Welcoming all of our students each fall is one of my favorite things as president. It’s especially exciting to see the newest of our W family moving into the residence halls. In August, a new dimension was added to our campus community.
The W welcomed 110 student-athletes, marking our return to intercollegiate athletics. Volleyball, men’s soccer and women’s cross country have been added to the lineup, while softball and baseball just wrapped up fall practice seasons in preparation for their 2018 spring seasons. Next year, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s golf, and women’s soccer will be added, followed the next year by women’s and men’s basketball. Other sports will be considered as conference membership opportunities are evaluated.
As you read through this edition of the magazine, you will be taken on a brief journey of athletics at The W and learn about the trailblazing efforts to build the university’s first intercollegiate athletics program.
You will also become acquainted with the first generation of Owls coaches who are working with Director of Athletics Jason Trufant to build a program, as well as local and national partnerships, that will strengthen and have a positive impact on the overall student experience.
The W is also making strides in other areas. Fall semester enrollment was the second highest since 1998, and last year 882 students earned a degree—a new record for the university. For the fifth year in a row, The W was named to The Chronicle of Higher Education Best Colleges to Work For Honor Roll. Additionally, The W was recognized by Washington Monthly in the top 100 public master’s universities in the country and in the top 20 regional public universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report.
We also continue to highlight the role of faculty as the heart of the university and their efforts to create and rethink academic programs to meet the needs of today’s students. Read the inspiring story about the first two graduates of the low-residency master of fine arts in creative writing program. An articulation agreement signed between The W and Itawamba Community College will give students in the allied health profession upward mobility in their career. An intriguing report about our Quality Enhancement Plan also shows that W students have improved their critical thinking skills, as well as their love of learning. The QEP is a critical component of the university’s re-accreditation process.
I am always impressed with the beauty of campus this time of the year and would like to update you on a few improvements, particularly the grand opening of Fant Memorial Library. This beautiful state-of-the-art facility, made possible through state support, is a tremendous asset and will serve this community for years to come.
A new walking path has been added to Pioneers Plaza, between Carrier Chapel and Welty Hall, as we continue to work toward a healthier campus and community. Lastly, renovations for Turner Hall are expected to begin the first of 2018. Reuse of the Demonstration School building will accommodate growth in the Department of Speech- Language Pathology and the Speech and Hearing Clinic. We invite you to stop by and see our progress.
Our future continues to be bright, and please know that your support makes a difference and is very important to this wonderful university.
Jim Borsig, Ph.D.