carruth-Rizza Hall opened, offering $2.5 million in newly renovated classrooms and a state-of-the-art language laboratory. Faculty studied in Haiti, the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere, and SRU alumni donated rare western Pennsylvania fossils for study.

          An integral part of the regional community, Slippery Rock University used the year to partner with local businesses and organizations. A project with Highmark, Inc., Bayer Corp., Bender Consulting and the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation saw 13 disabled students undertake computer help-desk training under “Project Freedom.” The university’s Division of Lifelong Learning managed 74 workforce training and economic developments grants totaling $1.1 million to update regional workforce needs, and student volunteers from the SRU Institute for Community, Service Learning and Nonprofit Leadership helped establish the I Care House Community Center in New Castle where after-school and weekend programs for children and adults are meeting the needs of the East Side neighborhood.

 Graduation is Key

          The culmination for the year is graduation. SRU awarded more than 40 doctor of physical therapy degrees, more than 150 master’s degrees and nearly 1,200 undergraduate diplomas to deserving students who are now taking their education into leadership positions across the state and nation.

          Another enrollment increase is anticipated for fall. Student focus on academics and research continues to grow as SRU continues to serve the region as an important community resource.                                                   

 PN, PgN, WPN, S

 

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