As a start to the new school year, President Greg Weisenstein delivered the State of the University address at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 27 in the Philips Memorial Building. President Weisenstein, the fourteenth president of West Chester University, spoke in front of numerous students, faculty members, staff, and WCU board members. State Representative Dan Truitt also made an appearance.
President Weisenstein began the speech talking about the excellence of West Chester University.
“We want all the people in the community to be as proud as we are of West Chester University,” Weisenstein said. “We are one of the most sought out destinations in the Mid-Atlantic region.”
The speech continued discussing the amount of Twitter followers and Facebook likes the university has attracted. Twitter followers of the university have increased from about 650 to over 3,500, and Facebook likes have surpassed 10,000.
Weisenstein elaborated about our students’ excellence, discussing the two NCAA Championship titles last year by the baseball team and women’s field hockey. His presentation also showed the increase in the number of student volunteer hours over the past few years. The 1993-94 academic year saw about 10,000 volunteer hours by students, increasing to 175,000 hours in the 2005-06 academic year. Continuing to rise, the 2011-12 academic year saw an astounding 350,000 student service hours, which President Weisenstein used to prove the excellence of WCU students.
Continuing the State of the University address, the audience had the opportunity to view four different, new commercials for WCU. They all started with the statement “Here’s a test.” Then the four different commercials showed a question, and then a few seconds later showed a collage of possible answers. Of course, WCU was the correct answer, proving the excellence of the university in all aspects.
President Weisenstein discussed the expanding need for advanced degrees and off-site locations. Weisenstein suggested perhaps building branch campuses to better accommodate students. In another attempt to accommodate students, WCU is working on building robust distance education programs, such as the online MBA program.
Most importantly, Weisenstein touched base on the budget, a growing concern for many universities. WCU received the same funding as last year, ending the downward trend.
“The budget is workable for our students,” Weisenstein said.
He noted how the Frederick Douglass Statue Project only needs approximately $15,000 more to complete, so that is one goal of this year.
Of interest to many current and incoming students, Weisenstein talked about the facilities planning at West Chester University. The newly constructed Student Rec Center has proved to be a success, as it was a student-initiated project.
Some further planning includes the need to add classrooms and office space for students and staff. Another goal in the planning process is the transition of Ruby Jones Hall and Anderson Hall to geothermal energy. The addition of 452 parking spaces next fall is another project, which will help accommodate the large commuter student population and help solve some of the parking issues. Other plans include expanding the South Campus Village apartments and the construction of Commonwealth Hall (in place of the old Sanderson Hall), which will add another 649 beds for incoming and current students.
Looking further into the future, WCU plans to renovate Mitchell Hall, add a four-story addition to the Peoples Building, construct an addition to Sturzebecker Health Science Center, construct a new dining facility and continue to transition the rest of the university to geothermal energy.
Weisenstein also noted academic planning and how this planning has emphasised student success.
“Student success will continue to drive our future,” Weisenstein stated. The strategic planning also took up a spot in the State of the University address. “We have achieved excellence in much of what we do; now it is building on that excellence,” Weisenstein said. Strategic Planning Co-Chairs Roberta Snow and Dick Swain were mentioned, and Dick Swain said a few words elaborating on the strategic planning steps.
Weisenstein extended a warm welcome to the 32 new faculty members of WCU. Closing his speech, President Weisenstein presented 2012-13 Civility Award to political science professor Peter Loedel. President Weisenstein extended his appreciation to WCU faculty and staff on helping contribute to the University’s excellence. Concluding the speech, refreshments and food were served in the Green room, where many students, staff, and faculty joined President Weisenstein.
Samantha Schaule is a fourth-year communication studies major. She can be reached as SS687322@wcupa.edu.