PITTSBURG — Pittsburg State University President Steve Scott shared his goals for the coming year while highlighting major accomplishments of the past during the institution's spring convocation.
The event was held at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts on Thursday afternoon and provided an opportunity for faculty and staff to hear firsthand from university leadership while also having the chance to ask questions.
He said the challenges are many and could easily be made worse if funding comes in lower than anticipated.
"It all comes down to revenue and what the revenues are doing each month," Scott said. "If the revenues come in as projected, which they haven't yet, then we'll be in better shape.
"If those revenues continue to lag then we're going to continue to face challenges and are going to continue to position ourselves well," Scott said. "But at the end of the day if the cuts get very deep it's going to be a huge challenge for us to face."
Among the major projects for 2016 is getting plans for a new home for the college of business off the ground. The plans are going to require raising a lot of money, he said.
The strategic plan developed and advanced by regents in the fall focuses on four main goals. Those include achieving academic excellence; student success; developing partnerships and enhancing the campus culture.
"As you look at those four titles you'll recognize they're us," he said. "But you'll also realize they're aspirations."
Scott said the plan does not take PSU off into new directions but builds upon strengths. He also said the administration plans to focus on retention.
"Part of our need on the enrollment side is on the entry point … and we all participate and we're all admissions officers," he said. "But we've got to make sure the students that are here get what they need and that we're able to catch them if they're drifting or losing their way."
The university has also kicked off a new capital fundraising campaign with a goal of raising $50 million over a period of years.
"We need that for scholarships and we need that for program development and faculty development and certainly for capital projects and capital needs throughout the campus," Scott said.
"There are a lot of things underway and a lot of personal growth of individuals and programs throughout the campus but I'm anticipating a very, very good year," he said.
Of the current session of the Kansas Legislature, Scott said lawmakers are too early in the process to have a good guess as to what impact their decisions might have on higher education.
"It's exciting that our school of transportation has some traction" for getting funding from the legislature, he said. There is some interest in Kansas Senate to provide additional funding the university's program.
Scott was recently named chairman of the NCAA Division II 15-member president's council which he has served on for four years. The governing board covers 307 institutions and represents about 110,000 student athletes.
"This is a great opportunity grow and a great opportunity to step in front of a group of 1,000 people and say 'I'm Steve Scott representing Pittsburg State University and the Gorillas,'" he said. As a side note he stressed NCAA pays for all expenses related to that role.
Scott said he has long been a proponent of PSU faculty and staff being active on a regional and national level in professional organizations.
"One of my concerns over time is that we do have a number of faculty and staff here who graduated from this institution," Scott said. "That can be a good thing and it can be a concern because if we just do what we've always known" that is not always good.
Among the highlights of the past year was the presentation of former President Bill Clinton in November to a sellout crowd, Scott said. Along with progress on developing the strategic plan, kicking off new initiatives and moving forward with providing students with a positive and meaningful educational experience.
Scott said serving as president of Pittsburg State is much more than a job for him.
"This is mission work for me," he said.
Preceding his remarks with visits by master of ceremonies Chris Kelly with two former PSU students who are now on the university's staff. Dr. Kathleen Sandness, who had her own medical practice for 25 years and who was an undergraduate student at the university, started in June with the student health center.
Sandness said the center responds to about 16,000 visits a year, or about 80 a day.
Lynn Murray is an associate professor and interim chair in the PSU Department of Management and Marketing. Murray attended the university in the 1980s as a student and said she is glad to be back.
"We care about our kids, our students and we have a special connection and interaction between students and faculty," she said.
— Mike Elswick is a staff writer for The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ mike_elswick.