Auburn University: 2011 Academic Achievements and Goals

2011 Auburn University Academic Accomplishments

Undergraduate Student Profile/National Rankings:  Despite funding cuts, many of Auburn University’s academic programs increased their national rankings in 2011. In 2011, Auburn once again increased the academic profile of its freshmen class with a record average ACT score of 27.2 and high school GPA of 3.81.  The rise in college readiness in Auburn’s recent cohorts of freshmen students certainly enriches the academic vitality of our undergraduate programs and has improved our institution’s rankings in U.S. News & World Report "America's Best Colleges" in 2011 to 36 among public institutions, up from 38 in 2010.  Auburn also recruited the highest number of National Merit Scholars in the institution’s history, 181, ranking it second nationally out of 145 public institutions that enroll these students.

Student Honors:  Auburn University is extremely proud of the numerous students who were awarded several highly competitive, prestigious accolades in 2011.  Auburn winners include a Gates Cambridge Scholarship recipient, a Goldwater Scholar, a Fulbright Scholar, a Udall Scholarship recipient, a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship recipient, a NCAA Walter Byers Post-Graduate Scholarship finalist, two H. Bud McWhorter S.E.C. Scholarships, a Rhodes Scholarship finalist, and Gilman Scholarship recipient.

New Academic Offerings:  During the past year we have enhanced many of our academic programs by creating new options, minors, and graduate certificates, and continued to grow the number of Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s Degree Programs offered.  These programs are designed to encourage many of our high-quality undergraduate students to pursue graduate degrees.  In 2011, Auburn also implemented its revised General Education Program to give our students greater freedom of choice from a broader menu of course offerings. 

Common Book Program:  2011 was the second year of Auburn University’s new Common Book Program, AuburnConnects! This year’s selection is Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder.  The book tells the true story of Dr. Paul Farmer, a crusading infectious-disease specialist dedicated to improving health among the world’s most impoverished communities.  The Common Book program provides a shared intellectual experience for our students and faculty and fosters engagement not only through classroom discussions but also through campus activities tied to the book’s themes.  This year’s program will culminate with a visit from the book’s author, Tracy Kidder, as part of Auburn’s first Research Week on April 2. 

Undergraduate Research/Research Week:  In 2011 Auburn University began expanding its Undergraduate Research Program to encourage undergraduate students to engage in active learning alongside faculty.  The Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program provides opportunities for qualified students from any major to conduct mentored research with Auburn University faculty members, doing actual academic work and acquiring practical experience.  As part of this effort, Auburn will host its first annual Research Week April 2-5, 2012.  Research Week will provide a unique forum for our students to learn more about the diverse issues our faculty are addressing through their research. 

University Writing Programs:   Auburn University continues to place a strong emphasis on enhancing student writing skills through the expansion of the University Writing Center and the efforts of the Writing Initiative.   In 2011, The Miller Writing Center was opened to serve all undergraduate students and maintains several locations on campus. Each undergraduate program on campus has now formulated a plan for deepening and expanding students’ writing skills as they are really practiced in that discipline.

New Centers:  In 2012, Auburn established two unique new Centers, the Aquacultures and Fisheries Business Institute and the International Hunger Institute.  Coordinated through the College of Agriculture and the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, the Aquacultures and Fisheries Business Institute is designed to create strategic opportunities to enhance the aquaculture and fisheries industry by integrating the expertise of Auburn University faculty from across diverse academic units.  The faculty will engage in private and public partnerships designed to improve food safety, economic performance, and long-term sustainability of the region’s aquatic industry. 

The International Hunger Institute builds upon Auburn University’s continuing role as a national leader working alongside the United Nation’s World Food Programme in the “War on Hunger” initiative. Coordinated through the College of Human Sciences, this initiative has already successfully engaged our campus community in numerous efforts to generate awareness, funding, and advocacy for the War on Hunger, resulting in strong campus involvement in hunger awareness campaigns, as well as in academic programs and outreach activities designed to address solutions to this global problem.  Through the work of Auburn University’s Committee of 19, all of our colleges and schools have contributed to our institution’s comprehensive efforts in the War on Hunger, resulting in a unique model adopted by many other institutions.   

Future Academic Goals for Auburn University

An immediate institutional goal is the successful reaffirmation of Auburn’s SACS accreditation in 2013.  Reaffirmation signifies that Auburn University’s mission remains appropriate, that we fulfill our mission effectively, and that we are able to serve our students through providing quality educational programs.  The university is in the process of preparing for its accreditation review, with efforts of our faculty, staff, students, administration, Board of Trustees, alumni, and other stakeholders.

Additional goals for the next year include expediting plans for the new Central Classroom Facility, a project that will transform undergraduate teaching and learning, particularly during our students’ first two years.  Within the next year, we hope to continue increasing our graduation and retention rates, along with our graduate student enrollment. 

The next year will usher in the conclusion of the current Strategic Plan and the launching of plans for a new phase in Auburn University’s service to the state of Alabama.  Since its implementation in 2008, the Strategic Plan has enabled Auburn to make several advancements in the areas of instructional quality, research, outreach, extension, and faculty development.  As we complete the current Strategic Plan, the university will evaluate the accomplishments of the initiatives outlined within that plan and identify opportunities, resources, and performance indicators for the next comprehensive plan.

Over the next five years, Auburn University will have several continuing initiatives as well as new long-term projects designed to enhance all aspects of the institution.  A key goal will be to improve the budget situation to enhance the long-term financial health of the institution and facilitate more competitive salaries for our faculty and staff. 

An important initiative is the implementation of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP).  The QEP is a project that enables Auburn to develop a carefully designed strategy for enhancing student learning by implementing a well-defined, focused program that will improve the quality of our education.  A key aspect of the SACS reaccreditation, Auburn has developed E-portfolios as the university's QEP.  An e-portfolio is a collection of digital artifacts designed to demonstrate students' learning and accomplishments throughout their academic career. E-portfolios can also promote learning by providing students with new ways to organize and reflect on the digital materials they have produced.

Five years from now Auburn will be in the process of its next major capital campaign focused on funds for excellence.  The campaign will enhance several key areas of the university, including increased support for endowed chairs, professorships, and student scholarships.  The campaign will seek funds necessary for new interdisciplinary research initiatives and enhanced faculty research, science, and technology. 

As we lay the framework for the next Strategic Plan, the university will continue its commitment to enhancing diversity, increasing service learning, and growing our research enterprise.   

Last Updated: March, 2012