State of the University Presentation
Good afternoon. Thank you all for being here today.
I want to welcome all of our faculty, administrators, and staff who are joining us today. And I also want to extend a special welcome to any students who are here today.
We’re delighted you’re here! On campus! And in person!
I want to extend a very special welcome to those of you who are new to campus this fall. Welcome to Purdue University Fort Wayne! We are so happy that you joined us during this most unusual year. Could anyone who is new to campus this fall please stand and be recognized?
Thank you. Please be seated.
Likewise, I’d like to welcome those of you who are joining us via livestreaming today. Thank you for joining us, as well.
You’ll be hearing updates from members of our executive leadership team today. I’d like to take a moment to introduce and recognize them. Colleagues, please stand and remain standing as I introduce you:
- Carl Drummond, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
- Krissy Creager, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and the Student Experience
- Glen Nakata, Vice Chancellor for Financial and Administrative Affairs
- Jerry Lewis, Vice Chancellor for Communications and Marketing
- MarTeze Hammonds, Chief Diversity Officer
Thank you. Please be seated.
It’s hard to believe, and hard to conceive, that we are beginning a second fall semester amid the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. To the extent possible, we have attempted to bring many campus operations back to something resembling “normal” this fall, which seems extraordinary, given what our university, our campus, and our students have been through during the past 18 months.
But we have persevered. We have adapted. We have learned. We have innovated. And I firmly believe we are beginning to emerge from all of this as a university that is stronger, wiser, and more intently focused on its mission.
I want to begin today by expressing my deepest thanks to everyone in the university community for the dedication and creativity you have exhibited as we have responded to the pandemic. I know it has not been easy, and I know it’s not over yet.
But I want you to know how proud and humbled I am that our faculty and staff have rallied so enthusiastically to ensure that our students still have every opportunity to pursue their education and work toward their degree.
I also want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the direct impact that COVID-19 has had on many of you, your families, and your friends. I know many of you have lost loved ones to the virus. I’d like to ask that we all observe a moment of silence in honor and remembrance of those individuals who have been affected by this terrible pandemic.
As we continue to remain vigilant against Coronavirus and its variants—indeed, a pandemic that is not yet behind us—I hope that we will also continue to explore new ways to improve our university and to make Purdue Fort Wayne an attractive first choice for prospective students and their families.
While it seems like ancient history now, the historic campus realignment that created Purdue University Fort Wayne was just over three years ago. Much of our new era as Purdue Fort Wayne has been shrouded in the pandemic. And while it has impacted our university in so many ways, it doesn’t have to define us.
As we pause today to celebrate our accomplishments during the past 18 months, let’s also look ahead to elevating our university to new heights.
As we all look hopefully toward an end to this pandemic, let’s also look to the future of our university. Working together, I know we can build an institution known for the quality of its academic programs, the success of its students, the passion of its alumni, the generosity of its donors, and the unwavering support of the community it serves. And for that, I am thankful.
The Purdue brand is recognized and respected around the world. During the past 18 months, we have aligned even closer to Purdue and the considerable value and recognition that comes with that relationship. We must capitalize on the significant equity the Purdue name carries and continue to realize our potential as an important part of the prestigious Purdue system.
Let me take a moment to provide updates on just a few significant recent university initiatives and accomplishments. And my colleagues will be reporting in more detail on some of these topics, as well.
Many universities across the nation—in particular, regional public universities—are struggling with continuing declines in student enrollment. Purdue Fort Wayne is no exception.
Our fall enrollment of new students is better than we had projected, given the impact COVID-19 has had across the country. However, the absence of growth— coupled with continued declines in returning student retention—have not helped us achieve the robust enrollment growth that is critical to meeting our financial needs and aspirations for our students.
Undergraduate student enrollment this fall is down 8.8 percent; however, graduate student enrollment is up 4.1 percent. We achieved strong growth in international students with an increase of 43.9 percent in undergraduate international student credit hours and an increase of 142 percent in international graduate student credit hour production.
While overall enrollment remains a challenge, we realized significant gains in new undergraduate students from out of state and via the Midwest Student Exchange Program, with nearly a 30 percent increase in credit hour production from out of state students and a 10 percent increase from in-state students outside of the Fort Wayne area.
