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Convocation 2006

Excellence of Execution in a Time of Opportunity

Welcome to the University of Baltimore’s 2006 convocation–the first convocation to take place in the Student Center . It’s great to see the energy, pride and sense of community that this building has brought to our campus since it opened in April, and I look forward to seeing all of you here in the coming year.

This year, we are in a new place in many ways. We are actively recruiting the first freshman class at UB since 1975. Our joint MBA with Towson is underway – a partnership that will strengthen the reach and foundation of the Merrick School of Business. We are beginning the renovation of the Crestar building at 1300 North Charles to provide much-needed classroom and faculty space for the College ofLiberal Arts .

The law school welcomes 9 new faculty members this semester, bringing added perspective and energy to our unique approach to legal education. For the first time, a UB student – Caitlin Heidemann - will serve as the student representative on the Board of Regents.

There are other exciting developments that I will share with you shortly. TheUniversity of Baltimore in 2006 is clearly in transformation, led by the talent and commitment of our students, faculty and staff. As we do every year, I’d like to recognize some of our individual and collective accomplishments and discuss with you our shared vision for the year ahead.

The central part of that vision must be to ensure that the key projects that we have put in motion are completed to the highest of standards – what I call excellence of execution. The hard work of the past few years - getting the approval to add the lower division; gaining funding for building renovations; re-positioning UB among the Regents, elected officials and the general public - won’t matter if we can’t produce high-quality results.

Again, the Student Center provides a fitting and inspiring example – a facility that we were determined to make first-rate for our students and our community was recently named one of Baltimore ’s best buildings of the last decade.

UB’s success has always depended on the achievements of those who work here, and every year we honor some number of our colleagues for their outstanding contributions to the community.

This year’s UB Staff Awards go to the following nominated employees in the exempt and non-exempt categories:

For outstanding customer service to students and others:

Yoosef Khadem, Coordinator of Math Services

Michael Parker, Shuttle Bus Driver

For exceptional contribution to the mission of the University:

Katie Kauffman, Assistant Director of International Services

Tammy Taylor , Library Technician

Would those recipients in attendance please stand? Each award winner will receive $1000 in appreciation of their contributions. Congratulations.

The recipient of this year’s President’s Faculty Award, an annual $5,000 award presented in recognition of outstanding teaching, research and community service in support of the University’s mission, goes to Dr. Lenneal Henderson, professor in the School of Public Affairs and senior research associate with the Schaefer Center for Public Policy. Lenneal is traveling out of the country and is not able to be with us today.

Last year we put in place an annual review of our progress in certain key areas related to our strategic plan. You’ve been given copies of this year’s Report Card; it’s also posted on the Planning Office Web page, with a request for your feedback.

Besides giving us data on what we achieved – and maybe didn’t achieve – in the past year, I hope the report card also reinforces some important planning principles at UB:

  • We are committed to regularly reviewing our performance and our objectives – are we doing what we’re supposed to be doing?
  • Our shared vision must be shaped by an informed community supplied with real knowledge–what the plan calls “evidenced-based decision-making.”

This year we highlighted those indicators which are also monitored by the USM and the DLS. This shows that the relevance and importance of what we’re tracking extends beyond our campus and internal discussions.

As you know, our current strategic plan outlines goals and objectives for a 3-year period, from 2004 to 2007. This year, we will take the first steps towards a collective look at the plan: how it is serving us, where it is relevant, and how we want to move forward. Specifically, we need to discuss how our plan can help to distinguish and reinforce the unique nature of the work we do here.

A central part of that uniqueness – and one that is reflected in many of our current goals and objectives – is our commitment to and expertise in urban issues. The work of our centers, law clinics, student leadership programs, and the newly-formed Community Outreach Group is supported by the focus on the urban community that is the hallmark of many of our academic programs.

UB can and should be seen as a regional leader in crafting the legal, business and public policy solutions that are needed in the 21st century urban landscape – knowledge that really works. This unique focus – a concept we have initially termed “the engaged urban university” – forms the basis of much of what we already do.

Important work has been completed or is underway that gives us a strong planning foundation. The self study process that so many of you contributed to has given us a comprehensive picture of our strengths and challenges. The completion of a master academic plan this year will serve as a starting point for our initial planning discussions.

I would now like to invite Provost Wiewel to share a few remarks. He will review the significant academic accomplishments of the past year, and also speak about the engaged urban university concept in more detail.

[after the Provost’s remarks]

I’d like to leave you with a few thoughts about the future – both short -and long-term.

This year, I have re-organized the senior leadership structure to strengthen my connection to the academic and student services areas. The deans, the vice-provost for enrollment management and student affairs, and the administrative vice-presidents will form the Cabinet, whose function is to provide input on key university issues. I welcome this added perspective as we continue our focus on the centrality of our academic mission and the quality of the student experience.

