State of the University 2012: PSU Meeting Challenges through Innovation and Collaboration

March 28th, 2012 by blyndes


Plymouth –– Plymouth State University continues to flourish, said President Sara Jayne Steen in her fifth annual State of the University address March 28.  Steen believes the University’s ability to collaborate and innovate to solve problems is emblematic of its institutional strength and academic excellence.

President Sara Jayne Steen delivers the State of the University Address at a March 28 event

Steen pointed to initiatives in technology, internationalization, and sustainability as areas in which PSU is enhancing its value to students, the region and the state. Steen noted that the use of technology is one of PSU’s strengths, as faculty and staff employ new technologies to extend access and enhance teaching and learning.

“Five hundred of PSU’s 4,000 courses last year were offered in online or hybrid format, the latter combining face-to-face and distance learning,” Steen said. “Next year several undergraduate programs will be available fully online as well as taught on the residential campus, increasing access for students.  And the online courses will be taught by the same excellent faculty members that students respect on campus, demonstrating PSU’s commitment to excellence.”

The University is placing more emphasis on internationalization, and Steen said that increases students’ preparation for the global workforce.

“Our students come from 43 states and 34 countries,” Steen said. “These students are drawn to PSU’s academic quality and friendly, beautiful campus.  The ELS Language Center is bringing international students here, with the most complete English-language study center north of Boston; and this summer Mary Lyon Hall will be further remodeled to add an international center.”

Steen noted that the University’s achievements in sustainability are being recognized nationally.

“We again were recognized in The Princeton Review’s Guide to 311 Green Colleges as one of the most environmentally responsible institutions of higher education in North America, based on factors such as environmental literacy, energy efficient construction, use of renewable resources, and recycling and conservation.”

Plymouth State also experienced a sometimes tumultuous year.  In late August Tropical Storm Irene left the Holderness side of campus under water.  The institution opened an emergency shelter, staffed by students, and along with some well-planned assistance from our host communities of Holderness and Plymouth, effectively dealt with the flooding.

Steen praised faculty, staff and students for their good work, while she acknowledged the challenges the University has faced in the reduction of state support.

“Our goal was to put people first, not to have students and their families handle all of the burden, or our faculty and staff,” said Steen. “ To balance the budget, we reduced expenditures and increased revenues through enhanced enrollment and a supplemental tuition increase. Thinking of students and families, we also built into the budget a 28% increase in financial aid to help the neediest students.”

Other highlights of the past year include:

This year’s entering class of 1100 students was drawn from 6000 applicants, the highest number ever.

  • A nursing program was successfully launched, with four-year track and also a completion track for RNs who hold associate’s degrees.
  • The first recipients of PSU’s Doctor of Education in Learning, Leadership, and Community will graduate in May.
  • PSU confirmed mutual agreements with Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) and Sunway University in Malaysia. PSU is now on all continents except Antarctica.
  • Business NH Magazine awarded the Savage Welcome Center and Hanaway Rink the 2011 Lean and Green Building Award.
  • PSU was named for the 5th consecutive year to the federal President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, with nearly 250,000 hours of student service contributed to local communities.
  • Plymouth State added an endowed professorship in environmental studies to provide funding for research and enhanced classroom teaching.  The Helen Abbott ’39 Professorship in Environmental Studies honors a Plymouth State graduate for her efforts in educating youth about environmental and ecological issues.
  • PSU recorded an increase in funding through sponsored programs, with over $3.6 million in new authorizations.  Topics range from early childhood learning and a celebration of the centennial of the Weeks Act to analysis of heavy metals in ground water and to tourism research.

Steen stated PSU offers its students and the wider community a wonderful resource with academic excellence and partnerships.

“In sum, then, PSU is innovative, vibrant, and focused on student success,” Steen concluded.

For more information about this release, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU News Services Mgr., or call (603) 535-2775.