June 1, 2007
Arkansas State University – Jonesboro
Summer greetings! I hope each of you had a wonderful Memorial Day
weekend. Irene and I attended a family reunion in North Alabama that had
been planned exquisitely by two of my nieces who live and work in
Houston, Texas, with their families. Both are engineers and
accordingly planned the
event to the last detail. The reunion was held on Sunday
afternoon in honor of my father, age 92, and my mother, age 88, both in
relatively good health. Participating in addition to Irene and me were my
brother and three sisters and their spouses (and in one case a
significant other), our children (seven in all) and their spouses, and
ten great grandchildren (half of those being our grandchildren!) A great
time was had by all. This occasion made me again recognize how important
family time is for each of us, and how we must make sure that we carve
out enough time in our busy lives to keep our family ties strong.
It is great to have some students and faculty back on campus for the
first summer session, which began this week. For those of you doing
other things, we look forward to seeing you during the second session,
or next fall.
Today, our ASU Board of Trustees is meeting on campus. It occurred to
me that perhaps a good subject for this issue of First Friday would be
the written report that I have prepared for the Board outlining some of
the activities of our various divisions over the last quarter. It is set
out in full below. In accordance with past practice, I do not intend to
prepare First Friday reports in July and August, but will issue periodic
short reports on issues of interest to the campus community if
noteworthy events occur during the remainder of the summer.
ARKANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
June 1, 2007
Arkansas State University—Jonesboro
The campus of Arkansas State University-Jonesboro has been an
exciting place to be since my report to you at your March 9, 2007,
meeting. Our excellent faculty, staff, students, and administration have
continued to work together to accomplish significant things during the
Academic Affairs and Research
- On Saturday, May 5, 2007, 1,008 students were
awarded diplomas during the ASUJ commencement ceremonies. Governor
Beebe gave a moving and heartfelt speech at the 10 a.m. session,
which was videotaped and shown at the 2 p.m. session. Additionally,
he was very pleased to receive the Honorary Doctor of Laws degree
bestowed upon him during the ceremony.
- The Research and Academic Affairs division has changed (subject
to Board approval at this meeting) its name to Academic Affairs and
Research to emphasize the broad scope of this division in the
academic life of the university, while also recognizing its
important research mission.
- The Academic Affairs and Research division has had a change in
leadership with Dr. Susan Allen, former vice chancellor, returning
to full-time research and teaching as a Distinguished Professor of
Laser Applications and Science in the Department of Chemistry and
Physics. This new appointment will be fully effective on August 15,
2007, and in the meantime, Dr. Allen is serving as Senior Advisor to
the Chancellor. Dr. Glen Jones has been named Interim Vice
Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research and is also chairing a
committee that is conducting a national search for a successor to
Dr. Allen in the role of vice chancellor.
- On April 10, 2007, Academic Affairs and Research celebrated the
29th annual Faculty Honors Convocation in the Fowler Center Grand
Hall to recognize retiring faculty and to award outstanding faculty
for excellence in teaching, research, service, and advising. The
Board of Trustees Faculty Achievement Awards were presented to Mrs.
Cathy Hall, Dr. Richard K. Freer, and Dr. Patrick A. Stewart. The
Outstanding Advising Award was presented to Dr. Melodie Philhours.
Six faculty members are retiring and were recognized for their many
years of splendid service to ASU: Dr. Cindy Albright, Dr. William
Crumpton, Dr. James Greenwald, Dr. Jerry Linnstaedter, Dr. Dennis
White, and Dr. George Grant.
