Invitation to Imagine 2023
State of the University • Jan. 11, 2018 • SDSU Alumni Center
Barry H. Dunn, President
Good afternoon everyone and thank you for being here! I trust you all had a wonderful Holiday break. I was hoping that the coldest, snowiest weather of the winter is behind us, but here we go again. I’m glad people can join us on-line as well as here in the Wooster Celebration Hall in our beautiful new Alumni Center. Thank you Andi Fouberg, President of our Alumni Association, for hosting us today.
In preparing for this afternoon, I had an opportunity to reflect on our past, consider the challenges we face, and imagine our future. I also had an opportunity to listen to a presentation by Dan Rykhus, President and CEO of Raven Industries. Dan talked about his leadership of Raven and described himself in that capacity as both a steward and an architect. What perfect metaphors for leadership; stewards and architects. Today, as we consider the State of State and discuss our new strategic plan, we too find ourselves both stewards of SDSU’s historical mission and accomplishments and architects of our future. What an awesome responsibility! What an exciting opportunity!
Imagine 2023; Aspire, Discover, Achieve, is the culmination of a year of work by literally hundreds of people, with input of approximately 2000 students, faculty, staff and stakeholders. It consisted of conferences, data gathering and engagement sessions, vision and goals conferences, as well as countless hours of reading, reviewing, preparing and finalizing our draft strategic plan document. On behalf of the entire campus community, thank you to those that served on the Strategic Planning Leadership Team and to everyone who participated! Would those of you who served on the Strategic Planning Leadership Team please stand and be recognized? Please join me in thanking them.
In the process of strategic planning, an inventory of resources and where an organization stands at a particular moment in time, is usually the first critical step. For today, it represents the stewardship part of our leadership. It typically includes an inventory of resources like financial, human and physical resources. However, for a 137-year-old public institution of Higher Education, the inventory needs to be more inclusive. We need to consider our legacy.
It is a tremendous asset. Think of the difference this university has made in the lives of its nearly 90,000 alumni, including; Governors, US congressmen and women, US Senators, state legislators and cabinet members, a Chief Justice of the SD Supreme Court, entrepreneurs, nurses, farmers, ranchers, homemakers, business leaders, educators, scientists and world class athletes and artists. In addition, let us include our Land Grant mission of outreach, education and discovery. Can you imagine an inventory of the impact on South Dakota by SDSU Extension or our Agricultural Experiment Station? My rough estimate is that over 100 plus years, 2 million young people have been positively impacted by 4H. And nearly every aspect of modern agriculture has its germ in the agriculture experiment station. We should also consider the impact of the services provided by countless other units of SDSU. Their collective impact is incalculable. However, intuitively one is in awe just thinking about it. In summary, since before statehood South Dakota State University has woven itself into our states history, culture, economy, and community.
Let us inventory our physical resources for a minute. Over the past 10 years, approximately a half a billion dollars of remodeling, repair and building has taken place on our 322 acre campus. And the 2018 legislature is considering another $80 million of new construction.
In addition, plans are being drawn for remodeling Lincoln, Pugsley and the Barn for academic purposes and Frost Arena. Looking forward down a path of continuous improvement, we will need to be both stewards and architects of the physical plant of our university. While we will may not see the level of construction we have in the recent past, we cannot stand still and let deferred maintenance or neglect erode our underlying capacity to achieve our goals. We must be diligent caretakers, thoughtful planners and advocates for responsible management.
From a human resource perspective, I am proud of, and grateful for, the dedication and hard work of our nearly 2,100 full time equivalent employees on campus and around the state. My concern is that over the last 10 fiscal years, we have received salary policy in only five of those. Given the societal expectations of us, which are very high, this is deeply troubling.
With the average US annual inflation rate over those same years of nearly 2%, it makes it very tough for all of our employees, especially considering that salary policy is merit based. Which in itself isn’t the problem, but without a sustained policy, is challenging. During my time as President of SDSU, I pledge that annual salary policy will be the number one priority of this university. I will work diligently to make the case to policy makers of the importance of a sustained commitment to provide a reasonable annual salary policy to university employees.
Also related to human resources but from a leadership perspective, we are in the midst of a lot of change. In March, we are excited to welcome to campus a new dean of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences, Dr. John Killefer. This week we are interviewing candidates for the Van D. and Barbara B Fishback Honors College. And we have active searches for the dean of the College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions and due to the retirement of Dean Lew Brown, the Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering.
We will have announcements on Wokini Director and Director of Institutional Research next week. And, as we announced in December, Dr. Jason Zimmerman has accepted the position as the interim Dean of the new College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and Dean Kinchel Doerner has accepted the position as the interim Dean of the new College of Natural Sciences. Please know that the candidate pools for our positions have been strong, which is a positive reflection on SDSU.
From a financial perspective, SDSU is on solid footing. It’s very important for you to know that. We exceed all of the South Dakota Board of Regents benchmarks and all audits done by the state have been clean.
