March 7, 2008
Arkansas State University–Jonesboro

Now that we are into March and spring is near, today's harsh winter weather comes as something of a surprise. Fortunately, the storm's impact should be brief. We will soon enjoy the beautiful signs of spring on our campus in Jonesboro.

The Board of Trustees is meeting today by telephone conference call because of the weather, rather than gathering at ASU-Newport as planned. I have submitted in advance a written report to the Board of Trustees.  Today I am including that report below in its entirety.

In addition, I am making additional comments during today's Board meeting because of significant new developments on three other topics in the written report:

  • Earlier this week, ASU-Jonesboro hosted a Focused Visit from a team representing the Higher Learning Commission, our regional accrediting agency. The team was here to review our progress in two areas, shared governance and strategic planning, both of which were cited for additional work following the HLC's comprehensive review in 2003. I was pleased that the team gave ASU-Jonesboro an oral report of satisfactory progress in both areas, and they said they would not recommend further interim review. A more thorough written report to that effect should follow in a few weeks. I commend all faculty and staff who worked so diligently in the past five years to achieve this progress in strategic planning and shared governance.  I encourage any of you who wish to become involved in accrediting work with the HLC to contact Dr. Lynita Cooksey in Academic Affairs and Research, or 972-2030.
  • On January 30, the Mascot Selection Steering Committee concluded its work by recommending to me that ASU adopt Wolves, or Red Wolves, as the new nickname for our athletic teams. The committee members worked diligently on this project, and I thank them for their service. After further consultation with creative advisors and other constituents, I am recommending our new mascot be "Red Wolves." Everyone is invited to a roll out event to introduce the new Red Wolves logo and imagery at the Student Union next Thursday, March 13, at 11 a.m. I hope that our campus community, alumni and friends are pleased with our new mascot and imagery. I commend the staff in ASU Publications and Creative Services for their excellent work in developing the final images. Also, the celebration and farewell ceremony last week for the Indian Family was a very memorable occasion, and I thank Rich Carvell and the Mascot Retirement Committee for planning an excellent event.
  • We have 12 capital construction projects in various stages of planning. The first of several groundbreaking ceremonies to occur this spring is scheduled for Friday, April 4, for the Student Wellness and Recreation Center to be located on Aggie Road, just west of Arkansas Hall.

Thanks for your continued excellent service to the University and its students. Let's continue to have an outstanding spring semester.

Robert L. Potts, Chancellor

Here is the report, as submitted to the Board of Trustees:

March 7, 2008
Chancellor’s Report
Arkansas State University – Jonesboro

Since the last regular quarterly meeting of the Board of Trustees on December 7, 2007, the Jonesboro campus has continued to make remarkable progress. On December 14, the campus awarded 658 degrees at the Fall Commencement ceremony. During the last three months, our task forces on Background Checks, Instructional Technology-Distance Education and Online Education, and the University Web Design have all rendered outstanding reports with recommendations that are in various stages of implementation. The task force on Summer Programs and Enrollment Revenue continues its work and will report sometime this spring. Literally hundreds of volunteer hours have been spent by faculty, staff and students on these studies. In the current semester, three additional task forces have been formed and begun their work: How Better to Integrate Academic Affairs and Students Affairs to Enhance Learning, Research and Teaching Balance – How to Reward Superior Teaching and Continue to Grow Research Functions, and a Unifying Academic Theme.

Additionally, our Spring 2008 enrollment is at an all time high with total headcount at 10,369, an increase of 3.6% when compared to 10,007 for Spring 2007.  The preliminary FTE is 8,172 for Spring 2008, an increase of 3.6% when compared to 7, 822 FTE for Spring 2007.

Moreover, donors have been very generous with ASUJ over the past three months, highlighted by two gifts from Buddy and Charlotte Beck and their family totaling more than $1 million. The first gift was to support the Beck PRIDE program for injured veterans, and the second to endow a scholarship for a student in entrepreneurial studies in business and the sciences. Also, as will be discussed in more detail in the Academic Affairs and Research report below, much progress has been made in restructuring the International Programs area in order to greatly expand the enrollment of international students on campus beginning in the fall of 2008.

The Mascot Selection Steering Committee made its final report to the Chancellor indicating its recommendation for the mascot be either "Wolves" or "Red Wolves," depending on consultation with the creative advisers who will design the marks and related imagery. The Chancellor will announce at this meeting his conclusions regarding the mascot issue providing that all reports from the creative people working on this have been received and it is determined that any trademark developed can be protected from a legal standpoint. 

Academic Affairs and Research
The Academic Affairs and Research area has undertaken an initiative under Dr. Dan Howard, who came on board as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research on January 1, to "bring the world to ASU" and "take ASU to the world" on a much larger scale than we have done in the past. After an international search, Cagri Bagcioglu has been employed, effective February 1, to head the efforts to expand international programs. Also, contracts have been signed with two agencies, one in South Asia, and another in Japan, to send many international students to our campus. Plans are also underway to reestablish an English as A Second Language program, which will be crucial to attracting increasing numbers of international students on our campus. Likewise, efforts will be made to utilize the more than fifty international faculty members on campus in our international recruiting efforts. Likewise, through the work of outstanding faculty members such as Dr. Jeff Jenness in the Department of Computer Science and Dr. Clint Relyea in the Department of Management and Marketing, connections are being made with colleges and universities abroad to host ASU faculty and students and for their faculty and students to come to ASU. The increase in numbers of international students on our campus is expected to contribute to expansion of these types of exchange programs.

