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Crain’s 2018 resolutions for the university

By Annie Goodman
On January 24, 2018

Crain explained how specific long-term goals through 2025 are currently being planned with student, faculty, staff, alumni and community members' participation. Annie Goodman/The Lion's Roar

With the start of a new year, University President Dr. John L. Crain discussed some goals he has for the university.

During the Fall 2017 semester, Crain began meeting with students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members to discuss long-term goals for the university.

“Specific programmatic goals and objectives to the year 2025 will be developed through the strategic planning process that began this past fall and will conclude this spring,” said Crain.

As university president, Crain has developed some short-term goals to improve the university as well.

“However, there are a number of general goals I want us to work toward in the short term,” said Crain. “These include continuing to grow new student enrollment through better recruitment as well as enhancing retention of current students.”

Among his goals, Crain plans to meet with lawmakers to discuss funding for higher education for he realizes the importance of the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students scholarships.

“Another goal is for our university to receive at least stable state funding,” said Crain. “Of course, our overall financial condition is more dependent on student enrollment than direct state support. Funding by the state for the TOPS scholarship program, however, is also critical since we have a significant number of students whose enrollment depends largely on receiving the TOPS awards. Along with other higher education leaders, I will be working with the Governor and legislators throughout this spring advocating for stable higher education funding.”

Because Crain is aware of the instability in state funding for student scholarships, he also wants to ensure minimal tuition increases if any at all.

“I also would like to see us hold the line on student tuition and fees, or at least try to limit any increases to modest amounts and award merit pay raises for faculty and staff,” said Crain. “Additionally, continued growth in collaboration with industry partners as well as with two and four-year educational institutions is important.”

Crain has plans to grow academic programs and develop departments as needed.

“Academic program quality is often demonstrated through program accreditation, and so I certainly want to see us continue to be successful in those efforts,” said Crain. “I also want to see us continue to evaluate regional needs to ascertain if new academic programs or concentrations are needed as part of fulfilling our regional mission. We’ve seen nice growth in our Honors Program, and I would like to see that continue. I also think we have an opportunity to grow enrollment in our graduate programs.”

Crain believes the completion of the new dorms allowing more students to live on campus will help them be more engaged in campus activities.

I want to see us continue to enhance and expand opportunities for our students to engage in campus activities and programs that support their academic and personal success, such as enhancements to student support services as well as mentorship and leadership development opportunities,” said Crain. “Of course, completion of the current student residential construction project will provide additional campus housing opportunities for students as well as expansion and improvements to campus parking.  Finally, there is a group, including student leaders and multiple departments, currently working on a campus litter-reduction plan that will include expanding opportunities for recycling and sustainability.”

Crain hopes to improve the quality of the university by being able to offer more competitive pay to university faculty and staff.

Although I am generally very pleased with how things are going, there is always room for improvement, and we should always strive to create a campus environment that provides our students with an even better experience,” said Crain. “I’m convinced one of the ways we can do that is by doing a better job of supporting the work of our faculty and staff. We gave merit raises this last year for the first time in a long time, and it made a huge difference in boosting morale.  We need to make rewarding our people for their good work a regular occurrence.”

Crain is also taking measures to provide better technology and facilities for students.

“I also want to ensure we are providing the tools that our people need to better serve our students: technology and physical facilities play key roles,” said Crain. “For example, we are in the early stages of implementing a new ERP, enterprise resource planning, system to replace PeopleSoft. ERP system implementations are expensive and time consuming, but once in place, I am confident this new system will serve our students much better and make the work of our faculty and staff easier and more efficient.”

Aware of the maintenance issues and lack of funding for them, Crain is looking for new ways to better maintain university facilities.

“Years of state budget challenges have taken a toll on some of the campus physical infrastructure,” said Crain. “We’re looking at some new methodologies that we hope will allow us to better utilize our limited deferred maintenance funds so that they will make a more significant and meaningful impact.”
Crain recognizes the value of the university’s faculty and hopes to better develop them via merit raises and solving facility and technology issues.

I also want to support additional opportunities for meaningful professional development for our faculty as well as professional staff,” said Crain. “We’ve made good progress recently in recruiting talented new faculty, particularly in growing programs, and I’d like to continue these efforts.”
Crain recognizes the improvements made due to recently presented scholarship opportunities and hopes to continue these in the future.

“We did introduce some enhancements to academic scholarships this year, and that has been well received by prospective new students,” said Crain. “Our University Advancement Division has had significant success in raising funds for additional scholarships. One example was the recent 10 million dollar bequest for endowed scholarships. We will continue to work hard to engage our alumni and other friends and supporters of the university with the goal of continuing to increase endowment funds that support scholarships and academic programs.”

However, finances are also important to Crain as he strives to continuously improve the university’s financial stability.

“Beyond that, I’m interested in continuing to strengthen the university’s financial position,” said Crain. “Historically, public universities have depended on stable or growing state support to help ensure overall financial stability,” said Crain. “We operate in a new environment where we have to be much more cognizant of and responsive to market forces: enrollment shifts and other factors that impact our financial position.”


Crain’s personal goals for 2018 include better socializing with students.

There are so many diverse demands on university presidents, spanning everything from communicating with legislators and other elected officials to working with accreditors, regulators, alumni and donors,” said Crain. “As a result, it’s hard to always find adequate time for meaningful interaction with individual students. Many years ago, I chose a career in higher education because I found great satisfaction in seeing my students grow, evolve and achieve personal success. It’s one of the things I miss most from my days as a faculty member. One of my personal goals is to find more time to interact with students.”

Crain hopes to continue developing the university in various aspects during his time as university president.

“There are numerous good things happening at our university, and I feel we have a lot of momentum moving things in a positive direction,” said Dr. Crain. “We’ve experienced successes in enrollment, student academic achievement, academic program development, athletics and fund raising. I want to do everything possible to keep the positive momentum going.”

University President Dr. John L. Crain feels it is hard to find time to connect with students but hopes to be able to change that in 2018. File Photo/The Lion's Roar

 

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