Story by Kayla Harrell, Staff writer
President Bob Davies gave his inaugural State of the University Address Monday in Wrather Auditorium.
“In creating our university, Dr. Wells said that the new university in Murray would cast its shadow and nourish every other interest in the community and in turn, would be richly rewarded and supported by the community in its own efforts and become one of, if not the, finest college in the Commonwealth,” Davies said.
The State of the University Address started with the accomplishments Murray State has made within the past year. He said nearly 80 percent of recent graduates are either employed or are attending graduate school within one year after graduation. About 73 percent of Murray State graduates in 2015 who applied for veterinary school were accepted to their first choice, and that surpasses the national acceptance rate of 39 percent.
“We can easily say we are entering into our ‘93rd year of progress’ based on these and many more accomplishments, and we will definitely work hard to continue this trend,” Davies said.
Davies said the challenges of higher education are driven by three forces: “the continual decline of state resources, the continual increase of accountability measures and the value of higher education.”
He said the funding for higher education has decreased over the past decade.
“During this time in Kentucky, the state appropriations to public universities decreased by nearly $180 million,” he said.
On average, the state pays about 70 percent of educational costs for a full-time student. At Murray State, the cost is about 25 percent and will continue to decrease.
“Murray State has made every effort to be good stewards of our scarce resources,” Davies said.
The Address included the adoption of accountability through performance funding, which he said 31 states have already adopted and soon will be added by Kentucky.
He discussed the university’s Strategic Initiative plan, which university officials began to develop last academic year and will span for seven years. He said the four goals of the strategic plan are academic quality, student success, advancing knowledge and community engagement. The strategic plan includes proposed new tuition and scholarship models. These models focus on the needs of the students while addressing the challenges of higher education.
Davies said the proposed models make changes while preserving affordability.
“It is a difficult, but necessary balancing act,” he said. “It is one we can and will continue to achieve.”
He said the goal of the university is to be financially secure enough to fund more scholarships for students and promote diversity within those new scholarships.
“Our commitment is to the positive and transformative experience of our students,” Davies said. “We are here for our students.”
Davies said the future plans for the university not only benefits the students, but also the faculty and staff. The financial plans include increasing the salaries of high performing faculty and staff.
“We must also be able to support our faculty and staff,” he said. “We need to invest in our own people.”
Davies final words included those of Harry Sparks, the fifth president of Murray State.
“Murray State is not the largest university in the United States,” Sparks said. “But it is well-known and well-recognized.”