FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 13, 2007
Contact: K.E. Schwab
SRU president outlines University initiatives; welcomes new faculty
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - In an Academic Assembly address filled with new initiatives and affirmations why "It's a great time to be at Slippery Rock University," President Robert Smith welcomed nearly 40 new faculty members to campus.
The annual address, which formally opens the academic year, was in Swope Music Hall.
Included in Smith's list of major initiatives was one of "using the year to encourage more course instruction about diversity within our curriculum."
Smith said, "We have given special attention to recruitment and retention of students of color and have significantly increased the presence of African-American and Latino students as well as faculty�The Office of the President will offer an instructional grant program to all faculty interested in increasing the course content they devote to diversity issues within their courses." Smith said there would be a workshop on the issue during Professional Development Day Oct. 9.
Herman Jones, associate professor of social work, criminology and criminal justice, is leading a committee designed to increase student preparedness for handling diversity issues. Smith said the program would give students with limited experiences with issues of diversity the skills necessary to succeed in a pluralistic world.
In outlining the initiative, Jones said, "I want to do this; I have to do this; we have to do this. We will have a series of small group conversations about the issues that inhibit our efforts to have open discussion of sensitive issues."
Smith told the assembly of SRU's recent recognition as No. 5 in the Consumers Digest "Best Value" rankings and inclusion as a "Best Colleges in the Northeast" by the Princeton Review. The review gathers its information directly from students. "This is testimony to how our students report to the nation their experience at Slippery Rock University," Smith said.
He thanked those involved in making the Slippery Rock University experience favorable to students, including the recent Week of Welcome move in.
Included in the University's accolades were the facts that enrollment is up, retention is up and diversity and inclusiveness are at 10-year highs. Official enrollment figures will be available next week.
Smith said the University would continue its aggressive pursuit of three, key strategic objectives: Increasing the value of the SRU degree, including expansion of the undergraduate research program; continued progress in establishing SRU as Pennsylvania's premier undergraduate residential university; and expanding resource development.
Specific plans for meeting those goals include a new series of retiring faculty seminars, an academic poster competition Oct. 4 and initiating what Smith called "Angel Funding" for entrepreneurial faculty and faculty/student team projects. As part of the Angel Funding plan, Smith said $25,000 is available to aspiring entrepreneurial ventures. The project is being undertaken in collaboration with SRU's School of Business.
In building the residential community, Smith outlined plans for the deconstruction of Bard and Harner halls as well as refurbishing of Patterson for faculty offices while Vincent Science Hall is renovated. He pointed to the new Compass Program for students which is tied to SRU's FYRST program. Compass events will involve leadership development, Greek life expansion and increased student involvement in the campus and community.
As part of resource development, Smith said, "Advancement, like enrollment, is everyone's job. How we present this University to all of our constituents shapes the success we have in asking for their support. Your confidence as expressed by your support of the University convinces others that this is a worthy place for them to also invest their philanthropy."
Noting that campus safety is an issue on every campus in the nation, Smith introduced Eric Holmes, the new, interim director of campus safety and security, and urged faculty and students to join the newly instituted "Emergency Alert System." Smith explained the new system allows for the near instantaneous dispatch of text messages to cell phones for those who have registered. Sign up can be quickly completed by visiting the SRU homepage, then clicking "Sign Up for Emergency Alerts."
"Keeping people informed is the key to safety on campus. Armed with the right information, people can act in prudent ways to protect themselves," he said. He added, "Of course, my hope is that we will never have to use this system, but should we need it, it is available."
As part of new the faculty welcome, Smith said 52 percent of the current faculty members have been hired since fall of 1999.
Also addressing the assembly was Jace Condravy, SRU professor of English and president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculty. William Williams, provost and vice president for academic affairs, served as master of ceremonies.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.