Evans to LU faculty and staff: preserve and enhance legacy
Lamar University President Kenneth Evans addressed faculty and staff attending the annual back-to-school convocation Monday (Aug. 19, 2013) with a focus on preserving and expanding the legacy of Lamar University.
The Lamar University brand and legacy were the focus of Evans’ 2013 state-of-the-university message – his first semester-opening presentation at Lamar. A capacity audience of more than 500 gathered in the University Theatre for the convocation. Classes begin Aug. 26.
“My vision is your vision and our stakeholders’ vision, and it will be a collective community engagement,” said Evans. “Our brand equity means Lamar stands for something and that is what you embrace going forward.”
Evans had good news for his audience. Lamar will see an increase in state funding as a result of an increase in semester credit hours taught at the university.
The fall recruitment class will be one of the best Lamar has seen in terms of test scores, class ranks and scholarships, Evans said. In the entering freshman class are nearly 100 recipients of the prestigious Mirabeau Scholarship, joining 45 continuing Mirabeau Scholars this fall, and hundreds of students on engineering excellence and other academic scholarships. More than 200 top students will be joining those already in Lamar’s growing honors program, now in its 50th year.
The freshman class includes 22 high school valedictorians, Evans said. Almost 40 percent of all incoming freshman ranked in the top 25 percent of their high school class. Although admissions requirements have been significantly enhanced, Evans reiterated the important legacy at Lamar of providing higher education for Southeast Texans.
“As we move the bar up, we will continue to reach out to serving Southeast Texas and making this an institution that can change lives. It has to be,” Evans said. Lamar will continue to find a way to help that first-generation-in-college student be successful, he said. “We need to continue to do that for every student that is interested and hungry to seek a university education.”
Retention and matriculation are absolutely essential, Evans said. “Most important is our stewardship relationship we have with our students,” he said. “We imply a contract with our students when we recruit them to the campus that we think they can succeed. We must do everything we can to make that possible.” Evans had high praise for the new student success initiatives at Lamar that are already demonstrating a positive impact on retention.
Since taking the university helm on July 1, Evans has begun meeting with deans, department chairs and key staff members to determine the core strengths and opportunities in their various departments for program enhancement. One initiative on his agenda is to continue to advance Lamar’s online degree programs.
“Lamar University has to acknowledge the look of future higher education offerings,” he said. “We simply must engage on that stage. We will explore ways to be competitive in that arena.”
“We will enhance the quality of the university, focus on core areas of excellence, and advance our relationship with our stakeholders,” Evans said.
At the beginning of his address, Evans introduced his wife, Nancy, calling the day a “new chapter in Nancy’s and my life. We are excited about what the prospects bring. We look forward to beginning what we believe will be a successful tenure here. We both feel it is such a distinct honor and privilege to be a part of the Lamar University community.”