In the past, I’ve reviewed with you that there are four primary sources of revenue for SDSU: Tuition and fees, State and Federal base funding, F&A from grants and contracts and philanthropic resources raised through the SDSU Foundation. At this point, state and federal base funding remains flat.
There is potential to increase F&A from grants and contracts and we will plan to do that, but we have hard work to do in order to build the momentum to capitalize on those opportunities. Our SDSU Foundation team has been extremely successful in raising critical funds for SDSU now and in the future. We’ll know the 2017 numbers next week, but in 2016 the Foundation raised nearly $57 million and in since the last campaign approximately $250 million, not including 2017.
But in summary, at this time, we are highly dependent on tuition and fees.
As a result, a critical part of Imagine 2023 is its strategic enrollment management plan. Its ultimate success is dependent on the actions of each and every one of us. While some of us will have specific responsibilities for enrollment, all of us have important jobs to do if we are to be successful in increasing the number of students graduating from SDSU. And that has been a goal for us for a long, long time. It’s our job!
And we can be successful in increasing enrollment. The demographics are in our favor. For the next ten years, the number of high school graduates in our region will increase. With 44 accredited academic programs and dozens of more offering valuable careers in a dynamic economy, we will attract students to SDSU. We continue to bring buildings on-line that improve the student experience on campus. Our expanded wellness center will be terrific and our new American Indian Student Center something to celebrate. The new Frost Arena practice gyms will dramatically improve opportunities for our basketball and volleyball student athletes.
From a brand identity and public perception perspective, this past year, two separate, independent surveys showed very positive results. The SD, the yellow and blue, and the campanile have very high favorables. And that brings us back to another strength of ours and that is our partnership with the SDSU Foundation. Highly efficient and effective, we have ask them to turn their focus to two specific areas; scholarships and faculty support. We need additional scholarships to be competitive.
Strengthening our faculty with additional support will pay dividends in terms faculty success, student success, economic development and intangible, but very real, aspects of our states culture and quality of life. The bottom-line, we are poised to grow!
But in the near term, we have a challenge. At this point in time, we have approximately the same number of admitted students as we did a year ago. And sadly, our enrollment last fall dropped. I want each of you to ask a simple question. What can I do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day to improve enrollment for fall of 2018? So please ask yourself, how can I increase student retention? How can I increase applicants and how can I help increase our yield of those admitted for fall 2018?
I asked myself that question yesterday and called Vice President Willis and ask if I could send a congratulatory letter to each admitted student. She paused and politely said, “Well, maybe it wouldn’t hurt too much.” No, she said she would discuss it with Shawn and get back to me. But seriously, what can I do? What can you do? This is critical. And it’s not someone else’s job. It is everyone’s job. It’s our attitude. It’s our messaging.
It’s our attention to detail. It’s our timeliness in responses. Its learning best practices from others. Its receptivity to change.
This I know for sure. We are very good at being who we are right now. But that’s really not an option. Regarding enrollment, we need to do some things differently and some things better.
As you would expect from an institution of Higher Ed, we should also inventory our academics as well as resources related to research, scholarship and creative activity. From an academic perspective, we have much to be proud of and certainly many things to be excited about. We exceeded our Impact 2018 goals for accredited programs and have a new degree in Business Economics. Pending BOR approval, we have 2 new academic colleges and didn’t break the bank to create them. With the new Performing Arts Center coming on line, the Harding Hall remodeling project being completed next summer, and the ADRDL project kicking off in spring, we will have additional faculty offices, classrooms, creative space for performances and research and a state of the art service unit for animal and human health.
The last thing I would like to review with you is our relationships with people and organizations outside our borders. I have a philosophy that whatever the state of the relationship, we can always do better. But we have strong, positive, relationships with our Alumni Association, The SDSU Foundation, the Brookings community, the Board of Regents and their staff, the Governor’s office, members of the South Dakota Legislature, our congressional delegation and their staffs in DC, and the business and ag community across South Dakota. And they are critical!
At the same time, we must aggressively market our contributions to our state in terms of tangible accomplishments and the efficient use of the investments made by the state, federal government, donors and our students and their families. There are five other public institutions, four tribal universities, four private institutions of Higher Ed and four technical schools in South Dakota. Post-secondary education is very competitive. In every comparable category, we can be, and should be, number one. From a quality and value perspective, we should expect nothing less from ourselves. In addition, our stakeholders and the state’s policy makers should fully understand and appreciate this.
Each of us needs to own that goal for our respective area: to have the best customer service as we serve students and stakeholders. To have the cleanest and most attractive campus. To have the best licensure exam scores and passage rates in fields where applicable. To be the hub of innovation and creativity in our region. To have the accomplishments of our alumni shine brightly across whatever stage they choose. And we must keep the Dakota Marker here in Brookings.