The Higher Learning Commission focused accrediting visit on strategic planning and shared governance is scheduled for March 3-4, 2008. The strategic planning process, shared governance and faculty handbook revisions have been major initiatives on the ASUJ campus following the 2003 comprehensive visit and subsequent report by The Higher Learning Commission. The division of Academic Affairs and Research has prepared an excellent Focused Visit Report on the University’s progress in the strategic planning and shared governance areas.

Finally, the College of Business implemented a restructuring plan this semester with an aim of more effectively allocating its current internal resources. Dr. Jim Washam was appointed Associate Dean of the College of Business and Director for the Undergraduate Programs. Dr. Jeff Pittman and the business law faculty were moved from the Department of Accounting to the Department of Economics and Finance where Dr. Pittman has assumed the duties of chair of the department. The Department of Computer Information Technology (CIT) was consolidated with the Department of Accounting and Dr. Tina Quinn continues to serve as chair. Dr. John Seydel, previous chair of CIT, has been assigned new and important duties in the College. All of this was accomplished with no additional cost to the College of Business. Likewise, the College of Nursing and Health Professions is currently studying a proposed restructuring plan.

Student Affairs
A reception for Chelsea Clinton was hosted by the Student Government Association on Sunday, January 27. Approximately 350 students, faculty, staff and members of the community attended the event and participated in a question and answer session.

The Carl R. Reng Student Center received an Outstanding Post-Secondary Architectural Design Award from American School and University. The publication is a source book for award-winning and outstanding education design.

A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for the Student Wellness and Recreation Center for Friday, April 4 at the building site on Aggie Road. Groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Honors student housing facility and the new apartment complex are scheduled for mid-April.

The new Faculty/Staff Dining Room, with a seating capacity of 40, in the Acansa Dining Room in the Student Union is proving to be quite popular with the faculty and staff.

In cooperation with the Jonesboro Police Department, the University Police Department (UPD) officers, have participated in active shooter training over the past two months. The training includes intensive live-training situations, which provide the opportunity for our officers to develop their skills through practice. UPD continues to work toward accreditation with the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA). The department was featured in the January 11, 2008, Chronicle of Higher Education issue.

Finance and Administration
Jonesboro has 12 capital construction projects in various stages of development. The Chickasaw Building, which formerly housed a number of Student Affairs offices, is under renovation for conversion to academic use and should be available by August of this year. Other projects, included in the Board construction report, are in various stages of development and most will begin construction later this year.

The financial statements and audit reports included in your Board material, prepared by the finance staff of the Jonesboro campus, are consolidated reports for all campuses of the system.

The Convocation Center promoted a sold out concert featuring Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson on February 15. This is the first sold-out concert in the Center since the Gaither Homecoming tour about 10 years ago.

University Advancement
Since Steve Owens’s departure to begin service full-time for the ASU Foundation, the four units of University Advancement (Alumni Relations, Development, Publications and Creative Services, and University Relations) have been reporting on a temporary basis directly to the Chancellor. After extensive consultation, it has been decided to issue a Request for Qualifications for a firm with significant fundraising counsel experience to handle a search for a vice chancellor for advancement and to serve immediately as counsel for the ongoing silent phase of a capital campaign. In the meantime, all the divisions of Advancement continue to work effectively on behalf of the university.

There have been a number of noteworthy highlights in the Department of Athletics over the last few months. As a result of private donations, two construction projects are underway: expansion of the baseball stadium to build 206 field-level seats, and a complete renovation of the Convocation Center Weight Room with new equipment for use exclusively by the basketball and volleyball teams. With the exception of football, all programs will utilize the weight room to assist with scheduling problems. Coaches, administrators and more than 60 student-athletes were involved in Fox Meadow Elementary’s "Classroom Campout" by participating in games, reading, and eating lunch with the elementary school students. During the fall semester, 163 of our student-athletes were recognized in making the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll. Seventeen graduated during the December commencement. Major League Baseball Hall of Fame members Mr. George Kell and Mr. Bob Feller were featured speakers this year at the Homerun Club’s banquet. The Oakland Raiders recognized Mr. Oren O’Neal, a former ASU football player, as their Rookie of the Year and nominated him for the National Football League Man of the Year Award. Mr. Tyrell Johnson, a former ASU safety, completed his senior year as the 2007 Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year and competed in the 2008 Hula Bowl at Aloha Stadium on January 12, 2008, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Thus, these and many other individual and collective accomplishments by our faculty members and staff continue to make the Jonesboro campus of Arkansas State University a dynamic and exciting place to be. We appreciate the excellent policy direction and support afforded to us by the President and Board of Trustees.

Respectfully submitted,
Robert L. Potts, Chancellor

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