Dr. Troy D. Hammond, president of North Central College, delivered a “State of the College” address to faculty and staff as the College prepared for its start of 2016-2017 academic term. Hammond highlighted the institution’s enrollment status, spoke to some of the challenges many higher education institutions face today and more.
This academic term marks the second highest incoming class in North Central College’s history, Hammond announced, adding that the College continues to welcome new tenure-track professors and additional visiting professors.
A reorganization of the College’s academic affairs and added leadership teams will also help position North Central as “one of the nation’s top comprehensive colleges of liberal arts and sciences,” said Hammond. Changes include the establishment of the President’s Council, the Center for the Advancement of Faculty Excellence, the Center for Student Success and a series of new academic opportunities. “We’re a College that is moving aggressively into the future at a time when, unfortunately, many institutions are struggling,” said Hammond.
In his report, the president provided an update on the construction of a new state-of-the-art, multi-disciplinary science facility scheduled to open on campus in spring 2017. The $60 million science facility is at the heart of the College’s “Brilliant Future Campaign.” With a fundraising goal of $150 million, the Campaign will also strengthen the College’s endowment, support scholarships, professorships and academic programs.
Hammond highlighted North Central’s participation in the Billion Dollar Green Challenge designed to encourage colleges, universities and nonprofits to invest a combined total of $1 billion in self-managed revolving funds that finance energy efficiency and other sustainability improvements. To date, 62 institutions have joined the Challenge and North Central is one of only two in Illinois. This fall the College will implement the largest project to date from the green revolving fund: a 538.56 kW solar array with a 250 kW energy storage system in Res/Rec. The solar panels will provide 22 percent of the electricity needed for the 201,439-square-foot building with energy storage capacity that can be sold to help support the project.
The president also reported on the process for a new Strategic Plan now underway. “The planning process will allow us to discuss and agree on the principles we value and the goals for which we strive,” he said. “North Central College is an institution with a proud history of combining a high quality education in the liberal arts and sciences with pre-professional programs and a commitment to civic engagement. That core will not change. We have always been, and will continue to be, responsive to market opportunities for academic programs that ensure the fiscal strength of our residential core, even as we strive to raise the quality, stature and recognition of this institution.”
Hammond concluded his speech by addressing some challenges “that we all face in higher education. Hardly a day passes without a significant news event from somewhere on our nation’s college campuses regarding the safety of our students, concerns regarding the socio-political environment in which we currently live, or challenges about the financial realities of higher education.”
In response to the “heightened awareness of social ills and violence in America combined with a volatile political environment,” college campuses have historically been a significant venue for dialogue on these issues and “North Central College is no exception,” he said.
“The 2016 political season swirling around us adds rhetoric that heightens anxiety for many and reinforces the need for civil discourse and open dialogue,” said Hammond. “We are not perfect here, but we will continue to be a campus that strives to provide a safe and encouraging environment for our students to achieve the educational dreams they bring to North Central College.”
The president said he will continue to work closely with leaders across campus to “understand and address any incidents that arise and, equally importantly, to facilitate the kind of productive dialogue and civil discourse that contributes meaningfully to the educational experience of our students.”
In addition to dialogue, Hammond said the College “cannot lose sight of financial challenges” existing at federal and state levels. Earlier this year he attended a series of events in Springfield, Ill., sponsored by the Federation of Independent College and Universities.
“The legislatures we met with understand the value of funding for the state’s Monetary Award Program. In June, the College received the balance of the $3.5 million in MAP funds we were expecting last year…but funding for this year looms as an unresolved issue, and MAP grants are vital for our retention and recruitment. Given this uncertain environment, we committed to our students to cover any shortfall in MAP grant funding for 2016-2017,” said Hammond. “We felt we had to give our families the confidence to move forward with enrollment decisions that are contingent on financial aid packages. Financial aid and scholarships are vital to our student population and are an important part of the Brilliant Future Campaign.”
The president’s speech represents an important tradition at North Central College. It is the “one day each year when faculty and staff gather to hear about the accomplishments of the previous academic year and anticipate the opportunities of the coming year,” said Hammond. “We are a campus on the move with a Brilliant Future ahead.”
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About North Central College: Founded in 1861, North Central College is an independent, comprehensive college of the liberal arts and sciences that offers more than 55 undergraduate majors and graduate programming in five areas. Just 30 minutes from Chicago's Loop, North Central's campus is located in the Historic District of Naperville, Illinois-rated by Money magazine as among the nation's "Best Places to Live" and by Chicagoans as the most desirable town to live. With more than 2,900 undergraduate and graduate students, North Central College is committed to academic excellence; a climate that emphasizes leadership, ethics, values and service; a curriculum that balances job-related knowledge with a liberal arts foundation; and a caring environment with small classes. Visit northcentralcollege.edu and discover what it means to #BeCentral.
Melissa Ramirez Cooper
Director of Communication
North Central College
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