West Virginia University President David C. Hardesty Jr. today (Oct. 10) unveiled a bold agenda for positioning the school in an era of profound change.
In his annual State of the Campus message, Hardesty outlined the new challenges facing higher education and called upon the University community to continue the commitment that has made his past 10 years at the schools helma joy.
We are all privileged to be at West Virginia University as it crosses into the new millennium, at a time that is as challenging, and at the same time as satisfying, as any other in our 138-year history,Hardesty told WVU employees, students and supporters gathered at the National Research Center for Coal and Energy on WVU s Evansdale Campus. The speech was also broadcast to WVU s regional campuses.
Reflecting on his first 10 years as president, Hardesty said the University overcame challenges ranging from economic globalization and the growth of technology to new competitors for students and research dollars toemerge as a very significant national university.
Noteworthy achievements included the attraction of $54 million for the health sciences research agenda in less than a year, success of the forensic programs, WVU partnerships overseas, the steady number of Truman and Goldwater scholars, rededication to student life and academic success, a record-setting capital campaign, and the emergence of WVU as a national leader in biometrics and neurosciences.
We have collectively traveled a long way over the past 10 years,the president said.I thank each and every one for your personal contributions to our success.
The next decade will be equally demanding for higher education, Hardesty noted, with new challenges being national security, higher expectations for health care delivery, competition with other schools for quality students and continued enrollment growth.
In meeting these challenges, WVU will rely on its 2010 Plan,Building the Foundation for Academic Excellence,Hardesty said. The plan, which was developed with broad campus input and endorsed by Faculty Senate, was recently approved by the institutions Board of Governors.
Built around a vision of commitment to excellence in teaching, research, service and technology, the plan consists of five goals and various criteria for evaluating how well the University meets them.
The goals are to attract and graduate high-quality students; attract and retain exceptional faculty; enhance WVU s learning environment; promote the discovery and exchange of ideas; and improve the states health, economy and quality of life.
Key indicators for measuring WVU s progress range from improving the undergraduate graduation rate and increasing the number of endowed professorships and chairs to enhancing the quality and value of graduate degrees and strengthening the Universitys role in economic development.
As an example of how the University is already responding to the challenges of the next decade, Hardesty announced a new intelligence and national security program within WVU s international studies program.
The program, which started this semester, offers a well-focused undergraduate background for careers in national security, such as with the CIA or Defense Department.
Led by Joe Hagan, chairman of the Political Science Department, the program will draw upon faculty with expertise in foreign policy analysis and experts from the intelligence community.
The new program adds to the Universitys growing reputation in the area of national securitya reputation Hardesty credited with leading to his appointment to the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board, a panel of higher education leaders created to foster outreach and promote understanding between academia and the FBI .
WVU is already well positioned in many areas related to renewed national security interests,the president said.
Increased growth stemming from a focus on delivering quality education has enabled the University to give pay raises nine of the last 10 years, Hardesty said.
This commitment to keeping and recruiting high-quality faculty and staff will, in turn, translate into attracting quality students and enhancing the schools image, he added.
Because the perceived quality of our institution is so important to the future, our immediate goal is to not only adapt to the challenges that lie ahead, but also to advance our national reputation,he said.
One area where WVU s national standing is irrefutable is in its comparatively low tuition among its national land-grant peersa point recently brought out in a USA Today article, Hardesty said.
The USA Today story showed WVU has the 10 th least expensive in-state tuition at $4,164 and 14 th least costly out-of-state tuition at $12,874.
Furthermore, Hardesty added, WVU has again madeAmericas 100 Best College Buys,which looks at schools with above-average student academic credentials and then factors in tuition.
These two recent reports affirm that WVU has been an excellent steward of resources and maintained its land-grant responsibility to the people of West Virginia: offering a top-flight education while keeping costs down,he said.
In closing, Hardesty likened the challenges facing WVU and higher education to rough seas.
It is a joy to travel with you, and as the designated leader of such a distinguished group of leaders, I thank you for your service to our university, our state and our nation,he said.And I challenge you to navigate as well during the next decade, as you have in the last.