President Devorah Lieberman gave the State of the University address last Friday in the Campus Center Ballroom as part of Friday Focus, a series of monthly meetings that discuss specific topics about the University.
The address discussed the 2020 strategic vision, the Comprehensive Campaign fundraising drive and the master plan for campus construction projects.
“I’m most excited because the sense of urgency around the processes that have not been working has brought together people across areas who have never worked together before to say, ‘we have to collaborate because we are student centered and if we do not collaborate, the students will suffer’,” Lieberman said.
Much of the discussion focused on the issues the University has faced, how it plans to resolve them, and the accomplishments the University has made.
The University faced a decrease in budget revenue as a direct result of a drop in enrollment. This had previously been offset by slight tuition increases, but Lieberman said there must be a change made to that process, which is currently being mapped out by the newly enacted strategic task force.
“We can’t just say, ‘let’s keep doing business as usual’ because business as usual is not going to cut it,” Lieberman said. “Just because we’ve always done it this way does not mean it is the correct way to do it.”
Todd Britton, associate vice president of information technology and chief information officer, said that much of the issue has to do with a blend of people, processes, and technology.
“You could have the best technology in the world, but if it’s not being leveraged fully, it will not work,” Britton said. “What we’ve learned is that we need to ensure we look at the best use of the tool, not just the way we’ve always done it, to try and replicate it into another more efficiently functioning tool.”
Ahmed Ispahani, professor of business administration and economics, said he is not worried about the University’s budget.
“We have made the most advancement under the leadership of our president,” Ispahani said. “It’s the leadership; we have quality programs, and in the limited resources that we have, we are doing a fantastic job.”
Shannon Capaldi, special assistant to the president, described the process of the strategic task force, which is currently in its beginning stages. The task force is sending out surveys and preparing for their first board meeting on June 1.
“We are going to continue this iterative feedback process and the goal is to have strategy adoption by May 31, 2019,” Capaldi said.
The University now has a provisionally accredited physician’s program with classes beginning in summer and a new President’s Health Advisory Council to help lead on initiatives regarding the University’s health care. The University also saw the formation of the Center for Neurodiversity, Learning and Wellness, which develops services for developmentally disabled students and is comprised of LaFetra College of Education graduate students, professors, alumni and people with learning disabilities.
“We should be proud of these accomplishments,” Lieberman said. “It is something we need to be very proud of.”
Jocelyn Arceo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.