PLYMOUTH, N.H.-Strategic planning, a renewed sense of teamwork among faculty and staff and a vibrant, engaged student body have Plymouth State University reaching new heights, according to PSU President Sara Jayne Steen.
Delivering her first State of the University speech March 12 in the University’s Silver Center for the Arts, Steen emphasized highlights of the past year and noted challenges that lie ahead for the institution. “In fulfilling our mission, the University is strong and becoming stronger,” Steen said.
Highlights include the opening of Langdon Woods, the states’ first building—and one of the first residence halls in the country—to earn LEED Gold-certified building status for its energy efficiency, and reopened Mary Lyon Hall, which also features an energy-efficient design. A President’s Commission on Environmental Sustainability was formed and is guiding the campus to carbon neutrality. The Center for Rural Partnerships has secured funding from the US Forest Service to conduct a feasibility study for converting PSU’s existing co-generation plant from fossil fuels to sustainably-harvested woody biomass from local forests.
Academically, a new undergraduate program in environmental science and policy has been approved; PSU meteorology students received national recognition for their work, as did MBA students for their entries in a national small business competition. Steen also said PSU’s student retention rates are strong and improving, with first generation students composing nearly 40 percent of the first-year class. Additionally, students are graduating in higher numbers, a 12 percent increase over the past five years.
“PSU graduates are attractive to employers. Eighty-four percent of those (graduating seniors last year) seeking positions were employed either before graduation or within six months,” Steen added.
Emergency plans for campus and neighboring towns have been reviewed and expanded, with PSU adding the PSUAlert text messaging system to quickly alert the campus in a crisis.
PSU recently was named to the President’s Honor Roll through the federal Learn and Serve America program, which encourages service learning throughout the United States. PSU was recognized for Community Service Orientation, Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Events, and PSU Volunteers and Alternative Weekends, meaning PSU students donated over 165,000 hours to service in the past year.
Steen acknowledged PSU faces challenges in the year ahead, including continuing to manage costs and working to enhance revenues. Additionally, changing demographics in New England are expected to reduce the number of potential college-age students in the next several years.
“We must be conscious of containing costs … We have done much and must continue our efforts,” Steen said. “We must (also) look to new audiences, offering increased educational access to groups that have had fewer opportunities …”
Finally, Steen stated, “We cannot be everything to everyone, but we will advance our mission and do well what we do.”
For a transcript of President Steen’s State of the University address, go to: www.plymouth.edu/president/pdf/2008_state_of_u.pdf
For more information about this release, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU Media Relations Mgr., (603) 535-2775 or Bruce Lyndes