We at Schreiner are looking forward to 2016 as another year of exciting progress. Our enrollment growth is matched by a dynamic learning spirit on campus. For instance, students have eagerly embraced Paws Portal, our program for building co-curricular transcripts which, along with the traditional academic transcript, tell a fuller story of undergraduate learning. Last fall’s seventh freshman learning community-- for performing arts-- has proven a success, and those communities will be joined next fall by an eighth, serving students interested in design. Altogether, these communities have done an exceptional job in engaging and retaining our first-year students. I am impressed by how avidly our faculty seek out ways to incorporate high impact practices in the classroom, including undergraduate research, study abroad and substantive internships.
Schreiner continues to pursue its master plan for campus physical needs. We are now entering the final stages of securing gifts to fund two longtime projects, the repurposing of facilities to provide a multi-use home for our campus ministry program and a suitable facility for our music program. We are following the successful practice used in constructing the event center, having completed design and construction documents to establish a maximum price and then partnering with architect and contractor to complete the project in timely and cost efficient fashion. Both projects are slated to get underway in summer 2016. The summer will also see us addressing both the appearance and traffic flow at our front entrance. We often receive compliments on the visual appeal of the campus, and the time has come to ensure the same is true of our front gate, where most have their first glimpse of Schreiner.
There are hundreds of ways of evaluating colleges and universities. Most have some value, although many employ measures of questionable relevance. One 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 last spring’s 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.
In my seventeenth 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.