- The 29th Annual Convocation of Scholars ceremonies were
conducted in April by the campus colleges to honor students’
academic achievements for the 2006-07 academic year. Numerous
banquets and luncheons were held throughout the campus during a
week-long period. Parents, relatives, faculty, alumni,
administrators, staff members and friends participated in the
festivities. At these occasions, departmental awards were also
- A group of subcommittees of The Higher Learning Commission of
the North Central Association Task Force have been busy preparing
draft reports for a focused visit by the HLC that is now scheduled
for March 3-4, 2008. These reports will be finalized during the fall
2007 semester. The areas that will be covered during this visit
include strategic planning and shared governance. In both areas much
progress has been made by the university over the past several
months. Assessment processes and procedures is an area that
previously was included as a topic for this visit, but that topic
has been removed as a subject of the visit because of ASUJ joining
the HLC Academy for Assessment of Student Learning. A team from our
campus also participated in a three-day roundtable event with the
Academy for Assessment.
- You have before you today a resolution approving changes to the
Faculty Handbook. The changes are the result of a collaborative
process that occurred over the course of the past semester. An ad
hoc drafting group consisting of Dr. Mike McDaniel, Dr. Mitch
Holifield, Ms. Julie Isaacson, Dr. Glen Jones, Ms. Lucinda McDaniel,
and Dr. Susan Allen, along with the chancellor, proposed revisions
to the Foreword and Section I of the Handbook. These revisions were
favorably considered by the Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, Student
Government Association, Academic Governance Oversight Committee,
Institutional Governance Oversight Committee, Academic Deans
Council, and Chairs Council in accordance with the procedures for
changing the Handbook that are included in the current version
thereof. All faculty members and others who worked on this project
are to be commended for coming together in a very special way to
suggest these constructive changes.
- The Transfer Enrollment Task Force has been formed to suggest
methods of improving the number of transfer enrollments at ASUJ. The
task force has already met twice in the past quarter.
- During the spring semester, a new recruiting
event for admitted students and their families was held on campus. A
total of 190 students and 250 family members participated from
throughout the state. These potential students were given priority
registration, had campus tours, met with campus organizational
representatives, spoke with staff members, and had their ASU ID
cards made. These and other similar activities should lead to a
higher "yield rate" for students admitted to ASUJ, but who have not
- Minority students who were nominated by the high
school counselors attended a Junior Discover Diversity Leadership
weekend on the ASUJ campus in April.
- As a result of the Virginia Tech massacre, the
Executive Council and personnel from Student Affairs and Financial
Affairs areas, including the university chief of police, have met to
make certain that our procedures for dealing with man-made or
natural disasters are the best that they can be in a free society.
This involves some additional university police officer training,
additional security cameras, and perhaps new warning or
communication devices or systems on the campus.
- Mr. Morgan Pippin was elected as President and
Mr. Jerome Thomas was elected Vice President of the Student
Government Association for the 2007-08 year. A Graduate Student
Council has been activated for our growing graduate student
population. Andrew Peck is serving as President of that group. The
SGA and the GSC are serving together with one collective vote on the
advisory search committee for the Vice Chancellor for Academic
Affairs and Research. The administration looks forward to working
with these new student leaders.
- The Compass Group has completed on-campus
interviews for development of a capital campaign plan with their
final report due within the immediate future. All of the design work
and goals for the campaign case statement should be completed by
August 15 and a steering committee is being formed to help with the
recruitment of volunteers for the upcoming campaign.
- Fundraising to complete the Cooper Alumni Center
continues. Current outstanding pledges for the next phase total
approximately $500,000. Proposals for gift opportunities in the
facility are in the process of being presented and total
approximately $1.5 million. The Alumni Association has also
committed $500,000 from its own resources toward this project. There
is a target completion date of June 30, 2008. The Sustaining Life
Membership program, which was developed to assist with this
fundraising, to date has more than $225,000 in pledges committed.
- At the District IV CASE conference, the staff of
the Publication and Creative Services department received a gold
award and bronze awards for the Powering Minds institutional image
- Lindsay Burnett has been employed as a
development officer assigned primarily to the College of Business
and is already becoming an effective member of the advancement team.
