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President addresses improvements

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Brooke Grasso
Editor in Chief

Roughly 100 faculty and staff members filled the Campus Center Ballroom A for the spring State of the University address and wine and cheese reception Thursday.

Given by President Devorah Lieberman, the speech addressed four main initiatives, including academic excellence, human and financial resources, visibility and reputation and technology and facilities.

“This is a lot of information, but when we talk about students first this is a moment to say, how are we supporting our students today and how are we going to be doing going forward,” Lieberman said.

Starting with academic excellence, Lieberman pointed out major differences between 2012 and now – including the jump in full-time faculty from 217 in 2012 to 275 in 2016, a 27 percent increase.

The general increase in salary will be 2 percent and the average, which includes reclassifications and promotions, is 3.41 percent. Adjunct faculty will also see an increase of 4.57 percent.

“Faculty are truly, financially and in many other ways, our single greatest investment and we have to continue focusing on the faculty,” Lieberman said.

The University is also seeing an increase in its budget with an increase from $151 million in 2012 to $209 million. The endowment also increased from $39 million to $88.7 million and for 2020 the projection is $100 million.

A major point of discussion was the master plan, which was approved by the City of La Verne a few months ago. The residence hall behind the Campus Center is expected to be complete in August 2018 when students from Brandt and Stu-Han will move in. Right after that, the new multicultural center will begin construction, to be completed in 2019 or 2020. The new academic building will then be started depending on funds raised and bond status.

When the new residence hall is complete, Davenport Dining Hall will be open and possibly turned into a health wellness center, Lieberman said. The Board of Trustees will discuss next week about a place on campus that emphasizes physical health, wellness, mindfulness and nutrition.

The University has also seen an increase in the need for additional support in the academic success center for graduate students. Graduate tutoring, STEM support and peer mentoring should be expected in the upcoming year.

Although the physician assistant program was denied accreditation, Lieberman stressed the continued commitment to the program. Five other new academic programs will be added in the fall, including online and hybrid classes geared toward adult and online learners.

“We have done so much to identify populations who either sometimes needed a second chance or were not our traditional populations, and we are proud of that,” Lieberman said.

Adjunct Professor of Accounting and Finance Rick Hasse asked about the current status of the technology’s infrastructure.

Vice President of Facilities and Technology Clive Houston-Brown addressed the concerns about recent phishing and malware attempts. He said that just today there was an email sent that seemed to be from the Help Desk, but was not.

“Constantly, 365, 24/7 we have attempts coming in to break through our networks and into our systems,” Houston-Brown said.

He also addressed the difficulties faculty and students had with Blackboard this year. There is a three-part team working to identify the root causes of the issues Houston Brown said.

Lieberman added that alumni relations and career services will be improved to provide more services for students such as mock interviews and networking with volunteer alumni.

“We will be able to work more hardily with our alumni to say ‘what can you do for our students to help connect them out in the field?’” Vice President of University Advancement Sherri Mylott said.

Lieberman ended the reception by pointing out that this is an uncertain time for higher education, and it is essential to stay forward thinking in order to compete.

“The University of La Verne is an institution that is forward thinking, everybody’s on board, and I think we are doing all the right stuff, but we can not take our foot off the peddle,” Lieberman said.

Brooke Grasso can be reached at brooke.grasso@laverne.edu.

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