State of the University Address 2014 Highlights

 

The 2014 State of the University Address was co-presented on March 18, 2014 by interim president Robert A. Wild, S.J. and interim provost Margaret Faut Callahan. A summary of their remakrs follows.

 

In his first State of the University address since returning as interim president, Rev. Robert A. Wild, S.J., announced that Marquette University has received a $5 million gift for a new on-campus Jesuit Residence.

The gift, which came from Ray and Kay Eckstein through their charitable trust, is the second major gift towards the $15 million Jesuit Residence fundraising effort. “This is a wonderful expression of the Ecksteins' amazing generosity to Marquette,” Father Wild said.

In late January, Father Wild announced that an anonymous donor gave a lead gift of $10 million, with $7.5 million dedicated to the new Jesuit Residence and the remainder going to need-based scholarships. The $15 million fundraising effort for the Jesuit Residence project is being funded entirely from donations.

Following an introduction by Dr. Marilyn Frenn, chair of University Academic Senate, Father Wild noted how this was his first address where he was joined on stage by another university leader — Dean of the College of Nursing and Interim Provost Dr. Margaret Faut Callahan. “Margaret has been my true partner in leading the university,” Father Wild said. “That reflects both the wonderful gifts she brings to her role as interim provost" and her expanded role under the strong provost model, he said.

Father Wild also re-emphasized the need to keep a Marquette education affordable for students, while acknowledging the university's fiscal realities. “We have not missed the fact that many of you have taken on greater workloads or new responsibilities, while working as hard as ever on behalf of Marquette’s students and the university's mission,” he said. “For that, you truly have our respect and admiration.”

Other noteworthy updates included:

Academic growth and partnerships
Callahan discussed initiatives to grow revenues and advance the academic reputation of Marquette. “I’ve been extremely pleased that deans have been the driving force behind these efforts,” she said.

Callahan specifically noted expansion in high-demand areas, including: the School of Dentistry’s addition and expansion of its first-year class size by 20 students; the College of Health Sciences adding targeted faculty in highly rated physical therapy and physician assistant programs; the College of Nursing's $5 million grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs which will allow it to increase its class size by 40 students; the College of Engineering’s Visualization Lab; and the Diederich College of Communication’s innovative O’Brien Fellowship program.

Emphasizing the need to “look at enrollment in a comprehensive way,” going beyond a target number of traditional freshman, Callahan noted the work being done by nine separate committees on an enrollment strategy. Some areas the committees are exploring include increasing international, transfer and summer studies enrollments.

Future outlook
Both Callahan and Father Wild discussed the financial outlook for Marquette, with Callahan sharing that deans and vice presidents will be provided final budgeting decisions for fiscal year 2015 by the end of March. Recognizing recent financial decisions, Callahan emphasized that "keeping a Marquette education affordable for our students and their families is the single most compelling reason for this work." She also shared that the university's capital budget planning is increasingly being supported by data analysis and metrics that guide university leaders in using resources as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Regarding the university-wide strategic plan, Beyond Boundaries, Father Wild said he is impressed how the university community was meaningfully involved in the plan's creation. "But the ideas in the plan will only mean something if we are able to invest in them," he continued, sharing that the university's 2015 budget will include funds for a Strategic Initiatives Pool to promote sustainable initiatives that support the plan. The President’s Advisory Group is currently working on transparent guidelines for how to allocate and invest in these funds.

Key upcoming initiatives
Father Wild and Callahan also discussed three key upcoming university initiatives. Calling out a need to “encourage diversity and to respect and care for each other in all of our differences,” Callahan laid out steps for a comprehensive diversity plan, which includes the development of a new bias reporting system and a campus-wide climate study to take place during the 2014-15 academic year. “I urge you to lend your minds and hearts to this essential university-wide effort,” she said.

Father Wild discussed another timely topic, addressing the legislative activity that has occurred in Madison in recent weeks on the possible conversion of the Department of Public Safety to a commissioned police force. “Whatever our decision, the mission of DPS will not change; it will continue to be student centered,” Father Wild said. He also emphasized the need for input on the decision from the Marquette community and neighborhood stakeholders, including the Milwaukee Police Department.

To close the address, Father Wild joked, “I'm sure you're curious about who will be the next president. I certainly am,” referring to the search for Marquette’s 24th president. “I’m not involved in that search, but I have great confidence in the Presidential Search Committee,” Father Wild said. "As we look forward to welcoming the man or woman who will lead the university, I thank you for everything you've done and continue to do to make Marquette as prepared as possible for the future.”