As the academic year comes to an end, I would like to thank you the faculty, staff and administrators for your significant talents and continuous support of our students. It has been a challenging year on a number of fronts, but we continue to celebrate our many successes and a multitude of achievements.
After years of limited increases, the FY 2013 and 2014 budgets include a 2% cost of living adjustment (COLA) increase in January 2013 and 3% in January 2014. The USM has reviewed the non-exempt classifications and new pay ranges will be announced early in 2014. Finally, a 2.5% merit increase will be instituted in April 2014. Details of all of the salary enhancements will be forthcoming from Human Resources in the coming months.
Towson University continues to benefit from the strong commitment to higher education by the Governor, General Assembly and University System of Maryland. The FY 2014 Budget provides funding for a variety of critical academic initiatives in STEM, healthcare, academic transformation, and the achievement gap. We will continue to address salary compression as resources allow.
The Merit Process
The Provost is discussing the process for distributing Merit in April 2014 with deans, chairs, UPTRM committee members, AAUP leadership and a number of academic departments. A set of guidelines and principles will be established.
While both interest and numbers of students in our formal and approved Interdisciplinary degree programs continue to grow, the range and number of interdisciplinary courses, the numbers of interdisciplinary research projects, service learning experiences and outreach opportunities also continue to expand rapidly. The Provost is exploring how best to identify and appropriately reward interdisciplinary initiatives.
Towson established the first Office of Academic Innovation (OAI) in the state. Our OAI is now providing support and assistance to promote course redesign and innovative use of technology in teaching. OAI is currently refocusing the Center for Instructional Advancement and Technology to deliver discipline-specific and customized faculty professional development in the areas of pedagogy and technology.
Increase in Faculty Positions for Growth Areas
The state has provided growth funding (over $900,000) for much needed faculty positions in both the STEM and in the Health Professions. These funds will be used to pay for new tenure track faculty and lecturers in these two high demand areas. The deans are developing strategic hiring plans to ensure that, as we hire these additional faculty members, they are appropriately placed. This will enable us to meet our current enrollment needs and the projected enrollment in these areas.
The deans, Provost, and I have worked with our counterparts at Morgan State University to open new collaborations between the two institutions. Several collaborations are being explored in all six colleges as well as the Library and Honors College.
Our College of Education and education faculty across campus are making significant progress on innovation in teacher preparation and leadership. The Presidential Scholar Nancy Grasmick launched and sponsored a Signature Forum series. The series brought to Towson nationally recognized speakers on the topics of the neuroscience of learning and school safety.
The University has a contract with The College Board to provide professional development and teacher preparation to teach High School Advanced Placement courses. It will also support Baltimore County and Towson UTeach students. It is the only such collaboration in the country.
Last month, the University signed an agreement with Port Deposit in Cecil County to increase eco-tourism in that town by saving the breeding habitat of the Northern Mapping Turtle. This project is the vision of Dr. Richard Siegel and his undergraduate and graduate students. The location will become a research and tourism center where the species can be saved. The partnership and project was recently featured by National Geographic magazine.
Internship course enrollments increased by 11.4% from the fall to spring semester. Partnerships providing internships increased by 44%.
INNOVATION AND APPLIED RESEARCH
The Division of Innovation and Applied Research (DIAR) has increased collaborations with faculty and supports new opportunities for student research. This is a direct result of the collaboration between academic affairs and DIAR.
The Division has added professional development for Maryland teachers to its agenda, serving as the state affiliate for IT and Construction Design and Management. It has also contributed to the Maryland Common Core State Curriculum Standards in the fields of STEM and Literacy. Fostering entrepreneurship, the TowsonGlobal incubator graduated three new companies, and held its third successful business plan competition.
Our Student Affairs division continues to provide strong leadership on diversity efforts and received national recognition for a number of programs including its Transfer Orientation Program, the Greek Alliance Program and CAB’s Survive Towson program. This academic year also launched a campus wide leadership program, StrengthsQuest, targeting leadership and 1,500 students who are involved in leadership and peer mentoring roles.
MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS
The newly organized University Marketing & Communications division staff is actively building bridges throughout our community and there have been new initiatives started this spring. New videos highlighting the accomplishments of our students, faculty and staff have been created for our website and shared on social media. Our Alumni magazine has been revamped. We are going to continue the Great Expectations. Realized. campaign next year and are proud to announce that we will be unveiling new television advertisements that will be produced in collaboration with University Marketing & Communications by our very own Electronic, Media, and Film students as a part of their course curriculum.
We are on target to exceed the 2012-2013 annual campaign goal. Included in those dollars raised is a $1.2 million dollar gift from John and Theresa Hussman naming the autism center in the Institute of Well Being and $100,000 raised during the Towsonopoly event. Major gift officers have been realigned and deployed to work with assigned deans to manage campaign portfolios in the colleges and to ensure that the marketing campaign authentically captures the mission of the college.
