President Bailey describes WMU's future
Feb. 6, 2004
KALAMAZOO--In her first State of the University address, President
Judith I. Bailey warned of continued economic challenges for
higher education, pledged to pursue Western Michigan University's
mission as a national student-centered research university and
described three specific initiatives to advance WMU in its second
Speaking to a large Dalton Center audience Thursday afternoon,
Bailey said that WMU had moved from being a "state-supported
university" to one that was only "state-assisted."
"Our centennial year was the first year in the University's
history when state fiscal support amounted to less than one-half
of the annual revenue received. We have become a state-assisted
institution. And we believe that substantial state support in
the future will be linked to a higher level of 'proof' that universities
truly merit a state investment," Bailey said.
The president highlighted accomplishments of the past year
and went on to define specific initiatives intended to support
three areas, "an emphasis on a diverse and inclusive campus
climate, an insistence on intellectual rigor and an investment
in an infrastructure that serves and challenges our students."
The complete text of President Bailey's address follows.
Three honored for excellence at
Lori Sims is first in series of named
Martha Warfield appointed to lead
"Building the Bridges To Our Second Century"
State of the University Address
President Judith I. Bailey, Western Michigan University
Thursday, Februry 5, 2004
Thank you, good afternoon, and please allow me to add my congratulations
to our three award recipients. You truly epitomize the strength
of this academic community.
I am honored to present the "State of the University"
address to our distinguished and committed students, faculty,
staff, alumni, trustees, community supporters, and legislative
friends. Because of your hard work and devotion to this institution,
Western Michigan University continues to advance.
It is my privilege to report that the "State of the University"
is solid and strong. Both our reputation and success as a student-centered
research university continue to grow. As we cross the bridge
into our second century, we can see possibilities soaring ahead
of us--and enormous challenges.
If we work together, this campus community will face those
challenges squarely, overcome them, and continue to build a research
university that is student centered and diverse. It will be a
learning environment engaged with the communities we serve and
renowned for its integrity, intellectual vigor, innovation, imagination,
Today, I will talk about some of the important work accomplished
in the past year. I also will describe that bridge we're crossing,
the tools we'll need for our journey, and what is on the other
side--our vision for our future. But we face definite
and serious challenges--challenges that arise from a basic change
in how higher education is viewed. The restructuring of public
higher education is now under way--both here in Michigan and
throughout the nation--and I must frame my remarks this afternoon
in that context.
This restructuring of public higher education is characterized
by three key developments:
First, the general public increasingly perceives higher education
as primarily important because of its relationship to job training
and economic growth;
second, our citizens increasingly perceive higher education
as a private benefit rather than a "public good" that
should be nourished and protected; and
third, fiscal support for higher education continues its steady
decline in many sta tes, including, as we are all too aware,
the state of Michigan.
This restructuring has already affected universities across
the nation. For example, the National Center for Public Policy
in Higher Education recently estimated that declining state appropriations
and the resulting skyrocketing tuition rates have denied access
to higher education to at least 250,000 prospective students
The reduction in state appropriations has led to the emergence
of state-assisted or state-affiliated universities rather than
state-supported institutions. State-assisted universities require
more and more private funding to ensure student access and institutional
progress. In 2003, while we celebrated our centennial, we noted
a milestone that was not a cause for celebration. Our centennial
year was the first year in the University's history when state
fiscal support amounted to less than one-half of the annual revenue
received. We have become a state-assisted institution. And we
believe that substantial state support in the future will be
linked to a higher level of "proof" that universities
truly merit a state investment.
During this difficult time of transition, our University benefits
from support from our home community. This past New Year's Day
saw a clarion call by the Kalamazoo Gazette for both public and
private support for WMU. The paper urged individuals and corporations
to find ways to help "fill the funding gap." We are
fortunate to have that community support, and we value the partnerships
that have been nurtured over the years by those both on our campus
and in our community. We will continue to find ways to engage
with our home community to our mutual benefit.
Nonetheless, the restructuring of higher education causes
us to redefine, reexamine, and rethink University activities.
We must respond constructively to this new reality. Our transformation
has begun, and accomplishments during our centennial year foreshadow
our move into the future. You might say this celebration year
represented a critical section of the bridge that will carry
us from the achievements of our first century to realizing the
goals we've set for our second century. I'll talk more about
these goals, the vision for our future, and the tools we'll use
to get there. But first, let's take a moment to revel in some
of our most recent accomplishments.
The 2003 Centennial Year
In the course of our centennial year, we celebrated and recognized
the University's accomplishments over its first 100 years. We
again extend our gratitude to Professors Edward and Ruth Heinig
for their outstanding leadership during this yearlong celebration.
