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Convocation 2016

Millersville University’s Convocation was held on September 9, 2016.

President Anderson delivers Convocation address

Millersville University’s Convocation was held on September 9, 2016 in the Winter Visual & Performing Arts Center on campus.  During Convocation, Dr. John Anderson, president, gave the “State of the University Address.”  The president’s address, that accompanied the slides, is posted below:

Slide 1:

Two years ago we set out on a new course for Millersville University… we called it a Bold Path…a comprehensive plan created with many university community voices involved. The overarching goal was to preserve what Millersville does so well ….engage our students in the most creative learning experiences possible and assure a sustainable future in the context of rising costs, minimal revenue increases and increased competition for prospective students.  In addition, our conversation recognized the need to respond quickly to the challenges we face by creating a culture of agility.  The first part of this journey centered on the University getting on a sound financial foundation, so we could ensure long-term success…one of our three major goals.

Slide 2: Ensure Long-Term Success

In the past, the University had done a good job in managing costs during unprecedented cuts in State appropriations. However, we could no longer cut our way out of a growing structural deficit.  In “Our Bold Path,” we immediately focused on new revenue sources…at the same time, holding costs down as best we could.  I think it’s safe to say that in some way, shape or form, everyone at the University has been impacted by the sacrifices we were forced to make to keep those costs under control.

We also placed a significant emphasis on new enrollment strategies, and we knew that to enhance the student learning experience in this new atmosphere of financial challenges, we would have to get creative…and we have!

Slide 3:

Let’s review our progress to date… Yesterday vs. Today

Slide 4:

I have with me the budget update report handed out at the April 8th 2013 cabinet meeting…it indicates a $10 million + structural deficit. (Hold up budget sheet).  Today I am very pleased to report the structural deficit is

Convocation-11aSlide 5:


We were able to eliminate the deficit in only two years, one year ahead of our desired goal! How did we accomplish this?  There were a number of initiatives including prudent cost control by everyone at the University.  I know faculty don’t have all the resources they would like to have and staff are doing more with less and on behalf of all of the students we serve, I want to thank you for your understanding, dedication and commitment to our mission.

We also took a Bold step in introducing a new tuition model that not only generated additional revenue, but leveled the playing field for students with high financial need.   The new model generated over $9.1 million in additional annual revenue in its second year, above our target of $8.5 million, which allowed us to do some other things such as increase financial aid to students.  Congratulations to all of the staff under the leadership of Vice President Bruszewski and his team who led the University in creating this model and achieving this phenomenal result.

Slide 6:

Yesterday at the initiation of our strategic plan, Our Bold Path, we were able to award $1 million out of our normal operating budget for financial aid…

Slide 7:

And today it is $3.2 million. This was accomplished through our new tuition model and the partnership we have with SSI and our new housing project.

Slide 8:

Yesterday, at this time last year, we were at $4.7 million in total giving and the endowment was at $32.7 million

Slide 9:

Today we are at $10.4 million in total giving! And the endowment is at $34.5 million.  Congratulations to our advancement staff led by Vice President Breaux, who in addition to their own efforts, led many faculty, staff, and volunteers to accomplish this great result!

Slide 10:

Another fundraising effort was led by faculty and their submissions of grant proposals. Last year we had obtained $4.2 million in grants…this year

Slide 11:

The awards were increased to $6.3 million! Congratulations to all of the faculty involved in this work!

Slide 12: Out of State Recruitment

Yesterday, Out-of-state student recruitment – was less than 5% of our incoming student population…

Slide 13:

And, today it has doubled to 10% which was the goal in Our Bold Path… how was this accomplished? Well a big congratulations goes to Vice President Hazlett and his team of admissions recruiters, faculty, and coaches for attaining this goal ahead of our target!

Slide 14: International student recruitment

At this time last year we had 5 enrolled international students. Though our progress is a little slower with international recruitment, as can be expected, we are beginning to see significant progress toward our goal of adding 200 additional international students to our campus. Today…

Slide 15: International student recruitment

…we have 23! We accomplished this by executing our plan of implementing a variety of strategies in different countries and making a serious effort to personally visit our potential new partners…something I will be following up with this coming year.

