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MSU President Delivers State of University Address
By WestKyStar & MSU Staff
MURRAY, KY - Murray State University President Bob Davies delivered the annual State of the University Address to students, faculty, staff and community members November 14 in the Wrather West Kentucky Museum.
 
Titled “Pathway of Persistence: Our Continued Commitment to Student Excellence,” Davies’ address focused on four guiding pillars of Murray State’s Strategic Plan, including the University’s commitment to excellence, experiential learning, a student-centered approach and sense of community.
 
Davies began the address by reading aloud a portion of the University’s newly-written mission statement, which emphasizes the highest institutional priority on “student learning and excellent teaching, blending the range of educational opportunities often experienced at research institutions with the nurturing student-teacher interactions usually found at smaller universities.”
 
“These lines, supported by the entire mission statement, provide us with four guiding pillars that outline our organizational commitments — it directs our pathway forward and provides a focus to our work,” Davies said.
 
Regarding institutional excellence, Davies cited recent reaccreditations in numerous academic programs, such as education, engineering and the sciences, nursing, humanities, business and agriculture. Davies also emphasized that the University has experienced the highest new-student ACT average in recent history, the highest percentage of new students from the top tiers of their respective high schools and a record enrollment for the University’s Honors College.
 
Davies then shared the University’s commitment to experiential, hands-on learning in the form of more than 1,600 research and creative activity projects led by students and faculty in the past year. Additionally, Davies added, nearly 50 percent of Murray State students pursuing a bachelor’s degree did so while also completing an internship, co-op experience or clinical learning experience.
 
“All of these experiences changed the perceptions of our students, deepened their appreciation and understanding of the complexities of our diverse global culture and instilled in them the importance of critical thought, communication and research,” Davies said.
 
Evidence of a student-centered environment is found in the University’s current retention rate of nearly 75 percent. Davies referenced the Racer Connection program, which pairs students with supportive faculty and staff mentors who regularly meet and discuss challenges while providing advice on career and life goals, as one supporting factor for the current retention rate.
 
Next, Davies shared several examples of the University’s sense of community. These instances included the response from numerous faculty and staff who assisted students displaced following the June incident at JH Richmond Hall as well as the creation of the Racer One Stop, which established a singular location for multiple offices to assist students at the start of each semester.
 
Davies’ examples from each of these four pillars formed the backbone of Tuesday’s address while providing tangible proof of the University’s continued commitment to being the best student-centered university in the country.
 
“These accomplishments were achieved in a time of great turmoil and turbulence within the higher education landscape,” Davies said. “We are at a sea-changing moment in higher education as there are many shifting paradigms about the role, the outcomes and the fundamental reason for higher education. And many of these new desires, outcomes and priorities that are being proposed for higher education are not always aligned with one another and, in fact, sometimes come into direct conflict.”
 
Davies also emphasized the continued importance and focus on enrollment initiatives.
 
“We must continually remember we are in a competitive environment, and we must aggressively pursue new methods of communicating with potential students, focus our efforts on students who have a high probability of success and offer compelling and innovative programs that prepare individuals not only for their first job but a lifetime of success,” Davies said.
 
Regarding the upcoming Kentucky legislative session, Davies stressed the University’s priority of being fiscally prepared for the future, including potential pension cost increases and increases in fixed costs, such as health care and utilities.
 
The importance of seeking out new programs and opportunities to attract new markets, identifying cost reductions and finding increased efficiencies was also shared. 
 
Davies closed his address by asking the campus community to persist in the midst of uncertainty and divisiveness while remaining focused on the four guiding pillars of the Strategic Plan.
 
“Let us be the force that unites and not let the circumstances of our environment divide us,” Davies said. “Remember, we cannot control many aspects of our environment, but we can — and we do — control how we respond.”
 
A transcript of Davies’ full address is available at http://bit.ly/2AJY8mF.
 
About Murray State University: Murray State University provides an “Opportunity Afforded” for more than 10,000 students through a high-quality education with experiential learning, academic and personal growth and the ability to secure a lifetime of success. Since 1922, the true value of higher education has been found at Murray State University, where our commitment is to afford endless opportunities for developing leaders in the community, the country and the world. The University’s main campus is located in Murray, Ky., and includes five regional campuses. For more information about Murray State University, please visit murraystate.edu.

Published 06:00 PM, Tuesday Nov. 14, 2017
Updated 05:39 PM, Tuesday Nov. 14, 2017

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