President Addresses Faculty, Staff at Convocation
President Whitlock outlined at his year-opening convocation the elements of the “Essential Eastern.”
Speaking in Brock Auditorium on Monday, Aug. 15, Eastern’s 11th President said the “Essential Eastern” is:
· a door to opportunity. “We take persons where they are when they come to us and give them a remarkable value-added educational experience.”
· a place where a “dedicated and remarkably skilled” faculty mentors, advises and instructs students in a “culture of caring.”
· relies on quality staff to support and facilitate the teaching-learning experience.
· gives students the means to earn a living and “the liberating education to live a meaningful life.”
· a place where people say “Yes, and…” instead of “Yeah, but…” when presented with a challenge.
· a place of natural and physical beauty.
· the “Power of Maroon,” that power that takes one from where they are to where they can be, the power that makes it possible for us to say, “This is Eastern Kentucky University and you can get there from here.”
Citing the varied opinions of experts, Whitlock talked at length about “the new normal.
“Whatever the ‘new normal’ turns out to be, I am convinced it will not include a return to normalcy as we as an institution might remember it,” he said. “There are a number of factors that pretty much guarantee that it will not.”
The President told the assembled faculty and staff:
· the percentage of financial resources the University receives from the state will likely continue to diminish. “We must not count on state appropriations keeping up with inflationary factors and enrollment growth.”
· as level of state support decreases, the level of accountability expected by public policy makers will continue to increase.
· the number of high school graduates in Kentucky is on the decline, “although as a state we still have some head room through reducing dropout rates.”
· technology is impacting both the logistics and pedagogy of our enterprise in “increasingly profound ways.
“It is my commitment, during whatever years I have left in the presidency, to work with you to ensure the vitality, relevance and excellence of this place…These, then, are the things on which I believe we should continue to work together:”
· Maintain focus on mission.
· Continue maturation of shared governance. “I am giving serious thought to bringing the Strategic Planning Council and Financial Planning Council into even closer alignment.”
· Continue to become more entrepreneurial and efficient as an institution and improve faculty/staff compensation.
· Expand an online education program of high quality and with value that the for-profit sector cannot match.
· Continue “the great work” already begun in collaboration with elementary and secondary education. “Our faculty have put EKU in the forefront of the efforts to improve success rates in our public schools and to reduce the need for remediation.”
· Continue efforts to attract more students.
· Improve retention and six-year graduation rates.
· Continue efforts to maintain the “Eastern Experience.”
· Expand international opportunities for students and faculty.
· Retain focus on, and commitment to diversity in all its forms. “This is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do educationally.”
· Continue to emphasize simplification and transparency as “operational watchwords.”
“What a wonderful time to be us and to be at Eastern Kentucky University, the President concluded.