2015 was a year of big ideas and big successes for West Chester University. Excellence was achieved through new doctoral programs, novel research breakthroughs, innovative community collaborations, additional international partnerships, and much more.
This report, and the year it reflects, is evidence of West Chester University’s exceptional academic programs, faculty and staff who are dedicated to student success, and a strategic plan, Building on Excellence, that provides a road map for ongoing change. By necessity, Building on Excellence is a comprehensive document; it runs 64 pages long. We understand if you aren’t able to read every word. In essence, here is what the plan all comes down to: We look at the big picture but never lose sight of the details.
To achieve our goals requires both blue-sky thinking and a laser-like focus on the small-but-critical details. We think strategically, analyze rigorously, and keep our eye on the long-term view, all while consistently taking action on the fine points.
Our approach must be working. WCU has become one of the most sought-after universities in the mid-Atlantic region. We are the largest state-owned university in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the premier state institution in such key measures as retention and graduation rates. Our entering students come from the top third of their high-school class, and their SAT scores significantly outpace the state and national averages.
We have received more than 13,700 applications for the fall 2016 first-year class, which will be comprised of approximately 2,500 students. Currently, 16,606 undergraduate and graduate students make up the WCU student body.
16,606 is a big number but every 1 of these students matter. At WCU, we are committed to the development of every student in every domain of success -- academic, cognitive, interpersonal, and professional/applied competence.
You don’t have to spend much time at West Chester University to realize that we sweat the details around here. We believe it’s the way we handle the little things that reflect who we are as an institution. For example, to ensure our students have a seamless move-in day, our faculty, staff and even alumni turn out in full force to help students move into their residence halls at the start of the fall semester. First-year students and their parents, in particular, have told us how much they appreciate this assistance on a hectic and often emotional day of goodbyes and new beginnings.
And if you want to talk attention to detail, just head to Matlack Fields most weekday afternoons from late summer to late fall and listen to the Incomparable Golden Rams Marching Band practice their halftime show…again and again and again. All that hard work really paid off in 2015, when the band was invited to perform at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. They put on a brilliant routine before a crowd of 3.5 million spectators, in addition to 50 million people worldwide who watched on TV.
Attention to detail also can be seen in the way in which associate professor of history Cecilia Chien prepares for each session of her course, “Modern China.” Students dive deep into the recent history of China, with its many political and social upheavals. But Chien also shares stories and images from her travels to China to visit family, which paint a picture of what political and social changes have meant to the average Chinese citizen. She invites guest speakers to class each semester, including alumni who have worked and lived in China. And every Chinese New Year, she invites her students to go to Philadelphia’s Chinatown for a field trip, which culminates in watching the traditional Dragon Dance Parade.
At WCU, “good” is never good enough. Take, for example, the way we are refining and improving our student advisement process for all students — undergraduate, graduate, transfer, and non-degree. An Advising Task Force is currently collecting data to issue recommendations in summer 2016 to support faculty in meeting the highest standard of advising.
We also recently took a look at every single WCU undergraduate and graduate program using a rubric that evaluates the assessment efforts of all programs of study. This effort is critical to maintaining the high standards of national and program accreditation.
And we conducted a Campus Climate Survey — the University’s second such survey — in fall 2015. Campus leaders will use survey results to continue to develop an environment that ensures that every student and employee feels fully welcomed and has every opportunity to reach their goals at WCU.
Drill down into the details and explore WCU on the pages of this report. Just follow the arrows…