Messages from the President - 2014
USA President Tony Waldrop’s messages to the University community are posted below and on the University’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/theuniversityofsouthalabama. You can also follow him on Instagram (USA Waldrops).
November 20, 2014
I'm pleased to announce today one of several initiatives we will be rolling out in the next year as part of a coordinated, strategic effort to help our students graduate on time. Dr. David Johnson, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, will provide oversight for this enhanced program.
The University is in the process of hiring at least five additional academic advisors for a new First-Year Advising Team that will be housed at the Academic Services Center. This will put a focus on our newest students, whose needs are specialized, while in many cases lightening the advisory load of professional and faculty advisors throughout campus.
This fall, we enrolled a record number of first-time freshmen. Through their admission, we told those 2,073 candidates that we believed they have what it takes to earn a degree from the University of South Alabama. We have an obligation to do what we can to keep students on track and help them succeed.
Here's what we know: Students who drop out of school are most likely to do it during or right after their first year than at any other time. This is true not just at USA, but nationally.
We also know that at-risk students who take advantage of resources offered by the University do better than those who do not.
Through the additional academic advisors, our goal is to offer comprehensive services for new students to address a wide range of issues common to the college transition. By doing so, we improve their chance at success and the probability they will return for their sophomore year and eventually graduate.
We will track student achievement with a new software analytics program that is already being used in several colleges on campus.
There are other plans underway. During the inauguration ceremony in September, I introduced the idea of retention grants for students who are doing well academically but who would otherwise have to drop out for financial reasons. We also are studying the feasibility of a tuition break as an incentive for students who graduate on time. More information on these plans will follow in the coming months.
The First-Year Advising Team should be in place for fall. Dr. Nicole Carr, director of Student Academic Success and Retention, already has discussed the plans with academic deans, and we are in the process of hiring a team leader.
As always, students who are having difficulty in classes should immediately speak to someone in their college or contact Dr. Carr's JagSuccess staff at 460-7103.
Earning a degree is ultimately the responsibility of each student. As a University community, we are all better off when we give students the best chance at achieving that goal.
Tony G. Waldrop
August 29, 2014
This week we announced record enrollment of 16,055 students. More people than ever are choosing to pursue higher education at USA.
The increased enrollment, up nearly 5 percent from last fall, is a testament to the strength of our academic programs, the hard work of our faculty and staff, and the spirit of our students and alumni. Along with this enrollment growth came a record number of students choosing to live in on-campus housing. Over 2,200 students are living in University owned and operated housing, adding to an already vibrant campus life. An additional 1,000 students live in the Grove, a private apartment complex, located on the USA campus.
With good news comes challenges and opportunities. I expect continued growth as we strive to reach new audiences and ensure the University remains accessible to what has historically been our core constituency along the Gulf Coast. We must grow with quality, demanding excellence and not just numbers. We also will be accountable for helping our students graduate on time, and this must be an institution-wide focus.
A stronger, larger university also means increased opportunities to impact neighbors and communities around us. I was reminded how personal that can be as more than 700 volunteers - students, faculty, staff and alumni - moved arriving students into residence halls on Move-In Day. Julee and I visited several residence halls and were most impressed by the student groups who turned out to help fellow Jaguars and their parents unload vehicles and haul boxes up flights of stairs. The show of support was impressive, yet not unexpected.
Year-round there are examples of outreach and volunteering by the University community, including our involvement in K-12 programs, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, and, new in 2014, the USA National Alumni Association's JaguarsCare National Day of Service. In the past academic year, USA students put in more than 59,000 hours of service-learning and civic engagement! A great example of USA students helping others was featured just last month on WKRG-TV5 and AL.com. The videos, linked below, tell the story of College of Medicine, College of Nursing and Pat Capps Covey College of Allied Health Professions students operating a health clinic at 15 Place, a homeless day shelter in downtown Mobile.
These students represent who we are as an institution. Part of our mission as a university is to move beyond classrooms and improve the communities where we live. As we go full speed into another school year, let us all look for ways to do just that.
July 17, 2014
The University of South Alabama is proud to host and participate in the American Heart Association's Mobile Heart Walk on Saturday, September 13 at 8 a.m., beginning at the Mitchell Center. USA is dedicated to serving our community and, since heart disease is the number one killer of all Americans and affects the lives of so many of our South Alabama community members, the Heart Walk is a University priority.
In an effort to reach our fundraising goal of $36,000, I am asking that all our students, faculty and staff join in our fundraising efforts. You have many options for participation, such as:
- Joining as a Team Captain and recruiting 15 fundraising walkers
- Joining a team as a fundraising walker
- Making a personal donation
We need motivated and dedicated Jaguars to serve as Team Captains from each department, division, and student organization! USA needs all walkers to ask friends and family for support to help us reach our goal and help the American Heart Association fight heart disease and stroke. If you would like to be a Team Captain or a Walker to help raise funds, please go online and register at www.algulfcoastheartwalk.org. There will be a Team Captain Kick-off Breakfast on Friday, August 1 at 8 a.m. in the Student Center Terrace.
