2012 President’s Convocation
University of Detroit Mercy President’s Convocation Remarks
Antoine M. Garibaldi
Monday, August 20, 2012
Good morning, faculty and staff colleagues! It is great to see all of you here in Calihan Hall as we begin the 2012-2013 academic year! I know that many of you have been very busy since we had our three commencements in this same building on May 11, 12 and 13. It may seem like those graduation activities occurred just a few weeks ago to some of you. But the past three months have been very busy for our faculty who have taught summer classes and been engaged in research and scholarly activities; and also our staff who have been providing important services to current and new students, improving the three campuses’ facilities, and assisting our clients in the clinics of Psychology, Counseling and the Schools of Law and Dentistry. And it is primarily because of your dedication and hard work that we had a busy and productive successful summer and school year. This morning I will highlight some of the past academic year’s accomplishments, with accompanying slides and photographs; give you a snapshot of some important and exciting initiatives for the new academic year; and I will tell you about a few strategies we are using to address recurring fiscal and enrollment challenges. But I want to begin by sharing some enrollment information from the Enrollment and Student Affairs Office.
Enrollment Projections for 2012-2013
First, let me thank each of you for your personal involvement in the recruitment and retention of students over the past year. Many of you met with students on campus, and some of you also contacted parochial and public schools in the metropolitan area after my visits to some of them. In some cases, your calls to the principals or presidents of a few of the high schools helped to get me in the schools; and, more importantly, your calls generated prospective student visits to UDM. The Admissions office appreciated your assistance, and let’s do it again this year.
During the five June and July Student Orientation and Advising Registrations (SOAR), 460 prospective first-year students and their parents visited campus. The Fall freshman class enrollment is projected to be between 500 and 510 students. As of last Monday, the first-year confirmation total for the Fall 2012 freshman class was 568. The staff in the Admissions Office is working actively to meet their target for first-year students. Students are still visiting the campus to take a tour and apply, so make sure to give them a UDM welcome when they are walking around the campus. The graduate registration total as of last Monday was 986, an increase of 10.8 percent compared with last year; and the professional school enrollment was at a high of 1,058, due largely to the School of Dentistry’s first-year class expansion from 96 to 144 new students. The overall preliminary registration total as of last Monday was 4,566, which is a 1.7 percent increase from this time last year. With the start of Term I two weeks away, there is still time to increase the enrollment of new students and returning students. And please do not hesitate to refer students to the Admissions or Financial Aid offices if they are having any difficulty registering.
UDM Strategic Plan: 2012-2017
At last August’s convocation, you may recall my references to the well-known work of business and management scholar Jim Collins, whose 2001 best seller, “Good to Great,” singles out business and leadership tenets that are important to corporations and colleges and universities. While I will not revisit Collins’ principles here today, it is more important to say that we began our UDM drive “from good to great” last September by developing a five-year Strategic Plan. The 10-member University Strategic Planning Team and I began a series of weekly meetings in Fall 2011 to review both the University’s existing Strategic Plan and to identify the critical items and issues that must be addressed in a new Strategic Plan.
I am very appreciative of the work of the Strategic Planning Team and also to all of you who responded favorably to our invitations to participate in this important process. You provided comments on the initial drafts of the Plan via e-mails and written correspondence; through conversations with Team members; by responding to electronic surveys; and, most especially, by attending one or more of the 10 forums that were held on the three campuses in December 2011, and January, February and March 2012. Your valuable comments and recommendations, along with those of students, Trustees and alumni, made our new strategic plan a stronger document. And, as I told you in my July Letter to the UDM Community, the UDM Strategic Plan: 2012-2017 was approved by the Board of Trustees at the June 29 Board meeting.
