Click Selection

Search News Releases:

News Resources
on the Web

27 August 2007
President's Annual Meeting Speech
Marking 124th Academic Year - 2007-08
August 27, 2007

Welcome to the beginning of our 124th academic year. We have had a long hot and dry summer. I remember two years ago at this event we were awaiting the arrival of Katrina, not a student but the hurricane. In fact our registration and our annual picnic were interrupted by this storm. I never thought that I would hear people hoping for a hurricane or at least the long rain such a storm would bring. But some of us have been.


Despite the heat and the drought we had a good summer. Our recruiters and admissions counselors have rounded up record numbers of applications. This Fall 2007 the count for new students meeting admissions requirements, both freshman and transfer, was the largest in our history. Our “Go Leaders” and “Go Mentors” entertained our students and parents and through clever dramatics, like those you saw this morning, imparted information that will help them make the most of their first semester experience as our newest Gamecocks.


Last Friday our newest faculty members officially joined the University. These new faculty represent approximately ten percent of our total faculty. Throughout the year, we have added additional staff making our total number of employees, faculty and staff, the largest in our university’s history. We are proud to have these new employees join our community even though many of them look more like students. They are welcome as the newest generation of faculty and staff that will help bring our university forward to JSU’s 125th anniversary and prepare our University for the first half of the 21st Century.


We have done a lot of preparation the last few years and your hard work is showing. As a community we have redefined our Mission Statement, clarified our Vision, enumerated our Core Values, articulated our Goals and established a Strategic Plan that will guide us to 2011. Dr. Simmons recognized the units that participated in program review; I commend them for taking the initiative to complete this assessment which reinforces the value of these units to the institution. I challenge those undertaking the program review process this year to work hard to demonstrate increased efficiency and effectiveness as together we all work either in the classroom or out of the classroom toward  achieving the  number one University Goal: “Educating students to be productive, responsible citizens in a rapidly changing global society.”


No one knows how fast that “rapidly changing global society” has taken over our campus than all those who are working on and with our new software systems, “Banner” and “Luminis.” Mr. Harper has expressed his appreciation for the hard work and extra time you have given to bringing this new generation of technology to our University. I want to thank him and his staff for what they have done in helping us understand and implement these systems into the daily routine of our work and into the lives of our students. It was just about thirty years ago that we computerized our student records and began computer assisted registration that forever changed the way in which we treat our student data base. Just as that achievement ended the mass hysteria of auditorium registration, this newest evolution of our record keeping systems will bring conveniences and challenges. Some will be assets for our daily function, some will bring new problems for the next generation of technology to solve. But I want you to remember that the basic ingredient for our University’s success has not changed since we opened our doors for the 1883-84 academic year as The State Normal School; our people—faculty, staff, students, and alumni alike—have set the attitude for our campus and earned the reputation as “the Friendliest Campus in the South.” Through the years you have worked together to bore through a mountain of problems and bridge troubled water to solve problems for each other and our students. I know that you will use these new systems to better serve our students.


Earlier this month, the Birmingham News informed me that articles in the weekly column “Town and Gown” distributed by the University News Bureau and published by The Jacksonville News under my name appeared to be plagiarized. Although these articles were written by staff they were released under my name and it is clearly my responsibility as president. Plagiarism is unethical conduct. It is abhorred within a university and should never be tolerated. It is diametrically opposed to the standards of our academic community.


I asked for our vice president for institutional advancement to investigate the articles' authenticity and when it was revealed that a staff member had plagiarized, I requested a committee of individuals with diverse backgrounds from within and from outside of the University be formed to complete the investigation of plagiarism and to present its findings and recommendations as to the integrity of University communications.


The Integrity in Communications Committee operated in absolute autonomy and transparency, meeting, deliberating, and submitting its findings and recommendations in open session with members of the press present. I am deeply grateful to them for their work on behalf of the University. The committee’s entire findings and recommendations are available on the University‘s News website where I invite you to read them. In addition the full report has been distributed to members of the press and presented to the Board of Trustees by the committee chair.


