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Before the year reaches its end, I want to thank you all for your contributions to Auburn University in 2012. As educators, researchers, and scholars, you continue to advance our institution and inspire our students to strive for excellence.
At commencement earlier this month, we conferred the honorary degree of Bachelor of Humane Letters on James Curtis Owens, in recognition of his pioneering contribution to the Auburn family as the University’s first African-American scholarship athlete. Accepting his award, Owens modestly described how his experiences at Auburn in the late 1960s had changed his life and shaped his future. Such an occasion invites thought about how our institution, too, has changed for the better during the last 40 years. It also reminded me how quickly our campus can change in a single year.
Together we reached many milestones in 2012, not least the successful hosting of Auburn’s first Research Week in the spring. This event highlighted the expertise of our faculty that forms Auburn’s growing research culture and your unique collaborations with students that continue to advance undergraduate research. A highlight of Research Week was the visit by Tracy Kidder author of Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World, which was Auburn’s third annual Common Book selection. I look forward to Research Week 2013 and encourage you and your students to participate in the events.
Throughout 2012, the Central Classroom Facility Program Requirements Committee worked hard to develop a design plan for this needed state-of-the art general classroom facility. I am confident that, once completed, this project will provide faculty and students with the instructional resources you deserve. Following months of investigation and planning, the committee’s work is essentially complete and the defining elements of this facility have begun to take their final shape, including learning spaces that are flexibility, adaptable, and collaborative. As you know this project aligns very closely with the updating of the Campus Master Plan, a topic that was the focus of several open forums throughout the year. My thanks to all of the faculty, staff, and students who attended these forums to voice their ideas regarding our campus facilities. I look forward to a continued dialogue on this and other facilities-related issues next year.
In 2012, we also successfully completed the second phase of the Faculty Handbook review, which incorporates several faculty personnel policies not previously included and demonstrates our commitment to shared governance. These changes were approved by the Board of Trustees at last month’s meeting.
This fall we welcomed another impressive class of first-year and transfer students, proof that—despite continuing financial challenges—Auburn attracts some of the country’s most academically talented students. For their sake, we should continue to build our academic programs for students, enhance our support services, and always seek to improve our educational programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Toward the end of 2012, we submitted our case for reaffirmation by the SACS Commission on Colleges, and we look forward to welcoming our on-site peer review team in March 2013.
2013 promises to bring new opportunities and challenges for our campus. We will remain actively engaged in the strategic planning process to develop new five-year priorities for the university. Strategic discussion sessions will be held throughout the state, and we will provide multiple on-campus opportunities for faculty to participate. As we identify opportunities to enhance faculty and student success, our aim will be to align our resources with our strategic priorities and to build new resources as we launch the next Comprehensive Campaign.
I look forward to working with you in 2013. Please enjoy a much deserved holiday break and have a safe and happy holiday season!
Last Updated: December 18, 2012