Central to our enrollment challenges is our ability to retain students once they’re here. We simply can’t recruit enough students to fill the gap created by students who leave the university after completing their first or second year. This has hindered our growth.
This is not one person’s problem or one department’s problem. It’s something we must all actively work to improve. We must provide a welcoming and supportive environment, and we must offer the programs, services, and infrastructure our students need and deserve to support them.
In January, we reorganized our undergraduate recruitment efforts and created an office of Enrollment Management and the Student Experience—formerly Student Affairs—under the direction of Vice Chancellor Dr. Krissy Creager. You’ll hear an update from her shortly.
We are also continuing our intensive focus to realign and strengthen early undergraduate student advising and its impact on student retention. Vice Chancellor Dr. Carl Drummond will discuss those initiatives in just a few minutes.
Additionally, we have developed and deployed new approaches to recruiting, especially for undergraduate students. Vice Chancellor Jerry Lewis will provide a glimpse into the progress on our complete student-friendly website redesign and the success of our Digital Advertising Campaign.
Our recruitment and retention issues will not be solved overnight, but we need to step up our efforts. I want to thank everyone across the university who continues to work so hard on this top priority.
Recruiting talented faculty and staff to the university is essential to creating an environment where new ideas and new knowledge can flourish. Even during the pandemic, we have continued to attract new faculty, administrators, and staff to the university.
For instance, this fall we welcomed 13 tenure-track faculty, seven clinical faculty, three lecturers, and 20 returning visiting faculty. We continue to attract new faculty who are at the top of their field and who complement the expertise of our existing faculty.
We received a tremendous boost in this respect earlier this year when the Indiana Legislature approved a $4.85 million appropriation for Purdue Fort Wayne to invest in faculty recruitment in three important areas. We are grateful to President Mitch Daniels and the Purdue Board of Trustees for their support of this important initiative.
Likewise, we have welcomed new administrators and staff who also bring tremendous skill, expertise, and insight to the university. These new colleagues bring fresh perspectives and ideas that contribute immensely to the life of the university community.
In fact, three new senior leaders were announced over the summer. Dr. Janet Badia was named dean of the new College of Liberal Arts, and Dr. Ron Friedman was named dean of the new College of Science.
We also welcomed Glen Nakata as Vice Chancellor for Financial and Administrative Affairs. You’ll hear from him for the first time in just a few minutes.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that Purdue Fort Wayne is, first and foremost, an organization of great people. We must value and nourish our dedicated faculty and staff by creating a supportive intellectual environment that ensures the fullest engagement of our students, so they can succeed, flourish, and graduate.
Just prior to the pandemic, we completed the university’s comprehensive strategic planning process. On a parallel track, we also developed the next iteration of the university’s campus master plan. Both of these completed plans were presented to the Purdue University Board of Trustees.
With so many distractions, it might have been easy to drift from our strategic plan. Instead, we have actually made significant progress.
A top priority of the plan was to hire the university’s first Chief Diversity Officer and create an Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. As you know, we passed that milestone in December with the hiring of MarTeze Hammonds as our Chief Diversity Officer. Dr. Hammonds and his team are making tremendous progress, which you’ll hear more about from him in just a few minutes. Dr. Hammonds has been a superb addition to our leadership team, and our DEI efforts both on and off campus.
Other priorities of the strategic plan are also making progress, especially in the areas of Quality of Place and Student Success. And you will hear more about that soon.
We are also in the early stages of beginning implementation of our Campus Master Plan, which envisions campus growth and development for the next 30 years. For those of you familiar with the plan, key drivers of the plan are enrollment growth, enhancing the student experience, and promoting academic excellence in response to regional needs.
While in the short term, Purdue Fort Wayne has been experiencing enrollment declines, one thing has remained constant. Our student housing has been at full capacity for the past four fall semesters.
Providing new student housing on campus is critical to our ability to continue to recruit more students from outside the region—including international students—and we are actively exploring options and solutions to meet this pressing need for our region.
