Looking back, we can count the 2001-2002 school year as among the most successful in Incarnate Word's 121-year history. But it also was among the saddest.
No matter where we were or what we were doing, 2001 will forever be linked to the horrific events of Sept. 11. The scope and magnitude of these events is illustrated by the fact that our extended Incarnate Word community was impacted by this tragedy. Zandra Ploger, a 1971 graduate of Incarnate Word High School (IWHS), was among the thousands of victims of the attacks along with her husband, Bob. In addition, Sgt. Nathan Chapman, son of Lynn (Galbreath) Chapman, a 1963 graduate of IWHS, was the first member of our armed forces to be killed in Afghanistan as a result of hostile fire. In honor of Sgt. Chapman and his family, a tree was planted and a plaque erected at IWHS this spring.
Closer to home, we lost several beloved members of our University community to untimely deaths during the year. Tom Plofchan, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Sister Maria Goretti Zehr, who taught music for over 40 years, and Physics Professor Dr. Thomas Hudson. All three will be greatly missed for the outstanding individuals they were and for the innumerable contributions each made to the betterment of our community.
Still, 2001 should also be remembered for the many positive events that occurred. The University of Incarnate Word awarded its first-ever doctoral degrees at the December commencement ceremonies. U.S. News & World Report recognized our online graduate business program as one of the best in the country. In addition, UIW was one of 19 finalists - out of an initial statewide field of 88 - for a Star Award, an honor conferred by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. We were the sole local university to earn this distinction, which recognizes the development of innovative academic programs that close the States Education gap through public and private institutions of higher learning.
We also hosted the grand opening and dedication of the Ann Barshop Natatorium, an event that drew academic dignitaries from as far away as Taiwan and Turkey. And as you read this, work will be nearing completion on two new important construction projects. The first is the Gorman Business and Education Center. It will house the Dreeben School of Education, which this spring became the first of our schools to be named after an individual. The Gorman Business and Education Center and the Dreeben School of Education were both named after long-time UIW benefactors and Board of Trustee members - Jim and Tena Gorman, and Alan and Barbara Dreeben. The other project nearing completion is a dormitory/parking garage/banquet hall facility located by the International Conference Center overlooking the campus and the city. This facility will also house a new bookstore that will have three times the capacity of our present one.
I hope these brief highlights give you a sense of our many activities during the 2001-2002 school year. I encourage you to read this issue of The Word for more information, whether it's about our new doctoral degree recipients, the online program or the Ann Barshop Natatorium. In the meantime, let me thank all of you for your support. It's your support that allows us to continue fulfilling Incarnate Word's goal of offering students the best possible educational opportunity within a context of faith.