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Year End Letter 2012
May 3, 2012
To: Faculty And Staff
From: V. Gordon Moulton
Fifty years ago, the Mobile region was at a crossroads. The area’s largest employer, Brookley Air Force Base, was on a short list for closure, ultimately putting 10 percent of Mobile’s civilian workforce -- 16,000 -- people out of work. Community leaders realized that the region’s future depended on a more diversified economy and a more highly educated workforce that could only be possible through greater access to public higher education.
From this perfect storm of crisis and need, combined with the determination of community visionaries, came an act of the Alabama Legislature on May 3, 1963, that created the University of South Alabama. The Mobile region would never be the same.
Throughout the coming academic year we will commemorate USA’s accomplishments and the many lives touched since its founding 50 years ago. Amid today’s global economic challenges, our constituents have never depended more on USA’s contributions in teaching, research, service, health care, and economic enhancement.
Thanks to your personal commitment and dedication, USA has expanded its contribution in every benchmark by which higher education is measured.
- First and foremost, demand for USA’s academic programs continued at record levels, as evidenced by a fall enrollment of 15,009, including 2,888 graduate students. Student quality set records as well -- a result of the dedication of our faculty and staff and the strength of our academic reputation.
- Our students and graduates throughout the University scored far above national norms on a wide range of professional licensure exams.
- USA expanded its academic breadth by achieving state approval for doctoral programs in business administration and engineering, among other accomplishments.
- Our academic environment improved as we neared completion on Shelby Hall, the new home for the College of Engineering and the School of Computing, for which we will celebrate a grand opening this fall. Our community and prospective students are very complimentary of the enhanced sense of place provided by our new campus portals. Work also began on our specialized laboratory building, made possible through competitive federal funding.
- USA improved student life with the opening of our first living-learning community, Stokes Hall, and we began work on additional residence halls to open in fall 2013. Our students also began enjoying the Bookstore and Food Court renovations.
- USA’s research and outreach programs advanced knowledge through scholarly activity and addressed a wide range of issues facing our global community. This effort serves as a sustainable stimulus to the regional economy through contracts and grants, technology transfer and industry partnerships. Our expanding external funding and doctoral degree production placed us in the same Carnegie Foundation classification as Auburn University and the University of Alabama, “Research University/High,” a compelling statement on the quality of our faculty and our institution.
- The USA Health System supported our educational mission and met the region’s health care needs through more than 250,000 patient treatment encounters provided by our College of Medicine physicians, hospitals and clinics. More than 2,700 babies came into the world at USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital and rapid progress was made on the hospital’s expansion, set for completion in early 2013. The USA Medical Center provided unique and advanced care for the most seriously ill and injured in our community, while the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute served more than 6,000 individual patients and expanded its research efforts. The entire USA Health System enhanced its quality of care through implementation of an advanced electronic medical records system.
- USA faculty and staff continued to reinvest in their University and community, including record giving to USA’s Annual Fund and our faculty and staff being cited as the area’s leading donors to this year’s United Way community campaign.
- Finally, and most importantly, as of spring graduation, we will mark the conferring of 2,795 academic degrees for the year, bringing USA’s historic total to 72,586.
Thanks to your efforts, USA is truly living up to the vision of our founders 50 years ago who placed so much hope in higher education’s ability to transform the Mobile region.
As the nation’s erratic economic recovery continues, public education in Alabama is especially challenged by the fact that it is funded by recession-sensitive sales and income taxes. Thus, USA’s near-term state funding outlook remains cloudy. Even as we work to overcome five years of draconian cuts in state funding, we will continue to seek every possible way to reward and retain our faculty and staff, for it is only through your dedication amid difficult circumstances that we have been able to keep the University moving forward.
I thank you again for working every day to live up to the hopes and dreams invested in this University more than a half century ago, and I’m convinced that our best days are ahead. I congratulate you on another successful year, and wish you a safe and productive summer.
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