The five major goals of the Strategic Plan are:
- Drive Academic and Institutional Excellence
- Increase Enrollment, Retention, and Graduation of Students
- Heighten the Distinction of the University
- Create a Culture that Fosters Effective Management and Strong Financial Health
- Amplify the University’s Dynamic Community Engagement
These goals, and their respective objectives, are also on the Strategic Planning Team’s homepage at: http://www.udmercy.edu/governance/teams/strategic/index.htm on the McNichols Faculty Assembly’s website. Over the summer, the President’s Council improved the specific details of the Strategic Plan Implementation Grid so that not only the Action Step for each strategic goal and objective would be clear, but also who was responsible, what the measurement metrics and target date were, and what were the expected outcomes. You will be hearing more about the Action Steps from your respective academic and staff supervisors over the next few weeks as we fully implement the Strategic Plan. This UDM Strategic Plan: 2012 -2017 will beUDM’s blueprint for the next five years, and it will be essential to the achievement of our short-term and long-term goals within and beyond the University.
Another important initiative that began last summer was the selection of a fundraising firm to conduct a feasibility study to assess our readiness for a comprehensive campaign. The feasibility study was completed at the end of May after extensive analyses of our donor giving history over the last few years and also from individual interviews with more than 40 alumni. A presentation of the findings was provided to the Board of Trustees in the morning of their June 29 meeting; and later that afternoon, the Academic Leadership Team and University Advancement staff received the summary of the results. Even though the campaign leadership team, the case statement and the campaign priorities have not been finalized yet, I can tell you that the “quiet phase” of the comprehensive campaign has begun and the fundraising goal will be at least $60 million. A major goal of the campaign will be to increase our modest endowment so that we can provide more financial support for our students; expand faculty research and scholarship; improve campus facilities; and other essential needs. As the campaign plan is further developed, you will be receiving more specific information on the priorities and we will want your involvement in the campaign activities.
UDM Endowed Scholarship Challenge Grant
To get the campaign off to a “rousing start,” even during the “quiet phase,” a Michigan foundation leader with whom I had been meeting over the past year responded favorably to our interest in growing the University’s endowment during the comprehensive campaign. While some of the information I am about to share is not public yet, I want you to know about this exciting 2:1 challenge grant that we are establishing to begin the UDM Michigan Scholars Endowment Fund. The Mary G. Stange Charitable Trust is pledging $1 million if UDM raises $2 million for this new endowed scholarship. This UDM Michigan Scholars Endowment Fund has a primary goal of keeping more of Michigan’s outstanding youth at UDM and in the state for their college education. When the challenge has concluded by December 2014, at least $3,000,000 will have been raised to provide full scholarship support for three to four Michigan high school graduates annually to attend UDM. Major gifts will be solicited from corporations, foundations and individuals for this UDM Michigan Scholars Endowment, and it will be a wonderful fundraising opportunity to educate the alumni and donor community about the role and importance of endowment gifts in general, and scholarships in particular, so that UDM can grow its endowment during the Comprehensive Campaign. We will announce this publicly in the next few weeks.
During the 2011-2012 academic year, we achieved many noteworthy academic accomplishments. I will mention a few here, beginning with the University’s eleventh consecutive year of recognition as a top tier Midwest Regional University in the U.S. News and World Report’s 2012 edition of “America’s Best Colleges.” We moved up to number 23, making us one of the highest-ranked Michigan universities on the list. (The 2013 rankings will be available in the middle of September.) With the help of the members of the Academic Leadership Team, let me share some of the most important accomplishments from their respective areas.
School of Dentistry - The School of Dentistry received approval by the Commission on Dental Accreditation to increase its class size from 120 to 160 students. There are now 144 first-year students (two cohorts of 72 students) in the School of Dentistry’s Class of 2016. With the increase in class size, there are 12 additional faculty members. During the past year, the School of Dentistry also added 21 operatories to support the pre-doctoral and dental hygiene programs. In addition, the School has a new simulation laboratory for our dental hygiene program and hands-on continuing education activities.
School of Architecture - For the third year in a row, UDM School of Architecture graduates achieved the highest overall passing rates of any school of architecture in the state of Michigan on the Architect Registration Examination. UDM graduates led in 3 of the 7 exams as well as the overall passing rate. The Detroit Collaborative Design Center (DCDC) continues to make excellent progress on long-term planning for the city’s Detroit Works Project. Hopefully you read about some of the preliminary conclusions from this work in a feature article in the Detroit Free Press on Sunday, August 5. I think you might be interested in knowing that our faculty colleague, Professor Dan Pitera, who is the Executive Director of the DCDC and leads the Civic Engagement portion of the Detroit Works Project’s Long Term Planning, and his team reached 75,000 people for interviews and focus groups from December 2011 to mid-August 2012. This is very important work to the future of our city. The final results are expected in October, and more funding is expected to extend their work into 2013.