Last week, we inaugurated our new Tiger Arena with six commencement exercises. Many thanks to all of the faculty and staff involved in the planning and logistics that made every ceremony an enjoyable occasion for both the graduates and their families and friends.
We are in the early construction stages for the Osler Bridge Project and are working with the state to keep the project on schedule. The construction of the bridge will begin in September 2013, after the new signal is installed at Emerson Drive.
Design for the renovation and addition to Smith Hall science building began in February and will be complete by January 2015. The new addition will begin construction in summer 2015 and be complete in summer 2017. The renovation of the existing building will begin in summer 2017 and be complete by summer 2019.
The newly renovated Richmond Hall opened this spring and progress on Ward, West, and Phase III & IV of West Village, and an expansion of Burdick Hall are further enhancing the student experience at Towson.
The reconfiguration of our intercollegiate athletic program received a lot of attention in Annapolis this semester. The Governor and General Assembly provided funding for a two-year window of opportunity to address Title IX issues and fundraising related to baseball at Towson. The General Assembly provided funding that will allow us to address Title IX facilities requirements. The details of the funding can be found on the Towson website.
I offer my sincere and heartfelt congratulations to the Towson University baseball team on their hard-fought Colonial Athletic Association tournament championship. This has been a difficult season for these young men and it is a tribute to the coaching staff, the senior leadership, and every member of this team that they were able to play their best baseball when it mattered most. It is often said that life isn’t about what happens to you, it’s about how you respond to it. And as proud as the entire Towson University family is of the baseball team’s success, their season isn’t over. They will be back at it Friday when they meet Florida Atlantic University in the Chapel Hill Regional of the NCAA tournament. It is the first time since 1991 that a Towson baseball team has competed in the NCAA tournament -- another ‘point of pride’ for this exceptional university and its excellent athletic program.
This year our student athletes and coaches won seven conference championships in baseball, volleyball, football, women’s swimming and diving, and men’s and women’s lacrosse (regular season and tournament championship). Four head coaches were named CAA Coach of the Year and three Towson student athletes were named CAA Player of the Year. More importantly, 131 student athletes have earned a GPA of 3.5 or higher. Towson Athletics hit another significant program record this year when they topped 10,000 hours of community service.
In a relatively short amount of time, Mike Waddell began an impressive transformation of Towson University's NCAA Division I Intercollegiate athletics program. We know that he will deliver the same energy, leadership, and excellence to his new job as the Senior Associate Director of Athletics at the University of Arkansas as he did here at Towson. We all wish him and his family well.
An interim Athletics Director has not yet been determined. A national search will begin immediately for a permanent Athletics Director. The search committee will be formed and begin their work in the coming weeks.
TOWSON UNIVERSITY IN NORTHEASTERN MARYLAND – HARFORD COUNTY
Thursday, May 30th marks the ground breaking ceremony of Towson University in Northeastern Maryland. The facility is on the grounds of Harford Community College, and will boast state-of-the-art classrooms and labs. The facility will make Towson’s programs easier to access. It is scheduled to open in fall 2014.
I wish you a healthy, enjoyable, relaxing, productive summer and look forward to continuing our work together next year. Please know how much your work is appreciated.
April 12, 2013
Dear Towson University Community:
The 433rd Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly officially adjourned “Sine Die” at the stroke of midnight early Tuesday morning. Our legislators introduced and considered more than 2,600 bills—and in all 354 pieces of legislation were approved and will be signed into law by Governor O’Malley in the coming weeks. The University System of Maryland (USM) institution tracked more than 90 individual bills with varying potential impacts on institutions, faculty, staff, and students.
Governor O’Malley submitted the FY14 budget, and for the first time in several years, the Maryland General Assembly made no significant cuts. Both on the operating and capital fronts, the Governor and our legislators have reaffirmed their commitment to supporting high quality, affordable education in the state of Maryland. Our state leaders continue to recognize the value and importance of the contributions of higher education and supported a 7.5% increase from FY13 to FY14 in the state general fund and Higher Education Investment Fund (HEIF) support for USM.
The legislature approved the Governor’s budget that will allow for a 3% cost of living adjustment (COLA) in January 2014 and 2.5% merit increase in April 2014. With the approved budget, we look forward to the opportunity to begin incremental progress on salary compression issues. A more detailed breakdown of how the FY14 funding will be allocated at Towson will be provided in the next few weeks from the Division of Administration and Finance.
At Towson, the $99.6 million operating budget request remained substantially intact—representing a steady 35% state appropriation level for Towson. In addition approximately $2 million in enhancement funding will support Towson’s STEM programs such as UTeach, new faculty positions, academic transformation initiatives, college completion, and increased enrollment growth especially in the STEM and health professions.
