Convocation addresses university changes

Story by Sara Bell, Editor

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In its 155th year, Baker University has established many rich traditions. While BU will continue to embrace these customs, the university has many changes in store.

As discussed during the 2013 Convocation on Tuesday, Baker’s administration and faculty members are looking to ensure the university continues to evolve.

These changes include renovations to campus buildings, welcoming new administrators and introducing new academic initiatives across BU’s campuses.

“Change is inevitable. Change is all around us,” Student Senate President Owen Lewis said. “We must not fear it. We must embrace it and use it to our advantage.”

In his Convocation address, Lewis acknowledged the accomplishments of University President Pat Long and Minister to the University Ira DeSpain, who will retire at the conclusion of the academic year.

“(Long and DeSpain) have left some mighty big shoes to fill,” Lewis said. “The campus I get to love and call home is a testament to the legacies you have created and will leave behind for many more to experience.”

While introducing Long before her State of the University address, Brian Posler, executive vice president of academic affairs and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said the president is looking to ensure her last year is the finest yet.

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Goal 1 – Increased enrollment inches BU closer to 2020 goals

Goal 2 – University celebrates phase one of renovation

Goal 3 -Leadership program promotes pathway to success

Before retiring from BU, Long has three main goals she strives to accomplish. The first is to “ensure enrollment will be on the upswing.”

“We all know that enrollment numbers. … are a part of our financial stability. They are our key to financial stability, and I am really pleased with what I’m seeing,” Long said

Her second goal is to finish phase two of the Harter Union renovations and to raise the remaining funds needed to complete the second and third phases.

“I have very high expectations for all of these projects,” Long said. “But when I walked in that first day and saw the new dining hall, it was above any of the expectations I had had. I know that phase two and three are going to be the same way.”

Long’s final goal for the academic year is to establish the Institute for Leadership and Positive Change. This leadership program, generated by Associate Professor of Sociology Tim Buzzell, will create an educational platform to teach students and community leaders how to be successful in a changing world.

Since the idea was introduced last year, BU has revised curriculum at the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Professional and Graduate Studies and the Graduate School of Education.

“There is no other university in the Midwest that’s taking this comprehensive approach that we are taking to leadership and change,” Long said. “… I think this is going to be the most innovative initiative we’ve had at Baker for some years. I believe this is the thing that’s going to give us some national recognition.”

On Sept. 10, BU received that national recognition. U.S. News & World Report named Baker the top-ranked Kansas university in the Midwest Regional category for the third straight year, but Posler believes the university must strive for more.

“In these uncertain times for higher education, it is not enough to remain the top-ranked university in the state of Kansas,” Posler said during the Convocation welcome. “We must strive to exceed the hopes of the visionaries before us and ensure the best for Baker is yet to come.”