Salisbury University President Carolyn Ringer Lepre promised to put students first and realize a vision of continued success in her inaugural State of the University address Tuesday.
“We will move forward with the purpose of transforming lives through academic excellence; life-changing, high-impact practices; inclusion and belonging,” Lepre said, according to SU Public Relations.
Lepre announced seven pledges backed by specified initiatives, including a plan to introduce one hundred new endowed scholarships through fundraising for SU's centennial anniversary in 2025.
Her first pledge – investing in student futures – will be realized through partnerships with local industries to ensure a graduate-to-workplace track and seeking to increase graduate enrollment through new five-year programs.
The president shared insight gathered during her first six months engaging with students, staff and community members who she said are at the heart of campus.
"I learned our people are everything," she said. "Time and again, I heard what makes our university special is how deeply we care about one another and about our students."
Lepre will place an emphasis on employee wellness and professional development; deeper community engagement and student opportunities through an annual Strategic Innovation Fund of $500,000.
For three years, the half-million fund will contribute to expanding student resources and renovating facilities while the university's overall budget is evaluated and restructured.
Lepre vowed second to diversify SU through a campus-wide diversity, equity and inclusion plan; advancing DEI and social justice research initiatives; faculty hires and a new executive position: vice president for belonging, diversity and inclusion.
She said hiring a diversity recruitment and retention coordinator will aid in eliminating the retention gap between Pell Grant recipients and other students in the predominantly white institution.
“Our university is strengthened by cultivating an inclusive environment and celebrating what each of us brings to our collective experience,” Lepre said.
"I believe if we are not inclusive, we cannot be excellent."
Other pledges included:
– Developing a reputation for high-impact practices and "educating the whole person."
– Consistency in academic excellence.
– Strengthening institutional identity and reputation.
– A focus on raising the resources to support SU's programs, students and culture.
– Meeting the needs of greater community and the Eastern Shore.
Lepre said these goals will "disrupt the status quo" and "embody what it means to care for one another" while fostering a campus culture of pride and innovation.
"Salisbury University is creating opportunities to contribute to the overall wellbeing of our students, employees, the State of Maryland and the world."
By BEES BEESLEY
Editor in Chief
Featured image courtesy of Salisbury University Public Relations.