Archive | July, 2012

Confessions from Vacation

31 Jul

Eighteen. That is how many consecutive days I blogged after my July 1 New Year’s Resolution entry where I resolved to blog daily. So like the dieter who is cheating before the end of week one in January, I feel a little defeated and discouraged. Eighteen entries isn’t much of a streak. There has been plenty going on at LMU to keep up daily posting, so what is my excuse?

Well, truth-be-told, I have been on vacation for the past two weeks. I was very apprehensive in taking that much time at once, but the stars aligned and I was given the blessing to go. It was an opportunity to spend some extended time with my extended family. Before I left for vacation I had grand plans of stock piling 14 blog entries to cover my absence. However, strategic planning and my other duties got in the way of that plan.


 When my family and I packed up our car and headed north on I-81 on Saturday, July 14, I moved on to plan B, where I would blog remotely along my travels. The topics would still be LMU related and cover LMU activities, I would just rely on the people here to fill me in on what was going on.

Plan B chugged right along with me diligently blogging every evening or at least drafting an entry every night. Sometimes the actual posting was delayed, but I managed to post five entries before I ran out of steam. Or more accurately, totally lose myself in vacation mode.  My colleague, Director of Marketing and PR for Health Sciences. Amy Drittler told me to give it up and let go and for once, I listened. I spent the remaining half a week at the beach doing beach things and not worrying about this blog. Then I spent another week in my hometown doing hometown things and once again not blogging. It was refreshing not to be tethered to a computer and now I’m back, refreshed and ready for everything that lies ahead as the 2012-13 school year gets underway.

As for my resolutions, I may not have stuck to the blog-a-day resolution, but I had also resolved to find the fun in the everyday and there was certainly lots of fun on my vacation. There is never a dull moment at LMU and plenty happened in my absence. I hope to fill you in on some of the gaps soon!







Hidden Gems

18 Jul

A term that is often thrown around in Higher Education is hidden gem. It is not unusual for people to describe Lincoln Memorial University in those terms. Whether it’s the Harrogate main campus’ out-of-the way location or vast academic offerings that qualifies LMU as such, one can assume that you don’t expect to find an academic learning community with so many resources and opportunities in the isolated hills of Appalachia. Or maybe, it is just that there is a lot of work to be done on the public relations and marketing front or the University. Is LMU considered a hidden gem because we’re not a national draw or household name?

As one of a handful of people directly tasked with maintaining the LMU brand, promoting all the good works going on and marketing the academic offerings at LMU, I would tend to agree that there is always work to be done on the PR front. However, I would argue that it isn’t from a lack of effort or activity.

In the early days after the University’s founding in 1897, LMU drew mostly local students. As it developed into a work University, the student body had a more regional feel. It’s a trend that remains today, as many students come from within a 75-mile radius of campus. There are two exceptions to that rule. The first is LMU-DeBusk College of Osteopathic medicine, which attracts osteopathic medical students from California to New York and everywhere in between. The Physician Assistant program also has a national base in its recruitment.

LMU is on the path to recruiting highly competitive and qualified students. In addition to establishing highly sought after professional studies advanced degree options, the University is increasing the academic rigor of its undergraduate offerings. The goal is to recruit students that will enter LMU as undergrads and leave as doctors, lawyers or physician assistants. To accomplish this, LMU will not be able to fill its rolls with students primarily from its service area. There just aren’t enough college bound students to fill all the spots.

And that means wading in to the deeper national and regional waters. Rather than diving right into the ocean with one or two national advertising pieces, LMU has to gradually push our borders and reach new audiences. This is going to take more resources, both financial and human, and time. Rome was not built in a day and hidden gems aren’t uncovered in a day.

LMU has made many strides in the last seven years to let its light shine brightly for all to see. Hopefully in the next seven years that light will reach new shores.



Changes coming for fall.

17 Jul

I mentioned last week in strategic planning that there were at least four topics that I needed to address with press releases during strategic planning. Late last week, I tackled the first – the recasting of the Paul V. Hamilton School of Arts and Sciences.

The move to split the study of arts and sciences was an important decision for LMU. One that will allow further program development and help LMU serve its students better. The recasting created the Paul V. Hamilton School of Mathematics and Sciences and the School of Arts and Humanities.

Vice President for Academic Affairs Clayton Hess announced the changes during the strategic planning retreat and in a memo to faculty in the affected disciplines. The change took effect on July 2.

Dr. Amiel Jarstfer, the former dean of the combined school, will lead the Hamilton School of Mathematics and Sciences while Dr. Martin Sellers formerly the dean of research and service will head the School of Arts and Humanities.

The Hamilton School of Mathematics and Science includes the departments of mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics and will be housed in the nearly completed state-of-the art Math and Science center. The School of Arts and Humanities includes the departments of English, humanities and fine arts, social sciences and social work and is housed primarily in Avery Hall.

Among the program development are enhancements to LMU fine arts department. The University has acquired several buildings and land in the Town of Cumberland Gap with plans to move fine arts into the Gap and provide room to expand offerings in narrative arts. LMU had previously purchased the Cumberland Gap Convention Center and plans to use that to host dinner theater productions among other cultural events.

The creation of two new schools is another exciting change at LMU.

Superman to the rescue.

16 Jul

For nearly two years, LMU officials starred pool-mageddon down, not sure what the best course of action would be. The LMU Pool of the Mary S. Annan natatorium seemed to be in a no-win situation. President Barack Obama imposed sweeping changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2010. The newly expanded rules changed the game for pools across the nation, making it necessary for every public pool to have two “accessible means of entry,” one of which must be a ramp or pool lift. These changes were supposed to go into effect this spring and would have affected all public pools, from municipal facilities, to hotels, to private institutions or organizations that offer public swim programs.

