Monmouth University has been on a fantastic journey of unprecedented growth and maturation over the last three decades. I have the good fortune to report that the University is well positioned for another period of extensive transformation and growth in 2014. Alumni, friends and valued members of our community like you are at the heart of this transformation.
Exciting changes are underway that will strengthen and improve almost every aspect of our campus community, encompassing academic and athletic programs and facilities, and an increased commitment to student scholarships, with an impact that will be realized and measured over many decades to come.
Renovation and expansion of the School of Science buildings is underway, with major upgrades that will open new opportunities for collaborative learning and research. A new façade and state-of-the-art interiors will showcase Monmouth's commitment to students and faculty engaged in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), while a new addition and creative new interior spaces will offer an inviting destination for the entire student body.
Together with Pozycki Hall, a two-story 20,000 square foot academic building connected to Bey Hall by a pedestrian bridge on the second floor, Monmouth will gain outstanding classroom facilities tailored to bring a personalized education to life. On target for completion during the fall of 2015, Pozycki Hall will include four classrooms, a 175-seat lecture hall, eight faculty offices, a student lounge and an exterior terrace. The two structures will surround a re-landscaped, welcoming green space near the center of campus, known as Torcivia Common.
A new residence hall, offering dedicated housing for almost 200 second-year students, is on track for completion in the fall. The facility will include a student lounge on each floor, additional study lounges on the second and third floors, and a state-of-the-art retail convenience store accessible to all of the members of the campus community.
As the economy has shifted in recent years, Monmouth has moved to meet the needs of employers and students seeking career advancement with relevant academic programs, particularly at the graduate level. New academic programs debuting in 2014 include the Master of Science in Education (MSEd) program in speech-language pathology and the master's-level Physician Assistant (PA) program.
The PA program has already earned provisional accreditation from the Accreditation Review Commission on the Education of the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA), while the speech-language pathology program, which enrolls its first cohort this summer, is a candidate for accreditation by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. This is a "pre-accreditation" status with the CAA, awarded to developing or emerging programs for a maximum period of five years.
Other exciting academic programs beginning this fall include a new entry-level Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program for students committed to a career in nursing. Students will receive the necessary preparation for RN licensure, as well as a valuable, wide-ranging liberal arts education that will prepare them, like students in all of our undergraduate majors, to be leaders in the field.
Also beginning in the fall of 2014, Monmouth University will offer a Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS), a unique degree program that educates students on how to apply computing technology to business programs. With courses offered jointly through the School of Science and the Leon Hess Business School, the MSIS prepares students for employment in the IT sector at the management level.
Thanks to a recent decision by the Board of Trustees, our most visible and visited outdoor athletics facility will soon transform from a campus facility that is wanting in so many respects to a valuable recruitment tool for our increasingly competitive pool of student athletes. The new Monmouth Stadium will give Hawks' fans the opportunity to cheer on the football, men's and women's lacrosse, and men's and women's track and field teams. Collectively, members of these five teams represent nearly half of our 455 student-athletes. This project reflects our commitment to a first-class Division I athletics program.
Monmouth Stadium will be funded largely by the philanthropic interests of our alumni and friends, and already has the backing of the Jules L. Plangere Jr. Family Foundation. Please visit www.GoMUHawks.com/mustadium for more information and updates on this exciting project.
Another athletic milestone took place on February 22 when Monmouth University competed for the first time as a Division I men's lacrosse program against the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports in North America, and the New England/Middle Atlantic States region is a hot spot for the sport. We expect Monmouth to become a destination for men and women interested in lacrosse in the years to come.
Upgrades are also in store for our soccer facilities. Our soccer programs have brought national-and international-recognition to Monmouth over the last few decades, producing nationally ranked teams and notable alumni playing at the professional and Olympic level. Our men's and women's programs, along with our thriving club sports programs, will all benefit from a generous gift from Trustee Marianne Hesse. Thanks to her generosity, the soccer field on the Great Lawn will move from natural grass to field turf this summer. In doing so, the opportunities for our club sports teams, recreation activities, and our Division I soccer programs will increase exponentially. It is important to know that these renovations will be done in a way that enhances the beauty of the Great Lawn.
Academic program and facility enhancements come with a price. It is no secret that the cost of college attendance has risen in recent years. Even so, the National Association of College and University Business Officers reports that, "the cost of providing an education is greater than the price charged" at public and private institutions.
Mindful of the need to continue to attract a pool of academically qualified students in an increasingly competitive marketplace, Monmouth is making an increased commitment to help students fund their education with increased financial aid dollars. To that end, the Board of Trustees has approved a commitment to increase financial aid by 11 percent in the coming year.
The long term success of this initiative will depend upon our ability to grow private philanthropic support of our scholarship endowment through the continued generosity of our current donors, engagement from a wider cross-section of our alumni, and the development of new revenue streams.
All of these exciting changes are taking place in the context of a comprehensive, transparent, inclusive, and dynamic process to develop a strategic plan that authentically reflects our shared values and will take Monmouth University to new heights of excellence in the years to come.
A Steering Committee, drawn from a pool of committed and passionate administrators and faculty members, has been charged with overseeing the development of the strategic plan with the expectation of creating opportunities for all members of the Monmouth community to participate in the planning process.
The Steering Committee includes the chairs of the three theme-oriented committees who will coordinate efforts to learn the campus community's aspirations in the following areas: personalized learning experience, program relevancy, and global and cultural awareness.
To achieve our goals for a stronger, vibrant, and evolving university, your support is more important than ever.
How can you as alumni, friends and members of our Monmouth community make a difference? Register as a career mentor for our students; have an employer be in touch with our career services department; attend a sporting event; enjoy a live concert at Pollak Theatre-or outstanding programming from the National Theatre in London or The Met - Live in HD; visit one of our many gallery exhibitions on display throughout the year; come to Homecoming or your class reunion; or get involved as a volunteer at alumni events.
Your financial support for the programs and areas of campus you care most about is always welcome, but it is only one way for you to engage and support Monmouth.
I hope you share my enthusiasm about the transformation and positive trajectory for the future of Monmouth University. I look forward to engaging with you about how we can build the future of the university we both care so much about, together.