Towson’s commitment to addressing gender equity and maintaining a balanced athletics budget through the discontinuation of men’s soccer and baseball created a great deal of attention in Annapolis. On April 1, Towson was specifically included in the Governor’s supplemental budget request with a $300,000 per year appropriation to maintain federal Title IX compliance in athletics. The legislature ultimately approved a USM incentive match program for institutions competing in NCAA Division I sports. The program will provide for Towson a window of opportunity to address Title IX inequities and projected future funding shortfalls. It provides supporters of baseball enough operating assistance to engage in an aggressive fundraising campaign that might enable the baseball program to be self-sufficient by fall 2015. The program will require institutions and boosters to raise private dollars to match the state assistance.
On the capital side, all of Towson’s proposed projects were approved. This year’s capital approvals are:
Campus-wide Traffic and Circulation/Bridge over Osler Drive: $7.821 million for construction
Smith Hall Addition/Renovation: $3.2 million for planning
Women’s Softball Facility Improvements: $500,000 general obligation bonds and Pre-Authorization of $1.5 million in FY15.
The inclusion of $2 million for the construction of a women’s softball stadium allows us to immediately address one of our long-standing and costly gender inequities requiring attention if baseball were to continue at Towson.
The stadium and incentive match program represent a combined $2.3 million appropriation and help us make significant progress, but they do not fully resolve all of the financial constraints or gender inequities in Towson’s intercollegiate athletics program offerings, scholarships, facilities, and support. Detailed information about the women’s softball stadium project can be found on the special Athletics Task Force website.
Finally, I sincerely thank USM Chancellor Kirwan, Chairman Shea, the Board of Regents, USM senior staff, the Towson University Board of Visitors, Alumni and Foundation boards, faculty, staff, and students for their leadership and support during this particularly eventful legislative session for Towson.
With your support, I believe that we have effectively highlighted and addressed significant issues facing our institution and what will be required to continue to advance excellence and student success.
March 27, 2013
Dear Towson University Community:
I want to directly address the recent news of a White Student Union organization, once again claiming roots at Towson University. The Division of Student Affairs continues to clarify that there is no established or recognized “White Student Union” (WSU) on Towson University’s campus. While a Towson University student attempted to form a recognized group in the fall, it failed to meet the university’s requirements for gaining recognition. In response to the establishment of the “WSU crime patrols” at Towson University, Towson University Police Department (TUPD) continues to maintain their vigilance to keep our campus safe. The University does not endorse and strongly discourages patrols by this or any other student group.
Towson University continues to be one of the safest campuses in the University System of Maryland. To ensure that the entire campus community continues to feel safe and comfortable, the TUPD is increasing its presence on campus during the evening hours. We will continue to work with students who feel threatened by the proposed activities of this group to ensure their safety.
The views of this non-affiliated group are diametrically opposed to the core values of Towson University and our commitment to diversity and non-discrimination. The exchange of ideas is a hallmark of higher education, but at times this exchange includes opinions that are offensive and hurtful to many. Please know that we are working tirelessly to monitor and address this challenging situation.
March 18, 2013
Dear Towson University Community,
The following is the Op Ed piece I wrote clarifying the facts surrounding the baseball/soccer decision. It appeared in yesterday's Baltimore Sun. I share it with the campus community in order to continue the communication on the rationale for, and clarification of, the decision.
Recently, I announced with a heavy heart the discontinuation of men's soccer and baseball at Towson University. The decision was made after an extensive review following the initial recommendation from athletics leadership and the majority support of an independent task force charged to resolve three critical issues facing the university: long-term financial sustainability and affordability of the athletics budget; compliance with gender equity requirements of Title IX; and overall academic and athletic competitiveness of our Division I program.
With regard to finances, as president I have the ultimate obligation to ensure responsible stewardship of university resources, now and in the future. In these challenging financial times, difficult decisions must be made to serve the long-term best interests of the entire university. State funds cannot be used to pay for athletics, and thus their financing is a special challenge in our state institutions. Fundraising, program revenues and student fees are the primary sources of funding for athletics. Towson students pay the second-highest athletic fees in the state, at $798 per year. I am not willing to allow Towson students to bear the burden of a significant fee increase to support our athletic programs. This discontinuation of the two teams will control growth of student fees, present a significant savings that will be reallocated to the overall athletics budget, and eliminate its operating deficit by fiscal 2015.
In terms of Title IX, it is imperative that our female athletes receive the level of support required by federal law. Unfortunately, providing equitable opportunity for female athletes is far too often ignored or deemed "something you can get around or solve later." Towson University will not take that position. Furthermore, Towson's historic practice to add a women's sports team every five years until substantial proportionality is achieved has not kept pace with the changing demographics of our undergraduate population. Therefore, Towson's approach to address Title IX requirements was the most viable, long-term method to achieve gender equity compliance with federal law.
