Dear W University Community,
Fall semester has begun, our campus is full of energy, and I have good news to share!
Our 2015 freshman class, the same size as 2014 (which was the largest since 2008) marks the first time in a decade (2004 & 2005) The W had two large back-to-back freshman classes. This is a real credit to the hard work done by our admissions staff and everyone at The W who has helped support their efforts. I am proud of these results.
First, I want to re-emphasize our unflinching commitment to a safe, ethical campus community for our students, faculty, staff, and visitors. Each fall the university participates in a full-scale emergency drill on campus involving local, state, and federal first responders. Throughout the year, our Crisis Action Team (CAT) schedules separate real-life drills and table top exercises to ensure our readiness for emergencies. The W also remains committed to addressing issues of sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence, as well as bullying and hazing.
Last month the university released a smartphone app that puts emergency information at the fingertips of those who download the app. I encourage you to download this free-of-charge app that provides valuable information at a glance. For instructions on how to do this, go to http://www.muw.edu/police or http://www.muw.edu/walert.
The safety and well-being of our university community is everyone’s responsibility. I encourage each of you to step up when you see something you think might be a problem or a threat. You can find more information at http://www.muw.edu/reporting.
Remember the number 860
Last year, 860 students earned their degrees, a 50 percent increase since 2010. The W’s degree completion ratio (degrees awarded per 100 FTE students) is 31.6, while the IHL System average is 20 degrees per 100 FTE students. I am proud of what our students, faculty, and staff are accomplishing together!
Since 2010 The W has recorded a 322 percent increase in the number of students earning the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree—from 90 to 380. During this five-year period students earned a total of 1,385 BSN degrees. Last year, 54 percent of the 860 degrees earned were in nursing. During this time period, The W saw a 71 percent increase (168 to 287) in degrees conferred to African-American students and a 48 percent increase (88 to 130) in degrees earned by male students.
- 2015 annual enrollment totaled 3,272
- Fall 2015 enrollment held steady at 2,676
- New freshmen totaled 246
- 4 percent of our total enrollment is international students
- Male enrollment held steady at 19 percent
External Recognition for 2015
I am always pleased to share with you recognition the university receives from independent sources. I congratulate our outstanding faculty and staff for their well-deserved recognition being named to The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Great Colleges to Work For Honor Roll for a 3rd consecutive year. This is a remarkable accomplishment!
- 2015 Great Colleges to Work For Honor Roll—3rd consecutive year
- Top 20 President’s Higher Education Service Honor Roll
- #51 Washington Monthly’s Top 100 Master’s Universities in the USA
- #18 US News & World Report (Southern Public Regional Universities)
- Mississippi’s Best Value” by SmartAsset website
- #10 National Ranking for Most Affordable Competitive Colleges for online RN to BSN degrees
- #16 National Ranking among The 100 Most Affordable Small Colleges in America 2015 by BestValueSchools.com
- #8 National Ranking Best Value Small Colleges for a Business Administration Degree 2015 by BestValueSchools.com
For the past three years, the university has thoroughly evaluated the return to intercollegiate athletics. Our faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends, and supporters have been involved, along with the Mississippi High School Athletics Association, representatives from Mississippi’s community colleges, and outside consultants. Our facilities were evaluated; we confirmed the support for athletics among our faculty, staff, and students; the differences between NAIA and NCAA membership were investigated; the mix of men’s and women’s sports was considered; a realistic expense and revenue budget was developed; and possible conference affiliation opportunities were explored.
The path to intercollegiate competition isn’t simple, clear, or easy. The university’s preference is NCAA membership at the Division III level. We are fortunate our existing facilities are top notch, even if—like the softball complex—they require additional investment. However, the university will need to build facilities, and these costs will require significant private giving at a time when private giving for other university needs must also increase.
Reinstating intercollegiate athletics will help grow our undergraduate enrollment and have a favorable impact on the quality of student life. It is my hope to announce a decision early in 2016.