Slide 16: New Academic Programs

In Our Bold Path, one of our recruitment strategies was to develop new academic programs that would appeal not only to our traditional student market, but also expand our offerings to the adult learner. I want to acknowledge the leadership of Provost Prabhu and his team of academic leaders and faculty for developing new programs and new modalities of learning.  Look at how many we have implemented!

Undergraduate Programs:


Degree Programs/Options

Bachelor of Design in Interactive and Graphic Design

Bachelor of Science in Automation and Intelligent Robotics Engineering Technology

Bachelor of Science in Education Dual Certification in 7-12 Inclusive Education

BA in Multidisciplinary Studies; Option in Entertainment Technology

BA in Multidisciplinary Studies; Option in Sports Journalism

BA in Multidisciplinary Studies; Option in Educational Studies



Heliophysics and Space Weather



Graduate Programs:


Master of Education in Assessment, Curriculum, and Teaching


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

Doctor of Social Work

Doctor of Nursing Practice


STEM Endorsement Program

Gifted Endorsement Program

Online Instruction Endorsement Program


Post-baccalaureate Certification Special Education 7-12

Post-baccalaureate English 7-12, Franklin & Marshall University 4+1 Initiative


Graduate Certificate in Writing

Graduate Certificate in Emergency and Disaster Management Program

Graduate Certificate in Entrepreneurship Program


Slide 17: Retention

We have struggled with retention over the last few years. As a result, we initiated a number of discussions and are implementing some new strategies. Today, preliminary retention numbers are promising…possibly a 3 percentage point increase overall and a 6 percentage point increase in underrepresented minority retention.  We will have final numbers after fall census.

Strategic plans should be fluid…responsive to new realities and challenges as well as changing environmental pressures. A major course change in Our Bold path is a result of feedback from faculty on the quality of our incoming students. As you recall, we had a goal of 10,000 students by 2020.  After an analysis of our renewed financial stability and a conversation with stakeholders starting with our Strategic Advisory Council, we decided we can afford to be more selective. So we reduced our target to 9,000 students – we ARE GOING FOR QUALITY RATHER THAN QUANTITY!  And I am pleased to report that this fall…

Slide 18: Freshmen SAT profile

Incoming student profile has changed …last year our SAT profile was 1008…

Slide 19: Incoming Freshmen Profile

This year is 1028.

Slide 20: Engage Learners

Research tells us that this generation of student values relevancy and engagement in their learning experience…and our faculty have responded, as indicated in this past year’s “Made in Millersville.”

Slide 21: Made In Millersville

Engaged learning cuts across all disciplines from liberal arts to engineering technology and nothing demonstrates that better than “Made in Millersville.”

Two years ago we had 137 students participate in Made In Millersville, a show case of student projects including works of art, research papers and creative presentations including poetry readings and theatre. This year there were 338 presentations an increase of almost 150%.  I look forward to this spring’s event and encourage all of you to visit the campus that day…you will most definitely be impressed!

AND, the following examples are representative of the investment faculty make to engage our students:

Convocation-19aSlide 22: A Global Perspective:

In March 2013, Stephanie Bradley, along with other students, accompanied Dr. Leonora Foels and Dr. Karen Rice to Quito, Ecuador, on an alternative spring break trip.  The trip provided opportunities to volunteer either at a nursing home or a local day care.  Stephanie chose to volunteer at the local day care center.  According to her, her trip to Ecuador was “just the beginning of my wanderlust to travel around the world.”

Over the winter break of the 2015-16 academic year, Stephanie continued her overseas travel by enlisting in a field instruction internship in Cape Town, South Africa, under the supervision of Dr. Karen Rice.  Stephanie had set her sights on taking advantage of the opportunity to go to Cape Town since she began her undergraduate career at Millersville University.  During her time in Cape Town, she fell in love with the culture, the people, and the experience in a way she never could have imagined.  Stephanie noted, “from my internship working with children suffering from chronic illnesses, my interest in child welfare and international social work has greatly increased.”