It is time for Towson University to invest in our student-athletes and compete like a Division I program. While growing to 22,000 students, Towson has raised its academic profile by garnering national attention and increasing innovation and outreach by tripling sponsored and applied research. Towson athletics should now rise to the same level of success. To do this, Towson must sharply focus on strategic investments that will increase competitiveness within our conference. We must give greater attention to all aspects of the student-athlete experience to ensure our athletes are well-suited for competition by investing in scholarships across all sports, increasing academic support, providing competitive coaching salaries, enhancing wellness and nutrition, and more.
During the extensive deliberations leading up to this decision, we worked hard to conduct a transparent and inclusive process. We provided weekly updates, held two open forums, and reviewed more than 4,000 web comments from players, their families, alumni and other interested parties on the Towson website created for that specific purpose. Task force members considered 13 different options, and during my review our financial team met and spent considerable time vetting last-minute ideas and additional options. This all contributed to the extended timeline.
This issue has put enormous stress on our community and most especially our student athletes. That is why it was important for me to personally share the decision with the men's soccer and baseball teams before a formal announcement was made public. Having to do so was one of the most difficult tasks of my career. I would not have been able to stand before them unless I was confident in both the integrity of the process and our analysis of the information. If any other option had solved the three issues we face, we would have gladly taken that path.
The university will now move forward in support of every student athlete, whether they choose to continue their studies at Towson with their athletic scholarships intact or transfer. We have done that by working closely with the NCAA and Colonial Athletic Association, to grant full release for affected players effective immediately. Our athletics support team, complete with counseling center staff, will remain available to help and support our student athletes in every way possible.
Now we must continue to serve and advance the Towson University community with excellence, leadership and pride.
March 8, 2013
Dear Towson University Community:
For the past several months our campus has been dealing with a proposed recommendation from our athletics leadership to reconfigure the intercollegiate athletics program to address three issues facing the university: long-term financial stability and affordability; compliance with Federal Title IX requirements; and the ability to be competitive in NCAA Division I athletics.
Last October, I announced that the athletics leadership recommended the discontinuation of men’s soccer and baseball and the addition of men’s tennis as the most viable way for Towson University to resolve these three issues.
With this recommendation in-hand, I initiated the creation of an Athletics Task Force to conduct an external review of all of the information presented and asked for additional public input. After receiving the final report of the Athletics Task Force, which ultimately supported the original recommendation, I conducted my own assessment of all of the information put forth in the report so that I could confidently render my final decision for the university.
I have carefully examined all data, facts and budget projections used in the athletics proposal and task force report. After meticulous review, with internal and external financial analysts and with experts in Title IX, this analysis has confirmed that the discontinuation of baseball and soccer and the addition of men’s tennis is the optimal solution to achieve a balanced annual athletics budget, achieve Title IX compliance, and ensure that our athletic program can be competitive in Division I and the Colonial Athletic Association.
It is with confidence, but great sadness, that I accept the recommendation to discontinue the baseball program at the conclusion of this season and the men’s soccer program, effective immediately.
The process has been lengthy and challenging for many in our TU community, especially for the 62 student athletes in these programs. The seriousness of this situation required this extended amount of time to thoroughly analyze each and every suggested option in order for me to come to this conclusion.
Now, I am asking the entire Towson University community—faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends—to join me in reaching out to all of those who are directly impacted by this decision.
To the student-athletes in these programs, alumni and all past and present coaches, we hold tremendous pride in you. Your legacies will forever remain at Towson University. For those athletes choosing to stay at Towson, we will honor all scholarships and continue access to the full complement of student-athlete support services available. Our Director of Athletics and his staff will ensure that all affected student athletes have the assistance and guidance they need, whether they choose to continue their studies at Towson or transition to another intercollegiate athletics program.
Finally, I thank everyone involved in this arduous process for the compassion, hard work, and patience demonstrated throughout these several months.
I thank those who devoted vast amounts of time to the financial and Title IX analyses. I extend great appreciation to the athletics task force, to the external analysts, and to the University System of Maryland. I also thank all of those who offered feedback, alternative options and heartfelt opinions.
Let us unite behind these student athletes while also uniting behind a sustainable, compliant, competitive, and successful athletics program at Towson University.
For the president’s full report and additional background on the athletics reconfiguration recommendation process, please visit the Athletics Task Force website.
December 17, 2012
Dear Towson University Faculty, Staff, and Students:
The holidays are here and I wish you all a pleasant, relaxing, and peaceful time with your families and friends.
