Welcome back to campus for the opening of the spring semester. After enjoying a few warm days with spring-like temperatures over the holidays, the winter chill appears to have finally arrived. Fortunately, seeing our students return and the renewed energy on campus warmed my heart and put a bounce back in my step. Greeting students on the first day of class, I could tell that we will have an exciting semester.
In this edition of the President’s Monthly Newsletter, I provide an update on the results of the State System’s fiscal health assessment, which shows the strong position of Millersville University. At the PASSHE Board of Governor’s meeting last week in Harrisburg, the Chancellor delivered his annual “State of the System” address. In addition to a list of accomplishments in the past year, especially regarding the system redesign project, he mentioned the pivotal nature of this year ahead. I encourage all members of our campus community to remain engaged with the initiatives coming from PASSHE.
Our students are making great strides in the classrooms, in their future professions and in athletics. Earlier this month I attended the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society where we had the largest contingent of students represented from any single institution. It was so heartwarming to hear comments from national leaders in the profession describe our university as the best undergraduate program in meteorology. Our emergency management program was also praised by several attendees. Closer to home, more than 25 of our graduate students received scholarships to help combat the opioid crisis as social workers and health professionals. In athletics, I was delighted to attend the 40th anniversary of the “Shorty” Hitchcock Memorial Open held in Marauder Courts on Jan. 11. The spring semester is off to a good start.
Fiscal Health of Millersville University
The State System recently released a report that included the “Sustainability Metrics Results” for each of the 14 universities. I am pleased the report shows that Millersville University is fiscally healthy. We are listed in the top tier, or “stable” group, among the 14 universities and we intend to do everything possible to remain in that group.
The Board of Governors sustainability policy requires any institution that is not in the stable group to submit a multi-year budget plan. While not required to do so, we are developing a 5-year budget model to ensure we have plans in place to sustain our good fiscal health.
At Millersville, we are continuing to review operations to identify opportunities for fiscal efficiencies and we have directed resources to support student recruitment and retention efforts. Recently, we received a clean financial audit and, at the end of the last fiscal year, we had a surplus. Millersville showed a small enrollment increase this fall semester, one of only two PASSHE institutions to show such growth in both of the last two academic years.
Given the team assembled and the amount of work done to date, I believe the new five-year strategic plan being developed for Millersville will positively guide our fiscal health. The All University Council has been engaged in making recommendations on our mission and vision statements, strategic directions, and goals and objectives.
We are ready to face the challenges confronting our institution. As we move forward we will work to identify cost savings opportunities that do not disrupt current or future planned revenue streams. I’m betting on our collective effort and the wisdom of our community to get us there; by developing a strategic plan and the financial resources needed to build a brighter future for our University.
BOG and Tuition
The Millersville Men’s Glee Club did an outstanding job when they performed at this month’s Board of Governors (BOG) meeting at the Dixon University Center. Their performance set the tone for a great two-day meeting where we heard the Chancellor’s “State of the System” address and received an update on the system redesign project. You can read more about their meeting here.
At their next meeting in April, the BOG will consider tuition for the 14 State System schools. While schools now have a greater role in setting their own tuition, final rate-setting decisions need to be approved by the BOG.
The Council of Trustees (COT) for Millersville University set the cost for room, board and other fees for the next academic year during their December meeting. For the 2020-21 school year, charges for room and board will not increase but the total fees will increase by $6 per semester. Millersville is proposing an increase of $143.50 a semester for tuition in the 2020-21 school year to provide support for our academic programs.
It is important to note that the proposal includes an additional $1 million in financial aid to support our students and ensure that Millersville remains affordable and accessible.
During the next two years, Millersville will continue to revise its program offerings to serve a dynamic and growing region of the Commonwealth. Several new academic programs, including those approved recently by the Office of the Chancellor, will be launched in the next few years. Also, we will invest in study abroad programs and implement new alumni outreach initiatives.
100 Years of AMS!
Last week, I traveled to Boston, along with 53 of our current undergraduate and graduate students and several faculty and staff members, to the 100th annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). It was a wonderful opportunity to experience the passion and intellectual curiosity in our students.
