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January 6, 2011

Dear Members of the Shepherd University Community:

COURAGE - FRUSTRATION - HONESTY - COMPROMISE - INSPIRATION - DEDICATION

These qualities accompany the work currently underway to forge Shepherd's pathway toward becoming a premier public liberal arts university. Since the campus endorsement in April 2009 of the Crossroads Strategic Plan, the Shepherd University community has navigated the challenging journey toward inspiring student learning and development, optimizing the potential of our faculty and staff, creating a beautiful and welcoming campus, and stimulating the cultural and economic development of our region.

This is not the easy road to take. It is simpler to stay with what has worked in the past. But change seeks us out. As our uncertain times attest, the economy and political environment shift, the needs of an educated person change, and public expectations of higher learning alter. Shepherd faculty and staff recognized opportunity in such shifting expectations. We worked alongside our stakeholders to chart our direction. Our campus is now making significant strides. In stretching for the Crossroads Strategic Plan's goals we are:

  • increasing the percentage of full-time faculty through the creation of 15 new lines;
  • consolidating all academic support services through the Howard Carper Learning Commons;
  • equipping 100 percent of classrooms with consistently high-quality instructional technology and moving toward access to wireless technology throughout campus;
  • renovating more than 5,800 square feet of faculty offices and meeting spaces with the creation of 35 new faculty offices and spaces for student advising and guidance;
  • adding awards for faculty excellence in teaching, service, research, and advising;
  • increasing annual faculty and staff development funds by $39,000 allocated from the Foundation through endowed funds and $50,000 provided for tuition remission, travel, and training;
  • significantly exceeding the $20 million comprehensive campaign goal one year earlier than anticipated; and
  • attracting an increasingly competitive student population, with more than 400 Promise Scholars.

In fall semester 2010, another great stride to position students for success came through the adoption of a transformational general studies curriculum. The General Studies Committee, led by Dr. Larry Daily, participated in hours of study and campus discussion to reform the core of our curriculum.

This reform work will continue through the spring as we align our majors, minors, and electives around the 120-credit hour graduation requirement and the 42-credit hour general studies programming.

The Academic Calendar Committee's recommendation for a new three-year calendar cycle beginning with the 2011-2012 academic year urged us to adopt a 15-week semester schedule. After reviewing the campus-wide deliberations, I have accepted the committee's recommendation, and the planned new schedule can be found at www.shepherd.edu/register/calendar.html. The combination of these two major institutional changes, the curricular structure of courses we require of students to graduate and the instructional timing for delivery of those courses, will require each of us to review how we teach and how we conduct our affairs. I know that such changes come at great personal cost--of energy, attention, time, and emotion. But these are important steps for us to take.

At the center of academic culture is discourse--sometimes heated, sometimes strained--as we debate closely held values and principles. Decisions once made, however, free us to come back together, stronger than before. I look forward to our next steps and thank you for all you are doing to propel us forward.

Together, we are moving with confidence toward Shepherd's promising future.

Sincerely,

Dr. Suzanne Shipley
President

 

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