Stephanie’s experiences underscore the importance of overseas travel and illustrate how such an experience provides our students with the global perspective that is so important in the 21st century.  Stephanie received her BSW degree in May and is now beginning her graduate studies to earn her MSW.

Slide 23: The National Weather Center: Research Experience

Amber Liggett (MU Meteorology major) was selected for a 2015 summer research experience at The National Weather Center located on the University of Oklahoma campus.  She extended this summer project with the assistance of her research mentor, Dr. Sepi Yalda, and presented her work at Made In Millersville.  This year, Amber was one of two MU meteorology students selected for the NOAA Hollings 2016-2017 Scholarship.  She was also selected for the highly competitive Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science (SOARS) program funded by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.  Outside the classroom, Amber serves as President for the MU chapter of the American Meteorological Society and has her own business: Amber’s Amazing Animal Balloons.

Slide 24: National Museum of Bermuda

In summer 2016, two graduate students from the History program, Jon Bannan and Abigail Gruber, joined Dr. Clarence Maxwell at the National Museum of Bermuda. They are conducting research which will focus on manuscript entries collected from various ships which passed through local ports.  The purpose of their research is to acquire a more comprehensive understanding of the regional role that the Bermuda area played in the American Revolution.

Slide: 25 Music Mentorship

Eli Green (BSE, Music, student teaching in Fall 2016) has held a variety of leadership roles in the department, college and university. During the past two years, Eli has been a Music Research Fellow under the mentorship of Dr. José Holland-Garcia (Music) and Dr. Marilyn Parrish (Library).  Fellows learn in-depth approaches to research, carry out independent research projects, and serve as mentors to new fellows and to peers within their programs.

As a research fellow, Eli mentored other students in research and conducted independent research for two Lancaster nonprofits, SWAN (Scaling Walls a Note at a Time) and MFE (Music for Everyone).  Through interviews, he documented the impact of these two organizations on the children in the community. During summer 2015, he taught music in an orphanage in India.  Eli volunteers for SWAN and MFE and coordinates MU student volunteers for these organizations.  In addition, Eli plays double base in the orchestra and other ensembles, serves as Treasurer of Student Senate, was a student representative on the Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences Arts Council, was a student leader for the National Association for Music Educators, and served as an orientation leader.

Will the faculty and students mentioned please rise so that we can acknowledge your accomplishments and mentorships.

If we had more time, I could go on and on citing examples of outstanding faculty who engage our students. You have no idea the number of times that I encounter alumni who say to me, “Professor So-and-So’s passion for his or her field inspired me to…get my doctorate…to become a teacher…to build my own business…”

Slide 26: Embrace Agility

One of the three major goals developed by our strategic planning steering committee was “Embrace Agility.” This goal reflects the frustration of many people within the institution over our inability to quickly address issues and yet maintain the balance of shared governance.  Our response to that was the creation of Agility Teams…Teams that could cross over all segments of the University to address campus-wide issues. Let’s review our progress to date…

Slide 27: A-Team

The A-Teams formed to work on Common Hour, Issuing Financial Aid & Scholarships and Smart Scheduling have completed their work for the most part…thank you to all who served on these teams.

Closing the academic achievement gap of underrepresented minority students is one of the objectives in our plan.  Commonly referred to as the “No-Gap” A-team, and capably led by Dr. Kim Mahaffy, the team has worked hard in developing a number of recommendations based on the research of Dr. Rita Smith Wade-El.  We are implementing a number of recommendations including a major reorganization of our Pre-Scholars Summer Institute that introduced a six credit hour requirement this past summer. The results look good so far…not one student dropped out of the program and the class average GPA for the two courses was 3.24.  Another initiative will be implemented this coming year – summer undergraduate research assistants.  We have committed the money to fully fund a three-year pilot program as recommended by the A-Team.

The communications A-Team was charged to conduct a communication audit to assess the effectiveness of all the vehicles we use to communicate with our constituencies. In addition, they, along with a consultant, will lead the analysis of the University’s identity as perceived by our external and internal communities.  This effort is a result of a conversation that came out of our Strategic Advisory Council last year.

