May 16, 2005
Today is an exciting day in the history of Viterbo University; it is a day on which we conclude one chapter and begin a new chapter in our 115 year history. For many years now, Viterbo has been guided by a dynamic strategic plan called Vision 2005: A Renaissance for Living and Learning in the 21st Century. This plan was publicly announced in 1997; this vision has literally transformed Viterbo; the changes have been remarkable and, in all --- add up to over $42 million dollars in programs, student life and building --- all to further our mission. In areas of construction, we've seen the completion of the Reinhart Center, the Rose Terrace Student Apartments, the Fine Arts Center Renovation and Gateway project…the acquisition of the Viterbo Outdoor Athletic complex located on Highway 16. And, of course, there is the collaborative project with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater La Crosse that has resulted in the Amie L. Mathy Center for Recreation and Education, the first of its kind in the nation. The Viterbo campus has changed significantly. Streets intersecting the campus have been vacated and replaced by landscaped courtyards. These are places that our students and staff as well as employees of surrounding institutions and our neighbors enjoy.
In the academic area, our graduate programs are serving the business, nursing, education and leadership needs of Western Wisconsin. The D.B. Reinhart Center for Ethics in Leadership is filling a void for such programming not only here but throughout Wisconsin as it has been selected by Wisconsin Eye for broadcasts in the year ahead. And our newly implemented ethics-across-the-curricula is the only one of its kind in the upper Midwest.
Other remarkable changes also are apparent. During the time of Vision 2005, our enrollment has increased by over 45% and endowment has doubled. Right now, Viterbo, with a budget of $36 million, has a $100 million annual economic impact on the area. Enrollment is nearing 3,000, and this year we will award over 870 degrees. And, of course, we annually register more than 7,500 individual students in our advanced degree programs.
So here we are ready today to begin a new chapter, --- to announce a new blueprint, a new vision for our future. Like the VISION 2005, this new vision is centered on mission; it, too, is person-centered, values-based, learning-focused and community directed. The new blueprint envisions Viterbo as an innovative, creative and flexible university. It envisions Viterbo as a progressive, collaborative and ever-evolving institution that has at its foundation those never changing Franciscan values.
A little less than an hour ago, the Viterbo University Board of Trustees…I am pleased to announce, formally and unanimously, approved a new vision for Viterbo and it is called, The University of Opportunity.
I say to you today with full confidence, that if you think the past 7-8 years have been exciting wait until you see what the future holds for Viterbo…it will be even more exciting!
The brochure, which has been distributed today, highlights 25 of the 70 initiatives. This document, which will guide us into the future, is more than a blueprint; it is a vision which will infuse everything we do; it contains challenges that involve all of us; it is a process-one that is continuous and open to new and evolving opportunities; finally, it is a plan that present us with strategic directions.
Permit me to share some of the highlights.
For ease of understanding, we have placed the 25 initiatives which have been given to you under two broad areas: 1) educational programs and structures, and 2) student development and structures.
Educational Programs and Structures
First, we will explore the feasibility of offering Western Wisconsin's first doctoral program; a Ph.D. in ethical leadership. This idea originated a number of years ago when the D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership was initiated. Now is the logical time to pursue this initiative. Our current master degree programs in Servant Leadership, Business Administration, Nursing, and Education will flow logically and seamlessly into this new doctorate. The program will be unique and the only one of its kind in the Midwest.
Secondly, we will expand and modernize the current Brophy Nursing Center (pic) to include additional space for classrooms, offices, simulations labs and other state of the art enhancements. Our existing library also will be expanded to include a “Cyber café” (pic) where students can study and congregate 24/7.
Thirdly, we will continue to build our endowment. An endowment allows Viterbo to attract excellent students, to provide access to the needy students; and to attract and retain excellent faculty…. Viterbo's endowment which stands at $14 M needs to increase significantly so that Viterbo remains The University of Opportunity…affordable and accessible.
Fourthly, we will seek even more ways to be collaborative. Our goal will be to advance nationally, the reputation and outreach opportunities that are available in the D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership. Currently, the Institute continues to grow proportional to our nation's awakening interest in ethics. Our collaborations via the institute, businesses, and other institutions of higher education are limited only by the imagination.
Finally, the Mathy Center, which will be dedicated in September, will be a place where our students will be able to work with youngsters, emphasizing to a whole new generation of leaders, the value of character, volunteerism and leadership.
Student Development and Structures
First, Viterbo will continue to seek ways to engage our students and to be of service to them. We exist, not for ourselves, but for our students; and we firmly believe that the University should be a place where students can engage in learning (PAUSE) while living. And that living and learning, whenever possible, should occur simultaneously.
To do this is a challenge, but one we eagerly embrace.
For example, we will use technology to provide 24/7 access for registration, grading, degree-audits, and financial aid awards. That also means extending our hours of operation, increasing the opportunities for intramurals, and creating more space for recreational and social activities.
Secondly, we plan to expand the bookstore and Student Union. We also will be transforming the existing Student Activity Center into a varsity athletic center, including the installation of seats where we once had bleachers.
Thirdly, our cafeteria (pic)will be modernized using the food court concept and terrace dining will be available; we also have plans to construct a modern apartment style student residence facility for 140+ students.
Viterbo's goal is to nurture a living-learning environment where students will grow not only intellectually, but also personally, spiritually, socially and culturally.
Lest I forget Mission! We will be including two projects which will visualize our special Franciscan mission. In a month or so, we will be installing a fountain with the name “precarious balance,” based on the Franciscan Canticle of Creatures, or as it is more popularly known: The Canticle of Brother Sun, Sister Moon. Also, we will soon install a sculpture of St. Clare of Assisi, which will be located on our campus to serve as a constant reminder to us of our Franciscan heritage. Both of these projects are made possible because of the generosity of anonymous benefactors. In fact, the fountain and sculpture, representing our mission, will be the first visible evidence that The University of Opportunity has commenced.
Let me conclude my remarks by thanking those who have made the past and indeed will make the future possible:
The Board of Trustees has supported this, The University of Opportunity, with their input and leadership.
The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration…their support remains deeply ingrained in our very mission and purposes. It is the reason why Viterbo exists.
Viterbo benefactors continue their generous support and were responsible for the success of Vision 2005. They and others will have a significant impact on the success of The University of Opportunity.
Last, but not least, one cannot say enough about the Viterbo faculty and staff. They began discussing this blueprint in terms of our mission and vision in 2002. They then developed goals in 2003 and the University Planning Council reviewed and refined the plan in 2004. Finally, the Cabinet and the Trustees gave their input in 2005. So my sincere thanks goes to each and every one of you.
And finally, there is the student, who is at the heart of all that we do. Today, we commit ourselves to the success of The University of Opportunity which is designed for you. And we issue you this challenge. The future is in your hands. May you lead and serve wisely.
Again, I thank you for being here today. We must resume our meeting of the Board of Trustees, but I will remain here in the Lobby for a few minutes. Should you have a question, please see me. Again, thanks for being here. Let us move forward into the future with confidence and joy.