The 2004 Plymouth State University annual report is unique: it covers our first full year as a university, and records the achievements of a great institution—a Plymouth State that is stronger than ever before.
When I ask members of our PSU family how they have been able to accomplish so much, their answer is invariably the same: “We work hard, we work well together, we love what we do and we’re very proud of Plymouth State.” That widespread attitude is responsible for this list of accomplishments for the past year:
Recognition of Excellence through Accreditation. PSU completed two major accreditation visits, with excellent reports from both. The New England Association of Schools and Colleges, our regional accrediting agency, awarded us the maximum 10 years of continuing accreditation. NEASC noted many strengths and complimented the institution on its accomplishments since its 1993 visit. The New Hampshire Department of Education similarly gave our education programs continuing approval.
National Recognition for the First Year Experience. PSU was one of only 12 public institutions included in a national pilot study of the first year of college, sponsored by the Policy Center for the First Year of College and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. PSU is helping write a national program for the first college year to serve as a model for institutions across the country.
A New General Education Program. After lengthy study and discussion, the faculty approved a new dynamic general education program, replacing the fine program which had been nationally recognized after its adoption in 1985. Phase one begins this fall with a new, three-credit First-Year Seminar focusing on critical thinking skills.
Student Academic Performance at All-Time High. Since 1997, when Plymouth raised its admissions standards, student academic performance (measured by grade point average, credits earned and numbers of students in good academic standing) has steadily improved. First-year GPA rose from 2.11 in 1996 to 2.63 in 2003; credits earned increased from 11.7 in 1996 to 13.8 in 2003; and the number of students in good academic standing grew from 59 percent in 1996 to 81 percent in 2003.
Strong Admissions and Enrollment. Admissions were so strong this spring that recruiting was ended early. Fall undergraduate enrollment looks very positive as well. Fall 2003 degree-seeking enrollment was 3,848; 2004 will likely exceed that number as PSU is increasingly the first choice of admitted students.
Expanding Graduate Enrollment. Our graduate programs grew from approximately 500 enrolled in degree and professional certification programs in 2000 to 1,255 in 2004; the Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies, has grown from 15 in 1997 to 151 today; 923 graduate students are enrolled in various certification programs. The graduate assistantship awards went to 17 students in 2000 and to 30 in 2004.
Successful Fundraising Campaign. The Expanding Our Reach campaign, inaugurated and directed by the PSU President’s Council, has raised 4.3 of the 5 million-dollar goal in planned, pledged and current gifts from individuals, foundations, corporations and government grants. Congratulations and thanks to Council members, advancement staff and, especially, our generous donors.
Small Business Institute Wins National Competition. PSU’s SBI won the National Showcase Award for outstanding collegiate SBI program in 2003. PSU students have captured at least one first- or second-place award in the national competition for the past six consecutive years.
Environment Center Established. The beautiful new Boyd Science Center opened this fall, and PSU’s Center for the Environment, a research and applied-research program for New Hampshire’s natural environment, has been established. The newly appointed director, Dr. Steve Kahl from the Mitchell Center at the University of Maine, Orono, assumes his duties this fall.
Athletic Teams Excel. Both the women’s lacrosse team and the men’s basketball team were selected for NCAA post-season competition. The women’s lax went undefeated in the regular season and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Eastern Regional Championship.
International Exchanges Expand. Last spring, a group of PSU faculty and administrators traveled to Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, to finalize an exchange partnership between the two universities. In July, 25 Pakistani educators and administrators came to PSU for a five-week teaching institute (see the story on page 8). This fall, 21 first-year PSU students will spend their first semester studying at the University of Limerick in Ireland.
Campus Master Plan Completed. We have completed a new master plan for campus buildings and facilities, which will shape campus construction and renovation for the next 10 to 15 years. Planned are a renovated and expanded PE Center with an ice rink, academic space for health, physical education, recreation and athletic training, new athletic facilities, swimming pool, field house and new fields. New student housing, an addition to Hyde Hall, a new academic building and the renovation of Mary Lyon Hall are also key components.
The University’s outstanding record of accomplishment is one in which we all can take great pride.
Donald P. Wharton, President
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