The following is adapted from President Dell'Omo's "State of the University" address at the President's Council Dinner, Dec. 4, 2012.
When the president of the United States gives the State of the Union address, they often start by saying "The state of the union is strong" and then talk about the great things that have been accomplished during the previous year, the challenges that lie ahead, and how the nation will tackle those challenges. That's what I plan to do here, adapted for RMU.
I'm proud to say the state of the university is strong, and our students are one reason why. The Class of 2013 will be the first graduating class to have been required to participate in the unique Student Engagement Program, which requires students to enhance their knowledge and abilities by participating in faculty-sanctioned learning activities outside the classroom. These engaged learning activities are documented on a second official university transcript, known as the Student Engagement Transcript. We call this "the RMU Experience" and it works more than ever in today's rapidly changing world.
These seniors were the most active group of students we had ever seen, and the most emotionally connected to our campus. The Class of 2013 transformed the culture of Robert Morris University and by their leadership inspired students in subsequent classes. That is what we offer our students: the opportunity to become leaders, to use their intellect and their talents to make an impact on the world. We make sure that students understand that you can save the world and be a great accountant – or actuary, or journalist, or nurse, wherever your dreams take you.
This fall we concluded our $40 million Changing Lives, Building Futures capital campaign. As members of our President's Council, you were not just participants in this campaign; you were leaders of it. We have 305 President's Council members this year. Six years ago we had 72. Your generosity and leadership has inspired many others to contribute to the university.
Thanks to the campaign, we added 30 endowed scholarships, and this brings me to our greatest challenge in higher education and at RMU. Over the past six years RMU has doubled the institutional aid we award our students. Our tuition is among the lowest in Pennsylvania for private institutions, and our net tuition is competitive with public universities like Pitt and Penn State. Yet many of our students graduate heavily in debt. The outcome is worth the investment, but families find that investment increasingly difficult to afford.
Many of you are alumni, and like our students today struggled to pay for college. You've told us how Robert Morris changed your life and allowed you to change the lives of others. Together, we can give the next generation the opportunity to become leaders like you. If you have already renewed your gift, thank you. If not, please take time to do so at rmu.edu/givenow. This is your opportunity to help RMU meet this challenge and ensure that the state of the university remains strong. Thank you.
Gregory G. Dell’Omo, Ph.D.
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