To the faculty and staff, as the New Year approaches, please know how much I appreciate your support and the dedicated work you do for our students. Towson University is a special place where student success has always been our focus and where we all have the opportunity to spend our lives doing the work we love.
To the students, it is such a joy to be your president and work with our faculty and staff to nurture your success. Thank you for being wonderful students and for choosing Towson University. It is our pleasure to help you shape your futures.
It is a pleasure to serve you. Thank you and have a great holiday.
November 19, 2012
On Friday afternoon, I received the final report of the Athletics Task Force. After spending hundreds of hours collecting and analyzing data, budgets, rosters, and Title IX regulations, exploring 13 alternative options, and listening to concerns expressed in open forums and emails, the task force has endorsed the athletics leadership’s proposed recommendations.
The task force concluded that the discontinuation of men’s soccer and baseball is the most viable way for Towson University to achieve compliance with Title IX requirements, long-term financial stability and competitiveness. The report includes a minority opinion expressing concerns that are counter to the majority recommendation. The full report can be found here.
I thank the members of the task force for their time and thorough review of this issue. I also appreciate and respect the leadership of Athletics Director Mike Waddell and his team. Their work began more than 18 months ago and they have worked diligently to provide information and clarification to the problems identified several years ago.
I have carefully reviewed the Task Force Report and determined that I will not be making a decision this week as originally anticipated. I require more time to review all of the information put forth to carefully render this important decision for the university.
Over the next several weeks we will reconfirm all data, facts and budget projections used in the athletics proposal and task force report. It was, and remains, my intention to put this matter to rest in a timely manner. It is my hope to issue a final decision as soon after the winter break as possible.
Title IX compliance and whether the athletics program has serious short and long-term financial challenges is not open for debate. The reality of the serious financial state of affairs facing our athletics program will require tough decisions to be made.
It has been reported that Towson does not have Title IX challenges. This is completely inaccurate and I will address this misperception, as well as others, in my final decision.
I want to say directly to our student athletes that I am distressed by the continuous upheaval and disruption our current situation has placed on you. You have behaved admirably. I realize that the extension of a final decision makes transferring difficult. I am committed to move forward as quickly as possible and do what is in the best interest of Towson University.
November 14, 2012
The Athletics Task Force is now in its final deliberations on the athletics leadership’s proposed recommendations.
After speaking with the student athletes, it is critical we make a timely decision. With that in mind, I have closely followed the task force’s progress while simultaneously conducting my own extensive review. We have an efficient timeline in place. I anticipate their final assessment within days, which I will review carefully. I will then move quickly to announce my final decision shortly thereafter.
Thank you for your respectful participation in this process and your continued understanding of the complex nature of achieving the three goals: long-term financial stability, proportionality and increased competitiveness. We will keep all of you posted as soon as there are new updates.
November 8, 2012
Dear Towson University Faculty and Staff,
This is an update on several issues we have been addressing for Towson faculty and staff. I want to keep you informed about the many developments on our campus as well as within the University System of Maryland in the past few months. In January and February, I will visit each college to discuss issues of interest to the college. On February 6 at 4 p.m., I will give a campus address to report on the state of affairs for the university.
The preliminary budget discussions for FY14 look favorable for covering mandatory costs, but it is still early. As part of the process to prepare for discussions with the Governor, each institution was asked to identify an enhancement request. Towson requested additional funding for academic transformation, closing the graduation and retention gap, off-site nursing programs, workforce development, and STEM.
On alternating years the USM Classification and Compensation Committee conducts a study on either the Exempt or Non-Exempt Pay Program. The Exempt Pay Program was reviewed in the fall of 2011. The study resulted in a recommendation to adjust the minimum and maximums of the salary structure by 15 percent. Towson had 61 Exempt employees whose current salaries were below the minimum and thus received adjustments to their salaries. The total salary adjustment cost for Towson University was $149,115. The Non-Exempt Pay Program is currently being studied by the USM Classification and Compensation Committee.
There is also greater university flexibility with regard to retention. The opportunity to retain faculty and Operationally Critical Staff was expanded in the Chancellor’s FY2013 Salary Guidelines. The option gives universities not only the ability to make a counter offer for an employee being actively recruited, but also allows the opportunity to adjust a salary for retention or equity purposes without requiring the employee to have another job offer. There is a maximum of 5 percent of the institution’s full-time equivalent workforce that can be adjusted. The Provost and Vice Presidents are continuing to review salary data and retention cases.
The Provost and I will be conferring to determine if there is a way to increase the lowest salaried assistant professors and to review the salaries of the other ranks such as lecturers, clinical faculty, and adjuncts.
Additionally, the Provost and I are awaiting the final report of the Provost’s Task Force on Faculty Salaries. The preliminary results confirm the perceived need for faculty salary adjustments. There is noticeable compression in the assistant professor rank and possible compression at the full professor rank. The preliminary results did not reveal serious compression at the associate professor rank.
