Message from SCICU President and CEO Jeff Perez –
I am very proud to report that in my first year as president & CEO of SCICU I have visited the campuses of all 20 SCICU member institutions. I had the opportunity to get a campus tour and sit down with our presidents to hear their experiences and perspectives on the future.
Let me share my top three takeaways from these visits.
Each campus is unique.
Our campuses offer prospective students a rich array of options. They each offer their own palette of academic programming and activities from which their students paint their individual collegiate experience. Students can find the setting in which they’re most comfortable, and thus most likely to succeed.
Of course, one experience we do not offer is the “big campus.” Our institutions are smaller, and that is their great strength. Our students aren’t lost in the crowd. SCICU colleges and universities have the advantage of offering a sense of community from which students draw strength.
All SCICU colleges and universities are deeply committed to their students.
I particularly enjoyed getting campus tours from students. They were all very open about why they chose to come to their particular college or university and conveyed in deeply personal terms how the school was having an impact on them. Each one of them felt special and were deeply appreciative they had the chance to attend their institution of choice. I was amazed how many other students they knew and said hello to as we walked across campus. The presidents, provosts, faculty and staff I met all stressed that the educational, personal, and spiritual development of each and every student is their paramount concern.
This focus on education is certainly not to say that research isn’t important. Faculty members conduct research in their fields that illuminates their teaching. And I was impressed by how often the presidents related to me the extent to which undergraduate students are given the chance to participate in research, often doing work students at other institutions don’t have access to until graduate school. SCICU is proud to support these efforts through our Undergraduate Student/Faculty Research Program, which culminates each year with our annual Research Symposium.
Our campuses are moving forward.
All the presidents stressed to me that they’re not standing still. Not once did I hear, “We’re satisfied and not doing anything different.” Presidents recognize the challenges they face in a rapidly changing higher education environment, and they’re leading change in a manner that reflects the particular values, cultures, and traditions of their respective institutions. They are pursuing new programs to meet student needs, and that includes adult students who are seeking to start or complete a degree or graduate studies. For them, as well as our full-time undergraduates, online courses help them achieve their academic goals. You might think online students are far afield, and, indeed, some never see campus. But many online students are regional to the campus – they prefer a hybrid approach which includes classroom instruction – they want to be able to sit down with a professor should they need to.
Our campuses are also offering new facilities that complement their educational goals. I visited impressive science and arts complexes, as well as new student centers and residences. They all have the goal of supporting students so that they will maximize their college experience.
My campus tours left me humbled by the dedication to the 33,000 students attending SCICU institutions. Everyone associated with them sets a standard I can only hope to meet as we at SCICU work to support their missions.