This past week marked the beginning of our 46th year welcoming students to SMSU and the Marshall community. I had the privilege of addressing the campus formally for the first time and I'd like to share with you some excerpts from my all-university address to the faculty and staff of SMSU.
"It has been a remarkable journey of listening and learning about the pride and passion that people have for SMSU. And hearing a constant message of optimism centered on the possibilities that we share. There is a growing desire from many constituents to partner and enhance the opportunities for our students while increasing the value that we all bring to this special region.
The rich history of this small college on the prairie is filled with countless experiences that have impacted the lives of so many people. These experiences were created in the classroom and in the labs, in the residence halls, on the athletic fields, on the stage, and throughout our communities.
The Southwest stories and experiences that have already been shared with me by recent graduates, retired teachers and university professors, successful CEO's, area farmers, writers, and local entrepreneurs have all carried similar messages. They are the same messages in the books I am reading on SMSU's history; messages that describe a history of path breakers, of people who were resilient and entrepreneurial; of an institution that is committed to making our mark and creating our own future.
We have before us tremendous opportunities; countless possibilities that we can build together. The community that has been created at SMSU will enable us to determine what our future will be. It is a community and culture filled with creativity, tenacity, spirit, and foresight that will help us develop a shared vision and meet the inherent responsibilities that accompany that vision.
My visits and conversations across the region almost always lead off with the same question from those I am visiting with. They ask, "What is your vision for SMSU?" I would like to share with you my initial answer to that question and then challenge you to help answer it as well.
I envision SMSU being a university focused on three key themes: academic excellence and distinctiveness; student learning and success; meaningful partnerships and engagement.
We must capitalize on what we do well, we must be inventive and creative and we must work collaboratively with others to grow our academic programs, to identify the resources we need to deliver those programs, and most importantly to deliver an even greater return on investment to the students who have entrusted their future with us.
Academic excellence and distinctiveness, student learning and success, and meaningful partnerships and engagement. Our goal together is to lift up these messages, to share the Southwest stories that define each of these themes and grow the possibilities that exist within them."
We are looking forward to a great year at SMSU and I look forward to working with many of you across the community to help us create more "Southwest Stories" and enhance what SMSU brings to the region.