And, finally, we have two important fundraising initiatives that we are striving to bring to conclusion. We need to fully fund the purchase and renovation of the Doermer Business Building. And we need to fund the remaining costs associated with our entry into the Horizon League last year. We engaged in these not long ago, and we are now very close on completing both of these.
Additionally, we are developing funding strategies for a new music technology building on campus to house our growing music industry, popular music, and music technology programs. These programs are among our most popular offerings. In fact, we have already outgrown the current facility out at the Sweetwater corporate campus.
Well, that’s just a brief overview of some of the university’s activities and initiatives.
My colleagues will now give brief updates on how their areas have excelled during the pandemic and what their priorities are for the immediate future.
To get us started, I’d like to welcome Dr. Carl Drummond to provide updates in Academic Affairs.
Good afternoon. First, I must take this opportunity to thank everyone for the extraordinary efforts that have been made over the past 18 months to advance our institution’s core mission of student success.
Through the hard work, dedication, flexibility, and creativity of our faculty and support staff we have overcome the greatest challenge our university has faced. For all the extra hours, all the special efforts, for the endless online meetings, indeed for focusing on the difficult task of teaching and facilitating learning against all obstacles, I give you my most sincere thanks.
The professionalism you have displayed is inspirational. Carrying on with our mission of creating and transmitting knowledge has been, without doubt, our greatest accomplishment but not the only one achieved this year. While so much effort and energy went into the challenges of teaching in new modalities there remained many other tasks to complete. I am pleased to highlight a few of those most impactful accomplishments.
In response to the challenges created by the pandemic, the Office of Academic Affairs has, from March of 2020 to the present, issued a series of memoranda. These documents were created to establish policy and provide guidance as well as to provide an historical account of the university’s response to the challenges of the pandemic and as such they will be an invaluable resource should the university face a major disruption in the future. I would like to thank the Senate Leadership, the members of the Educational Policy Committee, and the Academic Officers Committee for their input into the creation of these documents.
Under the skillful leadership of Kent Johnson, the University successfully completed its reaffirmation of accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission. While this was an institutional accreditation the advances made in the assessment of student learning, the rigor and relevance of our academic programs, and the qualifications of our faculty were recognized by HLC as exemplary. University accreditation has evolved from a decadal snapshot of institutional activity to an ongoing process of continuous improvement. Therefore, I strongly encourage the Fort Wayne Senate to take this opportunity to establish a new standing committee for institutional accreditation, the purpose of which would be to represent the faculty and their interests throughout the accreditation cycle.
After extensive discussion and planning, the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Science were established. A great deal of thanks goes to the transition leadership teams of both new colleges for their extensive efforts to ensure a smooth and successful organizational change. The founding Deans, Janet Badia and Ron Friedman, bring experience and enthusiasm to their new positions and I wish them and all members of the new colleges the very best. Accompanying those changes was the organizational realignment of the departments that formally made of the College of Professional Studies. As part of these changes, the School of Education has also been elevated to a stand-alone school, under the expert leadership of Isabel Nunez.
I am deeply appreciative of the flexibility, creativity, and optimism the faculty and staff of those departments have demonstrated throughout the transition. These several changes will open new doors for collaboration and growth of programs that are important to the future of Northeast Indiana.
Throughout this past year and half there has been major changes enacted by the Student Information Systems and Registrar teams.
Most importantly we completed the teach-out of Indiana University degree programs and this spring’s commencement marked the last joint IU and Purdue graduation ceremony. In collaboration with IT Services the new Learning Management System Brightspace was successfully piloted and launched. I am pleased with the integration of this important tool into the educational experiences of our students. In collaboration with Financial Aid we launched “course program of study” tracking in myBlueprint. Student success is dependent upon both success in the classroom as well as the wise and appropriate use of financial aid resources. By tracking academic progress against the defined course program of study, students, with the help of their advisors, can make good decisions and minimize debt. Another important change has been the creation of the capacity for students to enter a preferred name within Banner. Providing students with this opportunity for self-identification is a welcome and welcoming step in our university’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
A clearly stated goal of our strategic plan (Student Success Goal 3.1) was to launch a coordinated and centralized advising organization to provide outstanding, consistent, and complete advisement for students throughout the first year. I wish to express my thanks for the hundreds of people hours invested by a dedicated group of faculty and staff that conducted an analysis of various advising models. In particular I wish to thank the patient yet firm leadership provided by Kim Myers and Brett Wilkinson. In addition to implementing the task force’s recommendations for a centralized advising structure, a group of faculty and staff from across the university have come together under the leadership of David Cochran to apply systems engineering practices to the analysis of student success. Our Bursar Mike Schmaltz and Director of Financial Aid Doug Hess along with their teams have partnered with the Advising team to coordinate the flow of students among these offices. I especially offer my thanks to Professor Noor Borbieva for her ongoing support, participation, and leadership of this transformational project.
