State of the University Address - Convocation 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

TU President Steadman Upham shared a wide-ranging review of TU's recent successes during his final state of the university greeting in the Roxana Rózsa and Robert Eugene Lorton Performance Center Sept. 22. The presentation, titled "Our Shared Achievements," was the centerpiece of this year's Convocation ceremonies.

Upham, who assumed the TU presidency in 2004 and is scheduled to retire from the post in June 2012, cited progress in several core categories, including student success, campus development, externally sponsored research, academic development, fundraising and community engagement. His presentation included slides depicting TU's gains in key measures that shape the widely regarded U.S. News & World Report rankings; these charts showed TU gaining ground on two comparison groups: the U.S. News top 50 set and a more narrowly defined set of "peer and aspirant" universities including schools such as Tulane, Vanderbilt, Rice and Duke.

Highlights of TU's progress included the following:

 A 14-point increase in the percentage of TU freshmen who graduated from high school in the top 10 percent (60% in 2005 to 74% in 2011);

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A marked increase in admission selectivity, with undergraduate acceptance rates falling from 76% in 2005 to 39% in 2011;

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A 13-point increase in the 6-year graduation rate of students (55% in 2005 to 68% in 2011); Upham noted that progress on this stubborn metric, while remarkable, represents only part of the overall gain that TU must continue to make;

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More than 1 million square feet of campus development (e.g., residential villages, dining center, library expansion, stadium renovation, performing arts center, engineering complex) funded by the recently concluded Embrace the Future Campaign;

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The University's evolution from a majority commuter campus into a vibrant residential community with more than 75% on-campus residency;

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Gains in research funding from external sources, 60% of which comes from the private sector;

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The creation of nearly 30 academic degree options, including new doctoral programs in chemistry, physics and anthropology and 10 combined bachelors/masters programs;

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TU's 18-place jump to a #75 ranking in the 2012 Best Colleges rankings published by U.S. News & World Report;

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Dramatic increases in community service hours provided by the TU family, from 11,780 in 2006-07 to 29,105 in 2010-11 (with 3,465 volunteers participating);

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$698 million raised by the university's Embrace the Future campaign, which nearly tripled TU's scholarship endowment (adding an estimated 1,182 new scholarships) and nearly tripled TU's ranks of endowed professors (with 47 new endowed positions);

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An 8-year increase in total undergraduate scholarships and grants provided by TU from about $10 million (2003-04) to nearly $27 million (2010-11); this increasing aid has allowed student and family college debt to remain largely level over the same period;

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TU's ongoing management relationship with Tulsa's prized Gilcrease Museum; under TU's care (since 2008), museum staffing and operations have expanded, and the university has raised more than $39 million for Gilcrease; Upham also noted that 19 different TU departments are working with the museum on collaborative projects;

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TU's partnership with OU-Tulsa to establish the Tulsa School of Community Medicine, expected to begin instruction in 2014;

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TU's work to infuse globalization into its culture, which will be led by the newly re-titled Vice Provost for Global Education, Cheryl Matherly; and

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The continuing True Blue Neighbors initiative, which partners TU with high-needs residents and organizations in the nearby Kendall-Whittier Neighborhood.

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"When we put all of these achievements together in one place, we see that this has been a truly remarkable chapter in TU's history," Upham said. "We have been able to achieve this level of success only because TU is an outstanding family of dedicated and talented individuals. Peggy and I thank you for making the past seven years an incredibly rich and rewarding experience."

Mrs. Upham joined President Upham on stage as attendees responded with a standing ovation.

Upham also recognized the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, David Lawson, and other trustees in attendance.