Dr. Edward H. Hammond, president of Fort Hays State University, delivered a message to faculty and staff Friday afternoon: Be ready for change during the next school year.
Hammond spoke to faculty during his annual end of the year speech, in which he stated his objectives for the next academic year.
When Hammond came to campus 17 years ago, he helped usher the university into the technology and information age, following the motto "high-tech, high-touch."
About 10 years ago though, Hammond said, the university began making improvements to the science and agriculture facilities in preparation for the next stage of change, bioengineering.
"It was by no accident that those departments got state-of-the-art facilities," Hammond said. "We were positioning ourselves to move into the bioengineering age."
Hammond said in order to generate funds that will allow the university to stay current with bioengineering, more emphasis will be placed on research at FHSU since the Kansas Legislature recently passed legislation providing $500,000 to enable state universities to build a research infrastructure.
Hammond told faculty that while the university will concentrate on the "bioengineering age," the liberal arts program will by no means be ignored. Hammond said he expects to generate finances and students for the program by maintaining and updating FHSU's facilities and creating an appealing school for students and high competition with other Kansas universities.
Also, for the third consecutive year, Hammond called for only a single-digit tuition increase in a budget outline given to the governor.
In the outline, which was also given to faculty, Hammond proposed to increase tuition by only 8.9
percent, the lowest in Kansas for the third consecutive year. Hammond said most of the institutions in the Kansas Board of Regents have double-digit increases.
"Kansas State and the University of Kansas will have substantial increases again this year," Hammond said. He said parents would have a $10,000 decision to make between FHSU and those universities.
In order to accommodate the current and the expected growth, Hammond said FHSU could expect more changes as well.
He announced that Cindy Elliot, dean of the Virtual College, has been named assistant provost for strategic partnerships and dean of distance learning.
Hammond said the university will not add a partnership in Beijing, China, as expected. Instead, Hammond said the university will sustain and stabilize current Chinese partnerships.
A search will also begin for a director of the Virtual College.
Because of the Virtual College's rapid growth -- an increase of 639 students, from 2,655 to 3,294, at the end of the fall 2003 semester -- Hammond said the university would focus on sustainable growth.
FHSU also shattered last year's spring enrollment record as enrollment soared to 7,158 this spring -- a 22.3-percent increase from last spring's 5,854 students.
"Enrollment has improved significantly, especially in the Virtual College, and we want to stabilize the growth we have, make sure we maintain our quality, before we grow more," Hammond said.
Hammond said that faculty need more office space and students need more living space. He said a $7 million apartment complex would be built where McGrath Hall formerly stood and said a second new residence hall is a possibility. He said construction is scheduled to begin on campus next August.
"The state of the campus is good," Hammond said.
Hammond also discussed the results of a "climate survey" given to university faculty and staff that let them evaluate the university.
While FHSU received mostly positive responses, Hammond noted several areas which would be attended to immediately, including showing faculty adequate appreciation and increasing salaries for faculty, staff and students.
"We've been very, very successful for 17 years," Hammond said. "Now it's time to pursue a new challenge but not give up on the old."