President shares vision for 'next level'
February 6, 2006 —
The notion of the "next level" and where SVSU may be in the next five years was the focus of President Eric R. Gilbertson's State of the University address Thursday, Jan. 26.
In front of a Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts filled with mostly faculty and staff members, Gilbertson gave an approximately 25-minute speech that also focused on the University's undergraduate enrollment trends.
"I suppose getting the University to the next level is a good thing, wherever that is and whatever that is," Gilbertson said.
Gilbertson added, however, that the "next level" may not be what SVSU should strive for.
"Smugness and complacency are infectious diseases," explained Gilbertson, who added that getting to the "next level" can sometimes result in those types of problems.
He did admit that SVSU is certainly moving upward, though.
"There are some signs of improvement," he said. "But moving upward means not forgetting who we serve as an institution."
Gilbertson related that when - or if - SVSU gets to that "next level," it should not forget what got it there: its dedication to students and the community.
The president concluded his speech with a short outline of where he sees SVSU, under his vision, in the next four to five years. Among other things, Gilbertson said he foresees the campus remaining the same size physically, but with a few new academic buildings, "strong" enrollment, and an endowment of $50 million by 2009. Additionally, Gilbertson said he wanted the University to be much better known "regionally and beyond."
The mention of several new academic buildings included the expansion and renovation of Pioneer Hall and the possible addition of a Health Sciences building north of the Regional Education Center. Gilbertson showed diagrams of what the new Pioneer Hall will most likely look like, with an expansion to the south of the existing building.
The new Health Sciences building, which Gilbertson said is planned but not a certain addition, will house the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, which currently is located on the second floor of Wickes Hall.
Gilbertson began by talking about the University's increasing reliance on tuition, showing the significant change in how much SVSU has been able to rely on state appropriations now compared to 10 years ago. The president asserted that because the percentage of the University's budget that consists of appropriations continues to drop, reliance on tuition must increase.
Following this, Gilbertson outlined recent enrollment trends, which showed an increase of nursing students and the start of a drop in education students.
The president said that while these figures are not surprising - demand in the health sciences field is high, demand for teachers in Michigan is low - the University's job is to act accordingly.
"Our job is to anticipate changes," he explained, "but not overreact to these changes."