I will take steps to ensure that the committee’s recommendations are implemented. According to the recommendations, our new director of public relations must be a person of the highest professional and ethical standards who is unconditionally committed to journalistic and academic integrity and will be directly responsible to the vice president for institutional advancement. The office of public relations will develop through a committee process, representing a variety of disciplines, a mission statement and “code of ethics” that will reflect its function as a news bureau, public information office, a public relations office and training site for students. In addition the University will establish a process of checks and balances and cross-checks to verify the integrity of its information releases.


I will also create a broad-based University committee from a variety of disciplines to review academic integrity.  The committee’s purpose will be to ensure that the definition of academic honesty and integrity is consistent in policy and practice across campus and reflects the highest ethical standards. Again, I am grateful to Judge Sam Monk and his Committee for all their hard work.


JSU is grateful to the Alabama Legislature and Governor Riley for passing and signing an appropriation of $49,030,131 or a 14.78 % increase. The increase of $6,315,728 includes an appropriation of $1,700,000 for the Alabama Small Business Administration Institute of Commerce, $60,000 for the Alabama Writing Project and $500,000 for the JSU Wellness Initiative and other items totaling approximately $3.75 million. Considering the mandatory increases in our Teacher Retirement Rate of $679,924 and the increased cost of health insurance, Public Education Employees Health Insurance Plan (PEEHIP) of $606,967 for a total of $1,286,891; the balance of new money (increase above last year's budget) will be $1,273,837.


This year JSU is the only four-year institution not raising tuition. The annual cost for 15 semester hours at JSU is $5,070. The median undergraduate cost for tuition and mandatory fees for 15 semester hours in Alabama is $5,040. JSU is within $30 of this median.  During the last two years the legislature and the Governor have increased JSU’s appropriation by an average of 18.74 percent. With double digit increases in the state appropriation even though the appropriation is only 34.7 percent of the University’s total revenue, it does not justify passing all our expenses for teacher retirement and health care on to the students as tuition increases.


 This year the first state bond issue passed in the 21st Century for higher education awarded JSU $4,575,928 from the Alabama Public School and College Authority. It is important to note that these funds were awarded with a base of $1,000,000 for each university and then a prorated share of dollars was allocated to each institution determined by the number of full time equivalent students. If this pattern of funding based on enrollment continues, it is even more imperative that we continue to work toward achieving our goal of 10,000 students by the year 2010.


I sincerely appreciate the work of the University Budget Committee and its Chairman, Dr. William Fielding. It is their responsibility to make recommendations based on sound expectations for revenue and anticipated expenditures. There will always be more needs than revenue available, just like your budget at home. It is essential that we plan wisely and in accordance with our strategic plan. This year the Budget Committee has recommended, and I will request, that the Board of Trustees at its October meeting, approve a budget that provides an across the board increase of three percent for all employees who were employed on or before July 1, 2007, step raises for all classified staff, and funds for promotion of faculty. In addition, I will request a pool of two percent of salary be approved in order to continue our long range plan that addresses salary and compensation issues across the University to help move JSU to the regional average for faculty and staff. These funds will be allocated through recommendations by directors, department heads, deans and vice presidents in May 2008. With approval of this year's recommendation JSU will have increased salaries more than 31 percent over the last nine years.


As we begin this new academic year I am reminded of our former Dean of Admissions Lawrence R. Miles and his words which are on the wall of our Houston Cole Library. I believe his words apply to those entering our university for the first time as well as our library:


                              Come, friend, seek herein the mind of man,

                              The product of his toil,

                              The stirring of His spirit,

                              The beauty of his love,

                              The culmination of his dreams.

                              Look deep into this mirror and find thy true self.


 Mrs. Meehan and I look forward to seeing you and your families at the house tonight anytime between 5:00 and 8:00. Have a great year!


Submit items for news releases by using the request form at