State of the University Address - Convocation 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

TU President Steadman Upham underscored the university's ongoing ambitions and top-50 aspirations during his state of the university address at the Lorton Performance Center October 25. Upham reviewed areas including academic program development, faculty hires, community engagement and rankings progress. The presentation took as its theme the American proverb "Ambition is putting a ladder against the sky."

TU's recent rankings progress includes the following:

A 10th consecutive top-100 ranking in the U.S. News & World Report annual survey of colleges and universities;

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A 2nd consecutive top-50 ranking for the Collins College of Business in Bloomberg Businessweek's annual survey of undergraduate business programs;

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A first-ever top-100 U.S. News ranking for the College of Law, which accompanies a sustained three-year gain of 48 places in the survey.

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TU's continued pursuit of a top-50 U.S. News ranking is "not simply a matter of bragging rights," Upham said, but more importantly will keep TU focused on broad, sustained gains in the 16 factors used in the U.S. News rankings formula. These account for a school's reputation, finances, student graduation performance, class sizes, and other key measures.

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Other recent surveys confirm the investment value of a TU degree, Upham said – both in terms of up-front cost and post-graduation earnings.

Bloomberg Businessweek recently named TU's Collins College of Business #1 in the nation for undergraduate financial aid.;

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PayScale recently reported that TU alumni salaries are the highest among Oklahoma schools and are the fifth highest in the 8-state region comprising Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.

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Upham shifted from rankings to focus on people, noting "We must never forget that our mission is all about the lived experiences of each and every member of the TU family." He noted that over the past four years, TU has welcomed undergraduates from 44 U.S. states and 45 other nations, and that more than 71% of TU undergraduates finished high school in the top 10% of their classes. 

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In addition, Upham reported, TU has hired 79 new faculty across 29 departments since 2008. These faculty come from 56 institutions from throughout the U.S. and around the world.

Program development highlights include the following:

A new Ph.D. program in Anthropology;

A new master's program in Energy Business (M.E.B.);

A Ph.D. in Mathematics planned for Fall 2013;

One TU priority — internationalization — received particular focus. Upham noted that the university's participation in the American Council on Education's Internationalization Collaborative has prompted or reinforced several TU initiatives, which include the following:

A new major and minor in Chinese Studies;

The addition of a Portuguese option to the International Business and Language degree program;

A fourth year of partnership in a dual-degree program with the China University of Petroleum, Beijing;

New participation in the Brazilian government's Scientific Mobility Program, which seeks to send 100,000 Brazilian science and engineering students abroad for a year;

An update of the College of Law's LL.M. degree in International Law with an emphasis on sustainable energy, which should make the program even more appealing to international students wanting to gain a working understanding of American energy law and policy;

The College of Law's pursuit of emerging partnerships in China;

Expansion of support resources and staff for international students and an update of the English curriculum for non-native speakers;

The planned introduction of a TU Global Scholars program next fall, designed for students wanting to weave international perspectives and experiences into their study;

The enrichment of campus life with the introduction of an International Living Community for students with special interest in meeting people from around the world.

Upham also recognized TU faculty members who recently won internal university grants specifically for projects with international aspects:

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Robert Sheaff, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, who is researching the mechanisms of liver cancer with colleagues at the University Hospital in Tübingen, Germany;

Adrien Bouchet, Warren Clinic Endowed Professor of Sports Administration, who is working on curriculum that addresses labor procurement from Latin America;

Mike Troilo, Assistant Professor of International Business, who is collaborating with colleagues at the China University of Petroleum, Beijing, to research OPEC production and oil price fluctuations;

Don Henry, Professor of Anthropology, and Bob Pickering, the Senior Curator of Gilcrease Museum, who are studying the feasibility of an archaeological park and exhibits for an early Neolithic site in Jordan;

Parameswar Harikumar, Associate Professor of Physics, who is working with the University of Hyderabad, India, to develop a light-emitting diode.

Other important TU ambitions center on engagement with the community, Upham said. These include the following:

Continued progress on plans for the Tulsa School of Community Medicine, a proposed partnership with OU-Tulsa to increase Oklahoma's supply of doctors, with particular focus on underserved populations. TU and OU-Tulsa continue to develop the governance plan for the school, which will bridge the public and private environments. The first class of students is expected to begin Fall 2015;

Completion of TU's anchor building in the West Park development, a revitalization project taking place west of the Kendall-Whittier Elementary School and Educare sites, between Lewis and Atlanta Avenues from Third to Sixth Streets. TU's mixed-use building will feature student apartments, a fitness center, a meeting hall, and light retail space;

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Upham also noted continued gains in the community volunteer hours reported by TU students, faculty and staff. The 36,680 hours reported for 2011-12 is the highest on recent record and continues a five-year trend.

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Upham concluded by reviewing recent progress with buildings and grounds. These projects include the dedication of Stephenson Hall, the new home of TU's McDougall School of Petroleum Engineering and Department of Mechanical Engineering; the renovation of historic Tyrrell Hall (formerly the music building) with advanced classroom technology; the rededication of the green space traditionally known as "the U" as Dietler Commons; the opening last spring of the Henry Zarrow Center for Art and Education in downtown Tulsa's Brady District; the imminent groundbreaking on the Helmerich Center for American Research at Gilcrease Museum; and a proposed residence hall to be built immediately southeast of the Allen Chapman Activity Center.

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"We can be rightly proud of TU's progress over recent years, but we still have much work to do," Upham said. "Our success calls us to remain ambitious and to keep bringing our best talents and efforts to our mission. As long as we do that, we will continue to see The University of Tulsa rise as an institution of learning and discovery, a valued industry and community partner, and a respected name in higher education."