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A brand-new attitude

8/15/2014

By ELIZABETH GOLDEN

By ELIZABETH GOLDEN

egolden@dailynews.net

This is the year of new beginnings. This is the year of new traditions. This is the year Fort Hays State University President Mirta Martin began her first convocation by introducing the university to a new era -- one filled with changes on the continued path to forward thinking and world readiness.

She asked faculty members to donate a non-perishable food item as a price of admittance to the convocation. That was a change from previous years -- one of many new beginnings to come.

Almost all seats were filled in Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center as Martin greeted guests entering the building.

Martin began at FHSU on July 1. She followed Edward Hammond, who retired after almost three decades of service.

"We're sharing our campus with a new class of students," she said as she began her State of the University address Thursday morning.

Thursday also marked move-in day for residential life.

"We will welcome our new students. We will educate them. We will nurture them," she said. "And we will graduate them into a world that hardly resembles the world we knew when we graduated some years ago."

Martin cited statistics, saying 71 percent of jobs in Kansas require education beyond high school.

"The students' futures and the future of Kansas depends on our skills and our commitment," Martin said. "It will depend on our skills, our willingness and our ability to be flexible; to explore new ways of working smarter, not harder, using 21st-century technologies. They depend on the work we do together as a family. I cannot think of a better team or family to meet this challenge."

Martin was born in Cuba, raised in Spain and immigrated to the U.S.

"A journey like that stays with you, shapes you and guides your perspective on practically everything," she said. "The gift that journey gave me is an unshakable belief in the American dream, the exceptional combination of determination, hard work and opportunity that allows anyone -- everyone -- in this country to shape his or her future. I've never known a more empowering idea. My own story and many other stories are affirmations that the American dream is alive and well."

Martin said she is inspired by FHSU and its commitment to 21st-century technology and online learning.

"While other universities have gilded their ivory towers, Fort Hays State University has erected two wind turbines," she said. "Those turbines represent a successful strategy that lowers the college's energy costs, saving about $1 million a year. That's 21st-century thinking."

This year, 24 new faculty positions were added, ensuring the university's commitment to educating the next generation of leaders.

"Our creativity and openness to innovation, our ability to ensure that we offer high-quality education," Martin said, "that's how we will meet the needs of the students, employers and communities that we serve. That's how we will grow the reputation of FHSU as a difference-maker. That's 21st-century thinking. That's how we will protect, promote and provide that American dream for those who wish to pursue it here."

She asked all faculty, staff and alumni to represent FHSU by displaying Tiger tags and other FHSU decals on their vehicles.

"With 800 faculty and staff, and 68,000 alumni," Martin said, "imagine the branding impact we will make across the country and across this great state of Kansas."

Martin said she prays this year is filled with new beginnings to energize the incoming class and inspire all faculty, staff and students.

"Today we embark on a new beginning," Martin said. "Let's build FHSU into a university of the future. A university that is an inspiration to the Tiger nation, and an aspiration for those who have yet to join our family. We are world ready and forward thinking. We are the Tiger nation. We are family. We are FHSU."