Mount Union College President Dr. Richard F. Giese Delivers State of the College Address

April 19, 2010

Mount Union College will continue its plans to reinforce its niche as a premier residential campus, according to Dr. Richard Giese, president, who delivered the State of the College address Thursday.


Touting preliminary plans that are subject to Board of Trustees discussions and approval, Giese said a historical strength of the College has been to provide education for the mind, body and spirit that results from on-campus living and learning. He added that there has been an erosion of on-campus living among upperclassmen that needs to be recaptured.

"This past week, the Board of Trustees authorized the administration to move forward to pursue plans relative to apartment style housing, residence halls, food service and wellness and recreation," Giese said. "We believe these improvements will make a big difference in attracting and retaining students."

Giese said plans call for apartment-style housing to be constructed on the east side of South Union Avenue and in the area between Hartshorn Street and State Street at the southern edge of campus. "These buildings will enhance their respective neighborhoods while supplying the independent living our students are seeking," Giese said.

He also outlined plans for a creative, contemporary food service in conjunction with AVI Foodsystems and future plans for expansion of the College's recreation facilities between the Timken Building and Peterson Field House. "To have an outstanding residential experience, we must be second to none in the areas of sleeping, eating and recreation to go along with an outstanding academic program," Giese said.

In his address, Giese set the tone by identifying a number of threats to the future of higher education in general, and then offered possible opportunities to address the threats. "First, we need to emphasize the value of the liberal arts," Giese said. "We also need to measure learning in a different way than the time spent in the classroom. Third, we need to integrate our technology into interpersonal education. Finally, we must partner with the K-12 and corporate community."

Turning to the challenges facing Mount Union, Giese reviewed the six strategic initiatives upon which the College will be focusing: develop a curriculum for the future and providing the facilities needed to deliver it efficiently and effectively; improve the residential nature of the campus; begin to again grow the enrollment; expand the diversity of the College, enhance the financial strength; and improve our reputation and name recognition.

Giese thanked Dr. Truman Turnquist for helping move the College forward as the interim dean of the College during the past year. He added that Turnquist will be instrumental in assisting during the tradition to Dr. Patricia Draves, who will become the dean of the College this summer. Giese said the College is making progress in defining new academic areas "without falling prey to gimmicks or short term trends." He also expressed interest in partnering with Alliance Community Hospital and the city schools for collaborative programming.

In the area of enrollment, Giese said the key indicators are positive and the preliminary numbers are running at a five-year high. Cautioning that is too early to predict what next year's class will be, Giese is optimistic that stepped-up recruitment efforts will pay off in a larger class. He envisions growth of about 30-40 students per year over the next five to ten years.

A major step was taken, according to Giese, in expanding diversity when he appointed Dr. William Coleman, a long time professor of communications, as assistant to the president for diversity affairs effective the 2006-07 academic year. Coleman will continue to teach courses in the communications department and will be responsible for identifying and implementing programs that will help the campus be more diverse.

Giese said that with ambitious plans ahead, fund-raising will be important. "In order to accomplish the many goals we have discussed, we need to enhance the financial strength of the College," Giese said. Increased goals in annual giving and an aggressive capital campaign loom, according to Giese.

"By being proactive to improve our campus and surrounding area, we will improve our image and reputation," Giese said. "As we work together, as a campus community partnering with our neighbors and city officials, all contributing in a synchronized and shared approach, we will move this college and community to unprecedented heights."

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