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Annual Faculty and Staff Address

by President William A. Meehan

August 30, 2004

Thank you for all you accomplished in 2003-04.Because of you, Jacksonville State University met the challenges of its 121 year and succeeded in its mission. Iím especially proud of the way you, our faculty and staff preformed.

(1) Our faculty helped fill the budget gap with a 59 percent increase in funded contracts and grants; an increase over last year for a total of $7 million which enabled department heads to pay for day-to-day needs while simultaneously carrying out grant missions.

(2) All our employees worked harder to meet added pressures of a growing campus, with faculty accepting teaching overloads and support staff finding innovative ways to serve a growing customer base at the present level of staffing).

(3) Our physical plant staff, groundskeepers, housekeepers and technicians have worked extraordinarily hard to make our campus its grounds and buildings a show place and it truly impresses all our visitors.

(4) Our faculty and staff ensured that the institutionís planning and performance resulted in reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. I want to commend members of the Self-Study Steering Committee for their work in completing the follow-up report that will go to the Southern Association later this September.

Your annual reports show many other examples of your dedication and support, more than I can possibly talk about this morning.Again, thank you.

Even with all the extra work, you found time for outreach. I want to ask Professor Safaa Al-Hamdani, founder of the Books for Baghdad project, and members of the Faculty Senateís ad hoc committee that supports that project, to stand.Professor Al-Hamdaniís Books for Baghdad project won the attention of CNN International, ABC News, National Public Radio (NPR), the Associated Press, major newspapers and Web sites around the country, and media around the world. The project captured the hearts of ordinary people as well as faculty at other universities who wanted to do something tangible to show the people of Iraq that they cared. A project that literally began with a few books stored beneath Safaaís worktable has mushroomed into a national effort that, as a spin-off, has brought much attention to JSU. Letís give Safaa a round of applause.

The annual reports contain many other examples of outreach and service. Just a few of the significant accomplishments reported in 2003-04:

The U. S. Patent Office awarded Dr. Benjamin Blair and Dr. Mark Meade a patent for their newly discovered cure for Ichthyophthirius, or ich, a common but fatal disease in fish. The research was conducted at JSU.

The drama department performed for more than 8,000 people with nine main stage productions, an opera, and 21 one-act productions. In addition, the department hosted the American College Theatre Festival, which featured six productions from participating Alabama colleges.

The annual Visual Arts Societyís gala and art auction raised more than $14,000 for scholarships and art equipment.

The Department of English hosted the JSU Writing Project, the Writers Bowl, the Holocaust Commemoration, the Language Arts Olympiad, and advised the National Endowment for the Humanities on the distribution of several million dollars for scholarly publications.

EPIC, the Environmental Policy and Information Center, presented programs and seminars that reached more than 15,500 students, teachers and members of the general public. In recognition of this success, EPIC and its field school program won the 2003 National Nature Watch Award as the ďbest district presentation in the nation for collaborative programming with the US Forest Service.Ē

The Little River Canyon Field School (LRCFS) drew 400 students for specialty classes while more than 800 other field school enthusiasts participated in 27 different programs. One hundred public school teachers attended five top-rated workshops in DeSoto State Park. And Congress appropriated $2.8 million for the field schoolís construction project.

The Alabama Commission on Higher Education approved JSUís Master of Science in Emergency Management, the first degree of its kind in the world.

The Department of Music was renamed the David L. Walters Department of Music.

Dr. Nouredine Zettili delivered the JSU Faculty Scholar Lecture and conducted workshops and other instructional work in connection with a grant program called IMPACTSEED (Improving Physics And Chemistry Teaching in Secondary Education), which delivers physics and chemistry training to public school science teachers in northeast Alabama.

The Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program received reaffirmation of accreditation by the National Council on Social Work Education.

The College of Commerce and Business Administration provided a wealth of analyses during special investigations designed to gain economic insight about the region in 2003-04. Dean William Fielding produced the following reports: ďEconomic Impact on the State Economy from Out-of-State and International Students,Ē ďEconomic Impact of the I-20 Automotive Corridor on Alabama,Ē and ďEconomic Impact of Anniston Army Depot on Calhoun and Surrounding Counties.Ē The college also saved more than $28,000 in postage by installing a computer server to handle surveys.

The Small Business Development Center presented 36 seminars and workshops with a combined attendance of 1,326.Business counseling was provided to 540 prospective and existing business owners. SBDC clients were awarded $15 million in contracts.

The Alabama Professional Education Personnel Evaluation program (PEPE) awarded the College of Education and Professional Studies an A for all education programs upon which the universityís teacher education graduates were evaluated.

The Child Development Center opened at McClellan on 4 August 2003 and has now enrolled more than 110 children ranging from six weeks to six years of age in nine classrooms, with each classroom having a certified lead teacher and two teacher assistants. Parents are able to go online and watch their children via the Internet. These same cameras provide additional safety and help perfect teaching skills.

The Department of Communication held its first Summer Journalism Institute for area students.

The College of Graduate Studies and Continuing Education increased enrollment to 19 percent of the universityís total enrollment, which is the largest percentage in the Collegeís history.

The Center for Disease Control and Preventionís Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry funded the College of Nursingís University-Community Consortium for Anniston Environmental Health Research.This program studies the impact of exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) among citizens in Anniston.Funding of $3,200,000 was awarded for three years.

Approximately 4,000 students enrolled in distance education courses of some type during academic year 2003-04. The distance education program added 18 new courses to the electronic campus.

Houston Cole Library and the university's anthropology program began participating in the statewide Cornerstone Project to digitize unique collections and make them accessible on the Internet. The Network of Alabama Academic Libraries (NAAL) administers the Cornerstone Project, which is supported by a $493,480 federal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which is a federal agency.

