This week, I will speak to our state legislators, testifying before the House Appropriations Sub-Committee on Education and Economic Development on Wednesday and the Senate Budget and Taxation Sub-Committee on Education, Business and Administration on Thursday.
I will proudly represent FSU on behalf of our students, faculty and staff, as I explain how we are keeping higher education accessible, affordable and effective, upholding the goals set by Gov. Martin O’Malley and the University System of Maryland.
I also want to share these achievements with the many local residents, businesses and community partners who have benefitted from the quality education, cultural enrichment and service we provide.
Our Associate Degree Scholars Award, open to Maryland community college and Potomac State graduates, provides any community college graduate an award allowing them to attend FSU for nearly the same tuition they paid at their community college, as long as they maintain at least a B average and apply for financial aid at FSU.
This encourages students to complete a two-year degree and creates an affordable pathway to a bachelor’s degree. We have also increased our need-based financial aid by 10 percent over the last two years and set a goal for the FSU Foundation to raise $2.5 million to support merit scholarships.
Our financial aid efforts are one way we seek to meet Gov. O’Malley’s goal that 55 percent of adult Marylanders attain college degrees.
We also have redesigned courses, an effort that has produced excellent results in student success, and we established a pilot project directed at those students most likely to encounter difficulty.
In our first year, 52 percent of at-risk students were released from academic probation at the end of the fall semester, an improvement of 14 percentage points.
We’ve created new degree programs that respond to the workforce needs of our region and state, most recently our first applied doctoral program, a doctor of education in educational leadership, and our bachelor of science degree in secure computing and information assurance, both of which began last fall.
Our growing online RN to BS in nursing program received accreditation last fall, and our fully online, AACSB-accredited MBA is offered to students across the state and as far away as China.
FSU’s commitment to sustainability has opened doors for research, economic development and job growth in Western Maryland.
In October, U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett helped us dedicate our Sustainable Energy Research Facility. This completely off-grid building is the only one of its kind in the U.S. dedicated to renewable energy research.
Our recent recognition as a Tree Campus USA honors our commitment to environmental stewardship, through beautifying our campus with native trees.
FSU is branding itself to reinforce our position as a high-quality educational institution that is the cornerstone of the Western Maryland economy.
Our recent recognition as a College of Distinction, highlighting excellence in student engagement, quality teaching, a vibrant college community and the success of our alumni, was strong affirmation of the progress we’ve made on a variety of fronts.
The residents of Western Maryland are well aware that FSU has an economic impact on the region, but a recently completed study quantified its scope: The economic impact of faculty, staff and student expenditures, as well as FSU institutional purchases, on the state of Maryland is conservatively estimated at $173 million, $121 million in Allegany County alone.
Frostburg State University and Western Maryland depend on one another and must continue supporting the much-needed growth of our area through strategic collaborations.
I encourage everyone to please contact our legislators and reinforce to them the fact that Frostburg State University is a worthy and necessary investment and needs their support.
Jonathan C. Gibralter, president
Frostburg State University