Last Thursday started off with faculty, staff and students filing into the Alma Thomas Theater
as President Jake Schrum spoke to the group in a formal address concerning various university related
topics, emphasizing financial obstacles and innovative goals.
“Much of this address will speak to where we are as a university and plans for moving forward
in some key areas of our university’s life,” said Schrum. “I am committed to working with you, in the
belief that all of us, working together, have the creativity, commitment, and courage to fulfill
The President went on to present the Joe S. Mundy Award to four faculty members: Don
Gregory, Ben Nava, Phil Hopkins and Jimmy Smith. Schrum then continued, emphasizing the need for
dedication to the betterment of the university.
“Southwestern can no longer foster innovation on the margins,” said Schrum. “In the next few
years we will have to dig deep to decide what is truly indispensable and what other initiatives we might
Such goals include: the rebuilding of programs to create more efficiency, beginning new ones in
an effort to boost enrollment, merging the library with Information Technology, building a University
Relations team, and more.
“We are planning new academic programs and adapting others,” said Schrum. “Our Quality
Enhancement Program (QEP) will take… Paideia and our growing commitment to interdisciplinarity
and bring them together… toward making the Paideia philosophy central to the Southwestern
He went on to further explain the benefits of the program.
“Simply said, Paideia will be for all students. This will expand ways in which our students can
complete their education as well as augment teaching compensation opportunities for faculty,” said
Yet another step forward was announced: a partnership of the science faculty and the Methodist
Hospital Research Institute in Houston to create a master’s degree in Translational Medicine.
“[This] is an exciting new field that focuses on how to take discoveries from the lab to the
bedside,” said Schrum, “and this is a bold endeavor for a small liberal arts college to strategically align
with a world-class research institute to further opportunities for our students.”
The University is also raising funds for a new science center, he explained. Four million out of
the $24 million cost has been collected so far.
“There is much to be done,” said Schrum. “We must embrace our challenges and convert them
into opportunities. In the coming days and weeks, I will be meeting with faculty and staff to gain your
counsel and to map our initiatives.”
Graduate Assistant Hall Director Emily Johnson had expected something along these lines even
before she heard the address.
“It’s similar to the ‘State of the Union’ national address; almost all universities do this annually,”
said Johnson. “These announcements were more concretely about challenges and how they will be
specifically addressed. Everybody certainly expected changes.”
And changes shall come. The President ended his speech with a personal appeal:
“As our session comes to a close,” said Schrum, “in the midst of questions and concerns in the
changes and challenges we face, may we all renew our dedication to the highest ideals of this
institution and to our relationships with one another.”
For further details about planning, the Board of Trustees will be meeting in October. Financial
information, Schrum assured, will be explained online in addition to in University Council meetings
and an open fall and spring forum.
The full text of this Sep. 15 address can be found on the Southwestern Newsroom website.