HAYS, Kan. -- With financial support for higher education declining
in states all across the nation, universities must find innovative ways to
achieve excellence in order to meet the increasing needs of the people they
"We know it was true in the past that students, faculty
and staff of universities throughout our country with just average skills, and
doing just an average job, could find success," said Dr. Edward H.
Hammond, president of Fort Hays State University. "That is no longer true.
Today, average is over. Being average just won't earn you what it used to. Our
state and nation cannot be successful unless we produce above-average graduates
at an above-average rate of graduation."
Hammond is traveling the length and breadth of Kansas this
week -- Nov. 26 through 30 -- carrying the message that average is over and
declaring that support for higher education is vital for the state during
difficult economic times.
Referring to them as "average busters," Hammond
cited five initiatives that have been implemented or are being pursued at FHSU
to provide the enhanced education opportunities that Kansans need:
Based on the outstanding success of the Kansas Academy of
Mathematics and Science, which allows gifted high school juniors and seniors to
live on the FHSU campus while completing a high school degree and 68 hours of
college credit, the College of Arts and Sciences proposes a similar resident
academy. The Kansas Academy of Collegiate Studies would provide a rigorous
course of study that emphasizes thinking deeply and systematically through
writing, discussion and inquiry. FHSU knows from the KAMS experience that many
young people are ready and eager to do serious college work at the age of 16.
The 25 students who are selected for the Kansas Academy of Collegiate Studies will
live on the FHSU campus and participate in a two-year program of curricular and
extra-curricular study and research in the arts, humanities and social
The College of
Business and Entrepreneurship is pursuing the world's leading international
business accreditation. EQUIS, based in Brussels, Belgium, requires balance
between high academic quality and professional relevance through close
interaction with the corporate world. EQUIS attaches particular importance to
an effective learning environment that fosters a sense of global
responsibility. FHSU has about 3,500 students in China through its partnerships
with universities there. Few other universities in America have
internationalized sufficiently to earn EQUIS accreditation. This accreditation
would open employment opportunities for FHSU's domestic and international
students, raise its stature in the recruitment of students and faculty, and
build relationships that will be valuable for Kansas businesses.
· The College of Education and Technology has purchased iPads and other
mobile devices (Xoom, Thrive) for all faculty. The iPads are being used in
classrooms and with Virtual College students. In addition, the new technology
facilitates collaboration as faculty integrate apps into instruction. Instead
of a book study this semester, faculty meet monthly and have a "Mobile
Device Study" to discuss the latest apps and talk about what has been
working. Also, the education faculty are developing apps for courses. The
potential exists for expanded applications of this new technology.
· In the College of Health and Life Sciences, Dr. Eric Gillock
and his fellow faculty members have also been innovative and creative in their
support of excellence. Dr. Gillock was a driving force behind the development
of the Western Kansas Center for Biotechnology and Bioinformatics. This Center gives
Dr. Gillock’s students a unique opportunity to participate in high-quality
Forsyth Library went
live this semester with cloud-based library services, called Alma and Primo, by
the Ex Libris Group, a world leader in library services. Forsyth is the first
of the "early adopter" institutions in the country to go live on
Alma, a single, consolidated library system that manages print, electronic and
digital collections. It replaces several systems at Forsyth that separately
manage different aspects of library operations. The use of business analytics
and real-time resource analysis tools within Alma allow the library to become
much more efficient and provide an opportunity for cost savings. The new
software also provides immediate access to the catalogs of the world's largest
and most prestigious libraries. Ex Libris and FHSU are planning to partner on other
expansions of technically advanced library systems.
Over the past several years, FHSU has implemented an array
of efficiencies to deal with the economic downturn and to maintain academic
excellence. Those efforts will continue.
The above-average performances by students and faculty have
led FHSU to be the fastest growing four-year institution in the state of
Kansas. The enrollment this fall of 13,310 is the largest in school history.
FHSU has grown 40.3 percent over the most recent five-year reporting period,
while two universities in the Kansas Board of Regents system have declined in
enrollment and the remaining three have grown by 6.1 percent at most. This
growth has assisted FHSU in many ways.
Over that same five-year period, FHSU's growth in serving
Kansans was almost 20 percent, while three of the sister institutions served
significantly fewer Kansans. FHSU is not only the fastest growing institution
in the state, but it is the institution that is serving more and more Kansans
year in and year out.
"Because of our growth, during the last two years we
have been able to reward our faculty and staff with increases in salary of
almost 10 percent at a time when most universities were not providing any
increases and budgets were being significantly reduced," President Hammond
He added: "As my mother used to tell me, the proof is
in the pudding. Producing students with degrees, above-average skills and a
history of success is what really counts. When you look at degree growth over
the last five years, FHSU continues to stand out. Last year we awarded 20
percent more degrees than we did in 2006."
said the most important evidence of excellence at FHSU could be seen in the
success of students, but evidence also is abundant in bricks and mortar. "We
have launched four capital projects that have a total cost of about $30 million
and will have an estimated impact on the state and local economies of about $45
million," he said.
The growth that has been so important is the result of FHSU's
emphasis on quality and also keeping a competitive price point in the student
market place. "If you look at this year's tuition, which is the lowest in
not just Kansas but the region, it is clear that we are not only providing a
quality education, but we are providing that education at the most affordable
tuition and fee level," he said. "The low tuition is critical because
it means Kansans have a high-quality, affordable opportunity to get a college
degree by attending FHSU."
annual weeklong Media Tour, President Hammond is visiting at newspapers, radio
and television stations, and with community leaders, alumni and friends of the
university in 17 Kansas cities.