A Tobacco Free and Healthy Campus
The university has been at work developing a comprehensive approach to health and wellness. I am very proud of the work—and the collaboration—demonstrated by Passport to Wellness, funded by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation, including the excellent work done by the College of Education’s Department of Health and Kinesiology; the W Health Organization (WHO); the College of Nursing and Speech Language Pathology; the College of Business and Professional Studies Culinary Arts Institute; and Campus Recreation. I appreciate the excellent work of our students, faculty and staff to improve the health, welfare, and fitness level of our university community.
Passport to Wellness is our overarching effort uniting the entire university community and engaging the city of Columbus, including elementary school students. One element of this year’s program funded by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation is support for students, through the University Health Center, in tobacco cessation. The state health insurance program provides similar support to our faculty and staff.
This past summer I asked Dr. Irene Pintado, Emma Ody Pohl Endowed chairholder and Associate Professor of Health Education, and LeAnn Alexander, Director of Campus Recreation, to co-chair a campus-wide task force to lead the process for the campus to become tobacco free by July 1, 2016. I thank the MUW Student Nurses Association for providing the student leadership behind this initiative.
I would like to take a moment and celebrate the good work of our faculty and staff. On December 7, 2014, The W’s accreditation was reaffirmed by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees. This effort took nearly three years of work and is a remarkable accomplishment. I salute my colleagues for their good work!
“…I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past…” Thomas Jefferson
The W has a remarkable history. In fact, this university began as a radical idea and our founding values meant the university was to provide public postsecondary education to those who were not being served. Today, The W remains true to those values even as those we serve—today’s diverse, coeducational student body—may appear different. Students today, like those who came before them, are still seeking that same opportunity The W was created to offer in 1884.
Our past successes are insufficient to secure our future. While we celebrate The W, now it is time to turn our attention to the future and chart a path to ensure the university—while staying true to our values and principles—continues to serve the needs of the state of Mississippi and, most importantly, our students.
Beginning in the fall of 2012 with the Campus Dialogues, the university’s established councils, committees, and Boards have been working to develop strategies and plans. A brief listing includes academic program review, advancement audit, athletics, branding/marketing, enrollment management, facilities master plan, technology, regional stewardship, and the Quality Enhancement Plan developed by our faculty during our recent accreditation process. These established processes have engaged hundreds of our faculty, staff, students, friends, and alumni.
In early August, I established a University Priorities Committee made up of students, staff, and faculty to advise me as the university establishes priorities for the next five years. Already this committee has held two working meetings and will be engaged for the remainder of this academic year. The final product of this planning process will be revealed at Homecoming 2016.
The W has established four University Priorities:
- Recruit, retain, and graduate our students
- Advancement excellence
- 21st Century university
- Regional stewardship
You are invited to join the conversation about university priorities on October 20 or 21, 2015. You can find more information here http://www.muw.edu/conversations.
I am looking forward to the work of the University Priorities Committee as we work together to chart the future. I encourage you to keep up with this good work and look for more details to be announced closer to our 2016 Homecoming.
I am grateful to our faithful alumni and friends for your continued support and encouragement. Our university is fortunate to have a loyal group of donors—alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends whose generosity enables excellence on our campus.
Your gifts have enabled us to improve campus curb appeal, broaden the reach of our message, and celebrate our faculty and staff. Your financial contributions help to provide scholarships to our very deserving students.
I also thank Amy Tate, president of MUWAA, and Ralph McLain, president of the MUW Foundation, and their Boards of Directors, for their good work and dedication to the university.
I am grateful to the IHL Board of Trustees for making improving faculty and staff salaries a priority and I am thankful for the commitment to higher education shown by Governor Bryant, Lt. Governor Reeves, Speaker of the House Gunn, and all members of the Legislature as our state funding has nearly returned to pre-recession levels.
Mississippi higher education has also benefited from the nation’s only capital improvement bond program for the past three years. Reliable state funding and the 3-year capital improvement bond program improved our ability to plan and wisely spend our scarce resources.
I am in love with the future of this university because I know The W’s best days lie ahead of us.
I appreciate each and every one of you.
Until next time,
Jim Borsig, Ph.D.