Welcome back from the holidays. I was able to take a few days off to visit family and friends during the break and I hope you had a good break too. As most of you are aware, I am an ardent believer in the role of mentors in personal and professional development. Based on what I gathered during the Listening Tour last semester, our alumni and friends are ready and willing to add value to our students’ experiences by serving as mentors and helping them establish strong academic and professional networks. Hence, just before the holidays the President’s Mentoring Task Force was formed to develop an inventory of mentoring programs on campus and recommendations towards a comprehensive mentoring program for our students. This task force will release a campus-wide survey this week as part of their evidence gathering. I encourage all campus faculty and staff to participate in the work of this committee under the leadership of co-chairs Dr. Brent Horton and Melissa Wardwell.
In this month’s newsletter, I highlight a few of the key items that have occurred on campus since the last issue. I hope you have noticed the new MU website, which is part of our efforts to enhance out web presence. Our Council of Trustees unanimously endorsed the addition of inclusion to our core values. Our athletes did well this past fall semester with four teams making it to post season games and our men’s soccer team was crowned the champions of the PSAC tournament. As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this week, I encourage you to participate in events that promote community and compassion for others. In addition to taking new courses this semester, there will be several opportunities to prepare for the next stage of your educational experience. For example, the Made-in-Millersville event in April is one that should create a buzz on our campus for all students. Finally, over the break we continued our efforts to make our campus pedestrian-friendly by closing sections of East Frederick Street. All these activities are meant to enhance the student experience as we create a vibrant learning community.
I hope you had a chance to view my welcome message this morning. Special thanks to Mark Mullen, our media specialist in the Communications and Theater Department, and his team of students for their support in taping and producing the video message.
Wishing you an exciting and productive Spring semester!
Inclusion as our 6th EPPIIC Value
At Millersville University, we strive to continuously improve diversity and inclusion on our campus, which is why our Diversity to Inclusion Initiative teams were hard at work this past year collecting feedback from the campus on a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Plan. From the feedback we received, the suggestion was made to add “Inclusion” to our existing five core values.
The teams came up with a definition of inclusion as “creating a campus community where differences are welcomed and respectfully heard and where every individual feels a sense of belonging.” The Council of Trustees endorsed this decision on Dec. 19, creating what is now known as our EPPIIC Values. These values focus on Exploration, Professionalism, Public mission, Integrity, Inclusion and Compassion.
This was one of the first decisions that included the three new members of the Council of Trustees; Brandon Danz, Kathryn Ross and Holly Trego. The three new members were appointed by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf after being nominated and approved by the State Senate.
Athletics Champions and a Swiss-Army-Knife Player
Our 19 intercollegiate athletic teams, with more than 450 student-athletes, are excelling both on the field/court/mat and in the classroom. As we closed out the fall semester, our men’s soccer team won its second PSAC Championship and also played in the NCAA Division II Tournament. Our women’s soccer team tied a program record with 14 wins, reached the PSAC Tournament for the first time since 2003 and qualified for the NCAA Division II Tournament for the first time in program history. The women’s volleyball team also did quite well, winning their first PSAC division championship since 1999, and advancing to the PSAC Tournament for just the third time since 2005. And, the field hockey team went 14-6 and reached the PSAC Tournament for the program-record seventh-consecutive season. Collectively, this represents one of the best fall sports seasons in recent history.
Right now we have men’s and women’s basketball, women’s swimming and women’s indoor track and field in season, as well as wrestling. Wrestling’s Shane Ruhnke recently won the PSAC Championship at 165 pounds. He was Millersville’s first conference champ since 1995-96 and voted the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler. Click on the link above to read about one of the current student-athletes, James Sullivan, and find out why he’s the Swiss-army-knife of the men’s basketball team.
MLK Breakfast and Weeklong Programs
Yesterday, Jan. 21, I had the privilege of attending the 31st annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast at Millersville University in Marauder Courts. Hosted by the Crispus Attucks Community Center of Lancaster (CACC) and emceed by Ron Martin, anchor for WGAL News 8, the breakfast focused around the topic of achieving economic equality.
We debuted a video featuring Millersville student, Bryanna Weston-Wyatt’s internship experience as student CEO of Saxbys. She talked about her business major and how her classes in finance and accounting prepared her for the hands-on learning experience at Saxbys. John Hope Bryant, founder of the charity Operation Hope, gave a wonderful keynote address about the importance of financial inclusion and education, emphasizing ways in which we can make an impact.
Millersville’s continued support as a partner with the CACC and longtime host of this event is a terrific way to honor Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy and continue the progress his leadership sparked by being agents of change.
30 to Graduate Campaign
When I came to Millersville University I was concerned about the University’s graduation rate of 36 percent within four years. While that’s better than the national average, it’s a number that needs to improve. I encourage our students to become the leaders in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) in completing their time to degree. And to that extent we are launching the “30 to Graduate” campaign. More details about this campaign will be released in the coming weeks and the goal is to build awareness and momentum among students, faculty and staff.
When students take longer to finish their college education, students or their families often incur greater debt. Delayed graduation also impedes students beginning their chosen careers.
To graduate within four years, students need to complete 30 credits or more per year that fulfill degree requirements. While 12 credit hours is technically the minimum to be considered “full-time,” students need to take at least 15 credits a semester (or 30 credits a year) to ensure on-time completion within four years. Research has shown that students who take at least 15 credits are not only more likely to complete their degree, they do better academically, and reduce the financial cost to themselves and their parents. They are also able to begin their graduate studies and/or enter the competitive job market sooner.
Millersville’s Campus Becoming More Pedestrian Friendly
As many of you know I love to walk on campus, so having a pedestrian friendly campus is important to me. I enjoy being able to stop and talk to students, faculty and staff on my way to meetings and events. I am aware that there have been discussions and plans for many years to make Millersville University a more pedestrian friendly campus. For example, when the Villages were built, George Street was closed at the Student Memorial Center to create a pedestrian walkway. As we embark on the creation of our next campus master plan, these considerations will be an important part of the conversation.
Last Friday, Jan. 18, Millersville University took another step towards making the campus more pedestrian friendly when East Frederick Street, between High School Avenue and Creek Drive, was closed. The five to eight-month closure is to conduct traffic studies to determine if it makes sense for the area to become the next pedestrian walkway.