Finally, I would like to share an update on an exciting project funded by the Lilly Endowment. In collaboration with Mark Ward the Director of the Data Mine and the Office of the Provost in West Lafayette, we are partners in a grant to advance the pipeline of students with significant experience in data analytics to the Indiana workforce. A total of $1.4 million dollars in grant funding will be directed to our campus over the next several years to support faculty and student research collaborations as well to build corporate internship pathways. This project, locally under the direction of Peter Dragnev and Alessandro Selvitella (Sell – vi – tella) from the department of Mathematical Sciences is the largest curricular grant ever received by our campus – by several orders of magnitude.
There is no question this academic year will pose significant challenges. The pandemic is far from over. Our academic and personal lives have not returned to normal. I am fully confident, however, that all of you will apply the lessons learned over the past 18 months to improve teaching and learning. Your dedication in the face of these challenges is praiseworthy and I wish you all the very best for the new school year.
It is now my pleasure to introduce my colleague, Dr. Krissy Creager, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and the Student Experience.
As Chancellor mentioned earlier, we became one Division of Enrollment Management and the Student Experience in January of this year. Our team is built on and committed to four tenants: identity, belonging, support, and engagement.
Our Divisional Strategic Plan aspirational pillars are to:
- Advance student personal and professional development
- Champion diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Engage our students and
- Ignite campus pride
Our goal is to create, sustain and advance a seamless student lifecycle from pre-enrollment to career placement and I am so proud of the incredible team who works tirelessly to challenge, support and celebrate students day in and day out.
While I’m sure you join me in standing up here wishing we didn’t have to talk about COVID-19 and its impact any longer, masks are still a thing, and COVID’s influence on our work is real. However, I stand here proudly and say I look back at last academic year and I see a myriad of successes to celebrate!
The first – engagement. Unlike the other Purdue System campuses, we continued to offer a hybrid of safe, accessible, supportive, and fun programs for our students. Through 237 programs from the Career Development Center to Student Life & Leadership, to Wellness & Recreation, to Student Housing, and beyond, thousands of students participated - 26,786 times to be exact – that’s right, nearly 27,000 student swipes into programs, and all under budget!
Second, Student Housing. I cannot say enough about this team of professionals – they were the one area that absolutely couldn’t go virtual and couldn’t close their doors throughout the pandemic. We maintained 90% occupancy throughout the last academic year, made daily phone calls to quarantined students, delivered hundreds of meals and supplies, and ensured we addressed as many wellness needs as possible to keep our residents safe and secure. And, happily, we did so without any reported COVID-19 outbreak – thank you apartment style housing!
With last year behind us, we turn to celebrating some early wins thus far this year.
First, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, the Office of International Education, Graduate Studies, and Financial Aid should be congratulated for recruiting against all odds – seriously! At census, we celebrated a 32% increase in international student headcount and a 6% increase in out of state student headcount. That means, 14% of our student population this academic year are not from Indiana – not a simple feat for a regional university in the face of a global pandemic!
Additionally, our Financial Aid team awarded $16.9M in aid this fall – that’s a 10+ year record and, in the face of continued federal and state changes, one incredible lift!
Second, we celebrate the highest occupancy ever in Student Housing, with 1,328 heads in beds between our rooms on the Waterfield Campus and in our leased beds at St. Joe Place. Additionally, these students are engaging in record numbers and staying out of trouble in record numbers (knock on wood) with a 50% decline in Housing conduct cases year to date. I don’t know about you, but I know the opening slide depicting what new housing on-campus could look like gives me butterflies and great optimism for the future of our campus!
