President Lowry's special report to donors

On 11/4/2013


Lipscomb University’s 123rd academic session has begun with its seventh consecutive year of record enrollment — nearly 4,600 students! These students bring their hopes, dreams and determination, and we are remarkably grateful to participate in this transformational period in their lives.

As we pause to think about the year ahead and all that has been accomplished in recent years, one truth stands out: God continues to richly bless this university! How else can one explain dozens of successful new academic programs and faculty, particularly in a historically challenging economic period … a new influence in the greater Nashville community and beyond … and 82 percent growth since 2005 in the number of students we serve with a very intentional spiritual message and increasing academic rigor? We are deeply humbled by, and grateful for, his blessings!

Your generosity to as a supporter of the Lipscomb:Next Campaign is one of those remarkable blessings. In this report, I am pleased to share some of the milestones you have helped us to accomplish in the past year and things we anticipate this year. Although I know this is long, I hope you will get comfortable in your favorite chair and spend a few moments with Lipscomb!

  • This (almost) never happens, except that it did:  Lipscomb emerged from its “mid-term” university-wide accreditation examination without a single recommendation for improvement on any compliance issue! The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is the most rigorous accrediting body in the nation. Because Lipscomb has started many new academic programs in the past several years, we would not have been surprised if SACS had had at least a few suggestions. I have served on a SACS council and can assure you these reviews are tough. This outcome is very unusual and every university in America would like to receive the affirmation we received. You can be very pleased with your investment in our faculty and staff, for their knowledge, skills and spirit in developing quality programs that build on our mission in serving students and community.
  • You can say our teacher education program is the best in the nation: And it would be very hard for anyone to argue with you! In the past few months, Lipscomb’s teacher education program has been honored for the way it prepares new teachers and for the performance of those new teachers. The National Council on Teacher Quality ranked Lipscomb’s teacher preparation program as one of the top four in the nation – out of 1,100 programs assessed by the NCTQ!  Lipscomb was ranked alongside Vanderbilt, Ohio State and Furman because of its stringent entry requirements for prospective teachers, for its rigorous curriculum and expectation that students will master the subjects they plan to teach, and for monitoring graduates after they take jobs. For the second year, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s Teacher Preparation Program Report Card has honored the program as best in Tennessee in preparing teachers. This is an exceptional affirmation of our College of Education, but the lasting impact will occur in the hearts and minds of thousands of students who will learn in classrooms led by Lipscomb graduates. To give you some sense of the scope of their impact, in just the past four years Lipscomb has graduated 660 new teachers, not including those who added an endorsement or became administrators. Those 660 new teachers affect the hearts, minds and success of nearly 54,000 students every day. We have hundreds more graduates already in place, who multiply these numbers. If I had children in a school classroom, I know who I would want to have teaching them!
  • You can say our College of Business is right for veterans: Because that is what the Military Times says. Lipscomb’s business college was ranked 24th in the nation in the 2013 Best for Vets: Business Schools rankings. This placed Lipscomb ahead of such institutions as Syracuse, California-Berkeley, Alabama, Indiana and Kentucky, among others. Schools were ranked on academic policies, financial aid, academic and career support, participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program, GMAT scores and other criteria.
  • You can say Lipscomb is a great investment: Affordable Colleges Online selected Lipscomb as a top university in Tennessee for lifetime return on investment. “Graduates from these schools enjoy the largest earnings gap between non-degree holders over 30 years and earn more on average than graduates from other Tennessee schools,” said Dan Schuessler, ACO founder.

Although we evaluate our programs and performance continually against our own very high standards, to be recognized by organizations such as these adds to Lipscomb’s credibility and rising reputation nationwide as a leading institution in higher education, especially among those with a faith heritage.

