The 2005-2006 school year holds a great deal of promise for the entire Incarnate Word community.
Continued growth really means new challenges and new opportunities. Our task as an institution is to successfully meet the challenges with minimal disruption to what we’re trying to accomplish and to also have the good judgment to take advantage of the opportunities as they arise.
This year, for instance, the 417-student enrollment increase put us in the position of having to accommodate many more motor vehicles on the campus. In other words, we had to create additional parking. We’ve come up with several short-term solutions to handle the parking overflow.
We added several dozen new parking spaces on the campus. We’ve also offered employees the option of parking for free at the lot on the hill by the ICC. And next semester we’ll be implementing a prioritized decal system.
Since we know those are only short-term solutions, we’ve also created a committee that will take an in-depth look at parking in order to generate long-term strategies that will alleviate this situation.
The traditional full-time day enrollment is our backbone. As long as we maintain our full-time numbers, we can, if we have to, weather enrollment dips in all other areas without jeopardizing the stability and future of the University.
It has long been our goal for the full-time day enrollment number to reach 2,500 students, a figure that we’ll surpass next year.
Once we do, we’ll be able to manage our enrollment. That will allow us to continue evolving into a more academically select institution through higher admissions standards.
And in time, this will have a positive impact in increasing student engagement, retention and persistence to graduation.
However, let me assure you that doing so will not affect our mission of offering academic access to populations historically underserved by higher education.
In the meantime, it’s imperative that we successfully implement the QEP. We must also have a University-wide assessment plan so we can keep track of what we’ve accomplished institutionally and what remains to be done.
Underlying everything that we do this year will be a renewed focus on our Mission and Catholic identity. We must also remember the five institutional tenets – education, truth, faith, service and innovation.
The tenets, in combination with the Mission, our faith-based identity and the five service values we adopted in 2000 – service, respect, community, effectiveness and creativity - are what makes Incarnate Word a truly unique institution that’s becoming a destination of choice for students.
Our community has much to look forward to during the school year as we celebrate several important milestones: Incarnate Word’s 125th anniversary; the 100th anniversary of the Motherhouse Chapel; the 75th anniversary of the nursing program; and the 10th anniversary of Incarnate Word College becoming the University of the Incarnate Word.
And on a personal level, I’ll be celebrating my 20th anniversary as President of this venerable institution.
Please feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns that you have. Let me also remind faculty members to stay in touch with their faculty senators. Keep in mind that the Faculty Senate has a direct line of communication with the administration via the President’s Executive Council, which this year includes Faculty Senate President Dr. Gary Norgan.
Finally, let me repeat a pledge that I’ve made in the past: It’s only by working together and maintaining strong lines of communications that can we strive to make the University of the Incarnate Word synonymous with quality and excellence.