Responding to an overwhelming expression of support from students and alumni for the university's existing name, President Edward H. Hammond announced during a news conference this morning that the name of Fort Hays State University would not be changed.
The possible change to the University of Western Kansas was just one of 34 initiatives contained in "Dare to Dream: The Development of the Creative University, Fort Hays State University in 2020," a draft reorganization plan that the president introduced during his State of the Campus address at the beginning of the 2007-2008 academic year.
The "Dare to Dream" plan was based on recommendations from the Committee to Review and Rethink the Structure of the University, which Dr. Hammond appointed last spring to solicit ideas from the entire university community on ways to position the university for a successful future.
"There was merit in the recommendation from the reorganization committee to consider a name change, especially the argument for restoring 'Kansas' to our name, which had been included throughout the history of the university until the Legislature approved the current name in 1977," President Hammond said.
"However, the sentiment for keeping the Fort Hays State University name far exceeded any reasons for changing it," he said. "Thousands of people in Facebook groups on the Internet expressed their opposition to a name change, and the vast majority of the more than 3,000 people who logged their opinions onto the FHSU Web site also were strongly opposed to changing the name.
"I appointed the university's Integrated Marketing Committee to consider the name-change initiative, and the members of that committee recommended keeping our name," he said. "They believed the cost of making a change and the loss of what we have invested in the current name both internationally and in Kansas would far outweigh any benefits that might accrue from a name change.
"Passions ran high, and it gives me great pleasure to announce we will not change our name," the president said. "What a testament to the affection our students, alumni and friends feel for Fort Hays State University! Other schools and organizations must be watching with amazement and even jealousy as they see how deeply the FHSU family cares about their university."
President Hammond also addressed progress on eight other initiatives during the news conference, cautioning that decisions are not final on most them pending the allocation of resources and other factors.
"Just as I noted when the plan was unveiled earlier in the semester, I would be surprised if all 34 recommendations become part of our future strategic plan," he said. "And of those that go forward, many will be modified from the original proposals. Still, even if they do not carry the emotion of the name change, these are important initiatives that will help us build a high-quality university for the next decade and to the year 2020."
The president reviewed the other eight initiatives:
Math and Science Education Institute
The establishment of a transdisciplinary institute for math and science at FHSU will be pursued aggressively and added to the final version of the strategic plan. The proposed institute offers numerous benefits for the university, including an enhanced presence with school districts; greater synergy for grant applications, with the collaborative approach by math and science faculty making FHSU more competitive; greater recognition for FHSU at the state level, leading to possible collaboration on projects with other universities; and increased appeal for FHSU to international partners.
Realignment of the Departments within the College of Education & Technology
The proposal calls for the College of Education and Technology to be realigned into three departments -- undergraduate programs, graduate programs and technology studies -- in order to create efficiency and improve services to Kansas’s educational community. Part of the realignment called for moving school and community counseling programs from Education to the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences. Faculty in the affected areas have concluded that the counseling programs should remain in Education. Differing program philosophies and preparation for unique school tasks, as well as far less overlap in curriculum offerings than originally predicted, were factors in the decision. In addition, recent changes in state licensure regulations argued in favor of maintaining the status quo. The overall realignment will be implemented in the spring semester of 2008 and added to the final strategic plan.
Change the name of the Department of Art to include Design
Based on the recommendation from the reorganization committee, the name of FHSU's Department of Art will be changed to the Department of Art and Design to reflect the reality that design is the most popular area of study for students within the department. The change will take effect 2008, pending approval by the Kansas Board of Regents.
Create a Hospitality Management Program
The reorganization committee recommended that FHSU create a program in hospitality management to meet the tremendous need in the Kansas service sector. This degree program likely will have international appeal through our partnership with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and with our many Chinese partners. This proposal will be presented to the Board of Regents, with possible approval in 2008. If approved, the program will become available in the fall semester of 2008 at the earliest.
Create Professional Science Masters Program
The program will provide advanced training in science and mathematics while simultaneously developing important workplace skills. Some people in professional technical jobs need an advanced degree. This would be a degree in the management of a science area, such as chemistry. The program will be presented to the Board of Regents, with possible approval in 2008. FHSU will seek funding from the Kansas Legislature to implement the program in fiscal year 2009.
Create an International Business and Economics Program
The program will offer a bachelor's degree in business administration for international business and economics. The program is designed to prepare undergraduates for careers that require a global perspective. It will be offered online and on campus, pulling courses from economics, management, geosciences, leadership, political science and other academic areas. The program is going through the approval process with the Board of Regents and may be approved in 2008.
Faculty in the Department of Geosciences are finalizing the proposal for this new program, including staffing and possible grant funding through the Kansas Department of Commerce. Pending private funding from the oil and gas industry and recruitment of a key faculty member, the program may begin in the 2008-2009 academic year.
Political Leadership and Public Service
Effective political leadership and public service in democratic societies is intended to produce change for the common good. In order to mobilize citizenry to confront the challenges of our society, political leaders and public servants need strong analytical and communication skills, a solid working knowledge of governmental and non-governmental organizations and processes, an understanding of political dynamics, an ability to influence public policymaking, and a strong grounding in ethical and social responsibility. The Departments of Political Science and Leadership Studies have collaborated on a combined program of study designed to produce students who posses these important skills and who will be the next generation of civic leaders. Concentrations in Political Leadership and Civic Engagement became available on campus this fall, and plans are under way to make the concentrations available virtually, possibly beginning in fall 2008.
"We are taking an entire year to complete our visioning for 2020," President Hammond said. "I want to express my thanks to all the individuals, committees and academic departments who are working hard to evaluate the various initiatives. I want to repeat that the initiatives that are approved will be implemented over time depending on resources, some will not be approved, and some will evolve from the original proposals."
The president said the decision not to change the name of the university and the status reports on the other eight initiatives demonstrate that the process is unfolding. He said the next status report would be announced around Easter, followed by another report before the end of the academic year in May, and, finally, release of the university's new strategic plan for 2020 at the beginning of the fall semester in 2008.