Because I am reporting on a full year, let’s start with fall 2012. The freshman class was the university’s most academically advanced at that point with 16 National Merit Finalists, 12 USA Today Scholars, 128 Presidential Scholars and five Trustees Scholars. We ended the year with commencement: 650 graduates with 280 receiving advanced degrees were both record numbers. Between registration and graduation, they saw these additions in services and programs:

  • The Academic Success Center: Using a grant from the Shumard Foundation, Lipscomb combined its academic support functions into one location designed to enhance collaboration and learning, which proved to be a dramatic advance in our services to students.  Student use of the writing center – just one component of the ASC – increased 220 percent from the previous year. Other students visited the center nearly 4,800 times for a total of nearly 6,600 hours. "This is one of the best resources that a student can go to on campus," said student Leslie Ware. "I have been coming to the center since the day it opened … My grades have already improved from going to the math lab. I am just happy and blessed to be at a university where this is offered."
  • Four new master’s degree programs in emerging career areas: Lipscomb added the Information Technology Management degree, the first of its kind in Tennessee, which integrates technology, leadership, information security and health care informatics in one program; Engineering Management, combining advanced technical training with business management strategy and civic leadership; Biomolecular Science, with a unique emphasis on laboratory techniques common in the growing biotech sector (Tennessee ranks sixth in the nation in biotech jobs); and Marriage and Family Therapy, which provides eligibility for licensure in this growing segment that is widely accepted in faith-based and secular circles.
  • Thirty-nine new faculty members: Distributed throughout our academic colleges and several institutes, these new members of the Lipscomb community hold advanced degrees from Cornell, Maryland, Alabama, Samford, Arkansas, South Carolina, Texas Tech, Vanderbilt and North Texas, among others, and teaching experiences from universities such as Duke, Vanderbilt, Austin Peay, Lindsey Wilson and Georgia Tech. Many also have significant professional experience with leading firms in their disciplines. Adding 25 new faculty to the Lipscomb community this fall extends the total in seven years to 110 new faculty and a potential 30-year investment of more than $337 million in instructional excellence and meaningful spiritual formation through our faculty.
  • Completion of the Nursing and Health Sciences Center: This $8.5 million structure opened for the beginning of fall semester and is already considered the finest of its kind in the region. The building includes a 16-bed unit that simulates a hospital environment with high-tech mannequins that simulate a wide range of symptoms and responses to treatment. The building converts to a 28-bed triage unit in the event of a crisis.
  • Launching the Center for Global Connectedness and Collaboration: This center in the College of Business engages the business community, provides teaching and research on managing global organizations and explores the impact of global organizations on middle Tennessee. Through the center, Lipscomb is one of only 33 universities and business schools in the world offering the Global Mindset Inventory for executives, academic institutions and nonprofit organizations.
  • Williamson County gets a SPARK: Lipscomb’s first off-site location opened in the Cool Springs area of Williamson County, Tenn. This technologically innovative facility has rapidly become a popular location for corporate meetings, and also hosts graduate programs in information technology, information security, business and marriage and family therapy, in addition to a certificate program in behavioral studies in education.

Students this fall are experiencing the continued benefits of our strategic plan, Lipscomb:Next—A Vision for 2016. As you may recall, Lipscomb:Next is an initiative to invest $125 million into the university in new programs, new and improved facilities and endowment growth by the university’s 125th anniversary. The remarkable generosity of Lipscomb’s donors has resulted in nearly $65 million being committed or given to this campaign through October. Thank you! Advances we are making with your help this year:

