As another calendar year comes to a close, individuals and institutions take stock of the 12 months just past and look forward to the year ahead. For Pittsburg State, it has been an eventful year. In a letter to faculty and staff, President Tom Bryant listed some of the highlights of 2005 and looked ahead to some of the challenges the university will face in 2006. "The campus should feel good about what we accomplished during the past 12 months," Bryant said, "and we can look forward to a promising 2006." Bryant noted that in the year ahead, higher education will continue to face challenges in the state legislature. Funding and tuition, he said, will once again be topics of discussion. "We must continue to balance the need to maintain quality academic programs while keeping our tuition increases as small as possible," Bryant said. The president told faculty and staff that while he couldn't promise the coming months would always be easy, he could promise "that we will make every attempt to keep what is best for students at the forefront as we make decisions in 2006." The major events OF 2005 that the president cited include: Enrollment Enrollment continued to climb at PSU, reaching 6,628 for the fall semester. In looking at the university's growth over recent semesters, two things stand out: a moderate, managed pace and the unusually high percentage of on-campus, full-time students. "We continue to be a very traditional campus," President Tom Bryant said. "The great majority of the hours we teach are taught here on our campus and most of our students are full-time students. That's good news for a community so closely tied to the university." Private support Pittsburg State recorded another record year for raising private money. At the end of the fiscal year in June, Dr. James AuBuchon, vice president for University Advancement, reported to the PSU Foundation, Inc., that the university had just concluded a record year for private giving, raising a total of $11,200,276 in the fiscal year that ended June 30. According to AuBuchon, that was a 25 percent increase over the previous year. Last year, the university received $7.2 million. The PSU Foundation, Inc., with assets of approximately $44 million, receives and manages private support for the university. In addition to scholarships, the foundation also supports faculty development, academic programs and special projects at the university such as the Veterans Memorial and certain building projects. AuBuchon reported that the PSU Foundation awarded $1.7 million in scholarships in FY 05, which was an 18 percent increase over the previous year. In July, at the beginning of the new fiscal year, the university received a $1.7 million gift from the estate of Theodore and Faery Loveridge. Mr. Loveridge died in 1998 and Mrs. Loveridge died in May of 2005. That gift was earmarked for the Leonard H. Axe Library. The Loveridges specified that the gift should be used to endow a fund that will be used to "enrich the library's information resources through accessing electronic information systems..." The money generated each year, which is estimated to be around $80,000 to $85,000, can be used by the library for "other technical advances in the dissemination of knowledge..." and to provide support of electronic books and journals.
Pittsburg State University is one of the "Best in the Midwest," according to the Review's rankings of American colleges and universities. The Princeton Review's annual ranking lists are online and in the new 2006 edition of its book "The Best 361 Colleges" (Random House / Princeton Review, $21.95). The Review based its rankings on student surveys, which asked students to rate their schools on several topics and report on their experiences at them. Topics include: academics/administration, life at the school, their fellow students, and themselves. When the Review surveyed Pitt State students, they gave high marks to the close, caring relationships they have with faculty and to the quality of the academic programs on campus.
Early in 2005, Pittsburg State University completed its wireless transformation when the Office of Information Systems announced that every university building, with the exception of the residence halls, is covered by the university's wireless network. Students can even log onto the Internet from their laptops while sitting outside on the campus Oval. The 110 wireless access points across campus began in March 2004 and ended in February 2005. Now, instead of going to labs, students with wireless laptops can get their work done just about anywhere at any time with the comfort of using their own computers. Faculty and staff can bring their wireless laptops to meetings and stay connected with access to the Web, e-mail, and scheduling system.
Bryant noted that the university was successful this past year in laying the groundwork for three major building projects, which should move along swiftly in 2006. Those are the $2.5 million expansion of the west stands of Carnie Smith Stadium, the $4 million Kansas Polymer Research Center and the $14.4 million Student Recreation Center, classroom building and Army National Guard Readiness Center. Work on the stadium expansion began this week and is expected to be complete before the Kansas Shrine Bowl football game is held in the stadium on July 29. That project includes the addition of eight corporate skyboxes, an elevator, additional stairs and other structural changes to improve accessibility. The project is funded by private gifts and skybox leases. Many elements came together in 2005 on the Kansas Polymer Research facility. The City of Pittsburg donated land in the city-owned research and development park. PSU alumnus Robert D. Taylor, president of Winfield Consumer Products of Winfield, Kan., made a $2 million gift to help fund construction of the facility; and the State of Kansas, through the University Research and Development Enhancement Corporation, made $2 million in revenue bonds available to complete the funding package. Construction on the polymer research facility, located just sought of the Bicknell Sports Complex, should get underway in the spring. Funding for the largest project, a combination student fitness center, classroom building and Army National Guard readiness center, came together this fall. The Kansas delegation worked together to include the project in the FY 2006 Military Construction Appropriations bill for projects across the country and President Bush signed the bill, which includes $5.683 million for the PSU project. The $14.4 million project, which will be located between the PSU Veterans Memorial and the Bicknell Sports Complex, will be completed with a mixture of federal, state and private funds. Groundbreaking for the facility will be held in the spring.
This year, two vice presidents announced their plans to retire in 2006. Dr. Robert Ratzlaff, vice president for Academic Affairs, and Dr. James AuBuchon, vice president for University Advancement, have served the university for many years. These two high-profile positions will be filled after national searches in the coming months.
The Second Century Task Force completed a study and submitted a report to the president early in the fall 2005 semester. President Bryant said he would use the task force report as a springboard for development of the university's 2005-2010 strategic plan. Some of the task force's recommendations, he said, are already being implemented and others were in the process. "Pittsburg State University is strong as 2005 comes to a close," Bryant said. "While there are challenges ahead, we believe we are in a good position to meet them. We have every reason to look forward to 2006 and the opportunities it brings for our students, our staff and our faculty and the university as a whole." ---Pitt State---
©2005 Pittsburg State University