President’s report provides optimistic recap of the year

News Editor

The much-needed construction of a new operations building this summer is the next step in the Campus Master Plan, which guided the renovations of Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel and the Alumni Gym. 

Every semester, President George Martin addresses St. Edward’s University faculty, staff and students in the President’s Report, which serves to inform the university community of happenings on campus.

This year, the meeting was held on March 4 immediately after the annual Service Awards that honors select faculty and staff members for their extraordinary service to the school.

Although a plan for renovations of Andre Hall was orginally included in the Campus Master Plan in 2011, the school has decided to alter the plan to be able to renovate Main Building and Holy Cross Hall at the same time in order to save money and time.

Holy Cross will be compltely gutted and recieve a new roof and custom windows, as no two windows in the building are alike, and Main Building will recieve a new roof and mechanicals. 

During the report, Martin highlighted St. Edward’s continued national recognitions, including its position as the national top producer of student Fulbright recipients for the past five years.

This year, 13 out of St. Edward’s 26 Fulbright applicants became finalists, including William Haynes, ‘15, who studied abroad for two academic years in the United Arab Emirates and Morocco.

“If awarded the Fulbright Full Research Grant for Canada, I will be pursuing a master’s in Immigration and Settlement Studies at Ryerson University in Toronto researching the motives and experiences of transnational Muslims who remit,” Haynes said.

Martin also welcomed the 23 new employees that have joined St. Edward’s since last fall, including Chris Naley, ‘13, asking them to stand up to be recognized by the audience.

Naley has been working in the Alumni and Parent Programs office since October 2014. Before he came back to St. Edward’s, Naley completed a year of service in Denver.

“After that, I was kind of job searching. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to end up,” Naley said. “But I can’t think of a better place to start, you know, unraveling my ‘grown up’ life than at my alma mater. We just got through Homecoming 2015 in the freezing cold but it was well worth it with the great team that we had.”

Martin then addressed two new graduate programs, the MBA and MS in Leadership and Change, which aim to better serve grad students who have full-time jobs by offering low-residency, 7-week terms instead of the normal 14-week terms.

Martin announced that as a part of extending St. Edward’s global reach, St. Edward’s established partnerships in November with two campuses of James Cook University in Perth and Sydney, adding Australia to the list of countries St. Edward’s students can more easily study abroad in.

According to Martin, the future of St. Edward’s is bright. Freshman applications for fall 2015 have increased by 15 percent, already surpassing the total number of applicants for fall 2014, and SAT and ACT averages are up for admitted students. The retention rate from fall 2013 to fall 2014 was 82.8 percent, the highest rate in six years.

Martin ended the report by comparing St. Edward’s to other universities and colleges.

“Institutions around the country can educate the mind just as well as we can,” Martin said. “But where does the difference occur? The difference occurs in the fact that we go beyond educating the mind — we educate the heart.”

When asked what he looks forward to in the future, Martin focused on the students.

“Well, the thing that excites me the most are the levels of student achievement,” Martin said. “Because that’s the true measure of whether or not the university is doing its job — whether or not it’s keeping the promises that it makes (to) the students as they come into the university. So when I see students succeeding and going to the most elite graduate and professional programs, I say ‘Okay, we’re doing something right.’”

Before Martin presented the report, he presented the 2015 Service Awards, speaking about the recipients’ outstanding services to the school and giving them each a framed plaque of recognition and a small gift.

Capt. Dan Beck of the University Police Department was honored for 25 years of service with the campus.

“He has truly enriched the lives of many students, faculty, staff and visitors with his friendly attitude and sincere thoughtfulness to the needs of others,” Martin said. “For a long time his goat, Pax, was a beloved addition to the university events as a furry stand-in for Topper.”

Another one of those that was honored was professor of economics Joseph Pluta who won an award for 35 years of outstanding service to the university. 

In addition to teaching economics and economic history, Pluta founded the honors program at St. Edward’s and directed it for 12 years before turning it over to professor of English Barbara Filippidis.

“I had a lot of wonderful students and love all the many wonderful faculty people that I will miss when I do retire, which will be soon,” Pluta said. “It’s been, for the most part, a very enjoyable experience.”

Professors and deans from multiple schools, two members of the UPD and a custodian were honored with service awards as well.

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