Third, as Chancellor referenced enrollment to begin today’s presentation, it remains our top priority to yield additional high school and transfer students. Breaking down the last undergraduate new student enrollment cycle further will show a few points of pride and areas of growth. We had:
- 8,653 students start an application
- We admitted 5,749 students for a 86% admit rate, maintaining access while increasing the selectivity ever-so-slightly continuing the Titan to Mastodon Program dual enrolling students with a 2.0-2.29 GPA with them beginning at Ivy Tech.
- In the craziness of COVID, those numbers are to be celebrated!
- An area of growth, however, is yield. We yielded less than 34% of our admits. This is where a new leadership team in Undergraduate Admissions will pick up on the great work done before us and work diligently, as an institution-wide effort, to increase yield beginning immediately with this spring enrollment cycle.
Finally, we hope you will join us in continuing to promote, encourage, and expect co-curricular engagement as a critical component of student retention. We have already seen over 8,000 check-ins at programming throughout the first 3 weeks and we are hearing from students that these opportunities, building friendships, and being connected to their university matters more now than ever before! The Fall Programming Guide provides hundreds of opportunities for you to bring your students, and continue to foster identity, belonging, support, and engagement right along with us.
On the support side, we have 100 more students seeking services through our new and greatly improved Disability Access Center, a 30% increase in students seeking mental health counseling through our Student Assistance Program, and a steady stream of students visiting the Dean of Student’s Office to seek counsel and resolve conflict at the lowest possible level.
I am extremely grateful for an administrative team that joins us in these efforts to challenge, support and celebrate students and it is my privilege to introduce to you – and many of you for the first time, my new friend and distinguished colleague, Glen Nakata.
Thank you Dr. Creager.
I’d like to thank Chancellor Elsenbaumer and the leadership team for giving me the opportunity to be part of the Mastodon Family.
Over the last 6 weeks, I’ve learned how focused and dedicated Purdue Fort Wayne is by providing a safe and enjoyable learning environment and ensuring our students have the necessary tools to succeed.
I’d like to now share how Financial and Administrative Affairs has supported the students, faculty and staff of this university over the last year.
We have worked very hard enhancing our collaborations and partnerships both on and off the Fort Wayne campus.
For example, our Human Resources group worked with our sister campuses in West Lafayette and Northwest to share support services and resources and to create consistent practices on how best to navigate the challenges of the pandemic.
They also hosted Mask-A-Don mask distribution days which entailed gathering volunteers, setting-up event locations and making sure people received enough masks.
The Facilities Management department worked with our Procurement group to acquire and distribute Personal Protective Equipment to faculty, staff and students to ensure a safe campus environment.
The majority of the Facilities staff remained on site at all times to ensure the operations of our campus went uninterrupted.
Our Information Technology Services group enhanced our remote working and learning capabilities and it allowed us to pivot from an on-campus presence to fully remote.
They accomplished this by converting computer labs so they could be accessed remotely by students and equipped classrooms with webcams and microphones to support the streaming of classes.
Purdue Fort Wayne’s Police Department worked with other government entities to provide them with Personal Protective Equipment and in turn received we received much needed masks for our campus community.
They also worked with our West Lafayette campus and private partners here in Fort Wayne to hold virtual and joint training exercises to enhance their proficiencies and minimize their costs.
The 2020-2021 year marked the inaugural season for Purdue Fort Wayne Athletics as a member of the Horizon League. This new affiliation meant our student-athletes spent less time traveling and provided more time for them to focus on studying and training for their respective sports.
Our student-athletes’ success continued in the classroom this past year with a 3.22 cumulative GPA, marking the 18th consecutive year they have earned an average above 3.0. They did so often times learning in the “virtual space” and with fewer resources than a “normal” year.
The men’s basketball program undertook an initiative to encourage all-student athletes to register to vote. Each member of the team adopted a different program at Purdue Fort Wayne to help facilitate the registration process for those student-athletes. The team also participated in a social justice social media campaign.
