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 SRU Trustees Hear Report on 'Developing an Engaged Intellectual Community' 




Contact: Ross Feltz  -- 724-738-2919; home 412-344-5493 e-mail:


           SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -- As Slippery Rock University begins its 115th academic year, Interim President Robert Smith suggested to the university’s council of trustees that “we are at a special moment in the history of this institution.”

           “We are continuing to bring new forces together to complete the development of what ought to be known nationally as a uniquely engaged intellectual community,” Smith said in his report at the council’s regular quarterly meeting held today.

           He explained five characteristics present in the SRU community:

            Providing enriched learning experiences: Smith pointed to the more than 345 students who participated at professional academic conferences, the student newspaper’s 30 national journalism awards and SRU students who swept all the awards at a statewide philosophy conference as examples of the increasing recognition SRU students earn for academic achievement outside the classroom.

           He noted that 92 percent of incoming students are part of the First-Year Studies Program (FYRST) and explained that “compelling data from that program prove its value to our retention success.”

           As technology plays an increasing role in teaching and learning, Smith said that faculty reports he read this summer “demonstrated clear evidence that we’re enhancing student learning through the creative application of technology in the classroom.”

            Determining our own destiny: Sustaining an engaged intellectual community requires the generation of revenue independent of other traditional sources, Smith told trustees. He reported on the continued progress of the university’s capital campaign, which produced a record $3.6 million in gift income in the fiscal year completed June 30. He also said that an October groundbreaking is planned for the new 70,000-square-foot Regional Learning Alliance facility in the Cranberry Woods Corporate Office Park in Marshall Township, Allegheny County. This project will bring together 12 education providers under one roof to “be an important stimulus to the Pennsylvania economy.”

            Gathering diverse people: “An engaged intellectual community must be representative of diverse opinions and representative of different experience,” he said. “We have started to make progress in attracting a diverse faculty and staff. We have increased the percentage of women faculty again this year. Of new tenure-track faculty hired this year, 40 percent are people of color. And, we’ve increased the number of students of color, especially African-Americans and Hispanics.”

            Creating accepting space: “We are giving a great deal of strategic attention to the way our campus reflects a nurturing environment. This summer we refurbished 37 classrooms, two laboratories and one auditorium. We also refurbished 51 faculty offices and two conference rooms, and opened 14 new faculty offices in Carruth Rizza Hall,” he reported.

           Calling it an “innovative interdisciplinary use of our campus,” Smith described how the campus is “a laboratory for learning and educational enrichment and that we have interpretive signs to identify trees, plants and other educational features on the 600-acre campus.”

            Promoting hope: “The most precious and defining element of an engaged intellectual community is that it promotes hope for all of its participants,” Smith said. He quoted from the “Princeton Review” report on 98 Great Schools in the Mid-Atlantic in which SRU student comments included “my professors all know me by name and are very approachable, and help in any way they can so that you will succeed.”

           “Creating hope; that’s what we do,” Smith concluded.

Trustee Actions

           Trustees reviewed and approved the 2003-04 education and general operating budget of $79.9 million. The two major components of revenue are  $44.9 million derived from tuition and fees and $30.3 million coming from state appropriations. On the expense side, compensation accounts for $63.6 million with the balance allocated for services, supplies, capital expenditures and transfers.

           The council also approved a 2004-05 capital budget request to the state system of $16.2 million for renovation of Vincent Science Hall and $13.8 million for renovation of Morrow Field House.

           Contracts, service and supply purchase orders and changes to fixed assets were also reviewed.

Former trustee Howard Meyer honored

           The council of trustees passed a resolution thanking former trustee Howard Meyer of Slippery Rock for his distinguished service. He served on the council from January 1999 to January 2003. “Howard and his wife, Florence, are long-time, generous friends and benefactors to the university,” Interim President Smith said.


          Trustees acknowledged the following retirements:

           Dr. Paul Black, professor, secondary education/foundations of education, Wexford, with 31 years of service;

           Dr. David Taylor, professor, chemistry and physics, of Slippery Rock, with 35 ½ years of service;

           Bruce MacDonald, tactical leadership/senior professional 190, Director of Construction and Design, of Slippery Rock, with 11 years of service;

           Hazel Allen, switchboard operator 2, information technology, of Slippery Rock with 33 years of service;

           Sal Gesualdi, maintenance repairman 2, facilities and planning, of Slippery Rock, with seven years of service;

           and Reardon Deal, stock clerk 3, central receiving, of Ellwood City, with 24 years of service.


    The next quarterly meeting of the trustees is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Friday, December 5, 2003.




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