In our 2016-17 academic year, we have much to celebrate here at Schreiner. Our first-year enrollment of 302 (plus 43 Greystone freshmen) is a record number. Total headcount for all of our academic programs is 1308, another record. When you enter our campus, you now do so through a spacious, attractive front gate, with Schreiner’s seal in bronze looking down on you from its tower. The renovation of that entrance completes the third priority objective of our campus master plan—along with the Commons area and our two quadrangles-- developed by campus and community five years ago. These actions are visible expressions of our welcome to those who enter Schreiner, whether to visit or to have their lives changed through study.
A walk through our campus will reveal two major facility projects well underway. Rex Kelly Pavilion is being transformed into a home for our music program, with space for everything from orchestral rehearsal to a recording studio. The facilities should be available for active use in the second half of spring 2017. Across the way, Dietert Auditorium is being repurposed for multiple use by our campus ministry program. When completed next summer, it will offer a chapel, a generous fellowship area, offices and seminar space, a recital area and provision for private meditation indoors and out. We continue the enhancement of the learning experience at Schreiner with the addition this fall of our eighth first-year learning community, this one in design concepts. Both our Center for Teaching and Learning and our Digital Learning Center are active places for both faculty and students to benefit from discoveries in the learning process and in effective ways to engage students.
There are hundreds of ways of evaluating colleges and universities. Most have some value, although many employ measures of questionable relevance. One measure that I believe is worth contemplating is the Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory, which tracks how important certain features of college life (instruction, advising, campus life, registration, safety & security, support services, etc.) are to students and how satisfied they are with their own college’s performance. In spring 2015 data, we learned that in every single category of student experience Schreiner students were more satisfied than their peers responding at hundreds of other liberal arts colleges nationally. And the difference in each case was not marginal, but statistically significant. We don’t believe those data are accidental, and they help us stay focused on what is important. Last spring, we completed a similar Employee Satisfaction Survey, and the fact that Schreiner’s employees demonstrated themselves more satisfied than peers at other institutions in 50 of 51 statements related to campus culture and work life is similarly gratifying.
In my eighteenth year at Schreiner University, I remain excited about its distinctive qualities and exceptional blend of a heritage of learning through close relationships and openness to change. We continue to seek ways to enable families and individuals to afford a residential college experience and its opportunities for growth of character and intellect. We know how important such an education is and how strongly those who experience it affirm its value. That is precisely why Schreiner pays exceptional attention to balancing its commitment to quality with a determination to manage cost. Sometimes it means working a little smarter, but frankly that is a trait that benefits any enterprise. We will not change that commitment. At the same time, we continue to seek out additional ways to direct learning services to an adult population using our online capabilities.
Many of you know that our Board of Trustees chose Provost Charlie McCormick to succeed me as president beginning January 1, 2017, while I complete my service as Chancellor before retiring on June 1, 2017. This was a wise choice by our board, one that bodes well for continued progress. Dr. McCormick, a Schreiner leader since 2009, has been a major shaper of our academic and student life programs, and I know that you will be as excited by his leadership and Schreiner’s prospects as I am.