VU kicks off 2021-22 academic year with optimism and excitement - External Relations
VU kicks off 2021-22 academic year with optimism and excitement
August 12, 2021
VINCENNES, Ind. - Vincennes University President Dr. Chuck Johnson opened the University’s 2021-22 academic year with messages of progress, success, and optimism.
Faculty and staff attended the annual Opening Meeting via Zoom on Monday, August 9, and there were many impressive highlights as members of the executive team shared progress made toward goals in VU’s strategic plan, “Going Further, Faster.”
Notably, VU increased fall-to-spring student retention to 80.9 percent from fall 2019 to spring 2020 (up from 78.3 percent in spring 2019), showing the University is closing in on its 2022 goal of 83 percent retention. This update came on the heels of a July 2021 report from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education showing that VU’s on-time graduation rate rose significantly to 33 percent for the cohort that began in fall 2018.
Driving the improvement in these metrics are the significant efforts VU has made in creating an environment that fosters student success. The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Council (DEI) is focused on ensuring that all students experience a successful and outstanding college journey. Resources and supports such as the Student Success Center, faculty advisors, academic coaches, Collaborative Opportunities for Postsecondary Education (COPE) program, Student Transition into Educational (STEP) program, Experience VU program, Knowledge Market, tracking attendance and performance of students system, Office of Diverse Abilities and Accommodations, and Counseling Center are readily available to every student.
Provost Dr. Laura Treanor reported on the University’s launch of Circleln, a National Science Foundation-funded all-in-one-studying app. It is VU’s latest initiative aimed at fostering success and enriching the experiences of students. The app enables them to connect outside of the classroom virtually with each other and with faculty. Treanor encourages all VU students to explore the new platform and to use the positive and personal connections created through it to their advantage.
VU invests in the success of its students through a variety of programs and initiatives. Johnson shared how VU has dedicated substantial funds toward residential scholarships on the Vincennes Campus along with an estimated half-million dollars in additional scholarships for the University’s sites and campuses.
Vice-President of Financial Services Linda Waldroup reported that VU and the VU Foundation enjoyed a stellar year and received more than $15 million in grants and donations. VU was the recipient of two major Lilly Endowment grants that will fund the creation of the Center for Applied Robotics and Automation, and the introduction of collaborative robots in VU labs at Vincennes, Jasper, Lebanon, and several of VU’s CTE Early Colleges throughout Indiana. Lilly grants will also support work-based learning opportunities, including the development of Techmester, a summer residential experience where CTE Early College students attend classes on the Vincennes campus, and a STEM Academy focused on high school students interested in learning about STEM careers and the postsecondary educational paths needed to pursue them.
Vice-President of Workplace Development and Community Services David Tucker stressed there are great opportunities for VU to make strides in workforce development, even during a pandemic. Tucker praised VU faculty and staff for making the Amazon Mechatronics and Robotics Apprenticeship Program a huge success. He also pointed to other success stories, including new Indiana Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (INFAME) chapters at the Aviation Technology Center in Indianapolis and Automation and Robotics Academy (ARA) at the VU Jasper Campus.
Faculty and staff were celebrated throughout the Opening Meeting. Peer Recognition Award recipients were announced, service anniversaries were recognized, and new hires and employees in new roles were introduced.
During the virtual gathering, Johnson strongly urged all students, staff, and faculty to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to help protect the health of the VU Community. VU has partnered with the Knox County Health Department and will host an on-campus vaccine clinic on Wednesday, August 24, at Green Activities Center, 2-6 p.m. EDT.
Friday marks the end of a key week for VU faculty and staff as they prepare for Fall Semester 2021. A series of professional development sessions took place throughout the week focusing on a wide range of topics, including VU’s Culture of Civility; Easing the Post-Pandemic Transition for Students; and Insight into Diversity: The Latino Community, led by Marlene Dotson, President and CEO of the Indiana Latino Institute, and colleagues Maria Quiroz-Southwood and Emily Price.