Message from the President

January 25, 2017

As I shared in my remarks at our recent Convocation, over the last several years there have been multiple reductions in our State financial support and commensurate increases in tuition, fees and other self-generated revenues.  The result, as I depicted to the Convocation audience using the pie chart below, is that more than 80% of our university resources are now self-generated, with less than 20% coming from the State.
Total Enterprise Budget 2016-2017
Of course, the greatest driver of self-generated funds is student enrollment, which is a function of student recruitment and retention.  As I also shared in my Convocation remarks, given our present enrollment-driven financial model, we have to enhance our capacity for strategic enrollment management, allowing us to better plan, organize, and thoughtfully coordinate our institutional efforts in ways that will help ensure growth in enrollment.
Over the last several months student focus groups were conducted to help identify issues and concerns that may impact student success.  Discussions about student recruitment and retention have also been held with groups of faculty and staff.  The results of these discussions have helped inform an evaluation of our existing administrative structure with the objective of focusing greater resources and efforts on the most important initiatives that will benefit student enrollment and success without increasing overall costs.
The following changes are the result to date of these efforts.  Effective immediately, two assistant vice president positions (AVP for Institutional Effectiveness and the AVP for Operations) will be eliminated, and a new AVP for Enrollment Management will be created. 
In assuming the new AVP for Enrollment Management position, Dr. Kay Maurin will become our strategic point person for enrollment management, planning and coordinating collective campus efforts in the areas of student recruitment and retention.  Dr. Maurin has demonstrated extraordinary skills in planning, coordinating and collaborating across multiple campus units and is well qualified to help maximize our institutional efforts to grow enrollment.
Given the recent retirement of Dr. Dorothy Nelson, Dr. Lorett Swank now serves as Interim Director of the Center for Student Excellence, and will lead efforts to increase the impact of the CSE on freshman retention, as well as explore increased support services for at-risk and transfer students.
Dr. Debbie Johnson now serves as Director of Assessment and Interim Director of the Center for Faculty Excellence.  She will continue to monitor the university's assessment plans and strategies in support of compliance with SACSCOC accreditation standards, and she will implement a new initiative within the CFE to explore the role of faculty in Retention and Recruitment Success.
This past fall semester when Dr. Eric Summers assumed the role of Vice President for Student Affairs, I charged him with reorganizing and re-energizing units in his Division to ensure a significant positive impact on student recruitment, retention and success.  In his first several months as the new leader of the Division for Student Affairs, Dr. Summers has been actively engaged in fulfilling this charge.  I am pleased to report that he is making significant progress, and I anticipate there will be several announcements in the near future about changes and new initiatives in the Division that will positively impact our current and future students.
Every faculty and staff member, every office and department and division impacts student recruitment and retention.  Given that our resources are mostly self-generated, we hold the key to shaping the future of our institution, but it will take our collective efforts.  I look forward to continuing the discussion with our students, faculty and staff to accomplish our shared goals.

John L. Crain