FHSU president commits university to theme of 'Quality' for 2004-2005

Policy goals include 'sustainable growth' after two big enrollment years

8/18/04 ks/kb

HAYS, KS -- The coming year at Fort Hays State University will be guided by a one-word theme, introduced today by FHSU President Edward H. Hammond at the General Meeting for Faculty and Administration.

"Quality" is the theme for 2004-05, said Hammond, "which I define as both an inherent feature and a distinguishing attribute of a university, represented by the accomplishment of a significant degree of excellence."

Hammond's tradition is to announce the theme for the coming year in his State of the University address at the annual fall general faculty meeting.

Hammond said the theme for this year emerged from input he received from the Faculty Senate and the Research Environment Task Force.

"Responding to questions I posed for faculty last year, the Faculty Senate recommended that our university pursue a sustainable growth policy, consistent quality of coursework, more faculty involvement with our international partnerships, more support for Virtual College students, and an increased emphasis on research and scholarship," said Hammond.

In addition, he said, the Research Environment Task Force recommended rewards for quality, for new distribution of indirect grant funds, for new priorities in the sabbatical application policy and increased support for faculty development and faculty research grants.

He noted the "incredible" growth of the university's enrollment recently, especially in the last two years -- 15.3 percent last year and 13.6 percent the year before that.

"Faculty want to be certain that we also strive for improvement in quality," said Hammond, "and I endorse that goal."

The General Meeting for Faculty and Administration is also the time when members of the faculty are honored for their professionalism and scholarship.

Hammond named Dr. Steven Trout, professor of English, as the 2004 President's Distinguished Scholar. This award is the university's highest scholastic honor.

University Provost Larry Gould introduced Dr. Jim Rucker, professor and chair of the Department of Accounting and Information Systems, as the Faculty Member of the Year and Dr. Mark Stutz, assistant professor of health and human performance, as the winner of the Edmund Shearer Faculty Advisor of the Year Award.

The meeting also featured remarks by Gould and Dr. David Goodlett, assistant professor of history and president of the Faculty Senate.

Gould also introduced new faculty members.

In his address, Hammond the accomplishments of faculty "that already demonstrate the level of quality we seek."

"Those examples would include Dr. Paula Boire's research and scholarship in the field of Romanian music, Dr. Gavin Buffington's work in physics with the U.S. Air Force, Dr. John Heinrichs' efforts in geosciences with NASA, Dr. Debbie Mercer's work in reading education, Dr. Brett Weaver's book of short stories, Dr. Robert Howell's article on the teaching of technology, Dr. Cheryl Duffy's book on service learning and Dr. Dosse Toulaboe's article on economic conditions in developing countries," said Hammond.

"All these efforts have been recognized for their level of high quality," he said.

Hammond pledged that an increased emphasis on research will not detract from the university's commitment to teaching, and quoted a 1989 Faculty Senate resolution that says, "At Fort Hays State University teaching should be the most important thing we do."

For the year ahead, Hammond said, the university faces "changing forces in higher education in Kansas and at FHSU," including "a significant decrease in state funding, a rapid increase in competition for students, a growing demand for accountability and a rapid spread of new technology."

And he posed three questions for consideration in the coming year: "How should we measure and reward quality? Should FHSU become a 'laptop' university? What should be the university's expectation for 'teaching'?"

"These will be important questions this year as we validate our university's excellence with accrediting agencies in education, business and our China partnerships," said Hammond.

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