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State of the University: SPSU in a good place

president RossbacherMarietta, Ga. (Aug. 19, 2011) – SPSU President Lisa A. Rossbacher framed her annual State of the University address on Aug. 16 around the three major goals driving SPSU’s Strategic Plan: enhancing student success, increasing resources and strengthening the sense of community both on-campus and with the larger community.

“Overall, SPSU is in a good place,” she said. “We’ve made good progress in some areas, and we have a lot of work to do in other areas.” In the arena of student success, Dr. Rossbacher gave kudos to the establishment of an early-warning system to monitor student engagement and learning communities to keep them engaged, as well as the implementation of DegreeWorks as a tool for measuring student progress toward graduation goals.

In reviewing the university’s new Facilities Master Plan, she commented on SPSU’s good fortune in securing state funding for the Engineering Technology Center and Design II buildings when it did, noting that, “the state of Georgia is moving away from providing complete funding for large capital projects... Our buildings may be the very last large academic buildings paid for with General Obligation Bonds.”

Dr. Rossbacher said the senior staff has identified SPSU’s next two major capital priorities as a STEM laboratory building (to be funded through a number of sources) and the expansion of the Recreation and Wellness Center.

These projects are three-to-five years away, at best, she said. In the meantime, renovations are under way in Building E (the Crawford Laboratory Building) and are planned for the ground floor of Building I (Design I) and the Student Center Theater. The Ballroom flooring has been replaced. The K buildings, Dr. Rossbacher said, will “eventually” be removed to make room for new facilities.

The first step in implementing SPSU's new Transportation Master Plan will be re-doing the front entrance to campus, and the president announced that this work is currently expected to begin in late September.

Dr. Rossbacher revealed that the campus’ new Athletics Plan proposes the addition of nine new sports – for men, golf, cross country and tennis, and for women, golf, cross country, tennis, soccer, volleyball and softball .She noted that that there are no plans to add a football program, due to the expense involved.

“The addition of these intercollegiate teams will bring SPSU up to the minimum number expected for schools joining the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, and they will position this university for a move to the NCAA, if we decide – at some point in the future – that we want to make that transition,” she said.

In talking about sustainability planning, Dr. Rossbacher announced that Hornet Village and Stingers Restaurant have been certified as LEED Silver, and SPSU’s special interest housing, University Columns, has been certified by EarthCraft, which is a green rating system for residential development in the Southeast.

“Right now, the Engineering Technology Center and Design II are two points short of earning LEED Gold certification, and we have appealed the rating to try to get this higher-level status,” she added.

Dr. Rossbacher said that enrollment is expected to rise 2-3 percent to approximately 5,600 students this fall, while state funding will remain static with no formula funding.

“The only increase we’ll see in funding is the tuition and fees that will come from those additional students, so any increase in enrollment is significant,” she said. “Current predictions about the budget indicate no real change until Fiscal Year 2014. This means an increased emphasis on fund raising.”

Specific goals for the upcoming year include developing an endowment for each of the academic areas, with a goal of $500,000 for each school.

In the arena of community-building, the president mentioned the annual Faculty/Staff Campaign, which begins on Sept. 1, the manufacturing of SPSU license plates, which will take place late this fall, and SPSU’s high marks in categories such as job satisfaction and support, professional development and pride in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s 2011 Great Colleges to Work for Survey.

“We will emerge from the current economic situation as a result of good management, a collective effort to increase efficiencies, a willingness to change, a determination to manage our own future, and – always – a commitment to students and their success,” Dr. Rossbacher concluded. “We are guided by our strategic plan and its goals. We know we can never fully anticipate all the challenges that the future will bring, but we will continue to thrive by always being prepared for the unexpected.”

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