"The Power of One" is President Edward H. Hammond's theme for Fort Hays State University in the 2013-2014 academic year. He revealed the theme during his address this morning at the annual Fall Convocation.
"We are defining The Power of One at Fort Hays State as the result of all your individual hard work that really makes a difference and creates an effective and lasting change in our university, a change that helps our students be successful."
The phrase, he said, is borrowed from a late '80s novel of the same name and an early '90s movie based on the book and applied it to FHSU.
"And each and every one of you," he continued, "has that unique opportunity to use your power, to use the skills and the abilities that you bring to our university to make a lasting difference. And the beautiful thing is, you have been doing it for years and years and years."
Another highlight of Fall Convocation was the introduction of faculty award winners -- Faculty Member of the Year, Edmund Shearer Advisor of the Year and, the university's highest honor, the President's Distinguished Scholar.
Dr. Chris Crawford, professor of leadership studies and assistant provost for quality management, was named this year's President's Distinguished Scholar. Crawford, who receives a medallion and a $1,500 cash award, was selected by President Hammond from recommendations forwarded to him by an evaluation committee of previous presidential scholars. The committee is chaired by the FHSU provost, Dr. Larry Gould.
Hammond used The Power of One, in both the past and future tense, as the explanation for a series of successes in the university's record and as the quality that will enable the university to meet the challenges of the future.
He cited examples of success from each of the university's four colleges and examples of the university's overall success. For the university, he pointed to the increase in productivity since 2007, measured in terms of the percentage increase in degrees conferred, an increase of 46.8 percent, compared to the next largest increase, 13.1 percent, at the University of Kansas.
In enrollment, since 2007 FHSU has increased by 38.8 percent. The closest in Kansas is Kansas State University, which has grown by 4.4 percent in the same period. Two universities, KU and Emporia State University, have actually declined since then.
Nationally, only three universities in the country have grown faster than FHSU in the first decade of the 21st century.
He also featured affordability. FHSU is more than a thousand dollars less expensive than the second-rated affordable university in Kansas, Emporia State, based on a 15-credit-hour semester. FHSU comes in at $4,358, ESU at $5,704.
Each of these, said Hammond, repeating after almost every example, "is how you have used your Power of One."
Challenges confronting the university, he said, are to improve FHSU's retention rate for first-year freshmen and four-year graduation rate. "That's not good enough," he said. "We've got to change that."
Provost Dr. Larry Gould, in his presentation on academic initiatives, focused on the Red Balloon initiative, named for a contest by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
"This presentation is about the creation and management of a transformative, institutional teaching and learning change initiative, the FHSU Red Balloon project," said Gould.
DARPA's Red Balloon challenge was to find 8-foot-tall red weather balloons, 10 of them, which were suspended from 30 to 50 feet above the ground at randomly selected locations across the United States. A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology won the $40,000 prize by finding all 10 balloons in 8 hours and 52 minutes. Their strategy was using social media.
Red Balloon, said Gould, has become a metaphor for the "new ways that knowledge is now being created, aggregated and disseminated."
Gould has created a Red Balloon website for FHSU (http://rbfhsu.org/). He highlighted the point that education, as it has been practiced in the United States for decades, is "unwinding" through technological and economic change, and the challenge for educators, and FHSU educators in particular, is to "explore forward thinking, creative and market-smart curricular innovations to include post-course learning experiences supported by emerging technologies, open instructional resources and collaborative learning," he said.
Other faculty award winners were also announced at the Convocation. Dr. Jennifer Bonds-Raacke, associate professor and chair of the Department of Psychology, was named Faculty Member of the Year for 2013, and Christa Weigel, assistant professor of allied health, was named the Shearer Advisor of the Year. Award money for the Faculty Member of the Year, the research, service and teaching awards, and the Shearer Award is provided by Commerce Bank.
A new award was presented for the first time this year, the Internationalization of the Campus and Curriculum, which was presented to Mehran Shahidi (pronounced may-rahn shah-Hedee), director of the English as Second Language Program.
The Faculty Member of the Year was chosen from among the previous academic year's winners of Research, Service and Outstanding Teaching Awards. One faculty member each semester is presented with an award in each of those three categories. Bonds-Raacke was one of the two 2012-2013 winners of the Research and Scholarly Activities Award. The other was Dr. Kyle Stone, assistant professor of management and marketing, who has since left the university.
The two Service Award winners during 2012-2013 were Dr. Jenny Manry, associate professor of nursing, and Dr. Rita Hauck, professor of technology studies, who has since retired. Dr. Beth Walizer, associate professor of teacher education, and Dr. Steve Sedbrook, associate professor of health and human performance, were the two Outstanding Teaching Award winners.
Each of those awards carries a $500 cash benefit. Bonds-Raacke, as Faculty Member of the Year, also receives a $1,000 award.
The Shearer Award winner is selected from nominees of the university's four colleges. Three colleges nominated faculty advisors this year. Weigel was nominated by the College of Health and Life Sciences. The other nominees were Dr. Scott Robson, assistant professor and chair of the Department of Communication Studies, from the College of Arts and Sciences; and Dr. Germaine Taggart, professor of teacher education, from the College of Education and Technology.
The Shearer Award winner receives a stipend of $500, and the other three nominees receive $150. The cash award is sponsored by Commerce Bank. Weigel, as the Shearer Award winner, will also be nominated by the university for the National Academic Advising Association Award.
In addition, Gould announced that the winner of last year's Shearer Award, Dr. Robert Moody, associate professor of advanced education programs, was named as a recipient of the National Academic Advising Association's Certificate of Merit in the Faculty Advising Category.