And the TAP Gallery in southwest Detroit, which was designed and built as a collaboration between students in architecture and community development, was presented last year in the city of Lisbon, Portugal to their Housing and Urban Development agency, and will be on display this month at the architecture exhibit in the Venice Biennale in Venice, Italy.
School of Law – In January, the School of Law acquired the Historic Fire House adjacent to the Riverfront Campus to house the George Asher Clinical Law Center. The center is scheduled to open in December of this year. The "student service" staff training initiatives continued in the Student Service Center. These training initiatives have resulted in improved scores on the Student Satisfaction Surveys.
College of Liberal Arts & Education – Last week, the Department of Education received a ranking of “Satisfactory” from the State of Michigan for the Teacher Education program. This was very good news given the Department of Education’s lower rating a few years ago. Two new minors in Economics and Financial Economics have been added to the College as well as a variety of new initiatives in Religious Studies. These initiatives include minor proposals in Islamic Studies and Religious Studies; minors in Jewish Studies and Catholic Studies, which are in the development stage; and funding solicitations for an endowment in Islamic Studies.
College of Health Professions and McAuley School of Nursing - Graduates of the McAuley School of Nursing have demonstrated some outstanding outcomes during the past year: a 100% pass rate on the licensing exam in the first quarter of 2012; a 97.18% pass rate on the licensing exam in the second quarter of 2012; a 100% pass rate on the FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner) certification exam; and a 100% pass rate on the CNL (Clinical Nurse Leader) certification exam. These outcomes are higher than all local, state and national benchmarks.
The BSN Completion program has undergone substantive curricular revision and is realizing substantive enrollment growth. It is anticipated that at least five new cohorts will be implemented both in the Detroit and Grand Rapids regions. Nine students from China are enrolled in the graduate Health Services Administration program and will be completing their course of studies this year. Additionally, the Health Information Management program was launched, and it is realizing substantive enrollment growth – tripling the number of students in the program this fall, including freshmen and students transferring to this major.
College of Business Administration - Our MBA program was ranked among the top 100 in the world for its emphasis on social responsibility and sustainability by the Aspen Institute, which is an independent non-profit agency. Aspen reviewed MBA programs throughout the U.S. and 21 other countries. Consistent with its mission of preparing students to be ethical and socially responsible leaders, the College of Business Administration launched its newest graduate program in Forensic Accounting. This 8-course certificate provides sufficient credits for graduates to become certified public accountants with a unique specialization in the field of identifying fraudulent financial practices. The College of Business Administration welcomed two international Visiting Scholars this year: Mr. Markus Oberndörfer, of the Technical University of Chemnitz in Germany, and Dr. Xiao-Ling He, Associate Professor of Quantitative Finance at Zhejiang University in China. Both are conducting research in their respective fields with the assistance of faculty from UDM’s College of Business Administration.
Career Education Center - The Career Education Center celebrated 100 years of Cooperative Education at UDM and in Michigan. More than 100 recruiters, former deans and UDM faculty, staff and administrators attended the February event at a luncheon honoring the employers of the year, co-op students of the year and the Co-op Centennial Employer, DTE. The Career Education Center has established an Advisory Council of area employers along with UDM faculty, students and administrators. Advisory Council members will serve as ambassadors of the CEC and serve as a resource to its primary constituents, namely, students, faculty, and employers. And the CEC will launch UDM’s Recruiters in Residence program in fall 2012.
College of Engineering & Science – Last December, the $5.5 million renovation of the Chemistry Building was completed. The building now includes new windows and an energy saving system; new core infrastructure; and complete renovation of the large lecture hall, classrooms, meeting rooms and all public areas. The October 2011 celebration of the Engineering Centennial raised over $1 million for promotion and development of engineering programs. Through the publicity of the engineering program and extensive recruiting efforts by faculty and administrators, freshman engineering enrollments have increased by 44% as of last week. Additionally, the first cohort of environmental engineering transfer students from China will arrive this fall. And, lastly, on April 11, in a presentation to a national meeting of nurses, First Lady Michelle Obama praised UDM’s effective collaboration of engineering and nursing faculty and students, “We know that high quality of care is possible, and we see examples every day, all across this country. At the University of Detroit Mercy . . . nursing students are working with engineering students to design devices that will help veterans with disabilities return to the activities they love.” That was wonderful unexpected publicity.
