8/15/12 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University President Dr. Frederick Finks looked at the past, the present and the future of the University during his address, titled “Three Looks in a Mirror,” to faculty, staff and administrators during the University’s all-institutional meeting Tuesday afternoon in Hugo Young Theatre.
“The past three years have absolutely been one of the tumultuous times in the history of higher education,” Finks said. “Most colleges and universities have not gone unscathed while trying to maintain enrollment, recruit new students and also enforce budget cuts.”
Finks said higher education also has gone through some daunting challenges of making radical changes to address the demands of a population seeking more for less. “Ashland University has not been immune to these measures,” he said.
“In fact, over the last seven years, beginning in 2005, Ashland University has experienced, in biblical terms, three good years and four lean years,” Finks said. “During the lean years, we cut budgets by $13.8 million and in the good years, we were only able to increase the budget by $2 million. All told, since 2005 we have been operating at $12 million less today than we were in 2005.”
Looking at the present, Finks said that education, an area that had been a staple in Ashland’s curriculum offerings for the past 134 years, has been most severely attacked.
“When this past year finally settled, we had experienced a $5.1 million deficit in graduate education, bachelor’s plus and professional development,” he said. “Our total undergraduate population also suffered an additional loss of $3 million and that, combined with education and the other academic programs, gave us an unprecedented loss of tuition revenue in the amount of $8.4 million.”
Finks said after applying budget cuts and revenue surpluses, the University closed the year with a $2.5 million deficit. “It was a year for the record books, but not one that I want to remember. On the positive side however, we survived,” he said.
Finks said as he looks in the mirror today he sees a university undergoing change and notes that many good things have happened. Those include:
- Reducing the number of credit hours needed to earn a bachelor's degree from 128 to 120.
- Instituting 20 three-year degree programs that will allow students to earn a quality private education in less time and for less money.
- Establishing a four-year graduation guarantee program that will help keep college costs predictable for families.
- Approving a total of 1.1 percent increase in tuition, room and board fees for the 2012-13 academic year, the lowest increase on record in school history.
- Opening of the new Dwight Schar College of Nursing facility in Mansfield and raising $12.2 million toward the construction of that building.
- Instituting a new division of Student Success incorporating academic learning, retention, first year experience, disability services, and professional advising.
- Reorganizing the off-campus centers to make them more efficient and effective.
- Putting a new emphasis on adult education and veteran’s education.
“Our strategic plan continues to provide us the roadmap for planning and a major focus is to begin building a framework that will guide the development of a comprehensive campaign for Ashland University,” Finks said. “This will be a major effort focusing on all areas of facility, academic programming, endowments, scholarships, student life – all designed to ensure the future and success of Ashland University.”
Finks noted that two major initiatives are happening this year – a branding initiative and the review of the University’s mission, vision and core values. “Both of these areas will help us shape the future and be the building blocks for our strategic plan as it unfolds,” he said.
“As I look in the mirror for the third time I see a reborn and reenergized Ashland University full of hope and promise,” he said. “We will face these challenges with determination and with persistence and we will succeed.
“I will not lead in weakness but will gain strength from each one of you and together we will build the Ashland University of the future,” he concluded.
The University also recognized a number of employees for 25 years of service at this event. Those receiving Ashland University watches for service were Stacey Bowman, baker in student dining; Patty Canupp, Professional Development Services director; Pansy Easterling, building service worker/technical assistant in facilities management/planning; Michael Filibeck, custodian in student dining; Thomas Goldsmith, electrician in facilities planning/management; Dr. Curtis Ickes, associate professor of psychology; Judith Kastelic, administrative assistant at the Elyria Center; Dr. Khushwant Pittenger, professor of business administration; and Bruce A. Phelps, painter in facilities management/planning.
Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2012, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.