In summary, as we inventory our resources and where we are at the beginning of 2018, we have much to be proud of and a bright road ahead. Our legacy is strong. Our reputation is positive. Our campus is beautiful. Our academics are strong and dynamic. Our athletic teams are successful and a point of pride. We will always be challenged with financial resources, but with solid management, stewardship and creative fundraising, they can be addressed. We are good stewards!
We have challenges related to enrollment. But as I mentioned before, we will soon have a strategic, holistic enrollment management plan. And if we rally around it, accept responsibility, act with purpose and as a team, I have every confidence that we will meet our goals.
Now that we have inventoried our resources, let’s be architects! Let’s us turn to our examining some of the critical parts of Imagine 2023.
An institution’s core values are foundations of success and critical in achieving an envisioned future. The core values that emerged from the strategic planning process are:
These are so very, very important, because they represent choices that we have made about who we are as a community and what we value.
We have chosen, as a campus community, to focus on the success and health of one-another to be people-centered. We have chosen to make creativity a cornerstone of what we value. Our pledge is that in all of our work and relationships, honesty and professionalism will be integral to how we act. Diversity will not be based on political correctness or expediency, but who we are. And excellence will be foundational to our work, our relationships, and our service. These 5 core values are the foundations of Imagine 2023 we can be very proud of them.
As we review the Mission Statement, by definition it should concentrate on the present and identify our customers, critical processes, and inform the reader about the desired level of performance.
“South Dakota State University offers a rich academic experience in an environment of inclusion and access through inspired, student-centered education, creative activities and research, innovation and engagement that improve the quality of life in South Dakota, the region, the nation, and the world.
It clearly meets the mark and describes us very well.
Finally the Vison Statement. A vision statement focuses on the future and provides inspiration and motivation.
“South Dakota State University will be a premier land-grant university recognized for high value, innovation, and bold impact.”
To be honest, I do not believe we, as an entire campus community, have ever sought to be a premier land-grant university before this day. Certainly, some have and I am grateful for their excellent work and leadership. Now we all are. This is a big deal! We probably won’t be one of the largest land grants. We will probably won’t receive the most grant dollars in the land grant system. However, we have decided to be a premier institution. That is heady stuff. Synonyms for premier are; leading, foremost, chief, and principal. In many areas we already are leading and foremost, but in some areas we have room to grow and improve. With Imagine 2023, we will.
So let’s look at the architecture in more detail:
Goals & Strategies
Goal 1: Achieve Excellence Through Transformative Education
1. Attain academic excellence.
2. Affirm student success as a foundational University priority.
3. Increase recruitment, retention, and graduation of professionally prepared global citizens.
Goal 2: Cultivate and Strengthen Community Engagement
1. Enhance the academic and work environments of the University by fostering a culture of service, servant leadership, and inclusive excellence among faculty, staff, and students.
2. Grow the University’s external engagement through extension, collaborative service, community outreach, alumni relations, and public-private partnerships that enhance the quality of life in South Dakota and beyond.
Goal 3: Foster Innovation and Increase Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity (RSCA)
1. Strengthen the leadership and personnel infrastructure for innovation, RSCA, and economic development to serve the state, region, nation, and world.
2. Increase, optimize, and align the physical resources and investments for innovation, RSCA, and economic development.
3. Create an institutional culture of communicating and branding SDSU RSCA and its achievements, outcomes, and impacts to the full scope of stakeholder and peer communities.
Goal 4: Be a Growing, High-Performing and Healthy University
1. Infuse core values throughout all levels of the University.
2. Grow and sustain financial resources aligned with the mission of SDSU.
3. Structure the University’s resources to achieve strategic priorities.
Now I’d like to ask Provost Hedge and Vice President Willis to join me and discuss how the feedback we received before the Holidays was incorporated into the plan and the next steps we have before us.
Thank you Dennis and Michaela! On behalf of the entire university thank you for your leadership over this past year on this important project.
During my inaugural address I discussed with you my vision for SDSU and I quoted the French author Antoine du Saint Exupree who one said:
“If you want to build a boat, do not instruct the men to saw wood, stitch the sails, prepare the tools and organize the work. But make them long for setting sail and travel to distant lands.”
As we implement Imagine 2023, aspire, discover, achieve, in the summer of 2018, I need you to be involved and actively working with your staff and others across the university to ensure our new strategic plan is successful! I need all of you to inspire those that you work with to set sail for distant lands. To set sail for Imagine 2023. This will be an important leadership opportunity for you. For all of us!
From the outset of the implementation of the Imagine 2023, we must be honest and frank with each other when challenges arise, as they certainly will, and commit ourselves to move forward together with solutions. Moreover, when we reach our goals, and we will, we will have reached them together!
Thank you so much for coming today! I have just one more thing.
For me, the highlight of every Monday morning is the Monday Morning Message and seeing who is being recognized as going “Above and Beyond.” We’ve recognized groups now for over year. We must have 70 or so alumni groups of this recognition, but I know we have many, many more to focus on. From the bottom of my heart, to all of you, thank you for going above and beyond!