A periodic update for faculty from President Robert H. "Doc" Foglesong
September 24, 2007
No retirement incentive this year
We have thoroughly explored the possibility of offering a retirement incentive program this year, but have concluded that it is not in the best interests of the university at this time. A primary consideration is the number of faculty members who are currently retirement eligible, coupled with our expanding enrollment. Given the lead time needed to recruit and hire faculty, an above-average rate of retirements this year could create serious difficulties for several academic areas. While the proposal has been tabled for this year, it may be an option in the future.
Enrollment strategy on track
Thanks for the team recruiting effort that led to this fall's healthy enrollment increase. As you probably know, we led all state universities in growth by a sizeable margin, adding 578 undergraduates and 255 graduate and professional students. Those gains are in line with our stated goal of synchronizing enrollment growth with increases in faculty numbers and other resources at a rate of 300 to 500 undergraduates per year.
Academic units that contributed to this fall's increase will benefit directly from the expanded tuition base. We are working now to calculate this fall's tuition dividend, which returns most of the increase in tuition revenue resulting from enrollment growth to the departments and colleges.
It was especially gratifying that we were able to extend our reach without any erosion in the academic credentials of our students. The largest freshman class on record, numbering 2,281, is also one of the best prepared in our history, judging from the average ACT score of 23.6, up from last fall's 23.3. Compared with last year, the number of students with an ACT score of 24 or higher increased by 28 percent, while the number scoring 20 or less grew by less than 7 percent.
Retention of last year's freshmen also improved, to a record 83.4 percent, and the caliber of our new freshmen will help to reinforce that trend. Students who enter MSU with an ACT of 24 or greater and a high school core GPA of 3.0 have a retention rate of better than 90 percent.
This year's record number of graduate students, 3,831, is in part a product of the $2,000 increase in graduate assistant stipends instituted over the past two years, and we hope to continue to invest in that area, resources permitting.
Watch for survey questionnaire
A short survey seeking faculty input on budget priorities, our system of allocating raises, and the level of interest in a faculty club will be coming your way soon in the form of a web-based survey administered by the Social Science Research Center. You will receive an email message from SSRC including a link to the survey instrument. Your opinion is valued and your participation will be appreciated.
United Way needs your support
You should have received by now your pledge card providing you with an opportunity to participate in this year's community-wide United Way campaign. If you have not already given, I hope you will use this mechanism to offer a helping hand to neighbors in need. Our university goal is $110,000, which represents about 0.06 percent of our collective salaries. Whether you can give the equivalent of a day's pay or just one just one hour's wages, your gift will make a difference.
Walter N. Taylor, assistant dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has been designated a fellow of the American Association for Agricultural Education. He is a former president of AAAE and was head of the Department of Agricultural Information Science and Education before assuming his current duties.
Anthony Vizzini, head of Aerospace Engineering, is the new president-elect of the American Society for Composites. He has been a member of the society since 1987 and was named an ASC Fellow in 2004.
Michael Berk, professor of architecture, was one of three winners in the first national Lifecycle Building Challenge competition promoting building ideas that reduce environmental and energy impacts. The competition sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and others recognized the GreenMobile mobile home designed at MSU for disaster relief and permanent use as an factory-built, affordable, energy efficient housing option.