- Contributions made to the ASU Foundation through
March 31, 2007, total $2.8 million. Total support from all sources
(including investment income of approximately $3.7 million and
contributions directly to the university of approximately $500,000)
total $6.8 million. On March 31, net assets of the Foundation
totaled $43.3 million, representing a 13.2 percent increase for the
fiscal year to date.
- The immediate past Board chair, Jim Pickens,
kindly agreed to chair a Mascot Review Committee, which held its
first meeting on May 14. The committee consists of 34 individuals
appointed by the chancellor representing a broad variety of
university constituencies. The next meeting is scheduled for June
18, and it is quite likely that a recommendation from the committee
will be forthcoming shortly after that meeting. We are deeply
indebted to Mr. Pickens and the other members of the committee for
the time and effort devoted to this important matter.
- The Sun Belt Conference held its annual meeting
May 20-24 in Sandestin, Florida. The 13 institutions comprising the
Sun Belt Conference all had representatives there, including most of
the chief executive officers. One of the most important items on the
agenda of the conference was the "Wyatt Report." President Wyatt
chaired a committee of several chief executive officers that for
several months studied ways to improve the standing, reputation and
the performance of the conference compared with the other Division I
conferences. The goal is to have the sports of football, men’s and
women’s basketball, and baseball to be ranked among the top 10 of
the 31 Division I conferences annually. To reach that success level,
the committee identified components of successful athletic programs
all member schools need to reach and recognized that to some extent
these were aspirational goals and at least a 3-year phase-in period
was necessary. In the final report, there was an emphasis on men and
women’s basketball, football, baseball, softball, volleyball, and
women’s soccer. Included in the report were goals for athletic
performance, academic progress by student athletes, scheduling,
recruiting, attendance, staff, and ticket sales.
Obviously, one of our campus concerns is the potential for any
increased costs that will be incurred by implementation of the
report recommendations. One particular provision relating to the
number of sports that each participating university must sponsor
created heartburn for a number of campuses because it would have
required several, including ASUJ, to add an additional sport at a
significant cost. Fortunately, after discussion, this provision was
deleted and the number of sports in which the conference offers
championships required by the conference remains at 15 per
institution, with which ASU currently complies.
It is very clear that in order to reach the goals for our campus,
increased athletic revenues are going to be necessary through
increased ticket sales in the major sports and through other types
of athletic fundraising. The director of athletics has been charged
with overseeing this increased emphasis on athletic department
self-sufficiency as we move forward to a new level of sports and
student athlete achievement at ASUJ.
- The Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics
(COIA), an alliance with 55 Division I-A faculty senates, whose
articulated mission is to provide a national faculty voice on
intercollegiate sport issues, has recently issued a draft report
titled, "Framing the Future: Reforming Intercollegiate Athletics,"
which contains a number of suggestions from faculty leaders around
the country concerning athletic department governance and operation.
Finance and Administration
- ASU-Jonesboro anticipates receiving 54.46% of its
budgeted educational and general income from the State of Arkansas
for the 2006-2007 fiscal year which ends on June 30. Fortunately,
state revenues this fiscal year increased by 5.246% the first 10
months from fiscal year 2005-2006, allowing all of Category A, B,
and C funds from the Revenue Stabilization Act to flow. This
increased ASUJ funding from $60,582,755 to $61,163,709.
- ASUJ has a total of 14 capital projects in
various stages of development. The Capital Project report in your
board materials gives you much more information on these projects.
- Architects and contractors have been selected for
the three projects you approved at your March 9, 2007 board meeting,
namely the Student Recreation Center, the Honors Hall, and the
Student Apartments. The bonds for these projects are scheduled to be
issued next week. Additionally, funding is anticipated within the
near future for an academic building on campus.
- Design planning is underway by university
committees for the new campus buildings currently funded and under
That concludes my Chancellor's Report to the Board of Trustees.
I hope you find this and other reports helpful. Have a great summer!
Robert L. Potts
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