Faculty and staff were welcomed to a new school year at Fort Hays State University today with a new brand platform for the university: "Forward thinking. World ready."
Dr. Edward H. Hammond, president of Fort Hays State University, introduced the new platform as his theme of the year at the Fall Convocation for faculty, administration and staff. Since arriving at the helm of FHSU in 1987, he has announced a theme for each academic year, but this year's theme has special significance because it is also the tagline for the university's new brand platform. This is the third brand used during President Hammond's tenure -- following "Affordable Success," which in turn followed "High Tech, High Touch" -- and he emphasized that the new brand platform continues a process of evolution.
"We thought we needed a new plan that built on the previous initiatives, that built on 'High Tech, High Touch' and 'Affordable Success,' " he said.
Hammond introduced "Forward thinking. World ready." as the culmination of the initiatives of the "High Tech, High Touch years," marked by small class sizes and personal interaction between faculty and students, and "Affordable Success," which envisioned a world-class education that is within reach of any student in the state and region.
"We've worked very hard to position the university, to position our institution so that we are the best value in the state of Kansas and really the best value in the Midwest," said Hammond, "which gives us the ability to think much broader than just Kansas or western Kansas, but to think, really, regionally and nationally."
The Fall Convocation, held in the Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center, also features introductions of new faculty and staff, and presentations by the provost, Dr. Larry Gould, by Faculty Senate President Jeff Burnett, associate professor of health and human performance, and by Classified Senate President Marcia Tacha, administrative specialist in the Office of University Relations.
A highlight is also the introduction of the winners of the highest university honors for faculty: the Faculty Member of the Year Award, the Edmund Shearer Advisor of the Year Award and, finally, the university's highest honor, the President's Distinguished Scholar Award.
Dr. Paul Adams, Anschutz Professor of Education and a professor of physics, was named as this year's President's Distinguished Scholar. Jennifer Wagner, associate professor of allied health, was named the Faculty Member of the Year for 2009, and Dianna Koerner, professor of nursing, was named the Shearer Advisor of the Year.
Hammond defined the new brand for about 450 faculty and staff in attendance this morning.
By the words "forward" and "thinking," he said, "We're thinking that it's important that the visionary aspect of the institution be communicated," he said. Fort Hays State, he said, is generally regarded as visionary. He cited the university's programs in China, the innovative ways it has dealt with the current budget shortfalls and the steps it has taken to save on electricity.
"Whatever it happens to be," he said, "our institution seems to be one of the more visionary institutions, not only in Kansas, but maybe in all of the United States."
"By world, we think about the universe," he said, noting that, as a regional comprehensive university, "we've let others define our region for us. And it's time for us … to think a lot bigger. We're much more than an institution just for western Kansas or the state of Kansas. We need to reach out and broaden our base and grow the institution with students from other areas not only in Kansas but also Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, Arizona and other places around the country."
"We have a unique product," he said. "We have a unique educational experience, and we need to think about our impact universally and not just regionally."
With "ready," he said, "We're talking about hard working. We demand that our students produce. We want our students to be prepared, we want our students to be equipped. And so when you think about the new theme for this year and the new brand we will be transitioning to during this year, we think about a visionary response to universal need: education for global citizens.
"We believe we are uniquely positioned to provide that kind of quality education to our students. We believe we have the faculty, the staff in place to make this not only a reality today but to achieve the goals we set in our Dare to Dream strategic plan." In that plan, developed over two years, Hammond set a goal of 15,000 students, 7,500 on campus and 7,500 in the Virtual College, by 2020.
"Really, what 'Forward thinking. World ready.' does," Hammond said, "is define the success component of 'Affordable Success.' It's what makes us successful as an institution and it's what makes our students successful, that they are forward thinking, and they are world ready."