And lastly, our Athletics Department, in conjunction with our new Horizon League partners, safely hosted the 2020-2021 Indoor Track and Field Championships in our Athletic Center Fieldhouse.
In addition to enhancing our partnerships, we’ve also implemented new initiatives over the last year.
The Information Technology Services group brought a new VOIP telephone system online in just under 15 months when the standard implementation time is four years.
Our Procurement department worked with our new food service vendor, Aladdin Food Management Services, to bring them into our campus venues. Aladdin became a welcomed partner by providing numerous faculty and staff appreciation meals and providing food for students in our housing facilities.
Facilities Management instituted new standards and procedures for improved health and safety on campus.
For example, they have enhanced the air handling in buildings to increase the frequency of the air exchanges and installed higher-efficiency filters.
They also installed new cleaning and sanitation stations in all classrooms and large study/gathering areas and have also implemented stringent inspection guidelines throughout the campus.
Moving forward, we have set two major priorities for ourselves.
The first being strengthening our collaborations and providing greater transparency across campus.
These two initiatives go hand in hand and have been hallmarks for me during my career in higher education.
We will be working to build and strengthen our partnerships throughout the University and provide people the information they need so they are able to make the best decisions on resource allocation.
The second priority is Strategic Financial Thinking.
We will continue to implement budgets that are attainable and provide the necessary resources to meet the mission, core values and aspirations of the university.
We will also be implementing a more rigorous analysis of financial decisions and examining both the financial and non-financial benefits of utilizing resources.
We will use metrics that will help us to better understand the implications of our decisions and benchmark ourselves against other institutions.
I’d now like to introduce my colleague Jerry Lewis, Vice Chancellor for Communications and Marketing.
Thank you, Glen. And good afternoon, everyone.
For the past 18 months during the pandemic, our team in Communications and Marketing has been working in a sustained crisis communications mode. Managing crisis communications through a period of a few weeks or even a few months at a university is not terribly unusual. But 18 months is virtually unheard of, especially with the intensity and life-threatening nature of a pandemic.
Communicating with our campus community as well as the broader community has been critical during the pandemic. During the past 18 months alone, our office has distributed an incredible 378 campus-wide email messages and updates.
From the outset, we created and maintained a PFW Prepared, now PFW Ready, website to provide important information to our university community and beyond. We also have managed dozens and dozens of media inquiries and interviews related to the university’s preparation and operations. And we have effectively used our social media platforms to further engage and inform our stakeholders.
We have an extremely talented and creative team that has expertly managed crisis communications while also developing and launching a number of critically important initiatives I’d like to share with you.
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, we had just begun work on a university brand and identity refresh. It would have been easy to hit the pause button and put it off. However, working closely with our colleagues at West Lafayette and the branding agency we share with them, Ologie, we continued moving forward with the project.
Last fall, that partnership culminated in a refreshed university identity and marketing strategy that ladders up directly to the Purdue brand.
We also worked with Ologie to develop the framework for an enrollment marketing campaign that has now been in market for the past year. All undergraduate recruitment materials have been designed and created in the new brand.
The campaign is driven by integrated content and tactics, sophisticated metrics and analytics, and tangible results that will help drive enrollment and revenue.
As part of the new marketing campaign, we developed a highly successful digital advertising campaign last year aimed at prospective students. Most of you probably haven’t seen it because you’re not the target audience.
But trust us. It’s out there, and it’s working.
Our data confirms that the ad campaign resulted in 2,311 applications for admission to Purdue Fort Wayne this past year. That’s 27 percent of all applications to the university. The reach of this campaign has been well beyond Indiana, generating web traffic, inquiries, and applications nationally and internationally.
With this significant success, it seemed like a no-brainer for us to direct the bulk of our central advertising budget this year toward digital advertising.
Concurrent with the development of our new brand platform, the Office of Communications and Marketing also has adopted a digital first strategy. This is a best practice that positions the university’s website as the hub of all information and activity.
Research shows that our website is the primary place prospective students and their families look to for information, and we need to leverage it to its maximum potential.
Last year, as part of this digital first strategy, we initiated a comprehensive redesign and redevelopment of the site. Central to our challenge was that the website had suffered from a lack of institutional attention, focus, and investment for the past 10 to 15 years.
