Annual Fall Teaching and Scholarship Forum

Below are President Glasser's remarks from the Annual Fall Teaching and Scholarship Forum on August 24, 2009.

I am so pleased to be here today to share some thoughts with you about Bradley and the coming academic year.  You are the essential element in our world of learning.  It is your passion and dedication to our students that makes Bradley the wonderful place that it is.

It is so good to have the students on campus again and have their boundless energy return to the hilltop.   Compared to our quiet summer, you can just feel the excitement.

Something truly wonderful happens when students who want to learn come to study with faculty who want to teach.  Your role as teachers, mentors and guides is vital to our students’ futures. 

Because of your dedication and commitment to our students, they have the ability to become professionals in the arts, sciences, engineering, nursing, business, communications and nearly every field imaginable.  I firmly believe there is nothing better than helping students shape their own futures.

Thank you for all your hard work and for making last year the success that it was.  There is still much to accomplish as we move into the new academic year.  I spoke about success and the challenge of continuing that success at the university conference last week. 

Permit me this morning to share some thoughts with you about Bradley as a university of national distinction.  Our goal must be nothing less than making Bradley a university of national distinction.

A simple dictionary definition of distinction is “the state of getting special recognition or honor.”  Let me be clear:  Bradley is a university of distinction. 

The evidence for that is abundant in such things as the U.S.News and World Report of best colleges and the recently released Princeton Review.  I love the quote from the Princeton Review.  It said Bradley “offers a small-school atmosphere due to its intimate class settings and its devoted professors.

Bradley and its academic programs are united by passion, tradition and a striving for consistent improvement and excellence.”  That’s quite a compliment.  Here are some other indications that Bradley is a university of distinction:

Bradley recruits and enrolls good students.  Let me share some observations about this year’s incoming class.  It is large-- the 1,113 freshman class is near a record number – 33 more than our target.  We intend to continue to recruit and enroll that size class. 

The class is diverse – 21.3 percent of our freshmen are students of color. The largest segments are African-Americans and Latinos, and we’ve experienced slight increases in both of those categories. But we want to do more.  The students come from nearly 30 states and several foreign countries.   

Our freshmen are fairly evenly divided among our five colleges and our Academic Exploration Program.  The colleges of Education and Health Sciences, Liberal Arts and AEP all have between 210 and 230 freshmen enrolled.  And the class is talented -- our average ACT scores are just where they’ve been for the last two years. 

Bradley has talented faculty in all areas — again permit me to share some observations.  In the last year Bradley faculty published more than 145 peer-reviewed papers and presented more than 225 papers at regional, national, or international meetings.  You published more than 40 books and book chapters. 

Bradley faculty submitted 103 proposals for extramural funding.  From these proposals 40 grants were funded for a total of $3.41 million.  One of these was a grant from the National Science Foundation for $600,000 to launch a new program to provide scholarships to students from under-represented groups to pursue careers in the STEM areas.  Those are very impressive numbers and are the result of your hard work.

Bradley is developing the resources for new and renovated facilities.  Our Campaign for a Bradley Renaissance continues to thrive and we intend to surpass our goal of $150 million.  I reviewed our construction projects at the University Conference and we are on the way to having the facilities we dream of.

By any measure, Bradley is a university of distinction, but we aspire to national distinction.  National distinction for Bradley will come when we can build success upon success, when we can reach a consistent level of excellence in all that we do. 

Booker T. Washington once said that excellence is doing a common thing in an uncommon way.  In one way, we are doing at Bradley what hundreds of other universities do:  we are preparing students for successful futures.  So our goal has to be to do this “common thing” in uncommon ways.

What I wish to offer are some observations about obtaining national distinction.  This is not intended to be an exhaustive list — it is intended to be the start of a conversation with all of you and I invite you to share your thoughts about national distinction.

We will become a university of national distinction when we have the same name recognition nationally for prospective students that we do have in Illinois and the surrounding states. 

