New academic year kicks off with Opening Meeting

New academic year kicks off with Opening Meeting

VU President Dr. Chuck Johnson with Peer Recognition Award winners

August 09, 2022

VINCENNES, Ind. – The pace of change in higher education is accelerating. Vincennes University President Dr. Chuck Johnson and several other University leaders offered updates on the VU strategic plan, “Going Further, Faster” and detailed the University's progress during its annual Opening Meeting.

Faculty and staff from across VU sites and locations attended virtually plus filled the Red Skelton Performing Arts Center on Monday, Aug. 8, for the first in-person Opening Meeting since prior to the global pandemic in 2019.

“I’m so excited about the future of Vincennes University," Johnson said." I’m so happy of all the things we are doing to address challenges, and in fact, lead the way in so many places because of the work you do. I’m so excited for what this year holds and the great opportunities we can provide so many of our students and stakeholders.”

His welcome address kicked off the event and officially opened the University for the 2022-23 academic year. Fall classes start, Monday, Aug. 15. Johnson shared messages of change, progress, achievement, and optimism. 

VU is taking major steps toward executing the six priorities in the “Going Further, Faster” strategic plan. The progress made was shared with a series of presentations during Opening Meeting.

Priority 1 – Enhance Enrollment and Recruitment Efforts: VU has introduced new campus youth programs, created international online cohorts, enhanced the University’s website and content, added a bachelor degree program recruiter, extended housing scholarships, collaborated with the Indiana Latino Institute Consortium, and rolled out an LPN to BSN program for licensed practical nurses to each a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, according to Johnson.

Priority 2 - Emphasize Partnerships with Industry, K-12, and Higher Education: Vice President of Workforce Development and Community Services David Tucker reported enrollment in work-based learning programs exceeded goals. There is also a greater adoption of industry programs using distance education. VU graduated its 29th Amazon cohort last week and welcomed its 32nd Amazon cohort to the Vincennes Campus on Aug. 8.

Priority 3 - Improve Student Retention and Success: VU Provost Dr. Laura Treanor reported VU is making good progress in the 150 percent completion and success rate and the 100 percent completion and success rate. Additionally, the fall-to-fall retention rate increased. To enhance its efforts, VU adopted the all-in-one study app, CircleIn, which provides virtual peer tutoring. Brainfuse also continues to provide online tutoring 24/7. VU has also expanded the role of academic coaches. The Student Success Center is leveraging data collected by Institutional Research and is reaching out quickly to at-risk students. VU has established a childcare partnership for VU students with Pace Community Action Agency, Inc.

Priority 4 - Cultivate Internal and External Resources: Vice President of Financial Services Tim Eaton shared fundraising, Business & Industry Amazon and other industrial maintenance training, and Business & Industry South and health training are doing well. The focus will continue on grant funding for strategic initiatives. In 2021, Business and Industry hired a Director of Corporate Partnership Development to broaden the customer training base.

Priority 5 - Identify and Investigate Opportunities to Establish New Programs and Enhance Existing Programs: VU is making great progress in this strategic priority, according to Provost Treanor. It saw a significant increase in new transfer partnerships in 2021 when 25 new partnerships were added due to focus efforts by the Provost’s Office, deans, program chairs, and directors. There has also been an increase in short-term programs. New collaborative robot labs and partnerships are leading to new training and academic programs. 

Priority 6 - Develop and Implement a Communication Strategy that Promotes and Reinforces VU’s Role and Identity with Indiana and Elsewhere: VU has prioritized a website redesign with a new look and better user experience. Total users and new users of the VU website are incredibly higher, according to Vice President of Government and Legal Affairs Tony Hahn. VU has expanded outreach to international markets.

During his report about the Higher Learning Commission and federal updates, Senior Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Research Dr. Dale Pietzrak said, “We are in a really, really, really good place coming into our next four year comprehensive review. We had a major site review and we came through that as wonderfully as we could.”

Director of Admissions Ryan Barbauld reported the Vincennes Campus and VU Jasper Campus saw rises in applicants, while the Vincennes Campus also saw an increase in admitted students. Enrollment has increased at VU Jasper. Barbauld is “cautiously optimistic”, and projects system-wide enrollment will be slightly down. However, he expects the system-wide full-time equivalent to remain flat.

Peer Recognition Award recipients were announced, service anniversaries were recognized, and new hires and employees in new roles were introduced during Opening Meeting. A food drive was also held in support of Sandy’s Pantry, which provides free non-perishable food items to VU students.

Opening Meeting was full of enthusiasm for the upcoming school year, excitement for the many positive changes headed to VU, and all seemed to enjoy seeing each other face-to-face.