The urgency for action

02/18/2013

This message was sent to campus by Dr. Proenza on Feb. 18, 2013.

I am certain, . . .

. . . you have noticed that higher education funding is once again in the headlines. Whether out of Columbus or Washington, D.C., this is a clarion call for rapid and decisive action, as state and federal governments intend to “reward” colleges and universities for higher completion and graduation rates designed to lower costs and debt loads for students.

This should not come as a surprise to anyone on this campus. For several years, and particularly in the last several months, we have called attention to the challenges and opportunities facing our university, and we have planned accordingly. Still, we face a critical funding gap at a time when enrollment of traditional students is declining across the state and the nation, and when potential students are looking for greater flexibility in the delivery and pricing of education.

In other words, “business as usual” is not an option—we cannot continue one-time fixes without a forward-looking and sustainable approach for a structural problem.

We must act now!

Therefore, over the next several weeks, you will be hearing about specific efforts in a three-pronged strategy to:

  • Reduce costs and align expenditures with anticipated revenues
  • Grow enrollment and ensure student success and persistence through degree completion
  • Create new sources of revenue

Each of us must play a role, personally and collectively, in the pursuit of these initiatives.

The deans, department chairs and school directors have been made aware of a clearly stated series of expectations, including:

  • The need for faculty, staff and advisors to work together to proactively recruit new students and encourage summer course enrollment to speed degree completion
  • A focus on faculty and staff workload, so that all are working at their highest capacity in teaching, research and service; and on the need to schedule more courses convenient to students, including evening, weekend and online classes, with increased opportunities for accelerated 3-year bachelor’s degree programs.

Teams have been formed to review current operations throughout the campus and make recommendations for consolidation of services, reorganization and/or realignment to reduce costs, create efficiencies, and provide new revenue in the 2014 budget and beyond.

Some of you may be asked for help, advice, and engagement: We urge you to get involved in any opportunity that will strengthen our University.

In a recent column in The Chronicle of Higher Education, editor Jeffrey Selingo echoed the call for action that this campus has heard before: “Higher education needs … a reconfigured system that is flexible and responsive to a generation of learners for whom one mode of teaching no longer fits all, and where face-to-face, hybrid, and online-only education can peacefully co-exist.” (“Enough with the Talk. Let’s Start Fixing It,” 2/11/13)

We will keep you informed of these efforts and the new ideas produced by the collective wisdom of all of our colleagues.

With every good wish,

Sincerely,

Luis M. Proenza