HAYS, KS -- Dr. Edward H. Hammond, president of Fort Hays State University, unveiled "The Power of Thought" as the theme for the 2001-2002 academic year during his annual State of the Campus address to faculty this morning.
The president's speech was the centerpiece of the annual General Meeting for Faculty and Administration, which also included welcoming remarks from Dr. Paul Adams, president of the Faculty Senate, introduction of new faculty by FHSU deans, and the announcement of winners of three prestigious faculty awards.
Hammond announced that Dr. Tom Jackson, professor of psychology and dean of the Graduate School, is this year's recipient of the Distinguished Scholar Award, the university's highest scholarly honor. Dr. Larry Gould, FHSU provost, introduced Dr. Liane Connelly, associate professor of nursing, as the university's Faculty Advisor of the Year, and Dr. Debbie Mercer, assistant professor of teacher education, as this year's Teacher/Scholar/Innovator.
Hammond told the faculty in his remarks that the Power of Thought theme was intended to give proper significance to the milestone represented by the university's Centennial in 2002. He defined it as the "power of reasoning or of conceiving ideas . . . the capacity for thinking."
He said: "Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Land Grant Act into law in 1862. . . . The act deeded hundreds of thousands of acres of federal land to the states to sell, specifying that the proceeds be used to create public universities to stimulate the Power of Thought . . . .
"A hundred years ago, by a similar stroke of his pen, President William McKinley transferred the land of the abandoned Fort Hays Military Reservation to the state of Kansas to create an institution for the people of western Kansas. That act spawned Fort Hays State University, a center of learning destined for extraordinary achievement. Since the early days of Fort Hays State University, intellectually gifted men and women . . . both scholars and students . . . have been drawn to the academic arena that once was a military reservation. Here they talked, they learned, they questioned, they wondered and they experimented. Their intellectual curiosity and innovative ideas, coupled with hard work and perseverance, built the foundation of our university."
President Hammond said the growth of FHSU during the last decade of its first century was unparalleled. "Our state-funded budget has grown by 46 percent on a cumulative basis, more growth than any other Regents institution," he said. "During the last 15 years, we have added 66 positions at Fort Hays State University. Fifty-one in instructional and academic support, nine in student affairs, five in institutional support and one in public service. We have invested in more faculty to bring down our student-faculty ratio to our target of 17 to 1. We have used our budget growth to significantly increase faculty salaries and provide those same faculty the opportunity to earn substantial supplemental contracts through the Virtual College. We have also seen tremendous growth in private funds. Our Endowment was less than five million dollars when I arrived fourteen and a half years ago, but today is more than thirty million."
He said these resources were a continued investment in the Power of Thought.
"The technology of the Information Age can leverage our Power of Thought in both positive and negative ways," he continued. "This will be more important as we get ready for the next age, which, I believe, will be a bioengineering age. In fact the current debates over stem cell and cloning research are excellent examples."
Citing the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl as a bad application of technology, Hammond said that, by contrast, technology had served Fort Hays State University well. "Bolstered by a belief in the power of technology to inspire a new level of teaching and a lifelong love of learning, Fort Hays State University faculty and students are independently and collaboratively tapping into . . . freedom to learn anytime, anywhere, at any pace."
He said that as technology improves, universities can begin to think about doing things in new, exciting ways. "Even the most ardent supporter of technology in education will tell you that technology is nothing unless students have access to it and teachers know what to do with it," he added. "In 1990, when we guaranteed computer literacy for all our graduates, I said we were not substituting technology for the basics. Rather, we are supplementing the students' academic skills with the high-tech skills they need to be successful in the Information Age. Our success with the Virtual College has taught us that 'the best way to predict the future is to invent it,' as the celebrated scientist Alan Kay phrased it."
President Hammond noted that FHSU offers more mediated credit hours through its Virtual College than any other institution in the state of Kansas. "And the second-place institution isn't even close," he added.
He told the faculty: "Although technology is a very important part of distributive learning, it does not replace the contact with a faculty member within the learning process. That is why you, our core faculty, are the foundation of our Virtual College. We want the same standards and the same learning outcomes. We will not settle for less than the quality that we offer day in and day out to students here on our campus."
Provost Gould also spoke to the faculty, outlining specific issues related to their three historic areas of responsibility -- teaching, research and community service. Gould said the university's new approach to accreditation that emphasizes continuous quality improvement by measuring outcomes rather than input -- "Did the students learn anything?" -- creates new opportunities for the faculty to set the direction of the university. He challenged the faculty to be "activists" and take control of their own destiny.
In his welcoming remarks to the faculty, Professor Adams also spoke about the responsibility of the faculty to "step forward and define ourselves and our conception of the university."
"We are the implementers, innovators and the leaders," he said. "We, in partnership with our students, are the bulwark of the institution."
Adams commended his colleagues for some of the groundwork that has already been laid through the Faculty Senate, and vowed to lead the faculty in re-examining and improving their roles in teaching, research and public service.