Libraries and Instructional Design Studio - The Libraries and Instructional Design Studio broadened off-campus access to the University's unique collections, putting a number of collections online that share both the history of our institution and the scholarly work of our students.
In the last year, the Libraries and Information Design Studio have made available: the Commencement collection, which contains commencement books dating from 1887 through 2012; the entirety of both Dichotomy, the School of Architecture student journal, and [SIC], the Student Arts Journal published by the English Department's Dudley Randall Center for Print Culture. In the coming months, the Libraries/IDS will be making available the Dr. James Callow Folklore Archive -- a collection of over 42,000 folklore pieces collected by U of D and UDM students since 1974, and the Varsity News Collection, which includes over 90 years of Varsity News issues. The Dental Library replaced an old security system with one that uses Radio Frequency Identification tags. The RFID placed in each volume will be read by a circulation computer and the exit security system simultaneously if unauthorized borrowing occurs.
Athletics – Last year was also an exciting year for Titan Athletics with both our men's and women's basketball teams going to the Horizon League Championship game and the men’s team going on to play in the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The national and local publicity, as well as the varied forms of social media generated from the success of both UDM teams and student-athletes, was spectacular. Of even greater importance than the athletic success of our student-athletes in our 19 Division I sports is their academic performance in the classroom. UDM’s nearly 300 student-athletes concluded the Winter semester with an overall 3.18 GPA. A total of 186 UDM student-athletes (65%) earned a GPA of at least 3.0 for the Winter term, with 106 student-athletes (37%) receiving a 3.5 or above. Susan Kalkstein of the women's track and field team, as you may recall, was Co-Valedictorian of the Class of 2012. Moreover, sixteen student-athletes obtained perfect GPA’s of 4.0 in the Winter semester. We should all be proud that nearly 70% of our student-athletes have a 3.0 GPA and most are performing exceptionally well in the classroom as they matriculate toward graduation.
Facility Renovations and Student Fitness Center
As I mentioned in the last section on academic accomplishments, there have been significant renovations to campus over the past year. And many of those renovations have contributed to our ability to attract outstanding students and faculty. Even more, those campus improvements are being used to encourage alumni to come back and visit the buildings and grounds of the three campuses. Some of those improvements include:
- the 1890 School of Law Atrium and classrooms;
- the 1927 Chemistry Building’s lecture hall, classrooms, foyer, and laboratories;
- the McNichols Library exterior windows;
- the Kassab Mall’s new park-like setting with tree-lined walkways and park benches;
- upgrades to the South Quad restrooms, carpet and heating and cooling systems;
- new glass foyers, exterior doors, and laundry facilities in all Quad buildings;
- new room doors on some of the floors in Holden and Shiple;
- the new Subway;
- a new design of the Titan Dining Room;
- and, of course, the new Student Fitness Center, which will have its Grand Opening and Blessing at a 1 p.m. ceremony on September 20, 2012, the same day as Celebrate Spirit!
Other Important 2012-13 Initiatives
Expanding UDM Partnerships with Schools and Community Colleges – To continue to increase our overall enrollment, I will be making my visits to Catholic, private and public schools again this year to boost our enrollment numbers. And I am counting on your assistance once again so we can generate more interest in UDM’s academic programs in those high schools. One of the most positive results of last year’s high school visits was to meet so many teachers, principals, presidents, counselors, and other school staff who are alumni and also parents of UDM alumni. All of those individuals can be effective recruiters for us, and we will be taking advantage of their assistance. And vice presidents, deans and I will be continuing our meetings with the presidents and academic administrators of the community colleges to strengthen our institutional collaborations and look for more ways for us to develop new partnerships. Some articulation agreements are already coming from this past year’s meetings, and there is more to follow.