  • New master’s and bachelor’s degree programs. We continue to add new programs that respond to demonstrated needs in the marketplace, with more than 50 new academic programs since 2005. We are very excited about our new master of arts in Christian practice, which is a direct outgrowth of our spiritual mission; the master of arts in software engineering, which responds to a growing demand and is considered one of the top professions in the nation. We are also offering a new MBA concentration in strategic human resources, an education specialist degree, graduate certificates in Christian spirituality, serving the aging consumer and aging and pastoral care; and certificates of graduate studies in instructional coaching and technology integration. The supply chain management exchange program with Hang Seng Management College in Hong Kong is one of several new undergraduate programs.
  • A new, semester-long study abroad program in Bath, England. The Lipscomb-in-Britain program is set in a location that has been an integral part of British culture since pre-Roman times. Located 97 miles west of London, Bath has played a significant role and has a rich architectural heritage among other features. This will be a meaningful addition to our semester abroad offerings, which also include Vienna, Austria, and Santiago, Chile.
  • Opening the new Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Center. This 15,300 square-foot center is the latest facility designed to support our students’ rapidly growing interest in health care careers. The building includes specialized laboratories and other environments that support learning and research in the natural, applied and pharmaceutical sciences. It will also facilitate collaboration with other academic institutions, clinical research organizations and biotech and pharmaceutical companies. This facility will greatly enhance our graduates’ placement into the top research programs in the nation.
  • Beginning the McFarland Science Center addition. This 19,000 square-foot, $4.5 million project will add needed labs for biology, physics and chemistry to support Lipscomb’s most rapidly growing academic area. Nearly 45 percent of incoming freshmen in the past several years have specified a preference for majoring in the sciences or health sciences, a pace that has increased since the addition of the bachelor’s degree program in nursing and the doctoral program in pharmacy. McFarland now has lab sessions running until 10 p.m. to accommodate the demand.
  • Celebrating Osman Fountain. Students in the late 1970s and early 1980s conceived of, funded and even helped to build Bison Square, which has become the heart of our campus. Osman Fountain was created with donor funding to honor the students’ vision by revitalizing the Square and positioning it as emblematic of Lipscomb’s spiritual mission. In addition to its constant reminder of the river of life, the fountain includes a baptistry where students will be able to commit their lives in faith in a special setting with other members of the Lipscomb family. Nearly 90 youth were baptized in the fountain during its first month.

Just as the university celebrates its accomplishments and opportunities, Lipscomb Academy also has much to celebrate and much to anticipate. Enrollment continues to grow, we are blessed by very capable new faculty members and our elementary students are enjoying improvements to their cafeteria and the reception area, among other advances.

First, however, any review of the past year at the Academy must begin with the passing of legendary Mustang football coach Glenn McCadams. Through three decades and numerous generations of students, he knew his game well — 319 wins, three state championships and 21 trips to the postseason demonstrate that clearly. But what he knew even better was a faith that served as his anchor and foundation. His quiet consistency in demonstrating his faith in leading and teaching thousands of students will be a lasting memory. We are grateful that Scott Tillman has stepped into Coach McCadams’ role, if not his shoes, and is leading us into a new era with the character, faith and excellence that are ingrained in our culture because of exemplary leaders like Glenn McCadams.

  • Planting a SEED, or three: Last fall the academy began its “SEED School,” an innovative approach to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten education that offers a unique learning environment where children are encouraged to be inquisitive, adventurous and creative. SEED stands for “seek, explore, experiment, discover.” The idea is that the early years of education are much more important to a child’s success than just preparing for elementary school. The SEED School has already expanded from one class last year to three classes this fall.
  • i-Padding the Middle School: After a period of assessment of integrating technology and learning, the academy’s middle school has implemented its 1:1 iPad initiative this fall. That means every middle school student – more than 400 of them – and every teacher has an iPad. Innovative educational software allows students to create and share content in every class. If you have to miss a day at school because of illness, don’t think you get to miss class – you can interact via your iPad!
  • Education isn’t filling a pail, it’s lighting a fire: As William Butler Yeats’ quote suggests, one of the most exciting academic advances at the high school is the new IGNITE programs in civics and law and in health sciences. IGNITE takes advantage of the Academy’s connection to a major university – unique to Lipscomb in middle Tennessee. This innovative program gives students learning opportunities outside the traditional classroom and provides several advantages that will be useful as participants move on to college in similar subjects.

