Jubilations warmed ESU’s Webb Hall during the annual general assembly Wednesday afternoon.
University President Allison Garrett welcomed a full room of both new and returning students, faculty, staff and family members to celebrate all that comes with a new school year.
“It’s great to see you all, and I’m excited about this school year,” Garrett said. “We’re going to have a great school year.”
Provost David Cordle took a few minutes to give attendees a crash course on ESU’s strategic plan, which spans 2015-2025. Last year, Garrett asked Cordle to utilize faculty, staff and students, as well as the strategic plan review committee, to update a few minor but important aspects of the initiative.
“We’ve done an awful lot with it since it was put in place and is still very much in effect,” Cordle said.
The next steps for the strategic plan include sharing the new and revised goals, updating the strategic plan website (www.emporia.edu/president/strategicplan), adjust each unit’s strategic plan strategies in accordance to updates, develop fundraising priorities while the revisions are being considered.
“Many of you have participated in the conversations that brought us to this point,” Cordle said. “It was very helpful that you did so.”
Garrett also provided a budget update.
“The legislature here in Kansas restored the last of the money that they cut a couple of years ago,” she said. “That was good news. We’re now back up to the level of funding we received from the state in 2009, so that’s wonderful.”
Through several foundations and the legislature, the money for the nursing program is now in ESU’s base funding.
The legislature also provided some funds for 2.5 percent pay raises for the total salary pool. Employees will see this reflected by early Nov.
This year, there is no tuition increase for undergraduate students, but there is a 2.5 percent increase for graduate students who are not in academic partnership programs.
“We have tried so hard to keep those tuition increases very modest here at Emporia State,” Garrett said. “In fact, we continue to be the lowest average debt university of any of the universities in the state system here in Kansas.”
Enrollment will be announced in mid-September. Last year, freshman enrollment was up 7 percent and new graduate student enrollment was up 36 percent.
“The one area that I worry a little about — and we are not unique in this — is the international student population,” Garrett said.
Nationally, there is a decline of international students. Kansas, as a state, is the fourth-worst in the nation, Garrett said.
“The team who does our international recruiting is doing a great job,” she said. “They’re working really, really hard to bring in terrific students here to Emporia State.”
Last year the university had its highest retention rate ever.
“That is because of all of you and the ways you invest in our students and the ways you support our students,” Garrett said.
Assistant Provost Shelly Gehrke presented a funny video about the benefits of students visiting with their advisors to maximize their collegiate success.
“We are packaging some of our awesome academic resources into the Stinger Success program,” which every new student is automatically a part of, Gehrke said.
The program includes students’ individual advisors, free tutoring and academic coaching and opportunities for mentoring, and a first-year seminar class to match students’ skills and interests to goals and the development of a path to each of those goals.
After the assembly, tours of the new Schallenkamp Hall were offered.
Upcoming ESU events include:
• Aug. 31 – participation in Halfway to Everywhere and No Coast Film festivals
• Sept. 5 – first home football game
• Oct. 18 & 19 - Homecoming