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Fr. Hendrickson Says This is an ‘Exciting Moment for Creighton’

Creighton President the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, addresses faculty and staff during the 2020 Founders Day Convocation.Like all institutions of higher learning, Creighton University is immersed in an era of challenge but is well equipped to prosper as the century advances, the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD, said Tuesday afternoon.

Creighton’s president spoke to an assembly of faculty and staff in the Hixson-Lied Auditorium at the Harper Center, part of the ceremonies marking the 2020 Founders Day Awards Ceremony and Convocation Address. (Read more about the Founders Day award winners).

“I feel that we are very poised for an exciting future, but we do have to make some big decisions about this future,” Fr. Hendrickson said.

That future, he said, will be closely tied to Creighton’s ongoing construction of a $100 million medical school and health sciences campus in Phoenix, Arizona, a development, he explained, that has caught the attention of universities across the country.

“I spent Friday night and Saturday with all the presidents of the AJCU institutions, as I did months ago back in October,” Fr. Hendrickson said. “I would say that in those last two meetings, eyes are on Creighton.

“Those presidents, across the nation, from Georgetown to Santa Clara, could not be more impressed with what Creighton is doing in our Phoenix option, and what that will do for us here in Omaha. This expansion of who we are — this increase of our mission, the ability to do that, to make hard decisions along the way — we’re really standing in an exciting moment for Creighton University.”

The already competitive world of student recruitment has grown more so, he said, after the U.S. Department of Justice ruled that recruitment rules set by the National Association for College Admission Counseling were anticompetitive and therefore in violation of federal antitrust laws. The loosened rules now permit competing educational institutions to “poach” undergraduate students even after they have enrolled, registered and submitted contractual deposits, he said.

Again, however, Fr. Hendrickson said, Creighton is well positioned to compete given its strong reputation for community.

“Let me pause to personally thank the faculty and staff who wrote notes and made calls to our prospective undergraduate students over the holidays,” Fr. Hendrickson said. “Our enrollment folks hear time and time again about how students make their decision to attend Creighton because of our strong sense of community.”

The Provost’s Task Force on Student Success and Retention set goals that Creighton will strive to meet, Fr. Hendrickson said. Among these are increasing the University’s undergraduate first-to-second-year retention rate to 92% from its current 90%; increasing the six-year graduation rate from 81.23% to 82.5%; increasing enrollment in Creighton’s professional schools by 15%; and increasing the annual number of students enrolled in accelerated master’s programs from eight to 50.

To encourage both higher enrollment and to retain and recruit talented faculty and staff, Fr. Hendrickson said he will propose that tuition remission for full-time Creighton employees be set at 100% after six months employment instead of the current five years.

Outreach will continue to nontraditional learners interested in pursuing lifelong learning, Fr. Hendrickson said. Many options are open to Creighton in these areas, he said, including clinical partnerships in Omaha and Phoenix; corporate partnerships in the two cities; a network of 70,000 alumni; and an IT strategy that will continue to emphasize opportunities for greater and stronger connectivity with the University.

Two futuristic proposals were presented by Fr. Hendrickson.

The first was construction of a new, 400-bed, suite-style residence hall to be built on land adjacent to the 24th Street parking garage and Burt Street between McGloin Hall and the Creighton University School of Dentistry.

Second, Fr. Hendrickson proposed a wholesale reimagining of 24th Street south of Cuming Street heading into downtown Omaha. The street is an integral part of Creighton’s identity, he said, but could be improved — and made safer —by the installation of bicycle lanes, trees, a redesign of Deglman Circle and installation of a roundabout south of Cass Street.


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