As thrilling as it may be to report our progress and anticipate the future, I am even more excited about the accomplishments of our students. Ultimately, they are the reason for and the result of your investment in Lipscomb. Some of our university students’ accomplishments from the past year:

  • Lipscomb communication students were “up in lights” in New York: Five Lipscomb students honored in New York with a national Gracie Award in the Outstanding Public Service Announcement category. “Guess Who” was one of a series of five spots created by Lipscomb students for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media in partnership with the Independent Television Service. Created with advisers from Nashville Public Television, the Lipscomb student producers were communication majors Jason Michael Fox, junior, Nashville; Kathryn McKinley, senior, McMinnville, Tenn.; Kyrsten Turner, junior, Lawrenceville, Ga.; Marlee Vogel, junior, Kingsport, Tenn., and Brynn Watkins, junior, Freeburg, Ill.
  • Fox and fellow communication students Cory Woodroof and Liz Komoromi won “Best of the South” Awards at the Southeast Journalism Conference for their work with the LUmination Network, Lipscomb’s student-produced, multi-platform news service. Fox, Komoromi and Emily Snell placed first and second at the 2013 Society of Professional Journalists Region 12 Mark Of Excellence Awards.
  • Three students won the top prize in the Deloitte Challenge. Alexander Givant, senior, computer science; Marian Rushdy, senior electrical and computer engineering; and Stuart Pounders, junior computer science, won top honors in the first Deloitte Challenge, a competition among Nashville’s colleges and universities that challenges students to develop a working mobile application to solve a practical business application.
  • Three theatre students were named ‘People to Watch’ at the annual First Night honors event, an annual salute to the best in live theater in Tennessee. Whitney Vaughn, Kristi Mason and Sydni Hayes were chosen by Jeffrey Ellis, senior contributing editor at and coordinator of the program.
  • The U.S. Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee heard from Lipscomb student Derrica Donelson in a hearing on college affordability. Donelson, who is working toward bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years at Lipscomb, was praised by U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) who said her careful college decision-making should make her “a great success.”
  • Senior nursing student Anna Cobb was named the 2012 March of Dimes Undergraduate Student Nurse of the Year. The award honors nurses from every specialty area who have provided special service to patients, the community and the field of nursing. Anna was one of five Lipscomb students nominated for the award. (Beth Youngblood, executive associate dean and professor of nursing, was named the March of Dimes Women’s Health Nurse of the Year.) 
  • Lipscomb sophomore Matt Brown, an accounting major, was elected the 2013 National Chief of the National Order of the Arrow, the Boy Scouts of America’s honor society. Matt was selected from 18 candidates nationwide for this highest honor in Scouting. Earlier this year he met with President Obama and several congressmen as one of six BSA representatives to present the 2012 BSA Report to the Nation.

These are just a few examples of the kind of student you support at Lipscomb and the quality of their work. I could go on talking about them — about the thousands of hours they contribute in volunteer work in the greater Nashville area (valued at more than $2 million). I could talk about the hundreds of students who participated this year in 50 international or domestic mission and service trips and the bridges they built, literally and metaphorically, as they worked to improve quality of life for others and share the Christianity that propels their lives and work.

But as I think of all the activities and accomplishments your generosity has helped to create, I think about a student we introduced at the Heritage Dinner in the spring. Emmaja Hancock’s story is not every student’s story, but it powerfully illustrates that the work in which we are partners is not just about activities and programs, but about real people who are looking to be transformed and prepared for the new life they imagine when coming to Lipscomb:

"I was like, I have to get out. I have to do this for my brothers and sisters because I'm the first one to go to college. ... You can always tell somebody that things are going to change, but, like I've heard before, if you don't like something you have to change it. I feel like I had to change it and I had to encourage them that it can get better not only by telling them, but by actually doing it. This school motivates me, like it will get better in the future. I see how people here go out and help other people ... and it makes me want to help people because they've helped me so much. This was my dream school."

What I hope you see is that Lipscomb is a worthy investment – great people doing great things for a calling that is greater than themselves. Thank you for joining us on this journey … a journey that challenges students with rigorous academic programs and meaningful, Christian spiritual formation ... a journey that calls them to a purpose greater than themselves. We know you could choose from many options for your philanthropy, and we are grateful beyond measure that you choose Lipscomb.

L. Randolph Lowry