I hope everyone is having a productive and enjoyable semester.
In keeping with the face-to-face conversations I have been having with faculty, staff and students over the last couple of weeks, I want to provide additional updates about several campus developments and initiatives, with an emphasis on those that have implications for student recruitment and/or retention.
I hope you are as pleased as I am with our new Southeastern website which provides a powerful tool for communicating with prospective students and existing Southeastern family members. We also have now fully transitioned from selu.edu to southeastern.edu as our online identifier. While selu.edu will continue to work for web and email access, going forward we want to emphasize utilization and promotion of southeastern.edu.
We are in the early stages of launching our new comprehensive marketing/communications initiative, which is an integral part of Vision 2017, our university strategic plan. For months, many faculty, staff and students have participated in extensive market research and brand development in support of this project. Likewise, input was gathered from community members and prospective high school students to refine the messages that we believe will ensure more effective communication with prospective students, donors and others.
Through the financial support of our student-majority member Technology Fee Committee, we will be acquiring and implementing a new CRM (Constituent Relations Management) software system that will allow us to more effectively automate and manage print and electronic communications with prospective and current students.
Also along these lines, a grant from the Southeastern Foundation has allowed us to contract with Noel-Levitz, a nationally recognized consulting firm that specializes in collegiate recruitment and retention issues. This work has been instrumental in analyzing and updating our student scholarship program along with various other recruiting and retention issues. In conjunction with these efforts, a new Student Retention Task Force which has been appointed by our Provost will develop and recommend specific strategies aimed at further improving student retention.
With the challenge of ongoing constraints in state resources, it is more important than ever to prioritize the allocation of limited resources to achieve the greatest impact. Accordingly, we continue to evaluate opportunities to create new and innovative academic programs that address growing regional workforce demands. Examples include the recently approved Doctor of Nursing Practice and Bachelor of Science in Information Technology.
Of course one of the most visible developments on our campus, and one that will be a great recruitment/retention tool, is the Student Union Expansion/Renovation. The new facility expansion will open to the campus community in January 2014, with renovation of existing space following not far behind. As a result of the leadership of our students, who exhibited the vision and confidence to implement a self-assessed fee to fund this project, the entire campus community will soon enjoy an extraordinary student union facility.
We have also been fortunate that private and self-generated funds have made possible several recent improvements in athletic facilities on the campus, including new turf and a video scoreboard in Strawberry Stadium. In addition, a significant gift from the Dugas Foundation will match gifts from other donors, providing funding for other improvements in athletics facilities and the Dugas Athletic Center.
Despite challenges and frustrations associated with ongoing constraints in our state resources, we will continue to focus our energy and resources on opportunities to better serve our students and our region.
I am proud to work with all of you to keep Southeastern moving forward.