The celebration they led included events that ranged from an
October performance by alumna and international opera star Susan
B. Anthony to a dedicated effort by our students to build a Habitat
for Humanity home.
The sights, and especially the sounds, of that celebration
will live long in our memories. Who could ever forget the stirring
November regional premier of Peter Boyer's "Ellis Island:
The Dream of America" by the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra,
which included undergraduate majors in our Department of Theatre.
These and other centennial events reflect the diverse character
and remarkable accomplishments of the students and alumni of
this great university.
Fittingly, and symbolic of just how far this University has
come in 100 years, 2003 also saw prestigious Fulbright Fellowships
awarded to three of our graduate students--Miguel Centellas,
Esther Shoenherr, and Yazmine Watts--for study in Bolivia, Germany,
and Senegal, respectively. This is the largest number of graduate
Fulbrights awarded to WMU students in a single year.
Also during 2003 we completed the Centennial Capital Campaign,
which has generated more than 160 million dollars to support
academic programs, student scholarships, research equipment,
and facilities at the University. We are incredibly proud of
this accomplishment and especially appreciate the outstanding
campaign leadership provided by William Parfet.
As I noted earlier, private support has become critical and
every campaign gift received is increasingly important to the
University's continued progress. Just one example of the many
wonderful gifts received during the campaign is the recent $2.5
million gift from James and Lois Richmond, which will accelerate
completion of the School of Art facility. Other private contributions
have helped establish 31 new Medallion Scholarships for meritorious
incoming undergraduate students.
There's also a group of donors I especially want to recognize
this afternoon--our faculty and staff. You, who are closest to
this institution and who are called upon to shoulder extra responsibility
during these challenging times, have stepped up and augmented
your already substantial contributions with monetary gifts as
well. Over the five years of the campaign, more than 3,500 individual
gifts from faculty and staff helped make the effort a success.
You can truly report with pride that you "gave at the office"
in more ways than one. Thank you for stepping forward and reaffirming
your confidence in the goals of this great University.
But our work continues. Despite the wonderful success of the
Centennial Campaign, the University still has unmet obligations
and challenges. For example, we urgently need to improve chemistry
facilities, especially for undergraduate education, and to renovate
Sangren Hall for our College of Education and Kohrman Hall for
our School of Art. We will seek additional funding to further
improve selected programs and ensure student access to the University.
Building toward our academic future
The year also witnessed changes and restructuring in several
parts of the University that impact the academic climate. Some
are very visible.
The University opened its impressive, new College of Engineering
and Applied Sciences facility on the Parkview Campus in August,
and the new facility for the College of Health and Human Services
is moving rapidly toward completion on the Oakland Drive Campus.
We established several new and innovative partnerships at
the Business Technology and Research Park, now home to almost
two dozen companies.
And let me call your attention to one especially exciting
new venture: the Biosciences Research and Commercialization Center,
which we co-founded with a $10 million initiation grant from
the state of Michigan. The BRCC will foster the development and
commercialization of pharmaceutical products using the historic
and continuing bioscience knowledge base long present in this
resilient region of the country.
Other changes are less visible but critically important, and
I'd like to single out two of them.
Back in 1976, President John T. Bernhard, with great foresight,
established the WMU Foundation to focus our development efforts.
This past December, we created a new entity, the Western Michigan
University Research Foundation, to further our research endeavors.
This new foundation will become as important to research as the
University Foundation is to scholarships and fellowships, endowed
chairs, facilities, equipment, and programs. Western's Research
Foundation sends a message to funding organizations and prospective
faculty members that this University is committed to funded research
and will do all in its power to facilitate the transfer of technology
and new learning to the public it serves. The new Research Foundation
will facilitate, organize, and protect the University's unfolding
research agenda. The Research Foundation provides a mechanism
for WMU to focus on industry as a significant source of sponsored
research funding and enhances our flexibility to manage such
intellectual property as patented technology. By positioning
the University to better compete for industry-sponsored research,
the foundation also will assist in the University's expanding
economic development work in the Kalamazoo area.
Our faculty and academic officers have made program quality
and the assessment of student learning the twin goals of a massive
ongoing effort. The faculty's work in this regard is yet another
example of their dedication to the continuous improvement of
undergraduate and graduate education. They will target areas
needing change and curricular improvement and identify areas
warranting additional fiscal support. Perhaps most importantly,
the results of these intense department-level efforts will help
our students more clearly demonstrate their intellectual and
professional accomplishments to others-graduate programs, prospective
employers, and the state. The assessment and program quality
outcomes will also help identify areas of extraordinary achievement
for external accreditation teams that regularly review many of
the institution's academic programs.