Key aspects of the completely reimagined website include a complex array of underlying technology enhancements, feeds, and features that will ensure an outstanding user experience.
We also made the decision to follow West Lafayette’s lead and adopt Drupal as our content management system.
Working alongside our agency partner, Ologie, we have been developing the content strategy, central systems, and technology interdependencies necessary to create an engaging, sustainable university website.
Since last December, we have been working closely with each of the colleges and schools to re-envision the university’s academic websites. Additionally, we also have initiated redesigned sites for admissions, advising, and transfer students.
Getting all this right puts the university on the right path and platform for years to come.
Going forward, Communications and Marketing will be focusing on a handful of critical initiatives and priorities, especially those that support digital-first strategies.
First, we are taking a critical look at how we set and achieve communications and marketing priorities. We have a small team, so we simply cannot be all things to all people. However, by focusing on the top priorities, we can continue to create a first-rate program that generates benefits for every area of the university.
Our priorities will be aligned with the university’s top priorities and will focus on activities that generate revenue, reputation, and engagement.
Second, everything we do will be rooted in metrics and analytics. Forbes magazine recently reported that, in just the past five years, marketing organizations have become technology organizations. One of our first questions has become: “How do we measure performance to gauge success?”
We will be using a number of tools and dashboards that we currently have at our disposal to measure social media engagement, earned media reach, and website traffic and behavior.
And finally, we take our role as the university’s story-tellers very seriously. Our true passion is telling the university’s story in compelling ways. It is imperative that we continue to seek out and tell the many wonderful stories of our students, our faculty, our staff, and our alumni.
Our team is dedicated to finding and telling the distinct stories that exist at this amazing university.
I’m pleased to welcome my colleague, Dr. MarTeze Hammonds, Chief Diversity Officer for Purdue Fort Wayne.
Grand day all! I am hyena happy and peacock proud to stand before you as your inaugural chief diversity officer. Joining the Mastodon family late last year (December 2020), while most of you were working and/or attending classes virtually, I moved from sunny warm Dallas, Texas to a bit more colder December Fort Wayne, Indiana. Since my arrival nearly nine months ago, the newly created university’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) unit, has been quite busy. I like to say PROGRESS…NOT PREFERCTION.
Special thanks to Chancellor Elsenbaumer, executive team, the entire Mastodon family and Greater Fort Wayne community for entrusting me with leading PFW’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Enough about me, let’s look at answering three questions: 1) What has ODEI been doing over the pandemic? 2) What are we currently doing? and 3) What are we looking to do in the future?
What have we been doing?
Let me begin by sharing that the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Unit is made up of the following departments: Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs (ODMA), The Q Center (name change from The LGBTQ Resource Center, The Women’s Center (name change from the Center for Women and Returning Adults), TRIO Student Support Services and TRIO Upward Bound 1 & 2 programs.
I commend these departments for remaining focused on supporting our students through virtual programming, advising, and support. Each of these departments refused to close, stop working, and INSTEAD they remained diligent; for example, the Women’s Center welcomed nearly 500 student swipes and their families through last year’s programming.
It is no surprise that the fairly new LGBTQ Resources center, now the Q Center, welcomed nearly 200 student swipes and created a SAFE SPACE for students to gather and remain connected during the pandemic via a unique virtual platform called Discord.
Lastly, TRIO Student Support Services remained in focused with nearly 2,500 student contacts during the pandemic, in which the student’s average GPA was 2.999.
These examples speak to a few of the intentional and successful efforts our unit continued to serve during the pandemic.
What are we currently doing?
Well, as early as January 2021, we have been strategically constructing ODEI by organizationally restructuring offices, planning, programming and gearing up for the new school year.
It was important for me to establish the “why” and “how” of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at PFW.
WHY: It is our goal to further evolve as a university that is open, accepting, and welcoming to all people, regardless of where they are on life’s path. As I promised in my interviews, as your CDO I pledge to move DEI FORWARD by creating, implementing, imagining, and strategically executing an inclusive environment for all. So, I ask that you remember DEI FORWARD.