The networking available to our students was phenomenal! Our students were exposed to everything that can help them succeed in their chosen professions, ranging from conference sessions and town hall meetings to keynotes and a career fair.
For over 15 years, Millersville University has been hosting an Alumni and Friends Reception, which brings together over 60 alumni, attending current students, and long-time friends of the University such as many employers who hire our graduates. The gathering, which was the first of its kind for a primarily undergraduate institution, has attracted sponsors such as AccuWeather, WeatherTrends360 and Harris Corporation. In addition, they received support from the MU Alumni Association and MU Foundation. What a magical event!
Most important, our students returned with a greater sense of their place in atmospheric sciences/meteorology community - and with leads on jobs and graduate school!
‘Ville Helps Combat Opioid Crisis
Workforce development is one of our institution’s highest priorities. Thanks to a $1.35 million grant the University received last summer, students interested in becoming experts in addiction and recovery are developing the skills and knowledge needed in the profession.
More than 25 graduate students have received scholarships to help combat the opioid crisis. The majority of the grant supports scholarships of $10,000 each to Millersville students enrolled in the Master of Social Work (MSW) and $28,000 each to students in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). MSW students like Channel Lowery, who has an internship at the Water Street Mission, and Kylie Bradley-Moreschi, who has an internship with Colonial House, a 90-day inpatient treatment facility, will be better prepared to help with this national problem.
The principal investigator of the grant is Dr. Marc Felizzi, who along with his team of Drs. Karen Rice, Laura Granruth and Kelly Kuhns, believe in the power of students receiving training from experts in the field of addiction prevention, treatment and recovery. Additionally, students obtain experience within an approved agency as part of their field placement so they will be able to apply their new knowledge and skills. The team is actively recruiting students in both the MSW and DNP programs.
This grant allows the University to increase collaboration with community members, professionals and other higher education institutions across the country. It places us at the forefront of opioid and substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery, and gives the University an increased level of recognition for this vital area of study.
Because our campus is experiencing an increasing number of phishing attacks over the last several years, cybersecurity has never been more important. Keeping our students, faculty and staff safe is a top priority for our University—and part of that is keeping your information protected.
The Information Technology (IT) team works hard to upgrade our software and develop new methods for protecting our information on a regular basis. In the coming months, the team will begin the process of rolling out Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for all faculty and staff accounts. This is in addition to the University’s single sign-on services, which enhances user access to our systems with one common username and password.
George Ciarrocchi, director of systems and networking, explains that MFA provides a way to limit the impact of cyber-attacks and help ensure that only authorized persons have access to Millersville systems.
This new system will not only protect email, but also end user data and applications connected internally or through the cloud. IT will roll out this new software department-by-department with in-depth training and assistance. While faculty and staff are in the first wave of this process, students are eligible to voluntarily enroll themselves. Information on how to do this will be forthcoming. It will not be a requirement until the fall 2020 semester, but I encourage everyone to take advantage of this service and give themselves a head start.
Students have returned to campus just in time for the stretch run of the basketball season. Our women and men’s teams are in the PSAC playoff picture and every win in January and February is important. There are few events at Millersville more exciting than a basketball game inside a packed Pucillo Gymnasium, so I encourage you to join the fun, show your Marauder Pride and make our home court loud this winter!
On Jan. 11, I attended the “Shorty” Hitchcock Memorial Open, a wrestling tournament named in honor of former Millersville coach Floyd “Shorty” Hitchcock. The 40-year tournament has grown into one of the most competitive tournaments over the winter break. Over 250 wrestlers and 37 teams were in attendance, including multiple Division I teams such as Rider, Navy, Lock Haven, Penn, Drexel, VMI and Penn State. Penn State’s head coach, Cael Sanderson, who has led the Nittany Lions to eight national championships, attended and brought several of his wrestlers to compete. Among the participants was world champion Daniel Kerkvliet who won the 285-pound weight class that Saturday. Our Marauders wrestled well and earned multiple place winners. Freshman Devin Flannery was the runner-up in the 125-pound bracket and another freshman, Brandon Connor, earned sixth place in the 157-pound bracket. The event was a fantastic way to show off our campus and our facilities to visitors.
I look forward to seeing you at one of the sporting events this semester. Go Marauders!