And finally, there is a change to our academic environment
that will play out over the next many month s and have a profound
and visible impact on our learning environment and our sense
of community. Some 55 of our faculty colleagues, among them three
distinguished faculty scholars and seven teaching excellence
award winners, have decided to retire this year or in the near
future. With them will go untold storehouses of institutional
memory and experience, for collectively, they represent almost
2,000 years of experience. I want to publicly acknowledge and
recognize their extraordinary contributions to building the quality
of this University. We owe them a debt of gratitude, especially
for their years of unfailing commitment to our students, the
academic and research programs they envisioned and built, and
the public services associated with the University because of
With these retirements, of course, the face of our faculty
will change. New faculty colleagues, selected to meet the changing
academic and research needs of the institution, will become part
of our learning community. We will choose new faculty members
carefully to ensure that they will maintain and increase the
rigor of our academic offerings. As president, I am committed
to maintaining the strength and quality of academic programs
as the University's first and highest pri ority.
I also pledge my additional support to and offer my admiration
for the faculty. You have dedicated your careers to this University.
Through your teaching, scholarship, research, or creative activity,
you enhance the stature of the institution and add immeasurably
to the learning environment. To that end, I will use funds from
private donors to establish a series of named professorships.
Today, I begin by naming Lori Sims as the John T. Bernhard Professor
Congratulations, Lori. I can think of no better tribute to
you and to President Bernhard's commitment to academic excellence.
Although our faculty is critically important to our core mission,
another group has earned our gratitude and admiration. Our staff,
the people who keep this University functioning, is the hardest
working staff of any public university in Michigan. Staff members
have borne the brunt of the budget cuts we've made to date. With
grace and commitment, they have shouldered more responsibility
as their numbers have dwindled and worked longer and smarter
to meet our students' needs. Even before recent personnel reductions,
our staffing ratios were the lowest in the state. Each member
of our non-faculty staff serves more than twice the students
served by a staff member at the University of Michigan and 50
percent more than a staff member at Michigan State University.
To paraphrase Gov. Granholm, "If you seek a leaner university,
look about you."
Many changes to our academic environment and campus climate
are not of our making. Reductions in state funds during the past
year have led to painful consequences. State of Michigan fund
reductions have already forced the loss of almost 200 staff positions
during 2003, and the Board of Trustees approved the elimination
of four athletic programs, effective in July 2004. We face even
more personnel reductions as we cope with the long-term impact
of these cuts to our base funding.
Last week, I made the decision to recommend to our Board of
Trustees that tuition for next year be raised by just 2.4 percent.
It was the right thing to do for our students and their families
and the right thing to do for our University. In return, the
governor has pledged to return more than $3 million to our base
appropriation this year and to spare us additional cuts in the
2004-2005 fiscal year.
We appreciate the state's commitment to us, and because we
now know next year's state appropriation and tuition level, we
can move forward with our planning. We have established our operating
budget, and we know the amount of reductions we must take to
meet that budget. Even with the state's commitment to hold us
harmless for future cuts this year, we will begin the 2004-2005
fiscal year with a state appropriation that is lower than that
with which we began the 1998-1999 year, and we have significant
cost increases to address.
The fiscal challenge facing the University will persist into
the future, and it requires our best collaborative thinking to
design the most effective university operations. We will move
deliberately--but with urgency--as we make decisions and announce
future reductions. As the University leadership continues to
plan to meet these challenges, we recognize the need for more
input. To that end, I have assembled an Academic Affairs Budget
Advisory Committee to help us consider the options, so that academic
budgetary decisions will serve the long-term viability of our
campus community. Janet Pisaneschi, dean of health and human
services will chair the committee. The Academic Affairs Budget
Advisory Committee will convene immediately and will make recommendations
to me and the provost by March 30. When our Board of Trustees
meets April 16, I will present a balanced budget for the trustees'
As you can see, our senior leadership team has committed to
an inclusive planning and decision-making process that brings
together the many diverse parts of our Academy. Already, colleges
and academic units are examining the set of draft strategic goals
and priorities for academic affairs that the provost, deans,
and senior academic leaders have formulated to date. We look
forward to your input.
