"We Must Go Forward"
President's column from UofL magazine, Fall 2004.
"We Must Go Forward," UofL magazine, Fall 2004
With all the hope, enthusiasm and energy that the start of a new school year brings, the University of Louisville has hit the ground running in this new academic year. We’re addressing the challenges we face and recommitting ourselves to meet our public mandate to become a “preeminent metropolitan research university.”
And as we do so, we cannot deviate from our values. As I mentioned in my inaugural speech just over a year ago and again during this year’s recent state of the university address, we must not be outworked. We must never forget our history, and we must learn from our past successes as well as our past failures. And we cannot fail to be the doers who perform the deeds to make our dreams a reality.
When we started this new semester in September, we were again proud to welcome the best freshman class in our history (see page 6 of this issue). This is also one of our most diverse freshman classes ever—both geographically and racially. We’re also proud of the many new projects that are moving forward to improve our campus life, from new food services on the west side of campus and the development along Central Avenue and Floyd Street, to the library expansion, natatorium, new research building and more. You can learn more about our “good growth” in the story on page 12.
Our focus and our efforts must continue to advance the public agenda that has been set for our university. We must do all that we can to work with our community, business and state to increase economic opportunity and quality of life for our citizens.
In order for our friends to support us as we move forward, it’s important that we are open about our goals for
U of L. Everyone, from our trustees to our administration to our faculty, staff and supporters, can help move us forward when we all get behind the five goals that make up the university’s Challenge for Excellence, its plan for the future.
First, we must enhance the educational experience of our students and improve our six-year graduation rates. This year we must improve freshman-to-sophomore retention rates as well as our overall retention rates. We have set as a target for second- to third-year retention a rate of 63.6 percent. If we can do this and continue each year to focus on retention activities from class to class, our graduation rates will improve, and we will produce more graduates, more members of the “creative class” that are the key to the economic prosperity of our community and state.
In addition, we continue to recognize that Kentucky has an under-representation of scientists, engineers and Ph.D.s. Our goal for this year is to produce 115 doctoral graduates.
Our second goal is to continue building our research enterprise. Our proxy measure for the achievement of this shared goal is to increase total research grants and contract funding by up to 14 percent. This will keep us on the course set for us by the commonwealth of Kentucky of hitting $200 million in sponsored research by 2010.
Third, we must ensure that our campus is open, accessible and diverse by moving forward aggressively with the implementation of our unit diversity plans.
Fourth, we must nurture current partnerships and engage new partners to contribute to the educational, social and economic progress of our region and state. We look to a newly formed University and Community Advisory Board to help us identify strategic, sustainable and systemic partnerships that truly will make a difference in the lives of people in our community and our state.
Finally, we will assure taxpayers, donors and our students—all of those on whose resources we depend—that we are good stewards; we are accountable for the resources with which they entrust us. This we accept as standard operating procedure, and we recommit ourselves to this shared goal for the year.
So we must go forward, together, with a renewed focus and a renewed energy to advance a great university, a university rich with history and tradition.
James R. Ramsey