The final report of the task force will give us the opportunity to be proactive by having a plan in place to guide us when funds become available for merit and faculty salary increases. We look forward to the final report and will review and consider all of the recommendations.
Considering that Towson University is a comprehensive university with a major emphasis on teaching, the 2005 TU Workload Policy, approved by the BOR, sets an expected workload for full time faculty at the equivalent of 7-8 course units/academic year. With the hope to provide more autonomy for colleges and to encourage the sharing of department load over a period of time, this semester we established a pilot program for two years that allows faculty loads to be assigned by each chairperson with approval of the dean.
Under the pilot, chairpersons work with the deans to set a strategy to meet credit hour expectations for each department and the provost grants final approval. Credit hour expectations are determined by the total amount of credit hours expected for the number of full-time faculty in each department. USM has agreed to the pilot as long as department credit hour production meets the expected production for the department’s number of full-time faculty. The pilot process does not address load equity across colleges. We will continue discussions on this topic.
NEW PROVOST/ SEARCH FOR VICE PRESIDENT OF ADMINSTRATION & FINANCE
Our new Provost Dr. Timothy Chandler will join us on January 14, 2013. Dr. Dilisio and I are in regular contact with him and I look forward to a smooth transition.
The search for the Vice President of Administration and Finance is on track to be completed next semester. The candidate pool looks strong.
We have placed more funding in professional and leadership development for both faculty and staff. For faculty development, the provost, in consultation with the deans, will determine how best to use the funds.
The USM Board of Regents approved the creation of a USM Center for Academic Transformation at its meeting last Friday. Towson now plans to move forward with the creation of its own Office of Academic Transformation. A major part of the mission of this office will be to more effectively channel faculty development efforts at Towson to include the use of new technology, course redesign, undergraduate research, supporting teaching excellence, and supporting faculty professional development events such as the January Conference. Foundation funds will be part of these efforts as requests are approved by the President.
Faculty development opportunities that support and enhance undergraduate research will also be prioritized. As such the Office of Undergraduate Research, which now resides in the Honors College, will support undergraduate research activities such as the on-campus annual spring research expo and travel to regional undergraduate research conferences.
The President's Task Force on Staff Professional Growth and Development presented a series of recommendations to me to ease and increase access to development opportunities for faculty, staff, and students. The recommendations included promoting and enhancing supervisor training in best practices and the creation of an online hub for professional development for all members of campus. We will conduct a staff development pilot program next semester.
The President’s Leadership Institute class created a mentoring program that engages transfer students one-on-one with key staff mentors to enhance their connection to campus, facilitate a supportive, professional network, and improve leadership skills. The Towson Foundation has already generously seeded the beginnings of this program.
ATHLETICS TASK FORCE
In late September, athletics leadership made a recommendation to reinstate men’s tennis and discontinue the university’s NCAA Division I sponsorship of the men’s soccer and baseball programs, in order to address three issues currently facing the university: establishing long-term financial stability of the athletics program; increasing the competitiveness of the athletics program; maintaining compliance with federal law concerning female-to-male athlete proportionality.
For the past month, an Athletics Task Force comprised of 13 members, chaired by Mr. David Nevins, has conducted an external review and received public input through public forms and through the special Athletics Task Force website on the proposed athletics changes. Throughout this process, I have delivered weekly updates to the campus and general public and provided answers to as many frequently asked questions as possible. I continue to be impressed with our student-athletes, particularly their civil, and respectful participation in this process. The task force will soon make a recommendation to me for my final decision this month.
Finally, at one of the busiest times of the academic year, about 1,000 faculty and staff were randomly selected to participate in the Baltimore Sun Top Workplace survey by Workplace Dynamics. Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey as it gives us important insight to areas where our organization and leadership excel as well as areas in which we can improve. The survey results revealed much that is positive, but also that we have progress to make in salary and compensation. An executive summary of the survey results will be posted on the President’s website in December.
In conclusion, I want to thank you all for the excellent work you do everyday to deliver the best services and education to our students. I am pleased that we have been able to accomplish a great deal in a short amount of time, but there is still more to do. I look forward to continuing our progress together and sharing more positive updates with you.
November 2, 2012
On Thursday, November 1, nearly 150 people were in attendance as the Athletics Task Force heard public commentary for two hours on the recommendation to discontinue men’s soccer and baseball.
I want to thank all of the parents, alumni, hall of famers, student-athletes, community members and friends of Towson University who attended the Athletics Task Force’s public forum last night. Your comments were thoughtful, creative, passionate, and most of all respectful of the complexity of three issues facing the university: financial stability, competitiveness and compliance. I am appreciative that many commented on the long-standing academic excellence of our student athletes and their exemplary behavior through this difficult process.
