In the face of a difficult budget year, the first of what he believes will be a three-year cycle of hard times, Dr. Edward H. Hammond, president of Fort Hays State University, introduced "Affordable Success" today as the theme of the 2002-2003 academic year.
Hammond's State of the Campus address was the centerpiece of the annual General Meeting for Faculty and Administration, which kicks off the academic year in advance of the start of classes. The meeting also featured remarks by Dr. Larry Gould, FHSU provost, and Dr. John Heinrichs, assistant professor of geosciences and president of the Faculty Senate.
Hammond also announced that Linda Ganstrom, associate professor of art, is the President's Distinguished Scholar for 2002. This award is the university's highest scholarly honor.
Gould introduced Kim Stewart, assistant professor of technology studies, as the university's Edmund C. Shearer
Faculty Advisor of the Year and Dr. John Kerrigan, assistant professor of English, as this year's
Dr. Shearer, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry, died suddenly Jan. 26, 2002. He was also named posthumously as the College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Advisor of the Year. This year's overall award was renamed in his honor.
Introducing "Affordable Success," a slogan which has become well-known on FHSU billboards and other promotional material, as this year's theme, Hammond said that the university faced difficult choices in preparing this year's budget and will again in coming years, but said that the university is well-prepared to continue offering "the best undergraduate education in the State of Kansas" at a cost that is affordable to all Kansans.
Hammond defined Affordable Success by saying, "Students must have the means to stand the expense without serious inconvenience and find a favorable or satisfactory outcome or result."
In the first part of his speech, the president first dealt with the "affordable" side of the equation in light of the continuing state budget shortfalls in their impact on education, especially at Fort Hays State. Hammond said the university began preparing for tight budgets a year ago by planning for an anticipated budget rescission -- or temporary cut -- of 1 percent, which did result. And since that rescission, Kansas Gov. Bill Graves also announced a permanent cut in the base Regents budget of 0.75 percent, which amounted to a cut of more than $295,000 at FHSU.
"Last week, what we thought would happen did happen," said Hammond of the budget cuts. "But it won't affect anybody at Fort Hays State because we were prepared."
He recounted the budgetary steps taken in preparation for and in response to the reductions -- controlling out-of-state travel; reduction in Sternberg Museum of Natural History hours; an increase in dependency on private funds for FHSU athletics; no salary increases; a reduction in other operating expenses budgets for non-credit-hour functions; eliminating five vacant positions; and reducing overtime and seasonal budgets.
"I believe we're in a three-year cycle of hard times," he said, "and this is the first."
The university's strategy for dealing with hard times, he said, is to grow out of recession.
"This strategy is part of a bigger picture that we began over a year ago to paint," he said. A large part of that was in planning for projected tuition increases and individual university control of tuition.
"This year, we had control for the very first time of our tuition," said Hammond. The university's objectives, he said, were to maintain student access for western Kansas and Kansas students, maintain a high quality education, attract new employees to Kansas and grow the university on the margin, through recruitment efforts by departments and programs.
On tuition, FHSU's increase of 6.4 percent was the lowest of all Regents institutions, and because FHSU did not increase any fees the overall increase of combined tuition and fees was held to 5.1 percent, also the lowest of any Regents institution. The result, the lowest dollar figure also for tuition and fees, said Hammond, has kept FHSU as the best educational value in Kansas.
And with a freshman class that Hammond believes will be from 75 to 100 students larger than last year. He boldly predicted a record year of enrollment for FHSU.
"I believe our affordability strategy of promoting growth will work," he said.
On the success side, Hammond cited abundant evidence.
"Our success is more than a satisfactory outcome," he said. "Our success is outstanding."
He cited the successive national championship financial planning teams in the American Express Financial Planning Competition. This year's team featured students from Garfield, Abilene and Mankato.
"Those are not the largest communities in Kansas," he said. "And those students came to FHSU and competed with the best and the brightest from the entire country, and they won."
"That," he said, in what became a secondary theme of his address, "doesn't happen by accident."
The debate team this year won a national championship and the Leadership Studies Department was named the best in the nation.
"That does not happen by accident," said Hammond.
The wrestling team put 16 members on the Academic All-America Team, graphic design students won first, second, third and six of the eight top prizes at the regional competition."
"That does not happen by accident."
Technology education students from FHSU won second in the nation in manufacturing this year and have for many years been a power in regional and national competition. College of Education faculty won a prestigious national award for "most outstanding use of technology"; FHSU's Agriculture Honorary Society this year won its fourth consecutive national outstanding chapter award; student broadcasters won first in 2001 in the overall regional competition.
"That didn't happen by accident either," said Hammond.
All this, he said, keeping the cost of education at FHSU affordable, and preparing students for success in the classroom, in competition and in life, is the result of a professional, committed faculty and administration, "day in and day out," said Hammond.
"Faculty have gone out and built the best undergraduate educational environment in the State of Kansas," he concluded.