HOW: We will DEI FORWARD by…
Fostering collaborative strategy
Openness to varied ideas
Realistic strategy building
Willingness to learn, grown, and ACT
Align mission/vision to all DEI work
Role modeling change
Determined to remove systemic barriers
It will be with this attitude that we move the needle of DEI at PFW. Currently, as a unit, we are focus on providing academic, social, and personal support for students, faculty and staff from historically excluded groups. However, achieving meaningful and sustainable diversity, equity, and inclusion requires EVERYONE (no matter who you are) to play their part.
The responsibility is on ALL of us, not some of us, if we intend to learn, grow, and act together to embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion.
I am very proud of the work that has already taken place over the past nine months both on and off campus. Let me share with you some of our off campus/community engagements:
- Partnering with the Bloom Project, Inc. and the Foellinger Foundation to host 27 young males of color on campus for our first PFW 2021 College Experience
- Specific speaking opportunities with:
- YMCA Renaissance Lunch Speaker Series
- Ivy Tech Black History Month
- Summit City South Rotary Club Meeting
- Intentional Community Meetings:
- Greater Fort Wayne Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- Sweetwater Discussion on Race
- PFW’s participation with the Fort Wayne United’s “United Front Learning Journey on Race Inequities”
- Attending the Fort Wayne Police Department’s Procedural Use Excessive Force Training
- Participation at Community Events:
- Southside Love, Southeast Fort Wayne Community Fair
- Fort Wayne Pride
- Partnering with United Way and Lutheran Social Services to create the TRIO Student Support Services Persistence Pays Program; a program that has served over 30 students and counting.
These are just some of the community engagements and we look forward to future community engagements.
What are we looking to do in the future?
I am so glad you asked.
My first three to four months were spent listening to you. It is with great excitement and enthusiasm that I share with you the Diversity First-Year Initiatives. The work around these First-Year initiatives have already begun.
- Establish inclusive hiring processes to create and improve the hiring experience of faculty and staff.
- To create/design a diversity, equity, and inclusion online dashboard that provides transparency, accountability, and progress of our strategic efforts.
- Increase diversity recruitment for faculty, staff and students.
- Increase diversity retention for faculty, staff, and students, and graduation of students by creating a support mechanism, programs, and procedures/policies that will increase the retention of diverse faculty, staff, and students with an intentional focus on increasing the four- and six-year graduation rate of diverse students.
- Create diversity unit plans for each unit on campus.
To learn more about these Diversity First-Year Initiatives and other DEI efforts, there are several opportunities, two I’ll mention today. First, consider visiting our newly launched ODEI website at www.pfw.edu/odei full of information and resources.
Secondly, please join us for our October 12, 2021 The Diversity Experience event 4:30-6:30 pm Walb International Ball Room. This event will be a time for our PFW and Fort Wayne community to have an in depth look at Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at PFW. More information to come.
Well, I can talk Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion all day. Unfortunately, this isn’t the time for such. However, I hope you’ve learned a little bit about what we’ve been doing, currently doing, and looking forward to doing as it pertains to diversity, equity and inclusion at PFW.
BEFORE I leave this podium, I must acknowledge that TODAY (September 15-October 15) marks the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month. PFW we ask that you join in celebrating the theme: Hispanic Heritage and Hope. Be on the lookout for future events.
Thank you for your time and please do not hesitate to reach out as we take Thunderous Steps DEI FORWARD!
CHANCELLOR ELSENBAUMER / CONCLUDING REMARKS
Colleagues, thank you so much for those very impressive and informative updates.
Let’s give our speakers a nice round of applause.
I want to thank everyone again for attending this program today.
I sincerely hope that what you’ve heard today instills even more confidence that we have one of the most capable leadership teams in higher education.
I also hope each of you will leave here today feeling proud of your own role and your own impact here at Purdue Fort Wayne. I really do think and feel that the pandemic has brought out the best in all of us in terms of solving problems, building and relying on teams, and further sharpening our focus on the mission of our university.
Let’s continue this outstanding work and maintain this trajectory as we work to ensure the engagement, success, and persistence of our students this academic year.
As you leave the performance hall today, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to say hello to colleagues and pick up some refreshments in the lobby.
# # #