The university’s Board of Visitors, my senior advisory board, also met yesterday prior to the public forum to discuss the recommendation, ask questions and provide guidance.
The task force convened immediately after the public forum to continue their discussions and review the plethora of information received in the last month. They will meet again next week and move toward their final deliberations.
Thank you for your scheduling flexibility during this week’s weather-related delays. We will do our part to keep you informed through the Athletics Task Force website, where you may continue to provide input.
October 31, 2012
Dear Towson University Community:
I want to express our deepest gratitude to the staff in facilities, public safety, landscape services, housing and residence life, marketing and communications, dining services, and so many others who spent many hours in preparing and securing the campus during the hurricane. While many of us were in our homes weathering the storm, several dedicated staff were on campus both day and night to ensure our safety. I also want to thank our students for their cooperation and patience while our staff worked diligently. We are fortunate to have such committed staff who work tirelessly in emergencies such as this one. On behalf of all of us, we thank you.
October 26, 2012
This week the Athletics Task Force made significant progress in their independent review of the recommendation from athletics leadership, and they continue to be on track to make a final recommendation to me by mid-November.
I was pleased to see the students attend the student forum earlier in the week. Both the task force and I appreciated hearing directly from them and listening to their own creative ideas and solutions in the context of the three issues facing the university in athletics: establishing long-term financial stability, achieving proportionality, and increasing competitiveness of the overall athletics program. I want to thank all of the students who attended for expressing their concerns and comments with both civility and respect. I respect how difficult this time is for many student-athletes, parents, alumni and coaches.
The public forum is rescheduled for Thursday, November 1 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Minnegan Room of Unitas Stadium Field House. The format and guidelines will be the same as the student forum. More information is available on the public forums page. Anyone unable to attend either of the forums may submit their comments on the website which we are continuing to monitor.
Thank you again for your respectful participation in this important process. I will continue to deliver updates on a weekly basis as new information becomes available.
October 19, 2012
This week the Athletics Task Force gathered independent information on Title IX, financial data, and the overall competitiveness of the athletics program. The task force also met with the coaches and student-athlete representatives of the men’s soccer and baseball teams and heard their concerns and their proposed solutions to the three challenges facing the university: establishing long-term financial stability, achieving long-term proportionality, and increasing the competitiveness of the overall program. Any solution must resolve all three challenges.
The task force will hold open forums on Tuesday, October 23, and Monday, October 29. These forums will allow interested parties to voice any concerns they have regarding this recommendation to the members of our task force. These forums are meant only for comments, and those with questions should refer to our newly updated Frequently Asked Questions section of the website [www.towson.edu/president/athleticstaskforce]. More information about the forums can be found in the Public Forums section of the website.
Please continue to submit your general inquiries and comments through the form on the website. We will be responsive and disseminate new information through the website as it becomes available.
I appreciate and respect the wide array of perspectives and opinions on the athletics recommendations. Many of you understand the complexity of addressing not one, but all three of the challenges before us. I am confident that the task force will be thorough in their analysis, but will also move swiftly for an outcome that is in the best interest of all students and student-athletes for the long-term.
Thank you for your continued input and involvement as we work together to shape the future of Towson’s athletics program.
Last week, I shared the news of an athletics recommendation from Director of
Athletics Mike Waddell to reinstate men’s tennis and discontinue men’s soccer
In the past week, I have heard from a number of groups and individuals,
faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents, coaches, Hall of Fame members,
donors, community members and friends.
But most importantly, I’ve heard directly from the student-athletes impacted
directly by this recommendation. I had the chance to talk with members of the
men’s soccer and baseball teams to hear their concerns, frustrations, and hopes
for the future.
I am most respectful of the young men on our men’s soccer and baseball teams,
and how they have conducted themselves. They have behaved with civility and
respect during an extremely difficult week.
To each of those young men, I’m proud of how you are representing yourselves,
your team, and this university.
Over the next weeks, the task force will receive feedback and review the
Please continue to send your input directly to our comments form. The
comments will be reviewed by the task force and by me.
October 2, 2012
On Wednesday, September 26, 2012 the President’s Council and I received a report from Director of Athletics Michael Waddell recommending a reconfiguration of the intercollegiate athletics program currently offered at Towson University. The recommendation considered three guiding principles:
1. Establish long-term financial stability of the athletics program;
2. Increase the competitiveness of the athletics program;
3. Maintain compliance with federal law concerning female-to-male athlete proportionality.
After a great deal of discussion and examination by Mr. Waddell and his senior leadership team, the report recommends the reinstatement of the men’s tennis program, the discontinuation of the University’s NCAA Division I sponsorship of the men’s soccer and baseball programs, and roster expansions for select women’s teams. No other teams were recommended for discontinuation or reinstatement.