For strategic direction and oversight of critical university-wide initiatives, I have formed an Executive Committee, staffed by my executive assistant, consisting of the provost, vice-president of planning, and the new senior vice president of Administration and Finance Harry Schuckel.

Harry comes to us from Montclair State University in New Jersey , where he served as senior vice president for administration. He holds a B.A. in Anthropology fromUniversity of Illinois , and an M.B.A. from American University . He brings to UB more than 20 years of experience in higher education with a focus on finance and technology, and will play a key role in integrating administrative activities across the University.

My personal goals include strengthening the connection between the University ofBaltimore Educational Foundation and the University community. Many of us are not fully aware of the key role the foundation plays in the success of our students and faculty. For example, this fiscal year the Foundation has $3.95 million available for scholarships, endowed chairs; faculty development; and facilities improvements.

Given the uncertain nature of public higher education funding, the UBEF will play an increasingly critical role in the future success of UB. As you are aware, public universities lag considerably behind the privates in their fundraising and endowment efforts. While we have much work to do in the upcoming capital campaign, I am pleased to share that the UBEF currently manages $50 million in total assets – up $5 million from last year - which provides us with a very strong base moving forward.

We must continue the progress that has been made with the University System of Maryland and the Board of Regents to address UB’s level of state funding. The current fiscal year reflects the beginning of the recognition that our University must receive a more equitable share of available resources. We took the first, incremental step last year, and we will redouble our efforts in the coming year to build on the progress that was achieved.

I am also committed to addressing what I believe is a critical need: the addition of new faculty. The core strength of any university lies in its faculty, and theUniversity of Baltimore is privileged to have a faculty of remarkable talent and dedication. But we all know that there are simply not enough faculty members at the University of Baltimore.

In certain areas, this need is absolutely required to address the imbalance between part-time and full-time faculty. In other areas, we must recognize that the quality of our future cannot be achieved – or even sustained - without a substantial influx of new faculty. Clearly, faculty and staff growth will be required as we mature into a full 4-year undergraduate institution. Other academic areas must be supported as enrollments increase.

I believe that we must grow our faculty by 30% in the next 5 years to become theUniversity of Baltimore that we collectively envision, and I am firmly committed to achieving that critical objective.

Also critical is the state of our campus facilities: those we currently have, and those we must have to adequately fulfill our mission. The student center shows us what is possible, but it also shows us what we’ve accepted for too long. When I walk the halls of our buildings, it is impossible not to see faculty and staff working in sub-standard conditions. I am personally committed to changing that within the next 3 years, so that the quality of our work environment more closely matches and supports the quality of the work we do.

This vision is aspirational, but is it attainable? Realistically, the UB campus has more physical needs than will be addressed solely through public funds. We must employ a variety of means – state capital support; public/private partnerships; collaborations with neighboring educational and non-profit institutions; and innovative dialogue with the city – to construct the UB of the coming decade.

I have identified 2 projects in our state capital request as being critical to our future – a new library; and a new law school. Last spring the library project was successfully moved ahead in the University System queue, and I will continue to advocate for both of these projects until they become realities.

I appreciate that many of these efforts appear to be such a long way off that it’s hard to believe they will happen. That was certainly true for decades regarding a student center at UB. That’s why I’m pleased to be able to share with you the following: last Friday, the Board of Regents gave approval for UB to proceed to final documentation on Bolton Yards, the first phase of the UB Midtown project. I’d like to share some of the details of this project with you.

This is the result of a public/private partnership with the Bozzutto Group and Gould Property Company. The goals of the project were to:

    1. meet the University’s need for additional parking
    2. provide an added revenue stream through long-term ground rents
    3. enhance the immediate area with mixed-use residential and retail development
Bolton Yards will meet these goals at no dollar cost to the University, because the $60 million project will be fully-funded by private capital. Of particular interest to some of you will be the addition of a 1300-space garage, which will substantially increase our parking capacity by at least 600 spaces.

Once final documents are signed, the developers will engage UB students, faculty, staff and our neighbors in an open process for input concerning best uses of the space. A project of this scope requires considerable planning; ground-breaking is projected to take place in January 2008; with the garage opening at the conclusion of that calendar year. I’d like to provide you with some sense of the project scope. Just as the student center has transformed our campus, I am equally confident that this project – not so far away in time – will likewise change not only our campus but our neighborhood.

What else is possible? What would a University of Baltimore with 30% more faculty; an appropriately enhanced staff; an additional 1,000 students; with a new library, a new law school; a student health, recreation and wellness center; and new academic buildings actually look like? It could look like this.

[the President refers to a slide of UB’s upcoming Facilities Master Plan presentation, and points out the desired footprint for the University in 2014.]

These are just possibilities. Much needs to happen to realize any one of these ideas, and each will be made better by our collective input. Finally, whatever we undertake must directly enhance our core mission - the education of our students and the support of our faculty. I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish together, and I look forward to what we can achieve in the years ahead.

Thank you.