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Hammond sets theme for FHSU's new year

8/16/2012

Special to The Hays Daily News

Special to The Hays Daily News

Edward H. Hammond, president of Fort Hays State University, unveiled "Average is Over" as the theme for the 2012-13 academic year during his address Wednesday at the annual fall convocation.

"We know it was true in the past that students, faculty and staff of colleges and universities throughout our country with just average skills, and doing just an average job, could find success," Hammond said. "That is no longer true. Today, average is over."

He said FHSU chose to be different by pursuing excellence.

"Our task is to change our community, change our state and change our world," he said. "Our performance results are clearly not only above average but ones that achieve true excellence in education."

In his State of the University address, Hammond cited the Hanover Research Study, which found that to be successful universities need four things to take place. "First, institutions had to be successful in increasing student enrollment while populations stabilize or decline," he said. "Second, successful institutions had to create new on-campus and online programs to respond to the needs of their constituents as well as business and industry. Third, institutions need to focus on a larger geographical area. Fourth, successful institutions need to find increased private support and new ways to generate revenue."

Hammond noted that FHSU was a leader in all the categories.

"Not only did we grow overall, but we grew on-campus, online and internationally," he said. "Our strategic plan redefined our geographical area from just the state of Kansas to include an area that runs from the Eisenhower Tunnel to the west to the Truman Library to the east. And our successful Cornerstone Campaign, which raised more than $68 million in the last three years, has provided the resources we need to build new facilities and to continue to stress quality in a time of shrinking state support."

Hammond said the growth was the result of emphasis on quality and also keeping a competitive price point.

"If you look at this year's tuition, 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. "Nor is the FHSU faculty an average faculty. Our students also have proved that they are above average."

He pointed to several examples that show FHSU is achieving excellence:

* Seth Albin, an accounting graduate of the College of Business and Entrepreneurship, was one of more than 200,000 students who took the CPA exam. His score placed him in the top 10 individuals in the nation.

* The Financial Planning Team again won the national championship.

* Students in the Physics Department have been recognized nationally for their research in laser biophysics.

* Students in the Department of Art and Design, under the leadership of Professor Chaiwat Thumsujarit, continue to dominate the art director's competitions for graphic design performance.

* Faculty in the College of Education and Technology continue to produce top teachers who receive many local and statewide honors.

* Professor Eric Gillock and his fellow faculty members in the College of Health and Life Sciences also have been innovative and creative in their support of excellence. Gillock was a driving force behind the development of the Western Kansas Center for Biotechnology and Bioinformatics.

Hammond noted FHSU is the fastest-growing four-year institution, with nearly 13,000 students on last official 20th day count.

Hammond also took exception to criticism that a large part of FHSU's growth came from serving students who are not Kansans.

"That statement isn't entirely true," he said. "Our growth in serving Kansans was almost 20 percent, while three of our 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.

"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," Hammond added. "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."