If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact American Heart Association staff at email@example.com. Dr. Krista Harrell, Associate Dean of Students, and Ms. Beth Anderson, Hospital Administrator at USA Medical Center, are the University of South Alabama 2014 Heart Walk Coordinators. We look forward to you becoming a Heart Walk Team Captain or joining a team to help the USA community raise funds for the American Heart Association and support vital research and a heart-healthy lifestyle.
With Jaguar Pride,
Tony G. Waldrop
University of South Alabama
P.S. We'll be finished in plenty of time for you to join your friends at the USA-Mississippi State football game! GO JAGS!!
July 11, 2014
Fellow Jaguars and friends:
After the extended and warm welcome Julee and I received upon arriving at USA, we were able to be part of a different welcoming committee.
Four new members recently joined the Board of Trustees. The trustees attended their first Board meeting on June 6.
The new members are: Ron Jenkins, a USA graduate and executive at Raytheon Missile Systems; Chandra Brown Stewart, a USA graduate and executive director of Lifelines Counseling Services of Mobile; Sandy Stimpson, mayor of Mobile; and Michael Windom, a civil attorney and another USA alum. Bryant Mixon and Ken Simon were reappointed to the Board. More information about our new trustees can be found on the USA website.
At the same time, three dedicated trustees completed their distinguished terms on the board, and we are sad to see them go. A special thank you to Cecil Gardner, Sam Jones and Christie Miree for their outstanding and committed service.
The news that caught the most attention from last month’s board meeting was a 3.5 percent tuition increase for this fall. This increase translates to roughly $300 a year. While modest, any increase is given considerable thought and taken seriously. We must remain competitive, but we also need to keep tuition at a level that does not impede quality and access to education.
One Board item you may not have heard about, but something directly connected to the budget, is work to repair the University’s infrastructure. This issue certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed on campus, where we have experienced temporary utility outages and sinkholes created by deteriorating underground pipe.
While an inconvenience, we will methodically make repairs to the University’s water, storm water, gas and power lines. USA is more than 50 years old, and so is much of the infrastructure. The Board approved funds for designing a strategic plan to address these needs and plan for growth.
These repairs will not be completed overnight, but when we are finished, I know there will be a strong foundation into the future for this beautiful campus.
May 13, 2014
Many of you have heard me say that one of the main reasons my wife, Julee, and I chose to come to the University of South Alabama was the people. The people we met -- from members of the Board of Trustees to the faculty, staff and students -- were both welcoming and truly sincere in their support of and dedication to USA. It made all the difference.
Over the last several weeks, we've gotten to meet and know so many more members of the USA family. Whether addressing a group of faculty or speaking with a student who stops me as I walk across campus, these encounters have made us feel as though we're in the right place, that we've found a home at USA.
Julee and I have been very pleased to attend many events and experience the myriad aspects of USA. Some of these are shown in our Instagram account (USAWaldrops). Please feel free to follow us on this account for our future experiences.
As we move into the summer and fall semesters, I will be reaching out to ask for your help. Both faculty and staff are the University's connection to students and their families and to the greater community. It is because of your efforts that we are able to provide quality educational opportunities and advanced health care to our region. So, together, we will form a collective vision for the future of our University.
Your dedication to the University extends outside your classrooms, clinics and offices. Just last week we attended the luncheon to mark the end of the 11th Employee Annual Fund. Together, faculty, staff and retirees raised the second-largest amount in the fund's history. More than half of employees contributed.
I know we have challenges. In health care, the business model is changing, though our high expectations for top-quality care are steadfast. We have received significant state budget reductions over the past five years, and that funding is likely to be relatively flat going forward. It is also likely that there will be increased demands on expenditures.
Our students and their families are trying to make the best financial decisions in an uneven economy. Higher education is an investment, and we need to continue to ensure their investments are yielding the best returns.
We can help by working collectively toward raising our retention and graduation rates. Students who earn four-year degrees expand their opportunities, and the sooner they graduate the sooner we can get them into the workforce.
When I met last month with the families of incoming students who have been awarded scholarships to USA, I promised the parents that you and I would be there to guide their children along the way as they make that transition.
I had the opportunity at Saturday's Spring Commencement to shake the hands of more than 1,000 graduating students. Their smiles as they crossed the stage were a testament to those of you who helped them to succeed. They are better for your efforts, and so is the University of South Alabama.
I thank you. More importantly, I know they do, too.