'Courage' in face of changes, challenges to higher education theme of new year at FHSU

Citing four main challenges that face Fort Hays State University at the beginning of the 21st century, President Edward H. Hammond introduced "courage" as the theme of the 2006-2007 academic year.

Hammond spoke this morning at the General Meeting for Faculty and Administration in Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center in Sheridan Hall on the FHSU campus. Hammond's tradition is to announce the theme for the coming year in his State of the University address at the annual fall meeting.

Hammond presented four main challenges: increasing on-campus enrollment at a time when the population in western Kansas is declining significantly; developing a first-class mobile teaching and learning environment to continue the university's high tech advantage; internationalizing the campus and curriculum to help students function effectively in the global environment; and improving and documenting learning outcomes.

"Our responses to these four challenges will define what Fort Hays State University will be in the second decade of this new century,” said Hammond.

The fall general faculty meeting is also the occasion when faculty members are honored with the three top awards given by FHSU.

Hammond named Dr. Richard J. Zakrzewski (pronounced zahkSHEVski), professor of geosciences and chief curator of the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, as the 2006 President's Distinguished Scholar, the university's highest honor.

Provost Larry Gould introduced Dr. Elmer Finck, professor of biological sciences and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, as the recipient of the Faculty Member of the Year Award for the 2005-2006 academic year. Dr. Erick Gillock, assistant professor of biological sciences, was named the Edmund Shearer Faculty Advisor of the Year.
The meeting also featured remarks by Gould and by the president of the Faculty Senate, Dr. Richard Lisichenko, associate professor of geosciences.

"The question before us this year is how to respond to our new challenges,” said Hammond, speaking to an audience of about 400 members of the faculty and staff.

"We are going to increase the number of students from eastern Kansas by embarking on a turnpike corridor marketing program that will enhance the image of our university in the eastern part of the state. We are also expanding our relationships with eastern Kansas high schools and providing faculty the opportunity to reach out to students in that part of the state," he said.

In the mobile computing effort, the university, he said, has already been providing faculty with the latest in tablet and laptop technology. It has also provided training and assistance to faculty who want to learn how to integrate the technology into their curriculum offerings.

"Starting in the fall of 2007, all of our on-campus students will be required to have tablet computers to assist them in the acquisition and the management of information related to their courses."

Another part of this effort is implementing a personal communication device test program this fall in several departments with SmartPhones. Other departments will participate in the university's testing of Apple Computer's iPodU program. FHSU is one of the national pilot universities in the program. Four pilot projects working with four different faculty will utilize this technology in classrooms on campus and in China this year.

On internationalizing the campus and curriculum, Hammond said the university will seek more opportunities for faculty to travel abroad to learn about other parts of the world and to bring that knowledge back into the classroom. The university will also expand the number of Fort Hays students who get to travel overseas, "an experience that not only enhances their knowledge, but broadens their appreciation for the life that they find in our state."

Another important part of this initiative, he said, is increasing the number and the quality of the international students who come to Hays to attend FHSU.

"Traditionally, we would have somewhere between 70 and 100 international students in Hays. We want to significantly increase that number so that our Kansas students can learn more about the world they live in and that their fellow international students live in."

Hammond's fourth goal for FHSU is to improve student learner outcomes. Hammond cited an aggressive program to improve the writing skills of students across the entire campus. Another part of this initiative is increasing computer literacy.

"I am quite confident that given the way in which we responded to the challenges of our new century, we will be able to respond effectively to these new challenges and institutional goals of our strategic plan," he said.

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Kent Steward, Director   |  ksteward@fhsu.edu  |  Kurt Beyers, Assistant Director   |  kbeyers@fhsu.edu