Dear Newman Community,
Recently I had the opportunity to hear the stories of several Newman education majors. Each of them talked about the excellent content of their coursework. And they visibly brightened as they spoke of faculty members who provided guidance and support along their journeys. I was reminded of my own former teachers who have influenced the path of my life, especially the ASC sisters upon whose shoulders we currently stand.
As stewards of this university, the Board of Trustees owes a debt of gratitude to those who came before us, and we have a responsibility to provide strategic leadership for future generations as well. The board has articulated its hopes and aspirations for Newman University, setting the stage for more than 200 people to participate in the strategic planning efforts currently underway. My thanks to each of you for your thoughtful input.
At the same time, the board realizes that we must address significant current issues before we are in a position to fulfill our hopes and aspirations. Newman University, like other private, liberal arts colleges, is faced with an external environment that threatens to disrupt our traditional business model. Newman is very dependent on tuition revenue. Current demographics indicate that the pool of college-bound students is shrinking dramatically. In the next few years, the number of prospective first-time students in the United States will drop by 450,000.
How do we assure that Newman University continues to survive – to THRIVE – given these headwinds?
Our board is wrestling with the challenges facing us with eyes wide open. We have challenged the cabinet to work collaboratively to reduce expenses, recruit and retain students, create new programs to meet new needs, and continue to grow the university’s endowment and other fundraising initiatives. I’m happy to report that a number of current initiatives will help Newman to address its challenges.
Among these are the creation of the School of Catholic Studies and the development of new undergraduate majors in social work and data analytics. New options in the master’s in education program will enable high school teachers to complete a track of graduate courses in the fields of math, chemistry and history. Faculty members have developed five undergraduate and graduate online programs in the last two years. We applaud them for their efforts to ensure that Newman’s academic programs are relevant for students and aligned with our mission, vision and values.
Meeting the needs of students will continue to require targeted marketing efforts, particularly using digital means to communicate with prospective students in ways that are relevant to them. We are encouraged by the collaborative efforts of Enrollment Management, Advancement, faculty and staff to reach out and tell Newman’s story of “a Degree of Difference.”
We are also acutely aware of the need to focus on financial stability, deferred maintenance and support of Newman’s workforce. If you are able to do so, I humbly ask for your increased financial support to help meet the challenges before us.
We are all working to ensure that Newman is a thriving learning community. We are also humbly aware of our reliance on Divine Providence. I ask each member of the Newman community to pray for the faculty and staff, as well as the Board of Trustees, as each of us uses our God-given talents to achieve Newman’s mission of empowering graduates to transform society.
Teresa Hall Bartels
Chair, Newman University Board of Trustees