Ashland University Kicks Off School Year with All-Institutional Meeting

8/16/10 ASHLAND, OH -- Ashland University President Dr. Frederick Finks took a look back and a look forward during his address "Retaining the Past/Re-envisioning the Future" to faculty, staff and administrators during the University's all-institutional meeting Monday afternoon in Hugo Young Theatre.

Finks took a look back at his first all-institutional address in 2006 when he spoke about campus traditions, the leaders who have impacted the campus through the years, the fire that destroyed Founders Hall and the rebuilding effort, the tradition of common thievery that brought the cast-iron eagles to campus and the philosophy of "Accent on the Individual" that continues today.

"I also remembered challenging our group and saying that we had a lot of opportunities that lay ahead for us if we were not afraid to face the tough and difficult issues that stood before us," Finks said.

Finks discussed some of those decisions, including the need to: complete a strategic plan to determine the future of the institution, to develop an admission strategy to help the institution recruit students, address retention as an institution, develop a marketing plan to brand the institution, reengage the entrepreneurial spirit that had characterized the institution in the past and incorporate graduate education the way that made the college a university.

"This year marks the beginning of my fifth year as the president of Ashland University," he said. "As I review the progress that we have made over these past four years, I am reminded time and time again of the sacrifice and commitment of many of you individuals in this room, most of the individuals in this room, as we have sought and fought to make the changes necessary."

Finks listed a number of areas where progress has been made, including strategic planning initiatives, stabilized enrollment and a rise in the academic strength of freshmen, new marketing department, the rediscovery of the entrepreneurial spirit as evidenced by the acquisition of the MedCentral College of Nursing which is now the Dwight Schar College of Nursing, and a reduction of short term borrowing.

"One area that still needs our attention on this campus is the area of student retention," Finks said. "We've hovered over a 10 year period in the 70 to 72 rate in our freshman to sophomore (retention) and this is not good enough and we need to be much more committed to move forward in this area."

He introduced Kathy Stone, the new director of Student Success and Retention, who gave a presentation on how retention is the responsibility of everyone on campus. "All of us in the room can make a difference with students. I believe that making connections and relationships is critical in getting students to be successful and to stay at Ashland University. All of you have that opportunity to make those relationships and connections."

Finks then shifted his focus to the coming year, which starts next week.

"As we begin this new year we are in a good place. We have a great team in place. The faculty and its leadership have great experience and expertise. The cabinet and the administration, the staff, the hourly and salaried, are committed to the mission set before us, enrollment is looking very positive, our strategic plan is mobilized and empowered, and we're setting on the opportunity of a great adventure and I believe our future is bright," Finks said. "So let us move boldly into our future without hesitation and without fear, and let us seek to retain those who have the privilege of coming to sit in our classrooms."

The University also recognized a number of employees for 25 years of service. Those receiving Ashland University watches for service were Karen Little, director of institutional research; Dr. Matthew Arthur, professor of chemistry; Russell Craig, professor of criminal justice; Dr. Mark Hamilton, associate professor of philosophy; Wendy Wasnich, assistant professor of economics; Michael Bradley, admissions representative; Elaine Obrecht, administrative assistant; Peggy Orr, AM lead supervisor, student dining; Nancy Smith, deli server, student dining; and Timothy  Plank, carpenter, facilities management and planning.

Ashland University (<>) is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University 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.