By Colter Hettich, Student Reporter
Dr. Royce Money, president of the university, shared business updates and outlined the administration’s plan for making ACU “the premier university for the education of Christcentered, global leaders” by 2020.
Money called ACU’s faculty and staff together Monday afternoon in Hart Auditorium for a State of the Union of sorts.
Money addressed strengths and weaknesses, describing ACU’s strategy to remain a competitive university and still provide a community true to ACU’s mission.
The numbers prove the university’s strengths lie in more than a few areas.
Its endowment sits at about $285 million, twice that of any Church of Christ university, excluding Pepperdine University. In 2006, ACU received the CCCU Racial Harmony Award. The athletic program has earned the fourth highest number of NCAA national championships. Twenty-five percent of incoming freshmen in fall 2007 were U.S. ethnic minorities or international students, more than double the last three years.
Yet ACU must still face the realities of maintaining and developing a private university.
2007’s fiscal year ended with a $1.6 million deficit not covered by the contingency. The administration projects a $1.5 million budget shortfall in 2008 and $3 million deficit in 2009.
Over the past two years, the number of entering freshmen has dropped 12 percent, from 1,010 to 889.
Retaining students is consistently a problem, Money said, because larger public universities have strong appeal.
ACU is also preparing for a hit no university will escape.
Looking ahead, national demographics show that in 2008, the number of high school graduates will peak and then begin to drop until 2018.
Many difficulties stand before ACU, but the administration is prepared for the challenge.
“We must think and respond as a university, not in the silos we represent,” Money said.
Money has appointed a Vision Leadership Team, (VLT), to guide the process. The team is made of 14 faculty and staff members: four members of the Presidential Cabinet, four deans, three faculty members and three staff members.
The VLT has three purposes: review the current situation, reallocate funds and priority and reinvest in the ACU community.
The VLT will assess all aspects of the departments and programs, including external demand, cost, expenses, impact of program, opportunities provided by program and quality of the program.
In addition to the VLT’s work, ACU is also focusing on steps for immediate change, or what Money likes to call the “must-be-done-pronto list.” The administration plans to complete its $150 million centennial campaign, plan for new core curriculum and co-curriculum and create more “visible signs of quality.”
Currently, the administration is considering a list of additions, Money said. The list includes enhancing the study abroad program, building a recreation center and constructing a new science and technology facility.
The administration aims to have around 1,000 entering freshmen every year.
As demonstrated by the all-faculty and staff meeting, Money strongly believes this effort requires everyone’s help to succeed.
“If we work together and with God’s help, we can make this a reality,” Money said.