Slide 28: Creativity and Innovation

One of the questions the A-Team initiative does not address is… “How do we create a culture of creativity and innovation throughout the university community?”

I am going to highlight a few faculty and staff examples of creativity and/or innovation that I happen to be familiar with…I know there are many more that occur.

Slide 29: The Providence Project

Dr. Marlene Arnold – Providence Project – The goal of this project is to create a compelling and captivating tale that communicates the importance of the Lancaster region and its people to our nation’s founding and to the establishment of its values, while at the same time telling the story of the region’s Native Americans and newly arrived Africans. The intention is to create a riveting saga that ties together the many different cultures living in Pennsylvania at the time and that spotlights the important role played by our ancestors in the birth of American values. Over $220K has been raised from private support for this project and more than an additional $100K has been pledged!

Slide 30:

Dr. Thomas Neuville – Career & Life Studies Program – A significant gap was discovered in the lack of available post-secondary education and support options for young adults with intellectual disabilities who are concluding their secondary education. The Career & Life Studies program offers these students a four-semester residential college experience enabling them to identify their vocational goal and establish an individual plan for employment.  Our program has been successful to the point that we received a grant of $2.36 million from the U.S. Department of Education to replicate the program at other institutions of higher education.

Slide 31:

Dr. Mark Atwater – Nanoscience Technology. I had the opportunity to visit with Mark soon after I arrived at Millersville…it was clear he had a vision on how to introduce nano scale science and technology to the curriculum at Millersville.  Mark’s area of expertise is the creation of carbon tubes at the nano scale. To put this in perspective, a nanometer is the length your finger nail grows in 1 second. This is a rapidly growing technology field, and we should be a player in it.  With some assistance from our grant office he was able to secure a $250k NSF grant to obtain equipment which was followed up by a $500k NSF CAREER grant.

Slide 32:

Dr. Barry Atticks – provided experiential learning opportunities to Music Technology students when he brought John Sebastian and Jefferson Starship to campus. This is a classic case of engaged learning.  Hopefully you were able to attend the “1969 Summer of Love and Music” production last year.  It was a student-developed multi-media event that brought hundreds of faculty staff, students and community members to Clair Hall for a wonderful evening of entertainment.

Slide 33:

Drs. John Wallace and Nanette Marcum-Dietrich collaborated to create the Watershed Education Training Institute (WETI). The Institute partners with Lancaster Conservancy and Stroud Water Research to create and conduct watershed educational programs and student training. This new facility is located at Creek Lodge on the Conestoga River.  Water quality will be an issue of increasing importance for all of us, especially in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed area.  The Institute will teach hundreds of young students and teachers how to monitor water quality in our communities.

Slide 34:

Mr. Chris Steuer – Millersville’s sustainability manager – coordinated a campus-wide initiative to reduce our carbon footprint through electricity conservation. Millersville Unplugged was part of a system-wide completion in which we placed second….we will do better next year!  Chris worked with many campus constituencies which resulted in a significant savings over the duration of the completion.

Will the faculty I mentioned please stand?

And these are just some of the examples I know about!

Our challenge is: “How do we replicate what these faculty members have done in order that we become more adaptive and creative?”

So we’ll begin conversations that will likely lead to another change of course in Our Bold Path and modifications in our Agility Teams.

Slide 35: What’s Next?

We are committed to stay the course and continue to execute our plans at ALL levels.

We will continue to support our efforts to develop more academic programs using a very thorough analysis, as well as our commitment to grow our high-impact learning offerings to students.

Now that we are on a sound financial footing, we will develop plans for our next capital campaign that will focus on providing support for engaged learning opportunities such as undergraduate research and study abroad, scholarships, and facilities.

And we will begin work with the Strategic Advisory Council to develop a culture of creativity and innovation.

This is an exciting journey we are on down this Bold Path. I look forward to working with each and every one of you as we continue to grow this fine University!

Slide 36:

Let’s have a great year and Thank you!

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