Building on past successes for a stronger future
11When pondering whether we should move from Richmond, Va., our longtime residence, John and I knew our new destination would have to feel like home. The sense of family was immediately apparent as I went through the interview process and visited the FHSU campus and the local community.
In exchange for the spirit in which you have welcomed me, I pledge the hallmarks of my presidency will be transparency, excellence and family.
I am thankful to have been entrusted with the care of a university that, thanks to the visionary leadership of its past president, Edward H. Hammond, is formidably positioned to excel. This will be a year of new beginnings. As we embark to discover new opportunities, we celebrate the excellence of our people and our university.
It is amazing how much has been accomplished.
Finishing touches still are being made to the new Center for Networked Learning, but people began moving into their new work home this month. The $10-million building -- 35,000 square feet of space in a bridge structure spanning the old bed of Big Creek -- houses the Department of Informatics, Tiger Media Network, the Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning Technologies, and the Virtual College.
FHSU erected two Vestas wind turbines that, in conjunction with the surplus generators we acquired, now offset most of our consumption of electricity and will save the university nearly $1 million a year.
Besides providing first-class facilities, our university also prides itself on the high quality of our academic programs. Here are four quick recent examples:
* In the College of Education and Technology, the National Council on Teacher Quality, in its 2014 Teacher Prep Review, ranked FHSU No. 3 in the nation for Elementary Education and No. 12 in Secondary Education. We were ranked No. 1 among all schools in Kansas.
* In the College of Arts and Sciences, the political science online program was ranked No. 11 in the country by Social Science Careers, a guide to careers and educational programs in the social sciences.
* In the College of Health and Life Sciences, the Kansas Ornithological Society named Elmer Finck, professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, the Avian Conservationist of the Year for his significant contributions in the field of avian study.
* In the College of Business and Entrepreneurship, FHSU is one of only 13 colleges and universities in the United States with two accounting graduates to win the Sells Award in the last three years. The Sells Award goes only to those who pass all four sections of the Certified Public Accountant exam with a specified high score and on the first try. Of the nearly 100,000 accountants who take the exam each year, only a few, sometimes less than 10 or 20, win the award. In the past 25 years, only 13 schools, and that includes schools such as Wharton, Harvard, Stanford and now FHSU, have had two graduates in that group. No other Kansas school in the last 25 years has had even one finish in that elite category.
The national recognition for academic quality includes our online offerings. U.S. News & World Report released rankings in January that placed FHSU as the top school in Kansas, and one of the elite schools in the country, for its programs offered through the Virtual College.
Of equal importance, the online courses and degrees offered by FHSU are less expensive than every one of the universities that were ranked as high or higher than FHSU in the survey. For online bachelor's degrees, FHSU ranked 16th; for online master's degrees in education, FHSU ranked 20th; for online master's degrees in business; FHSU ranked 64th; and for online master's degrees in nursing, FHSU ranked 71st.
We were the top-ranked university in the state of Kansas for each category except online nursing, where the University of Kansas was ranked 24th.
And, as you know, FHSU is one of the fastest-growing universities in the United States. Our affordable education makes the American dream truly accessible.
Our programs of distinction, and our caring, hard-working people are what make us unique. We will build on this record of dedication and success.
Much of my first month in office has been spent in meetings with the many individuals who choose to bring their talents to this university. Their insight into what makes us distinctive and their belief in our future will form the foundation for our priorities and the strategies to expand our footprint in Kansas, our nation and the world.
This is our university. We are forward thinking and world ready. We are now positioned to become the destination of choice.
Mirta Martin is president of Fort Hays State University.