For months LMU Director of Aquatics Floyde Anne Gardner and Director of Foundations Martha Scheidler worked together to find a solution. Scheidler searched for grant opportunities and foundations who might be interested in assisting LMU. For Gardner’s part, she worked to make sure a pool lift was included in upcoming budgets. Unfortunately, the LMU Pool ran into some major issues about a year ago, issues that required the roof to be replaced and further renovation completed. That meant the pool lift would not be in the 2011-2012 budget.

The March 2012 deadline was still looming when national pressure from opponents of the changes argued that there were not enough lifts in the United States to make the law feasible and won a 60-day stay. The opponents further argued that stables of lawyers could pounce on the new law, which would open non-compliant pools to litigation, clogging courts across the country and costing organizations thousands in fines and court fees. Since then, the law has prompted further discussions and more postponements while both sides hash out compromises.

For  LMU the issue never was put on the backburner. No matter the political maneuvering that was happening in Washington, the University still sought to have an ADA compliant pool. The lift was put back into budgeting talks for 2012-13 and Scheidler was still searching for the right foundation to help with the project. From the start, she felt like LMU was a good match for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Quality of Life grants. Yes, that Christopher & Dana Reeve. LMU would indeed need Superman to fly to their rescue.

Late last month LMU’s hero announced the recipients of the 2012 Quality of Life grants and the University was one of 69 grantees. The Foundation awarded a total of $425,000 and LMU would receive $5,000 for the pool. The Reeve Foundation provides funding to nonprofit organizations nationwide that aid in providing more opportunities, access and daily quality of life for individuals living with paralysis, their families and caregivers. Created by the late Dana Reeve, the program has awarded 2,055 grants totaling over $15.6 million since 1999.

LMU will use the grant to help underwrite the purchase and installation of an ADA compliant aquatic lift. This piece of equipment will allow accessibility to the pool for youth and adults who have difficulty entering and exiting the pool by way of steps. Once the aquatic lift is available it opens up a world of possibilities for adaptive programming and participation in the Special Olympics and other programs. The lift is vital to LMU’s ability to provide programming including aquatic movement and exercise, swim instruction, introduction to water sports and competitive training. The University has already heard from area school systems, rehabilitation centers and care facilities who are interested in participating in such programs at LMU.

Thanks to Superman, LMU should have the lift installed before the end of 2012. No matter what happens in Washington, LMU’s Pool-Mageddon has been averted.

LMU Family Day at Dollywood in Pictures.

16 Jul

LMU family day at LMU was too fun to put into words, so I’ll let a few photos tell the story. Enjoy, we sure did.

It’s time to go to Dollywood!

14 Jul

The countdown is over! Tomorrow is the day. Dollywood is the place. And family fun is the name of the game! LMU’s Director of Alumni Services Donnie Lipscomb organized LMU Family Day at Dollywood several months ago with the goal of providing a day of fun for LMU faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends. It’s a way to celebrate another successful year and to build community good will and thank faculty and staff for service.

The University offered discounted tickets which could also be upgraded to a season pass. The discounted ticket and fee to upgrade actually adds up to less than a regular priced single day ticket, so LMU folks can enjoy a who season of Dollywood fun for less than price of one day. Additionally, President Dawson is hosting a buffet lunch for all LMU guests.

Donnie started with the goal of selling 300 tickets to the event. A goal, he far surpassed as we are expecting around 500 people for the lunch and have sold more than 300 tickets.

Dollywood is a theme park owned by Dolly Parton and the Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation. In addition to the park’s thrill rides (including four rollercoasters). Dollywood features traditional crafts and music of the Smoky Mountains. NEW for 2012, The WILD EAGLE is the first Bolliger & MabillardWing Coaster in the United States and it is the biggest investment in Dollywood history. It’s sure to be a great day. Check back tomorrow for photos and more!

Strategic planning: Annnnnd we’re DONE!

13 Jul

The strategic planning retreat has come to a close. The event wrapped up with the group leaders from the breakout groups reviewing any changes that were made to the strategic goals. The presenters went line by line, action item by action item through the seven strategic goals of LMU.  And though the numbers dwindled as the event went on, I’m confident that everyone who attended knows more about the University and its mission and goals than they did when the retreat began.

There were many take-aways for me, but my top 5 follow.

1.       LMU is building –  count them –  1, 2, 3, 4, 5 new residence halls by 2013. I knew that there was space for five new buildings behind Shelton and Langley and two of the five spaces were already taken. Looking at the progress on the two residence halls under construction I have not been confident that the two would be ready by this fall. However, in the facilities section of the strategic plan outlined that the two under construction would be complete this fall and the three others would be complete in fall 2013.

2.       With the availability of more undergraduate housing, my next take-away makes complete sense. My focus and the focus of the admissions team has got to be on undergraduate recruitment. Many of the presentations alluded to the fact that we have to target higher achieving students and LMU instituted new admission standards this year. The talk in many circles was marketing and how best to attract those higher achieving students. It’s going to be a fun year, focused mainly on undergraduate recruitment. The challenge for me is going to be to find a why to focus on our traditional undergraduate student while continuing to market our grad programs.

3.       There are a lot of new faces on campus. It’s a meeting I have attended for six years and I’m still surprised when I don’t know everyone in the room.

4.       There is never a dull day at LMU and the same can be said for strategic planning.

5.       Just when you think that LMU has added the last big program for a while another one crops up. The College of Veterinary and Comparative Medicine has been in the plan for a while, but I really felt that would be the peak of our growth at least for a couple years. I was wrong, there are several more programs in our not-too-distant future!