Provost Scott Bass used the occasion of his fourth annual address to the faculty to look back at a host of major accomplishments.
“We’ve worked together for nearly four years and have made impressive strides,” he told the standing room only crowd in the School of International Service’s Founders Room on March 28. “Far greater strides than I or my colleagues might have imagined.
So how do this year’s freshmen compare to the incoming class four years ago?
- Applications have increased from 15,413 in 2008 to 18,706 in 2011.
- The admit rate has fallen from 52 percent in ’08 to 41 percent in ’11.
- Early decisions have jumped from 280 to 366.
- The percentage of minority students has climbed from 19 to 30.
“Those of you teaching need to recognize that it is a much more diverse class that has come into the academy, and they will present new perspectives and ideas in the classroom,” Bass said. “We have done both diversity and academic excellence. These are challenges few universities have been successful with.”
The faculty to which Bass spoke is a radically different one than four years ago.
- In 2007 there were 649 full-time faculty. Today, nearly 800 are on campus.
- Tenure-track has grown from 131 to 149.
- Multiyear contract has jumped from 30 to 71.
“We have a significant increase in tenure line,” Bass said. “That is a remarkable accomplishment for an institution in this economy and during this time period. It is completely contrary to what we’ve seen in the rest of the country. Of the nearly 800 full-time including term, 47 percent is new from four years ago.
“This is a different institution,” he said. “This is a dynamic transformation in terms of students, in terms of faculty.”
To support the faculty, the administration has invested and expanded the Center for Teaching, Research, and Learning and written guidelines for every department and unit on campus for tenure and promotion, Bass said.
He touted seven new master’s programs and spoke of future growth in online education and agreements with community colleges.
“We have principles as to who we are,” Bass said. “Our strong liberal arts foundation, which [includes] the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, we have distinctive and innovative professional schools including the nationally recognized law school. We have a welcoming environment to first generation, minority, and international students. We have study abroad, research, and internship opportunities. All of which are identified as some of the best in the country.
“We have a strong sense of shared governance and entrepreneurial spirit. We’re training the workforce for tomorrow. We have built those collaborations with pinnacle institutions. We’re engaged in service, social responsibility, and we’re connected to Washington. That’s who we are — that’s not going to change.”
In concluding, Bass turned his focus to the year 2030.
“As we hire junior faculty, 20 years from now they will be the leaders in their respective fields,” he said. “We’re looking for faculty who are strong teachers, influential intellectuals, and institution builders. They have collective institutional ambitions, beyond their own personal scholarship. They are willing to take calculated risks and are willing to work within and across traditional disciplinary and professional boundaries.
“We should be proud of our accomplishments, believe that we have invested wisely, understand that success is never final,” Bass said. “The real test before us is building collaborations in a few areas that will be distinctive landmarks for American University as we look to the future.”