Further, we continue to evaluate alternative funding models
for the institution, including extended university programs,
general education, and summer sessions. Jim Schmotter, dean of
the Haworth College of Business, is leading the Academic Affairs
Budget Policy Committee. The results of the committee's work
will lead to a substantially revised University fiscal model
that will reflect the changing nature of Michigan public higher
education. In short, it will not be business as usual at Western
Building the bridge to our future
We are beginning our second century of service. I've laid
out our recent accomplishments and reminded you of the challenges
we face. Our mission statement will guide us as we solidify our
identity as a national student-centered research university.
And we know our base of financial support is evolving. Our focus
in the next few years--our bridge, if you will--must be on using
a set of tools with laser precision to engage our students in
research, creative activities, and public service. That engagement
must start when students first come to us, and that engagement
will require faculty, staff, facilities, and infrastructure to
support our students' expectations of us.
As families pay a larger share for their sons' and daughters'
education, we must not and we will not deliver less in terms
of intellectual rigor. We will, in fact, deliver more. I want
Western Michigan University to be the choice of students and
their families. I want them to know that by becoming a part of
this learning community they will join a great university that
demands integrity and adherence to intellectual thoroughness.
They will come to us because they know we will challenge their
imaginations and demand innovative thinking. And they will join
our learning community, because they know that all members of
our campus community will treat each other with civility and
respect while making important contributions.
To continue our move toward these goals, I am announcing three
initiatives for the coming year. These initiatives could easily
be viewed as separate goals, but I prefer to view them as tools
to build our future learning environment.
We will build a diverse and inclusive community
In facing our future together, I ask each of you to reflect
on our institutional culture and environment. The vitality of
our campus depends on students from diverse backgrounds and communities
across our state, nation, and world. It is clear that the talent,
ideas, and contributions of every person are crucial if we are
to continue to move forward as a nationally recognized student-centered
research university. I am committed to increasing the genuine
participation of diverse students, faculty, and staff throughout
the University. In doing so, we must improve the civility and
respect found in our learning and work environments. As an institution,
we reap tangible benefits when each individual is welcomed, respected,
and included in classroom discussions, study, and work environments
that are civil and respectful.
I know these views are widely shared, but until now, the University
has not had one individual charged with the cross-campus responsibility
for planning, implementing, advising, and evaluating the effectiveness
of policy and practice to advance a more positive and diverse
University. Martha Warfield, assistant vice president for student
affairs, has agreed to restructure her responsibilities and lead
a Presidential Initiative on Diversity and Multiculturalism.
She will coordinate staff and programs of diversity initiatives
already on campus, through such units as the Office of Institutional
Equity, the Lewis Walker Center for Race and Ethnic Relations,
International Student Services, Disabled Student Services, and
the Center for Women's Studies.
Additionally, Dr. Warfield will lead the Council on Institutional
Diversity, which will provide advice on policy changes necessary
to build an environment that will support increased diversity
across the campus. The four main charges to this special council
to develop a comprehensive diversity plan;
to review the policies, procedures, and limitations for the
recruitment, retention, and participation of diverse groups and
individuals across campus;
to determine specific strategies and needed resources to improve
the campus diversity climate; and
to recommend ways to strengthen the use of the limited resources
that already exist.
After further consultations, I will announce membership on
the Council on Institutional Diversity. Your active support and
cooperation with this organizational change will help serve and
advance the needs of our increasingly diverse community at Western
We will build intellectual rigor and academic excellence
Maintaining and improving the educational quality of our academic
programs calls for intentional foresight, solid plans, and resources.
Increasingly, all academic programs require highly specialized
faculty for instruction and research endeavors as well as up-to-date
facilities in which to learn and teach. And, despite the public's
perceptions about higher education, the academy remains the last
best place for new and sometimes controversial ideas, for imagination
about the human condition and its future, for economic progress,
and for serious investigation into alternative means of inquiry
and research. Since my arrival last June, it has become clear
to me that we need special attention in two areas to maintain
and advance academic excellence at Western Michigan University.
In undergraduate education, we must strengthen both the experience
of our first-year students and the general education program.
I believe we should do this through two mutually supportive actions.
First, we must implement an integrated and universal program
to help all first-year students connect with each other, with
our outstanding faculty, and with our campus resources and thus
ease their transition into higher education. We have many "treasures"
within our campus community, and with this common first-year
experience, our students will more likely access them and consequently
persist with academic study and with personal development into
responsible adulthood. Together, our academic and student affairs
divisions will initiate the first-year program in fall 2005.
The first-year program will substantially enhance the student
experience both inside and outside the classroom. We know that
a student's first months on campus can set the stage for success
and a rewarding college experience. We must work to engage our
students from their first days at Western Michigan University.
