CSU President Frank Brown: State of the University Address 2006

Columbus State University President Frank D. Brown delivered his annual State of the University Address to a packed Fine Arts Hall auditorium audience of CSU employees, many of whom were honored for up to 35 years of service to the university. Here is a transcript of his remarks:

This is a great day for Columbus State University and for all of us who are in the CSU family!

Today we mark the beginning of our 48th year of service to the people of Columbus and this region nearly five decades of impressive service to students of all ages, resulting in almost 30,000 graduates of our institution Dr. Frank Brownsince our beginning. The impact of this institution on our community and the surrounding region has been more important than we might realize. For example, we now know, factually, that of all the people in Columbus who hold a baccalaureate degree, over half of them, 55 percent or so, earned that baccalaureate degree at Columbus State. That means, first, that all the other colleges and universities in the world combined do not have as many graduates in Columbus as do we. And secondly, it means that we have done what every good university should strive to do: We have provided educational opportunity which has resulted in the development of a large middle class in our city. Our educational efforts have cut across all segments of our city, have touched all economic, ethnic and racial strata and have prepared literally thousands of our citizens for a better life. Columbus State is truly Columbus university, and we are proud of the ownership the people of this community feel for our institution.

Those early days in the Shannon Hosiery Mill on Talbotton Road saw Columbus College offer associate degrees in the beginning, with baccalaureate degrees coming along with the class of 1970, and with graduate degrees added in 1974. In 2008, we will celebrate our 50th anniversary as an institution, and we have much of which we should be proud as educators.

Columbus College became Columbus State University 10 years ago, and it is no coincidence that our growth and reputation have both hit new heights in the intervening 10 years. The level playing field of nomenclature gave us a chance to show our value and our character that was all we needed! We have seen many of our colleagues who helped lay the foundation for our progress over the years reach retirement age and move on and, happily, we have seen many new, impressive colleagues added to our ranks. This year, for the second consecutive year, following a period of severe budget difficulties in our state, we have added additional faculty across the five colleges of our institution and we are delighted to have colleagues of such high caliber join Columbus State. Weve also added a number of new administrative and staff personnel, and Id like to take just a moment to ask all of you who are beginning your service with Columbus State this year, including those who are moving from part-time to full-time and from temporary to permanent positions. Please stand and let us acknowledge you and officially welcome you to the CSU family!

We also have a number of new administrative colleagues beginning their first full year of service in new positions at Columbus State. Let me ask these individuals to stand as I call their names and, when they are all standing, we can acknowledge them and congratulate them for their recent appointments. Of course, you know that (Vice President of Academic Affairs) Dr. George Stanton has been serving as our academic officer for several months now, but he will be beginning his first complete academic year this fall. We also have a new dean of the College of Education, Dr. David Rock; we have a new chair of the department of art, Ms. Mara Scrupe, a new chair of the Accounting and Finance Department, Dr. Vicky Langston; a new chair of the Management and Marketing Department, Dr. Neal Thomson; a new associate dean of the College of Business, Dr. Mike Daniels; a new chair of the Graduate Studies and Counseling, Educational Leadership and Professional Studies Department, Dr. Tom Hackett; a new associate dean for the fine and performing arts in the college of arts and letters, professor Earl Coleman; a new director of planning and special projects in academic affairs, Dr. Joyce Hickson; a new director of the Honors Program, Dr. Danna Gibson; a new director of the Servant Leadership Program, Dr. Stuart Rayfield; Dr. Tina Butcher will be leading our Center for Academic Advising beginning this year; and Mr. Rus Drew, police chief, is beginning his first full year. Lets now indicate our appreciation for our colleagues who serve in these leadership positions and let them know that we are proud of their success and of their willingness to play these important roles.

CSU's Spence HouseThe summer just ended has given us additional reason to be exceedingly proud of the study abroad opportunities we provide for our students. While the Spencer House, left, in Oxford, England, the residence for CSU students who study in that rarefied atmosphere surrounding Oxford University, has to be seen as our crown jewel, we also are especially proud of many other study abroad opportunities, of which our students take advantage. Over the last 12 months, we have had a total of 153 students study abroad opportunities in 30 locations around the globe, and we are encouraged and excited by their proclamation of the great value they find in such a program.

We continue on our campus and in our city to enjoy the fruits of the highly successful capital campaign which we concluded last fall. You have seen funds go in impressive fashion to secure instructional equipment, to aid our professional development efforts, to augment library acquisitions, to build our outreach through the Cunningham Center for Leadership Development, to upgrade Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center, to establish the International (center) on campus, to found and support the Carson McCullers Center, to upgrade and enhance Columbus States Coca-Cola Space Science Center, as well as for scholarships, endowed faculty positions, support for our Honors and Servant Leadership programs, for teacher education, for study abroad programs and, of course, to develop the fine and performing arts complex in the heart of downtown Columbus, our new RiverPark campus!

The capital campaign, while certainly a fund-raising project, was really not about the money. Some people who know about such things say that money makes the world go around. And few of us would suggest that money is unimportant in an institution of higher learning. In this case, while the private financial support your university receives is a vital component of our ability to serve this community, it is important that we look beyond the numbers and examine the results, the impact of our improved services, the enhanced quality of life made possible for all the people in this region by the generous support our donors and, indeed, we ourselves, have provided through the capital campaign.

Together, you and I with our external donors, have made great progress in our service to the citizens of our community. We measure our success at Columbus State in dreams realized, lives changed, goals attained, the impossible achieved and differences made. All of us should feel a terrific sense of fulfillment in our shared efforts. There is no nobler venture, I suggest, than the molding of lives through educational opportunity opportunity made possible by the partnerships we have formed in this community. We send our thanks to all our donors for their trust and confidence, and we pledge, collectively, our continued stewardship of those resources and of the lives in our charge. For that privilege, I know you join me in saying we wouldnt take all the money in the world.

As we look to the future, we can see better days coming in terms of state support for the university system and, consequently, for Columbus State. To ensure that our needs continue to receive attention in Atlanta, especially our capital requests for new construction, we are establishing a CSU task force for capital projects. This task force will help us speak with one voice, representing all our needs and will follow the approval process through the Board of Regents and through the Legislature. We have asked Dr. Linda Hadley, dean of the D. Abbott Turner College of Business, to chair this group. Additional members will be added in the next few weeks.

My hat is off to each of you for your outstanding contributions to the educational progress we see at Columbus State. The results of your efforts are seen every day in service to our region, in the educational product we are producing and in the enhanced quality of life which benefits all of us in our region and in our state. We are educators all, regardless of our day-to-day responsibilities, for we work together to make this educational enterprise both accessible and effective.

Distress in todays world is not difficult to find. War, terrorism, inhumanity, natural and man-made disasters injustice, hatred, intolerance all are easy to spot. The struggle for peace and justice, both abroad and at home, is real, and we have a distinct role to play in finding solutions to these problems and others.

As we educate those whom we can reach through CSU, as we help lift the quality of life around us through economic development, through cultural enrichment, through ethical leadership, through international understanding we are performing a vital function, for ourselves and for the world.

Can we make a difference? You bet we can and, in fact, we already do. Im grateful to you for your good work, and Im thankful to be a part of your team!! Our best wishes now for a great new academic year and for a continuation of the work which we, together, will do for this great institution.