On Thursday, Sept. 8, West Chester University’s President, Greg R. Weisenstein, gave a State of the University Address.
The address, which was held in the Asplundh Concert Hall, gave students, faculty, staff, and guests an update on the progress, accomplishments, and future of the university. Weisenstein also introduced the audience to the 42 new faculty members, as well as the new staff that was hired.
Among the guests that were invited to attend the address, SGA President, Jessica Alicea, West Chester Mayor, Carolyn Comitta, and some Alumni Association members were among them.
“We would not be a spectacular university if we did not reside in a spectacular community,” Weisenstein said as the opening statement to his speech.
Weisenstein also noted the national recognition that West Chester, Pa has received in the media including being listed in Forbes Magazine as being a part of the 25 top suburbs for retirement in the United States.
As with the community, WCU has also earned national accreditation for its excellence in academics, student success, and financial value, including being one of the top 100 universities in Kiplinger’s Best Buy.
“It takes the entire campus community working together over many years to earn such accolades from our accreditors,” Weisenstein said.
Weisenstein also mentioned the tremendous effort that students, faculty, and staff have put into service learning and volunteerism.
“For the 2010-2011 academic year, the University student volunteer hours reached nearly 300,000,” Weisenstein said.
WCU has also been named in the President’s Higher education community service honor roll for the fifth time as well as being 115 out of 4,000 universities in the US to earn Carnegie’s Foundation Community Engagement Classification this year.
“On campus, we work hard to make sure that West Chester University is a fantastic place for our students and for all of us,” Weisenstein said. “Every member of our campus community is important and essential to our success.”
Weisenstein also talked about the campus climate survey that was conducted last year stating that, “we’re taking the campus climate survey results and the follow up actions very seriously.”
“I am extremely proud of the recognition that our University and students are earning,” Weisenstein said. “I hope all of you, including our neighbors in the borough, share the growing sense of pride in our university and recognize that our ability to work and respect each other has helped us to become one of the very best public universities in our country.”
Weisenstein also gave recognition to WCU’s athletics, specifically noting the academic success within the athlete student body and their overwhelming success in sports.
“A record 365 student athletes, including half of the football team, earned a place on this year’s WCU Athletic Director’s academic honor roll,” Weisenstein said.
WCU sports teams have represented the university positively not only in academics but also in the field. Three WCU teams, Women’s Soccer and Men’s and Women’s swimming, were crowned in the PSAC Championship in 2010-2011. WCU Women’s Lacrosse has also been named fourth nationally.
Weisenstein also encourages students to support their student athletic teams by attending their games. Weisenstein also gave mention to the 240 clubs and organizations, the Career Development Center programs, and the leadership opportunities that WCU offers. This year alone, the student leadership programs had 1,600 students complete their programs.
“As we feel well-earned pride in our university, we also know that this is a challenging time for higher education across the country,” Weisenstein said.
Most states have reduced their support for public universities, which puts greater stress on the financial burden of students. Weisenstein noted declining support, the pressure on students and institutions, and the misperception of education as private more than public.
“We also see the public’s declining understanding of higher education’s essential role in the future of our country,” Weisenstein said. “Higher education is now being perceived by too many as a private good rather than a public good.”
Weisenstein also praised the students, faculty, and staff for their support in getting Governor Tom Corbett’s 50% funding cuts down to 18%. Although Weisenstein stated that the cuts were still nothing to celebrate over, he is very proud of the effort that the WCU community took in protecting their education.
“To summarize our financial situation, WCU will need to make some minor adjustments in spending for the fiscal year of 2012 but the university is financially sound,” Weisenstein said.
Weisenstein gave credit to the university being financially sound to the planning and the control of institutional enrollments.
“I am pleased to announce that assuming the state does not need to rescind funding, we will not, I repeat, will not be furloughing any permanent employees this year for financial reasons,” Weisenstein said.
“Building on excellence” has become the new strategic plan.
“We have now achieved excellence in what we do at West Chester U
niversity,” Weisenstein said.
Weisenstein also talked about the new marketing strategies that WCU has taken. West Chester has been in 60% more stories in regional and national media. However, WCU has also built a new marketing campaign. Students may have been curious about the new t-shirts stating, “Are you ready for the test? The answer is always West Chester University.” The marketing campaign includes 5 new commercials demonstrating the competitive excellence that WCU has achieved compared to other schools, and new billboards that will be displayed on buses and regional rail lines.
In the future, WCU will not only have the new Recreation Center in 2012 ,but also a new building for Business and Public Affairs and a technologically advanced visitor’s center as well.
There will also be a new phase in student housing on both north campus and south campus. WCU will also partner with Microsoft in a product development and demonstration center as well as classrooms of the future in Mitchell Hall, which will also be partnered with Microsoft.
Weisenstein awarded Director of Service Learning and Volunteer Programs, Maggie Tripp with the 2011-2012 Civility Award, stating that Tripp has been a huge asset to the WCU community and West Chester community.
There are many exciting things to look forward to in WCU’s future. However, there are many things to be proud of and to be excited about in WCU presently.
Angela Thomas is a fifth year student majoring in English with a minor in web technology. She can be reached at AT683005@wcupa.edu.