Second, in order to strengthen undergraduate education we
will allocate faculty positions to assure that full-time faculty
members are increasingly available to teach in first-year general
education courses. I am committing to set aside four new full-time
faculty positions in each of the next four years to strengthen
our general education offerings in English and mathematics. These
additional "first-year positions" in both academic
areas will measurably strengthen the educational experience of
our first-year students as well as build a cadre of committed
full-time faculty who are available to introduce our first-year
students to the rigors and rewards of focused academic work.
This pledge of four first-year faculty positions is part of
the institution's commitment to add twenty new faculty positions
each year. We will also designate at least four of the twenty
positions each year for the explicit purpose of strengthening
graduate education and research. In filling these additional
positions, we will give priority to researchers who will bring
with them funded research initiatives that provide support for
graduate students and strengthen our graduate offerings.
In the area of graduate education, our program offerings must
represent our highest academic quality, relate to our funded
research agenda or have an established reputation for excellence.
We must target our investment to those programs that are currently
supporting students, producing doctorates, and attracting funded
research. As academic strategic program planning moves forward
in departments, I ask the faculty and all academic officers to
assure that all graduate programs meet these criteria and demonstrate
a high level of quality based, at least in part, upon external
review. There are clear and documented national and social needs
for graduate education in selected fields. In many of those disciplines,
we already have nationally ranked graduate programs. Where a
high level of quality cannot be achieved, we must reassess in
light of our fiscal capacity.
We will build a state of the art information model
I am announcing the launch this fall of a new Student Information
System and a corresponding infusion of technology that will impact
every corner of this University. For years, this initiative has
been discussed, debated, and studied. Although we've been using
the current technology since 1984, many will wonder at the decision
to move on this important initiative now, when we are under such
severe budget constraints. But this is the right time to make
a move that offers our students a quantum leap forward in instruction
and e-learning as well as dramatically increases the level of
service we provide. For example, it offers protection from identity
theft that can happen with our current use of Social Security
numbers. This last benefit, identity theft protection, has been
mandated by the state of Michigan, a development that weighed
heavily in our decision to undertake this initiative now.
The University will replace its current aging system with a new
one. Major benefits for students in the new system will include:
access to a portal that provides single-point, customized
24/7 WebCT connection for e-learning communications between and
among students and faculty;
access to course information, course registration, grades,
progress-to-degree reviews, and financial aid status;
access to timely individualized notices about academic and
financial matters; and
the opportunity to develop an IWebfolio, an individual online
electronic portfolio in which each student will store projects
and demonstrate educational growth and professional learning
experiences throughout his or her academic career.
This is an expensive undertaking, but further delay is not
an option. Instead of pouring our funds into an effort to patch
together a system no longer supported by industry vendors, we
will make an investment in a system that will change the way
our students use technology and streamline every facet of University
operation, from routine business transactions to the careful
assessment of our academic offerings.
These three initiatives:
our emphasis on a diverse and inclusive campus climate;
our insistence on intellectual rigor, and
our investment in an infrastructure that serves and challenges
will help us reaffirm and move toward the goal of fully realizing
our stated mission-that of being a national student-centered
research institution, engaged with the communities we serve and
renowned for its integrity, intellectual vigor, innovation, imagination,
and inclusiveness. This is the vision that brought me to Western
Michigan University at the start of its second century and the
future toward which we will move together.
I've used this State of the University address to share some
of my observations, concerns, and vision with you as we leave
our centennial year. Most of you in the audience have been at
this University far longer than I in my short tenure as president.
Yet, length of service is not the only reason people are committed
to organizations. There are others. I would like to close by
sharing the thoughts from a British scholar on organizational
development and resiliency, which we will surely need for the
"There is a final noneconomic reason to care about institutional
longevity and therefore resilience. Institutions are vessels
into which we as human beings pour our energies, our passions,
and our wisdom. Given this, it is not surprising that we are
often survived by the organizations we serve. For if our genes
constitute the legacy of our individual selves, our institutions
constitute the legacy of our collective, purposeful lives. Like
our children, they are our progeny. It is no wonder that we hope
they will do well and are well treated by our successors. This
hope for the future implies a reciprocal responsibility that
we be good stewards of the institutions we have inherited. The
best way to extend it is to improve the organization's capacity
for continual renewal." (Gary Hamel and Liisa Valikangas,
"The Quest for Resilience" Harvard Business Review,
September 2003, p. 57.)
Please join me in extending the legacy of Western Michigan
University as together we move into our next century of achievement
through purposeful change and renewal. Thank you for your kind
and patient attention. Good afternoon.
Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, firstname.lastname@example.org