Our goal must be to recruit more students from the east and west coasts, from New York, from California, and from other more distant states and throughout the world.  Broadening our geographical diversity – and our cultural diversity – will make our campus more like the world outside … the world our students will work and live in.

But recruiting a national student body is only the first step.  Bradley will become a university of national distinction when we are leaders in the retention and graduation of our students.  The recent Princeton Review said that “Bradley is all about teaching the individual student.”  We must continue to make student success our primary goal and carry that through to become a national leader in the retention and graduation of our students.

Bradley will be a university of national distinction when each year Bradley students are competitive for national recognition.  We should do everything we can to help our students obtain Truman Scholarships, Fulbright Awards, even Rhodes Scholarships. 

Won’t it be wonderful when we can meet each fall and talk about our Truman Scholarship winner for this year?  Won’t it be wonderful when Bradley students become Rhodes Scholars?  Those are ambitious goals; but universities of national distinction have ambitious goals.

But student achievement is only one part of national distinction.  The heart and soul of a university of national distinction is the faculty.  What I most admire about Bradley’s faculty is that you pursue the life of the mind in the company of our students.

Bradley has always been a university where teaching comes first.  But while teaching is your primary role, you have understood that continuing scholarship and creative efforts inform and expand your teaching.  It has been very exciting for me to see how your commitment to your own scholarship and creative efforts is not divorced from the classroom, the studio, and the lab.

In a book now nearly twenty years old entitled Scholarship Reconsidered, Ernest Boyer argued that the traditional definition of scholarship was much too narrow.  That traditional definition limited scholarship to what Boyer called the scholarship of discovery.  Work could only be considered scholarly if it added “new knowledge.” 

Boyer added to the traditional definition some new categories, such as the scholarship of integration, the scholarship of application, and the scholarship of teaching.  I would argue that many Bradley faculty have not only embraced Boyer’s categories, but they have added another one:  scholarship that involves students. 

By involving students in your scholarly and creative efforts wherever you can, you have expanded learning beyond the classroom, the studio, and the lab.  You have made our students true partners in your work.

Bradley can achieve national distinction as a university where faculty collaborate with students in research and creative activities all across the campus.  I know that collaborative work already takes place, but we should make Bradley a national leader in faculty-student collaborative research and creative activities.

Last on a list of observations – a list that could be much longer -- concerns nationally distinctive academic programs.  The fact that we are a medium size institution and that we intend to remain that way invites collaboration and cooperation across discipline and college lines. 

Already in our plans is the construction of an engineering-business convergence center where students will learn to be leaders at top corporations, such as Caterpillar.   The center will combine key engineering and business principles to teach students how to achieve success in our high-tech and global world.  There is really nothing like it of its kind.

We should have as a goal the development of other collaborative programs and here again you will play the key role.  If we are to do “common things” in uncommon ways, we should keep developing programs for the emerging 21st century world.  Collaboration and cooperation should be our key words as we move forward.  We should make Bradley a national leader in such collaborative programs.

I submit that national distinction comes from these kinds of things: a national student body with the highest graduation rate in the country, where each year Bradley students receive national recognition; a faculty which engages in research and creative activities with students as true partners in the work to expand the learning environment beyond the classroom, studio, and lab; and academic programs that are based on collaboration across traditional discipline and college lines.  I think this would be considered “doing common things in uncommon ways.”

I invite your comments on these observations; I would welcome your ideas about helping Bradley become a university of national distinction.  You are indeed the heart and soul of this university. 

You model for our students the rewards of the life of the mind by sharing with them your scholarly and creative efforts, by mentoring them as they face their futures, and by involving them wherever possible in your scholarly and creative efforts.  I firmly believe that together we will make Bradley a university of national distinction.

I am looking forward to this new academic year as I know you are too.  Thank you for your good work and for being at Bradley University.

I wish you all the very best as we embark on this exciting and promising new academic year.