Efficiency and Effectiveness Measures -- We will be exploring cost-saving opportunities throughout the University and all three campuses. A task force that began meeting last year, for example, developed as many as 60 potential cost saving measures in May. And many of you provided the suggestions. The Task Force is evaluating what recommendations might be able to be implemented immediately.
Expansion of Online Education Courses and Degree Programs -- Under the leadership of Provost Pam Zarkowski, a plan to increase the number of online courses and degree programs at UDM is being developed. Thank you to everyone who came to the Fall, Winter and Spring meetings that were convened to discuss this topic and also to hear from and ask questions of the prospective online partners who were invited to campus. Increasing our online courses and degree programs will not only increase our enrollment, but it is also a way to provide a college or graduate education to students who are unable to physically come to our campuses because of their work, family and other personal responsibilities. That too is a reflection of our Catholic, Jesuit, Mercy and Urban mission.
Review of UDM Financial Aid Models – Last year I proposed the review of our financial aid distribution model so that we can assess whether we are maximizing the use of our scholarships with prospective students. After inviting three firms to make presentations this summer, we have selected a company specializing in enrollment and financial aid modeling to analyze the scholarship distribution model and also to provide us with a new and improved financial aid model for next year’s first-year class. Through strategies like these, we will obtain some valuable information that will help us to enroll more accepted students.
Revitalization of the Livernois and McNichols Neighborhood Corridor – Last year at this convocation, I expressed a strong interest in strengthening our relationships with the surrounding neighborhoods and the retail businesses in the areas. Of particular interest to us is the area from the Lodge Freeway between Livernois and McNichols because the area from McNichols to 8 Mile is already a part of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation’s initiative. As a result of conversations I have had with a major foundation last year, we are in the process of a potentially exciting initiative that may benefit the University and the surrounding areas. With the foundation’s support, a Philadelphia-based consulting firm has been provided with an extensive amount of data that can be used to build the case that UDM is an important “anchor institution” in this area of the city. Because of the amount of employees we have, the number of students we serve, and the number of students who live and work in this area, a strong case can be made for the role UDM plays in economic and real estate development in this area of Northwest Detroit. With our Catholic partner a few blocks away, Marygrove College, the consulting firm will be developing an anchor strategy on the McNichols Road Corridor using the data obtained from UDM and Marygrove College. This initiative is not only very timely but is also occurring at the same time that attention is being placed on this section of the city and particularly on nearby neighborhoods such as University District, where as many as 40 or more UDM employees live.
The more we do to strengthen this neighborhood, Corktown and the Riverfront campus, the more likely we will be able to attract and enroll more students for all of our academic programs. The positive publicity about the revival of this area of the city in the August 19 Detroit Free Press’s feature article is another example of why our presence here in this community is pivotal to the future of the city. The article highlighted the August 3 tour of UDM and the Livernois Avenue corridor by Mayor Bing, several community and economic development leaders and some members of the media. And the tour gave me the opportunity to identify the numerous capital projects that UDM has completed or is nearing completion over the last four years on each of the three campuses and, especially, the work that our faculty and staff colleagues in the School of Architecture’s Detroit Collaborative Design Center have conducted for the city through the Detroit Works Project Demonstration Area 1 on Livernois Avenue. We are making an investment in this community and I am pleased that the city has also indicated its willingness to make major investments that will do more than just stabilize this entire area.
Advancing from “Good” to “Great”
Over the last year, we have made progress on promoting UDM as a “great” instead of just a “good” institution. As we build on that momentum with the efficient and effective implementation of our new Strategic Plan; incremental success with our Comprehensive Campaign and the engagement of more alumni to give annually; and the willingness of all of us to change how we conduct university business, more of our external audiences will also realize that UDM is a “great” institution. The academic highlights I have shared today alone convey the message that we are a “great” university. You and I will have the privilege of making sure that others know about the quality of our more than 100 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. As a Jesuit and Mercy institution, we know we are distinctive. But we cannot be shy or too humble as we proudly promote the “greatness” of University of Detroit Mercy and its 135 year history. Thank you for all you do to promote our Jesuit and Mercy mission.