Indiana State University Newsroom

Bradley discusses success and challenges in sixth fall address

September 26, 2013

Indiana State University President Dan Bradley Wednesday highlighted recent successes and said the campus is up to the challenge of helping Indiana produce more college graduates.

Bradley began his sixth fall address to faculty, staff and students by noting five straight years of enrollment growth to this year's fall head count of 12,448, the highest figure since 1972, along with completion of several new or remodeled buildings and other facilities, with more projects underway and on the drawing boards.

In a presentation he called "Celebrating Indiana State's Progress in the 21st Century; Preparing for What's Ahead," Bradley also touted the university's top ranking for community service among national universities by Washington Monthly magazine. He cited numerous other honors and development of degree programs in high-demand fields such as health care and technology. Sycamore athletics "has also had a great 13 years," he said, and the campus has 10 new pieces of public art since 2000, with an 11th soon to be unveiled - a statue of basketball legend Larry Bird.

But "the really big thing on campus this fall is the startup of University College," Bradley said. "If you're a freshman ... there is no place to hide on this campus. That advising team is going to track you down and make sure you're doing what you need to be doing. We're going to make sure our students are successful and that first semester is really a key to making that happen."

Student success is the greatest of several challenges presented to the university by "our love of our students" as well as the board of trustees and the state and federal governments, Indiana State's 11th president said. While the topic has so far been addressed largely at the university-wide level, each academic apartment is now being charged with coming up with its own goals and initiatives for achieving them, he said.

The number of last year's freshmen who returned this fall as sophomores increased by 5 percent during the past two years, but more improvement is needed, Bradley noted. The university has contracted with a private firm called Inside Track to provide academic coaching to 1,000 freshmen this year. The company projects a 5 percent growth in freshman-to-sophomore retention for those students.

Indiana State's Sycamore Graduation Guarantee that ensures participating students they will complete bachelor's degree in four years "is truly a model for the rest of the state," Bradley said, but more must be done to boost the university's four-year graduation rate.

With 25 percent of new state funding tied to on-time graduation, Bradley said he will soon announce creation of a task force to study handbook and policy changes to ensure overall long-term department success in retention, graduation and other areas such as program quality and affordability. An independent survey is also in the works to measure how well Indiana State is doing "in developing and permeating a culture of student success," he said.

The number of bachelor's degrees awarded is also a major factor in state funding. Indiana State awarded about 30 more bachelor's degrees this year than last year and Bradley said he expects "a big jump" this year, based on a large jump in freshman enrollment four years ago. State funding also favors in-state residents and rewards universities that operate more efficiently by increasing the ratio of faculty and staff members to students. Indiana State has also posted improvements in those areas during its five-year period of enrollment growth.

While the emphasis for state funding may have shifted to degree completion, enrollment remains important, Bradley said. With state funding expected to remain stable but costs expected to continue to increase, enrollment growth remains vital to the university's bottom line, he said.

"I am absolutely confident that we can continue to grow enrollment but it's going to take everybody on the campus," he said. "We need everybody working together."

A dilemma in public higher education financing has been building for the past 20 years and has now reached a critical stage, Bradley said.

"Basically, no one wants to, or if they want to they can't afford, to pay the cost of higher education, particularly looking down the road," he said. "But there's a general agreement that everybody needs it."

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education and the Lumina Foundation have set a goal for 60 percent of Hoosiers between the ages of 25 and 64 to have a post-high school certificate or diploma by 2025.

Five-year budget projects for Indiana State project 2 percent annual growth in enrollment, tuition and salaries, and stable state funding. If those assumptions hold true, the university can expect to re-allocate about $900,000 per year by 2018, but if state funding declines 2 percent per year during the next five years, the university will have to cut $2.1 million per year, and if enrollment holds steady, a $2.8 million budget shortfall is projected.

"We have to work hard to encourage our legislators to find money to fund higher education and we have to work hard to show that we deserve to have new dollars added to higher education," Bradley said. "We do that by being more successful at getting students graduated. We do that by attracting more freshmen from Indiana, more new graduate students from Indiana to Indiana State."

Enrollment growth is needed both for the economic health of the university and the health of the state of Indiana and its residents, he said.

Ensuring the success of University College and its "intrusive" student advising, coupled with more cooperation between student housing and academics and expanded use of technology to increase productivity and teaching effectiveness are vital to Indiana State's continued success, Bradley said.Americans who are more highly educated earn more during their lifetimes and are less likely to face unemployment, he noted.

"What we do as educators, as members of the Indiana State University community is incredibly important to our students," Bradley concluded. "We are doing great service to the state and great service to the people who come here to go to school."

Media contact and writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or