I respect the thought and care Mr. Waddell and his team put into this recommendation and its alignment with the economic challenges that institutions of higher education across the nation continue to face.
I have asked Mr. David Nevins ’76, chairman of the Towson University Board of Visitors, to lead a task force charged to provide an external review of the recommendation and receive input from on and off-campus constituents. The task force will include the Faculty Athletics Representative, student and alumni representatives, and additional members of the community. All input will be reviewed in the context of the three issues facing the athletics program: financial stability, competitiveness, and compliance.
The task force will host a public session. The date, time, and location will be announced soon. There will also be a forum for those in athletics and a session for students to share their comments.
Over the next month, I will keep the university community updated on the progress of the task force on a weekly basis. A special website [www.towson.edu/AthleticsTaskForce] has been created to accept public input on how we can continue to ensure a healthy athletics program for now and into the future. I will be monitoring all of the comments and concerns that are being shared in our community and through the website. I assure you, I am listening.
The task force will make their recommendation to me and I will announce my final decision by mid-November.
Our Towson University community holds a great deal of pride for our baseball and men’s soccer student-athletes and the legacy they have established with Towson University. I recognize how disappointing and difficult these discussions are for our student-athletes, alumni, families, supporters, and the entire campus community. In these challenging economic times, it is sometimes necessary to recommend approaches that, although troubling to many, may be in the best interest of long-term stability.
September 18, 2012
At Towson University no recognized student group is permitted to discriminate against anyone. Our policy clearly states:
“Towson University has a process in place by which student groups are able to form recognized organizations. The institution has established viewpoint neutral guidelines for recognition based on objective criteria and national best practices. Active membership of all student organizations shall be chosen without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, age, national origin, disability, marital status, veteran status, sexual orientation or gender.”
It is also important to note that Towson has specific criteria that must be met in order for a student group to form and to date, there is no established or recognized “White Student Union” on Towson University’s campus.
The exchange of opinions and debate is a core principle of higher education and is supported by Towson’s commitment to the First Amendment. Unfortunately, this freedom on occasion allows for ideas that are offensive and hurtful to many and runs against the grain of the values of Towson University.
Accordingly, the President's Task Force Against Bias, Discrimination, and Bullying and other campus leadership groups will continue our work to ensure this continued exchange of ideas upholds the institution's mission and commitment to diversity and non-discrimination.
I extend my deepest gratitude to all of those who have worked so diligently these past six months on the magnificent inauguration week and ceremony. Hundreds of Towson University staff, faculty, students, and administrators have given countless hours to make this past week a glorious celebration for our campus community.
The Inauguration Committee, co-chaired by Teresa Hardin and Dan Leonard, has worked together to oversee every detail:
Dirron Allen, Student Life
Alison Armstrong, President’s Office
Cassy Bennett, President’s Office
Jeri Bielas, Development
Tom Cascella, Theatre
Mary T. Casterline, Alumni Relations
Marina Cooper, President’s Office
Jim DiLisio, Provost’s Office
Carol Dunsworth, University Relations
Tracey Ford, Development
Jennifer Gajewski, President’s Office
Gail Gibbs, International Student and Scholar Office
Teri Hall, Campus Life
Mike Harris, Athletics
Catherine Horta-Hayden, Dance
Bobbie Laur, DECO
Jim McTygue, Events and Conference Services
Louise Miller, University Marketing
Pam Mooney, Parking and Transportation Services
Bill Murphy, Events and Conference Services
Robert Novak, University Police
Krystle Ongaco, Events and Conference Services
Joe Oster, Auxiliary Services
Rick Pallansch, Design Center
Rod Petrocci, Black and Gold Catering
Frank Rankin, Events and Conference Services
Warren Riefner, Facilities Management
Tony Rosas, Theatre Arts
Dana Rothlisberger, Music
Thom Ruby, Bursar’s Office
Ron Santana, Office of Technology Services
Matt Sikorski, SGA
Heather Sorensen, College of Fine Arts and Communication
Tim Sullivan, Economics
Matt Wynd, CIAT
Toyia Younger, Provost’s Office
Many staff and faculty including those in Events and Conference Services, facilities, campus police, student musicians, the Marriott, Black and Gold catering services, the President’s Office, Student Affairs, University Advancement, Marketing, Alumni Relations, Athletics, Board of Visitors, and our academic departments have contributed to the success. The collaboration is yet another example of Towson University at its best.
Thank you to you all and now let us speed into a sparkling future for Towson.
On a bi-weekly basis, President Loeschke will keep the campus community updated on the latest happenings and highlights.
Be sure to check back often for updated information.
Office of the President
Administration Building, Room 331