Jacksonville State University and Gadsden State Community College dedicated the Joe M. Ford Center for Economic Development, which houses the JSU-Gadsden program and the community collegeís administrative offices. The center is a partnership between GSCC, Jacksonville State University, and state government.

The US Armyís Western Region Headquarters conducted a command inspection of JSUís Military Science Department. The department received commendable ratings in five of six areas, which is the highest rating the headquarters inspection team has given.

Jacksonville State University broadcast its first graduation ceremony by Internet streaming on July 30th. Internet viewers from as far away as Iraq and the Marshall Islands in the North Pacific were noted.

In May 2004 undergraduate admissions applications rose to the highest level since 2002. The largest number of students ever to register at a Preview Day was 299 in February 2004. The 2004 spring semesterís two Preview Daysí combined registration total was the largest ever with 515 students registering for fall classes.

The University Police Department received reaffirmation of accreditation and reduced campus crime rate by 30 percent.

The Physical Plant Department eliminated the central steam heat system on the main section of campus west of Highway 21 in a switchover to more efficient boilers in each building in that section. This means we are no longer dependent on coal fired energy and we will soon be able to the smoke stack from behind Mason Hall.

The Alumni Office formed new chapters, including the Greater Washington D.C. Area Chapter, which is composed of members from the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland.Alumni raised more than $10,000 in scholarship funds, all of which was matched by the Alumni Association.

The News Bureau began offering Spanish language news releases and Web services in an effort to reach northeast Alabamaís large Hispanic population. Although the parents primarily speak Spanish, their college-age children are generally fluent in English. Weíre encouraging the parents to refer their children to JSUís Web site. According to the US Census Bureau and the Birmingham Business Journal, much of Alabamaís Hispanic growth is in central and northeast Alabama and represents a significant new market for higher education (The Wall Street Journal, 8 July 2004).

The publications office produced more than $90,000 in university advertising and more than $100,000 in printed material, including brochures and other publications for campus offices and recruiting purposes.

The athletics program experienced its most successful year since moving to Division I in 1995 with a long list of post-season appearances, championships, honors, and awards. In our first year in the Ohio Valley Conference JSU won conference championships in football, baseball and golf, three of our head coaches were honored as coaches of the year, James Hobbs in golf, Steve Bailey in tennis and Gary Deboy in rifle.†† One hundred sixteen student-athletes earned academic honors and JSU received the OVC Academic Banner as our student athletes had a higher graduation rate and GPA than our student body. Our athletes achieved the highest GPA and graduation rate of any public college or university in Alabama, and achieved graduation rates one full percentage point higher than the national average (Birmingham News).

The University, with your help, continued to shore up its challenges while working for solutions to improve state support. JSUís reputation for delivering outstanding education at an affordable price is the envy of other institutions. You are JSUís greatest asset: faculty and staff who believe so strongly in the purposes that underscore the university mission that you have been willing to sacrifice to ensure the institutionís success.

Because of your commitment, it is no surprise that JSUís enrollment has remained strong at a time when universities across the nation are losing ground. Statistics show that universities are seeing a reduction in enrollment by three or four percentage points for each $1,000 increase in tuition (Wall Street Journal, 29 July 2004). Jacksonville State University continues to experience an upward trend because more people in northeast Alabama go to college when the economy turns bad, and because the University maintains excellent quality in its academic programs.

On a more somber note: the University budget.Jacksonville State Universityís state appropriation for operations and maintenance, declined as a percentage of the total budget from 34.4 percent in 2003-04 to 32.8 percent in the budget proposed for 2004-05. Just like other higher education institutions, JSUís funding problems resulted in challenges: higher tuition and fees,(a 33.66 percent increase over the past three years, just under the 35 percent national rate of increase), a crisis in faculty retention and recruitment, the threat of losing some existing professional accreditations, and a desperate need for additional departmental funds to buy essential items, including scientific equipment that is absolutely essential for training students and conducting college-level research and instruction.

However, the University can outlive temporary economic setbacks as long as we are blessed with such outstanding people who work so hard to support the institution.We are fortunate that we continue to attract such outstanding people as the new faculty and staff who were introduced to you this morning.Salaries in the local market make that difficult. But, because of JSUís academic reputation and the outstanding quality of our programs, we continue to find highly-qualified candidates who have a passion for higher education and public service. JSU is a special place with a strong vision, and we are blessed to have such dedicated people who believe in our cause and are ready to back up that vision.

I assure you that JSU continues to look for funding solutions.The best answers include convincing voters and lawmakers that (1) universities are potent economic generators that provide an educated workforce that, in turn, can attract new or expanded business and industry; (2) and that universities boost the economy in the geographic regions where they are based. These are compelling reasons for lawmakers and voters to improve state support. And JSU continues to work as a partner with all segments of Alabama education and with other colleges and universities to strengthen state funding.

Because of your sacrifices and achievements last year, I will recommend to the Board of Trustees that they approve a budget that will increase all classified and non-classified positions by 4% for individuals and positions in place as of July 1 of this year. In addition, I will request funds for step raises for classified staff; and funds for promotion of faculty in rank in accordance with criteria in the Faculty Handbook.

In order to continue our long range plan that addresses salary and compensation issues across the University, we will set aside a pool of funds to be used after the end of the Spring Semester that will help move JSU to the regional average for faculty and staff salaries.

In conclusion, Jacksonville State University met its mission with excellence in 2003-04 despite another year of financial hardship. The institutionís many accomplishments reflect the outstanding cooperation and support of faculty and staff. I look forward to working with you as we meet the challenges of 2004-2005, the 122 year of excellence for Jacksonville State University.



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